Note: iOS 9 + Facebook users w/ trouble scrolling: #super sorry# we hope to fix it asap. In the meantime Chrome Mobile is a reach around


New York

The Lost Arcade photo
The Lost Arcade

Watch the trailer for The Lost Arcade, a documentary on NYC's Chinatown Fair


A look at New York's arcade culture
Jul 23
// Hubert Vigilla
As someone who still wears the occasional onion on his belt, I remember arcades quite fondly. They were in steady decline when I was a kid, but they were a good way to kill time at the mall or to spend a Sunday morning. They'...
NYAFF 2016 photo
NYAFF 2016

The 2016 New York Asian Film Festival Is Almost Here


June 22 through July 9th
Jun 14
// Alec Kubas-Meyer
Is it really that time again already? Wow. Apparently it is. NYAFF time. For the past five years, we have been covering the latest and greatest Asian films as brought to us by the swell folks at Subway Cinema, and this year i...

Thoughts on the documentary Weiner by Josh Kriegman & Elyse Steinberg

May 17 // Hubert Vigilla
[embed]220420:42870:0[/embed] Weiner is cringe comedy at its most painful, with so much said in clenched jaws, nervous posture, and sad eyes. What's most fascinating is how, at least for me, the initial schedenfreude turned into empathy. I felt bad for Weiner, sure, but more so for and his wife, Huma Abedin, who suffers the failed campaign mostly in silence. Huma's appearances are brief but momentous. When she occasionally looks at the camera and emotes, I'm reminded of Jim from The Office or Buster Keaton; when the camera catches her in a candid moment, I'm reminded of seeing distressed strangers suffering through some private turmoil on the subway. While watching Weiner, I kept thinking about Marshall Curry's 2005 documentary Street Fight, which covered Cory Booker's run for mayor of Newark. Booker remains a rising star in the Democratic Party (though he seemed to burn brighter as a mayor than he currently does as a US senator), and Street Fight is all about his high-minded, aspirational campaign which was characterized by an inexhaustible surfeit dignity. Weiner, on the other hand, is all about exponentially expanding indignity, both on the part of the candidate and also on the part of a media obsessed with salaciousness, moral outrage, and sanctimony. [embed]220420:42872:0[/embed] The early buzz over Weiner is that the film's release could have an impact on the general election. Huma is a close confidante of Hillary Clinton and currently serves as vice chairwoman of Clinton's presidential campaign. I don't think this will have much sway on the primaries or the big vote in November, but it may help people reflect on what matters in politics. With so much focus on personality and personal lives, the focus on policy gets lost. In other words, Dick Pics > The Middle Class. As we watch Weiner struggle to get his message out on the campaign trail, all anyone can talk about are his personal indiscretions and how they affect perceptions of trustworthiness. Some express moral outrage, and use it as an excuse for the worst kind of bullying. How much of this is rooted in legitimate concern for New York City politics, and how much of it is just a love of political theater? [embed]220420:42871:0[/embed] I developed a strange admiration for Weiner as the documentary progressed. Part of that is how we begin to feel bad for a person when they've been publicly humiliated, but Weiner is also a fighter. When I first heard about him several years back, it was because of his passion as a Congressman when advocating for 9/11 first responders. The first sexual disgrace would come a year later, but that fighting spirit carried on in his comeback/mayoral bid, though he became a total palooka for the public. Even with everything collapsing, he continued into the fray, taking punch after punch after punch, and yet, against all good judgement, he decided to stand and fight rather than fall. Is it odd to admire the punching bag and the punch-drunk? The big question is if Weiner believed he could salvage his comeback or if it was just the weight of expectation and obligation that kept him going. Most likely both. Maybe it was also a kind of public flogging that he secretly agreed with. It's weird to admire that, but people are strange and complicated, and sometimes they run for office. Whether or not I'd vote for them is a different matter entirely.
Weiner documentary photo
Politics (and dick pics) in our time
Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg's Weiner was one of the must-sees at New Directors/New Films earlier this year. The documentary chronicles the inspiring comeback and catastrophic implosion of Anthony Weiner's 2013 bid to be...

NYC: 6th Old School Kung Fu Fest showcases the badassery of Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, and Golden Harvest

Apr 06 // Hubert Vigilla
[embed]220479:42891:0[/embed] Enter the Dragon (1973)Starring Bruce Lee, John Saxon, Jim Kelly, Bolo Yeung Even though Fist of Fury (aka The Chinese Connection) is my favorite Bruce Lee movie, I can't deny the importance of Enter the Dragon. The landmark movie brought Lee international stardom, and it helped kick off my personal martial arts movie obsession. (Ditto Infra-Man.) The film would also help propel the film careers of perennial bad guy Bolo Yeung (Bloodsport) and blaxploitation star Jim Kelly (Black Belt Jones). The set-up is simple: infiltrate an island, punch and kick people really hard, repeat. In addition to one of the most brutal kicks to the head in cinema history and a funky ass Lalo Schifrin score, Enter the Dragon manages to impart some martial arts philosophy amid the mayhem. Sammo Hung makes a cameo appearance, as does Jackie Chan in two blink-or-you'll-miss-him moments while Bruce Lee dispenses of faceless goons. [embed]220479:42892:0[/embed] The Man from Hong Kong aka The Dragon Flies (1975)Starring Jimmy Wang Yu, George Lazenby, Roger Ward, Hugh Keays-Byrne Australian exploitation movies are bonkers in the best possible way. Take The Man from Hong Kong for example. The film stars Shanghai-born Jimmy Wang Yu (Master of the Flying Guillotine, One-Armed Swordsman) as a violent Chinese supercop sent to fight an Australian crime boss played by George Lazenby (James freakin' Bond). The film is recklessly enjoyable. Yu blows up cars, demolishes a Chinese restaurant, blows up buildings, and effortlessly seduces comely Aussie women (whom he apparently detested behind the scenes). Sammo Hung also appears in this movie, as does Roger Ward (Mad Max) and Hugh Keays-Byrne (Mad Max, Mad Max: Fury Road). For more on The Man from Hong Kong and other great Australian exploitation movies, I urge you to watch Mark Hartley's excellent documentary Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation! [embed]220479:42889:0[/embed] Pedicab Driver (1989)Starring Sammo Hung, Nina Li, Lau Kar-Leung, Billy Chow Both Enter the Dragon and The Man from Hong Kong are American and Australian co-productions, respectively. Pedicab Driver, on the other hand, is a Hong Kong movie through and through, featuring hard-hitting action, broad Cantonese comedy, machismo, and extreme melodrama. It may be a matter of taste, but I love that histrionic hodgepodge. (Though its gender and sexual politics are definitely of a different era.) The film follows the travails of some pedicab drivers as they look for love and seek justice against an irredeemable crime boss. Pedicab Driver features an exceptional fight between director/star Sammo Hung and Lau Kar-Leung. Lau was one of Shaw Brothers' premiere action filmmakers, which makes his on-screen battle with Hung feel like a generational passing of the torch. Sammo Hung also dukes it out with Billy Chow (Fist of Legend). Both fights typify the fast, fierce choreography that Hung perfected in the 80s. [embed]220479:42890:0[/embed] Rumble in the Bronx (1995)Starring Jackie Chan, Anita Mui, Francoise Yip, Bill Tung Jackie Chan didn't break big into the US market until Rumble in the Bronx, which received a major push when Quentin Tarantino championed Chan's work at the 1995 MTV Movie Awards. For most Americans, Rumble in the Bronx was Jackie Chan 101: Introduction to Jackie Chan. While not his best Golden Harvest movie, Chan shows off his prowess as a choreographer, stuntman, and cornball comedian, including a memorable clash with a gang in a hideout full of props. Based on the info listed by Subway Cinema and Metrograph, Old School Kung Fu Fest is apparently screening the longer Hong Kong version of Rumble in the Bronx rather than the American cut released by New Line Cinema. This means you get a better-paced film with the original score and sound effects, and you'll be seeing a version of the movie not readily available stateside.
Old School Kung Fu Fest photo
Celebrating Hong Kong action cinema
This weekend (April 8-10) is the 6th Old School Kung Fu Fest, put on by Subway Cinema and held at Metrograph in the Lower East Side. This year's unifying theme is Golden Harvest. Co-founded by Raymond Chow and Leonard Ho, Gol...


NYC: Alamo Drafthouse Cinema opening in Downtown Brooklyn this summer

Apr 05 // Hubert Vigilla
Part of me wonders what the new Drafthouse means for comparable cinema experiences currently in New York, like The Nitehawk in Williamsburg or the newly opened Syndicated in Bushwick. Similarly, the lounge and restaurant at Metrograph in the Lower East Side should finally be opening this month. The more movie-going options, the merrier, at least that's what I hope. All you New York readers out there, how do you feel about finally getting the Alamo Drafthouse in town? Let us know in the comments. For updates on the opening of the Brooklyn Alamo Drafthouse, visit drafthouse.com/nyc.
Alamo Drafthouse Brooklyn photo
CAN YOU DIG IT?!
It's official: New York City will finally get an Alamo Drafthouse in Downtown Brooklyn this summer. If you live in New York and love your movies, it is now time to do a happy dance of some sort. Go on, do it. Yeah. Nice. Hey!...

Old School Kung Fu Fest photo
Old School Kung Fu Fest

NYC: Check out the trailer for the Old School Kung Fu Fest at Metrograph (April 8-10)


A harvest from Golden Harvest
Mar 29
// Hubert Vigilla
The 6th Old School Kung Fu Fest is coming to New York at the ginchy new Metrograph cinema. The Old School Kung Fu Fest is put on by Subway Cinema, who are also responsible for The New York Asian Film Festival (NAYFF), one of ...
Old School Kung Fu photo
Eight classic kung fu flicks
There's nothing like a good kung fu movie to make me smile. When done right, they're almost like musicals, just with more kicking in the face. If you live in New York and love kung fu films, you're in luck. The 6th Old School...

Japan Sings! April 8-23 photo
Check out the Japan Sings! series
Japan Society is a great place to catch Japanese cinema here in New York. If you're around in April, you'll definitely want to check out Japan Sings! This film series (curated by Michael Raine) runs from April 8th to April 23...

New Directors/New Films photo
New Directors/New Films

NYC: New Directors/New Films starts next week (March 16-27)


A showcase for emerging filmmakers
Mar 08
// Hubert Vigilla
The 45th edition of New Directors/New Films starts next week in New York City. New Directors/New Films showcases emerging filmmakers from around the world, and screens some of the most talked about films on the festival circu...
David Bowie: Sound/Vision photo
David Bowie: Sound/Vision

NYC: Paley Center starts David Bowie: Sound + Vision series this weekend


To honor the life of David Bowie
Jan 14
// Hubert Vigilla
David Bowie's death just days after the release of Blackstar was a painful shock to many. To celebrate his life, The Paley Center for Media in New York will reprise its 2002 screening series David Bowie: Sound + Vision. Takin...
The Get Down photo
The Get Down

Watch the trailer for The Get Down, Baz Luhrmann's Netflix series on disco and the birth of hip-hop


Recreating New York City in the 1970s
Jan 08
// Hubert Vigilla
There's a lot of romance surrounding New York in the 1970s even though it wasn't necessarily the place you'd want to live. Crime, poverty, economic collapse, garbage strikes, tenement arson to collect insurance money. Then ag...

Review: Very Semi-Serious

Dec 14 // Hubert Vigilla
[embed]220186:42734:0[/embed] Very Semi-SeriousDirector: Leah WolchokRelease Date: November 20, 2015 (limited); December 14, 2015 (HBO premiere)Rating: NR While Very Semi-Serious isn't wholly obsessed with the process of creation and failure (it's just semi-serious, after all), that process is just one of many small hooks that make the movie a light, funny, and enjoyable watch. Maybe it's lighter, funnier, and more enjoyable if you're already a reader of The New Yorker, or if a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the magazine and its editorial process is of interest to you. Wolchok spends a good amount of time focusing on Cartoon Editor Bob Mankoff. A celebrated cartoonist himself, Mankoff is writing a memoir while sorting through new work by past contributors and up-and-coming artists. Humor is a matter of taste, and most of the cartoons are the kinds of things that appeal to Mankoff and ultimately to New Yorker EIC David Remnick. Sometimes he laughs at a gag and then dismisses it. "This is beneath him," he says as he rejects a cartoonist he likes. There's a gentle mentorship to Mankoff, who's picking and choosing magazine content but also finding ways of encouraging an artists' sensibilities. Their work may not be right at the moment, but there's talent worth cultivating and he encourages them to try again, fail again, and to fail better. Two of those young artists that Mankoff takes a liking to are Liana Finck and Ed Steed. Their quirky styles are closer to contemporary web comics rather than the droll New Yorker style, and it fits with their personalities. Steed speaks in a perpetual whisper that masks his comedic talent, and Finck is like a weird but lovable heroine in an indie film. Mankoff probably sees a bit of himself in each of them, and gives them the gentle push they need to keep doing their work. Before getting their work looked at in the New Yorker offices, the artists mull around with other cartoonists, almost all of them socially awkward and none of them speaking to one another. It's a nice visual gag. Very Semi-Serious covers a lot of ground, and does pretty well for its scope. There's the history of the cartoons, little nods to famous New Yorker cartoonists of the past like James Thurber, 9/11, Mankoff's life at home, and The New Yorker's recent move from Times Square to One World Trade Center. Nothing can be lingered on too long, so Wolchock juggles the elements that are important, presenting them and then passing them off with a certain light deftness. There's also the question of diversity. The New Yorker's cartoonists tend to be white and male. Even the handful of women cartoonists (Finck, Roz Chast, and Emily Flake) are white. During the scene of cartoonists waiting to be evaluated, I don't recall a single person of color, and I wonder if that will change, and if so when. Though maybe it says something about The New Yorker. Part of me wants a longer chronicle of a few New Yorker cartoonists given how long they've been in the industry and how it's changed. Cartooning can't be done full-time anymore, for instance, so the craft winds up a passion pursued on the side. I'm not necessarily expecting something like Terry Zwigoff's Crumb, but nearly all of the cartoonists are such characters themselves with stories to tell. (A documentary on New Yorker covers and cover artists could be interesting as well given the wide array of artists and subject matter.) Chast, for instance, has such a great on-screen presence. She's one of the few (if not only) women who contributed cartoons to The New Yorker decades ago and still contributes today. In archival footage, Chast slips through the background of the tuxedo-clad boys' club. It's funny and telling and smart the way Wolchok contextualizes the clip. It could have been a New Yorker cartoon--all three captions kind of work too.
Very Semi-Serious photo
More to it than "Christ, what an a-hole"
There's a joke about the cartoons seen in The New Yorker: pretty much all of them can be re-captioned "Christ, what an a**hole." It works surprisingly well about 90% of the time. (The other two evergreen captions for New York...

Hausu director in NYC photo
Largest US retrospective of the director
Nobuhiko Obayashi's Hausu (House) is a favorite here at Flixist. (Alec did a great Cult Club piece on it a few years back.) It's a bit like the fever dream of an imaginative child who's really into Scooby-Doo and Mario Bava. ...

72 hours of Shia LaBeouf photo
72 hours of Shia LaBeouf

#AllMyMovies - Shia LaBeouf is watching all of his films for three straight days


But is it art?
Nov 10
// Hubert Vigilla
Shia LaBeouf's creative endeavors outside of acting have been pretty strange. There was a public art show rife with self-loathing and even a sexual assault, a short film that borrowed heavily from Daniel Clowes, and a video f...

NYPD/LAPD boycotts of Quentin Tarantino reinforce negative stereotypes about cops

Nov 09 // Hubert Vigilla
[embed]220111:42692:0[/embed] Soon after, the LAPD joined the NYPD in calling for a boycott of Tarantino's films. "Hateful rhetoric dehumanizes police and encourages attacks on us," wrote Los Angeles Police Protective League (PPL) president Craig Lally. "And questioning everything we do threatens public safety by discouraging officers from putting themselves in positions where their legitimate actions could be falsely portrayed as thuggery." There are good cops out there, of course, but none of these statements by the PBA and PPL are going to make it easier for them to do their job. Remarks like these make it sound as if the NYPD and LAPD are beyond reproach. If you've paid attention to the news at all or even have some passing familiarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, that's obviously not the case. The issue is police brutality related to systemic racism and/or general problems with hiring and accountability in law enforcement, but reps for the NYPD and LAPD would rather not address those issues. Because hey, look, Quentin Tarantino! Worse still, police reps recently ratcheted up their rhetoric, and it's still not helping their own cause. Late last week, Jim Pasco, the executive director of the Fraternal Order of Police, made a cryptic statement about Tarantino and the police boycott effort. "Something is in the works, but the element of surprise is the most important element. Something could happen anytime between now and [the premiere of The Hateful Eight]. And a lot of it is going to be driven by Tarantino, who is nothing if not predictable." Pasco added, "The right time and place will come up and we'll try to hurt him in the only way that seems to matter to him, and that's economically." So again, rather than try to figure out how to prevent the deaths of more innocent people, how to reach out to underserved or marginalized communities, and just generally figuring out how to be better police officers, high-level police union reps would rather try to organize a major boycott of a new Quentin Tarantino movie and intimidate the filmmaker, and by extension other voices critical of the police, into silence. This is, frankly, stupid. The NYPD, LAPD, and the Fraternal Order of Police come across as petty and tone deaf. The boycott will accomplish nothing substantive with regard to police brutality; it may simply make current perceptions of the police more negative. At the heart of these statements isn't just a general defensiveness but an unhealthy inability to accept legitimate criticism. We're not talking about the deaths of innocent people or good cops who died doing their job. Instead, police reps have dogpiled on a citizen who was protesting peacefully. In case you were wondering, The Hateful Eight comes out in select cities on Christmas Day.
Police vs. Tarantino photo
Police rhetoric not helping their cause
The NYPD and LAPD really hate Quentin Tarantino right now, labeling him a cop-hater and anti-cop. In the process of explaining their dislike for the filmmaker, the NYPD and LAPD are also providing more reason to lose faith in...

