Thursday, May 31, 2012

NYAFF 2012 Press Release

VULGARIA will be the Opening Night Presentation,
DOOMSDAY BOOK and GUNS AND ROSES make their North American Premieres
as the Centerpiece Selections and POTECHI (CHIPS)
makes its North American Premiere as the Closing Night Presentation

Highlights will include the presentation of the
2012 Star Asia Lifetime Achievement Award to Chung Chang-Wha,
the 2012 Star Asia Award Donnie Yen,
and the 2012 Star Asia Rising Star Award to
Michelle Chen and Masami Nagasawa

Many more filmmaker appearances, including Will Yun Lee
and the creative team behind Square Enix’s upcoming
Hong Kong cinema-inspired video game Sleeping Dogs

New York, NY, May 31, 2012 - The Film Society of Lincoln Center and Subway Cinema announce the full schedule today for the 2012 New York Asian Film Festival (NYAFF) which will screen June 29 – July 15. Presented in partnership between the two organizations with programming support from Japan Society, the popular film festival will showcase over 50 feature films and 3 programs of short films from Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, USA and Vietnam. 2012 NYAFF will feature 20 films making their North American premieres and 1 more making its US debut.

Pang Ho-cheung’s VULGARIA will make it’s North American Premiere as the Opening Night Presentation. Chapman To plays a hapless movie producer trying to get his skin flick off the ground, and he’ll do anything to finance it, including auctioning off visitation rights to the daughter he adores, sucking up to gangsters named Brother Tyrannosaurus, and making not-so-sweet love to a mule. Hilariously offensive, The Hollywood Reporter calls it “laugh-out-loud” and “aptly titled.” Pang Ho-cheung will be at the screening.

Centerpiece Presentations include Kim Ji-Woon’s and Yim Pil-Sung’s DOOMSDAY BOOK and Ning Hao’s GUNS AND ROSES. Making its North American Premiere, DOOMSDAY BOOK is a three-part science fiction film about all the ways the world can end. Ranging from the hilarious, to the gory, to the existential, the film features a robot who achieves Buddhist enlightenment, a virus that turns humanity into death-crazed zomboids, and a meteor (or is it?) that smashes into the planet.

The second Centerpiece presentation will be the North American Premiere of GUNS AND ROSES. Director Ning Hao enjoyed success with CRAZY RACER in 2009, but his next movie was shelved by censors. He has followed that experience with a savagely funny action movie chronicling a gold heist in 1930’s Japanese-occupied Mongolia. Among the film’s familiar faces are Yang Kil-Young, Huang Bo.

Yoshihiro Nakamura’s POTECHI (CHIPS) will make its International Premiere as the Closing Night selection. The film follows two men - one, a star professional baseball player and the other, a petty thief, whose lives become intertwined in Sendei, epicenter of the 2011 Japanese earthquake.

NYAFF will honor Chung Chang-Wha with the 2012 Star Asia Lifetime Achievement Award. Chung Chang-Wha, the director of what is one of the most influential martial arts movies of all time, KING BOXER (FIVE FINGERS OF DEATH), started his career in Korea where he basically invented the modern day Korean action film. His movies earned him a Shaw Brothers contract and his FIVE FINGERS OF DEATH was the first martial arts movie to cross over in the West, paving the way for Bruce Lee and setting the tone for the hundreds of kung fu films to follow.

Donnie Yen will be presented with the 2012 Star Asia Award. Following a long and steady career in the Hong Kong and Hollywood film industries, Donnie Yen made a major impact in Wilson Yip’s KILLZONE (SPL: SHA PO LANG) in 2005. Going from hit to hit, often working on Hong Kong-Chinese co-productions, he has turned in a remarkable body of work in only seven years, including IP MAN 1 & 2, BODYGUARDS AND ASSASSINS, DRAGON (WU XIA), FLASHPOINT, and PAINTED SKIN.

The 2012 Star Asia Rising Star Award honorees will be Michelle Chen and Masami Nagasawa. Chen’s fateful meeting with director Giddens Ko in an elevator as they were leaving a party led to her being cast as the object of attraction in YOU ARE THE APPLE OF MY EYE. The movie has become a massive hit that’s swept Asia, turning Chen into a major star. Nagasawa started out appearing in Toho’s Godzilla series (GODZILLA: TOKYO SOS, GODZILLA: FINAL WARS) before she scored big with her performance in the romance CRYING OUT LOVE IN THE CENTER OF THE WORLD. Voted one of the most influential people in Japan, and topping polls for “Most Popular Actress” year after year, she will attend NYAFF with her musical comedy, LOVE STRIKES!, for which she won a Japanese Academy Award.

The 2012 New York Asian Film Festival will feature three special focuses:

Presented with the support of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in New York, this special focus is a look at the new wave of Taiwanese blockbusters that are sweeping Asia. Despite being home to some of Asia’s great art house directors, like Hou Hsia-hsien and Tsai Ming-liang, for the past decade Taiwan’s domestic film industry has hit hard times. However, all that changed in 2008 when Wei Te-Sheng’s CAPE NO. 7 became the highest grossing Taiwanese movie of all time, setting a trend in which quality local movies suddenly became the hottest exports accross Asia.

When Hong Kong returned to China in 1997, its film industry was already in a tailspin from the bursting of the production bubble and the first stirrings of the Asian Economic Crisis. A few years later, the industry, once the biggest film producer in Asia, was written off. But these days, Hong Kong movies like Ann Hui’s A SIMPLE LIFE are winning awards around the world, while Hong Kong-Chinese co-productions like DRAGON (WU XIA), helmed by Hong Kong directors and stars, are turning into international box office hits. The Return of the King Focus is presented with the support of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York, which is celebrating this year the 15th anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

The revered Korean star, Choi Min-Sik, shot to fame for his performance as a North Korean terrorist in SHIRI, the first blockbuster of the new Korean cinema. He went on to capture the attention of international audiences with his crazed, dazed, hammer-wielding performance as Oh Dae-Su in Park Chan-Wook’s OLDBOY. In 2006, he quit moviemaking to protest American pressure on the Korean film industry, but made a triumphant return a few years later with Kim Ji-Woon’s I SAW THE DEVIL. Presented in association with the Korean Cultural Service New York, NYAFF will present a series of new and classic Choi Min-Sik performances to honor the man himself.


Films by Country at NYAFF 2012:



Hong Kong



South Korea

10 + 10




The New York Asian Film Festival is presented in association with the Film Society of Lincoln Center and Japan Society's Japan Cuts: Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema.

A huge thanks to Square Enix who are supporting NYAFF in a major way as well as hosting a double screening of INFERNAL AFFAIRS 1 & 2, on the tenth anniversary of the film. Their new game, SLEEPING DOGS, is inspired in part by the IA series and it hits the street August 14 for PS3, Xbox 360, and Windows PC. Before the screening of IA 1 & 2 on Friday, July 6, there will be a panel with the creative team behind SLEEPING DOGS, including Stephen Van Der Mescht (THE HULK, SCARFACE), Justin Bullard (BULLY, MAX PAYNE 3), Jeff O'Connell (NEED FOR SPEED, TIGER WOODS PGA TOUR), and actor Will Yun Lee (HAWAII FIVE-0, TOTAL RECALL, RED DAWN).

NYAFF is deeply grateful for the support of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York, the Korean Cultural Service New York,the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in New York,The Kitano Hotel, Hotel Beacon, Radius, Funimation, Asian Media Rights, Manhattan Portage, Kirin, IZZE, Epic Proportions, Korean Cuisine Globalization Committee USA, Mooncake Foods, Well Go USA, China Lion, and Drafthouse Films.

Keep up with the latest festival news at:

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) and Japan Society (333 East 47th Street, between 1st and 2nd Avenues).


