With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

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

Thursday, February 28, 2013

ACF 1823: Interview with South Korean director RYOO Seung-wan

RYOO Seung-wan (center) with actor HAN Suk-kyu (right)

I recently had the wonderful opportunity to engage in a long-distance email interview with RYOO Seung-wan, the writer/director of The Berlin File, a high-octane espionage thriller that opened nationwide in the U.S. on February 15th. (My review of the film here.) I submitted my questions, which were then translated into Korean. Director RYOO's responses were then translated into English and sent to me.

AsianCineFest: How did you come to write and direct an espionage thriller set in Berlin? 

Director RYOO: Korea is still a nation going through a cold period between the South and the North even after the Korean War. Also, there are no movies treating the stories of spies due to political logic. That was the interesting point. Even though we're talking about the present, it felt like people from the past were leading us into the story. In addition to that, my imagination was triggered when I saw people living with hidden identities in a 3rd nation, not their own.

Berlin is a city connected to lots of big cases that can't be ignored in Korean history. Also, it’s a place that represented a separated nation along with Korea in the Cold War period.

I think my personal interest and the symbolic representation of the city Berlin met, and the result was this movie. 

AsianCineFest: This was the first film you shot outside of South Korea, correct? 

Director RYOO: Yes, it was my very first shoot abroad. 

AsianCineFest: Did shooting in Berlin pose any problems or challenges you hadn't previously experienced? Would you consider shooting another film outside of South Korea? 

Director RYOO: Food, Jetlag, Language, Homesickness... On top of everything, not being able to go home. It was not an easy journey. It was a very difficult process, but if my next film also has a background in a different country, I'll have to do it. I didn't make The Berlin File because I wanted to shoot abroad, I shot abroad because I was trying to make the film The Berlin File. 

AsianCineFest: There is dialogue in Korean, English, and some German, I believe. Did the Korean actors learn their English lines phonetically? HAN Suk-kyu, whom I greatly respect and admire, did seem to have some trouble with his English. 

Director RYOO: Experts of each language translated my scenario, and then coached the actors. The Korean actors had lots of dialect, which called for a dialect coach on the set at all times. The problem wasn't the actors, it was with me. I couldn't understand what the actors were saying.... It was brutal. 

AsianCineFest: There's at least one rooftop scene with South Korean intelligence agent JUNG (Han's character) and North Korean operative PYU (played by HA Jung-woo). Such a confrontation almost invariably brings to mind such films as Lau Wai-keung and Alan Mak's Infernal Affairs (2002) and more recently JANG Hun's Rough Cut (2008). Did you have any particular reason for including such a rooftop face-off between the two prime antagonists? 

Director RYOO: I like the space of a roof. It's strange, but I like the feeling that it's open to everything. I think that must be why I enjoyed filming characters meeting and fighting in such a place ever since my debut film. First of all, my taste probably had lots to do with it, and secondly, I thought it's too obvious that a character tries to run from a building and the enemy comes up the stairs to catch him, so I thought of a new scene where the main character tries to jump to another building, and having the two characters run into each other on the rooftop. 

AsianCineFest:. JUNG Doo-hong, who has worked with you on some of your other films, served as the action coordinator on The Berlin File. In what way, if any, where you involved with the creation of the action sequences, which I must say were terrific. 

Director RYOO: My part was asking the simple questions about where and how the characters will fight. If I propose questions, then the Action Director Jeong will think about it and give me several answers. Then I pick among some of them, or I ask again with more specific questions. If there is my influence anywhere, it's agonizing the experts to give a better answer. 

AsianCineFest: The Berlin File, which I think will be quite successful, concludes with the clear possibility of a sequel. If it does as well as I expect, will we have, say, The Pyonyang File to look forward to in the near future? In any case, can you say anything, even something very general, about upcoming projects you are considering?

Director RYOO: As of now, there is no plan for a follow-up. The Berlin File was not really a film I made with an intention to make a sequel. Regardless of the movie's success at being a box-office hit, I think the temptation to make a follow-up for The Berlin File would be a sweet poison. For now, I am just looking for people I can cast as main characters for the next film.

There are many ideas, but none confirmed. We will just have to try our best to make a better movie than The Berlin File.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

ACF 1822: VIZ announces new POKÉMON manga titles

© 2013 Pokémon.
© 1998-2012 PIKACHU PROJECT. TM, ®, and character names are trademarks of Nintendo.
VIZ Kids Imprint To Debut
POKÉMON THE MOVIE: KYUREM vs. THE Sword of Justice Tie-In Manga,

VIZ Media has announced the acquisition and forthcoming debut of an array of new POKÉMON manga titles.

