Five films to watch out for in soon-to-be-post-emergency Japan. Enjoy them at your local socially distanced theater or bookmark for future couch streaming:
- Filmmaker Ryusuke Hamaguchi was awarded the runner-up grand jury prize at the 71st Berlin International Film Festival, marking the first time in seven years a Japanese film has taken a prize at the festival. His film,“Guzen to Sozo” (“Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy”), is a collection of three short stories on chance and coincidence, each revolving around a woman.
- Koji Maeda’s new comedy has everything a true screwball film requires: sparring opposites, quick-witted banter and love gone awry — and a crazy exclamation mark in the title, “You’re Not Normal, Either!” Unlike the many Japanese comedies that play strictly to the domestic crowd with Japan-specific gags, this one can cross borders with ease, writes Schilling.
- Anshul Chauhan’s feature “Kontora” is a meditation on the echoes of war that is haunting without being overly obvious, writes Schilling. High school girl Sora and her father are both decent rural folk, but they also harbor a rage that can suddenly explode. What does that have to do with a long-ago war? The answers lie in the unquiet heart of a silent stranger — who walks backwards.
- Aya Igashi’s latest work, “No Call No Life,” is based on a novel but enhanced with the director’s own vivid colors and vision, she tells Schilling. The film has the makings of a typical teen romance — girl falls for high school rebel — but with a phone that can communicate with people from the past. Scarred by abuse, the pair enter their own private world in an attempt to escape the adults in their lives and, eventually, the police.
- Eiichiro Hasumi’s thriller “The Sun Stands Still” follows a pair of corporate spies who give literal meaning to the phrase “walking time bomb.” If they go offline for more than 24 hours during a mission, it’s assumed that they’ve been compromised and they self-destruct. Reviewer James Hadfield strapped himself in for the ride but ended up counting down the clock.