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10:00 AM on 07.12.2013

Sony Pictures Classics acquires Jodorowsky's Dune

There was a double dose of Alejandro Jodorowsky at Cannes earlier in the year, which made me wish I was there. The biggie was La Danza de la Realidad (The Dance of Reality), Jodorowsky's first film in more than 20 years. The ...

Hubert Vigilla

NYAFF Review: Taiwan Black Movies photo
NYAFF Review: Taiwan Black Movies
by Hubert Vigilla

Sometimes it's difficult for documentaries to convey all they hope to convey, especially when the documentary is about a film genre or a culture's film output. The filmmaker may have his or her own aims, for instance, and sometimes those aims get in the way of the films themselves. (The Cambodian cinema documentary Golden Slumbers from last year's NYAFF comes to mind.) That's not always the case, of course. There's a great doc on Australian exploitation movies called Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation!, which is a spirited, madcap intro to the wonder of Aussie genre films.

Taiwan Black Movies covers the Taiwanese exploitation films of 1979 to 1983. Only 60-minutes long and made for a Taiwanese audience, the documentary leaves a lot of the socio-political grounding unstated. Even if the Taiwanese people don't remember the films themselves, I'd assume they know the history of their own country during that period of martial law and democratic reform, and this knowledge fills in the gaps in the documentary.

I know nothing about Taiwanese history and politics, so I didn't immediately comprehend the cultural relevance of these movies (and any observations I make are wild extrapolations based on inference). However, watching Taiwan Black Movies with two of the genre movies it showcases -- Woman Revenger and Never Too Late to Repent -- enhanced all the films I saw that day and gave me a better understanding of the genre.

[For the next few weeks, we will be covering the 2013 New York Asian Film Festival and the 2013 Japan Cuts Film Festival, which together form one of the largest showcases of Asian cinema in the world. For our NYAFF 2013 coverage, click here. For Japan Cuts 2013 coverage, click here.]

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9:00 AM on 06.25.2013

David Lynch says state of film industry "depressing"

You can add David Lynch to the list of directors lamenting the current state of film. (Previously we've heard Steven Soderbergh deliver a state of cinema speech and Steven Spielberg and George Lucas suggest industry implosion...

Hubert Vigilla

12:00 PM on 05.31.2013

Steven Soderbergh to rework/recut his film Kafka

I haven't seen Steven Soderbergh's Kafka (1991) in at least 15 years. I was in high school at the time and had just started reading Franz Kafka (like any lit geek of that age), and was intrigued by that Kafka movie on VH...

Hubert Vigilla

NYC: Old School Kung Fu Fest, April 19-21 photo
NYC: Old School Kung Fu Fest, April 19-21
by Hubert Vigilla

If you live in New York and are a fan of old school kung fu movies, you need to head to Anthology Film Archives next weekend. From April 19-21, the team behind the New York Asian Film Festival is putting on the Old School Kung Fu Fest.

The films will feature some major old school martial arts stars (e.g., Gordon "Shaolin Master Killer" Liu) in their rarest films. It also includes a whacked-out movie that supposedly makes Boxer's Omen look like a Disney film, and a super-secret screening described like so:

In the early 80s, big studios were trying anything to attract audiences, so this flick mixes three genres and then adds plenty of crack: you've got your wandering swordsman movie, your gore film, and a sexploitation shocker. The result is a whacked-out, hyper-gothic version of The Monkey's Paw, full of occult dungeons, human face frisbees, wild plot twists, swinging swordplay, and naked demon ladies having kung fu freak-outs.

I'm definitely going to do my best to be there for the mayhem on Saturday night.

For tickets and more information, click here or visit subwaycinema.com/oldschool13. We've included information on the films and their screening times after the cut.

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NYC: House (Hausu) midnight screenings April 5th and 6th photo
NYC: House (Hausu) midnight screenings April 5th and 6th
by Hubert Vigilla

Nobuhiko Obayashi's Hausu (House) is one of the best cult movies ever made. Strike that. It's one of the best movies ever made. If you live in New York, you have two chances to see it this week. The IFC Center is doing midnight shows of the film on Friday, April 5th and Saturday, April 6th.

