With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

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

Thursday, September 30, 2010

ACF 706: Final screening of BESTSELLER at BAM as part of NYKFF 2010

Written and directed by Lee Jeong-ho
With Uhm Jung-hwa, Ryoo Seung-yong, Lee Do-Yeong
South Korea, 2010, 117 min.
NYKFF screenings mark film's New York Premiere
Final Screening: BAM Rose Cinema
Friday, October 1, 2010 @ 9:15 PM

Already shown twice at MoMA, this Friday's screening at BAM marks the third and final showing of the terrific mystery/thriller/horror tour de force at the New York Korean Film Festival 2010. For full info about the festival's complete lineup and schdule, click here.

After suffering a breakdown, a successful writer rents a house in the countryside for herself and her young daughter. The daughter soon befriends a talkative "presence" in the house, and regales her mother with this new friend's stories. But when the mother starts writing the stories down, bad things begin to happen.

ACF mini-review:
Although it's not my favorite genre, I really enjoyed this film. The female writer has to deal with charges of plagiarism. In the course of trying to write a new book in a large villa near a rural town, she starts losing her mind while getting visions of a horrible incident that took place there years ago. The use of rapid fire editing at certain times really ups the anxiety ante. It's a gripping thriller with fantastic plot twists, and the entire cast is top rate. (Most fortunately there are no young girls with long straight black hair falling down in front of their faces, a cliche that has long ago lost its appeal.)

ACF Rating: 3.5 out of 4 stars, highly recommended.

ACF 705: "The Secret of Kells" due out Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

It may be Irish, not Asian, but I think that many anime lovers (and others as well) will be interested to learn that the Academy Award®-nominated Best Animated Feature, The Secret of Kells, will be available on DVD and Blu-ray from New Video's Flatiron Film Company on Tuesday, October 5, 2010.

A stunning, sweeping adventure about the power of imagination, this delightful and dazzling animated movie will captivate audiences of all ages with astounding imagery and a universally-powerful and uplifting story. The Secret of Kells will also be distributed day-and-date (October 5) on video-on-demand (VOD) and on digital platforms via New Video's partners.

The Secret of Kells, directed by Tomm Moore, transports viewers to a remote medieval outpost of Ireland, where young Brendan (Evan McGuire) embarks on a forbidden adventure that begins when a celebrated master illuminator named Aidan (Mick Lally) arrives from foreign lands carrying a book brimming with secret wisdom and powers. To help complete the magical book, Brendan must overcome his deepest fears to travel on a dangerous and mysterious quest that takes him away from his uncle Abbot Cellach (Brendan Gleeson) and into the enchanted forest. He meets the fairy Aisling (Christen Mooney), an enigmatic young wolf-girl, who helps him along the way. But, with the barbarians closing in, will Brendan's determination and artistic vision help illuminate the darkness and prevail against evil?

"We are extremely proud of and bowled over by the response to Kells. That audiences at home can revel in the excitement of the film is vitally important to us," said Mr. Moore. "Families and kids across the country have been inspired by Kell's imagery and storyline. We hope the film remains a treasure for them for years to come."

Hailed by critics and audiences alike as one of the most beautiful animated films of recent times, The Secret of Kells (75 minutes) is the surprise nomination for Best Animated Feature at this year's Academy Awards.

The Secret of Kells DVD (SRP $29.95) and DVD/Blu-ray combo pack ($39.95) feature two hours of fascinating exclusive bonus content, including audio commentary with the director, co-director and art director; a special "The Voices of Ireland" segment that includes voice recording sessions with Brendan Gleeson, Evan McGuire, Christen Mooney and Mick Lally; a director's presentation of pre-production sketches and inspirational images, and more. In addition, the DVD/Blu-ray combo includes a special collectible 24-page full-color prequel graphic novel by Mr. Moore that follows Aisling's and Brendan's adventures that took place before the story in the film begins.

GKIDS presents a film by Tomm Moore; Co-Director Nora Twomey; Script, Fabrice Ziolkowski; Art Director, Ross Stewart; Music by Bruno Coulais, featuring original music by Kila. A Les Armateurs-Vivi Film-Cartoon Saloon-France 2 Cinema Production.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

ACF 704: "Woochi" at NYKFF - two remaining screenings

Written and directed by Choi Dong-hoon
With Gang Dong-won, Kim Yoon-suk, Lim Soojung, Yoo Hae-jin
South Korea, 2009, 135 min.
New York Premiere

Remaining Screenings:
Thursday, September 30: 7:30 PM at MoMA
Saturday, October 2: 9:15 PM at BAM

The New York Korean Festival, presented by the Korea Society, continues through October 3rd. In addition to tomorrow nights showing at MoMA of Woochi, which will also screen at BAM on October 2nd, the full schedule, including tonight's films, can be found by clicking here.

In Choi's whizz-bang time-traveling comic fantasy, the title character, a Taoist wizard trapped in an enchanted scroll since 1509, is freed in 2009 to capture a gaggle of evil goblins. Woochi is directed with such verve and panache, you might start believing in magicians and monsters.

ACF mini-review:
An Archgod's pipe, three bumbling Taoist priests, and a bunch of pre-maturely freed goblins (who can take human form) join Woochi the trickster wizard and Master Hwadam in this fanciful hybrid of a film about the battle between good and evil. It's part period-piece and part contemporary, but 100% fun. There's some fine wire-work that reminded me of the best Hong Kong films are renowned for offering. The CGI also is top notch, and it's used in service of the story, not overdone as can sometimes be the case to the ruin of a film.

Woochi is a wondrously silly and often hilarious bit of entertainment.

ACF rating: 3 out of 4 stars, solidly recommended.

ACF 703: "Autumn Leaves" performance piece at The Korea Society, October 7th

Park Sang-Won

Autumn Leaves in Stone Gardens: A Musical Journey

Autumn’s arrival, the splendor of leaves awash in color, and Resting Stones, Standing Stones on exhibit at The Korea Society Gallery inspire this evening of contemplative strings and flute. Kayagǔm master Park Sang-Won joins Chung Chang-Young on haegǔm and flautist Park Jung-Bae on tanso to perform several works. Master Park opens with Youngsan Hoesang, a Buddhist vocal piece that developed into a purely instrumental work in the early Chosǒn period. Kayagǔm Sanjo, an improvisational solo piece, offers a contemplative take on Korea’s most beloved folk song, Arirang. View Resting Stones, Standing Stones prior and after the performance, as well as traditional teas and sweets.