Friday, June 29
6:00PM WAR OF THE ARROWS (121min)
8:30PM VULGARIA (90min) + guest director Pang Ho-cheung
12:00AM BOXER’S OMEN (105min)

Saturday, June 30
1:00PM OLDBOY (120min) + guest actor Choi Min-Sik and actress Yoon Jin-Seo
4:00PM PANG HO-CHEUNG’S FIRST ATTEMPT (50min) + guest director Pang Ho-cheung
5:30PM KING BOXER (FIVE FINGERS OF DEATH) (98min) + guest director Chung Chang-Wha
9:00PM NAMELESS GANGSTER (133min) + guest actor Choi Min-sik

Sunday, July 1
3:20PM THE SWIFT KNIGHT (81min) + guest director Chung Chang-Wha
6:00PM YOU ARE THE APPLE OF MY EYE (109min) + guest director Giddens Ko and actress Michelle Chen
8:45PM LOVE IN THE BUFF (106min) + guest director Pang Ho-cheung

Monday, July 2
1:00PM MAKE UP (107min)
3:30PM FAILAN (116min) + guest actor Choi Min-sik
6:30PM YOU ARE THE APPLE OF MY EYE (109min) + guest director Giddens Ko and actress Michelle Chen
9:00PM CRYING FIST (134min) + guest actor Choi Min-Sik

Tuesday, July 3
6:00PM COUPLES (109min)
8:30PM SACRIFICE (123min)

Wednesday, July 4
1:00PM COUPLES (109min)
3:30PM EAST MEETS WEST 2011 (99min)
6:00PM WARRIORS OF THE RAINBOW: SEEDIQ BALE I (143min) + SEEDIQ BALE II (131min) [274min total]

Thursday, July 5
1:30PM HONEY PUPU (102min)
6:30PM 10+10 (114min)
9:00PM ALL ABOUT MY WIFE (120min)

Friday, July 6
6:00PM INFERNAL AFFAIRS (101min) + guest actor Will Yun Lee and Sleeping Dogs game creators
8:40PM INFERNAL AFFAIRS 2 (119min)
11:10PM DEAD BITE (94min)

Saturday, July 7
3:45PM THE KING OF PIGS (97min) + guest director Yeun Sang-Ho
6:30PM THE LOST BLADESMAN (108min) + guest star Donnie Yen
9:00PM GUNS AND ROSES (108min)

Sunday, July 8
2:30PM ACE ATTORNEY (135min)
5:15PM KILL ZONE (SPL: SHA PO LANG) (93min) + guest star Donnie Yen
8:00PM THE KING OF PIGS (97min) + guest director Yeun Sang-ho
10:30PM HONEY PUPU (102min)

Monday, July 9
2:50PM NASI LEMAK 2.0 (108min)
5:00PM A SIMPLE LIFE (119min)
7:30PM DRAGON (WU XIA) (110min) + guest star Donnie Yen

Tuesday, July 10
1:30PM GUNS AND ROSES (108min)
6:00PM GOLDEN SLUMBERS (98min) + guest director Davy Chou

****at Tribeca Cinemas:
7:00PM SECRET LOVE (111min) + guest actress Yoon Jin-Seo

Wednesday, July 11
1:15PM ALL ABOUT MY WIFE (120min)
3:50PM DEAD BITE (94min)
8:15PM DOOMSDAY BOOK (115min)
10:30PM MAKE UP (107min)

Thursday, July 12
1:00PM DOOMSDAY BOOK (115min)
6:15PM NASI LEMAK 2.0 (108min) + guest producer Fred Chong
9:00PM BLOOD LETTER (90min)


Thursday, July 12
6:30PM ASURA (78min)
8:15PM SMUGGLER (114min)

Friday, July 13
9:00PM The Atrocity Exhibition (3 films back-to-back: LET’S MAKE THE TEACHER HAVE A MISCARRIAGE CLUB + BIG GUN + HENGE) (145min)

Saturday, July 14
5:30PM GYO (70min)
7:15PM LOVE STRIKES! (118min) + guest actress Masami Nagasawa
– plus Striking Love after party

Sunday, July 15
1:30PM ACE ATTORNEY (135min)
4:15PM TORMENTED (83min)
6:00PM MONSTERS CLUB (72min) + guest director Toshiaki Toyoda
8:00PM POTECHI (CHIPS) (68min)


Opening Night Selection – North American Premiere
VULGARIA (2012) 90min
Director: Pang Ho-cheung
Country: Hong Kong
Pang Ho-cheung’s outrageous comedy stars Chapman To as a hapless movie producer trying to get a skin flick off the ground, and he’ll do anything to finance it, including auctioning off visitation rights to the daughter he adores, sucking up to gangsters named Brother Tyrannosaurus, and even making not-so-sweet love to a mule.
Director Pang Ho-cheung will attend the screening.

Centerpiece Presentation – North American Premiere
DOOMSDAY BOOK (2012) 115min
Directors: Kim Ji-Woon, Yim Pil-Sung
Country: South Korea
A three-part hard science fiction omnibus film from directors Kim Ji-Woon (A BITTERSWEET LIFE, I SAW THE DEVIL) and Yim Pil-Sung (HANSEL & GRETEL) it’s visually stunning and, at times, very unhinged.

Centerpiece Presentation – North American Premiere
GUNS AND ROSES (2012) 108min
Director: Ning Hao
Country: China
Director Ning Hao’s savagely funny action flick chronicles a gold heist in 1930’s Japanese-occupied Mongolia. With action by Yang Kil-Young (OLDBOY), his cast of regular comedy character actors (including Huang Bo), and a blackly, bleakly comic view of human struggles.

Closing Night Selection – North American Premiere
POTECHI (CHIPS) (2012) 68min
Director: Yoshihiro Nakamura
Country: Japan
Yoshihiro Nakamura, director of FISH STORY, GOLDEN SLUMBERS and NYAFF 2011 Audience Award winner, A BOY AND HIS SAMURAI presents a film about petty thieves, potato chips, the 2011 Japanese earthquake, baseball stars, and the meaning of life.

Additional 2012 New York Asian Film Festival films include:

New York Premiere
10 + 10 (2011) 114min
Directors: Various
Country: Taiwan
A series of short films by directors from Hou Hsian-hsien, to Sylvia Chang, starring actors like Jack Gao and Shu Qi, 10 + 10 presents a multitude of viewpoints on Taiwan from violent thrillers, to documentaries, to comedies about censorship.

New York Premiere
ACE ATTORNEY (2012) 135min
Director: Takashi Miike
Country: Japan
Takashi Miike, brings one of the world’s most popular Gameboy and Nintendo DS games to the big screen in an incredibly faithful version of the blockbuster game about the adventures of a rookie defense attorney, only with Miike’s inimitable stamp. The music is the 8-bit chirping, given a full orchestral treatment and the costumes, hairstyles, names - even the basic plot are all taken right off the tiny screen.
Co-presented with Japan Cuts: The New York Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema.

North American Premiere
ALL ABOUT MY WIFE (2012) 120min
Director: Min Kyu-Dong
Country: South Korea
The latest romantic comedy from Korea is a sleek blockbuster with an all-star cast. Depressed by his marriage, a wimpy husband hires a rental Casanova to seduce his wife so he can get a divorce. A riff on Taming of the Shrew, it schools Hollywood in how rom coms should be made.

North American Premiere
ASURA (2012) 78min
Director: Kei’ichi Sato
Country: Japan
A lushly animated feature about a child cannibal in famine-wracked feudal Japan whose taste for human flesh has turned him into a demon. Based on George Wakiyama’s banned manga.
Co-presented with Japan Cuts: The New York Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema

North American Premiere
Directors: Eisake Naito, Hajime Ohata
Country: Japan
Trio of short films includes; LET’S MAKE THE TEACHER HAVE A MISCARRIAGE CLUB is a sensitive and sometimes shocking exploration of schoolgirls gone bad, HENGE is a take on Kafka’s The Metamorphsis mixed with J-horror and kaiju tropes, and THE BIG GUN is the same director’s early film about a steel factory worker extorted by the yakuza into making guns. Unfortunately for them, he starts a side project making, well, the Big Gun.
Co-presented with Japan Cuts: The New York Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema.

North American Premiere
Director: Ji Ha Jean
Country: South Korea
One lone stranger rides into a town ruled by an out-of-control construction cartel, ready to settle old scores with his two fists in this modern day spaghetti western.

New York Premiere
BLOOD LETTER (2012) 90min
Director: Victor Vu
Country: Vietnam
A Vietnamese martial arts movie full of flying swordsmen, weapon-wielding woman warriors, and wu xia passion.

Special Midnight Movie Screening
BOXER’S OMEN (1983) 105min
Director: Chih-Hung Kuei
Country: Hong Kong
A black magic martial arts movie that looks like the last 10 minutes of 2001: A Space Odyssey if you replaced the flashing colors and swirling stars with writhing maggots and bright green pus.

New York Premiere
COUPLES (2011) 110min
Director: Jeong Yong-Ki
Country: South Korea
A remake of the NYAFF hit, A STRANGER OF MINE, this time-looping, multiple-POV Korean romance is about finding true love in the midst of an economic meltdown.