Our own Alec Kubas-Meyer wrote about Hausu in The Cult Club, if you recall. Many of my friends here in New York discovered it about 10 years ago after a chance rental at Kim's Video, and I remember my first viewing a couple years ago being quite magical.

For tickets and more information about the screening of Hausu this weekend, click here or visit ifccenter.com.

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NYC: See Miami Connection for free on April 12th photo
NYC: See Miami Connection for free on April 12th
by Hubert Vigilla

Rediscovered by Drafthouse Films, Miami Connection is the kitschy action gift that keeps on giving: the best VHS action movie you never rented at the videostore when you were a kid. I mentioned in my review that the ideal way to watch the movie is in a group, and you can do that in mid-April thanks to the good people at Wasted Cinema.

The Miami Connection screening is at 7:00pm on Friday, April 12th at Legends (6 West 33rd Street between 5th Ave. and 6th Ave.). There will be a prize raffle, live tweeting, and much merrymaking.

For more information, visit wastedcinema.com. After the cut, a clip from the film that is now your new jam.

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SXSW Review: I Am Divine photo
SXSW Review: I Am Divine
by Hubert Vigilla

[From March 9th - 17th, Flixist will be providing coverage from South by Southwest 2013 in Austin, TX. Prepare yourselves for reviews, interviews, features, photos, videos, and all types of shenanigans!]

I don't think John Waters would have reached the heights of cult status or mainstream acceptance without Glenn Milstead, aka Divine. Similarly, I don't think Glenn Milstead would have led a happy or fulfilling life if he didn't become friends with John Waters.

The director and his muse were meant for each other, and any cult film fan worth his or her salt can at least remember watching Pink Flamingos for the first time and retching at the finale: Divine eats a freshly laid dog turd. Or even the most absurd scene in the absurd Eat Your Makeup: Divine gets raped by a giant lobster.

But there was much more to Divine than just the outrageous costumes, the hairline, the fertility-figure physique, and the painted eyebrows that dominated his face. With the documentary I Am Divine, director Jeffrey Schwarz gives the actor his due and explores how a bullied kid from Baltimore eventually became a cult, camp, drag, and gay icon.

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David Lynch writing a new David Lynch movie photo
David Lynch writing a new David Lynch movie
by Hubert Vigilla

It's been seven years since Inland Empire, David Lynch's last feature-length film. Since then, Lynch has been doing short films, branding coffee, painting, making guest appearances on TV shows, and doing transcendental meditation. (He's probably been eating at Bob's Big Boy too.)

According to a profile on Lynch in The New York Times Magazine, Lynch is now at work on a new script. Claire Hoffman, the writer of the profile, found this out through Bob Roth, one of the people associated with the transcendental meditation group. Here's the key excerpt from the profile:

A few months later, I reached Lynch by phone at his hotel room in Paris. Bob Roth had told me that Lynch said he was working on a new script and that it was typically dark. When I asked Lynch about this, he paused, annoyed. "Bobby's got a big mouth," he said. I asked him if the script was influenced by his work with [transcendental meditation], and he said no, absolutely not. This will be a David Lynch picture, he said, adding, "I think people would probably recognize it."

Obviously this new movie could be some years off, but it's good to know that Lynch has got some new material to work with.

[The New York Times Magazine via The Playlist]

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The Cult Club: El Mariachi (1992) photo
The Cult Club: El Mariachi (1992)
by Nick Valdez

[The Cult Club is where Flixist's writers expound the virtues of their favourite underground classics, spanning all nations and genres. It is a monthly series of articles looking at what made those films stand out from the pack, as well as their enduring legacy.]

