SciFi Japan

    New York Asian Film Festival-- Information and Schedule

    Source: Subway Cinema Special Thanks to Madalena Tran and Grady Hendrix

    NEW YORK ASIAN FILM FESTIVAL 2008

    JUNE 20 - JULY 6 at the IFC Center and Japan Society

    The New York Asian Film Festival is back like a bad dream, ready to cleanse the dirt from your soul with a barrage of sparkling, super-powered movies straight out of Asia. It’s a seventeen day orgy of new films from Takashi Miike, Johnnie To, Hur Jin-Ho, Koji Wakamatsu and Shinji Aoyama. Plus, our first-ever documentary (YASUKUNI) and our first movies from Indonesia (KALA) and Vietnam (THE REBEL). For the first fourteen days (June 20-July 6), NYAFF 2008 screenings will take place at the IFC Center. The final four days of the Festival (July 3 – July 6) will be held at Japan Society, where we’ll be co-presenting several films as part of their JAPAN CUTS: Festival of New Japanese Films (which runs from July 2 - July 13).

    Films:

    ACCURACY OF DEATH (aka SWEET RAIN)* (Japan, 2008) 114 minutes, 35mm, in Japanese with English subtitles, Directed by: Masaya Kakei, Starring: Takeshi Kaneshiro, Manami Konishi, Sumiko Fuji, Ken Mitsuishi, Takuya Ishida Taiwanese / Japanese heartthrob Takeshi Kaneshiro plays a God of Death (there are more than one) tasked to spend a week with those who’ve been assigned a sudden demise. If he feels that they don’t deserve to die, then he can put their death on hold, but if he thinks they’ve fulfilled their potential, then it’s “Proceed.” Keeping him on task is a hard-assed, cynical, telepathic dog. Set across a period of forty years – in which Kaneshiro`s character, much like the actor himself, never ages – the charismatic but lonely Reaper encounters three lost souls who brush too close to Death. ACTION BOYS (Korea, 2008) 110 minutes, digital projection, in Korean with English subtitles Directed by: Jung Byoung-Gul Starring: Kweun Gui-Duck, Kwag Jin-Suk, Shin Seung-il, Jeun Sei-Jin Overwhelming winner of the Audience Award at the Jeonju International Film Festival, this documentary proves beyond the shadow of a doubt that the Korean film industry is the cruelest place on earth. Following five young stuntmen from their audition tapes (in which we see them mocked by their teachers) all the way through stunt school (where they take quick breaks to spit up their own teeth in the sink during classroom work) we then follow them out into the world and onto the sets of some of Korea’s most famous movies. And that’s when things get really bad. ADRIFT IN TOKYO* (Japan, 2007) 101 minutes, 35mm, in Japanese with English subtitles Directed by: Satoshi Miki Starring: Joe Odagiri, Tomokazu Miura, Kyoko, Ittoku Kishibe ADRIFT IN TOKYO comes out of the starting gate with savage debt collector, Fukuhara (Tomokazu Miura), busting into the apartment of, Takemura (Joe Odagiri). a grubby half-assed law school student who’s run up almost $10,000 in debt. Before he can say “Aquafresh” he’s got a dirty sock stuffed in his mouth, his ID is in Fukuhara’s pocket, and he’s got three days to pay it all back or sharp objects are going to get inserted into soft places. Being a loser, he can’t pay it back, but then Fukuhara makes him an offer: keep him company while he walks around Tokyo and he’ll give him more than enough to pay off his debt. Not wanting another dirty sock in his mouth, Takemura agrees and the two men start walking.

    ALWAYS: SUNSET ON THIRD STREET (Japan, 2005) 133 minutes, 35mm, in Japanese with English subtitles Directed by: Takashi Yamazaki Starring: Maki Horikita, Hidetaka Yoshioka, Shinichi Tsutsumi, Kazuki Koshimizu Takashi Yamazaki`s bittersweet tale of a group of scrappy post-War survivors living in the shadow of the partially built Tokyo Tower in 1958. Yamazaki`s attraction to the popular manga on which the story was based was obvious - he got to digitally create some of the most iconic and best-remembered landscapes in the Japanese imagination. And ALWAYS was a triumph not only in its groundbreaking special effects, but also in Yamazaki`s steady direction and the film`s stellar cast. Skating on the dangerous edge of sentimentality, the film enchanted audiences old enough to remember the time in which it was set, captivated younger viewers with its seamless digital fx-work and engaging, epic story, and sparked a "Showa-era retro boom" in the country`s entertainment world that still continues to this day. ALWAYS: SUNSET ON THIRD STREET 2* (Japan, 2007) 147 minutes, 35mm, in Japanese with English subtitles Directed by: Takashi Yamazaki Starring: Maki Horikita, Hidetaka Yoshioka, Shinichi Tsutsumi, Kazuki Koshimizu, Tomokazu Miura The story takes place four months after the original ended – Tokyo Tower is now complete, though family patriarch Norifumi Suzuki (Shinichi Tsutsumi) is too scared to actually go up in it – and re-introduces audiences to all the major characters (played by the same actors from the original). There`s the car repair shop-owning Suzuki and his wife (Hiroko Yakushimaru); their country-bred, lovelorn mechanic and de facto daughter Mutsuko (Maki Horikita); frustrated novelist neighbor Chagawa (Hidetaka Yoshioka) and his adopted son Junnosuke (Kenta Suga); and sad, kept woman Hiromi (Koyuki), who left Third Street at the end of the first film despite Chagawa`s love for her, and is now working downtown as a dancer in a burlesque club. The 1964 Tokyo Olympics have been announced, and the entire country has begun an enthusiastic rush towards affluence and modernity. Will the Suzukis and their hardscrabble neighbors` traditional values of friendship, hard work, sacrifice and family commitment be lost when the Japanese economy goes "boom?” And just how does Godzilla figure into all of this? Win tickets to see ALWAYS 2, courtesy of NYAFF and SciFi Japan! ARCH ANGELS (Japan, 2006) 92 minutes, digital projection, in Japanese with English subtitles Directed by: Issei Oda Starring: Juri Ueno, Yusuke Iseya, Megumi Seki Crammed to the eyelids with pop art, pop music, pop culture and Japanese school girl superheroes, ARCH ANGELS is high speed, non-stop gaggle of animation, CGI, miniature models and live action that will burrow a hole to the guilty pleasure zone in adults and kids alike. Based on the manga, Warau Michael, from author Izumi Kawahara, super-popular music video director Oda Issei creates a surreal pastel-colored fairytale world of Catholic school iconography, garden parties, ramen noodles, submarines, Italian kung fu gangsters and grrl power.

