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6:00 PM on 03.28.2014

Katsuhiro Otomo's Short Peace will be shown in select U.S. theaters

Katsushiro Otomo, the Japanese animation director most well known for his seminal film Akira, has a brand-new animated film about to his U.S. shores! Well, sort of. Short Peace is actually a collection of four short films pr...

Liz Rugg


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Review: Guilty of Romance photo
Review: Guilty of Romance
by Alec Kubas-Meyer

I greatly enjoyed Himizu, another 2011 Sion Sono film released last week in NYC theaters, but there was something it lacked that I expected from that sort of film: sex. It had the violence (although it was definitely subdued in comparison to some of his other films), but there was none of the weird, creepy nudity found in some of his other films. I wasn't unhappy about it (it would have added nothing to that film), but I was surprised. When I checked out Guilty of Romance and randomly clicked on a part of the timeline, I found myself staring at a woman on all fours in a colorful room, presumably a love hotel, in the middle of that most intimate of acts.

And there was the Sion Sono I had expected. For better or worse, what Himizu lacked, Guilty of Romance has in spades.

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

I can see why Sion Sono was drawn to Himizu. The manga, which ran from 2001 to 2002, seems like exactly the sort of thing that would appeal to the man who made Cold Fish and Suicide Club. But that's not really a compliment. 

Immediately after finishing the film, I went to read the manga. Usually I'm not particularly interested in checking source material after seeing an adaptation, but the film deals rather explicitly with things that hadn't taken place when the manga was written. And now, 43 chapters later, I can say that the film is indeed very different from the manga.

And that is a very good thing.

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10:00 AM on 01.27.2014

Rupert Sanders to direct Ghost in the Shell adaptation

It's been a long time coming (as Dreamworks purchased the rights six years or so ago), but things have finally begun moving forward for a live action adaptation as Masamune Shirow's Ghost in the Shell manga gets its director,...

Nick Valdez

1:00 PM on 01.10.2014

The Simpsons pay tribute to Studio Ghibli films

This Sunday on The Simpsons, Comic Book Buy is getting married in "Married to the Blob." Sure, Comic Book Guy (or Jeffrey Albertson) has been in romantic relationships before, but now that he's apparently romancing a manga a...

Nick Valdez

2:00 PM on 01.03.2014

First batch of images for the two Rurouni Kenshin sequels

I've recently started watching anime and the like (I've always been more inclined to manga comics because it takes up less of my time), because One Piece is neat and I wanted to branch out into other titles. Titles such as No...

Nick Valdez

8:00 AM on 12.17.2013

Miyazaki's The Wind Rises gets English voice cast

Hayao Miyazaki's The Wind Rises (which could very well be his final film before retirement) has been inching closer and closer to a domestic release after it's fly through Japan. Shortly after getting the first US trailer for...

Nick Valdez

8:00 PM on 12.09.2013

Live-Action Kiki's Delivery Service pops trailer cherry

There are very few things that make me squeal like a teen age girl that was asked to prom by the star quarterback, and this is one of them! Eiko Kadono's classic Kiki's Delivery Service (Majo no Takkyūbin)&nbs...

Michael Jordan

Review: It's Me It's Me photo
Review: It's Me It's Me
by Hubert Vigilla

Doppelgangers are the stuff of horror and of comedy. It would be uncanny to see yourself as a stranger -- the self's own reflection as the Other -- and yet being able to step outside yourself might provide you with some perspective about your own buffoonery. I suppose there's another issue in all this. There's the unstated question: would I be my own friend or my own worst enemy?

In It's Me It's Me, there's a bit of comedy and a bit of terror involved in this tale of multiple doubles. (I guess technically that'd just be "multiples.") When the film embraces its strangeness it's like the Japanese cousin of Being John Malkovich, Michel Gondry's odder movies, or a Franz Kafka story. (I guess technically that'd just mean work kind of like Japanese writer Kobo Abe.) Strangeness really is the film's strength, and that winds up being its throughline.

[This review was originally posted as part of our coverage of the 2013 Japan Cuts Film Festival. It has been reposted to coincide with the film's New York theatrical release.]

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1:00 PM on 10.01.2013

Trailer: Like Father, Like Son

Like Father, Like Son is an intense-looking family drama from Japanese director Hirokazu Koreeda. The story centers on a young family who realize that their son was accidentally switched at birth with another boy, and the fo...

