Saturday, May 31, 2014

Nightcap 5/31/14- NYAFF, Japan Cuts on Monday, Brooklyn FF is happening now, a give to The Rectory reminder and links

Things are starting to heat up with festivals and our regular Sunday slot is being taken by an over view of the Italian Open Roads series,. There is so much in motion that I just want to leave you with a couple of quick notes before the usual onslaught of links.

The films and schedule for the New York Asian Film Festival are up. You can find the information here. Tons of good stuff to be found.

Looking at the schedule I’m not sure how complete our coverage is going to be. The trouble is the multiple locations and summer vacations means some things are not going to get covered. I don’t know what is going to be lost- hopefully not much. I’ll let you know what we’ll be doing once we all hunker down and hash it out

However if you’re in New York at the end and the beginning of July you should make an effort to go see something.

For details and ticket on sale dates you can go here.
Related to NYAFF is Japan Cuts. While the cross over period with NYAFF has revealed the films they have in common, the full Japan Cuts schedule is coming Monday.

We’ll have details as soon as they are made public.
The Brooklyn Film Festival is going on and if you’re in the are you might want to drop in. Details can be found here.
The Recory is still trying to finish up its funding. It’s a great project and if you can spare some cash you best throw it their way.

Here’s my piece on why you should give

Here’s their Indegogo page.
And now Randi's Links-
On the passing of Herb Jeffries the Bronze Buckaroo
Ethics in the instant news age
Not safe for work-The opening of Ghost in the Shell Live action
Cyperpunk Lego city
No one wants to host the Olympics any more
Warhol shoots the Velvet Underground
The Plasmatics blow up a car
Clive James interviews Roman Polanski
A trip to theTexas Chainsaw Massacre graveyard
Samurai films and Star Wars
Drafts of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy found
Richard III was not a hunchback

Red Shoes (2005)

Actually they are more shocking pink, but the tale of obsession and possession and madness starts (after a killer opening) when a woman discovers her husband is having an affair. She moves out with her daughter into a new apartment. She discovers a pair of pink shoes on a subway and its all down hill from there.

Dark, bloody (its rains down in gallons) disturbing film is a good thriller for most of its running time. The dark imagery is truly frightening and disturbing even if the tale, ultimately, makes no sense. There are things in this film that really bothered me even if they may have been over done. Visually this film is great, it will curl your toes at times (The opening in the subway is truly classic and one of the best things I've seen all year. I've seen it a couple of times it still delightfully, freaks me out). The story, which echoes the classic story and events decades earlier in the films time line, really doesn't work. The problem is that as long as it doesn't have to explain anything this film is fine, however once it has to begin to wrap everything up it stops working. Its juggling too many implausible things to explain neatly. I like the pieces of this film much better than the whole thing.

For those looking for an Asian Horror film that isn't long haired ghosts this film is worth a look (You want to see the opening). I'd rent it or see if cable runs it before you buy it.

Friday, May 30, 2014

The New York Asian Film festival Press Release

in association with Japan Society
announce the Complete Lineup for
June 27 – July 14, 2014

Alan Mak and Felix Chong’s crime thriller OVERHEARD 3 will make its International Premiere as the Opening Film, and the North American Premiere of Park Chan-kyong’s documentary MANSHIN: TEN THOUSAND SPIRITS will close the festival. Previously announced North American premiere of Umin Boya’s period baseball epic KANO is festival’s Centerpiece Presentation.

Chinese cinema legend, Taiwan’s Jimmy Wong Yu (THE ONE-ARMED SWORDSMAN, WUXIA) will be presented with the 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award, while the Star Asia Award will go to both Hong Kong’s queen of comedy Sandra Ng (GOLDEN CHICKENS trilogy) and Korea’s Sol Kyung-gu. Two inaugural awards will also be presented: The Celebrity Award will go to Park Joong-hoon and the Screen International Rising Star Award to Fumi Nikaido.

Three special focus programs are also on the menu: a spotlight on resurgent local Hong Kong cinema, Hong Kong Forever!, a retrospective: Sir Run Run Shaw Tribute, and as previously announced, the 2014 Korean Actor in Focus: Lee Jung-jae.

New York, NY, May 30, 2014 – The Film Society of Lincoln Center and Subway Cinema in association with Japan Society announce the full lineup today for the 2014 New York Asian Film Festival (NYAFF), which will take place June 27 – July 14. The festival of popular Asian cinema will showcase 60 feature films, including 1 major international premiere, 20 North American premieres, 6 U.S. premieres, and 11 more films making their New York City debuts. The festival will be attended by over 20 star filmmakers and celebrity guests traveling from Australia, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan.

NYAFF’s Opening Night presentation will be the International Premiere of Overheard 3, the highly anticipated finale to the immensely popular Hong Kong franchise. A stand-alone story of loyalty and morality that Sergio Leone might have made had he been working in Hong Kong, graced with a star-studded cast, and geared with heart-busting action, the ultimate episode in the epic saga, after tackling insider trading and stock market manipulation, sees writers-directors Alan Mak and Felix Chong—the creators of the Infernal Affairs trilogy—turning to real estate conspiracies in the Hong Kong New Territories.

The Closing Film will be Park Chan-kyung’s Manshin: Ten Thousand Spirits, a cinematic feast for the mind and the senses, a thought-provoking mystical journey into the psyche of Korea and its modern history through the life story of Korea’s most famous living shaman, Kim Keum-hwa. Both the story of Kim—who was born in 1931 and became a shaman at 17—and significant moments of modern Korea are chronicled through rare archival footage, performances of shamanistic gut rituals, dramatic reenactment of real stories (actress Moon So-ri portrays Kim in the 1970s), and even animation and fantasy sequences.

Umin Boya’s baseball epic Kano was previously announced as NYAFF’s Centerpiece Presentation. Produced and co-written by Taiwan’s hit maker director Wei Te-Sheng (Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale), it’s a triumph of Taiwanese cinema and one of the highest-grossing local films of all time.

Other highlights include Lou Ye’s Berlinale Golden Bear contender Blind Massage, considered by many critics as his masterpiece, and Japanese director Kazuaki Kumakiri’s My Man, the quietly disturbing tale of two lost souls fatefully brought together by a natural disaster, and the only Japanese film competing at the 36th Moscow International Film Festival in June).

NYAFF will honor Jimmy Wong Yu with the 2014 Star Asia Lifetime Achievement Award. Currently enjoying a bright Indian Summer in his long career, with juicy roles in Peter Chan’s Wu Xia (aka Dragon, 2011) and Chung Mong-hong’s art-house slasher Soul (2013), he has set the template for modern kung-fu movies with The Chinese Boxer (1970), and was instrumental in kicking off the swordfighting (wuxia) movie craze with his star-making performance in Chang Cheh’s The One Armed-Swordsman (1967).

Star Asia Award recipients will include Hong Kong’s award-winning Queen of Comedy and most bankable actress Sandra Ng, who has starred in over 100 movies (including the Golden Chicken trilogy), and Korea’s Sol Kyung-gu, an absolute powerhouse of an actor who has a career that spans both high art (Oasis) and mass-appeal blockbusters (Cold Eyes). The inaugural The Celebrity Award will be presented to Park Joong-hoon, who’s been Korea’s top leading man since the 1980s (Lee Myung-se’s Nowhere to Hide), and who has made an impressive transition to directing with Top Star (2013).

Fumi Nikaido will be the first Screen International Rising Star Award honoree. At 20 years old, she is already a full-fledged actress whose career has enjoyed a meteoric rise in recent years, and who has shown incredible talent and range in various films ranging from Sion Sono’s Himizu and Why Don’t You Play in Hell? to Koji Fukada’s summer-at-the-beach drama Au revoir l’été, and the superbly disturbing My Man by Kazuyoshi Kumakiri.

NYAFF will also feature three focus programs for this 13th edition of the festival of popular Asian cinema: Hong Kong Forever!, Korean Actor in Focus: Lee Jung-jae, and Sir Run Run Shaw Tribute. These three programs, along with the main selection, highlight the film legacy of East Asia, and its current, crucial role in today’s ever-changing world of film, one that can’t (and shouldn’t) be shelved in the dusty corner conveniently and dismissively known as “world cinema.” At a time when many major film festivals are more Eurocentric and West-dominated than ever, NYAFF aims every year to show that the life of cinema is out there.

