With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

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

Saturday, May 29, 2010

ACF 581: JAPAN CUTS Confirms 25 titles for 4th Annual Summer Festival

Japan Society Confirms 25 Titles for its 4th Annual
Summer Fest of New Films from Japan

JAPAN CUTS: Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema

July 1-16, 2010, at Japan Society

Recently got the following announcement from Japan Society. I am sooooo stoked about this years NYAFF 2010 and JAPAN CUTS. And you should be too! If you don't live in the New York metropolitan area, plan to vacation or move here for the New York Asian Film Festival and Japan Society's JAPAN CUTS. You simply don't want to miss either of these fantastic festivals.

Japan Society's fourth annual JAPAN CUTS Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema screens 25 feature films--the most in the festival's history and the largest showcase of contemporary Japanese cinema globally this year. In addition to 7 features co-presented with the New York Asian Film Festival, JAPAN CUTS 2010 includes an array of Japan's best films from 2010 and 2009, and a special selection of the decade's best films never before released in the U.S. Made by both established and emerging directors and starring today’s hottest actors and festival winners, most films in JAPAN CUTS 2010 are international, U.S., or New York premieres, and none are commercially available on DVD in the U.S.

The only large-scale annual film festival in North America dedicated exclusively to the celebration of the best and latest films from Japan, JAPAN CUTS presents films ranging from blockbusters and art house hits to cutting-edge independents, grind house cult movies and innovative animations. With 32 screenings in total, the festival opens July 1 with Confessions (dir. Tetsuya Nakashima) and Sawako Decides (dir. Yuya Ishii) and closes July 16 with two North American premieres: About Her Brother (dir. Yoji Yamada) and Sweet Little Lies (dir. Hitoshi Yazaki). Highlights include Blood of Rebirth (dir. Toshiaki Toyoda), Bare Essence of Life: Ultra Miracle Love Story (dir. Satoko Yokohama), Dear Doctor (dir. Miwa Nishikawa), Golden Slumber (dir. Yoshihiro Nakamura), Nightmare Detective II (dir. Shinya Tsukamoto), Parade (dir. Isao Yukisada), Villon’s Wife (dir. Kichitaro Negishi), and Zero Focus (dir. Isshin Inudo).

As in previous years, JAPAN CUTS launches during the tail end of the New York Asian Film Festival (NYAFF), with Japan Society and NYAFF co-presenting several of the major Japanese titles featured in both festivals. From July 1-4, co-presentations include: Blood of Rebirth, Dear Doctor, Golden Slumber, and Sawako Decides highlighted above, as well as Boys on the Run (dir. Daisuke Miura) and Mutant Girls Squad (dir. Noboru Iguchi, Yoshihiro Nishimura, Tak Sakaguchi).

This year JAPAN CUTS spotlights the best unreleased films of the decade in a new section Best of Unreleased Japanese Films of the 00’s (the "Naughties")--a digest of overlooked cinephilic delights that favors emotion over sensation, represents a landmark whether in overseas appreciation or historical significance, and soars beyond star ratings, consumer recommendations, and mainstream hype.

Several special guests are slated to appear to introduce their films and take part in Q&As, including directors Toshiaki Toyoda, Momoko Ando, Yoshihiro Nishimura and Noboru Iguchi, Isao Yukisada and Hitoshi Yazaki; and actors Tatsuya Fujiwara, Hikari Mitsushima, and Daichi Watanabe. This year's festival will host three full-blown after-screening parties: the Festival Launch Party (July 1) SUSHI TYPHOON! (July 3) and NIGHT OF THE FILMMAKERS (July 10).

"JAPAN CUTS presents the roughest, sharpest, and smoothest of today’s cutting-edge Japanese film scene," notes Japan Society's chief film curator Samuel Jamier. "This year the lineup includes psycho dramas, thrillers, period pieces, bizarre comedies, refined melodramas, artistically adventurous indies, j-horror, and even anime. But when the lineup came together, I realized a number of these great films were made by female directors or featured a large number of prominent women's roles and powerful performances by women--a reflection of industry trends in the last 10 years, and the impact women have been making in Japan's film industry. Overall, I like to think this year's festival is exemplary of where Japanese cinema is today."

Tickets: General admission is $12/$8 Japan Society members. Special event screenings are $16/$12 for the July 3 Mutant Girls Squad screening with SUSHI TYPHOON! party, and the July 10 Kakera screening with NIGHT OF THE FILMMAKERS party.


About Her Brother [Ototo]
Friday, July 16 at 6:15 pm
**North American Premiere

Ginko (Sayuri Yoshinaga) and Tetsuro (Tsurube Shofukutei) are a sister and brother reunited. But when Tetsuro's stalled acting career and penchant for drinking jeopardize the marriage of Ginko's daughter (Yu Aoi), Ginko must take steps to disown him. About Her Brother is the first drama since 2000 by acclaimed director Yoji Yamada, creator of Japan's venerable Tora-san series and 2002 Academy Award nominee for the period drama Twilight Samurai. 2010, 126 min., 35 mm, color, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Yoji Yamada. With Sayuri Yoshinaga, Tsurube Shofukutei, Yu Aoi.

Accidental Kidnapper [Yukai Rhapsody]
Thursday, July 8 at 6:15 pm
**New York Premiere

Down-on-his-luck Hideyoshi (played by heartthrob Katsunori Takahashi) kidnaps a schoolboy for ransom. Things go well at first, as the boy is eager to get away from his nagging mother and overly strict father (Sho Aikawa), and the unlikely duo set off together on a carefree cross-country journey. The stakes are raised when the boy's father, a wealthy yakuza, puts out an all-points bulletin on the pair. 2010, 111 min., 35 mm, color, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Hideo Sakaki. With Katsunori Takahashi, Sho Aikawa, Eiichiro Funakoshi.

Alien vs. Ninja
Saturday, July 3 at 6 pm
**World Premiere, co-presented with NYAFF

In medieval Japan, no one can hear you scream. And no one can prepare for the arrival of a giant rubber alien that wants to party space invader style--tearing off heads, ripping out intestines, and impregnating the species with its hideous jelloid babies. The sick extraterrestrial freak seems unbeatable… but is it ninja-proof? An off-the-wall, low-budget/high-action sci-fi blast, Beyond Hollywood calls the film "McTiernan's Predator meets Kitamura's Versus." 2010, 81 min., HD Cam, color, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Seiji Chiba. With Mika Hijii, Shuuji Kashiwabara, Ben Hiura.

Bare Essence of Life: Ultra Miracle Love Story [Urutora mirakuru rabu sutori]
Wednesday, July 7 at 8:30 pm
**New York Premiere

Satoko Yokohama’s utterly bizarre studio feature debut is a fantastical art house tale of love and twisted evolution. Yojin (superstar Kenichi Matsuyama of Death Note fame), a young man afflicted with an unnamed and exotic mental handicap, organizes his life according to a manic system of alarm clocks and bewildering gulfs of logic on his grandmother's organic vegetable farm. His gently messy existence is turned right-side-up by Miss Machiko, a school teacher retreating to the countryside after the decapitation of her philandering boyfriend in a freak traffic accident. Yojin resolves to change his life to earn her love in a truly miraculous turn of events bending reason and reality. 2009, 120 min., 35 mm, color, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Satoko Yokohama. With Kenichi Matsuyama, Kumiko Aso, Seiji Nozoe.

Blood of Rebirth [Yomigaeri no chi]
Friday, July 2 at 9 pm; and Saturday, July 3 at 3:45 pm
**New York Premiere, co-presented with NYAFF**Both screenings introduced by director Toshiaki Toyoda, followed by a Q&;A.

A gonzo head trip in the spirit of the films of Alejandro Jodorowsky, Blood of Rebirth does for samurai what El Topo did for cowboys. Set in the hazy past and based on a famous folktale, a masseur is murdered and comes back from the dead for revenge. Toshiaki Toyoda intense visuals gouge at the eyes while the throbbing soundscape of space rockers Twin Tail dig into the ears. Marking Toyoda's return to filmmaking after a five-year absence, the film is a psychedelic tribute to the human ability to shatter all prisons and endlessly be reborn. 2009, 83 min., 35 mm, color, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Toshiaki Toyoda. With Tatsuya Nakamura, Mayuu Kusakari, Kiyohiko Shibukawa.

Boys on the Run [Boizu on za ran]
Sunday, July 4 at Noon
**North American Premiere, co-presented with NYAFF

Based on the manga by Kengo Hanazawa, Boys on the Run follows Tanishi, a porn-addicted 29-year-old virgin and serial masturbator who slaves away at a dead end job. After screwing up an almost-relationship with a real woman--who winds up leaving him for his hunkier colleague--Tanishi decides to fight as much as he possibly can. But nothing works to get the girl, everything's sleazy and sticky, and no one's going home happy in this punkish, arrhythmic and riotous comedy. 2010, 114 min., 35 mm, color, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Daisuke Miura. With Kazunobu Mineta, Mei Kurokawa, Ryuhei Matsuda.

