New York

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...

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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...
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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...
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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...
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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.

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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,...

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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...

Korean Movie Night NY photo
Korean Movie Night NY

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


I will see Juvenile Offender this time...
Jan 07
// Alec Kubas-Meyer
New year, new Korean Movie Night series in New York City. This first series, entitled "Wild Days," is about coming of age, with four films that deal with teenagers doing wild things as teenagers are wont to do (especially in ...
SAIFF 2013 photo
SAIFF 2013

Here is the 2013 South Asian International Film Festival


Dec 02
// Alec Kubas-Meyer
Film festivals, man. There are so many of them. Especially in the wonderful world of New York City. Case in point: the 2013 South Asian International Film Festival, which begins tomorrow, December 3rd, and runs through Sunday...

Review: It's Me It's Me

Nov 08 // Hubert Vigilla
[embed]215987:40483:0[/embed] It's Me, It's Me (Ore Ore | 俺俺)Director: Satoshi MikiRating: TBDCountry: JapanRelease Date: May 25, 2013 (Japan), November 8, 2013 (New York) Like in Kafka, Abe, Gondry, or Being John Malkovich, the strange conceits are taken as fact in the world, and these fact don't necessarily need to be explained. Gregor Samsa wakes up as vermin, there are impossible structures to navigate, there's an abundance of eccentricity, and there's a door into John Malkovich's head. Explaining these set-ups isn't necessary in these kinds of stories. When effective, the weird stuff in these kinds of stories all play into larger metaphors. Explicitly a weird tale (for lack of a better phrase) might be about x-weird thing, but it's really a story about identity, alienation, longing for childhood wonderments, and so on. And so in It's Me It's Me, the doppelgangers and issues of confused identity just seem to show up one day, but they're really used as a metaphor about the ramifications of the triggering event. The trigger: Hitoshi Nagano (Kazuya Kamenashi) steals another person's cell phone and uses it to scam that person's mom. The tone of weirdness is hinted at early on in the film with its absurd humor and wonky score. This is an odd world, but it looks so normal -- the ideal setting for the weird tale. One day, to Hitoshi's bewilderment, he swaps mothers with the person who owned the stolen cell phone, and there's mention of another doppelganger who's much younger. (Obviously not in appearance but in demeanor.) Other doppelgangers are encountered along the way. They all look the same yet have their own distinct personalities, and Kemenashi does a fine job distinguishing each version of Hitoshi from the others through body language and line delivery. Even when they inhabit the same shot, I could tell which was which, and not just because of wardrobe. I read somewhere that Kemenashi plays 33 roles in the film, though many are brief. Rather than conflict, the first half of It's Me It's Me is fueled by curiosity. It's as if I was feeling out the contours of the weird world of the movie. There's the potential for whimsy and complication in this set up, and writer/director Satoshi Miki delivers on both in doses throughout the story. One of my favorite scenes involves the first meeting of the three core doppelgangers in the film. Hitoshi's like the baseline and the other two embody two opposite aspects of his inner life. It's a comic exploration of Hitoshi's narcissism. (Or perhaps solipsism? The trio calls its hangout Me Island. No man may be an island, but three of the same man? Sure, why not?) Mostly it's just funny. We watch little changes in Hitoshi's routine. With a willing double, he can get someone else to work for him (at a place not unlike Best Buy) while he tries to woo an attractive older woman played by Yuki Uchida. She wants him for his photography, and Hitoshi doesn't know what he really wants. Apart from his scam, he's a somewhat passive character, though it may be just where he is in life. There's only so much desire in an ambitionless 28 year old. As the second half of the film kicks in, we hit a stage of mo' me's and mo' problems. One of the core doppelgangers talks about the nature of multiplication across the world and the fear of deletion. We wind up in a weird thematic nightmare. By assuming one person's identity, suddenly Hitoshi assumed other identities and those identities assume others. Copies upon copies, fakes on fakes, and since it's all built on inauthenticity, there is no tacit sense of allegiance between facets of the self or the Other. There's a larger ethical concern here, but it bleeds into epistemology and metaphysics so fundamentally that we can't even trust ourselves. Mostly it's just unnerving. There's a moment in It's Me It's Me where there seems to be justification for what triggered this world of multiplication. While it makes sense thematically, it didn't really work for me as well as the weird stuff itself. That might be the difficulty in certain weird tales. With strange concepts and bizarre ideas, I don't think there needs to be a explanation, whether it's scientific or psychological. The best weird tales tend to explain themselves in equally weird ways. It's Me It's Me was adapted from a novel by Tomoyuki Hoshino. The book won the Kenzaburo Oe Prize, a newish literary award in which the winners are handpicked by Kenzaburo Oe himself. (Oe is a Nobel laureate and one of Japan's best post-war writers.) I wonder if Hoshino's novel includes a similar note and if it reads better than it's portrayed on film. That's often the case. Not that what's in the film is bad, of course. There's a moral sense to it, I guess. It doesn't have quite the punch I was hoping for, but maybe that's just me. Alec Kubas-Meyer: It's Me It's Me is a film that only works if you don't think about it. The instant you consider the mechanics of Hitoshi's multiplication, the narrative completely falls apart. But if you just let it happen, you'll find that there's something really compelling. I was reminded a bit of the Calvin & Hobbes bit where Calvin cloned himself, convincing some to go to school and others to do work before they eventually turned on him. But Calvin & Hobbes didn't feature a Death Note-level obsession with "deletion" (the fact that everyone knows what "deletion" is and what it means is another one of those questions that shouldn't be asked because it can't be answered). Like many films at Japan Cuts this year, it has a really weird tonal shift about halfway through. It seems like it's going to be some sort of strange comedy before taking a really violent turn. The violence, by the way, is not great, mostly because of subpar sound effects. But Kazuya Kamenashi played his dozens of roles well, which is an accomplishment in and of itself. 73 -- Good
It's Me It's Me Review photo
Me me me me me me me me
Doppelgangers are the stuff of horror and of comedy. It would be uncanny to see yourself as a stranger -- the self's own reflection as the Other -- and yet being able to step outside yourself might provide you with some persp...

NYCFF Review: So Young

Nov 07 // Alec Kubas-Meyer
[embed]216780:40892:0[/embed] So Young (To Our Youth That Is Fading Away | 致我们终将逝去的青春)Director: Zhao WeiRating: NRCountry: China  So Young stars a girl. That's not in and of itself particularly noteworthy, but it's important because it lets the film get away with something a male-centric film couldn't: avoiding creepiness. It’s a romance, but in it a young girl, Zheng Wei, pines after a young man, Chen Xiaozheng. She’s pretty weird about it and she can get away with it, in a way, because she’s adorable and whatever, but what if the roles were reversed? What if Chen Xiaozheng was doing exactly what she did but pining after a girl? It would remove that cuteness and just make it weird. Like the Taiwanese film Make Up, the fact that the “aggressor” is female means that something kind of uncomfortable presents as cute and naïve rather than creepy. Eventually, Chen Xiaozheng relents, because of course he does, but it seems like a misunderstanding of human nature on the part of the filmmakers. I would simply chalk it up to their youth, that being the driving force of so much of the film (shocking, I know), if it weren't for an instance of actually-creepy stalker behavior later in the film. Inititally, it appears to be treated with some level of seriousness (even if that seriousness is kind of uncomfortable in its own right), but the ultimate message of that revelation is “threatening suicide is a totally acceptable way to make a man love you and stay with you.” Which is, let's be very clear, not okay. Maybe it's a cultural thing (I know for a fact that I missed some things because I'm an ignorant American), but that's a terrible message to send under any circumstances. Not okay.   So Young covers a pretty sizable timeline quickly, and it does so to varying degress of success. At the start, most of the characters are beginning their college careers, and they look about as young as I would expect them to look. Four years later, their time at the university has ended, and the only way to tell is that they talk about their time at university ending. Those four years play out over about an hour and a half, and time passages just happen without any indication. One moment, Zheng Wei is standoffishly rejecting a person and the next she’s borrowing DVDs from him. How did they get past that first barrier? Don’t know. And it doesn’t really matter after the fact, but in the moment it’s jarring. In the film’s final act, the characters have all aged by a substantial amount, and... I have no idea how they did it. They take these people who look 17/18 and make them look late 20s/early 30s. Or maybe they take those who look late 20s/early 30s and make them look 17/18. I don’t know, but wherever that transformation took place it is truly breathtaking. In the first act, I never questioned that the actors were college age. If anything, I thought they were too young (see previous paragraph). But in that final act? I would have believed they were all late 20s/early 30s. The only reason I questioned it was because I’d spent the previous 90 minutes seeing them look so young. Whoever was supposed to age Adèle for Blue is the Warmest Color could learn a thing or two. So Young is the debut feature from actress Zhao Wei, and I could kind of tell. Not necessarily in a bad way, but there are certain aspects of the visual style that just seemed like rookie mistakes (although "mistakes" isn’t quite the word…): The first is the way the camera moves. It’s almost always moving, up, down, in, out, doing all kinds of cool stuff. But sometimes it moves in ways that breaks the continuity in editing. Sometimes it just looks like something went slightly off course and no one realized it. It’s nothing horrendous, but it's problematic in a way that doesn’t seem intentional. There was also something odd about motion in certain shots. It seemed like the frame-rate was something other than 24fps, or maybe the shutter speed had been changed. I don’t know if it was the film itself or the projection or just me losing it a little bit, but it happened with reasonable frequency. And maybe they were intentional decisions made by a rational director, but they didn't seem to be. Even so, So Young is freaking gorgeous. The use of lighting especially is spectacular, and the colors of the film are just wonderfully vibrant. I haven’t seen enough films from China proper to be able to make any kind of sweeping statements about its place in Chinese cinema, but it sure as hell doesn’t look like an American movie, and I mean that in the best way possible. The only real visual complaint I have stems from a few moments of truly, truly awful CGI. Like, early 2000s level bad. So Young is like a generically pretty, young college student: nice to look at but ultimately empty. Its attempts at profundity are laughable and it doesn't really know how to make a point. It throws weird things into conversations without any clear reason, and sometimes it has an emotional breakdown that doesn't seem rationally motivated. The film's characters exhibit these traits, so they clearly apply in Chinese colleges as well as American ones, but the film itself doesn't need to fit that stereotype. Maybe it's making some grand statement, but it's not an interesting statement to make. I'm still young and even I get that.  But sometimes that pretty, young college student is fun to be around... in small doses. So Young may not have much to say, but it's entertaining and worthwhile nonetheless. Also, it's really pretty, and call me shallow, but I'm willing to forgive a lot from a movie that's really pretty.
So Young Review photo
Pretty, silly, and ultimately entertaining
I'm still young. Young enough that I can understand and generally relate to the characters in So Young, but also old enough to see just how silly they actually are. It's an odd place to be, and it leaves me wishing I was a fe...