DOC NYC 2015 photo
DOC NYC 2015

DOC NYC starts this week, runs November 12-19


The largest documentary fest in the US
Nov 09
// Hubert Vigilla
DOC NYC is one of my favorite film festivals in New York City. Each year, DOC NYC showcases some of the best non-fiction filmmaking from all over the world, including a number of Oscar winners and Oscar contenders. DOC NYC st...
NYKFF 2015 photo
NYKFF 2015

The 2015 New York Korean Film Festival is coming


Runs November 6-11 at the MoMI
Oct 26
// Alec Kubas-Meyer
My favorite New York-based film festival of the year is the New York Asian Film Festival. It has a special place in my heart for a lot of reasons. Among the smaller, more tightly-focused festivals, though, the New York Korean...

Review: The Walk

Oct 08 // Hubert Vigilla
[embed]219838:42632:0[/embed] The WalkDirector: Robert ZemeckisRated: PGRelease Date: September 30, 2015 (IMAX); October 9, 2015 (wide) Throughout The Walk, Philippe Petit (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and his associates speak of artists as anarchists. Artists shake things up, cause people to reconsider the world around them, do things because they are beautiful and new. Yet these statements about the anarchic qualities of artists and their art feel like a form of unintentional self-indictment. The Walk is so painfully conventional, a shiny Hollywood product that wants to inspire its audience to dream big while simultaneously suffering from a deficit of imagination. The biopic cliches are everywhere. While the events in France may be true to Petit's life, Zemeckis and co-writer Christopher Browne make them feel like part of a screenplay checklist: tightrope origin story (check), disowned by parents (check), finds begrudging mentor (check, Sir Ben Kingsley), finds love interest (check, Charlotte Le Bon), establish flaw(s) to be overcome in film's third act (check), fails first attempt at vocation (check) only to triumph immediately after (check), mentor becomes father figure (check). Because these moments feel so perfunctory and familiar rather than lived-in, the first half of The Walk drags. The meet-cute between Philippe and Annie is particularly embarrassing—there's mime involved, and also rain (check). They go from adversaries to lovers bathed in candlelight (check) over the course of an afternoon. But Annie isn't given much to do throughout the rest of the film. She's just there to be Philippe's girlfriend. In another act of unintentional self-indictment, Annie tells Philippe that she's here to help him realize his dream, but she ultimately has to find a dream of her own. The film's finale is 110 stories in the air, but The Walk can't even get over the low hurdle of the Bechdel test. Yet this isn't just Annie's plight. Most of the side characters in the film are generally devoid of personality; they are Philippe's props. Philippe comes across as an angry narcissistic madman in The Walk rather than a charismatic madman, and it's unclear why anyone would want to work with him the way he's written in this film. Once The Walk winds up in New York, the movie picks up the pace and finally becomes enjoyable. Rather than a schlocky, inspirational biopic, the film goes into heist-movie mode. The plan starts to come together, and rhythm becomes brisk, and the movie has an enjoyable breeziness to it. Heist-mode is brief, but it's a welcome reprieve from the biopic stuff, and it sets up the big walk along the World Trade Center. Unfortunately, there are moments of heightened artificial drama (e.g., one of Philippe's friends is extremeley acrophobic). The walk itself is good as a set piece but not all that great. For all the hype about the use of 3D, Zemeckis never exploits image depth to its fullest ability. Staring down from the towers in 3D creates an illusion of height, that's true, but it felt to me like 20 feet (maybe) rather than 1,350 feet. There's little sense of weight or gravity to this world; it's all just lightness. It doesn't help that the towers, the sky, and the city below all feel like CG. Actual photos taken of Petit's walk show a New York that's cool and gray-toned, muted, in the dawn. Zemeckis instead bathes the towers and the digital cityscape in gold and pink hues. The eye notices; the real world is not a Thomas Kinkade painting. The coda to The Walk is a series of uncomfortable allusions to 9/11 that feel cheap and exploitative, even borderline offensive. At one point someone praises Philippe for giving the buildings a soul and making people love The Twin Towers, and they look up longingly into the night sky. It's a cringeworthy attempt to earn your tears. Gordon-Levitt's narration throughout the film doesn't help matters. He speaks French like Inspector Clouseau, situated atop the torch of The Statute of Liberty with the World Trade Center visible in the skyline behind him. It's CG, it's garish, it's surprisingly chintzy, though the worst case of bathos may be a certain moment in the movie that involves a CG bird. In real life there's no actual film footage of Philippe Petit's walk along The Twin Towers. This was likely the impetus for The Walk. It's admirable that Zemeckis would want to re-create a singular event, but I can't help but feel like this is also the reason the event shouldn't be recreated on film. In Man on Wire, Marsh shows stills of the moment accompanied by the quiet, melancholy beauty of Erik Satie's "Gymnopedie No. 1." (In The Walk, we hear Beethoven's "Fur Elise," which has never sounded more cliched.) In Let the Great World Spin, McCann recreates the New York of 1974 from different characters and perspectives. Using Petit's singular act, Marsh and McCann invite their viewers/readers to co-create the event in their minds—to be up with Petit, or below watching a dot in the sky from the ground. At no point during The Walk's major set piece did I think, "It feels like I'm there" or "I wish I was there." Zemeckis doesn't give any room for the audience's imagination or co-authorship. There is more danger and beauty in a still photo of Petit on a wire than the whole of The Walk's recreation of the moment. That might speak to the power of Petit's actual work of art.
Review: The Walk photo
A collection of weightless cliches
It's impossible to watch The Walk without thinking about James Marsh's 2008 film Man on Wire. The Academy Award-winning documentary chronicled French tightrope walker Philippe Petit's high-wire act between the towers of the W...

NYFF 2015 photo
NYFF 2015

The 2015 New York Film Festival kicks off this weekend


You better believe Flixist will be there
Sep 25
// Hubert Vigilla
The 53rd New York Film Festival gets underway this weekend, and Flixist is going to be there checking out many of the notable films that are screening. The festival runs from September 25 to October 11. (Technically the festi...
NYAFF 2015 photo
NYAFF 2015

The 2015 New York Asian Film Festival lineup and schedule are here


My favorite festival of the year returns
Jun 08
// Alec Kubas-Meyer
The New York Asian Film Festival is very near and dear to my heart. When I started at Flixist in 2011, I was a news writer. I wasn't supposed to be writing reviews or doing any of that high-minded stuff. But then my girlfrie...
Japan Cuts 2015 photo
Japan Cuts 2015

2015 Japan Cuts Film Festival lineup unveiled


And it's pretty flipping cool
Jun 05
// Alec Kubas-Meyer
One of the best parts about being an Asian film lover in New York is the late-June-through-mid-July run of Asian-centric festivals. The second half of that time is taken up by the Japan Cuts Film Festival, a showcase at the N...
Mistress USA!  photo
Mistress USA!

First trailer for Mistress America


Frances Ha is all grown up... almost
Jun 04
// Per Morten Mjolkeraaen
It's only been a few months since Noah Baumbach's wonderfully honest, While We're Young premiered in the United States, but now it's time to look forward to his next project, with the first trailer for Mistress Amer...
 photo

The 2015 Tribeca Film Festival kicks off tonight


The opening night screening is the SNL doc Live from New York
Apr 15
// Hubert Vigilla
The 2015 Tribeca Film Festival kicks off tonight here in New York City (aka the city that rarely sleeps and only does so with the assistance of illegally obtained medication). This year's festival opens with the world premier...
 photo

Tribeca Film Festival tickets go on sale March 31st


The New York City festival will feature appearances by George Lucas, Monty Python, Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Mary J. Blige, Christopher Nolan, and maybe movies
Mar 27
// Hubert Vigilla
The Tribeca Film Festival will run from April 15th-26th here in New York City. American Express holders can order festival tickets on March 31st, and the general public can order tickets starting April 6th. The festival will ...
Kung Fu Fest NYC photo
Kung Fu Fest NYC

NYC's Old School Kung Fu Fest 2015 has so many ninjas


You don't even know
Mar 24
// Alec Kubas-Meyer
The folks over at Subway Cinema head up the annual New York Asian Film Festival, my favorite of all the year's festivals, and I'm always excited to see what else they cook up. Last month, we brought news of their efforts to f...
 photo

Help fund The Old School Kung Fu Fest 2015 in NYC


There will be ninjas this year--NINJAS!
Feb 24
// Hubert Vigilla
We here at Flixist love the people at Subway Cinema. Not only do they put on the New York Asian Film Festival (NYAFF) and the New York Korean Film Festival, they also hold a great showcase of classic martial arts movies here ...
SAIFF 2014 photo
SAIFF 2014

Here comes the South Asian International Film Festival


November 18-23 at the SVA theater
Nov 14
// Alec Kubas-Meyer
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...
NYKFF Returns photo
NYKFF Returns

Here comes the 12th Annual New York Korean Film Festival


Runs from November 20-23 at BAM
Nov 11
// Alec Kubas-Meyer
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,...
Japan Society Screenings photo
Japan Society Screenings

Dark Side of the Sun film series playing at New York's Japan Society


Monthly series running from October to February
Oct 08
// Alec Kubas-Meyer
New York's Japan Society is awesome. I love the annual Japan Cuts film festival, and while it's definitely their biggest film-related event, there's a lot of other cool film-related (and not film-related) stuff that goes on t...
NYFF 52 photo
It starts tonight!
Hello everyone. It's festival time again! The 52nd New York Film Festival kicks off tonight with the world premiere of David Fincher's Gone Girl, and continues through October 12th, closing with Alejandro González I&nt...

Nick Cave in NYC photo
Nick Cave in NYC

Nick Cave performing in NYC for special screening on 20,000 Days on Earth


Also featuring a conversation with the film's directors
Sep 03
// Alec Kubas-Meyer
Are you a Nick Cave fan? Do you live in or around New York City? Then you need to mark September 20th on your calendar, because whatever you might have been doing that day is less important than what you will be doing now. To...
 photo

Check it out: new poster art company FAMP Art to release City of God posters


Aug 20
// Liz Rugg
Perhaps riding on Mondo's coattails, a new poster company based out of New York will be debuting next month. FAMP Art claims it wants to "bridge the gap between pop culture art and art-house cinema, focusing on films that don...

