With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

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

Saturday, November 26, 2022

Today is last day for online viewing of music doc FINDING HER BEAT

Finding Her Beat
Directed by Dawn Mikkelson and Keri Pickett
United States, 2022, 89 minutes
Laungauges: English, Japanese

Finding Her Beat is a very special music documentary feature film. Today, Sunday, November 27th is the last day that it will be available for audiences in the U.S. and U.S. territories to watch online as part of DOC NYC’s virtual screening experience.

Music is the driving beat of cultural and individualist expression for people of color around the globe – offering sanctuary in times of uncertainty and a sense of family/community, helping those to survive and often thrive. Finding Her Beat was made by a predominantly female/nonbinary, largely Asian-American and LGBTQ filmmaking team and cast, when marginalized gendered and people of color are severely underrepresented in film.

For thousands of years women have been locked out of Taiko drumming. Not any more, since thousands of groups now perform throughout North America and worldwide. In the dead of a Minnesota winter just before the world shut down for a global pandemic, Asian drumming divas from around the world met to perform and smash gender roles and redefine power on their own terms.

Finding Her Beat dives into the rhythms and struggles that lead to an electrifying historic performance that changes everything.

Saturday, November 12, 2022

CONFLAGRATION reviewed; screening at Japan Society tomorrow

Japan Society NY
The Agency for Cultural Affairs, Government of Japan
Conflagration © Kadokawa Corporation.
Conflagration / Enj├┤
Directed by Kon Ichikawa
Starring Raizo Ichikawa, Tatsuya Nakadai, Ganjiro Nakamura
Japan, 1958, 99 minutes, 35mm, b/w

When: Monday, November 14, 2015 at 7:00 om
Where: Japan Society
333 East 47th Street, NYC

Synopsis (courtesy Japan Society):

Known as Ichikawa's favorite of his own films, Conflagration is the pinnacle of the many acclaimed literary adaptations he and his wife Natto Wada worked on together. Loosely based on true events that also inspired Yukio Mishima's novel The Temple of the Golden Pavilion, the story involves the spiritual and psychological breakdown of an introverted, troubled youth named Goichi (Raizo Ichikawa), whose desire for pure beauty leads him to Kyoto's Shukaku temple, where he becomes an apprentice to the priest. 

Haunted by the trauma of his father's death, Goichi is unable to reconcile the sacred beauty of the temple with postwar reality, and his absolutist ideals become increasingly distorted until they lead to destruction. Ichikawa's stark, poignant film is unforgettably rendered in stunning black and white by cinematographer Kazuo Miyagawa (Akira Kurosawa's Rashomon and numerous other highly regarded films).


It's not difficult to understand why Ichikawa was so pleased with this film, as it's a superb piece of story-telling. And, as previously mentioned, Miyagawa's cinematography is outstanding.

Raizo Ichikawa, perhaps best known to Westerners for his portrayal of Nemuri Kyoshiro in the Sleepy Eyes of Death swordplay series, gives a superb performance as Goichi. So too does Tatsuya Nakadai as Togari, Goichi's lame and dissolute fellow student. It's a revelation seeing the two of them so early in their careers.

AsianCineFest Rating: 4 out of 4 stars, most highly recommended. In other words, it's a "must-see" if at all possible.

This screening of Conflagration is presented as part of the film series The Female Gaze: Women Filmmakers from JAPAN CUTS and Beyond. The films in the series were selected and are co-presented by the Japan Society and the Agency for Cultural Affairs, Government of Japan. Conflagration is In collaboration with the National Film Archive of Japan

Thursday, November 10, 2022

DREAMING OF THE MERIDIAN ARC reviewed; will screen at Japan Society tomorrow at 1:00 pm


 Japan Society NY
The Agency for Cultural Affairs, Government of Japan

Dreaming of the Meridian Arc
Directed by Kenji Nakanishi
With Kiichi Nakai, Keiko Kitagawa, and Kenichi Matsuyama.
Japan, 2022, 111 minutes
DCP, color, in Japanese with English subtitles
When: November 12, 2022 at 1:00 pm
Where: Japan Society NY
333 East 47th Street
Kenichi Matsuyama's contemporary/historical comedy/drama will be shown tomorrow afternoon at Japan Society NY as part of The Female Gaze: Women Filmmakers from JAPAN CUTS and Beyond.
Synopsis (courtesy of Japan Society):
A locally funded TV dramatization of cartographer Tadataka Ino, the first person to map Japan in 1821, runs into trouble when it’s discovered mid-production that Ino died three years prior to the completion of his map. Weaving between modern day and Edo-era Japan, Dreaming of the Meridian Arc reveals the surprising story of Tadataka's disciples who hid news of their beloved master’s death and risked their lives to clandestinely complete the map in his honor. Adapted for the screen by Yoshiko Morishita (Flower and Sword) from Shinosuke Tatekawa’s rakugo story, Dreaming of the Meridian Arc offers a humorous and entertaining account of the exploits that led to the completion of Ino’s revolutionary map.
Considering that it has what I would term one of the lesser time slots in the series' schedule, I was more than pleasantly surprised to find that this film -- although not a masterpiece -- is nonetheless eminently enjoyable. The movie's conceit, if you will, is its use of the same actors playing characters in  the two contemporary sections of the film which bookend the central bloc in which they play historical counterparts to their modern day characters. On the other hand, perhaps the "historical" mid-section can most appropriately be considered the speculative musings of the main character Yasuharu Ikemoto, played by Kiichi Nakai. His subtle double takes when he recognizes a resemblance between present day characters and those in the historical drama are deftly done. Both he and the entire supporting class put in super fine performances and the dialogue and characterizations merit well-deserved credit to screenwriter Yoshiko Morishits, who adapted Shinosuke Tatekawa's rakugo story.
AsianCineFest Rating: 3.5 out of 4 stars; very good; a highly entertaining and enjoyable film.
Explore the complete series lineup and buy tickets here. All films were selected by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, Government of Japan and Japan Society and will screen in person at Japan Society.