With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

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

Thursday, December 30, 2010

ACF 828: February 2011 releases from Section 23 Films have been announced


SECTION23 FILMS ANNOUNCES FEBRUARY SLATE

NEEDLESS COLLECTION 1 BLU-RAY EDITION
Available on February 15th

Home video distributor Section23 Films has announced its FEBRUARY slate of releases, including the popular series NEEDLESS. The first collection will be released on DVD and Blu-Ray by Section23 client Sentai Filmworks.

Product details follow, in order of release

YOU'RE UNDER ARREST: FAST & FURIOUS COMPLETE COLLECTION
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 650 min.
Street Date: 2/1/2011
Format: DVD
Language: Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $59.98

SYNOPSIS: Get ready for non-stop, pedal to the metal action and hijinks galore as Japan's most irregular team of police officers hits the streets again on an all new tour of duty! As usual, the Bokuto Police station is a magnet for the weird and UN-usual, and that's about the only rule this duty shift isn't going to break! Fortunately, car crazy Miyuki, insanely strong Natsumi, sexually ambiguous Aoi and the rest of the station's enforcers of justice are always ready to place their well-drawn bodies between the public and the line of fire, and now new Junior Officer Saori has also joined the thin and svelte blue line! From drunken karaoke binges to the bizarre activities of a baseball-themed vigilante and the general nuisance of Strikeman, there are plenty of bad boys, naughtier girls and all around arresting behavior ahead in YOU'RE UNDER ARREST: Fast & Furious Complete Collection!

EYESHIELD 21 COLLECTION 4
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 325 min.
Street Date: 2/8/2011
Format: DVD
Language: Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $49.98

SYNOPSIS: As the Deimon Devil Bats' continue to evolve and grow their own unique version of American-style football, Sena has a major breakthrough: a revolutionary technique called the Ghost, combining speed and illusion to fool the opposing players. However, when Hiruma forbids him to use it outside of a "real" game, it throws Sena's plans of competing in a side league for practice into a tailspin. With Shin once more pitted against him, will he be able to resist the temptation? Meanwhile, Taki is proving unfortunately worthy of his nickname of "the Idiot," as besides being incredibly challenged about getting on the correct bus, he also seems to be unable to pass his crucial exams. Will he be able to break the dreaded cut-off barrier of 200 so he can play? And then, what is this rumor about another Eyeshield 21? There's a whole pile of trouble waiting to tackle our fearless heroes in EYESHIELD 21 - COLLECTION 4!

NEEDLESS COLLECTION 1
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 300 min.
Street Date: 2/15/2011
Format: DVD
Language: English, Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $59.98

SYNOPSIS: They're called Needless-mutants who wield amazing powers such as super speed, the ability to change form, and some, like Blade, the power to "learn" other opponent's powers. It's Blade's greatest ability. But is it powerful enough to overcome his weakness for cute young girls in revealing little skirts? Find out in the craziest action comedy anime of the year!

NEEDLESS COLLECTION 1 BLU-RAY EDITION
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 300 min.
Street Date: 2/15/2011
Format: BD
Language: English, Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $69.98

SYNOPSIS: They're called Needless-mutants who wield amazing powers such as super speed, the ability to change form, and some, like Blade, the power to "learn" other opponent's powers. It's Blade's greatest ability. But is it powerful enough to overcome his weakness for cute young girls in revealing little skirts? Find out in the craziest action comedy anime of the year!

GINTAMA COLLECTION 4
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 250 min.
Street Date: 2/22/2011
Format: DVD
Language: Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $49.98

SYNOPSIS: Things get really crazy… that's like, crazier than usual, which just goes to prove that the universe really must be composed of infinite possibilities… when Kagura's father shows up in Edo to visit his daughter. Oh, and he's also in town to take on the deadly alien menace that he might be on the trail of. When Yakuza takes on Aliens, who will lose? The innocent bystanders of course. And needless to say, Kagura's associates respond to her possible (and not particularly voluntary) exit from the franchise in predictable fashion: by trying to grab female lead status for themselves. Meanwhile, Sadahara discovers a devilish aspect of his own personality while becoming a demon, which leads to inevitable difficulties with the High Priestess types. So what's Gintoki doing during all this? Dodging, mostly. Japan's hottest anime series continues as aliens on the loose and underemployed samurai make total assassins out of themselves in the insanity that is GINTAMA COLLECTION 4!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

ACF 827: A Barefoot Dream starts Korean Movie Night film series for 2011

A Barefoot Dream
Directed by Kim Tae-Kyun
South Korea, 2010, 119 minutes

When:
Tuesday, January 11, 7:00pm
Where: Tribeca Cinemas, 54 Varick Street., NYC,
near the 1, A, C, E Canal St. subway stops

Admission:
Free!!!!!
Seating: First Come First Serve Basis

Korean Cultural Services starts the New Year with this sports-themed offering in their ongoing Korean Movie Night film series.