    ASSEMBLY (China, 2007) 124 minutes, 35mm, in Mandarin with English subtitles Directed by: Feng Xiaogang Starring: Zhang Hanyu, Hu Jun, Yuan Wenkang China’s most successful commercial director, Feng Xiaogang, delivers a dirt-in-your-teeth war movie that transforms itself into something richer and deeper about halfway through, elevating itself from an ultra-advanced riff on SAVING PRIVATE RYAN to a human drama that guts you like a bayonet. Opening smack in the middle of China’s 1948 Civil War, the Communist People’s Liberation Army is locked in a bloody, flesh-shredding battle with the Nationalist Kuomintang forces (the KMT). Captain Gu Zidi (Zhang Hanyu) leads his PLA rifle company to a hard-won victory but just when it looks like the carnage is over, in a fit of rage he commits a war crime and is subsequently imprisoned. Given a second chance, he’s sent to the front on a hopeless mission: to protect the rear during a retreat from superior KMT forces. Needless to say, things go very, very wrong very, very quickly. BODYGUARD (Thailand, 2004) 105 minutes, 35mm, in Thai with English subtitles Directed by: Panna Rittikrai & Petchtai Wongkamlao (aka Mum Jokmok) Starring: Patchai Wongkamlao (aka Mum Jokmok), Tony Jaa BODYGUARD 2 (Thailand, 2007) 97 minutes, 35mm, in Thai with English subtitles Directed by: Panna Rittikrai & Petchtai Wongkamlao (aka Mum Jokmok) Starring: Patchai Wongkamlao (aka Mum Jokmok), Tony Jaa There’s an old Hollywood saying: if two cars smash into each other in mid-air and explode then you’re watching an action movie. If FOUR cars smash into each other in mid-air and explode, then you’re watching a masterpiece. By those standards THE BODYGUARD 1 and 2 are the greatest movies ever made. The bastard brainchildren of Thailand’s famed comedian Mum Jokmok (who co-starred with Tony Jaa in both ONG BAK and THE PROTECTOR) these flicks are searing satires of the action genre that manage to pack a ton of hard-kicking, bullet-pumping action into their ramshackle bodies courtesy of ace action choreographer (and Tony Jaa’s mentor) Panna Rittikrai.

    THE BUTCHER (Korea, 2007) 75 minutes, digital projection, in Korean with English subtitles Directed by: Kim Jin-Won Starring: Kim Sung-Il, You Dong-Hun Told entirely through two POV video cameras, THE BUTCHER throws viewers abruptly into the middle of chaos and death: a handful of people have been abducted and lie bloodied and bound on the floor of a rotting slaughterhouse. Nearby, a team of snuff film producers are discussing their gruesome handiwork: torturing their captives to death, one by one, and selling the tapes overseas to foreign audiences hungry for footage of Koreans murdering one another. Taking its cue from the recently-popular "torture porn" subgenre, THE BUTCHER is less HOSTEL than it is a twisted form of verite mockumentary, as director Kim Jin-Won uses a distinctively non-cinematic aesthetic to directly implicate not only the viewer in the crimes and serial mayhem taking place onscreen, but the entire Korean film industry. You will not leave this movie emotionally unscathed, and despite its low budget, the film squeezes genuine tension out of its POV camerawork – all of it shot alternately from the perspective of the torturers and their victim – and it whips its cast up to new heights of hysteria as hideous acts are perpetrated on their violated bodies. CHANBARA BEAUTY (Japan, 2008) 86 minutes, digital projection, in Japanese with English subtitles Directed by: Yohei Fukuda Starring: Eri Otoguro, Chise Nakamura, Manami Hashimoto When the dead rise from their graves to feast on the flesh of the living, it`s up to bikini girls with samurai swords and motorcycle mamas with machine guns to send them back to Hell! Based on a series of videogames from Japanese publisher Tamsoft and D3, this itchy, twitchy, finger-popping, head-lopping hoedown is the cinematic equivalent of a light, summertime beach read, if the paperback shot laserbeams out of its eyes and had a thirst for vengeance.

