THE NEW YORK ASIAN FILM FESTIVAL 2008 from June 2-July 6 at the IFC Center and the Japan Society.
SUBWAY CINEMA presents THE NEW YORK ASIAN FILM FESTIVAL 2008 from June 2-July 6 at the IFC Center and the Japan Society. It's seventeen days of new films from Takashi Miike, Johnnie To, Hur Jin-Ho, Koji Wakamatsu and Shinji Aoyama. In addition, this year the lineup includes the documentary YASUKUNI and films from Indonesia (KALA ) and Vietnam (THE REBEL ).
Films will be screened the first fourteen days at the IFC Center (323 Sixth Ave, between 3rd and 4th Streets) and the final four days at the Japan Society (333 East 47th St., between 1st and 2nd Aves) during the co-presentation of several films as part of their JAPAN CUTS: Festival of New Japanese Films (which runs from July 2-13).
ACCURACY OF DEATH (Japan, 2008) Set in 1988, 2008 and the near future, Takeshi Kaneshiro plays the Grim Reaper who comes to Earth with a talking dog to evaluate the lives of potential dead people in this comedy.
ADRIFT IN TOKYO (Japan, 2007) A scruffy law school student (Joe Odagiri,the Johnny Depp of Japan) is deep in hock to a thuggish, middle-aged debt collector who offers to forgive what he owes if the kid accompanies him on long walks through Tokyo.
ALWAYS 2: SUNSET ON THIRD STREET (Japan, 2007) one of Japan's biggest hits, ALWAYS: SUNSET ON THIRD STREET rocked the New York Asian Film Festival back in 2006 and now the sequel is back to deliver even more mid-century melodrama about a neighborhood in Tokyo where everyone is struggling to make ends meet and get ahead in post-war Japan.
ASSEMBLY (China, 2007) Taking place during China's Civil War of 1948, it's an epic that boils down to one question: how do veterans deal with the choices they made on the battlefield once the war is over and they've come home?
THE BUTCHER (Korea, 2007) This mash-up of HOSTEL and THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE was shot on video far outside the studio system, by first-time director Kim Jin-Won, and in it he depicts the Korean film industry as a bunch of pigs and rapists shooting snuff films for foreign audiences.
DAINIPPONJIN (Japan, 2007) A mockumentary that starts out as the most boring movie ever made about the most boring man on earth suddenly switches gears when we discover that the government job he's complaining about is one that requires him to grow to enormous size and defend Japan from horrible giant monsters. While wearing purple underwear. Written, directed and starring Hitoshi Matsumoto, Japan's number one comedian.
DOG IN A SIDECAR (Japan, 2007) In this coming of age movie, Yuko Takeuchi (THE RING) (who won six Best Actress awards for this film), plays the lazy, uncouth girlfriend of a single parent.
FINE, TOTALLY FINE (Japan, 2007) It charts a lazy love triangle between three losers who are hitting 30 and haven't gone anywhere in life. But that leaves out the ghost, the quest to create the world's best haunted house, how not to open a box of Kleenex, the worst way to sell a porno magazine, the joys of used bookstores and the world's biggest, child-killing chewing gum bubble.
HAPPINESS (Korea, 2007) Hur Jin-Ho makea a love story between two sick people (he's got cirrhosis of the liver, she's got lung disease) feel like something fresh and tender by playing up the moments that get lost and playing down the big dramatic beats.
KALA (Indonesia, 2007) A dark, alternate history film noir by Joko Anwar set in a version of Indonesia where everyone dresses like it's still the 1950's and where sudden, hideous violence waits around every corner in a black sedan, this conspiracy thriller slowly tightens its hand around your throat until darkness creeps in on the edge of your vision. A narcoleptic reporter and a gay cop are drawn into a murderous plot to find what's known as The First President's Treasure, while the city around them descends into lawlessness.
KING NARESUAN 1 & 2 (Thailand, 2007) the number one and number two box office hits of all time from Thailand, these massive epics tell the lifestory of Thailand's warrior king, Naresuan. Full of sets dripping with gold, political intrigue that makes American politics look straight-forward andsome of the biggest, most rousing action scenes you'll ever have the pleasure of sucking through your eyes. Imagine THE KING & I with the musical numbers replaced by herds of stampeding war elephants, six-foot-long rifles and bloodthirsty Amazons.
L: CHANGE THE WORLD (Japan, 2008) the DEATH NOTE movies were massive hits in Japan (and at last year's NYAFF) and now the latest installment in the series hits screens, courtesy of Hideo Nakata, director of the landmark horror film THE RING . This time out it's L , the teen, goth version of Sherlock Holmes who takes center stage. Slotted into the last 23 days of his life, this flick is a big budget summer blockbuster that sees this hunchbacked, candy-munching genius take on a terrorist cult armed with a flesh-melting virus.