CRYING FIST (2005) 134min
Director: Ryoo Seung-Wan
Country: South Korea
Choi Min-Sik is a middle-aged boxer reduced to renting himself out as a human punching bag for frustrated salarymen. Ryoo Seung-Beom is a self-destructive punk who discovers the power of boxing in juvie lock-up. An amateur prizefight with a fat purse offers a chance for redemption, but there can be only one winner.
Star, Choi Min-Sik, will attend the screening.

Special Midnight Movie Screening – North American Premiere
DEAD BITE (2011) 94min
Director: Joey Boy
Country: Thailand
A crazy zombie flick that is all blood, bikinis, B-boys, enthusiastic gore, and surreal humor.

North American Premiere
Director: Kai Feng
Country: Taiwan
Based on a true story, this hit film tracks a rundown Din Tao (drumming ceremony) group that came back from the dead. Din Tao itself had been dismissed as a quaint cultural embarrassment, with many troupes made up of homeless kids, who would fill the ranks for a buck. The film became a remarkable word-of-mouth success story, earning over NT$300 million and sparking a revival of Din Tao pride across Taiwan.

New York Premiere
DRAGON (WU XIA) (2011) 110min
Director: Peter Chan
Country: Hong Kong/China
Donnie Yen plays a ferocious kung fu fighter hiding under a fake name in a small village after renouncing violence. Takeshi Kaneshiro (CHUNGKING EXPRESS) is the investigator assigned to figure out exactly who he is. Also featuring old school Shaw Brothers heroes, Jimmy Wang Yu and Kara Hui, this is one of the expensive, elegant, and electrifying (literally) martial arts movies to come along in years.
Star and fight choreographer, Donnie Yen will attend the screening.

North American Premiere
EAST MEETS WEST 2011 (2011) 99min
Director: Jeff Lau
Country: Hong Kong
Wong Kar-wai’s longtime collaborator, Jeff Lau, delivers an exhausting and exhilarating comedy about reincarnated superheroes and failed pop stars that includes musical numbers, animated sequences, giant battles, stupid jokes, mile-a-minute parodies and some genuine heartbreak.

FAILAN (2001) 116min
Director: Song Hae-Sung
Country: South Korea
Choi Min-Sik teams up with Hong Kong’s superstar, Cecilia Cheung, in this film about a third-rate gangster who’ll do anything for a buck and a Chinese immigrant who needs a marriage for business reasons. Mutual need draws them together, but fate keeps them apart.
Star, Choi Min-Sik, will attend the screening.

Special Midnight Movie Screening
Director: Hajime Sato
Country: Japan
A dreamy, surrealist horror film that has taken on legendary status. Survivors of a plane crash are attacked by a blob-like alien creatures that turn its victims into blood thirsty vampires.

New York Premiere
GOLDEN SLUMBERS (2011) 98min
Director: Davy Chou
Country: Cambodia
Documentary focuses on Cambodia's lost cinema, following the effects and actions of the Khmer Rouge in 1975 via the memories of the filmmakers and stars who survived the genocide in this moving oral history.
Director, Davy Chou will attend the screening.

New York Premiere
GYO (2012) 70min
Director: Takayuki Hirao
Country: Japan
Adapted from Junji Ito’s fan-favorite horror manga, this animated film is about stinking killer fish with legs who attack Japan. It is much weirder than it sounds.
Co-presented with Japan Cuts: The New York Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema

New York Premiere
HARD ROMANTICKER (2011) 108min
Director: Gu Suyeon
Country: Japan
the Korean-Japanese director, Gu Suyeon, delivers a two-fisted, breakneck story of growing up in Japan’s Korean slums which is a throwback to Toei’s old school youth gang films of the 60’s and 70’s.
Presented with Japan Cuts: Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema

New York Premiere
HONEY PUPU (2011) 103min
Director: Hung-I Chen
Country: Taiwan
Hung-I Chen directs a musically supercharged meditation on things that have gone missing. A radio DJ looking for her missing boyfriend, and she finds a group of kids making online memorials for everything from missing buildings to missing pets, and discovers an alternate earth. Trippy sci-fi at its best.

INFERNAL AFFAIRS 1 & 2 - Tenth Anniversary Screening (2002/2003) 101/119min
Director: Wai-Keung Lau, Alan Mak
Country: Hong Kong
INFERNAL AFFAIRS 1 & 2 are two movies that comprise Asia’s richest, most complex crime epic. IA 1 is familiar to most viewers, but IA 2 ups the stakes, going back in time and showing how the heroes of the first movie are really the villains, and the villains are really the heroes.
The screening will be preceded by a panel with the creators of the Square Enix’s Sleeping Dogs video game, due to be released August 14, which is inspired in part on the INFERNAL AFFAIRS movies.

KILLZONE (SPL: SHA PO LANG) (2005) 93min
Director: Wilson Yip
Country: Hong Kong
The classic action film which features Donnie Yen, elder kung fu statesman Sammo Hung, Simon Yam, and Wu Jing in the story of a senior detective nearing the end of his career, engaged in an all-out final attempt to take down a crime lord.
Star and fight choreographer Donnie Yen, will attend the screening.

Director: Chung Chang-Wha
Country: Hong Kong
Two martial arts schools prepare for an important tournament in one of the most influential and important kung fu movies of all time. FIVE FINGERS OF DEATH launched the kung fu craze in the West, and paved the way for Bruce Lee’s success.
Director, Chung Chang-Wha will attend the screening.

New York Premiere
THE KING OF PIGS (2012) 97min
Director: Yeun Sang-HO
Country: South Korea
Fresh outta Cannes, this animated drama is about two adults trying to remember what exactly happened to them as kids when they attended a nightmarish high school where the kids were divided into the bullies (“Dogs”) and the bullied (“Pigs”).
Director, Yeun Sang-Ho will attend the screenings.

Korean Short Film Madness (2010 - 2012) 90min
Directors: Park Chan-Wook, and more
Country: South Korea
Featuring NIGHTFISHING, a short film directed by Park Chan-Wook (OLDBOY) and his brother, as well as new shorts from Korea’s MSFF genre film festival, these movies move fast and hit hard.

New York Premiere
THE LOST BLADESMAN (2011), 107min
Directors: Felix Chong, Alan Mak
Country: Hong Kong/China
Directed by the writers of the INFERNAL AFFAIRS films, this mighty martial arts spectacular tells the story of China’s legendary warrior, General Guan. Played, of course, by Donnie Yen.
Star and fight choreographer, Donnie Yen will attend the screening.

LOVE IN THE BUFF (2012) 106min
Director: Pang Ho-cheung
Country: Hong Kong
A romantic comedy that feels like an update of the classic Hepburn-Tracy movies, it stars Shawn Yue as a self-centered advertising exec and Miriam Yeung as his lazy girlfriend, who split up and try to move on, but keep meeting up, ripping off each other’s clothes, and making the same mistakes all over again.
Director, Pang Ho-cheung, will attend the screening.

North American Premiere
LOVE STRIKES! (2011) 118min
Director: Hitoshi Ohne
Country: Japan
Masami Nagasawa won a Japanese Academy Award for “Best Supporting Actress” for her role in this blockbuster, musical romantic comedy about a nerd who becomes irresistibly attractive to women.
Star, Masami Nagasawa, will attend the screening.
Co-presented with Japan Cuts: The New York Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema

North American Premiere
MAKE UP (2011) 107min
Director: Lien Yi-chi
Country: Taiwan
A mortician finds a new “customer” on her slab: the woman she loved in high school. What follows is a gorgeously detailed, emotionally brutal investigation into how the love of her life wound up dying.

Special Midnight Movie Screening
Directors: Grandmaster Y.K. Kim,
Country: USA
The director of LA STREETFIGHTERS (NYAFF 2010), delivers this hallucinatory tale of ninjas, a tae kwon do rock band known as Dragon Sound, Miami drug dealers, bad dubbing, and strange costumes. Thanks to the efforts of Drafthouse Films, THE MIAMI CONNECTION will return to cinemas, home video and debut on digital platforms in the fourth quarter of 2012.
Co-director/writer/producer and star Grandmaster Y.K. Kim will attend the screening.

US Premiere
MONSTERS CLUB (2011) 72min
Director: Toshiaki Toyoda
Country: Japan
Sympathy for the Unabomber in Japan’s visionary director, Toshiaki Toyoda’s retelling of the Ted Kaczynski story, only with added transsexual monsters and ghosts.
Director, Toshiaki Toyoda will attend the screening.
Co-presented with Japan Cuts: The New York Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema Cinema

Director: Yun Jong-Bin
Country: South Korea
Set in the 80’s, Choi Min-Sik plays a corrupt customs inspector whose knowledge of how to leverage personal connections and family relationships turns him into a criminal on the rise. But he’s not really a gangster, just a smart hick with a gift of the gab, and when the government begins instituting reforms the world he lives in turns into a cage of crazed predators, eating one another alive.
Star, Choi Min-Sik, will attend the screening.

