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12:30 PM on 11.23.2014

SAIFF Review: Killa (The Fort)

I never moved when I was growing up. I knew people who moved once or twice, and then I knew others in military families and the like who would come and go almost annually. In a small town with a small school, that made a diff...

Alec Kubas-Meyer


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SAIFF Review: Dukhtar photo
SAIFF Review: Dukhtar
by Alec Kubas-Meyer

Most of the modern foreign films that I watch are from countries that are reasonably similar to the United States. People live in apartments and drive sleek cars. They use smartphones and credit cards. They have the internet. And so even if I'm confused by a particular custom or some broader cultural experience, I can always fall back on the knowledge that their environments are not too different from mine.

Which makes it all the more shocking to see a film like Dukhtar, Pakistan's official Oscar entry for the year. Though it takes place in modern times, the environment is unlike anything I've ever experienced. It's something truly foreign.

It's also quite good.

[This film is screening as part of the 2014 South Asian International Film Festival. More information can be found here or at the official SAIFF website.]

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NYKFF Review: A Hard Day photo
NYKFF Review: A Hard Day
by Alec Kubas-Meyer

Every so often, I see a film and think that the title is a perfect encapsulation of its very existence. If I were to name the film, those are exactly the words I would have chosen. A Hard Day is that exactly, in part because it's a massive understatement. It's a hilariously perfect name because it is a Hard day but isn't just a hard Day. It starts off as a Hard Night, and then it gets to the day... and then there's another night. And then there's a day. And with each new event, you think, "Oh wow... Well, it can't get any worse than that."

And then it gets worse.

[For the next week, we will be covering the 2014 New York Korean Film Festival. For more information, check here. For all of our coverage, click here.]

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NYKFF Review: The Attorney photo
NYKFF Review: The Attorney
by Alec Kubas-Meyer

If you look up stills from The Attorney, you're going to have a wildly inaccurate perception of what the film is supposed to be. Look at the poster. They're happy, right? Below you'll find another image of people being happy. Head to Google, everyone is happy happy happy. You see that and you think, "Is this a lighthearted courtroom drama?" And you'd be forgiven for thinking that, because most of the released images give that impression. I had to go out of my way to find the more other, more somber image below.

The Attorney isn't happy. There's some laughter, especially in the first half of the film, but it's a film about a particularly unpleasant time in recent Korean history, and what initially appears to be that lighthearted drama quickly turns into something very, very dark. 

[For the next week, we will be covering the 2014 New York Korean Film Festival. For more information, check here. For all of our coverage, click here.]

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4:00 PM on 11.14.2014

Here comes the South Asian International Film Festival

As is often the case, it's a festival of festivals here in New York. And if you're particularly fond of Indian and/or Pakistani films, this is probably the one you've been waiting for. The South Asian International Film Festi...

Alec Kubas-Meyer

3:00 PM on 11.11.2014

Here comes the 12th Annual New York Korean Film Festival

When February came and went with no mention of the New York Korean Film Festival, I was disheartened. With all of the far-less-deserving festivals in this fine city, I couldn't accept that this one had gone away. Fortunately,...

Alec Kubas-Meyer

3:00 PM on 09.18.2014

Trailer for Force Majeure creates avalanche of family drama

Force Majeure is a Swedish film that premiered at Cannes and it examines a seemingly perfect Swedish family (husband and businessman Tomas, refined wife Ebba and their two lovely children) as it unravels when their trip to t...

Liz Rugg



Review: The Pirates photo
Review: The Pirates
by Alec Kubas-Meyer

Every so often, a film comes along that completely shatters your expectations. You think you've got it figured out and then it throws a curveball. Then another. Then five more. Soon you realize you can't figure the film out and you have to just let it happen, because even hazarding a guess at what happens next will just make you look silly. It's rare for something so consistently bizarre to be released, and even rarer for it to be a blockbuster, even a foreign one.

But The Pirates is one of those films. And I'm still reeling from the impact.

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3:00 PM on 09.09.2014

First trailer for boy scout horror film Cub

I really don't know what to expect from Cub. It premiered during the Toronto International Film Festival, and has a unique premise (cub scouts are attacked by a feral child) but the trailer doesn't look too appealing. Then again, we rarely get a chance to promote a Belgian horror film.  There's no domestic release date yet, but we'll keep an eye out for one. The poster's neat though.

Nick Valdez

4:00 PM on 09.05.2014

Trailer for final Rurouni Kenshin film, The Legend Ends

Although we'll never get a proper release here in the states, I can't stop covering the Rurouni Kenshin films. After seeing the first one, I read through the manga it's based off of and I can't wait to see it in action someh...