Confessions [Kokuhaku]
Thursday, July 1 at 9 pm; and Sunday, July 4 at 2 pm
** U.S. Premiere, co-presented with NYAFF**Opening film followed by the Festival Launch Party

Four years after the international success of his Memories of Matsuko, director Tetsuya Nakashima returns with a darkly gleaming, award-winning masterpiece. Actress Takako Matsu gives a powerhouse performance as a middle school teacher whose four-year-old daughter is murdered. When questionable evidence convinces her that two of her students are the killers, she engages in psychological warfare with her entire class in a highly unhealthy attempt to make them confess. 2010, 106 min., 35 mm, color, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Tetsuya Nakashima. With Takako Matsu, Masaki Okada, Yoshino Kimura.

Crying Out Love, in the Center of the World [Sekai no chushin de, ai o sakebu]
Saturday, July 10 at 3 pm
**New York Premiere
**Introduced by director Isao Yukisada, followed by a Q&ABest of Unreleased Naughties

In southern Japan, a boy and a girl fall in love. She is pretty, smart and athletic; he is anything but. From a touch of hands to an innocent kiss, their feelings grow. Tensions rise and the mood is tumescent. The boy wants to take the girl to Ayer's Rock in Australia, the "Center of the World." The girl is dying to go. The girl is dying. Heart achingly sentimental and cinematically brilliant, Crying Out Love is a simple, epic and sumptuous story about the depths of the human spirit and power of connection. One of Asia's best melodrama's of the decade, the film was a box office smash in Japan, China and Korea. 2004, 138 min., 35 mm, color, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Isao Yukisada. With Takao Osawa, Ko Shibasaki, Masami Nagasawa.

Dear Doctor
Saturday, July 3 at 1 pm; and Sunday, July 4 at 4:15 pm
**New York Premiere

Winner of 21 major Japanese film awards and counting, Miwa Nishikawa's Dear Doctor begins as a deceptively simple tale idolizing the slow and simple life of the tiny village, where a young intern (Eita) comes to train under the watchful eye of the kindly old local doctor (Tsurube Shofukutei). But the doctor isn't what he seems, and decades of deception unravel in a hall of mirrors echoing reality, illusion, lies and liars. 2009, 127 min., 35 mm, color, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Miwa Nishikawa. With Tsurube Shofukutei, Eita, Kimiko Yo.

Electric Button (Moon and Cherry) [Tsuki to Cherry]
Wednesday, July 7 at 6:30 pm
**U.S. Premiere
Best of Unreleased Naughties

The naïve Tadokoro (Tasuku Nagaoka) is a virginal university student and new member of an erotic creative writing club. He meets too-smart-for-her-own-good pretty girl Mayama (Noriko Eguchi), who uses their liaison as fodder for her fiction. Recalling traditional pinku eiga (porn for refined sensibilities) in form--but radically different in detail--the film is both sweet and dryly unsentimental, while effortlessly dancing across the lines of comedy, drama, romance and eroticism. Reworking erotic film from a decidedly "woman on top" perspective, Electric Button (Moon and Cherry) launched writer/director Yuki Tanada's reputation both in Japan and internationally. 2004, 82 min., DP (digital projection), color, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Yuki Tanada. With Yoshikazu Ebisu, Noriko Eguchi, Akira Emoto.

The Foreign Duck, The Native Duck and God in a Coin Locker [Ahiru to kamo to koinrokka]
Tuesday, July 6 at 6:15 pm
**North American Premiere
Best of Unreleased Naughties

Freshly arrived from Tokyo, pint-sized and timid Shiina clicks with tall, cooler-than-thou Sendai native Kawasaki over a mutual passion for Bob Dylan's classic "Blowin' In The Wind." Before he realizes it, Shiina is engulfed in his newfound friend's bizarre world, and their "bougus and excellent" existential adventures begin with one of Kawasaki's odd-duck ideas: steal a kanji dictionary for their Butanese neighbor. Part Holey Grail wild-goose chase and part xenophobic fable, this roller-coaster ride of a film kicks it in high gear with an exceptional cast: Eita (Su-ki-da), Gaku Hamada (Catch a Wave), Ryuhei Matsuda (Nightmare Detective I and II), Megumi Seki (Honey & Clover) and Kei Tamura (Battle Royale II). 2007, 110 min., 35 mm, color, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Yoshihiro Nakamura. With Gaku Hamada, Eita, Megumi Seki, Ryuhei Matsuda, Kei Tamura, Nene Otsuka.

Golden Slumber [Goruden suranba]
Friday, July 2 at 6:15 pm
**New York Premiere, co-presented with NYAFF

Befuddled everyman Aoyagi (Masato Sakai) finds himself inexplicably framed for the assassination of Japan's prime minister. Soon the modest delivery guy is sprinting from one government kill squad to the next, as the plot breathlessly spins out of control and weaves together the mother of all conspiracy theories. Aoyagi's buddies and exes from past and present come together to rescue their endangered friend, but will they be too late? One of the most acclaimed Japanese actors of his generation, Sakai gives an intensely edgy performance as the hunted every-man hero. (Director Yoshihiro Nakamura's Fish Story was the sleeper hit of JAPAN CUTS 2009.) 2010, 139 min., 35 mm, color, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Yoshihiro Nakamura. With Masato Sakai, Yuko Takeuchi, Hidetaka Yoshioka.

Hanging Garden [Kuchu teien]
Tuesday, July 6 at 8:30 pm
**Introduced and followed by a Q&A with director Toshiaki Toyoda
Best of Unreleased Naughties

Before Kiyoshi Kurosawa's Tokyo Sonata, Kore'eda's Still Walking, and Sion Sono's Noriko's Dinner Table, there was Toshiaki Toyoda's Hanging Garden. In this visually stunning, surreal tale of desperate times, pressure mounts as the unspoken ripples through an unusual 20th-century Japanese family--an unforgettable gallery of neurotic portraits captured by Toyoda's calm, composed camera and incomparable mad auteur style. Weird, stylish, and shocking, this is the family drama of the decade, where family is a nightmare fount of terror, discord and disquiet. 2005, 114 min., 35 mm, color, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Toshiaki Toyoda. With Kyoko Koizumi, Anne Suzuki, Itsuji Itao.

Kakera: A Piece of Our Life [Kakera]
Saturday, July 10 at 8:30 pm; and Tuesday, July 13 at 8:45 pm
**North American Premiere
**July 10 screening introduced by director Momoko Ando, followed by a Q&A and NIGHT OF THE FILMMAKERS party
**July 13 screening introduced by actress Hikari Mitsushima

A lighter-than-air dream of a film based on Erika Sakurazawa's Love Vibes manga starring Hikari Mitsushima (Love Exposure), Kakera is the irresistibly tender story of a young girl's fumbling towards self-acceptance and understanding. Sullenly brooding in a café over boyfriend issues and her own lack of direction, Haru (Mitsushima) is approached by a self-assertive prosthetics modeler named Riko. The two women bond over cocoa mustaches, and their mutual attraction quickly grows. With a stellar soundtrack by James Iha of Smashing Pumpkins and remarkable spare visuals and pacing by debut director Momoko Ando, Kakera caputures the beauty of first love gone by. 2009, 107 min., 35 mm, color, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Momoko Ando. With Hikari Mitsushima, Eriko Nakamura, Ken Mitsuishi.

King of Thorn [Ibara no Ou]
Sunday, July 11 at 6 pm
** North American Premiere

A mysterious worldwide epidemic--the "Medusa" virus-- threatens to wipe out humanity by turning people into stone. A Japanese high-school girl Kasumi leaves behind her twin sister Shizuku to join a team of 160 people from around the world in a shadowy scientific project. Locked away in an ancient castle and put to cryogenic sleep for 100 years in order to outlive the virus, the team awakes to find that a gigantic plant-like creature engulfing the facility, perhaps even the whole world, threatening the last seven survivors with giant thorny tendrils. Stalked by horrific creatures, the team must discover what happened to Earth. 2010, 110 min. HD Cam, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Kazuyoshi Katayama. Written by Hiroshi Yamaguchi & Kazuyoshi Katayama. Based on the manga "King of Thorn" by Yuji Iwahara. Character design by Hidenori Matsubara. With the voices of Kana Hanazawa, Toshiyuki Morikawa, Eri Sendai, Sayaka Ohara.

