With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

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

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Full Lineup Announced for the 17th Annual New York Asian Film Festival

The Film Society of Lincoln Center
Subway Cinema
The 17th Annual New York Asian Film Festival
When: June 29 - July 15, 2018
Where: Film Society of Lincoln Center
& SVA (School of Visual Arts) Theatre

The full lineup for the 17th New York Asian Film Festival (NYAFF) has been announced by the Film Society of Lincoln Center and Subway Cinema, joint presenters of the event. The festival begins this coming Friday, June 29th and continues through July 15th. Films, Q&As, and award presentations will take place at two venues: the Film Society of Lincoln Center and the SVA (School of Visual Arts) Theatre.

The announcement is here.

An alphabetical listing of the films, including dates, times, and location can be found here.

Friday, June 22, 2018

THE GREAT BUDDHA + plays in Seattle on Sunday July 1, 2018

Cheng Cheng Films
Written and directed by HUANG Hsin-Yao
Producer by YEH Jufeng and CHUNG Mong-Hong
Starring CHUANG Cres, CHEN Bamboo, and DAI Leon
Taiwan, 2017, 104 minutes

THE GREAT BUDDHA +, a wonderful drama from Taiwan, will be playing in Seattle on Sunday, July 1, 2018 at SIFF Cinema Uptown, 511 Queen Anne Ave N.

Provincial friends Pickle and Belly Button idle away their nights in the security booth of a Buddha statue factory, where Pickle works as a guard. One evening, when the TV is on the fritz, they put on video from the boss’s dashcam—only to discover illicit trysts and a mysterious act of violence. Expanded from a short, Huang Hsin-yao’s fiction feature debut The Great Buddha + (the plus sign cheekily nodding to the smartphone model) is a stylish, rip-roaring satire on class and corruption in contemporary Taiwanese society. (New Directors New Films)

I saw the film this past April in conjunction with its New York Premiere at the New Directors New Films series jointly presented by the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and the Film Society of Lincoln Center.

AsianCineFest Rating: 3.5 out of 4 stars; highly recommended.

Monday, June 18, 2018

THE PRINCESS AND THE MATCHMAKER to be released on Amazon, iTunes and Google Play on June 19th

CJ Entertainment
The Princess and the Matchmaker / Gung-hab
Directed by HONG Chang-pyo
Starring beloved actress SHIM Eun-kyung,
K-Drama Star LEE Seung-gi, and more
South Korea, 2018, 110 minutes

The Princess and the Matchmaker, a South Korean historical romantic comedy, will warm audiences’ hearts with laughter. Produced by the team of The Face Reader and Train to Busan, the film is HONG Chang-pyo’s directorial debut and stars Korea’s prized actress, loved by all ages, SHIM Eun-kyung (Miss Granny) and Korea’s all-around actor/entertainer, LEE Seung-gi. It also stars KIM Sang-kyung, YEON Woo-jin, KANG Min-hyuk, CHOI Woo-shik, and JO Bok-lae.

The Princess and the Matchmaker will release on Amazon, iTunes and Google Play on June 19, 2018. The cost is $14.99 to purchase High Definition (HD), $9.99 to purchase Standard Definition (SD), $4.99 to rent High Definition (HD), and $3.99 to rent Standard Definition (SD).

In The Princess and the Matchmaker, during the wake of the country’s prolonged famine, the Palace arranges Princess Songhwa’s (SHIM Eun-kyung) marriage in hopes to improve the country’s misfortune. A renowned diviner, Seo Doyoon (LEE Seung-gi), is brought in to find the perfect husband that will have the best marital harmony with the princess. Choosing from candidates from all over the country, four prospective husbands with different fate signs are shortlisted. The princess refuses to accept that her life partner will be chosen solely based on fortune reading. She takes it upon herself to meet the candidates before the final decision is made.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

THE ACCIDENTAL DETECTIVE 2: IN ACTION in limited North American release starting June 22nd

CJ Entertainment
The Accidental Detective 2: In Action / Tam jeong 2
Directed by LEE Eon-hie
Starring: KWON Sang-woo, SUNG Dong-il, and LEE Kwang-soo 
South Korea, 2018, 116 minutes

South Korean Action Comedy
Releases in the U.S. & Canada on June 22

The Accidental Detective 2: In Action, South Korea’s newest detective comedy to premiere in North America, will make audiences laugh this summer. The film is a limited release and will be showing in select theaters beginning June 22, 2018. For the full theater list, please visit: www.cj-entertainment.com.