Watch out for the 2013 New York Chinese Film Festival

Nov 06 // Alec Kubas-Meyer
4TH New York Chinese Film Festival November 5,6,7, 2013   Acclaimed Actress Zhao Wei’s Directorial Debut SO YOUNG Set As Opening Night At Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall Film Screenings At Empire 25 Closing Night And Awards at Capitale   Vicky Zhao Wei, Miriam Yeung, Donnie Yen, Larry Yang, Wesley Wong Among Talent & Filmmakers To Attend   Join in the celebration as the New York Chinese Film Festival returns for its 4th annual outing of presenting the best in Chinese cinema.   The 2013 NYCFF, presented by the Chinese American Arts Council (CAAC) and the Chinese Movie Channel, CCTV-6, will screen 7 new films from Hong Kong & Mainland China over the 3-day event, and will introduce such celebrated filmmakers and performers as Vicky Zhao Wei, Miriam Yeung, Xiubo Wu and Donnie Yen to New York audiences. The NYCFF Opening Night film, Vicky Zhao Wei’s box-office smash So Young will be presented on Tuesday, November 5th at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall.  The remaining films will be presented on Wednesday, November 6th and on Thursday, November 7th at the AMC Empire 25 on 42nd Street and will be followed by Q&As with talent in attendance.  The Closing Night Awards Gala will be held on November 7th, at one of New York’s most fashionable venues, Capitale. The NYCFF is a non-profit organization whose aim is to promote Chinese art and culture through film, while gaining exposure and insight from an American audience.  Selected films are chosen to participate because they provoke conversation, compassion, peace and friendship amongst our two great nations, as well as to help Americans gain a better understanding of Chinese Cinema.   In essence the NYCFF is the foundation for having constructed a great working relationship between the United States and China.              The NYCFF is produced by Qi Jia, Alan Chow, Kaijie Wang and Kate Lin, and is presented by the highly successful Chinese American Arts Council (CAAC) and the Chinese Movie Channel, CCTV-6.  The culture of Chinese Cinema has transformed itself in the past one hundred years becoming a major influential player in International Cinema.   Established in 1975, The Chinese American Arts Council has gone above and beyond, expanding the existence and the culture of the Chinese Community within the city of New York.   The CAAC’s main objective is to maintain Chinese Heritage both domestically and internationally in the greater New York area.  Being the entertainment capital of the world, there is no better place than New York to present and display the latest in Chinese filming to America. Some of the CAAC’s year-round activities include outdoor and indoor performances of modern and traditional Chinese theater, dance, vocal and instrumental concerts.  In addition, the CAAC also presents annual exhibitions of Asian American Art.  The Council takes their cause a step further by providing assistance to Artists and Organizations in support of their programs.  Chinese American Arts Council is supported in part by funds from the National Endowment of the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts, New York City Department of Cultural Affair.             The China Movie Channel Programming Center was established in 1995, with its first flagship channel, CCTV-6 having launched on January 1st, 1996. To date it is the only national movie channel in China that reaches over 930 million people.  CCTV-6 has consistently ranked at the top in annual ratings and market share of all Chinese TV channels.  Over the past ten years, new television programs have been introduced, such as the China Home Cinema and the China Movie Channel, which stretches across Asia, Europe and North America.               The NYCFF has built a platform for internationally promoting Chinese films and with such an impressive film lineup and star-studded group attending, this year is sure to be NYCFF’s best festival to date.                “A great director opens our eyes; a great film opens our minds.” - The New York Chinese Film Festival Foundation 4TH New York Chinese Film Festival Films: So Young (Opening Night Presentation at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall, 8:00pm) – Directed by Vicky Zhao Wei. So Young is the debut directorial effort of the renowned Chinese actress Vicky Zhao Wei.  It is based on the best-selling novel "To Our Youth that is Fading Away" by Xin YiwuIt, adapted by Li Qiang ("The Postmodern Life of My Aunt") and produced by Stanley Kwan. It is a film about the love, joy, and pain of a group of young students in their school days and their harsh confrontation with the realities and a lament on the loss of youth to adulthood. Attending the Festival will be Director Zhao Wei.    Sorry, I Love You (Presented at the AMC Empire 25. Wednesday, November 6 at 11:00am) – Directed by Larry Yang.  With only six months to live, Walker decides to leave Vancouver to go back to China, where he was born and adopted and go look for his biological parents and twin sister.  With the aid of Encai, a girl he once helped, he tries to find his family but they start falling in love with each other very quickly. With only six months to live, Walker will have to make important decisions to make his loved one’s life complete.  Attending the Festival will be Director Larry Yang, Actor Wesley Wong and Producer Hang Hon.  Finding Mr. Right (Presented at the AMC Empire 25, Wednesday, November 6 at 2:00pm) – Directed by Xue Xiaolu (“Ocean Heaven”). City girl Jiajia is traveling to Seattle to give birth to the son who's going to help her win over her rich, married boyfriend. Armed with his unlimited credit card and the singular goal of bringing a little U.S. citizen back to Beijing, Jiajia knows how to play this game of modern love. But when Jiajia arrives in Seattle, nothing goes right: she's stuck sharing a small house with two other pregnant ladies, she has trouble reaching her boyfriend on the phone, and eventually, even the credit card stops working. To top that off, the only person willing to spend time with her is her driver Frank. Frank is the opposite of everything she ever wanted in a man... or could he be exactly the kind of guy she really needs.  Attending the Festival will be Actor Wu Xiubo. Love Undercover (Presented at the AMC Empire 25, Wednesday, November 6 at 4:30pm) – Directed by Joe Ma. Fong (Miriam Yeung), fresh out of the Police Training School is only allowed to work on some trivial missions in the police station after graduation. Fortunately, she is soon assigned to work undercover as a waitress. She needs to get close enough to a gangster's son so that she can plant a microphone at a table where the gangsters make their deals. Complications arise when she finds herself falling for him.  Attending the Festival will be Actress Miriam Yeung. Love in the Buff (Presented at the AMC Empire 25, Wednesday, November 6 at 7:30pm) – Directed by Pang Ho-Cheung. In this sequel to the hit movie Love in a Puff, former lovers Jimmy and Cherie start a new life in Beijing after they ended their relationship. Despite meeting someone else, they can’t seem to forget each other and are torn between fidelity towards their new partners and following their hearts.  Attending the Festival will be Actress Miriam Yeung  IP Man (Presented at the AMC Empire 25, Thursday, November 7 at 11:00am) – Directed by Wilson Yip.  This is the story of IP Man, a legendary Wing Chun Kung Fu master set in Foshan, China in the 1930s. IP Man becomes a hero and creates a craze for Wing Chun. During the Japanese invasion, General Miura, a fanatical practitioner in martial arts, demands that IP Man teach Wing Chun martial arts to the Japanese Army, but IP Man refuses and takes up Miura’s challenge. A fierce fight is going to start….  Attending the Festival will be Actor Donnie Yen. Special ID (Presented at the AMC Empire 25, Thursday, November 7 at 2:00pm) – Directed by Clarence Fok Yiu-leung.  A cop and his team of comrades go undercover in one of China's most ruthless underworld organizations to stop a gang leader, only to put themselves in great danger after being exposed one by one.  Attending the Festival will be Actor Donnie Yen.   NYCFF Film Schedule November 5, Opening Night, Alice Tully Hall 8:00pm – So Young November 6, AMC Empire 25 11:00am – Sorry, I Love You 2:00pm – Finding Mr. Right 4:30pm – Love Undercover 7:30pm – Love in the Buff November 7, AMC Empire 25 11:00am – IP Man 2:00pm – Special ID November 7, Capitale 4:00-9:00pm, Closing Night and Awards   For additional information, schedule, and to purchase tickets to all the above films (including Opening Night) please visit the Chinese American Arts Council site at www.caacarts.org or the New York Chinese Film Festival site at www.nycff.org
NYCFF photo
And (probably) our coverage of it!
[Just a reminder that this is going on! I was hoping to have my review of So Young up by now to act as a reminder, but I have been at the AMC Empire all day and it's made writing kind of hard. Am still there, actually, a...

New York Film Festival 2013: Flixist Awards and Recap

Oct 20 // Alec Kubas-Meyer
With 12 Years a Slave, Steve McQueen has made one of the most gut-wrenching, emotionally exhausting, and yet ultimately human films about slavery. There's a clinical, unflinching eye on the events that unfold, and McQueen's long takes combined with Sean Bobbitt's unassailable cinematography add to the dread, unease, and oppressive melancholy of the film. For some critics this sense of aesthetic distance has made them feel as if the material is antiseptic, but I think something else is going on. By approaching Solomon Northup's story with such a calm lens, the horror of what happens within the frame and the quality of the performances becomes more prominent. 12 Years a Slave is not just the best film of NYFF51, it's also one of the best films of 2013.  — Hubert Vigilla [Read the review here!] I almost skipped Her because of my silly refusal to watch trailers or read synopses. But the night before, I heard the premise (a man falls in love with his operating system) and knew I couldn't miss it. I was right.. While I was in the theater, I was struck by all kinds of emotions that I hadn't felt since... well, the previous day, when I was at Blue is the Warmest Color (which is oddly-worded-but-very-high praise, because that movie made me feel a whole lot). It's not bombastic, putting it at odds with a lot of the big films at NYFF, and as a comedy it's even rarer, so there's something about it that just seems like it could get skipped over. But it couldn't, of course, because it's too good for that. When the end of the year comes, people will be thinking about all of the amazing films that have come out in 2013, and Her will be right up near the top of that list. — Alec Kubas-Meyer [Read the review here!] Everyone talks about a certain moment in Tom Hanks' performance in Captain Phillips as being Oscar-worthy, and it is, but let's get away from the awards prognostication and really look at why Hanks is so good in this film. It's everything else leading up to that capper that makes that scene work so well. There's the quiet agitation at the beginning, the attempt at maintaining a calm façade as things get out of hand, the panic that's barely contained when the situation continues to decline. We're waiting and waiting for the rubber band to snap. Without all that prelude, the scene everyone talks about is just a great, emotional scene. With all this masterful prelude, the scene reveals the greatness of Hanks' whole performance. — Hubert Vigilla [Read the review here!] Chiwetel Ejiofor had both the easiest and hardest job in the world: he had to make an audience sympathize with a free man kidnapped and sold into slavery. There’s something about that that seems almost too simple, right? I mean, seriously, anyone with a conscience is going to feel bad for the guy just because of the circumstances. But that’s not all he had to do. Sure, he had to do that, but he couldn’t just play the part of a victim, even if that’s what he was, because a victim isn’t interesting, just sad. Solomon Northrup is not a sad character. He has a will to live and fight, even if he has to hide it. That excruciating internal struggle is where the part’s real difficulty lies, and he pulled it off. I felt bad for Northrup, but I wanted to see him succeed because he was a man who could succeed when everything in his life had gone horribly, horribly wrong. All of the credit for that can be rested squarely on Ejiofor’s shoulders. — Alec Kubas-Meyer When coming up with this list, I knew Joaquin Phoenix had to be on here. Seriously, he’s one of the greatest living actors. But whereas Tom Hanks and Chiwetel Ejiofor had intense experiences to drive them and their characters, to bring them to their most raw places, the places that Oscars are made of, Phoenix had nothing. He gets emotional in Her, sure, but it’s a romantic kind of emotion. He’s never in the kind of physical peril and doesn’t have his life threatened. He’s just a guy who falls in love with an operating system. But to stand out with so comparatively little to work with is impressive in and of itself. In Her, Joaquin Phoenix is Theodore Twumbley. Plus, after seeing his depressing/amazing performances in both The Master and The Immigrant, it’s nice to see that he can do the light-hearted stuff too. — Alec Kubas-Meyer I want to meet Adèle Exarchopoulos, and it's not just because I feel like she'd be interesting to talk to: I want to know just how closely she actually resembles the character she portrays in Blue is the Warmest Color. I've heard arguments both for and against actors playing themselves, and it's an interesting discussion to have, but while it won't change my objective view of a performance, it would change the way I perceive it. The emotions that Exarchopoulos displays in Blue is the Warmest Color are brutal in their honestly, and it hit me really, really hard at times. What she was able to do. It it was her, and I mean Adèle the person and not Adèle the character, then I applaud her for being willing to put herself out there both physically... and if it wasn't? Well, goddamn. — Alec Kubas-Meyer [Read the review here!] While Blue Is the Warmest Color can be viewed as a vehicle for Adèle Exarchopoulos' extraordinary performance, I think Léa Seydoux is just as responsible for making the film work as well as it does. As Emma, Seydoux isn't just meant as an object of a teenager's desire. She's a charismatic woman, driven and so self-assured, fire made flesh, and Emma is every bit as compelling as her young lover even though she's her opposite in so many ways. In little looks and small gestures, Seydoux can convey a great depth of emotion, and even the slow reveal of that gap between the teeth is a monologue's worth of delight. Her performance says so much even when she isn't saying anything. — Hubert Vigilla Without Paulina García, Gloria would be a warm and inviting film about an interesting woman whose life seems uninteresting on its surface. García brings the whole film to life, though, to a point where I can't think of the  movie succeeding without her. It's a combination of body language, delivery, and little gazes through the big glasses. These choices say so much about the interior life of Gloria, and by the end of the film she feels like someone with a rich past behind every movement. To watch García on screen is to watch someone living in the moment, experiencing all the events before her spontaneously and with such remarkable authenticity. — Hubert Vigilla [Read the review here!] From the moment Michael Fassbender opened his mouth in 12 Years a Slave, I knew it was a brilliant performance. I mean, the dude pulled off a Southern accent better than a lot of the actual Americans. But as great a first impression as that is, it's really in the silence that Fassbender's abilities shine through. The image above is from one of the most tense moments of the entire film. The camera holds the shot, and Fassbender is silent. But his body language, his face, and his eyes are terrifying. Earlier today, I was reading something that referred to 12 Years a Slave as a horror movie in disguise, and while that's kind of a shocking thought, it's true. And looking at it that way, Fassbender's Edwin Epps is a villain even more horrifying than Freddy Kruger or Michael Myers. That Edwin Epps was a real person and somehow even crueler than what McQueen had him portray only makes it worse. But the Fassbender-McQueen relationship continues to impress; they are definitely one of (if not the) best actor-director pairings working today. — Alec Kubas-Meyer Meaty roles for older woman are rare, and while Bruce Dern is excellent in Nebraska, June Squibb steals every scene she's in. That may be because the character of Kate Grant deepens in our eyes each time she's around. Kate seems like a foul-mouthed crank at first, but there's a reason why. The best thing about Squibb is how she finds just the right key and tone in her performance to communicate the many facets of the character. I'd have to watch Nebraska again, but Kate never changes in a dramatic way, she simply acts consistent with her character. Squibb also never changes but knows exactly the melody to play the entire time. — Hubert Vigilla [Read the review here!] In The Immigrant, Jeremy Renner plays against acting powerhouses like Marion Cotillard and Joaquin "Remember When Alec Said I'm One of the Best Actors Working Today Like Three Minutes Ago?" Phoenix, and his performance the best of the bunch. I was already a little biased, because he plays a magician and I love magicians, but he really does knock it out of the park. He's been mostly pigeon-holed into action star roles lately, and while he's pretty great at those and I'm not really complaining, he's a much better actor than that type-casting might suggest. He's shown that before, but The Immigrant is some of his finest work yet, even The Immigrant itself isn't all that great. — Alec Kubas-Meyer Jeff Goldblum at his Jeff Goldblum-iest. Le Week-End could not exist without his brilliance. Wonderful. — Alec Kubas-Meyer [Read the review here!] I admire Stray Dogs on one level, but while Tsai Ming Liang's long takes do so much intellectually and aesthetically, many of them fall short emotionally. As with his other films, each shot in Stray Dogs stands on its own as a work of painterly beauty. Yet I was alienated by about one-third to one-half of the film, which is less about the actual metamorphosis of a shot but the static nature of a shot. As a single take holds for more than 10 minutes and nothing (even of minor aesthetic variation) occurs, I'm led to wonder about the driving force behind the image. It may be the character's ennui, but it's become my own. — Hubert Vigilla [Read the review here!] Bastards has promise: it’s nice to look at and listen to, well-acted, and pretty interesting, but it lacks a cohesiveness that keeps everything together. The weird narrative structure caused confusion in a whole lot of people (myself included), and trying to follow it requires constant attention. I zoned out for about two minutes because I was thinking about Gravity, and I spent the rest of the film trying to figure out what I had missed (nothing, as it turns out). Even if it were just a bit more clear, Bastards would still be an excellent example of minimalistic filmmaking, but it’s just too vague for its own good. I want to like it, and I do... a little bit, but I wanted and expected more. — Alec Kubas-Meyer Child of God is like a so-so high school book report project done over the weekend. More than that, though, Child of God makes me wonder if James Franco really has his heart set on filmmaking or if this is just some kind of hobby between acting gigs. (His prose and his visual art evokes the same response from me.) Scott Haze is at least quite good as the lead character, but he's basically running around a-mumblin' and a-shittin' and a-humpin' corpses and a-mumblin' s'more. There's a lot going on lyrically in the Cormac McCarthy novel, but not in this film. — Hubert Vigilla [Read the review here!] Abuse of Weakness shouldn’t have been made. It is based on actual events from filmmaker Catherine Breillat’s life, but it’s not really a story so much as a premise: A filmmaker has a stroke, sees an ex-con on TV and decides she wants him in her movie. Then he makes her give him lots of money in “loans.” That’s a pretty interesting idea and first act, possibly getting a little bit into a second, but the narrative needs to go somewhere from there, and it doesn’t. When it seems like something may possibly consider happening, it’s over. There’s no conclusion of any kind, just some weird, meaningless statements about being. And is that how it went in reality? Probably, but so what? Since when is “This happened to me one time” sufficient reason to get a movie made? — Alec Kubas-Meyer Reviews listed in reverse chronological order All Is Lost - 68 (Decent) Her - 92 (Spectacular)  Gloria - 81 (Great)  Only Lovers Left Alive - 78 (Good) Blue Is the Warmest Color - 87 - Hubert / 88 - Alec (Excellent)  Nebraska - 85 (Excellent)  12 Years a Slave - 90 (Spectacular)  The Missing Picture - 68 (Decent) The Secret Life of Walter Mitty - 85 (Excellent)  Tim's Vermeer - 80 (Great)  Alan Partridge - 80 (Great)  Captain Phillips - 86 (Excellent)  A Touch of Sin - 80 (Great)  Stray Dogs - 51 - Hubert (Average) / 40 - Alec (Sub-par)  Le Week-End - 78 (Good) Inside Llewyn Davis - 88 (Excellent)  The Wind Rises Discussion - 70 - Alec / 77 - Hubert (Good) Like Father, Like Son - 77 (Good) Child of God - 33 (Bad) Interview Jia Zhangke & Zhao Tao (A Touch of Sin) Video Roundups NYFF in 30 Seconds or Less Roundup #1 NYFF In 30 Seconds or Less Roundup #2
NYFF 2013 Awards/Recap photo
We came, we saw, we conquered
Can you believe that it's all over? I can't. For much of the past month, the New York Film Festival has consumed my life. And now it's over. But we're finishing it off with a bang. The video above is Hubert and my final thou...

