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8:00 AM on 03.17.2014

Review: Himizu

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 com...

Alec Kubas-Meyer


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SXSW Review: The Desert photo
SXSW Review: The Desert
by Matthew Razak

The Desert is a strange beast. A low-budget Argentinian zombie film where the main way money was saved was by having almost no zombies in the film at all. In fact the camera almost never leaves the house the three protagonists are living in. It is a zombie movie that eschews blood and horror for character and themes.

In a genre that is quickly becoming saturated a character study is the kind of out of the box film making we need to see to keep it fresh, and that makes what The Desert is trying to do incredibly interesting, but is the zombie genre ready to branch out?

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SXSW Review: Wetlands photo
SXSW Review: Wetlands
by Matthew Razak

Wetlands came out of Sundance with plenty of buzz for being shocking for its disturbing sexual content and brazen display of sexual acts. It was that movie every year that someone got up and walked out of because they were just so disgusted. As such it was at the top of my lists for must sees at SXSW.

Unfortunately Wetlands doesn't live up to its reputations because it completely abandons itself. As if too timid to address the very sexual abnormalities it brings up the film instead opens with everything it has and then runs to the safety of the normal before it can really start to open up.

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Review: Child's Pose photo
Review: Child's Pose
by Alec Kubas-Meyer

At first glance, Child's Pose is making a political statement about the class divide present in modern day Romania. The narrative of a wealthy family trying to skirt its responsibilities to a poor family is heavily charged, and for much of the film's first half, I expected to open this review with some statement about how wealth and connections in the modern age can literally let people get away with murder. 

But then things changed. The class thing became less important, and the story became a whole lot more personal, because Child's Pose isn't really a film about how much power the wealthy hold over the poor. It's about the depths of motherly love.

Or rather, motherly obsession.

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After the Credits: Not caring about unlikable characters photo
After the Credits: Not caring about unlikable characters
by Alec Kubas-Meyer

Last week, I saw a movie I didn't like very much, but I found the fact that I didn't like it interesting. I got about halfway through writing the review when I realized that I would rather talk about it than write. Hence this week's edition of After the Credits. I didn't really get into the idea of empathy (and maybe I should have), but another person being a human isn't reason enough to feel for them (especially when, as in a film, they aren't actually human). There needs to be something more there.

Good films have that something else, the thing that makes you feel something other than disinterest when terrible things happen to its characters. But when a character in Vic + Flo Saw a Bear had her leg broken by someone she had apparently wronged in the past? I didn't feel a thing.

If you enjoyed the video, please head over to the YouTube page and like it and subscribe to our channel (we hit 100 subscribers! WHOO!) check below for previous videos in the series. This is the 10th! That's actually kind of a milestone. Double whoo!

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9:00 AM on 01.22.2014

Third trailer for The Raid 2: Berandal kicks ass

So can we just all agree The Raid 2: Berandal is something we're all looking forward to? I know I am. While the lucky few who are currently attending Sundance are watching it as you read this, the rest of us only have to wai...

Nick Valdez

1:00 PM on 01.21.2014

The Act of Killing returning to theaters in February

The Act of Killing is a stupendous documentary. It's chilling, gripping, and even slightly humorous. I even liked it enough to put it on my Top 15 of 2013 list, and it's got an Oscar nomination now! It's all with good reason....

Nick Valdez

Alec's 6 Best Korean Films Released on Netflix in 2013 photo
Alec's 6 Best Korean Films Released on Netflix in 2013
by Alec Kubas-Meyer

Nearly every time I tell people that I'm a fan of Korean films, I point them to the Korean subgenre on Netflix. It's easy, and even though many people won't ever check them out, I'm happy that the option is there. I understand that some of the films I see will probably never get a wider release, but there are others that people will get to see. And it makes me happy that I'm not the only white guy watching some of these things.

This past year was an odd one, though. It's not so much that there weren't many great releases (although there were definitely fewer than in years past), but that there weren't many releases that really impacted me personally. I saw the films that the films below hit the service and thought, "Yeah! Awesome!" Not, "Oh thank god! Now everyone else will know what I was talking about!"