Thursday, October 7, 2010
- 6:00PM Refreshments
- 6:30PM Performance

The Korea Society is located at 950 Third Avenue @ 57th Street, 8th Floor. The entrance is on 57th Street.

$10 for members and students; $20 for nonmembers
(Walk-in registration will incur an additional charge of $5)

For more information or to register for the program, please contact Heewon Kim at 212-759-7525, ext. 355.

About the performer:

Sang Won Park is a master of the kayagǔm, a Korean 12 stringed zither dating back to the 5th century. Park's repertoire ranges from traditional music to contemporary and improvisational music. He studied at Seoul National University. He was a member of the Traditional Music Orchestra of Seoul and a researcher at the Academy of Korean Studies.

He made his western debut at Carnegie Recital Hall in 1979. He then tourned the U.S. and Europe's leading institutions. Les Amis De. L'Orient and Sono Disc in Pris have produced an album entitled Le kayagǔm de Park Sang Won.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

ACF 702: ContemporAsian continues at MoMA beginning October 6th, 2010

Image from Make Yourself at Home
Hye-Kyo Song and Athena Currey
Courtesy of MoMA


MoMA Presents: ContemporAsian
October 6–11, 2010
November 22–29, 2010
December 13–19, 2010

MoMA has announced the fall line-up for its ongoing ContemporAsian series, which is screened in The Roy and Niuta Titus Theaters. (For MoMA's website for the ongoing ContemporAsian series, click here.)

The series 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. Presented in special weeklong engagements, the films in the series include recent independent gems by both new and established filmmakers whose work represent the rapidly transforming visual culture of the region. ContemporAsian is organized by Jytte Jensen, Curator, Department of Film, The Museum of Modern Art, with William Phuan, independent curator.

The 2010 fall season continues with Soopum Sohn’s cleverly wrought super-natural thriller Make Yourself at Home (aka Fetish) (2008, US/Korea) in October; followed by Vimukthi Jayasundara’s second feature Ahasin wetei (Between Two Worlds) (2009, Sri Lanka/ France) in November, which mythically explores Sri Lanka’s bloody civil war; and in December the season finishes with Anocha Suwichakornpong’s Jao Nok Krajok (Mundane History) (2009, Thailand), a simple story of a male nurse caring for a young man with partial paralysis, that tackles grand and profound concepts.


October 6–11, 2010

Make Yourself at Home (aka Fetish) (2008)
Directed by Soopum Sohn
Written by Sohn and Margaret Monaghan
With Song Hye-kye, Arno Frisch, Athena Currey.

Peter, a Korean-American returns home from a trip overseas with his beautiful and mysterious new wife, Sookhy, a marriage brokered in a brief visit to the homeland with help from his mother. When a terrible accident occurs, Sookhy is left a widow. After a series of bizarre outbursts, it becomes increasingly clear that the grieving Sookhy may not be as innocent as she appears. Rumored to be a shaman, Sookhy begins to assert herself, not only at home, but with the neighbors, as she fights to keep a piece of the American dream. In English and Korean; English subtitles. 90 min.

Wednesday, October 6, 6:00
Thursday, October 7, 7:00
Friday, October 8, 4:00
Saturday, October 9, 1:00
Sunday, October 10, 5:00
Monday, October 11, 4:00

November 22–29, 2010

Ahasin wetei (Between Two Worlds) (2009, Sri Lanka/ France)
Written and directed by Vimukthi Jayasundara
With Thusitha Laknath, Kaushalya Fernando, Huang Lu.

With his second feature, Jayasundara boldly continues the allegorical exploration of Sri Lanka’s bloody civil war that began with his Caméra d’Or–winning The Forsaken Land.

A man who apparently fell from the sky picks up a young woman and flees with her from a burning city into the countryside. From there, his travels through a mythic landscape full of astonishing sights and people become exceedingly menacing—and fraught with symbolic meaning. The tableau-like, episodic tale moves confidently between realism and ritual in scenes of stunning beauty: for example, a gorgeous musical number with strapping farm workers, a scene that wouldn’t be out of place in a Soviet agitprop film. Print courtesy Memento Films. In Sinhalese; English subtitles. 85 min

Monday, November 22, 7:00
Wednesday, November 24, 4:00
Friday, November 26, 4:00
Saturday, November 27, 2:00
Sunday, November 28, 5:30
Monday, November 29, 4:00

December 13–19, 2009

Jao Nok Krajok (Mundane History) (2009, Thailand)
Written and directed by Anocha Suwichakornpong

Under the guise of a simple story of a male nurse looking after a young man with partial paralysis, Jao Nok Krajok takes on big themes like life, birth and the universe. At times hallucinogenic, meditative and mysterious, but never ponderous, the film drifts through the mundane, almost insignificant moments of everyday life, boldly suggesting that they all add up to something grand and profound yet. In Thai; English subtitles. 82 min.

Monday, December 13, 7:00
Wednesday, December 15, 7:00
Thursday, December 16, 7:00
Friday, December 17, 4:00
Saturday, December 18, 1:30
Sunday, December 19, 5:00

Monday, September 27, 2010

ACF 701: "Redline" playing at VIZ Cinema in San Francisco one week in early October


New Film 5 Years In The Making
Written By Katsuhito Ishii And Directed By Takeshi Koike
To Play For One Week Only At Bay Area Pop Culture Theatre

VIZ Cinema, the nation’s only movie theatre dedicated to Japanese film, brings on the excitement for October with a very special North American premiere of the anime feature Redline. Creative wizard Katsuhito Ishii has teamed up with spirited director Takeshi Koike for the film, which will screen at the theater – for one week only – October 8th -14th, the same week of its release in Japan. Tickets are $10.00. Screening times, trailers and tickets are available at: www.vizcinema.com.

Written by Katsuhito Ishii (Director of The Taste of Tea, Funky Forest, Shark Skin Man & Peach Hip Girl and the anime segment of Kill Bill Vol.1) and directed by the up-and-coming Takeshi Koike, who participated in the “World Record” segment of Animatrix (2003), Redline was 5 years in the making and proudly demonstrates the new possibilities of 2D animation, amidst the current prominence of 3D.

