Film festivals, man. There are so many of them. Especially in the wonderful world of New York City. Case in point: the 2013 South Asian International Film Festival, which begins tomorrow, December 3rd, and runs through Sunday...
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.]
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.]
[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.
Can you believe that it's all over? I can't. For much of the past month, the New York Film Festival has consumed my life. And now it's over. But we're finishing it off with a bang. The video above is Hubert and my final thoughts/discussion on the subject, and it was shot in a Koreatown restaraunt called Arirang. The audio quality is subpar but audible. Just a bit of background noise.
And below is our recap and awards. The awards were interesting this year, since there were so many great performances we gave extra awards in every acting category. And even with all that, we had to leave out some awesome stuff. It really was a strong lineup this year. I should mention that for the most part we wrote reviews of the movies that we really loved, so the fact that the reviews are so heavily positive is simply because we skipped the lesser ones (although we reacted to every single one in 30 seconds or less). So catch up on what you missed, and let us know how you feel about the whole thing.
When will there be more festival coverage up on Flixist, you probably aren't wondering? Pretty soon, I'd guess, though I can't say when exactly. There are always more festivals to be covered, even if I'll be flying solo for a while.
So, it took a while to get to this, but we have finally compiled the rest of our NYFF In 30 Seconds or Less videos. If you missed part 1, make sure to check it out here, and come back tomorrow for our final roundup of the festival, which includes the coveted Flixist awards.
Due to some YouTube things, unfortunately our ability to use custom thumbnails disappeared during the uploading of this series, which is why things go from looking nice to being just images of our faces. Sorry about that.
My recommendations: our Stray Dogs videos and Hubert's reaction to Blue is the Warmest Color. Those are definitely the highlights. The others are good too, but they're not funny.
[Just a reminder that this continues tomorrow, October 15th, with the 2005 film Green Chair. If you live in New York, make sure you're there! This is a great (and super rare) opportunity to see a great movie on the big screen.]
Korean Movie Night returns, and it's kind of a depressing one this time. Earlier this year, director Park Cheol Soo was struck by a drunk driver and killed, and the Korean Culture Service has put together its latest screening series to remember him, showing two of his older films (301, 302 and Green Chair) before the North American premiere of the film film he lived to see release (B.E.D.). There is also a special, unrelated screening, of the action-comedy Secretly Greatly, playing next Tuesday, September 10. The Park Cheol Soo series then runs every other Tuesday through October.
As always, the films screen on at 7 PM at the Tribeca Cinemas. Tickets are first-come, first-serve, and they are free. More information can be found below.
Good news for New Yorkers who like bad news: plans for a proposed Alamo Drafthouse in the Upper West Side have been scrapped. Kaput. Finito. Not pining for the fjords. Has ceased to be. The sad news was posted on the Drathouse website. The key part of the statement:
Construction costs have risen tremendously since engaging in the project back in early 2012 (due in some measure to ongoing Hurricane Sandy reconstruction efforts) and ultimately the location is no longer financially viable for us. We would love to make the upper west side location our next neighborhood theater in New York, but we cannot see this particular location as sustainable under current conditions.
The Yonkers Drafthouse location is currently open at least, and plans appear to be unchanged for the downtown Brooklyn Drafthouse location in 2015. I haven't had a chance to get out to the Yonkers one yet since it's inconvenient to get to from where I am. It's going to happen eventually, though.
Looks like it's back to the Nitehawk for now... or, you know, brown bagging it at the Pavillion.
There are many reasons to love Nicolas Cage, as our own Nathan Hardisty has noted. One of the most compelling cases for loving the man is the 1988 Robert Bierman film Vampire's Kiss. The movie features one of Cage's Cage-iest...
I might have missed Ushio and Noriko Shinohara's apartment if it wasn't for the doorbell and the little handwritten sign above it. Now it seems so obvious. Around their home there's a bridal shop, some nice places for lunch, and chic spots that speak of the city's continually changing face. Their building, however, has the vibe of an older New York, which is crucial to so much of the documentary Cutie and the Boxer. The film is about the unique relationship between Ushio and Noriko. The couple have been artists in the city for decades and continue to create and care for one another.
"They're the last of a dying breed in some ways," said the documentary's director Zach Heinzerling. "They live in this cave in DUMBO where nothing like this exists around it. Every other building has been renovated, and this one hasn't."
"We can make this like a history museum," Noriko laughed.
Their apartment is like a history museum already, or maybe a time capsule. They moved to DUMBO from SoHo in 1986, and the rooms feel long lived in. The book spines and VHS labels have all comfortably yellowed. This is how the New York artist lived when artists could still afford to live in New York.
I sat down with Zach, Ushio, and Noriko in the studio space that adjoins the living room. We were surrounded by a chaos of colorful artwork in various stages of completion.
[Thanks to Ryuhei Shindo, one of the film's producers, for translating Ushio Shinohara's responses.]
A friend of mine who's a poet once told me that she'd never date another writer. If I remember the conversation right, it had a lot to do with sharing too many neuroses and concerns with someone, which would become intolerable; it would be impossible to escape an atmosphere of work. The man she eventually married, one of my old roommates, is not a writer.
