Results tagged “Japanese Cinema”

Mifune: The Last Samurai DVD Review: Japan's Greatest Actor Profiled

Informative, engaging overview of the actor's life and work, both with Akira Kurosawa and beyond.
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Toshiro Mifune is one of the most dynamic actors who's ever played on the big screen. He was an animal presence that made it difficult to look away. Even in one of Akira Kurosawa's more staid productions, the stagy and fairly drab The Lower Depths, comes to life when his character comes on screen for an unfortunate few times. In combination with Akira Kurosawa, he made one of the definitive actor/director teams who shaped the future of Japanese cinema, helping to bring it to international attention for the first time in 1950’s Rashomon. Mifune: The Last Samurai, a feature-length documentary

Tampopo Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: An Endearing, Sensual, and Tasty Experience

Sweet, sexy, and hilarious food for thought.
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Some of the best films about food not only include food itself, but the reasons why it is essential, especially when it comes to culture, love, and satisfaction. Films about food can be entertaining, delectable, and hypnotic, such as Babette's Feast (1987), Big Night (1996), and Like Water For Chocolate (1994). However, as great as those films still are, I think Juzo Itami's 1985 classic, Tampopo, outshines them all. It is an endearing, sensual, and tasty 114-minute experience at the movies. Although the film is centered on the titular character Tampopo (Nobuko Miyamoto), it is really a series of vignettes

Blu-ray Reviews: Twilight Time Goes Around the World (and Then Some)

Six globetrotting adventures and dramas make their HD home video debuts, including a Sonny Chiba disaster flick and that missing title from you Ray Harryhausen collection.
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Although statistics and insurance companies tend to inform us most accidents occur within only a few miles of our own places of residence β€’ sometimes mostly within their very confines themselves β€’ storytellers and filmmaking industries prefer to place protagonists into plights far from home. And there is perhaps no greater assortment of variable cinematic journeys than this particular lot from Twilight Time, which range from being perfectly cordial to posing downright perilous situations for their passengers. You know, the very sort of tales that keep audiences glued to cinema seats β€’ be it from euphoric glee or sheer suspense.

Ghost in the Shell (1995) Limited Steelbook Blu-ray Review: Philosophical Animated Noir with Boobs

Terrifically stylized anime asks deep questions about technology we're still trying to answer today.
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In the near future, humans beings augment their bodies with mechanical and computerized parts. You can get hardened shells, robotic arms, infrared vision, and a computerized brain. These computers connect everyone to a vast electronic network. Some people forego human bodies at all and have their souls, or ghosts, connected to completely robotic bodies. Major Motoko Kusangi is one such creature. She works for Public Security Section 9, some kind of intelligence operation for an unnamed, probably Japanese, city. Initially, her team is after a vaguely evil foreign operative who is seeking political asylum but the film drops that plot

Black Society Trilogy Blu-ray Review: Madman Miike's (Relatively) Somber Saga

In these three films about criminal outsiders, Takashi Miike tones down his frenetic style demonstrating a commitment to craft.
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Takashi Miike is the Japanese director who will, seemingly, film anything. And anything does not just mean he'll put the ugliest or craziest images on screen, but he will try literally anything. Hyperbolic nastiness, vicious violence, creepy sex including necrophilia? Yes. A madwoman chopping off a man's foot with piano-wire to teach him a lesson? Sure. A children's fantasy film with talking umbrellas? Why not? Or, in the so-called Black Society Trilogy, three (relatively) restrained movies about the difficulty of being an outsider, even in the outsider society of organized crime, where the need for family both sustains and destroys

Princess Mononoke: 20th Anniversary Comes to U.S. Cinemas on January 5 and 9 Only

On director Hayao Miyazaki's birthday, GKIDS and Fathom Events present the Japanese animated feature.
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Press release: Princess Mononoke, the classic animated film from groundbreaking writer/director Hayao Miyazaki and the legendary Studio Ghibli, returns to movie theaters for two nights only for a dual celebration of the beloved historical fantasy’s 20th anniversary and Miyazaki’s birthday. Hailed in 1997 by Roger Ebert as "a great achievement and a wonderful experience, and one of the best films of the year," Princess Mononoke: 20th Anniversary comes to U.S. cinemas, subtitled on Thursday, January 5, 2017 at 7:00 p.m. and English-dubbed on Monday, January 9, at 7:00 p.m. (all local times), presented by Fathom Events, in partnership with GKIDS.

