fri 28/04/2017

Japan

Madama Butterfly, Royal Opera

"È un'immensa pietà" - "it's heartbreaking," rather than "it's a huge pity" - sings consul Sharpless of "Butterfly" Cio-Cio San's fatal belief that her American husband will return to her. Heartbreak is what we expected from Ermonela Jaho after her...

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Ghost in the Shell review - 'a mind-bending futuristic dystopia'

The Japanese Ghost in the Shell phenomenon is celebrating its 25th birthday, and already has a long history in manga cartoons and animated movies. Now Hollywood has clambered aboard, though this live-action version, finally helmed by British...

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NHK Symphony Orchestra, Tokyo, Järvi, RFH

Berlin and Vienna Philharmonics; Royal Concertgebouw Amsterdam; NHKSO Tokyo. Would you have thought of putting the Japanese orchestra in the same league as the top Europeans? I certainly wouldn't, at least not until last night. While there isn't the...

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10 Questions for Conductor Paavo Järvi

Now at the very top of his game and master of sundry great orchestras around the world, Paavo Järvi is the conductor students of the art like to follow for his perfect technique. Time was when he seemed like the cooler version of his peerless father...

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DVD: The Spring River Flows East

There’s rich irony in the timelining of 1940s Chinese blockbuster The Spring River Flows East. Cai Chusheng and Zheng Junli’s melodrama dates its 14-year timespan – events unroll from 1931 to the end of the war in 1945 – with reference to the...

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DVD/Blu-ray: Black Society Trilogy

Mixing up your yakuzas and your triads can be a bloody business, as Takashi Miike’s films show in the goriest detail. The title of the earliest work in his “Black Society” trilogy, Shinjuku Triad Society from 1995, says it all – a Chinese...

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DVD: The Wailing

In the extras on the DVD release of The Wailing, South Korean director Na Hong-Jin says, “Every genre of film has its own strengths and weaknesses. By combining many genres you could say that I was able to build and emphasise the strengths, while...

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Hacksaw Ridge

After doing his time in the Hollywood wilderness, Mel Gibson is back with a bang – a cacophony of bangs, frankly – with Hacksaw Ridge. With six Oscar nominations including Best Director, Best Actor and Best Picture, it's enough to tempt a man to...

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Silence

Audiences cannot fail to register the enormity of Martin Scorsese’s achievement in Silence. At 160 minutes, it hangs heavy over the film: adapted from the 1966 novel by Japanese writer Shusaku Endo, Silence has been close on three decades in...

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Sunday Book: Haruki Murakami - Absolutely on Music

Every fan of his fiction knows that Haruki Murakami loves jazz and lets the music play throughout his books. Yet in this 320-page dialogue between the novelist and his equally eminent compatriot, conductor Seiji Ozawa, it’s the veteran maestro of...

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Madama Butterfly, Glyndebourne Tour

What would Glyndebourne, staging Madama Butterfly for the first time, bring to Puccini's most heartbreaking tragedy? Subtle realism, perhaps? Certainly the composer, along with his superb librettists Giacosa and Illica, offers plenty of...

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Sweet Bean

Sweet Bean is one of those slow, gentle Japanese fables that one either loves or finds infuriatingly sentimental. Directed by documentarian Naomi Kawase, a film festival favourite whose features rarely make it to the UK, it played in Cannes’ Un...

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