With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

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

Thursday, April 30, 2009

ACF 287: Jiro Asada's short story collection THE STATIONMASTER available now


Stationmaster Copyright: Poppoya (C) 2000 by Jiro Asada

VIZ MEDIA INVITES READERS TO MAKE A STOP
WITH THE AWARD-WINNING NOVEL

THE STATIONMASTER

Author Jiro Asada’s Collection Of 8 Short Stories Exemplifies Contemporary Japanese Fiction And Explores Themes Of Loss, Love And Redemption

VIZ Media continues to introduce English-language readers to some of the best authors of contemporary Japanese fiction with the North American release of THE STATIONMASTER, a collection of eight short stories by award-winning author Jiro Asada. THE STATIONMASTER available now with a SRP of $22.99 U.S. / $26.99 CAN.

In the book’s eponymous opening story, railway man Otomatsu waits each day, as he has for most of his life, at the end of the line to greet the incoming trains. But where the cars once brimmed with passengers, they now carry only one or two or sometimes none at all. Facing the imminent closure of his station, Otomatsu reflects back on the quiet tragedies of his life. Then into the cold emptiness of his days, wanders a carefree young girl who bears an uncanny likeness to his infant daughter who died years ago. In the winter of his life, has spring returned to the stationmaster?

In “Love Letter,” a man who has seen the rough side of life finds comfort in the memory of a wife he never knew. A young boy witnesses the dissolution of his family under the influence of a strange tutor who seems, to him, to be none other than the “Devil” himself.

In “Kyara,” a clothing salesman meets a mysterious and beautiful boutique owner at the mercy of a scheming salesman from a rival company, but she may not be as helpless as she seems.

The book continues with a young woman’s strained marriage as the topic of gossip at “The Festival of Lanterns,” held to honor her husband’s deceased grandfather, but it’s her own grandfather who returns from the beyond to help her through to the next phase of her life.

Next, a husband and wife struggle to recapture the love they once shared by visiting the movie theater where they met as children in “Invitation from the Orion Cinema.” These stories and two more make THE STATIONMASTER an intriguing invitation for any fiction fan.

“VIZ Media is privileged to present THE STATIONMASTER to domestic audiences,” says Gonzalo Ferreyra, Vice President Sales & Marketing, VIZ Media. “Author Jiro Asada explores themes of loss and redemption as his flawed but compelling characters search for love, reconciliation, and ultimately release – often found in the most unexpected places. As one of the most representative authors of contemporary Japanese fiction, Asada fuses personal experience with a literary vision in these vignettes of ordinary lives illuminated by a touch of the extraordinary. As VIZ Media continues to bring some of the best literary talents from Japan to American shores, we invite readers to explore this masterwork of contemporary Japanese fiction.”

THE STATIONMASTER was a best-seller in Japan and Jiro Asada was given the prestigious Naoki Award for fiction in 1997. The title story was adapted for the big screen in a film released in 1999. It starred 1970s yakuza film icon Ken Takakura, who won a best actor award at the 1999 Montreal Film Festival for his performance. THE STATIONMASTER was Japan’s submission to the 72nd Academy Awards in 2000 for Best Foreign Language Film. The “Love Letter” story was also made into two separate feature films, first in 1998 with Love Letter and again in 2001 as Failan.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

ACF 286: Kurosawa's Drunken Angel

Drunken Angel / Yoidore tenshi
Directed by Akira Kurosawa
Starring Takashi Shimura and Toshiro Mifune
Japan, 1948, 98 min.

Drunken Angel is of great significance for at least two reasons. As he wrote in Something Like An Autobiography, Kurosawa regarded it as the film in which he started to exhibit his own style. Equally important, it was the first Kurosawa film in which Mifune appeared. They would go on to make over a dozen more with one another, films that by all measures include almost all of those for which each of them are most well known.

The movie's title refers to Shimura's character, Doctor Sanada, a gruff alcoholic who runs a pathetic clinic alongside a fetid pond in which garbage is dumped. One night he is awakened to treat a young yakuza (gangster) named Matsunaga (Mifune) who has "injured his hand." In the course of treating him, Sanada realizes that Matsunaga probably has TB, a fairly widespread disease in post-war Japan.

Dr. Sanada orders children from the neighborhood not to play in
the filthy, disease breeding water of the pond.

Matsunada and Sanada are frequently at one another's throats -- both figuratively and literally. Matsunada engages in tough-guy, yakuza posturing, claiming he isn't concerned about possibly having TB because he doesn't fear death. Sanada repeatedly claims he'll have nothing to do with someone who won't take care of himself, but can't bring himself to give up on his reluctant patient because he reminds Sanada of what he himself was like as a young man.

Mifune with Reisaburo Yamamoto as Okata,
a higher ranking yakuza recently released from prison

I've watched the film at least three times to date, and expect to watch it again from time to time in the future. It may have been the first Kurosawa film I saw that was not a period piece. In any case, it certainly has one of the most memorable scenes I've ever seen in any film. It consists of Mifune, drunk and suffering from TB, his pompadour flying, jitterbugging in a dance hall. It's priceless and absolutely not to be missed.

Drunken Angel is available on a single disc DVD from The Criterion Collection. On-disc extras include an audio commentary featuring Japanese-film scholar Donald Richie, a 31-minute documentary on the making of Drunken Angel, and Kurosawa and the Censors, a new 25-minute video that sheds great insight into the challenges the director faced from the censorship policy of the U.S. occupying forces in post-WWII Japan. The DVD package also has a 28 page booklet with an insightful article by Asian film authority Ian Buruma and two chapters from Something Like An Autobiography that pertain to the film.

Overall, the aged film has been well-restored. However, there is often one very thin, vertical white line on the right side of the image. Sometimes there is more than one. But this should in no way dissuade you from buying, or at least renting, this very important, must-see film from early in Kurosawa's career.

ACF rating: 3.5 out of 4 stars (highly recommended)

(Note that the widescreen screenshot images above come from one of the video extras. The actual film is presented in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio.)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

ACF 285: Two-night special "L, change the worLd" event begins tomorrow 04.29.09

VIZ PICTURES AND NCM FATHOM PRESENT
LIVE-ACTION DEATH NOTE: L, change the WorLd
IN SPECIAL TWO-NIGHT EVENT

Riveting Unwritten Chapter Of Edgy DEATH NOTE Psychological Crime Drama on the Big Screen on April 29th and 30th in More Than 400 Theatres Nationwide

Just a quick reminder that VIZ Pictures and NCM FATHOM are presenting this live-action two-night, multi-city event on tomorrow, Wednesday, April 29th and again on Thursday, April 30th at 7:30 pm local time. By popular demand, a subtitled version will be presented on April 29th and an English-dubbed version on April 30th with L’s voice played by Alessandro Juliani from the anime series.

Tickets for this special event are available at the presenting theatre box offices and online. For a complete list of theatre locations and prices, please visit http://www.blogger.com/www.fathomevents.com/ (theatres are subject to change).

Monday, April 27, 2009

ACF 284: D.O.A. identify by body part quiz

Considering the nature of D.O.A.: Dead or Alive, which I reviewed in my Saturday, April 25th post, I thought it'd be fun to see if readers can identify two of the characters/actresses by body parts alone.

Answers are below the image of the DVD cover. Don't cheat!!!

1. Identify the Character (Actress) in this beach scene screenshot:
a. Ayane (Natassia Malthe)
b. Christie Allen (Holly Valence)
c. Helena Douglas (Sarah Carter)
d. Kasumi (Devon Aoki)
e. Tina Armstrong (Jaime Pressly)

2. Identify the Character (Actress) roller skating away in this screenshot:
a. Ayane (Natassia Malthe)
b. Christie Allen (Holly Valence)
c. Helena Douglas (Sarah Carter)
d. Kasumi (Devon Aoki)
e. Tina Armstrong (Jaime Pressly)

ANSWERS BELOW

The red bikini bottom and luscious mid-driff belong to:
(d) Kasumi (
Devon Aoki)

The hot-pants enrobed tush is that of:
(c) Helena Douglas (Sarah Carter)

Rate your score:
If you got either the character and/or the actress to both questions correct, you obviously paid proper attention while watching D.O.A.