Japan Cuts 2014 continues where NYAFF leaves off

Jul 07 // Alec Kubas-Meyer
JAPAN CUTS: The New York Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema  July 10-20, 2014 at Japan Society New York, NY -- North America’s largest showcase of Japanese film and “One of the loopiest… and least predictable of New York’s film festivals” (New York Magazine),JAPAN CUTS: The New York Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema returns for its eighth annual installment. Running July 10-20 and screening 27 features with 8 special guests, JAPAN CUTS 2014 encompasses a thrilling cross section of cinephilic genre oddities, sword-swinging period action, profound documentaries, cathartic melodramas, warped comedies and cutting-edge arthouse cinema made in and around Japan. Guests include superstar performers and independent auteurs opening up in rare Q&As and dynamic parties rocking Japan Society’s historic theater and waterfall atrium. As in past years, the festival dovetails with the 13th New York Asian Film Festival (NYAFF), co-presenting 13 titles in the JAPAN CUTS lineup July 10-13. JAPAN CUTS 2014 again earns the distinction as “New York’s premiere Japanese cinema event,” every title never before screened in New York City, “unspooling across a kaleidoscopic range of taste and aesthetics” (The Wall Street Journal). Boasting 1 World Premiere, 3 International Premieres, 7 North American Premieres, 6 U.S. Premieres, 5 East Coast Premieres, and 4 New York Premieres, every day of the festival provides a must-see event for the NYC cinephile, follower of Japanese art and culture, and devoted world cinema aficionado alike.  The festival opens July 10 with the U.S. Premiere of Takashi Miike’s candy-colored undercover cop saga The Mole Song: Undercover Agent Reiji, followed by the yakuza-turned-filmmaker movie magic that is Sion Sono’s Why Don't You Play in Hell?. The screening is joined by young actress Fumi Nikaido, named by Variety this year as its International Star You Should Know, who joins for an introduction and Q&A, as well as the JAPAN CUTS Opening Night “Let’s Play in Hell!” Party. The festival centerpiece is the World Premiere on July 17 of director Momoko Ando’s masterful dark comedy 0.5mm—a wicked critique of patriarchy following an assisted living caregiver who survives unemployment by taking advantage of elderly men. Ando visits Japan Society to present and discuss her film, as well as participate in the intimate reception after the screening. JAPAN CUTS’ closing film is the magnificent The Tale of Iya, with its North American Premiere July 20. Director Tetsuichiro Tsuta joins to present his renowned work that tells a timeless story on beautiful 35mm, showing a vanishing part of rural Japan through a mode of film artistry which is itself disappearing. A sign of the times, JAPAN CUTS 2014 marks the debut of a new digital cinema projection system in the Lila Acheson Wallace auditorium of Japan Society’s landmark building, continuing to show viewers the best of this vibrant international film scene in the best cinematic conditions possible. The festival also celebrates the career of brave and unpredictable international starKazuki Kitamura, who receives JAPAN CUTS’ annual prize, the CUT ABOVE Award for Excellence in Film. Kitamura has proven to be not only a versatile performer in dramatic and comedic roles in Japan’s Tragedy and Thermae Romae, but a trailblazer in transnational filmmaking in The Raid 2 and Killers, receiving Kinema Junpo's Best New Actor award for his work in Rokuro Mochizuki's Minazuki and Takashi Miike's Ley Lines (Nihon Kuroshakai). Kitamura joins the festival July 19 to share Dave Boyle’s Japanese-American thriller Man from Reno along with the director, including an introduction and Q&A following the East Coast Premiere of this sexy, moody neo-noir. Kitamura will receive the award as part of the International Premiere of the irresistible comedy Neko Samurai ~Samurai ♥ Cat~, in which Kitamura plays a deadly ronin whose heart is melted by his feline target, followed by the Japan CATS Party!. Other festival highlights include the hotly anticipated East Coast Premiere ofUnforgiven, Sang-il Lee’s adaptation of Clint Eastwood’s original Western masterpiece. Starring Ken Watanabe, this samurai-western remains in the realm of greatness, while completely reformed for the new setting. Japan’s controversial mega-blockbuster The Eternal Zero will screen for the first time in the U.S., giving local audiences a chance to see its amazing aerial dogfight sequences as well as confront the film’s contested vision of history. Yuya Ishii’s The Great Passage, a moving tribute to the power of language and Japan’s Oscar entry, receives its awaited New York Premiere, and anime fans get their fix with the North American Premiere of Keisuke Yoshida’s rapturous My Little Sweet Pea, an emotional rollercoaster of a family melodrama about an aspiring anime voice actress otaku. Also slated is the U.S. Premiere of Aya Hanabusa’s Tale of a Butcher Shop and the East Coast Premiere of Yoju Matsubayashi’s The Horses of Fukushima, two remarkable documentaries that tackle inequality and post-3/11 life through the exploration of human-animal relationships. July 18 sees a euphoric night of exceeding depravity, with the International Premiere of Ryoko Yoshida’s must-be-seen-to-be-believed comic tale of sex and possession The Passion adapted from Kaoruko Himeno’s acclaimed novel, U.S. Premiere of Daisuke Miura’s brilliant orgy-cum-psychodrama Love’s Whirlpool, and the East Coast Premiere of Eiji Uchida’s bloody intergenerational battle to the death Greatful Deadwith newcomer Kumi Takiuchi. Zany director Katsuhito Ishii takes on the children’s genre with the North American Premiere of Hello! Junichi (kids get in for only $6 following Ishii’s own efforts to conscript young cinephiles during the Japanese release!). Award-winning writer for the screen and stage Shiro Maeda makes his directorial debut with the hilarious and profound The Extreme Sukiyaki, presented here in its North American Premiere. Maeda will join for a Q&A via live video stream to discuss this remarkable film.  “Curating annual festivals of a national cinema is necessarily problematic, swinging between exhaustive cultural surveys or limited selections of titles with international arthouse appeal, between a lineup that is representative and one that is exceptional. Our tactic at JAPAN CUTS--and I believe this is especially so this year--has been to focus on diversity,” says filmmaker/scholar Joel Neville Anderson, programmer for JAPAN CUTS 2014. “And the results have been surprising, politically incendiary, and always entertaining. I see the festival’s ongoing engagement with high and low genre, mainstream and experimental forms, as an extension of Japan Society’s century old mission of cultural exchange. The lineup demonstrates Japan’s film cultures navigating issues such as discrimination, aging, regional transformation, and widespread social precarity, evincing a nationalist groundswell attempting to revise history, as well as positive political awakenings following the natural and human-made disasters of 3/11." Tickets: $13/$10 Japan Society members, seniors and students, except for the July 10screening Why Don’t You Play in Hell? and the July 19 screening of Neko Samurai ~Samurai ♥ Cat~: $20/$15, including after parties. Tickets for Hello! Junichi are $6 for any child 12-years-old or younger accompanied by an adult. Patrons who purchase more than 5 tickets for at least 5 different films receive $2 off of each ticket (this special offer is available only in person at the box office or by telephone, not with online purchases, and is not valid for the July 10 screening of Why Don’t You Play in Hell?,July 19 screening of Neko Samurai ~Samurai ♥ Cat~, or the discounted $6 ticket forHello! Junichi.) General admission tickets may be purchased in person at Japan Society, by calling the box office at 212-715-1258, or at www.japansociety.org. The box office will be closed July 4-7 in observance of the July 4th holiday weekend. SCREENING SCHEDULE AT-A-GLANCE Thursday, July 10 6:00 – THE MOLE SONG: UNDERCOVER AGENT REIJI 8:30 – WHY DON’T YOU PLAY IN HELL? + guest intro/Q&A + party Friday, July 11 6:00 – THE SNOW WHITE MURDER CASE 8:30 – MARUYAMA, THE MIDDLE SCHOOLER Saturday, July 12 12:30 – THE GREAT PASSAGE 3:00 – THE ETERNAL ZERO 6:00 – THE DEVIL’S PATH 8:30 – MISS ZOMBIE 10:30 – THE PINKIE  Sunday, July 13 12:30 – WOOD JOB! 3:00 – MONSTERZ 5:30 – ALL-ROUND APPRAISER Q: THE EYES OF MONA LISA 8:00 – UZUMASA LIMELIGHT + guest intro/Q&A    Tuesday, July 15 6:00 – THE HORSES OF FUKUSHIMA 8:30 – UNFORGIVEN Wednesday, July 16 6:30 – THE EXTREME SUKIYAKI + guest intro/Q&A Thursday July 17 6:30 – 0.5MM + guest intro/Q&A + reception Friday, July 18 6:30 – THE PASSION 8:30 – LOVE’S WHIRLPOOL 10:45 – GREATFUL DEAD Saturday, July 19 12:00 – TALE OF A BUTCHER SHOP 2:15 – MY LITTLE SWEET PEA 4:30 – MAN FROM RENO + guest intro/Q&A 7:30 – NEKO SAMURAI ~SAMURAI ♥ CAT~ + guest intro/Q&A + party 11:00 – KILLERS + guest intro Sunday, July 20 12:30 – PECOROSS’ MOTHER AND HER DAYS 3:00 – HELLO! JUNICHI 6:00 – THE TALE OF IYA + guest intro/Q&A JAPAN CUTS 2014 SCREENINGS (IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER) All films are in Japanese with English subtitles unless otherwise noted.  0.5mm (0.5 miri) – CENTERPIECE PRESENTATION Thursday, July 17 at 6:30 pm **World Premiere **Featuring Intro and Q&A with Director Momoko Ando, followed by a reception Japan. 2014. 198 min. Blu-ray, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Momoko Ando. With Sakura Ando, Junkichi Orimoto, Toshio Sakata, Masahiko Tsugawa, Akira Emoto. Sawa, an assisted living caregiver for a middle class family with an elderly infirm grandfather, is forced to stretch her morals to keep her job. As a result, she finds herself broke and out on the street. She survives her first night by striking up an ambiguous friendship with a kindly old man, gaining access to a portion of the immense wealth held by Japan's aging population. She continues with similar encounters, and while these begin as scams or revenge on rampant sexism, they ultimately become vulnerable intergenerational exchanges. Director Momoko Ando (Kakera: A Piece of Our Life, 2009) masterfully crafts this journey through Japan's embattled sexual landscape, confronting aging, class and patriarchy. Adapted from the director's first novel, 0.5mm features Sakura Ando (the director's sister), who charges each scene with as much humanity as its impeccably photographed frames can handle. This is a dark and profound comedy of the best sort. “Her debut film (Kakera) is a finely tuned meditation on what it means to be loved and to love, regardless of boundaries and social constructs." --Film International --- All-Round Appraiser Q: The Eyes of Mona Lisa (Bannou Kanteishi Q Mona Riza no Hitomi) Sunday, July 13 at 5:30 pm **North American Premiere, Co-presented with NYAFF Japan. 2014. 119 min. DCP, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Shinsuke Sato. With Haruka Ayase, Tori Matsuzaka, Eriko Hatsune, Charles Deladonchamps, Hiroaki Murakami. The Japanese will always have Paris! In this adaptation of the arch-popular eponymous mystery novel by Keisuke Matsuoka, the city of l'art et l'amour provides the gorgeous backdrop for a grand intrigue involving the world's most iconic artistic treasure: the Mona Lisa. Armed with quasi-supernatural powers of deduction, bottomless knowledge on a limitless array of subjects, and last but not least, cute-and-sexy librarian good looks that would give Audrey Tautou a run for her money, Riko Rinda (Haruka Ayase) is a brilliant appraiser whose "All-Round Appraiser Q" reputation earns the attention of The Louvre as a Mona Lisa exhibition is to be held for the first time in Japan. Accompanied by sidekick Yuto Ogasawara (Tori Matsuzaka), a magazine editor who follows Riko for professional and possibly most personal purposes, she goes to Paris and finds her judgment challenged by the shroud of mystery and threats of theft surrounding the masterpiece as well as the Mona Lisa herself. Minds will be blown, puzzles will be solved, but will a 500-year-old curse be removed? By the director who gave you the Gantz and Library Wars blockbusters. --- The Devil's Path (Kyoaku) Saturday, July 12 at 6 pm **East Coast Premiere, Co-presented with NYAFF Japan. 2013. 128 min. DCP, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Kazuya Shiraishi. With Takayuki Yamada, Pierre Taki, Lily Franky, Chizuru Ikewaki, Kazuko Shirakawa, Jitsuko Yoshimura, Katsuya Kobayashi, Yu Saito. The Devil's Path shows the hell of guilt and conscience as it chronicles the case of a condemned yakuza. A massive monster of a thug (actor-singer Pierre Taki) seeks revenge on his former accomplice and hopes to achieve his goal by telling his story to a journalist (Takayuki Yamada), revealing three unknown killings. The film is a sullen journey that hardens its emotions, anxieties and energies into a shell of obsession. For the death-row gangster, who's now found God, killing was just part of the cost of doing business. For his accomplice (Lily Franky), killing is just fun. A modest, quiet man, Yamada stands in for the viewer as Taki's mesmerizing, murderous presence absorbs the space around him, inviting him in to encounter a possibly even more evil man, his former partner in crime. As it tells their deeds, the movie becomes an expression of philosophical despair. Nominated for Picture of the Year, Director of the Year and Screenplay of the Year at the 37th Japan Academy Prize --- The Eternal Zero (Eien no Zero) Saturday, July 12 at 3 pm **U.S. Premiere, Co-presented with NYAFF Japan. 2013. 144 min. HDCAM, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Takashi Yamazaki. With Junichi Okada, Haruma Miura, Mao Inoue, Hirofumi Arai, Shota Sometani, Min Tanaka, Isao Natsuyagi. Japan's biggest hit last year, one of the 10 top-grossing Japanese films of all time, will no doubt provide the most unique and extreme film experience of the NYAFF/JAPAN CUTS 2014 lineup. As infuriating in its ideological and political black holes as it is exhilarating in visual artistry, The Eternal Zero follows a young man who, as he investigates the life and times of his grandfather, a reluctant kamikaze pilot during the Pacific War, goes from troubling revelations to shocking truths about heroism, history and his own family. Adapted from a hugely popular novel by Naoki Hyakuta, the film tells the tale of tokkotai ("special section," or kamikaze) pilot Kyuzo Miyabe in flashbacks that progressively reveal his alleged cowardice in battle actually concealed a specific moral philosophy of survival. From the cruelties of war to breathtaking airborne battles, this kinetic, emotionally intense, but also politically ambivalent film will leave no one indifferent. --- The Extreme Sukiyaki (Ji, Ekusutorimu, Sukiyaki) Wednesday, July 16 at 6:30 pm **North American Premiere **Featuring Q&A with Director Shiro Maeda via streaming video Japan. 2013. 111 min. HDCAM, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Shiro Maeda. With Arata Iura, Yosuke Kubozuka, Mikako Ichikawa, Kana Kurashina. Reaching a crisis in his post-college life, Horaguchi (Arata Iura) abandons his job and searches out his best friend from his school days. However the bitter and unemployed Ohkawa (Yosuke Kubozuka) hasn't heard from his friend in 15 years and is reluctant to resume their friendship. He is given no choice in the matter. Joined by Ohkawa's partner Kaede (Kana Kurashina) and Horaguchi's former love interest Kyoko (Mikako Ichikawa), the four set off on an aimless day trip to the beach, sukiyaki pot in tow. Ohkawa brings along the one thing that excites him--a crude boomerang he's carved.The Extreme Sukiyaki marks the reunion of Iura and Kubozuka, who shot to stardom after appearing side by side in Ping Pong (2002). This is the directorial debut of award-winning writer and playwright Shiro Maeda, whose film is adapted from his own novel. Directorial debut of Shiro Maeda, winner of the 52nd Kishida Drama Award and 22nd Mishima Yukio Prize --- The Great Passage (Fune wo Amu) Saturday, July 12 at 12:30 pm **New York Premiere, Co-presented with NYAFF Japan. 2013. 134 min. DCP, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Yuya Ishii. With Ryuhei Matsuda, Aoi Miyazaki, Joe Odagiri, Haru Kuroki, Misako Watanabe, Chizuru Ikewaki, Kaoru Yachigusa, Kaoru Kobayashi, Go Kato. Cult arthouse director Yuya Ishii (Sawako Decides) racked up top honors at the Japan Academy Awards this year (best picture, best director, best actor for Ryuhei Matsuda, best script plus technical prizes) with this captivating existential drama/comedy featuring a charmingly nerdy editor, Majime Mitsuya (Ryuhei Matsuda), who spends decades writing and compiling definitions for a "living language" dictionary while courting his landlady's granddaughter. Set in the mid-1990s, The Great Passage starts as the responsibility for putting together the massive dictionary project is passed on from long-time editor Kouhei Araki (Kaoru Kobayashi) to Majime Mitsuya, a much younger man with a degree in linguistics and an obsessive love for words. An oddball ode on the surface, the film is in fact a deeply humanist tribute to the power of language to connect people, a poignant study of life's slow but steady progression, and ultimately, about finding a reason to live. “At once accessibly humanist and endearingly nerdy, suffused with a deep love of language and a quiet awe at the possibilities of human collaboration” – Variety Selected as the Japanese entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 86th Academy Awards --- Greatful Dead (Gureitofuru Deddo) Friday, July 18 at 10:45 pm **East Coast Premiere Japan. 2014. 