Back when I started watching movies for serious, and not just for funsies, I wanted to be a filmmaker. I wanted to write a screenplay, gather what little money my friends and I had, and film a movie with our little "Movie Not Included" production company. It was a fleeting dream. One that could never truly get off the ground thanks to years of family illness, borderline poverty, and losing ties with that tight group of friends. But El Mariachi changed all of that. 

Robert Rodriguez is my favorite director for two reasons: he helped to promote Mexican values and pride (without taking himself too seriously) in the mainstream, and he's one of the best directors on an a budget. El Mariachi is a testament to Mexican ingenuity and badassness that still holds up despite its fade into obscurity. 

When I recently revisited El Mariachi for this month's Cult Club segment, I was afraid that my nostalgia rimmed glasses caused the film to be more enjoyable than it actually was. I mean, it had to have disappeared for a reason right? Turns out my initial positive impressions were reaffirmed, El Mariachi is intimate due to its obscure nature, over the top, and damn legendary. 

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Review: Wake in Fright photo
Review: Wake in Fright
by Hubert Vigilla

I've always wanted to delve deeper into the world of Ozploitation movies (exploitation films from Australia). I have a major fondness for Mad Max, The Road Warrior, Turkey Shoot (aka Escape 2000), and Razorback, and my interest in the genre was doubled after watching the Ozploitation documentary Not Quite Hollywood.

Which brings me to Ted Kotcheff's 1971 film Wake in Fright, heralded as both a classic Ozploitation film as well as a nearly lost gem of Australian cinema -- not quite trash, not quite art. Until 2009, it was unavailable on VHS or DVD in its native Australia. Drafthouse Films mounted a stateside theatrical re-release of Wake in Fright last year, and is now bringing the film to US audiences on Blu-ray and DVD.

So is it art? Is it trash? Does the distinction even matter anymore? Whatever it is, I watched Wake in Fright transfixed, even when appalled, shifting forward and back anxiously like I was davening to this unsettling, completely engrossing experience.

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8:00 PM on 01.11.2013

Sol Yurick, writer of “The Warriors” novel, dies at 87

Sol Yurick passed away last Saturday in Manhattan at the age of 87. According to his daughter, the cause was complications of lung cancer. Before he wrote “The Warriors,” he worked as a social investigator with th...

Logan Otremba

The Cult Club: Six-String Samurai (1998) photo
The Cult Club: Six-String Samurai (1998)
by Hubert Vigilla

[The Cult Club is where Flixist's writers expound the virtues of their favourite underground classics, spanning all nations and genres. It is a monthly series of articles looking at what made those films stand out from the pack, as well as their enduring legacy.]

Toward the end of high school there were a couple movies that were my litmus test movies. (I think the end of high school and the early part of college are the last times that you can have these sorts of things and take them seriously, at least without seeming unnecessarily stand-offish.) Most of them were horror movies and cult films, and one of the musts was Six-String Samurai, one of the ginchiest movies ever made.

Watching it again is like rediscovering some old LP in a record store or finding forgotten singles on some terrestrial radio oldies station. This is a lean three-minute pop song that wastes no time: within its first minute or so, we are neck deep in its samurai/Soviet/surf rock mayhem. Here's a track played a lot, lauded in its time, then cast aside with all the other artifacts of the past. It's a movie ostensibly about an alternate 1950s America, but it's also a movie so 1990s that there was a Rob Liefeld comic for it, and so wild with its ideas it feels mint more than 10 years later.

That might be the best thing said about the post-apocalyptic nuttiness of Six-String Samurai: it's part time capsule, part time machine, and all cool.

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New: V for Vendetta print, Beyond the Black Rainbow VHS photo
New: V for Vendetta print, Beyond the Black Rainbow VHS
by Liz Rugg

It may not be the 5th of November, but whatever. Today, at a random time, Mondo will be releasing this V for Vendetta screenprint by artist César Moreno. Watch Mondo's twitter account for notification of when it will go on sale.

Mondo has also announced that under their Mondo Video label, they will be distributing Panos Cosmatos' Beyond the Black Rainbow on VHS with some sweet VHS box art by Jay Shaw. I remember Beyond the Black Rainbow being a pretty weird trip, but visually striking and memorable. More information about each item can be found below.