If you got only one character a/o actress right, your score is passable, but you need at least one more viewing.

Neither character nor actress for both questions, you're just plain pathetic. Unless, of course, there's a legitimate sexual orientation explanation.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

ACF 283: BLEACH Arrancar showing on Adult Swim

VIZ MEDIA BRINGS ACTION PACKED NEW EPISODES OF SMASH-HIT SERIES BLEACH TO ADULT SWIM

BLEACH Arrancar Story Arc Debuts With
Two New Back-To-Back Episodes To Air Each Week

Exciting news from VIZ for fans of the popular Bleach series:

San Francisco, CA, APRIL 24, 2009 – VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media), one of the entertainment industry’s most innovative and comprehensive publishing, animation and licensing companies, brings the latest action-packed English dubbed episodes of BLEACH to Adult Swim. Beginning with episodes 110 and 111 of the Arrancar story arc, Adult Swim premiered two new BLEACH episodes back-to-back on Saturday, April 18th and will continue air two new back-to-back episodes each week.

Check local times for availability at: http://www.adultswim.com/shows/bleach/index.html

BLEACH is a popular manga and animated series (both rated ‘T’ for Teens), distributed domestically by VIZ Media, that follows the adventures of Ichigo, a 15-year old student with the ability to see ghosts. When his family is attacked by a Hollow — a malevolent lost soul – Ichigo encounters Rukia, a Soul Reaper, and inadvertently absorbs her powers. Now, he’s dedicating his life to protecting the innocent and helping tortured souls find peace.

In the new Arrancar story arc of Bleach, Ichigo meets an unusual new student named Shinji Hirako, who has come to Karakura Town to recruit Ichigo into the Visoreds, a group of ex-Soul Reapers that have crossed over into the realm of the Hollows. Meanwhile, ex-Soul Reaper Captain Sosuke Aizen has sent his vicious mob of Arrancars to the World of the Living. When Ichigo is faced with this new and extremely powerful adversary, it will be up to him to protect everyone!

“BLEACH remains a massively popular series and this is one of the most gripping plot developments yet,” says Bill Germain, Director, Programming Sales, VIZ Media. “Fans will be glued to the edge of their seats as Ichigo and Ruika face a wicked new force of tremendous power. Will the Arrancars succeed in their evil plan to topple the Soul Society? Find out in two new episodes each week!”

BLEACH is a tremendously successful multimedia property internationally. The manga has been licensed to more than a dozen countries and has sold over 50 million copies in Japan alone. In North America, the manga has been a sales hit and the popular animated series is viewed weekly by millions in the United States and Canada on cable broadcast. This success has further spawned an array of related video games, apparel, action figures and other merchandise.

BLEACH animation can be viewed through a variety of other web-based, video download and streaming outlets that have partnered with VIZ Media, including iTunes®, Xbox Live JOOST and HULU. For more information on BLEACH please visit www.bleach.viz.com.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

ACF 282: DOA: Dead or Alive

Ayane (Natassia Malthe) faces off against Princess Kasumi (Devon Aoki)

I'd hoped to see this 2006 release, directed by the great Corey Yuen, at a theater. I'd been a big fan of the video game upon which it was based. The first version, which was for the original PlayStation video game system, had the terrific option of "Bouncing Breasts: On or Off." And the breasts were of Russ Meyer film proportions! I loved subsequent releases through those for the PlayStation 2, and was really upset when the franchise became exclusive to Microsoft's X-Box gaming system (hisssssss).

But DOA 's theatrical run lasted only about a week in New York. (Recently, Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li lasted about as long in theaters.) Entertainment Weekly gave it a pretty decent review at the time, but that was the exception. The film has a metascore of 38 out of 100 based on 8 reviews at metacrictic.com, although 28 users gave it an overall rating of 6.3 out of 10. IMDb users are even toughter on it: a rating of 4.9/10 based on 13,424 votes.

All-American wrestler Tina Armstong (Jaime Pressly)
climbs on to her yacht

I finally decided to check it out when J&R had one of their periodic sales on all DVDs. (J&R is the fantastic electronics emporium near where I work in lower Manhattan. You can also order by phone or on the web @ jr.com.) DOA is by no means a great film, but I found it pretty damn entertaining. Although none of the female stars are as opulently endowed as their video game counterparts, they're all great-looking and pull off the requisite martial arts moves quite nicely.

Bass Armstrong (Kevin Nash), Tina's father, is one of her opponents
Dead or Alive is about an invitation-only martial arts competition that brings together the greatest fighters throughout the world. Only the tournament is really being held not to determine who's the best fighter, but to satisfy the nefarious plans of Dr. Victor Donovan (Eric Roberts), the event's organizer.

While there are some male competitors and supporting characters, make no mistake about it, this film is all about the luscious eye-candy provided by the babes. Think of it as "Charlie's Angels Enter the Dragon."
Christie Allen (Holly Valance) has a great move for donning her bra

The DVD is available on the Dimension Extreme label with a first-rate video transfer. Aside from the Theatrical Trailer, the only other extra is an above-average featurette entitled "East Meets West: Behind The Action Of D.O.A."


The babes of D.O.A. square off for some slicin' & dicin'

I enjoyed D.O.A. and found it to be more than decent for an action film based on a fighting video game. Let's face it, video fighting games don't have much of a story line or arc. Hence they've tended to not translate that well into film. It may not be saying a lot, but Dead or Alive has a better than normal story for the sub-genre.

I give it an overall ACF rating of 2.5 out of 4 stars. [For comparison with the ratings I mentioned earlier in this column, my score is roughly equivalent to 7.5 out of 10, or 75 out of 100.] Call it fairly good for what it is. It's absolutely worth a rental. It's also not a bad acquisition for your collection if the material and treatment really interest you. I know I'll be going back to watch it every once in a while.

Friday, April 24, 2009

ACF 281: VIZ announces Naruto Shippuden promo campaign

VIZ MEDIA LAUNCHES
NARUTO SHIPPUDEN PROMOTIONAL CAMPAIGN WITH TRANS WORLD ENTERTAINMENT
FOR FYE AND SUNCOAST STORES NATIONWIDE
FYE And Suncoast Customers Who Purchase $20.00 Of NARUTO Merchandise Will Receive A Special Free NARUTO Shippuden Sampler DVD

VIZ Media has launched a special NARUTO Shippuden promotional campaign with Trans World Entertainment, a leading specialty retailer of entertainment software, including music, video and video games and related products. Trans World customers who purchase $20.00 worth of NARUTO Shippuden merchandise at any of the company’s more than 500 participating FYE and Suncoast stores will receive a free NARUTO Shippuden Sampler DVD, while supplies last.

The special Sampler DVD features the entire first episode of the new NARUTO Shippuden story arc, along with a video game trailer for Namco Bandai's NARUTO Shippuden Ultimate Ninja 4 and a variety of colorful downloadable NARUTO Shippuden wallpaper designs that allow fans to customize their computer desktops.

“We are very excited to launch this special NARUTO Shippuden promotional campaign with Trans World Entertainment,” says Gonzalo Ferreyra, Vice President, Sales & Product Marketing, VIZ Media. “The free-with purchase Sampler disc, which includes the entire first episode of NARUTO Shippuden, is an ideal introduction to the newest story arc. NARUTO has captivated millions in print, on the web, on TV and DVD and its continued international popularity has transformed the property into a true pop culture phenomenon. We invite new and existing fans alike to visit their local FYE or Suncoast store and pick up this fun new Sampler DVD as a free bonus to complement their next NARUTO Shippuden purchase!”

Created by Masashi Kishimoto, NARUTO was first introduced in Weekly Shonen Jump magazine in Japan in 1999 and quickly became that country’s most popular ninja manga targeting tweens and teens and has sold more than 85 million copies to-date. The manga series (rated ‘T’ for Teens) and animated counterpart (NARUTO rated ‘T’ for teens, and NARUTO Shippuden rated ‘T+’ for older teens), is one of VIZ Media’s most successful properties and has captivated millions of fans across North America, Europe and South America. NARUTO is a co-production of TV TOKYO, VIZ Media parent company Shueisha Inc., and Pierrot Co., Ltd.

