With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

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

Thursday, July 12, 2018

RAMEN SHOP to open 2018 JAPAN CUTS Festival of New Japanese Film

Japan Society NY
Ramen Shop © Zhao Wei Films/Wild Orange Artists
Ramen Shop / Ramen Teh
Directed by Eric Khoo
With Takumi Saitoh, Seiko Matsuda,
Mark Lee, and Jeanette Aw
Japan, 2018, 89 minutes
DCP, in English, Japanese. Mandarin and Cantonese with English subtitles

When: Thursday, July 19, 2018
Where: Japan Society
333 East 47th Street, NYC

A waitlist will begin at the Box Office one hour prior to the screening.
Being on the waitlist does not guarantee admission.

Feature Slate | Opening Film
North American Premiere

Intro and Q&A with director Eric Khoo and star Takumi Saitoh,
followed by the OPENING NIGHT PARTY

Masato (Takumi Saitoh) helps run a ramen shop in Takasaki, Japan with his emotionally distant father. Upon his father’s sudden death, a suitcase of old family photographs and journals that belonged to his long-deceased Singaporean mother motivates Takumi to learn about his roots and the mystery of his parents’ relationship in Singapore. With the help of a Japanese expat food blogger (pop idol Seiko Matsuda) and his maternal uncle (comedian Mark Lee), Masato undergoes a journey of discovery that unlocks secret family recipes, reveals painful pasts and begins a process of reconciliation that bridges national histories and generations. Filled with delectable scenes featuring Singaporean cuisine, this moving drama by Singapore’s leading auteur Eric Khoo celebrates the power of love, family and good food.

"Handled with a sincerity that could commend it to incurable romantics and insatiable foodies alike."
— Screen Daily

Part of JAPAN CUTS 2018

Monday, July 02, 2018

Japan Society NY
Image © Nobuyoshi Araki
Directed by Travis Klose
Japan, 2005, 85 minutes
In English, Japanese

When: Tuesday, July 10th at 7:00 PM
Where: Japan Society NY
333 East 47th Street, NYC
Tickets: $15/$12 members, seniors & students

Followed by a discussion with director Travis Klose and independent curator
Christopher Phillips, moderated by Yukie Kamiya (Director, Japan Society Gallery)
and focusing on Araki's practice and his relationships with his subjects.

Arakimentari focuses on Nobuyoshi Araki (b. 1940, Tokyo), Japan's most famous and notorious photographer, both acclaimed and condemned for his photo books and exhibitions which often focus upon women, typically nude and in bold poses. This documentary provides a glimpse into the professional and personal sides of Araki, including his background, his relationships with his subjects, his less well known portraiture and landscape work, and how he spends his spare time. Also included are interviews with several friends and contemporaries, including musician Björk, photographer Richard Kern, and actor/filmmaker Takeshi Kitano.

Araki's work has been featured in two recent Japan Society exhibitions, For a New World to Come: Experiments in Japanese Art and Photography, 1968-1979 (2015) and In the Wake: Japanese Photographers Respond to 3/11 (2016).

Arakimentari has won the following awards:
Best Documentary, 2004 Brooklyn International Film Festival
Best Music Score, 2004 Brooklyn International Film Festival
Best Editing, 2004 Honolulu Film Festival

Sunday, July 01, 2018

GATAO 2: RISE OF THE KING reviewed; playing at 2018 NYAFF on Wednesday, July 4th, 2018

Gatao 2: Rise of the King
Directed by Yen Cheng-Kuo
Taiwan, 2018, 126 minutes
In Taiwanese and Mandarin with English subtitles

When: Wednesday, July 4th at 5:15 PM 
165 W 65th Street, NYC 

North American Premiere  

Gatao 2: Rise of the King is nominally a sequel to Gatao, the 2015 Taiwanese film directed by Joe C. Lee Wan-Kit. But, as the film is described in NYAFF publicity materials, it is a "stand-alone gangster saga." ("Gatao", by the way, means gang leader.) The director this time around is Yen Cheng-Kuo; Rise of the King is his directorial debut. Yen is a former child star (his first screen credits were two films that came out in 1980 when he was approximately six years old). Later he "narrowly escaped the death penalty and instead served 10 years in prison for kidnapping." The cast of "2" also appears to be largely, if not entirely, different from the original.

The film centers on the conflict between two former friends. Ren (Shih-Hsien Wang) is old school, believing in integrity and loyalty, while Jian (Collin Chou) will do whatever it takes to get to the top. The bulk of the story takes place three years after an introductory segment which ends with Jian being arrested and taken away the police. After getting out of prison, he somehow manages to become the head of Jian Corporation. Just how this happens is never explained; the viewer has to take it on faith that he has managed to make the most of his criminal skills to amass connections, wealth and power.

Jian seeks out Ren, wanting him to become an associate in his illegal endeavors. But Ren is loyal to his boss, President Gui (Jack Kao) and rejects Jian's offer out of antipathy to the nature of Jian Corp's business. Consequently, a gang war breaks out between the two sides. Large-scale street battles result that involve the criminals' weapon of choice, bats, although fists, feet, knives and even the occasional gun are also employed. The latter is used to great effect by one of Jian's henchmen, the white-haired nut-job appropriately known as Syko (Samuel K).

I have not seen the original Gatao, but didn't feel that fact in any way significantly diminished my enjoyment of Gatao 2: Rise of the King. Overall it's a interesting, well-structured and -filmed action movie. It proves that Taiwan can produce a gangster flick on a par with those of Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea, and that Yen should have a promising future as a director.

AsianCineFest Rating: 3 out of 4 stars; solidly recommended.