NYFF In 30 Seconds or Less Roundup #2

Oct 19 // Alec Kubas-Meyer
Alan Partridge [embed]216687:40831:0[/embed] [Read the review here!] Stray Dogs (With Hubert Vigilla) [embed]216687:40830:0[/embed] (With Alec Kubas-Meyer) [embed]216687:40829:0[/embed] [Read the review here!] Omar [embed]216687:40828:0[/embed] Tim's Vermeer [embed]216687:40827:0[/embed] [Read the review here!] 12 Years a Slave [embed]216687:40826:0[/embed] [Read the review here!] The Secret Life of Walter Mitty [embed]216687:40825:0[/embed] [Read the review here!] Bastards (With Alec Kubas-Meyer) [embed]216687:40823:0[/embed] (With Hubert Vigilla) [embed]216687:40824:0[/embed] Blue is the Warmest Color (With Alec Kubas-Meyer) [embed]216687:40821:0[/embed] (Hubert Vigilla fakes an orgasm) [embed]216687:40820:0[/embed] [Read the review here!] Gloria [embed]216687:40819:0[/embed] [Read the review here!] Only Lovers Left Alive [embed]216687:40818:0[/embed] [Read the review here!] All Is Lost [embed]216687:40817:0[/embed] [Read the review here!] Nebraska [embed]216687:40816:0[/embed] [Read the review here!]
NYFF < or = 30 Seconds photo
It's happened! (Finally...)
So, it took a while to get to this, but we have finally compiled the rest of our NYFF In 30 Seconds or Less videos. If you missed part 1, make sure to check it out here, and come back tomorrow for our final roundup of the fe...

Korean Movie Night NY remembers director Park Cheol Soo

Oct 14 // Alec Kubas-Meyer
Korean Movie Night from September 10, 2012 – October 29, 2013 courtesy of the Korean Cultural Service Every other Tuesday @ 7pm Tribeca Cinemas (54 Varick Street, on the corner of Canal Street, one block from the A, C, E and 1 train Canal Street stops)  Price: FREE All seating is first-come, first served. Doors open at 6:30pm. SPECIAL SCREENINGSEPTEMBER 10th  Secretly Greatly (2013) A group of elite North Korean spies, trained since youth, has been dispatched to South Korea where they’ve disguised themselves as a fool, an aspiring singer, and a high school student. Passing their time without receiving orders from the North, they gradually become accustomed to life as ordinary neighbors in a small town until one day, their mundane lives are turned upside down when a very unexpected "secret and great" mission is suddenly assigned to them. A blockbuster that caters to film fans of all ages, SECRETLY GREATLY is still playing to sold out audiences across Korea!  Series Five:  Remembering Park Cheol Soo: A Korean Filmmaking Legend When prolific Korean director Park Cheol Soo died earlier this year after being hit by a drunk driver, film fans around the world took solace in the fact that while he was gone, his amazing, truly independent masterpieces would live on forever. As huge fans of his work, the Korean Cultural Service pays tribute to this amazing man by offering up three of his most acclaimed films. Starting on October 1st, Korean Movie Night celebrates the life of Park Cheol Soo – guaranteed to move you like never before. As Autumn tugs the leaves from Manhattan’s trees and the days become short, warm yourself with the memory of Park Cheol Soo and his cinematic masterpieces – brought to you for free, as always, by your friends at The Korean Cultural Service. OCTOBER 1 – 301, 302 (1995) The powerful, boundary-pushing drama that put director Park Cheol Soo on the map, 301, 302 explores the stories of two neighboring women, one who suffers from binge-eating, and the other from anorexia. First at odds with each other, the two women realize that their struggles and dark pasts are not that different – and that their disorders may ultimately bring them together in a very unexpected way. Breaking free from traditional Korean storytelling, the film achieved massive success and became one of the first Korean movies released in North American cinemas. OCTOBER 15 – GREEN CHAIR (2003) Ordered to 100 hours of social service for taking a younger lover, Mun-hui meets up with Hyeon, the object of her desire, and becomes engrossed with him yet again. After five passionate days, Mun-hui leaves Hyeon, telling him to remember her as an “odd woman that he met briefly.” Suffering a deep sense of loss, Hyeon eventually receives a call from his lost love – but soon finds himself sharing her with another person. A charming, expertly crafted morality tale, this Sundance Film Festival selection is a powerfully charged erotic masterpiece. OCTOBER 29 – B.E.D. (2013) North American Premiere In the last film he lived to see released, director Park Cheol Soo explores human obsessive desire for sex. Based on a short novel of the same name, B.E.D. is told through the eyes of the three main characters, whose joy, passion, despair and death overflow into one bed. The man B. has an affair with a bored married woman E., who eventually dumps him. In order to get over E., B. marries D., a divorcee with a small daughter, but still keeps the bed in which he made love with E. His obsession with E. never goes away, as he attempts to get her back.
Korean Movie Night NY photo
301, 302; Green Chair; and B.E.D.
[Just a reminder that this continues tomorrow, October 15th, with the 2005 film Green Chair. If you live in New York, make sure you're there! This is a great (and super rare) opportunity to see a great movie on the big screen...

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And of course it's because it's too damn expensive in New York
Good news for New Yorkers who like bad news: plans for a proposed Alamo Drafthouse in the Upper West Side have been scrapped. Kaput. Finito. Not pining for the fjords. Has ceased to be. The sad news was posted on the Drathous...

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NYC: See Vampire's Kiss w/ Nicolas Cage free on 9/20


A! B! C! D! E! F! G! H! I! J! K! L! M! N! O! P! Q! R! S! T! U! V! W! X! Y! Z!
Sep 16
// Hubert Vigilla
There are many reasons to love Nicolas Cage, as our own Nathan Hardisty has noted. One of the most compelling cases for loving the man is the 1988 Robert Bierman film Vampire's Kiss. The movie features one of Cage's Cage-iest...