“The release of Redline has been highly anticipated by fans and we’re very proud to premiere the film at VIZ Cinema,” says Seiji Horibuchi, the founder of NEW PEOPLE and President and CEO of VIZ Pictures. “The kinetic visual action follows a fine tradition of car films like The Fast And The Furious, Death Race and Initial D. We invite import racers, car fanatics, anime and action fans to catch this exciting feature!”

Redline is a racing film created by studio Madhouse (Paprika, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, Summer Wars). The toughest and the most destructive underground car race in the universe, REDLINE, has just begun! JP is a reckless driver oblivious to speed limits, and Sonoshee, one of his competitors with whom JP is secretly in love with, is a hot girl determined to do whatever it takes to stand on the winner’s podium. In order to win the finals, they’re up against the craziest drivers with their heavily armed and awesome road-tearing vehicles. On top of that, during the race, they have to avoid military crackdown by the government because the race is actually prohibited in Roboworld. The only help JP wants is the engine obtained and custom tuned by his long time buddies, Frisbee the mechanic and Mogura Oyaji the junk shop. While cars crash and burn into flames, the race course becomes a merciless hell and JP whips his ride into a dead heat. Who will survive to win in this mass-destruction race?

VIZ Cinema is the nation’s only movie theatre devoted exclusively to Japanese film and anime. The 143-seat subterranean theatre is located in the basement of the NEW PEOPLE building
and features plush seating, digital as well as 35mm projection, and a THX®-certified sound system.

NEW PEOPLE offers the latest films, art, fashion and retail brands from Japan and is the creative vision of the J-Pop Center Project and VIZ Pictures, a distributor and producer of Japanese live action film. Located at 1746 Post Street, the 20,000 square foot structure features a striking 3-floor transparent glass façade that frames a fun and exotic new environment to engage the imagination into the 21st Century. A dedicated web site is also now available at: http://www.newpeopleworld.com/.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

ACF 700: LEE Chang-dong's "Poetry"

Poetry / Shi
Written and directed by LEE Chang-dong
South Korea, 2010, 139 min.

The second and last showing of Korean director LEE Chang-dong's film Poetry as part of the Film Society of Lincoln Center's 48th New York Film Festival will be at 6:30 PM today at Alice Tully Hall.

The film, LEE's fifth, won the award for Best Screenplay at Cannes earlier this year. It stars YUN Jung-hee as Mija, a 66 year old woman who lives with her ungrateful grandson who is in middle school. (The actress's family name is sometimes also spelled "Yoon.) Mija (which, by pure coincidence according to director LEE, is YUN's actual name) supplements her old age benefits by working as a maid/caregiver to a somewhat older man who has residual effects from a stroke.

Mija also has started to lose the ability to recall certain words, and medical testing yields a diagnosis of Alzheimer's Disease in its early stage. She decides to take a class and write at least one poem before the disease progresses too far. Complicating matters further is the death of one of her grandson's female schoolmates and the possible involvement of him and some of his friends in her taking her own life.

YUN Jung-hee as Mija

Actress YUN carries the film almost all on her own; the supporting parts are very minor, relatively speaking. Ms Yun recently was voted Korean cinema's greatest actress in a public poll. It's almost beyond belief that Poetry is her first acting role in roughly 16 years! Her consummate skills as an actress obviously have not diminished in the interim. According to Director Lee, Ms YUN had not acted during those years because she was not interested in the roles offered her. Clearly she made the right, and a very wise, decision in accepting this role. Hers is a bravura, Oscar-worthy performance.

Director LEE Chang-dong

As far as the director goes, anyone who has read my previous writings about LEE Chang-dong, either in Asian Cult Cinema or here in AsianCineFest, knows that I regard him highly. How highly? Well, I consider him one of the greatest directors in world -- not only Korean -- cinema. In my opinion, he has a perfect record of directing five very fine films. (For his awards record at IMDb, which at this time has not been updated to include the Cannes' Best Sceenplay award, click here.)

Oasis (2002), his third film, won best director and best new actress (MOON So-ri) awards at the Venice Film Festival, and Secret Sunshine (2007) won the best actress award for JEON Do-yeon at Cannes. Both were superlative works. With Poetry, LEE Chang-dong has created another brilliant film that deserves a place in the Pantheon of world cinema.

Poetry is a magnificent, gripping, and emotionally powerful film that is a must see. ACF rating: 4 out of 4 stars, most highly recommended.

Poetry is a Kino International release. For those who missed yesterday's screening and can't make it to this afternoon's, despair not. My understanding is that a theatrical release is scheduled for early in 2011, and I'm sure a DVD release will follow sometime later.

For full info about the New York Film Festival, click here.

P.S. - I was fortunate to interview Director Lee in person at the Kino Offices in Manhattan this past Friday. (For my 2008 email interview with him, click here.) I'll post the new interview as soon as I can transcribe and appropriately edit it.

ACF 699: "Kwaidan" to kick off new film series at Japan Society on Oct 15th

Kwaidan / Kaidan
Directed by Masaki Kobayashi
Friday, October 15, 2010 at 7:30 PM

ESSENTIAL (& Turbulent)
Japanese Art House

“If you meet the Buddha, kill the Buddha.”
Linji Yixuan, Ch'an Master (? – 866)

“I ask of film what most North Americans ask of psychedelic drugs.”
Alexandro Jodorowsky (1929- )

Here's a heads-up about the next film series that will be screening at Japan Society, NY. I plan to post reviews of the four stories from Kwaidan, the film that will start the series on October 15th, and hopefully reviews of at least some of the other films to be shown.

The 2010-2011 Monthly Classics series peers into the dark side of the classical repertoire of the late 1950s and 1960s: from Masaki Kobayashi’s Kwaidan (1965), Kon Ichikawa’s Fires on the Plain (1959), Kaneto Shindo’s Onibaba (1964) to Nobuo Nakagawa’s Hell (1960) and Kihachi Okamoto’s Sword of Doom (1966). Like Antonin Artaud’s proposed “theater of cruelty”, these five master filmmakers offer the bloody and all-too-human spectacle of sin, folly and frailty, in unforgettable tales of crime and punishment, vengeful ghosts and delirious soldiers, mad samurai and deranged marauders (or the other way around), fire and brimstone, and spiritual darkness for good measure… tales of our world, which will give a good (or bad) idea of what comes next.