Leading the new releases will be the brand-new POKÉMON THE MOVIE: KYUREM vs. THE Sword of Justice tie-in manga editions scheduled to debut on March 5th These will be followed by the release of the POKÉMON ADVENTURES: BLACK & WHITE and POKÉMON ADVENTURES: HeartGOLD AND SOULSILVER manga series later this summer. Titles from VIZ Media’s extensive POKÉMON catalog are published under its popular VIZ Kids imprint.

“VIZ Media’s extensive catalog of POKÉMON titles continues to expand with these fantastic new titles,” says Beth Kawasaki, VIZ Media Senior Editorial Director. “From the exciting release of the tie-in manga to the latest feature film, POKÉMON THE MOVIE: KYUREM vs. THE Sword of Justice, to the debut of the new POKÉMON ADVENTURES: HEARTGOLD AND SOULSILVER manga series and the publication of a new edition of the critically acclaimed POKÉMON ADVENTURES: BLACK AND WHITE series, there will be plenty of imaginative adventures to look forward to throughout the spring and summer!”

New 2013 POKÉMON Manga Releases Include:

POKÉMON THE MOVIE: KYUREM vs. THE Sword of Justice Manga·
Rated “A” for All Ages · MANGA MSRP: $9.99 U.S. / $12.99 CAN ·
Available March 5th

Keldeo is determined to become a Sword of Justice, but to do so he must defeat Kyurem, one of the most powerful Dragon-type Pokémon in the world. Keldeo challenges Kyurem, unleashing a destructive force even Ash and Pikachu may be powerless to stop!

Rated “A” for All Ages · MSRP: $9.99 U.S. / $12.99 CAN ·
Available July 2nd  
Meet Pokémon Trainers Black and White in this new full-size graphic novel edition of the popular series previously published in a special edition format. His entire life, Black has dreamed of winning the Pokémon League! Now he embarks on a journey to explore the Unova region and fill a Pokédex for Professor Juniper. White has an exciting career as the Trainer of a talented troupe of performing Pokémon. She dreams of making her Tepig Gigi a star! Together, Black and White continue on their journey... What surprising new Pokémon – and people – will they meet next?!

Rated “A” for All Ages · MSRP: $9.99 U.S. / $12.99 CAN ·
Available August 6th 
Your favorite Pokémon Trainers Gold and Silver are back! Crystal too! And so is Team Rocket... In this two-volume thriller, troublemaker Gold and feisty Silver must team up again to find their old enemy Lance and the Legendary Pokémon Arceus. Meanwhile, Team Rocket is on the rampage: digging up, stealing, and collecting 16 mysterious plates for some nefarious purpose known only to them... What is the hidden power of the 16 plates, and what do they symbolize...?

For more information on other VIZ Media kids titles, please visit http://www.vizkids.com.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

ACF 1821: GHOST STORY OF YOTSUYA to kick off new film series

Ghost Story of Yotsuya / Tokaido Yotsuya Kaidan
Directed by Nobuo Nakagawa
Japan, 1959, 76 minutes
When: Wednesday, February 27 at 8:00 PM
Where: Japan Society
333 East 47th Street, NY
Between 1st and 2nd Avenues
Map and visitor information here
New York Premiere

Ghost Story of Yotsuya is the opening night film of Into the Shintoho Mind Warp: GIRLS, GUNS & GHOSTS from the Second Golden Age of Japanese Film, the latest Globus Film Series at Japan Society NY. The series, which runs through March 10th, will feature eight rarely screened features from the studio that was created in 1947 as an offshoot of Toho. (Yotsuya, as best I've been able to determine, refers to a neighborhood in the Shinjuku area of Tokyo, where part of the story is set.)

Nakagawa's film is but one of the more than thirty cinematic adaptations of a classic kabuki play written in 1825 by Tsuruya Nanboku; it is widely considered to be the best film version.

The story centers on the ambitions of a master-less samurai named Iemon Tamiya (Shigeru Amachi). When his plans to marry the lovely Iwa ((Katsuko Wakasugi) are thwarted by her father's lowly regard of him as a libertine, Iemon resorts to murder. His marriage to Iwa, which has produced a son, does not improve his lot in life nor lead to personal happiness. A weak man, Iemon is spurred on by his attendant Naosuke (Shintaro Emi) to murder again. The result is that he is haunted by his victims, driven mad and consquently commits even more acts of carnage.

Director Nakagawa has here produced a film that ranks close to, if not right up there with, Masaki Kobayashi's Kwaidan and Kenji Mizoguchi's Ugetsu, ghost-themed films that are better known in the West and both of which are available from The Criterion Collection. (Indeed, I'm beginning to see this series of Shintoho films as a promising candidate for Criterion's Eclipse series. Here's hoping.) The emotions of the main characters, Iemon and Iwa, are magnificently brought forth by stellar performances from Amachi and Wakasugi, respectively. And Nakagawa's use of colors, particularly reds and greens, is masterful, providing visual metaphors to emotional and physical states of being.