The New York Film Festival announces its 2013 main slate

Aug 20 // Hubert Vigilla
THE FILM SOCIETY OF LINCOLN CENTER announcesMain Slate of selections for the 2013 NEW YORK FILM FESTIVAL 35 Features include new films by Catherine Breillat, J.C.Chandor, Joel & Ethan Coen, Richard Curtis, Claire Denis,Arnaud Desplechin, Ralph Fiennes, James Gray, James Franco,Jim Jarmusch, Claude Lanzmann, Alexander Payne, Hong Sang-soo, Frederick Wiseman, and Jia Zhangke among others  NEW YORK, August 19, 2013 —The Film Society of Lincoln Center announced today the 35 films that will comprise the main slate of official selections for the 51st New York Film Festival (September 27-October 13) including such notable directors as Catherine Breillat, J.C. Chandor, Joel & Ethan Coen, Richard Curtis, Claire Denis, Arnaud Desplechin, Ralph Fiennes, James Franco, James Gray, Jim Jarmusch, Claude Lanzmann, Alexander Payne, Hong Sang-soo, Frederick Wiseman and Jia Zhangke. NYFF’s Director of Programming and Selection Committee Chair, Kent Jones said, “Cinema is a vast terrain with a complex ecology, encompassing a mindbending array of species and habitats – there are multiple approaches to the question ‘What is a movie,’ from the industrial to the hand-made, from the carefully written to the poetically assembled. I love the level of diversity in the main slate selections, which includes documentaries, biographies, comedies, adventures, epics, chamber pieces, elegies, explorations and affirmations. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.” Award winners from past festivals presented for the first time to New York audiences include; Abdellatif Kechiche’s BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR, the winner of the 2013 Cannes Palme d’Or (which in a first, was awarded to both of its lead actresses, Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux, as well as the director); Joel and Ethan Coen’s INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS, which won the festival’s Grand Prix Award; Jia Zhangke’s A TOUCH OF SIN, winner for Best Screenplay; Rithy Panh’s THE MISSING PICTURE, winner of the Certain Regard Prize and Hany Abu-Assad’s OMAR, which won the Certain Regard Jury Prize; and  Alexander Payne’s NEBRASKA, which features Cannes Best Actor winner Bruce Dern. Additional award winners were Joe Brewster and Michèle Stephenson’s AMERICAN PROMISE, which won a U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, and Sebastián Lelio’s GLORIA, whose star Pauline Garcia took home the Berlin Film Festival’s Silver Bear for Best Actress. American and British comedies are a significant presence in this year’s lineup of of main slate official selections with Richard Curtis’s ABOUT TIME, a romantic comedy about a family whose men have the ability to travel in time, starring Bill Nighy and Rachel McAdams; Declan Lowney’s ALAN PARTRIDGE, which brings Steve Coogan’s legendary television character to the big screen for the first time; Roger Michell’s LE WEEK-END, featuring Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan as a couple visiting Paris with hopes of rekindling their relationship; and Alexander Payne’s NEBRASKA, about a father and son (Bruce Dern and Will Forte) on a road trip to pick up a million dollar prize that may or may not await them; and the previously announced Centerpiece and Closing Night Gala selections, Ben Stiller’s THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY and Spike Jonze’s HER. Documentary filmmaking legends Claude Lanzmann and Frederick Wiseman each make their third appearances in NYFF’s main slate. Lanzmann returns with THE LAST OF THE UNJUST, a portrait of Benjamin Murmelstein, the last Jewish elder of Theresienstadt, once despised by many of its surviving inhabitants. Wiseman turns his camera toward the University of California, Berkeley, with his latest film, AT BERKELEY. Rose Kuo, the Executive Director of the Film Society of Lincoln Center, said, “The Film Society's commitment to presenting the significant films of the year each fall at the New York Film Festival continues with our latest edition. This year we welcome a record number of over a dozen returning veterans along with a number of new voices.  It has been an interesting year for cinema with spirited discussions already underway about some of the films in our curated main slate selections.  I'm sure that New York audiences will be excited, maybe sometimes even provoked, but hopefully also inspired by this year's new work.”Filmmakers returning to the NYFF who have had multiple films selected in the main slate in past editions include: Catherine Breillat (36 FILLETTE, NYFF 1988; FAT GIRL, NYFF 2000; THE LAST MISTRESS, NYFF 2007; and BLUEBEARD, NYFF 2009) with ABUSE IS WEAKNESS Ethan and Joel Coen (BLOOD SIMPLE, NYFF 1984, MILLER’S CROSSING, NYFF 1990 and NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, NYFF 2007) with INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS Claire Denis (BEAU TRAVAIL, NYFF 1999; FRIDAY NIGHT, NYFF 2002; and WHITE MATERIAL, NYFF 2009) with BASTARDS Arnaud Desplechin (LA SENTINELLE, NYFF 1992; MY SEX LIFE…OR HOW I GOT INTO AN ARGUMENT, NYFF 1996; KINGS AND QUEENS, NYFF 2004; and A CHRISTMAS TALE, NYFF 2008) with JIMMY P: PSYCHOTHERAPY OF A PLAINS INDIAN Agnieszka Holland (ANGRY HARVEST, NYFF 1985; OLIVIER OLIVIER, NYFF 1992; and WASHINGTON SQUARE, NYFF 1997); with BURNING BUSH Jim Jarmusch (STRANGER THAN PARADISE, NYFF 1984; DOWN BY LAW, NYFF 1986; MYSTERY TRAIN, NYFF 1989; and NIGHT ON EARTH, NYFF 1991) with ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE Alexander Payne (ABOUT SCHMIDT, NYFF 2002; SIDEWAYS, NYFF 2004; and THE DESCENDANTS, NYFF 2011) with NEBRASKA Hong Sang-soo (TURNING GATE, NYFF 2002; WOMAN IS THE FUTURE OF MAN, NYFF 2004; TALE OF CINEMA, NYFF 2005; WOMAN ON THE BEACH, NYFF 2006; NIGHT AND DAY, NYFF 2008; and OKI’S MOVIE, NYFF 2010) with NOBODY’S DAUGHTER HAEWON Frederick Wiseman (NEAR DEATH, NYFF 1989, PUBLIC HOUSING, NYFF 1997, BOXING GYM, NYFF 2010 and CRAZY HORSE, NYFF 2011) with AT BERKELEY Jia Zhangke (PLATFORM, NYFF 2000; UNKNOWN PLEASURES, NYFF 2002; THE WORLD, NYFF 2004; USELESS, NYFF 2007; and 24 CITY, NYFF 2008) with A TOUCH OF SIN Rounding out the list of returning NYFF main slate alumni are; Hany Abu-Assad (PARADISE NOW, NYFF 2005) with OMAR; French filmmakers Philippe Garrel (THE INNER SCAR, NYFF 1972 and REGULAR LOVERS, NYFF 2005) with JEALOUSY; and Alain Guiraudie (THAT OLD DREAM THAT MOVES, NYFF 2002) with STRANGER BY THE LAKE; the directors of the Opening Night and Closing Night Gala selections Paul Greengrass (BLOODY SUNDAY, NYFF 2002) with CAPTAIN PHILLIPS; and Spike Jonze (BEING JOHN MALKOVICH, NYFF 1999) with HER; and Cannes award winner Abdellatif Kechiche (BLACK VENUS, NYFF 2010) with BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR. Other returnees include Hayao Miyazaki (PRINCESS MONONOKE, NYFF 1997) with THE WIND RISES; Tsai Ming-liang (WHAT TIME IS IT THERE?, NYFF 2001 and GOOD BYE, DRAGON INN, NYFF 2003) with STRAY DOGS; documentarian Claude Lanzmann (ISRAEL, WHY, NYFF 1973 and SOBIBOR, OCTOBER 14, 1943,4PM, NYFF 2001) with THE LAST OF THE UNJUST; Romanian filmmaker Corneliu Porumboiu (POLICE, ADJECTIVE, NYFF 2009) with WHEN EVENING FALLS ON BUCHAREST OR METABOLISM; and Roger Michell, who returns to the New York Film Festival just one year after screening his film HYDE PARK ON HUDSON (NYFF 2012) with LE WEEK-END. Additional gala and special events, documentary sections, spotlights on emerging filmmakers, and panels will be announced in subsequent days and weeks as well as NYFF’s Views From the Avant-Garde andConvergence programs.    The 51st New York Film Festival main-slate  Opening Night Gala SelectionCAPTAIN PHILLIPSDirector: Paul Greengrass Centerpiece Gala SelectionTHE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTYDirector: Ben Stiller Closing Night Gala SelectionHERDirector: Spike Jonze  ABOUT TIME Director: Richard Curtis ABUSE OF WEAKNESS (Abus de faiblesse) Director: Catherine Breillat ALAN PARTRIDGE Director: Declan Lowney ALL IS LOST Director: J.C. Chandor AMERICAN PROMISEDirectors: Joe Brewster and Michèle Stephenson AT BERKELEY Director: Frederick Wiseman BASTARDS (Les Salauds)Director: Claire Denis BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR (La vie d’Adèle)Director: Abdellatif Kechiche BURNING BUSH (Hořicí Keř)Director: Agnieszka Holland CHILD OF GOD Director: James Franco GLORIA Director: Sebastián Lelio THE IMMIGRANT Director: James Gray INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS Directors: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen THE INVISIBLE WOMAN Director: Ralph Fiennes JEALOUSY (La Jalousie) Director: Philippe Garrel JIMMY P: PSYCHOTHERAPY OF A PLAINS INDIAN Director: Arnaud Desplechin THE LAST OF THE UNJUST (Le Dernier des injustes) Director: Claude Lanzmann LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON (Soshite Chichi ni Naru)Director: Hirokazu Kore-eda THE MISSING PICTURE (L’image manquante)Director: Rithy Panh MY NAME IS HMMM… (Je m’appelle Hmmm…) Director: agnès B NEBRASKADirector: Alexander Payne NOBODY’S DAUGHTER HAEWON (Nugu-ui ttal-do anin Haewon) Director: Hong Sang-soo NORTH, THE END OF HISTORY (Norte, Hangganan ng Kasaysayan)Director: Lav Diaz OMARDirector: Hany Abu-Assad ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE Director: Jim Jarmusch THE SQUAREDirector: Jehane Noujaim STRANGER BY THE LAKE (L’Inconnu du lac) Director: Alain Guiraudie STRAY DOGS (Jiao You) Director: Tsai Ming-liang A TOUCH OF SIN (Tian Zhu Ding) Director: Jia Zhangke LE WEEK-END Director: Roger Michell WHEN EVENING FALLS ON BUCHAREST OR METABOLISM (Când se lasa seara peste Bucuresti sau metabolism)Director: Corneliu Porumboiu THE WIND RISES (Kaze Tachinu)Director: Hayao Miyazaki FilmLinc Daily Managing Editor Brian Brooks spoke with Kent Jones about the Main Slate official selections, the lead up to NYFF and looking ahead to his first NYFF as the festival’s Director of Programming and Selection Committee Chair. That interview can be found at Filmlinc.com   The 17-day New York Film Festival highlights the best in world cinema, featuring top films from celebrated filmmakers as well as fresh new talent. The selection committee, chaired by Jones, also includes: Dennis Lim, FSLC Director of Cinematheque Programming; Marian Masone, FSLC Associate Director of Programming; Gavin Smith, Editor-in-Chief, Film Comment; and Amy Taubin, Contributing Editor, Film Comment and Sight & Sound. General Public tickets will be available on September 8th. Members of the Film Society of Lincoln Center have the opportunity to purchase single screening tickets in advance of the General Public. VIP Passes for the New York Film Festival are on sale now. For more information about becoming a Film Society Member visit Filmlinc.com/support/home. More ticket information for the New York Film Festival will be available on Filmlinc.com/NYFF.  51st NEW YORK FILM FESTIVALFilms & Descriptions  ABOUT TIME (2013) 123minDirector: Richard CurtisCountry: UKRichard Curtis adds a touch of time-travel to this hilarious romantic comedy, a perfect vehicle for the comic talents of Bill Nighy, Rachel McAdams, Lindsay Duncan, and emerging star Domhnall Gleeson. A Universal Pictures release. ABUSE OF WEAKNESS (Abus de Faiblesse) (2013) 105minDirector: Catherine BreillatCountry: FranceCatherine Breillat’s haunting film about her 2004 stroke and subsequent self-destructive relationship with star swindler Christophe Rocancourt, starring Isabelle Huppert. ALAN PARTRIDGE (2013) 90minDirector: Declan LowneyCountry: UK/FranceIn the long-awaited big-screen debut of Steve Coogan’s singular comic creation, the vain and obliviously tactless Alan Partridge must serve as an intermediary when North Norfolk Digital is seized at gunpoint by a down-sized DJ. ALL IS LOST (2013) 107minDirector: J.C. ChandorCountry: USARobert Redford as you’ve never seen him before, gives a near-wordless all-action performance as a lone sailor trying to keep his yacht afloat after a collision with a discarded shipping container in the middle of the Indian Ocean. A Roadside Attractions release. AMERICAN PROMISE (2013) 135minDirectors: Joe Brewster and Michèle StephensonCountry: USATwo Brooklyn filmmakers follow their son Idris and his friend Suen from their enrollment in the Dalton School as children through their high school graduations in this devastating, years-in-the-making documentary that takes a hard look at race and class in America. AT BERKELEY (2013) 244minDirector: Frederick WisemanCountry: USAAnother masterfully constructed documentary from Frederick Wiseman, examining the University of California, Berkeley from multiple angles - the administrators, the students, the surrounding community - to arrive at a portrait that is as rich in detail as it is epic in scope. BASTARDS (Les Salauds) (2013) 100minDirector: Claire DenisCountry: France/GermanyClaire Denis’s jagged, daringly fragmented and deeply unsettling film inspired by recent French sex ring scandals is the rarest of cinematic narratives—a contemporary film noir, perfect in substance as well as style. BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR (La Vie d’Adèle) (2013) 179minDirector: Abdellatif KechicheCountry: FranceThe sensation of this year’s Cannes Film Festival is an intimate - and sexually explicit - epic of emotional transformation, featuring two astonishing performances from Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux. A Sundance Selects release.Please be advised that this film has scenes of a sexually explicit nature.  BURNING BUSH (Hořicí Keř) (2013) 234minDirector: Agnieszka HollandCountry: Czech RepublicA passionately brilliant Czech mini-series from Agnieska Holland about the events that followed student Jan Palach’s public self-immolation in protest against the Soviet invasion after Prague Spring. CAPTAIN PHILLIPS (2013) 143minDirector: Paul GreengrassCountry: USAPaul Greengrass has crafted an edge-of-your-seat thriller based on the true story of the seizure of the Maersk Alabama cargo ship in 2009 by four Somali pirates, with remarkable performances from Tom Hanks and four first-time actors, Barkhad Abdi, Faysal Ahmed, Barkhad Abdirahman and Mahet M. Ali. A Sony Pictures release. CHILD OF GOD (2013) 104minDirector: James FrancoCountry: USAJames Franco’s uncompromising excursion into American Gothic, adapted from Cormac McCarthy’s 1973 novel, about an unstable sociopath in early 60s rural Tennessee who descends into an animal-like state - not for the faint-hearted. GLORIA (2013) 110minDirector: Sebastián LelioCountries: Chile/SpainA wise, funny, liberating movie from Chile, about a middle-aged woman who finds romance but whose new partner finds it painfully difficult to abandon his old habits. HER (2013)Director: Spike JonzeCountry: USAIn Spike Jonze’s magical, melancholy comedy of the near future, lonely Joaquin Phoenix falls in love with his new all-purpose operating system (the voice of Scarlett Johansson), leading to romantic and existential complications. A Warner Bros. Pictures release. THE IMMIGRANT (2013) 120minDirector: James GrayCountry: USAIn James Gray’s richly detailed period tragedy, set in a dusty, sepia-toned 1920s Manhattan, a young Polish immigrant (Marion Cotillard) is caught in a dangerous battle of wills with a shady burlesque manager (Joaquin Phoenix). A Radius-TWC release. INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS (2013) 105minDirectors: Ethan Coen, Joel CoenCountry: USA/FranceJoel and Ethan Coen’s picaresque, panoramic and wryly funny story of a singer/songwriter is set in the New York folk scene of the early 60s and features a terrific array of larger-than-life characters and a glorious score of folk standards. A CBS Films release. THE INVISIBLE WOMAN (2013) 111minDirector: Ralph FiennesCountry: UKRalph Fiennes directs and stars as Charles Dickens in this adaptation of Claire Tomalin’s revelatory 1992 biography, which brought the upright Victorian author’s secret 13-year affair with a young actress to light. A Sony Pictures Classics Release. JEALOUSY (La Jalousie) (2013) 77minDirector: Philippe GarrelCountry: FranceAnother intimate, handcrafted work of poetic autobiographical cinema from French director Philippe Garrel, in which his son Louis and Anna Mouglalis star as actors and lovers trying to reconcile their professional and personal lives. JIMMY P: PSYCHOTHERAPY OF A PLAINS INDIAN (2013) 114minDirector: Arnaud DesplechinCountry: FranceIn Arnaud Desplechin’s intelligent and moving depiction of a successful “Talking Cure,” the encounters between patient (Benicio del Toro) and therapist (Mathieu Amalric) are electric with discovery. THE LAST OF THE UNJUST (Le Dernier des injustes) (2013) 218minDirector: Claude LanzmannCountries: France/AustriaThis moral and cinematic tour de force from the creator of SHOAH will cause you to reconsider your understanding of Adolph Eichmann and of Benjamin Murmelstein, the last Jewish elder of Theresienstadt and the film’s central figure. LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON (Soshite Chichi ni Naru) (2013) 120minDirector: Hirokazu Kore-edaCountry: JapanHirokazu Kore-eda’s sensitive drama takes a close look at two families’ radically different approaches to the horribly painful realization that the sons they have raised as their own were switched at birth. A Sundance Selects release. THE MISSING PICTURE (L’image manquante) (2013) 92minDirector: Rithy PanhCountry: CambodiaFilmmaker Rithy Panh’s brave new film revisits his memories of four years spent under the Khmer Rouge and the destruction of his family and his culture; without a single memento left behind, he creates his “missing images” with narration and painstakingly executed dioramas. A Strand release. MY NAME IS HMMM… (Je m’appelle Hmmm…) (2013) 121minDirector: agnès BCountry: FranceIn this deeply personal, incandescent first feature from designer agnès B, a young girl holding her family together and bearing the weight of sexual abuse runs away from home and enjoys a carefree idyll with a kindly Scottish trucker. NEBRASKA (2013) 115minDirector: Alexander PayneCountry: USAThis masterful film from Alexander Payne, about a quiet old man (Bruce Dern) whose mild-mannered son (Will Forte) agrees to drive him from Montana to Nebraska to claim a non-existent prize, shades from the comic to multiple hues of melancholy and regret. A Paramount Pictures release. NOBODY’S DAUGHTER HAEWON (Nugu-ui ttal-do anin Haewon) (2013) 90minDirector: Hong Sang-sooCountry: South KoreaA young student at loose ends after her mother moves to America tries to define herself one encounter and experience at a time, in reality and in dreams, in another deceptively simple chamber-piece from South Korean master Hong Sang-soo. NORTH, THE END OF HISTORY (Norte, Hangganan ng Kasaysayan) (2013) 250minDirector: Lav DiazCountry: PhilippinesFilipino director Lav Diaz’s twelfth feature - at four-plus hours, one of his shortest - is a careful rethinking of Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment, with a tortured anti-hero who is a haunting embodiment of the dead ends of ideology. OMAR (2013) 96minDirector: Hany Abu-AssadCountry: Palestinian TerritoriesA tense, gripping, ticking clock thriller about betrayal, suspected and real, in the Occupied Territories, from Hany Abu-Assad (Paradise Now). ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE (2013) 123minDirector: Jim JarmuschCountry: USAJim Jarmusch’s wry, tender and moving take on the vampire genre features Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston as a centuries-old couple who watch time go by from separate continents as they reflect on the ever-changing world around them. A Sony Pictures Classics release. THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY (2013)Director: Ben StillerCountry: USABen Stiller stars in and directs this sweet, globe-trotting (but New York-based) comic fable about an up-to-the-minute everyman, co-starring Kristen Wiig as the woman of his dreams, Sean Penn as a legendary photographer and Shirley MacLaine as Walter’s mother. A Twentieth Century Fox release. THE SQUARE (2013) 104minDirector: Jehane NoujaimCountry: USA/EgyptJehane Noujaim’s tense, vivid verité portrait of events as they unfolded in Tahrir Square through Arab Spring and beyond, in a newly revised, up-to-the-minute version. STRANGER BY THE LAKE (L’Inconnu du lac) (2013) 97minDirector: Alain GuiraudieCountry: FranceAlain Guiraudie’s lethally precise, sexually explicit film, which unfolds entirely in the vicinity of a gay cruising ground, is both a no-holds-barred depiction of a hedonistic subculture and a perverse and unnerving tale of amour fou. A Strand release.Please be advised that this film has scenes of a sexually explicit nature.  STRAY DOGS (Jiao You) (2013) 138minDirector: Tsai Ming-liangCountry: Taiwan/FranceTsai Ming-liang’s fable of a homeless family living the cruelest of existences on the ragged edges of the modern world is bracingly pure in its anger and its compassion, and as visually powerful as it is emotionally overwhelming. A TOUCH OF SIN (Tian Zhu Ding) (2013) 133minDirector: Jia ZhangkeCountry: ChinaJia Zhangke’s bloody, bitter new film builds a portrait of modern-day China in the midst of rapid and convulsive change through four overlapping stories of marginalized and oppressed citizens pushed to murderous rage. A Kino Lorber release. LE WEEK-END (2013) 93minDirector: Roger MichellCountry: UKA magically buoyant, bittersweet comedy drama about a middle-aged and middle class English couple who go to Paris for a weekend holiday, starring two of Britain’s national treasures, Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan. A Music Box Films release. WHEN EVENING FALLS ON BUCHAREST OR METABOLISM (2013) 89minDirector: Corneliu PorumboiuCountries: Romania/FranceA rigorously structured and fascinatingly oblique new film from Corneliu Porumboiu that examines the life of a film director during the moments on a shoot when the camera isn’t rolling. THE WIND RISES (Kaze Tachinu) (2013) 126minDirector: Hayao MiyazakiCountry: JapanThe great Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki’s new film is based on the life of Jiro Hirokoshi, the man who designed the Zero fighter. An elliptical historical narrative, THE WIND RISES is also a visionary cinematic poem about the fragility of humanity.  Film Society of Lincoln CenterFounded in 1969 to celebrate American and international cinema, the Film Society of Lincoln Center works to recognize established and emerging filmmakers, support important new work, and to enhance the awareness, accessibility and understanding of the moving image. Film Society produces the renowned New York Film Festival, a curated selection of the year's most significant new film work, and presents or collaborates on other annual New York City festivals including Dance on Camera, Film Comment Selects, Human Rights Watch Film Festival, LatinBeat, New Directors/New Films, NewFest, New York African Film Festival, New York Asian Film Festival, New York Jewish Film Festival, Open Roads: New Italian Cinema, Rendez-vous With French Cinema, and Spanish Cinema Now. In addition to publishing the award-winning Film Comment Magazine, Film Society recognizes an artist's unique achievement in film with the prestigious "Chaplin Award." The Film Society's state-of-the-art Walter Reade Theater and the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, located at Lincoln Center, provide a home for year round programs and the New York City film community. The Film Society receives generous, year-round support from Royal Bank of Canada, Jaeger-LeCoultre, American Airlines, The New York Times, Stonehenge Partners, Stella Artois, illy café, the Kobal Collection, Trump International Hotel and Tower, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the New York State Council on the Arts. Support for the New York Film Festival is also generously provided by Hearst Corporation, HBO®, Dolby, Christie, WABC-7, and WNET Public Media. For more information, visit www.filmlinc.com and follow @filmlinc on Twitter.
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Coen Brothers, Hayao Miyazaki, Spike Jonze, Ben Stiller, Jim Jarmusch, and more
Even though Alec and I talked about being a bit exhausted from film festival coverage, I'm really looking forward to the upcoming New York Film Festival. Yesterday they announced the main slate, which includes a lot of movies...

