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  • The Emperor's Naked Army Marches On

    The Emperor's Naked Army Marches On

    ★★★★½

    Works on so many different levels: As an uncompromising piece of investigative journalism shedding light on the unimaginable horrors of Japan's wartime sojourn into Southeast Asia, an attempt to untangle complex knots of guilt, patriotism, cognitive dissonance, and willful ignorance, and a character study of a bullheaded veteran driven to (possibly over) the brink of madness on a quest to find someone accountable for the horrors he endured.

    Kenzo Okuzaki has a rap sheet of a number of bizarre offenses,…

  • Minbo: the Gentle Art of Japanese Extortion

    Minbo: the Gentle Art of Japanese Extortion

    This very culturally specific satire might fly over the heads of Western audiences expecting either the delirious cinephilia of TAMPOPO or the cynical yet deeply rooted humanism of THE FUNERAL. A more accurate title might be more along the lines of LEARNING HOW TO EJECT BELLIGERENT YAKUZA FROM YOUR HOTEL LOBBY WITHOUT ESCALATING THE CONFLICT OR DISRESPECTING THEIR PERVERSE SENSE OF PRIDE IN BEING GANGSTERS, USUALLY BY COMPLIMENTING THEIR ELABORATE TATTOOS OR PLAYING ALONG WITH THE FANTASY THAT THEY ARE…