North American Premiere
NASI LEMAK 2.0 (2011) 108min
Director: Namewee
Country: Malaysia
A food movie, directed by a rapper who has been investigated for sedition, that feels like delirious early Stephen Chow, that was a massive hit, sparked protests, and features a hip hop street vendor battle.
Producer Fred Chong will attend the screening

OLDBOY (2003) 120min
Director: Park Chan-Wook
Country: South Korea
A Jury Prize winner at the Cannes Film Festival, it might just be the most iconic movie of the New Korean Cinema. Choi Min-Sik is at his hammer-wielding best as a man mysteriously imprisoned for 15 years and then released. Hell-bent on revenge, he wants to know why.
Stars, Choi Min-Sik and Yoon Jin-Seo, will attend the screening.

North American Premiere
Pang Ho-cheung’s First Attempt 50min
Director: Pang Ho-cheung
Country: Hong Kong
Pang Ho-cheung screens the shot-on-video shorts he made when he was 14 year old, providing live commentary. The shorts include THE FIRST ADVENTURES OF THREE GANGSTA BEARS.
Director, Pang Ho-cheung, will attend the screening.

North American Premiere
Director: Kim Tae-Sik, Park Cheol-Su
Country: South Korea
This two-part film about adultery, is a sexy, funny, over-the-top exploration of why we cheat.

New York Premiere
SACRIFICE (2010) 123min
Director: Chen Kaige
Country: China
Chen Kaige (FAREWELL MY CONCUBINE) employs an all-star cast in this searing drama about a doctor who must sacrifice his own son to protect the child of a disgraced court official.

North American Premiere
SCABBARD SAMURAI (2011) 103min
Director: Hitoshi Matsumoto
Country: Japan
From the popular comedian (and director of SYMBOL and BIG MAN JAPAN) comes this deadpan comedy about a disgraced samurai who has 30 days to make a dejected boy prince laugh, or he has to kill himself.
Co-presented with Japan Cuts: The New York Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema Cinema

North American Premiere
SECRET LOVE (2010) 111min
Director: Hoon-I Ryu
Country: South Korea
Yoon Jin-Seo plays a wife who meets her husband’s identical twin brother and must choose between the two of them.
Star, Yoon Jin-Seo will attend the screening.

A SIMPLE LIFE (2011) 119min
Director: Ann Hui
Country: Hong Kong
The award winning drama about an elderly nanny (Deanie Ip) and the man she raised from childhood (Andy Lau), this film turns a compassionate, unblinking eye on aging and dying.

New York Premiere
SMUGGLER (2011) 114min
Director: Katsuhito Ishii
Country: Japan
From one of the directors of FUNKY FOREST: THE FIRST CONTACT comes this tale of a criminal underground staffed by debt-ridden losers who can’t catch a break.
Co-presented with Japan Cuts: The New York Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema

New York Premiere
Director: Tom Lin
Country: Taiwan
A coming-of-age movie about a 13-year old girl coping with the reality of her parents’ impending divorce. She copes by escaping into a fantasy world depicted onscreen as a beautiful carnival of origami animals, dragons, and hyper-real landscapes.

THE SWIFT KNIGHT (1971) 81min
Director: Chung Chang-Wha
Country: Hong Kong
Lifetime Achievement Award-winner, Chung Chang-Wha (FIVE FINGERS OF DEATH), counts this Shaw Brothers swordplay movie as his favorite of his own movies.
Director, Chung Chang-Wha will attend the screening.

New York Premiere
THE SWORD IDENTITY (2011) 110min
Director: Xu Haofeng
Country: China
The directorial debut by Xu Haofeng, the writer of Wong Kar-wai’s upcoming THE GRANDMASTER, this is a deconstruction of the traditional swordplay movie. Exchanging flying sword slingers for a down-to-earth, reality-based fighting style, it punctures the pomposity of the traditional swaggering swordsman film with a bleak blast of black comedy.

New York Premiere
Director: Yosuke Okuda
Country: Japan
Japan’s 25-year-old enfant terrible of yakuza films, directs this bloody-knuckled, highly stylized gangster film that put him on the map as the new king of the genre.
Co-presented with Japan Cuts: The New York Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema

New York Premiere
TORMENTED (2011) 83min
Director: Takashi Shimizu
Country: Japan
Better known as RABBIT HORROR, cinematographer Christopher Doyle teams up with director Takashi Shimizu (JU-ON, THE GRUDGE) to deliver this gothic fairytale about a murderous bunny.
Co-presented with Japan Cuts: The New York Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema

WAR OF THE ARROWS (2011) 122min
Director: Han-min Kim
Country: South Korea
Korea’s surprise #1 blockbuster of 2011, this swashbuckling period action riff on Robin Hood won 14 major film awards.

New York Premiere
Director: Wei Te-Sheng
Country: Taiwan
Wei Te-Sheng’s follow-up to CAPE No. 7 is the true, and previously untold, story of an indigenous uprising in 1930 as the Seediq tribes fought the occupying Japanese army to save themselves from extermination. The film has been released in the US in a 2-1/2 hour version, but this is the full, uncut, two-part, 4-1/2 hour epic screened as a double feature.

New York Premiere
Director: Giddens Ko
Country: Taiwan
Based on a novel by first-time director Giddens Ko, YOU ARE THE APPLE OF MY EYE is a bittersweet movie about how nothing will ever live up to your first love. A huge hit in Taiwan, it is the highest grossing Mandarin-language movie ever released in Hong Kong and the highest-grossing Taiwanese movie released in China.
Director, Giddens Ko, and star, Michelle Chen, will attend the screenings.

North American Premiere
Director: Sakichi Satô
Country: Japan
From the writer of ICHI THE KILLER and GOZU comes the tale of a cop who can see the number of times you’ve had sex written on your forehead whenever he plays with himself.

Assassination of JFK Jr (2005)

My friend Lou handed me a copy of this film saying you like conspiracies try this...

I didn’t expect this look at the death of JFK Jr to be so compelling. Yes, it had the Lou Seal of Approval, but I was certain that this was going to be a conspiracy theory that simply didn’t hold up. Amazingly it seems to.

Okay, ignore the talk of Nazi’s, the Bushes and other shadowy forces being behind the plot. Honestly there is no real evidence for anyone having killed John John presented, just wild talk, also ignore the glaring factual error about the Presidential primary going on a year too early.

What I find intriguing is that more than 911, more than 7/7 (the London Bombings), more than almost any other alleged conspiracy this one seems to have something to it…or if not to it a revelation of extreme incompetence.

The story is that John, his wife and sister in law traveled from New Jersey to Martha's Vineyard. However just off the coast of the Vineyard the plane disappeared. When a search was started (4 hours after he was reported missing) they had no concrete notion of where he might have been. They finally found the wreck site after wreckage started washing up on the shore.

The problem with the official story is that it has holes in it.

First authorities first said that they had spoken to John around 930, then later said there was no contact. They then claimed that they had no radar fix on where the plane was, except that a radar reconstruction of the plane existed and showed the crash site. Third they claimed no one contacted them, except that people started calling at 10 pm, a half an hour after they were expected and a half an hour after the last known radio contact. Everyone seemed not to be concerned and not to move even after Senator Ted Kennedy made efforts to get the ball rolling. Most curious of all was the fact that in the official report the fuel flow valve was found in the off position. While this would have turned off the engine it wouldn’t have caused a direct downward dive into the ocean.

I have no idea what it means, but it’s a damn curious. It’s the sort of potential real life mystery that gets the mind going.

I’m not going to say I now subscribe to the theory, but it has made me curious enough that I’m going to look further into it.

If you want a head trip film that will make you go Hmmm. Give this film a try. It can be found on You Tube, Google video and other outlets.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Tuesday Night at the Korean Cultrural Service FREE screening : Forbidden Quest.

Tuesday's free film in the Korean Cultural Services series of free screenings is Forbidden Quest from the director of The Servant , Doae-woo Kim which played four weeks back. (A review of that film is coming soon).

This is a bawdy tale set in the Korean royal court about the greatest writer of his age and a court official, who turns to writing erotic books as a means of finding success. The trouble is erotic books, while popular are banned. Worse his ill advised orbiting of the queen is leaking into his tale and raising suspicions.

