Results tagged “Japanese Cinema”

Gamera: The Complete Collection Limited Edition Box Set Coming 8/18 (North America) and 8/17 (UK)

For the first time ever worldwide, all twelve tales of the adventures of everyone's favorite titanic terrapin are collected together in one deluxe Blu-ray boxset
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Press release: This limited edition collectors' set traces the decades-long evolution of Gamera, from the "friend of all children" in his more light-hearted earlier films, to the Guardian of the Universe in the groundbreaking 1990s reboot series, often hailed as three of the best kaiju films ever made. COLLECTOR'S EDITION BOX SET CONTENTS Limited collectors' edition packaging, housed in a large-format rigid box, fully illustrated by Matt Frank Casebound, fully-illustrated disc book containing eight Blu-ray discs High Definition (1080p) versions of all twelve films, with lossless original Japanese audio and a complete collection of English dub tracks, including classic American

The Mad Fox Blu-ray Review: Kabuki-styled Cinematic Fantasia

Sometimes kabuki, sometimes animated, always fascinating, The Mad Fox is rife with political intrigue and forbidden romance.
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Tomu Uchida is not one of the big names of Japanese cinema in the West, even though he had been at the game from early in the 20th century - his first credits date to 1924. He's made movies, excellent movies, throughout his career, but only recently have they been coming to light on home video releases. That Uchida doesn't have more recognition is a deep shame because, on the basis of this and a few other of his film available now in the West, he may be one of the Japanese greats, able to stand with his contemporaries Ichikawa,

Solid Metal Nightmares: The Films of Shinya Tsukamoto Blu-ray Box Set Review

Arrow's impressive box set contains a whopping 10 films surveying the career of this film auteur.
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If you’ve seen one Tsukamoto film, you definitely haven’t seen them all, as evidenced by this amazing new box set that houses a dizzying sampling of the many different genres and film formats he has touched on in the past 30 years. As an independent film director, he has the freedom to pursue whatever tickles his fancy at any given time, and as a clearly restless creative force, the results of his experiments presented here are always rewarding. While he may still be best known in the U.S. for his early black-and-white industrial schlockfest Tetsuo: The Iron Man, the films

Inferno of Torture Blu-ray Review: Torsos, Tattoos, and Torture

Another in Teruo Ishii's series of films depicting sadistic practices in Japanese history, all of which involve disrobing women.
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Inferno of Torture is the third of Teruo Ishii's ero-guro (erotic grotesque) films that have recently been released by Arrow Video. Orgies of Edo and Yakuza Law were anthology films, each with three stories ostensibly about the brutal systems of torture used by, respectively, the ruling class and the criminal class. Made in the late '60s and early '70s, these films are framed as historical docu-dramas, but are in fact exploitation films with historical themes. Whatever the intent, the films themselves consist mainly as ways to display sado-masochistic soft-core pornography, punctuated with sequences of gruesome horror. More specifically, topless women

One Missed Call Trilogy Blu-ray Review: Let This One Go to Voicemail

A spooky premise and an excellent set of extras can't save this trilogy of films from getting hung up on.
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A group of friends are hanging out. A cell phone rings, but nobody recognizes the ringtone. Finally, someone realizes it is hers but by the time she gets to it, she’s missed the call. The caller ID says it is from herself. Stranger still is that it is dated a couple of days in the future. There is a voicemail. It is from the girl who owns the phone. It begins with her talking about something innocuous - that it is starting to rain or some such thing - and ends with her screaming. That’s strange, everyone agrees, but it

Millennium Actress Blu-ray Review: Animated Japanese Film Fantasia

Satoshi Kon's second anime feature film about an actress' pursuit of a lost love intertwines fiction and reality.
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It's a love letter to film, a historical overview of early to mid-century Japan, and a biography of an actress told through scenes from her films. Millennium Actress is an incredibly ambitious, assured, and unconventional animated film, but it's unconventional in a different way than most out-there animated films. The animation isn't abstract or particularly mind-bending. There's no bizarre shock scenes or wild camera movements that would be impossible in the real world. Watching just individual scenes, one would think it could be made as a live action film without substantially changing a single shot. But Millennium Actress has such

Ringu Collection Blu-ray Review: Ghostly Revenge, Again and Again

Four weird, gripping and often terrifying films of spectral revenge that began the J-horror boom are now on Blu-ray.
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Horror as a genre tends to go through brief periods of inspiration, followed by long slogs of imitation. If you're unlucky, the inspired breakout hit is something like Saw, and as a horror fan you have to sit through years of vile dreck until something better comes along to rejigger the landscape. In the late '90s, horror was in one of its down-turn phases: the mid-'90s crackdown on letting youngsters into R-rated movies had the effect (still felt today) that to get the primary audience for horror, the young, you needed to be PG-13, which means violence has to be

