Monday, July 31, 2023

TOUCH KINK (2023) Fantasia 2023

Touch Kink is a documentary look at people who enjoy BDSM. It’s a collection of interviews with people across the spectrum and includes video of people enjoying sessions of play.

I’m kind of mixed on this film.  While I think the film is a very good primer for those who are curious of BDSM, I’m not sure how it is beyond that.

Don’t get me wrong the film does what it is intended to do which is demystify the kink and make it welcoming to anyone who is interested in participating, but there is a point where the presentation slips into a clinical and a sales film mode. I found I was distancing myself from the film with the result I admire it more than I like it.

Admittedly part of the problem is because of my own experiences. While BDSM is not really my cup of tea, despite having had a girlfriend who really enjoyed the role play, the scene as shown in this film is not very interesting to me. The whole dominatrix/master/slave dynamic has never appealed to me. I know several people who love it because it allows them to keep things in neat boxes, but outside of the fashion it leaves me cold.  Because of this there was a certain point about a third of the way into the film where I kind of raised my hand said I was done.

If you’re curious and want an in to the world it is showing do see the film. If not, take a pass.

Charm Circle (2021) August 1 on the Criterion Channel

This is a repost of my review from when the film played DOC NYC in 2021

Filmmaker Nira Burstein weaves together a portrait of her family using current footage with film and video shot over the years. It’s a portrait of a broken and somewhat loving family.

This is an almost too intimate portrait of a family unlike any other, and yet kind of like our own. While Burstein’s family didn’t seem like my family at first the more I watched the more I connected. These people are very much like my own in a lot of ways.

This is an excellent slice of life and recommended

Wandering (2023) Japan Cuts 2023


When Sarassa was nine she ran away from her aunt. She was found by 19 year old Fumi who took her home and lived with her as a sister. Two months later they were found by the police and Fumi was labeled a kidnapper and suspected a pedophile. Fifteen years later the pair run into each other.

Based on a novel by Yu Nagira, WANDERING is a film that is going to rattle any number of people. Raising a number of ethical and moral questions the film doesn't have any easy answers. While the film original encounter between the pair isn't sexual, thus setting up questions about how we perceive events like this and it also makes us wonder how people are affected by events like this.

I'm not sure how to review this. The fact is that my thoughts are kind of split regarding the film. Part  of me is really intrigued by the issues the film raises.  I absolutely love that the film makes us question how we see stories like this and what is going on. On the other hand I know that this is a film that potentially is going to push people's buttons.  Even if you don't think the subject will bother you the film is such that there is a good chance it's going to kick some stuff up.  Part of of me doesn't want to talk about the film for that reason while another part  of me want's me to really talk about it because it raises questions that are not easy deal with.

At the same time I have mixed feelings about the film as a film.  I understand why I have mixed feelings, it's because of choices made by director Sang-il Lee but that doesn't make me like it more. Lee leans into the serious and thought provoking nature of the story so that we can't dismiss it. However doing so makes the film feel less real and more the handiwork of the director. I would have liked the tone to be less like a novel and more like real life. Also as good as the film is I'm not sure if we need  the this to be as long as it it.

Sunday, July 30, 2023

Nightcap 7/30/23 - Bluesky, Danielle Solzman is talking baseball, quick reviews, foreshadowing longer pieces, What is your NYAFF reaction


A few random notes …

I’m now on Blue Sky. I’ve some how been able to make it easy by having managed to grab unseenfilms there as well ( Posting will be less often then Twitter or X or whatever Elon wants to call his money loser, owing to I can’t be on all the platforms all day, but I will be sending my pieces there.


Good friend Danielle Solzman has new gig writing on baseball. Her DUGOUT DIRT is the place she will talking about all thing baseball including her visits to the National Sports Collectors Convention. This is good stuff about more than just baseball.

If you like baseball or even sports you should be reading her reporting. I've spent many a night on line going back and forth with her about whatever games we were watching at the time. It was great times.

I know many of you read Danielle's film writing and this is just more good stuff so just go to DUGOUT DIRT and subscribe and enjoy.


I saw some of AVATAR THE WAY OF WATER and turned it off half way in.  Like the first film it looks spectacular but the story didn’t move me and I really didn’t care.

I tried TERRIFIER again. It’s well done but not my cup of tea. I don’t like that it feels like it’s a series of pieces put together for effect as opposed to telling a story.

EVIL DEAD RISES is great looking film with some great set pieces, but it never fully grabbed me. Though honestly it’s the point where I realized that outside of the first film I never quite liked any of the films in the series.

The long in coming Jackie Chan John Cena film HIDDEN STRIKE (it's been trying to get released since 2018 apparently) is a mess. It's set in a world of oil wars and green screen. It's all freaking green screen and computer generated imagery. It just doesn't work.


I suspect that it has more to do with the mass exodus from Twitter, but I am kind of shocked at the reaction to certain films on social media.  Everyone is taking films to task for not treating their subjects with politically correct views or turns. Numerous people have taken OPPENHIEMER to task for not showing the Japanese side of things. I’m puzzled by this because there really would be no way to shoe horn that into the proceedings. Additionally I’m of the opinion that that had they included that side of the story we would have been told it didn’t belong.

I’m working on a longer piece on the subject but people have to stop insisting on injecting modern views into older time periods. How people viewed things and each other was different than today and we can’t retcon things to fit nicely in how we want to see the world. Things were not like they are now and changing how things are in films and literature  to prevent offense or correct how things were doesn’t make it so. Bad things happened and people believed bad things and there were not Hollywood endings.


Things here at Unseen Films will be changing over the next few months. Life has happened and coupled with some things happening that are no making covering films as fun as it used to means I’ll be cutting back.  Things have been so not fun at times I’ve seriously been considering just pulling the plug. That isn’t going to happen but I just really need to step away lest I kick someone in the shins.

I suspect that the major changes will come after the New York Film  Festival…

I’ll have more details in a later post.


With NYAFF just about done the question is what do you all think of it?

Then again did any of you go? 