Memories of Matsuko [Kiraware Matsuko no issho]
Thursday, July 15 at 6:15 pm
Best of Unreleased Naughties

An unlikely cross between Moulin Rouge, Citizen Kane and Amelie,

Memories of Matsuko is a magical realist descent into the suppressed history (both farce and tragedy) of one of the most unfortunate women ever to reach the big screen. Director Tetsuya Nakashima makes this epic musical melodrama sing like no other with one-of-a-kind visuals. Miki Nakatani was awarded Best Actress by the Kinema Junpo Awards, Mainichi Film Concours, Asian Film Awards and the Japanese Academy for her astonishing multifaceted performance. Time Out London noted the film is "stunningly inventive, crammed with ideas and emotional truth, high on the possibilities of cinema." An audience favorite at the first JAPAN CUTS in 2007, and back by popular demand as one of the best unreleased Japanese films of the decade. 2006, 130 min., 35 mm, color, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Tetsuya Nakashima. With Miki Nakatani, Eika, Yusuke Iseya.

Mutant Girls Squad [Sento shojo: Chi no tekkamen densetsu]
Saturday, July 3 at 8:30 pm
**International Premiere, co-presented with NYAFF
**Introduction and Q&A with directors Yoshihiro Nishimura and Noboru Iguchi
Followed by the SUSHI TYPHOON! Party

In 2009, Tak Sakaguchi (Versus), Yoshihiro Nishimura (Tokyo Gore Police) and Noboru Iguchi (UI), came to the New York Asian Film Festival, got drunk and decided to make a movie together. The result: this splatter-ific, kick-tastic, raunchy riff on the X-Men movies. It takes three directors to make a movie this insane. 2010, 85 min., HD Cam, color, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Noboru Iguchi, Yoshihiro Nishimura, Tak Sakaguchi.

Nightmare Detective II [Akumu Tantei 2]
Wednesday, July 14 at 9 pm
**U.S. Premiere
Best of Unreleased Naughties

In a sequel whose formal beauty and emotional depth far surpass the original film, director Shinya Tsukamoto reintroduces the suicidal dream walker Kyoichi Kagenuma (Ryuhei Matsuda). Blessed and cursed with the supernatural ability to enter the dreams of others, sleep-deprived Kagenuma is urged to use his unwanted power to help Yukie, a 15-year-old high-school student plagued with nightmares that come to life. In a case that holds eerie similarities to events in his own past, Kagenuma reluctantly enters Yukie's nightmares and confronts the very essence of fear. An enigmatic and somberly brooding character study, Nightmare Detective II cleverly subverts the conventions of the horror genre and reinvents the archetypal villain as a victim of terror herself. 2008, 102 min., 35 mm, color, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Shinya Tsukamoto. With Ryuhei Matsuda, Yui Miura, Wako Ando.

Oh, My Buddha! [Shikisoku zenereishon]
Saturday, July 10 at 6 pm; and Tuesday, July 13 at 6:15 pm
** New York Premiere
**Both screenings introduced by actor Daichi Watanabe, followed by a Q&A

A new world of "free love" opens up to Jun (Daichi Watanabe, of the band Kuroneko Chelsey, making a breakthrough debut) after taking up a friend's offer to stay at a paradise-like island youth hostel over summer break. Previously walled off from sex at a private Buddhist school for boys, this young rock 'n' roll music fiend's life is changed forever. In the tradition of George Lucas' classic coming-of-age film, American Graffiti and Richard Linklater's Dazed and Confused, Taguchi and co. create a beautiful portrayal of youth, exalting in the full spectrum of intense adolescent emotions: from agonizing shame to exhilaration, frustration and doubt. 2009, 114 minutes, 35 mm, color, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Tomorowo Taguchi. With Daichi Watanabe, Kazunobu Mineta, Shigeru Kishida, Asami Usuda, Lily Franky.

One Million Yen Girl [Hyakuman-en to nigamushi onna]
Thursday, July 8 at 8:30 pm
**U.S. Premiere

The film is the hopelessly endearing exile story of ne'er-do-well 21-year-old Suzuko (Yu Aoi, Hula Girl), an impossibly endearing woman who is somewhat hopeless but wise to the ways of the world. After a bad pick of roommate lands her a brief stay at the police station, Suzuko hits the road alone with a tiny suitcase, a determined but restless heart, and a mission: save ¥1 million ($10,000), go to the next place and repeat. Hopping from place to place and eking out a living with different temp jobs, she crosses paths with various people and changes their lives. Yuki Tanada takes the road movie off the beaten path, capturing the fears and dreams of the devil-may-care freeter generation and the universal yearnings of young people with few friends and no jobs. 2008, 121 min., 35 mm, color, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Yuki Tanada. With Yu Aoi, Mirai Moriyama, Pierre Taki.

Parade [Paredo] Friday, July 9 at 9 pm; and Saturday, July 10 at Noon
**New York Premiere
**July 9 screening introduced and followed by a Q&A with director Isao Yukisada
**July 10 screening introduced and followed by a Q&A with Yukisada and actor Tatsuya Fujiwara.

What sounds like a set-up for an American sitcom is actually the pretext for a striking and subtle existentialist drama with roots deeply planted in the despair of post-postmodern life, with the edge of a dark-as-night crime thriller. In a crammed Tokyo apartment meant for newlyweds, four housemates orbit each other's lives--an aimless college student, a high-strung film industry employee (Tatsuya Fujiwara, Battle Royale, Death Note), a sleepaholic actress in a dead-end affair with a TV drama star, and a spottily employed illustrator with a disturbing sense of humor. Things take an intriguing turn upon the arrival of a golden-haired visitor. 2009, 118 min., 35 mm, color, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Isao Yukisada. With Tatsuya Fujiwara, Karina, Shihori Kanjiya. FIPRESCI Jury Prize at the 2010 Berlin International Film Festival.

Sawako Decides [Kawa no soko kara konnichi wa]
Thursday, July 1 at 6:45 pm
**North American Premiere, co-presented with NYAFF

Sawako has been in Tokyo for five years and is on her fifth temp job and her fifth boyfriend. When her dad becomes ill, she returns to her hometown and takes over his freshwater clam packing business. Director Yuya Ishii is the wunderkind of Japanese indie cinema, but in Sawako Decides he abandons art house conceits and makes a powerfully straightforward movie about the real lives of real people. The film is an entrancing, deadpan ode to people who make the most of being pulled in unexpected directions. 2010, 112 min., 35 mm, color, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Yuya Ishii. With Hikari Mitsushima, Kotaro Shiga, Ryo Iwamatsu.

Sweet Little Lies
Friday, July 16 at 8:30 pm
**North American Premiere
**Closing film introduced and followed by a Q&A with director Hitoshi Yazaki

Underneath the veneer of orderly lives, frozen smiles and awkward averted glances, Sweet Little Lies is a cold-as-steel clinical study of a couple. Married for three years, the couple keeps up the apparently tender rituals of newlyweds, but all is not as bright and beautiful as it would seem. Miki Nakatani, "the best Japanese actress of her generation" (Mark Schilling, Japan Times) plays the emotionally and sexually starved wife in Hitoshi Yazaki's anti-melodramatic chronicle of the disintegration of a marriage. Even the most seasoned viewers will be struck by the menacing calm of Yazaki's compositions, and his unveiling of lives made from lies. 2010, 117 min., 35mm, color, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Hitoshi Yazaki. With Miki Nakatani, Nao Omori, Juichi Kobayashi.

Villon's Wife [Viyon no tsuma]
Wednesday, July 14 at 6:30 pm
**New York Premiere

Based on a semi-autobiographical 1947 short story by Osamu Dazai, this period piece flows around a resilient, devoted and preternaturally patient artist's wife. When an outraged bar owner follows Sachi's drunk and unfaithful husband Otani home from the bar, accusing him of stealing, Sachi avoids complications by working at the bar as a self-professed "guarantee" for her husband's debt. The couple's relationship waxes and wanes, deepens and shifts as Sachi's growing empowerment threatens to destroy the fragile balance of her marriage. One of the most acclaimed Japanese films of the past year, veteran director Kichitaro Negishi (What the Snow Brings) turns the spotlight on the artist's companion, giving her flesh, blood and radiant beauty, captured to perfection by actress Takako Matsu, who earned the 34th Hochi Film Award, the 22nd Nikkan Sports Film Award and the 2010 Japan Academy Prize for Best Actress. Negishi won the 33rd Montreal World Film Festival for Best Director. 2009, 114 min., 35 mm, color, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Kichitaro Negishi. With Takako Matsu, Tadanobu Asano, Shigeru Muroi, Masato Ibu.