ACF Rating: 3.5 out of 4 stars; very highly recommended.

Wednesday night's screening of Ghost Story of Yotsuya will be followed by the Enka Ecstasy party. Guests are encouraged to wear black-and-white outfits, with two accessories of color, in keeping with the spirit of the retrospective and to celebrate the six black-and-white and two color(ful) film rarities the series is showcasing. The party features a live performance by New York-based Japanese soul music band Neo Blues Maki.

For information about the complete GIRLS, GUNS & GHOSTS film series and to order tickets, click here. The series is comprised of selections from Nudes! Guns! Ghosts! which was curated by film critic and author Mark Schilling for the 2010 Udine Far East Film Festival. After its run in New York, the series will tour North America at Philadelphia's International House (March 28-30), San Francisco's Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (dates TBD) and Vancouver's Pacific Cinematheque (dates also TBD).

Also be sure to check out the terrific series trailer by Benjamin Wright.

ACF 1820: Free screening of THE WINDOW tonight in New York

Korean Cultural Service New York
Korean Movie Night 2013
Series One
Drawn Into Film: Korean Animation!
The Window
(accompanied by other short films)
Directed by YEUN Sang-ho
South Korea, 2012, 29 minutes
(The total program has a run time of about two hours)
When: Tuesday, February 26, 2013 @ 7:00 PM
Doors open: 6:30 PM
Where: Tribeca Cinemas
54 Varick Street, on the corner of Canal Street, NYC
Near the A, C, E @ #1 Canal Street subway stops
Admission: FREE!!!
All seating is first-come, first served
North American Premiere

Director YUEN Sang-ho (The King of Pigsdelivers yet again, with his stunning new short feature, The Window.

Synopsis (courtesy of Korean Cultural Service): Private Jung is proud to be a member of a leading military division; but after Private Hong joins, disruption runs abundant. Jung tries in vain to train Hong, who is indifferent to everything, but the new cadet only ends up causing more trouble. And after an altercation, their woes become even more intense, leading to a shocking, powerful conclusion.

This special short feature, celebrating its North American Premiere, will be accompanied by additional short films. The evening’s program will have a two-hour running time.

ACF 1819: NEW PEOPLE presents VOCALOID music event in S.F.


New VOCALOID3 Megpoid English Launch Event Offers Hot Beats,
Live Vocaloid Dancers and Vocaloid Workshops

NEW PEOPLE celebrates the latest wave of the Vocaloid music phenomenon as it presents a special free Megpoid Launch Event featuring Vocalekt Visions on Sunday, March 3rd. 

The all-day VOCALOID3 Megpoid English launch event commences at 12:00 noon, and will offer a variety of dance and Vocaloid performances, free VOCALOID3 Megpoid English software workshops, demos, and other activities that will run thru 6:00pm. NEW PEOPLE is located at 1746 Post St. in San Francisco’s Japantown.

Vocalekt Visions, a unique Bay Area-based Vocaloid performance troupe, will present two special Vocaloid holographic performances inside the NEW PEOPLE Cinema, at 2:00pm and 4:30pm, which will feature Megpoid songs performed by GUMI and complemented by live on-stage dancers. Tickets are free and will be available from the NEW PEOPLE Cinema box office on a first come/first served basis. Cinema box office will open at 12:30pm. All the attendees will receive a free trial version of VOCALOID3 Megpoid English while supplies last.

Vocaloid music, which has swept Japan and is gaining popularity in North America, is characterized by a variety of pop-flavored animated avatars, or “virtual pop stars,” that sing and perform songs written using innovative software that enables users to synthesize the performer’s voice by inputting lyrics and a melody. VOCALOID3 Megpoid English notably features the virtual persona of GUMI, a character and avatar developed by manga artist Masami Yuuki.

The new VOCALOID3 Megpoid English release is an English singing synthesizer application powered by Yamaha's Vocaloid3 software and published by INTERNET Co., Ltd. The voice of the GUMI character is based on that of Megumi Nakajima, a popular Japanese singer and voice actress. During the event, visitors can learn how to use the software in a series of hands-on workshops and software demonstrations to be held in the NEW PEOPLE lobby. Copies of the Megpoid software, along with other Vocaloid products and collectables, will also be for sale. More information on VOCALOID3 Megpoid English is available at www.ssw.co.jp/en/products/vocal3/megpoid/index.html.

