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Tale of panic and pain strikes an operatic chord

Oct 15, 2014

Tale of panic and pain strikes an operatic chord

by Kaori Shoji

At a time when Japan is being rapped over the knuckles by the U.N. for hate-speech rallies against ethnic Koreans, a movie like “The Tenor: Lirico Spinto” takes on special significance. Directed by Kim Sang-man, “The Tenor” (released here as “The Tenor: Shinjitsuno Monogatari”) ...

Two men and a tot make a half-decent film

Oct 15, 2014

Two men and a tot make a half-decent film

by Mark Schilling

When indie directors take a more commercial turn, the usual explanation is the bigger paycheck, but it’s not always so simple. Yuya Ishii’s shift from the raucous films of his early career to the more genteel, mainstream 2013 film “Fune wo Amu (The Great ...

Minuscule: 'A refreshingly different approach to animation'

Oct 15, 2014

Minuscule: 'A refreshingly different approach to animation'

by Giovanni Fazio

Most children’s animation these days is motor-mouthed to the extreme and larded with snarky pop-culture gags, but French film “Minuscule” takes a refreshingly different approach. Filmmakers Helene Giraud and Thomas Szabo honed their skills on animated shorts over the past decade and now drop ...

Chisaii Ouchi (The Little House)

Oct 15, 2014

Chisaii Ouchi (The Little House)

by Mark Schilling

Director: Yoji Yamada Language: Japanese (subtitled in English) Veteran director Yoji Yamada’s drama about an upper-middle-class family in 1930-40s Tokyo is deeply informed by Yamada’s own acquaintance with the era, from its social mores to its domestic arrangements. Told from the perspective of a ...

Hummingbird

Oct 15, 2014

Hummingbird

by Kaori Shoji

Director: Steven Knight Language: English This is almost “Old Boy” remade in London, with Jason Statham in the lead role. Statham is spot-on as an ex-special forces soldier on the run from a court martial. He ducks into the sleazy dreck of London’s underworld ...

Let's be 'Frank' about mental illness and music

Oct 8, 2014

Let's be 'Frank' about mental illness and music

by Giovanni Fazio

Imagine a band where the singer is so painfully shy and awkward that he must wear a giant papier-mache puppet head — not only on stage, but pretty much all the time. That’s the premise of “Frank,” starring Michael Fassbender under the mask; a ...

Harmonic slips in time, identity and language

Oct 8, 2014

Harmonic slips in time, identity and language

by Mark Schilling

World War II-themed films by elderly Japanese directors with direct experience of the war are not only becoming scarcer, but are also distinctly different from those of younger filmmakers trying to appeal to a mass audience. Kazuo Kuroki’s 2006 film “Kamiya Etsuko no Seishun ...