M (Korea, 2007) Lee Myung-Se has crafted a ghost movie and created the divisive, infuriating, totally unique M . A popular junk novelist has just blown his latest deadline but hasn't written a word of his new book because his high school sweetheart has suddenly shown up in town from out of the past. She may be real, or she may be a ghost, or she may be a memory, or there may be no difference between the three.
MAD DETECTIVE (Hong Kong, 2007) Johnnie To reunites with actor Lau Ching-wan after seven years to make this crime flick that's like a high performance engine firing on all cylinders. Lau plays a cop who can see people's souls, fired from the force after sawing off his own ear and giving it to his commanding officer as a gift. Now he's pulled back in to solve a crime committed by another police officer.
MISE EN SCENE SHORT FILM FESTIVAL Korea's number one festival of short films includes the gruesome tale of a fluffy puppy out for revenge against the owners who abandoned it, a plot by zombies to control the Korean film industry, a gang of chickens who eat the moon, a company where contracts are settled by martial arts and a very strange story about the secret love child of famous British author John Fowles.
THE REBEL (Vietnam, 2007) an old time Republic serial, pumped up on politics and super-charged with ONG BAK caliber action scenes, THE REBEL is the biggest box office hit ever to come out of Vietnam. Set in the 1920's, it's all about a secret agent for the colonial French government who is tasked with rounding up anti-French rebels and kicking them in the head until they die. Then, one day, he finds that he can't put down his own people anymore and he goes on the run. Wall-to-wall beat-downs, insane Vietnamese martial arts, and thrill-a-minute chases make this anadrenaline-charged, bloodied knuckled ode to Vietnamese freedom.
SAD VACATION (Japan, 2007) This is part of Shinji Aoyama unofficial Kita Kyushu trilogy which started with his first film, HELPLESS , continued with EUREKA and concludes with SAD VACATION . Tadanobu Asano plays a guy who was abandoned early on by his mother and, after taking in a Chinese orphan left over from a human trafficking job gone wrong, he suddenly comes across her again as an adult. He's determined that vengeance will be his, but he finds out that blood is so much thicker than water it'll drown us all.
SPARROW (Hong Kong, 2008) Johnnie To's sparkling, life-affirming film about a gang of pickpockets who cross paths with a mysterious femme fatale. An ode to rapidly-vanishing old Hong Kong, it feels like it's going to burst into song at any minute and contains some of To's most gorgeous, intricate and technically breathtaking set pieces.
SUKIYAKI WESTERN DJANGO (Japan, 2007) Takashi Miike's English-language spaghetti western combines Shakespeare, YOJIMBO , Sergio Corbucci films and plants that grow tiny fetuses into an unholy car bomb of a movie that explodes in your face, showering the audience with a nutso reimagining of American Westerns.
THIS WORLD OF OURS (Japan, 2007) 25-year-old director Ryo Nakajima was a hikikomori (a shut-in) who emerged from his room to make this digital howl of rage. Screening at the Vancouver Film Festival, Rotterdam Film Festival and winning three prizes at Japan's Pia Film Festival, it charts a continuum of anger that has the 9/11 bombings at one end and high school bullying at the other with gang rape, self-mutilation and school massacres in between.
TOKYO GORE POLICE (Japan, 2008) The writer of Japanese mind-bender, UZUMAKI , the star of Takashi Miike's AUDITION (actress Eihi Shiina), and the action choreographer of AZUMI and VERSUS (and GODZILLA: FINAL WARS ) Tak Sakaguchi get together with the special effects director of the recent, appallingly insane MACHINE GIRL to unleash the goriest, craziest, most eye-blowing, chunk-spewing sci-fi movie of all time. In the future, Tokyo police are privatized fascists for rent and they're hot on the trail of a mutating virus thats turning the population into freaks.
UNITED RED ARMY (Japan, 2007) Koji Wakamatsu, Japan's most controversial filmmaker, wraps up 45 years of moviemaking with this 3-hour, insanely researched epic about Japan's United Red Army faction, one of the world's most notorious terrorist groups.
YASUKUNI (China/Japan, 2008) This documentary about Japan's Yasukuni shrine to its war dead has become a cultural flashpoint in Japan, with several cinema chains refusing to screen it and elected officials calling for a boycott of the film, while right wingers are threatening to fire bombscreenings. A sprawling documentary about the protestors, right wing nationalists, thugs, patriots and misguided Americans who use the Yasukuni shrine as their stage, this documentary pits war against peace and national pride against xenophobic jingoism.
JAPAN CUTS: Festival of New Japanese Film (July 2-13)
For the second consecutive summer, Japan Society is presenting JAPAN CUTS: Festival of New Japanese Film, the first and only large-scale annual film festival in North America celebrating the latest films from Japan. Running for 12 days Wednesday, July 2 through Sunday, July 13, 2008 at Japan Society, JAPAN CUTS presents nearly 20 feature films, all U.S. and New York premieres, ranging from blockbusters and animation to documentaries and cutting-edge independents. In addition, special events include collections of short films, family screenings and appearances by leading filmmakers and actors.