NEW PEOPLE was the very first venue that brought Vocaloid music to the attention of North American audiences and we’ve continued to celebrate the genre’s colorful Japanese pop culture roots with a variety of unique events over the last few years,” says Seiji Horibuchi, the President/CEO of NEW PEOPLE, Inc. “The launch of the first English Vocaloid software is very significant and should inspire U.S. users to create an even bigger catalog of great vocaloid music. We’re very pleased to invite Vocaloid and J-Pop fans, music lovers, technophiles, and anyone that just digs good beats to attend this fun free event in Japantown!”

More information on NEW PEOPLE is available at www.newpeopleworld.com.

Monday, February 25, 2013

ACF 1818: Trailer for GIRLS GUNS & GHOSTS film series at Japan Society

Globus Film Series
Into the Shintoho Mind Warp:
From the Second Golden Age of Japanese Film
February 27 - March 10, 2013
Japan Society
333 East 47th Street
Between 1st and 2nd Avenues
Map and Visitor Information here
Series info, film descriptions and tickets here



Acclaimed Novel Now In Production As A Major Feature Film
From Warner Bros. Pictures and Village Roadshow Pictures

VIZ Media Also Secures Publishing Rights To Official Movie Novel Edition

VIZ Media has announced the digital release by Simon & Schuster Audio of an unabridged audio book version of Hiroshi Sakurazaka’s science fiction thriller ALL YOU NEED IS KILL. The acclaimed novel, read and narrated by Mike Martindale, is now available for $19.95 U.S. from the Simon & Schuster website.

ALL YOU NEED IS KILL is published in North America by VIZ Media’s Haikasoru imprint and is currently in production as a major feature film directed by Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity) and starring Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt. The film is slated for release in the spring of 2014, to be distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures and Village Roadshow Pictures. Liman is directing the film from a screenplay by Dante W. Harper and Jez Butterworth & John-Henry Butterworth and Christopher McQuarrie, based on the novel. Erwin Stoff, Gregory Jacobs, Jeffrey Silver, Jason Hoffs and Tom Lassally are the producers, with Doug Liman, Dave Bartis, Joby Harold, Hidemi Fukuhara and Bruce Berman serving as executive producers. 

VIZ Media has also acquired the North American publishing rights for the official ALL YOU NEED IS KILL novel tie-in edition for the film that will support the release next year.

Haikasoru publishes some of the most compelling contemporary Japanese science fiction and fantasy stories for English-speaking audiences, and is the first imprint based in the U.S. dedicated to Japanese science fiction and fantasy in translation. Simon & Schuster is the exclusive distributor for VIZ Media in the U.S. and Canada.

In the ALL YOU NEED IS KILL novel, there’s one thing worse than dying. It’s coming back to do it again and again. When the alien Mimics invade, Keiji Kiriya is just one of many recruits shoved into a suit of battle armor and sent out to kill. Keiji dies on the battlefield, only to be reborn each morning to fight and die again and again. On his 158th iteration, he gets a message from a mysterious ally – a female soldier known as the Full Metal Bitch. Is she the key to Keiji's escape or his final death?

New York Times best-selling author John Scalzi (Old Man’s War) described ALL YOU NEED IS KILL as, “science fiction for the adrenaline junkie,” and went on to declare it to be a novel that "reads fast, kicks ass, and keeps on coming." The novel was the first title to be published by Haikasoru and, since its North American debut in 2009, it has become one of the imprint’s most successful releases.

ALL YOU NEED IS KILL garnered significant critical acclaim with its initial publication in Japan and subsequent release in North America and the buzz has grown significantly with the highly anticipated release of the live-action film,” says Masumi Washington, Editor-in-Chief, Haikasoru. “Fans can prepare for the release and get a jump start on the edgy story with this new audio version. Don’t miss this kinetic story from one of the greatest authors of Japanese science fiction!”

Author Hiroshi Sakurazaka was born in Tokyo in 1970 and has emerged as one of Japan's most energetic writers of both light novels and adult science fiction. After an initial career in information technology, he published his first novel, Modern Magic Made Simple, in 2003 with Super Dash Bunko, a popular young adult light novel imprint. There are now seven volumes in the series and it was also adapted into a manga (graphic novel) series in 2008 and a televised anime series in 2009. Sakurazaka published ALL YOU NEED IS KILL with Super Dash Bunko in 2004 and with it he earned his first Seiun Award nomination for Best of the Year honors in Japanese science fiction. His 2004 short story, Saitama Chainsaw Massacre, notably won the 16th SF Magazine Reader's Award. Sakurazaka's other novels include Characters (co-written with Hiroki Azuma) and Slum Online (published in English by Haikasoru in 2010). In 2010, Sakurazaka also began an experimental digital magazine called AiR with Junji Hotta.