This is a good little film that I recommend if you want a very adult tale that you can see and forget the kids for a while.

You’ll forgive me for not reviewing the film more fully, but Mondocurry has asked for that honor so I’ll leave the review to him.

If you want to check the film out yourself the screening is at the Tribeca Cinemas on Tuesday the 5th at 7pm, Doors open at 630 and are purely first come first serve.

Gravedigging for Dummies

A sincere but not too bright teen gives us the skinny on how to rob graves.

Our host is a sweet looking lad who stutters. The stutter causes you to go from laughing disbelief to pity and sadness since its clear he's done this one or two times too often.

It's a twisted and sad thing and I can't believe that someone actually did this. I would like to think its a joke, but there is something about it that leads me to believe that this was done seriously.

Of course I could be wrong.

Screaming Boy

Jonathan Bell was/is an evangelist from Dallas who had two local cable access shows. Basically the consist of Bell standing on a set and loudly preaching the word of God. A good deal of the two programs are the same as he tries to get people to read the bible and go over to Christ.

In a not so weird turn of events, Bell who speaks a great deal about being molested as a child and the need to take care of molested kids, was himself arrested for molesting kids.

What Bell says about how we should live and behave is often on target, unfortunately his high decibel delivery and his appearance turns the whole thing into parody. How anyone could get through both programs with this guy is beyond me since it eventually stops being funny and simply becomes monotonous.

Still I'm putting it here because its so out there, so strange, that lovers of weird things will want to track them down.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Cooking with Huck Botko

When I first saw this I was like "Anyone know if this guy is serious or just putting people on? I'd like to think that he's kidding, cause if he's not..."

I've since found out these films are complete put ons by Botko who is a filmmaker and producer of films like Last Exorcism. It also helped that several actors list them on their IMDB credits.

This is a series of short films where Butko makes treats for his family which he says he doesn't like. Since he doesn't like them he does things like have winos spit in father's fruitcake, makes a baked alaska with road kill, a cheese cake with the blood of people with hepatitis, we won't discuss the pie, and he tries to have a friend with VD sleep with a girl who's bitch on wheels.

Well done but really cruel and worse, the sort of thing that stupid people might try to copy since its so dead pan as to be convincing as the way to get back at people.

Monday, May 28, 2012

The List (2012) Tribeca 2012

On this Memorial Day when we remember the soldiers who fought and died for this country, I'm going to talk about the men and women who helped the soldiers in Iraq. Sadly they have been more or less forgotten. These are the men and women who helped our soldiers after the fall of Saddam Hussein which was something that rapidly became very dangerous as anti US forces sought to stop them. The mere act of helping us to try and improve their country put them on a death list. Even now their lives are in such great danger that they need to leave their country ASAP or else some crazed extremists will kill them.

The List is the story of Kirk Johnson who was hired by the US government to help rebuild Iraq. He was hired because he was a body and willing to go to the war ravaged country. The people who hired him were completely unaware that he knew Arabic., They also didn't care that he had a great deal of compassion that made him go out and do things that helped him win the hearts and minds of the Iraqis he came in contact with. When his friends started to get death threats he began to see what he could do to help them. Since he was one of the few people who was actually trying to help get people to safety he was contacted by more and more people desperate to get out of Iraq before the hit squads killed them and their families.

This is a solid look at a man who trying to do the right thing by helping those who helped the US. The List is a film that will move you. It's the story of a man who is doing the decent thing when no one else will. It's a film that will infuriate you as we see the emails between officials which express shock at the death threats in passing, but which are really more concerned with how the beaches are. You won't believe how the country won't let these people into the country but will give them high security clearance and access to our secrets. It's just damn wrong.

This is a story you need to hear. Its a movie you need to see...Actually what we need to do is help the people who helped us and if you want a reason see this film.

This was one of the better films at Tribeca.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Sunday Nightcap 5/27/12

What are you doing at home reading this on a holiday weekend? You should be out somewhere doing something fun.

If you live in the New York City area perhaps you just came in from the complete Ridley Scott series at Lincoln Center. Yes that’s right over the next week they are running every film Ridley Scott ever did. This is the perfect chance to see Alien or Bladerunner on a big screen if you’ve never done so.


I spent the weekend getting reviews ready for you.

The Brooklyn Film Festival starts Friday and I’m trying to adjust my schedule so I can see more than the one film I have a ticket for.

A few days after that The Korean American Film Festival New York starts. I’m finishing up a few reviews of things I’ve seen. I’m also putting the finishing touches on a report on my talk with the director of Girl Walk//All Day Jacob Krupnick. It was a great talk that gave me a great deal of insight into how the film was shot. I should add that the film will be slightly different when it screens on June 6th since there will be a new piece of music at the end.

I’m also getting ready to wade into the Open Road series of Italian cinema at Lincoln Center in early June. We’ll be running at least 6 reviews of films, three of which are primed and ready to go.

After that is the Human Rights Watch Film Festival. I’m looking to have at least a couple of reviews from that.

I’m also starting to put together Unseen’s coverage of the New York Asian Film Festival. As we did last year we’ll be running reviews the week before the festival and then flooding you with stuff once it starts.(And this year the Japan Society’s Japan Cuts series is following the NYAFF so all of July is now an Asian film free fire zone.)

I know many of you prefer when we run reviews of current films and festivals and you’re wishes are going to be granted with the heavy coverage of the upcoming festivals.  Starting Saturday we'll be doing two or three (even four) reviews a day for a week as we post our normal reviews plus KAFFNY,  Brooklyn. and Open Roads reviews.

That's it for this week.  I'm off to continue chilling.

(After tomorrows Memorial Day post – this weeks films will be a bunch of really out there films that… well you’ll just have to wait to see)

Stalingrad (1993)

A movie for a snowy day- a film about the German defeat at Stalingrad. Its a happy little film where you watch the battle unfold through the eyes of several German soldiers.

How is the film?

Depressing, very depressing.

I should start by saying the film is flawed, its too neat and Hollywood. It desperately needs to be gritier and shot in lower light, a scene is the sewers is so bright as to make the flashlight seem ludicous. At timesfilm seem completely unreal, BUT the film is still a major kick in the ass and the heart. Its a film that rakes you over the coals. As the film winds down I wanted to just shut it off and walk away because I knew where it was going and I really didn't want to go there. I continued to watch however out of a duty to the characters and a hope that it would not end the way I thought it would.

Reading several reviews of the film I'm left wondering about some of the critism that was leveled at the film, in particular the fact that it shows the Germans in a positive light. The point of the film is not to glorify the Germans, but show war sucks, and if we didn't like the characters we'd want them all to die. I find the fact that its at times too distancing to be a better arguemnet against the film, than to say it pro German.

The trick with this is to go with it and except it for what it is. Yes its flawed, but its still a powerful film. The course of the film, from leave in Italy after the battles in North Africa into Russia and then into the heart of the winter wasteland is as crushing for the viewers as it is for the characters. War as seen here, is not the neatly followed plans that you see in 99% of other films, its total fear drenched chaos that is completely random where everything that can does go wrong. This chaotic approach to the battle scenes lends much to the film and lends a real sense that most films, even Private Ryan, is missing.

I really like the film and in some ways want to rank it with the best war films, but it just sort of falls short, mosty because I find myself going, "if only..."

Still the film is worth watching since it can't be said enough that war stinks.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Purple Sunset (2001)

Told in flashback this is literally the story of the last days of World War Two in China. Days before the end the Soviets enter the Pacific war and begin attacking Japanese outposts in China. One raid saves a Chinese man from a firing squad and it isn't long before he's heading back to the Soviet base. A wrong turn and the convoy he's in ends up in a Japanese camp. A battle ensues and the Chinese man and two Soviet soldiers end up fleeing into the wilderness where they come across two Japanese girls. From this point the film follows the trek across the open country to get to safety.

I have to start by saying that the battle scenes are absolutely terrible. While they do have a sense of scale they are ineptly done on the cheap so that human bombs that are suppose to be diving under tanks to blow them up are clearly seen to dive next to them. A sea battle is embarrassing just miniatures. If you can get past those then the rest of the movie is interesting, if not a bit preachy, look at the cost of war.

The majority of the film concerns itself with the dynamic of the various characters as they have to deal with survival, humanity and nationality on the road to safety. How the relationships change, ebb and flow, is the interesting thing here. It gives you food for thought. It asks the very real question of how it is that if people can get along when trying to survive why can't they get along at other times?