Liz Rugg

Flixist Discusses Review: The Wind Rises photo
Flixist Discusses Review: The Wind Rises
by Alec Kubas-Meyer

After the credits rolled at the screening of The Wind Rises at this year's New York Film Festival, Hubert and I spent the next hour talking about the film, what we liked and didn’t like, where we thought it succeeded or failed, and where it is a fitting final feature for acclaimed director Hayao Miyazaki. And while we didn't transcribe that conversation, we thought continuing it for our readership to see would be more meaningful than the traditional review/second opinion system we usually follow. And if you'd like to pull back the curtain a bit on our thought processes and see how opinions on the film have and haven't changed, videos of our initial impressions, taken mere minutes after we left the theater, can be found here (Hubert's) and here (mine).

And with that, we present the newest installment of Flixist Discusses Reviews: Hayao Miyazaki's The Wind Rises. Unsurprisingly, Hubert's responses average about twice the length of mine.

[For the next few weeks, we'll be covering the 2013 New York Film Festival, now in its 51st year. Flixist will provide you with reviews, video, news, and features on some of the best films on the festival circuit. To check out all of our coverage of NYFF51, click here.]

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NYFF Review: Like Father, Like Son photo
NYFF Review: Like Father, Like Son
by Hubert Vigilla

The film Still Walking by Japanese filmmaker Hirokazu Koreeda has been on my to-watch list for a little while. It's supposed to be one of the better films from Japan in the last few years, examining how a family commemorates the death of a son and celebrates life in the process. I was thoroughly charmed by Koreeda's slight yet adorable I Wish when I caught that at a screening last year, but Still Walking is supposed to be a real masterpiece full of depth, and the proper showcase for the director's gifts.

I bring up both of those movies because they offer some insight into my read of Koreeda's Like Father, Like Son. In this exploration of nature and nurture, Koreeda renders diametric distinctions between generations, classes, value systems, and appearances. I think there's also a kind of clash between the complexities of real life and the oversimplifications of film stories, and the urge for sweetness when what seems more genuine is bittersweet frustration.

[For the next few weeks, we'll be covering the 2013 New York Film Festival, now in its 51st year. Flixist will provide you with reviews, video, news, and features on some of the best films on the festival circuit. To check out all of our coverage of NYFF51, click here.]

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Hayao Miyazaki's The Wind Rises hits NY/LA in November photo
Hayao Miyazaki's The Wind Rises hits NY/LA in November
by Hubert Vigilla

I'm really excited to be seeing Hayao Miyazaki's The Wind Rises at the New York Film Festival. If you're not attending the NYFF screenings and live in New York or Los Angeles, you'll be able to catch Miyazaki's final feature film from November 8th to 14th as part of an Oscar-qualifying run.

Disney and Studio Ghibli announced the week-long engagement at the Toronto International Film Festival yesterday. The Wind Rises will then open in limited theaters on February 21, 2014, with an expanded releases on February 28, 2014.

We should have some brief first impressions of The Wind Rises next week for the start of our NYFF coverage, with a full review to follow the week after. Stay tuned.

[via The Los Angeles Times]

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Hayao Miyazaki explains why he's retiring photo
Hayao Miyazaki explains why he's retiring
by Hubert Vigilla

There was a shock at the Venice Film Festival last weekend when Studio Ghibli president Koji Hoshino announced that The Wind Rises would be Hayao Miyazaki's last feature film. Miyazaki has talked about retirement since 1997's Princess Mononoke, but this time the 72-year-old director says he's serious.

"[In the past,] we could make films in four and five months," Miyazaki explained at a 600-reporter press conference in Tokyo late last week. "But during that time, my staff and I were younger, and we often said that creating these movies was a once in a lifetime event. Now, you can't demand your staff work at this pace forever, because people get older and they have to choose between work and family."

As Vadim Rizov at The Dissolve points out, Miyazaki used to be able to work between 12 to 14 hours a day, but can only manage about seven hours these days. It took Miyazaki five years to make The Wind Rises, and it would likely take longer if there were to be a new film.

We'll be checking out The Wind Rises later this month at the New York Film Festival, so look out for some first impressions and our full review. To close on a hopeful and cheery note, Miyazki intends to remain involved with Studio Ghibli and restated his main goal as a filmmaker: "I wanted to convey the message to children that this life is worth living. This message has not changed."

[via The Dissolve]

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3:00 PM on 08.26.2013

Sadako (The Ring) throws opening pitch at baseball game

Sadako from The Ring (Ringu) series is one of the most iconic characters in J-horror. To promote the forthcoming release of Sadako 3D 2, Sadako threw the opening pitch at a Chunichi Dragons/Hanshin Tigers baseball game. Yes,...

Hubert Vigilla

11:00 AM on 08.15.2013

The Wind Rises delivers new trailer and controversy

With Studio Ghibli's The Wind Rises sitting at number one for four weeks running in Japan, and what's sure to be a successful festival tour picking up with the Venice Film Festival one would believe that everything was ...