97 min. DCP, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Eiji Uchida. With Kumi Takiuchi, Takashi Sasano, Kkobbi Kim. Wealthy young Nami (Kumi Takiuchi) has found herself a hobby to while away the time between ordering new appliances and fashion accessories--surveilling the lives of the crazed and lonely, or "Solitarians," as she calls them. Perched atop the city with powerful binoculars, she tracks the descent of the elderly and unemployed into madness and death, gleefully snapping a selfie beside their freshly decaying corpses. When one of her most prized Solitarians (Takashi Sasano) is snatched up by Christian volunteers and becomes hopeful once again, Nami is sent into a murderous rage, pitting young against old in an epic, bloody battle. Eiji Uchida's genre pleaser is also a cutting critique of Japan's post post-bubble insularity and consumerism. "Dark, bloody, unflinchingly brutal, yet also laugh-out-loud funny, genuinely touching and with a profound social conscience, Greatful Dead is the real deal." --Twitch Film --- Hello! Junichi (Halo! Junichi) Sunday, July 20 at 3 pm **North American Premiere Japan. 2014. 90 min. DCP, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Katsuhito Ishii, Kanoko Kawaguchi, Atsushi Yoshioka. With Amon Kabe, Hikari Mitsushima, Ryushin Tei, Chizuru Ikewaki, Tatsuya Gashuin, Yoshiyuki Morishita. Katsuhito Ishii (Funky Forest: The First Contact and The Taste of Tea) takes on the story of Junichi--a timid third grader who can't muster the courage to return an eraser he borrowed from his secret crush--and turns it into a children's rock 'n' roll comedy. Junichi's world is turned upside down as apprentice teacher Anna-sensei (Hikari Mitsushima) scraps her lesson plan to show the rambunctious students about life as an adult. With Anna's unorthodox style, Junichi and his friends are able to gain confidence and pursue their goal of putting on a big concert. Co-directed with Kanoko Kawaguchi and Atsushi Yoshioka, Hello! Junichi brings out the kid in adults and lets kids be kids. Boasting Ishii's signature dance numbers and Yoshiyuki Morishita (the "Japanese Steve Buscemi") as the band's homeroom teacher, it's a unique experience built for future and current movie maniacs. "Extraordinary." --Udine Far East Film Festival Special price of $6 for children 12-years-old and under! --- The Horses of Fukushima (Matsuri no Uma) Tuesday, July 15 at 6 pm **East Coast Premiere Japan. 2013. 74 min. DCP, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Yoju Matsubayashi. Fukushima's Minami-soma has a ten-centuries-long tradition of holding the Soma Nomaoi ("chasing wild horses") festival to celebrate the horse's great contribution to human society. Following the meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in the wake of the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami, local people were forced to flee the area. Rancher Shinichiro Tanaka returned to find his horses dead or starving, and refused to obey the government's orders to kill them. While many racehorses are slaughtered for horsemeat, his horses had been subjected to radiation and were inedible. Yoju Matsubayashi, whose Fukushima: Memories of the Lost Landscape is one of the most impressive documentaries made immediately after the disaster, spent the summer of 2011 helping Tanaka take care of his horses. In documenting their rehabilitation, he has produced a profound meditation on these animals who live as testaments to the tragic bargain human society made with nuclear power. Note: Some scenes contain graphic animal imagery. Winner of the Muhr AsiaAfrica Documentary Best Film Award at the 2013 Dubai International Film Festival --- Killers (Kirazu)   Saturday, July 19 at 11 pm   **East Coast Premiere   **Introduction by actor Kazuki Kitamura  Indonesia/Japan. 2014. 137 min. Blu-ray, in English, Indonesian and Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by The Mo Brothers (Kimo Stamboel and Timo Tjahjanto). With Kazuki Kitamura, Oka Antara, Rin Takanashi, Luna Maya, Ray Sahetapy, Mei Kurokawa, Denden.  Kazuki Kitamura's tour de force performance as an eerily handsome and decadently deranged serial killer centers this remarkable Indonesian-Japanese co-production. Nomura (Kitamura), a wealthy expat returned to Tokyo from the U.S. after the financial crisis, has taken to killing young women and uploading videos of the acts. Bayu Aditya (rapper Oka Antara), an honest Jakarta journalist whose personal life has been destroyed by a corrupt politician, encounters Nomura's viral snuff films online and his sense of vigilante justice becomes a dangerous bloodthirst. Communicating anonymously online, Nomura encourages the fledgling killer, but when Bayu wants out, Nomura forces him to complete the transformation in a bloody, operatic finale. Executive produced by Gareth Evans of The Raid, Killers channels American Psycho and Seijun Suzuki's Branded to Kill via Johnnie To's Fulltime Killer. By turns funny and assaultive, Killers is one of the most disturbing and rewarding viewing experiences in years.    "One of the most interesting, disturbing, and provocative takes on the world of the serial killer ever made." –Twitch 18+ This film is unrated, but may only be viewed by persons 18 years of age and older. --- Love's Whirlpool (Ai no Uzu) Friday, July 18 at 8:30 pm **U.S. Premiere Japan. 2014. 123 min. DCP, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Daisuke Miura. With Sosuke Ikematsu, Mugi Kadowaki, Kenichi Takito, Eriko Nakamura, Hirofumi Arai, Yoko Mitsuya, Ryusuke Komakine, Seri Akazawa. In a fancy split-level condo in Tokyo's Roppongi nightlife district, four women and four men gather from midnight to 5 am. They've all paid to be there (men more than women), and they have only one thing in common--they seek anonymous sex. Using no names, they're known only by their types: freeter (temp or part-time worker), mild-mannered salaryman, duplicitous OL (office lady), self-conscious working class factory worker, perfectionist teacher, veteran pervert, shy NEET ("not in education, employment or training") and bashful college student. Together, they unravel their identities in a night of increasing debauchery. Daisuke Miura's adaptation of his critically acclaimed 2005 play of the same name explores Japan's fuzoku (sex industry) with depth, humor and freewheeling indecency. This surprising, erotic and disturbing film features breakout performances by Sosuke Ikematsu and Mugi Kadowaki, who are tempted to mix love with sex. 18+ This film is unrated, and may only be viewed by persons 18 years of age and older. Original stage play winner of the 50th Kishida Drama Award --- Man from Reno (Rino kara Kita Otoko) Saturday, July 19 at 4:30 pm **East Coast Premiere **Featuring Intro and Q&A with Director Dave Boyle and Actor Kazuki Kitamura USA/Japan. 2014. 111 min. DCP, in English and Japanese with bilingual subtitles. Directed by Dave Boyle. With Ayako Fujitani, Kazuki Kitamura, Pepe Serna, Elisha Skorman, Hiroshi Watanabe. A Japanese bestselling crime novelist visiting San Francisco finds herself embroiled in a real life mystery after a night with a handsome stranger. The man--Japanese and supposedly from Nevada--disappears the next morning, after which increasingly strange and dangerous events begin to occur. This beautifully photographed Japanese-American co-production overturns the gender stereotypes of the mystery thriller, casting international star Kazuki Kitamura as its homme fatale. Kitamura effortlessly slides between gentle and sinister, while Ayako Fujitani fits perfectly into the role of author-turned-detective. One of this accomplished transnational film's greatest features is a rare leading turn from Pepe Serna, veteran character actor of over 100 Hollywood films (Scarface, The Black Dahlia). Set in San Francisco, this neo-noir offers not only a compelling portrayal of gender and globalization, but a model for vibrant independent filmmaking across borders. "Uncovers exhilarating new takes on genre conventions." --Los Angeles Film Festival --- Maruyama, The Middle Schooler (Chuugakusei Maruyama) Friday, July 11 at 8:30 pm **New York Premiere, Co-presented with NYAFF Japan. 2013. 119 min. Blu-ray, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Kankuro Kudo. With Tsuyoshi Kusanagi, Takuma Hiraoka, Kenji Endo, Ik-June Yang, Maki Sakai, Toru Nakamura, Nanami Nabemoto, Yuiko Kariya, Fumina Hara, Ryo Iwamatsu. Though described by acclaimed actor/scriptwriter/director Kankuro Kudo as a "self-fellatio" comedy, Maruyama is also a moving coming-of-age story and an exploration of the infinite possibilities of the human imagination. Maruyama, a sex-crazed 14-year-old (Takuma Hiraoka) is not only dedicated to auto-eroticism but desires to defy the limitations of his body and transcend himself--until his spine literally cracks. When he encounters a newcomer, a nerdy, single father (Tsuyoshi Kusanagi) who finds fault with his neighbors, things take a weird turn as corpses are found in the otherwise ordinary neighborhood. As Maruyama's imagination gets out of control, his fantasies go joyously wild and free as he reimagines his family and the inhabitants of the entire apartment complex as manga-like characters cast in an action-packed saga of assassinations and revenge. “[A] hugely entertaining, sensitive, hilarious and whimsical pop-comedy gem.” – Twitch Film --- Miss Zombie Saturday, July 12 at 8:30 pm **New York Premiere, Co-presented with NYAFF Japan. 2013. 85 min. HDCAM, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by SABU. With Ayaka Komatsu, Toru Tezuka, Makoto Togashi, Riku Ohnishi, Tateto Serizawa, Takaya Yamauchi. In a future or parallel world, family-man Dr. Teramoto (Toru Tezuka) receives a very special delivery: a crate containing a mail order female zombie (Ayaka Komatsu), complete with an instruction manual prescribing a vegetarian diet, a cautionary note against any meat, and a gun--just in case. Teramoto's wife (Makoto Togashi) promptly puts the zombie to work, assigning her the task of scrubbing the garden patio. In lieu of wages, she gets daily rations of rotten greens. Things take a disturbing turn when two contractors working at the villa molest the zombie girl. Witnessing this, the doctor becomes turned on and makes her his plaything. The zombie shows no particular emotional response and yet, as she stoically sews back her wounds, a sense of foreboding emerges. Fate comes knocking at the door when Teramoto's young son, Kenichi (Riku Onishi), has a dreadful accident. The tables begin to turn for master and servant. “A deadpan social satire, an ode to motherhood, and a self-consciously grungy homage to classic silent horror-thrillers” – Variety Winner of the Grand Prize at the 2014 Gérardmer Film Festival; Winner of Best Film Award at the 2014 Fantasporto Film Festival --- The Mole Song: Undercover Agent Reiji (Mogura no Uta Sennyu Sousakan REIJI)– OPENING FILM Thursday, July 10 at 6 pm **U.S. Premiere, Co-presented with NYAFF Japan. 2013. 130 min. DCP, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Takashi Miike. With Toma Ikuta, Riisa Naka, Takayuki Yamada, Yusuke Kamiji, Takashi Okamura, Shinichi Tsutsumi, Mitsuru Fukikoshi, Kenichi Endo, Sarutoki Minagawa, Ren Osugi, Koichi Iwaki. Takashi Miike leaves respectability, restraint and decency at the door in this out-and-out balls-to-the-wall cops vs. yakuza farce. Inept rookie cop Reiji Kikukawa (Toma Ikuta) falls short of busting a city councilor who's caught molesting a teenage girl. Fired without ceremony, he is quickly rehired for an undercover mission to infiltrate a yakuza clan. Reiji's new colleagues give him a baptism of fire with an unorthodox initiation rite: he gets beaten up, tied naked to the hood of a car and driven around at top speed, and is coerced into shooting another cop. Reiji soon befriends Crazy Papillon (Shinichi Tsutsumi), the No. 2 in the gang. Sharing Reiji's taste in fashion as well as his distaste for drugs, they face down the diamond-toothed "cat" Nekozawa (Takashi Okamura) and his gang. How far will Reiji go in the yakuza underworld, and will he be able to bring down the gangsters in the end? ”Takashi Miike hits a home run with an irresistible cops and yakuza romp” – The Hollywood Reporter “Anyone who falls asleep during this extremely exuberant film can ask for his money back.” – International Film Festival Rotterdam 2014 --- Monsterz (Monsutazu) Sunday, July 13 at 3 pm **North American Premiere, Co-presented with NYAFF Japan. 2013. 111 min. DCP, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Hideo Nakata. With Tatsuya Fujiwara, Takayuki Yamada, Satomi Ishihara, Tomorowo Taguchi, Motoki Ochiai, Taiga, Masaki Miura, Mina Fujii, Tatsuya Kawajiri, Yoshiyuki Morishita, Yusuke Hirayama. Japanese horror master Hideo Nakata (Ringu, Dark Water) returns with a remake of the 2010 South Korean film Haunters, a paranormal thriller that offers an original, exciting variation on the tale of two men with supernatural abilities locked in a duel to the death. The nameless villain is a brooding loner (Tatsuya Fujiwara) who uses his mind control to rob banks to fund his solitary lifestyle. He is thrown off guard when delivery man Shuichi Tanaka (Takayuki Yamada) remains unaffected by his power, even after everyone standing in a public square has been placed under the control of his menacing sapphire eyes. Feeling threatened, the malevolent mind-bender sends a speeding truck after Shuichi and leaves him for dead. The young man mysteriously recovers and finds a job working for the driver, Mr. Kumoi (Tomorowo Taguchi), a guitar-shop owner. But when the mind-bender finds out that Shuichi is still alive, it is a war to the death between the two men. --- My Little Sweet Pea (Mugiko-san to) Saturday, July 19 at 2:15 pm **North American Premiere Japan. 2013. 95 min. DCP, in Japanese with live English subtitles. Directed by Keisuke Yoshida. With Maki Horikita, Kimiko Yo, Ryuhei Matsuda, Yumi Asou, Yoichi Nukumizu. It isn't easy to find a dream to chase when you're young, but Mugiko (Maki Horikita) has one: she can't wait to become an anime voice actress. Saving up for classes while she works part-time in a manga store, she lives with her older gambling brother (Ryuhei Matsuda), her father having passed away. When the mother (Kimiko Yo) she never knew turns up out of nowhere and moves in, it only causes irritation for the aspiring otaku. But when she disappears just as quickly, it leaves Mugiko (or "Sweet Pea") searching for answers, bringing her back to her mother's hometown to discover what happened to her mother’s own dream. Featuring fun animated sequences produced especially for the film by renowned studio Production I.G (Ghost in the Shell, Blood: The Last Vampire), My Little Sweet Pea boasts hilarious and moving performances all round, with director Keisuke Yoshida's signature comic timing and snappy dialogue. A consummate two hanky melodrama, My Little Sweet Pea won't leave a dry eye in the house. “You’ll feel like calling Mom after this one.” --Mark Schilling --- Neko Samurai ~Samurai ♥ Cat~  (Neko Zamurai) Saturday, July 19 at 7:30 pm **International Premiere **Featuring Intro and Q&A with actor Kazuki Kitamura, with CUT ABOVE Award Ceremony, Followed by the Japan CATS Party! Japan. 2014. 100 min. HDCAM, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Yoshitaka Yamaguchi. With Kazuki Kitamura, Misako Renbutsu, Yasufumi Terawaki, Kanji Tsuda, Shigeyuki Totsugi. The ever versatile Kazuki Kitamura stars as masterless samurai Kyutaro Madarame, a feared swordsman who has fallen on hard times in old Edo. Caught between two warring gangs in an epic battle of cat lovers and dog lovers, he begrudgingly accepts the canine faction's offer to assassinate the opposite leader's beloved pet: an adorable white cat. Yet upon raising his lethal sword, he cannot bring himself to go through with the act, and the cat melts his ronin heart. But before finding peace as a newly minted cat person, the still fearsome Madarame will have to take on both gangs in a classic samurai street brawl. Kitamura and the cat ("Tamanojo") form a winning onscreen pair in this charming and hilarious romp. Directed by former Takashi Miike Assistant Director Yoshitaka Yamaguchi, Neko Samurai ~Samurai ♥ Cat~ is perfect for cat lovers and cinephiles alike. "Obviously, this is a must see film. Let's not even kid around about that." --Badass Digest --- The Passion (Junan) Friday, July 18 at 6:30 pm **International Premiere Japan. 2013. 95 min. DCP, in Japanese with live English subtitles. Directed by Ryoko Yoshida. With Mayuko Iwasa, Kanji Furutachi, Yasushi Fuchikami, Kumiko Ito. A singular deadpan comedy, The Passion tells a story of a young woman raised in a convent named Frances-ko (Mayuko Iwasa), after Saint Francesco. Distressed by not knowing about love and sex, she calls out for a sign from above, but instead hears a voice from below. A human-faced growth speaks to her from between her legs, constantly berating her, calling out "Woman, you are worthless!" Mr. Koga, as she names it, continues the verbal abuse, yet Frances-ko somehow adapts, forming an adversarial yet symbiotic relationship. This bizarre film, based on Kaoruko Himeno's acclaimed 1997 novel of the same name, is skillfully directed by Ryoko Yoshida, lensed by veteran cinematographer Akiko Ashizawa, grounded by Iwasa's show-stopping performance and enlivened by the hilarious Kanji Furutachi, who lends his voice to the chauvinistic Koga. The soundtrack boasts an unmissable eclectic score by legendary experimental musician and composer Otomo Yoshihide. 18+ This film is unrated, and may only be viewed by persons 18 years of age and older. Original novel shortlisted for the prestigious Naoki Prize --- Pecoross' Mother and Her Days (Pekorosu no Haha ni Ai ni Iku) Sunday, July 20 at 12:30 pm **East Coast Premiere Japan. 2013. 