With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

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

Monday, September 30, 2013

ACF 2055: 301/302 reviewed; free screening tomorrow evening in NY

Korean Cultural Service New York
presents
Korean Movie Night 2013
Series Five:
Remembering Park Cheol Soo: A Korean Filmmaking Legend
301/302
South Korea, 1995, 97 minutes
When: Tuesday, October 1st, 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!!!

Songhui (actress Pang Eun-jin) is a young woman who lives in unit 301 of the Apartment New Hope Bio. One day a man (apparently a police detective, although he's never specifically identified) comes inquiring about her neighbor Yunhui (Hwang Sin-hye) who lives across the hall in 302. It seems that Yunhui has disappeared, and may have last been seen by Songhui. Offered food by Songhui, the man comments that her apartment, with its extensive cooking facilities, is like a restaurant. Yunhui's, on the other hand, is filled with books. (In a scene later in the film, Songhui will tell Yunhui that her place is "like a school library.")

Songhui (left) and Yunhui

The film is the story, told in flashbacks, of the relationship that had developed between these women who are roughly the same age but of vastly different dispositions. Songhui loves sex, cooking and eating. In fact, she has a history of binge-eating. Yunhui, who wears glasses and writes for women's magazines, has no interest whatsoever in sex, an attitude related to her being anorexic.The two also have distinct personal histories that have compelled them to engage in these self-destructive behaviors. These formative back-stories are depicted in flashbacks within the overall flashback narrative.

Screen-capture of a close-up of Yunhui's eyes and glasses
A screen-capture close-up of Songhui's mouth

Director Park frequently employs closeups and extreme closeups of Yunhui's eyes and glasses and of Songhui's mouth. These compel the viewer to become intimately engaged with the two characters.

Food before ...
... and after preparation

Given the thematic focus of eating disorders from opposite ends of the spectrum, it's not surprising that Park also uses numerous shots of food, both before and after it has been prepared.

301/302 was very successful when released in South Korea, and it was one of the first films shown theatrically in North America. I believe this is the first film directed by Park Cheol Soo that I've seen, and I was immensely impressed. Indeed, the film brings to mind Ingmar Bergman's Persona (1966), another powerful film that focuses on the relationship of two women who are in a circumstance in which they become intimately involved with one another.

301/302 is clearly for mature audiences. There is some nudity and simulated intercourse. In addition to binge-eating and anorexia, there are other subjects depicted that are definitely for adults only.

ACF rating: 3.5 out of 4 stars; very highly recommended. Tomorrow night's free screening is definitely another example of why Korean Cultural Service's Korean Movie Night is one of the best things going in NYC.

ACF 2054: Same day simulcast premiere set for new sci-fi anime action series COPPELION

 VIZ MEDIA DELIVERS THE NEW ANIME SERIES COPPELION
TO NORTH AMERICAN AUDIENCES THE SAME DAY
AFTER THE JAPANESE BROADCAST PREMIERE

Following A Catastrophic Disaster, Three Genetically Engineered Youths
Travel To Save Those Forsaken By The Rest Of The World In A Special
Simulcast Series Premiere On VIZ Anime, Hulu and Hulu Plus

VIZ Media has announced the very special online simulcast premiere of the new sci-fi anime action series – COPPELION – on VIZAnime.com, the company’s own website for free anime, as well as on the free, ad-supported Hulu and Hulu Plus subscription service (www.hulu.com).

The new program (presented in Japanese with English subtitles) launches in North America on Wednesday, October 2nd, the same day after its debut broadcast in Japan, with a new episode to be available to stream domestically each Wednesday.

COPPELION takes place in the not-so-distant future as a catastrophic event has turned the old capital of Japan into a wasteland, forever changing the lives of its people. Decades later, three schoolgirls set foot into the now forsaken city. They are the Coppelion, genetically engineered humans created by the Japan Ground Self-Defense Forces to operate under the lethal conditions of the contaminated city. Trained since birth, the girls must use all of their skills and resources to carry out their one and only mission: to rescue those left behind.

COPPELION is one of the most anticipated anime for Fall 2013, and fans won’t want to miss the opportunity to catch the thrilling debut of this lushly animated series this week,” says Charlene Ingram, Senior Marketing Manger, Animation. “Ibara, Aoi and Taeko are a breed of genetically engineered beings known as the Coppelion who embark on often dangerous missions to restore hope and rescue people from the forsaken city. Plenty of action and unique characters are in store as the girls slowly uncover the Old Capital’s dark secrets!”

COPPELION is the animated adaptation of the popular manga series created by Tomonori Inoue that has been ongoing in Japan since 2008 and is currently featured in Monthly Young Magazine. The animated series is produced by GoHands, who also produced the original anime series K, seen domestically on VIZ Media’s VIZAnime and Neon Alley platforms.

View the COPPELION trailer at http://www.hulu.com/watch/539158.

For more information on COPPELION and other animated titles from VIZ Media, visit www.VIZAnime.com.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

ACF 2053: Free screening of 301/302 in NY on Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

Korean Cultural Service New York
presents
Korean Movie Night 2013
Series Five:
Remembering Park Cheol Soo: A Korean Filmmaking Legend
301/302
South Korea, 1995, 97 minutes
When: Tuesday, October 1st, 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
Map
Admission: FREE!!!

The powerful, boundary-pushing drama that put director Park Cheol Soo on the map, 301/302 explores the stories of two neighboring women, one who suffers from binge-eating, and the other from anorexia. First at odds with each other, the two women realize that their struggles and dark pasts are not that different – and that their disorders may ultimately bring them together in a very unexpected way. Breaking free from traditional Korean storytelling, the film achieved massive success and became one of the first Korean movies released in North American cinemas.

ACF 2052: Sentai Filmworks announces acquisition of CASSHAN


Sentai Filmworks has announced its newest acquisition, from the creator of Speed Racer and Gatchaman: CASSHAN. This 35 episode sci-fi epic is the creation of Tatsunoko Production’s legendary Tatsuo Yoshida and features series composition by Takao Koyama (Slayers TV, Saint Seiya TV) and character designs by Tatsuo Yoshida and Yoshitaka Amano (Final Fantasy video games, Vampire Hunter D OVA), with music by Shunsuke Kikuchi (Doraemon, Getter Robo).

Synopsis: When lightning strikes the prototype android BK-1, a new horror is unleashed on the world as the resulting monster Buraiking begins taking over all other robots on Earth, setting them against their creators in a massive orgy of planet-wide destruction! With humanity helpless in the face of the new Neoroiders and their mechanical armies, mankind’s only hope may lie in the hands of Tetsuya Azuma, son of the creator of BK1, who transfers his consciousness into an android body to become a Neoroider himself… the ultimate robot fighter: Casshan!

Now, together with his robot dog Flender and the beautiful Luna Uetsuki, the daughter of another scientist and wielder of the most robot-lethal gun on the planet, Casshan is on a mission to clear his father’s name, avenge his mother’s death, and save the Earth from the iron clutches of Buraiking! But things aren’t going to be easy, not when you’re three against thousands, and Buraiking has some shocking surprises in store that will rip Casshan’s world in two! It’s the ultimate blast from the past as the battle for the future pits the good bots against the bad in CASSHAN.