For Hong Kong cinema in 2013 and 2014, it’s all been about the renewed confidence and energy of the local film productions, and a return to the uniquely Hong Kong–focused stories. The tide started to turn with Pang Ho-cheung’s 2012 comedy about filmmaking, Vulgaria (Opening Film of NYAFF 2013). It became one of the highest grossing Hong Kong films of 2012, as Pang made Hong Kong audiences feel important again by producing a film filled with local humor for a homegrown audience. Critical and commercial successes continued for Hong Kong films throughout 2013 and local films even returned to the top of the Lunar New Year box office in 2014, led by outrageous comedy Golden Chickensss. So this year, we’re celebrating this restored strength of Hong Kong films with: 3D Naked Ambition, Aberdeen, As the Light Goes Out, Control, Firestorm, From Vegas to Macau, Golden Chicken, Golden Chickensss, May We Chat, Mr. Vampire, Overheard 3, Portland Street Blues, Rigor Mortis, and The White Storm.
Presented with the support of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York.

Discovered while working at a café in the trendy Seoul neighborhood of Apgujeong, Lee Jung-jae began his career as a model. He made the transition to television in 1993 with Dinosaur Teacher and became a star almost overnight. He gained his first film role in 1994 in The Young Man but that same year the TV drama Feelings cemented Lee as a household name. Lee was a heartthrob and went on to appear in several more dramas before a starring role in E J-yong’s 1998 romantic drama An Affair turned him into a full-fledged movie star. Recently he has had a string of hits with films like the international crime caper The Thieves, the political gangster film New World, and the Joseon-era courtroom drama The Face Reader—the latest two films in particular have demonstrated Lee’s maturation as a character actor, where he has delivered some of his best dramatic performances to date. This focus will include The Face Reader, New World, and Il Mare.
Presented with the support of Korean Cultural Service in New York.

The legendary media mogul Sir Run Run Shaw (1907-2014) will forever be remembered for his instrumental role in revolutionizing the Chinese film industry by co-founding the famous Shaw Brothers (HK) Ltd in 1958, building Asia’s largest film studio in Clearwater Bay (completed in 1964), and along with Raymond Chow, creating a mass production system with in-house talent—including directors Li Han-hsiang, King Hu, Chang Cheh, Lau Kar-leung, Chor Yuen, Kuei Chih-hung, and stars like Jimmy Wang Yu (Jimmy Wong), Gordon Liu, and Ti Lung. While the studio delivered more than 1,000 films over the years, in a wide range of genres, it was best known internationally for its martial-arts cinema. Our tribute will include the following films: The One-Armed Swordsman (1967), The Chinese Boxer (1970), The Delinquent (1974), The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires (1974), Killers on Wheels (1976), Killer Constable (1980), and Seeding of a Ghost (1983).
Presented with the support of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York and Celestial Pictures.

Opening Night After-Party
NYAFF 2014, in collaboration with Flaskingtree Marketing Group (, will host the official Opening Night After-Party on June 27, 2014, 8:00pm-1:00am, at the Empire Rooftop Bar & Lounge. Located across the street from the Lincoln Center, at the Empire Hotel, the After-Party will be co-hosted by celebrity DJ Whoo Kid.

We’re deeply grateful for the support of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York, the Korean Cultural Service New York, the Taipei Cultural Center of TECO in New York, Kenneth A. Cowin Foundation, The Korea Society, and The Celebrity magazine.

We would also like to thank our sponsors: The Kitano Hotel, Anthology Film Archives, Møsefund Farm, Manhattan Portage, American Australian Association, Well Go USA, Drafthouse Films, RAM Releasing, Celestial Pictures, American Genre Film Archive, Huayi Brothers Media, Fortune Star, Epic Proportions, Flaskingtree Marketing Group, Kirin, and Urban Action Showcase; and our media partners: Screen International, Film Business Asia, and Noonchi.

Keep up with the latest festival news at:,, twitter: @subwaycinema (#NYAFF14)
Tickets are on sale both at the box office and online. Discounts are available for Film Society members. Read more about The Film Society of Lincoln Center.

Screenings will be held at the Film Society of Lincoln Center's Walter Reade Theater (located at 165 West 65th Street, between Amsterdam Avenue and Broadway), Japan Society (333 East 47th Street, between 1st and 2nd Avenues), and Asia Society (725 Park Avenue, at 70th Street).

The 2014 New York Asian Film Festival Guests include:

Chihiro Yamamoto (UZUMASA LIMELIGHT)
Director Alan Mak (OVERHEARD 3)
Director Felix Chong (OVERHEARD 3)
Director Anna Broinowski (AIM HIGH IN CREATION!)
Director Fei Xing (SILENT WITNESS)
Director Umin Boya (KANO)
Director Lee Su-jin (HAN GONG-JU)
Director Shin Yeon-shick (ROUGH PLAY)
Director Ken Ochiai (UZUMASA LIMELIGHT)

The 2014 New York Asian Film Festival lineup:

International Premiere
OVERHEARD 3 (2014)
Country: Hong Kong
Directors: Alan Mak & Felix Chong
After tackling insider trading and stock market manipulation, writers-directors Alan Mak and Felix Chong—the minds behind Infernal Affairs—turn to the real estate conspiracies in the Hong Kong New Territories in the third and reportedly final installment of the hugely popular Overheard series. Recently released from prison, Jau (Louis Koo) leads an intricate plan to take down the Luk Brothers, a group of bullies who rule the villages with an iron grip, and Uncle To (Kenneth Tsang), the self-proclaimed godfather of the New Territories. Featuring an all-star cast—including Mainland China’s Zhou Xun—and a story ripped from the headlines, Overheard 3 is an epic saga of loyalty and morality that Sergio Leone might have made had he been working in Hong Kong.
Directors Alan Mak and Felix Chong will attend the screening.
Presented with the support of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York.

North American Premiere
KANO (2014)
Country: Taiwan
Language: Japanese, Taiwanese, Hakka, and Taiwan Aboriginal with English subtitles
Director: Umin Boya
The star of Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale and already an award-winning television director, Umin Boya, makes his feature-film directorial debut with the true story of Kagi Agriculture and Forestry Public School’s baseball team. Known as the pioneers of Taiwanese baseball in the 1930s, this ragtag group of young players—made up of both Japanese and Taiwanese students—went from holding a losing record to playing in the finals of Japan’s high-school baseball tournament in one year under the leadership of their new Japanese coach (Nagase Masatoshi). A love letter to the sport of baseball and imbued with the never-give-up spirit, this three-hour crowd-pleasing sports epic is a triumph of Taiwan cinema and one of the highest-grossing local films of all time.
Director Umin Boya will attend the screening.
Presented with the support of the Taipei Cultural Center of TECO in New York.

North American Premiere
Country: South Korea
Director: Park Chan-kyong
Directed by visual artist Park Chan-kyong (Day Trip and Night Fishing, both co-directed with his brother Park Chan-wook), Manshin is a cinematic feast for the mind and the senses, a thought-provoking mystical journey into the psyche of Korea and its modern history through a life story of Korea’s most famous living shaman, Kim Keum-hwa. Both the life of Kim—who was born in 1931 and became a shaman at 17—and significant moments of modern Korea are chronicled through rare archival footage, performances of shamanistic “gut” rituals, dramatic reenactment of real stories (Moon So-ri portrays Kim in the 1970s), and even animation and fantasy sequences. Featuring original music by Korean indie band UhUhBoo Project (Night Fishing), Manshin transports viewers beyond the borders of past and present, South and North Korea, life and afterlife, reality and fantasy. It is unlike any other film you’ll see at NYAFF this year.
Moon So-ri will attend the screening.
Presented with the support of Korean Cultural Service in New York.

North American Premiere
Director: Lee Kung-lok
Country: Hong Kong
This hilarious sex comedy follows Chapman To (Vulgaria) as he leaves Hong Kong for Japan in hopes of becoming a porn producer. The film feels like a throwback to some of the best Hong Kong Cat III comedies, with tons of innuendo, a bit of social comedy and rapid-fire wit, and fun (if a bit sticky) uses of 3-D.
Presented with the support of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York.

Country: Hong Kong
Director: Pang Ho-cheung
A beautifully composed, imaginative, and finely observed dramedy that examines relationships across three generations of a Hong Kong family. Pang Ho-cheung’s magic-realist touch gives the story grace notes like whale sightings, kaiju rampages, and unexploded WWII bombs found in the center of downtown Hong Kong.
Presented with the support of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York.

U.S. Premiere
Country: Australia
Director: Anna Broinowski
In this revolutionary comedy documentary about the cinematic genius of North Korea’s late Dear Leader Kim Jong-il, Anna Broinowski visits North Korea with a goal to learn first hand how to make a propaganda film, according to the rules of his 1987 Manifesto “The Cinema and Directing.”
Director Anna Broinowski will attend the screening.
Presented with the support of American Australian Association’s Dame Joan Sutherland Fund.

