sun 18/02/2018

Japan

Roma Agrawal: Built review - solid love

"I've been known to stroke concrete," writes self-professed geek Roma Agrawal – and from the very beginning of her memoir-cum-introduction to structural engineering, Built, where she describes her awe as a toddler at the glass and steel canyon of...

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Albums of the Year 2017: Ryuichi Sakamoto - async

From his days as a session musician in mid-Seventies Tokyo through global mega fame in Yellow Magic Orchestra and on, Ryuichi Sakamoto has always had a Stakhanovite work ethic. And that's still the case, even at the age of 65, and despite the fact...

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LFF 2017: Blade of the Immortal / Redoubtable - Samurai slasher versus the Nouvelle Vague

This is the 100th feature film by Takashi Miike, Japan’s fabled maestro of sex, horror and ultra-violent Yakuza flicks, and here he has found his subject in Hiroake Samura’s Blade of the Immortal manga comics. Manji (Takuya Kimura) is a veteran...

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CD: Boris – Dear

Boris are a trio of Japanese noise rockers who are masters of all things heavy, and Dear, a double album of superior quality, marks the band’s 25th anniversary as a going concern. Covering a range of bases from doomy slabs of heavy noise to riff-...

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After the Storm review - quietly nuanced and moving Japanese family drama impresses

Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda is a master of family drama, carrying on the traditions of his illustrious predecessors Yasujiro Ozu and Mikio Naruse. But these are not films of raised voices or open conflict, rather highly nuanced studies of...

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The Red Turtle review - Studio Ghibli loses its magic touch

A man is caught up in a storm at sea; giant waves like Hokusai crests throw him onto a deserted tropical island. Over the next 80 minutes, his struggle to survive occupies the screen. Curious crabs provide a little company, but not enough to stop...

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Haruki Murakami: Men Without Women review - a bit too abstract and post-modern

“I was a lamprey eel in a former life,” says a woman in “Scheherazade”, one of the most intriguing of the seven stories in Men without Women - it was previously published in the New Yorker, as were four of the others in the collection. Murakami is...

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Blu-ray: Tampopo

This is a very welcome 4K digital restoration of Juzo Itami's extremely tasty Japanese comedy from 1985. Nobuko Miyamoto plays Tampopo ("dandelion" in Japanese), a widowed café owner with a small son. She dishes up bowls of ramen noodles to...

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theartsdesk Radio Show 20 – from Mali to São Paulo

New global sounds this month include tracks from the scintillating new album from Malian diva Oumou Sangaré, electro-Sufi grooves, Afro-folk from Koral Society, the soundtrack from They Will Have to Kill Us First (about the struggle of...

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Madama Butterfly, Royal Opera

"È un'immensa pietà" - "it's heartbreaking," rather than "it's a huge pity" - sings consul Sharpless of "Butterfly" Cio-Cio San's fatal belief that her American husband will return to her. Heartbreak is what we expected from Ermonela Jaho after her...

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Ghost in the Shell review - 'a mind-bending futuristic dystopia'

The Japanese Ghost in the Shell phenomenon is celebrating its 25th birthday, and already has a long history in manga cartoons and animated movies. Now Hollywood has clambered aboard, though this live-action version, finally helmed by British...

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NHK Symphony Orchestra, Tokyo, Järvi, RFH

Berlin and Vienna Philharmonics; Royal Concertgebouw Amsterdam; NHKSO Tokyo. Would you have thought of putting the Japanese orchestra in the same league as the top Europeans? I certainly wouldn't, at least not until last night. While there isn't the...

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