113 min. Blu-ray, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Azuma Morisaki. With Ryo Iwamatsu, Harue Akagi, Kiwako Harada, Ryo Kase, Naoto Takenaka, Kensuke Owada. Laid-back baby boomer Yuichi (Ryo Iwamatsu) is a middle-aged manga artist and singer-songwriter when he isn't at his salaryman day job or watching out for his elderly mother. Suffering from increasing dementia since her husband's death, Mitsue (Harue Akagi) is a constant source of comic energy or annoyance for Yuichi, and he and his son must soon decide if they should put her in a home for the elderly. Jumping back in time, we see how Mitsue (played by Kiwako Harada) tracked the tumult of the latter half of the 20th century, being raised as one of 10 brothers and sisters, surviving the war, and having to push her alcoholic husband (Ryo Kase) along in life. Pecoross is directed by the oldest active film director in Japan, Azuma Morisaki (b. 1927), who creates an emotionally complex work that is only the more profound and life-affirming for its cartoonish portrayal. Awarded Best Japanese Film of 2013 by Kinema Junpo and Eiga Geijutsu --- The Pinkie (Samayou Koyubi) Saturday, July 12 at 10:30 pm **New York Premiere, Co-presented with NYAFF Japan. 2014. 65 min. Blu-ray, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Lisa Takeba. With Ryota Ozawa, Miwako Wagatsuma, Haruka Suenaga, Reon Kadena, Takashi Nishina, Mondo Yamagishi, Kanji Tsuda. The winner of the Grand Prix at the 24th Yubari International Fantastic Film Festival, Lisa Takeba's debut feature is a hyper-imaginative sci-fi(ish) drama about a slacker and his clone. Devil-may-care Ryosuke is taking it easy, nice and easy, particularly with the girls. Unfortunately, the latest beauty he seduces turns out to be a yakuza's moll. Reckoning comes when gangsters beat him up and chop off his pinkie, which falls in the hands of Momoko, a naughty girl who has been stalking him. She gets herself a cloning kit and grows her own Ryosuke-clone. It performs beyond expectations and proves to be a remarkable lover. Frantically paced, The Pinkie is chock-full of Western and Japanese pop culture references and jokes, as if Gen Sekiguchi's Survive Style 5+ had been directed by the minds behind Sushi Typhoon splatter films, mixing Weird Science, Battles Without Honor and Humanity and The Terminator into 65 minutes of concentrated weirdness. “The best thing about The Pinkie is its total adherence to a vision. That this vision is so utterly bizarre is what makes it special.” – Film.com --- The Snow White Murder Case (Shirayukihime Satsujin Jiken) Friday, July 11 at 6 pm **U.S. Premiere, Co-presented with NYAFF Japan. 2014. 126 min. DCP, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Yoshihiro Nakamura. With Mao Inoue, Go Ayano, Misako Renbutsu, Nanao, Shihori Kanjiya, Nobuaki Kaneko, Erena Ono. Yoshihiro Nakamura's Snow White Murder Case (helmer of Fish Story and Golden Slumbers) offers one of the best brain teasers of the year. Based on a novel by bestselling author Kanae Minato, the film dissects the odd goings-on behind the grim discovery of a corpse in the woods of a national park near Tokyo. The victim is a beautiful young office worker, Noriko Miki (Nanao), the object of much jealousy at the cosmetic company where she was employed. Suspicions soon turn toward her co-worker Miki Shirono (Mao Inoue), who has vanished after the murder. Blogger/journalist Yuji Akahoshi (Go Ayano) takes his investigation to the world of social media and the case quickly turns into a witch hunt with a full-blown Twitter storm. As the plot makes brain-bending twists and turns, the camera takes a cold, hard but not humorless look at the damage wrought by the pettiness of a passive-aggressive society. “Exceptionally well-written and skillfully lensed, The Snow White Murder Case is definitely one of the most compelling crime thrillers to come out of Japan in the last few years.” – Twitch Film --- Tale of a Butcher Shop (Aru Seinikuten no Hanashi) Saturday, July 19 at 12 pm **U.S. Premiere Japan. 2013. 108 min. DCP, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Aya Hanabusa. The Kitades run a butcher shop in Kaizuka City outside Osaka, raising and slaughtering cattle to sell the meat in their store. The seventh generation of their family's business, they are descendants of the buraku people, a social minority held over from the caste system abolished in the 19th century that is still subject to discrimination. As the Kitades are forced to make the difficult decision to shut down their slaughterhouse, the question posed by the film is whether doing this will also result in the deconstruction of the prejudices imposed on them. Though primarily documenting the process of their work with meticulous detail, Aya Hanabusa also touches on the Kitades' participation in the buraku liberation movement. Hanabusa's heartfelt portrait expands from the story of an old-fashioned family business competing with corporate supermarkets, toward a subtle and sophisticated critique of social exclusion and the persistence of ancient prejudices. Note: Some scenes contain graphic animal imagery. Official selection 2013 Busan International Film Festival and 2013 Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival --- The Tale of Iya (Iya Monogatari--Oku no Hito--) – CLOSING FILM Sunday, July 20 at 6 pm **North American Premiere **Featuring Intro and Q&A with Director Tetsuichiro Tsuta Japan. 2013. 169 min. DCP, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Tetsuichiro Tsuta. With Rina Takeda, Shima Ohnishi, Min Tanaka, Hitoshi Murakami, Naomi Kawase. Shot on 35mm in Tokushima Prefecture's gorgeous Iya Valley, Tetsuichiro Tsuta's second feature feels like the work of a seasoned filmmaker. The Tale of Iya depicts the story of a shrinking rural community and traditional ways of life encroached on by modern society and consumerism. A grandfather (legendary dancer Min Tanaka) and his granddaughter, Haruna (actress and martial artist Rina Takeda), live together in a small mountain town, eating food they grow and hunting in the forest. Haruna is about to finish high school and must choose whether she will stay or move to the city. Tanaka is powerful and nearly wordless in this indelible screen performance, matched by Takeda, who provides the film with its emotional anchor. Through the appearance of a young man from Tokyo (Shima Ohnishi), Tsuta subtly portrays the dilemmas of leaving, staying and the politicized fights to conserve the environment or temporarily boost the economy. "5/5 stars… a work of instant and startling brilliance." --The Telegraph (UK) --- Unforgiven (Yurusarezaru Mono) Tuesday, July 15 at 8:30 pm **East Coast Premiere Japan. 2013. 135 min. DCP, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Sang-il Lee. With Ken Watanabe, Koichi Sato, Akira Emoto, Yuya Yagira, Shiori Kutsuna. In adapting Clint Eastwood's Unforgiven (1992), Sang-il Lee paid tribute to the film's grandiosity and scale while exchanging America's Western frontier for Meiji-era Japan, a time of immense social and political change after the fall of the Shogunate. Jubei (Ken Watanabe), once a samurai assassin, has survived to raise his children as an impoverished farmer. Before his wife's death, he promised her that he would lay down his sword, but when Kingo Baba (Akira Emoto) comes with news of a bounty on two men who mutilated the face of a prostitute, he can't turn him down. Young Goro (Yuya Yagira) joins the hunt, but they'll have to get through sadistic police chief Ichizo Oishi (Koichi Sato) first, and Jubei must confront even greater injustices, as well as his past deeds and killer heart. With gorgeously choreographed action set pieces in Hokkaido's beautiful and cruel landscape, this Unforgiven stands tall and alone. "Unexpectedly brilliant." --Time Out London ---  Uzumasa Limelight (Uzumasa Laimulaito) Sunday, July 13 at 8 pm **International Premiere, Co-presented with NYAFF **Featuring Intro and Q&A with director Ken Ochiai and actress Chihiro Yamamoto Japan. 2014. 103 min. DCP, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Ken Ochiai. With Seizo Fukumoto, Chihiro Yamamoto, Hiroki Matsukata, Masashi Goda, Hirotaro Honda, Hisako Manda. A moving, nostalgic portrait of the men behind the golden age of chanbara (sword-fighting dramas and films), Uzumasa Limelight goes behind the scenes of the distinctive film genre for which Japan is famous. A professional extra named Kamiyama (Seizo Fukumoto, a real-life kirare-yaku, or chambara extras whose job it is to get killed on screen) has devoted 50 years of his life as a kirare-yaku in sword-fighting movies produced at Kyoto's Uzumasa Studios. A master of the art, he lives to die--or more exactly "to be cut"--and show a beautiful, spectacular death on screen. Now an elderly man, Kamiyama lives very modestly but has earned immense respect from his peers, some of them movie stars. When the studio where he works decides to discontinue its chanbara productions, Kamiyama finds himself at a loss. Hope arrives in the form of a young girl named Satsuki, who soon becomes Kamiyama's disciple. Will the art of dying by the sword live on? --- Why Don't You Play in Hell? (Jigoku de Naze Warui) Thursday, July 10 at 8:30 pm **NYC Premiere, Co-presented with NYAFF **Introduction and Q&A with actress Fumi Nikaido, Followed by the LET’S PLAY IN HELL! Opening Night Party Japan. 2013. 126 min. DCP, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Sion Sono. With Jun Kunimura, Shinichi Tsutsumi, Fumi Nikaido, Hiroki Hasegawa, Gen Hoshino, Tomochika. A tribute to old-school yakuza cinema and shoe-string amateur filmmaking based on a screenplay Sion Sono wrote 17 years ago. The Fuck Bombers, a group of film geeks led by Hirata (Hiroki Hasegawa), try to turn brawler Sasaki (Tak Sakaguchi) into their new Bruce Lee but are nowhere near making their action masterpiece. An ambush set up by a yakuza clan comes to a gory end in the home of boss Muto (Jun Kunimura) with only one man, Ikegami (Shinichi Tsutsumi), surviving. When Mitsuko, the Mutos' young daughter, makes an unexpected entrance, Ikegami is instantly smitten. Ten years later, she has become one sultry mean mess of a girl (Fumi Nikaido). Determined to make Mitsuko a star, her father gives Hirata a once-in-a-lifetime chance to make his movie, with the yakuza as film production crew and the Bombers joining the "real" action--the ultimate sword battle between the Muto and Ikegami clans. "Quite possibly mankind’s greatest achievement, Sion Sono’s Why Don’t You Play in Hell” is less of a question than it is a glorious grindhouse requiem for an entire mode of filmmaking… “– Film.com --- Wood Job! (Ujjobu! Kamusari Naanaa Nichijo) Sunday, July 13 at 12:30 pm **North American Premiere, Co-presented with NYAFF Japan. 2014. 116 min. DCP, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Shinobu Yaguchi. With Shota Sometani, Masami Nagasawa, Hideaki Ito, Yuki Hirano, Naoki Ishii, Yoki Iida. The new film from Shinobu Yaguchi, director of Water Boys, is based on Shion Miura's bestseller, a bittersweet coming-of-age novel. Yuki Hirano (Shota Sometani), an ordinary 18-year-old high school graduate, fails his university entrance exams. Finding himself without a job or anything much in the way of career prospects, he abruptly decides to leave the city life behind, prompted by a brochure with a dishy girl on the cover (Masami Nagasawa) that advertises a one-year forestry program. He winds up in Kamusari, a backwater village nestled deep in the mountains, far beyond civilization, convenience stores and mobile phone coverage. There, he meets Iida (Hideaki Ito), a combination of mountain boy scout, dreamboat, handyman and wildman. Alongside Iida, Yuki learns and grows to love the Thoreau-like lifestyle in the woods and he finds himself embracing the dream of forging a fresh green life--and finding the girl from the brochure. “[Yaguchi’s] latest … is a return to comic form, with more laugh-out-loud gags than his films have produced in many years.” – The Japan Times   GUEST SPOTLIGHTS Kazuki Kitamura (Neko Samurai ~Samurai ♥ Cat~, Man from Reno, Killers) - An incredibly versatile, talented actor, Kazuki Kitamura has established himself over the past two decades as one of Japan's most sought-after stars. Embodying devilishly handsome villains and dashing heroes in dramatic and comedic performances of equal virtuosity, he'll present three of his latest films at JAPAN CUTS: the hilarious Neko Samurai, the the Japanese-American independent thriller Man from Reno, and the Indonesian-Japanese co-produced horror-thriller Killers. Recently taking on ambitious transnational projects such as the Indonesian action film The Raid 2, Kitamura hails from Osaka, and made a name for himself in 2000 when he received Kinema Junpo's Best New Actor award for his work in Rokuro Mochizuki's Minazuki and Takashi Miike's Ley Lines (Nihon kuroshakai). That same year he was awarded Best Supporting Actor at the Yokohama Film Festival for his work in Minazuki, Ben Wada'sPerfect Education (Kanzen-naru shiiku), and Kazuhiro Kiuchi's Kyohansha. Since then, Kitamura has continued to impress with a wide range of memorable leading and supporting roles in film and television, including the deliciously evil alien commander in Godzilla: Final Wars, the Thermae Romae franchise and acting opposite Tatsuya Nakadai in Japan's Tragedy. JAPAN CUTS 2014 celebrates Kitamura's career with candid introductions and Q&As for Man from Reno, Killers and Neko Samurai followed by the Japan CATS Party! Momoko Ando (0.5mm) is a multitalented filmmaker, artist and writer, and a rising star of Japan's independent filmmaking scene. Ando's first film, Kakera: A Piece of Our Life, was released in 2009 to great acclaim, scored by the Smashing Pumpkins' James Iha.0.5mm, her tour de force second feature, is adapted from her debut novel of the same name, and stars her sister, actress Sakura Ando. (From an immensely creative family, Momoko Ando is also the daughter of actor/director Eiji Okuda and essayist Kazu Ando.) While critically approaching contemporary issues of gender and patriarchy, Ando's films evince a classical visual style and brilliant comic touch. JAPAN CUTS presents the world premiere of 0.5mm as the festival's Centerpiece Presentation, including an introduction, Q&A and reception with the director. Dave Boyle (Man from Reno) is a Los Angeles-based filmmaker once memorably described by the Wall Street Journal's Jeff Yang as "the best Asian American filmmaker who's not actually in any way Asian American." After debuting with the bilingual comedy Big Dreams Little Tokyo (2006), in which he also starred as a young American businessman obsessed with Japanese culture, Boyle's sophomore featureWhite on Rice starring Hiroshi Watanabe and Nae Yuuki was released in theaters in 2009. In 2011, he embarked on a multi-film collaboration with San Francisco musician Goh Nakamura, who played himself in both Surrogate Valentine and Daylight Savings. JAPAN CUTS presents his fifth feature film, Man from Reno, accompanied by an introduction and Q&A with the director, and star Kazuki Kitamura. Shiro Maeda (The Extreme Sukiyaki) is a writer/director/actor and leading figure in Japan’s contemporary performing arts scene, also establishing himself through his work on novels, TV and movies. Born in the 1970s, Maeda is said to represent the voices of Japan’s “Lost Decade,” which refers to those who have lived through times of economic downturn and social uncertainty. Maeda is most recognized and praised for the way he deals with heavy and universal issues through levity, subtle humor and even absurdism. He is recipient of Japan’s most prestigious award for playwrights, the 52nd Kishida Drama Award, and the 22nd Mishima Yukio Prize for literature. Adapted from his novel, Maeda presents his directorial debut The Extreme Sukiyaki and joins JAPAN CUTS for a Q&A via streaming video. Fumi Nikaido (Why Don't You Play in Hell?), one of Japan's most popular rising stars, was scouted at the age of 12 to become a model and television actress. Hailing from Naha, a southern coastal town on Okinawa Island, Nikaido made her film debut in Koji Yakusho's 2009 Toad's Oil. For her stirring performance in Sion Sono's 2011 Himizu, she received the Marcello Mastroianni Award at the Venice International Film Festival with co-star Shota Sometani, the festival's highest prize for emerging talent, never before awarded to a Japanese performer. Nikaido joins JAPAN CUTS to present Sion Sono's Why Don't You Play in Hell?, including an introduction and Q&A followed by the Let's Play in Hell! Opening Night Party on the festival's opening night Ken Ochiai, Seizo Fukumoto, Chihiro Yamamoto (Uzumasa Limelight) - Ken Ochiai is a writer/director based in Los Angeles who works in both the U.S. and Japan. Having made his first film at age 12, he left his native Tokyo after high school to pursue filmmaking in the U.S., graduating from the USC School of Cinematic Arts with a BA in Production and the American Film Institute. Seizo Fukumoto entered Toei Studio Kyoto at 15. Since then he has been featured in film and TV for more than half a century. Chihiro Yamamoto started learning Tai Chi at 3 and won gold and silver medals at the World Junior Wushu Championship. This is her film debut. The director and stars present Uzumasa Limelight at JAPAN CUTS, joining for an introduction and Q&A. Tetsuichiro Tsuta (The Tale of Iya) studied filmmaking at Tokyo Polytechnic University, where he began using black-and-white 16mm film. His first feature, Islands of Dreams was produced on this now rare format, and his magnificent second film, The Tale of Iya, is shot on color 35mm in the mountains not far from his hometown. The Tale of Iya, starring legendary dancer Min Tanaka, was awarded a Special Mention in the Asian Future section of the Tokyo International Film Festival, and chronicles not only a disappearing part of Japan, but a rare mode of film craftsmanship. Tsuta joins to present his spectacular work as JAPAN CUTS’ Closing Film, with an introduction and Q&A.
Japan Cuts 2014 photo
It never ends
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 crossove...

