NYAFF and Japan Cuts 2013 Flixist Awards and Recap


Thoughts on the 2013 New York Asian and Japan Cuts Film Festivals - Flixist's Final Discussion

So here we are, the culmination of the past month of our Asian obsession. We did thirty reviews, three interviews, and a whole lot of other stuff. It was certainly a crazy time, but it was a lot of fun. Above is a video of Hubert and me on the final day of the festival talking about what we saw, what we thought, and whatever else. The actually conversation was about nine minutes longer, but I cut out some of the extraneous banter for the sake of time and relevance. Maybe down the line I’ll edit together some of that other stuff and put it up separately, because it was definitely interesting. 

But that’s beside the point. The point is that we’re done. Below you will find our festival awards as well as a full roundup of everything festival related that we’ve done. It’s kind crazy to think that all of that work can be compiled into a single (albeit large) box of text.

We hope you enjoyed our coverage. If there’s anything you’d like us to do in the future, more videos, more discussion reviews, or whatever, let us know. This is for you as much as it us for us, so we may as do it the way you want. Or try anyway.

I need a nap.

[During the past few weeks, we covered the 2013 New York Asian Film Festival and the 2013 Japan Cuts Film Festival, which together form one of the largest showcases of Asian cinema in the world. For our NYAFF 2013 coverage, click here. For Japan Cuts 2013 coverage, click here.]


How to Use Guys with Secret Tips

How to Use Guys with Secret Tips was something of a festival turning point for me. Up until that film, I’d been generally lukewarm on the films that I’d seen. Even the ones I thought were good or great didn’t really excite me the way many of the big films at NYAFF last year did. But when I sat down in that crowded theater and the film started, I was instantly in love and that love never waned. I had a great time in that theater, laughing along with the sometimes-hysterical crowd. From then on I could say, “Even if everything else is meh, at least I saw Secret Tips.” That made everything worth it. Alec Kubas-Meyer (Read his full review here!)

When a Wolf Falls in Love with a Sheep

Unexpected surprises are always nice, and When a Wolf Falls in Love with a Sheep was an unexpected surprise. It comes on so unassuming yet charming, and then winds up being quite moving by the end. Here’s a movie without any real villain or antagonists because it’s really about two kooky kids getting over their first exes that matter. There are touches of magical thinking and whimsy, but it never felt too mannered or too quirky. This is just how our heroes see the world. Director Hou Chi-Jan wound up with an earnest movie about the cuteness of young love that has a fine crescendo. — Hubert Vigilla (Read his full review here)

Japan Cuts

A Story of Yonosuke

Sometimes while running errands, something will make me think of someone I knew in college that I haven’t thought of in a long while. In a sense, that’s what A Story of Yonosuke is all about. People start remembering the title character and how he made little positive impressions on their lives simply by being himself (i.e., a well-meaning goofball). We only get to meet characters during their college years and roughly 20 years later, so what director Shuichi Okita provides is a sketch of lives but sketches well-rendered. There’s an undeniable brightness to the film, and while its 160-minute run time initially seemed daunting, I never felt bored. Instead, I was unexpectedly moved. — Hubert Vigilla (Read his full review here)

Rurouni Kenshin

I’m usually nervous about adaptations of my favorite properties, but for some reason I knew I would enjoy Rurouni Kenshin, even before the glowing recommendations from those who were at the first NYAFF screening. And oh how right I was. Creating a sort of parallel timeline that deviates from the source material in key ways, the film does what it needs to make a film worth everybody’s time rather than just something for the fans. Also, the action is awesome. I do wish there had been some more characterization of some of the major manga characters that were cut down for time, but with two sequels in production, there’s plenty of time for them to grow. I can’t wait. — Alec Kubas-Meyer (Read his full review here!)

Best Performance

Hiroshi Abe - Thermae Romae

Thermae Romae’s greatest strength is the way it plays its insanity totally straight. Nothing defines this more than Hiroshi Abe’s turn as the film’s protagonist, Lucius Modestus. His wide-eyed fascination at the conveniences of modern life is both convincing and hilarious. The way he battles the internal struggle between being Rome’s greatest bathhouse creator and a talentless hack stealing from the “flat-faced tribe” plays out perfectly in both his voiceover and his facial expressions, and everything is made better just because he’s there. I truly believed that a bidet made that grown man weep. A performance for the ages. — Alec Kubas-Meyer (Read Hubert’s full review here!)