    DAINIPPONJIN* (aka BIG MAN JAPAN) (Japan, 2007) 103 minutes, 35mm, in Japanese with English subtitles Directed by: Hitoshi Matsumoto Starring: Hitoshi Matsumoto, Riki Takeuchi, Ua Dai-Sato (Hitoshi Matsumoto) is a longhaired loser in his 40’s, who lives alone in the kind of cluttered house that middle-aged men move into after their first divorce. He wanders aimlessly around town, picking up groceries, rambling on about umbrellas, eating lunch alone and hanging out in the local park while kvetching about the low wage he makes at his government job. For the first 20 minutes of this mockumentary we have no idea why the cameras are following him around, or what the interviewer could possibly want to know about his drab, water-stained life. And then the call comes, he heads to the nearest power station and after 20,000 watts are pumped through his nipples he swells to enormous size, a five-hundred foot tall superhero, the protector of Japan, the man who fights giant monsters in his purple underwear: Dainipponjin!!!! There’s the Strangling Monster with its eerie comb-over; the happy-go-lucky Leaping Monster; the Stink Monster, who emits an odor equivalent to 10,000 human feces and the eyeball-hurling Evil Stare Monster. And wherever they appear to wreak havoc (or to mate, when they’re in heat) there is Dainipponjin, the Big Man Japan, ready to beat them over the head with an enormous stick. DOG IN A SIDECAR (Japan, 2007) 94 minutes, 35mm, in Japanese with English subtitles Directed by: Kichitaro Negishi Starring: Yuko Takeuchi, Arata Furuta, Kana Matsumoto The kind of chick flick made for audiences who don`t mind the presence of the yakuza and some fart jokes, DOG IN A SIDECAR (you`ll have to see the movie to understand the title) tells the story of "that summer" from the point of view of Kaoru, a ten-year-old girl living in a working-class Tokyo neighborhood with her dad (Arata Furuta), who has given up a good job to follow his dream of opening a used-car business with some borrowed mob money. Unable to deal with the pressures of family, Kaoru`s tightly-wound mom walks and dad calls in the help of Yoko (the beguiling Yuko Takeuchi), his uncouth younger girlfriend, to cook meals for Kaoru and her AD/HD little brother Toru, and to empty the ashtrays when his friends come over to play mah-jongg. While Toru immediately takes to the uninvited intruder – a bribe in the form of overflowing bowls of chocolate candy helps – Kaoru is slow to warm to Yoko until their bonding over a shared difficulty in learning how to ride a bike cements the relationship.

    DORORO (Japan, 2007) 138 minutes, 35mm, in Japanese with English subtitles Directed by: Akihiko Shiota Starring: Satoshi Tsumabuki, Ko Shibasaki, Kumiko Aso, Yoshio Harada, Anna Tsuchiya DORORO, acclaimed indie filmmaker Akihito Shiota`s first venture into the period-fantasy genre, is not another solemn-faced epic although it’s deep enough in some of its themes. But mostly it deserves adjectives that used to be rolled out for old Errol Flynn movies: dashing, swashbuckling, rollicking. And it’s cool, too, though not in the post-post modern sense. Instead, it’s cool in the 10-year-old fan sense, which may not seem strange since it’s based on a classic comic by Osamu Tezuka (creator of Astro Boy). Given all the comic book adaptations that strain to be for adults—and fall into wretched excess—it’s a refreshing change of genre pace. FINE, TOTALLY FINE* (Japan, 2007) 110 minutes, 35mm, in Japanese with English subtitles Directed by: Yosuke Fujita Starring: Yoshiyoshi Arakawa, Yoshino Kimura, Yoshinori Okada “Life’s more fun when you’re an idiot,” says one of the characters in FINE, TOTALLY FINE and this movie is Exhibit A in the case against brains. Set in the dusty margins of Tokyo, FTF is a surreal comedy that’s a spiritual successor to previous festival hits like THE TASTE OF TEA, and it charts a lazy love triangle between the world’s clumsiest woman, Akari (Kimura Yoshino of Cannes hit BLINDNESS and SUKIYAKI WESTERN DJANGO), who can’t even open a box of Kleenex without setting off destructive shock waves, a tamped-down hospital administrator Hisanobu (Okada Yoshinori) and his brother, Teruo (Yoshiyoshi Arakawa), a clueless part-time park keeper who is so unconcerned with the world around him that he doesn’t even realize he’s working part-time (“Why do you think you have so much free time?” a co-worker asks). Teruo is obsessed with building the world’s greatest haunted house, one that will terrify grown-ups but he’d rather spend his time talking about it than doing any actual work.

    HAPPINESS (Korea, 2007) 124 minutes, 35mm, in Korean with English subtitles Directed by: Hur Jin-Ho Starring: Hwang Jung-Min, Lim Soo-Jung Young-Su (Hwang Jung-Min) is a nightclub owner with his fingers in any number of shady pies, whose hard-drinking, chain-smoking lifestyle has put him a few short inches from an early grave. With great difficulty he wrenches himself away from the sinful city and drags his sorry carcass out to a rural health camp. One of the first people he meets is Eun-Hee (Lim Soo-Jung, A TALE OF TWO SISTERS) who seems like a picture perfect kind of babe, except for the lung disease that keeps her from moving at any speed over a walk. Her life has been a long series of carefully-measured steps and she’s more than aware that her good looks can attract all the wrong kind of men, while her illness is likely to send the right kind of men fleeing. And, from the moment she sees him, all her instincts tell her that Young-Su is exactly the wrong kind of man. KALA (Indonesia, 2007) 102 minutes, 35mm, in Bahasa Indonesia with English subtitles Directed by: Joko Anwar Starring: Fachry Albar, Ario Bayu, Shanty, Fahrani Joko Anwar’s film turns into a gruesome funhouse where every road leads back to some horrible spirit seeking revenge for past crimes. It’s the history of modern day Indonesia, turned into a sepia-toned hell house. It’s also one of the biggest blockbusters ever released in Indonesia, (made for a mere $600,000) and it is world’s apart from Joko Anwar’s first film, the light comedy and film festival favorite, JONJI’S PROMISE. Here, Indonesia’s most promising young director turns in a movie made of minor chords played on the piano, full of the anticipation of silent, swift violence lurking just around the corner.