Nick Valdez



Hindi trailer for Dear V/s Bear is the greatest thing I've ever seen photo
Hindi trailer for Dear V/s Bear is the greatest thing I've ever seen
by Nick Valdez

More please. 

[via Lotus Movies] 

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Review: Kundo: Age of the Rampant photo
Review: Kundo: Age of the Rampant
by Alec Kubas-Meyer

When I decide to watch a movie, it is usually based on two thing:

  1. Whether or not the press picture implies some kind of action.
  2. The runtime.

While there's obviously some leeway on the first one, once a movie pushes past the two hour mark I tend to weigh my interest more carefully. I'll take a random chance on an 80 minute movie or a 100 minute. But a movie that's 135 minutes? That's past the limits of the "Why not?" attitude. I'm not sure what it says about my psychology, but that's the way it is.

The press notes for Kundo show a bald man wielding two giant butcher knives (check!) and gave a 100 minute runtime (check!). That sounded right up my alley.

But while it definitely has the action I was looking for, the runtime on the press notes was off by 35 minutes. That was an unwelcome surprise.

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NYAFF Review: Cold Eyes photo
NYAFF Review: Cold Eyes
by Alec Kubas-Meyer

Some of my favorite movies are ones that make me want to go and do something after the lights come up. Some films make me want to travel the world or shave my head or something. Others take professions and make them seem so much cooler than whatever it is I’m doing.

Cold Eyes, for example, made me want to become a spy. Which is sort of weird, because it’s not about spies. It’s about cops.

[For the next month, we will be covering the 2014 New York Asian Film Festival and the Japan-centric Japan Cuts. Click here for more information, and check back here and here for all of the Asian film coverage you can shake a stick at.]

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NYAFF Review: Silent Witness photo
NYAFF Review: Silent Witness
by Alec Kubas-Meyer

Before the screening of Silent Witness, it was introduced as an example of what mainstream Chinese filmmaking is like in the modern era. Many of the films that play at the New York Asian Film Festival fit into some sort of niche, meaning we get a skewed vision of what Asian cinema is. There are the big films that duke it out with American blockbusters in the big theaters, and either they never hit our shores or they don't show in places that most people see.

If Silent Witness is anything to go by, that's a shame, because Chinese mainstream cinema is alive and well. The quality of its production is undeniable and its narrative is as compelling as anything to come from Hollywood in the past couple of years.

[For the next month, we will be covering the 2014 New York Asian Film Festival and the Japan-centric Japan Cuts. Click here for more information, and check back here and here for all of the Asian film coverage you can shake a stick at.]

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NYAFF Review: R100 photo
NYAFF Review: R100
by Alec Kubas-Meyer

Thanks to R100, we know the proper recipe for a shirt: 24 hours in a slow-cooker, with red wine sauce, celery and carrots. Not because the film involves shirt eating (not directly at least), but because it forced Twitch founder/editor Todd Brown to eat his own shirt. 

Before it screened at Fantastic Fest late last year, he made a bold claim, if any film was half as crazy as Why Don’t You Play in Hell (review forthcoming), he’d eat his shirt.

R100 called Brown's bluff, and he made good on his promise. It's fitting, really, because that's exactly the kind of thing someone in R100 might be forced to do.

[For the next month, we will be covering the 2014 New York Asian Film Festival and the Japan-centric Japan Cuts. Click here for more information, and check back here and here for all of the Asian film coverage you can shake a stick at.]

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Japan Cuts 2014 continues where NYAFF leaves off photo
Japan Cuts 2014 continues where NYAFF leaves off
by Alec Kubas-Meyer

With our NYAFF coverage still running strong, it seems an appropriate time to let you know that there's much, much more where that came from. Starting this Thursday, July 10th, the Japan Society kicks off their NYAFF crossover. Through Sunday, each film will be a co-presentation, and then Japan Cuts takes on a life of its own and runs through the 20th.

Japan Cuts is the largest Japanese-centric film festival in North America, and there's always at least a couple of fantastic films that I gush about for the rest of ever. I already know that I won't be shutting up about Sion Sono's Why Don't You Play in Hell, which may well be his best film (other than the literally perfect Bad Film), and though I haven't seen it, I'm pretty sure that Neko Samurai is going to rock my world.

Below you can find the schedule, information about the films, and basically anything else you could possibly want to know about the festival. And if you're attending any of the screenings, let me know. I'll be around the Japan Society quite a bit. You should say hello.

[For the next month, we will be covering the 2014 New York Asian Film Festival and the Japan-centric Japan Cuts. Click here for more information, and check back here and here for all of the Asian film coverage you can shake a stick at.]