Thus, the films selected show the little-understood, paradoxical unity of zen and violence: in his book, Zen at War (1997), Brian Daizen Victoria, an ordained Soto Zen priest, documented Japanese Buddhist support for violence and warfare, from 1868 until the end of World War II. He tracked down this surprising embracing of war-making to the intimate relation between Zen and Samurai warrior culture.

This selection will satisfy the courteous viewer with an appetite for dark eroticism and macabre poetry: one who will does not recoil from the exquisite monstrosity of the human heart—which will not fail to haunt him/her long after the screening(s).

Each film illustrates one or several of the "Six Planes of Existence"—a Buddhist concept commonly referred to as “Six Paths” (Rokudō or Rokudō-rinne) in Japan—within “the realm of Birth and Death” (Samsara).

For more info about this film series at Japan Society, click here.

Japan Society is located at 333 East 47th Street (between 1st and 2nd avenues), New York, NY.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

ACF 698: Celebrate local Japanese dishes at "Soul Food Festival" this Sunday

Soul Food Festival
Sunday, September 26th, 2010
From 11:00 AM to 6:00 PM
Upper East Side
Lexington Avenue between 94th and 95th Streets

Tomorrow's Soul Food Festival will celebrate the local Japanese dishes—or "soul food"—unique to specific regions of Japan, showcasing the rich diversity of Japanese cuisine beyond commonly-known dishes such as sushi. This festival will focus on the regional specialties of Kyushu, Japan's southernmost island. Several Kyushu prefectures and New York restaurants will acquaint New York with some of Japanese cuisine's best-kept secrets.

Many Japanese localities have popular dishes made with traditional recipes and local ingredients, just as Philadelphia has cheesesteaks and New England has clam chowder. Participating New York Japanese restaurants will serve the soul food from their respective hometowns. Hakata Tonton's collagen-rich tonsoku and Hide-Chan Ramen's yaki ramen, both from Fukuoka, and Umi No Ie's fresh hand-pulled thin udon delivered daily from the Goto Islands will inspire visitors with a taste for more authentic specialty Japanese food.

Vendors arriving from Kyushu prefectures of Nagasaki, Oita, Saga, and Kumamoto will occupy one block of the festival and exhibit their traditional and modern dishes. Look for ikinari dango (a dumpling of potato and red bean), taipi-en (vermicelli of Chinese origin with a local twist), nikumai onigiri (juicy pork-wrapped rice balls), and even pet health supplements from Kumamoto. Fukuoka will dish up its famous kamaboko (fish cakes) made from a technique used since the Edo era and the Yuzusco brand citron pepper seasoning. Takeo City of Saga prefecture will have zesty lemongrass green tea, herb tea, and cider.

Additional eats include warabimochi (a kinko-smothered confection), Japanese curry from Go! Go! Curry!, okonomiyaki, yakitori, and konnyaku. Besides food, there will be regional Japanese products, entertainment, raffles for airline tickets, Japanese accessories and anime products for sale. Come visit the JapanTown Soul Food festival on September 26th to taste the uniqueness of Japan!

Directions to the Soul Food Festival:

Lexington Avenue between 94th and 95th Streets (Map)

6 train to 77th St.; 4, 5, 6 train to 86th St.; 6 train to 96th St.

ACF 697: "Sayonara Itsuka - Goodbye, Someday" at VIZ Cinema, San Francisco, Oct 1-7, 2010

Actress Miho Nakayama stars in Sayonara Itsuka - Goodbye, Someday

SAYONARA ITSUKA – Goodbye, Someday

Asian Star Miho Nakayama Returns After A 12 Year Absence On New Film Produced By A Hand Picked Team From Thailand, Korea And Japan

VIZ Cinema, the nation’s only movie theatre dedicated to Japanese film, launches October program theme ‘Muse My Muse’ with a limited special release of Sayonara Itsuka - Goodbye, Someday. The film, directed by John H. Lee (A Moment to Remember) was a huge success in the Asian market earlier this year and will screen at VIZ Cinema from October 1st to 7th. Tickets, screening times and more details are available at www.vizcinema.com.

Regarded as an ‘Asian collaborated masterpiece,’ Sayonara Itsuka - Goodbye, Someday is based on a novel by Tsuji Hitonari, who is the husband of actress Miho Nakayama, who stars in the film. It was produced by a team from Thailand, Korea and Japan who were hand selected by director Lee himself.

Known as the “good guy,” Yutaka is engaged to marry the daughter of the founder of an airline that he works for. While he is transferred abroad to the Bangkok branch, he meets Toko, a mysterious woman. They quickly develop a lustful relationship spending days in passion. For Yutaka’s wedding they choose to separate, but 25 years later they meet again and realize their love for each other remains, but reality continues to pull them apart.

“Sayonara Itsuka is a poignant romantic drama about love lost and found again,” says Seiji Horibuchi, the founder of NEW PEOPLE and President and CEO of VIZ Pictures. “We’re pleased to open our October program with this sensitive film and invite couples to make a fun date to catch it in a special run at VIZ Cinema.”

VIZ Cinema is the nation’s only movie theatre devoted exclusively to Japanese film and anime. The 143-seat subterranean theatre is located in the basement of the NEW PEOPLE building and features plush seating, digital as well as 35mm projection, and a THX®-certified sound system.


NEW PEOPLE offers the latest films, art, fashion and retail brands from Japan and is the creative vision of the J-Pop Center Project and VIZ Pictures, a distributor and producer of Japanese live action film. Located at 1746 Post Street, the 20,000 square foot structure features a striking 3-floor transparent glass façade that frames a fun and exotic new environment to engage the imagination into the 21st Century. A dedicated web site is also now available at www.NewPeopleWorld.com.

Friday, September 24, 2010

ACF 696: More "Mao's Last Dancer" news!

The latest interview of Li Cunxin was on THE TODAY SHOW with Ann Curry. She proclaims that MAO’S LAST DANCER is one of the best films she has ever seen!