Zero Focus [Zero no shoten]Friday, July 9 at 6:30 pm; and Thursday, July 15 at 9 pm
**U.S. Premiere

A stellar remake of the classic 1961 Yoshitaro Nomura film (based on the bestselling novel by Seicho Matsumoto), Zero Focus is the closest Japanese film in years to an Alfred Hitchcock picture, with a Douglas Sirk edge. Teiko, a newlywed investigating the sudden disappearance of her husband after he fails to return from a business trip, unravels the mystery surrounding his disappearance and uncovers evidence that he was not the man she thought had married. Soon, she learns that her beloved husband was close to two fascinating women: elegant provincial aristocrat Sachiko and company receptionist Hisako (Tae Kimura). This postwar Japan mystery thriller boasts the top three Japanese female actresses of the moment--Ryoko Hirosue (Departures), Tae Kimura (All Around Us) and Miki Nakatani (Memories of Matsuko)--whose star power performances make this one of the most outstanding films of the year. 2009, 130 min., 35 mm, color, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Isshin Inudou. With Hidetoshi Nishijima, Ryoko Hirosue, Takeshi Kaga.

Since its launch in 2007, Japan Society's JAPAN CUTS festival has attracted nearly 15,000 audience members and presented over 60 feature films, many never-before seen in the U.S. The first annual JAPAN CUTS was one of the most successful single events in the Society's 2007-08 centennial celebration. Noted for its "rich and varied selection of recent Japanese films" (David Kehr, The New York Times), JAPAN CUTS has premiered several films that have gone on to garner international acclaim, including: Death Note, Fish Story, Kamome Diner, Love Exposure, The Mourning Forest, Sukiyaki Western Django, Sway, United Red Army, Vacation, and Yasukuni. Every year, JAPAN CUTS features a number of panels, post-screening parties, and exclusive Q&As with filmmakers and actors. Past festivals have included appearances by directors Shusuke Kaneko, Naomi Kawase, Kazuyoshi Kumakiri, Miwa Nishikawa, Naoko Ogigami, Sion Sono, Gen Takahashi, and Koji Wakamatsu.

Japanese cinema today has reached new heights of critical and popular success, in one of the most dynamic and thriving film industries outside of Hollywood. Since 2006 over 400 Japanese films have been released theatrically in Japan every year. JAPAN CUTS promises U.S. audiences their first taste of the most talked about Japanese films from 2009 and 2010.

The New York Asian Film Festival (NYAFF), North America's leading festival of popular Asian films, runs June 25-July 8, 2010. Films are co-presented with Japan Society's JAPAN CUTS from July 1-4, during the opening weekend of JAPAN CUTS. More at http://www.subwaycinema.com/.

The Japan Society Film Program offers a diverse selection of Japanese films, from classics to contemporary independent productions. Its aim is to entertain, educate and support activities in the Society's arts & culture programs. The Film Program has included retrospectives of great directors, thematic series and many U.S. premieres. Some original film series curated by the Japan Society have traveled to other U.S. venues in tours organized by the Film Program. For more information, visit http://www.japansociety.org/film.

Founded in 1907, Japan Society has evolved into a world-class, multidisciplinary hub for global leaders, artists, scholars, educators, and English and Japanese-speaking audiences. At the Society, more than 100 events each year feature sophisticated, topically relevant presentations of Japanese art and culture and open, critical dialogue on issues of vital importance to the U.S., Japan and East Asia. An American nonprofit, nonpolitical organization, the Society cultivates a constructive, resonant and dynamic relationship between the people of the U.S. and Japan. For more information, visit http://www.japansociety.org/.

Japan Society is located at 333 East 47th Street between First and Second avenues (accessible by the 4/5/6 and 7 subway at Grand Central or the E and V subway at Lexington Avenue). For more information, call 212-832-1155 or visit http://www.japansociety.org/.

JAPAN CUTS is supported by the Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Endowment Fund, The Japan Foundation and the New York State Council on the Arts, a State agency. Additional support is provided by Fast Retailing and Sapporo.

JAPAN CUTS is co-presented with the New York Asian Film Festival. This series is funded by a grant from the New York State Council on the Arts, a State agency. Additional support is provided by Sapporo USA, Inc. and UNIQLO. Transportation assistance is provided by Japan Airlines. Media sponsorship is provided by WNYC.

Friday, May 28, 2010

ACF 580: Stan Lee signing ULTIMO Vol 1 in Pasadena on Saturday

Just got this news about an exciting event this Memorial Day weekend for those in the Pasadena CA area!

ULTIMO co-creator Stan Lee will appear at Rock'n Comic-Con 2010 for an exclusive signing of ULTIMO Vol. 1!

Don't miss this rare opportunity to meet with the legendary comic book creator at the Pasadena Convention Center (300 East Green Street), Booth 402 from 2-3PM on Saturday May 29th!

ULTIMO is created by the historic collaboration between Western comic legend Stan Lee and acclaimed Japanese manga creator Hiroyuki Takei (SHAMAN KING, etc). Created by the mysterious Dr. Dunstan (who has an uncanny resemblance to Stan Lee), mechanical dolls Ultimo (the ultimate embodiment of good) and Vice (the ultimate embodiment of evil) battle each other across 1,000 years to prove whether good or evil is the most powerful force of the universe!

Those who haven't had the chance to check out ULTIMO Vol. 1 yet will have the opportunity to purchase a copy at the show, at the cover price of $9.99 (no tax!). For more information on Rock'n Comic-Con 2010, please check out their website, at http://www.rockncomiccon.com.

ACF 579: KEKKAISHI Anime Series Licensed to Adult Swim


Life Is A Wild Adventure For A Teenager Balancing Girls,
Junior High School And Nighttime Demon Slaying

VIZ Media has licensed 52 episodes of the popular Shonen Sunday KEKKAISHI anime series to Adult Swim for domestic broadcast. KEKKAISHI will begin airing on May 29th.

KEKKAISHI is based on the hit manga series by Yellow Tanabe (also published in North America by VIZ Media). A story of mystical forces powerful in the region known as Karasumori. For over 400 years, it has been the duty of a clan of “kekkaishi”—barrier masters—to guard this land and exterminate the supernatural creatures that are drawn to it night after night.

Yoshimori Sumimura is a junior high school student at Karasumori Academy, which is built upon the Karasumori grounds. By night, Yoshimori follows the tradition passed down through generations and fulfills his destiny as the twenty-second “kekkaishi” of the Sumimura clan. But by day, Yoshimori's got other demons to contend with, like an obsession with cake making and a seriously crotchety grandfather! Yoshimori's pretty neighbor, childhood friend and rival, Tokine Yukimura, is also a “kekkaishi,” but their families are caught up in a feud over who is the true practitioner of the art. Protecting ordinary people from the ever-present danger of the Karasumori grounds, Yoshimori will continue to grow stronger as he battles the forces of evil again tonight!

“Kekkaishi spotlights compelling cool characters, in an intense yet fun-filled supernatural action adventure saga. It possesses all of the hallmarks of great anime!” says William Germain, Director, Programming & Music Sales, VIZ Media. We are very excited to add KEKKAISHI to the Adult Swim anime lineup for U.S. fans to enjoy.”

For more information on KEKKAISHI visit http://www.shonensunday.com/.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

ACF 578: TWO MIRRORS Collection 1 now on slae


Section23 Films has announced that HELL GIRL: TWO MIRRORS is now on sale on DVD across North America.

HELL GIRL: TWO MIRRORS Collection 1 contains 13 episodes of the second season on 2 discs.

They say Revenge is a Dish Best Served Cold…..But What if You’re the Second Helping?

SYNOPSIS: They call her Jigoku Tsushin - the Hell Girl. For endless years Ai Enma has served as the embodiment of revenge itself. If you desire to send another’s soul to eternal torment, contact her via the internet and she’ll come from her land of endless sunset to deliver your revenge… at the cost of sending your own soul, of course, but it’s a price a surprising number of people are willing to pay. But things are changing with the Hell Girl. Once seemingly implacable and pitiless, glints of emotion now show through the cracks forming in her emotionless façade. And now there is a new girl with infernal connections who seems to be turning up with alarming regularity. Things are about to heat up in the damnation game in the first brimstone-blazing collection of HELL GIRL – TWO MIRRORS

Running Time: 325 min.
Age Rating: TV 14 (V)
Language: Japanese with English Subtitles
UPC: 814131016904
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Format: DVD
SRP: $49.98

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

ACF 577: Chairman of South Korea's Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission to speak at The Korean Society Thursday

The Hon. Lee Jae Oh, Chairman of South Korea's Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission (ACRC), will address the membership of The Korea Society on the good-governance reforms he believes will help place the Republic of Korea among the advanced economies of the world and provide a safer, more just society for Korean citizens. The Chairman will also lead a discussion on the importance of Korea as the chair and host of the 2010 G20 economic summit.

A distinguished and longtime politician, Chairman Lee joined the ACRC in 2008. Far from tolerating corruption in the name of rapid economic development, Chairman Lee advocates tightened standards, the introduction of an "Integrity Assessment" for high-ranking officials, and the establishment of Korea as a model for developing countries looking to acquire anti-corruption capabilities.

Thursday, May 27 at 8:30 AM

The Korea Society
950 Third Avenue (@57th Street)
Eighth Floor
New York City, NY 10022
(212) 759-7525

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

ACF 576: New York Asian Film Festival 2010 is coming sooner than you think!

