With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

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

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

ACf 518: Masks of Night Gallery Talk at The Korea Society this Thursday

Masks of Night
Faces from Traditional Korean Dance-Dramas

Just a reminder that tomorrow, Thursday, April 1st, 2010, there will be a Gallery Talk at The Korea Society entitled Korean Masked Dance-Drama: Enchanted Fertility Rite and Social Satire.

Theresa Ki-ja Kim, Professor Emeritus, Department of Theatre Arts, SUNY Stony Brook, will speak on "how Korea's unique tradition of masked dance-dramas masterfully blended fertility rite, social satire, and popular entertainment."

The talk is in conjunction with the current exhibition of masks that will run through May 28th, 2010. The gallery at The Korea Society is a perfect for an intimate experiencing of these objects from Korea's cultural past.

Gallery Talk on Thursday, April 1, 2010
6:00 PM - 6:30 Pm - Registration and Reception
6:30 PM - 8:00 PM - Presentation and Q&A

Register for the Gallery Talk online at http://www.koreasociety.org/, or for more information contact Heewon Kim at 212.759.7525, ext 355 or heewon.ny@koreasociety.org.

Gallery Hours
March 4, 2010 - May 28, 2010
Monday through Friday, 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM

The Korea Society
950 Third Avenue @ 57th Street, 8th Floor
(Building entrance on SW Corner of Third Avenue and 57th Street

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

ACF 517: Inuyasha The Final Act video-streaming on VIZAnime.com

VIZ Media invites fans to catch the last episode of INUYASHA THE FINAL ACT on VIZAnime.com. Find out in the exciting conclusion to one of the greatest anime series of all time in the installment titled Toward Tomorrow!

INUYASHA THE FINAL ACT is based on a massively popular manga (also published by VIZ Media, rated ‘T+’ for Older Teens) by famed creator Rumiko Takahashi, who won the prestigious Shogakukan Manga Award for the series in 2002. Many of Takahashi’s titles have been adapted into other media such as anime, live-action TV series, and film. The INUYASHA anime series has run for 193 episodes in total and has also spawned several feature films.

Pulled back in time to Japan's ancient past, Japanese high school girl Kagome finds her destiny linked to a dog-like half-demon named Inuyasha, who remembers Kagome's previous incarnation as the woman who killed him - and to the Shikon Jewel, or "Jewel of Four Souls," which can fulfill the greatest dreams of any man or monster. Now Kagome and Inuyasha must work together to search for the scattered shards of the jewel before everyone's nightmares are given the power they need to come true.

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. Rumiko Takahashi is an artist who truly represents the very best from the world of manga. Please visit the official North American web site for all Rumiko Takahashi-related news and information located at http://www.therumicworld.com/.

VIZAnime.com is a brand new, free-to-use interactive web destination that is the permanent home to some of the company’s best-loved animated series VIZ Anime is accessible at: http://www.vizanime.com/.

ACF 516: Phone - free screening in NY next Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

Phone
Directed by Ahn Byung-Ki
South Korea, 2002, 109 min

The third and final film in the current series presented by Korean Cultural Service is Phone. It will screen free of charge on Tuesday, April 6th, 2010, at Tribeca Cinema, 54 Varick Street on Canal. Admission is on a first-come, first-serve policy. Theater doors will open at 6:30 PM and showtime will be at 7:00.

Phone is about the mystery surrounding the cell phone belonging to journalist Ji-Won (actress Ha Ji-won). Seems prior owners have disappeared or died under unusual circumstances. There's a real freak-out performance by Eun Seo-woo as Yeong-ju, the young daughter of a friend of Ji-Won.

Korean Movie Night Series Two: The Remakes is focused on three Korean movies slated to be remade by Hollywood. Director Ahn will be remaking his own horror film for the production company behind the Twilight movies.

Monday, March 29, 2010

ACF 515: Tattoo kicks off Mad, Bad... film series at Japan Society this Wednesday

Image copyright Kadokawa Pictures,Inc.

Tattoo (a.k.a. The Spider Tattoo / Irezumi
Directed by Yasuzo Masumura
Starring Ayako Wakao
Japan, color, 1966, 86 min

Otsuya (Ayako Wakao), the daughter of a wealthy pawnbroker, is in love with Shinsuke (Akio Hasegawa), her father's apprentice. Since her father wants to arrange for her to marry someone of more appropriate social and financial standing, this gorgeous and headstrong young thing convinces her paramour to run off with her.

They seek refuge with a family friend who promises he'll interceed with her father on their behalf. In reality he takes money from the father, promising to locate Otsuya, and has carnal designs on her himself. When she rejects his advances, he arranges for Shinsuke to go off to a meeting with his parents, a meeting that hasn't really been arranged, and then sells Otsuya off as a courtesan. (Though the subtitles use the word geisha, she clearly is more of a prostitute.)

A tatto artist named Seikichi (Gaku Yamamoto) uses chloroform or its Japanese equivalent to incapacitate Otsuya, then uses the lovely skin of her back as a canvas for a large man-devouring spider tattoo. Turning into a true femme fatale, Otsuya seeks revenge by draining the life of those men who have taken advantage of her.

Based on a novel by Junichiro Tanizaki and with a screenplay written by Kaneto Shindo, director Masumura (Blind Best, etc.) has crafted a terrific revenge tale. It rises well above the run-of the mill works of the genre. It's right up there with the Japanese Lady Snowblood movies and with Hong Kong's Intimate Confessions of a Chinese Courtesan. While there's a sense of where it's generally heading, I found it engrossing to experience just where it goes and how it gets there. And Ms Wakao, who I don't recall seeing previously in any movies, is a fine actress as well as an incredible beauty.

ACF rating 4 out of 4 stars; an outstanding film that you really should see.

And as I've mentioned in previous posts, lucky New Yorkers will be doing just that on Wednesday, March 31st, 2010 at 7:30. That's when Tattoo kicks off Japan Society's series Mad, Bad.... & Dangerous to Know: Three Untamed Beauties. After the screening there will be a Dressed to Kill! party.

For info about the screening of Tattoo and the Dressed to Kill! after party, click here.

For info about the Mad, Bad.... & Dangerous to Know film series, click here.

Japan Society is located at 333 East 47th Street, betweeen 1st and 2nd Avenues, NY, NY.

The Mad, Bad.... & Dangerous to Know film series is made psosible throught the genreous support of The Globus Family.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

ACF 514: Voice Cast for Vampire Knight anime announced by VIZ Media


VIZ Media has announced the cast for the upcoming North American debut of VAMPIRE KNIGHT, the gothic-romance animated series based on the bestselling manga (graphic novel) by Matsuri Hino:

VAMPIRE KNIGHT takes audiences to Cross Academy, which is attended by two groups of students: the Day Class and the Night Class. At twilight, when the students of the Day Class return to their dorm, they cross paths with the Night Class on their way to school. Yuki Cross and Zero Kiryu are the Guardians of the school, protecting the Day Class from the Academy's dark secret: the Night Class is full of vampires!

VIZ Media sought out a cast of talented voice actors and the recording expertise of Bang Zoom! Entertainment to bring this series to life. Yuki Cross, the adoptive daughter of the headmaster of Cross Academy, is played by Mela Lee. Veteran anime voice actor Vic Mignogna plays Zero Kiryu, a student who is a year older than Yuki Cross and comes from a family of vampire hunters. Finally, Kaname Kuran is portrayed by Ethan Murray. In the series, Kuran is a pure blooded vampire and the current Head of the Kuran Clan. He once saved Yuki from an attack by another vampire when she was seven years old and also serves as the president of the Night Class and the dorm leader. Kuran is both feared and respected by the other Night Class students.

“VAMPIRE KNIGHT is an important series that demanded skilled actors who could portray these complex characters without sacrificing any of the intensity and emotional drama each one exudes,” says William Germain, Director, Programming & Music Sales, VIZ Media. “We also know there are a lot of fans of the manga that have been waiting for this series so we wanted to bring in some very talented people who we know will take VAMPIRE KNIGHT to a whole new level. Look for more news coming soon about the North American debut!”

VAMPIRE KNIGHT (rated ‘T+’ for Older Teens) is based on the best selling manga series created by Matsuri Hino, who burst onto the manga scene with her debut title, When This Dream Is Over, in LaLa DX magazine. With the success of subsequent series such as CAPTIVE HEARTS and MERU PURI (both published domestically by VIZ Media), Hino has established herself as a major force in the world of shojo manga. VAMPIRE KNIGHT is currently serialized in LaLa magazine. On January 17, 2010, the latest volume of VAMPIRE KNIGHT, Volume 9 ranked Number 1 on the New York Times Manga Bestseller list. Currently VAMPIRE KNIGHT has two volumes in the top ten.


Ethan Murray Bio

Ethan Murray has been a voiceover performer since 1994. Mr. Murray was spotted in a stage production and was asked to voice monsters in Saban's Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and has been thriving in the world of voiceover ever since. Over the past sixteen years Mr. Murray has been involved in hundreds of projects. Most notably: Arc the Lad, Gankutsuou, Blade the Immortal, Tenjo Tenge, and Rurouni Kenshin.


Mela Lee Bio

Mela Lee has brought life to over 20 characters in the past seven years (Fate Stay Night, Rozen Maiden, When They Cry, and Blade of the Immortal). Lee’s fans have come to expect heartfelt performances hallmarked by depth and dimension. With the much-anticipated release of VAMPIRE KNIGHT, Lee adds Yuki Cross to her cache of classic characters.


