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2014 Friars Club Comedy Film Festival Starts Today
Posted on 04.01.14 by David @ 11:18 pm

The 2014 Friars Club Comedy Film Festival (co-founded and organized by CSB’s own Charlie Prince) started today and runs from April 1 to April 5, with screenings from all over the world. Highlights include Bill Plympton’s Cheatin’, James Roday’s Gravy and the Dutch Borgman.

All the information you need is below.

::: FCCFF Schedule and Website


Filed under: Movie News
Comments: None

New York Asian Film Festival/Japan Cuts 2013 Report 6 – Japan Cuts Kicks Off
Posted on 07.12.13 by David @ 12:06 pm
New York Asian Film Festival 2013 Japan Cuts 2013

As the New York Asian Film Festival winds down over the weekend, with closing film The Rooftop on Monday at the Asia Society, the Japan Cuts festival at the Japan Society is just getting started in earnest, with lots of good stuff coming up between now and the 21st.

Shion Sono’s latest opus, Bad Film, screens tonight, along with the perverted super hero story Hentai Kamen. Also playing is Helter Skelter (see review here), one of the highlights of the festival so far, and the tragicomic Dreams for Sale – an increasingly dark film about a couple scamming lonely-hearts out of money to fund their restaurant.

 The Warped Forest While Rurouni Kenshin will draw in blockbuster crowds with its pretty-boy casting and manga crossover appeal, frankly it is way too conventional to be memorable (though the fight scenes are unexpectedly solid). Better and weirder is The Warped Forest, by Shunichiro Miki, one-third of the troika who directed CSB favorite Funky Forest: The First Contact. Warped Forest is more fitfully amusing, rarely reaching the sublime peaks of Funky Forest, but it is a pleasant fever-dream of a movie and you are unlikely to find a director more obsessed with navels.

For my money, though, you’d do even better to catch It’s Me It’s Me, the latest from Satoshi Miki (director of another CSB favorite, Adrift in Tokyo), about a young man whose life becomes a recursive identity crisis spiral after he tries to scam another man’s mother for some quick bucks. Miki’s films always have a shaggy-dog charm and It’s Me is no exception, with the internal logic of the situation playing out as more and more doppelgangers of the protagonist start to pop up. (Click Here To Read More…)


Filed under: Movie Reviews and Movie Reviews: Japan and Contributors: David and Venues: The Japan Society and People: Shion Sono and Film Festivals: New York Asian Film Festival 2013 and Film Festivals: Japan Cuts 2013
Comments: None

New York Asian Film Festival/Japan Cuts 2013 Report 5 – Mainland Crime Stories - Beijing Blues and A Mystery
Posted on 07.03.13 by David @ 3:54 pm
New York Asian Film Festival 2013 Japan Cuts 2013

This report focuses on two contrasting looks at crime in modern mainland China: Beijing Blues and A Mystery.

Beijing Blues
AKA: Shen tan Hengte Zhang
Dir. Qunshu Gao (China 2012)
Rating: 3 out of 4 Stars (Good)

 Beijing Blues Beijing Blues is slight but enjoyable – a slice of life piece shot in quasi-documentary style about a police officer, Zhang (Zhang Lixian), and his squad who are tasked with catching the thousands of petty con artists who prey on the populace daily. While the film eventually loses its thread a bit with a silly plotline about a master criminal who issues a challenge to law enforcement, the real enjoyment lies in watching the day-to-day efforts of Officer Zhang.

Much of the film depicts the police surveilling suspects, watching them enact small-time car insurance scams, counterfeit bill drops and religious trickery before Zhang’s crew swoops in with their bicycles and beat-up cars to bring the arrestees back to the station house for a ritual browbeating and confessional. Most of the crimes are not a matter of life and death – even when Zhang gets stabbed he brushes it off as an occupational hazard – and a little silliness and schmaltz do little to detract from the overall good vibes of the film.