North American Premiere
Country: Japan
Director: Shinsuke Sato
In this adaptation of the popular eponymous mystery novel by Keisuke Matsuoka, Paris provides the gorgeous backdrop for a grand intrigue involving the world’s most iconic artistic treasure: the Mona Lisa. Minds will be blown, puzzles will be solved, but will a 500-year-old curse be removed? From the director who gave you the blockbusters Gantz and Library Wars.
Presented with Japan Cuts: The New York Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema.

New York Premiere
Country: Taiwan
Director: Hsieh Chun-yi
A China-Taiwan cross-cultural rom-com with an excellent, unforced chemistry between its leads, Apolitical Romance follows Mainland girl (Huang Lu) as she visits Taiwan and gets involved with a local guy (Bryan Chang) who helps her track down her grandmother’s first love from 60-odd years ago.
Presented with the support of the Taipei Cultural Center of TECO in New York.

North American Premiere
Country: Hong Kong/China
Director: Derek Kwok
Hong Kong stars Simon Yam, Shawn Yue, Nic Tse, and Hu Jun (Firestorm, Drug War) play a squad of firefighters trapped in a testosterone-fueled soap opera. If you aren’t wiping away Man Tears by the end of this movie, then it’s only because you’re running out of the theater to file your application to join the fire department.
Presented with the support of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York.

U.S. Premiere
Country: Japan
Director: Koji Fukada
A light comedy of manners played out during 10 days in a seaside town, Au revoir l’été is a nicely played Eric Rohmer-esque rondo of human behavior, with its teenage central character Sakuko (a strikingly assured Fumi Nikaido) philosophically observing the small hypocrisies and lies by the adults around her, as well as going through a small learning experience of her own.
Fumi Nikaido will attend the screening.

North American Premiere
Country: China/France
Director: Lou Ye
Easily the most powerful and innovative Asian film of this year, Blind Massage consolidates the rebirth of Mainland director Lou Ye (NYAFF 2013 selection Mystery) as a world-class talent. By following the lives of the blind and partially sighted masseurs and masseuses of Sha Zonqi Massage Centre in Nanjing, Lou creates a true ensemble movie and a powerful ride through a parallel world of metaphysical cinema.

Country: Hong Kong
Director: Jimmy Wong Yu
When you talk about movies that changed the world, The Chinese Boxer unquestionably has to take its place among them. Jimmy Wang Yu was already an established superstar in Hong Kong and Asia, but The Chinese Boxer, his first film as director, wasn’t just the first open-handed martial-arts film from Hong Kong to become a worldwide blockbuster, but its influence on all martial-arts films since, especially Bruce Lee’s, cannot be understated.
Jimmy Wong Yu will attend the screening.
Presented with the support of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York and Celestial Pictures.

New York Premiere
COLD EYES (2013)
Country: South Korea
Director: Choi Eui-seok
A splashy and gripping remake of Johnnie To’s Hong Kong hit thriller Eye in the Sky (2007), which became a surprise box-office smash last summer in Korea, Cold Eyes is anchored by Sol Kyung-gu’s performance as a rumpled middle-aged surveillance guru. Watch for a cameo by Eye in the Sky star, Simon Yam, right before the credits roll.
Sol Kyung-gu will attend the screening on July 7, and will be presented with Star Asia Award.
Presented with the support of Korean Cultural Service in New York.

North American Premiere
CONTROL (2013)
Country: Hong Kong/China/Taiwan
Director: Kenneth Bi
Writer-director Kenneth Bi (Rice Rhapsody, The Drummer) delivers his most ambitious movie to date, the futuristic thriller Control, a big-budget, noirish mystery with multiple twists, set in an unnamed Asian metropolis. The film follows an insurance salesman, played by Daniel Wu, as he is coerced to commit criminal acts by an unseen villain, who sends instructions over the phone and has control of the city’s surveillance cameras.
Presented with the support of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York.

Country: Hong Kong
Directors: Chan Cheh & Kuei Chih-Hung
In one of the most aggressively experimental action movies ever to come out of Shaw Brothers, Wang Chung plays an angry young man sweating to death in the grotty ghetto of modern-day Hong Kong, who gets recruited by a local gang. Raw and feral.
Presented with the support of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York and Celestial Pictures.

New York Premiere
Country: Japan
Director: Shiraishi Kazuya
An ambitious, brooding character study that intelligently tackles heavy issues like press ethics, the nature and causes of crime, the throes of guilt, the (im)possibility of redemption, and, at the deepest level, the banality of evil, The Devil’s Path is a slow burn that shows the hellish torment of a guilty conscience as it chronicles the case of a condemned yakuza played by actor-singer Pierre Taki.
Presented with Japan Cuts: The New York Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema.

U.S. Premiere
Country: Japan
Director: Takashi Yamazaki
Japan’s biggest hit last year, and one of the 10 top-grossing Japanese films of all time, The Eternal Zero will no doubt provide the most extreme film experience of the NYAFF/Japan Cuts 2014 lineup. Infuriating in its ideological and political black holes as it is exhilarating in its superb visual artistry and emotional intensity, it’s a film that will leave no one indifferent.
Presented with Japan Cuts: The New York Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema.

Country: South Korea
Director: Han Jae-rim
The Face Reader, which beat Iron Man 3 at the Korean box office last year, is a lavish period drama with high-level cast at the top of its game, witty dialogue, and a smooth mixture of low comedy and high drama. The film spins on the contradictions between outward appearances and inner feelings as it follows a professional physiognomist, hired to weed out corrupt officials at Joseon dynasty court, who becomes entangled in a power struggle for the throne.
Lee Jung-jae will attend the screening.

Presented with the support of Korean Cultural Service in New York.

New York Premiere
Country: Hong Kong/China/Malaysia
Director: Alan Yuen
Hong Kong superstar Andy Lau plays Lui, a prissy police detective who’s getting his butt handed to him by flashy thief Nam (Hu Jun, Drug War and As the Light Goes Out), an insanely competent career criminal who knocks over armored cars like dominos. What follows is an action movie turned up to 11, in which everything goes to hell hard and fast and by the time the end credits roll, pretty much everyone in Hong Kong has been murdered in an epic shootout.
Presented with the support of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York.

New York Premiere
Country: Hong Kong/China
Director: Wong Jing
A semi-sequel to God of Gamblers (1989), one of the most iconic Hong Kong movies of all time, this flick is a showcase for Chow Yun-fat, the Godzilla of Hong Kong movies: a massive megastar who towers over the landscape. A charmer who oozes so much debonair sexiness that he makes Don Draper look drab, Chow is firing on all cylinders in this no-holds-barred gambling movie, directed by Wong Jing, who will do absolutely anything to entertain an audience.
Presented with the support of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York.

North American Premiere
Country: Japan
Director: Yosuke Fujita
An irresistibly quirky comedy about love, losers, loners, and life in a run-down apartment complex called FukuFuku Flats, Fuku-chan offers laughs aplenty, sweet and bitter, in the expert hands of helmer Yosuke Fujita (Fine, Totally Fine, winner of the 2008 Audience Award at NYAFF) and his lead actress, comedienne Miyuki Oshima (Gu Gu the Cat, The Handsome Suit, Miss Kurosawa), who’s cast here in the improbable role of a Japanese everyman (sort of) rich in friends and poor in romance.

Country: Hong Kong
Director: Samson Chiu
Sandra Ng plays Kum, a hooker with a heart of gold and a brain of bubblegum who takes us on a tour of Hong Kong history, as seen from the bedroom. Kum started turning tricks in high school, then moved on to an upscale nightclub where she overcame her lack of good looks by developing a never-say-die personality. She goes independent, weathers Tiananmen Square, a couple of financial crises, the 1997 handover, and everything else that life throws at her, never losing hope that there will always be a better tomorrow.
Sandra Ng will attend the screening.
Presented with the support of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York.

North American Premiere
Country: Hong Kong
Director: Matt Chow
This bawdy comedy, featuring veteran comedienne Sandra Ng as a mama-san with a calculator for a soul, is a celebration of Hong Kong, and a real treat for the fans of HK cinema. Shambolic, reckless, and defiantly un-PC, Golden Chickensss celebrates hard work, hard weiners, big hearts, and big boobs. One of the most loving, high-spirited movies about sex workers you’ll ever see, the whole thing even ends with the cast bursting into song for no good reason other than they’re having a blast.
Sandra Ng will attend the screening on June 27, and will be presented with Star Asia Award.
Presented with the support of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York.