Synopsis:
Korea’s entry for the Oscars (where it hopes to win “Best Foreign Language Film”) this movie tells the true story of Kim Won-Kang, a former player for Korea’s national soccer team who hit the skids after he got too old for the game. Traveling Southeast Asia, he lurches from one get-rich-quick scheme to another finally landing in war-torn East Timor. He scrapes by renting cleats to kids playing soccer in a local park but slowly he gets sucked into their lives and winds up becoming their coach. Director Kim Tae-Kyun (VOLCANO HIGH) knows action, and he shoots his soccer games fast and hard, while keeping the melodrama quotient low so that the film never becomes sentimental. A scrappy burst of soccer adrenaline, A BAREFOOT DREAM is one of 2010’s most sure-fire crowdpleasers.

There are four clips avialable on YouTube:
A Barefoot Dream
Take Off
Lifting King Kong
Forever the Moment

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

ACF 826: TV's newest Nikita, Maggie Q, gets lots of loving from Entertainment Weekly

The TV show Nikita may be on holiday season hiatus until sometime in January (I think it's either January 20th or 27th), but star Maggie Q has garnered double accolades in Entertainment Weekly's "Best & Worst of 2010" Year-End Double Issue (#1134/1135).

She was deemed Most Drool-Worthy (Mammal Division), an honor to which she certainly is entitled (page 48). EW even used the same photo as appears above, although with the background "Photoshopped" out. (The iPad was selected as Most Drool-Worthy, Non-Mammal Division, another pick with which I heartily concur.)

Maggie was also named one of the 2010 Breakout TV Stars (page 105).

And online, she was one of the 30 Sexiest Stars of 2010 over at EW.com.

Let's hope this publicity translates into even higher viewership. Initially I had some doubts about the series, though none related to Maggie being cast as Nikita. These doubts have totally been removed by recent episodes, particularly the final show before the current break. With Nikita's mole Alex "graduating" from Division training, there are lots more story line possibilities that can be explored.

For some exciting scoop about what's in store for the series, click here.

Maggie Q can be seen in and as Nikita on The CW Network, Thursday nights at 9:00 E.s.t. Check local listings for your area.

Monday, December 27, 2010

ACF 825: Final volume of Hiroyuki Takei's Shaman King arrives January 4th, 2011

AN EPIC ADVENTURE REACHES ITS CLIMAX IN
SHAMAN KING MANGA FINALE,
NEW FROM VIZ MEDIA IN JANUARY

VIZ Media unleashes the final volume of Hiroyuki Takei’s SHAMAN KING as the long-running manga (graphic novel) series reaches a grand climax. The concluding installment, Volume 32, (rated ‘T’ for Teens; MSRP: U.S. $9.99 / $12.99 CAN) hits nationwide on January 4th, 2011.

Yoh Asakura has spent years training for the Shaman Fight, an epic tournament to determine who will become the Shaman King and shape humanity's future. Unfortunately for Yoh, every shaman in the world is also vying for the same prize.

To most people, ghosts are the stuff of horror stories and nightmares. But to Yoh Asakura, a transfer student at Shinra Private Junior High, they're his friends! Yoh Asakura is a shaman, one of the gifted few who can speak to spirits by channeling ghosts into his body – like the long-dead samurai Amidamaru. He can also allow them to possess him and use their powers. But a modern-day shaman faces great responsibilities, because spirits – and the people who work with them – can be very dangerous indeed. In the series’ grand finale, A Song Someday, Yoh and his gang finally reach the end of the line after all these years and all the hard work. Who will be crowned the next Shaman King, and who will go home in defeat?