Ringu Blu-ray Review: One Ring That Started Them All

Arrow Video brings a new 4K restoration of this Japanese horror film that started a movement.
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Japanese folklore has long included ghosts who haunt the living because they died with anger, rage, fear, or some other strong emotion. Many of these myths include a young girl with long, black hair obscuring her face. In 1991, Koji Suzuki updated these stories in his novel Ring. This was made into a 1995 TV movie called Ring: Kanzenban and then again as a theatrically released film called Ringu in 1998 by Hideo Nakata. Ringu made some significant changes to the novel and became a huge hit, becoming the highest-grossing horror film in Japan. It found an international audience on

The Flavor of Green Tea over Rice Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Gentle Ozu Comedy

Grandmaster filmmaker Ozu's minor, observant comedy about the growing differences between a middle-aged married couple.
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The first thing to get used to in an Ozu film is the camera perspective. He never (or at least rarely) does the normal over-the-shoulder shot and counter shot for conversations. Ozu tends to shoot things from a constant upward angle. It has been analogized to a POV from someone sitting, in traditional Japanese style on a mat, legs folded underneath. The view is tilted slightly upward, never straight on or from above. The second element of Ozu's filmmaking that has to be taken into consideration is the secondary nature of the plot. There are stories in all of his

Akio Jissoji: The Buddhist Trilogy Blu-ray Review: New Wave Filmmaking, Naked Ladies

Challenging, evocative films from the Japanese New Wave that contemplate aspects of the Buddhist religion, with lots of sex.
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It's difficult to put a modern film-fan in the mind of a viewer from the past, because of the nature of the medium. Editing and compositional techniques that were once avant-garde become incorporated into the language of cinema so quickly that it can be hard to appreciate how mold-breaking films could be, since the most effective techniques of the vanguard rapidly become the de riguer filmmaking of the commercial set. Jump cuts and non-linear narrative used to be wildly experimental - just a decade later they're regularly used in network television, the most staid and crowd-friendly of visual entertainment. This

Godzilla: The Showa Era Films (1954-1975), Criterion Edition #1000 Collects All 15 Films Together for the First Time

This monster of a set will be available October 29, 2019.
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Press release: This October, Criterion celebrates the arrival of spine number 1000, a Blu-ray collector’s set fit for the granddaddy of all movie monsters. This landmark edition gathers for the first time all the Godzilla films from Japan’s Showa era: fifteen kaiju rampages, presented in high-definition digital transfers and accompanied by a slew of supplemental material, including a giant deluxe hardcover book with notes on each film and new illustrations from sixteen artists, new and archival interviews with cast and crew members, and much, much more! It’s a colossal set, and Criterion would have it no other way for their

Yakuza Law Blu-ray Review: Gory Fun Yakuza Anthology

Three fun but gory short stories of the Yakuza taking the law into their own hands, filled with bloody torture.
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Yakuza Law is not even in the top-five craziest movies made by Teruo Ishii, and in it, a man rips out his own eyeball and throws it as his former boss, a thief is tortured by being dragged on the road by a helicopter, and a Yakuza is punished by his friends for stealing is tied to a tree, urinated on, and practically eaten alive by mosquitos. These are just a small sampling of the various horrible goings on in this anthology of short Yakuza stories, each about how the crime syndicates employ their own seedy form of justice. Teruo

Never-Ending Man: Hayao Miyazaki Blu-ray Review: Return of the King, or Don Quixote?

The legendary anime director emerges from retirement once again, with a documentary crew in tow exploring whether he's still the master or just chasing an old man's folly.
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Workaholic anime legend Hayao Miyazaki has “retired” so many times after completing difficult films that each announcement is met with a great deal of public bemusement. However, after the completion of his last feature film in 2013, The Wind Rises, and the virtual shuttering of his Studio Ghibli production offices, it appeared like his retirement might have a better-than-average chance of success. This documentary opens in that fallow period after his latest retirement, as he whiles away his days puttering around his house and bemoaning his increasing age. It’s an odd choice of timeframe for a documentary, until Miyazaki suddenly

Never-Ending Man: Hayao Miyazaki Blu-ray Review: Master Filmmaker's New Challenge