Some people in the same profession can make these kinds of relationships work, though. Novelists Michael Chabon & Ayelet Waldman or Zadie Smith & Nick Laird, for instance; ditto comic book pros like Matt Fraction & Kelly Sue DeConnick or Jimmy Palmiotti & Amanda Conner. In the art world, the biggies I can think of are Alfred Stieglitz & Georgia O'Keeffe, Lee Krasner & Jackson Pollock, and Frida Kahlo & Diego Rivera. (Caveat: some of these relationships are more dysfunctional than others.)
In Zachary Heinzerling's documentary Cutie and the Boxer, the focus is Ushio & Noriko Shinohara, two older New York artists who still struggle to pay the bills, still create, and still love each other.
[This review originally ran as part of our 2013 Tribeca Film Festival coverage. It has been reposted to coincide with the limited theatrical release of the film.]
When I was in grad school, a lot of my peers said that they wrote about place. By that they meant people's attachments to certain places, whether in personal terms (old houses, old hang outs) or in larger social terms (public spaces, historic landmarks). In Zipper, Amy Nicholson's documentary on Coney Island, the subject is how a place changes. Since it's New York, that means a meditation (and lament) on the nature of gentrification and homogenization.
Zipper is about the death of place and a way of life. That sounds hyperbolic, but that's what it feels like to the ride operators and boardwalk workers. If not death, Zipper's about change at the cost of the space's identity -- think Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Stepford Wives, the Borg.
"You are one of us -- welcome to Applebee's."
[This review was originally posted as part of our coverage of DOC NYC and reposted with an additional opinion during our coverage of the First Time Fest. It has been reposted to coincide with the limited theatrical release of the film.]
Here's our first look at CBGB, a film chronicling the birth of the hallowed rock venue in the grimy New York of the the 1970s. Shuttered in 2006, CBGB helped give a home to the punk and post-punk scenesters living in the cit...
During the second week of August, New York City's Museum of Modern Art, in association with The Korea Society, will be hosting a series of screenings of Korean films from the past few years. Titled "ContemporAsian: Focus on K...
A new art show kicks off this weekend at the Bottleneck Art Gallery in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. This one's called Where is My Mind, and it features more than 60 artists from all over the world creating their favorite trippy moments from pop culture history.
The opening night reception for Where is My Mind takes place on Friday, July 12th from 7:00pm to 10:00pm. Online art sales begin on Saturday, July 13th.
Check out a wide selection of pieces from the show in the gallery. For more information on Where is My Mind and other upcoming art shows, visit bottleneckgallery.com.
One of my favorite films from the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival was Bending Steel, a documentary on Chris Schoeck's quest to become an old-time strongman. At its core, Bending Steel is a remarkably moving film about a person fin...
Two years ago, the New York Asian Film Festival changed my life just a little bit. It was my first serious introduction into the world of Asian cinema, something I'd dabbled in over the years but never really considered. Fast forward to now and I barely watch movies made in my own language.
For that reason alone, getting to write about the festival's next iteration is an exciting moment for me, but it's more than that. The people behind NYAFF, more than any other festival I've been a part of, really get what makes a film worth showing. And for every crazy action movie with the word "Hentai" in the name, there is a slow, introspective art film. Getting to see and write about these films has been one of the highlights of my summer ever since I started . This year will be no different.
The festival kicks off this Friday, June 28th, but our coverage begins sooner than that and will continue well past its Sunday, July 14th closing. Why's that? Because it leads into (and overlaps with) the Japan Cuts film festival, which we will be bringing you more information about once we get closer. The schedule for NYAFF's screenings and descriptions of the films can be found below, and you can buy your tickets over at the Film Society of Lincoln Center website. It's a pretty awesome lineup, and I can't wait to get started. It's going to be one hell of a month.
And if you see either Hubert or myself (in the header image, that was taken at the end of last year's fest. Sorry Hubert's face was cut off...) at any of the screenings, say hello. I suspect we'll be hanging around the Walter Reade pretty damn often, and we'd love to meet you guys.
Jackie Chan was in New York last week, but there's a whole lot more Chan in store for the city. This weekend, the Jackie Chan Experience begins at the Walter Reade Theater. The largest Jackie Chan retrospective in North America, screenings will take place from June 23rd to June 27th. The films will be shown in their original Cantonese and Mandarin versions, including several 35mm prints. Some of the movies at the retrospective include:
Armour of God 1-2
Drunken Master 2
Police Story 1-3
Project A 1-2
Snake in the Eagle's Shadow
If I heard right, the 35mm print of Police Story is from Quentin Tarantino's personal collection.
For tickets, screening times, and more information about the Jackie Chan Experience, visit subwaycinema.com.
Free stuff is great. Free stuff where there are famous people who you can bother are even greater. This is that latter one. On Monday, June 17, at 7 PM, Oscilloscope will be screening their upcoming comedy Breakup at a Weddin...
On Wednesday, May 29th, Joss Whedon will be at The Film Society of Lincoln Center for a special preview screening of Much Ado About Nothing followed by a discussion. Tix are $20 and on sale now. The film will open in New York on June 7th.
For tickets and more information, visit FilmLinc.com. After the cut is the official press release.
Summertime is near, which means a lot of great free music and free movies here in New York City. The people over at nycgo.com have compiled a list of movies screening in New York during the summer, and I figured it'd be good to share it here.