I'm not being snarky, I'm curious since talk concerning the festival was largely nonexistent in my social media sweeps except for Eastern Kicks and the festival (which was quieter than other festivals happening at the same time) or Lincoln Center.  And outside of questions concerning the free tickets no one has asked me about the festival at all- until the last couple of years I used to have steady conversations leading up to and during the festival. Even the press office has been quiet 

I know there were sellouts and all of that but outside of one friend most people I know did not attend more than one or two screenings - and those tended to be the free ones

I'm curious what your thoughts are concerning the choice of Monkey King as the closing film. If anyone goes let me know what the attendance was- I ask because a couple people I know have decided to bail on the film since they are either not interested or not going to stay late into the city to see a film thats on Netflix in a couple of weeks (my reason for not using my ticket)


I 'm curious what is going to happen to festivals and releases as the strike continues on.  It seems the only safe release maybe DUNE PART 2 If only in that it's booked for 6 weeks in IMAX theaters and there is no similar window available to it if it moves.


I have applied to NYFF so we will see what happens.

I have a multiple film pass so there definitely will be coverage


With Love and a Major Organ (2023) Fantasia 2023

In a world where everything is controlled by apps, and where you can control your emotions by simply removing your heart, a young woman removes her heart after a romantic mishap.  This turns her into a kind of emotionless drone, whose life becomes complicated when her heart is stolen.

Off beat romantic comedy is set in a world not so far removed from our own. Sure the idea of everything, including your heart, being controlled by an app on your phone may sound completely crazy, except that more and more everything is being controlled by apps on our phone.  What I love about the film is that it’s just different enough that I would love to spend an afternoon or two wandering abound inside it so that I could really see what it’s like. I say this because the world is beautifully constructed that we buy it without thinking. That may not sound like much but how often do you see a movie set and never forget it's a movie. Here we forget that this isn’t remotely reality, it’s just another story of life.

And that the film keeps it real is what makes the film so charming. Sure it’s about a literal stolen heart, the emotions and interactions are very human. This is a romantic comedy of a different sort and the fact that the film is purely focused on the character is what makes this work so well. We are seeing things, both the tropes of the genre and our genuine emotions through a different lens and as a result we are enlightened and engaged.

I was delighted.

This is a gem of a film destined for a long life.


MOTHER LAND(2023) Fantasia 2023

Jaebeom Park’s MOTHER LAND is an epic animated fantasy set in the Siberian tundra. It tells the story of Krisha, a young girl who live on the tundra with her parents. When he mother is injured and doesn’t seem to be getting better she heads off to find the legendary red bear that she thinks can heal her mother. Along the way she battle the elements, wolves, her little brother (who stowed away) and Russian General intent on killing the bear himself.

The first Korean stop motion animated film in half a century, MOTHER LAND has it’s own unique feel. This isn’t the fantastic worlds of Lakia and Guillermo Del Toro but a more realistic take on things. The result is a film that feels closer to real and more magical in those special moments.

Running a breezy 69 minutes the film is wonderful gem of  a film that take its time setting everything up. Yes it takes a little bit before we are fully one with the film, but once the ground work is set we are fully rooted and willing to go, and more importantly believe everything we are seeing.

This is truly movie magic of the highest order.

Highly recommended.

A Disturbance In The Force (2023) Fantasia 2023

Ever wonder how the Star War Holiday Special got made? If so, and if not, this delightful documentary is going to explain what happened and why.

This is a great documentary. Made of new interviews, archival clips and lots of love, this is the story of the two hour variety special about the Star Wars gang going to Chewie’s home planet for Life Day. It’s a mix of schlocky story, variety numbers and a 12 minute cartoon that introduced Boba Fett and made him a cult character despite having almost no time in the actual films.

This is a 90 minute film about special that may have been made just to spite a studio executive who told Lucas that his film would be gone from theaters by September. Thrown together in the wild west days before Lucasfilm got a lock on the saga of Star Wars the show was an effort to keep Star Wars alive in the minds of fans (like that was going to happen). It resulted in something Lucas would prefer no one ever talk about, but which is canon in the hearts of pretty much everyone who is a fan, despite it being in the words of Lucas “so bad as to be kind of enjoyable”.

I had a blast watching this film. What I loved about it is that it puts the Special into the context of popular culture. It explains not only why and how the show happened but it also explains the marketing that made Star Wars what it is today. It’s a film that speaks to more than just Star Wars but our culture and society. It shows us how we got to here and why that happened.

While I think the Special is mostly awful it has some great bits in it (the cartoon), this doc is a blast. Made with love it’s a celebration of an outlier of something that is very much part of our cultural DNA that reveals it to be a key stone to understanding it. Best of all DISTURBANCE is just great fun on it’s own terms.


Saturday, July 29, 2023

HOME INVASION (2023) Fantasia 2023

Experimental look at doors, doorbells, visitors, home invasion and home security.

This is not going to be for everyone. One part documentary, one part essay it’s wrapped up in a porthole view point that puts everything into the fisheye lens of a door bell camera. It’s a very deliberate film that raises a lot of questions about our homes and the people who lurk outside.

Frankly I have no idea how to describe what exactly this film is. It’s a wild ride through history. It’s also a deeply disturbing film  that frequently gets under your skin to make this film scarier than any horror movie you’ve seen this year. Part of it is the presentation which is carefully designed to provoke a reaction, but mostly it’s a deeply troubling thing that raises a lot of questions you probably don’t want to think about.

I was bothered by it on a gut level.

If you want to have reality kick you in the knees HOME INVASION is a must

Divinity (2023) Fantasia 2023

DIVINITY maybe coming out 50 years too late. This is a film that should have come out in the early 1970s when it could have played the midnight circuit and did a late night double feature with ERASERHEAD and broken everyone who saw it.

Then again maybe it's a good thing it waited until now to be released because this film is a trip.

The minimal plot has two bald brothers kidnapping a pharmaceutical mogul who sells Divinity. Divinity is a drug that stops aging and makes 97% of women who use it infertile. They want to put a stop to the madness. Meanwhile, a group of women in a bright void make their own plans to rescue humanity.

The plot and characters are a mere pretense for a series of stark black and white sequences that hook us draw us in. This is  a trip across a nightmarish landscape to the center of our souls. And while the film is trying to say something about society and the way we favor the young, the beautiful and are becoming more and more centered on ourselves, the reality is the film is more interested in creating a head space that alters our sense of reality.

It's this last bit - the head trip aspects of the film - that makes the film feel like a blood relative to David Lynch's first feature. Director Eddie Alcazar wants to make us feel that we are not only not in Kansas any more, but that we aren't even in Oz. We are somewhere darker. I know the film is getting noticed because Steven Soderbergh is connected to it, but the truth is this is Alcazar's baby and he should be getting all the credit. I can't see Soderburgh doing anything but making sure the film got made.

