Year in Film: 2010

Alice in Wonderland

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I was eagerly looking forward to Tim Burton’s take on Lewis Carroll all through 2009, but by the time it was finally released in Tokyo, in April of 2010, the marketing over-exposure had put me right off it, and I never got around to seeing it in the theater. However, it did inspire me to […]


Anti Gas Skin

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Day 3 of the Tokyo Filmex festival. Anti Gas Skin must certainly be the strangest film in the current Filmex, and is one of the oddest films I have seen in a while. A killer is terrorizing Seoul. Or it may be killers, as the always-present gas mask obscures their identity. The press plays up […]


Birthright

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Day 7 of the Tokyo International Film Festival. The festival program has this to say about the Japanese film Birthright: “Birthright was conceptualized for theatrical screening only. Imagery reaches the limit of darkness while both sound and dialogue are stripped to the bone. Length: 108 minutes. Audiences will be glued to their seats.” This struck […]


Bunraku

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Day five of the Tokyo International Film Festival. Bunraku is a special entry in the festival in that it is a major Hollywood film, but stars three Japanese performers—Shun Sugata and Emily Kaiho, who attended the screening, and Japanese musician Gackt, who was surprisingly nowhere to be seen. It is hard to figure out how […]


Burke and Hare

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Since the last film John Landis made that anyone took notice of was Blues Brothers 2000 (confusingly made in 1998 despite the title), a film so obviously ill-advised that no one bothered to see it, it was natural to think that he would probably never make another film again. But he has made one of […]


Despicable Me

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An overweight, rather campy criminal who takes pride in being the worst person alive is furious to learn that a rival gang of criminals is trying to usurp the throne, and sets out with a ragtag team of cohorts to retain the title. This is the plot of John Waters’ Pink Flamingos, often called the […]


EDOnism

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EDOnism is a sci-fi movie that just happens to have been produced by some acquaintances of acquaintances of mine, and shot in Tokyo, the city where I have lived for the past ten years. Although it was made on a low (very low) budget, and uses semi-professional and amateur actors working on a volunteer basis, […]


Gothic & Lolita Psycho

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Gothic & Lolita Psycho is a film that I had to see on a work assignment, as I did a write up on the influences of Gothic Lolita fashion in the movie, and did a short interview with the director for the online magazine TokyoFashion.com. It is not something I would have probably seen otherwise, […]


Hereafter

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Clint Eastwood’s recent films just keep getting better and better. I was really impressed with The Changeling, made in 2007.  His restrained directorial style made me like the film despite the fact that it stars Angelina Jolie, who isn’t exactly a favorite actress of mine.  I thought Gran Torino was a nearly perfect film. At […]


I Wish I Knew

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Today was the first day of Tokyo Filmex, a film festival that was started 10 years ago by Takeshi Kitano. It is much artier than the Tokyo International Film Festival, and focuses mostly edgy Asian filmmakers. Almost every film in the festival was something I had never heard of. I did not have much time […]


Kick-Ass

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Well, I got through 2010 watching a movie every day. My original plan one year ago was to see movies in theaters as often as I could, and only watch things at home or at friends’ homes when there was nothing playing that I hadn’t already scene. But I got lazy and watched stuff at […]


Machete

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Danny Trejo has been working as a character actor in small parts for over 20 years, and probably long ago gave up on ever landing a lead role—that is if he ever had thoughts of getting one. A man with a face like a well-weathered catcher’s mitt, he is miles away from a from an […]


Made in Dagenham

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I often watch films I know almost nothing about, apart from the title. One of the great pleasures of this kind of film viewing is being able learn about something that is entirely new to me. Now I am going through British films of the last 10 years, and probably never would have seen Made […]


Potiche

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Day two of the Tokyo International Film Festival marked the second visit to Japan this year by Catherine Deneuve, who was here in February to promote Hidden Diary. Director François Ozon was also slated to attend the festival, but didn’t show due to scheduling conflicts. Needless to say, Deneuve was great on her own at […]


Sarah’s Key

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OK, on to day two of the week of preview screenings leading up to The Tokyo International Film Festival, which kicks off next week. It is a nice treat to be able to see a film up to a year or even more before it gets a full release in Japan. There have now been […]


Somewhere

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I admit I like Sofia Coppola’s films. I appreciate that she is trying to bring an artiness in cinematography and storytelling that is usually only seen in European films to American audiences. But at the same time it is hard not to agree with the most common  criticism leveled at her—that all of her films […]


The Happy Poet

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Day 6 of the Tokyo International Film Festival. The Happy Poet is by far my favorite film I have seen in the fest so far. I had an interview scheduled with the writer/actor/director Paul Gordon, but had to cancel it due to a schedule conflict. That is a shame, because I left the theater thinking […]


The Solitude of Prime Numbers

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The Solitude of Prime Numbers was one of the films I was most looking forward to in the Tokyo International Film Festival, just because I found Alba Rohrwacher’s subtly tortured performance in Giovanna’s Father so good. Rohrwacher is indeed good in the film, in another role of a mentally troubled woman, and she appears to […]


The Wolfman

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After seeing I Was a Teenage Werewolf yesterday, I was hungry for a bit more cinematic lycanthropy and finally got around to seeing the Benicio del Toro remake of The Wolf Man (1941). When the remake was first announced more than four years ago, it was widely reported that like the original, it would be […]


Year Without A Summer

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Day 2 of the Tokyo Filmex festival. When I was looking over the Filmex catalogue trying to decide what to see, I realized I had probably never seen a Malaysian film, and opted to see A Year Without A Summer today. The screening was held in a big hall at Tokyo International Forum, which was […]


You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger

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I often say that Woody Allen has never made a film that I don’t like, and couldn’t even if he wanted to. But lately it sometimes seems that he is actually trying to.  Starting with Vicky Christina Barcelona, Allen started using off-screen narrators, using young American actors who are not known for doing narration. This […]


Random Quote

“Identity is more than a birth certificate. It is my family I grew up with.”
-Joseph Silberg (Jules Sitruk)
from The Other Son