Movie News

One of the reasons traditional cinemas have survived the onslaught of home video, streaming and mobile options is that the movie theater has always been the premier date destination. But when baby makes three, it gets hard to go out. Thankfully, Tokyo offers plenty of cinema options for kids and their parents.

Toho Cinemas’ Mama Club Theater offers “babies welcome” screenings at many of their locations on Thursday mornings. The house lights don’t go all the way down when the projector fires up, allowing parents to keep an eye on their little ones, and the air conditioning is adjusted with kids in mind. There are child seats, places to park carriages and staff on hand to help when little movie critics get vocal with their disapproval of a film.

Hot Mama Cinema by Movix Cinemas offers special screenings for moms and babies on weekday mornings at its suburban locations. There are “stress free” ticket counters exclusively for moms, nursing and diaper-changing stations, as well as play mats in front of the screen.

Shinagawa Prince Cinema holds events to encourage parents to bring their infants to the cinema for the very first time, as well as screenings of Japanese films aimed at slightly older kids. Upcoming releases include the latest installments of the Crayon Shin-chan and Detective Conan franchises. The cinema also offers a “mama’s day off plan” on Wednesdays, which includes a movie ticket, a drink and dessert set at the café and care for an infant in the dakko (nursery) room for the single price of ¥5,800.

Kawasaki Art Center offers free nursery services staffed by volunteers for some screenings.

The Skip City Visual Museum in Kawaguchi boasts exhibitions on the technical side of the production of film and television, most of it interactive and geared toward kids, such as a booth where visitors can experience augmented reality or computer animation stations which allow the end results to be saved to a DVD to take home. Kids are also welcome to join Japanese language film production classes and workshops that introduce the basics of optics and film in a fun way.

The Tokyo Kinder Film Festival is gearing up for its 22nd installment, running August 13-17 at Chofu City Green Hall. Young festivalgoers discover the joys of cinema through programs featuring international shorts and animated films. There are also Q&As with Japanese and international filmmakers and filmmaking workshops.

By: Kevin Mcgue | Apr 20, 2014 | No Comments | 127 views

© 2013 Railway Man Pty Ltd, Railway Man Limited, Screen Queensland Pty Limited, Screen NSW and Screen Australia

While many Japanese actors dream of going international, few succeed. Tanroh Ishida has taken a different route, starting his career abroad and working his way up to international co-productions. The son of a Noh actor, he began stage training at the tender age of three. He later studied in London, equipping himself with both Eastern and Western classical training. After graduating, he decided to stay on in the UK to found a theater company blending Japanese and English styles. Acclaimed performances led to small parts in British films, including a Japanese businessman opposite Colin Firth in Gambit. His latest work is a key role in Railway Man, based on the memoir by British POW Eric Lomax. Ishida plays Takashi Nagase, an interpreter for the Japanese Imperial Army forcing British soldiers to construct the Burmese railway. When Lomax (Firth) is plagued by psychological problems decades later, his wife (Nicole Kidman) encourages him to make amends with the man he associates with his torture played by Hiroyuki Sanada in later scenes. “It was a double challenge for me,” Ishida said at the Japan premiere of the film. “I not only had to play Nagase, I had to play a young version of Sanada, one of Japan’s greatest actors.”

Railway Man opens in Japan April 19.


By: Kevin Mcgue | Apr 2, 2014 | No Comments | 902 views

Photo by Kevin Mcgue

Chilean actress Paulina García has enjoyed opportunities not often afforded to Hollywood actresses. She took on the title role in Gloria, a divorcee in her late 50s who refuses to give up on life, and her enthralling performance earned her the best actress award at last year’s Berlinale. “That is why we won’t get the Oscar,” García told Metropolis during a recent trip to Tokyo. “There are not many films about women this age.” The film was Chile’s official submission for the best film in a foreign language category, but failed to make the short list. However, her Berlin triumph has opened new doors in theater and film for the actress. But at the age of 53, she is troubled by ageism in the film world. “Meryl Streep is an exception and she will be working until she is 90, but it is very hard for other actresses,” García says. “Jack Nicholson is fat, bald and old now, but still is a great actor and gets offers. But [Chinatown costar] Faye Dunaway, who is still so beautiful, can’t get work.”

Gloria is now playing at Human Trust Cinemas in  Shibuya and Yurakucho (


By: Kevin Mcgue | Mar 3, 2014 | No Comments | 95 views

Photo: Kevin Mcgue

The sleeper hit The Butler chronicles the American civil rights movement through the lens of one African-American family from the ‘40s up through Obama’s historic first election.The casual, hands-on approach of director Lee Daniels, who always wears pajamas to the set (and interviews), meant the cast and crew were like family, despite this being his biggest project to date. “On my films everyone rolls up their sleeves and works,” Daniels told Metropolis during his first visit to Japan. “And you’ll see big stars standing in line to get lunch with people from the craft services department.” The “no entourage” rule even applied to one of the most powerful people in the entertainment world—Oprah Winfrey took her first major screen role in 15 years to play the wife of the titular servant (Forest Whitaker) who saw eight presidents pass through the White House. “She shows up and is like ‘I’m here!’” Daniels explains, singing the line. “I thought, ‘How am I going to make her this character?’ But I like a challenge and gradually we peeled away the layers of the onion and got her to a place where she was vulnerable and ready for the role.” The Butler is now playing nationwide.


By: Kevin Mcgue | Feb 21, 2014 | No Comments | 946 views

Photo by Kevin Mcgue

When Ron Howard recently visited Tokyo for the Japanese premiere of his latest directorial effort Rush, it was something of a second homecoming for the film. The drama focuses on the intense friendship and rivalry between ’70s racing drivers Niki Lauda (played by German actor Daniel Brühl) and James Hunt (Aussie Chris Hemsworth) with the climactic scene set at the rain-soaked Fuji Speedway in Shizuoka. “We were shooting the races in England and we had very limited time when we could be on these Formula One tracks,” Howard recalled. “Fortunately it was England and there was a lot of rain and I would say, ‘we’re not going home guys, we’re going to Japan’ and we would work on those scenes.” Mount Fuji was digitally added in the background to complete the look. The director says the sequence is his favorite in the film and the fact that the 1976 Japanese Grand Prix is so well known, especially among Japanese fans, provided a special challenge. “There was the combination of the demands of recreating that mythic race and also linking these complex characters emotionally in the outcome of that race.” Filming high-speed car races in real rain is something most directors wouldn’t even attempt. But after over a half century in the business, Howard says, “I am at the point in my career when I want some challenges.”


By: Kevin Mcgue | Feb 6, 2014 | No Comments | 1,109 views

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