Is this a good or bad film? Honestly good or bad doesn't enter into it. This is an experience. It is something you experience to go somewhere else. It's a film that you see in the hope of changing how you see the world. This is not a film that is operating on an intellectual level but a visceral one. You can't objectively react to it because it's so primal and because to do so will result in picking the plot and details apart. This is all emotion and the film is having at you with hammer and tongs leaving to broken and bruised. It's a film that emotionally hits all the right buttons and leaves you staring at the screen at the end wondering what in the holy hell just happened while completely accepting that what just happened made absolute perfect sense.

This is a film that demands to be seen in a darkened theater with no distractions. More than any recent film this is not a film to watch on your phone because you need this twisted vision of the future to be larger than life and six times more ugly.

Highly recommended. This is a must see for anyone who loves the movies and wants to see what they can do.

Streetwise (2023)

I post this with apologies.

This is more or less the sketch I wrote immediately after seeing STREETWISE. Its a film full of the passion one feels after seeing a truly special film and it filled me with lots of thoughts. 

 I wasn't planning on covering the film (I'm doing 3 fests at once)  but because my friend Ed Douglas was so high on the film I asked for a screener and received it and the proceeded to watch it at lunch at work and a bit ( more really) past the end of my break. I couldn't stop, I had to see it to the conclusion.

Blown away I scribbled some notes ---and I ended up using the draft notes as this review because things happen and the hours I would need to really write this film up as it needs to be written up disappeared.

What follows are my real raw and in the moment thoughts on a truly great film. All you need do is just go see it any you'll know that Ed and myself are right.

Na Jiazuo’s STREETWISE is one of the absolute must see films of this year.

Before I saw it I made the mistake of not thinking it was. But then I was kicked in the knees when Ed Douglas started proselytizing about the film on social media. He was complaining that it was leaving the Metrograph in New York before he could bring his friends to the theater to show him what was one of the top two films of the year... and perhaps its most unheralded.  Reading his online conversations about the film I knew I had to see it and I then arranged to do so.

Ed is absolutely right this is one of the best films you will see all year.

It's so good that I’m almost willing to give it the annual Unseen Film Award as the Best Unseen Film of the year right now.

STREETWISE is the bittersweet tale of  Dong Zi, a young debt collector living as best he can. Working within the criminal world he is trying to make enough money to not only live but also pay for his father’s medical bills. We watch as he goes through his days in the small city he calls home.

I made it sound simple but the film is far from that. This is a bittersweet slice of life that invades your soul and gets under your skin. Dong Zi and the people he meets not only become sort of friends, but they all so reflect back the people we know. Sure these are people living on the downside of a province in China, but they are also friends and family we know.

The press material for the film charts director Na Jiazuo’s course from fine art student to film director and while it seems to chart a course of missed opportunities, the truth of the matter is fate was on our side in that it put him into the perfect place to make  stunning first feature. STREETWISE may be a first feature but the truth of the matter is it is an assured piece of filmmaking that is the calling card of a force to be reckoned  with.  This is one of the great cinematic treasures of 2023. It’s a film that is going to make you wonder what he is going to do next?(And three films on, and twenty....)

I was moved both emotionally and intellectually both for the story we are told and the technical virtuosity of the filmmaking.

I am so moved that I am not watching the film a second time so that I can get word out  to you so you can see it.

You need to see this film. You need to see it as soon as you can.

This is the sort of film that I started Unseen Films to highlight- small under the radar gems that need to find an audience

One of the great films of 2023 and as such is highly recommended.

It plays again at Metrograph August 7 at 915, but I suspect it will be back.

Hundreds of Beavers (2023) Fantasia 2023

HUNDREDS OF BEAVERS is the sort of film that Hollywood would never make. A black and white live action silent cartoon with synchronized sound and people in animal suits is not anything that any rational person in Hollywood would touch. Never mind that that THE ARTIST won, Hollywood doesn’t want to see this sort of thing.

On the other had  fans of Looney Tunes, Tex Avery, Bill Plympton, the Umbilical Brothers and other deranged animators and comedians are going to eat this up.

The plot of the film has a man named Jean --- who grows apples having his livelihood destroyed by beavers. Seeking revenge he decides them hunt them down for their fur. There is more to it of course, but it’s all told with a cartoon dream logic that is only possible in the movies.

This film is a blast.

This is the sort of hidden gem of a film that true film lovers search out. This is one of those films that end up being whispered about during it’s festival run as people stumble in and stagger out gob smacked at the marvelous thing they have just seen. They then go out and start telling anyone who will listen about this wondrous thing. In the old days this was the sort of thing that you’d have to hope a repertory theater would run, now we wait for the VOD drop. Though frankly you’ll want to catch this in a theater because… well trust me you will understand why when you see it.

What I love about the film is that it leans hard into everything, jokes, plot, men in beaver suits. It is a film that is full of joy, not to mention love of cinema and a good time. It is as if the filmmakers had the attitude that if they were going to do it they would do it big.

And they did.

HUNDREDS OF BEAVERS is an unclassifiable cinematic joy bomb. It’s a film that explodes on the screen and makes you laugh and smile in ways that major Hollywood films can only dream. It is brilliantly smart in it’s low brow humor.

I can not explain what a magical experience this film is.

I highly recommend it

Gary Mule Deer Show Business is My Life (But I Can't Prove it) (2022) hits VOD August 1

Screamingly funny biography of comedian Gary Mule Deer. 

Gary Mule Deer has been on the comedy scene for almost 60 years. A prop comedian  who started as a musician who used comedy to cover his mistakes. Along the way he became a comedians comedian. Everyone loves Gary as is testified by the talking heads in the film Dave Letterman, Jimmy Walker, Jay Leno, Alice Cooper, Conan O'Brien to name but a few.  

In the 1970's and 80's Mule Deer was everywhere from talk shows to variety shows  to game shows.  It was on TV that I feel deeply in love with his humor. Punny, clever and totally unexpected he was a guy who taught me to see the world differently and infinitely less seriously then many of the adults I encountered growing up. Mule Deer helped to warp me into the person I am today.

I absolutely love this film. One part celebration, one part greatest hits reel and one part biography, this is everything you ever wanted to know about the man and his humor. Its a wild and crazy ride that will have you doubled over with laughter from start to finish. Never have I run a cross a biography of a comedian that was as funny as this film is.

This is one of the great hidden gems of 2022. If there is justice it will get discovered, picked up and released wide where it will spread the legend of Gary Mule Deer.

Highly recommended.

