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Friday, Jan. 28, 2005

Short Takes: January 28, 2005


Kung Fu Hustle

Director: Stephen Chow
Language: Cantonese
Currently showing
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China is terrorized by the vicious Axe Gang. Pig Sty Fortress is the only town that can resist their rule, thanks to several residents who turn out to be legendary kung-fu masters. But the Axe Gang dispatches its own kung-fu assassin to destroy them. Starring Stephen Chow, the man who would be Bruce Lee, is a hilarious and sometimes irreverent celebration of all that's wonderful about Chinese martial arts.


Jam Films S

Director: Masaki Hamamoto, Yuichi Abe, Ryo Teshima, Hitoshi Ishikawa, Ryuichi Takatsu, Kenji Sonoda and Daizaburo Harada
Language: Japanese
Currently showing
[See Japan Times movie listings]

The third in a series of short films. The directors have been selected by Shunji Iwai and Isao Yukisada, who directed the first. Among those up in the lineup are computer-graphic artist Daizaburo Harada and commercial/music video director Kenji Sonoda, who made a striking debut with "Kyoki no Sakura." Among the seven episodes are "Suit," about an ordinary office worker chosen to save Japan from its economic crisis, and "Heaven Sent," which tells the fate of a man on his death bed who has been granted three wishes.


Lakeside Murder Case

Director: Shinji Aoyama
Language: Japanese
Currently showing
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Things go awry at a small cram-school retreat when someone is murdered. While this may appear to be a departure for auteur Shinji Aoyama, it is less a commercial whodunit with a gorgeous corpse than a dark, multilayered psycho-drama, whose subjects include the ills of the Japanese education system and the moral limits of parental love. The nihilism may be overdone but the film poses a timely question: In a winner-take-all society, how can one compete successfully and stay human? (Mark Schilling)


Pacchigi!

Director: Kazuyuki Izutsu
Language: Japanese
Currently showing
[See Japan Times movie listings]

The title literally means "head-butt" in Korean, but figuratively it means efforts to overcome difficulty. Set in the 1968 Kyoto, a Japanese boy falls in love with a Korean girl in the midst of a rivalry between Japanese and Korean high school youths. This produces problems, for the girl's brother is the aggressive leader of the Korean group. As the title implies, the film shows the struggle of the youths to resolve their conflict.


Rhythm Is It!

Director: Thomas Grube and Enrique Sanchez Lansch
Language: English/German
Currently showing
[See Japan Times movie listings]

Children of differing ages and nationalities get together under Sir Simon Rattle, conductor of the Berliner Philharmoniker and to their delight, discover that they got rhythm. This is a sincere and well-crafted documentary about the awakening of the love for music and in the end you'll find yourself nodding in assent to Sir Rattle's heartfelt words: "Music is not a luxury but a need, like the air we breathe and the water we drink." (Kaori Shoji)



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