Reviews by Country
You only have to do a little digging to come to the understanding that the origins and history of the yakuza aren’t necessarily written in stone. Sources conflict about how they began – as ronin or samurai family retainers, or special police formed to fight organised crime – but most sources can agree that regardless of where they started, their main characteristics involved crime, violence, and their own specific set of codes and rules.
Blood of Wolves maintains this essence … (read more)
Imagine, if you will, a movie where nothing much happens. Now, imagine being captivated by it. Now imagine going away feeling like you just witnessed some of the best, most wonderful cinema you’ve seen in a while. A long while. That feeling? That’s the Kore-eda effect.
Okay, fine, it’s not like Hirokazu Kore-eda is the only director who has the deftness and sensitivity to take the mundane and make it watchable without going over the edge into sentimentality and melodrama, … (read more)
(Ed: some might consider the following review to have some small spoilers. If you’re worried about that, go and catch it at the Japanese Film Festival and then come back and read our review!)
The mundane routine of actual police work has never been something that takes front and centre stage on our screens. From the days of the gumshoe detective, to the Lethal Weapons, to Miami Vice and NYPDCSINCIS, being a detective and hunting killers is exciting, dangerous, … (read more)
Call it a coming of age story if you want. The Peter Pan of ninjas can play all day and never take things too seriously. Until he has to. Call it a round-about revenge tale, or even a moral play. It is a little Shakespearean in its developments, and its style of humour (and a brilliant momentary break in the fourth wall) certainly does justice to the Bard. Or call it, perhaps most importantly, a serious Japanese contender for Guy … (read more)
Two thirds psychological study on bullying and disability, one third first love romance (and I’ll use that term very lightly here), A Silent Voice, based on the highly-acclaimed manga by Yoshitoki Oima, plots the unexpected turn that lives can take on, if not the simplest then at least the most uninformed of choices. To its great credit, however, it doesn’t in any way sugar coat the fact that some of those turns can get ugly, can have consequences we … (read more)
Better living through technology. But at what price? In the best tradition of classic speculative science fiction, Studio 4°C’s animated film Harmony, based on the novel by Project Itoh, examines this question through a mirror darkly. In the future, the world has been reduced by nuclear war and illness into sterile country states complete with regulated borders. Inside those borders, the Admedistration (not a typo) and a militarised version of the World Health Organisation ensure that all good citizens … (read more)
It’s not that I live on a diet of serial killer movies and thriller novels. I did read Silence of the Lambs once, so I would never consider myself an expert, but for some reason – maybe the title, or maybe the fact that plenty of other Kiyoshi Kurosawa films (like Retribution and Real to name just a couple) have been fairly hair-raising – I did in all honesty expect this 2016 murder thriller Creepy to be far creepier. … (read more)
So, I’ve discovered a concept more disturbing than a zombie apocalypse, and of course it’s all thanks to anime. Well, anime and maybe Mary Shelley, and at a guess, cancer. Empire of Corpses was science and speculative fiction author Project Itoh’s (aka Satoshi Itoh) last, unfinished novel. He died of cancer in 2009 at the very young age of 34, and it’s perhaps no surprise that what he was writing immediately before his death was a somewhat hauntingly desperate, slightly … (read more)