wed 30/11/2022

Japan

My Neighbour Totoro, Barbican review - dazzling stage adaptation of a Japanese classic

As 10-year-old Satsuki observes as she arrives in the countryside with her little sister Mei, “We’re not in Tokyo anymore” – and they’re not in Kansas either, but there is a tang of Oz in the air.  The 1988 Studio Ghibli film, My...

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Album: Boris - Heavy Rocks

Boris are an eclectic Japanese band, with over 20 albums to their name. Following their creative instincts and often recording live with no overdubs, they are never less than brave, making music that takes no prisoners. They are masters of sounds...

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The Fire of Love review - awe-inspiring footage of volcanoes marred by sentimental narration

Katia and Maurice Krafft spent their married life going from one volcanic eruption to the next. These self-styled “volcano runners” were not just thrill seekers, but serious volcanologists keen to gain a better understanding of how volcanoes work so...

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Mieko Kawakami: All the Lovers in the Night review - the raw relatability of loneliness

Mieko Kawakami is the champion of the loner. Since achieving immense success in the UK with her translated works, she has become an indie fiction icon for her modern, visceral depictions of characters who exist on the fringes of Japanese society....

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Blu-ray: In the Realm of the Senses

Publishing this review of In the Realm of the Senses the day after Valentine’s Day feels very strange. Nagisa Ōshima’s 1976 film is about sex and obsession. Sexual games that start with insatiable lust progress to hitting, a choking to...

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Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy review - a trio of tales from Japan

With some films it’s all about the editing, a brisk parade of striking images accompanied by a kinetic score.  And then there are films like Hamaguchi Ryusuke’s Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy and the Oscar-nominated Drive My...

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Blu-ray: Hiroshima mon amour

Hiroshima mon amour (1959), Alain Resnais’s first feature-length film, followed a number of remarkable short documentaries, the most famous of which was Nuit et brouillard (Night and Fog, 1956), a haunting evocation of Nazi terror, and still a...

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Album: Boris - W

This is just boggling. The Japanese rock trio Boris have been together in the same lineup for over a quarter of a century – and it’s longer still since their original formation – but they’re outdoing themselves record by record. Their last record,...

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Drive My Car review - talk therapy on the road

In the first 35 minutes of Hamaguchi Ryūsuke’s three-hour Drive My Car, which the Japanese director adapted with Oe Takamasa from a story in Murakami Haruku’s Men Without Women collection, the successful actor Kafuku Yūsuke (Nishijima Hidetoshi)...

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Invasion, Apple TV+ review - sci-fi epic or a pile of space junk?

Conceived on a global scale to depict the enormity of an alien menace from outer space, Apple's new series Invasion has grand ambitions, but crash-lands like a pile of space junk. After a few hours of this, waiting for something to happen, you’ll be...

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Isamu Noguchi, Barbican review – the most elegant exhibition in town

Isamu Noguchi may not be a household name, yet one strand of his work is incredibly familiar. In 1951 he visited a lamp factory in Gifu, a Japanese city famous for its paper lanterns. This prompted him to design the lampshades that, for decades,...

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Madam Butterfly, Welsh National Opera review - decent performance, disagreeable context

It’s easy enough to see the difficulty Madam Butterfly places your thinking director in. I share her pain. What the whirring brain will quickly see as a penetrating, or at least surface scratching, study of a whole repertoire of modern obsessions –...

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