New York Premiere
Country: Japan
Director: Yuya Ishii
Cult arthouse director Yuya Ishii (Sawako Decides) has racked up all the top honors at the Japan Academy Awards earlier this year with this deceptively simple yet immensely captivating, existential comedy/drama about a charmingly nerdy editor, Majime Mitsuya (Ryuhei Matsuda), who spends decades dutifully writing and compiling definitions for a “living language” dictionary entitled The Great Passage.
Presented with Japan Cuts: The New York Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema.

New York Premiere
HAN GONG-JU (2014)
Country: South Korea
Director: Lee Su-jin
This supremely beautiful social and psychological drama follows a high-school girl, as she seeks anonymity and escape from the horror of an unnamed past experience. Praised by Martin Scorsese, who presented it with the Golden Star for Best Film at the Marrakech International Film Festival last year, the feature debut from writer-director Lee Su-jin is a devastating portrait of South Korea’s blame culture, embedded cronyism, and destructive family pressures.
Director Lee Su-jin will attend the screening.
Presented with the support of The Korea Society.

North American Premiere
HOPE (2014)
Country: South Korea
Director: Lee Joon-ik
Inspired by a horrifying case of child rape some five years ago in South Korea, Hope brings a fresh approach to a difficult subject matter, and by focusing on the victim’s recovery, ultimately delivers technically flawless feel-good human drama, guided by the steady hand of producer-director Lee Joon-ik (King and the Clown), and anchored by veteran actors Sol Kyung-gu and Uhm Ji-won as the child’s parents.
Sol Kyung-gu will attend the screening.
Presented with the support of Korean Cultural Service in New York.

IL MARE (2000)
Country: South Korea
Director: Lee Hyun-seung
Two enormous Korean stars (Lee Jung-jae and Jun Ji-hyun), a magical time-portal mailbox, and a house by the lake were all mixed into the Korean melodrama pot in 2000 and out came Il Mare. The performances of the leads along with the brilliant production design by Kim Ki-cheol and beautiful cinematography by Alex Hong have since cemented this in the canon of Korean romantic dramas.
Lee Jung-jae will attend the screening.
Presented with the support of Korean Cultural Service in New York.

Country: Hong Kong
Director: Kuei Chih-hung
Shaw Brothers legend Chen Kuan-tai out-grims the Grim Reaper playing a Qing Dynasty constable assigned by the Empress to track down a stolen shipment of gold. Probably Kuei Chih-hung’s masterpiece, Killer Constable is a classic martial-arts film, served bleaker and angrier than ever before. Coming at the end of the new wuxia cycle that kicked off in 1967 with The One-Armed Swordsman, it is a movie in which everyone is exhausted to the depths of their souls, every swordsman is a sadist, and every blade has to be bathed in blood before it’s put away.
Presented with the support of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York and Celestial Pictures.

Country: Hong Kong
Director: Kuei Chih-hung
Kuei Chih-hung loves his exploitation tropes, and with this movie he gives the world his very own, very bloody take on the biker picture (known more evocatively as Madboys in Hong Kong). Motorcycles jump through houses! Stuntmen on fire get thrown off rooftops! Boiling oil scorches faces! Biker gals strip naked! Spearguns will be used! By the end of this movie, everyone under the age of 21 has been run over, pierced, chopped, slashed, burned to death, or just bludgeoned into submission with a big old hog.
Presented with the support of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York and Celestial Pictures.

Country: Hong Kong
Director: Roy Ward Baker
Shaw Brothers wanted to rule the world in 1974, and stage one in their plan for global domination was to team up with Hammer Studios, England’s House of Horror, and make a kung-fu vampire movie. Starring Peter Cushing as Van Helsing the vampire hunter, and Shaw Brothers icon David Chiang as his Chinese counterpart, this Saturday matinee horror hybrid was co-directed by Chang Cheh (uncredited; The One-Armed Swordsman) and Roy Ward Baker (Quatermass and the Pit).
Presented with the support of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York and Celestial Pictures.

Country: Hong Kong
Director: Chor Yuen
One of the finest wuxia films ever made (#85 on Time Out Hong Kong’s list of the Greatest Hong Kong Films of All Time), The Magic Blade (adapted from Gu Long’s celebrated novel) is a perfect mixture of swordplay, fantasy, martial arts, heroic bloodshed (and we do mean bloodshed), and more Ti Lung greatness that any moviegoer could ever ask for. It remains one of the true classics of the entire Shaw Brothers library.
Presented with the support of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York and Celestial Pictures.

New York Premiere
Country: Japan
Director: Kankuro Kudo
The sole spine-cracking ambition in life of sex-crazed 14-year-old Maruyama (Takuma Hiraoka) is to lick his own weenie. Described by acclaimed actor/screenwriter/director Kankuro Kudo (writer of Ping Pong and Zebraman) as a “self-fellatio” comedy, Maruyama is actually a deeply moving coming-of-age story, an exploration of the liberating possibilities of the human imagination, and a study of what it means to live with other people.
Presented with Japan Cuts: The New York Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema.

North American Premiere
MAY WE CHAT (2013)
Country: Hong Kong
Director: Philip Yung
A teen slice-of-life drama that suddenly transforms into a gangland noir, it’s a modern-day version of the kind of hard-hitting juvenile-delinquent drama that Hong Kong used to be the master of, only updated to the 2.0 version. The film is anchored and elevated by three electric performances from three first-time actresses: there’s Rainky Wai as deaf-mute Chiu (who earns cash with “compensated dating”), Kabby Hui as shallow rich girl Li, and Heidi Lee as Wai-wai (who’s dealing with a junkie mom).
Presented with the support of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York.

New York Premiere
Country: Japan
Director: Sabu
Carefully blending horror tropes and thriller elements into a formally restrained, razor-sharp social satire that lovingly melds the humdrum and the deranged, Sabu’s Miss Zombie is a movie so dense it could bend light. Set in a futuristic Japan where zombies are domesticated as house pets and servants, it’s a work of compact beauty, predominantly monochrome and largely free of dialogue.
Presented with Japan Cuts: The New York Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema.

New York Premiere
MOEBIUS (2013)
Country: South Korea
Director: Kim Ki-duk
A playfully twisted black comedy with no dialogue, Moebius is an everyday tale of penectomy, rape, sadomasochistic sex, and incestuous love. It continues maverick writer-director Kim Ki-duk’s journey into the madness of the Korean soul—though in a much more in-your-face way than last year’s Pietà. It is a quintessentially Kim Ki-duk movie in its risk-taking and outsider feel, and could have been made by no other filmmaker currently working in the country.
Presented with the support of The Korea Society.

U.S. Premiere
Country: Japan
Director: Takashi Miike
Japan’s most prolific and most popular gonzo director Takashi Miike offers two irresistibly frantic hours of undiluted insanity. An out-and-out balls-to-the-wall cops vs. yazuka farce, based on a popular manga series about a cop infiltrating a powerful yakuza clan, the film leaves respectability, restraint, and decency at the door. The Mole Song is a monument erected to pop madness and perhaps, in more ways than one, an apotheosis of post-cinema cinema.
Presented with Japan Cuts: The New York Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema.

North American Premiere
Country: Japan
Director: Hideo Nakata
Japanese horror master Hideo Nakata (Ring and Dark Water) returns with the remake of the 2010 South Korean film Haunters (NYAFF 2011 selection, directed by Kim Min-seok), a somber paranormal thriller that offers an original, exciting variation of the tale of two men with supernatural abilities, locked in a duel to the death.
Presented with Japan Cuts: The New York Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema.

MR. VAMPIRE (1985)
Country: Hong Kong
Director: Ricky Lau
Bouncing through the moonlight like demented, bloodthirsty pogo sticks, hopping vampires are one of Hong Kong cinema’s most absurd and unique sights, and this is the movie that launched the craze that spawned hundreds of films. An avalanche of Canto comedy, genuine horror, and slam-bang stunts, this is probably the movie people are talking about when they say how awesome and insane Hong Kong cinema is.
Presented with the support of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York and Fortune Star.

North American Premiere
MY MAN (2014)
Country: Japan
Director: Kazuyoshi Kumakiri
A poignant, powerful, erotic drama about an adolescent girl (Fumi Nikaido) who is raised by her distant relative (Tadanobu Asano) after she loses her family in a tsunami. Based on Kazuki Sakuraba's controversial best seller, and directed by the award-winning Kazuyoshi Kumakiri (Sketches of Kaitan City), My Man is the quietly disturbing tale of two lost souls, fatefully brought together by a natural disaster, in Hokkaido, the northernmost part of the Japanese archipelago.
Fumi Nikaido will attend the screening and will be presented with the Screen International Rising Star Award.