In the NARUTO manga and animated series, Naruto Uzumaki, a young ninja in training, wants to be the best ninja in the land. He's done well so far, but Naruto knows he must train harder than ever and leaves his village for intense exercises that will push him to his limits. NARUTO Shippuden begins two and a half years later, when Naruto returns to find that everyone has been promoted up the ninja ranks—except him. Sakura’s a medic ninja, Gaara’s advanced to Kazekage, and Kakashi… well, he remains the same.

But pride isn’t necessarily about becoming a ninja, especially when Naruto realizes that Sasuke never returned from his search for Orochimaru. Plus, the mysterious Akatsuki organization is still an ever-present danger. As Naruto finds out more about the Akatsuki’s goals, he realizes that nothing in his universe is as it seems. Naruto is finding that he’s older, but will he also prove wiser and stronger?

Earlier NARUTO Shippuden episodes are currently available for free at http://www.naruto.com/ and through a variety of other web-based, video streaming outlets that have partnered with VIZ Media, including Joost and Hulu.

More information on NARUTO is available at http://naruto.com/.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

ACF 280: Five Top Animted Series to launch on FUNimation Channel

VIZ MEDIA LICENSES FIVE TOP ANIMATED SERIES TO
FUNIMATION CHANNEL FOR US TELEVISION LAUNCH

VIZ Media has announced that five of its animation series will launch on the FUNimation Channel, the premiere anime network from FUNimation Entertainment and OlympuSAT, and will debut in late Spring and Summer 2009. Titles include BUSO RENKIN, HONEY AND CLOVER, HUNTER X HUNTER, MONSTER, and NANA.

The series that will be debuting on FUNimation Channel are:

NANA (drama/relationship/comedy, TV-MA)

Based on the popular manga by Ai Yazawa, NANA follows the adventures of two girls both named Nana. While they share the same name, they couldn't be more different. Nana Hachi Komatsu follows her boyfriend to Tokyo in the hopes of making a new start, while Nana Osaki, who arrives in the city at the same time, is a punk rock beauty who has the ambition of making it big in the world of rock and roll. Although these two young women come from different backgrounds, they quickly become best friends while chasing their happiness and dreams. For more information on NANA please visit www.nana.viz.com.

HONEY AND CLOVER (drama/relationship/comedy, TV-14)

Based on the popular manga by Chica Umino, HONEY AND CLOVER is a romantic comedy about a group of art school students who try to find their way. But when an innocent and talented 19-year-old girl enters their lives, things get a lot more complicated as love triangles result. For more information on HONEY AND CLOVER, please visit www.honeyandclover.viz.com.

Naoki Urasawa’s MONSTER (Suspense, TV-MA)

What would you do if a child you saved grew up to be a monster? An ice-cold killer is on the loose, and Dr. Kenzo Tenma is the only one who can stop him! Tenma, a brilliant neurosurgeon with a promising future, risks his career to save the life of a critically wounded young boy named Johan. When the boy, now a coldhearted and charismatic young man, reappears nine years later in the midst of a string of unusual serial murders, Tenma must go on the run to uncover the story of Johan and stop the monster he set loose upon the world. Conspiracies, serial murders, and secret government experiments set against the grim backdrop of the former East Germany are masterfully woven together in this compelling psychological suspense.

BUSO RENKIN (Action/Fantasy, TV-14)

High school student Kazuki Muto thinks he's saving a girl from a monster, but it turns out that he's the one who needs saving! Kazuki is killed while fighting a homunculus, a malevolent creature that feeds on humans. The girl, Tokiko Tsumura, revives him by replacing his heart with an alchemical device called a kakugane. With this device Kazuki can create his own Buso Renkin, an alchemical weapon in the form of a huge lance, capable of destroying homunculi. With his new weapon in hand, Kazuki decides to join forces with Tokiko to eliminate the homunculi and destroy their master, the strange and eccentric Papillon Masked Creator!

HUNTER X HUNTER (Action/Fantasy, TV-14)

Hunters are a special breed, dedicated to tracking down treasure, magical beasts, and even humans. But such pursuits require a license, and less than one in a hundred thousand can pass the grueling qualification exam. Gon might be a country boy, but he has high aspirations. Despite his aunt's protest, Gon decides to follow in his father's footsteps and become a legendary Hunter. The journey begins on the long, arduous road to the Exam Hall, where he meets Leorio and Kurapika, two applicants with the same determination. Gon and his two companions must now prove their worth and earn the right to call themselves Hunters!

“We are thrilled to partner with FUNimation to debut these exciting series on its premiere 24-hour digital anime network,” says Bill Germain, Director, Programming & Music Sales, VIZ Media. “The multi-faceted plots and dynamic characters that made all these titles so successful as manga translates wonderfully with depth and color to their anime counterparts, adding a captivating new visual dimension to the storylines. We look forward to fans taking full advantage of all the flexibility and convenience of VOD to explore these new series on the FUNimation Channel.”

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

ACF 279: VIZ Media announces DVD releases for May and June 2009

Lots of interesting releases coming from VIZ in the next two months. Here's info on the animation releases.

VIZ Media has announced an array of new DVD titles scheduled for release throughout May and June 2009. These include the latest episodic releases of popular BLEACH and NARUTO series, as well as the eagerly awaited new DEATH NOTE RE-LIGHT, the animation that revisits the DEATH NOTE series through the eyes of Ryuk. Younger viewers will delight in the new POKÉMON DIAMOND AND PEARL: BATTLE DIMENSION Box Set. VIZ Media DVD titles are distributed (in English) in U.S and Mexico by Warner Home Video and in Canada by Allegro.

New BLEACH Releases Include:

BLEACH Volume 16 • Rated 'T' for Teens •
MSRP: $24.92 US / $35.99 CAN • Available May 12
Returning to the world of the living after their adventures in the Soul Society, Ichigo and his friends resume their regular lives at home and school. But strange disappearances continue to occur, and no culprit is in sight. Something strange has followed them home and it will put their faith and trust in each other to the ultimate test.

BLEACH Volume 17 • Rated 'T' for Teens •
MSRP: $24.92 US / $35.99 CAN • Available June 16
A powerful new enemy has appeared in Karakura Town. Known as Bounts, these menacing creatures suck the souls from humans. Rukia, Yoruichi and Soi Fon are sent from the Soul Society to investigate, and Urahara further enlists the help of three mod souls to assist Ichigo and friends in preventing these deadly attacks.

New DEATH NOTE Releases Include:

DEATH NOTE RE-LIGHT Volume 1 • Rated 'T+' for Older Teens •
MSRP: $24.92 US / $35.99 CAN • Available June 16
This animation goes back to where it all began and revisits this critically acclaimed psychological crime thriller from a whole new perspective – through the eyes of Ryuk, the shinigami death god and the one who started it all! Light and L have battled to the bitter end over the Death Note – but what does the story look like from Ryuk’s point of view? When rogue shinigami Ryuk deliberately drops his Death Note in the human world out of boredom, he has no idea how far the human who picks it up will take his newfound power. With the Death Note in hand, brilliant high school student Light Yagami vows to rid the world of evil, and when criminals begin dropping dead one by one, genius detective L steps in to track down this elusive killer known only as Kira. An epic battle of wits pitting one brilliant mind against another unfolds – with the future of humanity at stake! Ryuk’s not bored anymore!

New NARUTO Releases Include:

NARUTO UNCUT SPECIAL EDITION DVD BOX SET Volume 14 • Rated 'T+' for Older Teens • MSRP: $69.97 US / $99.99 CAN • Available May 26
The ninjas of the Hidden Leaf Village are summoned on an important mission to the Land of Stars, where a meteorite with incredible powers has been stolen. Naruto and his cohorts begin to suspect it was an inside job when they learn that the ninja that stole the star used a special ninjutsu technique known only to the Star Village. Then, Choji, Hinata and Naruto set out for the Land of Greens to protect a group of merchants, one of whom turns out to be a princess! When Hinata is threatened by an evil ninja to reveal the princess's whereabouts or Naruto will be hurt, will she choose to save a princess or the boy she loves? The Special Edition Box Set features 14 episodes on 3 discs and also includes a collectible Neji mininja figure.

