NYAFF and Japan Cuts 2012 Flixist Awards and roundup


[For the month of July, we covered the New York Asian Film Festival and the (also New York-based) Japan Cuts Film Festival, which together form one of the largest showcases of Asian cinema in the world. For our specifically NYAFF coverage, head over here. For Japan Cuts, here.]

It’s all over. In the past month, we have written approximately 70,000 words (the length of an actual novel), spanning forty-seven reviews, five interviews, twelve news posts, and more. Looking back on that, those numbers are kind of incredible. The two of us saw and reviewed over half of the 80+ films showing between the New York Asian Film Festival and Japan Cuts. There were plenty of films we missed (some more regrettably than others), but nonetheless, we brought you some of the best damn coverage of those festivals on the entire internet.

Below you will find the official Flixist Awards, as well as a roundup of everything NYAFF/Japan Cuts related that we have done in the past month. In the gallery, you will find higher quality versions of the photographs that we have been putting in some of our posts, as well as new photos that we weren’t sure where to put (special thanks to Alex DiGiovanna from Movie Buzzers for taking the one above). Be sure to check them out!

Best NYAFF film Flixist award banner

Starry Starry Night Best film of NYAFF 2012

Starry Starry Night is bound to draw comparisons to Moonrise Kingdom since both movies are about young love — or, really, to riff on Harold Brodkey, first love and other sorrows. But Starry Starry Night delves deeper into those emotions of adolescent longing and connection, and it also takes a lot of visual risks in the process. Fantasy gets blended with reality to help show the interior life of Mei, which is all turmoil, fine art, fragility, and hope. Even simple gestures and the mere presence of someone you care about becomes the stuff that gives her the sense of flight. The result is a beautifully put together coming-of-age story that delves into what love means at an early age and how it clashes with the first taste of adult disenchantment. — Hubert Vigilla (Read his full review here!)

You Are the Apple of My Eye Runner Up Best NYAFF film 2012 Flixist Award

I almost didn’t see You Are the Apple of My Eye. It didn’t sound appealing to me, so I didn’t put it on my already-too-large list of things to watch. But then I read this blog post by the brilliant and wonderful Grady Hendrix, who is the reason we were able to cover last year’s NYAFF (and thus bring you this post). Grady said that he was iffy about You Are the Apple of My Eye for the same reason I was, but he gave it a try and it was brilliant. So I gave it a try, and I am incredibly glad that I did. Giddens Ko’s semi-autobiographical directorial debut is one hell of a film, and one of the best examples of why someone should never judge a book by it’s cover. — Alec Kubas-Meyer (Read his full review here!)

Best Japan Cuts film Flixist award banner

Ace Attorney - Best Japan Cuts film Flixist Award

I don’t know that I ever could have predicted this one. I knew that there was a chance that Ace Attorney could be good (or perhaps even great), but I was not prepared for how absolutely brilliant Takashi Miike’s adaptation of the absolutely brilliant videogames series Phoenix Wright. If you have played the first game, there won’t be too much new for you (although I’ll think you’ll like what new there is), but it’s handled in such a way that it doesn’t feel unnecessary. Those who haven’t played the game(s) are unlikely to enjoy it quite as much, but put them in with a crowd and they’re still have a blast. And then buy them a DS (they’re quite cheap nowadays) and the rest of the games in the series. They will thank you. — Alec Kubas-Meyer (Read his full review here!)

Rent-a-Cat Runner Up Best at Japan Cuts 2012

It certainly makes sense that a film called Rent-a-Cat would make me feel warm and fuzzy inside, but that’s not all Rent-a-Cat has going for it. Aside from the rampant cuteness, it has some enjoyable characters spouting even more enjoyable dialogue. The film runs a bit too long, which is why it’s the runner-up (although Ace Attorney could have done with some trimming as well), but it ended before I got too angry about its length. And I’m really glad about that, because it’s just so wonderful. I wish my cat didn’t hate me. — Alec Kubas-Meyer (Read his full review here!)

Best film destined to be a cult classic

Zombie Ass winner of future cult classic fucking Japan award

Zombie Ass is about as good as a movie called Zombie Ass can be. Noboru Iguchi slathers on a heaping helping of filth, but at least has the decency to not show someone pinching a loaf on camera. There’s still a fair amount of crap on screen, though it’s not the worst thing to come out of people’s butts in Zombie Ass. It’s cheap junk, it’s dirty junk, and it revels in gross-out humor and special effects. The finale is the stuff of a crazed 13-year-old’s fever dream — the kind of joke you’d tell in middle school brought to life in all its smelly glory. Whatever I say about the film is pretty much moot because if you want to see Zombie Ass you will see it regardless, and may the gods of good taste have mercy on our souls. — Hubert Vigilla (Read his full review here!)