(Click Here To Read More…)


Filed under: General and Movie Reviews and Contributors: David and Venues: Film Society at Lincoln Center and Movie Reviews: China and Film Festivals: New York Asian Film Festival 2013 and Film Festivals: Japan Cuts 2013
Comments: None

New York Asian Film Festival/Japan Cuts 2013 Report 4 – Confession of Murder and Countdown
Posted on 07.03.13 by David @ 1:49 pm
New York Asian Film Festival 2013 Japan Cuts 2013

Today’s report tackles two slanted takes on the psycho killer with South Korea’s Confession of Murder and Thailand’s Countdown.

Confession of Murder
AKA: Nae-ga sal-in-beom-i-da; I Am the Murderer
Dir. Jeong Byeong-gil (South Korea 2012)
Rating: 3 out of 4 Stars (Good)

 Confession of Murder The plot of Confession of Murder – boyishly-charming serial killer Lee becomes a media darling after publishing a tell-all expose about his crimes the day after the statute of limitations expires - is absolutely preposterous, but Confession makes a virtue of that very preposterousness. After years of very good but insanely dark serial killer movies from South Korea like The Chaser and I Saw the Devil, Confession finally has the courage to say, “Hey, why can’t serial killer movies be fun again?” By contrast to those films, which gave Seven a run for its money in the grim’n’gritty department, Confession uses its premise as an excuse for an extended cat-and-mouse game between Lee (Park Shi-hoo) and the detective whose life he ruined (Jeong Jae-Yeong - Moss, Castaway on the Moon) with ample opportunity for gonzo car chases, multiple assassination attempts by arrow and snake, and crazy plot twists. The film, as shot by Action Boys director Jeong Byeong-gil, is slick without ever being soulless, and heralds his arrival as a real force in Korean cinema.

(Click Here To Read More…)


Filed under: General and Movie Reviews and Movie Reviews: South Korea and Contributors: David and Movie Reviews: Thailand and Venues: Film Society at Lincoln Center and Film Festivals: New York Asian Film Festival 2013 and Film Festivals: Japan Cuts 2013
Comments: None

Jim Kelly, star of Black Belt Jones and Enter the Dragon, Dies at 67
Posted on 07.01.13 by David @ 12:19 pm

Jim KellyFirst Liu Chia-Liang and now Jim Kelly - it has not been a good work for the martial arts genre. Starting with his breakout role in Enter the Dragon, Kelly had a way of standing out even among the dreck, and made the most of his imposing physical presence and easygoing charm in his solo series Black Belt Jones. He was a ’70s icon and represented a type of film career that just doesn’t seem to exist anymore.


Filed under: Movie News and Movie News: Obituaries
Comments: None

New York Asian Film Festival/Japan Cuts 2013 Report 3 – Aberya, The Animals and Helter Skelter
Posted on 07.01.13 by David @ 11:54 am
New York Asian Film Festival 2013 Japan Cuts 2013

Monday and Tuesday bring on a focus on the new Filipino cinema with Aberya and The Animals, along with the first Japan Cuts co-presentation, Helter Skelter. Also showing is Ryoo Seung-Wan’s The Unjust, an insanely dark political cat-and-mouse game between a corrupt cop and an equally corrupt prosecutor set against the backdrop of a child-killer’s rampage (see our review here).

Aberya
AKA: Breakdown
Dir. Christian Linaban (Philippines 2012)
Rating: 3 out of 4 Stars (Good)

AberyaAberya has been one of the real treats of the festival so far – an audacious, visually stunning piece of filmmaking from a new director whom I hope to see go far. Linaban takes four loosely connected characters – a Filipino-American boxer, an enigmatic prostitute, a drug-addled rich kid and a struggling nurse – and weaves their stories into a compelling, if bizarre narrative that constantly zags when you expect it to zig. While Aberya bogs down slightly in an extended drug trip, Linaban shows real talent here, making the most out of his young cast and bringing their tales together in a way that preserves the sense of wonder and surprise while avoiding a miserabilist Arriaga-esque wallow.