Vic Mignogna Bio

Vic has been acting for stage and screen since he was 8 years old. But he started his career in anime about ten years ago as Vega in Streetfighter II. Since then Vic has been in more than a hundred and fifty shows and video games, known for such roles as Edward Elric in Fullmetal Alchemist, Tamaki Suou in Ouran High School Host Club, Fai in Tsubasa Chronicle, Dark in DN Angel, Kurz in Full Metal Panic, Broly in Dragonball Z, Kougaijji in Saiyuki, Ikkaku in BLEACH, Yukito in Air, Takanaga in Wallflower, Tatsu in Peacemaker, Luciano in Code Geass, Virgil Walsh in Trinity Blood, Hikaru in Macross, and many more. He is currently back in the role of Edward in Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood, playing Death Scythe in Soul Eater, as well as characters in NARUTO and several others. Vic has also voiced roles in a large number of video games including Soul Calibur, Disgaea, Persona III, Project Sylpheed, DBZ, Bleach, FMA, and more. But even longer than his voice acting, Vic has been a professional music composer / singer / producer who has written and produced hundreds of songs for TV, radio and CD. He sings the themes for shows like One Piece & DBGT, and has produced several CDs of his own original music. And finally, in addition to anime and music, Vic has a degree in film and works regularly writing, producing and directing video and film productions. Vic has voiced characters in more than 100 anime series and video games.

Bang Zoom! Entertainment, Inc.

Situated in the heart of Burbank, California, Bang Zoom! Entertainment, Inc. is a leading and award winning full service audio post production studio working in the fields of feature films, television, video games, and anime. Founded in 1993, Bang Zoom! Entertainment is committed to delivering the most comprehensive level of audio and creative production expertise imaginable, along with developing a range of independent projects that contribute to the promotion of innovative cultural awareness internationally. More information about Bang Zoom! Entertainment and its services can be found at http://www.bangzoomentertainment.com/.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

ACF 513: Mad, Bad ... & Dangerous To Know film series at Japan Society

How gorgeous is the cover to Japan Society's brochure for it's upcoming film series Mad, Bad ... & Dangerous To Know: Three Untamed Beauties? As gorgeous as the three actresses -- Ayako Wakao, Mariko Okada, and Meiko Kaji -- who star in the thirteen films set to screen from Wednesday, March 31st through Sunday, April 18th, 2010.

I've recently watched two films that I'd never seen before, Tattoo and Red Angel. I previously have also seen some of the others. Expect several reviews here over the next few weeks.

In the meanwhile, more info about the series can be found at the Japan Society website by clicking here.

ACF 512: Quick and Easy Korean Cooking

Design: Natalee Newcombe

The Korea Society of New York will host a cooking demo and tasting with Cecilia Hae-Jin Lee on Friday, April 2, 2010 at 6:00 PM. Ms Lee will demonstrate how to prepare three savory dishes from her latest cookbook, Quick and Easy Korean Cooking:

- pa jeon (green onion pancakes)

- ddukbokgi ( a spicy rice stick snack)

- yachae gooksu (a mix of noodles and vegetables perfect for a quick and healthy meal)

$25 for members and students; $30 for non-members

Register online at http://www.koreasociety.org/, or R.S.V.P. to 212.759.7525, ext. 328 or natalee.ny@koreasociety.org.

The event will be at The Korea Society, 950 Third Avenue @ 57th Street, Eighth Floor, New York, NY.

Friday, March 26, 2010

ACF 511: First Waves of Titles Announced for Ashville's ACTIONFEST

Got this info about this upcoming very exciting action-film-focused festival in Asheville, NC. I've put Asian-related titles in brown to make them stand out. And for those of you who may not know it, Chuck Norris, who will be receiving a special award, made his first credited film appearance in Return of the Dragon (USA theatrical title, a.k.a. Revenge of the Dragon on USA cable TV), which starred and was written and directed by Bruce Lee.

Wish I could be there. For those of you who can, enjoy!


ActionFest, the first film festival devoted exclusively to action films, announced 25 films today that will be featured in its inaugural edition, set for Thursday, April 15 through Sunday, April 18, at The Carolina Asheville cinema in Asheville, NC. The films announced include 3 world premieres, 3 North American premieres, 2 U.S. premieres and 9 regional premieres, including special retrospectives and rare theatrical screenings of two of Chuck Norris’ classics, CODE OF SILENCE and BRADDOCK: MISSING IN ACTION III, which will be introduced in person by Chuck Norris and Aaron Norris, the director of BRADDOCK and stunt coordinator for CODE OF SILENCE. Neil Marshall’s CENTURION will open the festival on Thursday, April 15th.

ActionFest head of programming Tom Quinn states, “It’s not every day you get to put together a lineup of nothing but great action movies, and I relished the opportunity. These films are such a blast, and I’m pleased to say we’ve received nothing but support from all of the filmmakers and distributors we’ve approached. There is no question that ActionFest is going to tear the house up this year.”

The festival is also pleased to announce the closing night event honoring action superstar Chuck Norris with the Lifetime Achievement Award for his accomplishments in the field of action cinema. This event will take place at The Orange Peel, Asheville’s preeminent concert venue, on Sunday, April 18, at 9:30 p.m., with tickets going on sale, Thursday, March 25, at noon EST at the Orange Peel’s website (http://www.theorangepeel.net/). As previously reported, all of ActionFest 2010’s profits will go to Kickstart Kids, Chuck and Gena Norris’ charitable foundation whose goal is to build strong moral character through martial arts training. Kickstart Kids works with over 6,000 high-risk middle school students as part of a daily school curriculum, and has graduated over 60,000 students since its inception in 1992. For more information, go to http://www.kick-start.org/.

“I’m excited to be part of the inaugural ActionFest,” said Chuck Norris. “I’m proud to be a part of a film festival that honors and recognizes the people who put the action in action films. I can’t wait to get to Asheville.”

Joining Chuck Norris in Asheville will be veteran stunt coordinator/2nd unit directors Jeff Habberstad, Kinnie Gibson, and Paul Weston, all three of whom will participate in panel discussions and be honored at the closing night ceremony. Longtime veterans of the action film industry, these three have wracked up credits that read like a who’s who of action films. Weston has served as Stunt Coordinator on THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS and LICENSE TO KILL, in addition to such films as ROBIN HOOD: PRINCE OF THEIVES and ALIENS; Habberstad is one of the industry’s most in-demand stunt coordinators, serving in that capacity on all of M. Night Shymalan’s films and serving as 2nd unit director on SPIDER-MAN, THERE WILL BE BLOOD and the upcoming THE LAST AIRBENDER; Gibson was Chuck Norris’ stunt double for the nine year run of WALKER, TEXAS RANGER, as well as on many of Chuck Norris’ feature films. All three will be on hand for the panel THE ART OF 2nd UNIT at ActionFest on Saturday, April 17.

In addition to the Lifetime Achievement Award, Chuck Norris and his fellow jury members will announce their picks for the festival’s top jury prize. Joining Mr. Norris on the jury are some of the more respected online film critics and festival programmers working today: Colin Geddis, head of programming for Midnight Madness at the Toronto International Film Festival; Todd Brown, founder and editor of Twitchfilm.net; Drew McWeeney, screenwriter and chief film writer for HitFix.com; and Devin Faraci, chief film critic for CHUD.com.

Following the awards ceremony, ActionFest will close with Asheville’s own, The Reigning Sound. The Reigning Sound is one of the more exciting rock ‘n roll bands today, and its latest CD, “Love & Curses,” was named the #1 album of 2009 by several music critics.

A complete schedule will be made available on Monday, April 5th, along with additional information about purchasing tickets.

ACTIONFEST 2010 FILMS WILL INCLUDE:

WORLD PREMIERES

OPERATION: ENDGAME (World Premiere) – Zack Galifanakis, Rob Corddry, Ving Rhames, and Emile De Raven star in this new comedy thriller about two teams of assassins locked in an underground facility, each out to discover who murdered their boss before they’re all offed. (Courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment)

THE STRANGER (World Premiere) – “Stone Cold” Steve Austin stars as an FBI agent out to find a material witness to a top-secret investigation. (Courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment)

UNDISPUTED III: REDEMPTION (World Premiere) – Modern martial arts masters Scott Adkins and Marko Zaror (MANDRILL) square off in this third chapter of the popular prison boxing series, as champion fighter Uri Boyka (Adkins) is transferred to a Ukraine prison to fight in the first prison fighting tournament, where the winner is granted freedom and the loser… death!

NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERES

14 BLADES (North American Premiere) – During the Ming Dynasty, a secret agent of the emperor’s court is betrayed and then hunted down by his former colleagues. Starring martial arts legends Donnie Yen (IP MAN) and Sammo Hung (DRAGONS FOREVER), 14 BLADES was recently nominated for “Best Action Choreography” at the 2010 Hong Kong Film Awards.

BEOSURO (North American Premiere) – An official selection at the 2010 Berlin International Film Festival, BESURO is the emotional true story of the legendary capoeira fighter from Bahia, who was rumored to fly and leads an uprising of slaves to gain their freedom.

RAGING PHOENIX (North American Premiere) – CHOCOLATE’s JeeJa Yanin returns to fight off a vicious band of kidnappers with the help of a new form of Muay Thai that combines martial arts and hip hop dance moves!

U.S. PREMIERES

POWER KIDS (U.S. Premiere) – When their best friend is in need of a heart transplant, a plucky group of kids band together against a group of terrorists who have seized the hospital moments before their friend’s surgery. This outrageously fun martial arts adventure was produced by the same team behind ONG BAK and THE PROTECTOR.

VENGEANCE (U.S. Premiere) – Legendary Hong Kong action master Johnnie To teams up with legendary French singer Johnny Halliday for this stylish gunplay drama about a former hitman turned chef who travels to Macau to find the men who murdered his daughter’s family. (Courtesy of IFC Films)

REGIONAL PREMIERES

DIRTY MIND (Regional Premiere) – From director Pieter Van Hess (LEFT BANK), DIRTY MIND tells the story of a meek and mild technician who suffers an injury on a film set and emerges as the suave and fearless “Tony T”, who sets out to become a legendary stuntman in an effort to escape his loser past.

THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE WEIRD (Regional Premiere) – South Korea’s smash hit finally hits the U.S.! A South Korean western inspired by Sergio Leone’s classic THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE UGLY, WEIRD stars Song Kang-Ho (THE HOST) as one of a group of desperate gunslingers in 1930’s Manchuria after a priceless treasure map. (Courtesy of IFC Films)

HARRY BROWN (Regional Premiere) Two-time Academy Award-winner Michael Caine returns to the action milieu of his legendary film GET CARTER as Harry Brown, a widowed and retired military man looking to live out the rest of his days in peace, but forced to take up arms again when his only friend is murdered by a local gang. (Courtesy of Samuel Goldwyn Films)

MANDRILL (Regional Premiere) – Chilean martial arts star Marko Zaror (KILTRO; MIRAGEMAN) returns to the screen as the tough-as-nails hitman Mandrill, whose latest contract finally leads him to the man responsible for the murder of his parents.

MERANTAU (Regional Premiere) – Yuda, a young man from the Indonesian countryside must undergo Merantau, a traditional rite into manhood where he must leave home and find his place in the world. But upon his arrival in Jakarta he finds himself thrust into the world of human slave trading, with only his Silat skills to help him survive.

OUT OF OUR MINDS (Regional Premiere) – A special presentation of the new short film from acclaimed director Tony Stone (SEVERED WAYS: THE NORSE DISCOVERY OF AMERICA) in collaboration with singer and guitarist Melissa Auf Der Maur (formerly of Hole). A fantasy world spawned from sound. Three time periods and three narratives, one connection-blood. At the center of this life force is the heart.

THE SQARE (Regional Premiere) – Named one of the 10 best films of 2009 by Harry Knowles of Ain’t It Cool News, this acclaimed Australian thriller tells the story of a man trapped in a loveless marriage who carries on an affair with a mysterious woman with a dangerous husband. (Courtesy of Apparition)

TUCKER & DALE vs EVIL (Regional Premiere) – ActionFest livens things up with comedy, action and horror, as two country bumpkins are mistaken for serial killers by a group of clueless college kids in this midnight smash hit of the Sundance and SXSW film festivals.

VALHALLA RISING (Regional Premiere) – BRONSON director Nicholas Winding Refn teams with CASINO ROYALE star Mads Mikkelsen for this historical epic about Norse warriors in the year 1000 A.D. (Courtesy of IFC Films)

Special Retrospectives

BORN TO FIGHT (2004) – Panna Rittikrai, martial arts choreographer of Tony Jaa’s ONG BAK films, directed this insanely fun stunt extravaganza about a small village overtaken by terrorists that fights back in spectacular style. This rare U.S. theatrical screening is part of ActionFest’s Shomongkolfilm Retrospective (Courtesy of Dragon Dynasty)

GOLDEN BLADE III: RETURN OF THE MONEKY’S UNCLE – The only martial arts extravaganza shot entirely on location in Asheville, NC, GOLDEN BLADE III is an affectionate spoof of the classic Shaw Brothers films of the 1970s, right down to the cheap FX and bad dubbing. This special midnight screening will be accompanied by a live audio commentary from director TJ Weidow and members of the cast & crew.

WAKE IN FRIGHT (a.k.a. OUTBACK – 1971) – Once deemed a “lost” film, Ted Kotcheff’s gripping 1971 thriller about a mild-mannered school teacher’s crazed weekend in the Australian outback, has recently been restored and is now considered one of the greatest Australian films of all time.

Chuck Norris Retrospective

CODE OF SILENCE (1985) – Chuck Norris’ most critically acclaimed film cast him as Chicago cop Eddie Cusack, who battles mobsters and corrupt cops in this outstanding police thriller from director Andrew Davis (THE FUGITIVE)

BRADDOCK: MISSING IN ACTION III – Chuck Norris teams with brother Aaron Norris (co-founder of ActionFest) for the third film in the MISSING IN ACTION series, where Col. James Braddock goes back to Vietnam to rescue his Amer-Asian son in this little-seen sequel, Chuck’s personal favorite of the series.

ActionFest will be held exclusively at The Carolina Asheville, part of the Carolina Cinemas chain. The Doubletree Biltmore Hotel is the official hotel for ActionFest. ActionFest sponsors include Epix; HD Net; Cheerwine; Coca-Cola; Universal Cinema Services; The Mountain Xpress; HitFix.com; Asheville Radio Group; Twelve Bones Smokehouse, The Grove Park Inn and The Brookstone Lodge.

Badges for ActionFest will go on sale at 12pm EST on Friday, March 25, 2010. Badges will include a Film Badge for $65 ($75 after April 1), that allows badge holders access to all features (seating permitted); The Action Badge gets badge holders into all panel discussions and the Closing Night Ceremonies, while the All-Access VIP badge gets badge holders into all events. These badges are $100. All profits of the festival go to Kickstart Kids.

Individual show tickets will go on sale in early April. The complete schedule (with additional titles) will be announced on Monday, April 5.

Tickets can be purchased at http://www.actionfest.com/ or at The Carolina Asheville box office. Follow ActionFest on Twitter at @actionfest.

About ActionFest
ActionFest was founded by Bill Banowsky, Aaron Norris and Dennis Berman. Tom Quinn is the Head of Programming and Matthew Kiernan is the Festival Director. Inquiries about ActionFest can be sent to info@actionfest.com.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

ACF 510: Dubbed version of CLANNAD on DVD and on The Anime Network

Sentai Filmworks has announced that the hit series Clannad will be receiving an English dub:

Originally released in a subtitled only format, Clannad is receiving the dub as part of an agreement in which several affiliated groups have come together to create English language versions for five of Sentai’s most popular titles.

In addition to the 24 episode Clannad, the four other series that have been selected for this limited program are: the science fiction drama Blue Drop (13 episodes,) the psychological thriller Ghost Hound (22 episodes,) Legends of the Dark King ~ A Fist of the North Star Story (13 episodes) and the 26 episode historical fantasy Tears to Tiara. English dub production duties for all five series will be handled by Seraphim Digital under the auspices of a team of veteran ADR directors such as Steven Foster, who will oversee the English dub for Clannad.

In appreciation of those who supported the subtitled only release of these shows, Sentai Filmworks is developing an “Upgrade” program which will allow owners of the subtitled versions to upgrade their DVD’s for the new release containing the English dub. The shows will also be available both through broadcast, streaming and retail outlets over the coming months. Further details will be announced as they are available.

There's also this info about Clannad from The Anime Network:

Clannad, the hit series from Sentai Filmworks, will be premiering on Anime Network VOD with a full English dub, and will be available on the Anime Network’s Online Player the day after it’s VOD premiere.

WHAT: U.S. VOD Television Premiere of Clannad English Dub From the creators of AIR and KANON comes a sweeping new saga in which the sentimental, the surreal and the supernatural inexplicably become one: this is the world of CLANNAD. Prepare to meet the ambitious Tomoyo, who dreams of becoming class president; Kotomi, a troubled genius with a secret past; and most mysteriously, Fuko, whose disassociation with the world has become so severe that she is literally fading from existence!

WHEN: Episode 1 and 2 available on VOD beginning March 25, 2010, also available on the Anime Network Online Player March 26, 2010

WHERE: Anime Network, America’s #1 Anime Channel

HOW: Don’t have VOD? Don’t worry! Catch episodes 1 and 2 the VERY NEXT DAY on Anime Network’s Online Player!

Further info can be found at The Anime Network website.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

ACF 509: Akira Kurosawa Centennial

Akira Kurosawa
March 23, 1910 - September 6, 1998

Today marks the centenary of Akira Kurasawa's birth in Tokyo. Unquestionably the most famous Japanese film director in the West, he is revered not only for so many fine films, an incredible number of which are masterpieces or near-masterpieces, but also for putting Japanese cinema on the world stage. This occurred when Rashomon, which had been released in 1950, won the Golden Lion Award at the 1951 Venice Film Festival. Kurosawa himself was also awarded the Italian Film Critics Award at that same festival.

Still, I believe that the single film with which his name is most closely associated is Seven Samurai (1954). For me it is a work of cinematic perfection: there's not the single, slightest thing about it that could be improved upon.

During his lifetime Kurosawa directed some 31 films, all of which are now available on DVD. For me his towering presence in world cinema is most succinctly embodied in the fact that he has more films in the Criterion Collection than any other director. The Criterion offerings include the recent, massive release AK 100: 25 Films by Akira Kurosawa. If you don't already own many of his films on DVD, this might be a perfect purchase. It includes four of his earliest films: Sanshiro Sugata (1943), The Most Beautiful (1944), Sanshiro Sugata Part Two (1945), and The Men Who Tread on the Tiger's Tail ((1945). Right now the deluxe box set is the only way to obtain Region 1 copies of these four films. Hopefully Criterion will soon release them in an Eclipse Series box set, as it did with Eclipse Series 7: Postwar Kurosawa, a collection of five "lesser" films spanning 1946 - 1955.

Though he never received an Oscar as a director, in 1990 he received an honorary Oscar for his achievements in film, both in terms of the audiences he reached and the filmmakers he influenced. Two of his films Dersu Uzala (1975) and Ran (1985) were awarded Oscars as best foreign films. All told he won 61 award and was nominated for another 17.

All praise and thanks to one of the world's greatest movie directors. His contributions will last in the memories of filmlovers forever.

Monday, March 22, 2010

ACF 508: Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance - free screening in New York tomorrow night!

SHIN Ha-Kyun (left) and BAE Doona (right)

Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance
Directed by Park Chan-Wook
South Korea, 2002, 129 min

Just this quick reminder:

Sympathy For Mr Vengeance, the first film in Director Park's "Vengeance Trilogy," is the next film to be shown in Korean Cultural Service's Korean Movie Night Series 2: The Remakes, which focuses on recent Korean films set to be remade by Hollywood.

It'll be shown tomorrow, Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010 at Tribeca Cinema, 54 Varick Street on Canal, New York, NY. Admission is free and on a first-come, first-serve policy. Theater doors will open at 6:30 PM and showtimes will be at 7:00.

[Note: The other films in the trilogy are Oldboy (2003) and Lady Vengeance (2005).You can read a recent review of the 8-disc DVD box set release of the trilogy at HK and Cult Film News. But just because it's out on DVD doesn't give you Asian film fans in New York City an excuse not to turn out and see it --for free! -- at this screening. I'll be there. You should be there, too.]