Flixclusive Interview: Cutie and the Boxer

Aug 19 // Hubert Vigilla
One of the most striking things about Cutie and the Boxer is the verite, fly-on-the-wall feel of the film. A narrative forms simply through observation and editing, and yet there's a naturalism to the footage, whether it involves Ushio and Noriko at home or showing their work for galleries. To achieve this with without succumbing to the observer effect (i.e., people change their behavior when a camera is present), trust needs to develop between a documentary filmmaker and the subjects. This grew over the course of the five-year shoot, but in some ways it wasn't too much of a change for either Ushio or Noriko. "They've both been documented, and Ushio especially," Zach explained. "He loves the camera, he encourages people to film him." Ushio was already a famous artist in Japan before moving to New York. "Cameras would just come and film my private life, so it's nothing that would affect me," he said. "When I was being filmed by Japanese crews [in New York], one of my favorite things to do was go out drinking with the crew without Noriko." Ushio recalled that the Japanese crews would bring lots of money to spend while following Ushio around. "I really enjoyed the whole process a lot. So when Zach came and filmed, it was no detriment to anything." "Except we didn't go out drinking afterwards," Zach laughed. "Zach used to stay until 12:00 AM or 1:00 AM," Noriko added. "[Basically] until he became tired and went home. At first he didn't drink so much, not at the time. Now I can see he can drink a whole bottle of wine," she laughed. While Noriko generally concurred with Ushio given that artists are used to a certain kind of creative exhibitionism, she said that she still had to get used to Zach's presence. By the end of the shooting process, she thought of Zach as a natural part of their home, like a coffee cup. One part of this extensive documentation comes from an older documentary on Ushio that looks like it was made in the early 1970s. We watch Ushio gather cardboard to create his massive sculptures--Harleys, dinosaurs--and then go to work on his actions paintings, which are done with paint-soaked boxing gloves. It all helps provide context for his place in the art world when he came to the city. But there's also the self-documentation that Ushio and Noriko have engaged in over the years. It's not just the autobiographic Cutie series that Noriko has been working on either. In the living room, in this work space, there are countless photo albums and home videos which provide intimate looks into their lives as a family and as two artists. When Ushio is boxing with a canvas during the opening credits, there's Noriko snapping photos. Their vast collection of home movies and photographs was logged, sorted, and translated by a small team as part of the making of Cutie and the Boxer. "More than a hundred hours, right?" Noriko asked. "Now it's organized!" Zach laughed. "Because of you!" Some of this previous documentation and self-documentation is revelatory. One video in particular shows Ushio among friends getting more and more drunk, and then venting his frustrations about being an acclaimed yet struggling artist. Just sitting across from him, I still a sensed great pride and seriousness about his work. And yet some of the home video footage is revealing simply for being mundane. "Their trips to Bermuda would just be Ushio filming a plant like for 10 minutes," Zach laughed. "And then he would find a lizard and film that. And then Noriko you would see occasionally when he would pan, and we'd be like, 'Oh! A shot of Noriko!' and maybe something would come out of it." Those lingering shots makes sense in a lot of ways. Though Ushio admitted he doesn't always rewatch the videos since it's mostly a hobby, he took hours of footage as possible inspiration for his work. Noriko just popping into frame also makes some sense in the context of the film and  their relationship. Noriko had always been in Ushio's shadow to some degree. Some of that is due to their culture and their age difference (Ushio turned 81 this year, Noriko 60), though some of it was also Ushio's own pride. My digital recorder unfortunately conked out for a bit so I can't provide Ushio's exact words, but I recall him admitting that he was surprised by how prominent a role Noriko had in Cutie and the Boxer. He'd assumed the documentary would mostly be about him. Cutie and the Boxer is still a movie about Ushio as much as it is about Noriko. Watching the film, I got a sense that it was Noriko who's kept Ushio going. Without her, it's hard to say where he'd be. Noriko described artists in a relationship as two flowers sharing the same pot. Ushio may be a flower that needs some form of symbiosis to thrive, though he may be unwilling to admit it. And yet Ushio did say, without reservation, how much he enjoyed the way the documentary showed Noriko come into her own as an artist. He's genuinely proud of her, and he's not too proud to admit that. Ushio and Noriko's son Alex is a kind of third flower who pops up in the film every now and then. While his role in the film isn't prominent, his presence in the documentary is still crucial for exploring Ushio and Noriko's long relationship. "Alex was one of the so-called 'SoHo loft kids,'" Ushio said. "He was the son of artists, and there were those kinds of families there back then. He grew up in that kind of community so he had no kind of exposure to the family life of a lawyer, a politician, or a professor, and that sort. He was in a distinct position to become an artist, because that was the only kind of life that he knows and would see." "For him, art is easy, but after he graduated, he saw the reality," Noriko said. "It's difficult to show your work in a gallery and to sell. It was a different world. So he saw the reality, and he started struggling in life after he graduated. As part of the struggle, he became an alcoholic." She added, "When Zach was filming us, that was probably the most difficult time for Alex. Now Alex is becoming a serious artist." There will be a gallery show for the three artists of the Shinohara family in Japan to coincide with the Japanese release of Cutie and the Boxer. Alex's new work may be the centerpiece of the show. "Luckily he inherited Norkio's and my talent," Ushio said. "There could be a separate film just about Alex," Zach said, "but in this film, we wanted his role to be tied into the sacrifices Ushio and Noriko made to have this sort of artist lifestyle. It can cause a lot of chaos and issues with raising a kid." When Alex does appear in the film, he seems a bit withdrawn, which is part of the struggles he was facing at the time. They even address his drinking outright over dinner. There's also footage of Alex as a kid growing up, and while the circumstances of life in an artist's home must have been different and possibly more stressful than the life of a suburban kid, it has its many lighter moments. "There's actually one particular episode [in junior high]," Ushio began. "Alex was taking a French class and he stopped going. The teacher said, 'It's okay, you're more concentrated in your art, but if you want to pass this class, make a sculpture of a fruit basket. If you do that, I'll let you pass.' So then I helped him make the fruit basket. He passed the class." This contrast of ups and downs in an artist's life (and an artists' child's life) is one of those key parts of Cutie and the Boxer. It's a fundamental question about what makes great art. "There's always this question in the film: 'Is it worth it?'" Zach said. "Is what Noriko went through with Ushio worth the art that she has today, or is the lifestyle that they lived worth the work that they've produced. It's important to see all of the aspect; all the scars and the wounds, the highs and the lows." That brought me back to the nature of history, which is in one respect a chronicle of cause and effect relationship and the marks that different events leave behind. The New York of the 1960s and 1970s is the idea of New York in most artists' minds. Over time, more and more transplants (myself included) have come to the city to make it as painters, actors, sculptors, writers, and filmmakers. But despite the starry-eyed romance of everyone new to the city, the New York of the 1970s is gone, and it's become prohibitively expensive to live in SoHo or even Alphabet City, which in the 70s and 80s was a wasteland of dope fiends, rubble piles, and dead ends. (Really, it's too expensive to live in New York in general, yet these are the trade-offs for fewer tenement fires and greater safety.) "Back then, New York was the center of American pop culture and pop art," Ushio reminisced about the cultural scene of the time. "But now there's a more international influence." "New York is a product of these immigrants coming from all over and doing new and interesting things," Zach said, himself a young transplant to the city. "Ushio and Norkio were both a part of that in that glory period, and they were living in the part of the city that represents what people think about when you think about the New York art world. It's the reason people come today." Noriko had her own memories of New York in its mythic glory period. "Sometimes we'd sneak out of our SoHo loft [when we still lived there] and go to bars. At that time, many artists--dancers, writers, musicians, artists--were working as waiters or waitresses. Back then, the third drink was always free! We don't hear this anymore. That's what I miss. "In June we went to Italy," she added. "Milan. And we found some outdoor local bar. I liked it there, so we went back, and the manager was so impressed. Third time we went there, it was free! That's where I find the old spirit!" "I think if you go back to SoHo, you can't find that spirit anymore," Zach said. "It's harder and harder to find it. Maybe it's in Bushwick. Having something then and having something now that retains that spirit is so rare, I think, and it's one of the things I find so fascinating about both Ushio and Noriko." "You can go to Sunnyside in Queens," Noriko replied. "My friend said that happy hour at a bar is like 35 cents or 50 cents, something like that. In 1975, happy hour was like 35 cents and there was food! Free bar food!" Ushio began to speak to Noriko in Japanese, and though I couldn't understand, I think he was asking her for a chance to respond. Noriko smiled and nodded and let Ushio have a turn. I sensed that in this brief exchange was the heart of their relationship, which has held together, a constant, since the early 1970s: they share, sometimes Noriko more than Ushio, but they share. "Twenty-seven years ago I came to DUMBO, and back then there was no one around here," Ushio remembered. "But since then, there's been a lot of changes. I feel lucky that I moved here and got this space." Cutie and The Boxer is now playing in limited release.
Cutie & Boxer Interview photo
Zachary Heinzerling and artists Ushio & Noriko Shinohara talk about art and the spirit of New York
I might have missed Ushio and Noriko Shinohara's apartment if it wasn't for the doorbell and the little handwritten sign above it. Now it seems so obvious. Around their home there's a bridal shop, some nice places for lunch, ...

Review: Cutie and the Boxer

Aug 15 // Hubert Vigilla
[embed]215437:40001:0[/embed] Cutie and the BoxerDirector: Zachary HeinzerlingRating: RRelease Date: August 16th, 2013 (limited) Ushio Shinohara moved to New York from Japan during the late 1960s. His best known art consists of sculptures made of discarded cardboard -- Harleys, dinosaurs, other machines, all the materials found on the street and dragged back to his studio -- and action paintings in which he straps on boxing gloves saturated with paint and beats up some canvas. The opening credits of Cutie and the Boxer capture Ushio in action making art, which is surprisingly hypnotic. (Part of that is thanks to Yasuaki Shimizu's score.) He's 80 years old but still hits the canvas with enough force to send splatters of paint up high for a minute or two. Think of it as Kirby crackle gone neo-dada. At the end of this display, Ushio poses like he's just floored Sonny Liston. As we learn from her art, Noriko was only 19 when she first moved to the city. She instantly sought out Ushio, who was in his 40s at the time, and the two shacked up pretty immediately. She was young and he needed the money. Noriko's an artist in her own right, but there are times that Ushio thinks of her merely as an assistant or appendage to his own career. Much of their life together is chronicled in a new series of autobiographic watercolors that Noriko's working on called Cutie and Bullie -- she's Cutie, he's Bullie, and between them things aren't always great. Cutie says in broken English, "I'm naked because I'm so poor." Rather than create a standard documentary profile on two artists, Heinzerling approaches the material in a hybrid form. Part of Cutie and the Boxer is done verite style, with the camera simply catching Ushio and Noriko going through their routines and setting up new art shows. There's a sense that the camera isn't even there in the apartment as they eat dinner and worry about bills. This fly-on-the-wall quality breaks occasionally, however. Sometimes the two of them will get into a discussion with each other that functions as if they're also addressing an unspoken question from off camera. It's surprisingly compelling since both artists are interesting and vastly contrasting people to observe. There are two notable breaks from verite, however. Cutie and the Boxer also grabs snippets from previous documentaries on Ushio as well as the couple's home videos and family photographs. The previous Ushio docs reveal the creative side of the couple while the personal videos and photos reveal a home life that's precarious and recklessly bohemian. Their son pops in and out of the film, and he seems extremely withdrawn and private. He's also working on art like his parents. The most fascinating break from verite, however, comes from animated versions of Noriko's Cutie and Bullie series, which is everything that needs to be known about the contours of this relationship told through art. Noriko succinctly identifies the difficulties of two creative people in the same field being in a relationship together: it's like two flowers in the same pot. In order to flourish, each artists will need their own sense of space and identity, but when two artists share so much time together and so much space, there's the possibility of stifling the other person, whether it's intentional or not. One half of the couple may be more successful than the other, or may feel jealousy over a lack of recognition; sometimes artistic identities get mixed or dominated. If they had enough money and enough fame, maybe two separate flowers would be okay in such close proximity, but being an artist in New York isn't easy, and it isn't getting any easier either. Given her own experience moving to New York and essentially supporting Ushio for a time, it makes sense that Noriko would make this observation about a single pot and two plants. She's much younger than he is, and she even put her art career on hold in order to raise their son. Ushio's roots were allowed to take up a lot of soil, and Noriko had to tend to his business rather than allow herself to grow. She's tolerated this with such grace, but there is understandable frustration to her grace, which might be why her Cutie and Bullie series is so rife with emotion and so compelling. I think this just points to another reason why my poet friend never wanted to date or marry another writer. It's nice for a person to be able to have a pot of one's own and to be financially self-sufficient as well. It's hard enough being one struggling artist in a relationship. Two struggling artists can be misery; not just struggling but starving. One home video of a drunk Ushio reveals the suffering of the artist and the noble absurdity of the struggling creative-type: there is greatness in the work, there is acclaim for the work, but behind all that greatness is just the penniless creator and the anxiety of rent and groceries looming over the hungover dawn. But at least there's Noriko. Despite their differences and whatever effects their relationship had on Noriko's work, there's something to these experiences that have allowed them both to come into their own as artists and as people. Ushio could continue to be Ushio, and even aspire to open new facets of himself. Noriko was always herself, and though she may have been in the shadow of Ushio, it's there in the shade that she found her voice and her own artistic identity. Somehow we've gotten to know each of them, as if throughout the film some subtle narrative structure developed simply by observation. The little interactions flesh out the full story of this fascinating relationship. As Ushio and Noriko prepare for a new gallery show, Ushio discusses titles and how he doesn't want anything pretentious. Instead, he looks for inspiration in an issue of Jack Kirby's Devil Dinosuar, and there he finds the name. It's a bestial one, it's primal, it's what he's all about. Noriko gets a say in the name as well, and, like their relationship, what she adds to it is wholly her own. It's difficult for two flowers to share the same pot, but it's miraculous when they cause each other to bloom.
Cutie and Boxer Review photo
The mighty roar of artists Ushio & Noriko Shinohara
A friend of mine who's a poet once told me that she'd never date another writer. If I remember the conversation right, it had a lot to do with sharing too many neuroses and concerns with someone, which would become intolerabl...