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Also, those lucky enough to be in the NYC area this weekend will have a chance to hear Li Cunxin comment on the film and his experience in person! The showing of MAO’S LAST DANCER tonight, 9/24 at 7pm and Saturday, 9/25 at 4:15pm at The Paris Theatre in NYC will include a post-screening Q&A session with Li Cunxin! It’s a rare opportunity that can’t be missed!

Please visit http://schedule.samuelgoldwynfilms.com/films/mao%27s+last+dancer/ to get more ticket information on these special NY screenings in addition to details on other showtimes taking place across the country!

ACF 695: Free screening of "Dance of Time" next Tuesday, September 28th

Directed by Song Il-Gon
Korea, 2009, 92 minutes
New York Premiere

Price: FREE!!!
Seating is first come, first serve.

When: Tuesday, September 28 @ 7PM
Where: Tribeca Cinemas, 54 Varick Street,
on the corner of Canal Street,
one block from the A, C, E and 1 train Canal Street stops

Dance of Time is the next film in the Korean Cultural Service's current KOREAN MOVIE NIGHT series, which focuses on documentaries.

Song Il-Gon is the director of such classic Korean arthouse films as FEATHER IN THE WIND and the one-take-wonder, THE MAGICIANS, and here he turns his attention to the documentary, directing a relaxed, sun-soaked, lighthearted ode to love, dance, music, Santeria and Cuba. Starting at the turn of the century, DANCE OF TIME follows Cuba's tiny community of Koreans from their accidental immigration to the present, along the way surviving wars, revolutions, and tumultuous romances.

A little-known part of Cuba, these Koreans have flowered into a vital part of the island's culture that almost no one has heard of. This slick, technically accomplished documentary, throbbing with music, takes care of that problem.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

ACF 694: XAM'D Collection 1 now available


Section23 Films has announced the release of the hit series XAM'D. The first 13 episodes are available on both DVD and Blu-Ray.

Stone Cold Mecha Action!

Running Time: 325 min.
Age Rating: TV 14 (V)
Language: English & Japanese with English Subtitles
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Format: DVD
SRP: $59.98

Running Time: 325 min.
Age Rating: TV 14 (V)
Language: English & Japanese with English Subtitles
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Format: BD
SRP: $69.98

SYNOPSIS: When a young boy on a peaceful island becomes the victim of a terrorist attack, he transforms into Xam'd, a powerful mecha capable of extreme power. Now he must discover the depth of his power, and the role he plays in a world where metal and rock meet flesh, desire, and destiny.

ACF 693: Japan Fashion Now exhibit at The Museum at FIT (NY)

The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology (MFIT) presents Japan Fashion Now, the first exhibition to explore contemporary Japanese fashion in all its radical creativity, from avant-garde high fashion to street and subcultural styles, from menswear to new designers.

Approximately 100 ensembles from featured designers, Jun Takahashi (Undercover), Hirooka Naoto (h.NAOTO), Takeshi Osumi (Phenomenon), and others will be showcased.

The exhibition is on view through Jan. 8, 2011. For more info, visit the museum's website.

ACF 692: Yeonghwa continues at MoMA - two films to screen today

Here are today's scheduled films for the ongong series Yeonghwa: Korean Film Today, presented by The Korea Society and playing at MoMA, 11 West 53rd Steeet, New York, NY:

4:30 PM The Housemaid (2010)
Written and directed by Im Sang-soo
Freely adapted from Kim Ki-young's 1960 film of the same title
With Jeon Do-yeon, Lee Jung-jae, Seo Woo, Yun Yeo-jung
New York Premiere

And what a house the maid has to clean - the largest film set ever built in Korea. But that‟s the least of it. The family she has to serve demands attention in many ways, not all of them in her job description. This continuously surprising erotic melodrama about class and privilege features both a top notch cast including Jeon Do-yeon of “Secret Sunshine”, and a climax that won‟t be easily forgotten. 95min. Courtesy of IFC Films.

7:30 PM Good Morning Mr. President (2009)
Written and directed by Jang Jin
With Lee Soon-jae, Jang Dong-gun,
Koh Doo-sim, and Im Ha-ryong

A delicious rumination about power and decision making that takes place largely in the executive kitchen. The settings and political relationships are as Korean as kimchee, but the pacing and domestic relationships are as American as apple pie. Jang Jin's film about three successive presidents is as winning as the best of Frank Capra. 132 min.

Yeonghwa is part of the New York Korean Film Festival 2010. For the festival's website, click here.

For the MoMA website, click here.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

ACF 691: Masahiro Shinoda film sidebar at New York Film Festival 2010

(c) Mineko Orisaku

The 48th New York Film Festival will be featuring a sidebar series entitled "NYFF MASTERWORKS: Elegant Elegies: The Films of Masahiro Shinoda." The series will run from Saturday, September 25th through Sunday, October 10th, 2010. Here's a brief statement from The Film Society of Lincoln Center:

Gamblers betting it all in games they can’t win, samurais heading into their final battles, lovers realizing their bonds are no match for an uncaring destiny: Welcome to the remarkable universe of Masahiro Shinoda. A spectacular filmmaker key to the Japanese New Wave, Shinoda was fascinated by both traditional Japanese aesthetics and the modernity of cinema. We’re honored to welcome Mr. Shinoda to this year’s festival for this special tribute, presented as part of the 150th Anniversary Celebration of Japan-NYC Friendship.

For info about the series, including descriptions of all the films to be screened, showtimes & dates, and to purchase tickets online, click here. Among those thirteen movies that will be shown, I have seen Double Suicide and Samurai Spy. Both are great movies, and are available on typically outstanding Criterion DVDs for those who can't make it to Lincoln Center.

ACF 690: "Nikita" has its problems

Well, I watched the second episode of CW's "Nikita" last week. Have to say I'm already having doubts. One is demonstrated by the above image of Maggie Q, which is from the first episode. This series needs more skin revealed every episode. Maggie Q looks fine in a tank top and tight pants, but there's just no substitute for lots of flesh. And it doesn't have to be hers all the time: give me some flesh of the fine-looking supporting actresses occasionally as well, and I'll be satisfied. After all, this is the CW network we're talking about.