Begin making your plans to attend every possible screening that you can of what promises to be the best New York Asian Film Festival thus far. And that's saying a helluva lot!!!

Links for further info:

Subway Cinema:

Subway Cinema Blog:

Subway Cinema Mailing List:

Facebook Fan Page:

Twitter Feed:

Japan Society JAPAN CUTS: Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema

Film Society of Lincoln Center:
- At this time the only info that seems to be available is the announcement of the NYAFF from June 25-July 8. The announcement includes a paragraph describing the festival and an indication the tickets go on sale Thursday, June 10th. I suggest you check back periodically.

Monday, May 24, 2010

ACF 575: Happy Birthday, Seijun Suzuki

The above image is cropped from the cover of Asian Cult Cinema magazine,
Issue 21, 4th quarter 1998. Used by permission.

Today marks the 87th birthday of renowned Japanese director Seijun Suzuki. He was born Seitaro Suzuki on May 24, 1923, and is also an actor and screenwriter. His films include Fighting Elegy, Gate of Flesh, Kanto Wanderer, Underworld Beauty, Tokyo Drifter, and Branded to Kill, all of which are available on DVD from Home Vision Entertainment or The Criterion Collection.

By my estimate, he has more DVDs distributed by Criterion than any other Japanese director save Akura Kurosawa, which is high praise indeed.

Most of his films were B-movies that he made for Nikkatsu between 1956 and 1967. His desire to inject his personal style into these routine genre films resulted in his being fired after making Branded to Kill (1967) because his films were deemed "incomprehensible." He successfully sued the studio for wrongful dismissal, but was blacklisted for ten years.

In later years he won the Japanese Academy Award for Best Picture and Best Director for Zigeunerweisen (1980), part of his Taisho Trilogy. Zigeunerweisen is available from Kino Video. These days he is most famous in Japan for his roles as an actor in Japaneses films and TV.

So a most happy birthday wish to you, Seijun Suzuki, actor, screenwriter, master director, and a true surviver.

ACF 574: SECTION23 Films announces June 2010 releases


Clannad Complete Collection Available on June 15th

Home video distributor Section23 Films has announced its June slate of releases, including the new English dubbed release of the hit series Clannad from Section23 client Sentai Filmworks.

Also releasing in June is the Erotic Comedy from new studio Maiden Japan. PAPILLON ROSE COMPLETE COLLECTION.

Product details follow, in order of release.

Coming June 2010:

Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 300 min.
Street Date: 6/1/2010
Format: DVD
SRP: $49.98

SYNOPSIS: It’s never easy when a stranger moves into your house, but if you have to host a foreign exchange student, Feena Fam Earthlight* would be almost the perfect choice… She’s smart, kind, generous and attractive, BUT the problem is that she’s the Sphere Kingdom’s Princess, and tensions between Earth and our Lunar neighbors have been tense since the big war. So you might forgive Asagiri Tatsuya for having some reservations, but since his father IS the first assistant to the president, what better place to board the Princess so she can learn more about Earth culture? And, as mentioned before, Feena is VERY attractive. Unfortunately, the course of true love doesn’t normally have to contend with either interplanetary diplomacy or Feena’s bizarre entourage of assistants… and then there’s the question of how the kids at Tatsuy’s school are going to react. Get ready to see stars as two teens from totally different worlds collide in Brighter than the Dawning Blue – The Complete Collection!

Published by: Maiden Japan
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 175 min.
Street Date: 6/8/2010
Format: DVD
SRP: $34.98

SYNOPSIS: They're bold, they're beautiful and they're barely wearing anything as they save the world from sexual conquest! What began as a crazed experiment in anime fandom has escalated beyond the control of its otaku dojinshi creators, and now the underground fan phenomenon parodying a certain sailor-suited battle team leaps to home video in seven sense-exploding, skin-baring, "cover the kids' eyes quick" videos of utter animated insanity! Can high-school student and part time underwear model Tsubomi save Japan from the monstrous villainesses who seek to suck it's men dry of… um… sexual energy? How do her talking cat Rama and the mysterious stranger who calls himself "Dandy Lion" fit into the picture? And just how many magic girls who fight evil in their underwear does Japan have anyway? They're not knock-offs, they're knock outs, and they're fighting wrongs in their thongs in PAPILLON ROSE - The Complete Collection!

Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 600 min.
Street Date: 6/15/2010
Format: DVD
SRP: $69.98

SYNOPSIS: Tortured by his past and pained by an uncertain future, Tomoya drifts through life with an almost overwhelming anger and emptiness. But when he meets the mysterious, beautiful, shy Nagisa, his world seems to change. Drawn in by her gentle but lonely spirit, he begins to experience the joy life can bring. But as he discovers the reason for his newfound friend's loneliness, Tomoya also finds that life can be frighteningly fragile.

Poignant. Compelling. Heartbreaking. Clannad is one of the most cherished anime of all time. Experience the wondrous and tender storytelling that has made Clannad an anime classic.

Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 325 min.
Street Date: 6/22/2010
SRP: $49.98

SYNOPSIS: Talking to invisible people that only you can see can get you into unusual situations, so when Kahoko Hino encounters a tiny fairy named Lili on the way to school, she is shocked to find herself entered in a competition for her school’s elite music program! That might be wonderful, except Hino doesn’t even play an instrument, let alone own one! But Lili has a solution for that as well, and he attempts to give her a magic violin. Hino refuses at first, but weakens, perhaps noticing how many good looking boys seem to be in the program. The problem is that now Hino is competing against a host of other talented students, and she really can’t play a note! Now she’ll have to work double-time in order to justify her place in the orchestra! Will Hino become the musical prodigy everyone thinks she is, or will she just end up playing second fiddle? One way or another, she’ll have to face the music in 'La Corda d'oro' – Primo Passo – Collection 1!

Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 325 min.
Street Date: 6/29/2010
Format: DVD
SRP: $49.98

SYNOPSIS: Let’s face it; a “typical day” in alien occupied feudal Japan is still going to be strange by any normal standards, but at Gintoki’s Odd Jobs agency, the freelancers have learned to expect the weirdest of the weird when it comes to assignments. Of course, when your company specializes in doing the oddest of odd jobs, the odds are that that oddness is bound to rub off on you, but the really bad part about the job is that it pays so little for the near-terminal risk to life and limb that almost every mission inevitably ends up entailing. Unfortunately for our favorite group of Freelance Oddballs, they’re usually underemployed, which besides making them UFOs, means that they have to take just about every job they can find. Escorting a runaway princess? Check. Driving a cab. Check. Cross-dressing samurai bar? Swallow the pride and check. If you thought the first collection of Japan’s mega-hit series seemed like the bizarre love child of Akira Kurosawa and Monty Python, you won’t believe the insanity that ensues in GINTAMA – The Second Collection!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

ACF 573: New manga Toriko set to debut June 1st, 2010

TORIKO © 2008 by Mitsutoshi Shimabukuro/SHUEISHA Inc


It’s Eat Or Be Eaten As A Gourmet Hunter Tracks Exotic Big Game
For His Clients’ Expensive Palates In Ferocious New Manga Debut

VIZ Media will intorduce a new manga property that expertly blends action-adventure with the thrill of the hunt with the release of TORIKO on June 1st. The new series, created by Mitsutoshi Shimabukuro, will be published under the SHONEN JUMP imprint, is rated ‘T’ for Teens, and will carry an MSRP of $9.99 U.S. / $12.99 CAN.

In a savage world ruled by the pursuit of the most delicious foods, it's either eat or be eaten! This is the great era of gourmet food! And only Toriko can track down the ferocious and exotic wildlife coveted by the world's best restaurants and wealthy food connoisseurs. As a Gourmet Hunter, Toriko tracks and defeats the tastiest and most dangerous animals with his bare hands. But has he met his match with an eight-legged alligator the size of a tank?

“Fans will be in for a truly wild ride with over-the-top action in TORIKO,” says Elizabeth Kawasaki, Senior Editorial Director at VIZ Media. “Toriko uses his incredible strength and superb hunting skills to track down the most exotic ingredients for his clients’ expensive and unusual tastes to create the ultimate dinner!”

Creator Mitsutoshi Shimabukuro made his debut in Japan’s Weekly Shonen Jump in 1996. He is best known for the 2001 series, Seikimatsu Leader Den Takeshi! (A Tale of a Leader in The End of the Century Takeshi), for which he won the 46th Shogakukan Manga Award for children's manga. His current series, TORIKO, began serialization in Japan in 2008.

More information on this and other Shonen Jump titles available at: http://shonenjump.viz.com.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

ACF 572: Avatar The Last Airbender Complete Book 1 available today!

