With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013
With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

MOJIN: THE LOST LEGEND arrives on home video today, May 3rd, 2016

Well Go USA
Presents
 Mojin: The Lost Legend
Directed by Wuershan
China, 2015, 122 minutes

Adopted from the novel Gui Chui Deng by Tinn Xia Ba Chang, who also served as the film's script consultant, Mojin: The Lost Legend debuts on Blu-ray™, DVD and Digital HD today, Tuesday, May 3rd from Well Go USA Entertainment. This review is based on the Blu-ray release


Directed by Wuershan (Painted Skin: The Resurrection), the film centers on the exploits of three tomb raiders: Hu Bayi (Chen Kun, Snowgirl and the Dark Crystal), Shirley Yang (the always watchable Shu Qi, The Assassin), and Wang Kai Xuan (Huang Bo, Lost in Thailand and Journey to the West). It also features Angelababy (the stage name of Angela Yeung WIng, Tai Chi Zero and Tai Chi Hero) as Ding Sitian.

Seeing the Twin Towers was unexpected, but appropriate for the film's time frame

In 1988, after one of their capers turns out badly, Hu, Shirley, and Wang retire from tomb raiding and move to New York City. (Just why and how this was achieved is never really addressed; it probably has more to do with someone's desire to film in New York more than anything plot-related.) As a New Yorker who was present when the 9/11 terrorist attacks took place, I was briefly taken out of the movie when, at about eight and a half minutes into it, there was a view from Brooklyn looking across the East River with the Twin Towers in the background. I forgot the time period being depicted for a moment, and only later realized that it was necessary because a significant flashback occurs roughly twenty years earlier, during Mao's Cultural Revolution.

Shirley leads Hu (behind her right arm), Wang (behind her left shoulder) and others in the quest for the Equinox Flower

Ms. Ying Caihong, the President of Global Mining Company  and leader of the Global Holy Disciplinary Institution, a strange cult, seeks the Equinox Flower, which is said to only exist at the limbo of Yin and Yang and which is believed to connect the living and the dead, to open the gate to the underworld and bring the dead back to life. After Wang decides to go back to China to locate it for her, Shirley and Hu follow.

Corporate and cult leader Ying Caihong (in white) with her followers

There are vast sets and loads of adrenaline pumping action. CGI is employed rather extensively, but it's of a very high quality. There's also some very fine make-up work done on one of the characters.

One of the film's vast sets

I came to think of Mojin: The Lost Legend as a Chinese blending of the Tomb Raider (Angelina Jolie, 2001 and 2003) and The Mummy (Brendan Fraser, 1999, 2001, and 2008) series of fils. All-in-all, it was a very enjoyable watch.

Bonus Features:
-- Making of featurette (4:00)
-- Behind the Scenes
  -- Chen Kun (3:32)
  -- Huang Bo (3:24)
-- Trailer (1:57)

AsianCineFest Rating: 3 out of 4 stars; recommended

Shojo Manga THE HEIRESS AND THE CHAUFFEUR arrives today

Ojousama no Untenshu © Keiko Ishihara 2011/HAKUSENSHA, Inc.
VIZ MEDIA LAUNCHES SHOJO MANGA SERIES
THE HEIRESS AND THE CHAUFFEUR

Intriguing New Series About Social Class And Forbidden
Love Debuts In Print And Digitally Today, May 3rd

VIZ Media expands its shojo manga (graphic novel) roster with today's launch of THE HEIRESS AND THE CHAUFFUER, a new 2-volume series by creator Keiko Ishihara depicting the romance between a turn-of-the-century heiress and her devoted servant.

THE HEIRESS AND THE CHAUFFUER is rated ‘T’ for Teens and will be released under the Shojo Beat imprint with an MSRP of $9.99 U.S. / $12.99 CAN. The series also launches digitally on May 3rd via VIZManga.com and the VIZ Manga App (iOS and Android), as well as from the Nook, Kobo, Kindle, iBooks, comiXology, and GooglePlay stores.

At an all-girls school during the Taisho era of Japan, rumors swirl that heiress Sayaka Yoshimura is having a forbidden love affair with her chauffeur, Shinobu Narutaki! Sayaka scoffs at the rumors, but could a romance between master and servant actually be brewing?

