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Director Sunao Katabuchi shares his corner of this world

25 Jun

Last summer saw the release of what would become the highest grossing Japanese animation film to date, Makoto Shinkai’s “Your Name.,” which was also the country’s top box-office draw of 2016. The surprise hit’s main characters are a pair of body-swapping teenagers. A survey conducted by the Fields Research Institute earlier this month revealed, unsurprisingly, […]

Don’t follow this scary Pied Piper to the cinema

21 Jun

Released in 2003, Takashi Shimizu’s “Ju-on: The Grudge” and “Ju-on: The Grudge 2” both had a simple premise — vengeful ghosts turn an ordinary suburban house into a death trap — but the scares, such as a kohl-eyed dead boy with a terrifying grip, were fresh and effective. The films were hits and Shimizu went […]

When it comes to action, Hiroyuki Ikeuchi is your man

21 Jun

Hiroyuki Ikeuchi has what we refer to in showbiz as “the look.” Sure, the 40-year-old actor has been working as an actor since his teens, even stepping behind the camera in 2006 for “Thirteen Moons.” But it’s his distinctive look that people remember. He can thank his Salvadoran mother in part for that, but Ikeuchi’s […]

The extraordinary untold Japan story of ‘You Only Live Twice’

17 Jun

Rising up in a small helicopter into a clear blue sky, a British Secret Service agent (played with somewhat Scottish flair) then passes over the smoking vapors of the volcanic landscape in the far south of Japan, looking for the secret hideaway of a master criminal. Before he knows it, several SPECTRE helicopters are on […]

A scorched-earth fix to a celebrity scandal

15 Jun

Scandals can send a celebrity’s career careening off a cliff. This is especially true in Japan, where minor violations of the social code can lead to major personal repercussions. But even by Japanese standards the fallout from the June 2 arrest of actor Ryo Hashizume, 30, for stimulants possession was extreme. On June 5, the […]

South Korean director urges new rules over Netflix movies at theaters

15 Jun

SEOUL – A top South Korean director called Wednesday for new rules on screening Netflix films in cinemas as local chains boycott his blockbuster over the U.S. streaming giant’s online policy. The movie “Okja”, directed by Bong Joon-ho, sparked controversy at this year’s Cannes film festival over Netflix’s policy of releasing its movies in cinemas […]

Kendo drama ‘Mukoku’ takes a stab at Showa Era sports spirit

14 Jun

One of the attractions of Asian martial arts for many Westerners (including this one) is the promise of self-improvement that goes beyond better street fighting. In Kazuyoshi Kumakiri’s “Mukoku,” a turgid film set in the kendo world, mastery of the sword is supposed to not only focus the mind and elevate the spirit, but also […]

Discovering the ‘it girl’ of turn-of-the-century Paris in ‘The Dancer’

14 Jun

Loie Fuller was the ultimate “it girl.” A little-known dancer from Illinois, she wound up in turn-of-the-century Paris, smack-dab in the middle of La Belle Epoque. Her friends? They were artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and filmmakers the Lumiere Brothers, and her protegee was acclaimed dancer Isadora Duncan. Fuller herself was a pioneer in modern dance […]

Netflix may fix Japan movie-financing dilemma: director Naomi Kawase

9 Jun

Japan’s Cannes prodigy Naomi Kawase believes Netflix can help unleash the creativity of her country’s film industry, despite the eruption of a row over the American streaming giant that marred the French film festival. Kawase, a regular at the world’s most prestigious film festival since winning the Camera d’Or in 1997, says she “has not […]

Netflix may fix Japan movie-financing dilemma: director Naomi Kawase

9 Jun

Japan’s Cannes prodigy Naomi Kawase believes Netflix can help unleash the creativity of her country’s film industry, despite the eruption of a row over the American streaming giant that marred the French film festival. Kawase, a regular at the world’s most prestigious film festival since winning the Camera d’Or in 1997, says she “has not […]