CASSHAN will be available soon through select digital outlets with a home video release on subtitled DVD and BD to follow in 2014.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

ACF 2051: 7th Korean American Film Festival New York (KAFFNY) coming October 24-26, 2013

7th Edition of the Korean American Film Festival New York (KAFFNY)
Program examines the continuing effects of the Korean War
October 24-26, 2013 at Village East Cinema
THE OTHER SIDE OF THE MOUNTAIN, the first US-financed
feature to be shot in North Korea with a local cast and crew

The annual Korean American Film Festival New York (KAFFNY) proudly celebrates its seventh edition as the only artistic program of its kind in New York dedicated to the Korean War and North Korea in commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the Korean War Armistice.

"Most Americans know little about the ‘Forgotten War’ even with almost 6 million US soldiers being sent there to Korea,” explains founder Dave Kim. ‘The country only enjoyed two years of freedom after thirty-eight years of Japanese colonial rule. With the start of the Korean War in 1950, Korea became a global battleground for outside communist and capitalist philosophies, further dividing a nation of homogeneous people. It set the tone for all modern wars fought by America, even to this day, where the definition of victory is no longer clear. This year’s KAFFNY program explores how the reverberations of this war are still felt to this day and how they are explored in the medium of film.”

"Five of our main program’s feature-length fiction and documentary films explore the “forgotten history, the continuing impact of the Korean War, and relevant North Korean subject matter,” says artistic director Susie Lim. “Emphasis is being given to intergenerational and multi-perspective dialogue created through the films, recognizing the specific value for deeper critical engagement, dialogue in diverse points of view concerning the history of the Korean War vis √• vis current views of North Korea.”

KAFFNY opens with the unique pairing of critically acclaimed short MEMORY OF FORGOTTEN WAR by Deann Borshay Liem and Ramsay Liem with the New York premiere of the feature-length documentary SEEKING HAVEN by Hein S. Seok. Opening night remarks will be made by renowned scholar of Korean history at Columbia University, Charles K. Armstrong.

On Saturday, October 26, KAFFNY presents shorts and features further reflecting on the Korean War and North Korea including the New York premiere of LETTERS OF PYONGYANG by emerging Korean Canadian filmmaker Jason Lee, and the world premiere of FADING AWAY by Christopher H.K. Lee, a seven-part documentary based on rare archival footage and the powerful recollections from a Korean War orphan who fled North Korea to the South as a thirteen year old – in addition to other refugees and former soldiers sharing their memories with sons, daughters and grandchildren. Making its East Coast premiere on closing night is the feature film OTHER SIDE OF THE MOUNTAIN, the first U.S. – North Korean co-production by first-time screenwriter and producer Joon Bai, himself a Korean-American Korean War refugee, and directed by In Hak Jang. This film was entirely shot in North Korea, with a North Korean cast and crew.

Also on Saturday, October 26, KAFFNY pays special tribute to Dong Sin Hahn, the pioneering Korean film curator who co-curated and organized the first U.S. retrospectives of Im Kwon-Taek and Kim Ki-duk at the Museum of Modern Art in 2004 and 2008 respectively. Kim Ki-duk’s ADDRESS UNKNOWN will be screened in honor of her memory, and speaks powerfully to the impact of Korean War.

The annually returning shorts competition highlighting new Korean American and Korean talent includes the US premiere of Byoung-gon Moon’s SAFE, awarded the Palme d'Or this year at Cannes. KAFFNY’s Shorts Incubator program brings together a range of works by more emerging local directors.

KAFFNY’s inaugural Visual Arts section will feature artists working in film, video and new media in a two-part exhibition (October 15 - November 23) at The Sylvia Wald & Po Kim Gallery, a nonprofit organization founded by the Korean American artist Po Kim and his wife, American artist, Sylvia Wald. Opening receptions will take place on October 23 and November 13. A number of artist talks will be scheduled. For further updates regarding the exhibition, please visit www.kaffny.com and http://waldandkimgallery.org/.

Originally founded in 2006 as the Korean American Shorts Film Festival New York, KAFFNY has evolved into one of the most prominent and innovative film, music, and art festivals focusing on the Korean Diaspora and Korean-American experience. Each year KAFFNY continues to recognize and support new filmmakers and artists, placing emphasis on the diversity of content, form and perspective in its programming. KAFFNY's slate of works culls together domestic and international feature film premieres as well as a dynamic cross-section of works by established and emerging filmmakers from all over the world. Concurrent with the festival program, KAFFNY further extends the reach and message of its featured artists through discussions and special events.

KAFFNY venue: Village East Cinema (189 2nd Avenue, New York, NY 10003)

Partnering venues: SBD Gallery (125 East 4th Street, New York, NY 10003) and Sylvia Wald & Po Kim Gallery (417 Lafayette Street, New York, NY 10003)

Visit www.kaffny.com for program updates and final schedule

ACF 2050: Free series of three films by Park Cheol Soo coming in October

Korean Cultural Service New York
presents
Korean Movie Night 2013
Series Five:
 Remembering Park Cheol Soo:
A Korean Filmmaking Legend
Park Cheol Soo
When: Tuesday, October 1, 15 and 29, 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
Map
Admission: FREE!!!

When prolific Korean director Park Cheol Soo died earlier this year after being hit by a drunk driver, film fans around the world took solace in the fact that while he was gone, his amazing, truly independent masterpieces would live on forever. As huge fans of his work, the Korean Cultural Service pays tribute to this amazing man by offering up three of his most acclaimed films.

Starting on Tuesday, October 1st, Korean Movie Night celebrates the life of Park Cheol Soo – guaranteed to move you like never before. 301, 302 (1995) will be shown on October 1st, Green Chair (2003) on October 15th, and B.E.D. (2012) on October 29th. Look for information here at AsianCineFest about each film in advance of its screening.

As Autumn tugs the leaves from Manhattan’s trees and the days become short, warm yourself with the memory of Park Cheol Soo and his cinematic masterpieces – brought to you for free, as always, by your friends at The Korean Cultural Service.

Friday, September 27, 2013

ACF 2049 WEDDING PALACE reviewed; opens today in New York, Los Angeles, and Hawaii!

Wedding Palace
Directed by Christine Yoo
98 Minutes
In English and Korean with English subtitles
Opens: September 27, 2013 in New York, Los Angeles, and Hawaii;
October 4th in Philadelphia; October 18th in Washington, D.C.

Wedding Palace is a charming, delightful and very funny romantic comedy about Jason Kim (Brian Tee, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, The Wolverine), a 29 year old Korean-American who lives in Los Angeles and works in advertising. According to a family curse, explained in an animated sequence, he will die if he doesn't marry before his 30th birthday. When he's left at the alter by his bride-to-be Jinnie Park (Joy Osmanski), his parents Kwan (Stephen Park) and Mi Sook (Jean Yoon) become frantic with concern.

While on a trip to Seoul, Jason's unusual pitch for a product not usually associated with men finds unexpected support from Na-Young Song (Hye-jeong Kang, Oldboy), the only woman at the meeting and the only person who sees the potential in Jason's approach. After a blind date that his mother has arranged in hopes of getting him hitched turns into a nightmare, Jason sees Na-Young by herself in a karaoke booth and joins her. A romance begins to bloom, but Jason is returning to the U.S. the next day. They carry on the romance long distance via computer and decide to marry. Jason's parents and other relatives are thrilled.