Unconventional author/artist Hiroyuki Takei began his career by winning the Osamu Tezuka Cultural Prize. After working as an assistant to famed artist Nobuhiro Watsuki (RURONI KENSHIN, published by VIZ Media), Takei debuted in Weekly Shonen Jump in 1997 with Butsu Zone, an action series based on Buddhist mythology. His multicultural adventure manga SHAMAN KING, which debuted in 1998, became a hit and was adapted into an anime TV series. His new series ULTIMO (also published by VIZ Media), a historic collaboration with comics legend Stan Lee (co-creator of many iconic superheroes including Spider-Man™, the Fantastic Four™, and the X-Men™), is currently being serialized in the U.S. in SHONEN JUMP. Takei lists Osamu Tezuka, American comics and robot anime among his many key influences.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

ACF 824: 3rd Annual Shinsedai Cinema Festival Dates Announced

The 3rd Annual Shinsedai Cinema Festival will run from Jul;y 21st to July 24th, 2011. The Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre, 6 Garamond Court in Toronto, Canada will play host to the best in new and independent films from Japan.

Keep checking the festival's website http://www.shinsedai-fest.com/ for details in the coming months.

Friday, December 24, 2010

ACf 822: Retrospectve of six films by Japanese cult auteur Sabu at Japan Society

Monday © 2000 Cine Qua Non Films

America’s First Major Retrospective of Japan’s Explosive
Film Auteur Features 6 Films with 1 International Premiere

Run, Salaryman, Run! A Retrospective of Sabu’s Film Works

January 26-February 5, 2011, at Japan Society

** With Live Appearances by Sabu **

Born Hiroyuki Tanaka (1964), Sabu is the cult auteur of "punk n' roll," alternative comedies, often imitated, never equaled, and far too rarely shown in the U.S. since his 1996 feature debut, Non-Stop, a.k.a DANGAN Runner.

Japan Society’s Film Program now breaks the barrier with America’s first major retrospective Run, Salaryman, Run! A Retrospective of SABU’s Film Works, featuring 6 of Sabu’s 11 feature films, (a twelfth is due in 2011) from January 26 through February 5. In addition to Non-Stop, Run, Salaryman, Run! includes Monday, Postman Blues, Postman Blues, Drive, The Blessing Bell, and the big screen International Premiere of Troubleman. Sabu will make live appearances to introduce Monday, Postman Blues, and Non-Stop, and take part in a Q&A following each of these three films.

Smart, fun and explosive, Sabu delivers the high speed, high style, hard luck, and quirky lusts and lunacies of post-Bubble Japan. In a world of hazards and happenstance, he zeroes in on blue and white collar everymen tossed into dangerously absurd situations from which they desperately try to run. Speeding along at breakneck pace, Sabu brings a fresh and frantic twist to traditional film genres (the yakuza film, the thriller, etc.), juicing their lean, clean-cropped premises with electroshock cinematic style and über edgy music scores.

“Sabu has drawn comparisons with Buster Keaton, Johnnie To and Doug Liman,” says Samuel Jamier, director of Japan Society’s Film Program. “His debut was definitely a precursor to Run Lola Run, and his innovative use of music could easily be described as Tarantino-esque. But his satirical jamborees, more than just friendly black comedies, are unlike anything else on the silver screen: they are stamina tests, survival riffs, and victory rolls. His work is the embodiment of the waning days of ‘Cool Japan’, and an important marker of the vibrancy and vitality of contemporary Japanese cinema.”

Tickets are $12/$9 Japan Society members, students & seniors. Members can purchase the Sabu Series Discount Pass and receive passes to all 6 films for $40 (limit two passes per member). For trailers, tickets or more information, visit www.japansociety.org/film.

Japan Society is located at 333 E. 47th Street, between 1st & 2nd avenues, NYC.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

ACF 821: VIZ debuts new manga on VIZ Manga App for the iPad

VIZ MEDIA DEBUTS NEW MANGA ON
THE FREE-TO-DOWNLOAD
VIZ MANGA APP FOR THE iPad

VAMPIRE KNIGHT, OTOMEN, OURAN
HIGH SCHOOL HOST CLUB And RUROUNI KENSHIN
Join Lineup of Legendary Manga Series Available

VIZ Media has announced the launch of VAMPIRE KNIGHT (rated ‘T+’ for Older Teens), OURAN HIGH SCHOOL HOST CLUB (rated ‘T’ for Teens), OTOMEN (rated ‘T’ for Teens), and RUROUNI KENSHIN (rated ‘T+’ for Older Teens), available now from the VIZ MANGA APP on the Apple® iPad™ mobile device. The VIZ MANGA APP is available for free download through the iTunes Store, and all manga volumes are available for purchase and download in the U.S. and Canada directly within the application for $4.99 per volume.