The second problem for me is the "action sequences." The ones in the second show really didn't make it for me. Even in the first episode, the hand-to-hand fight scenes were shot too close in and edited in such a way that you couldn't really see what's going on. This is the same problem that I had with Christopher Nolan's re-boot Batman Begins (2005).

Maybe I'm just too "Hong Kong" old-school, but I like to see contact, or what looks like actual contact, at least once in awhile. Also, shoot more often with the camera far enough away to show the full action, not just the upper bodies with arms flailing. I know this is a bit more demanding, time-consuming and expensive, but it's worth doing, at least more often than has been the case so far.

Of lesser concern, is Shane West's characterization of Michael, Nikita's former handler. I'm just not buying his conflicted attitude about the secret government agency he works for and which Nikita has escaped from and vowed to bring down. Some better, more convincing writing is required here, and maybe Shane also needs to quickly polish what acting skills he has.

So, for me the series needs more female flesh revealed and better choreographed fight/action scenes. I'll be back for tomorrow night's episode, but if "Nikita" doesn't start delivering more soon, I'm probably going to bail on it.

In fairness, I must admit that, after the second episode had been broadcast, I overheard a middle-aged black woman at work talk about how much she liked the series. Another co-worker - a black guy probably a bit younger than her - said perhaps she liked it because it was about a woman kicking guys' asses. Maybe he's right, but whatever the reason, some people obviously are enjoying the show. I'd like to be one of them, but I'm not there yet and not sure if I ever will be.

ACF 689: Japanese female trio Shone Knife to perform at Asia Society on Sept 25th


The Japanese all-women trio Shonen Knife has built a solid worldwide following with their Ramones meets The Beatles brand of sticky-sweet punk-pop. Shonen Knife will be performing a unique concert at the Asia Society in conjunction with and inspired by the Yoshitomo Nara art exhibition.

Nara calls himself a fan and has designed the cover for the group's album Happy Hour. Shonen Knife also has made major fans out of alt-rock's elites, including Sonic Youth, Nirvana, Redd Kross, among others.

When: Saturday, September 25th, 2010, 8:00pm to 9:30pm
Where: Asia Society, 725 Park Avenue, New York, NY
Cost: $15 members; $17 students/seniors; $20 nonmembers

Buy Tickets Online

Click for Directions

Co-presented with New York-Tokyo

This program is part of the Citi Series on Asian Arts and Culture

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

ACF 688: New York Korean Film Festival starts tomorrow, September 22nd!!!!

Image from The Housemaid, directed by Im Sang-soo

In my previous posts about the Yeonghwa film series at MoMA, which is co-presented by The Korea Society, I forgot to mention that it actually is the beginning of the return of the New York Korean Film festival for its ninth year. Furthermore, the screenings at MoMA will be followed by some at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM). Details and links follow:

The New York Korean Film Festival (NYKFF) is the foremost North American festival dedicated to showcasing the work of both mainstream and independent Korean cinema. Since its inception in 2001, NYKFF has established its own unique identity as a prestigious event on the world film circuit. Not only does the festival screen contemporary films, it also features panel discussions with directors and other leading figures in the world of Korean cinema.

This year, NYKFF audiences will be able to view some of the best of contemporary Korean cinema from September 22-30 at MoMa and October 1-3 at Bam Rose Cinema. Ranging from action to comedy, sci-fi to horror, to genre-bending altogether, this year's films represent not only Korea's top box-office hits but also some of the industry's most creative and substantial movies to date.

All films will be shown in the original Korean with English subtitles.

For my post with the full screening schedule at MoMA, click here.

For The Korea Society's website about New York Korean Film Festival, click here.

ACF 687: Japan Society co-presents "Cast Me If You Can" on September 25th at 7:00 PM

Cast Me If You Can / Wakiyaku Monogatari
Written & Directed by Atsushi Ogata
With Toru Masuoka, Hiromi Nagasaku,
Masahiko Tsugawa, and Keiko Matsuzaka
Japan, 2010, 97 min.
In Japanese with English subtitles
Showtime: Saturday, September 25th, 7:00 PM
East Coast Premiere

Director Atsushi Ogata's first feature film tells the story of a supporting actor, always mistaken for others, who longs to be a leading man and gets his break when cast in a Woody Allen remake. But a series of misadventures throw his dream into chaotic disarray. When a fellow female character actor enters the picture, he wonders if he even has what it takes to be the leading man in his own life. A charming romantic comedy from Japan with excellent performances supporting a sweet, subtle story that will leave you smiling.

Director Atsushi Ogata will be in attendance at the screening.

$9.99 ($10.98 w/service fee) for the general public
$5 ($5.99 w/service fee) for Japan Society members

Japan Society members, please enter the code: Japan Society to receive the discount at: Friars Club Comedy Film Festival box office.

Co-presented with the Friars Club Comedy Film Festival.

Japan Society is located at 333 East 47th Street (between 1st and 2nd avenues), New York, NY 10017

Monday, September 20, 2010

ACF 686: Ghost Hound Complete Collection on DVD and Blu-Ray


Section23 Films has announced the release of the hit series GHOST HOUND. The Complete 22 episode Collection is available on both DVD and Blu-Ray. Both releases include a New English Dub!

From Masamune Shirow, the creator of Ghost in the Shell & Appleseed, and Production I.G.

Running Time: 550 min.
Age Rating: TV 14
Language: English & Japanese with English Subtitles
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Format: DVD
SRP: $69.98

Running Time: 550 min.
Age Rating: TV 14
Language: English & Japanese with English Subtitles
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Format: BD
SRP: $89.98

When he was three, Taro Komori and his sister were kidnapped, but the kidnapper was run over and killed before the ransom could be delivered. The police eventually found Taro, but not before his sister died. Eleven years later, Taro still has nightmares of the events surrounding the kidnapping and is haunted by a tall, featureless specter. Now, Taro searches for answers in the Hidden Realm, but something sinister is brewing there. The spirits are restless and a malevolent ghost is appearing with increasing frequency. In the "real" world, an out of favor religious cult is finding dozens of new converts, especially among high ranking politicians. And just what the scientists at Dai Nippon Bio are up to is a question in need of an answer. Can Taro and his friends find the answers they need in time to save their friends and families? Unseen spirits, ghosts and out-of-body experiences all combine in an intriguing exploration into the workings of memory and our perception of the world. Don't miss the latest masterpiece from Masamune Shirow and Production I.G: Ghost Hound!