Na-Young by herself in a karaoke room

But when Na-Young arrives in Los Angeles for the wedding, a small but very significant problem arises, putting both the wedding and Jason's life in jeopardy.

Wedding Palace marks the feature film directorial debut of Christine Yoo, who was a writer on the TV mini-series Afro Samurai. She also co-wrote and co-produced the movie. The story employs a standard rom-com structure -- boy and girl meet cute and fall in love, an obstacle arises to their romance, and in the third act they're happily reunited. While the film has universal appeal (it has been very popular with Spanish-American and African-American audiences), it does take place within the specific context of upscale, highly materialistic Korean-American families. This environment includes certain particularly powerful demands by one's parents and a comparative drive to please them. The cast, almost all Korean-American actors and actresses, is uniformly terrific, and the film's production values are top drawer, remarkably so for such an independent production.

Jason Kim (Brian Tee) engages in a long distance relationship with Na-Young

I've seen an online press screener of the film twice and enjoyed it even more the second time. I'll be seeing it for the third time at the 7:30 pm screening on Friday at the AMC Empire 25 theater in Times Square. I'm really looking forward to seeing it on a big screen with what I'm sure will be an appreciative audience. After that screening I'll be moderating a Q&A with director Yoo. It promises to be a terrific evening.

I've been a fan and booster of the film for over a year and unhesitatingly give it an ACF rating of 3.5 out of 4 stars; very highly recommended. It's wondrously entertaining, well-paced and hits all the right notes. Especially the funny ones.

Below are two clips from the premiere of Wedding Palace at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival on Friday, April 29, 2011. The first one is an interview with Brian Tee, who plays Jason.


The second clip shot was by actor Stephen Park, who plays Jason's father, at the LAAPFF premiere.



Watch the Wedding Palace Movie Trailer.

Check out the Wedding Palace Movie website for all theater names and locations.

Buy Wedding Palace tickets at Fandango

Join the Wedding Palace Fan Club on Facebook

Follow Wedding Palace on Twitter.

Wedding Palace at Tumblr

ACF 2048: MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO novel and new picture book coming October 1st from VIZ Media

Tonari no Totoro (My Neighbor Totoro) 
© 1988 Nibariki - G
 VIZ MEDIA’S STUDIO GHIBLI LIBRARY IMPRINT RELEASES NEW
MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO NOVEL AND FULL COLOR PICTURE BOOK

Commemorate The 25th Anniversary Of Hayao Miyazaki’s
Landmark Film With MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO: THE NOVEL
And An Updated Edition Of The Official Film Picture Book
Featuring A Special New Cover Design

VIZ Media marks the 25th Anniversary of famed director Hayao Miyazaki’s whimsical animated family fantasy, MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO, with the release on October 1st of MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO: THE NOVEL and a brand new edition of the MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO Picture Book.

Published under VIZ Media’s Studio Ghibli Library imprint, MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO: THE NOVEL carries an MSRP of $17.99 U.S. / $21.00 CAN, and the MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO Picture Book features an MSRP of $19.99 U.S. / $22.99 CAN.

In Hayao Miyazaki’s charming animated classic, eleven-year-old Satsuki and her sassy little sister Mei have moved to the country to be closer to their ailing mother. While their father is working, the girls explore their sprawling old house and the forest and fields that surround it. Soon, Satsuki and Mei discover Totoro, a magical forest spirit who takes them on fantastic adventures through the trees and the clouds – and teaches them a lesson about trusting one another.

MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO: THE NOVEL MSRP: $17.99 U.S. / $21.00 CAN • Available October 1st
 The superbly animated classic by legendary Studio Ghibli director Hayao Miyazaki is now retold in a novel written by Tsugiko Kubo. This prestigious hardcover edition also features original watercolor illustrations by Miyazaki himself, accompanying a story written by veteran children's book author Tsugiko Kubo. Sure to delight both existing fans and new readers!


MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO PICTURE BOOK New Edition • Rated “A” for All Ages • MSRP: $19.99 U.S. / $22.99 CAN • Available October 1st
This companion, full-color book to MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO features artwork taken directly from the movie. The updated edition also features new cover design and allows parents and children to relive Totoro's magical adventures with scene-by-scene illustrations and character dialogue.

“MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO is Hayao Miyazki’s timeless fairy tale for all ages and one of the most internationally acclaimed films to ever come out of Japan,” says Masumi Washington, Sr. Editorial Director. “MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO: THE NOVEL and the new edition of the MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO PICTURE BOOK capture the poignancy and emotion of the story of Satsuki, Mei and their loveable fuzzy forest friends and will be wonderful additions to any Miyazaki fan’s personal library.”

MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO was released in 1988 by Hayao Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli, which also produced SPIRITED AWAY, PRINCESS MONONOKE, HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE and PONYO. TOTORO is an internationally popular property that has spawned a colorful array of adorable plush characters, toys, collectables and other memorabilia. Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment released the DVD/Blu-ray Edition of MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO earlier this year.

Hayao Miyazaki is one of Japan's most celebrated anime directors. His newest film, The Wind Rises (2013), recounts the early days of aviation and the formative years of Japan's famed World War II Zero fighter plane designer, Jiro Horikoshi. In 2005 Hayao Miyazaki was awarded the Venice International Film Festival's Golden Lion Award for Lifetime Achievement. Miyazaki’s other notable films include Spirited Away, which won the 2002 Academy Award® for Best Animated Feature Film, as well as Castle in the Sky, My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki's Delivery Service, Princess Mononoke, Howl's Moving Castle, and Ponyo, all of which have received great international acclaim. Miyazaki's other achievements include creating the highly regarded manga series Nausica√§ of the Valley of the Wind and Starting Point: 1979-1996, a collection of essays, interviews, and memoirs that chronicle his early career and the development of his theories of animation. Both are published in English by VIZ Media.

More information on VIZ Media’s Studio Ghibli titles is available at www.VIZ.com.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

ACF 2047: WEDDING PALACE opens Friday in NY, Los Angeles & Hawaii!!!

A publicity photo of most of the cast of Wedding Palace

Wedding Palace opens tomorrow in New York, Los Angeles and Hawaii. Names and locations for all the theaters where Wedding Palace will be shown are in the link for the "Wedding Palace Movie" website below.

In New York, opening day showtimes at the AMC Empire 25 in Times Square will be 11:35AM, 2:10PM, 4:50PM, 7:30PM, 10:10PM, and 12:45AM (Saturday). Director Christine Yoo has asked me to moderate a Q&A that will last approximately 20 minutes after the 7:30 PM show, and I am both thrilled and excited to accept. I'm really looking forward to watching Wedding Palace on a big screen with a great audience, which I'm sure will be in attendance. I've already seen the film twice at an online press site, but Friday night's screening promises to be something really special. Hope lots of you will be joining Christine and me.

Today's video clip is "Wedding Palace Behind The Scenes." It's apparently a segment from a show entitled "Koreans Around the World" on a Korean television station. It's in Korean with English subtitles.


Watch the Wedding Palace Movie Trailer.

Check out the Wedding Palace Movie website for all theater names and locations.

Join the Wedding Palace Fan Club on Facebook

Follow Wedding Palace on Twitter.