Matthew Razak

8:00 AM on 08.15.2013

Flixistentialism 25 - Butt Bots

We have a bro cast on this weeks episode! (BA-BA-BA-BROOOO CASSSTTT)Dre and Nick reach out to Geoff amidst his vacation in Japan and get all the stories about Japan's little eccentricities. On the film front, we fawn over Vin Diesel/Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, talk the fragmentation of Marvel properties, Spring Breakers and the nature of Indies. Also, bananas.

Andres Bolivar

Fantasia Review: The Tiger Mask photo
Fantasia Review: The Tiger Mask
by Hubert Vigilla

Even though I'm a grown man, there are a lot of things from my boyhood I still enjoy. Tokusatsu genre shows and movies, for one, which probably stems from my obsession with Ultraman and Infra-Man growing up. (The latter maybe not technically tokusatsu since it's Chinese, but close enough.) Also pro wrestling, which always surprises people. Admittedly, I don't follow it as much these days unless CM Punk or Daniel Bryan are involved, but I'm still interested in it, even just how the industry has evolved since the 1980s.

The Tiger Mask seemed to bring together these two boyhood interests, and it starts out so strong. And then it loses it. It's a movie that goes from 60 to 0 after about 35 minutes.

[For the next few weeks, we will be covering the 2013 Fantasia International Film Festival. Started in 1996 and based primarily in Montreal, Fantasia is widely regarded as one of the best genre film festivals in North America. To read all of our coverage, click here.]

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Fantasia Review: After School Midnighters photo
Fantasia Review: After School Midnighters
by Hubert Vigilla

One of my favorite lines about kids movies comes from Terry Gilliam. When describing Time Bandits, Gilliam said he wanted to make a movie that was intelligent enough for children and exciting enough for adults. I've probably mentioned this line before because I think it's right on when describing the children's movies I like.

Mediocre-to-bad kids movies are exciting for children on a superficial level but never engage their imaginations. They wind up being mere visual distractions that inspire no thought or wonder. If you're an adult who has to watch these things with a kid, the movies will throw in a bunch of adult jokes (usually dumb pop-culture references) to keep you mildly interested. These are also just distractions, mostly so you don't get bored and resort to drink.

What Gilliam said is really about making a movie you'd appreciate as a kid and as an adult. That brings me to After School Midnighters. The 7-year-old me and the adult me both agree: This movie is awesome!

[For the next few weeks, we will be covering the 2013 Fantasia International Film Festival. Started in 1996 and based primarily in Montreal, Fantasia is widely regarded as one of the best genre film festivals in North America. To read all of our coverage, click here.]

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Fantasia Review: Bushido Man photo
Fantasia Review: Bushido Man
by Hubert Vigilla

There's something about low-budget action movies that's full of real fighting spirit. With so many budget constraints, the films are usually infused with added energy and creativity. (Lacking that, there's always gratuitous gore and gratuitous nudity.) In some cases you wind up with total junk that's nonetheless enjoyable, like the 1987 Rambo/First Blood rip-off Deadly Prey. Other times you wind up with something that's oddly inspired, like Lance Mungia's Six-String Samurai or Ryuhei Kitamura's Versus.

Bushido Man is a movie that's low budget and oddly inspired. It might have more currency with martial arts movie fans than the casual action filmgoer since it's a bit of a spoof/parody of the genre. And yet I think the strange, madcap comedy of the film might be able to win over converts, or maybe just smack them in the face hard enough until they give up and submit to the movie's scrappy charm.

[For the next few weeks, we will be covering the 2013 Fantasia International Film Festival. Started in 1996 and based primarily in Montreal, Fantasia is widely regarded as one of the best genre film festivals in North America. To read all of our coverage, click here.]

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Japan Cuts Review: The Floating Castle photo
Japan Cuts Review: The Floating Castle
by Hubert Vigilla

There's inherent drama in stories about impossible odds, and some of the better one involve samurais in Feudal Japan. In Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai, it was the title band against a horde of bandits (I think it's 40 to 50, off the top of my head). In Takashi Miike's 13 Assassins, it's them against 200 well-trained soldiers.

The Floating Castle features even more insurmountable odds: 500 versus 20,000. While based on actual history, the film is more of a riff on history than a recreation of it. There's action, there's slapstick, there's surprising pathos, and there's intrigue. I think a lot of that comes from the film's main character, Nagachika Narita, or Lord Bone as the villagers call him, and what actor Mansai Nomura is able to bring to his performance.

[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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1:00 PM on 07.25.2013

Keanu Reeves turns Japanese in 47 Ronin trailer

So you gather a cast of awesome Japanese actors and you put them in a movie based on Japan's greatest story. You even keep the name of the story for your movie title, 47 Ronin. What's missing? A white hero, of course. Enter ...

Matthew Razak