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Documentaries at the margins of modern life

by Kaori Shoji

There is no film festival in Japan quite like the Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival (YIDFF). Going against the current of easy entertainment and mind-numbing CGI, the festival is a solid, seriously cinematic event held in Yamagata every two years. From its inception in 1989, YIDFF has dedicated itself wholly ...

Monica Z: 'Shaky rise of Sweden's best-loved chanteuse'

Nov 26, 2014

Monica Z: 'Shaky rise of Sweden's best-loved chanteuse'

by Kaori Shoji

Swedish jazz singer Monica Zetterlund was her country’s best-loved chanteuse, but she wanted more. And the one thing that gave her a chance at global stardom? She could sing in English without a European accent. “Monica Z” (International Title: “Waltz For Monica”) tells the ...

Dhoom 3: 'Bollywood and Hollywood in equal portions'

Nov 26, 2014

Dhoom 3: 'Bollywood and Hollywood in equal portions'

by Kaori Shoji

The first “Dhoom” (2004) was more Bollywood than serious action movie, and then “Dhoom: 2″ (2006) upped the ante by bringing in some A-list actors and easing off the dancing. Now, with the third edition to the series, it seems director/co-writer Vijay Krishna Acharya ...

Edge of Tomorrow (All You Need is Kill)

Nov 26, 2014

Edge of Tomorrow (All You Need is Kill)

by Kaori Shoji

Director: Doug Liman Language: English Just when you think you take can’t any more Tom Cruise, here’s a movie that shows him as something new — weak, sly and ingratiating. Cage (Cruise) is forced into combat in a futuristic society threatened by aliens and ...

Inside Llewyn Davis

Nov 26, 2014

Inside Llewyn Davis

by Giovanni Fazio

Directors: Ethan Coen, Joel CoenLanguage: English “Inside Llewyn Davis” is neither the best Coen brothers’ film, nor the worst, but it has everything a fan of the Coens could desire: a strong sense of period detail, a choice soundtrack curated by T Bone Burnett, ...

Filmex brings art and brutality to Tokyo cinemas

Nov 19, 2014

Filmex brings art and brutality to Tokyo cinemas

by Mark Schilling

Now in its 15th edition, Tokyo Filmex is Japan’s leading art-over-commerce festival, offering a lineup packed with films screened earlier this year at major festivals around the world, while disdaining the glitz and glamour of the recently ended Tokyo International Film Festival. The Filmex ...

Hurt-till-you-laugh approach to making comedies

Nov 19, 2014

Hurt-till-you-laugh approach to making comedies

by Mark Schilling

When Yosuke Fujita’s debut feature “Zenzen Daijobu (Fine, Totally Fine)” started making the international festival rounds in 2008, it charmed nearly everyone who saw it. This laugh-until-you-hurt comedy about two outsider pals in pursuit of the same socially awkward girl won the Nippon Cinema ...

Short Term 12: 'an intense intimacy with the camera'

Nov 19, 2014

Short Term 12: 'an intense intimacy with the camera'

by Giovanni Fazio

Director Destin Daniel Cretton’s first job out of college was working at a halfway home for troubled teens and, rather like author Ken Kesey’s stint working at a mental institution, he clearly gained some insight and a fistful of vivid characters from the experience. ...

Open Windows: 'sliding into the creep zone'

Nov 19, 2014

Open Windows: 'sliding into the creep zone'

by Kaori Saito

What has happened to Elijah Wood? The former child star whose career out-survived most of his contemporaries is slipping further and further into the creep zone. In the decade since his signature role as Frodo in the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, his roles ...