NYAFF Recommendation: Han Gong-Ju

Jun 30 // Alec Kubas-Meyer
Go See Han Gong-Ju photo
This is not a review
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 re...

The 2014 New York Asian Film Festival is about to rock you

Jun 23 // Alec Kubas-Meyer
THE FILM SOCIETY OF LINCOLN CENTER and SUBWAY CINEMA in association with Japan Society announce the Complete Lineup for THE 13th NEW YORK ASIAN FILM FESTIVAL June 27 – July 14, 2014 Alan Mak and Felix Chong’s crime thriller OVERHEARD 3 will make its International Premiere as the Opening Film, and the North American Premiere of Park Chan-kyong’s documentary MANSHIN: TEN THOUSAND SPIRITS will close the festival. Previously announced North American premiere of Umin Boya’s period baseball epic KANO is festival’s Centerpiece Presentation. Chinese cinema legend, Taiwan’s Jimmy Wong Yu (THE ONE-ARMED SWORDSMAN, WUXIA) will be presented with the 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award, while the Star Asia Award will go to both Hong Kong’s queen of comedy Sandra Ng (GOLDEN CHICKENS trilogy) and Korea’s Sol Kyung-gu.  Two inaugural awards will also be presented: The Celebrity Award will go to Park Joong-hoon and the Screen International Rising Star Award to Fumi Nikaido. Three special focus programs are also on the menu: a spotlight on resurgent local Hong Kong cinema, Hong Kong Forever!, a retrospective: Sir Run Run Shaw Tribute, and as previously announced, the 2014 Korean Actor in Focus: Lee Jung-jae.   New York, NY, May 30, 2014 – The Film Society of Lincoln Center and Subway Cinema in association with Japan Society announce the full lineup today for the 2014 New York Asian Film Festival (NYAFF), which will take place June 27 – July 14. The festival of popular Asian cinema will showcase 60 feature films, including 1 major international premiere, 20 North American premieres, 6 U.S. premieres, and 11 more films making their New York City debuts. The festival will be attended by over 20 star filmmakers and celebrity guests traveling from Australia, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan. NYAFF’s Opening Night presentation will be the International Premiere of Overheard 3, the highly anticipated finale to the immensely popular Hong Kong franchise. A stand-alone story of loyalty and morality that Sergio Leone might have made had he been working in Hong Kong, graced with a star-studded cast, and geared with heart-busting action, the ultimate episode in the epic saga, after tackling insider trading and stock market manipulation, sees writers-directors Alan Mak and Felix Chong—the creators of the Infernal Affairs trilogy—turning to real estate conspiracies in the Hong Kong New Territories. The Closing Film will be Park Chan-kyung’s Manshin: Ten Thousand Spirits, a cinematic feast for the mind and the senses, a thought-provoking mystical journey into the psyche of Korea and its modern history through the life story of Korea’s most famous living shaman, Kim Keum-hwa. Both the story of Kim—who was born in 1931 and became a shaman at 17—and significant moments of modern Korea are chronicled through rare archival footage, performances of shamanistic gut rituals, dramatic reenactment of real stories (actress Moon So-ri portrays Kim in the 1970s), and even animation and fantasy sequences. Umin Boya’s baseball epic Kano was previously announced as NYAFF’s Centerpiece Presentation. Produced and co-written by Taiwan’s hit maker director Wei Te-Sheng (Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale), it’s a triumph of Taiwanese cinema and one of the highest-grossing local films of all time. Other highlights include Lou Ye’s Berlinale Golden Bear contender Blind Massage, considered by many critics as his masterpiece, and Japanese director Kazuaki Kumakiri’s My Man, the quietly disturbing tale of two lost soulsfatefully brought together by a natural disaster, and the only Japanese film competing at the 36th Moscow International Film Festival in June).    NYAFF will honor Jimmy Wong Yu with the 2014 Star Asia Lifetime Achievement Award. Currently enjoying a bright Indian Summer in his long career, with juicy roles in Peter Chan’s Wu Xia (aka Dragon, 2011) and Chung Mong-hong’s art-house slasher Soul (2013), he has set the template for modern kung-fu movies with The Chinese Boxer (1970), and was instrumental in kicking off the swordfighting (wuxia) movie craze with his star-making performance in Chang Cheh’s The One Armed-Swordsman (1967). Star Asia Award recipients will include Hong Kong’s award-winning Queen of Comedy and most bankable actressSandra Ng, who has starred in over 100 movies (including the Golden Chicken trilogy), and Korea’s Sol Kyung-gu, an absolute powerhouse of an actor who has a career that spans both high art (Oasis) and mass-appeal blockbusters (Cold Eyes). The inaugural The Celebrity Award will be presented to Park Joong-hoon, who’s been Korea’s top leading man since the 1980s (Lee Myung-se’s Nowhere to Hide), and who has made an impressive transition to directing with Top Star (2013). Fumi Nikaido will be the first Screen International Rising Star Award honoree. At 20 years old, she is already a full-fledged actress whose career has enjoyed a meteoric rise in recent years, and who has shown incredible talent and range in various films ranging from Sion Sono’s Himizu and Why Don’t You Play in Hell? to Koji Fukada’s summer-at-the-beach drama Au revoir l’été, and the superbly disturbing My Man by Kazuyoshi Kumakiri. NYAFF will also feature three focus programs for this 13th edition of the festival of popular Asian cinema: Hong Kong Forever!, Korean Actor in Focus: Lee Jung-jae, and Sir Run Run Shaw Tribute. These three programs, along with the main selection, highlight the film legacy of East Asia, and its current, crucial role in today’s ever-changing world of film, one that can’t (and shouldn’t) be shelved in the dusty corner conveniently and dismissively known as “world cinema.” At a time when many major film festivals are more Eurocentric and West-dominated than ever, NYAFF aims every year to show that the life of cinema is out there.   HONG KONG FOREVER! For Hong Kong cinema in 2013 and 2014, it’s all been about the renewed confidence and energy of the local film productions, and a return to the uniquely Hong Kong–focused stories. The tide started to turn with Pang Ho-cheung’s 2012 comedy about filmmaking, Vulgaria (Opening Film of NYAFF 2013). It became one of the highest grossing Hong Kong films of 2012, as Pang made Hong Kong audiences feel important again by producing a film filled with local humor for a homegrown audience. Critical and commercial successes continued for Hong Kong films throughout 2013 and local films even returned to the top of the Lunar New Year box office in 2014, led by outrageous comedy Golden Chickensss. So this year, we’re celebrating this restored strength of Hong Kong films with: 3D Naked Ambition, Aberdeen, As the Light Goes Out, Control, Firestorm, From Vegas to Macau, Golden Chicken, Golden Chickensss, May We Chat, Mr. Vampire, Overheard 3, Portland Street Blues, Rigor Mortis, andThe White Storm. Presented with the support of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York.   KOREAN ACTOR IN FOCUS: LEE JUNG-JAE Discovered while working at a café in the trendy Seoul neighborhood of Apgujeong, Lee Jung-jae began his career as a model. He made the transition to television in 1993 with Dinosaur Teacher and became a star almost overnight. He gained his first film role in 1994 in The Young Man but that same year the TV drama Feelingscemented Lee as a household name. Lee was a heartthrob and went on to appear in several more dramas before a starring role in E J-yong’s 1998 romantic drama An Affair turned him into a full-fledged movie star. Recently he has had a string of hits with films like the international crime caper The Thieves, the political gangster film New World, and the Joseon-era courtroom drama The Face Reader—the latest two films in particular have demonstrated Lee’s maturation as a character actor, where he has delivered some of his best dramatic performances to date. This focus will include The Face Reader, New World, and Il Mare. Presented with the support of Korean Cultural Service in New York.   SIR RUN RUN SHAW TRIBUTE The legendary media mogul Sir Run Run Shaw (1907-2014) will forever be remembered for his instrumental role in revolutionizing the Chinese film industry by co-founding the famous Shaw Brothers (HK) Ltd in 1958, building Asia’s largest film studio in Clearwater Bay (completed in 1964), and along with Raymond Chow, creating a mass production system with in-house talent—including directors Li Han-hsiang, King Hu, Chang Cheh, Lau Kar-leung, Chor Yuen, Kuei Chih-hung, and stars like Jimmy Wang Yu (Jimmy Wong), Gordon Liu, and Ti Lung. While the studio delivered more than 1,000 films over the years, in a wide range of genres, it was best known internationally for its martial-arts cinema. Our tribute will include the following films: The One-Armed Swordsman (1967), The Chinese Boxer (1970), The Delinquent (1974), The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires (1974), Killers on Wheels(1976), Killer Constable (1980), and Seeding of a Ghost (1983). Presented with the support of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York and Celestial Pictures.   Opening Night After-Party NYAFF 2014, in collaboration with Flaskingtree Marketing Group (flaskingtree.com), will host the official Opening Night After-Party on June 27, 2014, 8:00pm-1:00am, at the Empire Rooftop Bar & Lounge.  Located across the street from the Lincoln Center, at the Empire Hotel, the After-Party will be co-hosted by celebrity DJ Whoo Kid.     We’re deeply grateful for the support of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York, the Korean Cultural Service New York, the Taipei Cultural Center of TECO in New York, Kenneth A. Cowin Foundation, The Korea Society, and The Celebrity magazine.   We would also like to thank our sponsors: The Kitano Hotel, Anthology Film Archives, Møsefund Farm, Manhattan Portage, American Australian Association, Well Go USA, Drafthouse Films, RAM Releasing, Celestial Pictures, American Genre Film Archive, Huayi Brothers Media, Fortune Star, Epic Proportions, Flaskingtree Marketing Group, Kirin, and Urban Action Showcase; and our media partners: Screen International, Film Business Asia, and Noonchi.   Keep up with the latest festival news at: www.facebook.com/NYAFF, www.subwaycinema.com, twitter: @subwaycinema (#NYAFF14) Tickets are on sale both at the box office and online. Discounts are available for Film Society members. Read more about The Film Society of Lincoln Center. Screenings will be held at the Film Society of Lincoln Center's Walter Reade Theater (located at 165 West 65th Street, between Amsterdam Avenue and Broadway), Japan Society (333 East 47th Street, between 1st and 2nd Avenues), and Asia Society (725 Park Avenue, at 70th Street). The 2014 New York Asian Film Festival Guests include:   Jimmy Wong Yu (SOUL, THE ONE-ARMED SWORDSMAN, THE CHINESE BOXER) Sandra Ng (GOLDEN CHICKEN, GOLDEN CHICKENSSS, PORTLAND STREET BLUES) Sol Kyung-gu (COLD EYES, HOPE, PUBLIC ENEMY) Lee Jung-jae (NEW WORLD, THE FACE READER, IL MARE) Moon So-ri (MANSHIN: TEN THOUSAND SPIRITS) Fumi Nikaido (MY MAN, AU REVOIR L’ÉTÉ, WHY DON’T YOU PLAY IN HELL?) Zishuo Ding (SILENT WITNESS) Chihiro Yamamoto (UZUMASA LIMELIGHT) Director Alan Mak (OVERHEARD 3) Director Felix Chong (OVERHEARD 3) Director Anna Broinowski (AIM HIGH IN CREATION!) Director Fei Xing (SILENT WITNESS) Director Umin Boya (KANO) Director Lee Su-jin (HAN GONG-JU) Director Shin Yeon-shick (ROUGH PLAY) Director Ken Ochiai (UZUMASA LIMELIGHT)     The 2014 New York Asian Film Festival lineup: OPENING FILM International Premiere OVERHEARD 3 (2014) Country: Hong Kong Directors: Alan Mak & Felix Chong After tackling insider trading and stock market manipulation, writers-directors Alan Mak and Felix Chong—the minds behind Infernal Affairs—turn to the real estate conspiracies in the Hong Kong New Territories in the third and reportedly final installment of the hugely popular Overheard series. Recently released from prison, Jau (Louis Koo) leads an intricate plan to take down the Luk Brothers, a group of bullies who rule the villages with an iron grip, and Uncle To (Kenneth Tsang), the self-proclaimed godfather of the New Territories. Featuring an all-star cast—including Mainland China’s Zhou Xun—and a story ripped from the headlines, Overheard 3 is an epic saga of loyalty and morality that Sergio Leone might have made had he been working in Hong Kong. Directors Alan Mak and Felix Chong will attend the screening. Presented with the support of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York.   CENTERPIECE PRESENTATION North American Premiere KANO (2014) Country: Taiwan Language: Japanese, Taiwanese, Hakka, and Taiwan Aboriginal with English subtitles Director: Umin Boya The star of Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale and already an award-winning television director, Umin Boya, makes his feature-film directorial debut with the true story of Kagi Agriculture and Forestry Public School’s baseball team. Known as the pioneers of Taiwanese baseball in the 1930s, this ragtag group of young players—made up of both Japanese and Taiwanese students—went from holding a losing record to playing in the finals of Japan’s high-school baseball tournament in one year under the leadership of their new Japanese coach (Nagase Masatoshi). A love letter to the sport of baseball and imbued with the never-give-up spirit, this three-hour crowd-pleasing sports epic is a triumph of Taiwan cinema and one of the highest-grossing local films of all time. Director Umin Boya will attend the screening. Presented with the support of the Taipei Cultural Center of TECO in New York.   CLOSING FILM North American Premiere MANSHIN: TEN THOUSAND SPIRITS (2013) Country: South Korea Director: Park Chan-kyong Directed by visual artist Park Chan-kyong (Day Trip and Night Fishing, both co-directed with his brother Park Chan-wook), Manshin is a cinematic feast for the mind and the senses, a thought-provoking mystical journey into the psyche of Korea and its modern history through a life story of Korea’s most famous living shaman, Kim Keum-hwa. Both the life of Kim—who was born in 1931 and became a shaman at 17—and significant moments of modern Korea are chronicled through rare archival footage, performances of shamanistic “gut” rituals, dramatic reenactment of real stories (Moon So-ri portrays Kim in the 1970s), and even animation and fantasy sequences. Featuring original music by Korean indie band UhUhBoo Project (Night Fishing), Manshin transports viewers beyond the borders of past and present, South and North Korea, life and afterlife, reality and fantasy. It is unlike any other film you’ll see at NYAFF this year. Moon So-ri will attend the screening. Presented with the support of Korean Cultural Service in New York.   North American Premiere 3D NAKED AMBITION (2014) Director: Lee Kung-lok Country: Hong Kong This hilarious sex comedy follows Chapman To (Vulgaria) as he leaves Hong Kong for Japan in hopes of becoming a porn producer. The film feels like a throwback to some of the best Hong Kong Cat III comedies, with tons of innuendo, a bit of social comedy and rapid-fire wit, and fun (if a bit sticky) uses of 3-D.   Presented with the support of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York.   ABERDEEN (2014) Country: Hong Kong Director: Pang Ho-cheung A beautifully composed, imaginative, and finely observed dramedy that examines relationships across three generations of a Hong Kong family. Pang Ho-cheung’s magic-realist touch gives the story grace notes like whale sightings, kaiju rampages, and unexploded WWII bombs found in the center of downtown Hong Kong. Presented with the support of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York.   U.S. Premiere AIM HIGH IN CREATION! (2013) Country: Australia Director: Anna Broinowski In this revolutionary comedy documentary about the cinematic genius of North Korea’s late Dear Leader Kim Jong-il, Anna Broinowski visits North Korea with a goal to learn first hand how to make a propaganda film, according to the rules of his 1987 Manifesto “The Cinema and Directing.” Director Anna Broinowski will attend the screening. Presented with the support of American Australian Association’s Dame Joan Sutherland Fund.   North American Premiere ALL-AROUND APPRAISER Q: THE EYES OF MONA LISA (2014) Country: Japan Director: Shinsuke Sato In this adaptation of the popular eponymous mystery novel by Keisuke Matsuoka, Paris provides the gorgeous backdrop for a grand intrigue involving the world’s most iconic artistic treasure: the Mona Lisa. Minds will be blown, puzzles will be solved, but will a 500-year-old curse be removed? From the director who gave you the blockbustersGantz and Library Wars. Presented with Japan Cuts: The New York Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema.   New York Premiere APOLITICAL ROMANCE (2012) Country: Taiwan Director: Hsieh Chun-yi A China-Taiwan cross-cultural rom-com with an excellent, unforced chemistry between its leads, Apolitical Romance follows Mainland girl (Huang Lu) as she visits Taiwan and gets involved with a local guy (Bryan Chang) who helps her track down her grandmother’s first love from 60-odd years ago. Presented with the support of the Taipei Cultural Center of TECO in New York.   North American Premiere AS THE LIGHT GOES OUT (2014) Country: Hong Kong/China Director: Derek Kwok Hong Kong stars Simon Yam, Shawn Yue, Nic Tse, and Hu Jun (Firestorm, Drug War) play a squad of firefighters trapped in a testosterone-fueled soap opera. If you aren’t wiping away Man Tears by the end of this movie, then it’s only because you’re running out of the theater to file your application to join the fire department. Presented with the support of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York.   U.S. Premiere AU REVOIR L’ÉTÉ (2013) Country: Japan Director: Koji Fukada A light comedy of manners played out during 10 days in a seaside town, Au revoir l’été is a nicely played Eric Rohmer-esque rondo of human behavior, with its teenage central character Sakuko (a strikingly assured Fumi Nikaido) philosophically observing the small hypocrisies and lies by the adults around her, as well as going through a small learning experience of her own. Fumi Nikaido will attend the screening.   North American Premiere BLIND MASSAGE (2014) Country: China/France Director: Lou Ye Easily the most powerful and innovative Asian film of this year, Blind Massage consolidates the rebirth of Mainland director Lou Ye (NYAFF 2013 selection Mystery) as a world-class talent. By following the lives of the blind and partially sighted masseurs and masseuses of Sha Zonqi Massage Centre in Nanjing, Lou creates a true ensemble movie and a powerful ride through a parallel world of metaphysical cinema.   THE CHINESE BOXER (1970) Country: Hong Kong Director: Jimmy Wong Yu When you talk about movies that changed the world, The Chinese Boxer unquestionably has to take its place among them. Jimmy Wang Yu was already an established superstar in Hong Kong and Asia, but The Chinese Boxer, his first film as director, wasn’t just the first open-handed martial-arts film from Hong Kong to become a worldwide blockbuster, but its influence on all martial-arts films since, especially Bruce Lee’s, cannot be understated. Jimmy Wong Yu will attend the screening. Presented with the support of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York and Celestial Pictures.   New York Premiere COLD EYES (2013) Country: South Korea Director: Choi Eui-seok A splashy and gripping remake of Johnnie To’s Hong Kong hit thriller Eye in the Sky (2007), which became a surprise box-office smash last summer in Korea, Cold Eyes is anchored by Sol Kyung-gu’s performance as a rumpled middle-aged surveillance guru. Watch for a cameo by Eye in the Sky star, Simon Yam, right before the credits roll. Sol Kyung-gu will attend the screening on July 7, and will be presented with Star Asia Award. Presented with the support of Korean Cultural Service in New York.   North American Premiere CONTROL (2013) Country: Hong Kong/China/Taiwan Director: Kenneth Bi Writer-director Kenneth Bi (Rice Rhapsody, The Drummer) delivers his most ambitious movie to date, the futuristic thriller Control, a big-budget, noirish mystery with multiple twists, set in an unnamed Asian metropolis. The film follows an insurance salesman, played by Daniel Wu, as he is coerced to commit criminal acts by an unseen villain, who sends instructions over the phone and has control of the city’s surveillance cameras. Presented with the support of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York.   THE DELINQUENT (1973) Country: Hong Kong Directors: Chan Cheh & Kuei Chih-Hung In one of the most aggressively experimental action movies ever to come out of Shaw Brothers, Wang Chung plays an angry young man sweating to death in the grotty ghetto of modern-day Hong Kong, who gets recruited by a local gang. Raw and feral. Presented with the support of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York and Celestial Pictures.   New York Premiere THE DEVIL’S PATH (2013) Country: Japan Director: Shiraishi Kazuya An ambitious, brooding character study that intelligently tackles heavy issues like press ethics, the nature and causes of crime, the throes of guilt, the (im)possibility of redemption, and, at the deepest level, the banality of evil,The Devil’s Path is a slow burn that shows the hellish torment of a guilty conscience as it chronicles the case of a condemned yakuza played by actor-singer Pierre Taki. Presented with Japan Cuts: The New York Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema.   U.S. Premiere THE ETERNAL ZERO (2013) Country: Japan Director: Takashi Yamazaki Japan’s biggest hit last year, and one of the 10 top-grossing Japanese films of all time, The Eternal Zero will no doubt provide the most extreme film experience of the NYAFF/Japan Cuts 2014 lineup. Infuriating in its ideological and political black holes as it is exhilarating in its superb visual artistry and emotional intensity, it’s a film that will leave no one indifferent. Presented with Japan Cuts: The New York Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema.   THE FACE READER (2013) Country: South Korea Director: Han Jae-rim The Face Reader, which beat Iron Man 3 at the Korean box office last year, is a lavish period drama with high-level cast at the top of its game, witty dialogue, and a smooth mixture of low comedy and high drama. The film spins on the contradictions between outward appearances and inner feelings as it follows a professional physiognomist, hired to weed out corrupt officials at Joseon dynasty court, who becomes entangled in a power struggle for the throne. Lee Jung-jae will attend the screening.   Presented with the support of Korean Cultural Service in New York.   New York Premiere FIRESTORM 3D (2013) Country: Hong Kong/China/Malaysia Director: Alan Yuen Hong Kong superstar Andy Lau plays Lui, a prissy police detective who’s getting his butt handed to him by flashy thief Nam (Hu Jun, Drug War and As the Light Goes Out), an insanely competent career criminal who knocks over armored cars like dominos. What follows is an action movie turned up to 11, in which everything goes to hell hard and fast and by the time the end credits roll, pretty much everyone in Hong Kong has been murdered in an epic shootout. Presented with the support of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York.   New York Premiere FROM VEGAS TO MACAU (2014) Country: Hong Kong/China Director: Wong Jing A semi-sequel to God of Gamblers (1989), one of the most iconic Hong Kong movies of all time, this flick is a showcase for Chow Yun-fat, the Godzilla of Hong Kong movies: a massive megastar who towers over the landscape. A charmer who oozes so much debonair sexiness that he makes Don Draper look drab, Chow is firing on all cylinders in this no-holds-barred gambling movie, directed by Wong Jing, who will do absolutely anything to entertain an audience. Presented with the support of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York.   North American Premiere FUKU-CHAN OF FUKUFUKU FLATS (2014) Country: Japan Director: Yosuke Fujita An irresistibly quirky comedy about love, losers, loners, and life in a run-down apartment complex called FukuFuku Flats, Fuku-chan offers laughs aplenty, sweet and bitter, in the expert hands of helmer Yosuke Fujita (Fine, Totally Fine, winner of the 2008 Audience Award at NYAFF) and his lead actress, comedienne Miyuki Oshima (Gu Gu the Cat, The Handsome Suit, Miss Kurosawa), who’s cast here in the improbable role of a Japanese everyman (sort of) rich in friends and poor in romance.   GOLDEN CHICKEN (2002) Country: Hong Kong Director: Samson Chiu Sandra Ng plays Kum, a hooker with a heart of gold and a brain of bubblegum who takes us on a tour of Hong Kong history, as seen from the bedroom. Kum started turning tricks in high school, then moved on to an upscale nightclub where she overcame her lack of good looks by developing a never-say-die personality. She goes independent, weathers Tiananmen Square, a couple of financial crises, the 1997 handover, and everything else that life throws at her, never losing hope that there will always be a better tomorrow. Sandra Ng will attend the screening. Presented with the support of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York.   North American Premiere GOLDEN CHICKENSSS (2014) Country: Hong Kong Director: Matt Chow This bawdy comedy, featuring veteran comedienne Sandra Ng as a mama-san with a calculator for a soul, is a celebration of Hong Kong, and a real treat for the fans of HK cinema. Shambolic, reckless, and defiantly un-PC,Golden Chickensss celebrates hard work, hard weiners, big hearts, and big boobs. One of the most loving, high-spirited movies about sex workers you’ll ever see, the whole thing even ends with the cast bursting into song for no good reason other than they’re having a blast. Sandra Ng will attend the screening on June 27, and will be presented with Star Asia Award. Presented with the support of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York.   