A pointer toward irlande cahier bleu (2023) Fantasia 2023

This is more a pointer than a review. I say this because the film never really clicked with me. This is in no way a statement of quality, rather it is simply to say that the film wasn’t my cup of tea.

According to the festival write up the film  is the story of a regular guy who becomes a great basketball player when he dreams. The reality is a bit more complicated as he jumps through realities.

More art house than grind house or even typical movie house, the film is very formal  and very mannered. While I liked the story, I like some of the twists the film takes but the mannered nature of the presentation didn’t work for me. On the other hand I know a number of people who would eat this film up, which is why I won’t review the film.

Worth a look if you like art house mind game films.

Friday, July 28, 2023

APORIA (2023) Fantasia 2023

A year after her husband was killed in a drunk driving accident a woman makes the acquaintance of man who might be able to bend time and bring her husband back. The trouble is if they bring him back there is no way to know what the repercussions of doing so will be.

Moody examination of grief and the things we sometimes do to end it. Would we better if we bring someone back? Can we live with the changes that doing so will bring? The answers are not always what we’d expect.

I really like the path this film takes. Not taking the same old path that was taken by similar films, the film brings us a lot of really interesting twists that most filmmakers don’t deal with. The most obvious is that the film treats everything that happens as a matter of life and not as part of a science fiction thriller. The emotion is real and not something created by a screenwriter.

That the film remains grounded is due entirely to the great cast headed by Judy Greer. They play everything as if this was just a regular drama so the emotions are closer to real. I was moved.

If the film has any problems its that at times it’s a bit too brooding. There times where a sadness overwhelms some of the proceeding. While it give the film a wonderful bittersweet feel, it also makes the film not always some place we want to dwell. At other times the film pauses to take a look at life so that we see life is going on while the characters stagnate and while I appreciate what they are doing they also tend to be a little bit too long.

Reservation aside I like the film  and if you want a differing take on “time travel” give this film a look.

The Legend and Butterfly (2023) Japan Cuts 2023

This is an epic fictionalized romance between Oda Nobunaga  his wife, Nohime over a thirty year span from their meeting until the end of their lives.

While Nobungaga was one of the great leaders of Japan and he helped move the country toward unification, pretty much nothing is known about Nohime so the filmmakers have refashioned the tale into a modern leaning feminist love story where the great man had a great woman behind him. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that since it gives us a tale where the characters grow and change over time. This isn't dry history, but a romance for today where the characters move us.

While this is a true BIG screen epic, you do want to see this projected, the story is always the human one. Much of the "action" of war and court intrigue is off screen because the focus is on the characters and not the battles. This doesn't mean that the film doesn't occasionally go big, it does, but always at the right time and always for proper effect. Indeed, a climatic battle sequence is one of the most amazing sequences I've ever seen, with it causing the hairs on my arms to stand up.  

Actually the sheer craft of this film, from top to bottom is among the best you'll see all year. This is filmmaking as a high art and the result is film that will move you both in your heard and in your heart. When the film ended I sat staring at the screen for several minutes after the end credits had rolled.

A must see, especially if you can see this on a big screen.

A must see at Japan Cuts on July 30.

Sanka: Nomads of the Mountain (2023) Japan Cuts 2023


Low key coming of age film is perfect for those who want a quiet meditative film.

Set in the 1960’s a young man goes to visit his grandparents in the country there he encounters a nomadic clan who live in the area and has his life changed as a result.

This is a typical coming of age story that has many of the expected moments of stories like this. Normally that might be a death knell for a film like this, but here the story is such that you just go with it because the film is showing us a culture that odds are we are not familiar with. When we think of Japan we don’t think of the people like the Sanka who wander a round a mountain. Instead we think of people who life in the city or in small villages like we see in the movies. This is something new and it keeps us interested.

I really liked this film, and if you are interested in seeing a small gem of a film make your way to the Japan Society when the film plays.

Thursday, July 27, 2023

Devils (2023) Fantasia 2023

A detective who is hunting a serial killer ends up body switched with the psychopath so as he is lead off to jail in his new body, the madman is going home to his wife and family.

This is one of a number of body swap films playing this year's Fantasia fest and as the collection goes it's one of the better ones. A mean  and nasty film we are carried along but the fact that we know how bad the killer is and we fear for everyone in his wake. The film is top notch in it's filmmaking and performances and they go a long way into over coming both the tiredness of the body switch genre. 

While I like the film and the tension it creates due to the uncertainty about who will be alive at the end, the film didn't play as well as it should have for me owing to the recent discovery of the Gilgo Beach killer about 10 miles away from my home. While I like the fictional bad guy who will stop at nothing to leave a trail of bodies, the fact is that the mild mannered guy living on a quiet suburban home is much more chilling since it's clear his quiet kills and silent disappearances is much more likely to happen than the blood soaked kills in nigh clubs or where ever. Quiet reality trumps the loud Korean cinematic killers. (Blame the heavy coverage in the local news outlets for my muted response)

My reservations aside, this is an adrenaline fueled thrill ride and I I look forward to revisiting 

Single 8 (2023) Japan Cuts 2023

If you were making super 8 movies when the original Star Wars film came out then SINGLE 8 is a shot of nostalgia. The same goes if you ever made a home movie inspired by a film you saw. This is a glorious film about being young and discovering the things you will love.

Beginning with a riff on the iconic opening to Star Wars SINGLE 8 the film quickly settles in on a couple of friends in the last days of the school year. They have been floored by the Lucas classic and want to do something similar. Putting together friends, including a certain young lady they will want to know better, the pair set about making a film as a summer project.

I was making films when Star Wars came out and watching this film was like reliving portions of my life. Watching the progression of the film I was reliving conversations with my brothers and with my friend Rob. I saw how we would try and figure out how to make our films looking something other than the half as attempt at misdirection we were going for. This was exactly precisely what things were like way back when and as such as I really loved this film.

I do have to give the film additional points for doing something no other film about the making of film has done and that is show us the film. I love that we see the finished film.

What a joy.

If you love movies, if you ever made a movie or if you want to fall back in love with the movies see this film.

Tokyo Melody: A Film about Ryuichi Sakamoto.(1985) Japan Cuts

A few minutes int TOKYO MELODY I realized with absolute delight that long ago when I was heavily into Ryuichi Sakamoto I had tracked this film down and fell deeper under the spell of the musician and composers spell.  Yes I had fallen in love with his music via the round about route of his score for MERRY CHRISTMAS MR LAWRENCE, but this was the place where my jaw dropped and I realized what an incredible person he was.