Sunday, March 21, 2010

ACF 507: Rosario + Vampire Saeason II due April 6th, 2010 from VIZ

ROSARIO + VAMPIRE SEASON 2 © 2007 by Akihisa Ikeda/SHUEISHA Inc.

LIFE AND DEATH CONTINUE TO HANG IN THE BALANCE IN THE COMEDY AND ACTION MANGA SERIES ROSARIO + VAMPIRE: SEASON II

New Sequel To Bestselling Manga Chronicles
Life At A Boarding School Filled With Monsters And The Undead

VIZ Media lets fans quench their desire for stories of the undead with the premiere of the sequel to Akihisa Ikeda’s smash hit manga series ROSARIO + VAMPIRE.

ROSARIO + VAMPIRE: SEASON II will be published under the Shonen Jump Advanced imprint and hits stores nationwide on April 6th with a ‘T+’ for Older Teens rating and a MSRP of $9.99 U.S. / $12.99 CAN.

In this action filled series, average teenager Tsukune accidentally enrolled at a boarding school for monsters – no, not jocks or the popular kids, but bona fide werewolves, witches and other unnamable denizens from of his wildest nightmares! On the plus side, all of the girls have a major crush on him. But on the negative side, all the boys are so jealous they want to kill him! And so do the girls he spurns, because he only has eyes for one of them – the far-from-average vampire, Moka. Still, on the plus side, Moka only has glowing red eyes for Tsukune. But on the O-negative side, she also has a burning, unquenchable thirst for his blood!

"They’re sexy, they’re undead and unlike any student body you’ll find!” says Elizabeth Kawasaki, VIZ Media Senior Editorial Director. “The popularity of the vampire genre has exploded in the wake of films like Twilight and TV shows like True Blood and The Vampire Diaries, but it’s also long been a favorite subject for manga. ROSARIO + VAMPIRE: SEASON II continues to find Tsukune’s life at Yokai Academy anything but normal. Readers will want to hold on tight to the page, and their souls, with this exciting new action comedy release from VIZ Media and Shonen Jump Advanced!”

Creator Akihisa Ikeda debuted in 2002 with the four-volume magical warrior fantasy series KIRUTO, which was serialized in Japan in Monthly Shonen Jump magazine, which later went on to feature ROSARIO + VAMPIRE beginning in March 2004. ROSARIO + VAMPIRE also spawned an animated series and a drama CD, produced by studio GONZO.

For more information on this title, or others from VIZ Media, visit www.viz.com.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

ACF 506: Vampire Knight T-Shirt


Being a guy who loves both manga and great T-shirts, I was intrigued by this information I recently received from VIZ Media. Here's hoping that it'll be of interest to some of you also.

VAMPIRE KNIGHT is based on the best-selling gothic-romance manga series created by Matsuri Hino. Cross Academy is attended by two groups of students: the Day Class and the Night Class. At twilight, when the students of the Day Class return to their dorm, they cross paths with the Night Class on their way to school. Yuki Cross and Zero Kiryu are the Guardians of the school, protecting the Day Class from the Academy's dark secret: the Night Class is full of vampires!

VIZ Media has granted the license for shirts, track jackets and fleece hoodies for VAMPIRE KNIGHT to Ripple Junction.

Ripple Junction is a leading manufacturer of licensed pop culture merchandise, known for combining great art with a quirky sense of humor applied to current and retro properties.

Currently the VAMPIRE KNIGHT tee shirts (artwork of one attached) are available at Hot Topic, Suncoast, and f.y.e. stores across the country as well as online at Stylinonline.com.

ACF 505: Two chambara flicks screening at Japan Society NY today

Just a brief reminder that two more chambara (swordplay) films will be showing at Japan Society today. They are part of The Double-Edged Sword film series that continues through May 14th, 2010.

First up is Zatoichi On the Road: Fighting Journey, starring Shintaro Katso as the blind masseur and master swordsman. This time around Zatoichi is tasked with returning a lovely young woman to her family. I found this to be one of the best films in the series that I've seen so far. The movie is set to begin at 5:00 PM. Info and/or order tickets here.

At 7:00 in the evening, Scar Yasoburo, starring Raizo Ichikawa, will be shown in a separate screening. It's the tale of an actor (Ichikawa) whose face is slashed by a band of yakuza after he is caught with the mistress of the gang's boss. Info and/or order tickets here.

Japan Society is located at 333 East 47th Street, between 1st and 2nd Avenues, New York, NY.

Friday, March 19, 2010

ACF 504: Naoki Urasawa's Pluto: Urasawa x Tezuka manga series due April 6th

PLUTO © Naoki URASAWA/Studio Nuts, Takashi NAGASAKI and Tezuka Productions

VIZ Media Announces The Exciting Finale To
Pluto: Urasawa × Tezuka Manga Series

VIZ Media will be releasing the much anticipated final volume (Volume 8) of NAOKI URASAWA’S manga masterpiece Pluto: Urasawa × Tezuka on April 6th, 2010. Pluto: Urasawa × Tezuka is rated ‘T+’ for Older Teens and has a MSRP $12.99 U.S. / $16.99 Canada.

Pluto: Urasawa × Tezuka is a modern reinterpretation of the work by the master of Manga, Osamu Tezuka. In an ideal world where man and robots coexist, someone or something is after the seven great robots of the world. Interpol assigns robot detective Gesicht to this most strange and complex case – and he eventually discovers that he is one of the targets!

In the final volume Atom is back, and the fate of the earth is in his hands! Now that Atom has all the answers to the unsolved mysteries around Pluto, Bora and more, he's prepared to put everything on the line. With the memory of his fallen brethren – Gesicht, Mont Blanc, North No. 2, Brando, Hercules and Epsilon – etched deeply into his heart, Atom is headed for one last battle to save the world!

Naoki Urasawa's career as a manga artist spans more than twenty years and has firmly established him as one of the true manga masters of Japan. Born in Tokyo in 1960, Urasawa debuted with BETA! in 1983 and hasn't stopped his impressive output since. Well-versed in a variety of genres, Urasawa's oeuvre encompasses a multitude of different subjects, such as a romantic comedy (Yawara! A Fashionable Judo Girl), a suspenseful human drama about a former mercenary (Pineapple ARMY; story by Kazuya Kudo), a captivating psychological suspense story (Monster), a sci-fi adventure manga (20th Century Boys) and a modern reinterpretation of the work of Osamu Tezuka (Pluto: Urasawa × Tezuka; co-authored with Takashi Nagasaki, supervised by Macoto Tezka, and with the cooperation of Tezuka Productions). Many of his books have spawned popular animated and live-action TV programs and films, and 2008 saw the theatrical release of the first of three live-action Japanese films based on 20th Century Boys.

No stranger to accolades and awards, Urasawa is a three-time recipient of the prestigious Shogakukan Manga Award, a two-time recipient of the Osamu Tezuka Cultural Prize, and has received the Kodansha Manga Award. Similarly, MONSTER has been nominated three times for the Eisner Award in America. Urasawa has also become involved in the world of academia. In 2008 he accepted a guest teaching post at Nagoya Zokei University, where he teaches courses in, of course, manga.

For more information on this and other titles from VIZ Media, visit http://www.viz.com/.

ACF 503: Happy Birthday, Simon Yam!

Simon Yam in PTU: Police Tactical Unit

Veteran Hong Kong actor Simon Yam was born in that city on March 19th, 1955. His IMDb filmography lists 172 films and TV appearances, going back to 1977. He's played a wide variety of roles on both sides of the law. (Interestingly, his father and elder brother Peter Yam Tat-Wing were both law-enforcement officers.)

Yam as the serial killer in Dr Lamb

Some of his films that are better known in the West include:

Bullet in the Head (1990)
Once Upon a Time in China (1991)
Dr. Lamb (1992)
Full Contact (1993)
The Mission (1999)
PTU (2003)
Breaking News (2004)
Election (2005)
Kill Zone, a.k.a. S.P.L. (2005)
Election 2 (2006)
Exiled (2006)
Sparrow (2008)
Yip Man 2 (2010)

So, Happy 55th Birthday, Simon Yam, and may there be many happy returns of you to the screen in years to come

Thursday, March 18, 2010

ACF 502: Tayutama: Kiss On My Diety

Section23 Films has announced the release of Tayutama: Kiss On My Deity on DVD in North America.

Tayutama: Kiss On My Deity Complete Collection contains all 12 episodes of the magical comedy series on 2 discs. Tayutama began life as a popular adult PC game, but it has since been adapted to many other media, including anime.

SYNOPSIS: Yuuri Mito is a typical, normal Japanese teenager. He goes to school, works on people's motorcycles and performs exorcisms. Okay, that last part's a bit little unusual, but his family lives in a shrine and they do that sort of thing. Still, you would think he'd know enough to be careful with an ancient relic he finds in the woods, especially when a mysterious goddess appears and tells him to leave it alone. Unfortunately, despite Mito's best efforts, the seal gets broken anyway and a number of dangerous "tayuti" that it held in stasis get loose. This is bad. Mito also ends up with a beautiful goddess girl who decides that she's going to marry him. This might not be so bad. If he wasn't already caught up in the middle of a war between the entities he's released. The flesh may be weak but the spirit's more than willing to compensate in TAYUTAMA: KISS ON MY DEITY THE COMPLETE COLLECTION!

TAYUTAMA: KISS ON MY DEITY COMPLETE COLLECTION
Running Time: 300 min.
Age Rating: TV 14 (S)
Language: Japanese with English Subtitles
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
SRP: $39.98

ACF 501: Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance - free screening in New York on March 23rd

Song Kang-Ho gets wet in Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance

Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance
Directed by Park Chan-Wook
South Korea, 2002, 129 min

Sympathy For Mr Vengeance was the first film in Director Park's "Vengeance Trilogy." It was followed by Oldboy (2003) and then Lady Vengeance (2005). It's a kick-ass movie with a fantastic cast, a definite must-see.