(Click Here To Read More…)


Filed under: General and Movie Reviews and Movie Reviews: Japan and Venues: Film Society at Lincoln Center and Film Festivals: New York Asian Film Festival 2013 and Film Festivals: Japan Cuts 2013 and Movie Reviews: Philippines
Comments: None

New York Asian Film Festival/Japan Cuts 2013 Report 2 – Ip Man Mania
Posted on 06.28.13 by David @ 1:08 pm
New York Asian Film Festival 2013 Japan Cuts 2013

The opening weekend of NYAFF is heavy on the fu, with a double helping of two very different films about Bruce Lee’s master, Ip Man - Ip Man: The Final Fight and The Legend is Born: Ip Man - along with special screenings modern classics Enter the Dragon and Arahan. Director Herman Yau and screenwriter Erica Li will attend the former, while actor Ryoo Seung-beom and DJs Fab 5 Freddy and MC Yan will hold down the latter.

The Legend is Born: Ip Man
AKA: Yip Man chinchyun
Dir. Herman Yau (Hong Kong 2010)
Rating: 3 out of 4 Stars (good)

Ip ManThe recent Ip Man craze (Ip Mania?) spearheaded by Donnie Yen and Wilson Yip (see our reviews of Donnie Yen’s Ip Man 1 and 2 here and our interview with Sammo Hung here) has led to a number of intriguing side projects and diversions, including two films by Herman Yau that essentially serve as bookends to Donnie Yen’s action-packed saga.

(Click Here To Read More…)


Filed under: General and Movie Reviews and Movie Reviews: Hong Kong and People: Ryoo Seung-wan and People: Bruce Lee and Venues: Film Society at Lincoln Center and Film Festivals: New York Asian Film Festival 2013 and Film Festivals: Japan Cuts 2013 and People: Herman Yau and People: Anthony Wong
Comments: 1 Comment

New York Asian Film Festival/Japan Cuts 2013 Report 1 – NYAFF Starts Today
Posted on 06.28.13 by David @ 9:51 am
New York Asian Film Festival 2013 Japan Cuts 2013

Subway Cinema’s New York Asian Film Festival and the Japan Society’s Japan Cuts series are back! Quite a line up this year, with new films from stalwarts like Takashi Miike (Audition), Johnnie To (The Mission), Toshiaki Toyoda (9 Souls), E J-Yong (Dasepo Naughty Girls), Herman Yau (The Untold Story), Shion Sono (Love Exposure) and Hideo Nakata (The Ring), along with less familiar names like Mika Nakagawa, Christian Linaban and Gao Qunshu.

This year has the usual assortment of primarily Japanese, Chinese, Hong Kong, Korean and Thai films. While there is unfortunately nothing from Malaysia or Indonesia - two countries that could usually be counted on for at least one outstanding oddity - there is consolation in the presence of major showings from the Philippines and Taiwan. From the Philippines comes a focus on the new thrillers from Manila, including the unconventional threat in The Refrigerator and the fascinating Aberya. Meanwhile, the festival will be showcasing less reputable entries from the “Black Movie” period of Taiwanese cinema when the marquees were ruled by sleazy actioners and youth in revolt pics like Woman Revenger.

NYAFF 2013 will run at the Film Society of Lincoln Center from June 28 to July 15, only to be supplemented and supplanted by Japan Cuts 2013 from July 11-21 (which we will cover in more detail on the 11th). Additional reports will follow. A full screening schedule for NYAFF 2013 can be found at Subway Cinema’s site here. A full screening schedule for Japan Cuts 2013 can be found here.

© David Austin


Filed under: General and Movie News and Movie Reviews and Movie Reviews: Hong Kong and Venues: Film Society at Lincoln Center and Movie Reviews: China and Film Festivals: New York Asian Film Festival 2013 and Film Festivals: Japan Cuts 2013
Comments: None

Liu Chia-Liang, Titan of Kung Fu Cinema, Dies at 76
Posted on 06.26.13 by David @ 9:22 am

Liu Chia-Liang (also known as Lau Kar-Leung) has passed away. What can I say, the man was a legend. From a martial family that included Gordon Liu and Lau Kar-Wing, and from a direct line of martial arts teaching passed down by Wong Fei-Hung, Liu was a titan of kung fu cinema who made genre-defining classics like 36 Chambers of Shaolin, My Young Auntie, Eight Diagram Pole Fighter and Legendary Weapons of China.