Review: Zipper: Coney Island's Last Wild Ride

Aug 08 // Hubert Vigilla
[embed]213612:39121[/embed] Zipper (Zipper: Coney Island's Last Wild Ride)Director: Amy NicholsonRating: NRRelease Date: August 9th, 2013 (New York, IFC Center) Old-timers will tell ya that every plank on the boardwalk has a story to tell and a secret name. This is in fact untrue. It's just dead wood after all. -- Colson Whitehead, The Colossus of New York Coney Island was called a people's paradise. I don't know if it's thought of that way anymore. It's one of those unique junctions where city meets water; home of freaks and geeks and performers, lots of gangs (no surprise that The Warriors staked a claim there), and normal folks who could schlep to the beach on weekends to get away for a little bit. My own experiences with Coney Island are few since I'm not much of a beach person, but a lot of my artist friends have strong ties to it. These haunts seem lived-in and more authentically New York in that odd way that, true or not, places like sponges absorb history -- the old New York read about, the idea of New York dreamed about, the New York of romance and punk rock and Basquiat, anything but the New York now. Over the last few years, city officials and real estate developer Joe Sitt have been altering Coney Island. They want to turn it into, essentially, a mini-Six Flags and shopping mall. The goal is to have an amusement park and condos and luxury hotels down at the old site. Everything old will get swept away. Sitt has the blessing of the city government, but not of the locals. With the recent devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy, it's hard to say if these plans are being reconsidered. What Sandy did accomplish, however, was hasten the slow and unfortunate decline of Coney Island as Coney Island. By the time I moved to New York, Astroland was gone. Other pieces disappeared bit by bit since. Nicholson frames her film around a particular ride at first. It's called The Zipper. It flips, it spins, it rotates, and it shakes the shit and the change out of every hapless rider. There's video of some people on The Zipper. A few seem elated and in the throes of some joyful abandon. Others seem like they're about to faint from fright. One young woman is convinced that she's going to die. Like many other attractions at Coney Island, The Zipper is no more, dismantled and shipped off to Honduras in 2007. The target for the most contempt in Zipper is Sitt himself. He's a Brooklyn guy, born and raised, and insists in a weasely tone that he has Coney Island's best interests in mind. He even has a shirt to prove it. His real estate company, Thor Equities, bought up most of the lots in Coney Island in order to develop his "amusement park concept." It's the garish mediocrity of Times Square transplanted to Coney Island with just a touch of Atlantic City. That amusement park concept bleeds every last ounce of personality from Coney Island. In its place, you'll get your Cold Stone, your Outback Steakhouse, an indoor water park, and a Build-A-Bear-Workshop. It's amazing the amount of cheery, clueless candor Nicholson's able to capture on film. It's documentaries like Zipper that make me wonder if the subjects who are interviewed ever realize how they're portraying themselves. Most of the time, the interviewees that seem the most delighted in their own work are the people who are the most awful to everyone else. Is that a reflection of their actual lack of self-consciousness, or is it the disarming effect of a camera? Do they not realize that documentarians are, if they want to be, both filmmakers and independent journalists? The rat fink-quality of some of the interview subjects (mostly the politicians) is a counterpoint to the Coney Island locals. Eddie Miranda, owner/operator of The Zipper, and his crew are Coney through and through. They don't have shirts to prove it like Sitt, but that's because a stupid shirt proves nothing. They've lived and worked in the area for decades. Stories are shared about rides and the changing face of the landscape. There's a sadness and an anger given what's happening to Coney Island, but there's also a kind of resignation. It's pretty remarkable how well Zipper holds attention since it's a movie that's full of zoning law issues. Nicholson comes at this all as a curious layperson, which actually helps break down the different twists of the real estate deal as they occurred. (Though I'm still not quite sure what happened, as if I was the victim of some strange con.) It's a confusing story rendered in simple terms, both in the film's use of graphics and diagrams and in its choice of archival footage. We watch the acreage for the new park keep shrinking and shrinking, and irritation grows in response. To recapture a sense of the Coney Island of old, the news clippings shown on screen are displayed with the shift and jitter of a microfiche reader. As the vote on Coney Island's fate looms, we watch the community express its outrage. Lots of young transplants are equally pissed, and that might be because they want to rediscover the spirit of New York's past. (There's a larger conversation in this about some New York transplants recreating old scenes and old movements rather than inventing their our spaces and own movements, but that's too big a topic for here.) I wondered: if death is an inevitability for a person, is death also an inevitability for a place? If the last shot of Zipper before the credits is any indication, the answer is probably yes. It's a haunting image but so simple. It's why so many people longed to hold onto it just a bit more and a bit longer; it's the reason that so many people write about place. But does it need to be death for a place necessarily? Maybe it's just change -- sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. If the city and Sitt get their way eventually (we'll have to see what happens once there's a set plan post-Sandy), it seems for the worse. What will it mean for Coney Island residents, many of whom are still trying to get their lives back in order? What will it mean for a city that's constantly battling between assertions of authentic identity and its need to appeal to feckless-yet-moneyed tourists? And, I think it's worth asking, how will Zipper play outside of New York to someone not familiar with Coney Island? To that last question -- the only one I can answer -- I think the movie won't have quite the same resonance since it's so New York, even to transplants like me. (Nicholson's a transplant as well, from Maryland, if I remember right.) But it's a bit of a love letter and goodbye letter, and those are personal things, not always social ones. Zipper is just one of many eulogies for Coney Island, whose days as we know it ended a few years ago, and to many, invisibly. Like Colson Whitehead wrote at the end of his Coney Island chapter in The Colossus of New York: Punchdrunk on the view, tide-tossed and beaten, staggering between what is and what could be. Why doesn't the ref do something. It's a massacre. Close your eyes. Relax -- it will all be over before you know it. Alec Kubas-Meyer: When I was younger, there was a carnival that would periodically come and park itself on the lawn of my suburban town's high school. It was probably the most exciting thing to ever be in our town, and I remember going there pretty fondly. The most impressive attraction was the Zipper, a ride that I always admired but never went on. I don't think it was fear or anything; I think it was about the money. $5 for a ride was a lot, especially when nothing else was even close to that price, and I was worried that I would be on one of the cars that barely spins. So it didn't happen. The next time I see a Zipper, and hopefully there will be a next time, I will pay through the nose to go for a ride. The politics behind what the de(con)struction of the Coney Island that people older than me knew and loved are fascinating, and Zipper does a good job of giving a basic overview of what happened. I wouldn't call it a completely comprehensive or unbiased look at what happened, but it also never pretends to be. To her credit, director Amy Nicholson interviewed both sides of the issue, even if her film's juxtaposition of words about the grand future of Coney Island and the reality of the Zipper shutting down verges on Michael Moore levels of emotional manipulation. That juxtaposition is both the documentarian's greatest tool and greatest weapon, and it is used to considerable effect here. The credits rolled and I was angry at all of the people who let Coney Island be shrunk from 60 acres to 9. It's basically blasphemy, and to know that you just have ask the neighborhood's occasionally-difficult-to-understand residents. A little more context for the footage of the boardwalk, which shows the heyday and the more recent past with no real details about timing, would have been nice, but even without that, I found myself heavily invested in a ride which I hadn't even known existed until the film started playing. If that's not a sign of a good documentary, I don't know what is. 75 -- Good
Zipper Review photo
The disappearance of Coney Island's character; the people's paradise lost
When I was in grad school, a lot of my peers said that they wrote about place. By that they meant people's attachments to certain places, whether in personal terms (old houses, old hang outs) or in larger social terms (public...

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Trailer for CBGB looks like an awful made-for-TV movie


This ain't no party / This ain't no disco / This film ain't looking too good
Aug 08
// Hubert Vigilla
Here's our first look at CBGB, a film chronicling the birth of the hallowed rock venue in the grimy New York of the the 1970s. Shuttered in 2006, CBGB helped give a home to the punk and post-punk scenesters living in the cit...
Korea at MoMA photo
Korea at MoMA

"ContemporAsian: Focus on Korea" series playing at MoMA


Five films playing from August 5th through the 11th
Jul 26
// Alec Kubas-Meyer
During the second week of August, New York City's Museum of Modern Art, in association with The Korea Society, will be hosting a series of screenings of Korean films from the past few years. Titled "ContemporAsian: Focus on K...
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The show opens Friday, July 12th
A new art show kicks off this weekend at the Bottleneck Art Gallery in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. This one's called Where is My Mind, and it features more than 60 artists from all over the world creating their favorite trippy mo...

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NYC: See Bending Steel at Coney Island for free on 7/8


Check out a great doc on the art of the old-time strongman
Jul 05
// Hubert Vigilla
One of my favorite films from the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival was Bending Steel, a documentary on Chris Schoeck's quest to become an old-time strongman. At its core, Bending Steel is a remarkably moving film about a person fin...