NARUTO UNCUT DVD Box Set Volume 14 Standard Edition• Rated 'T+' for Older Teens • MSRP: $49.95 US / $71.99 CAN • Available May 26
DVD-only collection featuring 14 episodes from the hit series on 3 discs; collectible figure is not included.

New POKÉMON Releases Include:

POKÉMON: DIAMOND AND PEARL BATTLE DIMENSION BOX SET 1 • Rated 'A' for All Ages • MSRP: $24.92 US / $35.99 CAN • Available June 23
Ash, Dawn, and Brock continue their journey through the Sinnoh region, with Ash working on his next two Gym badges and Dawn striving to break her recent string of Pokémon Contest defeats. Some new Pokémon also have joined the team – including Ash’s Chimchar, previously trained by Paul. Our heroes will also be attending Professor Rowan’s Pokémon Summer Academy and meeting a lot of new friends! But will they learn enough to deal with the devious threats posed by Pokémon Hunter J and Team Galactic? Find out in this special 2-disc box set.

POKÉMON: DIAMOND AND PEARL BATTLE DIMENSION Volumes 1-2 Standard Edition • Rated 'A' for All Ages •
MSRP: $14.98 each US / $21.99 CAN Each • Available June 23
The episodes of POKÉMON: DIAMOND & PEARL BATTLE DIMENSION split into two standard single disc editions.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

ACF 278: Rumiko Takahashi website and newest manga to debut tomorrow!

JAPAN’S WEEKLY SHONEN SUNDAY MAGAZINE AND VIZ MEDIA TRANSPORT READERS TO THE RUMIC WORLD WITH THE SIMULTANEOUS EAST-WEST DEBUT OF RUMIKO TAKAHASHI’S NEWEST MANGA SERIES RIN-NE

Visit The Official Rumiko Takahashi English Language Web Site - TheRumicWorld.com
On April 22nd For The Latest Work
From One Of The Greatest Creative Forces In Manga

VIZ Media has announced the debut of a new manga series from legendary creator Rumiko Takahashi. The series, titled RIN-NE, will be launching simultaneously tomorrow, Wednesday, April 22nd exclusively in Japan in WEEKLY SHONEN SUNDAY magazine and online for North American audiences on http://www.therumicworld.com/, the brand new official North American web site for all Rumiko Takahashi-related news and information. Through this unprecedented collaboration, a new chapter of RIN-NE will be released each week for English-speaking manga fans to enjoy at the same time as their Japanese peers.

As a child Sakura Mamiya mysteriously disappeared in the woods behind her grandma’s home. She returned whole and healthy, but since then she has had the power to see ghosts. Now a teenager, she just wishes the ghosts would leave her alone! At school, the desk next to Sakura’s has been empty since the start of the school year, then one day her always-absent classmate shows up, and he’s far more than what he seems!

RIN-NE is the first new manga from Takahashi since her epic INUYASHA (published domestically by VIZ Media) ended in 2008 in Japan. Shogakukan’s popular WEEKLY SHONEN SUNDAY manga magazine has featured Takahashi’s work since the early 1980’s. With over 170 million copies sold in Japan alone, Takahashi’s substantial catalog of work continues to be loved by legions of devoted readers.

“Rumiko Takahashi is an artist without equal and her creative contribution to the manga genre is immeasurable. We’re extremely honored to present her long-awaited new series RIN-NE simultaneously with SHONEN SUNDAY” says Gonzalo Ferreyra, Vice President, Sales & Marketing, VIZ Media. “Rumiko Takahashi’s talent for creating endearing and memorable characters combined with comedy, love, fantasy, and action shines wonderfully in RIN-NE. Her signature style has come to be known as the ‘Rumic World,’ and it would not be an overstatement to call it a genre all its own. We invite fans across North America to visit her official web site on April 22nd for the English debut of RIN-NE and encourage them to check back regularly for the latest chapters in this groundbreaking series.”

The spotlight on Rumiko Takahashi's career began in 1978 when she won an honorable mention in Shogakukan’s annual New Comic Artist Contest for Those Selfish Aliens. Later that same year, her boy-meets-alien comedy series, Urusei Yatsura, was serialized in Weekly Shonen Sunday. This phenomenally successful manga series was adapted into anime format and spawned a TV series and half a dozen theatrical-release movies, all incredibly popular in their own right. Takahashi followed up the success of her debut series with one blockbuster hit after another—Maison Ikkoku ran from 1980 to 1987, Ranma ½ from 1987 to 1996, and Inuyasha from 1996 to 2008.

Other notable works include Mermaid Saga, Rumic Theater, and One-Pound Gospel. Takahashi won the prestigious Shogakukan Manga Award twice in her career, once for Urusei Yatsura in 1981 and the second time for Inuyasha in 2002. A majority of the Takahashi canon has been adapted into other media such as anime, live-action TV series, and film. Takahashi’s manga, as well as the other formats her work has been adapted into, have continued to delight generations of fans around the world. Distinguished by her wonderfully endearing characters, Takahashi’s work adeptly incorporates a wide variety of elements such as comedy, romance, fantasy, and martial arts. While her series are difficult to pin down into one simple genre, the signature style she has created has come to be known as the “Rumic World.” Rumiko Takahashi is an artist who truly represents the very best from the world of manga.

Monday, April 20, 2009

ACF 277: Korean Women Filmmakers - screening & discussion at Korea Society

This Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009, The Korea Society will present Korean Women Filmmakers, a screening and discussion with film director Yim Soon-rye that will be moderated by documentary filmmaker Yunah Hong.

Women represent only a small minority of the Korean film industry's behind-the-camera talent, yet they make up an impressive number of the industry's top filmmakers. Acclaimed director Yim Soon-rye explores the roles that she and her fellow women directors play in the industry in her documentary Keeping the Vision Alive: Women in Korean Filmmaking. Yim's short film The "Weight" of Her - a satire of the expectations Korean society places on women - will also be shown, followed by a discussion with award-winning documentary filmmaker Yunah Hong on the role of female filmmakers in Korea today.

Keeping the Vision Alive: Women in Korean Filmmaking
2001, 52 minutes

Keeping the Vision Alive retells the history of the Korean film industry to include the contributions of its female writers, editors, cinematographers, producers and directors. Using archival footage and interviews, including with Park Nam-ok, Korea's first female director, the film relates the sexism and other challenges its subjects struggle to overcome.

The "Weight" of Her
2002, 23 minutes

This short satire surveys the hidden life of a girls' high school and the tremendous social pressure to look good.

Schedule:
6:00-6:30 PM ♦ Registration and Reception
6:30-8:30 PM ♦ Screening and Discussion

Admission: $5 (members) and $10 (nonmembers)

Buy tickets online

This event will take place at The Korea Society, 950 Third Avenue @ 57th Street, 8th Floor
(entrance on SW corner of Third Avenue and 57th Street)

Sunday, April 19, 2009

ACF 276: 8th annual NYAFF in 2 months!

This year's festival is certain to feature many terrific films. Find out about it by checking back here at AsianCineFest and at subwaycinema.com.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

ACF 275: Recent Independent Chinese Films To Screen at Lincoln Center

Image from The Other Half / Ling yi ban


The Film Society of Lincoln Center will present a series of seven recent independent films from China next weekend, starting Friday, April 24th, 2009. Here's complete info about the series:

The Film Society of Lincoln Center will feature the best in Chinese contemporary cinema with On the Edge: New Independent Cinema from China 2009, at the Walter Reade Theater from Friday, April 24 through Sunday, April 26, (Three Days). A weekend series of seven films, with directors in person at many screenings, this short but thoughtful compendium opens with Zhang Lü’s Chongqing, a panoramic, multi-generational portrait of the titular city and Ying Liang’s The Other Half, a highlight of the 2007 New Directors/New Films. This series follows up the 2007 edition which hosted auteurs Jia Zhang-ke introducing The World and Li Yang with Blind Shaft, amongst others.