Anthony Wong - Ip Man: The Final Fight

Anthony Wong has always been one of Hong Kong’s finest and most versatile actors, and he brings a lot of effortless grace and dignity to the Yip Man character in Ip Man: The Final Fight. He’s a surprisingly good fighter as well, all things considered. (It’s like Daniel Day-Lewis throwing down dressed like Abe Lincoln.) His humanistic performance is the real highlight of the film, which meanders a bit like most biopics do. Wong is the tethering point, and without him I don’t think the film would be all that good. — Hubert Vigilla (Read his full review here)

Cult Classic

Bad Film

As a film that should not exist, Bad Film fits nicely into the cult classic canon. Shot in 1995 on Hi-8 but not finished until last year, Sion Sono’s masterpiece is 161 minutes of terrible perfection. The atrocious video quality mixed with the ridiculous storyline and a cast of hundreds make for something that could never be made again. Its strangeness could have been its downfall, but it all just works, against all odds and logic. Anyone who gets the chance to experience it on a big screen must do so. Must. Because if you have the chance and lose it, the regret will haunt you until the day you die, and possibly even longer. — Alec Kubas-Meyer (Read his full non-review here!)

The Warped Forest

I mean, how much do I really need to say about this? The Warped Forest a totally insane pseudo-sequel to a film that’s already a cult hit, and there’s no way this one won’t follow in its footsteps. I mean, that gun up there has a penis in it. If that’s not cult classic material, I don’t know what is. — Alec Kubas-Meyer (Read his full review here!)

Worst Film

A Woman and War

My hatred for A Woman and War is well documented, and I hope that this is the last time I ever have to write about it. It which attempts to portray the horrors of war, a noble goal, but does so by being comprised of nothing but sex (mostly non-consensual) and painfully-blunt monologues. When I say it’s the second worst thing ever, I’m probably being facetious, but it truly is one of the worst “films” (if you want to call it that, I don’t) I have ever seen. If that makes you want to see it, you seriously need to reconsider your priorities. — Alec Kubas-Meyer (Read his full review here!)

Double Xposure

Let’s accentuate the positive first: Fan Bingbing pulls off a solid performance throughout Double Xposure and she is exceedingly hot; and the cinematography and score are beautiful too. The movie itself is a total mess, though. To be accurate, it’s initially intriguing as a story of jealousy, revenge, and guilt, but then there’s a major plot twist halfway through that undermines everything that’s come before. It’s like there are two movies there just jammed together without any regard for emotional continuity or feasibility. It did at least lead to a good discussion about the film with Alec, who had a different and more positive reaction. — Hubert Vigilla (Read Alec and Hubert’s discussion/reviews here)

Everything else



The Floating Castle – 74 (Good)

The Ravine of Goodbye79 (Good)

Fly with the Gold – 75 (Good)

A Woman and War – 9 (Repulsive)


It’s Me It’s Me – 77 (Good)

I’M FLASH! – 78 (Good)

The Warped Forest – 80 (Great) – Flixist Editor's Choice banner

Rurouni Kenshin – 86 (Exceptional) – Flixist Editor's Choice banner

Hentai Kamen: Forbidden Superhero – 69 (Decent)

Lesson of the Evil – 70 (Good)

Thermae Romae – 80 (Great) – Flixist Editor's Choice banner

A Story of Yonosuke – 86 (Exceptional) – Flixist Editor's Choice banner

Helter Skelter – 63 (Decent)


The Complex – 50 (Average) 

Secretly Greatly – 55 (Average) 

How to Use Guys with Secret Tips – 88 (Exceptional)Flixist Editor's Choice banner

Very Ordinary Couple – 84 (Great) – Flixist Editor's Choice banner

Hardcore Comedy – 70 (Good)

Double Xposure (Discussion Review) – 66 (Decent)

When a Wolf Falls in Love with a Sheep – 84 (Great) – Flixist Editor's Choice banner

Comrade Kim Goes Flying – 79 (Good)

Taiwan Black Movies – 70/79 (Good)

The Bullet Vanishes – 77 (Good)

Catnip – 40 (Subpar)

Eungyo (A Muse) – 78 (Good)

Confession of Murder – 73 (Good)

Behind the Camera: Why Mr. E Went to Hollywood – 83 (Great) – Flixist Editor's Choice banner

Tales from the Dark Part 1 – 73 (Good)

Ip Man: The Final Fight – 65 (Decent)

The Legend is Born: Ip Man – 65 (Decent)


Lee Won-Suk – Director of How to Use Guys with Secret Tips 

Dada Chan – Actress in Tales from the Dark and Hardcore Comedy

Jung Ji-Woo – Director of Eungyo (A Muse


Fly with the Golden Castle of Goodbye

It’s Me, Bad Forest!

A Woman and War is disgusting

Thermae Kirishima Romae

A Story of Dreams for Helter Skelter

Lesson of FLASH and Evil


Non-Review: Sion Sono’s Bad Film is a Masterpiece

Flixist Discusses: Trash, violence, and scathing reviews

Video: Why would you want to see trash?

Video: The Korean romantic comedies of NYAFF 2013

Audience votes Hentai Kamen as best film of NYAFF 2013

Japan Cuts 2013 finishes what NYAFF started

New York Asian Film Festival makes a triumphant return

Tsai Ming Ying

Director Tsai Ming-Ying brandishing his just-received Lifetime Achievement Award.