NEW WORLD (2013)
Country: Korea
Director: Park Hoon-jung
Park Hoon-jung took what could have been another run-of-the-mill Korean gangster film and turned it into an absolutely fascinating, harrowing, and dizzying look at the power structures and politics of a criminal organization, anchored by phenomenal performances by Lee Jung-jae, Hwang Jeong-min, and Choi Min-sik.
Lee Jung-jae will attend the screening.
Presented with the support of Korean Cultural Service in New York.

North American Premiere
NO MAN’S LAND (2009)
Country: China
Director: Ning Hao
One part The Road Warrior and one part The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, this spaghetti Western via the Coen Brothers is a black comedy of errors from the director who brought us festival favorite Crazy Racer a couple of years ago. A savage, cynical satire, the film is a savvy indictment of the dog-eat-dog capitalism that’s currently eating China (and America) alive.

Country: Hong Kong
Director: Chang Cheh
The movie that changed everything. Chang Cheh’s breakthrough film, with action by the legendary Lau Kar-leung (Drunken Master II) and Tong Kai and starring Jimmy Wang Yu, a man who can convey an entire encyclopedia’s worth of badassery with one glower, The One-Armed Swordsman still has the power to kick over the establishment and drop a blade right through its skull.
Presented with the support of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York and Celestial Pictures.

Country: Japan
Director: Lisa Takeba
Ryosuke is drifting through life, but when he seduces a yakuza’s mistress, the gangsters rough him up and chop off his pinkie. It comes into the possession of Momoko, a girl who has been stalking him. She gets herself a cloning kit and grows her own Ryosuke-clone. Winner of the Grand Prix at the 24th Yubari International Fantastic Film Festival, Lisa Takeba’s debut feature is a hyper-imaginative crazytown sci-fi drama that’s flashy, funky, and filled to the brim with genre influences of all kinds.
Presented with Japan Cuts: The New York Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema.

Country: Hong Kong
Director: Yip Wai Man
Hong Kong’s mighty Young & Dangerous film series about young gangsters were huge hits that spawned numerous sequels and spin-off films, the best of which is this one, a stand-alone flick about Sister 13 (Sandra Ng), a lesbian pimp who sports a spiky ’do and boss suits. Shot in the streets at a breakneck pace, it’s a gutsy entertainer about the fluidity of sexuality, gangster feminism, and hardcore street fighting.
Sandra Ng will attend the screening.
Presented with the support of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York.

Country: South Korea
Director: Kang Woo-suk
In one of his career-defining roles, Sol Kyung-gu is fantastic as a corrupt detective relentlessly pursuing a murderer (Lee Sung-jae). In addition to all of the graphic violence are equally graphic jokes, and the audience comes away with one of the grittiest social satires to come out of Korea. Both characters are the titular “public enemy,” and the dedicated performances by the two lead actors carry this fiercely intelligent, darkly funny, and well-crafted film into classic territory.
Sol Kyung-gu will attend the screening.

Presented with the support of Korean Cultural Service in New York.

Manhattan Premiere
R100 (2013)
Country: Japan
Director: Hitoshi Matsumoto
Hitoshi Matsumoto is Japan’s most famous comedian, but even if you’ve seen his absurdist movies like Big Man Japan and Symbol you’ll barely be prepared for the bizarro S&M antics of this straight-faced send-up of every single genre in Japanese cinema. This is one of the funniest movies of the year, with something profound to say about the pursuit of pleasure, girl gangs, dominatrix armies, and total bondage warfare.

Country: Hong Kong
Director: Juno Mak
A spiritual sequel to Mr. Vampire, this moody flick is a gothic reinvention of Hong Kong’s classic hopping-vampire movies that turbo-charges the tired old formula with modern filmmaking chops. Crammed with a gallery of old-school greats, from Shaw Brothers vet Kara Hui, to famed Eighties comedian Richard Ng, this cast is a blast from Hong Kong’s creepy old past.
Presented with the support of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York.

North American Premiere
Country: South Korea
Director: Shin Yeon-shick
Rough. Raw. Real. From the Kim Ki-duk school of filmmaking comes this hard-edged drama about the pains of being an actor, featuring Korean heartthrob Lee Joon in a breakthrough role. Lee is absolutely captivating in a performance all about the destruction that narcissism and rampant ego can bring. A darker than dark take on the Korean film industry, Rough Play rails against the apathy of a business wholly concerned with appearance and that gives no long-term thought to the future.
Director Shin Yeon-shick will attend the screening.
Presented with the support of the Korea Society.

Country: Hong Kong
Director: Chuan Yang
In this outrageous exploitation horror film from Shaw Brothers, a taxi driver enlists the help of a sorcerer to avenge the brutal murder of his wife. If you’ve got any personal rules about not watching movies featuring necrophilia, worm eating, or mutant births, then you should probably stay home. If you want to see tentacled hell beasts issuing from poisoned wombs and chowing down on yuppies, then you should definitely come on down.
Presented with the support of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York and Celestial Pictures.

North American Premiere
Country: Japan
Director: Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Putting aside his J-horror roots after the Cannes award-winning Tokyo Sonata (2008) and the widely praised TV serial/movie Penance (2012), Kurosawa offers a surprising, radical break from an already broad oeuvre with this freewheeling fast-track thriller full of twists and turns. The film follows a kooky, pretty girl (Atsuko Maeda, a hugely popular idol/singer in Japan) as she wanders the mean streets of bleak, post-Soviet Vladivostok. Preceded by Kurosawa’s 29-minute Beautiful New Bay Area Project.

North American Premiere
Country: China
Director: Fei Xing
This superbly crafted crime/courtroom procedural follows the trial of a millionaire’s daughter for the murder of her future stepmother. With a script that doesn’t ever loosen its grip, a big-name cast at the top of its game, and an atmospheric production package that’s all in service of the drama, Silent Witness is mesmerizing entertainment, and a game-changer in Mainland genre cinema.
Director Fei Xing will attend the screening.

U.S. Premiere
Country: Japan
Director: Yoshihiro Nakamura
Powered by a complicated Chinese puzzle box of a murder plot, The Snow White Murder Case was helmed by the director of Fish Story and Golden Slumbers (both NYAFF/Japan Cuts favorites), and it’s one of the best brainteasers of the year. Based on a novel by best-selling author Kanae Minato (who wrote Confessions), the film dissects the odd goings-on behind the grim discovery of a burned-to-the-crisp corpse found in a national park near Tokyo.
Presented with Japan Cuts: The New York Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema.

New York Premiere
SOUL (2013)
Country: Taiwan
Director: Chung Mong-hong
Taiwan’s official submission for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2013 Oscars is a dark, art-house slasher-psychodrama set in the backwoods of Taiwan, starring legendary actor Jimmy Wong Yu.
Jimmy Wong Yu will attend the screening on July 5, and will be presented with the Star Asia Lifetime Achievement Award.
Presented with the support of the Taipei Cultural Center of TECO in New York.

Country: South Korea
Director: Kim Byeong-woo
Unfolding in real time, and set mostly in the claustrophobic radio studio, this film is a showcase for Ha Jung-woo (The Chaser, Nameless Gangster), who plays a call-in-show host who manipulates, bullies, cajoles, cowers, lies, and unleashes righteous anger as he goes up against an unseen terrorist who threatens to blow up a bridge on the Han River.
Presented with the support of Korean Cultural Service in New York.

North American Premiere
TOP STAR (2013)
Country: South Korea
Director: Park Joong-hoon
The directorial debut of veteran actor Park Joong-hoon (Nowhere to Hide, Two Cops) is a perfect study of the ephemeral nature of fame and success, set in the cutthroat world that is the Korean film industry. Park relies on his 28 years of acting experience working on films with major Korean directors to confidently deliver a stylish and compelling tale of the rise, fall, and redemption of an actor.
Director Park Joong-hoon will attend the screening on June 28, and will be presented with The Celebrity Award.
Presented with the support of Korean Cultural Service in New York.

North American Premiere
Country: Japan
Director: Ken Ochiai
A moving, nostalgic portrait of the men behind the golden age of chanbara (sword-fighting dramas and films) that goes behind the scenes of the distinctive film genre for which Japan is most famous, with dominant performance by real-life kirare-yaku Seizo Fukumoto.
Director Ken Ochiai, Chihiro Yamamoto, and Seizo Fukumoto will attend the screening.
Presented with Japan Cuts: The New York Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema.

North American Premiere
Country: Hong Kong/China
One part Reefer Madness, one part John Woo–level action bromance (with Louis Koo, Nick Cheung, and Sean Lau in the leads), The White Storm is an all-you-can eat buffet that piles its plate high with gunfights, male bonding, car crashes, snappy action, super melodrama, handsome cops, and intense style.
Presented with the support of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York.