A comic book storekeeper, Dae-man (KWON Sang-woo), and the legendary homicide detective, Tae-su (SUNG Dong-il), who met on a previous case quit their jobs to open the very first private detective agency in Korea. Despite their high hopes, they soon find themselves with only trivial cases such as spouse infidelity, unpaid debt, and missing cats. Then one day, a woman walks into the office, wanting to find the truth behind the death of her fiancé. Not only that, she also offers them a handsome reward of 50,000 dollars. Dae-man and Tae-su see it as an opportunity to put their true detective skills to work. They bring onboard a third member, Hopper (LEE Kwang-soo), a Mensa genius and a small-time online private eye, and together they launch a full-fledged investigation on the case. As they dig into what initially appeared to be a straightforward case, disturbing new evidence turns up.

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Encore screening of "Teiichi: Battle of Supreme High" to be held on June 15th, 2018 at Japan Society NY

Japan Society NY
presents a
Monthly Classics · Japan Cuts Encore
Teiichi: Battle of Supreme High / Teiichi no Kuni
Directed by Akira Nagai
Starring Masaki Suda, Shuhei Nomura, Ryoma Takeuchi, Shotaro Mamiya
Japan, 2017. 118 minutes
Blu-ray, in Japanese with English subtitles

When: Friday, June 15, 7 PM
Where: Japan Society NY
333 East 47th Street, NYC
Tickets: $13/$10 seniors & students / $5 Japan Society members

Teiichi Akaba has a singular dream: crush the competition, become prime minister and rule his own country. But first he just has to get through high school. An absurdist satire of Japan's elitist pathways to the seats of power, Akira Nagai's adaptation of Usamaru Furuya's manga finds Showa-era teens battling for the student council presidency through sabotage, bribery, fisticuffs and the manipulation of more than a few unspoken crushes.

Winner of the JAPAN CUTS 2017 Audience Award, this comedic crowdpleaser returns to Japan Society for an encore screening in anticipation of the upcoming 12th edition of JAPAN CUTS (July 19–29).

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

FIRST SAMURAI IN NEW YORK reviewed; screening Wednesday night at Asia Society NY

YK Well Enterprise
A Forerunner Films Production
In association with Fuzz on the Lens Productions
First Samurai in New York
Written and directed by Justin Ambrosino
Starring Maho Honda, Kyo Kasumi, Mike Houston, and Gabe Fazio
Based on a story by Yuki Arai (also executive producer)
Fight coordinator: Kyo Kasumi (TATE Hato Ryo NY)
USA, 2017, 13 minutes, color

First Samurai in New York is the latest film from Justin Ambrosino. His wonderful The 8th Samurai, a black-and-white 28 minute short, was shown at the 2012 New York Japan CineFest.

First Samurai in New York had its New York premiere screening at the New York International Shorts Festival on Saturday June 2nd. It will also be shown as part of this year's New York Japan CineFest: Program 1 on Wednesday, June 6th.

The movie takes place in 1883, approximately fifteen years after the Meiji Restoration, which restored practical rule to the emperor and led to the end of the shogunate and the samurai class. The location is Staten Island, where the family of a former samurai, and later a firefighter - has completed their long and arduous journey to America.

Izumi Naito (Kyo Kasumi), the mother, leaves for a few days to find a better and permanent place to live in Manhattan. Eldest daughter Chiyo Naito (Maho Honda) is a young woman who is left in charge of her two younger siblings: Ken, a boy and the middle child; and Fuji, the second daughter and youngest child.

When a violent situation concerning a male neighbor arises, the titular character comes to the rescue.

There's a delightful twist on the expectations one might have from the movie's title, and though it becomes evident fairly on, I don't want to say more and spoil this little treat.

Suffice it to say that, as in The 8th Samurai (which he also wrote and directed) Ambrosino demonstrates a deft hand and a marvelous flair for storytelling. An  incredible amount of drama, action and heart are contained in this outstanding short. All of the performances are highly commendable, with Maho Honda's particularly so.

Wednesday night's program of this year's New York Japan CineFest runs from 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. at Asia Society, 725 Park Avenue, NYC. (Click here for map and directions.) I haven't seen any of the other five films in the program, but past offerings have all been worth seeing.

I highly recommend catching First Samurai in New York tomorrow night, even if you were at Saturday night's New York premiere. It's a terrific film and further evidence of Ambrosino's considerable talents.

AsianCineFest Rating: 4 out of 4 stars; most highly recommended.

[P.S. - New York Japan CineFest 2018: Program 2 will take place at Asia Society on Thursday, June 7th, again from 6:30 - 8:30 p.m.]