Relive the epic saga from the beginning…


Limited-edition 7-disc collectors set includes all 20 episodes
is loaded with special features from Book 1, and includes
an exclusive preview book and an amazing documentary

Hits stores June 22, 2010

Take a magical, mystical, action-packed journey with Avatar: The Last Airbender, the animated series that quickly became a phenomenon, creating a huge fan base that spans the globe. Watch the luminous visuals and the incredible storyline that inspired this summer’s live-action movie The Last Airbender, directed by M. Night Shyamalan. Avatar: The Last Airbender The Complete Book 1 Collector’s Edition makes it way to DVD June 22nd, 2010.

This newly designed limited edition 7-disc collector’s set includes the entire Book 1: Water compilation with special features and bonus disc. An amazing behind-the-scenes documentary from the creators Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko that reveals the story behind the creation of the epic animated series including never-before-seen development art, interviews with the creative team, fan testimonials and more.

Also included is an exclusive preview edition of Avatar: The Last Airbender – the Art of the Animated Series, a book that provides a unique, insider’s view of the amazing designs, storyboards, paintings and animation.

Avatar: The Last Airbender The Complete Book 1 Collector’s Edition Fast Facts:
Street Date: June 22, 2010
DVD SRP: $57.99
DVD Running Time: 533 Minutes

DVD Bonus Features:
· Behind-the-Scenes with the Avatar Cast & Crew
· Avatar Pilot Episode with Audio Commentary
· The Making of Avatar – Inside the Sound Studios
· The Making of Avatar – Inside the Korean Animation Studios
· Avatar Documentary

About Avatar: The Last Airbender
Water. Earth. Fire. Air. Only the Avatar was the master of all four elements. Only he could stop the ruthless Fire Nation from conquering the world. But when the world needed him most, he disappeared. Until now... On the South Pole, a lone Water Tribe village struggles to survive. It's here that a young Waterbender named Katara and her warrior brother Sokka rescue a strange boy named Aang from a cavernous iceberg. Not only is Aang an Airbender – a race of people no one has seen in a century – but they soon discover that Aang is also the long lost Avatar. Now it's up to Katara and Sokka to make sure Aang faces his destiny to save the tribe, and himself. Avatar:The Last Airbender is syndicated in over 80 territories around the world, and is the #1 ranked program with boys 6-11 on Nicktoons in 2Q10-to-date (3/29/10-5/16/10).

Friday, May 21, 2010

ACF 571: Special screening of CHOSEN at Symphony Space

Directed by Brian Iglesias
2010, 85 mins
New York Premiere
Screening Date: Wednesday, June 9th, 2010
6:30 PM: Screening
8:00 PM: Q&A with Director


A gripping documentary on one of the U.S. Marine Corps defining battles, with moving testimonials by Marine and Army veterans who survived, honoring those lost and relishing their part in helping build a modern Korea.

In commemoration of the 60 anniversary of the Korean War, The Korea Society presents a special screening of Chosin, a documentary film that preserves the personal stories of veterans who survived the Battle of Chosin Reservoir. In the harsh winter of 1950, numerically inferior American forces found themselves surrounded by the Chinese People's Volunteer Army.

In addition to the enemy, the Americans battled the rugged Korean terrain and arctic conditions to break out of the encirclement and escort approximately 91,000 refugees to safety. For their actions, American servicemen received 14 Medals of Honor and 70 Navy Crosses (more than were awarded for the Battle of Iwo Jima). Chosin will be the first documentary film to tell their remarkable story. It won Best Documentary Feature award at the GI Film Festival 2010.

This special screening will take place at:

Symphony Space
Address: 2537 Broadway, New York, NY 10025
Website: http://www.symphonyspace.org/

Thursday, May 20, 2010

ACF 570: Korean Movie Night - The Accidental Gangster

The next free film shown as part of Korean Cultural Service's Korean Movie Night Epic Action series will be:

South Korea, 2008, 103 minutes
New York Premiere
Showtime: TUESDAY, MAY 25 @ 7: 00PM

All films in the series are shown at Tribeca Cinemas, 54 Varick Street, on the corner of Canal Street, one block from the A, C, E and 1 train Canal Street stops.

Its other title tells you all you need to know: GIBANG RIOT OF 1724. A head-banging action comedy it's a frenetic blend of modern filmmaking style and period storytelling polish. A ghetto street brawler falls for a high priced courtesan (Kim Ok-Bin, THIRST) and winds up fighting for her affections with the local gang boss. Scored to a mix of hip hop and rock, edited by monkeys jacked up on crack, and featuring wall-to-wall nutso action, it's the kind of movie that has no pretensions: it's out to do nothing more than make your head explode.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

ACF 569: New anime series Cross Game streaming free on VIZAnime.com


Joining The Highly Anticipated Previews Of The Manga

VIZ Media has announced the very special North American premiere of the new anime series - CROSS GAME, a story set against the backdrop of baseball that explores the bonds of love shared between family and friends. CROSS GAME is streaming free on VIZ Media’s VIZAnime website www.VIZAnime.com.

The news follows an announcement last month of VIZ Media’s planned preview of the CROSS GAME manga series, which is scheduled to also go live today, on the company’s Shonen Sunday website (www.ShonenSunday.com). The manga series, created by Mitsuru Adachi, is scheduled for release under the Shonen Sunday imprint on October 12, 2010.

CROSS GAME is a moving coming-of-age drama that is heartfelt and true and flows delightfully with a light and amusing touch. The series centers around a boy named Ko, the family of four sisters who live down the street, and their shared passion for the sport of baseball.

“VIZAnime is a convenient new one-stop web destination where visitors stream hundreds of episodes from not only classic VIZ Media anime properties, but also brand new series like CROSS GAME,” says Andy Nakatani, Editorial Manager, VIZ Media. “CROSS GAME was created by one of the most talented names in manga and the anime counterpart is a wonderful adaptation of the well-crafted story of baseball, adolescence, tragedy and newfound love. We invite fans to explore VIZAnime and see what the growing buzz is all about.”

VIZAnime is a free-to-use interactive web destination that is now the permanent home to some of the company’s best-loved animated series. New content is now added on a weekly basis.


To view subtitled CROSS GAME animated episodes (rated ‘T’ for Teens) and other VIZ Media animated titles please visit www.VIZAnime.com.

For more information on the CROSS GAME manga (rated ‘T’ for teens) and other titles from VIZ Media’s Shonen Sunday imprint, please visit www.ShonenSunday.com.

Friday, May 14, 2010

ACF 568: Samurai Harem Complete Collection now available on DVD


Section23 Films has announced the release of SAMURAI HAREM - ASU NO YOICHI COMPLETE COLLECTION on DVD.

His Skill with a Sword is Magnificent but… His SOCIAL Skills Still Need a LOT of Work!

SYNOPSIS: After many long years perfecting the art of fighting, 17 year old Yoichi Karasuma is sent down from the remote mountains where he has been raised thinking that he’s going to study some new martial arts techniques… but what he’s really going to learn about are some slightly more practical things, like electrical appliances, modern clothing and, most especially, how NOT to make girls to want to kill you! Unfortunately, that last lesson is one Yoichi may not survive, as his new Dojo is infested with the infernal creatures in the form of the Ikaruga sisters, and they don’t really seem to understand how “proper” girls are “supposed” to behave! Will Yoichi’s bushido blade be struck down by the fearsome charms of Ibuki, Ayame, Chihaya and Kagome? Or will the equally lethal girls from the rival Tsubame School be his undoing.

Running Time: 300 min.
Age Rating: TV-PG (V,D)
Language: Japanese with English Subtitles
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
SRP: $49.98

Thursday, May 13, 2010

ACF 567: Final two films in Japan Society Chambara series tomorrow night

The two final movies in Japan Society's Monthly Classics series: THE DOUBLE-EDGED SWORD: The Chambara Films of Shintaro Katsu & Raizo Ichikawa will screen tomorrow evening, Friday, May 14th, 2010,

Cinematic cool and masculinity had two faces in the 1960s: actors Shintaro Katsu (1931–97) and Raizo Ichikawa (1931–69). This retrospective pays tribute to these two Japanese film legends, in their most respected, representative and stylish chambara (sword fighting) films.

The series has been curated by Chris D., genre film expert, cult punk rock icon, and author of Outlaw Masters of Japanese Film. And I for one have to say he'd done a fantastic job.

Note that these are separate screenings and there is a separate admission charge for each.

The Lone Stalker (A.K.A. Lone Wolf Isazo)
Directed by Kazui Ikehiro
Japan, 1968, 84 min
Showtime: Friday, May 14, 6:30 PM

The epitome of the matatabi (samurai gambler) movie, The Lone Stalker (A.K.A. Lone Wolf Isazo) ranks as one of Raizo Ichikawa’s most spectacular performances. Employing flashbacks within flashbacks and a brooding romantic style poised somewhere between Budd Boetticher and early Sergio Leone, director Kazuo Ikehiro charts Isazo’s descent from chivalrous naïf to vengeance-obsessed cynical wanderer, giving a definitive chronicle of the loneliness of the long-distance wanderer.