ACF 2046: Shojo manga VOICE OVER!: SEIYU ACADEMY to be released October 1st from VIZ

SEIYU KA! © Maki Minami 2009/HAKUSENSHA,Inc.
VIZ MEDIA TAKES MANGA FANS BEHIND
THE MICROPHONE FOR THE LAUNCH OF
VOICE OVER!: SEIYU ACADEMY

Dive Into The Competitive World Of Anime Voice Acting As
A Talented Girl Rises To The Top Of The Industry In This
New Shojo Manga Series From The Creator Of S•A

VIZ Media takes readers on a journey into Japan’s burgeoning anime voice acting industry with the release of VOICE OVER!: SEIYU ACADEMY on October 1st. The new manga (graphic novel) series by Maki Minami will be published under the company’s Shojo Beat imprint, is rated ‘T’ for Teens, and will carry an MSRP of $9.99 U.S. / $12.99 CAN.

VOICE OVER!: SEIYU ACADEMY will also be available digitally for $6.99 (U.S / CAN) from VIZManga.com and for digital download through the VIZ MANGA App for the Apple iPad®, iPhone® and iPod® touch, Android-powered smart phones, and also for NOOK tablets and devices.

Hime Kino’s dream is to one day become a voice actor like her hero Sakura Aoyama from the Lovely ♥ Blazers anime, and getting accepted to the prestigious Holly Academy’s voice actor department is the first step in the right direction! But Hime’s gruff voice has earned her the scorn of teachers and students alike. Hime will not let that stand unchallenged. She’ll show everyone that she is too a voice acting princess, whether they like it or not!!

“Creator Maki Minami thoroughly researched the Japanese voice acting, or ‘seiyu,’ industry for her ongoing series, VOICE OVER!: SEIYU ACADEMY, and accurately presents this competitive, high pressure world as the backdrop for a romance-tinged story of a talented girl’s ascension to the top of her profession,” says Pancha Diaz, Editor. “Hime Kino’s husky voice often has her portraying male characters and already frustrated at becoming typecast, and her personal life becomes even more complicated when one of her already-famous classmates starts paying her special attention!”

Manga creator Maki Minami is debuted in 2001 with Kanata no Ao (Faraway Blue). Her other works include Kimi wa Girlfriend (You're My Girlfriend), Mainichi ga Takaramono (Every Day Is a Treasure) and Yuki Atataka (Warm Winter). Maki Minami is best known in North America for her shojo manga series, S•A, which was serialized in Japan's Hana to Yume magazine and made into an anime in 2008. S•A is published domestically by VIZ Media.

For more information on VOICE OVER: SEIYU ACADEMY or other popular shojo manga titles from VIZ Media, visit http://www.viz.com/manga/print/shojo-beat.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

ACF 2045: Two days remain until WEDDING PALACE opens!

Booby Lee at the door to his trailer. This is not in the movie!

With just two days to go until Wedding Palace opens in New York, Los Angeles and Hawaii, I thought I'd go with a light touch. And who better exemplifies a light touch than comedian Bobby Lee? He plays Kevin, the best friend of Jason, who is subject to a family curse that will result in his death if he doesn't marry before he becomes thirty years old.

Today's clip features Bobby Lee unplugged.


Watch the Wedding Palace Movie Trailer.

Check out the Wedding Palace Movie website for all theater names and locations.

Join the Wedding Palace Fan Club on Facebook

Follow Wedding Palace on Twitter.

ACF 2044: New anime and manga releases for TIGER & BUNNY THE MOVIE: THE BEGINNING

Blu-ray cover: ©SUNRISE/T&B MOVIE PARTNERS
 VIZ MEDIA ANNOUNCES NORTH AMERICAN
DVD/BLU-RAY AND MANGA ADAPTATION
RELEASES FOR ACTION FEATURE FILM
TIGER & BUNNY THE MOVIE: THE BEGINNING

Catch Japan’s First Corporate Superheroes Wild Tiger And
Barnaby Brooks Jr. In Their Feature Film Debut As They
Work Together To Catch The Killer Of Brooks’ Parents
And Discover The Identity Of A Murderous Vigilante

VIZ Media has announced new anime and manga (graphic novel) releases for TIGER & BUNNY THE MOVIE: THE BEGINNING, the rollicking, fast-paced feature film that that delivers a new spin on the classic superhero story.

TIGER & BUNNY THE MOVIE: THE BEGINNING debuts on DVD and Blu-ray on October 1st, with a rating of TV-14, and a DVD MSRP of $19.99 U.S. / $24.98 CAN; Blu-ray MSRP of $24.98 U.S. / $27.50 CAN. The DVD and Blu-ray editions feature special plot trailers and previews as well as a Weekly Hero Countdown segment. DVD Bonus Features include Production Art and footage from the TIGER & BUNNY U.S. World Premiere Event Special. The Blu-ray edition also contains over 3 hours of Bonus Features, including Production Art and footage from the TIGER & BUNNY U.S. World Premiere Event Special, as well as an Anime Expo 2012 TIGER & BUNNY Highlight Reel and interviews with the U.S. and Japanese voice actor cast and production staff.

TIGER & BUNNY THE MOVIE: THE BEGINNING SIDE A & SIDE B is the 2-volume manga adaptation of the feature film, debuting on October 8th (print-only) with a rating ‘T’ for Teens, and will carry an MSRP of $9.99 U.S. / $12.99 CAN for each volume.

TIGER & BUNNY THE MOVIE: THE BEGINNING is an exciting movie that takes audiences on a wild journey to the metropolis of Stern Bild, where there are heroes that wear the logos of sponsors and protect the city from danger. Their exploits are broadcast on the popular HERO TV. Wild Tiger (Kotetsu T. Kaburagi) is a veteran superhero who is past his peak and is ordered by his company to team up with the rookie hero, Barnaby Brooks Jr. after his ratings begin to slip. Can these two mismatched superheroes overcome their differences to protect the city?

Manga cover ("Side A"): © S/TBM

“We’re very excited to give fans of this smash hit property the opportunity to add the thrilling feature film and its manga counterpart to their collections,” says Charlene Ingram, Senior Marketing Manager, Animation. “Wild Tiger and Barnaby Brooks Jr. each have vastly differing points of view and thoughts on how a superhero should act but they will have to learn to accommodate each other as they try to crack the mystery of the murder of Barnaby's parents and the appearance of a very dangerous vigilante named Lunatic!”

Episodes of the TIGER & BUNNY anime series are also available on Neon Alley, VIZ Media’s innovative 24/7 digital anime channel featuring the world’s best anime (dubbed and uncut).

More information on the Tiger & Bunny, visit: www.facebook.com/TigerAndBunny and VIZAnime.com/tiger-and-bunny/.

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

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

ACF 2043: Three days until theatrical opening of WEDDING PALACE


We're now down to three days until Wedding Palace opens in New York, Los Angeles, and Hawaii on Friday, September 27th. (See the "Wedding Palace Movie" website link below for theaters.) The comedy, which features a cast that is almost completely of Korean heritage, will open in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. in October.

Wedding Palace is the feature film debut of director Christine Yoo. The production values are top-notch. Oh, and it's really, really, really funny. I've watched an online version for the press twice and plan to be at the first screening in New York on Friday just so I can enjoy it on a big screen.

Today's featured clip is the long distant dinner date scene between the two lovers Na Young (KANG Hye-jeong, Oldboy) and Jason (Brian Tee, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, The Wolverine).


Watch the Wedding Palace Movie Trailer.

Check out the Wedding Palace Movie website for all theater names and locations.