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5:00 PM on 01.08.2013

New Spring Breakers posters & images have ample bikinis

There are essentially two things that make Spring Breakers look remotely interesting to me. One is that it is being made by polarizing independent director Harmony Korine, whose taste for trashy spectacles appears to be evide...

Liz Rugg

1:00 PM on 12.11.2012

Mondo releases prints from We Buy Your Kids

Mondo's last gallery show of 2012 is titled Tina's Mom's Boyfriend and it features movie posters created by Australian graphic design duo We Buy Your Kids. These prints all debuted at the gallery show in Austin, Texas, but to...

Liz Rugg

NYC: House director Nobuhiko Obayashi in town this week photo
NYC: House director Nobuhiko Obayashi in town this week
by Hubert Vigilla

Japanese filmmaker Obayashi Nobuhiko is in New York this week, making a rare appearance overseas. Obayashi is the man behind the incredible 1977 film House (Hausu), which Alec wrote about for The Cult Club a couple months ago. (You can read the House Cult Club piece here. And no, it's not the William Katt movie.)

Several of Obayashi's films will be shown at MoMA as part of their film series "Art Theater Guild and Japanese Underground Cinema, 1960-1986." Obayashi will introduce the following MoMA screenings:

  • Thursday, December 6th - Tenkosei (aka Transfer Student / Exchange Students / I Am You, You Are Me)
  • Friday, December 7th - Haishi (The Deserted City)
  • Satuday, December 8th - Underground (Shorts) Program I: Nobuhiko Obayashi and Yoichi Takabayashi

Obayashi will be also be in attendance at Anthology Film Archives on Sunday, December 9th to screen four of his early short films. There will be a Q & A after the screening. Twitch notes that Marc Walkow of Subway Cinema is trying to arrange for a screening of House in New York while Obayashi is in town. We will keep you posted as soon as details on that become available.

For more information about the film series at MoMA, go here. To learn more about the screening at Anthology Film Archives on Sunday, go here. Also, HAUSU!

[Via Twitch]

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3:00 PM on 11.26.2012

Book: Silhouettes from Popular Culture by Olly Moss

If you missed our coverage of Gallery 1988's fine art show Papercuts - by Olly Moss last year, you missed out on a very special show. The reverberations of which have been echoing and amplifying in the time since, not only fo...

Liz Rugg

The Cult Club: Funky Forest: First Contact (2005) photo
The Cult Club: Funky Forest: First Contact (2005)
by Jenika Katz

[The Cult Club is where Flixist's writers expound the virtues of their favourite underground classics, spanning all nations and genres. It is a monthly series of articles looking at what made those films stand out from the pack, as well as their enduring legacy.]

There are many odd movies in the world. Some of them are unintentionally hilarious, attempting to create a masterpiece and falling fantastically short due to low budgets, poor acting, or some combination thereof. Some of them embrace these shortcomings and work with them, going for the so-bad-it's-good aesthetic to mixed success. Then there are other films, those that go for an abstract concept and don't necessarily care if the audience is left behind. Funky Forest is one of the latter. It might be hilariously absurd on purpose, or it might be secretly brilliant.

I first learned of Funky Forest: First Contact through Jonathan Holmes, the expert on most of the horrors that exist on this planet. He described one of the later scenes in the movie involving a school girl, a doctor, and a bloodsucking leech in the form of a tiny, bobble-headed man that came out of the pants of another man who squirted milk from his long nipples for sport. Why, yes: that was a sentence you just read! A single scene in this movie elicits a knowing smile and an, “Oh, Japan,” but the entirety is so much more than that.

While this is not as graphic as some former Cult Club articles, proceed with caution: Funky Forest is not something you want your boss to walk in on.