In the opening volume, Sayaka wears a crimson ribbon that signals she is at the top of her class, and her classmates all revere her. So when Narutaki ignores decorum and breaks school rules to protect Sayaka, will she stand by him or dismiss him as the school demands?

“Creator Keiko Ishihara’s beautiful love story will captivate readers who love strong characters and romance. Social class division keeps the protagonists apart, but their unique bond perseveres against the odds,” says Amy Yu, Editor. “Shojo manga fans will also appreciate the crisp artwork and Taisho-period costumes. We look forward to them discovering this new release!”

Manga creator Keiko Ishihara began her manga career with Keisan Desu Kara (It's All Calculated). Her other works include Strange Dragon, which was serialized in Japan in LaLa magazine.

For additional information on THE HEIRESS AND THE CHAUFFEUR or other manga titles distributed by VIZ Media, visit www.VIZ.com.

Monday, May 02, 2016

An evening with WONG KAR WAI at MoMA NY on May 23rd

MoMA
Presents
Brigitte Lin in Wong Kar Wai's Chungking Express (Hong Kong, 1994)
An Evening with Wong Kar Wai
When: Monday, May 23rd, 2016 at 7:30 p.m.
Where: Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
11 West 53rd Street, NYC
T1, Titus Theater 1
Tickets go on sale May 9th

Known for his striking visual sensibility, Wong Kar Wai, cinema’s reigning aesthetician, has taken films about romance and heartbreak to a whole new level, earning the hearts and minds of critics and cinephiles alike who favor loftier philosophical and moral inquiry. Lovelorn and lonesome souls, always played by the most glamorous film stars, inhabit a richly constructed world saturated with elaborate visual and sonic details. Lush colors, sensuous music, and sinuous movements combine with kinetic camerawork, shifting film speeds, and exhilaratingly fast editing to create a total sensory overload whereby Wong explores themes of time, memory, love, and loss.

Born in Shanghai in 1958, Wong studied graphic design at Hong Kong Polytechnic University before enrolling in a training program offered by a local television station. He became a screenwriter, first in television, then in film, and made his directorial debut with As Tears Go By in 1988, during the heyday of Hong Kong cinema. This gangster film combined genre conventions with an unusual visual flair, signaling a gift for formal experimentation that has continued in his subsequent work—and earned him a place among the greatest living auteurs.

Wong Kar Wai joins La Frances Hui, Associate Curator, Department of Film, to discuss his films (along with short film clips), work processes, and partnerships with various long-term collaborators, both on and off screen.

The program is followed by a book signing and sale of Wong Kar Wai and John Powers’s WKW: The Cinema of Wong Kar Wai (Rizzoli, 2016).

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Section23 Films announces July Slate


Home video distributor Section23 Films has announced its July slate of releases, including Sentai Filmworks’ apocalyptic second collection of Parasyte ~ the maxim ~. Available on DVD, Blu-ray and Limited Edition Premium Box Set.

Product details in order of release:

Title: ARCH ANGELS
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 92 min.
Street Date: 7/5/2016
Format: COMBO
Language: Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $29.98

SYNOPSIS: Rich? Need a place to keep your attractive but easily misled daughter? Then St. Michael's Academy is the school for you! Nestled on a remote island, it's the perfect place to keep your girl away from temptation as she learns about class, elegance, and refined tastes. Of course, that also makes S.M.A. "Hell on Earth" for a girl like Fumio, who'd rather go to Tokyo U. and eat junk food. Fortunately, Fumio soon finds two kindred spirits in the form of Kazune and Yuzuko, who also groove on cheap ramen and trashy novels. Unfortunately, a lot of weird stuff also starts to happen: the school is targeted by Italian kidnappers (or are they pirates?), the head nun goes a LITTLE crazy... and the girls gain superpowers. It only makes sense for our heroic trio to track down the villains and bring them to justice, right? Get ready for an educational experience like no other as the bad guys get schooled, schoolgirl-style in ARCH ANGELS!