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NYAFF Review: The Eternal Zero photo
NYAFF Review: The Eternal Zero
by Alec Kubas-Meyer

The Eternal Zero is one of the biggest blockbusters ever released in Japan. A tale of the World War II from the viewpoint of the fighter pilots who took on the American forces. An ostensibly epic tale celebrating... something, The Eternal Zero hits the beats of an emotional story, but it doesn't actually hit any of the emotion.

If I learned one thing from this experience, it's that Japan's audiences are every bit as gullible as America's.

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NYAFF Review: The White Storm photo
NYAFF Review: The White Storm
by Alec Kubas-Meyer

Before the screening of As the Light Goes Out, NYAFF co-founder/the world’s greatest salesman Grady Hendrix made a pitch for people to stay for The White Storm, the film that was playing immediately afterward. He described it thusly: “It’s like if you’ve spent your entire life drinking light beer and then someone hits you with a rail of cocaine.”

It’s an evocative image, to be sure, and set my expectations high.

Too high, unfortunately. Despite how big and bombastic The White Storm can be, it falls well short of that promise.

[For the next month, we will be covering the 2014 New York Asian Film Festival and the Japan-centric Japan Cuts. Click here for more information, and check back here and here for all of the Asian film coverage you can shake a stick at.]

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NYAFF Review: As the Light Goes Out photo
NYAFF Review: As the Light Goes Out
by Alec Kubas-Meyer

There’s something uniquely fascinating about firefighters. When they arrive on a scene, they aren’t armed to the teeth and ready to take down some villain; they are there to save lives. That’s pretty much their entire job. Whether that is by putting out fires so they don’t spread, running into burning buildings to find people trapped in the blaze, or bringing kittens down from high up branches so little old ladies don’t die from loneliness, they are there for the sole purpose of minimizing body count.

This doesn’t make them better than police officers or soldiers or other armed forces, but when the bad guy is thick smoke, no one is going to think about its family when it is ultimately taken down. No one feels bad for a fire. There is only the heroism of the people who stop it.

As the Light Goes Out taps into that heroism, although its portrayal of the people beneath the helmets isn’t always the most sympathetic.

[For the next month, we will be covering the 2014 New York Asian Film Festival and the Japan-centric Japan Cuts. Click here for more information, and check back here and here for all of the Asian film coverage you can shake a stick at.]

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NYAFF Review: Top Star photo
NYAFF Review: Top Star
by Alec Kubas-Meyer

When one of NYAFF's programmers introduced Top Star, he said that it was surprising that this was Park Joong-hoon's directorial debut. Park has worked as an actor in the Korean film industry for 28 years, but this is his first time behind the camera. Over the years, he has starred in around 40 films, and has clearly amassed a wealth of knowledge about both the life of an actor and also what goes into the production of a film. The programmer called its style impressive and confident, the kind of thing you only see after a filmmaker has hit their stride.

Written as a combination of fiction and fact from his own experiences and those of friends, it definitely feels like a project from a more established director. But Park himself prefaced the film by saying he's not really a fan. He says there are problems with it and he sees many places where it could have been improved.

While I think I liked it more than he did, I tend to agree.

[For the next month, we will be covering the 2014 New York Asian Film Festival and the Japan-centric Japan Cuts. Click here for more information, and check back here and here for all of the Asian film coverage you can shake a stick at.]

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NYAFF Recommendation: Han Gong-Ju photo
NYAFF Recommendation: Han Gong-Ju
by Alec Kubas-Meyer

Han Gong-Ju is incredible. It's easily the best film I've seen at the New York Asian Film Festival thus far and among the best I've seen in a long time.

It's also extremely depressing, to the point where I'm not sure I can really write about it. But I can't in good conscience not give it my sincerest recommendation. If you're in New York, it's playing at MoMA for the next week. Tickets can be bought here.

Whether we end up with a full review or not, go see Han Gong-Ju.

[For the next month, we will be covering the 2014 New York Asian Film Festival and the Japan-centric Japan Cuts. Click here for more information, and check back here and here for all of the Asian film coverage you can shake a stick at.]

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Review: Snowpiercer photo
Review: Snowpiercer
by Alec Kubas-Meyer

Snowpiercer has been among my most anticipated films for the past several years. Every time we did a preview of what's upcoming, Snowpiercer has been on there in some capacity. When it got its Korean release last year, I was convinced a US release was imminent. I mean, it stars Captain America! How could it possibly be delayed?

But, of course, it was. The Weinstein Company took on distribution rights, but they wanted to cut it and Bong Joon-Ho refused to let them do so. So now the release is finally upon us, the full film as it was intended, but only a limited release.

I'm still annoyed at The Weinstein Company for trying to mess with the film in the first place... but I have to admit that I kind of understand why.

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