An intimate look at Japanese filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki's return from retirement to make a short CGI film.
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Hayao Miyazaki has announced his retirement several times throughout his career, but in 2013 it looked like he meant it. Studio Ghibli, the anime studio formed by Hayao and his mentor/producer/competitor Isao Takahata, where he made classics like My Neighbor Totoro, Spirited Away, and Princess Mononoke, closed the doors of its production office, and disbanded the staff. Miyazaki was apparently done, leaving behind him a legacy of quality that's unrivaled in most of filmmaking, let alone animated films. But the recent announcement that both Hayao and his son Goro Miyazaki are producing feature films with the studio has made it

The Street Fighter Collection Blu-ray Review: A Thrilling Action Trilogy

Well worth adding to any martial-arts fan's collection.
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Actor Sonny Chiba became an international sensation with the Japanese martial arts film, The Street Fighter, which saw him play Takuma (Terry for those watching the English dubs) Tsurugi, a man for hire that makes the impossible possible, usually at the request of criminals who inexplicably double cross him. Whereas Bruce Lee's fight scenes are graceful and Jackie Chan's are athletic, Chiba's are savage in the damage dished out. Tsurugi returned for two more films, Return of the Street Fighter and The Street Fighter's Last Revenge, and all three are part of Shout Factory's The Street Fighter Collection. Presented in

Liz and the Blue Bird Blu-ray Review: Take a Flyer on This Moving Anime Film

Close friends face the end of high school and differing plans for the future
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High school life is a favorite topic of anime productions, but this one differentiates itself by having a very narrow focus on the unresolved relationship between two senior girls as they near graduation. Mizore and Nozomi are close friends destined for different paths after high school, but still going about their daily school routines, including intensive orchestra rehearsals, as they try to ignore their future. In order to ease their upcoming transition, Nozomi encourages Mizore to study the story behind the orchestral work they’re rehearsing, a tale of a human who keeps a wild bird as a pet before setting

Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms Blu-ray Review: Anime at Its Finest

Veteren scriptwriter Mari Okada makes a dazzling directorial debut
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Although Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms didn’t make as much of a splash in the U.S. as the Oscar-nominated Mirai, it’s just as worthy of acclaim. It’s also somewhat of a rarity, as it was directed by a woman, a refreshing departure from the traditional boys club of the anime world. Mari Okada has a lengthy resume as a successful screenwriter for her production studio P.A. Works, and takes full advantage of the opportunity to wholly express her vision with this directorial debut. Maquia is a 15-year-old member of a blonde, fair-skinned, nearly eternal race called the Iorph, content

Audition Blu-ray Review: Family Drama Turns Violent

Takashi Miike's disturbing melodrama gets a nice restoration from Arrow Video.
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Perhaps the most shocking thing about Takashi Miike's 1999 film Audition is that for its first half or so there is nothing shocking about it at all. Miike, a Japanese director known for films featuring perverse images, black humor and extreme violence, spends the first 50 minutes of his nearly two hours run time telling an intimate, emotional, family drama. For anyone who comes to Audition knowing Miike films such as Ichi the Killer, Visitor Q, or Izo, watching nearly an hour of cinema in which nothing weird, blood soaked, or insane happens is the craziest twist of all. This

Lu Over the Wall Blu-ray Review: Vampire Mermaids Warm the Heart

A boy befriends a mermaid, and director Masaaki Yuasa reigns in his anarchic animation style...for a little while.
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Masaaki Yuasa is something of a wild card anime director. In an industry that can be chided for a certain uniformity of design and technique, he makes movies that look like nobody else's. To paint with a broad but not inaccurate brush, anime tends to go for contrasts of motion - energetic motion punctuated by stillness. Detailed backgrounds with simplified characters. Yuasa can do that, then wildly shift into incredible kineticism, with characters and backgrounds shifting with no concern for realism, detail, or anything other than the effect of the shot. Lu Over the Wall was conceived, as Yuasa explains

Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms Blu-ray Review: Emotional, Poignant Fantasy Epic

This visually arresting fantasy story of a mother and son that pulls at the heartstrings (and the tear ducts).
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Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms is visually stunning, and works hard at it. It opens with the working of a loom on screen, digitally animated. It's an incredibly detailed bit of mechanical animation, all lit with a white light that makes the images pale and almost translucent. The next image is of a beautiful vista - a white city sitting above a lake, blue water in the foreground and green and white mountains behind. Both shots are detailed, and rendered to be as visually impressive as possible. As the anime characters start appearing among these detailed fore and background
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