Order tickets here.

The Devil's Temple
Directed by Kenji Misumi
Japan, 1969, 76 min
Showtime: Friday, May 14, 8:30 PM

In this little known Misumi masterpiece, an abandoned temple nestled in the mountains is the scene of a fateful encounter between a Buddhist monk, two women in love with the same man, and a fallen samurai (Shintaro Katsu, at his most ferocious). As destinies collide: it appears that not just the lives of the quartet are at stake, but their very souls. Hell awaits!

Buy tickets here.

Both screenings take place in the intimate, well-raked auditorium at Japan Society, located at 333 East 47th Street New York, NY 10017.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

ACF 566: New literary manga Library Wars: Love and War due June 1st, 2010


New Shojo Adventure Follows A Young Recruit In The Library Defense Forces As She Protects The Right To Read

VIZ Media will bring a new literary manga adventure to North American readers with the release of LIBRARY WARS: LOVE & WAR on June 1st. The series, with story and art by Kiiro Yumi and based on the original concept by Hiro Arikawa, will be published under the Shojo Beat imprint, is rated ‘T+’ for Older Teens and will carry an MSRP of $9.99 U.S. / $12.99 CAN.

In the near future, the federal government creates a special committee to rid society of books it deems unsuitable. But the libraries vow to protect their collections, and with the help of local governments, form a military group to defend themselves – the Library Defense Forces!

In the opening volume, Iku Kasahara has dreamed of joining the LDF ever since one of its soldiers stepped in to protect her favorite book from being confiscated in a bookstore when she was younger. But now that she's finally a recruit, she's finding her dream job to be a bit of a nightmare. Especially since her hard-hearted drill instructor seems to have it in for her!

“Manga lovers will root for the cute librarians in this fun new series that also addresses some important issues like liberty, freedom of speech and censorship,” says Candice Uyloan, Director, Consumer Marketing, VIZ Media. “LIBRARY WARS is based on a collection of novels also written by Hiro Arikawa that were extremely popular in Japan, selling more than one million copies. Fans will definitely want to add this adventure to their summer reading lists!”

Hiro Arikawa won the 10th Dengeki Novel Prize for her work Shio no Machi: Wish on My Precious in 2003 and debuted with the same novel in 2004. Arikawa is probably best known for the LIBRARY WARS series and also her trilogy about Japan’s military Self Defense Forces, Jieitai Sanbusaku (The SDF Trilogy), which consists of In the Sky, The Bottom of the Sea, and City of Salt.

Kiiro Yumi won the 42nd LaLa magazine Manga Grand Prix Fresh Debut award for her manga Little Billy's Depression. Her latest series, LIBRARY WARS: LOVE & WAR is currently featured in Japan’s LaLa magazine.

For more information on this title and other shojo titles from VIZ Media, visit www.shojobeat.com.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

ACF 565: Frozen Flower screens for FREE tonight at Tribeca Cinemas!

Just a quick reminder that Korean Cultural Service will be presenting the third series of free KOREAN MOVIE NIGHT screenings from May 11th to June 29th, 2010. The theme of the four films to be shown is Epic Action. Films will be shown every other Tuesday @ 7pm at Tribeca Cinemas. The theater is located at 54 Varick Street, on the corner of Canal Street, one block from the A, C, E and 1 train Canal Street stops.

Price? Free! All seating is first-come, first served. Doors open at 6:30pm.

The first film will be shown this evening at 7:00 PM:

Frozen Flower / Ssang-hwa-jeom
Directed by Yu Ha
South Korea, 2008, 131 minutes
New York Premiere

Monday, May 10, 2010

ACF 564: Vampire Knight anime now online at VIZAnime.com

Fates Are Sealed In A Tale Of Gothic Romance And Bloodlust
In New Animated Series Based On Smash Hit Manga by Matsuri Hino

VIZ Media invites fans to sink their teeth into the gothic romance of the animated series VAMPIRE KNIGHT, which recently launched online on VIZAnime.com.

VIZ Anime is the official online home to some of VIZ Media’s best-loved animated series and a burgeoning social network for fans to connect and form an interactive community. Over 400 episodes are currently available and new content is added on a weekly basis. VIZ Anime is accessible at: www.VIZAnime.com.

Cross Academy is attended by two groups of students: the Day Class and the Night Class. At twilight, when the students of the Day Class return to their dorms, they cross paths with the mysterious Night Class on their way to school. Yuki Cross and Zero Kiryu are the Guardians of the school, protecting the Day Class from the Academy's dark secret: the Night Class is full of vampires! Yuki Cross has no memory of her past prior to the moment she was saved from a vampire attack ten years ago. She was adopted by the headmaster of Cross Academy, and now works alongside Zero to guard the Academy's secret. Yuki believes that vampires and humans can coexist peacefully, but her partner has different ideas...

“With its cast of edgy and engaging characters combined with a dark sexy storyline, VAMPIRE KNIGHT is destined to be one of the most exciting anime releases of 2010,” says Brian Ige, Director of Sales, Home Entertainment. “Fans can also look forward to the release of VAMPIRE KNIGHT on DVD, under the Shojo Beat imprint, on July 20th. Stay tuned for more details coming soon on some hot VIZ Media anime summer releases!”

VAMPIRE KNIGHT (rated ‘T+’ for Older Teens) is based on the best-selling manga series created by Matsuri Hino, who burst onto the scene in Japan with her debut title, Kono Yume ga Sametara (When This Dream Is Over) in LaLa DX magazine. With the success of subsequent series such as CAPTIVE HEARTS and MERU PURI (both published domestically by VIZ Media), Hino has firmly established herself as a major force in the world of shojo manga. VAMPIRE KNIGHT is currently serialized in LaLa magazine in Japan.

For more information on the VAMPIRE KNIGHT manga and to read free previews online please visit www.shojobeat.com. For more information on other animated titles from VIZ Media visit www.VIZAnime.com.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

ACF 563: I'll Give It My All... Tomorrow


Story Of A Salaryman Who Embarks On A Quest To Become A Manga Artist
Offers A Unique Journey Of Self-Discovery

VIZ Media has announced the release of I’LL GIVE IT MY ALL… TOMORROW. The series, created by Shunju Aono, will debut on May 18th under the VIZ Signature imprint, is rated ‘T+’ for Older Teens, and will carry an MSRP of $12.99 U.S. / $16.99 CAN.

This is the story of a hapless forty year-old salaryman who quits his job to pursue his dream of becoming a manga artist – and the family that has to put up with him. While not terribly unhappy, Shizuo Oguro can't fight the feeling that something in his life just isn't right, so he walks away from his stable (yet boring) day job to embark on a journey of self-discovery. Unfortunately for his family, this journey also involves playing video games all day while his teenage daughter and elderly father support him. Will Shizuo succeed in creating a true manga masterpiece, or will he be just another dropout living a life of slack?

In the opening volume, Shizuo Oguro is living his dream… sort of. Feeling like his life has been a complete waste Shizuo breaks free from the corporate rat race and charts a new and fairly random career course to become a published manga artist. Sure, he lacks the talent, discipline, or any of the other skills necessary to become a success in the manga industry, but that won’t stop Shizuo from achieving his dream!

“It’s a long way to the top in the manga business, but Shizuo’s endearing journey reminds us that life is filled with endless challenges, and that resilience and humor can give Shizuo (or any budding manga artist) the fortitude to pursue their dreams despite his family’s consternation,” says Kit Fox, Editor, VIZ Media. “I’LL GIVE IT MY ALL… TOMORROW is one of the flagship titles featured in Japan’s IKKI magazine and is a great example of the kind of high quality manga series aimed at older readers. We look forward to fans discovering this great new story.”

Creator Shunju Aono won Young Magazine’s 45th Chiba Tetsuya Award in 2001 and also won the 17th Ikkiman IKKI Newcomers Award in 2005 for his manga series KALEIDOSCOPE. His current series, I’LL GIVE IT MY ALL… TOMORROW, is currently featured in IKKI magazine.

VIZ Media’s innovative partnership with Japan’s IKKI magazine brings a diverse collection of exceptional manga series to audiences in North America. From action to comedy to drama, slice-of-life stories to surrealist fantasies, the uniting themes these works share are an uncommon emphasis on creative quality and on pushing the boundaries of the manga norm.

I’LL GIVE IT MY ALL… TOMORROW is currently featured online at SigIKKI.com, the groundbreaking web destination for a broad range of unique manga for mature audiences.