    KING NARESUAN (Thailand, 2007) 165 minutes, 35mm, in Thai with English subtitles Directed by: Prince Chatrichalerm Yukol Starring: Wanchana Sawatdee, Pratcha Sanavatananont, Grace Mahadumrongkul, Intira Jaroenpura, Nopachai Jayanama KING NARESUAN 2 (Thailand, 2007) 164 minutes, 35mm, in Thai with English subtitles Directed by: Prince Chatrichalerm Yukol Starring: Wanchana Sawatdee, Chatchai Plengpanich, Intira Jaroenpura, Sorapong Chatree, Sompob Benchanukul Alright folks, this is the big one. An avalanche of thundering elephants coming off the screen like a tidal wave. The Old and New Testament of Thailand. It’s KING NARESUAN 1 & 2, the biggest two all-time blockbusters ever released in Thailand, telling the story of King Naresuan the Great (also known as the Black Prince), Thailand’s warrior king who protected Thailand from the Burmese and who conquered more territory than any other Thai king before or since. Directed by Prince Chatrichalerm Yukol, 19th in line for the Thai throne, the first KING NARESUAN movie is the Genesis and Exodus of Thailand, while KING NARESUAN 2 is like the first four Gospels, telling the tale of how King Naresuan founded modern day Thailand and liberated it from Burma in the sixteenth century.

    L: CHANGE THE WORLD (Japan, 2008) 129 minutes, 35mm, in Japanese with English subtitles Directed by: Hideo Nakata Starring: Kenichi Matsuyama, Mayuko Fukuda, Shingo Tsurumi, Youki Kudoh, Sei Hiraizumi, Tatsuya Fujiwara The two DEATH NOTE movies that sold-out lightning fast at last year’s New York Asian Film Festival, introduced movie goers to L, a teenaged, goth version of Sherlock Holmes with a killer sweet tooth. After the DEATH NOTE flicks became mega-successes at the box office a sequel was needed, but no one was quite sure how to do it. Enter Hideo Nakata, director of iconic Japanese horror film, THE RING. His idea was to tell a free standing L story set in the last 23 days of L’s life which are alluded to in DEATH NOTE 2, but never shown. The result? This bright and shiny techno-thriller, a Tom Clancy flick for sugar-shocked teenagers that runs fast and smooth on eight, chrome-coated cylinders. LIKE A DRAGON (Japan, 2007) 110 minutes, 35mm, in Japanese with English subtitles Directed by: Takashi Miike Starring: Kazuki Kitamura, Goro Kishitani, Sho Aikawa, Yoshiyoshi Arakawa, Kenichi Endo, Tomoro Taguchi The wildman of Japan, Takashi Miike, proves that there’s no kind of movie he can’t turn inside out. Based on a videogame, in Miike’s hands LIKE A DRAGON turns into a long hot Shinjuku summer night with an indestructible yakuza hero, a pair of incompetent bank robbers, two young lovers on a crime spree, a Korean hitman, a masochistic gun dealer and an ultraviolence-loving baseball fan all crossing paths, slamming into each other and shooting off in crazy directions like a game of human pinball jacked up on speed. LOVE ON SUNDAY (Japan, 2006) 90 Minutes, digital projection, in Japanese with English Subtitles Directed by: Ryuichi Hiroki Starring: Takami Mizuhashi, Ryuya Wakaba, Yuria Haga Director Ryuichi Hiroki’s films deal intimately and painfully with relationships and friendships and his low key style and thoughtful narratives revel in the sad, still moments of self-discovery and human frailty. Hiroki steps back from the corrosive female psyches that he dissected with enormous empathy in VIBRATOR and IT’S ONLY TALK (previously screened at the NYAFF) and gently probes the troubled teenage relationships in the two LOVE ON SUNDAY films. It’s bittersweet love melted down to its purest, most youthful essence. LOVE ON SUNDAY 2: LAST WORDS (Japan, 2007) 91 Minutes, digital projection, in Japanese with English Subtitles Directed by: Ryuichi Hiroki Starring: Maki Horikita, Shunsuke Kubozuka, Saki Takaoka LOVE ON SUNDAY 2: LAST WORDS is one of Hiroki’s most sensitive and delicate films as he depicts the final days of a young woman coming to terms with her impending death and her realization that she’ll never get to do so much that she wanted to do with her life. Hiroki completely avoids every melodramatic pitfall and cliché that this type of material usually attracts and in doing so makes it all the more heartbreaking.

    M (Korea, 2007) 110 minutes, 35mm, in Korean with English subtitles Directed by: Lee Myung-Se Starring: Jang Dong-Won, Gong Hyo-Jin, Lee Yeon-Hee This hallucinatory romance is the closest you’re ever going to come to dreaming with your eyes open. Min-Woo (mega-star cutie pie Jang Dong-Won) is a novelist who has spent his career writing trendy best-sellers but he’s finally taken one advance too many: the deadline for the new book was yesterday and he hasn’t written a word. He also just moved in with his girlfriend, Eun-Hye (Gong Hyo-Jin) whose rich, protective daddy has bought them an apartment. To top it all off he can’t sleep, he’s prone to sudden rages and he seems to be on the verge of a full-blown nervous breakdown. Enter Mi-Mi (Lee Yeon-Hee) his high school sweetheart who may be a ghost from his past, or she may literally be a ghost – to Director Lee, memories and ghosts are one and the same. MAD DETECTIVE (Hong Kong, 2007) 89 minutes, 35mm, in Cantonese with English subtitles Directed by: Johnnie To & Wai Ka-fai Starring: Lau Ching-wan, Andy On, Lam Ka-tung, Kelly Lin, Lam Suet, Karen Lee MAD DETECTIVE veers from comedy to tragedy before Lau Ching-wan and Johnnie To push each other past the normal boundaries of cinema and on to something truly unique. A breathtaking achievement, it’s the only movie made since 1989 that the Masters of Cinema collection in the United Kingdom (the UK’s equivalent of America’s Criterion Collection) has included in their select catalogue, which includes masterpieces by Fritz Lang, Akira Kurosawa and Orson Welles. MOST BEAUTIFUL NIGHT IN THE WORLD (Japan, 2008) 161 minutes, digital projection, in Japanese with English subtitles Directed by: Daisuke Tengan Starring: Tomorow Taguchi, Sarara Tsukifune, Haruki Ichikawa, Ryo Ishibashi, Shiro Sano, Akira Emoto Director Daisuke Tengan is the son of legendary director Shohei Imamura and the writer of his films THE EEL and WARM WATER UNDER A RED BRIDGE, as well as of Takashi Miike`s AUDITION and IMPRINT. Tengan proves with this brand-new, sensual epic—it only opened in Japan on May 24—that the apple doesn`t fall far from the tree, and that things were probably pretty randy in the Imamura household growing up. MSFF SHORT FILMS - Program 1 (Korea) MSFF SHORT FILMS - Program 2 (Korea) PUBLIC ENEMY RETURNS (Korea, 2008) 127 minutes, 35mm, in Korean with English subtitles Directed by: Kang Woo-Suk Starring: Sol Kyung-gu, Jung Jae-young, Lee Moon-shik The Korean film industry has not been having a very good year, and all hopes are pinned on this summer blockbuster, that will open at the NYAFF just a few days after it premieres in Korea. The original PUBLIC ENEMY was a massive critical and commercial hit when it was released in Korea back in 2002. But the sequel, ANOTHER PUBLIC ENEMY, was a lifeless, talky flick that died of paralysis and while it made a lot of money, no one was very happy with it. Now, director Kang Woo-Suk is back for the third installment and he’s teamed with screenwriter Jang Jin/ and they’ve sworn that they won’t make the same mistakes again. Considering that Kang Woo-Suk was voted the most powerful man in Korean entertainment for seven years running and that Jang Jin is the industry’s current high priest of writers (he wrote the sparkling WELCOME TO DONGMAKOL) that’s not an empty promise.