Join the Wedding Palace Fan Club on Facebook

Follow Wedding Palace on Twitter.

ACF 2042: Free screenings of three films by Korean dirctor PARK Cheol-Soo in NYC in October


The next series of the Korean Cultural Service's free Korean Movie Night will consist of three films by PARK Cheol-Soo. He was an important figure in the Korean Wave of the late 1990s and did much to popularize Korean cinema worldwide. Born in 1947, he died on February 19, 2013 at age 66, hit by a drunk driver while crossing a street.

301, 302 (1995) will be shown on October 1st, Green Chair (2003) on October 15th, and B.E.D. (2012) on October 29th.

All screenings will be at Tribeca Cinemas 54 Varick Street, on the corner of Canal Street, NYC, near the A, C, E & #1 Canal Street subway stops. Showtimes are at 7:00 pm; doors open at 6:30. Again, as always, admission is free.

AsianCineFest will have announcement posts with more information about the films in advance of each screening.

"Like" Korean Movie Night in NYC on Facebook.

Monday, September 23, 2013

ACF 2041: Theatrical opening of WEDDING PALACE in 4 days!

Director Christine Yoo (seated) during the filming of Wedding Palace

AsianCineFest's countdown to the September 27th theatrical opening of the delightful Korean-American romantic comedy Wedding Palace now stands at four days. Can't believe it's so close!

Today's featured clip is WEDDING PALACE - OFFICIAL BEHIND THE SCENES - Chapter 4: Production.


Watch the Wedding Palace Movie Trailer.

Check out the Wedding Palace Movie website for all theater names and locations.

Join the Wedding Palace Fan Club on Facebook

Follow Wedding Palace on Twitter.

ACF 2040: Korean zombie flick LET ME OUT playing for one night only in four U.S. cities on September 25th

Funimation Entertainment
Presents
Let Me Out
Directed by Chang-Lae Kim and Jae Soh
South Korea, 2012, 88 minutes

Let Me Out is a Korean zombie coming-of-age melodrama that will be playing in four U.S. cities simultaneously for one night only on Wednesday, September 25th at 7:30 pm. It marks the first lead role in a motion picture of actor Hyun-Sang Kwon, son of Korean director Im Kwon Taek.

Synopsis: This zombie melodrama is a Mu-Young (Hyun-Sang Kwon) film school opus. An eternal senior, he knows everything about cinema but nothing about actual film-making. Critical of everyone else, he heckles the famous indie director Ik-June Yang at a campus screening and somehow receives film funding. His dream of working with his love-interest Ah-Young becomes a nightmare. Everything that can go wrong does. Barely surviving a disastrous shoot, Mu-Young learns making a movie is like love, you can’t do it alone.

Let Me Out is a tribute to guerrilla, indie, amateur, low-budget cineastes struggling to create. It is hope. Let Me Out opened in Korea on August 15, 2013 and is being distributed through Baekdu Daegan Film Company in approximately 15 theaters including Art House Momo (Baekdu’s Art House theaters), CGV Movie Collage (the Art House division of CJ Entertainment), and Artplus Cinema Network in various cities throughout Korea, including Seoul. The film had its red carpet US Premiere at the Downtown Independent Theater in LA on August 16, 2013 to a sold out audience with director Jae Soh and Hyun-Sang Kwon, the film’s lead actor, attending from Korea. Let Me Out is the first Korean independent film released back to back in both Korea and the U.S. and is distributed in the U.S. by Funimation Entertainment, a Group 1200 Media company, based in Flower Mound, TX.

Let Me Out will be playing at the following venues:

San Francisco, CA
Theater: AMC Van Ness 14
Date: 9/25/2013
Time: 7:30pm
http://www.tugg.com/events/5386

San Diego, CA
Theater: AMC Fashion Valley 18
Date: 9/25/2013
Time: 7:30pm
http://www.tugg.com/events/5388

Dallas, TX
Theater: Studio Movie Grill Royal Lane
Date: 9/25/13
Time: 7:30pm
http://www.tugg.com/events/5438

New York, NY
Theater: AMC Loews Kips Bay 15 IMAX
Date: 9/25/13
Time: 7:30pm
http://www.tugg.com/events/5531

Sunday, September 22, 2013

ACF 2039: Christine Yoo's WEDDING PALACE arrives in 5 days!

Actor Stephen Park and director Christine Yoo at The Korea Society

There are just five days left in the countdown to the theatrical opening of Korean-American rom-com Wedding Palace in New York, Los Angeles and Hawaii on Friday, September 27th. So I thought I'd have this post focus on how I first came to know about the film and become one of its fervent boosters.

Back on May 10, 2012, director Christine Yoo and actor Stephen Park came to The Korea Society here in New York. After showing a clip of the film, or perhaps it was the trailer, they sat down for a nearly hour long discussion about the making of the movie, both the joys and the challenges.

Afterwards, I asked "When will I be able to see it in a movie theater?" There was no distribution deal in place at that time, so the answer essentially was "hopefully sometime before long." I stayed in touch with Christine and her publicist and got to watch the movie online. I really loved it and remained hopeful that a distribution deal would be achieved.

Well, the wait is almost over. I plan to be at the first screening at the AMC Empire 25 this coming Friday. If you can, I hope you'll go to one of the screenings on the opening weekend. A big turnout the opening weekend will mean a lot to all who were involved in making the film, and to the many, many people who have seen it at various special screenings and have fallen in love with Wedding Palace.

Here's the clip of Christine and Stephen's appearance at The Korea Society roughly sixteen months ago. It's been a bit of awhile since then, but no matter. Good things are worth waiting for; really, really good things, even more so.


Watch the Wedding Palace Movie Trailer.

Check out the Wedding Palace Movie website for all theater names and locations.

Join the Wedding Palace Fan Club on Facebook

Follow Wedding Palace on Twitter.

ACF 2038: Switchblade Pictures steels up with live-action IRON GIRL


As superhero films based on American comics sweep over the world, Switchblade Pictures returns the favor with Japan’s typically unique perspective on the concept: IRON GIRL. Based on the longstanding Japanese science fiction and anime philosophy that a few extra artificial enhancements can only make a super heroine even more attractive, IRON GIRL launches AV model, actress and ultimate hardbody Kiara Asuka (ULTRAMAN GINGA) into Power Ranger style combat against hordes of ruthless bandits terrorizing a mysterious post-apocalyptic world.

Adding extra feminine firepower to the mix is KAMEN RIDER franchise star (and METAL GEAR SOLID 3 poster girl) Rina Akiyama, who joins in the girls gone wild in the wastelands action, while complimentary eye candy for the ladies is provided by Yasuhisa Furuhara (PIRATE SQUADRON GOKAIGER, ENGINE SQUADRON GO-ONGER.) Featuring fight choreography provided by stunt world legend Takanori Shibahara (DYNAMAN, the SPACE SHARIFF series, JUSPION, FLOWER & SNAKE,) the 92 minute film was directed by Masatoshi Yagamine from a screenplay by Yagamine and Yoshiyuki Ishizuka.