New York Premiere THE GREAT PASSAGE (2013) Country: Japan Director: Yuya Ishii Cult arthouse director Yuya Ishii (Sawako Decides) has racked up all the top honors at the Japan Academy Awards earlier this year with this deceptively simple yet immensely captivating, existential comedy/drama about a charmingly nerdy editor, Majime Mitsuya (Ryuhei Matsuda), who spends decades dutifully writing and compiling definitions for a “living language” dictionary entitled The Great Passage. Presented with Japan Cuts: The New York Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema.   New York Premiere HAN GONG-JU (2014) Country: South Korea Director: Lee Su-jin This supremely beautiful social and psychological drama follows a high-school girl, as she seeks anonymity and escape from the horror of an unnamed past experience. Praised by Martin Scorsese, who presented it with the Golden Star for Best Film at the Marrakech International Film Festival last year, the feature debut from writer-director Lee Su-jin is a devastating portrait of South Korea’s blame culture, embedded cronyism, and destructive family pressures. Director Lee Su-jin will attend the screening. Presented with the support of The Korea Society.   North American Premiere HOPE (2014) Country: South Korea Director: Lee Joon-ik Inspired by a horrifying case of child rape some five years ago in South Korea, Hope brings a fresh approach to a difficult subject matter, and by focusing on the victim’s recovery, ultimately delivers technically flawless feel-good human drama, guided by the steady hand of producer-director Lee Joon-ik (King and the Clown), and anchored by veteran actors Sol Kyung-gu and Uhm Ji-won as the child’s parents. Sol Kyung-gu will attend the screening. Presented with the support of Korean Cultural Service in New York.   IL MARE (2000) Country: South Korea Director: Lee Hyun-seung Two enormous Korean stars (Lee Jung-jae and Jun Ji-hyun), a magical time-portal mailbox, and a house by the lake were all mixed into the Korean melodrama pot in 2000 and out came Il Mare. The performances of the leads along with the brilliant production design by Kim Ki-cheol and beautiful cinematography by Alex Hong have since cemented this in the canon of Korean romantic dramas. Lee Jung-jae will attend the screening. Presented with the support of Korean Cultural Service in New York.   KILLER CONSTABLE (aka KARATE EXTERMINATORS) (1980) Country: Hong Kong Director: Kuei Chih-hung Shaw Brothers legend Chen Kuan-tai out-grims the Grim Reaper playing a Qing Dynasty constable assigned by the Empress to track down a stolen shipment of gold. Probably Kuei Chih-hung’s masterpiece, Killer Constable is a classic martial-arts film, served bleaker and angrier than ever before. Coming at the end of the new wuxia cycle that kicked off in 1967 with The One-Armed Swordsman, it is a movie in which everyone is exhausted to the depths of their souls, every swordsman is a sadist, and every blade has to be bathed in blood before it’s put away. Presented with the support of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York and Celestial Pictures.   KILLERS ON WHEELS (aka MADBOYS IN HONG KONG) (1976) Country: Hong Kong Director: Kuei Chih-hung Kuei Chih-hung loves his exploitation tropes, and with this movie he gives the world his very own, very bloody take on the biker picture (known more evocatively as Madboys in Hong Kong). Motorcycles jump through houses! Stuntmen on fire get thrown off rooftops! Boiling oil scorches faces! Biker gals strip naked! Spearguns will be used! By the end of this movie, everyone under the age of 21 has been run over, pierced, chopped, slashed, burned to death, or just bludgeoned into submission with a big old hog. Presented with the support of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York and Celestial Pictures.   THE LEGEND OF THE 7 GOLDEN VAMPIRES (1974) Country: Hong Kong Director: Roy Ward Baker Shaw Brothers wanted to rule the world in 1974, and stage one in their plan for global domination was to team up with Hammer Studios, England’s House of Horror, and make a kung-fu vampire movie. Starring Peter Cushing as Van Helsing the vampire hunter, and Shaw Brothers icon David Chiang as his Chinese counterpart, this Saturday matinee horror hybrid was co-directed by Chang Cheh (uncredited; The One-Armed Swordsman) and Roy Ward Baker (Quatermass and the Pit). Presented with the support of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York and Celestial Pictures.   THE MAGIC BLADE (1976) Country: Hong Kong Director: Chor Yuen One of the finest wuxia films ever made (#85 on Time Out Hong Kong’s list of the Greatest Hong Kong Films of All Time), The Magic Blade (adapted from Gu Long’s celebrated novel) is a perfect mixture of swordplay, fantasy, martial arts, heroic bloodshed (and we do mean bloodshed), and more Ti Lung greatness that any moviegoer could ever ask for. It remains one of the true classics of the entire Shaw Brothers library. Presented with the support of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York and Celestial Pictures.   New York Premiere MARUYAMA, THE MIDDLE SCHOOLER (2013) Country: Japan Director: Kankuro Kudo The sole spine-cracking ambition in life of sex-crazed 14-year-old Maruyama (Takuma Hiraoka) is to lick his own weenie. Described by acclaimed actor/screenwriter/director Kankuro Kudo (writer of Ping Pong and Zebraman) as a “self-fellatio” comedy, Maruyama is actually a deeply moving coming-of-age story, an exploration of the liberating possibilities of the human imagination, and a study of what it means to live with other people. Presented with Japan Cuts: The New York Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema.   North American Premiere MAY WE CHAT (2013) Country: Hong Kong Director: Philip Yung A teen slice-of-life drama that suddenly transforms into a gangland noir, it’s a modern-day version of the kind of hard-hitting juvenile-delinquent drama that Hong Kong used to be the master of, only updated to the 2.0 version. The film is anchored and elevated by three electric performances from three first-time actresses: there’s Rainky Wai as deaf-mute Chiu (who earns cash with “compensated dating”), Kabby Hui as shallow rich girl Li, and Heidi Lee as Wai-wai (who’s dealing with a junkie mom). Presented with the support of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York.   New York Premiere MISS ZOMBIE (2013) Country: Japan Director: Sabu Carefully blending horror tropes and thriller elements into a formally restrained, razor-sharp social satire that lovingly melds the humdrum and the deranged, Sabu’s Miss Zombie is a movie so dense it could bend light. Set in a futuristic Japan where zombies are domesticated as house pets and servants, it’s a work of compact beauty, predominantly monochrome and largely free of dialogue. Presented with Japan Cuts: The New York Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema.   New York Premiere MOEBIUS (2013) Country: South Korea Director: Kim Ki-duk A playfully twisted black comedy with no dialogue, Moebius is an everyday tale of penectomy, rape, sadomasochistic sex, and incestuous love. It continues maverick writer-director Kim Ki-duk’s journey into the madness of the Korean soul—though in a much more in-your-face way than last year’s Pietà. It is a quintessentially Kim Ki-duk movie in its risk-taking and outsider feel, and could have been made by no other filmmaker currently working in the country. Presented with the support of The Korea Society.   U.S. Premiere THE MOLE SONG: UNDERCOVER AGENT REIJI (2014) Country: Japan Director: Takashi Miike Japan’s most prolific and most popular gonzo director Takashi Miike offers two irresistibly frantic hours of undiluted insanity. An out-and-out balls-to-the-wall cops vs. yazuka farce, based on a popular manga series about a cop infiltrating a powerful yakuza clan, the film leaves respectability, restraint, and decency at the door. The Mole Songis a monument erected to pop madness and perhaps, in more ways than one, an apotheosis of post-cinema cinema. Presented with Japan Cuts: The New York Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema.   North American Premiere MONSTERZ (2014) Country: Japan Director: Hideo Nakata Japanese horror master Hideo Nakata (Ring and Dark Water) returns with the remake of the 2010 South Korean film Haunters (NYAFF 2011 selection, directed by Kim Min-seok), a somber paranormal thriller that offers an original, exciting variation of the tale of two men with supernatural abilities, locked in a duel to the death. Presented with Japan Cuts: The New York Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema.   MR. VAMPIRE (1985) Country: Hong Kong Director: Ricky Lau Bouncing through the moonlight like demented, bloodthirsty pogo sticks, hopping vampires are one of Hong Kong cinema’s most absurd and unique sights, and this is the movie that launched the craze that spawned hundreds of films. An avalanche of Canto comedy, genuine horror, and slam-bang stunts, this is probably the movie people are talking about when they say how awesome and insane Hong Kong cinema is. Presented with the support of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York and Fortune Star.   North American Premiere MY MAN (2014) Country: Japan Director: Kazuyoshi Kumakiri A poignant, powerful, erotic drama about an adolescent girl (Fumi Nikaido) who is raised by her distant relative (Tadanobu Asano) after she loses her family in a tsunami. Based on Kazuki Sakuraba's controversial best seller, and directed by the award-winning Kazuyoshi Kumakiri (Sketches of Kaitan City), My Man is the quietly disturbingtale of two lost souls, fatefully brought together by a natural disaster, in Hokkaido, the northernmost part of the Japanese archipelago. Fumi Nikaido will attend the screening and will be presented with the Screen International Rising Star Award.   NEW WORLD (2013) Country: Korea Director: Park Hoon-jung Park Hoon-jung took what could have been another run-of-the-mill Korean gangster film and turned it into an absolutely fascinating, harrowing, and dizzying look at the power structures and politics of a criminal organization,anchored by phenomenal performances by Lee Jung-jae, Hwang Jeong-min, and Choi Min-sik. Lee Jung-jae will attend the screening.   Presented with the support of Korean Cultural Service in New York.   North American Premiere NO MAN’S LAND (2009) Country: China Director: Ning Hao One part The Road Warrior and one part The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, this spaghetti Western via the Coen Brothers is a black comedy of errors from the director who brought us festival favorite Crazy Racer a couple of years ago. A savage, cynical satire, the film is a savvy indictment of the dog-eat-dog capitalism that’s currently eating China (and America) alive.   THE ONE-ARMED SWORDSMAN (1967) Country: Hong Kong Director: Chang Cheh The movie that changed everything. Chang Cheh’s breakthrough film, with action by the legendary Lau Kar-leung (Drunken Master II) and Tong Kai and starring Jimmy Wang Yu, a man who can convey an entire encyclopedia’s worth of badassery with one glower, The One-Armed Swordsman still has the power to kick over the establishment and drop a blade right through its skull. Presented with the support of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York and Celestial Pictures.   THE PINKIE (2014) Country: Japan Director: Lisa Takeba Ryosuke is drifting through life, but when he seduces a yakuza’s mistress, the gangsters rough him up and chop off his pinkie. It comes into the possession of Momoko, a girl who has been stalking him. She gets herself a cloning kit and grows her own Ryosuke-clone. Winner of the Grand Prix at the 24th Yubari International Fantastic Film Festival, Lisa Takeba’s debut feature is a hyper-imaginative crazytown sci-fi drama that’s flashy, funky, and filled to the brim with genre influences of all kinds. Presented with Japan Cuts: The New York Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema.   PORTLAND STREET BLUES (1998) Country: Hong Kong Director: Yip Wai Man Hong Kong’s mighty Young & Dangerous film series about young gangsters were huge hits that spawned numerous sequels and spin-off films, the best of which is this one, a stand-alone flick about Sister 13 (Sandra Ng), a lesbian pimp who sports a spiky ’do and boss suits. Shot in the streets at a breakneck pace, it’s a gutsy entertainer about the fluidity of sexuality, gangster feminism, and hardcore street fighting. Sandra Ng will attend the screening. Presented with the support of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York.   PUBLIC ENEMY (2002) Country: South Korea Director: Kang Woo-suk In one of his career-defining roles, Sol Kyung-gu is fantastic as a corrupt detective relentlessly pursuing a murderer (Lee Sung-jae). In addition to all of the graphic violence are equally graphic jokes, and the audience comes away with one of the grittiest social satires to come out of Korea. Both characters are the titular “public enemy,” and the dedicated performances by the two lead actors carry this fiercely intelligent, darkly funny, and well-crafted film into classic territory. Sol Kyung-gu will attend the screening.   Presented with the support of Korean Cultural Service in New York.   Manhattan Premiere R100 (2013) Country: Japan Director: Hitoshi Matsumoto Hitoshi Matsumoto is Japan’s most famous comedian, but even if you’ve seen his absurdist movies like Big Man Japan and Symbol you’ll barely be prepared for the bizarro S&M antics of this straight-faced send-up of every single genre in Japanese cinema. This is one of the funniest movies of the year, with something profound to say about the pursuit of pleasure, girl gangs, dominatrix armies, and total bondage warfare.   RIGOR MORTIS (2013) Country: Hong Kong Director: Juno Mak A spiritual sequel to Mr. Vampire, this moody flick is a gothic reinvention of Hong Kong’s classic hopping-vampire movies that turbo-charges the tired old formula with modern filmmaking chops. Crammed with a gallery of old-school greats, from Shaw Brothers vet Kara Hui, to famed Eighties comedian Richard Ng, this cast is a blast from Hong Kong’s creepy old past. Presented with the support of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York.   North American Premiere ROUGH PLAY (2013) Country: South Korea Director: Shin Yeon-shick Rough. Raw. Real. From the Kim Ki-duk school of filmmaking comes this hard-edged drama about the pains of being an actor, featuring Korean heartthrob Lee Joon in a breakthrough role. Lee is absolutely captivating in a performance all about the destruction that narcissism and rampant ego can bring. A darker than dark take on the Korean film industry, Rough Play rails against the apathy of a business wholly concerned with appearance and that gives no long-term thought to the future. Director Shin Yeon-shick will attend the screening. Presented with the support of the Korea Society.   SEEDING OF A GHOST (1983) Country: Hong Kong Director: Chuan Yang In this outrageous exploitation horror film from Shaw Brothers, a taxi driver enlists the help of a sorcerer to avenge the brutal murder of his wife. If you’ve got any personal rules about not watching movies featuring necrophilia, worm eating, or mutant births, then you should probably stay home. If you want to see tentacled hell beasts issuing from poisoned wombs and chowing down on yuppies, then you should definitely come on down. Presented with the support of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York and Celestial Pictures.   North American Premiere SEVENTH CODE (2013) Country: Japan Director: Kiyoshi Kurosawa Putting aside his J-horror roots after the Cannes award-winning Tokyo Sonata (2008) and the widely praised TV serial/movie Penance (2012), Kurosawa offers a surprising, radical break from an already broad oeuvre with this freewheeling fast-track thriller full of twists and turns. The film follows a kooky, pretty girl (Atsuko Maeda, a hugely popular idol/singer in Japan) as she wanders the mean streets of bleak, post-Soviet Vladivostok. Preceded by Kurosawa’s 29-minute Beautiful New Bay Area Project.   North American Premiere SILENT WITNESS (2013) Country: China Director: Fei Xing This superbly crafted crime/courtroom procedural follows the trial of a millionaire’s daughter for the murder of her future stepmother. With a script that doesn’t ever loosen its grip, a big-name cast at the top of its game, and an atmospheric production package that’s all in service of the drama, Silent Witness is mesmerizing entertainment, and a game-changer in Mainland genre cinema. Director Fei Xing will attend the screening.    U.S. Premiere THE SNOW WHITE MURDER CASE (2014) Country: Japan Director: Yoshihiro Nakamura Powered by a complicated Chinese puzzle box of a murder plot, The Snow White Murder Case was helmed by the director of Fish Story and Golden Slumbers (both NYAFF/Japan Cuts favorites), and it’s one of the best brainteasers of the year. Based on a novel by best-selling author Kanae Minato (who wrote Confessions), the film dissects the odd goings-on behind the grim discovery of a burned-to-the-crisp corpse found in a national park near Tokyo. Presented with Japan Cuts: The New York Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema.   New York Premiere SOUL (2013) Country: Taiwan Director: Chung Mong-hong Taiwan’s official submission for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2013 Oscars is a dark, art-house slasher-psychodrama set in the backwoods of Taiwan, starring legendary actor Jimmy Wong Yu. Jimmy Wong Yu will attend the screening on July 5, and will be presented with the Star Asia Lifetime Achievement Award.  Presented with the support of the Taipei Cultural Center of TECO in New York.   THE TERROR LIVE (2013) Country: South Korea Director: Kim Byeong-woo Unfolding in real time, and set mostly in the claustrophobic radio studio, this film is a showcase for Ha Jung-woo (The Chaser, Nameless Gangster), who plays a call-in-show host who manipulates, bullies, cajoles, cowers, lies, and unleashes righteous anger as he goes up against an unseen terrorist who threatens to blow up a bridge on the Han River. Presented with the support of Korean Cultural Service in New York.   North American Premiere TOP STAR (2013) Country: South Korea Director: Park Joong-hoon The directorial debut of veteran actor Park Joong-hoon (Nowhere to Hide, Two Cops) is a perfect study of the ephemeral nature of fame and success, set in the cutthroat world that is the Korean film industry. Park relies on his 28 years of acting experience working on films with major Korean directors to confidently deliver a stylish and compelling tale of the rise, fall, and redemption of an actor. Director Park Joong-hoon will attend the screening on June 28, and will be presented with The Celebrity Award. Presented with the support of Korean Cultural Service in New York.   North American Premiere UZUMASA LIMELIGHT (2014) Country: Japan Director: Ken Ochiai A moving, nostalgic portrait of the men behind the golden age of chanbara (sword-fighting dramas and films) that goes behind the scenes of the distinctive film genre for which Japan is most famous, with dominant performance by real-life kirare-yaku Seizo Fukumoto. Director Ken Ochiai, Chihiro Yamamoto, and Seizo Fukumoto will attend the screening. Presented with Japan Cuts: The New York Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema.   North American Premiere THE WHITE STORM (2013) Country: Hong Kong/China One part Reefer Madness, one part John Woo–level action bromance (with Louis Koo, Nick Cheung, and Sean Lau in the leads), The White Storm is an all-you-can eat buffet that piles its plate high with gunfights, male bonding, car crashes, snappy action, super melodrama, handsome cops, and intense style. Presented with the support of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York. Manhattan Premiere WHY DON’T YOU PLAY IN HELL? (2013) Country: Japan Director: Sion Sono A delirious back-to-bloody-basics film that pays tribute to old-school yakuza cinema and low-budget amateur filmmaking, Why Don’t You Play in Hell is based on a screenplay bad-boy director Sion Sono (a NYAFF/Japan Cuts guest in 2009) wrote 17 years ago. The director himself describes it as “an action film about the love of 35mm.” Fumi Nikaido will attend the screening. Presented with Japan Cuts: The New York Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema.   North American Premiere WOOD JOB! (2014) Country: Japan Director: Shinobu Yaguchi The new film from the director of Water Boys is based on Miura Shion’s bestseller, a bittersweet coming-of-age novel dealing with forestry (the “wood job” of the title… nothing dirty here!), and has earned praised from Studio Ghibli's very own Hayao Miyazaki. Presented with Japan Cuts: The New York Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema. New York Premiere ZONE PRO SITE: THE MOVEABLE FEAST (2013) Country: Taiwan Director: Chen Yu-hsun Failed actress Chan runs away to her hometown trying to stay a step ahead of debt collectors. While there, she discovers that the only way to raise the cash she needs is to start catering out of her stepmother’s hole-in-the-wall restaurant. As colorful as a bowl full of hard candies, Zone Pro Site is a delightful foodie comedy feast that will have you gnawing on the stuffing from your seat cushion in hunger. Presented with the support of the Taipei Cultural Center of TECO in New York.   NYAFF 2014 Full Schedule Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade Theater Fri, June 27   5:00 OVERHEARD 3 (111) + guest appearance 8:30 GOLDEN CHICKENSSS (102) + guest appearance (Star Asia Award presentation) 11:30 SEEDING OF A GHOST (90) Sat, June 28 12:30 GOLDEN CHICKEN (106) + guest appearance 3:15 PORTLAND STREET BLUES (120) + guest appearance 6:15 TOP STAR (107) + guest appearance (The Celebrity Award presentation) 9:15 3D NAKED AMBITION (120) Sun, June 29 12:30 AS THE LIGHT GOES OUT (116)   2:50 THE WHITE STORM (137)    5:35 KANO (185) + guest appearance 9:30 BEAUTIFUL NEW BAY AREA PROJECT (29) + SEVENTH CODE (60) Mon, June 30 3:30 TOP STAR (107) 6:00 HAN GONG-JU (112) + guest appearance 8:45 BLIND MASSAGE (117)     Tue, July 1 4:00 GOLDEN CHICKENSSS (102) 6:30 ROUGH PLAY (98) + guest appearance 9:15 NO MAN’S LAND (115) Wed, July 2 2:30 BLIND MASSAGE (117)    5:00 MAY WE CHAT (100) 7:15 R100 (98) 9:30 MOEBIUS (88) Thu, July 3 3:30 ROUGH PLAY (98) + guest appearance 6:00 FUKU-CHAN OF FUKUFUKU FLATS (110)  8:30 THE ETERNAL ZERO (144) Fri, July 4 2:00 MR. VAMPIRE (96) + RIGOR MORTIS (101) double feature 6:00 FROM VEGAS TO MACAU (93) 8:00 KILLERS ON WHEELS (MADBOYS IN HONG KONG) (95) 10:00 THE LEGEND OF THE 7 GOLDEN VAMPIRES (83) Sat, July 5 1:00 ZONE PRO SITE: THE MOVEABLE FEAST (145) 4:00 THE TERROR LIVE (97) 6:15 THE ONE-ARMED SWORDSMAN (111) + guest appearance 9:15 SOUL (112) + guest appearance (Lifetime Achievement Award presentation) Sun, July 6 1:00 MONSTERZ (111) 3:30 THE CHINESE BOXER (86) + guest appearance 6:00 NEW WORLD (134) + guest appearance 9:15 SILENT WITNESS (118) + guest appearance Mon, July 7 2:00 PUBLIC ENEMY (135) 5:15 THE FACE READER (139) + guest appearance 8:45 COLD EYES (118) + guest appearance (Star Asia Award presentation)  Tue, July 8 1:00 THE TERROR LIVE (97) 3:30 IL MARE (95) + guest appearance 6:00 HOPE (123) + guest appearance 9:00 AU REVOIR L’ÉTÉ (125) + guest appearance Wed, July 9 1:00 SOUL (112) 3:30 MISS ZOMBIE (85) 6:00 MY MAN (128) + guest appearance (Screen International Rising Star Award presentation) 9:15 FIRESTORM 3D (109) Thu, July 10 1:00 COLD EYES (118) 3:30 ABERDEEN (98) 5:40 CONTROL (92) 8:15 AIM HIGH IN CREATION! (97) + guest appearance Japan Society Thu, July 10 6:00 THE MOLE SONG: UNDERCOVER AGENT REIJI (130)            8:30 WHY DON’T YOU PLAY IN HELL? (119) + guest appearance Fri, July 11 6:00 THE SNOW WHITE MURDER CASE (126) 8:30 MARUYAMA, THE MIDDLE SCHOOLER (120)  Sat, July 12 12:30 THE GREAT PASSAGE (134) 3:00 THE ETERNAL ZERO (144) 6:00 THE DEVIL’S PATH (128)  8:30 MISS ZOMBIE (85) 10:30 THE PINKIE (65)  Sun, July 13 12:30 WOOD JOB! (116) 3:00 MONSTERZ (111) 5:30 ALL-AROUND APPRAISER Q: THE EYES OF MONA LISA (119) 8:00 UZUMASA LIMELIGHT (103) + guest appearance Asia Society Fri, July 11 6:30 KOREAN SHORT FILM MADNESS (120) Sun, July 13  3:00 THE DELINQUENT (96) 5:10 KILLER CONSTABLE (KARATE EXTERMINATORS) (98) 7:20 APOLITICAL ROMANCE (88) Mon, July 14 6:00 THE MAGIC BLADE (97) 8:05 MANSHIN: TEN THOUSAND SPIRITS (105) + guest appearance   NEW YORK ASIAN FILM FESTIVAL (NYAFF) Now in its 13th year, the New York Asian Film Festival (NYAFF) is North America’s leading Festival of popular Asian cinema, which The New York Times has called “one of the city’s most valuable events.” Launched in 2002 by Subway Cinema, the festival selects only the best, strangest, and most entertaining movies to screen for New York audiences, ranging from mainstream blockbusters and art-house eccentricities to genre and cult classics. It was the first North American film festival to champion the works of Johnnie To, Bong Joon-ho, Park Chan-wook, Takashi Miike, and other auteurs of contemporary Asian cinema. Since 2007, the festival’s Japanese film selections have been co-presented in association with Japan Society’s Japan Cuts: The New York Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema. And since 2010, the festival has been produced in collaboration with the Film Society of Lincoln Center.
NYAFF 2014 photo
My favorite fest of the year returns
It's that time again. Summer is here, which means that New York City residents have retreated to their air conditioned apartments, offices, and movie theaters. For the next few weeks, that theater of choice should be the Film...