Gyo runner up award for weirdest cult future class fucking Japan man award

In Gyo, smelly fish get robotic legs and overrun dry land, attacking anything in their path. But somehow, that’s not weird enough. The fish are also rank and farty, filling the screen with stink lines like some sort of flatulent Van Gogh. But that’s still not weird enough. In fact, Gyo goes to some very strange places, answering the rarely-asked question “What if H.P. Lovecraft was afraid of seafood and bad gas?” The film probably plays differently to those who’ve read the Junji Ito manga it’s based on, but having not read it myself, I got a kick out of the unpredictable trip that story goes on. It’d make a nice double-feature with Zombie Ass, and by “nice” I mean “what the fuck-y.” — Hubert Vigilla (Read his full review here!)

Best Film that's already a cult classic

Boxer's Omen winner of best cult film

Like many great cult movies, Boxer’s Omen is the sort of movie that renders criticism moot. Sure, it’s not that well put together and the story is a mess, but it’s full of enough crazy magic battles and bonkers imagery that traditional concerns of plot and storytelling don’t matter. It’s noteworthy for being a Shaw Brothers Studios sideshow from the 1980s. See a man eat entrails and puke them out! See an army of alligator skulls! See people eat other people’s food they just spat out! Witness gallons of odd bodily secretions! And stay for the finale which is a weirdo exclamation point to a weirdo sentence! — Hubert Vigilla (Read his full review here!)

Goke, Body Snatcher From Hell runner up for weirdest cult movie NYAFF 2012

Goke, Body Snatcher from Hell is basically a message film rife with Cold War paranoia and fears of the nuclear age. It has a lot in common with films like Matango and Children of the Damned in that sense. But even with its dire conclusion, preachiness never becomes an issue in Goke (a la Children of the Damned). I think that’s because it’s a brisk and stylish yarn full of odd imagery and equally odd characters — bombers, assassins, weasely politicians, and dumb American blondes. This is the sort of cult film that’s slightly campy yet legitimately good rather than so-bad-its-good. The cult designation is all about its under-the-radar status and the evangelical devotees. Count me among the converted. — Hubert Vigilla (Read his full review here!)

Biggest disappointment

Love Strikes! Most disappointing film of NYAFF and Japan Cuts 2012

Love Strikes! is a different kind of disappointment. Instead of falling short of any preconceived ideas of how the film might be, Love Strikes! fell short of how it made me think the film might be. The opening 30 minutes of Love Strikes! are fantastic, and they really pumped me up and had me excited. Then the rest of the film happened, and I was so angry with everybody involved in the production. There was so much promise in that 30 minutes, but the film does everything it can to undo the goodwill it gained from that, and it successfully undoes all of that goodwill. I still think those thirty minutes are worth watching, but I honestly don’t know how nobody involved in the production didn’t stop and say, “Hey wait a second… maybe we should make this terrible stuff more like that not-terrible stuff that we did before.” But apparently that happened, and the world is worse off because of it. — Alec Kubas-Meyer (Read his full review here!)

Golden Slumbers runner up most disappointing film at NYAFF 2012

Sometimes a documentary filmmaker needs to know when to get out of the way. In Golden Slumbers, director Davy Chou is always in the way. The subject matter is incredible: the 400 native films of Cambodia were wiped out by the Khmer Rouge, and the movie theaters of the country destroyed. Rather than showing us what survives of the country’s lost cinema culture, Chou lingers on the idea of what this absence means. There’s so much information that could have been shared, so many images that could have been shown, but instead we have a film all about the idea of Cambodian cinema rather than actual Cambodian cinema. It’s well made but the aim is way off; like No Man’s Zone, it’s a cautionary tale of intellectual pursuits obscuring the subject matter. — Hubert Vigilla (Read his full review here!)

Worst Film Flixist awards

Let's Make the Teacher Have a Miscarriage Club worst film of NYAFF and Japan Cuts 2012

Let’s Make the Teacher Have a Miscarriage Club‘s biggest crime is that it’s boring. The basic premise, a group of young girls try to give their teacher a miscarriage, should be enough to give the filmmakers some kind of creative spark, but there’s nothing there. Almost nothing happens, and the few things that do happen are laughable or completely nonsensical. Nobody is interesting, nobody is worth caring for, nothing matters. If a filmmaker can’t feel bad for a legitimately blameless character who has a group of young girls trying to give her a miscarriage, then that person needs to find a different job. — Alec Kubas-Meyer (Read his full review here!)

