News and reviews, contemplations and considerations of Asian films and filmmakers. With the occasional piece on manga, dance, music, or whatever else Asian that might be of interest. Written by Dr. Stan Glick, a columnist for Asian Cult Cinema magazine.
The full lineup for the 17th New York Asian Film Festival (NYAFF) has been announced by the Film Society of Lincoln Center and Subway Cinema, joint presenters of the event. The festival begins this coming Friday, June 29th and continues through July 15th. Films, Q&As, and award presentations will take place at two venues: the Film Society of Lincoln Center and the SVA (School of Visual Arts) Theatre.
THE GREAT BUDDHA +, a wonderful drama from Taiwan, will be playing in Seattle on Sunday, July 1, 2018 at SIFF Cinema Uptown, 511 Queen Anne Ave N.
Provincial friends Pickle and Belly Button idle away their nights in the security booth of a Buddha statue factory, where Pickle works as a guard. One evening, when the TV is on the fritz, they put on video from the boss’s dashcam—only to discover illicit trysts and a mysterious act of violence. Expanded from a short, Huang Hsin-yao’s fiction feature debut The Great Buddha + (the plus sign cheekily nodding to the smartphone model) is a stylish, rip-roaring satire on class and corruption in contemporary Taiwanese society. (New Directors New Films)
I saw the film this past April in conjunction with its New York Premiere at the New Directors New Films series jointly presented by the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and the Film Society of Lincoln Center.
AsianCineFest Rating: 3.5 out of 4 stars; highly recommended.
The Princess and the Matchmaker, a South Korean historical romantic comedy, will warm audiences’ hearts with laughter. Produced by the team of The Face Reader and Train to Busan, the film is HONG Chang-pyo’s directorial debut and stars Korea’s prized actress, loved by all ages, SHIM Eun-kyung (Miss Granny) and Korea’s all-around actor/entertainer, LEE Seung-gi. It also stars KIM Sang-kyung, YEON Woo-jin, KANG Min-hyuk, CHOI Woo-shik, and JO Bok-lae.
The Princess and the Matchmaker will release on Amazon, iTunes and Google Play on June 19, 2018. The cost is $14.99 to purchase High Definition (HD), $9.99 to purchase
Standard Definition (SD), $4.99 to rent High Definition (HD), and $3.99
to rent Standard Definition (SD).
In The Princess and the Matchmaker, during the wake of the country’s prolonged famine, the Palace arranges Princess Songhwa’s (SHIM Eun-kyung) marriage in hopes to improve the country’s misfortune. A renowned diviner, Seo Doyoon (LEE Seung-gi), is brought in to find the perfect husband that will have the best marital harmony with the princess. Choosing from candidates from all over the country, four prospective husbands with different fate signs are shortlisted. The princess refuses to accept that her life partner will be chosen solely based on fortune reading. She takes it upon herself to meet the candidates before the final decision is made.
The Accidental Detective 2: In Action
/ Tam jeong 2
Directed by LEE Eon-hie
Starring: KWON Sang-woo, SUNG Dong-il, and LEE Kwang-soo
South Korea, 2018, 116 minutes
South Korean Action Comedy
Releases in the U.S. & Canada on June 22
The Accidental Detective 2: In Action, South Korea’s newest detective comedy to premiere in North America, will make audiences laugh this summer. The film is a limited release and will be showing in select theaters beginning June 22, 2018. For the full theater list, please visit: www.cj-entertainment.com.
A comic book storekeeper, Dae-man (KWON Sang-woo), and the legendary homicide detective, Tae-su (SUNG Dong-il), who met on a previous case quit their jobs to open the very first private detective agency in Korea. Despite their high hopes, they soon find themselves with only trivial cases such as spouse infidelity, unpaid debt, and missing cats. Then one day, a woman walks into the office, wanting to find the truth behind the death of her fiancé. Not only that, she also offers them a handsome reward of 50,000 dollars. Dae-man and Tae-su see it as an opportunity to put their true detective skills to work. They bring onboard a third member, Hopper (LEE Kwang-soo), a Mensa genius and a small-time online private eye, and together they launch a full-fledged investigation on the case. As they dig into what initially appeared to be a straightforward case, disturbing new evidence turns up.
$13/$10 seniors & students / $5 Japan Society members
Teiichi Akaba has a singular dream: crush the competition, become prime minister and rule his own country. But first he just has to get through high school. An absurdist satire of Japan's elitist pathways to the seats of power, Akira Nagai's adaptation of Usamaru Furuya's manga finds Showa-era teens battling for the student council presidency through sabotage, bribery, fisticuffs and the manipulation of more than a few unspoken crushes.
Winner of the JAPAN CUTS 2017 Audience Award, this comedic crowdpleaser returns to Japan Society for an encore screening in anticipation of the upcoming 12th edition of JAPAN CUTS (July 19–29).
The movie takes place in 1883, approximately fifteen years after the Meiji Restoration, which restored practical rule to the emperor and led to the end of the shogunate and the samurai class. The location is Staten Island, where the family of a former samurai, and later a firefighter - has completed their long and arduous journey to America.
Izumi Naito (Kyo Kasumi), the mother, leaves for a few days to find a better and permanent place to live in Manhattan. Eldest daughter Chiyo Naito (Maho Honda) is a young woman who is left in charge of her two younger siblings: Ken, a boy and the middle child; and Fuji, the second daughter and youngest child.
When a violent situation concerning a male neighbor arises, the titular character comes to the rescue.
There's a delightful twist on the expectations one might have from the movie's title, and though it becomes evident fairly on, I don't want to say more and spoil this little treat.
Suffice it to say that, as in The 8th Samurai (which he also wrote and directed) Ambrosino demonstrates a deft hand and a marvelous flair for storytelling. An incredible amount of drama, action and heart are contained in this outstanding short. All of the performances are highly commendable, with Maho Honda's particularly so.
Wednesday night's program of this year's New York Japan CineFest runs from 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. at Asia Society, 725 Park Avenue, NYC. (Click here for map and directions.) I haven't seen any of the other five films in the program, but past offerings have all been worth seeing.
I highly recommend catching First Samurai in New York tomorrow night, even if you were at Saturday night's New York premiere. It's a terrific film and further evidence of Ambrosino's considerable talents.
AsianCineFest Rating: 4 out of 4 stars; most highly recommended.