Manhattan Premiere
Country: Japan
Director: Sion Sono
A delirious back-to-bloody-basics film that pays tribute to old-school yakuza cinema and low-budget amateur filmmaking, Why Don’t You Play in Hell is based on a screenplay bad-boy director Sion Sono (a NYAFF/Japan Cuts guest in 2009) wrote 17 years ago. The director himself describes it as “an action film about the love of 35mm.”
Fumi Nikaido will attend the screening.
Presented with Japan Cuts: The New York Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema.

North American Premiere
WOOD JOB! (2014)
Country: Japan
Director: Shinobu Yaguchi
The new film from the director of Water Boys is based on Miura Shion’s bestseller, a bittersweet coming-of-age novel dealing with forestry (the “wood job” of the title… nothing dirty here!), and has earned praised from Studio Ghibli's very own Hayao Miyazaki.
Presented with Japan Cuts: The New York Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema.

New York Premiere
Country: Taiwan
Director: Chen Yu-hsun
Failed actress Chan runs away to her hometown trying to stay a step ahead of debt collectors. While there, she discovers that the only way to raise the cash she needs is to start catering out of her stepmother’s hole-in-the-wall restaurant. As colorful as a bowl full of hard candies, Zone Pro Site is a delightful foodie comedy feast that will have you gnawing on the stuffing from your seat cushion in hunger.
Presented with the support of the Taipei Cultural Center of TECO in New York.

NYAFF 2014 Full Schedule
Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade Theater

Fri, June 27
5:00 OVERHEARD 3 (111) + guest appearance
8:30 GOLDEN CHICKENSSS (102) + guest appearance (Star Asia Award presentation)

Sat, June 28
12:30 GOLDEN CHICKEN (106) + guest appearance
3:15 PORTLAND STREET BLUES (120) + guest appearance
6:15 TOP STAR (107) + guest appearance (The Celebrity Award presentation)
9:15 3D NAKED AMBITION (120)

Sun, June 29
2:50 THE WHITE STORM (137)
5:35 KANO (185) + guest appearance

Mon, June 30
3:30 TOP STAR (107)
6:00 HAN GONG-JU (112) + guest appearance
8:45 BLIND MASSAGE (117)

Tue, July 1
6:30 ROUGH PLAY (98) + guest appearance
9:15 NO MAN’S LAND (115)

Wed, July 2
2:30 BLIND MASSAGE (117)
5:00 MAY WE CHAT (100)
7:15 R100 (98)
9:30 MOEBIUS (88)

Thu, July 3
3:30 ROUGH PLAY (98) + guest appearance

Fri, July 4
2:00 MR. VAMPIRE (96) + RIGOR MORTIS (101) double feature

Sat, July 5
6:15 THE ONE-ARMED SWORDSMAN (111) + guest appearance
9:15 SOUL (112) + guest appearance (Lifetime Achievement Award presentation)

Sun, July 6
1:00 MONSTERZ (111)
3:30 THE CHINESE BOXER (86) + guest appearance
6:00 NEW WORLD (134) + guest appearance
9:15 SILENT WITNESS (118) + guest appearance

Mon, July 7
2:00 PUBLIC ENEMY (135)
5:15 THE FACE READER (139) + guest appearance
8:45 COLD EYES (118) + guest appearance (Star Asia Award presentation)

Tue, July 8
3:30 IL MARE (95) + guest appearance
6:00 HOPE (123) + guest appearance
9:00 AU REVOIR L’ÉTÉ (125) + guest appearance

Wed, July 9
1:00 SOUL (112)
3:30 MISS ZOMBIE (85)
6:00 MY MAN (128) + guest appearance (Screen International Rising Star Award presentation)
9:15 FIRESTORM 3D (109)

Thu, July 10
1:00 COLD EYES (118)
3:30 ABERDEEN (98)
5:40 CONTROL (92)
8:15 AIM HIGH IN CREATION! (97) + guest appearance

Japan Society

Thu, July 10
8:30 WHY DON’T YOU PLAY IN HELL? (119) + guest appearance

Fri, July 11

Sat, July 12
6:00 THE DEVIL’S PATH (128)
8:30 MISS ZOMBIE (85)
10:30 THE PINKIE (65)

Sun, July 13
12:30 WOOD JOB! (116)
3:00 MONSTERZ (111)
8:00 UZUMASA LIMELIGHT (103) + guest appearance

Asia Society

Fri, July 11

Sun, July 13

Mon, July 14
8:05 MANSHIN: TEN THOUSAND SPIRITS (105) + guest appearance

Pirates of Capri (1949)

Pirates of Capri is also known as the Masked Pirate since the pirate leader played by Louis Hayward wears a mask. Hayward plays Captain Sirrocco who has whipped up the populace in order to get back some freedom from the crown. Captain Sirrocco is in reality the Count Amalfi and the events of the film concern the impending wedding of Amalfi to a member of the Queen’s court.

Large scale historical swashbuckler is a good time Italian produced spectacle. It exactly the sort of thing that Italy became known for in the period after the Second World War great looking films made on a budget. For me, who is much too young ever to see this on the big screen , this is the sort of film that was regularly shown on the Late Late Show.

The film is out on DVD from David Kalat’s All Day Entertainment in a special edition that included production photos and interview with director Edgar Ulmer’s wife and daughter. Kalat’s company has put out several DVDs as part of their Edgar Ulmer collection which is a series of releases that are trying to show the director in the best light possible.

While I’m not a basher of Ulmer’s, I am not what you would call a fan either. While there is no doubt Ulmer made some amazing films, his Black Cat is a favorite of mine, as are some of his 1950’s science fiction films (Man From Planet X, Beyond the Time Barrier) largely I don’t see what the fuss is all about.

You’ll forgive me for saying this but I don’t quite understand the way he’s considered an auteur by some people. While there is no doubt that he was a good director, capable of making drek into something watchable, the real fact of the matter is that he was ultimately an unremarkable director who managed to turn out an occasional really good film. Look at the body of work that Ulmer turned out and look at the number of really great films, there aren’t many. Yes there are some interesting ones but a good number of them aren’t really that good and are more interesting than anything (Journey Under the Desert anyone? Island of Forgotten Sins? Both are psychotonically weird). I know some people have argued that if only Ulmer had better resources and less studio interference, but at the same time that could be said about many other people as well. Why Ulmer and why not William Whitney or any other B director?

While I respect the opinion of people like David Kalat, especially since I know he’s actually watched all of Ulmer’s work, I kind of question the majority of other people who tout him highly since I doubt they’ve really seen his body of work.

And within that body of work Pirates of Capri stand near the top of Ulmer’s work. It feels like a film where he was allowed to make a film as he wanted and didn’t have to skimp. Definitely worth searching out.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Tombstone Canyon (1932)

Ken Maynard plays a cowboy searching for his identity. Returning "home" due to a note from a friend Ken finds himself in the middle of  a bad situation . Not only are people taking pot shots at him but "The Phantom Killer" is taking out people .

 To be perfectly honest I wasn't going to review this film. I was watching the movie and it was playing out so cliche and so been there and done that I couldn't in good  conscious recommend it. And then about a half an hour in something happened, I suddenly realized that even though the film was by rote there was something about the look of the film was special. The locations are not like the vast majority of other westerns with cliffs and canyons that don't seem to have been used to death. The finale is set on top of them and the fact it appears to have been shot on location adds so much to the film. There is danger, someone may go over the edge.

More importantly the film is filled with action. I don't think five or six minutes pass before some one shoots a gun, throws a punch or the sound of the cry of The Phantom Killer is heard. Things just keep moving along at such a clip you don't care that it's similar to what you've seen before, You're simply pulled along.

Is it great? No, but it is damn fun. Definitely worth the hour it takes to un-spool, especially since the film is available in several bargain collections.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Saddle Mountain Roundup (1941)

Maytbe I should stay here and hold the horse

Old man Magpie Harper is afraid that someone is out to kill him. In the hope of keeping him safe he sends for the Range Busters- Ray Crash Corrigan and Dusty King. However before they can get there someone makes good and kills Magpie. It soon becomes apparent that someone will stop at until they get their hands on the cattle drive money.

Rated as the best of the 24 film Range Buster series this film plays like a weird cross of an old dark house film crossed with a western. Hitting all of the typical dark house tropes (murder, a will, hidden rooms and secrets) it twists and turns them in some unique ways, including Max Terhune's Alibi who wanders through the proceedings carrying a ventriloquists dummy named Elmer. (Elmer by the way lists as a character at IMDB with 55 films to his credit). Of course there are some horse back chases, gunfights and typical western action but largely this is a mystery, and a good one.