Hard Romanticker runner up worst film of NYAFF 2012

Hard Romanticker is just bad. Some parts are terrible (its treatment of women is particularly unpleasant) and some parts are halfway decent (a lot of the violence is well-done), but as a whole there isn’t a lot to redeem the film or make it worth watching. It’s a throwback to an old style of film that needn’t be thrown back to. I know that a lot of people enjoyed it, and I honestly have no idea how. As bad as it is, though, it’s not dull, which is why it rests firmly as our runner-up. — Alec Kubas-Meyer (Read his full review here!)

Everything else



Ushijima the Loan Shark – 73 (Good)

Rent-a-Cat – 87 (Exceptional) – Flixist Editor's Choice banner

Lonely Swallows – 65 (Decent)

No Man’s Zone – 40 (Sub-Par)

Toad’s Oil – 77 (Good)

9 Souls – 83 (Great) – Flixist Editor's Choice banner

Chronicle of My Mother – 79 (Good)

Zombie Ass – 70 (Good)


Tormented – 45 (Sub-par)

Tokyo Playboy Club – 70 (Good)

Hard Romanticker – 38 (Bad)

The Big Gun/Henge – 69 (Decent)

Let’s Make the Teacher Have a Miscarriage Club – 35 (Bad)

Smuggler – 50 (Average)

Gyo – 80 (Great)

Potechi (Chips) – 82 – Flixist Editor's Choice banner

Ace Attorney – 89 (Exceptional) – Flixist Editor's Choice banner

Monsters Club – 74 (Good)

Love Strikes! – 67 (Decent)

Asura – 60 (Decent)

Scabbard Samurai – 82 (Great) – Flixist Editor's Choice banner


Make Up – 70 (Good)

Golden Slumbers – 50 (Average)

Bloody Fight in Iron Rock Valley – 64 (Decent)

Dragon (Wu Xia) – 85 (Exceptional) – Flixist Editor's Choice banner

The Lost Bladesman – 79 (Good)

Doomsday Book – 79 (Good)

All About My Wife – 84 (Great) – Flixist Editor's Choice banner

Secret Love – 63 (Decent)

Sacrifice – 65 (Decent)

Nasi Lemak 2.0 – 68 (Decent)

Kill Zone (SPL: Sha Po Lang) – 82 (Great) – Flixist Editor's Choice banner

Starry Starry Night – 90 (Spectacular) – Flixist Editor's Choice banner

The King of Pigs – 50 (Average)

Guns N’ Roses – 81 (Great) – Flixist Editor's Choice banner

Honey Pupu – 40 (Sub-Par)

The Swift Knight – 74 (Good)

Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale – 78 (Good)

Goke, Body Snatcher from Hell – 80 (Great) – Flixist Editor's Choice banner

Boxer’s Omen – 70 (Good) – Flixist Editor's Choice banner

Couples – 86 (Exceptional) – Flixist Editor's Choice banner

Failan – 73 (Good)

You Are the Apple of My Eye – 89 (Exceptional) – Flixist Editor's Choice banner

The Sword Identity – 61 (Decent)

Nameless Gangster: Rules of the Time – 85 (Exceptional) – Flixist Editor's Choice banner

Vulgaria – 86 (Exceptional) – Flixist Editor's Choice banner

War of the Arrows – 78


Flixclusive Interview: Director Grandmaster Y.K. Kim

Flixclusive Interview: Yeun Sang-ho, The King of Pigs

Interview: Donnie Yen

Flixclusive Interview: Director Chung Chang-Wha

Flixclusive interview: Choi Min-sik


Actress Michelle Chen’s reception speech

Director Giddens Ko’s reception speech

Actor Choi Min-sik’s reception speech

Director Chung Chang-Wha’s reception speech


Flixclusive details on King of Pigs director’s next film

Donnie Yen on Monkey King, action in 3D, and Ip Man 3D

Choi Min-sik wants to work with, challenge Park Chan-wook

Choi Min-sik’s next film is like The Departed, he’s a cop

Choi Min-sik not seeing Spike Lee’s Oldboy, would cameo

NYAFF Midnight Movie: Miami Connection

NYAFF Midnight Movie: Dead Bite

NYAFF Special Screening: Iron Monkey

NYAFF Midnight Movie: Goke, Body Snatcher from Hell

NYAFF Midnight Movie: Boxer’s Omen

Hark again, for Japan Cuts 2012 likewise cometh

Hark, the 2012 New York Asian Film Festival is upon us