It's the next film to be shown in Korean Cultural Service's Korean Movie Night Series 2: The Remakes, which focuses on recent Korean films set to be -- surprise! -- remade by Hollywood.

And it'll be shown next Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010 at Tribeca Cinema, 54 Varick Street on Canal, New York, NY. Admission is free and on a first-come, first-serve policy. Theater doors will open at 6:30 PM and showtimes will be at 7:00.

Remake rights were purchased by Warner Bros in January, 2010. The Hollywood version is being produced by the people who brought audiences GI Joe, Transformers, and Doom. Based on that info, the remake does not seem even remotely promising. But the original is not to be missed. So don't!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

ACF 500: VIZ ANIME on the web

VIZ MEDIA LAUNCHES VIZ ANIME
A NEW OFFICAL WEB DESTINATION FOR SOME OF THE HOTTEST ANIME CONTENT

Optimized Technology Allows Fans To Connect And Interact And Spend Less Time Looking For The Latest Anime Episodes And More Time Enjoying Them

In a significant news announcement, VIZ Media has detailed the launch of VIZ Anime – a brand new, free-to-use interactive web destination that will become a permanent home to some of the company’s best-loved animated series as well as new content which will be added on a weekly basis. VIZ Anime is accessible at: http://www.vizanime.com/. Read on for further info:

VIZ Anime kicks off with more than 400 episodes from hit series such as BLEACH, BUSO RENKIN, DEATH NOTE (complete series), HIKARU NO GO, HONEY & CLOVER, INUYASHA (complete series) and INUYASHA: THE FINAL ACT, NANA, NARUTO (complete series) and NARUTO SHIPPUDEN as well as THE PRINCE OF TENNIS. The site will also be the future web home for many other eagerly anticipated anime series set to launch later this year!

Episodes can be streamed for free with new ones being added weekly. A variety of interactive social networking tools and features also help foster an official online home and community for VIZ Media anime fans allowing them to connect on and discuss favorite shows, and offer ratings and opinions of various episodes. New functionalities will be added regularly.

Users can “follow” as many series as they like and choose to be notified each time a new episode is released, as well as keep track of the last episode they’ve watched. This makes it easy to stay current on series like INUYASHA or NARUTO, which feature more than 100 episodes.

Users can comment on individual episodes and also meet and interact with other fans, invite friends to join, ask questions and debate plot twists and characters, voice their opinion on what’s happening in a particular series, and also find out what else is going on across the anime and manga spectrums.

Users can rate their favorite episodes by using a “Like” button on each episode page. They can quickly access a list of all the episodes they’ve similarly liked to compare how other users have liked an episode.

Users can make a personalized profile page to keep track of the episodes they’ve watched and enjoyed, the series they’re currently following, and comments they’ve made. Mail tools can also be used to send private messages between individual users. Privacy controls let users decide what information is shared publicly and who is able to send them messages.

“We’re committed to developing VIZ Anime as a premiere online destination, and hope to offer a real community for VIZ Media fans to interact with each other and share their love of anime,” says Ken Sasaki, Senior Vice President & General Manager of VIZ Media. “We will also utilize the site as a means of two-way communication to better understand what our fans enjoy most and want, and how they engage with anime and manga online. With a lot of content to select from, VIZ Anime will become a favorite site to visit again and again!”

For more information on VIZ Media or VIZ Anime, visit http://www.vizanime.com/.

ACF 499: Scar Yosaburo at Japan Society NY

© Kadokawa Pictures, Inc.

Scar Yosaburo / Kirare Yosaburo
Directed by Daisuke Ito
With Raizo Ichikawa, Manami Fuji, and Keiko Awaji
Japan, 1960, color, 94 min.

Scar Yosaburo will be shown at Japan Society on Saturday, March 20th, 2010 at 7:00 PM. The screening is part of the Monthly Classic Series The Double Edged Sword: The Chambara Films of Shintato Katsu & Raizo Ichikawa. No screener was available and I have other plans for that evening, so I'll just pass on this information:

In Scar Yosaburo, a band of yakuza ruffians mutilate the face of an actor after he is caught with the gang boss’s mistress. A misty, moonlit tale from the Kabuki repertoire and a stirring classic of the most artful category of samurai films, zankoku jidai-geki ("cruel historicals").

For the Japan Society Scar Yosaburo webpage, which includes a link for ordering tickets online, click here.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

ACF 498: Zatoichi On The Road at Japan Society NY on March 20th at 5:00 PM

Zatoichi On The Road: Fighting Journey / Zatoichi kenka-tabi
Directed by Kimiyoshi Yasuda
Starring Shintaro Katsu, Reiko Fujiwara, and Shiho Fujimura
Japan, 1963, color, 87 min.

Japan Society's Double-Edged Sword series of chambara films starring Shintaro Katsu and Raizo Ichikawa continues this Saturday afternoon, March 20th, 2010 at 5:00 with this, the fifth, entry in the Zatoichi series.

Also known as Zatoichi and the Scoundrels, this film has the blind masseur fulfilling his promise to a dying man that he will get the young and lovely O-Mitsu back to her family. Unfortunately, her father is wealthy, and rival groups seek to take her from Zatoichi in the expectation of being amply regarded for returning her.

I've now watched a fair number of films in the series. For me this one is among the best. Every film pretty much has the same components: Zatoichi goes somewhere, encounters at least one lovely female, has a run-in with at least one gang, and kills a lot of bad guys. What enabled the series to be so successful, and to still be so wonderful to watch years later, are the variations in the stories and their execution. Zatoichi On The Road does a superb job of getting all the ingredients right; it's a must see.

Zatoichi On The Road, and all other screenings in the Double Edged Sword series, will be at Japan Society, 333 East 47th Street (between 1st and 2nd Avenues), New York, NY 10017.

For the Japan Society webpage on Zatoichi On The Road, which includes a link to buy tickets online, click here.

Those of you not in New York, or who just can't make it to the screening, are not out of luck. Zatoichi On The Road, like other titles in the series, is available on DVD from Home Vision Entertainment. I do seem to recall reading, however, that HVE's rights to the first six titles in the series have expired, or soon will. So if you want to add the title to your collection, you might want to do so right away.

And here's a heads-up on another film in the Double Edged Sword series:

Scar Yosaburo
, starring Raizo Ichikawa, also will be shown on Saturday, at 7:00 PM. Note that this is not a double-feature. There are separate admission charges for each film. I'll have some info about Scar Yosaburo in tomorrow's post.

Monday, March 15, 2010

ACF 497: Crossing to be shown at The Korea Society NY on Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

Crossing
Directed by Kim Tae-gyun
Starring Cha In-pyo and Shin Myoung-cheol
2008, 112 minutes

Facing the War
Six Decades of Film Since the Korean War

The 2010 season of The Korea Society's Classic Movie Night series commemorates the sixtieth anniversary of the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950 with a schedule of classics that examine the conflict, and the deep, sometimes unexpected scars it has left on the Korean people.

This season's classic films will examine how, even 60 years after, the effects of the War continue to haunt communities, divide families and fracture Koreans' sense of identity. The screening will be followed by a guest speaker who will discuss its artistic and cultural context, and refreshments will also be served.

Crossing, the next film in the series, will be shown on Wednesday, March 17 at 6:00 PM. It eloquently expresses the emotional trauma of political division.

Yong-soo escapes the grinding poverty of North Korea to China, hoping to find medicine for his pregnant wife, but ends up in South Korea, separated from his family forever. Years later,Yong-soo's orphaned son in North Korea makes the same escape, hoping to find the father he never knew.

Guest Speaker: Deborah Choi, refugee from North Korea
She will provide the nature of the current North Korean situation, and how her life has been changed after coming to America.

Place: The Korea Society (950 Third Avenue @ 57th Street, 8th Floor)
Price: $5 (members) and $10 (non-members)

For more information, contact Yuni Cho at (212) 759-7525, ext. 323 or yuni.ny@koreasociety.org.

ACF 496: Haegum for the Heart - live performance at The Korea Society, NY

Haegum for the Heart

The Haegum is a traditional Korean two-stringed instrument. Renowned performer Leekyung Kang will give a performance of court, folk, and contemporary selections on the Haegum at The Korea Society on Thursday, March 18th, 2010 at 6:30 PM.

Composer and ethnomusicologist Ju-Yong Ha will provide an introduction to the instrument, which dates to the Koryo (a.k.a. Goryeo) dynasty, approximately 918 - 1392 A.D.

Admission is $10 for members and students, $20 for nonmembers. There will be an additional $5 charge for Walk-in registration.

Buy tickets online at www.koreasociety.org or contact Heewon Kim at 212.759.7525, ext 355 or heewon.ny@koreasociety.org

The Korea Society is located at 950 Third Ave @ 57th Street (SW corner), 8th Floor, New York, NY.

Haegum for the Heart is a LIVE HOUSE KOREA event and is made possible with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

ACF 495: Ristorante Paradiso manga due out Tuesday, March 16th from VIZ

Ristorante Paradiso © 2006 NATSUME ONO

SAVOR A TASTY MANGA TREAT WITH
NATSUME ONO’S RISTORANTE PARADISO

New VIZ Signature Release Comes From
The Talented Creator of HOUSE OF FIVE LEAVES and not simple

VIZ Media has announced the release on March 16th of Natsume Ono’s manga RISTORANTE PARADISO. The story, a romance among the staff at a bistro in Rome, is offered in a single volume and will be published under the VIZ Signature imprint. RISTORANTE PARADISO is rated ‘T+’ for Older Teens and will carry an MSRP of $12.99 U.S. / $16.99 CAN. Here's what VIZ has to say about it:

At the age of 21, Nicoletta travels to Rome to find her mother, Olga, who abandoned her long ago. Nicoletta finds her at Casetta dell'Orso, a charming little restaurant owned by Olga's husband. The staff of bespectacled gentlemen welcomes Nicoletta warmly, but Olga's reception is not so pleasant. Olga has never told her husband that she had a child – and he must never know.