Shot by Elizabeth Lennard during the recording of his album Ongaku Zukan the film actually focuses on Sakamoto creating. He talks about how he does what he does and the things that influence him. A section of the film where he talks about writing for film has him playing the theme from MR LAWRENCE, which had only recently been released when the film was made, by looking at his hand written score. What’s interesting is that having seen Sakamoto play the piece over the years I don’t think I’ve ever seen him look at the score.

Truthfully if you want to understand the man you need to see this film. Though Ideally you would pair it with Stephen Nomura Schible‘s recent film RYUICHI SAKAMOTO: CODA which looks at the man a few years before his passing and acts as a kind of up dating of TOKYO MELODY's threads.

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Little Nicholas Happy As Can Be (2022)

Animated gem of a film is the dual story of the creation and creators of the Little Nicholas comic strip and the adventures of their character as well. Sweet little animated film begins with the creation of the Little Nicholas comic strip and then moves into the adventures of the little guy and his friends.

This film is a delight. It’s a “hand drawn” film that is certain to put a smile on your face. It’s a celebration  of a creation and the creators that is just a lot of fun. I just chuckled my way through the film from start to finish.

While the film is good fun from start to finish, I’m not going to lie and say it’s perfect. The sections of the films on creators René Goscinny, and Jean-Jacques Sempé where Nicholas isn’t involved are less compelling. Yes they are good, but the problem is its about the life of grown ups which makes them less fun that Nicholas. The Nicholas stuff is a blast and I’m so annoyed that I never ran into him before this.(I will have to track reprints down)

If you need to smile you need to see this.

It hits VOD on July 28


A man who moves his young family move into a new house discover that there is some dark force at work in it.

Low key slow burn horror film has a chilly feel to it. Taking it's time in building suspense this film may not play well with those wanting a jump scare every couple of minutes. Don't let that scare you off this is a film with an oppressive atmosphere. 

If you like low key horror that packs a punch see this film.

Medical thriller for the age of Covid has a doctor on his way home to his daughter's fifth birthday to help with a medical emergency. Little does he know that the hospital is about to go into lockdown with a mysterious disease that is ripping through the place.

Turn your brain off and go with it thriller plays into our fears about the recent pandemic. We know this can happen.  Unfortunately you're going to have to not think about some of what happens because the film takes a couple of turns that are there simply because it allows the plot to move the way the filmmakers need it to.

Much too neat construction aside, I like it. Worth a look.

A young woman named Anne wakes up in a locked room not recognizing her face. She is told not to make a fuss or the nurses will come in. What then transpires is Anne's attempt to escape and find out what is going on.

Leisurely paced thriller is very much a case of we've been here before.  That wouldn't be a problem except  that the pacing is much too slack. We have time to think about what we are seeing  and as a result we are comparing it to the previous films. Stories like this have to move and constantly give us revelations. so we are off balance and not thinking of the next thing.

I AM A COMEDIAN (2022) Japan Cuts 2023

Three years in the life of comedian Daisuke Muramoto, who along with Paradise Nakagawa his partner in the group Woman Rush Hour were sky rocketing to fame. The trouble is Muramoto began to speak out and makes jokes about things that he wasn’t supposed to. Yes Japan has free speech officially, the trouble is unofficially you simply aren’t supposed to talk about politics, nuclear disasters and the unpleasantries of life. While he was producing laughs in his audiences he was making officials nervous since he was forcing them to deal with things that polite people never spoke about.

Early in the film Muramoto states that there are no limits in stand up comedy. It exists to skewer everything, unfortunately Japanese society has a lot of unwritten rules listing the things you can’t say. Clearly the Japanese have very thin skins, or at least the officials do, since they are the ones who seemingly can’t take a joke. It’s also a stance held by his father who is not happy with his son rocking the boat.

Working on several levels, I AM A COMEDIAN has a great deal to say. It maybe the best observational documentary of a comedian that I’ve ever seen. It’s a warts and all portrait of what it requires to be on the road telling jokes. Even if there wasn’t the issues of free speech the film would be compelling viewing for any one who wants to know what it is like to tell jokes for a living.

The film is a pointed look at a society where free speech allowed by statute but where unwritten rules curtail it. It’s a problem that isn’t just in Japan, but everywhere, including here in the US where the politeness police and the threat of being canceled has made it harder and harder to make jokes about anything and are threatening to rewrite what humor is. While here in the US people are upset about people making fun of groups, in Japan it’s the government and public officials not wanting to be ridiculed for the stupid things they are doing, which kind of makes you wonder if they really are that free at all.

I was moved by this film. Watching it I found I had to stop taking notes and just watch the film the first time through because I was not watching the film but writing out a running commentary on the film. I was engaging with the film in a way that I rarely do.


An absolute must see, I AM A COMEDIAN is one of the Japan Cuts films you need to experience for yourself.

Abang Adik (2023) NYAFF 2023

Two brothers, one a deaf mute, get caught up in human trafficking. While one brother is a straight arrow, his brother has been known to bend the rules, unfortunately both brothers future are linked forever

This is a good and gritty tale of two brothers sliding into darkness. Its a tale of brotherly love, and it is that tale that drives the the film forward and keeps us interested. Both Wu Kang-Ren and Jack Tan give staggering performances. While they are good through out the point where the sell the film and the relationship is in the moments between the pair. In those times when we see the two brothers behaving as only brothers who love each other do, the make you believe they are related. Having two brothers I could see how we interact in their relationship.

If you want a solid if a bit down beat tale ABANG ADIK is recommended


A thought provoking look at abortion in the Philippines though the lives of several people.  While the film is at times polemical, for the most part it zeroes in on the complexity and emotional toll of the choice to end a pregnancy. In an age where a woman's right to choose is being threatened 12 WEEKS is an important film because it shows that things are not as simple as the foes of abortion make it out to be.

Cinematic novel from novelist Chihiro Ito concerns a dentist who falls for a woman who lives in a room full of plants. Things become complicated when he senses there might be another object of her affection.

Cinematic equivalent to reading a dense novel IN HER ROOM is full of long takes, long pauses and deep meanings. If you can get on this film's wavelength this film is going to be a great time at the movies, on the other hand if don't this is going to be a long slog.

Two kids discover their parents marriage is on the rocks and they wind up on the road...

Unexpectedly delightful comedy drama is one of the joys of this year's NYAFF. This is exactly the sort wondrous film that made NYAFF a must see event. Off kilter, unexpected and aimed straight at your heart this cinematic confection is certain to put a smile on your face and a tear in your eye.