New York Asian Film Festival makes a triumphant return

Jun 24 // Alec Kubas-Meyer
Walter Reade Theater Fri, June 281:30 THE BULLET VANISHES4:00 THE LADY AVENGER6:15 BEHIND THE CAMERA: WHY MR.E WENT TO HOLLYWOOD 9:00 TALES FROM THE DARK PART 1 Sat, June 291:00 THE LEGEND IS BORN: IP MAN3:35 THE BERLIN FILE6:35 A MUSE10:00 RIGODON Sun, June 301:00 BEHIND THE CAMERA: WHY MR. E WENT TO HOLLYWOOD3:45 ARAHAN6:30 IP MAN: THE FINAL FIGHT9:15 ENTER THE DRAGON Mon, July 11:00  ABERYA          3:20  THE UNJUST6:15  BLOODY TIE9:15 THE CONCUBINE Tue, July 21:00 CATNIP2:45 THE ANIMALS4:30 THE CHALLENGE OF THE LADY NINJA6:45 THE GREAT WAR9:15 HELTER SKELTER Wed, July 312:30 THE GREAT WAR3:00 CONFESSION OF MURDER           5:45  MYSTERY8:00  FENG SHUI10:20 COUNTDOWN Thu, July 41:00 YOUNG & DANGEROUS + YOUNG & DANGEROUS 25:30 THE LAST TYCOON8:15 GANGSTER Fri, July 512:15 JUVENILE OFFENDER      2:30 COMRADE KIM GOES FLYING4:45 FOREVER LOVE7:45 DRUG WAR10:05 A LIFE OF A NINJA11:59 THE FRIDGE Sat, July 61:00 TAIWAN BLACK MOVIES3:00 WOMAN REVENGER5:15 WHEN WOLF FALLS IN LOVE WITH A SHEEP7:30 NEVER TOO LATE TO REPENT10:00 HARDCORE COMEDY Sun, July 712:30 AN INACCURATE MEMOIR2:45 THE KIRISHIMA THING5:15 HOW TO USE GUYS WITH SECRET TIPS8:00 THE LAST SUPPER10:30 THE WARPED FOREST Mon, July 81:30 ON THE SOCIETY FILE OF SHANGHAI3:30 FOREVER LOVE6:15 DOUBLE XPOSURE8:30 LESSON OF THE EVIL Tue, July 912:15 WHEN A WOLF FALLS IN LOVE WITH A SHEEP2:15 THE PEACHTREE4:30 BEIJING BLUES9:45 THE COMPLEX Wed, July 101:00 THE LAST SUPPER3:30 THE FRIDGE5:45 VERY ORDINARY COUPLE8:15 COLD WAR10:25 THE ANIMALS Thu, July 111:00 MYSTERY 3:00 HOW TO USE GUYS WITH SECRET TIPS6:00 JUVENILE OFFENDER8:40 SECRETLY GREATLY Japan Society Thu, July 116:00 LESSON OF THE EVIL8:30 I’M FLASH!       Fri, July 126:00 BAD FILM9:00 HENTAI KAMEN Sat, July 1312:30 A STORY OF YONOSUKE3:45 DREAMS FOR SALE6:30 IT’S ME IT’S ME9:30 HELTER SKELTER Sun, July 1412:30 THE WARPED FOREST2:30 RUROUNI KENSHIN5:15 THERMAE ROMAE7:30 THE KIRISHIMA THING   Asia Society Mon, July 156:30 THE ROOFTOP   OPENING NIGHT PRESENTATION World Premiere TALES FROM THE DARK PART 1 (2013) 114m Directors: Fruit Chan, Lee Chi Ngai, Simon Yam Country: Hong Kong Based on Lilian Lee’s best-selling novel series, TALES FROM THE DARK PART 1 is comprised of three segments directed by Fruit Chan, Lee Chi Ngai, and actor Simon Yam in his directorial debut. One chilly night, veteran villain hitter Chu (Siu Yam Yam) meets an uncommon client, a pretty 20-ish girl (Dada Chan) who pays her to curse four villains without knowing their names. Mysteriously, the performance of each cursing ceremony delivers a gruesome death. The final victim, or villain, reveals a chilling, unbearable secret. CENTERPIECE PRESENTATION International Premiere SECRETLY GREATLY (2013) 123min Director: Jang Cheol-Soo Country: South Korea Based on the webtoon series, “Covertness,” SECRETLY GREATLY stars three of Korea’s hottest young TV stars (Kim Soo-Hyun, Lee Hyun-Woo, Park Ki-Woong) as a trio of elite North Korean sleeper agents who have lived undercover in South Korea for so long that they now believe their own cover stories as an average joe, a wannabe singer and a high school student. Finally they get their first mission: kill each other. If they don’t get the job done, Pyongyang will send a hit team to take care of things. GALA PRESENTATION World Premiere THE GREAT WAR (Director’s Cut) (2013) 97min Director: Yan Yan Mak Country: Hong Kong A surprisingly personal and revealing documentary about the concert battle between  legendary Cantopop band Grasshopper and hip hop duo Softhard. Directed by Yan Yan Mak (BUTTERFLY, MERRY-GO-ROUND) doesn't just fill out the running time with interviews and performance footage, but also shows the concert from the point of view of several audience members (including a Hong Kong legislative council member). With this, Mak takes the show beyond the entertainment industry bubble to show a broader perspective to convey what these pop culture events mean to the audience. Director Yan Yan Man will attend the screening, along with Grasshopper and Softhard! CLOSING NIGHT PRESENTATION North American Premiere THE ROOFTOP (2013) Director: Jay Chou Country: Taiwan Jay Chou (INITIAL D, Michel Gondry’s GREEN HORNET) is one of the most famous pop stars in Asia. THE ROOFTOP, marking Cho’s second film as director, following SECRET (2007), is a romance combining elements of martial arts and special effects in a musical extravaganza. It stars Chou alongside Eric Tsang, Wand Xueqi and Alan Ko in a story set in a fantasy world comprised of two distinctly contrasting communities and lifestyles. One group lives on rooftops, where they dance and sing every day, passing their days without a care in the world, while below them are the people living under the rooftops, who possess more money and power.   International Premiere ABERYA (2012) 110min Director: Christian Linaban Country: Philippines A Filipino-American boxer on a pleasure trip, a prostitute on a mission, a local drug dealer experimenting with time travel, and a social climber all cross paths in Cebu, the beautiful Philippine southern island, in this deliriously imagined occult superhero movie. International Premiere THE ANIMALS (2012) 80min Director: Gino M. Santos Country: Philippines Set in an ultra-luxe, gated community and marinated in money, this teen party movie is an indictment of the 1% that has the Philippines in a death grip. The film chronicles a day in the life of Jake, Trina, and Alex, who go through the musings that every kid in high school has to deal with. All Jake wants to do is have a good time, Alex just wants to fit in, and Trina simply wants more. A vivid picture of high school life after the final bell rings, as well as the other side of the Philippines class divide, and what its privileged children are up to. ARAHAN (2004) 114min Director: Ryoo Seung-Wan Country: South Korea A high-flying martial arts action date movie set in modern day Seoul. When a thief driving a motorcycle snatches a purse, the clumsy, naive and honest rookie policeman Sang-hwan runs after him—but martial arts specialist Eui Jin captures the criminal and Sang-hwan is severely injured. She brings him to her home, where the six Masters of Tao heal him and conclude that he has a powerful Qi, the spiritual energy of the universe, with the potential to become a powerful warrior. Sang-hwan begins his training to ascend to a Maruchi. Meanwhile, the evil and ambitious Heuk-woon is accidentally released from his prison and launches an attack on the masters, searching for a key that they protect, which would permit him to become an Arahan and dominate the world. When the masters are defeated, Sang-hwan and Eui-jin are mankind’s last hope. Ryoo Seung-Beom will attend the screening. North American Premiere BAD FILM (2012) 161min Director: Sion Sono Country: Japan Director Sion Sono (SUICIDE CLUB, COLD FISH) shot this art-house film in 1995 over the course of a year and starring members of Tokyo GAGAGA, a performance and activist collective he formed. Shot in Hi-8 format, this massive underground science fiction film focuses on a gang war in Tokyo that erupts when a Chinese gang threatens to take over Koenji Station. Sono shot over 150 hours of footage, but the release was delayed for financial reasons. Now, almost 20 years later, this legendary production has been re-edited to create a stunning work of art. Presented with Japan Cuts: The New York Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema U.S. Premiere BEHIND THE CAMERA: WHY MR. E WENT TO HOLLYWOOD (2012) 85min Director: E J-Yong Country: South Korea E J-Yong’s meta-movie centers on a group of Korea’s best film technicians and actors who have assembled in order to shoot a 10-minute smartphone promo, with some of the actors playing themselves and some playing other actors. Adding another meta-layer, E J-Yong plays himself directing them remotely via Skype. Preceded by JURY (2012) 24min Director: Kim Dong-Ho Country: South Korea Following a screening, a festival jury convenes to discuss the film, but find themselves at odds as disagreements arise and passions run high. Director E J-Yong will attend the screening. BEIJING BLUES (2012) 115min Directing: Gao Qunshu Country: China Playing an asthmatic, diabetic Beijing street cop dedicated to busting con artists, journalist-turned-actor Zhang Huiling is the heart of this run-and-gun style film that follows him through several cases — from a family who throw their kids in front of cars to extort money from the drivers, to a low level husband-and-wife money laundering scheme — set on the mean streets of Beijing. THE BERLIN FILE (2006) 117min Director: Ryoo Seung-Wan Country: South Korea Korea’s action auteur, Ryoo Seung-Wan, injects kinetic kicks into the old school cold war spy story with THE BERLIN FILE, a slam-bang action throw down that exchanges American/Soviet tensions for North Korean/South Korean geopolitical gamesmanship to deliver an espionage flick in the vein of John Le Carré, only with rather more dead bodies, broken arms, and sniper showdowns. The second-highest-grossing movie of the year in Korea, this box-office blockbuster is like a Korean installment in the Bourne franchise. BLOODY TIE (2012) 90min Director: Choi Ho Country: South Korea Hard-knuckled crime thriller in which corrupt detective who doesn’t play by the rules teams up with a small time meth dealer who fancies himself as more businessman than criminal in order to bring down the local drug kingpin responsible for the death of the cop’s former partner. Ryoo Seung-Beom will attend the screening. THE BULLET VANISHES (2012) 108min Director: Law Chi-leung Countries: Hong Kong/China This stylish, action-packed period thriller starring Hong Kong superstars Nick Tse and Lau Ching-wan pays homage to Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson as a 1930s-era detective duo investigate a series of strange murders in which “phantom bullets” seemingly vanish. The murders are committed in a bullet factory ruled by a vicious boss and his henchman, who force a female worker suspected of stealing to play Russian roulette, with tragic results. Could the murders be the work of a vengeful ghost? International Premiere CATNIP (2012) 74min Director: Kevin Dayrit Country: Philippines After it won “Best Short Film” at Sundance, Kevin Dayrit expanded his pocket-sized flick into a weirdly intimate, blood-soaked hyperactive friendship flick about two BFFs and the abusive dad who comes between them. Liv is an introvert at home, due to the overbearing and abusive obsessive compulsive behavior of her father, but relaxes and runs free once she is out from under his roof and in the company of Cieca, a quiet but jaded girl who scrutinizes the world around her. That is, until her father intervenes. THE CHALLENGE OF THE LADY NINJA (1982) 91min Director: Lee Tso-Nam Country: Taiwan This martial arts sexploitation film is about Lovely Lady Ninja Wong Siu Wai (Elsa Yeung) who has been in Japan training in the art of the ninjitsu. Able to fly, vanish in the blink of an eye, split into duplicate selves, and cause explosions of multicolored smoke, Siu-Wai dazzles her opponents by spinning out of her clothes and fighting in her pink bikini. Returning to China due to the death of her father, she discovers that her fiancée Lee Tung (Chen Kuan-Tai) is to blame. She gathers a gang of sexy female warriors, and puts them through some rigorous ninjitsu training before leading a rebellion against rock transvestite samurai warriors in miniskirts and go-go boots. New York Premiere COLD WAR (2012) 102min Directors: Longman Leung, Sunny Luk Country: Hong Kong COLD WAR was a 2012 box office hit in Asia and swept the Hong Kong Film Awards winning Best Film, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actor, and Best New Performer. This cop thriller stars Aaron Kwok as a senior officer and Tony Leung Ka Fai as a deputy police commissioner whose rivalry leads to a struggle over the running of an operation to rescue officers who have been taken hostage. North American Premiere THE COMPLEX (2013) 106min Director: Hideo Nakata Country: Japan Hideo Nakata (who kicked off modern J-horror with THE RING) breathes new life into the genre with what starts out as a bright and cheerful family drama before soon putrefying into something much softer, wetter, and darker. Starring Japanese megastar Atsuko Maeda (lead singer of the enormously popular group, AKB48) as a shy high-schooler who moves into a haunted housing complex with her family and slowly becomes tormented by apparitions and visions of her own tragic past. North American Premiere THE CONCUBINE (2012) 122min Director: Kim Dae-Seung Country: South Korea Set in the Joseon Dynasty, THE CONCUBINE focuses its steamy story on Hwa-Yeon, a young girl forced to become a concubine to the king who becomes involved in a love triangle between Kwon-yoo, a man torn between love and revenge, and King Seong-won, who has his heart set on Hwa-yeon despite the countless women available to him. New York Premiere COMRADE KIM GOES FLYING (2013) 81min Directors: Kim Gwang-Hun, Nicholas Bonner, Anja Daelemans Countries: Belgium/U.K./North Korea Girl power North Korean style! This fun Technicolor tale follows the exploits of a young female miner who has long held an ambition of becoming an acrobat. When she travels to Pyongyang to work on a construction project, a trip to the circus both reawakens her desire and gives her an opportunity to finally pursue her dream. North American Premiere CONFESSION OF MURDER (2012) 119min Director: Jeong Byeong-Gil Country: Korea From the director of the hit NYAFF documentary ACTION BOYS (about the tough lives of stuntmen in the Korean film biz), comes this thriller filled with adrenalizing set pieces in the vein of THE CHASER. A punch-drunk cop has to figure out the truth when a media-ready stud comes forward with a book claiming he murdered 10 women years ago. The catch? He can’t be prosecuted because the statute of limitations has expired. North American Premiere COUNTDOWN (2012) 91min Director: Nattawat Poonpiriya Country: Thailand An acclaimed Thai horror movie about three Thai hipsters in New York City who make a big mistake when they call an evil American drug dealer named Jesus to provide their needs for a New Year’s Eve party. Along with the drugs, Jesus sets up a mind game involving violence and torture as the clock counts down to the New Year. North American Premiere DOUBLE XPOSURE (Director’s Cut) (2012) 105min Director: Li Yu Country: China In their follow up to BUDDHA MOUNTAIN, Li Yu, one of China’s only female directors, and megastar Fan Bingbing team up again with this psychological thriller that turned into one of China’s major blockbusters of 2012. When Song Qi stumbles upon her boyfriend's affair with her best friend, the ensuing confrontation between the two women winds up with her friend killed in an accident. However, when the investigation following her “confession” to the police reveals that all is not as it seems, Song Qi is forced to embark on a twisted journey into her past and the very depths of her own mind. New York Premiere DREAMS FOR SALE (2012) 137min Director: Miwa Nishikawa Country: Japan When Satoko and Kanya’s restaurant burns to the ground, the couple decides to start exploiting Satoko’s talent for wooing women and begin promising matrimony to lonely ladies before scamming them out of all their cash. As they work their way through Japan’s lonely-hearts population events begin to take a toll on their marriage and their souls. Presented with Japan Cuts: The New York Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema New York Premiere DRUG WAR (2013) 105min Director: Johnnie To Countries: China/Hong Kong Hong Kong’s master filmmaker Johnnie To has navigated the perilous waters of Chinese film censorship to deliver his first Mainland Chinese crime film. After drug cartel head Ming (Louis Koo) is arrested during a raid, he's persuaded to take part in an undercover operation to take down his own gang in exchange for a reduced prison sentence. Setting up business meetings with his fellow crime bosses in order to intercept major drug and money transactions and arrest those involved, the gangster sets about betraying his former accomplices one by one. New York Premiere EUNGYO (A MUSE) (2012) 129min Director: Jung Ji-Woo Country: Korea A scandalous success based on Park Bum-shin’s novel Eun-gyo, about an aging poet laureate (Park Hae-il) and his assistant and protégé who become romantically involved in a triangle with an enigmatic 17-year-old girl (Kim Go-Eun). Chung’s film earned numerous accolades including Best Film at the Buil Film Awards, as well as eight Best New Actress awards (including the Buil Film Awards, Grand Bell, Busan, KOFRA and the Korean Association of Film Critics Awards) for Kim Go-Eun’s performance. Director Jung Ji-Woo and Kim Go-Eun will attend the screening. ENTER THE DRAGON (1973) 98min Director: Robert Clouse Countries: USA/Hong Kong The legendary martial arts crossover hit that cemented Bruce Lee as an enduring international cinema icon, Robert Clouse’s ENTER THE DRAGON stars Lee as a martial artist who agrees to attend a kung fu tournament in order to spy on the tournament’s host, a reclusive crime lord with ambitions to expand his operation. Warner Brothers and the New York Asian Film Festival are teaming up to present the screening along with a panel discussion on the relationship between Kung Fu and Hip Hop culture featuring Hong Kong's MC Yan (LMF) and Hip Hop pioneer and fine artist Fab 5 Freddy, and the NOrth American debut/opening of a body of work recently exhibited in Hong Kong and Shanghai, "Kung-Fu Wild Style", featuring Bruce Lee inspired post-graffiti paintings by the two artists. Fab 5 Freddy and MC Yan will attend the screening. ENTER THE DRAGON 40th Anniversary Ultimate Collector’s Edition giftset from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will be available June 11 on Blu-ray™ New York Premiere FENG SHUI (2012) 117min Director: Wang Jing Country: China One of the most acclaimed movies to come out of China last year, FENG SHUI harnesses the talents of underrated actress Yan Bingyan to deliver this family drama about a woman desperate to ascend to the middle class and willing to pay any price. Powerful and emotionally tense this is a portrait of the hidden side of the great Chinese success story. North American Premiere FOREVER LOVE (2013) 124min Directors: Aozaru Shiao, Kitamura Toyoharu Country: Taiwan As light and frothy as a bottle of champagne, FOREVER LOVE is the hit Taiwanese film about the local film industry in the late 60’s when movies were cheap, stars were gods, and spies, giant monsters, and flying swordsmen crossed paths every day during lunch. A giddy, nostalgic, really funny joyride through the history of Taiwanese film. Director Aozaru Shiao will attend the screening. North American Premiere THE FRIDGE (2012) 90min Director: Rico Maria Ilarde Country: Philippines Never before has a haunted appliance had this many tentacles and craved this much human blood. A successor to the iconic horror short, PRIDYIDER that launched the Filipino horror anthology film SHAKE, RATTLE & ROLL (1984), horror director Rico Maria Ilarde offers up a gleeful, gory, sexy horror movie about an evil refrigerator that terrorizes a young woman. North American Premiere GANGSTER (2012) 102min Director: Kongkiat Khomsiri Country: Thailand Thailand’s answer to GOODFELLAS, GANGSTER is a fact-based tale with documentary segments in which old-timers are interviewed and talk about the young gangsters of 1950s and ’60s Thailand. The film focuses on Jod, a gangster who has been sent to jail following the military coup, which brings new order to the streets. In their neighborhood, a uniformed officer named Neung rules like a dictator and is a frequent thorn in the side of Jod’s gang. When he emerges from prison, Jod is a changed man, now determined to set things right. But, knowing no other life, he returns to his old gangster ways with his old crew. World Premiere HARDCORE COMEDY (2013) 92min Directors: Henri Wong, Chong Siu Wing, Andy Lo Country: Hong Kong There’s something for everyone in this raunchy, over-the-top post-VULGARIA three-part omnibus. It’s the ultimate genre mash-up, a heady and hilarious brew of action-packed superhero exploits, obscene erotica, psychedelic narcotics, heart warming romance, cross dressing, mobster vendettas, plus insane car stunts! Turtles! Iced tea! A dance extravaganza! Coming soon!