Although privately financed cinema has been allowed in China since the mid-1990s, the nation’s films and filmmakers continue to face both strained relations with the government and limited opportunities to be shown at home. On the Edge offers direct, often controversial looks at a society undergoing an unprecedented transformation, taking international viewers to parts of the country that are almost never seen by foreigners. Though little known in China itself, these unique works have made an impressive mark on the international state, winning major festival awards.

Other highlights in the series include Peng Tao’s Little Moth (Sat, April 25), which, in the words of Robert Koehler of Variety, “melds the anger and storytelling scope of Dickens [and] the documentary-influenced immediacy and sensitive gaze of the Dardenne brothers”; Zhang Lü’s Iri, a companion to Chongqing (the two were originally to be a single feature) about the Korean city Iksan (known as Iri before a destructive 1977 train station explosion); and Ying Liang’s newest, Good Cats (both playing Sun, April 26).

Directors Zhang Lu, Ying Liang and Yang Lin (Er Dong) will all appear in person. See below for schedule.

In conjunction with this series, a panel discussion on new Chinese cinema will be held at Dodge Hall, Columbia University on Sunday, April 26. Speakers will include Richard Peña, The Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Program Director and co-curator of the series; Lydia Liu, Columbia Professor in the Humanities; and Zhang Zhen, Associate Professor of Cinema Studies at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.

This series has been selected by Bao Weihong in association with Richard Peña. It is made possible through the support of The Weatherhead East Asian Institute at Columbia University, The Arts Initiative at Columbia University, The Columbia University Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, The Film Studies Program at Columbia University.

SCREENING SCHEDULE


Friday, April 24
6:45 Chongqing
9:00 The Other Half

Saturday, April 25
1:30 Er Dong
4:30 Ma Wu Jia
6:45 Little Moth

Sunday, April 26
6:20 Good Cats
8:45 Iri


FILM DESCRIPTIONS
Chongqing
Zhang Lü, South Korea/Japan, 2008; 95m HD Panoramic


Chinese-Korean director Zhang Lü’s specialty is stories that deal with China’s intercultural or cross-border issues. Chongqing, originally meant to be a prologue within Iri, was born from the plentiful footage he shot in the eponymous Chinese city, the country’s most populated urban conglomerate. Weaving together several separate episodes, Zhang provides a panoramic, multi-generational portrait of those left out of the Chinese miracle. He depicts the city as a restless, ever-expanding creature, ready to devour any inhabitant that falls out of line.
Fri Apr 24: 6:45pm

Er Dong
Yang Jin, China, 2008; 150m Digibeta


Yang Jin’s second feature is a documentary-flavored portrait spanning several years in the life of simple country boy Er Dong (“winter child”). He lives in a small village with his mother, who, frustrated with his misbehavior, takes him to a Christian school to find God and a new direction in life. Instead, he finds a girlfriend, Chang’e. When they are expelled from school, they must face up to the tough economic reality of contemporary China, as well as the demons of Er Dong's past.
Sat Apr 25: 1:30pm

Good Cats / Hao mao
Ying Liang, China, 2008; 103m DVCAM


Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping famously maintained that a cat’s color doesn’t matter, so long as it catches mice. Director Ying Liang’s newest film Good Cats takes Deng’s dictum to heart, following a chauffeur for a dubious real estate magnate who has plans to move into the economic driver’s seat regardless the means. Set in the rapidly urbanizing Sichuan, Ying's provocative vision frames everyday life within a series of inescapable paradoxes infused with surreal events that play out on the border between reality, absurdity, and hallucination.
Sun Apr 26: 6:20pm

Iri
Zhang Lü, South Korea, 2008; 108m HD Panoramic


Zhang Lü’s beautifully acted Korean film is set in the industrial city of Iksan, formerly Iri, which suffered a devastating and still unexplained train station explosion in 1977. The 30th anniversary of the tragedy launches this glimpse at a society still struggling with its aftermath. Jin-seo (Yoon Jin-seo), born shortly after the disaster, has the mental capabilities of a child. She is easy prey for the men in town, and her quiet suffering soon takes its toll on her brother Tae-woong (Eum Tae-woong).
Sun Apr 26: 8:45pm

Little Moth / Xue chan
Peng Tao, China, 2007; 99m Digibeta


Little Moth…melds the anger and storytelling scope of Dickens, the documentary-influenced immediacy and sensitive gaze of the Dardenne brothers, and the best tendencies of recent Chinese cinema.”—Robert Koehler, Variety
An impoverished country couple adopts a young girl who suffers from a crippling blood disease to work with them as a beggar on the city streets. Falling victim themselves to local extortionists, they move into the territory of the unsavory Mr. Wang, whose one-armed boy seems to have been acquired for a similar purpose. But this tale of the poor exploiting the destitute takes a poignant and unexpected turn when the children befriend each other.
Sat Apr 25: 6:45pm

Ma Wu Jia
Zhao Ye, China, 2007; 95m DVCAM


Animator Zhao Ye makes his feature-film debut with this challenging contemporary fable about the wages of personal sacrifice. Ah Jia lives in a small town in Guangxi. Always in trouble with the authorities and neighbors, he is nevertheless obsessed with helping his ailing brother. But how long will it be before family duty clashes with his own desires? Persuasively acted by a non-professional cast, Ma Wu Jia offers a poignant counterpoint between serene, small-town beauty and the gripping drama that envelops Ah Jia and his family.
Sat Apr 25: 4:30pm

The Other Half / Ling yi ban
Ying Liang, China, 2006; 111m


“Xiaofen lives in one of the dynamically growing cities in Southwestern China, but her work for a law firm…is merely routine. When not at work, she must deal with her down-and-out boyfriend Deng Geng…Life is also hard for her girlfriends and her mother, and Xiaofen is increasingly distressed by what she witnesses around her. In his second feature film, Ying Liang playfully pits youth culture against more traditional ways and interrelates one woman's reality to the changing economic and social structures in contemporary China.”—New Directors/New Films 2007
Fri Apr 24: 9:00pm

Single screening tickets for On the Edge: New Independent Cinema from China 2009 are $11; $7 for Film Society members, students and children (6-12, accompanied by an adult); and $8 for seniors (62+). They are available at both the Walter Reade Theater box office and online at filmlinc.com. For more information, call (212) 875-5601.

Friday, April 17, 2009

ACF 274: Four VIZ manga titles garner Eisner Award noms

VIZ MEDIA NOMINATED IN MULTIPLE CATEGORIES
FOR THE 2009 WILL EISNER COMIC INDUSTRY AWARDS

NAOKI URASAWA’S MONSTER, SOLANIN, CAT EYED BOY and COWA! Among The Titles Nominated

With justifiable pride, VIZ Media recently announced this news about some of its manga titles. Of the four, I've only read Solanin, which I absolutely loved and will try to review very soon. Here's the full low-down on the nominations:

VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media), one of the entertainment industry's most innovative and comprehensive publishing, animation and licensing companies, has announced that four of their manga titles have been nominated in several categories for the 2009 Will Eisner Comics Industry Awards, as unveiled by Comic-Con International on April 7, 2009.

Named for pioneering writer and comic artist Will Eisner, the awards recognize exemplary comics, graphic novels and other pop writings, and are given each year as part of the annual Comic-Con International convention. Winners will be announced at a gala ceremony on the evening of Friday July 24th during Comic-Con, at which VIZ Media will be a major exhibitor and participant in the programs offered. VIZ Media took home the 2008 Eisner Award for Best U.S. Edition of International Material – Japan for its release TEKKONKINKREET: BLACK & WHITE, by acclaimed creator Taiyo Matsumoto. (This is another manga that I have read - in three formats no less! - and loved, especially in VIZ's 2008 large format "All in One" version. I'll try to post a review of it soon also, but feel free to buy it in the meanwhile. You won't be disappointed - Dr G.)

