wed 22/01/2020

Japan

Bach Sunday with the Suzukis, RAM / Appl, AAM, Milton Court review - father, son and Holy Ghost

Not long after noon on Sunday, strange bells began ringing. In just 11 bars, Bach summons pairs of flutes, oboes and violas da gamba against pizzicato strings and continuo to tintinnabulate against the alto's recitative lines about a "vibrating...

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DVD/Blu-ray: The Emperor's Naked Army Marches On

When Sight & Sound compiled its “Greatest Documentaries of All Time” list five years ago, Kazuo Hara’s The Emperor's Naked Army Marches On came in at number 23 – proof, some three decades on from its 1987 release, that this remarkable film had...

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Giri/Haji, Series Finale, BBC Two review - a thriller, but much more besides

Happily, Joe Barton’s tinglingly original thriller (BBC Two) finished as smartly as it began, not by any humdrum tying-up of loose ends but by giving free rein to the story’s ambiguities and impossible choices. If indeed they really were choices....

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Midway review - gung-ho heroes battle moribund script

Director Roland Emmerich has been trying to make this movie since the 1990s, and battled hard to raise its $100m budget from individual investors. But why? The result is an old-fashioned war film in praise of the heroic American servicemen who...

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Giri/Haji, BBC Two review - inspired Anglo-Japanese thriller makes compulsive viewing

Well here’s an interesting one. We’ve been up to our eyebrows in Eurocops for the past few years, but this Anglo-Japanese fusion from BBC Two (the title translates as "Duty / Shame") feels strikingly fresh and different.It began, as policiers are...

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DVD/Blu-ray: Mirai

Mirai made animation history when it was included in the Director's Fortnight at Cannes in 2018, the first Japanese anime feature to be so honoured. It went on to be nominated for an Oscar. Director Mamoro Hosoda, who worked at Studio Ghibli before...

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Hiromi Kawakami: The Ten Loves of Mr Nishino review - Don Juan as a salaryman

My first, beguiling taste of Hiromi Kawakami’s fiction came when, in 2014, I and my fellow-judges shortlisted Strange Weather in Tokyo for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize. That delicate, unsettling tale of a romance between a younger woman and...

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Manga, British Museum review - stories for outsiders

Manga, the Japanese art of the graphic novel, took its modern form in the 1800s. Illustrated stories already had a long heritage in Japan — encompassing woodblock prints and illustrated scrolls and novels — but the introduction of the printing press...

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Pokémon Detective Pikachu review - a cute commercial

This is the Who Framed Roger Rabbit? of the Pokémon franchise, bringing the video game’s cute critters into a live-action, film noir world, as Pikachu (Ryan Reynolds) turns Holmes-hatted detective to help teenage human Tim (Justice Smith) find his...

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DVD: Mifune - The Last Samurai

Akira Kurosawa’s 1950 early masterpiece Rashomon was a revelation for post-war western screen audiences, winning the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival that year and becoming a standard-bearer for the new generation of Japanese film. Its lead...

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Reissue CDs Weekly: Kankyō Ongaku

Of the 20-plus names gathered on the superbly packaged Kankyō Ongaku, it’s likely that only Yellow Magic Orchestra and their members Haruomi Hosono and Ryuichi Sakamoto are familiar to most non-Japanese listeners. Initially, it seems a big ask to...

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Shoplifters review - deserved Cannes prize winner

When a film is about a crime family, audience expectations tend to involve mobsters and thrills, but that’s not the territory that Hirozaku Kora-eda is exploring here. He opens his tale with a camera tracking leisurely across a Tokyo supermarket. A...

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