Title: HATENKOU YUGI COMPLETE COLLECTION
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 250 min.
Street Date: 7/5/2016
Format: DVD
Language: Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $49.98

SYNOPSIS: When most parents decide that their children need to see more of the world, they send their offspring on cruises or vacations. Rahzel Anadis's father simply kicks her out of the house with little more than the clothes on her back, the tiny hat on her head, and her stuffed bear with a blindfold. Being as resourceful as she is quirky, however, Rahzel quickly manages to recruit two tall, dark, and dangerous gentlemen as traveling companions. Well, tall and dark describes the oversexed Baroqueheat, while the moodier Alzeid is tall and pale. Though exactly how these brooding bad boys benefit from the arrangement is a bit less clear; especially since Rahzel spends the money they make performing perilous missions as fast as they've earned it. Could it be her endless optimism and quest for fun that has them bedazzled? Or is the connection something literally more magical? Whatever the reason, if there's an odd job to be done, the odds are that they'll take it in HATENKOU YUGI!


Title: PARASYTE ~ THE MAXIM ~ COLLECTION 2
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 300 min.
Street Date: 7/5/2016
Format: BD, DVD, COMBO
Language: English & Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $69.98, $59.98, $139.98

SYNOPSIS: They seem like the perfect killing machines: taking the form of their latest victim as they move on to hunt their next meal, blending invisibly into chaos of human civilization. But as the human race becomes aware of the invaders, the rules unexpectedly change. Because, while the predators may be far more deadly individually, human beings hunt in packs… and no species in the universe has spent more time perfecting new ways to kill than man. As the military secretly mobilizes and a shadow war erupts, Shinichi and Migi find themselves trapped in the escalating purge. Born from a merging of both sides and yet belonging to neither, the best they can do is merely hope to survive as the lines between friend and foe cease to exist. The war between the planet's two apex species spills into the streets as human sheep reveal the wolves hidden inside in the apocalyptic second collection of PARASTYE- THE MAXIM!


Title: RIN-NE COLLECTION 1
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 325 min.
Street Date: 7/12/2016
Format: BD, DVD
Language: Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $59.98, $49.98

SYNOPSIS: Sakura Mamiya has been seeing ghosts since she was a child. Now she's a teenager and they're really getting on her nerves. But when you're usually the only person who sees the specters, who can you talk to without sounding crazy? Well, there IS that guy who sits next to her in class sometimes. Rinne Rokudo. But he seems to be absent a lot. And even when he IS there, other people don't always see him. Because what Sakura doesn't know (yet) is that Rinne is part Shinigami and tasked with helping ghosts move from our plane to the next. Unfortunately, Rinne's not as powerful as a full Shinigami and could really use a little help. So… is this a supernatural hook-up made in Heaven or what? And if it isn't, wouldn't sending lost souls to the afterlife get deity-approval anyway? Drop your schoolbooks and gear up for an after-school exorcise program like no other as famed creator Rumiko Takahashi unleashes a spooktacular new masterpiece with RIN-NE!


Title: STRAWBERRY MARSHMALLOW OVA COLLECTION
Published by: Sentai Selects
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 130 min.
Street Date: 7/12/2016
Format: BD, DVD
Language: Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $34.98, $24.98

SYNOPSIS: There's rarely a dull moment when Chika Ito and her friends get together: whether they're telling ghost stories, playing games, or taking trips to the beach and park, every day brings a new adventure. Of course, not everyone appreciates the constant presence of a pack of 12 year olds, and Chika's big sister Nobue might sometimes wish that Chika's friends weren't always underfoot. Especially troublemaking Miu, whose "help" with Nobue's job hunt is definitely not appreciated! Then again, Miu can cause problems just about anywhere, even when she hits her head and thinks she's in Heaven! And when the girls make a trip to the public baths, does anyone think they'll make a clean escape and scrub away every single piece of evidence? Either way, the funs sure to continue as the whole gang reunites in the complete OVA collection of STRAWBERRY MARSHMALLOW!


Title: CHILDREN WHO CHASE LOST VOICES
Published by: Sentai Selects
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 116 min.
Street Date: 7/19/2016
Format: COMBO
Language: English & Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $19.98

SYNOPSIS: Life hasn't been easy for Asuna since the death of her father. With her mother forced to work long hours to make ends meet, Asuna spends most of her time alone, listening to the crystal radio her father left behind. It's a curious thing, requiring neither electricity nor an amplifier, but the strange music that plays over it is an even greater mystery. Where does it come from? And what does it mean? The answers will lead Asuna into a hidden world filled with incredible dangers, where monsters roam and even the dead can be brought back to life. But there's a price that comes with unlocking the secrets, and it may be more than Asuna can afford to pay! Join the journey to Agartha as the adventure of a lifetime begins when acclaimed director Makoto Shinkai unleashes CHILDREN WHO CHASE LOST VOICES!