The nominated titles from VIZ Media are:

CAT EYED BOY, by Kazuo Umezu

Best U.S. Edition of International Material—Japan

COWA!, by Akira Toriyama

Best Publication for Kids

NAOKI URASAWA’S MONSTER, by Naoki Urasawa

Best Continuing Series
Best U.S. Edition of International Material—Japan

SOLANIN, by Inio Asano

Best U.S. Edition of International Material—Japan

“We are absolutely thrilled that some of the more sophisticated titles from our VIZ Signature imprint have been recognized as well as the recent hit title for young readers -COWA!,” states Elizabeth Kawasaki, Sr. Editorial Director, VIZ Media. "These awards recognize excellence in the comics industry, and we are honored to be considered among such a diverse group of nominees.”

CAT EYED BOY · by Kazuo Umezu · VIZ Signature · Rated “T+” for Older Teens

CAT EYED BOY is a chilling concoction of dark vignettes dripping with the macabre, the grotesque and the absurd. Cat Eyed Boy is a half-human, half-monster child whose mostly human appearance bans him from the demon world. He lives hidden in the shadows of the human world, hated by humans and demons alike. Wherever he goes, awful events occur as the humans and demons interact. In 11 stories of revenge and retribution full of disturbing images, Cat Eyed Boy acts as a trickster, saving the innocent and helping the wicked receive the punishment that fate metes out. CAT EYED BOY was created by Kazuo Umezu, the undisputed master of Japanese horror manga and creator of the critically acclaimed THE DRIFTING CLASSROOM (also published by VIZ Media).

COWA! · by Akira Toriyama · SHONEN JUMP · Rated “A” for All Ages

COWA!, is a spooktacular manga for kids! Paifu, a half-vampire half-werekoala, is always getting into trouble with his best buddy, José the ghost. But when the Monster Flu sweeps through town, the fun and games are over. If the monsters don't get the medicine soon, everyone will die! With all the adults sick, it's up to the kids to save the day! Akira Toriyama is also the creator of the much-beloved DRAGON BALL and DRAGON BALL Z (also published by VIZ Media under the SHONEN JUMP imprint).

NAOKI URASAWA’S MONSTER · by Naoki Urasawa · VIZ Signature · Rated “T+” for Older Teens (NOMINATED IN TWO CATEGORIES)

The award-winning NAOKI URASAWA’S MONSTER weaves the riveting story of brilliant Dr. Kenzo Tenma, a famous surgeon with a promising career at a leading hospital. Tenma risks his reputation and promising career to save the life of a critically wounded young boy. Unbeknownst to him, this child is destined for a terrible fate. A string of strange and mysterious murders begin to occur soon afterward, ones that professionally benefit Dr. Tenma, and he emerges as the primary suspect. Conspiracies, serial murders, and a scathing depiction of the underbelly of hospital politics are all masterfully woven together in this compelling manga thriller. VIZ Media has recently started releasing the first volumes of Naoki Urasawa’s two newest series, NAOKI URASAWA’S 20TH CENTURY BOYS and PLUTO: URASAWA X TEZUKA.

Solanin · by Inio Asano · VIZ Signature · Rated “T+” for Older Teens

Critically acclaimed SOLANIN tells the story of Meiko Inoue, a recent college grad working as an office lady in a job she hates. Her boyfriend Naruo is permanently crashing at her apartment because his job as a freelance illustrator doesn't pay enough for rent. And her parents in the country keep sending her boxes of veggies that just rot in her fridge. Straddling the line between her years as a student and the rest of her life, Meiko struggles with the feeling that she's just not cut out to be a part of the real world. In addition to SOLANIN, VIZ Media will also be releasing Inio Asano’s two-volume WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD! later this year.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

ACF 273: Hearts and Flowers for Tora-San

Hearts and Flowers for Tora-san
Episode 29 - Otoko wa Tsuraiyo: Torajiro Ajisaino koi
Directed by Yoji Yamada

With Kiyoshi Atsumi, Chieko Baisho and Ayumi Ishida

Japan, 982, 110 min., 35 mm, color


This month's installment in Japan Society's Monthly Classics series Best of Tora-san will be shown tomorrow, Friday, April 17, 2009 at 7:30 PM at Japan Society, 333 East 47th Street New York, NY 10017 (between 1st and 2nd Avenues). I've watched this episode on a DVD screener and found it to be as enjoyable as others I've seen, which is to say very enjoyable. Tora-san is an innocent, frank and forthright character, simple and child-like in so many ways. You can't help but loving him, even when his behavior is unpleasant.

Synopsis:After a debaucherous evening in Kyoto with Kano, an elegant older man, Tora-san wakes up in Kano's home oblivious to the fact that he is the National Living Treasure of ceramics. Tora-san falls in love with his maid Kagari and follows her to her coastal hometown when she moves out after being abandoned by the man she was set to marry.

Buy tickets online for Hearts and Flowers for Tora-san, or call the Japan Society Box Office at (212) 715-1258, Mon. - Fri. 11 am - 6 pm, Weekends 11 am - 5 pm.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

ACF 272: Uncut English dubbed episodes of "Naruto" on Joost and Hulu start today


VIZ MEDIA ANNOUNCES THE LAUNCH
OF NARUTO ENGLISH DUBBED UNCUT EPISODES
ON JOOST AND HULU
Innovative Online Video Streaming Services To Now Carry
English Dubbed Uncut Episodes in North America

Can't get enough Naruto news? Well, here's the latest from VIZ:

VIZ Media, LLC., one of the entertainment industry's most innovative and comprehensive publishing, animation and licensing companies has announced the availability of English dubbed uncut episodes of NARUTO anime on Joost.com and Hulu.com beginning on April 15th. Joost and Hulu are both online video services that offer hit TV shows, movies and clips — all for free.

The first five episodes of NARUTO (English dubbed) will launch on April 15th with a new English dubbed episode launching every Wednesday thereafter. Each episode will stream on both Joost (US and Canada) and Hulu (US) for approximately 5 weeks then rotate off the site making room for the next new episodes.
Joost is a global service with more than 48,000 program elements from more than 300 content partners, including more than 400 television series, 1,200 movie and short film titles and 15,000 music videos. Hulu has more than 41,000 video assets from more than 140 content partners and offers nearly 1,300 show and movie titles, including 300 full-length feature films and 550 television series, with hundreds of videos added to the service each week. NARUTO subtitled versions launched on both Joost and Hulu in September 2008.

The launch of the NARUTO English dubbed episodes is the latest expansion of VIZ Media’s ongoing plan to make available a variety of hit animated series through some of the most innovative web-based, video streaming outlets. Joost and Hulu both provide convenient 24/7 accessibility and offer users the freedom to legally share full-length episodes or clips via e-mail or embed them on other web sites, blogs and social networking pages.

NARUTO has emerged as one of the world's most popular Japanese animated series, attracting millions of devoted viewers with a blend of stylish animation, multi-faceted characters and riveting story lines. This animation is based on the popular manga series and enjoys tremendous international popularity. In North America, NARUTO (rated TV-14) has become the hottest animated series and is one of VIZ Media’s most successful manga and animated properties in terms of sales.

Created by Masashi Kishimoto, NARUTO depicts the adventures of a young boy named Uzumaki Naruto who trains to become a ninja. The boy is cursed with the spirit of a nine-tailed fox demon and is forced to live a bullied life discriminated against by his fellow villagers. Naruto is resilient and undaunted in his quest to become a master ninja and his determination often inspires those around him. Through amazing adventures, the young ninja learns the importance of friendship, teamwork, loyalty, hard work, creativity, ingenuity, and right vs. wrong. Dedicated website at http://www.naruto.com/.

“We’re very excited to launch uncut dubbed NARUTO episodes on both Joost and Hulu and offer fans the opportunity to watch their favorite ninja online for free anytime,” says Ken Sasaki, Vice President, Strategy & Business Development, VIZ Media. “The availability of these episodes, uncut and featuring a very talented English voice cast, will undoubtedly help grow the online audience for NARUTO and also attract many new viewers. Joost and Hulu both offer dedicated anime channels with a variety of VIZ Media offerings, and we invite fans to visit each Wednesday for a fun new adventure featuring the world’s most popular ninja!”