Review: Soft in the Head

Apr 21 // Alec Kubas-Meyer
[embed]217633:41464:0[/embed] Soft in the HeadDirector: Nathan SilverRelease Date: April 18, 2014 (NYC)Rating: NR  Natalia’s life is terrible. Really, truly depressing. But it’s hard to feel for her. I couldn’t tell if there was something fundamentally wrong with her or if she’s just a pathetic drunk with no hope or future, but it seemed to be the latter, and that’s hard to sympathize with. All she ever does is alienate everyone and everything around her in the most bizarre ways. In the opening scene, her boyfriend is shouting at her because she’s dressed up for someone else; she just slurs in response. After a minute, he pulls off the wig she had apparently been wearing, and I got really, really confused. The “Why?”s started going off in my head, not about the film but about her. Why was she wearing a wig? Why was she wearing that wig? After the ensuing fight, he is her ex-boyfriend. She hits the bottle hard, and while she drinks, she messes up everybody around her. Part of the issue with her character, though, is that there’s never a good side. Soft in the Head never demonstrates why, exactly, anybody likes her in the first place. Are people just a sucker for accents (she has some sort of European accent by the way)? Was she a good person in the past? She’s already on the downward spiral when the film starts, and there’s no redemption or even sense of what redemption could look like. Natalia is a hopeless case, and while there are undoubtedly people like that in reality, it doesn’t really make for a compelling arc. Things get bad, worse, worse, worse, worse, worse, much worse, and then the movie ends. And the whole thing takes place in close-ups. Hope you like watching faces, because I’d estimate that two-thirds of the film is a medium-close-up or closer, and I could count on one hand the number of shots that are wider than a medium. This means that there is never a real release of tension and the spatial relationship of characters and their environments are never clear. It builds for the entire 70-ish minutes of the runtime. Fortunately, the short runtime means that it doesn’t really get frustrating, but it’s disorienting and just a bit exhausting. At times, though, this seems less like an intentional framing choice and more of a result of its aspect ratio. Like any “serious” feature film, the film is presented in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio, with black bars above and below the image. Nothing special, except the movie doesn’t feel like it was intended for those bars. The way the top and bottom of the frame so frequently cuts off… well, everything, makes it feel like a decision made at the last minute.  I’ve spent the last few weeks thinking extensively about the use of the 2.35:1 aspect ratio and how it fits/does not fit certain types of shots. Wider shots are made more personal, but close-ups can become a bit too personal. Still, there is one benefit of the overuse of close-ups: the actors can really show off their chops. If the performances couldn’t hack it, the film would completely fall apart, but all of the actors do a good job of embodying their characters. Some are definitely better than others, but I had few complaints. The two most interesting characters are Nathan and David, each of whom clearly suffers from some sort of mental illness. Painfully long scenes show the world failing to understand their issues, and it’s honestly sad. I felt for both of these characters more than any others, and that’s a testament to the performances. Theodore Bouloukos’s turn as David is especially powerful, because he’s put in some particularly uncomfortable positions, and it’s hard to believe that he enjoyed degrading himself in the way he did. And it would be interesting to see how David (and any of the other characters) were portrayed in Soft in the Head’s script, especially in terms of dialogue. While the dialogue never comes off as ad-libbed, it also rarely felt vital, and much of it is never heard. During the numerous group scenes, multiple people talk simultaneously, turning everything into garbled noise. And since there’s no overarching narrative other than “Natalia goes places and interacts with people” (except for one scene where the film leaves her entirely, which is kind of bizarre), each scene has its own sort of emotional mini-arc, but it doesn’t come out in the dialogue, which always devolves into people yelling at each other. It really is a bizarre film watch, and I often just had to wonder why.
Soft in the Head Review photo
Sometimes you have to wonder...
Every once in a while, I see a movie that feels truly unique, and when that happens I tend to obsess over the process instead of the result. For better or worse, some films are just different, and while I definitely appreciate that difference, sometimes I really just have to wonder why. Soft in the Head is different, and I spent much of the film wondering. I never found an answer.

 photo

New Ghostbusters 30th anniversary art revealed


Apr 17
// Liz Rugg
As we previously reported, the Los Angeles based pop culture art gallery Gallery 1988 will be putting on a Ghostbusters 30th anniversary traveling art show over the next few months with four stops: LA, NY, Chicago and the San...

The 2014 Tribeca Film Festival is here

Apr 17 // Alec Kubas-Meyer
Tribeca Film Fest 2014 photo
And our coverage is about to be
The 2011 Tribeca Film Festival was one of the first festivals Flixist ever covered. That was back before my time, but I was part of our coverage of the 2012 and 2013 fests, and I'm excited to be a part of it again. This year,...

 photo

Gallery 1988 to bring traveling Ghostbusters art show to NY, LA, Chicago and SDCC


Apr 04
// Liz Rugg
As fans still reel at the loss of actor and writer Harold Ramis, here's something for Ghostbusters fans to look forward to -- in celebration of the movie's 30th anniversary, LA based pop culture art gallery Gallery 1988 is or...

Review: Child's Pose

Feb 25 // Alec Kubas-Meyer
[embed]217271:41272:0[/embed] Child's Pose (Poziția Copilului)Director: Călin Peter NetzerRelease Date: 2/18/2014 (Film Forum/NYC)Country: Romania In its opening moments, Child's Pose asks a bizarre question: Should a mother have total access to her son's home? And while the question is certainly strange in and of itself, it's part of a grander statement about parental desire for access after a child leaves home. Cornelia (Luminița Gheorghiu) is a wealthy, well-connected woman whose adult son, Barbu (Bogdan Dumitrache), has left her and doesn't seem particularly keen on keeping in touch. But she feels like she has the right to bother him as much as she likes. She is his mother, after all. So when Barbu kills a 14-year old child in a car accident (he was driving too fast and the kid ran across the freeway), Cornelia gets involved. He is going to go to prison for manslaughter unless his wealthy, well-connected mother can convince everyone involved to drop charges, and that's her mission. Controlling Cornelia ("Controlia, her husband calls her) does everything: she shows up in her furs with the police commissioner on the line and gets her son to change his statement; she takes him to her house; she makes the calls and arrangements to meet with other parties in the case; she goes into his house uninvited and takes his things.  But here's the thing: He's sick of it. Barbu only seems vaguely interested in not going to prison. He is clearly a weak man who has spent much of his life under his mother's thumb, and now he's finally had it. To the detriment of his potential freedom, he fights his mother and her access to him. He wants to handle things on his own, even though he definitely won't. He wants Cornelia to leave him alone. Child's Pose plays out mostly as a series of long, occasionally tangential conversations. As with other films in the Romanian New Wave, it is slow and drawn out, but not in a bad way. Were it cut to the bare essentials, the film would be half its current length (if not shorter), but it doesn't come off as excessive. Even when the film puts its story on hold for several minutes to show an opera that Cornelia is attending, it doesn't feel like it's too much. There were no subtitles for the song (and it was opera, so I probably wouldn't have been able to understand it anyway), so I have no idea if there was any narrative significance to the lyrics, but it doesn't matter. Even if they did, it could have definitely been truncated. But it wasn't. It just goes on and on, and that's fine, pacing be damned, because the singing was good. Child's Pose works because it is a series of scenes that are interesting in and of themselves, regardless of the greater narrative. Each conversation may be longer than it needs to be, with only a couple of important character details coming out of five minutes of dialogue, but they are worth following. They feel real, uncomfortably so at time, and that makes sticking around rewarding, even once you realize that there's not going to be a clear resolution (again, Romanian New Wave).  Child's Pose looks like a documentary. The quick, uncertain zooms that follow events as they unfold give a feeling that the camera is not some disembodied figure but an actual part of the world. But while it gives the film a vérité-feel, it also backfires and serves as a constant reminder that you're watching fiction. It actually made me think of Richard Linklater's Before films, where each cut shows that you're seeing an alternate take of a prescribed story rather than another angle of a real experience. Each shot in Child's Pose seems like a reaction, but it's not. When the edit happens and there's no other camera person following Cornelia, it's jarring in a way that it isn't with most movies.  But until the cut, it does serve to make the world feel more real, helped by some excellent performances, especially from Gheorghiu and Dumitrache. Despite the fact that Barbu is culpable for manslaughter and really should be punished, it's hard not to feel bad for him and his situation. He is silent for much of the film, but you can see on his face what the accident has done to him.  And that's where Child's Pose's power really comes from. This slow, meandering thing shows real people, how they act and react, and in doing so it gets into your brain and makes you think about it. What would you do if you were in that situation? If you were Cornelia? Or Barbu? And that's not a pleasant thought.
Child's Pose Review photo
Class warfare by way of parental overprotection
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 charg...


Auto-loading more stories ... un momento, corazón ...