Fathom Events Presents Spirited Away: 15th Anniversary

The rerelease of the Miyazaki classic just breathes on the big screen.
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The people at Fathom Events are the ones that bring me out to Rifftrax events a few times a year. They're also responsible for bringing some of my most favorite classic films back to theaters like Rear Window, From Here To Eternity, Jaws, and Animal House. The most recent release brings back a more recent film from the brilliant talent, Hayao Miyazaki's 2001 film Spirited Away. I have been a huge fan of this film since its release and ones like these are perfect because few people saw it in theaters when it was released. This has been the highest-grossing

Lone Wolf and Cub Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Manga Comes to Life

Chanbara film series is aided by the screenwriting of the manga series creator, Kazuo Koike.
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As the shogun executioner, Ogami Itto has a comfortable gig until he falls from grace and endures the death of his beloved wife. Facing almost certain death at the hands of his enemies, the dreaded Yagyu clan, he’s forced to flee and gives his toddler son a choice: die at his hand or join him in a life of hardship on the “demon road”. With no home, no money, and no seeming future, the father becomes an assassin for hire and stays on the move, pushing his son around the countryside in a rickety cart from one misadventure to the

Mifune: The Last Samurai Movie Review: A Wonderful Remembrance

A straightforward biography that reveals little more than the story of the man's life.
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Award-winning filmmaker Steven Okazak's documentary tells the story of Japanese actor Toshiro Mifune, who together with director Akira Kurosawa became worldwide sensations because of their work together on 16 films, from Drunken Angel (1948) to Red Beard (1965). Narrator Reeves says they were "some of the greatest movies ever made...Together, they influenced filmmaking and popular culture around the world." Their partnership was such an integral part of their lives, it's not a surprise it's an integral part of this documentary as well. Because film was such an important part of what he became, the story of Mifune: The Last Samurai

Spirited Away: 15th Anniversary Brings Hayao Miyazaki's Animated Masterpiece to U.S. Cinemas

In U.S. movie theaters on Sunday, December 4 at 12:00 p.m. (dubbed in English) and Monday, December 5, at 7:00 p.m. (English language subtitles).
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Press release: Enter an enchanted world of witches, dragons and spirits in Spirited Away, director Hayao Miyazaki’s, critically-acclaimed story that became a worldwide phenomenon, cementing Studio Ghibli’s legacy as one of the foremost animation studios in the world. Spirited Away: 15th Anniversary celebrates the anniversary of the Academy Award-winning animated film and the legendary Studio Ghibli. Fathom Events, in partnership with GKIDS, the acclaimed distributor of multiple Academy Award-nominated animated features, is set to bring this special event to U.S. movie theaters for two days only on Sunday, December 4 at 12:00 p.m. (dubbed in English) and Monday, December 5,

The Story of the Last Chrysanthemum Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: An Early Masterwork

A wonderful tale of love and loss at the Kabuki theater.
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Kiku (Shotaro Hanyagi) is the adopted son of Kabuki royalty in Tokyo. As the presumed heir to this theatrical throne, he is constantly lavished with acclaim. The mouths that herald his praises come with two faces and out of the other, they spit ridicule. Even Kiku’s father-in-law cannot bring himself to tell him how poorly he acts. Late one night, he walks with Otoku (Kakuko Mori), nursemaid to Kiku’s brother's son, who finally tells him the truth - he stinks! Instead of lashing out in anger, Kiku’s is filled with gratitude that someone is finally willing to speak to him

Shin Godzilla Stomps Across North America This October

"A larger than life monster like Godzilla has to be experienced on the big screen."
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Press release: The iconic science-fiction monster Godzilla makes land fall in the U.S. and Canada this October with the North American theatrical release of Shin Godzilla from Toho Company, Ltd—and you can score your tickets now! Fans have been clamoring for news of the film’s theatrical dates ever since Funimation Films made its surprise acquisition announcement in July at San Diego Comic Con 2016. The company revealed that Shin Godzilla will roar into theaters for a limited engagement October 11 - 18, screening in more than 440 theaters across the U.S. and Canada. Tickets for Shin Godzilla are now available

Female Prisoner Scorpion: The Complete Collection Blu-ray Review: These Aint Your Father's Women-in-Prison Films

A terrific collection of some really wonderful genre films is maligned by less than stellar video quality.
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Leave it to the Japanese to perfect the Women-in-Prison subgenre. First time director Shunya Itō took all of the sleazy elements of the genre - rampant nudity, rape, gratuitous violence, and lesbianism - and turned it into real cinema. Female Prisoner 701: Scorpion and its sequel Female Prisoner Scorpion: Jailhouse 41 aren’t just good examples of the genre but honest-to-god great movies. The subsequent sequels (Female Prisoner Scorpion: Beast Stable and Female Prisoner Scorpion: #701’s Grudge Song don’t fare quite as well but there are still some really nice moments in each. Arrow Video has recently combined the four films

Woman in the Dunes Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Digging out a Life in Sand