Its an atypical film in many respects, One of which is simply that this is the first time I've ever really seen the end of a war. The war ends and people are just left to figure out how to go on. I need to survive how do I do that? How do I get home? How do you react when you run into people who still want to fight?

I was enlightened.

While the weak war scenes wound the film the human story keeps you watching. This is, ultimately, a very good, but flawed anti-war film.

A word of warning. If you are looking to find a copy of this film in English be warned that as far as I know the current translations available are far from good. The import copy I watched was almost unwatchable and I've read a review of a different edition that was equally awful. The titles seems to be literal translations of the words jumbled about. The film is worth seeing, only wait for an official English language release, since the bad translation severely hurts any enjoyment of the film.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Metropolis (2001)

This entry is based upon a journal entry I made after seeing Metropolis for the first time.

I saw the animated Metropolis which is based on Osamu Tezuka's comic inspired by the Fritz Lang film.

Visually its one of those ground breaking animated films that the Disney Studio thinks they've been doing for years, but haven't been.

Visually its a masterpiece, on odd mix of cell and computer animation. It's incredible.....

Storywise...its good. not great. I wanted to jump ship after twenty minutes of visuals overwhelming the story,but I'm glad I didn't, suddenly it kicks in and well its not perfect but it has neat little things in it. Its like the characters and the city-the plot gets lost in this vast maze. I honestly don't know what to say, about it beyond that...

The use of music is beyond masterful, so much so that at one moment toward the end (Ray Charles) I suddenly found myself siting up and going, "holy shit, there's a hell of alot more going on here then I thought" I wasn't certain what it was but it was going on....

Yes, its a masterpiece, yes it takes things to the next step...I'm not certain what to make of it wholly, its better than Akira for certain...

Warching this in the theater for the first time I keep asking when, if ever will American films be as daring and as technically brillant as what the Japanese were doing. I know that part of my uncertainty was the result of simply knowing what I was going to see in advance...of course it was the next step in animation, I saw that in the trailer...

The things that are being done in Japan are light years ahead of whats being done here....

This, along with Escaflowne (which was playing down the hallwhen I saw Metropolis) are pushing the visual medium farther than ever before....these are films which could never be done live action, who's stories need the medium of animation to be told visually....

The movie started and my first emotion was Disney is f***d. I know I harp on Disney but they have not done anything ground breaking in years-their idea of pushing the envelope is to release a feature in Imax 3D. Atlantis was a half an attempt. Its bold daring story was hampered by the Disney need to be family friendly. Family friendly is good for the pocket book but stagnates the medium, and will kill them in the end. Why are Pixar and Dreamwork films big hits? Because they aren't Disney.

The last daring thing that Disney did was Nightmare before Christmas, but they at first distanced themselves from, lest it blow up in their faces.

As uneven as Metropolis is , its still more daring in what it does than anything Disney has done... Which is why Columbia Tristar has released it.

Kudos to them for letting us see, on a big screen a landmark in the history of animation.

Out on DVD

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Scorpio Nights (1985)

Its rare that movies with a sexual component are both interesting on the human level and interesting on the sexual level. Most directors seem to crank out indifferent stories that are merely excuses for bad soft core sex. Scorpio Nights on the other hand is completely different it has hot encounters and more importantly people you care about.

Set in an apartment house in Manila where no one has any real privacy. The rooms are small and the construction is such that you can often see into your neighbors homes. A young tenant notices the activities of his down stairs neighbors through a hole in the floor. Smitten he watches the nightly routine of the husband coming home, eating dinner and then crawling into bed with his sleeping wife. It isn't long before he's managed to work his way into the heart of the woman below and started a torrid affair.

Well done across the board this is the type of story that could have been over done, instead its all played very real (In an interview the director said that he's been stopped by many people over the years who said that he manged to get the details of their affair right)

Truth be told as steamy as the sex is the really erotic moments are the ones either before the sex or the ones where sex isn't possible. There's a moment where the woman looks up at the ceiling with desire, yearning for her lover, he sees this and pushes his fingers through the holes in the boards. She then reaches for his fingers with an almost unearthly he opens up a small door in the floor and extends his arm... Who needs graphic sex?

Best of all its not sexy because its sex, its sexy because its two real characters who we know and understand. These are two characters who could be us so we're compelled to continue watching. Actually the strength of Scorpio Nights is the interaction of the characters, they are real people with real problems and desires. The story is driven by them instead of driving them.

Lets hope that some one is smart enough to get a really good edition of this out on DVD in English.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Mystery of Mr X (1934)

Someone is killing police officers in London. When one of the murders occurs outside a house being burglarized the police think the two crimes are linked. However when the the wrong man is arrested and put on trial the thief steps into help him. This also puts him on the radar of the police who realize he knows too much. Complications ensue when the thief begins to fall in love with the police inspectors daughter.

Neat little murder mystery is a breezy but often tense affair. If the film works it's due in large part to the cast that is headed by Robert Montgomery and is filled out by great character stalwarts including Lewis Stone.

Also helping things is the great look of the film. Nice deep focus shots of dark and creepy places. I put the film on as a goof to fall asleep to only to find the skulking shadows and dark corners of London hooked me and kept me up until almost 1AM.

What a neat little film.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003)

It's the film that killed Sean Connery's desire to make movies.

It's a film only loosely based on the Alan Moore comic book.

It's a film many people hate for the above two reasons.

It's also a film that, taken on its own terms is a fun adventure film.

Oh come on — you know it's a good movie. Sure it has it's crazily stupid and illogical moments- the car scene in Venice- but it also has some great sequences- the bats in the car scene in Venice.

The premise of the film has a mysterious man named M bringing together all of the heroes in the world (Alan Quartermaine,The Invisible Man, Henry Jekyll, Mr Hyde, Mina Harker, Dorian Gray, Captain Nemo and Tom Sawyer) to fight a great threat. Its a merging of any number of classic characters into one story.

The original Alan Moore series which was the only story out when the rights were sold, had every one coming together to fight what was believed to be Fu Manchu and his armies. The trouble was you can't do a "yellow peril" story on the big screen without people going nutso. Why do you think that Fu hasn't been around in 30 plus years and why do you think Charlie Chan hasn't been resurrected? There was no way in hell the comic, as written was going on the big screen. Comic geeks freaked out and lined up to pan the film on the basis of that alone.(Of course they never stopped to realize that the comic could never have worked as a film anyway since it only has filmable action for about an issue and a half of its run, the other four and a half issues being Alan Moore showing off how clever he was.) The better story would have been the second one which had the the League reforming to counter the Martian Invasion in War of the Worlds.

Despite what conventional wisdom says this is great mindless adventure film. Its well made, has great characters (and great performances) and has several wonderful set pieces (the car in Venice amongst them.) To my mind this film is a perfect Sunday afternoon film... actually the only thing wrong with it is a poorly executed fire at the start of the film. It's no more illogical than say any of the recent big budget blockbusters like Transformers.

I know that some people have argued that things aren't realistic, say cars in Venice, but everyone has no trouble with a vampire, an invisible man, or a man who remains young because his picture ages.

Its a romp. Its a goof.

Its damn fun.

Anyone wanting Alan Moore's literary pretensions can reread the comic, me I'm going to curl up on the couch and watch this.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

7X7 Award

I was given this award by Russ over at FilmsRuss, one of my favorite film blogs. He gave it to me just as Tribeca amped up so I've had to sit on this for a couple of weeks.

Rule #1:
Tell everyone something that no-one else knows about you.
No one? There is nothing that that no one knows.Some one pretty much knows all of the bits with one person knowing more than most. Movie-wise? Blog-wise? I'm in Woody Allen movie The Front if you know where to look. Proving I'm older than dirt, I'm one of the kids in the school scene. The more interesting bit aside from getting to watch Woody all day, was I got lost in the NYC public school it was filmed in and they had to send a search party out to find me less I get left behind.

Rule #2:
Link to one of the posts that you personally think best fits the following categories:

Most Beautiful Piece
I don't think I've done an entire piece that's beautiful. This not being an art blog I don't have any art that is beautiful. All I can do is put together some words and perhaps turn a clever phrase. I know there are a couple of phrases that I have coming up that are`really cool...and I promise to add them when the run (and see them again), but for now you'll have to take it on faith that there are some really clever twists of phrase scattered here and there through out the blog. (I could wait until a great phrase comes up but I've been sitting on this for over a month trying to come up with something and I don't want to hold it any longer.

Most Helpful Piece
A cheat. Any post that directed someone to a film that they never would have found otherwise is the most helpful post. Unseen Films is all about trying to point out good films people might never have seen otherwise. If any post has done that then the blog has succeeded.