In exchange for Nicoletta's playing "the daughter of an old friend," Olga offers her a place to live and an apprenticeship at the restaurant. Nicoletta fits in well among the unique personalities at Casetta dell'Orso. She gets along particularly well with the kindly headwaiter, Claudio, a divorced man who, in spite of the many years, has still never removed his wedding ring. As Nicoletta's feelings for Claudio become complicated, she finds a sympathetic ear in Olga, leading the estranged pair to form a friendship neither expected. But as they grow closer, the pressure of the secret they share may become too much to bear.

“Natsume Ono continues to push the manga genre in intriguing new directions with her minimalist art style and strong, character-driven stories that deliver surprising quirks and touching endings,” says Gonzalo Ferreyra, Vice President Sales & Marketing, VIZ Media. “Two of Ono’s other works, HOUSE OF FIVE LEAVES and not simple, both now available for free preview on SigIKKI.com, have garnered accolades from older readers looking for more sophisticated stories. Don’t miss the opportunity to explore the unique work of this very talented manga creator.”

Natsume Ono made her professional debut in 2003 with the web comic, LA QUINTA CAMERA, and subsequent works not simple, RISTORANTE PARADISO, and GENTE (a continuation of RISTORANTE PARADISO) have met with both critical and popular acclaim. In 2009, RISTORANTE PARADISO was adapted into an animated TV series. Her manga drama HOUSE OF FIVE LEAVES is currently published in Japan in IKKI magazine.

For more information on other VIZ Signature titles please visit http://www.vizsignature.com/.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

ACF 494: Buyusenki Battle Chronicle offers live-action motorcycle street gang action

Motorcycle yakuza mayhem is the norm in this new live-action DVD release from Switchblade Pictures and Section23 Films:

Mix motorcycles, drugs and yakuza under pressure and the result is bosozoku, the brutal motorized street gangs that terrorize Japan armed with swords and baseball bats.

SYNOPSIS: Kyosuke Jinnai was the leader of the "Buyusenki," the largest group of its kind in the Kanto region, but sick of the violence, he had planned to give it all up to make a family with his pregnant girlfriend. Instead, all of that was stolen from him in a moment of savage betrayal, and the man who dreamed of a life of peace has instead been transformed into an angel of death! One of his subordinates betrayed him, and Kyosuke won't stop until he knows why. The streets of Japan will be paved with blood in Buyusenki Battle Chronicle!

BUYUSENKI BATTLE CHRONICLE
Running Time: 112 min.
Age Rating: Unrated – (V, L)
Language: Japanese with English Subtitles
Published by: Switchblade Pictures
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Format: DVD
SRP: $19.98

Friday, March 12, 2010

ACF 493: Dorohedoro available March 16th

VIZ MEDIA DEBUTS DOROHEDORO
A BATTLE BETWEEN DIABOLICAL SORCERERS
AND THE MONSTERS THEY CREATED

VIZ Media has announced that manga creator Q Hayashida’s gritty urban sci-fi/horror series DOROHEDORO will be out next Tuesday, March 16th, 2010. The new series under the company’s VIZ Signature imprint, is rated ‘M’ for Mature Audiences and will carry and MSRP of $12.99 U.S. / $16.99 CAN.

In a city so dismal it's known only as "the Hole," an underground group of Sorcerers have been abducting people off the streets to use as guinea pigs for atrocious "experiments" in the black arts. In a dark alley, Nikaido found Caiman, a mutant man with a reptile head and a bad case of amnesia. To undo the spell, Nikaido and Caiman hunt and kill the Sorcerers in the Hole, hoping that eventually they'll kill the right one. But when En, the head Sorcerer, gets word of a lizard-man slaughtering his people, he sends a crew of "cleaners" into the Hole, igniting a war between two worlds.

“DOROHEDORO blends bloody mutant action with the classic horror elements—zombies, demons, and ghosts—and an intricate postapocalyptic urban setting,” says Leyla Aker, Editorial Manager, VIZ Media. “At the same time, the characters are likable, the dialogue’s funny, and I think readers will be surprised by its charm.”

Manga creator Q Hayashida is known for her bold art style and the way she seamlessly integrates alternate universes into her stories. Hayashida made her manga debut with Maken X Another, which ran in Magazine Z in Japan and was subsequently adapted into a video game. She followed with a sequel, Maken X Another Jack. Dorohedoro is her latest creation and is serialized in Shogakukan's manga magazine IKKI and also featured on SigIKKI.com, the publication’s innovative online joint venture with VIZ Media.

More information on SIGIKKI at http://www.SigIKKI.com/.

For more information on this title, or others from VIZ Media, visit http://www.viz.com/.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

ACF 492: You're Under Arrest: Full Throttle Collection 1 now available on DVD

Here's some info about the latest anime release from Sentai Filmworks and Section23 Films:

The ladies of Bokuto Police Station are back, but there have been some BIG changes! Miyuki's been in the U.S., studying American police techniques while Natsumi's actually been serving in the military! So have these world-changing experiences had any effect on how everyone's favorite girls in blue carry out their duties protecting the Japanese public? Have they gained a more "mature" perspective?

Well, let's just say that, if anything, they may be even wilder and less cautious than before. (Except for that blossoming "relationship" between Miyuki and Nakajima where things are getting decidedly delicate.) Whether rescuing young orphans from yakuza types to confronting rogue wrestlers and even giant snakes, the plots have and action has never been more extreme than in the outrageous first collection of You're Under Arrest: Full Throttle!

YOU'RE UNDER ARREST: FULL THROTTLE COLLECTION 1
Running Time: 300 min.
Age Rating: TV PG (V)
Language: Japanese with English Subtitles
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Format: DVD
SRP: $39.98

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

ACF 491: Korean Cultural Service NY offers free screening of DIE BAD tonight

Die Bad
Directed by Ryu Seung-Wan
South Korea, 2000, 98 min
NY Premiere

Just a quick reminder that Korean Cultural Service's new series of films kicks off tonight with a free screening of Die Bad. This was the first film from director Ryu, whose subsequent work includes City of Violence. Die Bad is an amazing action movie that was shot on the sly for $55,000!!!

The film will be shown at Tribeca Cinema, 54 Varick Street on Canal. Admission is on a first-come, first-serve policy. There are about 130 seats available. Theater doors will open at 6:30 PM and showtimes will be at 7:00.

This new series from KCS focuses on three Korean movies slated to be remade by Hollywood. Marc Foster (Quantum of Solace, Monster's Ball) came onboard in 2008 to do the Hollywood remake of Ryu's film.

Monday, March 08, 2010

ACF 490: ARATA: THE LEGEND out tomorrow, Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Arata/ARATAKANGATARI © 2009 Yuu WATASE/Shogakukan

VIZ MEDIA TO RELEASE NEW FANTASY ADVENTURE SERIES
ARATA: THE LEGEND
FROM RENOWNED MANGA CREATOR YUU WATASE

For Two Boys Called Arata,
Switching Places Means an Adventure of a Lifetime!

VIZ Media has announced the North American debut of ARATA: THE LEGEND for tomorrow, Tuesday. March 9th. The work presents famed manga creator Yuu Watase’s potent blend of mythical fantasy adventure and lavish artwork. The new series is published under the SHONEN SUNDAY imprint, rated ‘T’ for Teens, and will carry an MSRP of $9.99 U.S. / $12.99 CAN. What you need to know follows.

In a world where humans and gods coexist, Arata is the unfortunate successor to the matriarchal Hime Clan--unfortunate because if he's not cross-dressing to hide his gender one minute, he's fleeing for his life the next! When Arata winds up in the modern world and switches places with a boy named Arata Hinohara, it's a wonder which Arata is actually better off...

In Volume 1, Hinohara is the spitting image of Arata, so he suddenly finds himself fighting people after his life! As he navigates through this foreign world filled with power-hungry warriors, who will come to his aid? One thing's for sure--it's not easy being Arata!

“I’m really excited to see ARATA: THE LEGEND joining the Shonen Sunday imprint. The art is gorgeous, the series is action-packed and no one can create a lush fantasy world the way Yuu Watase can!” says Amy Yu, Editor, VIZ Media. “Fans who know her work in the shojo genre will experience a whole new side to this creative mastermind.”

Born March 5 in Osaka, Yuu Watase debuted in the Shôjo Comic manga anthology in 1989. She won the 43rd Shogakukan Manga Award with Ceres: Celestial Legend. One of her most famous works is Fushigi Yûgi, a series that has inspired the prequel Fushigi Yûgi: Genbu Kaiden. In 2008, Arata: The Legend started serialization in Weekly Shonen Sunday.

ARATA THE LEGEND is one of the newest titles under VIZ Media's SHONEN SUNDAY imprint, the new standard for riveting stories and creative excellence. Titles under this imprint are more than shonen stories with struggling heroes and endless battles. Shonen Sunday characters are tested both mentally and physically, asked to prove their worth alongside loyal allies and encounter legends that have outlasted time itself. Each manga series under the SHONEN SUNDAY imprint will enchant the reader with tales from Japan’s top manga creators featuring complex, intriguing characters in richly imagined worlds.

For more information on this title or other SHONEN SUNDAY series, please visit www.shonensunday.com.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

ACF 489: Japan Society NY to host 13 film series featuring three bad-ass actresses

Image from Tattoo copyright Kadokawa Pictures, Inc.

13-Film Series Reveals Radical Women in 60s & 70s Japanese Cinema, Featuring Actresses Meiko Kaji, Mariko Okada and Ayako Wakao

Mad, Bad... & Dangerous to Know:
Three Untamed Beauties of Japanese Cinema

March 31-April 18, 2010 at Japan Society

Japan Society recently announced this upcoming film series that looks absolutely incredible. Thirteen films shown over roughly three weeks will showcase three of Japan's baddest (in a kick-ass kind of way) actresses: Ayako Wakao, Meiko Kaji, and Mariko Okada. And there'll be a terrific party after the March 31st series opener that will have a DRESSED TO KILL! theme. (I just make have to take off from my "day job" to make sure I have the energy to make it through the evening!)

