Kaori Shoji

Kaori Shoji
Tomatometer-approved critic

Movie Reviews Only

T-Meter Title | Year
No Score Yet The Journalist (2019) Gripping, wrenching and ultimately cathartic. - Japan Subculture Research Center EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 25, 2019
No Score Yet Mâjan hourouki (Mahjong Horoki) Japan has changed beyond recognition since Asada penned the original novel series, but addiction - as this movie abundantly illustrates - is a monster that never dies. - Japan Subculture Research Center EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 11, 2019
4/5 56% Marie Antoinette (2006) Marie Antoinette is in no way a historical film -- it's a wispy but nonetheless brilliant cutout of a girl who just wanted to have fun. But at the end of the day and in the relative privacy of her bathtub, she would give way to a unnamed sadness. - Japan Times EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 1, 2019
3.5/5 81% Bridget Jones's Diary (2001) This is a picture that gets right down to the brass tacks of singleton urban living for women in their 30s. - Japan Times EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 10, 2019
No Score Yet Call Boy (2018) It's to director Daisuke Miura's eternal credit that none of it is demeaning for any of the characters, even though he defies every taboo in the book of mainstream filmmaking. - Japan Subculture Research Center EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 10, 2019
No Score Yet The Scythian Lamb (Hitsuji no ki) (2017) With its slow burning violence and small town melodrama, The Scythian Lamb is mindful in many ways of Fargo (the TV series) but without the broad streak of snarkiness and splashy bloodletting. - Japan Subculture Research Center EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 10, 2019
100% Killing (Zan) (2018) [Killing (Zan)] twists and writhes its way to a bloody climax and by then you become well aware of the wondrous weirdness of the samurai. - Japan Subculture Research Center EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 10, 2019
91% Crazy Rich Asians (2018) [Director Jon M. Chu] dares to tread where no Hollywood movie about Asia ever has. - Japan Subculture Research Center EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 10, 2019
100% Ten Years Japan (2018) We're nearing the end of the world but there's a sliver of a chance that we may be able to go out in style. That pretty much sums up the message behind Ten Years Japan. - Japan Subculture Research Center EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 10, 2019
3/5 53% Maleficent (2014) Maleficent leaves most ends dangling sloppily, much like the creepy crawlies that hang from the trees in Aurora's enchanted forest. - Japan Times EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 13, 2018
5/5 63% Ricky (2009) "Ricky" also has its share of weirdness, but it's un-Ozon-like in that the queasy sense of distorted reality isn't in the details, but in the overall story itself. - Japan Times EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 1, 2018
3/5 No Score Yet Love Disease (Ai no yamai) (2018) [Okayama's] performance is sensitive and fragile, forming a nice contrast with Emiko's hard-as-nails type. - Japan Times EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 10, 2018
6.5/10 33% Fullmetal Alchemist (Hagane no renkinjutsushi) (2017) Fullmetal Alchemist has some good things going for it, but needs to fix the leaks and sputtering in the narrative's engine. The movie leaves room for a sequel, so maybe we'll get to see a new and improved Hagaren soon. - IGN Movies EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 30, 2017
4/5 No Score Yet Kokoro (Le coeur régulier) (2016) As it is, the dialogue is like poetry - a lovely phrase here, a fleeting and fragile exchange there. Emotions are better conveyed through the astonishing blue of the winter sea. - Japan Times EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 1, 2017
4/5 No Score Yet Birds Without Names (2017) Aoi is impressive as the poisonous Towako but it's Abe who pulls the story along with his small frame and dog-like abjection. The content may be objectionable, but the performances are strong. - Japan Times EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 26, 2017
4/5 No Score Yet Pelican: 74 Years of Japanese Tradition (2017) Perhaps Pelican is less of an infomercial and more of a political manifesto. - Japan Times EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 27, 2017
3/5 No Score Yet The Miracles of the Namiya General Store (2017) Brought to the screen by Ryuichi Hiroki, a master of the genre, "Namiya" comes off like the Japanese version of a Nicholas Sparks vehicle, minus the love story. - Japan Times EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 20, 2017
4/5 94% Icarus (2017) There's an inescapable sense of loss in the film, mainly because the people involved have been fighting for such a long time. - Japan Times EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 6, 2017
4.5/5 93% Wonder Woman (2017) Wonder Woman is not a "woman's movie," but an action film with incredible relevance. - Japan Times EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 24, 2017
4/5 93% Baby Driver (2017) Baby Driver is the kind of bad boy that our mothers (and electric car enthusiasts) are always guilt-tripping us over. Which means you'll only love it more. - Japan Times EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 23, 2017
3/5 16% The Mummy (2017) The Mummy begins with one main premise: Tom Cruise still has it. It ends with a promise: Tom Cruise will always have it. Assuming you're on board with those statements, you'll have a blast. - Japan Times EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 26, 2017
4.5/5 86% Okja (2017) Much of Okja is sheer visual poetry, the kind you'll see in Hayao Miyazaki's Princess Mononoke or Spirited Away but with less dreaminess and much more urgency. - Japan Times EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 19, 2017
3/5 67% Life (2017) Overall, the film does what it sets out to do: spill blood and guts with abandon, gleefully entrap and torture its characters and delight in building the kind of tense claustrophobia that induces a cold sweat. - Japan Times EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 12, 2017
3/5 39% Railroad Tigers (2017) The train heist scenes are carefully choreographed, no doubt to give Chan more leeway and CG boost, and the abundant use of explosives takes time away from real break-a-leg stunts. - Japan Times EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 21, 2017