The question isn't what do I think is helpful, rather what have you found helpful?

Most Popular Piece
Technically the most popular piece on the the blog is my Peter Pan post however I suspect many of those hits are the result of the picture attached to it. The one that I know gets the hits because it's for the writing is my Grave Encounters review. This was the first film I saw at a Tribeca press screening and it blew me away, as it has blown away many other people.

Most Contoversaial Piece
I'm sure I've taken heat for other things I've done, but the First Winter piece is probably the one that provoked the biggest reaction. I know once the piece hit Yahoo Movies I got instant feed back from a few people who said "I liked what you said..." or "You're the guy..." and the one thing most people said was "I can't believe you actually said that...". Yes, yes I did.

Most SurprisinglySuccessful Piece
I am amazed that any number of my pieces work. Doing this blog is an unending series of surprises. If I had to pick one post it would have to be the one I did for Black Venus and Mysteries of Lisbon two years ago. Lisbon was one of the first times I ever went to an actual press screening. Black Venus was one of those memorable evenings you only hear about. I mean I actually got to report on an audience wanting to kill a film's director. (Mindboggling, Black Venus has been chosen as the representative of 2010 at a retrospect of NYFF films)

Most Underrated Piece
I don't know. I would probably say that the least appreciated posts I have done are probably the capsule reviews. I know people dismiss them because it's just a few lines on film, but just bcause I've only written a few line that doesn't mean the films aren't good. There are several short pieces relating to Tribeca from the three years I've attended that have some of the best films from the festival in them. I mean Into Eternity was only reviewed as a capsule but its a freaking haunting film.

Most Pride-Worthy Piece
A cheat here. For this I have to say that its any piece written by my fellows here at Unseen Films. The mere fact that I have managed to worm reviews, essays and photos out of all of the people in the sidebar amazes the hell out of me. As I have said to all of them, I don't get paid for doing this, I just get to read posts by some of my favorite writers. That I have managed to trick these womderful people into writing for the blog is what fills me with the most pride.

Pass this award on to 7 other bloggers
Okay-Everyone else at Unseen- your turn- feel free to post here or at your own blogs.

We Bought a Zoo (2011)

Feel good film was, for a short while on some pundits radar as a shoe in for the Best Picture Oscar. The film opened and it didn't get quite the love many expected. I for one was tricked into believing it wasn't very good...

I was wrong, its damn even made me get all weepy at the end.

Transplanting a true story from England to America, the film is the story of Benjamin Mee and his family. 6 Months after the death of his wife he is unable to shake the fact everything about his home town reminds me of his wife. As the family begins to fragment in the wake of the death Mee tries to find a place to start again. He finds the perfect place...which just happens to be house that comes with a zoo attached. Will the family come together?

Okay, if you can't answer that question before you go in you really do see this film because the film will come as a complete surprise to you.

If you can answer that question before you go in you need to see this film because, quite frankly how the answer is revealed is utterly and completely charming.

Yes you know how most of this is going to go. But you're not going to care. I think you'll just fall into the lives of the wonderful people on screen and be dragged along. Seriously its so nice to see a film where there really aren't any bad guys just nice people trying to get along. Even Thomas Hayden Church as Matt Damon's more serious brother is hoot. Sure he talks common sense, but when it comes down to it we learn real fast he's just as nuts as everyone else.

This is just a charming feel good film that will make you smile stupidly from ear to ear...

...and if you wanna know a secret? Of all of the films that were talked about as a possible Oscar nominee, this would have been the one I would have voted for best picture.

See this film.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Collapse (2009)

Collapse is Michael Ruppert , ex-police officer and researcher sitting in a chair and talking for 80 minutes. The subject of his talk is the imminent collapse of society as we know it. Ruppert warns us that we are rapidly running out of oil, that the financial system is broken and that everything we are doing is putting us into a death spiral which will only lead to a complete break down of everything. Its not a pretty picture.

While I’m not too sure I accept all of what Ruppert says, there is no denying that many things he says, specially about the financial situation of the world, run a bit too close to what is happening now. There is something about what he’s saying that is troubling. Seeing the film gave me pause. However as I said, I’m not sure I buy it all.

Forgive me for playing the skeptic, but having dwelled in the fringes of human thought for decades I have seen that it is very easy to talk for an hour or so on any subject and make things sound plausible, only to have it all fall apart upon deeper review. Pick any conspiracy from the last 40 years, JFK, MLK, 911 and look at it, but once you get to the details it falls apart (One 911 theory relies on the film Loose Change to say that there was no wreckage of a plane at the Pentagon –they say the damage was done by a missile- only Loose Change goes on in great detail talking about the plane wreckage found at the Pentagon) I have not done a any research into Ruppert’s story but there is something about the neatness of it that I find keeps me from a complete blind panic, probably because I’m not sure where the facts stop and Ruppert’s speculation (and perhaps lucky guesses) begin.

Real or mind game I’m intrigued and unsettled. Could this be where we are headed?

Anything is possible.

Say what you will its food for thought.

If you want to visit out possible dark future I recommend you give this film a try.

If not switch on your TV and see the latest Golden Girls rerun...and keep in mind that Ruppert is happier now that he isn't dwelling in these dark places.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Sunday Nightcap 5/20/12 My year of the musical, KAFFNY approaches, Dark Shadows Battleship and a link to a piece on Chronicle

This is turning into the Year of the Musical for me. Four of my favorite films of the year are music related.

Inni and Heima are concert films from the group Sigur Ros and have be come my go to films when I just want to chill out. Forget CDs or I-Pods I just go home and throw in one of the films and listen to that as I do chores or work on the blog. Actually I’m listening too much to them since I’m not watching anything else putting future posts in danger of not happening for lack of material. (Heima will be getting a review shortly)

Searching for Sugar Man is the film about Rodriguez that played Tribeca. It’s a film that is truly magical and turned me into a fan of Rodriguez. The fact that I actually got to meet the man and sit with him is nothing compared to just being able to now listen to his once under appreciated songs.

Girl Walk// All Day is a new treasure. Playing the Korean American Film Festival New York (KAFFNY), this is a joyous happy film about three people dancing their way across Manhattan. Driven by Girl Talk’s All Day album this is mashed-up dance trip across the city by a wonderful mash up album. The film is playing at the festival on June 6 at 8PM at White Space and it’s something that you’ll want to see on a big screen with big sound. I’m guessing that the audience won’t be seated for very long. (A review will follow shortly- I'm due to speak with the director tomorrow)

At this point I need to point out that with May rapidly running out it’s almost time for two film festivals to fill the first weeks of June.

The Brooklyn Film Festival starts June 1st and runs to the 10th. I’m planning on hitting a few films during the early days of the festival and I suggest you do too. Details and tickets here.

KAFFNY overlaps Brooklyn during the second half of the week starting June 5 and running to the 10th. Having already screened several of the titles I need to say you really need to be making an effort to attend. The films they are screening are for the most part excellent. While I will be running reviews closer to time, I'll tease you and say you really should make an effort to see Girl Walk// All Day (see above), and you should also try and see Ultimate Christian Wrestling. UCW was supposed to be a snide look at some people using wrestling to spread the word of god, instead it’s a moving portrait of three men trying to do their best to just get by. It’s a small treasure that will worm its way into your heart. As I said full reviews are coming. Get your tickets now, you want to be there. Info here.

You should make an effort to read Peter Gutierrez's two part piece on the film Chronicle and why we respond to it. I have a review in the cue of the film, but Peter'spiece  is  something more than a review and is light years beyond my piece, explaining the entire found footage genre beautifully. Part one is here and Part two is here.

I finally saw Dark Shadows last night. My bitching about Tim Burton seems to have been well founded. The man needs to be slapped up side the head, preferably with a large fish.

What the hell did he do? He has this great gothic horror movie that he keeps stopping for stupid humor. That's where I keep my macrame? Really?

The over produced prologue gives way to a moody opening on a train. Its absolutely amazing and shows what the film could have been. Then Victoria gets to Collinwood and it becomes a series of great sequences that end in a joke. It might have worked if the jokes were clever but they aren't.

I suppose I should be glad its not a a full on comedy since it would have been sub-Uwe Boll.

Earlier today I saw Battleship. It's another alien invasion story ala Skyline,War of the Worlds or Battle Los Angeles but set of Hawaii. Its also so much better than those least the set pieces are.

The plot goes something along the lines of we send out a message to a far off planet and then they come and visit. Things happen and next thing you know we're at war. Into the mix add a slacker, with a heroic brother in love with the Admiral's daughter and you have an idea of how some of this is going to go.