For more information on ALL YOU NEED IS KILL and the Haikasoru imprint, please visit the dedicated website at www.haikasoru.com.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

ACF 1816: Actor Sung Kang talks about THE BERLIN FILE

Korean American actor Sung Kang (The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, Live Free or Die Hard, Bullet to the Head) has some good things to say about Ryu Seung-wan's The Berlin File. Here's the YouTube clip:

The Berlin File recently opened nationwide in the U.S. My review of it here.

ACF 1815: New People Travel features interview with Yoshitaka Amano

Yoskitaka Amano

New Edition Features The Latest Installment Of An Ongoing Multi-Part Interview
With Famed Final Fantasy Character Designer Yoshitaka Amano

NEW PEOPLE recently posted its latest edition of NEW PEOPLE Travel, an intriguing free Japanese pop culture web magazine. Readers are invited to catch the latest installment of an ongoing multi-segment interview with famed anime creator, character designer, and pop culture artist Yoskitaka Amano.

NEW PEOPLE Travel is a unique web magazine that introduces Western audiences to a variety of Japanese creators that work across borders and the diverse scenery of Japan and journeys they have experienced. It provides an opportunity to see Japan through the eyes of artistic visionaries recognized around the world.

In the latest exclusive NEW PEOPLE Travel interview segment, Yoshitaka Amano sheds light on his highly evolved creative process and how he conceives his designs. He interestingly cites diverse visual cues ranging from the world heritage site of the Kumano Shrine in Japan to the jewelry of Cartier to the intricate costumes of kabuki performers as memorable influences that he has incorporated into his work.

In two previous NEW PEOPLE Travel interview installments with Yoshitaka Amano, the artist discussed his unabashed love for U.S. pop culture and concepts of Western fantasy. He went on to trace how he blends these motifs with traditional Japanese motifs and how concepts based on both Western and Asian mythology often permeate his work.

“Yoshitaka Amano personifies the essence of Japanese pop culture, drawing his influences from both modern and traditional influences, and his work has become internationally recognized for its striking visual power,” says Seiji Horibuchi, the founder of NEW PEOPLE, Inc. “These interviews are a rare opportunity for readers to gain insights into what moves and influences this icon of the pop art world. Don’t miss the new installment that just posted on New People Travel!”

Yoshitaka Amano was born on March 26, 1952 in Shizuoka, Japan and famously became a character designer at Tatsunoko Productions beginning at age 15 until going independent in 1982. In 1987, he worked on the concept designs for the Final Fantasy video game and gained a massive international following. He also collaborated with other artists and writers on several theater set designs and illustrations for novels. Around 1995, Amano began to do lithograph work and held solo exhibitions in 1997 and 1999 New York. Since 2002, he has gone on to exhibit in London, Paris, France, Germany, and Hong Kong.

Yoshitaka Amano’s Deva Loka

In 2009, his DEVA LOKA USA exhibition opened at NEW PEOPLE in San Francisco, California and displayed a never before seen colorful vividness and boldness captivating viewers with a daring depiction of the moment of creation, pulling out the definite presence of the infinite power of life. Amano’s latest work— DEVA ZAN – is now available through Dark Horse.

NEW PEOPLE Travel is now available at: www.newpeople.jp (select ENGLISH from the menu bar), or at: www.newpeople.jp/travel/eng/index.html.

More information on NEW PEOPLE is available at www.newpeopleworld.com.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

ACF 1814: VIZ announces upcoming Shojo Beat & Shonen Sunday releases


New Acquisitions Set To Debut Beginning This Summer

VIZ Media has announced details on several new forthcoming manga series acquisitions scheduled to launch beginning this summer and continuing into the fall.

Four of the brand new manga titles that will be published under VIZ Media’s Shojo Beat imprint are HAPPY MARRIAGE?! by creator Maki Enjoji, MIDNIGHT SECRETARY by creator/artist Tomu Ohmi, SWEET REIN from creator Sakura Tsukuba, and VOICE OVER!: SEIYUU ACADEMY by creator/artist Maki Minami. Under the Shonen Sunday imprint, VIZ will publish the popular new series MAGI, by creator Shinobu Ohtaka.

“Summer and fall are shaping up to be exciting seasons for manga fans as we preview several notable acquisitions for our Shojo Beat and Shonen Sunday imprints,” says Leyla Aker, VIZ Media Vice President of Editorial. “From the odd-couple romances of HAPPY MARRIAGE?! and MIDNIGHT SECRETARY, to the anime industry-inspired comedy of VOICE OVER!: SEIYUU ACADEMY, and the supernatural drama of SWEET REIN, there will be a variety of intriguing new stories in store for our readers. And if exotic adventure is more your speed, you definitely won’t want to miss the North American debut of MAGI, the manga series that’s the basis for the popular anime.”