    THE REBEL (Vietnam, 2007) 103 minutes, 35mm, in Vietnamese & French with English subtitles Directed by: Charlie Nguyen Starring: Johnny Tri Nguyen, Ngo Thanh Van, Dustin Nguyen THE REBEL is an old time, horses-galloping Republic serial cross-bred with political agitprop and given a dusting of the flying elbows, knees and fists of ONG BAK. Budgeted at $3 million, THE REBEL is the most expensive flick ever shot in Vietnam, and the crew endured intense hardships, including injuries, a lack of experienced technicians and being supervised by political officers. The first draft of the script was written by star Johnny Tri Nguyen and his brother, the director, Charlie Nguyen, and they vowed that none of the main actors would use stunt doubles. They also spiced the action with Vietnamese fighting moves, including a nutty flying scissors kick that allows tiny fighters to take down opponents three times their size. The result is a flick where the action flows fast and furious, like a raging unstoppable river of butt-kicking.

    SAD VACATION* (Japan, 2007) 136 minutes, 35mm, in Japanese with English subtitles Directed by: Shinji Aoyama Starring: Tadanobu Asano, Eri Ishida, Yuka Itaya, Aoi Miyazaki, Joe Odagiri We despise "Art Films," but every year we show a movie that doesn’t fit our bratty mandate because it blows us away. In 2004 it was Ryuichi Hiroki`s VIBRATOR (voted “Best Undistributed Film” by the Village Voice), in 2006 it was Song Il-Gon’s one-take-wonder, THE MAGICIANS, last year it was Patrick Tam’s AFTER THIS OUR EXILE, and this year it’s Shinji Aoyama’s remarkable SAD VACATION. Scored to Johnny Thunders’ farewell song to Sid Vicious (and named after it, as well), it’s shot by the legendary cinematographer, Masaki Tamura (everything from LADY SNOWBLOOD to EVIL DEAD TRAP and nearly all of Aoyama`s other films), and is the kind of movie that leaves you emotionally punch drunk, stumbling out of the theater like you’ve just gone ten rounds with life. SASORI (Hong Kong/Japan, 2008) 103 minutes, 35mm, Cantonese with English subtitles Directed by: Joe Ma Starring: Miki Mizuno, Emme Wong, Sam Lee, Bruce Leung, Lam Suet, Simon Yam Get set for a scorching, two-fisted blast of Eastern estrogen fury as Hong Kong reinvents Japanese 70’s action icon SASORI, aka FEMALE CONVICT SCORPION, in the confrontational image of 80’s and 90’s notorious HK Category III films! Even if you`ve seen the landmark originals starring (mostly) the iconic Meiko Kaji, and heard that their titular hero served as a key influence on KILL BILL, forget everything you know because this eccentric redux is absolutely insane! SHADOW SPIRIT (Japan, 2007) 133 minutes, digital projection, in Japanese with English subtitles Directed by: Masato Harada Starring: Shinichi Tsutsumi, Hiroshi Abe, Kippei Shiina, Hiroyuki Miyasako, Rena Tanaka, Keisuke Horibe, Akira Emoto Based on a sprawling novel by mystery writer Natsuhiko Kyogoku, this all-star period detective story has one foot in horror and a couple of toes in science-fiction, yet manages to work best as a thriller about a group of friends banding together to solve a mystery, not unlike a classy, adult version of a "boys` adventure" story. Under the command of journeyman director Masato Harada (INUGAMI, BOUNCE KO GALS, KAMIKAZE TAXI), some of the biggest actors in Japan reassume roles originally played in the late Akio Jissoji`s SUMMER OF UBUME, a 2005 film also based on a Kyogoku novel, but involving the characters in a completely separate adventure. And no worries—you don`t need to have any familiarity with it to enjoy SHADOW SPIRIT.