What I'm trying to say is that 2013 didn't have a Sunny. (If you haven't seen Sunny, fix that right now. Nothing on this list is as good as Sunny is. Heck, nothing in life is as good as Sunny is. Except for the director's cut of Sunny, which is even better.)

But even though there was no Sunny, the following six films are all well worth your time. In no particular order, here are the six best Korean films added to Netflix in the past year.

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

Every time I watch an Asian film, I check out its page on AsianWiki. It's a pretty great database, especially for Korean films, and I have gotten a lot of use out of it over the past few years. Much of the time, the User Rating is not too far off from how I feel about a film. In fact, at one point last year there was a string of films where my scores happened to be exactly ten below their user ratings. (But our system is presumably much harsher than the internal feelings of AsianWiki's audience.)

At last year's New York Asian Film Festival, I saw a film called Secretly Greatly. It was... average, but the AsianWiki score (with 1104 votes!) was a 95. I've been wondering how that was possible ever since, but I think I've figured it out: It's all about the fangirls.

With 441 votes, Commitment holds a 96 on AsianWiki. I didn't understand it, until I saw that the name of the lead actor was "T.O.P." What kind of horrible person goes by the alias T.O.P.? Well, an entertainer, of course! But not just any entertainer, T.O.P is an award-winning rapper/singer/composer/lyricist/beatboxer/actor/record/producer/model/member of the K-Pop group BIGBANG).

The girls love him.

[This film will be playing for free tomorrow night, January 14th, at the Tribeca Cinemas in New York City, starting at 7 PM. More information can be found here.]

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1:00 PM on 01.07.2014

Next Korean Movie Night NY is wild, wild, wild... and sad

New year, new Korean Movie Night series in New York City. This first series, entitled "Wild Days," is about coming of age, with four films that deal with teenagers doing wild things as teenagers are wont to do (especially in ...

Alec Kubas-Meyer

International trailer for The Raid 2: Berandal photo
International trailer for The Raid 2: Berandal
by Nick Valdez

The Indonesian trailer for The Raid 2: Berandal makes its March release date seem so far away at this point. It's got everything you need from a Raid sequel (which is already something we needed, mind you) as it shows off lots of new footage different from that teaser released a few weeks ago.  

It looks like Gareth Evans is getting far more grandiose with his work too, so expect bigger fights and set pieces (Evans apparently spent 1.5 months designing the final action sequence), a beefier Iko Uwais, and OH MY GOD DID YOU SEE THAT LAST BIT?

The Raid 2: Berandal is premiering at Sundance 2014, but for the rest of us not lucky schmoes, The Raid 2 punches the heck out of theaters March 28th..

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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

Review: What's in a Name? photo
Review: What's in a Name?
by Alec Kubas-Meyer

It's a stereotype that the French are more cultured than Americans, but obviously that's a hard claim to either prove or disprove. There are any number of examples that could be used to show it either way, but here's evidence that, as far as I can tell, is incontrovertible:

What's in a Name?, a drama-comedy completely devoid of action that centers around a really uncomfortable dinner party, is one of the biggest blockbusters in France's history. It outsold The Avengers on opening weekend.

Your move, America.

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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

SAIFF Review: Monsoon Shootout photo
SAIFF Review: Monsoon Shootout
by Alec Kubas-Meyer

Sometimes a movie in an established genre takes an idea from another genre and implements it, completely subverting any expectations. It's not that the genre changes, necessarily, so much as the context. A story that initially seemed pretty typical suddenly opens up to some new and exciting places. It doesn't always work, but when it does, it's pretty awesome.

Monsoon Shootouts adds parallel timelines to a noir thriller. It's mostly successful.

[For the next week, we will be covering the South Asian International Film Festival, taking place in New York City from December 3rd through the 7th. You can find out more information here, and keep track of all of our coverage here.]

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11:00 AM on 11.08.2013

Thor: The Dark World poster in Shanghai gets it right

One of the smaller things I noted in my review of Thor: The Dark World is the terribly wooden Natalie Portman. I guess that might stem from Portman and Hemsworth's lack of chemistry? Either way, it just makes sense that a pho...