I've seen a couple of the Range Buster films over the years and for the most part they are pretty good. They are your typical western programmers spiced up with good characters and just the right mix of comedy and action.  I would have to agree that this is probably one of the best, but then again I'm partial to mysteries. My problem with the program westerns is that unless you are a scholar or a die hard western fan the best you can do is simply say if something is good or not, Saddle Mountain Roundup is really good, so much so that I'd gladly put it on again.

Available in several bargain collections and worth spending a couple of bucks on or watching on You Tube

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Two from IFC FILMS -Gods Pocket and The Face of Love

As long time readers know I subscribe to the IFC IN THEATERS service on cable. It allows subscribers to see current IFC releases for nominal monthly fee (as in less than half a movie ticket price in these parts)  Over the last few days I took a look at some of the films they were offering. While both of this warranted mentioning, neither deserved a big write up.

Gods Pocket
One of the last films from actor Philip Seymour Hoffman has him as a down on his luck guy dealing with the death of a step-son, the unhappiness of his wife and gambling debts

The first film directed by actor John Slattery, Gods Pocket is as well made and well acted as a film as you're ever likely to run across.

The problem is it's also a real downer. This is 89 minutes down among the down and out. Its a bit too much down and out and about 20 minutes in I wanted to bail because it was so bleak. I hung in their for the performances.

If you want to see great performances give it ago- however if you want light and airy stay away

The Face of Love
Annette Benning is married to Ed Harris. When he dies she ends up falling in love with someone who looks exactly her dead husband.

Great actors. Great people.--To be perfectly honest I have no idea what happens in the film. I've seen it twice. I've enjoyed it twice and both times a half an hour after I saw it I had no idea what happened.

I know thats not a ringing endorsement however f you want to see something that is good but isn't taxing give it a shot.

desert sands

What a cheesy movie-and I mean that in a most affectionate way.

Desert Sands is a half-baked desert film about a brother and sister whose father was killed by members of the French Foreign Legion. The pair then grew up plotting revenge, a matter complicated by the girl falling for a Legionnaire

Exactly the sort of movie that they don’t do any more and which a couple decades back would have been a staple of late late late night TV this twisted little film suffers from a soap opera plot and wooden acting. Yea it has John Carradine chewing scenery as the evil uncle of the siblings (he killed his brother so he could manipulate his nephew into driving the interlopers out) but everyone else is stiff as a board. Yea it’s silly but in a so bad its good sort of way.

The selling point of the film is the action especially the final half hour which has the ill defended fort taken over by baddies who are planning on ambushing a column of Legionnaires. A huge battle sequence occurs, which is exciting on its own terms, but absolutely hypnotic as you realize few of the shots match, logic has gone out the window and bad guys keep getting shot and falling into the exact same pile of hay over and over again. I was so taken with it that I had to hunt the film down to watch it all over again (It’s on Amazon streaming).

Art doesn’t come into any discussion involving this film, however fun does. This is a curl up on the couch and enjoy film.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Korengal (2014)

Sebastian Junger's KORENGAL is a great film. A follow up to his and Tim Hetherington's RESTREPO this film is just on the guys in the base and what it's like to be a a soldier.

Put together from the 150 plus hours of footage that Junger and Hetherington shot while making RESTREPO the film is not focused on anything so much as being a soldier. What is it like to be a soldier in a war zone. Its a stripped down look and its almost to the point where you could remove the Korengal Valley where the men are located and have it stand as for fighting men anywhere.

The strength and the power of the film is that the film isn't rah rah. This isn't about a glorious cause, unless its for the men on either side of these guys. This isn't a film about how great it is to be a soldier, actually most of the guys don't really know why they joined up and wouldn't want to be where they are except that not to be there would take them away from their brothers in arms. The forged bonds are why the men are there. One of the soldiers talks about how at a certain point he stopped caring, be stopped ducking for cover, stopped trying to remain safe, he only came around to doing things the right way when it was pointed out that if he went down one of the other guys would be put into danger to get his body back.

I've always knew that the band of brotherhood forged under fire was but until I saw this film I don't think I ever really understood it.

Sebastian Junger has made a truly great film. By focusing on the bonds and lives of these soldiers he's made a film that speaks about all soldiers across time. I can't give the film any higher praise than that.

The film opens Friday in New York and is highly recommended.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Nightcap 5/25/14 The Rectory,the Brooklyn Film Fest starts this week, quick word on X-Men and links

There is nothing to see here just some links.

Actually I almost had two different Nightcaps but things have gone sideways and I’ve decided not to use either of them. The first was a bleak piece on the future of Unseen Films that kind of intimated that the site might be winding down to nothing by years end. There’s a lot of tuth in the piece but it’s overly melodramatic. It needs to be revised and made less bleak.

The second piece is a long discussion of James Randi, the film about him An Honest Liar, Bertrand Russell’s teapot, Noah and the silence of God. The problem with that piece was that I saw Snowpiercer on the big screen on Thursday and I want to add that into the mix since the film operates as a discussion of the quest for God. Hopefully that will run sometime about the film opens in theaters.

I don’t have it in me to do a third full blown piece so I’m going to leave you with some links and then go back to cleaning the house.
I know I haven’t been going at you with hammer and tongs but time is running down on getting The Rectory made so you should break out your wallets and give.
Here’s the Indegogo page
Here’s my piece explain why you should give
The Brooklyn Film Festival is coming this week. We here at Unseen are still trying to figure out what we can get to. If you’re in the neighborhood and want to see some really good films you should make your way over to Indescreen and Windmill Studios at the end of the week. For information on the films and show times please go to the website which is here.
I saw X-MEN DAYS OF FUTURE PAST yesterday.

For those of you who don't know the film has Wolverine going back in time in order to stop Mystique from killing the creator of the Sentinels which in the future have killed most of humanity (human and mutant).

Its not bad. It has some nice moments. Its more light weight than I thought and it is probably the most cliched of any of the films (No, it is- you couldn't see the way this was going to go and the heroic last stand?). While its far from the best superhero movie, I still got misty a couple of times.

The one thing that pissed me off is most of the film is in the trailers and commercials. If you've seen a bunch odds are you've seen all the action highlights.

I recommend it, I'm not sure I'm going to review it but I do want to be on record as saying it's not the best film in the series. (However while you don't need to, I do suggest you've see all the X-Men films so you'll have a better what they are talking about at times)
And now Randi's links

The Society celebrates the work of four iconic illustrators- Peter de Sève, William Joyce, Carlos Nine, and Bill Plympton - with an exhibit featuring the original illustrations from numerous movies and shorts. Details can be found here
Zedd Live at Ultra Miami 2014
Where to hold a black mass when Harvard turns you down? At a Chinese restaurant? Apparently
A fan made live action Akira trailer
Rolling Stone ranks Marvels movie ideas
Slang phrases that sum up their eras
Google Cultural Institute
Drones to deliver Pizza in India
Calamityware puts giant robots and flying monkeys on your plates
John Hurt in Snowpiercer in a picture I love

Lost Battalion (1962)

Odd war film from the Philippines and that unsung filmmaker Eddie Romero concerning a band of guerrilla fighters battling back against the Japanese right after their invasion of the country. While not what you would call a good film, its just okay, the film’s odd structure makes it worth taking a look at.

I had picked this film up as part of a Timeless Media quadruple feature DVD for five bucks. I’ve always liked war films and I hadn’t seen three of the four films. Since the case didn’t list the running time and because of how the film was playing on the player wouldn’t reveal the running time, I checked it out on IMDB (it runs 80 minutes). In looking over the IMDB info I read how one reviewer mentioned the three part nature of the film and it was something that stuck with me when I saw the film.

The first part of the film is a five or ten minute newsreel explanation of the invasion of the Philippines by the Japanese. It lays out the whole situation and eases us into the main part of the story which has the population forming bands of armed men to fight the invaders. The Newsreel segments appear periodically through the film and lend it a sense of immediancy and urgency that the rest of the film some times lack. These segments for better or worse give the film a weight and a seriousness it might otherwise have.

The second part of the film concerns the battle against the Japanese. We watch as the Filipinos form a fighting force and take on the invaders. We also get the story of some American civilians who think that they will be fine if they just surrender to the Japanese. They are convinced of folly of that way of thinking and they end up going out into the bush. During this part of the film we get some pretty good war film action as we see the cost of the war and the attitudes people had during the occupation (the guerillas kill a woman who was involved with a Japanese soldier). It’s a solid war is hell tale that's nicely gritty.