To view NARUTO English dubbed uncut episodes, please visit Joost.com and/or Hulu.com beginning April 15th.

For more information on NARUTO and to view free episodes of NARUTO Shippuden animation (English Subtitled) please visit http://www.naruto.com/.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

ACF 271: NY's FSLC presents Satyajit Ray retro April 15th thru 30th, 2009

First Light: Satyajit Ray from
the Apu Trilogy to the Calcutta Trilogy

“To have not seen the films of Ray is to have lived in the world without ever having seen the moon and the sun.” - Akira Kurosawa

One of the unfortunately all-too-rare retrospectives of the films of Indian master filmmaker Satyajit Ray begins tomorrow at the Walter Reade Theater of the Film Society of Lincoln Center. It will last 16 Days and offer over 20 films, many sporting new prints. The following two paragraphs from the FSLC sum the series up nicely:

"Little excuse is ever needed to re-examine the work of one of cinema’s greatest auteurs, but the recent spike of interest in India — from its propitious emergence as a major economic power to the worldwide success of Slumdog Millionaire — make this an especially apt moment to witness and celebrate the achievements of Ray.

Scene from "Charulata"

The series spans the Apu Trilogy in the 50s (Pather Panchali, Aparajito, The World of Apu) through the Calcutta Trilogy in the 70s (The Adversary, Company Limited, The Middleman) and features 1960’s Devi (“One of Satyajit Ray’s greatest early films” – Jonathan Rosenbaum), 1964’s Charulata (“Surpasses everything Ray has ever achieved before” – Richard Roud, NYFF) and many new 35mm prints: The Music Room (1958), The Expedition (1962), The Coward and the Holy Man (1965), The Hero (1966), and more."

Complete program info, including descriptions of each film, showtimes, and links to order tickets is available at the Film Society of New York website

Must reading: Terrence Rafferty's New York Times article

ACF 270: "Adopted" - screening & discussion @ The Korea Society

This Friday, April 17th, 2009, The Korea Society will present a screening of Adopted, a documentary film that explores seldom spoken about aspects of international adoption through two stories. A 32-year-old Korean-born woman makes one last effort to bond with her dying adoptive mother, while a young couple, flush with hope, begins the process of adopting a baby girl from China.

This emotionally intense film juxtaposes hope and possibility with a view of adoption that does not shy away from its intrinsic complexities. Though the two families are at the opposite ends of their journeys, the stories converge to show that love is not always enough to make a family work.

A discussion and a Q&A session with Director and Producer Barb Lee and Producer Nancy Kim Parsons will follow the screening.

Schedule:
6:00 PM-6:30 PM ♦ Registration and Reception
6:30 PM-8:30 PM ♦ Screening and Q&A

The screening will be at The Korea Society, 950 Third Avenue @ 57th Street, 8th Floor (entrance on SW corner of Third Avenue and 57th Street)

$10 for members (The Korea Society or A.K.A.) and students, $20 for nonmembers. (Walk-in registration will incur an additional charge of $5.)

The event is free for IKAA badge holders, but RSVP is required.

Buy tickets online

For more information or to register for the program, contact Patrick Clair at 212-759-7525, ext. 328.

Monday, April 13, 2009

ACF 269: New "Death Note: L change the WorLd" promotion starts today!!!!!

VIZ PICTURES TEAMS WITH TRANS WORLD ENTERTAINMENT
TO PROMOTE THE LIVE ACTION FEATURE FILM
DEATH NOTE: L, change the WorLd
F.Y.E. And SUNCOAST Customers Who Purchase
Any DEATH NOTE Related Item Will Receive
A Free Ticket To Attend Screening On April 30th

Here's the latest promotional news from VIZ about the upcoming two night multi-city screening of Death Note: L change the WorLd:

VIZ Pictures, an affiliate of VIZ Media, LLC that focuses on Japanese live-action film distribution, has partnered with Trans World Entertainment (TWE) to sponsor a special retail ticket giveaway campaign at participating F.Y.E. and SUNCOAST stores nationwide in support of the U.S. theatrical premiere of DEATH NOTE: L, change the WorLd. VIZ Pictures and NCM Fathom will present this live-action film, in a two-night, multi-city event taking place on April 29th and 30th.

For a limited time, beginning April 13th, F.Y.E. and SUNCOAST customers who purchase any DEATH NOTE DVD or DEATH NOTE related merchandise (in-store only) will receive a free ticket to attend the English-dubbed screening on April 30th., while supplies last. Trans World Entertainment Corporation is one of the largest specialty music and video retailers in the United States and operates more than 700 F.Y.E. and Suncoast stores nationwide. For store locations please visit http://www.fye.com/ or Suncoast.com.

“DEATH NOTE: L, change the WorLd tells the story of how the legendary crime sleuth ‘L’ spends the final few days of his life on his last and perhaps most dangerous case,” says Seiji Horibuchi, President and CEO of VIZ Pictures. “We’re very excited to team with Trans World Entertainment and F.Y.E. for this special ticket giveaway promotion. I invite fans to pick up the original DEATH NOTE live-action film and its sequel, DEATH NOTE II: THE LAST NAME, both available now on DVD at their local F.Y.E. or Suncoast location and secure their free ticket for the special screening on April 30th.”

DEATH NOTE: L, change the WorLd introduces the unwritten chapter of DEATH NOTE and reveals how the legendary detective “L” (Kenichi Matsuyama) spends the final 23 days of his life. The story begins as L takes on the “Kira” case, in which countless criminals are dying under mysterious circumstances. L successfully solves the case and stops Kira, but only after sacrificing his life, leaving himself with only 23 days left to live. For his final case L faces down a bio-terrorist group trying to wipe out humanity with a deadly virus ten times more potent than Ebola. As L tries to formulate an antidote with a scientist, he must also save the lives of two children who have no one else to turn to.

DEATH NOTE: L, change the WorLd features what happened before and after the two earlier DEATH NOTE events and shows DEATH NOTE fans the more human side of L that could not be seen previously. The movie stars Kenichi Matsuyama (Linda Linda Linda, NANA and Detroit Metal City) as ‘L’, and for dubbed version, L’s voice is played by Alessandro Juliani from the anime series.

DEATH NOTE: L, change the WorLd was the #1 movie in Japan in 2008, grossing over $30 million and the #1 selling DVD in Japan for 2008. Inspired by the immensely popular DEATH NOTE features, which are based on the best-selling supernatural action manga series written by Tsugumi Ohba and illustrated by Takeshi Obata, this spin-off follows a new original storyline. DEATH NOTE: L, change the WorLd was directed by Hideo Nakata, who also directed the U.S. #1 hit horror movie The Ring 2, which was remade from his own smash hit Japanese horror trilogy, Ringu.

For a complete list of theatre locations and prices, please visit http://www.fathomevents.com/ (theatres are subject to change).

For more information on the DEATH NOTE live action films and other VIZ Pictures films please visit http://www.viz-pictures.com/ or http://www.deathnotefilms.com/. For more information on the DEATH NOTE manga and animation, rated ‘T+’ for older teens please visit deathnote.viz.com.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

ACF 268: General's Son II at The Korea Society this Thursday, April 16th, 2009

The General's Son II / 장군의 아들II
Director: Im Kwon-taek
Starring: Lee Ill-jae, Park Sang-min, Shin Hyeon-joon and Song Chae-hwan
Korea, 1991, 103 min.

The Korea Society's Classic Movie Night series When Japan Ruled Korea: Movies Set in the Colonial Era continues with this screening this coming Thursday, April 16th, 2009 at 6:30 PM. (Due to unforseen circumstances, the originally planned selection, Death Song, proved unavailable to be screened, so The General"s Son II has been chosen to replace it.)

After the remarkable success of The General's Son, director Im Kwon-taek returned a year later with this action–packed sequel. Park Sang-min reprises his role as Kim Doo-han, the son of a legendary general struggling to keep the yakuza out of a Seoul neighborhood. With his band of fighters still reeling from its last encounter with the Japanese thugs, Doo–han struggles to unite the city's fractious Korean gangs into a force capable of defeating his old enemy, yakuza boss Hayashi.