Synopsis: In a distant land and an unknown time, a small village is under siege, terrorized by the brutal reign of the bandits known as the Crazy Dogs. However, the legends of the village speak of an Iron Clad Savior, one who shall come to the aid of the people and liberate them from the forces of evil and oppression. So when brave young Anne is miraculously rescued from a vicious bandit attack by a superhumanly strong heroine in shining armor, she becomes convinced that this mysterious fighter must be the figure from the prophecy. However, the woman known only as Iron Girl has been cursed with amnesia, and not even she knows whether she can actually defeat the Crazy Dogs. Not that the Dogs are about to let any potential threat to their power stay alive. Prepare for a battle royale as a full frontal assault of female fury tears into the dogs of war in IRON GIRL.

IRON GIRL will be released on DVD in Japanese with English subtitles beginning in January 2014.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

ACF 2037: WEDDING PALACE is opening in 6 days!

Margaret Cho as The Shaman. It's a small part (for scheduling reasons) but she really brings it!

For Day 6 of AsianCineFest's countdown to the theatrical opening of Wedding Palace in NY, Los Angeles and Hawaii on Friday, September 27th, here's a terrific clip about casting the actors and actresses, both leads and supporting cast.


Watch the Wedding Palace Movie Trailer.

Check out the Wedding Palace Movie website for all theater names and locations.

Join the Wedding Palace Fan Club on Facebook

Follow Wedding Palace on Twitter.

ACF 2036: VIZ announces new "Catch-Up" feature for Neon Alley


VIZ MEDIA DELIVERS EVEN MORE USER FLEXIBILITY WITH NEW 
VIDEO ON DEMAND “CATCH UP” FEATURE FOR NEON ALLEY

New Option On 24/7 Anime Channel Permits Members To
Access And Watch Recent Episodes Whenever They Want

VIZ Media has unveiled a new “Catch-Up” feature available now for the web-based version of Neon Alley, the company’s 24/7 anime channel.

With this new expanded feature, Neon Alley members may select either a “Watch Live” or “Catch Up” option upon logging onto the service. The “Watch Live” option provides fans with the 24/7 linear English-dubbed channel that the network has come to be known for, and with the addition of the Video-On Demand “Catch Up” option, fans now have the flexibility to watch shows at their convenience. The “Catch Up” option also allows viewers to search for content by individual series or by latest additions.

Every episode carried by Neon Alley will be available for a minimum of one week after its initial premiere. Other "World Premiere Neon Alley Exclusives,” such as NARUTO SHIPPUDEN, K, and ACCEL WORLD, will remain available for a minimum of 2 weeks during a series' initial run on the platform. Accessing the details of a selected episode will permit members know how long that particular episode or movie will be available as part of the “Catch Up” service. VIZ Media plans to integrate the “Catch Up” service for Neon Alley for the Xbox 360® and Xbox LIVE® and the PlayStation®3 (PS3™) gaming system and the PlayStation®Network later this Fall.

“Neon Alley currently features over two dozen different anime series, plus weekly movie premieres and other exclusive programming, and the ability for members to access and watch programs whenever they want using this new feature will give them an even greater degree of flexibility and convenience,” explains Brian Ige, VIZ Media VP of Animation. “As we prepare to launch our Fall season, Neon Alley members can complement their linear viewing experience with the new ‘Catch Up’ feature to ensure that they never miss a single program!”

Neon Alley is VIZ Media’s 24-hour anime channel that is available for general web access as well as the Xbox 360® and Xbox LIVE® and the PlayStation®3 (PS3™) gaming system and the PlayStation®Network. Neon Alley is specially designed to be studio agnostic, featuring titles from other anime producers and content distributors, including Aniplex, FUNimation, NTV, Taiseng, and Anime News Network. The channel’s diverse schedule includes a mix of action, adventure, sci-fi, supernatural, fantasy, and horror anime, uncut and dubbed into English, and presented in HD (when available), for a low monthly subscription rate of only $6.99. For a limited time only, the service is also offering a one-week free trial available to all fans that sign up at NeonAlley.com.

For more information on Neon Alley, visit www.NeonAlley.com.

Friday, September 20, 2013

ACF 2035: WEDDING PALACE opens NY, Philadelphia, & Hawaii in 1 week!


Check out the Wedding Palace Movie website for all theater names and locations.
Join the Wedding Palace Fan Club on Facebook.
Follow Wedding Palace on Twitter.

ACF 2034: BIG, BAD MAMA-SAN – DEKOTORA 1 coming December 10


SWITCHBALDE PICTURES PUTS
THE PEDAL TO THE METAL WITH
BIG BAD MAMA-SAN – DEKOTORA 1

Breaker, Breaker! Switchblade Pictures is east bound and down, loaded up and truckin’, doing what nobody ever expected to be done: bringing Japan’s amazing Dekotora (short for Decorated Truck) craze to western shores with the spectacular debut of the first of four gear grinding, horn honking, honest to goodness Japanese TRUCKER films: BIG BAD MAMA-SAN – DEKOTORA 1. And if that’s not enough to make you hit the air brakes hard, all that trucker lingo and CB chatter will be available dubbed in English as well as the usual Japanese with English subtitles!

Produced by Kazuaki Kubo (EROTIBOT), and written and directed by Hideo Jojo (RINKO 18), under the title “Decotora Girl Nami,” BIG BAD MAMA-SAN features cinematography by Takehiko Tamiya (SULTRY ASSASSIN – THE APHRODISIAC KILL) and launched both three sequels and an entire genre of “Lady Trucker” films in Japan.

V-Cinema and AV superstar Akiho Yoshizawa (SULTRY ASSASSIN 1 & 2, MAIDROID 1 & 2) takes the lead position as the titular female trucker, Nami, supported by a convoy of genre veterans and newcomers that includes Manzo Shinra (DEAD OR ALIVE 2: TOBOSHA, THE EEL), Mutsuo Yoshioka (SLAVE SHIP), Ryoichi Inaba (THE CURSE M), and AV actress and model Rino Konno.

Prepare to have your gears stripped and doors blown away as the worlds of trucking and Eastern culture collide head on in Big Bad Mama-San – Dekotora 1.

Synopsis: She’s been ridden long and she’s been ridden hard, but when that old truck is the only thing your father left you besides a pile of bills, how else is a girl going to make a living? That’s how Nami became the hottest thing on wheels, taking any load offered up the back roads of Japan and delivering whatever’s been ordered, no questions asked, C.O.D., A.S.A.P.

Unfortunately, Nami’s drive to become debt free is full of speed bumps like obsessive cops and cheating rival truckers, major detours like old acquaintances who want to be more than “just friends,” and one big pot hole in the form of Momoko, an eager beaver truck stop hooker with a heart of gold, a brain of tofu and a desperate yen to become Nami’s partner.

And all that’s just a warm up for what happens when a package belonging to a gang of dim but ruthless gangsters somehow ends up in Nami’s back end! Get ready for hijackings, high balling and the most crazed hijinks to ever hit the highways and byways of Japan as everyone tries to worm their way into Nami’s flatbed in Big Bad Mama-San – Dekotora 1.

Switchblade Pictures will release Big Bad Mama-San – Dekotora 1 on bilingual DVD December 10, 2013 in conjunction with home video distributor Section23 Films (Clannad, High School of the Dead, Appleseed).  

Thursday, September 19, 2013

ACF 2033: WEDDING PALACE opens in eight days!