Liu could play it dead serious, like in 36 Chambers or Pole Fighter, but always seemed to prefer anarchic comedy like Dirty Ho, where one of the heroes has to fight a deadly battle while pretending to have a friendly conversation over tea. While at Shaw Brothers, this allowed Liu to act as a counter force to their other great martial arts director, Chang Cheh, whose deadly serious male-bonding epics could occasionally get a little too stuffy (don’t get me wrong, though, I love Chang). Liu, on the other hand, seemed far more interested in the martial arts than in the “heroic bloodshed” - his Legendary Weapons, astoundingly for the era, actually sets up a conflict between Chinese and Japanese fighters in which no one dies and greater understanding is reached through kung fu.

Liu made stars out of some of the greatest staples of the genre, including brother Gordon and pixieish Kara Hui, and worked with just about every big name, including Sammo Hung and Jackie Chan. In addition to his achievements as a director and choreographer, Liu also did wonderful work in front of the camera. Check out his throwdown at the end of My Young Auntie or, for more modern viewers, his turn as the elderly general in Jackie Chan’s Drunken Master 2.

Liu’s work will forever stand alongside the other pillars of the genre like Sammo Hung, Chang Cheh, Tsui Hark, Bruce Lee, King Hu and Jackie Chan. I’m sad to see him go, but his legacy will live on.


Filed under: Movie News and Movie News: Obituaries and People: Lau Kar Leung
Comments: None

Jesus (Jess) Franco Dies at 82
Posted on 04.02.13 by David @ 3:38 pm

Jesus Franco, a man who defined both “prolific” and “sleazy” when it came to cinema, has died at the age of 82. I won’t even try to summarize his contributions to exploitation cinema, but suffice it to say that in a career that spanned from the 50s up until his death and dozens of pseudonyms, he did it all. I’d be lying if I said I liked it all, but there are some real gems in his filmography, like the wild Diabolical Dr. Z, the gothic Eyes Without A Face/Cabinet of Dr. Caligari mash-up The Awful Dr. Orlof, and the eurospy goofiness of The Devil Came From Akasava.
Even when the films were lacking, Franco could often capture one perfect element, like the freakout score of Vampyros Lesbos or the lovely cinematography of Venus in Furs.

Franco, as always, follows closely on the heels of his muse and lover, Lina Romay, who passed away last year.


Filed under: General and Movie News and Movie News: Obituaries
Comments: None

Japan Society Delves Into the Twisted World of Shin Toho
Posted on 02.25.13 by David @ 10:05 am

After a fallow period following the decline of the DVD market, we are finally getting more opportunities to wander off the beaten path of Japanese genre cinema from the 50s and 60s. Last November brought the release of Eclipse’s “When Horror Came to Shochiku,” collecting the goofy X from Outer Space and the visual freakout Goke: Bodysnatcher from Hell, along with oddities The Living Skeleton and Genocide. Now the Japan Society is getting into the act with a traveling series from another smaller studio, Shin Toho, collecting everything from exploitation to traditional Kabuki-based horror.

The series, which will run from February 27 to March 10 has something for every genre fan. Exploitation fans will want to check out the historical nudity in display in Revenge of the Pearl Queen (1956), featuring Michiko Maeda (see above) in the first Japanese nude scene, or Flesh Pier (1958), a noir set in the sex industry mileu.