The third portion of the film is the romance between an American girl and one of the fighters. It’s a touching but doomed tale that seems shoe horned into the film in order to give the film something for everyone. Its not bad but it feels gratuitous, especially since the girl is beautiful blonde.

As a whole film this is pretty good. It’s the sort of film that reminds me of either a rainy Sunday from when I was growing up or the sort of film I used to run across on the Late Late Show

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Hell Raiders (1968)

Larry Buchanan remake of the truly awful Suicide Battalion (A review is coming during out Thanksgiving Turkey series in November) is far from a great film, hell the Riff Trax or Mystery Science Theater 3000 guys could have a blast with the film, but it has a certain no rent charm.

The plot of this so bad it's good film has John Agar taking a small band of demolition experts into the Italian countryside to blow up a building that has been going back and forth between the American and German sides. The last time the German's took it they left behind all sorts of vital plans. While on R&R before the mission romance blooms, but the Germans come calling.

One of the no budget productions Buchanan made for AIP with the intention of them being sold to TV. A few escaped and got theatrical release. Looking more like a bunch of men playing dress up in the woods out back then men at war, the film scores a few points in its earnest drive to at least pretend this is all for real. Yes you will be laughing and groaning a great deal but you will kind of get caught up in it all.

I don't recommend getting the film on its own-however Timeless media has it out with 4 other films for about 5 bucks and in that case i'd go for it.

The Q&A featuring CAROLL SPINNEY after the screening of I AM BIG BIRD: THE CAROLL SPINNEY STORY during the Montclair Film Festival on May 3,2014

I'm stealing Chocko's thunder- but here's the Q&A thatfollowed the screening of IAM BIG BIRD at the Montclair Film Festival May 3rd.

If you must know I'm very jealous since I contributed to the Kickstarter for the film and I still haven't seen it. If I can manage to twist his arm I'll get a review up. Until then here's the talk.

Friday, May 23, 2014

A low key review of the low key Yukon Gold (1952)

Strangely low key Webb and Chinook film seems to throw out the violence and large scale bad guy activity for a slightly more measured plot.

The film opens when a man is killed on a riverboat heading down the river to Dawson City. The room is ransacked. Webb investigates and when he contacts the dead man’s niece he senses that all is not right with boom town where the dead man had a claim. Deciding to travel undercover with the niece to the boom town they find a gold rush town where only one mine seems to be producing anything thing. As Webb investigates several attempts are made to stop him.

While the film is fine on its own terms, it plays very much like any number of countless program westerns films from the period, the film is kind of a lesser film in Webb and Chinook pantheon. Compared to other films in the series this one is kind of static. There isn’t quite the level of violence that we saw I the previous films which ended up with most of the casts abused in one way or another. The other surprising thing is that the mystery of who is behind it doesn’t involve most of the cast. Strangely this isn’t a huge conspiracy where the machinations of the baddies leaves everyone either arrested or dead. I like it but I don’t love it.

Worth seeing since it comes as the bottom film in a triple bill from the Warner Archive, but I’m not sure its worth searching out on it’s own.

COLD IN JULY Q&A with Michael C. Hall and Don Johnson at IFC CENTER

Michael C. Hall and Don Johnson at IFC Center
Director Jim Mickle's latest film is an adaptation of a Joe R. Lansdale novel titled COLD IN JULY.  The story takes place in Texas in the late 80's and begins with a mulleted Richard Dane (Michael C. Hall), a family man who shoots a bullet through the head of a home intruder.  The dead burglar's ex-con father, Ben (Sam Shepard) seeks vengeance for the murder of his son.  What could easily be a throwback pulpy revenge flick becomes so much more than that.  The plot takes some unexpected twists and turns and by the time the cowboy hat wearing, charismatic Jim Bob (Don Johnson) shows up, it might as well be a whole different movie.  The movie is a wild ride that takes you through an 80's landscape which includes scenes at a video rental store and a drive-in theater where NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD is playing.  The movie also sets the tone with its brooding synth score including a track by Dynatron, an electronic synth band from Denmark. It is cool to have a soundtrack sound like it came from an old John Carpenter flick, but no throwback to the 80's would be complete without some hair metal ballads thrown in for good measure. "Wait" by White Lion? Yes, please.

Director Jim Mickle, actor and co-writer Nick Damici, and actors Michael C. Hall and Don Johnson were in attendance at the New York Premiere of COLD IN JULY which took place at IFC Center in New York City.  Check out the video below of the Q&A that night.  It's a quick one because they all had to go to another screening on some rooftop screening across town.  COLD IN JULY opens Friday May 23 at IFC Center located at 323 Sixth Avenue at West 3rd Street.  Definitely go see this tantalizing, Texan thriller of a film and spread the word!

A big shoutout to the homie MONDOCURRY who got me into the exclusive screening!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Wolf (2013)

Jim Taihuttu's WOLF tells the story of ex-con Majid, the son of Moroccan immigrants to the Netherlands, he is adrift in his life. While showing all the trappings of getting along, he goes to his parole officer and . works at a flower auction, he is also hanging out with his friends pulling off small scale crimes. When a friend directs him to a kick boxing gym he attracts the attention of big time crooks who help him rise in their ranks and in the boxing world.

Shot in a moody black and white the film is a cross between a character study of a lost soul and classic film noir. Majid is your quintessential noir anti-hero, a not so bad guy who gets in over his head thanks in part to a dame (He beats a man who was with his girl to a pulp), boxing and some really bad guys who he thinks might be his friends. Of course it all goes wrong as these stories always do.

Marwan Kenzari gives a wonderful performance as Majid. He manages to get the wide swings of emotion from the love he feels for his younger brother, to the stark explosive violence of his nature that makes it nigh impossible for him to stop once he's throwing punches to the pure lust he has for his girl friend, right.  Kenzari manages to convey every emotion all the while having a kind of neutral expression. While he may tell his girlfriend he feels nothing, Kenzari manages to let us know that's not true- he feels deeply.

This is a solid little film that is helped along by being shot in black and white. The lack of color not only references to the lack of emotion in Majid's life, but it helps to set the film apart. There was a couple of moments early on where I was aware that the mere fact that the film was monochromatic set it apart from other similar films.

If there is any flaw in the film is that at 123 minutes the film is a bit long and perhaps a tad too brooding. This isn't to suggest that the film is bad, only that I would have liked one less time with Majid staring off into the distance.

If you don't mind the violence, there is a great deal of realistic nastiness in the film, I highly recommend you give the film a shot when it plays by you. The film is opening tomorrow in New York and LA and is worth your time and money.

Northwest Territory (1951)

Watching the Corporal Rod Webb and Chinook series one thing is clear, the stories take place in a very violent location and the films don’t shy away from showing you the violence. Over the course of the few films I’ve seen to date people have been gassed, stabbed, shot (repeatedly), beaten up (repeatedly), attacked by Chinook (repeatedly), set on fire, thrown off a train (Yea I know it was a dummy but it was disturbing as the dummy collapsed like a real body would), thrown off a cliff and I won’t mention what happens to Chinook who also seems to get beaten into unconsciousness in every film. By what we think of classic film standards these films are very violent-hell even by today’s standards they are very violent. I was pondering the level of violence early into Northwest Territory as Chinook was tearing into another bad man, who earlier in the film had shot one of the characters and then set his cabin, and by implication the wounded man on fire. Say what you will these are cruel films.

The plot of Northwest Territory has Webb helping out an orphan named Billy to get to his grandfather’s cabin. As they approach the cabin they see the smoke and rush to the burning building where the Mountie pulls the dying grandfather out of his burning cabin. He says a few words and then promptly expires as his grandson looks on. This terrible act sets Webb and Chinook on the trail of some bad guys who are out to get the grandfather's secret oil claim- which means they are out to kill the boy and Chinook for good measure.

Watching a bunch of the films in this series it becomes clear that while they are extremely watchable, they are also not particularly complicated. The mysteries aren’t that mysterious from the outside. Everyone lines up neatly into good and bad, with the mastermind behind the theft or whatever being the person most obviously the suspect, say a mine owner stealing from himself or geologist going after an oil deposit. At the same time as you watch the films you begin to wonder how many people are actually tied up with the bad guys or what everyone’s true relationships are- Surprisingly many of the people involved tend to be somehow linked to the baddies. The writers seem intent on making all of the relationships as complicated as humanly possible.

So how is the film? Actually pretty good. Is it high art, no, but it is entertaining. I hate to say it but the whole kid in peril angle actually has some bite here since kids the films are so cruel you kind of expect the kid to get clocked somewhere along the way. Actually I like that the Warner Archive has put this film out out on DVD as part a triple feature. These films work best when you can watch a bunch of them at the same time when you can watch the rhythms of the series play out over several stories.