Director Christine Yoo and star Brian Tee during the filming of Wedding Palace

Wedding Palace , the first Asian-American romantic comedy & Family Movie, opens in eight days in three U.S. area markets: New York (the AMC Empire 25 theater in the Times Square area), Los Angeles and Orange County (3 locations!) and Hawaii (2 locations!). In Philadelphia the film will be playing October 4th and in Washington, D.C. on October 18th. The film will expanding to Philadelphia (October 4th), Washington, D.C. (October 18th), and the San Francisco Bay Area and Chicago, both also in  October.

Check out the Wedding Palace Movie website for all theater names and locations.

Join the Wedding Palace Fan Club on Facebook

Follow Wedding Palace on Twitter.

ACF 2032: MY LUCKY STAR opens tomorrow in select cities

China Lion Film Distribution
Presents
My Lucky Star
Directed by Dennie Gordon
Starring ZHANG Ziyi, Leehom WANG, and Terri KWAN
China, 2013, 114 minutes

My Lucky Star is a most charming and delightful romantic comedy. It opens tomorrow, Friday, September 20th, 2013, at select theaters throughout North America and Hawaii. Release locations, subject to change, are Boston, Chicago, the Dallas/Plano Area, Honolulu, Houston, the Los Angeles Metro Area/Orange County, the New York Metro Area, the San Francisco/Bay Area, Seattle, the Washington, D.C. Metro Area, the Toronto Metro Area, and the Vancouver Metro Area. Check local listings for theaters and showtimes.

Sophie at her job at a travel agency

Zhang Ziyi stars as Sophie, a talented, aspiring cartoonist. Although skilled at drawing her romantic stories, she hasn't yet become successful enough to earn a living at it and has a day job at the Beijing Feng Guang Travel Agency. She's the company's worse customer service phone reps because she daydreams and doesn't pay attention to what the customers are saying. Her personal life is not anything to rave about either. She lives in an apartment off an alley, has no taste when it comes to clothing, and is pretty clumsy. Her love life is non-existent.

Sophie's taste in couture lacks refinement

Things change when she wins a sweepstake for a 5 day trip to Singapore. There she runs into David Yan (Leehom Wang), a secret agent. His current assignment is to recovery the Lucky Star Diamond, which has been stolen from an exhibition in London and is a crystal oscillator for a high-energy laser. In other words, it has the potential to be a most devastating weapon.

The hero in Sophie's comic looks like real life secret agent David Yan

David also happens to look exacttly like the hero in Sophie's comics. Naturally she's attracted to him, which results in her getting involved in the operation. The infamous Mr. Gao (Jack Koo), a ruthless killer, is to retrieve the diamond from Li wan and bring it to Charlize Won (Terri Kwan), a.k.a. the "Black Widow," who marries rich men and kills them for the inheritance. But Sophie gets in the middle of the transaction and inadvertently becomes the key to making the Lucky Star accessible. Hilarious hijinks ensue.

Sophie acts to seduce Li Wan, seller of the Lucky Star Diamond

My Lucky Star, it should be mentioned, has absolutely nothing to do with My Lucky Stars, the 1985 Hong Kong action comedy that starred Jackie Chan, Yuen Biao, and Sammo Hung, who also directed. Rather it marks the return of  Ms. Zhang to a role she first played in Sophie's Revenge, the 2009 comedy that became the highest grossing romantic comedy hit in the history of Chinese cinema. In that first film, Sophie's fiance´ calls off their wedding because he's fallen for a gorgeous actress, and Sophie tries to win him back. It played at the 2010 New York Asian Film Festival, and my review of it can be found here. (Sophie's Revenge is available on Netflix streaming and as a Region I DVD from Amazon and Best Buy.)

David and Sophie

My Lucky Star, however, is not really a sequel; it's simply the second film in what hopefully will be a continuing series; it completely stands on it own. While I urge you to see Sophie's Revenge, you don't need to be familiar with it at all to understand and appreciate My Lucky Star.

My Lucky Star succeeds largely because of Zhang Ziyi. (I'm using the Chinese arrangement of family name first, personal name second, as that is how it appears in the film's credits. She is usually credited as Ziyi Zhang in Western releases.) She is a most talented actress, beyond her physical looks and abilities. She has a real feel for comedy and is capable of remarkable expressiveness. Watch her face early in My Lucky Star when her hero frees her ankles fro restraints. There are some slight gestures that she makes that go way beyond what's called for to express sensual delight.

Sophie in disguise as a gondolier in Macau

As a child, Zhang studied dance. This background stood her in good stead for her martial arts roles in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and Wong Kar Wai's recently-release The Grandmaster, the films for which she probably is most widely known in the Western world. I wonder of that training was also useful to her in portraying the physically awkward -- read klutz -- that is Sophie. In any case she is both convincingly and comically uncoordinated when that's called for.

I must also give credit to director Dennie Gordon. A graduate of Yale's School of Drama, she has directed over 100 hour of network television, the teen cult hit Joe Dirt (2001), the romantic comedy What a Girl Wants (2003), and the Warner Bros. comedy New York Minute (2004). Her work caught the attention of Song Ge, General Manager at Wanda Media, who had produced Sophie's Revenge and wanted to work with Ziyi again. One of the challenges Ms. Gordon obviously had to deal with concerned language, namely the fact that the production was conducted in Mandarin, Cantonese and English. She's reportedly the first American woman to have handled this type of situation and she's done a fantastic job.

Sophie to the rescue! (?)

So if you're in the mood for a wonderful rom-com and can make it to one of the screening sites, do so without hesitation. If you don't live in or near one of these cities, hope for a Region 1 DVD release, which I consider likely.

ACF rating: 3.5 out of 4 stars; highly recommended.

ACF 2031: VIZ announces digital manga updates for September

Shojo Manga Titles BABY & ME, BASARA, DOUBT!, THE MAGIC
TOUCH, MIDNIGHT SECRETARY, SUGAR PRINCESS: SKATING TO WIN,
And W. JULIET Make Their North American Digital Debut
Along With Updates To More Than 30 Other Existing Series

VIZ Media delivers a substantial digital manga (graphic novel) update for the month of September featuring a host of new titles on VIZManga.com and available for digital download through the VIZ MANGA App for the Apple iPad®, iPhone® and iPod® touch, Android-powered smart phones, and also for NOOK tablets and devices.

A trio of new shojo manga series that are available now include creator Yumi Tamura’s celebrated classic, BASARA (Vols. 1-2 available), as well as the dark romance of MIDNIGHT SECRETARY, and the on-the-ice drama of SUGAR PRINCESS: SKATING TO WIN. The second-half of this month offers the launch of four additional shojo series including BABY & ME, DOUBT!, THE MAGIC TOUCH, and W. JULIET (Vols. 1-2 available).

More than 30 other acclaimed series also feature new monthly updates. Many are available now! Don’t miss notable multi-volume weekly updates for fan favorites such as CASE CLOSED, HANA KIMI, SKIP BEAT and YU-GI-OH! DUELIST.

New September Titles Available Now Include:


BASARA Vols. 1-2 • Rated ‘T+’ for Older Teens!
Born under a prophecy that will liberate and unite Japan, Sarasa has had to take her brother Tatara's place as the "Boy of Destiny." Fighting for the oppressed, Sarasa journeys across Japan to gain allies and defeat her enemies – all while keeping her identity a secret! BASARA creator Yumi Tamura broke into the manga world with a bang, winning the 1983 Shogakukan Grand Prize for new artists. She has gone on to write many extremely popular shojo manga stories such as the hit series, There Goes Tomoe, That Summer has Ended, and X-DAY. But the title that solidified her reputation as a top shojo manga artist was the breakthrough fantasy/action manga smash hit, BASARA. Always one to experiment in action/adventure formats, CHICAGO (also available from VIZ Media) is Tamura's latest completed work.

