Monthly Archives:

July 2017

Before We Vanish by Lawrence Garcia Film

Person to Person | Dustin Guy Defa

Many ND/NF entries have demonstrated an admirable scale in their ambitions, but few have had the confidence to do so as unassumingly as Dustin Guy Defa’s pleasantly low-key Person to Person. This feature expansion of short by the same name, true to its title, tracks the sprawling, loosely connected misadventures…

July 28, 2017
Before We Vanish by Paul Attard Film

Escapes | Michael Almereyda

Most documentaries live and die by how much they can ‘get out of’ their subjects, which makes Escapes seem relatively low-stakes at first. In chronicling the life of Hampton Fancher—a D-list western actor turned screenwriter, who happened to write the Blade Runner script—director Michael Almereyda molds a seemingly mundane…

July 26, 2017
by Chris Mello Film

The Extremists’ Opera | Junko Emoto

Adapted from its director’s own novel, Junko Emoto’s The Extremists’ Opera is often at its best when its roving handheld camera has the good sense to stop and observe. A theatre director making her film debut, Emoto’s interest in watching her actors navigate the…

July 25, 2017
by Sean Gilman Film

Love and Goodbye and Hawaii | Shingo Matsumura

Shingo Matsumura’s Love and Goodbye and Hawaii is a rare gem, an off-beat light comedy about young people that is neither cute nor contrived, founded in a reality unadorned by screenwriterly gimmicks. Rinko (Aya Ayano), a young woman a few years out of college,…

July 25, 2017
by Christopher Bourne Film

West North West | Takuro Nakamura

Takuro Nakamura’s West North West—the direction to Mecca from Tokyo—details a sort-of-kind-of love triangle between three women: Iranian exchange student Naima (Sahel Rosa), bartender Kei (Hanae Kan), and Kei’s pathologically jealous model girlfriend, Ai (Yuka Yamauchi). West North West is well acted and often affecting, despite an…

July 25, 2017
by Paul Attard Film

Tokyo Idols | Kyoko Miyake

“The selling point is that they’re not yet developed” says otaku Shin after seeing a concert of middle school-aged girls singing their hearts out to a crowd of mostly middle-aged males. Such is the appeal of an “idol”—a Japanese pop-star whom older men obsess over to…

July 25, 2017
by Lawrence Garcia Film

Summer Lights | Jean-Gabriel Periot

Marking French writer-director Jean-Gabriel Periot’s first step into fiction filmmaking (after a string of documentaries), Summer Lights opens, fittingly, with a simple, sustained talking-head interview. “That summer was especially hot…” begins Mrs. Takeda as she recalls the moments leading up to the Hiroshima bombing,…

July 25, 2017
by Sean Gilman Film

Hengyoro | Gō Takamine

Okinawan filmmaker Gō Takamine’s Hengyoro is an unclassifiable collage. More or less centered on the story of a couple of elderly men who perform what they call “chain plays” (fluid mixtures of film and theatre), the two get into trouble when one accidentally steals a bagged…

July 25, 2017
by Christopher Bourne Film

My Dad and Mr. Ito | Yuki Tanada

Beneath the lightly comedic surface of Yuki Tanada’s My Dad and Mr. Ito lies a more serious and sharply observed riff on Tokyo Story that updates the premise of unwanted family elders to reflect the current economic realities of scarce full-time work and the…

July 25, 2017
In Review | Online film and music criticism