ACF 685: "Yeonghwa: Korean Film Today" - complete screening schedule

Yeonghwa: Korean Film Today
September 22–30, 2010
The Roy and Niuta Titus Theaters at MoMA

Yeonghwa” is the Korean word for film. Featured in every major international film festival, Korean cinema has become a thriving industry. The technical excellence, the wide variety of styles and subjects, the idiosyncrasies of individual expression within the perimeters of genre, the general practice of filmmakers both writing and directing their work, the development of a consistent home-grown „star‟ system for both actors and filmmakers, and its free-wheeling entrepreneurial spirit have helped to distinguish Korean film as a truly unique cinematic form.

Korean cinema, shot in a language barely understood outside the country of its origin, is an art and industry generally made for a national audience. Therefore the integrity of the artistic vision is, for the most part, unaffected by the demands of a global film market, providing a revealing window into a culture that for many Americans has seemed inaccessible.

Film Admission: $10 adults; $8 seniors, 65 years and over with I.D. $6 full-time students with current I.D. (For admittance to film programs only.) The price of a film ticket may be applied toward the price of a Museum admission ticket when a film ticket stub is presented at the Lobby Information Desk within 30 days of the date on the stub (does not apply during Target Free Friday Nights, 4:00–8:00 p.m.). Admission is free for Museum members and for Museum ticketholders.

The public may call (212) 708-9400 for detailed Museum information. Visit MoMA online at www.moma.org.

This exhibition is made possible by HyundaiCard Company.


Wednesday, September 22

6:30 The Housemaid (2010)
Written and directed by Im Sang-soo
Freely adapted from Kim Ki-young's 1960 film of the same title
With Jeon Do-yeon, Lee Jung-jae, Seo Woo, Yun Yeo-jung
New York Premiere

And what a house the maid has to clean - the largest film set ever built in Korea. But that‟s the least of it. The family she has to serve demands attention in many ways, not all of them in her job description. This continuously surprising erotic melodrama about class and privilege features both a top notch cast including Jeon Do-yeon of “Secret Sunshine”, and a climax that won‟t be easily forgotten. 95min. Courtesy of IFC Films.

Thursday, September 23

4:30 The Housemaid. (See Wednesday, September 22.)

7:30 Good Morning Mr. President (2009)
Written and directed by Jang Jin
With Lee Soon-jae, Jang Dong-gun,
Koh Doo-sim, and Im Ha-ryong

A delicious rumination about power and decision making that takes place largely in the executive kitchen. The settings and political relationships are as Korean as kimchee, but the pacing and domestic relationships are as American as apple pie. Jang Jin's film about three successive presidents is as winning as the best of Frank Capra. 132 min.

Friday, September 24

4:30 Good Morning Mr. President. (See Thursday, September 23.)

7:30 A Frozen Flower (2008)
Written and directed by Yoo Ha
With Zo In-sung, Joo Jin-mo, Song Ji-hyo
New York Premiere

History tells of the 31st king of the Koryo Dynasty who had his queen but loved his bodyguard, a brave and noble soldier. However, in order to maintain his dynasty, the king had to produce an heir. Keeping it all in the family he does, but… A spectacular epic about power, passion, and their lethal intertwinement. 133 min.

Saturday, September 25

1:00 Woochi (2009)
Written and directed by Choi Dong-hoon
With Gang Dong-won, Kim Yoon-suk, Lim Soo-jung, Yoo Hae-jin
New York Premiere

A whizz-bang time-traveling comic fantasy about a Taoist wizard trapped in a scroll in 1509 who in 2009 must be freed to capture (as only he can) a gaggle of evil goblins wrecking havoc in Seoul. Directed with such verve and panache, WOOCHI has one believing again in magicians and monsters. 110 min.

3:30 Sisters on the Road (2008)
Written and directed by Boo Ji-young
With Kong Hyo-jin, Shin Min-a

A first film by a young woman filmmaker chronicles a road trip across Korea. Two half-sisters, each very different and quite testy with the other, travel together reluctantly in search of their errant father and develop an uneasy relationship. 96 min. Boo Ji-young will introduce the film.

6:00 Eighteen (2010)
Written and directed by Jang Kun-Jae
With Seo Jun-yeong, Lee Min-ji
New York Premiere

In Korean the title of this realist debut feature is “whirlwind”, which describes the parental thwarting of a romance between two eighteen-year old students who can hardly wait until they turn nineteen, legal age in Korea. The filmmaker dedicates his film “to my high school years. Rest in peace, teenage years.” 95 min.

8:15 Best Seller (2010)
Written and directed by Lee Jeong-ho
New York Premiere

A first feature that‟s a first-rate thriller. A successful writer, accused of plagiarism, suffers a breakdown, and after a period of time, rents an unoccupied house remote in the countryside for her and her young daughter who “befriends” a presence there. Her new 'friend' tells her stories which she tells her mother. Her mother writes them down, and, as in any good spooky tale, bad things happen and Hollywood has already come knocking on the front door of this haunted house. 120 min.

Sunday, September 26

2:00 A Frozen Flower (See Friday, September 24.)

4:30 Land of Scarecrows (2008)
Written and directed by Roh Gyeon-tae
With Kim Sun-young, Phuong Thi Bich, Jun Du-won
New York Premiere

A transgender installation artist in search of a bride travels to the Philippines and finds one. Back in Korea a young man who believes he was once adopted from the Philippines enters the couple‟s lives, and questions of national and gender identity come to the fore in this austere sophomore feature by one of Korea‟s most „experimental‟ filmmakers. 90 min.

Monday, September 27

4:30 Sisters on the Road (See Saturday, September 25.)

Wednesday, September 29

4:30 Best Seller (See Saturday, September 25.)

7:30 Land of Scarecrows (See Saturday, September 25.)

Thursday, September 30

4:30 Eighteen (See Thursday, July 8.)

7:30 Woochi (See Saturday, September 25.)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

ACF 684: Korean film series at MoMA

Scene from The Housemaid, written & directed by Im Sang-soo

September 22-30, 2010
The Roy and Niuta Titus Theaters at MoMA

Yeonghwa: Korean Film Today, a series of new Korean films presented by MoMA and The Korea Society will be shown September 22 through 30, 2010 at the Museum of Modern Art. I'll be posting the full screening schedule tomorrow.

