Iconoclastic filmmaker Nagisa Oshima, best known internationally for his wildly controversial movie “In the Realms of the Senses” died today at the age of 80 in a hospital outside of Tokyo.
A former law student and radical activist, Oshima made his directorial debut in 1959 with “Town of Love and Hope.” The movie established him as a leader of the budding Japanese New Wave, which also included directors like Shohei Imamura and Masahiro Shinoda. Continue reading ‘Japanese cinematic outlaw Nagisa Oshima dead at 80’
Japanese director Takashi Miike is one of the wildest, most extreme filmmakers around. His notorious 2001 movie “Ichi: The Killer” is a surrealist-fever dream of blood, bowels, and dismemberment. His 2003 flick “The Happiness of the Kataguris” is a strangely sweet comedy about zombies and murder, and it’s also a musical. And the latter half of his terrific 2011 samurai epic, “13 Assassins,” is so bloody its main characters ended the movie looking like Carrie after the prom. So when it was announced last year that Miike was going 3D for his next film, a remake of Masaki Kobayashi’s classic “Hara-Kiri,” one could be forgiven for expecting it to be a gorefest with lots of eye-gouging 3D gimmickry, a shogun-era “Piranha 3DD” with katana instead of fish. Continue reading ‘Indie Roundup: ‘Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai’’
Published March 9, 2012
Tags: 2012, Film, indie roundup, japan
The best way to see this film is accompanied by an omakase dinner of world-class sushi.
If that’s impossible, as it was with me, who watched it while trying to choke down a deeply unsatisfying microwaved frozen burrito, you’ll find “Jiro Dreams of Sushi,” directed and shot by David Gelb, to be sumptuous torture. As you might expect, Gelb packs the film with one image after another of glistening morsels of raw fish photographed artfully on black lacquer plates; it edges on the pornographic in the best possible way. Continue reading ‘Indie Roundup: ‘Jiro Dreams of Sushi’’
Published August 12, 2009
Film , Yahoo Movies
Tags: Film, japan
Hayao Miyazaki might very well be the best regarded filmmaker working today. He is worshipped by animators everywhere; John Lasseter, the head of Pixar and director of “Toy Story,” called him “one of the great filmmakers of our time.” He is by far the highest-grossing filmmaker in Japan; in his home country, his 2003 Oscar-winning masterpiece “Spirited Away” proved to be a bigger box-office draw than “Titanic.” Miyazaki-themed merchandise has filled toy boxes of Japanese children for a generation. And a few years ago, he even opened the Disneyland-like Ghibli Museum on the outskirts of Tokyo. Yet in the States, he remains a relatively obscure name.
This week that might start to change as Miyazaki’s latest movie, “Ponyo,” is finally getting its American release. Boasting the voice talent of Liam Neeson, Matt Damon, Tina Fey along with Miley Cyrus’ little sister Noah and the Jonas Brothers’ younger sibling Frankie, “Ponyo” is an exceedingly loose adaptation from Hans Christian Andersons’s “The Little Mermaid.” Continue reading ‘Hayao Miyazaki: The Greatest Director You’ve (Probably) Never Heard Of’
Someone put a camera on the conveyor-belt in a kaiten sushi joint. It’s simple but fascinating. I wish I thought of it.
This independently produced pink eiga has all the hallmarks of a Koji Wakamatsu movie, like Go, Go Be a Virgin A Second Time — namely radical politics and naked women — but little of its poetry. The plot, as such, is a 60s radical sees a girl on the beach, he tries to rape her, and — after a whole lot of flailing around on the sand — she escapes missing a couple articles of clothing. Repeat until naked. Throw in some news footage of student protests and the Vietnam war and that’s pretty much the movie. It’s a pretty thin plot to be stretched for 73 minutes, and though the director, Toshio Okuwaki, does his best to pad it out with trippy sound effects, excessive use of slow motion, and bizarre unmotivated zooms. At it’s moments, it has a unhinged dream-like quality that reminded me a bit of Woman of the Dunes (perhaps it was all that sand) but for the most part it’s a dull, poseurish flick that pretensions of art, but in reality is flaccid crap.