I've provided the info I've received thus far below. I'm hoping to get screeners so I can write advance reviews of at least some of the films. For further info or to buy tickets online from Japan Society, click here.

[P.S. - Keep in mind that The Double-Edged Sword series of films featuring Shintaro Katsu & Raizo Ichikawa is ongoing at Japan Society through May 14th, 2010. Info about that series here.]

Japan Society's spring Globus Film Series Mad, Bad... & Dangerous to Know: Three Untamed Beauties of Japanese Cinema celebrates some of the most radical portrayals of Japanese women in film history by three iconic actresses. From March 31 through April 18, the 13-film series unfolds in three parts over three weeks: Ayako Wakao: Passion Made Flesh, Meiko Kaji: A Mad, Bad Unholy Easter Weekend; and Mariko Okada: The Discreet Charm of the Adulteress. General admission to each screening is $11/$7 Japan Society members, students & seniors. Tickets to the March 31 opening screening, Tattoo (Irezumi) are $15/$10 Japan Society members, students & seniors, and include entry to the DRESSED TO KILL! after party.

At the opposite end of the stereotype of docile Japanese women—heroic good mothers, chaste daughters and hardworking faithful wives—actresses Ayako Wakao, Mariko Okada and Meiko Kaji embodied the transgression of limits, breaking rules, flouting norms and generally upsetting everyone in Japanese films of the 60s and 70s. Mad, Bad… & Dangerous to Know explores the idea of unconventional beauty that these spellbinding actresses created through an unparalleled body of films, from rambunctious girl gang bangers and wild women's prison escapees to more subtly chained renegades such as a tattoo-possessed ingénue and a compassionate nurse cum angel of death.

Among such genre favorites as Masumura's Tattoo, two films from Toshiya Fujita's Lady Snowblood series, and Kiju Yoshida's seminal The Affair, highlights include:

A Wife Confesses, a rare Yasuzo Masumura film, influenced by Antonioni and Resnais, and one of the most original depictions of a femme fatale committed to celluloid. Female Convict Scorpion: Jailhouse 41, arguably the most visually striking (and shocking) film featuring Meiko Kaji, Jailhouse completely blurs the limits between grindhouse and arthouse, to the point that it seems to make both categories irrelevant. Woman of the Lake, one of the best--but lesser-known--Okada-Yoshida collaborations, for all its intense and refined eroticism. A depiction of desire at its most subtle and complex, the film has drawn comparisons with Bergman’s formal experimentations.

Aside from a niche market in grindhouse and pinku titles, the films of Mad, Bad… & Dangerous to Know address concerns of the Japanese New Wave, post-war discontent, and the influence of international film genres such as the westerns and film noir. "Another unique aspect of this series," notes Japan Society film programmer Samuel Jamier, "is its function as both homage to the actresses and celebration of certain directors as auteurs. Both Wakao and Okada were muses and inspiration for two major film directors, Yasuzo Masumura and Kiju (Yoshishige) Yoshida, respectively, while Kaji navigated between filmmakers, a wild card of Japanese cinema at the time." On one level Mad, Bad… & Dangerous to Know reflects the status of the "movie star" during the Golden Age of Japanese cinema at a time when cross-cultural traffic truly emerged. On a much deeper level, it brings to light new views of gender politics in Japan and examines the interconnections between female agency, gender ideologies, and Japanese models of womanhood.

MAD, BAD… SCREENING SCHEDULE

PART 1 - AYAKO WAKAO: PASSION MADE FLESH

Tattoo A.K.A. The Spider Tattoo (Irezumi)
Wednesday, March 31, 2010 at 7:30 pm
**Opening Night
1966, 86 min., 35 mm, color, in Japanese with live English subtitles.
Directed by Yasuzo Masumura.
With Ayako Wakao, Akio Hasegawa, Gaku Yamamoto.
Print courtesy of The Japan Foundation, with permission from Kadokawa Pictures, Inc.

A dark erotic tale from the director of Blind Beast, Tattoo (Irezumi) follows the descent of a woman whose extreme beauty and ferocious nature bring her to the abyss. Otsuya, the daughter of a wealthy pawnbroker, charms her weak-willed lover into eloping with her. As they escape, she is abducted by unscrupulous ruffians and sold to a geisha house where she catches the eye of a tattoo master who uses her body as a living surface for his unholy art, engraving into her flawless ivory flesh a large and monstrous spider. As if under the invisible influence of its evil force, Otsuya grows more wicked as she excels in the trade she has been forced into, eventually consuming the lives of the unwitting men she holds in her thrall. Adapted by Kaneto Shindo from the acclaimed 1910 short story by Junichiro Tanizaki.

Followed by the DRESSED TO KILL! after party with drinks and hors d'oeuvres. Guests are encouraged to dress as their favorite femme fatale, show off their wicked tattoos, and model the latest in haute couture prison wear. Tickets: $15/$10 Japan Society members, students & seniors.

Red Angel (Akai Tenshi)
Thursday, April 1, 2010 at 7:30 pm
1966, 95 min., 35 mm, B&W, in Japanese with English subtitles.
Directed by Yasuzo Masumura.
With Ayako Wakao, Shinsuke Ashida, Yusuke Kawazu.
Print courtesy of The Japan Foundation, with permission from Kadokawa Pictures, Inc.

Ayako Wakao gives a performance of extraordinary focus and intensity as Sakura Nishi, a deceptively naive nurse sent to the Manchurian front during the Sino-Japanese War. Tending to the massive number of injured Japanese soldiers, Sakura fights her own desperate battles as she finds herself the prey of her compatriots’ unwelcome assaults. Before long, her selfless attempts at ministering to a soldier who raped her bring her into the service of Dr. Okabe (Shinsuke Ashida), a morphine-addicted surgeon who in turn becomes dependent on her, despite his impotence. A romance fleshed from the grief of his sexual failure, with its foreshadowing of death, blooms between the two, while men continue to fall on the battlefield. Is Sakura fated to doom those she most wishes to save? Is she both an angel of mercy and a dealer of death?

18+ This film is unrated, but may only be viewed by persons 18 years of age or older.

Seisaku's Wife (Seisaku no tsuma)
Friday, April 2, 2010 at 6:30 pm
1965, 93 min., 35 mm, B&W, in Japanese with English subtitles.
Directed by Yasuzo Masumura.
With Ayako Wakao, Takahiro Tamura, Nobuo Chiba.
Print courtesy of The Japan Foundation with permission from Kadokawa Pictures, Inc.

On the eve of the Russo-Japanese war at the beginning of the 20th century, small-town girl Okane marries an old wealthy man to escape a life of poverty. Upon her husband’s sudden death, she withdraws to her small farming village where she stoically submits to public opprobrium and lives the silent, sullen life of a pariah. Returning from army duty, Seisaku (Takahiro Tamura) enters the picture; he is the pride of his community to Okane's shame of the village. Nevertheless, the disreputable beauty and the honorable patriot begin an unlikely and tumultuous love affair that will eventually render him as marginal as she. Ayako Wakao delivers one of her best performances, winning both the Kinema Jumpo Awards (the Japanese Oscars) and the Blue Ribbon Awards prize for Best actress.

A Wife Confesses (Tsuma wa kokuhaku suru)
Friday, April 2, 2010 at 8:30 pm
1961, 91 min., 35 mm, B&W, in Japanese with English subtitles.
Directed by Yasuzo Masumura. With Ayako Wakao, Hiroshi Kawaguchi, Eitaro Ozawa.
Print courtesy of The Japan Foundation with permission from Kadokawa Pictures, Inc .

Young widow Ayako Takigawa (Ayako Wakao) goes on trial for the murder of her abusive professor husband in a mountaineering accident. Did she cut the rope in order to save her life and the life of his young student Koda, or did she do it for the five million yen from the life insurance policy Koda urged the professor to buy? Arguably the most intriguing film directed by Yasuzo Masumura, A Wife Confesses is both a film noir study of the hypocrisies of marriage and a lush psychological thriller featuring a wondrously ambiguous female protagonist played by Wakao, simultaneously a sympathetic victim and one of the most sophisticated femme fatales ever portrayed in cinema.

PART 2 - MEIKO KAJI: A MAD, BAD UNHOLY EASTER WEEKEND

Female Prisoner #701: Scorpion (Joshuu 701-go: Sasori)
Saturday, April 3, 3:00 pm
1972, 87 min., digibeta, color, in Japanese with English subtitles.
Directed by Shunya Ito.
With Meiko Kaji, Rie Yokoyama, Isao Natsuyagi, Fumio Watanabe.
Print courtesy of Media Blasters with permission from Toei Co., Ltd.

Shunya Ito’s film set the ultimate template of the women-in-prison movie genre replete with stabbing, shooting, raping, rioting, beating, burning, feral Sapphic sex, and copious nudity. Expertly riding the fine line between arthouse imagery and car crash-like anti-aesthetics, the story follows the quest for vengeance of Matsu, an unjustly imprisoned woman, to whom Meiko Kaji lends her unique star presence. Used, abused and betrayed by her first love, a corrupt cop, Matsu endures a variety of exotic punishments that would make even Cool Hand Luke cry, and eventually becomes "Sasori" (Scorpion), a byname for vengeance. Prepare for lock-down: this is sexploitation cinema at its most ferocious and classiest. Female Prisoner #701: Scorpion spawned three direct sequels, a pair of spin-offs, and a 2008 Hong Kong-Japan co-produced remake.

18+ This film is unrated, but may only be viewed by persons 18 years of age or older.

Stray Cat Rock: Sex Hunter (Noraneko Rock: Sex Hunter)
Saturday, April 3, 2010 at 5:00 pm
1970, 85 min., 35 mm, color, in Japanese with English subtitles.
Directed by Yasuharu Hasebe.
With Meiko Kaji, Rikiya Yasuoka, Tatsuya Fuji, Jiro Okazaki, Mie Hanabusa.
Print courtesy of Vitagraph Films with permission from Nikkatsu Corp.