Hiroshi Teshigahara's enigmatic, hypnotic tale of a man trapped is equal parts Twilight Zone and Kafka, and completely absorbing.
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Every night, the woman shovels sand from the bottom of a hole, which gets carted up by a rope pulley, and hauled away. She lives at the bottom of a deep pit, and every night the sand builds up. If she leaves off for more than a couple of days, the sand will get everywhere, and eventually the house will collapse, and she will die. Her husband and daughter were killed by the sand. So she digs, each night, for most of the night. She sleeps during the day, nude, sometimes not even under a blanket, since sleeping with the

Female Prisoner Scorpion: The Complete Collection Blu-ray Review: She'd Have Killed Bill in the First Movie

Meiko Kaji and her incredible cheekbones star in four Japanese women's prison movies with varying levels of insanity.
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Despite all the blood, boobs, torture, cruelty, crazy lighting schemes, and wild camera angles, the most indelible image in these four women's prison movies is Meiko Kaji's face. In particular, her big-eyed, vengeful glare. Her hair is jet black, and in some memorable shots her pale, beautiful face is the only thing lit in frame. In an almost silent role as Nami Matsushima (a.k.a Scorpion), her large, staring eyes and why she's glaring so intently frame the central theme of the movies: the victimization of women by men, and by extension, themselves. Of course, to deliver this theme, these movies

Nikkatsu Diamond Guys: Vol 2 Blu-ray Review: The Sillier Side of Japan

Three movies from the 1960s show the Japanese made more than just deeply felt dramas and samurai flicks.
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The Nikkatsu Corporation was formed in 1912 when several smaller production companies and theatre chains consolidated. They had some success in those years, but struggled in the early post war era. By the 1950s, they hit their stride, producing hundreds of movies in every conceivable genre that drew in the youth crowd by the truckload weekend after weekend. Arrow Video has been mining the Nikkatsu vaults during this “Golden Era” for a number of excellent video releases. Much like the Hollywood system of this era, Nikkatsu began contracting its directors and stars locking them into multi-film deals which created something

The Frida Cinema Presents Studio Ghibli Film Festival from July 8 - 21

Twenty animated films screen over the two-week retrospective.
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Press release: From Castle in the Sky (1986) to When Marnie was There (2014), the films of Japanese animation studio Studio Ghibli have captured the imagination, swept international awards, and boosted the Japanese film industry, with eight Ghibli titles among the 15 highest-grossing films made in Japan. From July 8 - 21, The Frida Cinema presents twenty of the studio's most celebrated works on stunning new digital restorations, complemented by an Art Show dedicated to the films of Studio Ghibli curated by Santa Ana-based vintage store and DIY music venue Top Acid, and a special presentation of rarely-screened 1988 animated

Celebrate Fourth of July with Godzilla During El Rey Network's 'Kaijuly Roarth' Marathon

Beginning July 1st at 10:00 am ET/PT, 14 films starring your favorite Kaiju monster battles run for four days back-to-back.
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Press release: Kick off celebrating America’s independence with your favorite Japanese monsters on Friday, July 1 at 4:00PM ET/PT. Godzilla, Mechagodzilla, Ghidorrah, Destroyah, and more will continue to brawl it out until Monday, July 4, at 4:00 AM ET/PT. Featuring 14 iconic Godzilla films, “Kaijuly Roarth” brings these big bad monster movies to the small screen. El Rey Network’s “Kaijuly Roarth” Marathon Film Schedule FRIDAY July 1, 2016 4:00 PM ET/PT GOJIRA 6:15 PM ET/PT GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS 8:00 PM ET/PT GODZILLA RAIDS AGAIN 9:45 PM ET/PT TERROR OF MECHAGODZILLA 11:45 PM ET/PT GODZILLA VS. MECHAGODZILLA II 2:15

Nikkatsu Diamond Guys Volume 2 Blu-ray Review: Some Things Don't Translate

A second volume of movies from Nikkatsu's '60s heyday branches out from just crime movies, with occasionally baffling results.
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Japanese cinema is samurai showdowns, tough gangster pictures, or calm, quietly devastating domestic dramas. Kurosawa, Ozu, Mizoguchi. Oh, and Godzilla. Maybe a few decades of nothing for a while, then long-haired ghosts and incredibly violent weird movies by Takashi Miike. That’s what the industry and art form looked like to even an interested observer not too long ago. There were a few other movies that came in through the cracks (Afterlife in the late '90s, Kitano’s fireworks before that) but the vision of Japanese cinema, internationally, was fairly stable for a long of film enthusiasts. With their Nikkatsu releases in

The Naked Island Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: The Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Japanese film explores the travails of a poor farming family without the use of dialogue.
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Kaneto Shindo’s film about the daily struggles of a poor farming family has one major hook: a total absence of dialogue. Filmed in black and white on a rocky speck of an island off the coast of Japan, the film initially plays more like a documentary than a narrative film until a tragic event unfolds in the final act. Up until that point, the daily monotony of hardscrabble farming life wears out its welcome as a film subject long before its allotted time is over. The family consists of a middle-aged man, his younger wife, and their two young sons.
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