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  • Stranger

    Stranger

    Made as part of Toei’s straight-to-video V-cinema line, Shunichi Nagasaki brings a distinct voice to this cat and mouse thriller. While the commercial aspect is intact, steadily escalating in its action, the film avoids skin and favors psychological probing over physical.

    Kiriko (Yuko Natori) is a bank teller embezzling money from her work, in cahoots with her boyfriend. Almost immediately into the film she is caught and jailed. Once out she can only find work as a taxi driver, working…

  • Friend Request

    Friend Request

    When films use a facsimile of a computer screen in a 1:1 ratio with the frame of the film, a fascinating new territory of film language opens up (for more on this nonsense, here is a previous essay on the form). Web browser tabs are used for character backstory as can desktop wallpapers and folder/document names. Watching someone type and rewrite IMs or emails can be just as telling as when voice is used. There's potential here within what is…

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  • After the Storm

    After the Storm

    Kore-eda doing his take on the detective genre. That should be reason enough to go see After the Storm, both a spiritual successor to Still Walking for the Hiroshi Abe/Kirin Kiki pairing as son/mother and to his recent Our Little Sister for the strong presence a deceased family member might have on their family, sometimes a bigger presence than when they were alive.

    Ryota (Abe) describes himself as an author though his first and only novel, an award winner, came…

  • Bitter Honey

    Bitter Honey

    The relationship between artist and muse and the relationship between artist and his characters is the focus of Gakuryu Ishii's latest film. Gone is the punk aesthetic of the majority of his work but what remains is a film with inventive flourish and mood swings to match those of the goldfish turned nubile nymphet Akako (Fumi Nikaido) and the aging writer (Ren Osugi) she is in love with. The appearance of the ghost of one of the writer's many women…