Title: SOFTENNI COMPLETE COLLECTION
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 300 min.
Street Date: 7/19/2016
Format: BD, DVD
Language: Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $59.98, $49.98

SYNOPSIS: Playing Soft Tennis (like regular tennis but with softer balls and lighter racquets) is supposed to be the focus of the Shiratama Soft Tennis Team. And for some of the girls, like farm girl/would-be champion Asuna, it mostly is. But when the team's worst player, Chitose, is also the team captain, could it be that the club is really more about hanging out and having a good time? To be sure, aces Kurusu and exchange student Elizabeth, are great players. But they also seem more interested in cosplay and the team's dreamy adviser, while violence-prone Kotone might be more at home in a martial arts dojo. And it would certainly explain why they get into so many odd adventures involving things like giant bears, whales, and ghosts rather than playing! Either way, whether they're going for the championship or simply socializing, the one thing that's certain is that they'll be forging bonds of friendship that will last forever, off court and on, in SOFTENNI!


Title: LOG HORIZON 2 COLLECTION 2
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 300 min.
Street Date: 7/26/2016
Format: BD, DVD
Language: English & Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $69.98, $59.98

SYNOPSIS: Having cleared the Abyssal Shaft, the members of the raiding party have returned to Akihabara to consider their next options. First, though, there's an unexpected lesson in history as the founder of the Debauchery Tea Party, the legendary Kanami, resurfaces with an extremely peculiar entourage and some even more stunning revelations about connections to the outside. But the ramifications of this will have to wait. With new political situations brewing between the Guilds, Shiroe sets Isaac to the task of training Maihama's knights while the younger members of Log Horizon are sent out on what should be a simple quest. Collecting the materials required to make a magic bag, however, becomes much more difficult when ogres and nightshades get involved! Fortunately, the junior team is about to get a jolt of fresh blood… in the form of a Vampire! The action escalates and the world gets even wilder in the second thundering collection of LOG HORIZON - SEASON 2!


Title: WHEN THEY CRY REI
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 150 min.
Street Date: 7/26/2016
Format: BD, DVD
Language: Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $39.98, $29.98

SYNOPSIS: Having finally escaped the brutal cycle of madness and murder that transformed the town of Hinamizawa into a hell on Earth, Keiichi, Rika, and their friends are looking forward to simply being teenagers and living a normal life. But as strange things keep happening, it soon becomes apparent that fate hasn't finished toying with them yet. Especially when the incidents escalate dramatically, transitioning from relatively benign and even humorous… to lethal. Struck by a truck, Rika awakens to find herself in another reality, one where most of her friends are gone, yet other elements of her life that she'd previously lost are back. And in order to find her way back to the life she knows, she'll have to destroy something from this new life forever. No matter what... or who… she has to sacrifice. It's an all-new ordeal where every solution comes with a horrific price in WHEN THEY CRY - REI!

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Ozu's "I Was Born, But..." at Japan Society

Japan Society Film Program's
Monthly Classics Series
Presents
I Was Born, But . . . / Umarete wa Mita Keredo
Directed by Yasujiro Ozu
With Tatsuo Saito, Tokkan Kozou, Hideo Sugawara,
Mitsuko Yoshikawa, and Takeshi Sakamoto
Japan, 1932, 100 minutes
35mm, b&w, silent with Japanese and English intertitles

When: Friday, May 6 at 7:00 pm
Where: Japan Society
333 East 47th Street, NYC

In this early silent comedy by Yasujiro Ozu, two precocious young boys get used to their new suburban neighborhood – avoiding classes, battling bullies, making friends – while their father commutes to work every day. When they witness him being subservient and playing a fool for his boss, the boys become ashamed and decide to protest with a hunger strike, declaring, “You tell us to become somebody, but you’re nobody!” This charming and insightful consideration of childhood innocence and social hierarchies is widely acknowledged as the master director’s first great film, later reworked into his 1959 color film Good Morning. Screening one day after Children's Day (May 5th) in Japan.