    SHADOWS IN THE PALACE (Korea, 2007) 112 minutes, 35mm, in Korean with English subtitles Directed by: Kim Mee-Jeung Starring: Park Jin-Hee, Yun Se-Ah, Lim Jeong-Eun The women’s quarters of the royal palace are a pool of sweetly smiling piranhas, and now they’ve been whipped into a churning blood frenzy when the body of a maid is found hanging from the rafters, an apparent suicide. Set in the Joseon Dynasty, this palace potboiler is full of enough twists, turns and red herrings to keep most viewers off balance and perplexed. What makes it especially fascinating is the feminist milieu in which the plot unfolds – a secret world behind the gates of the royal palace in which ambitious women struggle desperately for power and survival and where murder is only one of many options available to them. SHAMO (Hong Kong, 2008) 106 minutes, 35mm, in Cantonese with English subtitles Directed by: Soi Cheang Starring: Shawn Yue, Francis Ng, Annie Liu, Pei Pei This pop holocaust of unseemly proportions continues director Soi Cheang’s mad attack on humanity, screaming that the world we live in has gone insane. SHAMO leaks out of the same dark, inner place that the director reached for in his previous film, the nihilistic DOG BITE DOG, only here he creates a savage manga adaptation where everyone is out for their pound of flesh. It’s stylish to a fault, with eye-popping sets, lurid deep colors, fashion magazine layouts, scornful women camping it up like drag queens and luminous cinematography. Pain and violence have rarely looked so chic.

    SPARROW (Hong Kong, 2008) 87 minutes, 35mm, in Cantonese with English subtitles Directed by: Johnnie To Starring: Simon Yam, Kelly Lin, Lam Ka-tung, Lam Suet, Kate Tsui Johnnie To woke up in love one morning. It’s the only explanation for SPARROW: three years in the making it’s as lighthearted as a birdsong. Pickpocketing is the ultimate high art in this flick, as precise as pointilism and as graceful as ballet (and, in fact, a dance choreographer was on hand to give rhythm and dash to the pickpocketing scenes). Simon Yam plays the dapper leader of a band of fingersmiths working out of Hong Kong, and when a mysterious femme fatale starts playing games with them, the delicate balance of their lives suddenly falls out of synch. STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKES (Japan, 2006) 127 minutes, 35mm, in Japanese with English subtitles Directed by: Hitoshi Yazaki Starring: Chizuru Ikewaki, Noriko Nakagoshi, Yuko Nakamura, Toko Iwase, Ryo Kase, Masanobu Ando Imagine the movie that SEX AND THE CITY should have been, and you’ll have an idea of what’s waiting for you in the deceptively titled STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKES, a movie of surprising depth about four women living in Tokyo that many critics consider the best Japanese film of 2006. Satoko (Ikewaki Chizuru) is a receptionist at the “Heaven’s Gate” escort agency, still licking her wounds after a break-up with a much-older boyfriend. She lives on her own and the most human contact she gets is when she fights off her boss’s advances. The Ice Queen of “Heaven’s Gate” is the one escort the other girls regard as a slut, Akiyo (Nakamura Yuko). But beneath her “anything for money” attitude she carries a painful torch for her best friend from high school, and she’s kept her job hidden from him for years.

    SUKIYAKI WESTERN DJANGO* (Japan, 2007) 98 minutes, 35mm, in English Directed by: Takashi Miike Starring: Hideaki Ito, Koichi Sato, Yusuke Iseya, Masanobu Ando, Kaori Momoi, Quentin Tarantino. Lurid, over-the-top, bizarre, outrageous, completely hilarious – and that’s just Quentin Tarantino’s performance in SUKIYAKI WESTERN DJANGO. The rest of the movie is an endless buffet of eye-popping delights that are probably illegal in Canada and Minnesota, but will baste your brain in a sauce made of super-fun and microwave it on “High” for 105 minutes at this summer’s New York Asian Film Festival. Takashi Miike’s English-language spaghetti western is a remake of Sergio Corbucci’s 1966 classic, DJANGO, about a hard-bitten gun runner who wanders into a desert town with a gatling gun hidden in a coffin. A huge sensation when it was released (spawning over thirty unofficial sequels and remakes) here Takashi Miike teleports the story to 19th Century Japan and mixes it with liberal doses of A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS and YOJIMBO, then adds generous helpings of female gunslingers, samurai cowboys and plants that grow babies. Speaking a “Hooked on Phonics” version of English, the cast wades into this cross-cultural mash-up with guns blazing, slaughtering anything that moves and taking no prisoners in this off the hook Western that manages to load a missile with everything cool about samurai movies, westerns, spaghetti westerns and Takashi Miike movies and launch it into your eyes. TAMAMI: THE BABY`S CURSE aka AKANBO SHOJO (Japan, 2008) 103 minutes, 35mm, in Japanese with English subtitles Directed by: Yudai Yamaguchi Starring: Nako Mizusawa, Goro Noguchi, Takumi Saito, Itsuji Itao Kazuo Umezu is one of the craziest men in comics. And we don’t mean crazy in a silly uncle who wears a funny hat way. We mean crazy in a schoolchildren crucified, split in two, eaten by babies and offered up to an evil, imaginary god kind of way. His manga series like Left Hand of God, Right Hand of the Devil and Drifting Classroom have made him a household name in Japan, viewed as a cross between that country’s Charles Addams and David Lynch. So it’s with great pleasure that we’re hosting the International premiere of the film adaptation of one of his most notorious manga, AKANBO SHOJO. THEN SUMMER CAME (Japan, 2008) 118 minutes, 35mm, in Japanese with English subtitles Directed by: Ryo Iwamatsu Starring: Joe Odagiri, Yoshio Harada, Kumiko Aso, Kaoru Kobayashi The NYAFF is proud to present the long-overdue return to feature filmmaking of one of Japan’s most acclaimed playwrights and theater directors, Ryo Iwamatsu, who has written and directed this highly-anticipated film about two single men stuck in a deep rut: a father (legendary actor and ex-samurai film star, Yoshio Harada) and his son (Joe Odagiri, Japan’s answer to Johnny Depp and one of the country`s top box office draws). With the son’s wedding coming up, their prickly relationship keeps getting thornier until it finally erupts, in this slyly funny dissection of the fragile male psyche. Prior to the film`s July 19th opening in Japan, we will be presenting its World Premiere as the opening night film of the New York Asian Film Festival, with an introduction by director Ryo Iwamatsu, who will also participate in a post-film Q&A.