For more information on other VIZ Signature titles and to check out a sneak peek of Chapter one through five of I’LL GIVE IT MY ALL… TOMORROW visit www.SigIKKI.com.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

ACF 562: Free Korean Movie Night returns May 11th - June 29th, 2010 in NYC

Korean Cultural Service will be presenting the third series of free KOREAN MOVIE NIGHT screenings from May 11th to June 29th, 2010. The theme of the four films to be shown is Epic Action. Films will be shown every other Tuesday @ 7pm at Tribeca Cinemas. The theater is located at 54 Varick Street, on the corner of Canal Street, one block from the A, C, E and 1 train Canal Street stops.

Price? Free! All seating is first-come, first served. Doors open at 6:30pm.

First up on Tuesday, May 11th at 7:00 PM is:

Frozen Flower / Ssang-hwa-jeom
Directed by Yu Ha
South Korea, 2008, 131 minutes
New York Premiere

Based on a true story, FROZEN FLOWER is sexy, bloody fun, anchored by three ferociously committed performances and powered by subversive sexual politics. Set in the Goryeo Dynasty, it opens with the King (Ju Jin-Mo, who won “Best Actor” for his performance here) peacefully in love with his bodyguard, Hong Lim (Jo In-Sung, currently serving in the Army). The two men are happy together, and the court turns a blind eye to their romance, but someone’s got to father an heir and so Hong-Lim is assigned the task of impregnating the Queen (Song Ji-Hyo). Complications ensue.

Friday, May 07, 2010

ACF 561:You're Under Arrest: Full Throttle Collection 2

Section23 Films has announced the release of YOU'RE UNDER ARREST: FULL THROTTLE COLLECTION 2.

SYNOPSIS: They’re tough, tenacious and would take no prisoners… Except it’s their job! Miyuki, Natsumi and the other officers of the Bokuto police station are back on the case, although in the weird world of Japan’s most unorthodox police precinct, the exact definition as to what constitutes a “case” seems be largely up to individual officer discretion. After all, while working on the set of a documentary film could fall under the category of crowd control, how can anyone classify adventures that range from dog sitting to completing a romantic mission from beyond the grave as typical police work? And that’s to say nothing of pursuing suspects on in-line skates while wearing bikinis and wearing giant mushroom costumes? There are handcuffs; fisticuffs and high speed chases ahead in the second and final collection of YOU'RE UNDER ARREST: FULL THROTTLE!

Running Time: 300 min.
Age Rating: TV 14 (V)
Language: Japanese with English Subtitles
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Format: DVD
SRP: $39.98

Thursday, May 06, 2010

ACF 560: Japanese artist Makoto Aida subject of new VIZ Pictures DVD


Latest Release In NEW PEOPLE ARTIST SERIES Captures
The Work And Private Life Of Pop Art Provocateur

VIZ Pictures, an affiliate of VIZ Media that focuses on Japanese live-action film distribution, has announced the release of the newest volume of its ongoing NEW PEOPLE ARTIST SERIES – Makoto Aida: Cynic in the Playground. The recently released documentary is directed by Yusuke Tamari, carries an MSRP of $25.92 U.S. / $35.99 CAN and will be distributed exclusively by VIZ Media.

Makoto Aida is one of the most diverse and controversial artists in Japan working prolifically in various media including sculpture, painting, video, installation and manga. Known for his diverse and often controversial images, Makoto Aida shares his work and private life as he creates his "Human Project" and "Shinjuku Castle."

“Makoto Aida’s art often exhibits a dark cynicism that is infused with elements of a lighthearted, lowbrow-style humor as he tackles heavy subjects such as terrorism, pedophilia, and societal misogyny,” says Seiji Horibuchi, President and CEO of VIZ Pictures and the founder of NEW PEOPLE. “This documentary, which is the fifth release in our NEW PEOPLE ARTIST SERIES, is a rare look at one of the most provocative artists of our time, and lets his true character emerge through his intense creative process.”

The NEW PEOPLE ARTIST SERIES is an intriguing collection of documentaries introducing modern Japanese Pop artists to the American audience. All of the highlighted artists possess unique views and inspirations to create captivating works of art.

For more information, visit http://www.viz-pictures.com/ or www.newpeopleartistseries.com.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

ACF 559: MoMA presents special weeklong showing of Yasmin Ahmad's final film Talentime

MoMA Presents: ContemporAsian May 6–12

Asian cinema is fast becoming a cinema without borders. In the monthly exhibition ContemporAsian, MoMA showcases films that get little exposure outside of their home countries or on the international festival circuit, but which engage the various styles, histories, and changes in Asian cinema. This month, in conjunction with Filmmaker in Focus: Yasmin Ahmad, MoMA is presenting a special weeklong engagement of Malaysian director Yasmin Ahmad’s final film, Talentime, a multicharacter, multithread story that explores the rich tapestry of Malaysia’s diverse peoples, cultures, and religions.

Directed by Yasmin Ahmad
Malaysia, 2009, 120 min.
With Pamela Chong, Mahesh Jugal Kishor, Mohd Syafie Naswip.

In Malay, Tamil; English subtitles
U.S. premiere. Thursday, May 6, 6:00 (T1); Friday, May 7, 4:00 (T2); Saturday, May 8, 1:30 (T2); Sunday, May 9, 5:00 (T2);
Monday, May 10, 4:00 (T2); Wednesday, May 12, 7:00 (T2)

ACF 558: Section 23 Films announces July DVD releases

GOLGO 13 COLLECTION 1 Available on July 6th

Home video distributor Section23 Films has announced its July slate of releases, including the new English dubbed release of the hit series Golgo 13 from Section23 client Sentai Filmworks. Also releasing in July is the Blue-Ray Edition of LEGENDS OF THE DARK KING COMPLETE COLLECTION. Product details below, in order of release date.

Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 325 min.
Street Date: 7/6/2010
Format: DVD
SRP: $49.98

SYNOPSIS: You can't make a silk purse out of a pig's ear, but you can make a football. And apparently with enough finagling and a little finesse, you can make a football star as well! By both hook and crook, Sena Kobayakawa's unnaturally strong sense of self preservation and even more extraordinary skills at fleeing have turned him into the star running back of his school's admittedly unusual US-style football team. And even more amazingly, the Deimon Demon Bats are actually starting to be taken seriously! But can Machiavellian manager Himura pull an even bigger trick and build the team into a serious challenge to the awesome might of the Taiyou Sphinx? He'll have to if they want to have the privilege of tackling the NASA Aliens! Sena's biggest challenge and greatest rival are about to take the field by storm in EYESHIELD 21 - COLLECTION 2!

Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 325 min.
Street Date: 7/13/2010
Format: DVD
SRP: $59.98

SYNOPSIS: His targets never see it coming and he's never caught. If there is a witness to the kill, that poor SOB winds up dead too. People say he's a ghost. A machine. A monster. He's Golgo 13, the most feared assassin in the world, the professional's professional, the killer of killers. And now he's back with 13 targeted missions that will keep you glued to the screen (and away from the windows). Load up for high-powered, bullet-riddled action with Golgo 13!!

Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 325 min.
Street Date: 7/20/2010
Format: DVD
SRP: $49.98

SYNOPSIS: A nuclear holocaust has robbed the world of its order, and now warring factions fight for every square inch of desert, spilling buckets of blood to gain control. But legends tell of one great warrior who will become King, using his powerful fists and an awesome rage to rise to his rightful place. That warrior is Raoh, a giant hulking fighter with the ability to vanquish his enemies in the bloodiest way possible. But other warriors will not relinquish their kingdoms so easily. Because in this world, no one gives up without a fight! Join in the adventure with one of the most exciting animated warriors ever!

Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 325 min.
Street Date: 7/20/2010
Format: BD
SRP: $69.98

SYNOPSIS: A nuclear holocaust has robbed the world of its order, and now warring factions fight for every square inch of desert, spilling buckets of blood to gain control. But legends tell of one great warrior who will become King, using his powerful fists and an awesome rage to rise to his rightful place. That warrior is Raoh, a giant hulking fighter with the ability to vanquish his enemies in the bloodiest way possible. But other warriors will not relinquish their kingdoms so easily. Because in this world, no one gives up without a fight! Join in the adventure with one of the most exciting animated warriors ever!

Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 325 min.
Street Date: 7/27/2010
Format: DVD
SRP: $49.98

SYNOPSIS: Whenever there has been Hell to pay, Ai Enma has been the collector. Now, however, the volatile emotions she has kept entombed are slowly beginning to exhume themselves, and as a monstrous cycle of reprisal and retribution wields its deadly scythe across the people of Lovely Hills, the Hell girl and her companions suddenly find themselves confronted with visions of their own mortality. Who were they, before becoming Hell's Collectors? And what will be their ultimate fate? As she seeks to cope with the ceaseless inhumanity of mortals consumed with vengeance, Ai Enma must take a journey she never expected, and answer the question she never dared to ask: When you're already in Hell, are you allowed to die? The truth lies buried in the second shocking collection of HELL GIRL - Two Mirrors!