—you get the idea. Dada Chan will attend the screening. New York Premiere HELTER SKELTER (2012) 127min Director: Mika Ninagawa Country: Japan One of Japan’s most popular photographers, Mika Ninagawa, and its most controversial young star, Erika Sawajiri, team up to deliver a plastic surgery horror movie that’ll make your skin crawl. Lilico (Erika Sawajiri) is a monstrous Lady Gaga-esque singer and actress obsessed with her own young body, eating up employees, and existing on a diet of flashbulbs. Constructed almost entirely of plastic surgery, she requires occasional “top ups” but they’re not working anymore and her face and body are slowly turning as black and rotten as bruised fruit. Presented with Japan Cuts: The New York Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema North American Premiere HENTAI KAMEN: FORBIDDEN SUPERHERO (2013) 127min Director: Yuichi Fukada Country: Japan Kyosuke is the star of his high school martial arts club, but when he indulges in his passion for wearing women’s underwear he becomes the panty-masked superhero Hentai Kamen. Based on a wildly popular manga series, Hentai Kamen may not be the hero we deserve, but he’s the hero we need. Presented with Japan Cuts: The New York Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema North American Premiere HOW TO USE GUYS WITH SECRET TIPS (2013) 114min Director: Lee Won-suk Country: South Korea Half romcom, half satire of the Korean film industry, this wacky and charming tale follows an overworked woman's attempt to improve her relationship with men, by relying on a self-help video. Preceded by ONE PERFECT DAY (2013) 34min Director: Kim Jee-woon Country: South Korea Fresh off from directing Arnold Schwarzenegger in THE LAST STAND, Kim Jee-woon tries his hand at romantic comedy in this tale of a hapless young man who stumbles through a number of terrible blind dates before finding someone who might be his Mrs. Right. Director Lee Won-suk will attend the screening. U.S. Premiere I’M FLASH (2012) 91min Director: Toshiaki Toyoda Country: Japan Toshiaki Toyoda has been an NYAFF favorite with flicks like his samurai dream, BLOOD OF REBIRTH, and his Unabomber biopic MONSTER”S CLUB, but now he returns to his pulp roots to deliver a sunbaked gangster flick about a cute young cult leader who hides from the press after a car wreck on an isolated island with only his three bodyguards for company. Director Toshiaki Toyoda will attend the screening. Presented with Japan Cuts: The New York Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema North American Premiere AN INACCURATE MEMOIR (2012) 105min Director: Leon Yang Country: China One part Chinese Western, one part black comedy, and one part war movie, AN INACCURATE MEMOIR is about an anti-Japanese resistance fighter who infiltrates a gang of bandits to enlist their help in assassinating a Japanese prince due in town at any minute. But though the bandits, a mix of horny men and greedy women, may be crack fighters, they’d rather go whoring and stuff themselves with lavish meals than liberate China. North American Premiere IP MAN: THE FINAL FIGHT (2013) 102MIN Director: Herman Yau Country: Hong Kong Director Herman Yau teams up with his favorite actor, Anthony Wong (UNTOLD STORY, EBOLA SYNDROME), to deliver a slyly subversive send-up of the current craze for Ip Man movies. Packed with some of Hong Kong’s best stars of the 80’s and 90’s including Eric Tsang, Ken Lo (DRUNKEN MASTER), and Xiong Xin-xin (THE BLADE, ONCE UPON A TIME IN CHINA 3), this Ip Man movie is not just an action flick but a love letter to Hong Kong’s volatile history of political protest. Director Herman Yau and screenwriter Erica Li will attend the screening. North American Premiere IT'S ME IT'S ME (2013) 123min Director: Satoshi Miki Country: Japan Somewhere between Magritte, Kafka, Spike Jonze and Charlie Kaufman, Satoshi Miki's (ADRIFT IN TOKYO) surrealist tale of Hitoshi, a young electronics store clerk with a case of multiple personality disorder (played by pop star Kazuya Kamenashi of the band Kat-Tun) boldly goes where no black comedy has gone before. After picking up a cellphone left behind by a customer, he undertakes a popular scam: he calls the person's mother and with the open-sesame magic formula "It's me! It's me!" poses as her son, easily talking the mom into transferring cash to his own depleted bank account. North American Premiere JUVENILE OFFENDER (2012) 107min Director: Kang Yi-Kwan Country: Korea 16-year-old Jang Ji-Gu takes care of his ill grandfather, while he hangs out with other troubled kids. Abandoned by his parents at an early age, he is sent to a detention center following a run-in with the law—where he hears that his estranged mother Hyo-Seung, who gave him up soon after his birth, has come for him. Can they repair their relationship? Preceded by DAY TRIP (2012) 18min Directors: Park Chan-Wook, Park Chan-Kyung Country: South Korea A master and his student visit a mountain to practice pansori (a genre of traditional Korean music) following a music competition that left the student disappointed in his performance. New York Premiere THE KIRISHIMA THING (2012) 103min Director: Daihachi Yoshida Country: Japan When high school star athlete and all-around golden boy Kirishima drops out of the volleyball team and disappears, his fellow students try to figure out what his motivations and whereabouts could be, and uncomfortably take stock of their own place in the school’s social structure. A careful examination of the power struggles, class warfare, social angst, and drama of an entire high school as seen through the lens of Kirishima’s absence. THE LADY AVENGER (1981) 91min Director: Yang Chia-yun Country: Taiwan Yang Chia-yun is one of the only female directors of Taiwan’s notorious Black Movies, and so it makes sense that her best film is this intense rape-revenge shocker. When a reporter is gang-raped she decides her only option is an eye for an eye and so, one by one, she kills her rapists by bear trap, by knife, by blowtorch, and by meat hook. U.S. Premiere THE LAST SUPPER (2012) 115min Director: Lu Chuan Countries: China/Hong Kong/Taiwan As the first Han Emperor dies in 300 BC, his life flashes before his eyes in a splintered kaleidoscope of battle, betrayal, loves sold out, and romances sold short. Lu Chuan (THE CITY OF LIFE AND DEATH, KEKEXILI) is one of China’s rising star directors and THE LAST SUPPER is his best yet, telling the story of the Han Dynasty in the form of an epic fever dream. North American Premiere THE LAST TYCOON (2012) 119min Director: Wong Jing Countries: Hong Kong/China Chow Yun-fat stars as real-life criminal Du Yuesheng (whose history has been officially banned as an object of study by the Chinese government), a criminal godfather who shot like a meteor through Shanghai’s underworld, and was a major financial backer of the Kuomintang in their fight against Mao and his Communist rebels. Producer and cinematographer Andrew Lau will attend the screening. THE LEGEND IS BORN: IP MAN (2010) 100min Director: Herman Yau Country: Hong Kong Wilson Yip’s Ip Man movies starring Donnie Yen were such big hits that Herman Yau decided it was time to make one of his own, and to do so he enlisted some of Hong Kong’s greatest martial artists. With action choreography by the mighty Bruce Leung (GALLANTS) and starring Sammo Hung, his opera-school brother Yuen Biao, the first Ip Man movie’s Fan Siu-wong, and Ip Man’s actual son, Ip Chun, this movie will leave you bruised, battered, and begging for more. Herman Yau will attend the screening. New York Premiere LESSON OF THE EVIL (2012) 129min Director: Takashi Miike Country: Japan After making films like samurai epics 13 ASSASSINS and HARA KIRI and the children’s film NINJA KIDS!, Takashi Miike returns to familiar territory with LESSON OF THE EVIL, based on a best-selling horror novel. Clean-cut pop star Hideaki Ito plays Mr. Hasumi, a young, popular, good-looking teacher at an elite high school. While he’s beloved by his students and popular with pretty much everyone, Mr. Hasumi has a dark secret past and homicidal urges that can’t be contained. A LIFE OF NINJA (1983) 88min Director: Lee Tso-nam Country: Taiwan Someone is employing ninjas in an attempt to kill miserly and womanizing businessman Chan Ming Fu, and there is no shortage of people with a motive—his wife and sister-in-law both detest him, for starters. The police recruit Kendo teacher and former ninja Chow to protect Chan, but easier said than done. North American Premiere MYSTERY (2012) 95min Director: Lou Ye Countries: China/France China’s acclaimed art house director Lou Ye makes a welcome comeback in the Chinese film industry after being banned for almost five years. All about a middle class marriage that implodes in a collision of sex, murder, infidelity, and vehicular mayhem, MYSTERY won Best Film at the Asian Film Awards. NEVER TOO LATE TO REPENT (aka THE FIRST ERROR STEP) (1979) 96min Director: Tsai Yang-Ming Country: Taiwan A surprise hit at the Taiwanese box office, which was at the time dominated by period martial arts flicks and sentimental romances, Tsai’s film launched Taiwan’s Black Movies trend, which saw innumerable hard-boiled exploitation movies hitting screens between 1979 and 1983. This stark true-crime film is the proud parent to them all. Director Tsai Yang-ming will attend the screening. North American Premiere THE PEACH TREE (2012) 106min Director: Ku Hye-Sun Country: Korea Multi-talented actor, artist, writer, director, and musician Ku Hye-Sun (her Korean nickname is “Ku-onardo DaVinci” due to her wide-ranging interests) has created a romantic-and bloody-fairy tale about a guy with two heads, trying to find his place in the world. International Premiere RIGODON (2012) 91min Director: Erik Matti Country: Philippines Taking its title from a formal Filipino dance, Erik Matti’s realistically-observed, sympathetically acted, and appropriately raunchy film centers on a love triangle, involving a reality TV star, the girl he falls in love with, and his wife. Preceded by VESUVIUS (2012) 10min Director: Erik Matti Country: Philippines A timid man’s mundane life takes a turn when he is visited by a vision of the Virgin Mary. New York Premiere RUROUNI KENSHIN (2012) 134min Director: Keishi Otomo Country: Japan Japan’s number one box-office hit of 2012, this live-action adaptation of a manga about a Meiji era assassin who leaves his life behind to become a protector of the common man has sold 55 million copies as a manga, and spawned several wildly popular animated adaptations. And it’s one hell of a sword-fighting movie. Presented with Japan Cuts: The New York Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema North American Premiere A STORY OF YONOSUKE (2013) 160min Director: Shuichi Okita Country: Japan Yonosuke arrives at university in the late 80’s when Japan was booming and the economy was raining cash. Hopelessly naive, and hopelessly self-confident, he comes to the big city and annoys everyone. But slowly he finds a group of friends and then the movie jumps forward 20 years and then…to tell any more would ruin the surprise, but this is a heartfelt movie that sings the song of the seeming loser. Presented with Japan Cuts: The New York Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema U.S. Premiere TAIWAN BLACK MOVIES (2005) 60min Director: Hou Chi-Jan Country: Taiwan A long lost era of filmmaking was rediscovered and preserved by this documentary, the result of a longtime labor of love that began when the director found a stack of discarded VHS tapes in the Taiwan Film Archive. Director Hou Chi-jan will attend the screening New York Premiere THERMAE ROMAE (2012) 108min Director: Hideki Takeuchi Country: Japan “An Epic Bath Extravaganza!” Based on a manga series that’s sold 5 million copies and spawned a TV show, it’s all about an ancient Roman bath designer who time travels to contemporary Japan and finds new inspiration in Japan’s modern day public baths. Five million very clean Japanese people can’t be wrong. Presented with Japan Cuts: The New York Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema THE UNJUST (2011) 119min Director: Ryoo Seung-Wan Country: South Korea This sprawling corruption epic is the kind of movie Sidney Lumet would have made if he had been Korean. After the rape and murder of five elementary schoolgirls, the police have still failed to apprehend the serial killer. After a suspect is shot dead—with no conclusive proof of his guilt—the country's president intervenes and adds to the pressure on the police to solve the case. Choi Cheol-gi, a brilliant but sidelined detective, is assigned to the investigation and promised a promotion if he can get the police force off the hook by closing the case. Choi enlists the help of crooked businessman Jang Seok-gu to frame another suspect as the killer. However, they are being secretly monitored by Joo Yang, a Seoul District public prosecutor in the pocket of a business rival of Jang’s. Ryoo Seung-Beom will attend the screening. International Premiere VERY ORDINARY COUPLE (2013) 112min Director: Roh Deok Country: South Korea A big Korean box-office hit of 2013, marking the debut of Roh Deok, one of Korea’s few female directors, this precision-tooled romantic comedy focuses on a couple who have tried to keep their relationship a secret at the bank where they work, but declare all out war on each other after they break up. North American Premiere THE WARPED FOREST (2011) 82min Director: Shunichiro Miki Country: Japan Six years ago, directors Shunichiro Miki, Katsuhito Ishii, and Hajime Ishimine teamed up to deliver FUNKY FOREST: THE FIRST CONTACT. Now Shunichiro Miki, flying solo this time, is back with the tale of a giant shop-girl who can barely fit in her store, a weird green pod in every bedroom, and terrifying wood nymphs who provide a heartbroken woman with the anatomically correct fruit everyone seems to covet. New York Premiere WHEN A WOLF FALLS IN LOVE WITH A SHEEP (2012) 85min Director: Hou Chi-jan Country: Taiwan Kai Ko, the star of one of last year’s audience favorites, YOU ARE THE APPLE OF MY EYE, tries to find the girl who dumped him in the wild world of Taiwan’s cram school district. Full of animated inserts, bizarre stylistic flourishes, and a hyperactive camera. Director Hou Chi-jan will attend the screening. WOMAN REVENGER (1981) 85min Director: Tsai Yang-Ming Country: Taiwan Another of Taiwan’s mondo revenge movies from the early 80’s, this brutal exploitation shocker features a gentle woman who turns into a bloodthirsty killer, bent on revenge against those who wronged her. A forgotten grindhouse classic, this dirty, pulpy brawler will have you ready to clean off the grime by the time the credits roll. Director Tsai Yang-ming will attend the screening. YOUNG & DANGEROUS 1 (1996) & 2 (1997) 90min each Director: Andrew Lau Country: Hong Kong YOUNG AND DANGEROUS isn’t a movie, it’s way of life—a series of 15 films (six movies, four prequels, three spin-offs, and two all-female versions, as well as a parody movie and a reboot) covering the life and times of the Hung Hing criminal triad and the bevy of studly young things who make up its members. The whole thing is the brainchild of Andrew Lau and Wong Jing and the first two movies are the kind of shot-on-the-run flicks that captured lightning in a bottle and became cultural sensations. When the first movie hit it big, director Lau wrote, shot, and released the second in just eight weeks. Director Andrew Lau will attend the screening.
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