    THIS WORLD OF OURS (Japan, 2008) 94 minutes, digital projection, in Japanese with English subtitles Directed by: Ryo Nakajima Starring: Yoshihiko Taniguchi, Arisa Hata, Satoshi Okutso, Ren Murakami Director Ryo Nakajima started writing his debut film, THIS WORLD OF OURS, when he was a 19-year-old hikikomori (literally an anti-social individual who locks themselves in their room and won’t come out) and now, at the age of 24, he has produced one of the most startling debut films to hit screens in a long time. Charting a continuum of violence and anger with the 9/11 bombings on one end and high school bullying on the other, with gang rape, self-mutilation and school massacres in-between, this is a savage, anarchic howl of pain and alienation that feels like a new voice is finally screaming in the cathedral of stuffy film festival movies. TOKYO GORE POLICE (Japan, 2008) 100 minutes, digital projection, in Japanese with English subtitles Directed by: Yoshinori Nishimura Starring: Eihi Shiina, Itsuji Itao, Yukihide Benny, Jiji Bu, Keisuke Horibe This gleeful sci-fi destructo party mixes STARSHIP TROOPERS with ROBOCOP, then grafts the love child of Shinya Tsukamoto and David Cronenberg to its back, screaming with body horror, and douses itself in a waterfall of thick, bubbling gore. At the center of the maelstorm stands Eihi Shiina, who hasn’t been seen in a film since Takashi Miike’s 1999 masterpiece, AUDITION, torturing a poor salaryman for the crime of daring to love her. TOKYO GORE POLICE is a masterpiece (yes, we mean it!) full of filmic innovation, genre-busting weirdness and a desire to freak you out. Plus it`s got a penis gun - our second one in two years!

    UNITED RED ARMY* (Japan, 2007) 190 minutes, 35mm, in Japanese with English subtitles Directed by: Koji Wakamatsu Starring: Go Jibiki, Akie Namiki, Maki Sakai, Arata “Consensus is boring,” says director Koji Wakamatsu one of cinema’s last radicals, who is still barred from entering the United States due to his political affiliations (we will be hosting a Q&A with him after the screening of URA on July 6, via satellite). In URA he tells the relatively simple story of the United Red Army faction which had its roots in the 60’s when Japanese students protested America using Japan as a staging base for its war in Vietnam. The radicalized students formed various political groups dedicated to ending the war and fighting the class struggle that split, splintered, polarized, balkanized and, ultimately, self-destructed. In 1972, 12 members of the United Red Army faction lynched each other during group “self-criticism” sessions while training in the mountains and the survivors holed up at the Asama Sano Mountain Lodge, which quickly degenerated into a nine-day stand-off with the police that is one of the pivotal moments in Japanese history, as famous in Japan as Patty Hearst being kidnapped by the SLA or Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination is in America. X-CROSS (Japan, 2007) 103 minutes, 35mm, in Japanese with English subtitles Directed by: Kenta Fukasaku Starring: Nao Matsushita, Ami Suzuki, Hiroyuki Ikeuchi A glossy horror/action/thriller scored for two girls and two cell phones, this flick by the son of Japan’s famed genre director, Kinji Fukasaku, sees him finally find his stride. Shiyori (Nao Matsushita) is a good girl heading out into the country and up to a remote hot spring to soothe her broken heart after a bad break-up. Riding shotgun is the spice to her sugar, the leather to her lace, best galpal Aiko (Ami Suzuki) and after the two take a long soak they retire to their respective cabins and promptly discover that the village is a front for a cult of inbred, backwater leg fetish maniacs who live to amputate female legs. Split up from each other, they keep in touch via cell phone with the action constantly rewinding to show us what’s happening from multiple points of view.

    YASUKUNI* (Japan/China, 2008) 123 minutes, 35mm, in Japanese, Mandarin and English with English subtitles Directed by: Li Ying Featuring: Kariya Naoji, Sugawara Ryuken, Gaojin Sumei (Chiwas Ari) This is the first time we’ve screened a documentary in the New York Asian Film Festival and, of course, it’s only because YASUKUNI is the most controversial and one of the most eye-opening movies of 2007. Directed by Chinese-born Li Ying, it’s a sprawling portrait of Tokyo’s Yasukuni shrine, which honors Japan’s war dead. The controversy arises because Yasukuni also holds the remains of 1,068 convicted war criminals, and because many of the war dead enshrined there were soldiers and officers who fought in World War II, some of whom participated in the procurement of comfort women and some of whom participated in incidents like the infamous Nanjing Massacre. The Yasukuni documentary takes a look at what the shrine means, but also follows the sometimes bloody clashes between nationalists and protestors, including a hapless American, that take place at the shrine. When the film was announced for release, right wing nationalists claimed they would disrupt the screenings leading four cinemas to drop the film out of fears over public safety, and some elected officials questioned public money being given to the film and called for it to be boycotted. This has resulted in YASUKUNI becoming a rallying point for freedom of speech in Japan, and while it has unleashed a firestorm of controversy it has also reignited some intense historical debates. * Films co-presented with JAPAN CUTS - Festival of New Japanese Film

    Ticket Information:

    IFC CENTER TICKETS: $11.50 + $1 service charge for online purchases IFC CENTER TICKET SPECIALS: 1) SUBWAY MATINEE SIX PACK for $49 - six weekday matinee tickets, you save $20 - Purchase a Six Pack at the box office or online & exchange it for six tickets to any show that starts at 5pm or earlier on weekdays - All six tickets must be picked up at the same time 2) SUBWAY MATINEE SCREENING PASS for $99 - Purchase a screening pass & receive admission to all 27 weekday matinee shows; come to one, come to them all - just flash your badge and we`ll let you in. - A savings of over $200 when compared to regular ticket prices - Free festival t-shirt with purchase! - Passholders entitled to one free popcorn per show! NOTE 1: Matinee shows are all weekday shows, Monday through Friday, that start their screening at 5pm or earlier. NOTE 2: Because the world of online ticket sales is a strange and difficult place, the IFC website does not have a shopping cart option and tickets may only be purchased for one film at a time. We suggest you go to their box office where you can buy multiple tickets in one transaction and you avoid the $1 service charge. JAPAN SOCIETY TICKETS: $11 general / $7 members and seniors + $1.50 service charge for online purchases; no student discount. Tickets for SUKIYAKI WESTERN DJANGO include post-show party, and are $15 general / $12 members and seniors.