Going fully noir, viewers will definitely want to check out Yellow Line by the always gonzo Teruo Ishii (for more on Ishii, click here) , a thriller starring the reptilian but charismatic Shigeru Amachi as a hitman with a heart not quite made of gold who gets mixed up with the “yellow line,” a group of leering locals and Westerners kidnapping Japanese office ladies for the sex trade. Ishii postulates the port of Kobe as the ninth circle of Hell, teeming with cross-cultural prostitution, drug addicts and murderers, in a style similar to Nikkatsu’s contemporary “borderless action” productions. By Ishii’s later standards, this is a bit tame on the ero-guro scale, but he more than compensates for the lack of straight-up shock value with an engaging plot and great performances. In particular, Yoko Mihara is great fun as the dancer kidnapped by Amachi - even in mortal peril, she is resourceful and sassy. (Click Here To Read More…)


Filed under: Movie News and Movie News: Japan and Movie Reviews and People: Teruo Ishii and Venues: The Japan Society and People: Nobuo Nakagawa
Comments: None

The Avengers: Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pre-Release Review
Posted on 09.25.12 by David @ 3:41 pm

Country and Year: USA (2012)
Director: Joss Whedon
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo

Review By: David Austin
Rating: 3 out of 4 stars (good)

The collective interwebs have spilled a great deal of ink over The Avengers already, so I’ll cut straight to the bottom line without spending time on the film’s background. First my bona fides – I am fairly familiar with history of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s Avengers and of the characters in play but have never been a regular reader of the Avengers comics or any of the myriad spin-offs (though Matt Fraction and David Aja are up to some very interesting things on Hawkeye these days). Similarly, I like Buffy and Firefly just fine, but do not go out of my way to follow Joss Whedon’s doings. I do not have any particular axe to grind in the great 2012 geek culture war between Avengers and Batman, nor am I invested in proving that either was the greatest thing since sliced bread or a total travesty. With that in mind, my relatively-unbiased take on Avengers was that it was … good. Solid fun, a pleasant way to spend an evening, but not great. There is a lot to enjoy in Whedon’s Marvel opus but, to put it simply, it does not transcend the genre.

(Click Here To Read More…)


Filed under: Movie Reviews and Movie Reviews: USA and DVD Reviews and DVD Reviews: USA and Contributors: David and Rating: Good ★★★ and People: Scarlett Johansson and People: Samuel L. Jackson and People: Joss Whedon and People: Mark Ruffalo and People: Robert Downey Jr. and Production Company: Marvel
Comments: None

Giallo Fever Starts Tonight at the Anthology Film Archives
Posted on 09.20.12 by David @ 4:31 pm

Starting tonight at the Anthology Film Archives, and running through September 30, is Giallo Fever, a maniacal celebration of black-gloved killers and perverse murders. If you are unfamiliar with the genre, you’ll get no better introduction - check out some of the absolute best like Dario Argento’s Bird with Crystal Plumage, Mario Bava’s Blood and Black Lace, Sergio Martino’s Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh and Massimo Dallamano’s What Have You Done to Solange? Experienced viewers can delve into the oddities of Pupi Avati’s House with Laughing Windows or Argento’s genre-defining Deep Red. Whether you like Bava’s classics, Argento’s exercises, Fulci’s gross-outs or Martino’s Edwige Fenech showcases, there is something for everyone.

::: Anthology Film Archives


Filed under: Movie News and Genre: Giallo and Movie News: Italy and Venues: Anthology Film Archives
Comments: None

Check out the AV Club Interview of Mary Woronov
Posted on 09.07.12 by David @ 2:06 pm

Do not miss the AV Club’s excellent interview of Mary Woronov (of Death Race 2000 and Eating Raoul fame). She is every bit as fascinating, funny and blunt as you would expect from her screen persona.

::: Cult-film staple Mary Woronov on Andy Warhol, Roger Corman, and being typecast


Filed under: General and Movie News and Movie News: External Interview
Comments: None

Universal Remaking Videodrome
Posted on 08.23.12 by David @ 8:58 am

Likelihood that Remake Will Not Be Total Crap-O-Meter:

Screenwriter was involved with Transformers PLUS Director coming out of commercial background PLUS Unique and inscrutable source material EQUALS 7%

::: Universal Sets Adam Berg To Helm ‘Videodrome’ Remake


Filed under: General and Movie News and Movie News: USA and People: David Cronenberg
Comments: None

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* 2014 Friars Club Comedy Film Festival Starts Today (04/01/2014)
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* New York Asian Film Festival/Japan Cuts 2013 Report 1 – NYAFF Starts Today (06/28/2013)
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