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Miami Connection action figures sadly aren't real photo
Miami Connection action figures sadly aren't real
by Hubert Vigilla

Miami Connection (the Citizen Kane of Florida-based taekwondo movies) continues to open in theaters across the country this month, leaving destruction and joy in its wake. The people over at Drafthouse Films decided to create images of fake Miami Connection action figures (which should be real). These figures come from an alternate 1987 in which the film was a major hit and spawned loads of merchandising. (In reality, Miami Connection nearly ruined star/co-director Grandmaster Y.K. Kim.)

Given the points of articulation, these fellas appear to be shopped version of 1980's G.I. Joe figures. Mark looks like a modified Quick Kick, Jim like Roadblock, the White Ninja is sort of like Storm Shadow, Jeff is kind of like Monkeywrench from The Dreadnoks, John's like Duke with rabies, and... well I don't know what's up with Tom.

Best case scenario: Miami Connection is the G.I. Joe of Earth-2.

In the gallery are each of the action figures in all their glory. After the cut are some clips of Miami Connection to enjoy. After completing its limited theatrical run in November, Miami Connection will hit DVD and Blu-Ray in December, just in time for Christmas. For a list of dates and theaters, go here.

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Review: Miami Connection photo
Review: Miami Connection
by Hubert Vigilla

Intentionally making a cult classic is difficult. Most cult classics need to be created without irony and then discovered in the wild, usually years after they were first made. In the case of Miami Connection, the movie was released in 1987 and forgotten. It was an emotional and financial wipeout for star/co-director Grandmaster Y.K. Kim. He wanted to forget it completely. Then things got weird.

I remember talking to Evan Husney of Drafthouse Films before my interview with Grandmaster Y.K. Kim. He said two or three years ago they'd bought a 35mm print of Miami Connection on eBay for $50. It was for one of the Alamo Drafthouse's Reel One screenings (the first reel of a random film is shown). He had no idea what the movie was about. The seller told him, "You really don't want this," which made Husney want it more. In the first reel of Miami Connection, there's a ninja action sequence, ninja flamethrowing, and a new wave band singing about friendship. The audience went nuts.

Drafthouse Films contacted Grandmaster Kim about restoring and distributing the movie. Kim thought it was a joke, wondering why anyone wanted to release something that was awful. But eventually, after seeing a crowd respond so positively to the film, Kim was back on board the movie that ruined him.

That is the legend of Miami Connection, the Citizen Kane of Florida-based taekwondo movies.

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Flixclusive Interview: Director Grandmaster Y.K. Kim photo
Flixclusive Interview: Director Grandmaster Y.K. Kim
by Hubert Vigilla

[This interview was originally posted as part of our 2012 New York Asian Film Festival coverage. It has been reposted to coincide with the wider theatrical release of Miami Connection. Look for our review of the film tomorrow.]

Grandmaster Y.K. Kim -- the star, co-producer, and co-director of Miami Connection -- was in town last weekend for the NYAFF. He opened the screening of Miami Connection by holding up a red apple to the audience. "Whoever catches this one will have million-dollar luck this year!" He threw the apple into the crowd, and then proceeded to do a taekwondo demonstration. A friend of mine at the screening turned to me and said, "I think I'm in love."

After I sat down with Grandmaster Kim the next morning, I came away thinking: "I'm surprised someone like this exists, and I am absolutely glad that someone like him exists." Y.K. Kim is a unique specimen of rarefied enthusiasm, maybe the best kind of odd duck: too strange to live, too rare to die; maybe part camp, but sincere all around. In the room with him was Joe Diamand, one of the co-stars of Miami Connection and also one of Kim's old students. It was an unexpected surprise, and though I didn't get to speak with Joe too much, it was cool that they were both there, and he shared a touching story about Kim's down-and-out days in NYC.

We talked a bit about making Miami Connection, how the film got re-released, and the fact that there's a different and darker version of the movie out there. Grandmaster Kim even outlined his ambitious five-point philosophy for a follow-up film (or five follow-up films, it sounds like). Funny enough, it was Grandmaster Kim who asked the first question.

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