by Kenji Fujishima

#StreamingScene by Kenji Fujishima Film

Happy as Lazzaro | Alice Rohrwacher

December 5, 2018
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For the most part, Alice Rohrwacher’s third feature Happy as Lazzaro plays as yet another Italian working-class neorealist drama, this one focusing on the inhabitants of Inviolata, an isolated farming village high up in the mountains. The Italian writer-director focuses on quotidian details of these peasants’ everyday lives—daily habits, social customs, and so on—which cinematographer Hélène Louvart captures in 16mm, with a roving kino-eye that feels like it’s merely happening upon such privileged moments of existence. Even amid its generally naturalistic tenor,…

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by Kenji Fujishima Retrospective

Night and Day | Hong Sang-soo

October 19, 2018
Night and Day

Hong Sang-soo’s 2009 film Night and Day marks many firsts for the director, including his first film shot on digital and his first to be filmed outside his native South Korea. At 144 minutes, Night and Day is also Hong’s longest film by a considerable distance. That doesn’t mean that Night and Day is a radical departure for the filmmaker; it is, as with many of his films before it and many since, a merciless dissection of a self-absorbed male artist’s fragile ego…

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by Kenji Fujishima Retrospective

Tokyo Tribe | Sion Sono

August 26, 2016
Tokyo Tribe

Though the presence of Shota Sometani, the tortured lead actor of Sion Sono’s Himizu—who’s even sporting the same gray hoodie he wore in that previous film—establishes a link between Sono’s more serious Fukushima Daiichi disaster-related films, Tokyo Tribe is resolutely in the maximalist vein of the director’s glorious movie-about-moviemaking Why Don’t You Play in Hell? If anything, Tokyo Tribe even manages to top the blissfully insane pleasures of its predecessor. Imagine a Warriors-influenced rap musical set in a dystopian Tokyo wherein various street gangs are…

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#KickingtheCanon by Kenji Fujishima Film

The Battle of Algiers | Gillo Pontecorvo

May 14, 2015
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Proof of the lasting influence of Gillo Pontecorvo’s 1966 docudrama The Battle of Algiers can be glimpsed in two relatively recent films making a sizable dent in last year’s new-release landscape: Ana DuVernay’s Selma and Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper. In Selma — as was the case with the film that is arguably its spiritual forerunner, Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln — there is an emphasis on political maneuvering, one that likens it to Pontecorvo’s film, with its independence-seeking…

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by Kenji Fujishima Festival Coverage Film

Toronto International Film Festival 2014 – Dispatch 2

September 12, 2014
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With a film festival as stacked to the gills as the TIFF, thematic trends are bound to pop up. Last year, doppelgängers appeared to be a trend, with films like Enemy, The Double and A Spell to Ward Off the Darkness. This year, with the first three films in this second dispatch (here’s the first), the spectacle of older filmmakers pontificating on the younger generation dominates, with wildly mixed results.…

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by Kenji Fujishima Festival Coverage Film

Toronto International Film Festival 2014 – Dispatch 1

September 9, 2014
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Another year, another insanely packed Toronto International Film Festival. While there are certainly titles premiering at TIFF this year that interest me, my festival experience so far has mostly been spent catching up with titles that played at Cannes, which, sadly, I was unable to attend this year for boring personal reasons. In fact, the first film I saw at TIFF was this year’s Palme winner……

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by Kenji Fujishima Feature Articles Film

MoMA’s Chinese Realities/Documentary Visions and the Anti-City Symphony Disorder

May 9, 2013
Disorder

If we’re talking about a “golden age of documentaries,” as many seem to be doing these days, then we really should be talking more about the recent influx of documentaries coming out of China. With the Communist Chinese government as repressive as it is, more filmmakers there are turning to the documentary form to catalog and explore the various injustices and inequalities they see in their society, among other subjects. Even better, these filmmakers are bringing their own distinctive personal…

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#KickingtheCanon by Kenji Fujishima Film

Portrait of Jason | Shirley Clarke

April 19, 2013
PORTRAIT OF JASON

Shirley Clarke’s 1967 documentary Portrait of Jason at first seems like a standard talking-heads documentary writ large, at least if one were to offer up a brief description of it: A man — the titular Jason Holliday — in a hotel room, recounts his sad life. That’s basically the movie, all 105 minutes of it, culled from 12 hours of footage all shot on the night of December 2, 1966.…

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by Kenji Fujishima Retrospective

Five Dedicated to Ozu | Abbas Kiarostami

September 25, 2011
Five Dedicated to Ozu

Even in his earlier, more relatively conventional films, Abbas Kiarostami always maintained an eye for radical formal experimentation. Close Up, for instance, is as much a meditation on the possibilities of fiction in capturing reality as it is a moving docudrama about an ordinary man so enraptured by art that he dares to impersonate one of his filmmaking idols. And though Taste of Cherry and The Wind Will Carry Us certainly don’t lack in human interest, both are also just as noteworthy…

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