MIDNIGHT SECRETARY Vol. 1 • Rated ‘M’ for Mature Readers
Kaya Satozuka prides herself on being an excellent secretary and a consummate professional, so she doesn’t even bat an eye when she’s reassigned to the office of her company’s difficult director, Kyohei Touma. He’s as prickly – and hot – as rumors paint him, but Kaya is unfazed… until she discovers that he’s a vampire!! Manga creator Tomu Ohmi debuted in 2000 with the romantic supernatural series, Let’s Make Forbidden Love. Her series, MIDNIGHT SECRETARY, also ran in the popular Japanese shojo magazine, Petit Comic.


SUGAR PRINCESS: SKATING TO WIN Vol. 1 • Rated ‘A’ for All Ages
When ice-skating novice Maya Kurinoki lands a double axel for the first time, coach Eishi Todo sees her potential and vows to make her a figure skating "princess." All Maya has to do is convince famous skater Shun Kano to become her partner. Too bad Shun doesn't want to have anything to do with her!

New Series Launching September 17th:

DOUBT! Vol. 1 • Rated ‘T+’ for Older Teens
Average, unremarkable Ai Maekawa navigates school life unnoticed... until one day when a spiteful classmate totally humiliates her in front of everyone. Determined to jettison her embarrassing past, she overhauls her image and enrolls at a new high school where no one knows the old Ai. From the start, Ai is the target of romantic advances and jealous gossip – can a formerly invisible girl handle this avalanche of attention? And is Ai's erstwhile identity as a loser really as far behind her as she hopes?

W. JULIET Vols. 1-2 • Rated ‘T’ for Teens
Makoto Amano wants to become an actor, but his stern father has decreed that the only way Makoto can pursue his dream is to spend the last two years of high school as a girl! He quickly makes friends with popular tomboy Ito Miura, another drama enthusiast at this new high school and the only student to find out his secret – but are they more than just pals?

New Series Launching September 24th:

BABY & ME Vol. 1 • Rated ‘T+’ for Older Teens
Young Takuya has it tough. After his mother passed away it has been his job to take care of his baby brother, Minoru while their father, Harumi, works the long hours of a Japanese salaryman. Takuya must sacrifice the playtime usually associated with childhood for the responsibilities of an adult. Cooking, cleaning, sewing and scolding are all now an integral part of the young boy's life.

THE MAGIC TOUCH Vol. 1 • Rated ‘T+’ for Older Teens
In this series by Izumi Tsubaki, author of ORESAMA TEACHER (also available from VIZManga), the star of her high school's Massage Research Society club, Chiaki Togu is otherwise a normal, quiet girl until she falls in love at first sight with a gorgeous back – a back that happens to belong to Yosuke, the hottest guy at her school! Unfortunately, Chiaki's attraction to Yosuke is thwarted by her own insecurity and the scheming of other girls – especially her twin sister Saya!

The free VIZ Manga App continues to be the top application for reading digital manga and features a massive library of the most popular series in the world. Through the innovative VIZ Manga digital platform, registered users are able to use one account to view their purchased manga across more devices than ever. The platform features a massive library of the most popular manga series in the world, with over 1,500 volumes across more than 135 different series, and new series and volumes added every Tuesday. All manga volumes are generally available for purchase and download in the U.S. and Canada within the application starting from $4.99 (U.S. / CAN) each (until Oct.1st), and readers can also explore all titles with free Chapter 1 previews of every series.

Download the free VIZ Manga App for Android and iOS devices at www.VIZ.com/apps.

Learn more about VIZ Manga at www.vizmanga.com.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

ACF 2030: WEDDING PALACE countdown is at nine days!

Jason (Brian Tee, seated) and his best friend Kevin ( Bobby Lee)

WEDDING PALACE a romantic comedy about a young man named Jason who faces death due to a family curse if he doesn't marry before a certain age, which he's rapidly approaching. Just when it looks like he's found the right woman, a "small" problem arises.

The film features cast that's almost entirely Korean or, most often, Korean-American. Ii's in English with a bit Korean that has English subtitles.

It opens Friday, September 27th in New York, Los Angeles and Hawaii. Plan to see it, opening weekend if at all possible. You and your funny bone will be glad you did.

Here's a clip entitled "The Making of Wedding Palace Pt. 1 - Bringing Hollywood to Koreatown" that aired on TOKYOPOP TV.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

ACF 2029: NARUTO SHIPPUDEN THE MOVIE: THE LOST TOWER available today from VIZ Media

© 2002 MASASHI KISHIMOTO /2007 SHIPPUDEN 
© NMP 2010 
 VIZ MEDIA ANNOUNCES THE RELEASE OF
NARUTO SHIPPUDEN THE MOVIE: THE LOST TOWER
ON DVD AND BLU-RAY

The World’s Most Popular Ninja Returns In His Seventh Anime
Feature Film For An Action-Packed Time-Travelling Adventure

The latest NARUTO anime feature film, NARUTO SHIPPUDEN THE MOVIE: THE LOST TOWER, is available starting today, September 17th, from VIZ Media. The newest film of the venerable ninja action property carries a rating of TV-14, a DVD MSRP of $19.98 U.S. / $24.98 CAN and a Blu-ray MSRP of $24.98 U.S. / $27.50 CAN.

The DVD and Blu-ray editions each contain a bevy of extra features including a hilarious anime short, NARUTO AND THE THREE WISHES, as well as the original Japanese theatrical trailers. The Blu-ray edition also features a bonus production art gallery.

In NARUTO SHIPPUDEN THE MOVIE: THE LOST TOWER, the Rogue Ninja Mukade is about to be caught by Naruto's team when he summons forth the power of the LeyLine - an ancient underground channel of chakra. Naruto gets caught up in the chakra and is sent back in time to the city of Loran, known for its thousand towers. There he encounters the future Fourth Hokage, Minato Namikaze, on a top-secret mission, and the Queen of Loran, Sarah, whose rule is threatened by Mukade. Will Naruto be able to return to his own time, and can a chance encounter in the past save the future?

“Anime fans can take an amazing journey back in time as Naruto tries to save a noble Queen in NARUTO SHIPPUDEN THE MOVIE: THE LOST TOWER,” says Charlene Ingram, Senior Marketing Manager, Animation. “Don’t miss all of the action as Naruto takes on Mukade and meets the future Fourth Hokage in this exciting new feature film release!”

Additional information on NARUTO and NARUTO SHIPPUDEN is available at www.Naruto.com.

For more information on VIZ Media anime properties, visit www.viz.com/anime.

ACF 2028: WEDDING PALACE opens in ten days!

Bobby Lee and Angela Oh, who plays his wife Tina in the movie

We're now down to ten days until Wedding Palace opens in New York, Los Angeles, and Hawaii.

Here's a behind-the-scenes interview with Bobby Lee and Joy Osmanski that was shot by fellow cast member Stephen Park. In the film, Bobby plays Kevin, the best friend of Jason (Brian Tee), the male protagonist in the romantic comedy and Joy is Jinnie Park, to whom Jason is engaged. Stephen portrays Jason's father.