Highly recommended

Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Shaky Shivers (2023) NYAFF 2023

Playing at this years NYAFF in a side screening at the Look Cinemas on 57th Street SHAKY SHIVERS is a horror tinged comedy. Actually it's a straight comedy with werewolves, zombies, bigfoot, a deadly cult and other horror tropes, but no scares.

The plot of the film has two friends going to an abandoned camp to find out out if one of them is going to turn into a werewolf, she she was bitten by a "dog" and cursed by weird woman who wanted food from their ice cream shop. While at camp weird things begin to happen.

How you react to this film will be determined by how you react to the sense of humor and the tone of the film. The film has knowing attitude, but the actors play it very straight with the result you have a film that seems to be an odd straight forward horror film with jokes...except that it isn't supposed to be scary.  If you go in thinking there are going to be scares you will be disappointed.

On the other hand if you are a horror fan who loves comedy you will enjoy the hell out of this film. It's a knowing send up of films made with love. Its full of horror references that will tickle fans. The more horror films you've seen the more that will tickle you.  What I love is that the references are just there, they aren't pushy, they just flow, the result is a film that will delight you in the best possible way.

What a joy.


I AM WHAT I AM (2023) Japan Cuts 2023

One of the joys of this year’s Japan Cuts is the story of a young woman who doesn’t want any sort of romance and just wants to be. She has no romantic feelings for anyone, nor does she want any sort of romance.

Wonderful character portrait is a look at a woman who simply wants to find her own path and life on a road that most people don’t want to travel.

Toko Miura is perfectly cast as Katsumi. Through her excellent work we come to understand what she’s feeling and why that is totally okay (despite what her mom thinks)

This is a joyous celebration of humanity in all its forms and highly recommended. One of my favorite films at Japan Cuts and 2023.

A pointer toward J005311 (2023) Japan Cuts 2023

This is not a review  but merely a pointer toward J005311. It’s a pointer because having seen the film I know I was exactly the wrong audience for this film, however I have a good number of friends who will absolutely love this film.

This is a low fi film of long takes and silences concerning a young man who offers to pays another man a million yen if he will take him to a location in the country.  The film is largely the trip to the destination. It is an observational film  where what isn’t said is as important as what is.

Sometimes films like this work for me and sometimes they don’t. This time out it didn’t. Don’t get me wrong the film isn’t bad, simply not my cup of tea.

If you are fan of long takes and silences this film is a must when it plays at Japan Cuts.

Yes Repeat No (2023) Stony Brook Film Festival

Odds are your reaction to Michael Moshe Dahan’s YES REPEAT NO is going to be one of two things. You are either going to dismiss the  film as pretentious twaddle and storm out of it  or you are going to fall into the film and feel as though you were just smashed in the head with brick  as you grasp for words to try and fully understand everything that you have been made to think about and feel over the course of 100 minutes.

My reaction was to feel I was beaten up with a brick.

A conceptual film, the film is nominally an attempt of three actors to audition for a part in a film about the life of Juliano Mer-Khamis, a Palestinian-Jewish actor and activist who identified as 100% Palestinian and 100% Jewish and who was shot dead on the steps of the theater he founded. The actors (and the audience) are thrown off balance through games and discussions brought together to determine who is the best choice for the role.

I’m not going to lie, I really need to see this film a couple more times before I can fully process the film. Sent to me in the middle of three other festivals, the person handling the PR used some magic words (heady, complex, a lot going on) to get me to say yes to seeing the film, but leaving out the part where I would have to really see the film multiple times to truly grasp all that is going on in it.  This maybe the densest film I’ve seen this year, maybe the densest in three or four years.

Nominally a look at Mer-Khamis’ life the film quickly escalates in to questions of how we see the world and each other, what is basic humanity, war, acting, performance, how we should live…and about four dozen other things. There is a lot of meat here, and while some themes may seem to over lap Dahan’s script makes it clear that there is more to each idea than just the overlap.

When the film was done I was glad I wasn’t seeing the film at the Stony Brook Film Festival screening because odds are I would have been so lost in my thoughts I’d probably end up driving off the road.

What a trip.

If you want a film that is going to haunt you I highly recommend YES REPEAT NO


The story of the punk band The Embarrassment which came out of Wichita Kansas, the film charts their rapid rise and quick decent into obscurity.

I suspect you’re wondering if we really need another film about a band that came and went without leaving a mark, and the truth is in this case yes. I say that not because the music is going to make you become a hardcore fan bemoaning the collapse of the band, rather we kind of need this film because the film shows has some sly moments that make the film transcended just being about the one band and into something more. For example in the final moments of the film there is a discussion of how despite touching the lives of the members and their fans the reality is that in the bigger scheme of things they kind of left no mark. I think the term used is dent, as in they made a small dent but now it’s gone from eternity. It’s kind of a sad statement but it’s one that sums up a lot of bands that came and went.

Watching the film I stopped caring about the band and was more interested in the guys and their lives and how the band affected them. It was something that affected me.

This is a small quiet unexpected gem and one that you really should make an effort to see – say in it’s screening in LA on the 26th or NYC on the 27th.




I will be very curious how FATHER OF THE MIKY WAY RAILWAY is received by the general public. The film is a portrait of the author Kenji Miyazawa through the eyes of his father who loved and supported his son even if he didn’t always understand what he was doing. The younger Miyazawa was responsible for dozens of poems and stories, the most famous of which is NIGHT ON THE MILKY WAY RAILWAY which has influenced generations of people across the globe (it is a tale I carry around in my heart happily free of charge).  The reason I’m curious about how the film will play by the general public in America is that the vast majority of people here don’t know Miyazawa’s work, except perhaps RAILWAY and even then probably through the anime from several decades back. I mention this because while FATHER is a bio pic of the father and son much of the film is tied into the stories and poems of the son. The film is bookended by references to RAILWAY, other passage reference other bits of his work, though less overtly.  Knowing, to various degrees, the son’s writing added immeasurably to what I was seeing. I could make connections to deeper subtexts and I saw how what happened in his life ended up in the stories. Additionally the final images left me a sobbing mess because of RAILWAY.

Frankly I loved the film, but I could reference the work of its subject, I’m not sure how that will play out for those who don’t now the stories.

Reservations aside this is still a hell of a ride

Restore Point (2023) Fantasia 2023

In 2041 people can be brought back from the dead if they have backed up their consciousness. When one of the researcher working for the institute and his wife are killed, both seeming not to have a back up a lone wolf cop is forced to investigate what happened. Joined by the researcher who was brought back using an months old back up he is thrown into a dangerous quest involving efforts to privatize the restoration institute and a group of people who oppose restoration as unnatural. 

