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‘Blade of the Immortal’: Film version of manga hit goes overboard in its execution

26 Apr

Based on Hiroaki Samura’s long-running (1993-2012) manga, the samurai swashbuckler “Blade of the Immortal” promises the sort of fun, over-the-top action that has long been a trademark of its director, Takashi Miike. However, it labors to deliver, including during the 300-against-1 fight scene shown in the trailer. Those praying this film would be a return […]

New documentary turns the lens on photographer Robert Frank

26 Apr

In 1957, aspiring photographer Robert Frank met Jack Kerouac at a party for the writer’s recently published novel “On the Road.” Frank himself had just come back from his own road trip, an eerily similar journey into the real heart of America. Funded by a Guggenheim Fellowship, Frank spent nine months driving more than 10,000 […]

Japan, take pride in ‘Your Name.’

20 Apr

Two weeks ago, the United States’ box office saw a surprising animated feature take the top spot and generate large amounts of discussion — and memes — on social media. That was Dreamworks’ “The Boss Baby,” starring Alec Baldwin as a dapper, sassy infant. Further down the list was “Your Name.,” the highest-grossing movie in […]

Roger Pulvers challenges the idea of a hero in directorial debut, ‘Star Sand’

19 Apr

Roger Pulvers has had the sort of free-ranging, multifaceted career that seems like a dream in this specialized age, when academics labor in their narrow professional silos. Born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1944 to Jewish-American parents, he came to Japan in 1967, began teaching at Kyoto Sangyo University and was soon writing short stories […]

Eco-blockbuster ‘Deepwater Horizon’ bypasses a bigger issue

19 Apr

With “Deepwater Horizon,” Hollywood attempts the difficult maneuver of having its cake and eating it too. It’s certainly possible to make a rabble-rousing liberal issue movie, and it’s even easier to make any sort of film that involves lots of CGI explosions, but it’s rare that a filmmaker gets the chance to do both in […]

Romance takes an unusual turn in ‘Love and Goodbye and Hawaii’

19 Apr

‘Breaking up is hard to do,” goes the old song, and for some, it’s so hard that they never quite manage it. A typical example is the partner (or, worst-case scenario, the spouse) who one day tells you they’re back with an ex. An atypical example is the couple in Shingo Matsumura’s offbeat romantic drama […]

Fashion’s night at the museum

13 Apr

“The First Monday in May” opens April 15 at the Bunkamura Le Cinema Theater in Tokyo’s trendy Shibuya Ward (the Japanese title is “Metto Gara, Doresu o Matotta Bijutsukan”). It’s a documentary about a Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibition titled “China: Through the Looking Glass” in 2015. It was the most attended fashion history exhibition […]

Hollywood’s ‘Ghost in the Shell’ remake misses the mark

12 Apr

After the online petitions, the countless think pieces and Twitter tirades, Hollywood’s “Ghost in the Shell” was never going to have an easy passage. Rupert Sanders’ film — a $110 million live-action movie based on a beloved manga and anime property — was ill-fated from the start, tarnished by the controversy surrounding the decision to […]

The young comics of ‘Laughing Lucky Cats’ learn that in comedy, timing is everything

12 Apr

The struggles of comics, be they up-and-coming or down-and-out, is a popular theme in Japanese film and television. A recent example of this was “Hibana,” a 10-part original Netflix drama about the decade-long career arc of a manzai (comic duo) act. A similar concept is present in the scrappy comedy “Laughing Lucky Cats” (“Warau Maneki-Neko”), […]

Studio Ghibli to screen films, hold exhibitions in Indonesia

7 Apr

Japan’s Academy Award-winning Studio Ghibli will showcase the world of Japanese animation in Indonesia under a yearlong project featuring a series of film screenings and exhibitions. Local movie distributor Kaninga Pictures said “The World of Ghibli Jakarta” promotion will run from this month to March 2018 in three major phases, with animation movies to be […]