The set up and some of the linking material isn't very good. Its beyond cliche, and if you missed the first 20 minutes of the film you could pick it up and not have missed anything. Once the action starts this film is gangbusters and it's easily the best of similar alien invasion stories over the last say five years. It works so well that even when the old salts end up recruited to help stem the alien invasion you're ready to go along with it (and of course it helps that they are great characters).

Did I need to see this in a theater. No. Did I have a good time. yes.

I think that's it for tonight. I'm sure there is more I could prattle on about but I won't. (Though you should try Beyond the Black Rainbow which has hit theaters and which is where it must be seen)

(This weeks films are a bunch of titles most of which I recently took a look at)

Zoo (2007) (Adult and possibly disturbing content)

This is a documentary on a group of animal lovers brought to light when one of their number was killed when a horse had sex with him.

The audio is real, the rest is recreation, the result is a oddly undisturbing-or perhaps disturbing because its not so disturbing tale of a group of people who love animals and the event that shattered their world.

In some ways its more an essay than a regular documentary. Its not a conventional nonfiction film. I'm still trying to get my head around what I just saw. I'm not disturbed by it or the actions of the people in the least, I am however shocked at how even handed the film is. Its not so much about the sex, its about people following their hearts and trying to find a place to belong and what happens when the calm of your world is shattered. We also see how the outside world over reacts to the events (which were not illegal when the death occurred) as people try to get their heads around things which they don't understand even remotely. As one of the guys says "why was I okay one day and evil the next? What changed?" Its given me a great deal to mull over on any number of levels.

If films should provoke a reaction then its a winner, if great films are suppose to make you think then its a great film. On that level its an 8 out of 10. On any other level I'm going to have to let you work it out for yourself.

(And no, it's not visually graphic)

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Congratulations Ken and Kat

Congratulations to Unseen Films editor/contributor/jack of all trades and really nice guy Ken on his wedding in a few short hours.

Ken is about to marry the lovely and wonderfully crazy in a good way Kat.

The pair met on Twitter and have been tweeting at each other ever since---even when they are in the same room together. Hey what works for each couple is different and I who am I to judge.

We at Unseen Films wish the happy couple a long happy life together.

Moju- Blind Beast (1968)

Call it what you will, but what ever you know the film by I am almost certain that it will disturb you greatly by its end.

Haunted by an image in Philip Hardy's Encyclopedia of Horror I have been looking to see this movie for the past 20 or 25 years. The image of a blind Japanese man touching a woman who is close to a quiet orgasm haunted me as did the description of the film. I did not get it on DVD until a few years ago when I managed to secure a used copy.

The plot is simple a blind sculptor kidnaps a model so he can make a statue of her. Where it goes is best described as David Lynch meets Peter Greenaway with Greenaway winning.

This is a strange strange film that is very straight forward yet not. The twists and turns are at times comical yet very real. At times its over the top and you want to laugh but at the same time whats happening underneath everything is very very disturbing. This is a bleak bleak allegory on modern society with the constant striving for the next sensation. The only difference between it having been made now versus having been made then is that there is no pubic hair. This film is as fresh today as it was 40 years ago when it was made, possibly more so.

My only complaint is that the music is sometimes a bit too happy. Perhaps this was intentional so as to keep the audience distanced from the darknesss on screen.

This is not a film for the faint of heart or easily offended or for radical feminists. There's kidnapping, sex, nudity, rape, violence and lots of ideas that people don't want to talk about. While I'm certain feminists wouldn't have a problem with the underlying drive of the film, they would probably not be too happy with some of the plotting, for example seeming the objectivication of women with the sculptor's studio's walls upon which nothing hangs except giant body parts... The film is not that shallow as to reduce women to that level and indeed its done to make a point.

Should the film be seen?

Yes. This is a film to see if you can handle dark subject much like the films of Peter Greenaway. But Like Greenaways films it is not for all tastes.

I'm sorry if I've been rather vague about what happens, I don't want to tell you since I'd rather have it wash over you, besides the details including the rather grotesque ending can be found elsewhere...(And I agree with Philip Hardy, once things get moving, to a large degree the details of what happens aren't really important)

This is a head trip and then some...

If you think you can approach it with the right frame of mind see it. (If you see it in the wrong frame you'll either turn it off or find it very funny for the wrong reasons)

A bunch of stars, don't bring the kids...

Friday, May 18, 2012

The InnKeepers (2011)

This is Ti West's follow up to House of the Devil  (not counting the miss fire Cabin Fever 2).

The film takes place in the last days of The Yankee Pedlar, a hotel in a small Connecticut village. There are only three guests, a mother and her son, hiding out from her husband and a once big star now a healer. The only two employees are Claire and Luke who are just killing time--- and hunting ghosts. Luke is setting up a website about hotel as a haunted location. As the pair trade off time at the front desk weird things begin to happen...

Low key throw back horror film is the sort of thing that you used to see in theaters before blood and gore took over the box office. The film is all about slowly building mood and emotions. The scares that come late in the film work because the film builds things early.

Actually the film works because we like the two main characters. These are two of the most clearly defined characters in any horror film ever. Claire and Luke are real people that you know. They are so real that as events spin out you completely understand how and why they do what they do. Usually in a horror film we talk about the monsters and the scare, in The Innkeepers, its all about the hero and heroine. We love these people and we really care about what happens to them. If the film works chalk it up to them.

I like this film a great deal. Its a solid little film. Is it perfect? No. The first half of the film, which is all about building characters is a tad slow. There aren't big shocks until toward the end, however there is some slowly building fear and chills. Frankly at times this film is just damn creepy.

I need to warn you, if you are looking for blood and guts look elsewhere. While there is some blood, the film is very retro and even quaint in how its ghosts and ghouls look. It may look stupid in clips, but I assure you in the film it works.

Definitely work looking out for.

(The film is rated R but I'm hard pressed to understand why)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Darkest Hour (2011)

This odd ball science fiction/horror film was dumped into theaters at Christmas where it did okay I suppose, but got swamped by most of the bigger winter releases. For my money it kind of deserved better than it got.

The plot of the film has several friends going to Moscow on business and vacation. While out partying they notice weird glowing things that begin drifting down from the sky. These weird glowing things then disappear. However they aren’t gone, but invisible and they begin disintegrating all the living things in their way. The friends flee and seek to find a way home and a way to stop the monsters.

This is an oddly constructed film that seems to have been cobbled together from a couple of different scripts. Its not fatal to the film but it makes for a bumpy ride that makes what could have been and should have been a truly great film just an okay one with a great middle.

The opening sequence with the friends going to Moscow and getting into trouble, of a sort, isn’t particularly good. It’s the sort of crappy set up that you’ve seen a couple of dozen times before. It’s the sort of thing that’s killed way too many other films. It’s so poor I considered leaving, but I didn’t, and I’m glad I stayed.

To me once the aliens show up the film is a good take on the well worn story of a group of people trying to deal with an alien invasion. Here the aliens are invisible, which was probably done for budgetary reasons, but it also allows for some nice twists (like the aliens giving off electric charges and how they see things). This section of the friends trying to survive and fight the aliens hits all of the right notes.

Unfortunately despite picking up in the second part of the film it does hit a couple of slightly sour notes.

First the film doesn’t explain a great deal, even though it feels like it should. I know I hate when I film explains too much, but here the film kind of explains very little, it just moves. The trouble comes from the fact that the first section of the film is so talky compared to the center section the lack of exposition seems out of place.

The film also suffers because our heroes always seem to run into other people at exactly precisely the right moment. How will they get out of this? Bring in someone new. It’s not terrible, especially considering some of these new characters are pretty cool, but it makes things feel slightly contrived. They are minor quibbles but annoying.

After a more or less solid middle section the film kind of loses itself in the final couple of minutes. The problem is that the film rushes to an ending that seeks to tie up too many things and answer too many questions, what is the fate of our heroes? Is there any place safe? What do the aliens want? Its nice to have things answered, but did they all have to come in the final ten or fifteen minutes?

When the film ended I was disappointed. There was so much good in it that I thought it should be better. I went home feeling kind of bummed.

Then later on and into the next day I found my opinion changing. I really liked much of the film. I really thought that there is some really good stuff mixed with a few clunky bits. I went from feeling that it was an interesting misfire that I’d forget with the next film, to thinking that I really need to add this to the week of just miss horror films.

No it’s not a great film. No it’s not a wholly satisfying film, but there is enough choice material in this film to make it worth seeing on Netflix or on cable.