Nick Valdez

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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NYCFF Review: So Young photo
NYCFF Review: So Young
by Alec Kubas-Meyer

I'm still young. Young enough that I can understand and generally relate to the characters in So Young, but also old enough to see just how silly they actually are. It's an odd place to be, and it leaves me wishing I was a few years older. Being young, or so young, anyway, is overrated. The desire to recapture that magical age where nothing really matters seems to miss just how awful it is when nothing really matters. I'm past that, mostly, and I'm thankful for it. I look at some of my younger friends, still at that point, and they want more responsibility, to age and for things to mean something. The more realistic of them know that life doesn't end in college.

So Young would disagree, choosing to believe that nothing really matters after college (or even high school, in some cases). What happens then are the defining moments and driving forces for the characters' lives, ones that stick with them for years beyond. And that's not cute or romantic.

It's just sad.

[This review is being posted as part of our coverage of the New York Chinese Film Festival. All of our coverage can be found here.]

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Watch out for the 2013 New York Chinese Film Festival photo
Watch out for the 2013 New York Chinese Film Festival
by Alec Kubas-Meyer

[Just a reminder that this is going on! I was hoping to have my review of So Young up by now to act as a reminder, but I have been at the AMC Empire all day and it's made writing kind of hard. Am still there, actually, and will continue to be for two more films. So come join me! And if you go to one of the Donnie Yen films tomorrow, you may see a ghost of Flixist past, Hubert Vigilla (RIP)!]

See? I told you there were more festivals for New Yorkers to get excited for. The latest is the 4th annual New York Chinese Film Festival, which will be taking place from Tuesday, November 5th through the 7th at various locations around New York City. The festival will be showing seven films over the three days (with the bulk of the showings taking place on Wednesday). It's a pretty good lineup, with a mixture of new films, new-ish films, and Donnie Yen classics.

And like all good film festivals, special guests from each of the films will be attending the festival, including Zhao Wei, Miriam Yeung, and Donnie Yen.

More information about the festival and the films can be found below, and tickets can be purchased here or here.

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

It’s easy to ignore what’s going on half a world away. By the time the Egyptian people were fighting to take down Mohammed Morsi earlier this summer, I had forgotten all about the 2011 revolution. Of course, hearing about it brought back memories, but even those were pretty fuzzy. The whole thing sounded important, but I was too busy dealing with less important things to understand what was going on.

I paid a lot more attention to this summer’s events, and I went into The Square hoping that it would fill the gaps in my knowledge about what had been happening over the past few years. It doesn’t really do that, because it’s mainly focused on the events of 2011 and 2013, but it does give context for what kept bringing these men and women back to Tahrir S   quare. And now I feel like I have a grasp of what has happened.

That may actually be a dangerous thing, empowering the ignorant to believe they aren’t ignorant, but it doesn’t change the fact that if there is going to be a definitive document of the Egyptian revolutions, Jehane Noujaim’s The Square may well be it.

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Review: Blue Is the Warmest Color photo
Review: Blue Is the Warmest Color
by Hubert Vigilla

There are many examples of desire in Blue Is the Warmest Color that are nuanced and downright erotic. These moments are communicated in coy shifts in facial expression, through the brinkmanship of flirtation, the intimate risks of proximity; the way two faces can occupy a frame and cause tension through the simple and invisible intermingling of breath. These characters are so obviously attracted to each other -- magnets -- that the forces keeping them apart will have to succumb simply given the laws of science and of lust.

Moments like the above are some of the best romance I've seen on screen all year because it feels so raw and honest.

The oddest thing? The explicit lesbian sex scenes everyone's talking about feel so false and devoid of passion. In a film that gets so much so right about falling head over heels for someone, somehow it also gets so much so wrong (though not always) about sex with someone you love.

[This review was originally posted as part of our coverage of the 51st New York Film Festival. It is being reposted to coincide with the film's limited theatrical release.]

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2:00 PM on 10.23.2013

First art from The Raid 2: Berandal is already fantastic

The Raid: Redemption is one of the best things to happen to action cinema in a long time. The fact that we're getting more of it makes me excited, and it's now bigger than ever? That's even better! Taking place just two ...

Nick Valdez