Classic Movie Night films are screened at The Korea Society in midtown Manhattan (950 Third Avenue, at 57th Street, 8th Floor.)

Tickets: $10.00

Order tickets online

If you have any questions, call Heewon Kim at 212.759.7525, ext 355.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

ACF 267: Korean Film Festival DC 2009

Song Kang-ho in The Show Must Go On
one of the films that will be shown at KFFDC 2009
(For my review of the film, click here)

Korean Film Festival DC 2009 is set to run from April 17th through June 10th, 2009. This year's lineup will once again feature a selection of favorites from past years, while the new films will include a special emphasis on contemporary women directors.

The festival was organized by Tom Vick, film programmer for the Freer and Sackler Galleries of the Smithsonian Institution, and Hyunjun Min of the University of Maryland.

The festival, which will screen films at two venues, is made possible by the Korean Film Council and the Korea Foundation.

All films are 35 mm prints and in Korean with English subtitles unless otherwise noted at the festival website. The site's homepage has complete information about the individual films, the overall festival schedule, and obtaining/ordring tickets. Access it by clicking here.

FESTIVAL VENUES:
Freer Gallery of Art
Meyer Auditorium
Independence Avenue at 12th Street SW
Washington, DC
Metro: Smithsonian

AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center
8633 Colesville Road
Silver Spring, MD
Metro: Silver Spring

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

ACF 266: VIZ annunces Virtual Store

VIZ MEDIA OPENS A FUN NEW VIRTUAL STORE ON LEADING ONLINE 3D SOCIAL NETWORKING DESTINATION SITE THERE.COM

Store Offers Creative Options To Customize Avatar Characters With An Array Of Clothing Inspired By Smash-Hit Anime Series BLEACH

April 8th Party in There.com’s 3D Virtual World At Tropical Adventures To Celebrate Grand Opening

More interesting news from VIZ. Note in particular tonight's special virtual BLEACH party (third paragraph below).

VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media) has teamed with Makena Technologies, creator of the 3D social virtual world There.com, to launch a special new VIZ Media store within the popular 3D social networking destination. The store opened on March 26th and initially will carry a variety of virtual apparel inspired by the smash-hit animated property BLEACH, which There.com members can purchase to further customize the appearance of their avatars. Additional items inspired by other popular animated properties will be added in the near future. A complete catalog of the VIZ Media BLEACH items is available at www.There.com.

Makena Technologies developed There.com as an online social network that offers a multitude of vibrant places to hang out with friends and meet up with people. It has become one of the most popular destinations of its type. The VIZ Media store will offer a wide variety of BLEACH-themed t-shirts, pants and other apparel that users can purchase or rent with Therebucks, the virtual currency accepted on the There.com site.

A special virtual BLEACH party is planned for April 8th, 8 PM to 9 PM EST/ 5 PM to 6 PM PST. Fans are encouraged to visit There.com (http://www.There.com/vizmedia) and go to Tropical Adventures for a chance to win a free BLEACH t-shirt for their avatar and also meet other fans.

“We are very excited to continue working with social networks to launch the first VIZ Media virtual store which offers more options to add a creative flair to avatars with a variety of BLEACH-inspired apparel," says Gonzalo Ferreyra, Vice President, Sales & Product Marketing. "There.com supports individuality, diversity and self-expression and we recognize and embrace the dramatic ways the internet and virtual worlds such as There.com have allowed people to connect, socialize and share common interests and hobbies. With the new VIZ Media store offerings, fans can use some expressive ways to show their love of anime.”

There.com gives users (PC only) plenty of ways to participate in fun activities such as racing vehicles, playing cards, flying, playing paintball, hover-boarding and even training virtual pets. Users can custom design nearly everything about their environments ranging from individual homes and vehicles to furniture. There.com also offers special interest groups devoted to varied topics, including anime and manga.

"There.com offers our members so many ways to express their diverse interests and we’re happy that the VIZ media store will allow people to share their passions for Japanese manga and anime,” said Michael Wilson, CEO of Makena Technologies. “In addition, There.com is an ideal fit with the demographics of BLEACH fans since we are a PG-13 world where members of all ages can socialize without being exposed to mature content.”

BLEACH is a popular manga and animated series (both rated ‘T’ for Teens), distributed domestically by VIZ Media, that follows the adventures of Ichigo, a 15-year old student with the ability to see ghosts. When his family is attacked by a Hollow — a malevolent lost soul – Ichigo encounters Rukia, a Soul Reaper, and inadvertently absorbs her powers. Now, he’s dedicating his life to protecting the innocent and helping tortured souls find peace. The pair encounters plenty of action as they investigate an intriguing range of spiritual mysteries and frequently run into all manner of malevolent and usually violent spirits and demons that are reluctant to return to their own world peacefully.

BLEACH is also a tremendously successful multimedia property internationally. The manga has been licensed to more than a dozen countries and has sold over 50 million copies in Japan alone. In North America, the manga has been a sales hit and the popular animated series is viewed weekly by millions in the United States and Canada on cable broadcast. This success has further spawned an array of related video games, apparel, action figures, trading cards and other merchandise.

BLEACH animation can be viewed through a variety of other web-based, video streaming outlets that have partnered with VIZ Media, including iTunes®, HULU and JOOST. For more information on BLEACH please visit http://www.bleach.viz.com/.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

ACF 265: Another free simulcast of "Naruto Shippuden" on April 9, 2009 from VIZ

VIZ MEDIA SIMULCASTS

ANOTHER FREE EPISODE OF NARUTO SHIPPUDEN ON NARUTO.COM

Visit Naruto.com On April 9th To Watch The Newest NARUTO Shippuden Animated Adventure For Free The Same Day It Airs In Japan

San Francisco, CA, APRIL 6, 2009VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media) announces the simultaneous airing of NARUTO Shippuden Episode 103 (English subtitled) on its official web site – Naruto.com. TV Tokyo has made this special episode available for simulcast on April 9th in North America on http://www.naruto.com/ and www.crunchyroll.com/naruto.

“We have received enthusiastic viewer response when we first began streaming NARUTO, and we are very pleased to present a brand new NARUTO Shippuden episode on April 9th,” says Ken Sasaki, Vice President of Strategy & Business Development, VIZ Media. “We’re very committed to cultivating the web as an innovative medium for fans to enjoy the latest NARUTO adventures and fan culture in a variety of fun ways. From leading web social networking outlets and content providers such as iTunes®, Hulu and Joost, to a special accelerated manga publishing campaign that has offered 7 new NARUTO volumes between March and April, there’s plenty to look forward to from the world’s most popular ninja.”

Created by Masashi Kishimoto, NARUTO was first introduced in Weekly Shonen Jump magazine in Japan in 1999 and quickly became that country’s most popular ninja manga targeting tweens and teens and has more than 85 million copies circulated in Japan to-date. The manga series (rated ‘T’ for Teens) and animated counterpart (rated TV-14) about a young ninja in training is one of VIZ Media’s most successful properties, and captivates millions of fans across North America, Europe and South America.

In the NARUTO manga and animated series, Naruto Uzumaki wants to be the best ninja in the land. He's done well so far, but Naruto knows he must train harder than ever and leaves his village for intense exercises that will push him to his limits. NARUTO Shippuden begins two and a half years later, when Naruto returns to find that everyone has been promoted up the ninja ranks – except him. Sakura’s a medic ninja, Gaara’s advanced to Kazekage, and Kakashi… well, he remains the same. But pride isn’t necessarily becoming of a ninja, especially when Naruto realizes that Sasuke never returned from his search for Orochimaru. Plus, the mysterious Akatsuki organization is still an ever-present danger. As Naruto finds out more about the Akatsuki’s goals, he realizes that nothing in his universe is as it seems. Naruto is finding that he’s older, but will he also prove wiser and stronger?

Earlier NARUTO Shippuden episodes are also currently available for free at www.Naruto.com and through a variety of other web-based, video streaming outlets that have partnered with VIZ Media, including Hulu and Joost. For more information on NARUTO please visit the official NARUTO website at www.Naruto.com.