Among the eight films, many of which are New York premieres, is The Housemaid (2010), Im Sang-soo's erotic thriller about a domestic helper's revenge after her affair with the master goes sour. A favorite at Cannes, The Housemaid, which was recently acquired by IFC Films and is slated for release early next year, will premiere at MoMA on September 22, directly following it's screening at the Toronto International Film Festival. Im Sang-soo will introduce the film.

Other highlights include Boo Si-Young's Sisters on the Road (2008), her first film, which follows two estranged half-sisters who develop a relationship while searching for their father; and Land of Scarecrows (2008), by Roh Gyeon-tae, one of Korea's most 'experimental' filmmakers, which examines national and gender identity.

Yeonghwa: Korean Film Today is co-organized by Laurence Kardish, Senior Curator, The Museum of Modern Art, and Yuni Yoonjung Cho, Director, Film, The Korea Society, with the help of the Korean Film Council.

MoMA 11 West 53rd Street, New York, NY 10019-5497 Tel:(212) 708-9431 http://www.moma.org/

Saturday, September 18, 2010

ACF 683: "House of Five Leaves" manga debuts September 21st from VIZ

SARAIYA GOYOU (C) 2006 Natsume ONO


New Manga Tale Of A Masterless Samurai Debuts In September
From Acclaimed Creator Natsume Ono

VIZ Media has announced the release of Natsume Ono’s samurai drama, HOUSE OF FIVE LEAVES, this coming Tuesday, September 21st. The new series, rated ‘T+’ for Older Teens, will be published under the VIZ Signature imprint and carry an MSRP of $12.99 U.S. / $16.99 CAN.

HOUSE OF FIVE LEAVES is a dramatic tale of intrigue and action. Masterless samurai Akitsu Masanosuke is a skilled and loyal swordsman, but his naïve, diffident nature has time and again caused him to be let go by the lords who have employed him. Hungry and desperate, he becomes a bodyguard for Yaichi, the charismatic leader of a gang called "Five Leaves." Although disturbed by the gang's sinister activities, Masa begins to suspect that Yaichi's motivations are not what they seem. And despite his misgivings, the deeper he's drawn into the world of the Five Leaves, the more he finds himself fascinated by these devious, mysterious outlaws.

Natsume Ono is one of today's top creators of seinen manga – designed for adult readers of mature and more sophisticated stories. She made her professional debut in 2003 with the web comic La Quinta Camera, and her subsequent works not simple, Ristorante Paradiso, and Gente (a continuation of Ristorante Paradiso) have met with both critical and popular acclaim. In 2009, Ristorante Paradiso was adapted into an animated TV series. Her current series, House of Five Leaves (Saraiya Goyou), also adapted into a TV anime series in 2010, is currently published in Japan in IKKI magazine.

HOUSE OF FIVE LEAVES is one of the innovative series featured on SigIKKI.com, VIZ Media’s premiere website for presenting some of the most inventive, bold, and compelling titles in the world of contemporary manga. More information can be found at www.SigIKKI.com.

Friday, September 17, 2010

ACF 682: VIZ Pictures presents Detroit Metal City & related events in Sat Sept18th


Live Air Guitar Performance, Special Cosplay Award And Panel Discussion Highlight The VIZ Cinema Theatrical Premiere Of Live Action Comedy That Features Appearances By Gene Simmons And Marty Friedman

VIZ Pictures brings the zany heavy metal comedy of Detroit Metal City (DMC) for an exclusive theatrical premiere at VIZ Cinema at 7:00pm during the J-Pop Summit Festival, taking place tomorrow, Saturday, September 18th in San Francisco. Tickets for the premiere are $15.00. A pre-show reception with snacks and beverages will be held in the cinema lobby beginning at 6:00pm.

To further celebrate the J-POP Summit Fest premiere event, at 5:00pm on the outdoor NEW PEOPLE stage, VIZ Pictures will stage a performance by San Francisco air guitar champion Matthew "Cold Steel Renegade" Feldstein and also invites fans to a “Let’s Talk DMC” panel discussion led by Patrick Macias, Editor of Otaku USA magazine, and two other special guests.

A cos-play contest hosted by San Francisco anime convention Anime On Display will award free tickets for the premiere to contestants dressed as a Detroit Metal City character.

The Top DMC cos-players will each win a free ticket to the movie premiere at 7:00pm, and the Top 2 DMC cos-players will re-appear on the NEW PEOPLE stage at 5:00pm to battle for a Grand Prize package that includes a $50 gift card to VIZ Cinema, a Death Note Collection Blu-ray and more. Fans may pre-register for contest at www.aodsf.org or simply visit the Animation On Display booth at the J-Pop Summit Festival.

Detroit Metal City takes the zany rock antics inspired by films like Spinal Tap to hilarious new extremes in this film directed by Toshio Lee and based on the popular manga comic created by Kiminori Wakasugi. It features notable appearances by Gene Simmons from the legendary band, KISS, and Marty Friedman of Megadeth, and stars Kenichi Matsuyama, one of the most adored actors in Japan today and also known widely for his role as 'L' in the Death Note films (also available from VIZ Pictures).

In the film, Soichi Negishi (played by Kenichi Matsuyama) is a sweet and shy young man who dreams of becoming a trendy singer songwriter. But for some reason, he is forced into joining the devil worshiping death metal band “Detroit Metal City” (DMC). In full stage make-up and costume, he transforms into Johannes Krauser II the vulgar-mouthed lead vocalist of the band. But he must keep this a secret from his crush, Yuri Aikawa, who despises death metal. What would she think if she found out? But against Negishi’s will, DMC rises to stardom. Things get even more complicated when the legendary king of death metal, Jack IL Dark (played by Gene Simmons), challenges DMC to a duel in the film’s climactic finale. What will be the fate of innocent Negishi as he climbs to the top of the death metal world?

Detroit Metal City will continue to play at VIZ Cinema until September 30th. Tickets are $10.

Visit www.DMCtheMovie.com or VIZ-Pictures.com for more information about the film.