Directed by the late sexploitation master Yasuharu Hasebe, this classic hallucinatory girl gang flick with a politically radical racial subplot stars cult film legend Meiko Kaji as Mako, a gang leader sporting the best hat in film history and wielding Molotov cocktails like a pro. Mako's gang assists The Eagles, an all-male gang of young delinquents speeding around in army jeeps left by the American occupation, hanging out in uber-hip clubs, and generally indulging in testosterone-fuelled ruckus-raising. Life rocks, rolls and swings by nicely until one of the Eagles loses his girl to an African-American/Japanese man and the gang crusades against the local mixed-race Japanese citizens. The trouble is: Mako has a soft spot for dark-skinned hunk Kazuma. Sides are chosen and rampage wrought in this full-on war of the sexes.

18+ This film is unrated, but may only be viewed by persons 18 years of age or older.

Lady Snowblood: Blizzard From the Netherworld (Shura-yuki-hime)
Saturday, April 3, 2010 at 7:30 pm
1973, 97 min., 35 mm, color, in Japanese with live English subtitles.
Directed by Toshiya Fujita.
With Meiko Kaji, Toshio Kurosawa, Masaaki Daimon.
Print courtesy of Toho Co., Ltd.

A baroque blood-fest deftly blending samurai, ninja, yakuza, and manga motifs, Lady Snowblood is a revenge tale with many stupendous turns and a major twist: the ruthless seeker of righteous retribution is a kimono-clad beauty (Meiko Kaji). Born in a dark hellhole of a prison, Yuki "Snowblood" Kashima was raised by an ironhanded priest who trained her in the arcanes of sword fighting. Dressed and hardwired to kill, she seeks vengeance on the four villains who butchered her family. An unequivocal inspiration for Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill Vol. 1, film fans can experience the original mad mix of shameless grindhouse exploitation and surreal arthouse extravaganza driven by a full-blooded devotion to unstinting gory action.

18+ This film is unrated, but may only be viewed by persons 18 years of age or older.

Lady Snowblood: Love Song of Vengeance (Shura-yuki-hime: Urami Renga)
Sunday, April 4, 2010 at 3:00 pm
1974, 97 min., 35 mm, color, in Japanese with live English subtitles.
Directed by Toshiya Fujita. With Meiko Kaji, Yoshio Harada, Juzo Itami.
Print courtesy of Toho Co., Ltd.

This sequel to Lady Snowblood finds the iconic smooth-skinned beauty killing machine Yuki "Snowblood" Kashima (Meiko Kaji) imprisoned for the ghastly vengeance she waged on her family's behalf. While waiting her turn at the gallows pole, a white-gloved secret agent makes Yuki an offer she cannot refuse: assassinate an enemy of the state (who is also a friend to the common people) in exchange for her pardon. Can the "child of the netherworld" see her sins redeemed at the cost of her life, or will she ignore the plight of the powerless—at the cost of her conscience? A sequel that offers both the savage amusement of foul violence and a razor-sharp political edge.

18+ This film is unrated, but may only be viewed by persons 18 years of age or older.

Female Convict Scorpion Jailhouse 41 (Joshuu sasori: Dai-41 zakkyo-bo)
Sunday, April 4, 5:00 pm
1972, 90 min., 35 mm, color, in Japanese with English subtitles.
Directed by Shunya Ito.
With Meiko Kaji, Fumio Watanabe, Kayoko Shiraishi.
Print courtesy of Toei Co., Ltd.

The deadly Matsu, better known as "Sasori" (Scorpion), is shut off from all hope and goodness in the darkest depths of a maximum-security prison. Taking her first chance at escape, she and six other female prisoners embark on a crazed rampage through a ghost town. The battered past of the women is revealed through a pop-art prism of kabuki theatre influences and frenzied baroque camerawork, as they trade surreal acts of sadistic vengeance with their pursuers and the men who fall in their path. Highly stylized even for the standards of this exceptional franchise, director Shunya Ito gives free reign to his experimental tendencies in this sequel to Female Prisoner #701: Scorpion, offering a brutally compelling film, haunting and intoxicating in equal measure.

18+ This film is unrated, but may only be viewed by persons 18 years of age or older.

PART 3 - MARIKO OKADA: THE DISCREET CHARM OF THE ADULTERESS

Impasse A.K.A. Flame and Women and Flame of Feeling (Hono to onna)
Wednesday, April 14, 2010 at 7:30 pm
1967, 101 min., 35 mm, B&W, in Japanese with live English subtitles.
Directed by Kiju Yoshida.
With Mariko Okada, Isao Kimura, Mayumi Ogawa.
Print courtesy of Shochiku Co., Ltd.

As the title implies, Mariko Okada and Kiju Yoshida's fifth collaboration is a moral furnace of a film, stoked with guilt and vengefulness. A labyrinthine exploration of the decomposition of a middle-class couple, the bewitching, fractured narrative artfully shuffles the time scheme, as the protagonist, Ritsuko (Okada, in a highly nuanced and restrained performance), stumbles out of the sluggish half-life of her sterile marriage and towards a troubled search to restore her emotional self. After giving birth to a son through artificial insemination (presented here as science fiction), she starts nourishing a forbidden but irrepressible desire for the biological father of her child.

The Affair (Joen)
Thursday, April 15, 2010 at 7:30 pm
1967, 101 min., 35 mm, B&W, in Japanese with live English subtitles.
Directed by Kiju Yoshida.
With Mariko Okada, Yoshie Minami, Tadahiko Sugano.
Print courtesy of Shochiku Co., Ltd.

With this radical erotic "anti-melodrama," director Kiju (Yoshishige) Yoshida became not only the cineaste of women but the cineaste of one woman: Mariko Okada, starring here as an unhappily married woman confronting the decadent legacy of her mother, who made no secret of her affairs with younger men. Okada faces this inheritance by initiating sexual relationships herself, forming a strange love triangle between her, a sculptor who had been her mother’s lover, and a rough construction worker to whom she surrenders with the reluctant passion of a Japanese Lady Chatterley. Events unfold—flashes of warmth, wintry blasts of ire—all the while Yoshida’s cautious camera hovers over the quakes of jealousy and tidal surges of desire, filmed like the progress of a haunting.

Woman of the Lake (Onna no mizuumi)
Sunday, April 18, 2010 at 6:30 pm
1966, 94 min., 35 mm, B&W, in Japanese with live English subtitles.
Directed by Kiju Yoshida.
With Mariko Okada, Shigeru Tsuyuguchi, Tamotsu Hayakawa.
Print courtesy of Shochiku Co., Ltd.

Based on a novel by Nobel prize-winning author Yasunari Kawabata, Kiju Yoshida’s film approaches the topic of sexual encounters in the manner of a fogbound documentary with the nocturnal gravity of a requiem. In this surrealist erotic story, Okada’s trademark character—a woman of quiet intensity and strong will, yet fumbling for undefined sexual fulfillment—takes a lover to escape the somber dissatisfaction of her loveless marriage. One night she allows him to take nude pictures of her, but the negatives are stolen and she faces threats of blackmail from an anonymous stranger. She complies with the blackmailer’s demands and travels to recover the negatives, embarking on a journey that soon aligns her darkest desires with those of her shadowy aggressor.

Two Wives (Tsuma futari)
Sunday, April 18, 2010 at 8:45 pm
1967, 94 min., 35 mm, color, in Japanese with live English subtitles.
Directed by Yasuzo Masumura.
With Ayako Wakao, Mariko Okada, Koji Takahashi.
Print courtesy of Kadokawa Pictures, Inc.

For the first time outside Japan, Masumura’s Two Wives appears on the big screen. After a random encounter at a bar, two couples collide. The two men and the titular wives become embroiled in a love-and-hate drama that threatens to engulf them. In this rare masterpiece by the director of Manji and Blind Beast, the sexual anxiety between the interwoven couples tautens up to the nearly unbearable tenseness of the climax.
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The Japan Society Film Program offers a diverse selection of Japanese films, from classics to contemporary independent productions. Its aim is to entertain, educate and support activities in the Society's Arts & Culture programs. The Film Program has included retrospectives of great directors, thematic series and many U.S. premieres. Some original film series curated by Japan Society have traveled to other U.S. venues in tours organized by the Film Program. Since 2007, the Program has presented the annual summer JAPAN CUTS Festival of New Japanese Film in collaboration with the New York Asian Film Festival. The Monthly Classics series The Double Edged Sword: the Chambara Films of Shintaro Katsu & Raizo Ichikawa continues through May 2010.

Established in 1907, Japan Society has evolved into North America's major producer of high-quality content on Japan for an English-speaking audience. Presenting over 100 events annually through well established Corporate, Education, Film, Gallery, Language, Lectures, Performing Arts and Innovators Network programs, the Society is an internationally recognized nonprofit, nonpolitical organization that provides access to information on Japan, offers opportunities to experience Japanese culture, and fosters sustained and open dialogue on issues important to the U.S., Japan, and East Asia.

Mad, Bad... & Dangerous to Know: Three Untamed Beauties of Japanese Cinema runs March 31-April 18. Tickets for regular screenings are $11/$7 members, students & seniors. The March 31 opening screening, Tattoo (Irezumi), followed by the DRESSED TO KILL! after party is $15/$10 Japan Society members, students & seniors. Japan Society is located at 333 East 47th Street between First and Second avenues (accessible by the 4/5/6 at 42nd Street-Grand Central Station or the E and V at Lexington Avenue and 53rd St.) For reservations visit www.japansociety.org or call the box office at 212-715-1258. For further information call 212-832-1155 or visit the website.

Mad, Bad… & Dangerous to Know: Three Untamed Beauties is made possible through the generous support of The Globus Family. Japan Society’s 2009-2010 Film Programs are generously supported by the Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Endowment Fund. Additional support is provided by The Globus Family, Yoshiko and Tim Schilt, David S. Howe, Dr. Tatsuji Namba, Joshua S. Levine and Nozomi Terao, Elaine Sheng and Samuel Jamier, and the New York State Council on the Arts, a State agency.