The trick to watching RESTORE POINT is to largely ignore the science fiction elements. You want to focus on the mystery. Yes the a scifi element is vital to the story, but out side of the key plot point about bringing dead people back the world it creates doesn't make a lot of sense. This is an old school science fiction film where much of society is flashy new things with screens and projections and such. This is a film that pits new technology against old for effect. It's a film that we used to get in the 1950's and 60's where wonderful things are just a few years off. There are all these trappings to make it look futuristic. It's cool to see the return of it, even if the world it creates doesn't completely hang together.

If you are going to like RESTORE POINT it's because of the mystery. At its heart the film is an old school hard boiled detective story in a film noir vein. It's a film about rich people doing things for their own ends and a lowly detective sorting it all out. It's a film about corruption (the public institute bringing people back wants to go private) and the human heart (questions of love and is it better to live unnaturally are raised) two things that old school detective tales are full of. This is the heart of the film.

Honestly until the mystery really started to go front and center, I didn't care for the film much. Too much of the first half hour of so is focusing on making us certain we know this is the future with holograms and fancy talk. Once that stopped and we just started to focus on the mystery, with the flashy stuff integrated I fell in love with the film.

As a mystery this is a great film. It has action, suspense and some unexpected turns that kept everything lively. Once this turned I had an absolute blast with this and I was locked and loaded to the end.

Get some popcorn and a beverage of choice and sir down for a solid mystery.


Monday, July 24, 2023

Liz Whittemore on Unknown Country (2022) opens Friday 7/28

Liz Whittemore returns from THE UNKNOWN COUNTRY   with a report that opens Friday

An unexpected invitation launches a grieving young woman on a solitary road trip through the American Midwest as she struggles to reconcile the losses of her past with the dreams of her future.

THE UNKNOWN COUNTRY is a snapshot of all the people we pass on a journey; the waitress, the motel manager, or the convenience store clerk. It’s a picture of America. The sound editing is a flurry of sounds from a car radio, local and national news reports, music, and whatever Tanna stumbles upon on her way.

Lily Gladstone‘s ability to captivate an audience is something I first noticed in Certain Women. There’s an effortless, tangible quality about her presence that invites the audience. As Tanna, she allows us to join her anxiety and reflective thoughts. It’s a beautiful turn. Ancestral pull, traveling alone as a woman, and her place in the world all swirl around Gladstone, and the audience sits on her shoulder the entire ride.

A meditation on grief, familial roots, and perhaps unresolved trauma? From Gladstone’s raw state to the striking cinematography, the final moments are like a cathartic breath. THE UNKNOWN COUNTRY taps into the universal internal struggle to find our place in the world. The film shines in its humanity. After years of being bombarded with negative energy from politics, the environmental crisis, the pandemic, nationalism, war, social media, and everything in between, THE UNKNOWN COUNTRY gives us permission to grieve the life we thought we’d live and allows us to take a collective breath. Audiences will be talking about this film all year.

To see more of Liz's reports from the road, or at least Reel News Daily  go here.


The divorced parents of a murdered high school girl come together in order to fight the early release of the girl who killed their daughter.

Good but polemical examination of the Japanese justice system where teenagers are often tried as adults. Pondering questions such as justice, revenge and how we grieve the film often feels as though it is interested in moving our heads instead of our hearts. 

While I liked the intellectual musings I was never moved emotionally.

in 19th century Japan a woman leaves her village which is experiencing failed harvests and wanders into the mountains, nominally to die and instead finds life.

This is a moody meditation on life and existence.  A great looking film  it is rather somber. Geared more to the art house crowd this is not for all audiences.

North Circular (2023) opens Friday

NORTH CIRCULAR is the story of Dublin’s North Circular Road, from the Phoenix Park to Dublin Port. Shot in moody black and white and full of fantastic music and stories the film is a trip across the city and through time.

I really wish I had seen NORTH CIRCULAR on a big screen. The images are truly breath taking. This is a film that absolutely would not work had it been in color.  The duotone is everything and it puts us into the land of dream where the world of past and present merge.

This film is wonderful.  As I said this film full of great stories. If you ever wanted to know why we are always influenced by the past this film will give you a good idea since through the songs and stories we see how the course of out lives and those around us affect us all.

The truth of the matter is that this film is not a film to read about or discuss. This is a living breathing cinematic trip. You have to travel the road from start to finish to understand why it’s so special.  You have to see and hear it all. Yes some of it may not be your pint of beer, but I’m guessing most of it will be. I’m also guessing that there are going to be times when the words/music and images come together to into a glorious transcendent moment that brings tears to your eyes.

Highly recommended, NORTH CIRCUAR is a must.

THE PRIMEVALS (2023) Fantasia 2023

Begun by special effects master Dave Allen PRIMEVALS was left uncompleted with his passing. An old school adventure with lots of the stop motion that he was known for, the was recently finished by Allen’s associate Chris Endicott for Charles Band’s Full Moon Films and the results are one the great joys of 2023.

The plot of the film has an expedition of the Himalayas returning with the body of a giant beast that could be a yeti. Based on the discovery a new expedition is planned and it heads off to the mountains where they find not just more yetis but hidden civilization doing genetic manipulation.

Glorious throwback to the classic films of Ray Harryhausen, and even Allen’s own EQUINOX, PRIMEVALS is a film the likes of which we haven’t seen in four decades. It’s the sort of B film that filled theaters and drive ins back in the day and would have fit perfectly among such treasures as BATTLE BEYOND THE STARS, SWORD AND THE SORCERER and the like It’s such a perfect fit that outside of more modern items you would be hard pressed to say when this was shot.

This is a film that is a warm hug to everyone who loves the older genre films which were made with love and passion. In an age where many films like this get phoned in performances, everyone seems to be into what they are doing, and the result is a popcorn eating charmer. It’s a cinematic campfire story that pulls you in from the start and just drags you along as it goes.

I had a blast.

The effects are wonderful. The compositing of the animated images and backgrounds with the actors is actually some of the best that I’ve ever seen in any budgeted film. The only problem, which is a problem with many films, is that because the actors are working in front of green screens they tend not react to the backgrounds and keep their eyes forward. Additionally, since the backgrounds are usually created to give us one way of viewing things there isn’t much camera movement. To be honest the only reason I noticed it was I was wondering why the camera remained in one POV for certain shot when they clearly had these great sets.