New Shojo Beat Manga Acquisitions:

HAPPY MARRIAGE?! · Rated “M” for Mature ·
MSRP: $9.99 U.S. / $12.99 CAN · Available August 6, 2013 
In order to help her father, Chiwa Takanashi agrees to an arranged marriage with the company president Hokuto Mamiya – a man she doesn’t know – at the request of Hokuto’s grandfather. Chiwa believes the arrangement isn’t binding, but her new partner seems to think otherwise. Can two strangers living together find their way to a happy marriage?!

MIDNIGHT SECRETARY · Rated “M” for Mature ·
MSRP: $9.99 U.S. / $12.99 CAN · Available September 3, 2013 
Kaya Satozuka is a brilliant secretary who excels at her job, which is why she doesn’t bat an eye when she’s assigned to be personal secretary to Kyohei Touma, the very difficult managing director of Touma Foods. It doesn’t faze her when her new boss seems determined to make her fail, and she even manages to take it in stride when she discovers the secret behind his prickly behavior…he’s a vampire! But while Kaya easily adapts to late nights and keeping a schedule of his “dinner dates,” will her ultra-competence help when Kyohei’s smoldering gaze starts turning her way?!

VOICE OVER!: SeiYUU ACADEMY · Rated “T” for Teens ·
MSRP: $9.99 U.S. / $12.99 CAN · Available October 1, 2013 
Hime Kino’s dream is to one day perform voice acting like her hero, Sakura Aoyama, from the Lovely Blazer anime. So getting accepted to the prestigious Hiragi Academy’s voice actor department is the first step in the right direction! But on her first day of class she meets Sakura’s grouchy son, Senri, who tells Hime that her voice is awful and Lovely Blazers is stupid. Hime will not let that stand unchallenged. She’ll show everyone that she IS a voice-acting princess, whether they like it or not!!

SWEET REIN · Rated ‘T+’ for Older Teens ·
MSRP: $9.99 U.S. / $12.99 CAN · Available November 5, 2013 
Sad at the thought of spending Christmas alone, Kurumi goes out for a walk. While she’s crossing the street, a boy bumps into her and a rein suddenly appears that binds them together. The overjoyed boy tells her she’s his master, and that she’s a Santa Claus. Kurumi dismisses him as a crazy person, but then he transforms into a reindeer?!

New Shonen Sunday Manga Acquisition:

MAGI · Rated ‘T’ for Teens · MSRP: $9.99 U.S. / $12.99 CAN ·
Available August 13, 2013 
Deep within the deserts lie the mysterious Dungeons, vast stores of riches open for the taking by anyone lucky enough to find them and brave enough to venture into the depths from where few have ever returned. Plucky young adventurer Aladdin means to find the Dungeons and their riches, but Aladdin may be just as mysterious as the treasures he seeks. Together with the genie Hugo and his friend, Ali Baba, Aladdin sets out to find his fortune in the depths of the endless dunes…

More information on Shojo Beat manga titles is available at: ShojoBeat.com.

Additional information on Shonen Sunday manga titles is available at: ShonenSunday.com.

For information on other manga titles from VIZ Media, visit www.VIZ.com.

Friday, February 22, 2013

ACF 1813: MOTORWAY screening twice at Lincoln Center's Film Comment Selects series

Motorway / Che sau
Hong Kong, 2012, 89 minutes
Director: Soi Cheang
U.S. Premiere
Where: Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center
Film Society of Lincoln Center
When: Saturday, February 23 at 1:00pm
(at the Francesca Beale Theater)
and Tuesday, February 26 at 6:30pm
(at the Howard Gilman Theater)

Motorway, directed by Soi Cheang (Dog Bite Dog) and produced by his mentor Johnnie To (too many films as director and/or producer to count), will screen tomorrow and on Tuesday as part of the Film Society of Lincoln Center's annual Film Comment Selects film series. It's about Hong Kong's "Invisible Squad," a police traffic enforcement unit that is charged with arresting those who race through the city's streets at high speed whether for the thrill of it or for high-speed criminal getaways. They're "invisible" so that they're never noticed by street cars, thus enabling them to pounce on the speeding lawbreakers.

Shawn Yue plays Cheung, a cocky, relatively new member of the unit. He's teamed with policeman Lo (Anthony Wong), a veteran cop who's married and on the verge of retiring. Cheung is humbled when Sun (Gu Xiaodonog), a driver he'd arrested, turns out to have allowed the collar so that he can break his friend Huang (Li Haitao) out of police custody. Turns out that officer Lo has a back story with Sun, and Cheung must learn from his partner in order to be able to perform a tricky maneuver that will enable him to apprehend Sun and Huang when they pull their next caper.