3.5/5 93% I Am Not a Serial Killer (2016) Co-writer and director Billy O'Brien does a masterful job of building up the creep factor but gets too ambitious in the second half of the story. - Japan Times EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 7, 2017
3.5/5 77% Split (2017) Split isn't a complete return to form, but it reminded me of what a Shyamalan film used to promise: heart-racing unpredictability and a story that winds into a towering structure of queasy horror. - Japan Times EDIT
Read More | Posted May 10, 2017
3/5 71% Café Society (2016) You don't have to be an Allen aficionado to enjoy Cafe Society -- in relatively short doses, that is. - Japan Times EDIT
Read More | Posted May 3, 2017
3.5/5 36% The Great Wall (2017) The battle scenes are spectacularly choreographed, and the narrative hinges on a Westerner who shifts his own perspective from being self-centred to self-sacrificing. - Japan Times EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 12, 2017
4/5 78% Author: The JT LeRoy Story (2016) Call it a massive literary hoax or twisted identity theft. Or just call it art. Either way, Author: The JT LeRoy Story will fascinate and at the same time cause much frustrated head-scratching. - Japan Times EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 29, 2017
3.5/5 30% Passengers (2016) Passengers still manages to woo us with the kind of intense love and obsession you don't see often, especially in the world of sci-fi. And some of us tend to be suckers for stuff that has a whiff of "true love." - Japan Times EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 22, 2017
4/5 72% Sing (2016) Sing is a hugely enjoyable experience and surely there's no harm in losing yourself for a time in all the music and glittering lights. - Japan Times EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 15, 2017
4/5 85% River (2016) [Sutherland] pitches his performance at a delicate point between a good man struggling to extricate himself out of a dire situation, and a white man who can't think outside the entitlement box. - Japan Times EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 8, 2017
3.5/5 85% Trainwreck (2015) For Schumer fans, it's a real treat. For those with less than moderate enthusiasm for the raunchy comedienne, it can get just a wee bit taxing. - Japan Times EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 1, 2017
95% The King's Speech (2010) It's the kind of role that's tailor-made for Colin Firth. - Japan Times EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 26, 2017
2.5/5 15% Man Down (2016) LaBeouf goes above and beyond to make Gabriel a compelling figure, but Adam G. Simon's screenplay gives him relatively little to work with. - Japan Times EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 22, 2017
2/5 12% Cell (2016) The phone-as-evil concept makes a fast exit as Cell morphs into a zombie-like flick that bears the unmistakable patina of Danny Boyle's 28 Days Later. - Japan Times EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 15, 2017
3/5 46% Free State of Jones (2016) Free State of Jones is a worthy experience, both instructive and provocative -- a lot of what goes on here is starting to look too familiar for comfort. - Japan Times EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 8, 2017
2.5/5 64% Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (2016) A date with Tim Burton isn't what it used to be; it hasn't been for a long time. - Japan Times EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 1, 2017
4/5 73% Suffragette (2015) This is much more than a film about women demanding to vote; it's about women's struggle to be heard and taken seriously, most notably in the workplace as well as in their own homes. - Japan Times EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 25, 2017
3.5/5 89% Doctor Strange (2016) OK, so Dr. Strange is not as soulful as expected. But in this particular reality, I'll take what I can get. - Japan Times EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 18, 2017
4/5 97% Spotlight (2015) It's a far more realistic version of journalism than is often portrayed. And yet it's easy to imagine aspiring journalists watching the film being fired with a passion to work on in-depth exposes. - Japan Times EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 13, 2017
1.5/5 11% Dirty Grandpa (2016) The un-ironic title is like a spray-painted graffiti sign warning everyone to stay away from this sewage-swilling clogged cesspit masquerading as a movie. - Japan Times EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 11, 2017
3/5 67% Nerve (2016) It's a scary world and it feels way too close for comfort. - Japan Times EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 4, 2017
3/5 10% Stonewall (2015) It's a good time to see Stonewall, if only to confirm the fragility of human rights and how far society has come, at least within the LGBT community. - Japan Times EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 29, 2016
3/5 88% Don't Breathe (2016) Clocking in at just under 90 minutes, Don't Breathe keeps the terror going until the very end, but it takes a lot of liberties with credibility, even for the genre. - Japan Times EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 14, 2016
3.5/5 89% The Lady In The Van (2015) Smith is splendid here -- her whole demeanor is testament to the resilience and toughness of a woman determined to survive, be it through old age or nuclear disaster. - Japan Times EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 7, 2016
3.5/5 88% Florence Foster Jenkins (2016) Florence Foster Jenkins is a fairy tale of glorious optimism and unclouded love. - Japan Times EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 30, 2016
4/5 90% A Bigger Splash (2016) A Bigger Splash marks Luca Guadagnino's third team-up with Tilda Swinton, and once again he has assembled just the cast to offset her majestic presence. - Japan Times EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 23, 2016
3/5 44% The Girl on the Train (2016) This could be the best performance of Emily Blunt's excellent career, but she's often too good -- enacting a woman far less likable and much more screwed up than Hollywood heroines are usually allowed to be. In fact, it's ultimately hard to root for her. - Japan Times EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 16, 2016
2.5/5 38% Jack Reacher: Never Go Back (2016) The unsmiling, ungracious, completely unfunny Reacher doesn't have a fraction of the personal charm of Ethan Hunt. But as one of a dying breed -- an action dude from the old school -- he deserves a measure of our understanding and sympathy... kind of. - Japan Times EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 9, 2016