Festivals: Japan Cuts Reviews

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Japan Cuts 2015 Review: THIS COUNTRY'S SKY, Love And Coming of Age In A Time Of War

In the 70 years since the end of World War II - or, more precisely, what will be 70 years this August - there have been countless cinematic depictions of the war, covered from just about every possible angle. Some...

Japan Cuts 2015 Review: PIETA IN THE TOILET, A Cancer Story Told With Poetic Artistry

Pieta in the Toilet, the first fictional feature by acclaimed documentary filmmaker Matsunaga Daishi, is a two-hour drama about a young man who's dying of cancer. But fortunately, this film proves to not be nearly as depressing as that description...

Japan Cuts 2014 Review: TALE OF A BUTCHER SHOP, A Sensitively Observed Documentary Of A Working-Class Family

Tale of a Butcher Shop, Hanabusa Aya's sensitively observed documentary on a family of butchers in Kaizuka City in Osaka, Japan, begins in a very startling fashion, with an unflinching depiction of a cow's slaughtering. A man leads the cow...

Japan Cuts 2014 Review: LOVE'S WHIRLPOOL Offers Potent Mix of Eroticism, Comedy, And Melancholy

Miura Daisuke (Boys on the Run) adapts his own award-winning 2005 play Love's Whirlpool into his latest film of the same name, and it is quite a remarkable and wonderfully acted film where sex is the main subject and the...

Japan Cuts 2014 Review: 0.5MM, A Darkly Comedic Probe Of Japan's Historical And Social Psyche

The remarkable Japanese director Ando Momoko expands her cinematic canvas considerably with her second feature, 0.5mm, a major highlight of this year's Japan Cuts festival. It's a deceptively small film that tackles big subjects, an intimate film with an epic three...

Japan Cuts 2014 Review: MONSTERZ, In Which Nakata Hideo Misfires With A Lackluster Remake

The slow but steady decline of the once-great Nakata Hideo (The Ring, Chaos, Dark Water) continues unabated with his latest, Monsterz. This is a remake of Haunters, the 2010 Korean film by Kim Min-seok that itself was no classic, but had...

Japan Cuts 2014 Review: WOOD JOB! Takes Us Deep Into the World Of Forestry, With Wonderfully Comic Results

The recent Japanese film Wood Job! is not, despite its very suggestive title, a pornographic film, which will either relieve or disappoint you, depending on where your movie tastes happen to lie. Instead, it is the latest comedy by Yaguchi...

Japan Cuts 2013 Review: I HAVE TO BUY NEW SHOES, An Irresistibly Seductive, Bittersweet Romantic Comedy

A romantic movie set in the city of Paris may come across as, and may indeed be, the ultimate cinematic cliché, but writer-director Kitagawa Eriko and producer-cinematographer Iwai Shunji unerringly make it work in I Have to Buy New Shoes,...

Japan Cuts 2013 Review: JAPAN'S TRAGEDY, A Beautiful, Austere Tribute to Its People

How do you proceed making a film about Japan's recent tragedies- first, the crippling  decades long recession that forced 31,650 Japanese into taking their own lives in 2010, then the horrific tsunami and Fukushima nuclear meltdown a year later, that...

Japan Cuts 2013 Review: IT'S ME, IT'S ME, A Surreal Farce On the Nature of Identity

A comically surrealist farce on the nature of identity in the digital age, Miki Satoshi's latest film It's Me, It's Me features an impressively energetic and remarkably varied multiple performance by J-pop star Kamenashi Kazuya as the central character, or...

Japan Cuts 2013 Review: I'M FLASH!, A Visually and Sonically Stylish Tale of Gangsters and Religious Cultists

Religious cultists, yakuza hitmen, a lovely bar pickup, and a speeding motorcyclist collide, quite literally, in the genre oddity that is I'M FLASH!, the latest from iconoclastic director Toyoda Toshiaki (9 Souls, The Hanging Garden). This time, Toyoda jettisons the...

Japan Cuts 2012 Review: LONELY SWALLOWS

I always gravitate toward documentaries that feature young people regardless of how they are made (in this case, poorly from a technical standpoint). With Gu Su-yeon's Hard Romanticker, this year's Japan Cuts highlights some of the trials and tribulations of...

Japan Cuts 2012 Review: ROADSIDE FUGITIVE SR

Yu Irie (8000 Miles, 8000 Miles 2 and Ringing in Their Ears) returns to this year's Japan Cuts with Roadside Fugitive SR, the third installment of his sleeper hit debut, 8000 Miles. The lovable losers from Saitama- Ikku (Ryusuke Komakine) and...

Japan Cuts 2012 Review: THE WOODSMAN AND THE RAIN

The major highlight of this year's Japan Cuts festival for Japanese film fans, as well as fans of great acting in general, is the New York appearance of Koji Yakusho, one of Japan's most acclaimed and accomplished actors, who continues...

NYAFF/Japan Cuts 2012 Review: HARD ROMANTICKER

There is an old saying about the Japan-Korea relationship my grandfather once told me that is very revealing. Apparently it's really easy for a Japanese to pick out Koreans among them because Koreans stink of garlic. For a Korean who...

NYAFF/Japan Cuts 2012 Review: POTECHI (CHIPS)

NYAFF and Japan Cuts favorite Yoshihiro Nakamura (Fish Story, Golden Slumber, A Boy and His Samurai) returns with his latest film Potechi (Chips), in which he once again adapts a novel by Fish Story and Golden Slumber author Kotaro Isaka....

JAPAN CUTS 2011: INTO THE WHITE NIGHT Review

TCR 01:15:47:04Into The White Night is a good film. Too bad I had to watch a non-anamorphic screener with a time code running across the top and the wordSAMPLEstamped smack dab in the center of the frame. Call me a...

Japan Cuts 2011: VENGEANCE CAN WAIT Review

It's been a couple of days since I checked out the Masanori Tominaga-directed oddball comedy Vengeance Can Wait, and I'm still not sure how I feel about it. It features a quartet of characters, each of who with wildly varying...

JAPAN CUTS 2011: HARU'S JOURNEY Review

Tadao (screen legend Tatsuya Nakadai) is very upset. He's first seen storming out of the house by the sea in a small fishing village in Hokkaido, with his granddaughter Haru (Eri Tokunaga) trailing behind with his cane. She apologizes...

JAPAN CUTS 2011: SKETCHES OF KAITAN CITY Review

A young shipyard worker takes pride in his work. You can see it in his face when one of the gigantic ships he worked on is being launched to sea. There is almost a childlike glee in him. Then the...