I saw the film at a press screening and must confess that I was rather disappointed. I didn't expect a lot in the way of character depth or development in this kind of film, and there certainly isn't much of either.

I also could accept the film's ridiculous love interest: Taiwan-born actress Barbie Hsu plays a hot doctor who just happens to also be a highly accomplished pool player. She's briefly thrown in to the mix at three points to provide some indication that Cheung is a real red-blooded hetero-cop, not just a motor-head who's into driving "fast and furious."

For me the problem was that, while the cars were certainly fine to look at, the street racing wasn't all that exceptional. Racing through urban streets at high speeds has been done as well or better many times before. And the fact that the trick maneuver involved burning rubber and slightly releasing the brake so cars can slowly -- and I mean very slowly -- make a very tight 90 degree turn between walls, well, it didn't add much to the film for me.

So while I can't give it a solid recommendation, I'll just say that Motorway is an okay film. Not horrible, not bad, but not anything to rave about either. At least in my opinion. You may feel differently.

Tickets for both Motorway screenings can be ordered here.

Info about the 2013 Film Comment Selects series here.


Maiden Japan has announced its acquisition of the OVA series Momo, Girl God of Death ~ Ballad of a Shinigami.  This six episode drama is directed by Tomomi Mochizuki (Princess Nine, Here’s Greenwood) with series composition by Reiko Yoshida (Kaleido Star, Angelic Layer), character designs by Hiroyuki Horiuchi (Polyphonica, Tenchi Universe), and music by Moka (Elfen Lied, Trouble Chocolate).

Maiden Japan will be distributing Momo, Girl God of Death ~  Ballad of a Shinigami in conjunction with home video distributor Section 23 Films (Clannad, High School of the Dead, Appleseed) with the entire series to be released in bilingual English DVD and digital formats.

Synopsis: Dressed all in white with scythe in hand, she is one of the spirits entrusted with guiding the souls of the no longer living to the other side.  But unlike other shinigami who approach their grim duty with detachment or even malevolence, Momo chooses to open her heart to those about to cross over.  Nor are solace and sympathy the only gifts she offers.  For if the need is great enough, she may allow a last visit, a message to loved ones or even a chance to make amends.  But how far can even the most well meaning shinigami bend the rules of life and death before she, herself, is called to task?

Momo and her flying cat Daniel may soon learn the answer as they find themselves continually becoming involved in the world of the living, even as they attempt to deal with the not always willing souls in the process of departing it.  Grave consequences may lie ahead, but heavenly rewards are just as certainly guaranteed when life, death and what happens in between all come together in Momo, Girl God of Death ~ Ballad of a Shinigami.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

ACF 1811: Park Chan­-wook Retrospective @ MoMI

Park Chan­-wook Retrospective @ MoMI 
Friday, March 1 ­through Sunday, March 3
The Museum of Moving Image
3601 35th Avenue, Astoria
Travel directions here

Park Chan­-wook, a director, screenwriter, and producer, is one of the most acclaimed filmmakers on the international film circuit. To celebrate the release of Stoker, his major directorial debut in Hollywood, The Korea Society and MoMI will be co­presenting a retrospective of his work. He debuted with Moon is the Sun's Dream in 1992, but started to gain international recognition from the sensational movie J.S.A.: Joint Security Area in 2000, which The Guardian praised as “airy, subtle and playful, and showcases the best elements of modern Asian cinema.” In addition, the Vengeance trilogy garnered praise from the New York Times: “so much talent on display.” But ‘Old Boy’ would be his most famous and acclaimed film ever, achieving the Grand Jury Award at Cannes. Director Park is well­known for the flamboyant colors and glitzy cinematography throughout his films.

Thursday, February 28 @ 7:00 PM
2013, 98 min.
Courtesy of Fox Searchlight.
With Mia Wasikowska, Nicole Kidman, Matthew Goode. 
The eagerly awaited new film by director Park Chan­-wook is an English ­language thriller rife with the sort of style and atmosphere that makes his other movies nothing short of modern classics of the genre. This special screening, followed by a discussion with Park Chan-wook.

Friday, March 1@ 7:00 PM
2003, 120 min.
Old Boy tells the story of a man who is locked in a room for over decade without knowing the reason. After he gets out of the cell, he tries to find the answer. Since it won the "Grand Jury" award a Cannes in 2004, it has been selected one of the best movies ever made by numerous prestigious film magazines and critics.

Shorts Program:
Saturday, March 2 @ 3:00 PM
Never Ending Peace and Love
2003, 28 min.
An illegal foreign worker is subject to peoples’ ignorance and indifference.

Cut (from Three Extremes)
2004, 30 min.
Young and rich, with a beautiful wife, he lacks nothing until an intruder appears in the night.