Absolutely minor quibble aside, THE PRIMEVALS is a joy. It’s the sort of film I would have traveled great distances back in the day to see.  It’s also a film that I hope to see on a big screen down the road since that’s the way this film needs to be seen.

Highly recommended.

WHITE NOISE (2023) Fantasia 2023

Woman with extreme sensitivity to sound is sent to the world’s quiets room for a special treatment.

Mostly good  short thriller is hurt by a cliché character in the guise of the tech running the treatment. The use of the distracted tech signals way too early how this is going to go, which lessens an otherwise excellent film.

While I will quibble about the tech, you will still want to see this film for everything it does right. In particular you will want to see this film for it’s wonderful use of sound. It’s so good, especially when coupled with Bahia Watson’s award worthy performance, that you will come away from the film bruised and battered by what you hear. I had to sit in silence for a bit afterward just to reset my brain.


PLASTIC (2023) Japan Cuts 2023

Charming romance centered around two young people who find a common bond in a shared love of a band that broke up years ago.

I really don’t know what to say about this film other than this is just good time with great people. It’s less like a film and just hanging out with some really good friends. You like everyone and while there are dramatic ups and downs the film wonderfully lets the various turns play out as if was real life and not bothering to amp everything up for effect or to keep us interested. We watch, and in my case rewatch, the film because we are invested in the characters.

That may not be the most exciting review in the world, but I assure you if you take the time t see the film at the Japan Society’s Japan Cuts you will end up thinking it is. It’s the sort of film that will make you feel good and want to see what happens next.


Lovely Dark And Deep (2023) Fantasia 2023

What could possibly be the best looking film at this year's Fantasia may very well be one the festival's most obtuse. 

Forest ranger takes a 90 day posting in the back country in order to unravel a past mystery.

This is a film of silences and images. It's a film that works overtime in order to create a mood and feeling. It wants us to be feel off and isolated in the woods.  It's a film that creates it's sense of being off with a marriage of sound and image.

The problem with this film is I'm not sure it adds up too much. There is too much wandering in the woods and too little said. While I love that the film wants to show us what is going on, there are times where it could us a little more explanation, especially in the early part of the film where the mood created by the opening credits and the scenes that follow get dissipated by the half hour point because nothing really happens as we watch our heroine wander in the woods listening to stories of people disappearing in national parks. I emotionally checked out and never really checked back in as I waited simply to see how it ended.

It all looks good but it doesn't add up to much.

Sunday, July 23, 2023

After a year off Japan Cuts returns July 26 to August 6


I was four films into the slate of Japan Cuts when I emailed one of the press people handling the festival to say that the selections this year were doing what the best films at a festival does, which is make me want to see what comes next.

I love Japan Cuts. The annual survey of current Japanese cinema is always a blast. It's a grand look at all of Japanese cinema, not just the crazy stuff. Its a series that has opened the eyes of everyone who has attended  it to the work of dozens of filmmakers we might never have noticed. 

More importantly it's possibly you're only shot at seeing many of the films in English.  I say this as a guy who has attempted to run down a favorite film of two over the years and not been able to find copies with English translations.

It is a festival that will broaden your horizons and introduced you to some new favorites.

What I love about this year is that the Japan Society is bringing us the glorious FISH TALE about someone who loves fish so much they become a media sensation. The film premiered last year where it played Fantasia and it caused anyone who saw it to call people in New York to see what the reaction was to the film. The people at Fantasia were certain that New York Asian or Japan Cuts would be showing the film. NYAFF didn't select the film and Japan Cuts couldn't show it for reasons having to do with renovations to the theater. I saw the film for Fantasia last year and loved it and completely understood why everyone was calling everyone they knew to see it. Don't miss out, buy a ticket.

Other films must see films playing the Festival: 

THE LEGEND AND BUTTERFLY- is a grand historical romance, based on actual events that is a true big screen film. Its the sort of epic they don't do any more. This is a BIG screen film that should be seen BIG.

MONDAYS is a crazy film about an office trapped in a time loop and forced to relive one day over and over again.

I AM A COMEDIAN is a portrait of comedian Disuke Muramoto who started to use his comedy to address forbidden subjects. Sure he lives in a country with free speech but there are sill things the authorities don't want you to say. It's a funny and frightening tale of today.

I AM WHAT I AM is a tale of a young woman who wants not to be involved with anything approximating romance. She simply wants to be. Its a wonderful non-romantic tale.

SINGLE 8 is an excellent look at how Star Wars influenced a generation of filmmakers who picked up cameras and made films. I lived some of this.

(Reviews started to drop earlier today so a review of excellent festival opener THE FIRST SLAM DUNK ran co-branded to Fantasia and a review of the must see BEST WISHES TO ALL also ran)

A  couple of films I saw and liked but I'm not doing a full review but I still wanted to mention:

PEOPLE WHO SPEAK TO PLUSHIES ARE KIND is a really good film. See it.

SAGA SAGA is the story of what happens in small town named Saga  when an actress comes home and connects with two other women in the village. This is a very good film that I liked but which didn’t connect with me enough so I’m not doing a review lest it come out negative, which is not at all how I feel about the film. I just don't have the proper words to do it justice.

THE HAND is the story of a young woman with an interest in older men. A tribute of sorts to the Pink film genre (there is a sex scene every 10 minutes) it wasn't, like most films in the genre my cup of tea. However if you like this sort of thing it's recommended.

Regarding the Short films

 This film is a delight. 11 silent films from 12 filmmakers unspool over the course of an hour. Narrated by Ichiro Kataoka the films run the gamut from mystery to romance to samurai to kaiju. It’s the cinematic equivalent of box of chocolates where everything you pick up is a delight. This film or collection is an absolute must see.

Flashback Before Death 
An artistic short film about a film returning home and flashing back. It’s a film you will either be enthralled with (there are some wonderful passage) or it’s a film that you will find pretentious. I’m somewhere in the middle.

Okamoto Kitchen
This feels like the first episode of an anime series about food trucks in LA. It’s an amusing film that I would love to see expanded.

Setagaya Game is a very long short (it runs 40 minutes which is the outer length of what is considered a short) about a young man who is forced to play a deadly game. Don’t let the lack of a budget fool you, directors Go and Ken Ohara have a talent for  shooting action and if things break right they will soon be doing something with a big budget.

Having pretty much seen the entire festival I can honestly say it's all good, go buy tickets.

For tickets and more information go here.