    NYAFF SCHEDULE:

    IFC Center 323 Sixth Avenue (between 3rd and 4th Streets) New York, NY 10014 Box office: 212.924.7771 Subway: Take the A, B, C, D, E, F or V to the West 4th Street/Washington Square stop or the 1 to Christopher Street/Sheridan Sq. Fri 6/20 12:45 THE SHADOW SPIRIT (133) 3:30 THE BODYGUARD (105) 6:00 ADRIFT IN TOKYO (101) 8:00 THEN SUMMER CAME (118) - OPENING FILM, intro, Q&A by director 10:45 CHANBARA BEAUTY (86) Sat 6/21 11:00 RETRO GAME MASTER 1 (30) – free screening 12:30 ARCH ANGELS (92) 2:20 DAINIPPONJIN (113) 4:40 SAD VACATION (136) 7:25 L: CHANGE THE WORLD (129) 10:00 TOKYO GORE POLICE (100) 12:00 THE BUTCHER (111) Sun 6/22 11:00 RETRO GAME MASTER 2 (30) – free screening 12:00 DOG IN A SIDECAR (94) 2:00 DORORO (139) 4:45 ASSEMBLY (124) 7:20 MAD DETECTIVE (89) 9:00 STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKES (127) Mon 6/23 12:00 THE BODYGUARD 2 (95) 2:00 HAPPINESS (119) 4:20 SASORI (103) 6:45 DORORO (139) 9:30 LIKE A DRAGON (110) Tue 6/24 12:45 ARCH ANGELS (92) 2:40 THE BODYGUARD (105) 4:45 THE BODYGUARD 2 (95) 7:00 KALA (102) 9:10 L: CHANGE THE WORLD (129) Wed 6/25 11:30 RETRO GAME MASTER 1 (30) – free screening 1:00 THE MOST BEAUTIFUL NIGHT IN THE WORLD (161) 4:00 CHANBARA BEAUTY (86) 6:00 ASSEMBLY (124) 8:30 KING NARESUAN (167) Thu 6/26 1:00 LOVE ON SUNDAY (90) 3:00 DOG IN A SIDECAR (94) 5:00 SHAMO (105) 7:15 SPARROW (87) 9:15 KALA (102) Fri 6/27 11:30 THE REBEL (102) 1:30 ACTION BOYS (110) 3:45 MSFF SHORTS PROGRAM 1 (90) 5:30 M (110) 7:45 SHADOWS IN THE PALACE (112) 10:15 TAMAMI: THE BABY`S CURSE (104) 12:15 TOKYO GORE POLICE (100) Sat 6/28 12:00 RETRO GAME MASTER 1 (30) – free screening 1:00 THIS WORLD OF OURS (92) 3:00 MSFF SHORT FILMS PROGRAM 2 (90) - director of one short present for introduction 5:20 HAPPINESS (119) 7:45 THE REBEL (102) 9:50 THE BUTCHER (111) 12:05 X-CROSS (90) Sun 6/29 12:00 RETRO GAME MASTER 2 (30) – free screening 1:00 LOVE ON SUNDAY (90) 3:00 LOVE ON SUNDAY - LAST WORDS (97) 5:00 KING NARESUAN 1 (167) 8:15 KING NARESUAN 2 (169) Mon 6/30 12:45 THE MOST BEAUTIFUL NIGHT IN THE WORLD (161) 4:00 TAMAMI: THE BABY`S CURSE (104) 6:15 THIS WORLD OF OURS (92) 8:15 KING NARESUAN 2 (169) Tue 7/1 1:15 THE SHADOW SPIRIT (133) 4:15 SHADOWS IN THE PALACE (112) 7:00 M (110) 9:15 STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKES (127) Wed 7/2 11:30 RETRO GAME CENTER 2 (30) – free screening 12:30 LOVE ON SUNDAY - LAST WORDS (97) 2:45 THIS WORLD OF OURS (92) 4:40 SHAMO (105) 7:00 ALWAYS (133) 9:40 SPARROW (87) Thu 7/3 12:00 THE REBEL (102) 2:10 LIKE A DRAGON (110) 4:20 TOKYO GORE POLICE (100) 6:30 PUBLIC ENEMY RETURNS (127) 9:00 ACTION BOYS (110) - intro & after-show Q&A or presentation by guests 11:55 SASORI (103) JAPAN SOCIETY: 333 East 47th Street (between 1st and 2nd Avenues) New York, NY 10017 Box Office: (212) 715-1258, Monday - Friday, 10 am - 4:45 pm Subway: Take the 6 to 51st Street or 42nd Street - Grand Central Station, or the E or V to Lexington Avenue and 53rd Street. Thu 7/3 4:20 ADRIFT IN TOKYO (101) 6:30 FINE TOTALLY FINE (110) 8:45 ACCURACY OF DEATH (113) Fri 7/4 12:15 ACCURACY OF DEATH (113) 2:30 DAINIPPONJIN (113) Sat 7/5 1:00 ALWAYS 2 (146) 4:00 YASUKUNI (123) 6:30 FINE TOTALLY FINE (110) 9:00 SUKIYAKI WESTERN DJANGO (98) Sun 7/6 1:15 SAD VACATION (136) 4:00 UNITED RED ARMY (190) 8:15 ALWAYS 2 (146)

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