Night Fishing
2011, 33min.
Winner of the Best Short Film­Golden Bear Award at Berlin International Film Festival 2011. Park Chan-­wook shot this film with an iPhone 4 with his brother/co­director Park Chan­k-young.

J.S.A.: Joint Security Area
Saturday, March 2 @ 6:00 PM
Based on the novel by Park Sang-­yeon, Joint Security Area is considered one of the best­made films describing the political and military tension between North and South Korea.

Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance
Saturday, March 3 @ 3:00 PM
2002, 121 min.
Desperate to pay for his sister’s kidney operation. Ryu kidnaps his wealthy boss’ daughter. The kidnapping goes away, Ryu and his girlfriend struggle to run away from a father bent on vengeance.

Sympathy for Lady Vengeance
Sunday, March 3 @ 6:00 PM
2005, 112 min.
Geum­ja is imprisoned for thirteen years for allegedly murdering a six­year­old boy. In prison, she wins over hell cell mates’ sympathies. When she’s released, she begins a meticulous plan for vengeance.

Friday, March 1
Old Boy, 7:00 PM

Saturday, March 2
Park Chan­wook Shorts Program, 3:00 PM
Never Ending Peace and Love
Cut (from Three Extremes)
Night Fishing
J.S.A.:Joint Security Area, 6:00 PM

Sunday, March 3
Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, 3:00 PM
Sympathy for Lady Vengeance, 6:00 PM

And don't forget the 11th New York Korean Film Festival (NYKFF), co-presented by The Korea SOciety and Bamcinematek, which starts tomorrow, Friday, February 22 and runs through Sunday the 24th.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

ACF 1810: TIGER & BUNNY Set 1


Catch Japan’s First Corporate Superheroes
In An Action-Packed Anime Series
That Explores A Most Unlikely Friendship Between
A Washed-Up Veteran And A Rookie With An Attitude

VIZ Media will be giving fans a rollicking dose of anime action with the DVD and Blu-ray release on February 19th of TIGER & BUNNY Set 1. The 2-disc set, which contains Episodes 1-13 of the 26-episode action/sci-fi series, is rated TV-14, and will carry a DVD MSRP of $44.82 U.S. / $43.24 CAN, and a Blu-ray MSRP of $54.97 U.S. / $66.15 CAN.

To celebrate the new release, for a limited time only starting February 12th, VIZ Media also invites North American fans to catch free virtual screening of TIGER & BUNNY Episode 1 (English dubbed) hosted by VIZ Media DVD/Blu-ray producer Reginald Rhodes. At the end of the screening, viewers will have the opportunity to enter to win TIGER & BUNNY Set 1 (Blu-ray edition) or a 16GB iPad Mini. The contest runs until March 5th; please visit the TIGER & BUNNY official Facebook page at www.facebook.com/TigerAndBunny or YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/vizmedia, for the special screening and contest instructions.

“TIGER & BUNNY enjoys a substantial and fast-growing U.S. and international fan following, and we’re extremely excited to bring the series to the attention of even more viewers with these new DVD and Blu-ray releases,” says Brian Ige, Vice President, Animation. “TIGER & BUNNY puts a new spin on the classic superhero narrative while incorporating lots of action, comedy, and drama into a unique story about a most unlikely friendship. Don’t miss this thrilling story of two polar opposites working to fight evil!”

TIGER & BUNNY DVD Set 1 offers English (dubbed) and Japanese (English subtitled) 2.0 stereo audio options as well as bonus features including production art and the original Japanese trailer. The Blu-ray edition features 1080p High Definition video, English and Japanese DTS-HD Audio as well as English subtitles, a special Making of TIGER & BUNNY segment, logo and production art, and the original Japanese trailer for the series.
TIGER & BUNNY was produced by the famed Japanese anime company, Sunrise, and was directed by Keiichi Sato (director of KARAS), with original character designs by Masakazu Katsura, the creator of the manga series, I”S and VIDEO GIRL AI, and ZETMAN. Stern Bild City is a thriving metropolis where superheroes called “NEXTs” protect the streets, sponsors pull the strings, and a hugely popular show called Hero TV captures all of it. Veteran hero Kotetsu T. Kaburagi (AKA Wild Tiger) and hotheaded new rookie Barnaby Brooks, Jr. (nicknamed Bunny by Kotetsu) are forced to team up not only to protect Stern Bild City, but to earn as many points on Hero TV as possible. Joined by a diverse cast of heroes, each with different powers and answering to their own corporate sponsors, Tiger and Bunny must find a way to work together, uncover the secret of the “Ouroboros,” and earn enough points to become this year’s “King of Heroes.”

To view the official trailer and to follow TIGER & BUNNY on the official Facebook page, please visit http://www.facebook.com/TigerAndBunny.