The recently launched VIZ MANGA APP is the leading application to read Japanese manga on the iPad, with a downloadable library of the most popular manga series in the world. Readers are encouraged to check the app regularly, as new additions to the store and free Chapter 1 previews of other forthcoming manga series for the iPad are featured.

Other series now available for download on the VIZ Manga App include volumes from BLEACH (rated ‘T’ for Teens), BAKUMAN。 (rated ‘T’ for Teens), DEATH NOTE (rated ‘T+’ for Older Teens), DRAGON BALL (rated ‘T’ for Teens), NARUTO (rated ‘T’ for Teens), and ONE PIECE (rated ‘T’ for Teens).

In OTOMEN, a romantic comedy by creator Aya Kanno, Asuka Masamune is a guy who loves girly things--sewing, knitting, making cute stuffed animals and reading shojo comics. But in a world where boys are expected to act manly, Asuka must hide his beloved hobbies and play the part of a masculine jock instead. Can Asuka ever show his true self to anyone, much less to Ryo Miyakozuka, the girl that he's falling for?

In the screwball romantic comedy OURAN HIGH SCHOOL HOST CLUB by Bisco Hatori, Haruhi, a poor girl at a rich kids' school, is forced to repay an $80,000 debt by working for the school's swankiest, all-male club--as a boy! There, she discovers just how wealthy the six members are and how different the rich are from everybody else...

Action, romance, and historical intrigue help make Nobuhiro Watsuki's RUROUNI KENSHIN, the tale of a wandering swordsman set against the backdrop of the Meiji Restoration, one of the most popular Shonen Jump titles among fans to date! Himura Kenshin, once an assassin of ferocious power, is now a humble rurouni, a wandering swordsman fighting to protect the honor of those in need.

In fan favorite hit VAMPIRE KNIGHT, by Matsuri Hino, Cross Academy is attended by two groups of students: the Day Class and the Night Class. At twilight, when the students of the Day Class return to their dorm, they cross paths with the Night Class on their way to school. Yuki Cross and Zero Kiryu are the Guardians of the school, protecting the Day Class from the Academy's dark secret: the Night Class is full of vampires!

For more information on the VIZ MANGA APP, visit www.VIZ.com/apps/.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

ACF 820: Secret Sunshine finally gets theatrical release in U.S.

Actress Jeon Do-yeon (left) and Song Kang-ho (right)

A day or two ago I read that Korean director Lee Chang Dong's Secret Sunshine (2007) was ranked by Film Comment magazine as the 27th best movie released in 2010. (For Film Comment's list of the 50 Best Films of 2010, click here. Initially I thought they made a mistake, because it had been released, and I'd seen it at Lincoln Center, so long ago. Furthermore, I'd reviewed it in May, 2008. (For my review of Secret Sunshine, click here.) Perhaps they'd meant Lee's next and most recent film, Poetry, which played at this year's New York Film Festival at Lincoln Center.

Then I read A.O. Scott's review in the arts section of today's New York Times. There I learned that it's taken this long for this incredible movie to get it's much deserved, if belated, U.S. theatrical release. Hence it's inclusion in Film Comment's 2010 list. Well better late than never, as the saying goes.

I've sung the praises of Lee Chang-dong's films since I saw Oasis (2002), his third film. (Secret Sunshine was his fourth, made after a cinematic hiatus while he served as South Korea's minister of culture and tourism.) It was wonderful to read Scott's unstinting praise, an affirmation of my opinion of Lee by the film reviewer/critic I most respect. For Scott's review, click here. Scott also ranked the film as the number 9 Best Film of 2010 (NY Times, Dec 19th, Page 14). Manohla Darghis, who did not rank her picks, listed Secret Sunshine as one of her recommended films (Page 12 of the same issue of the Times).

The really important thing is that Secret Sunshine can now be seen for the first time in theaters in the United States, not just the few festivals and retrospective's of Lee's works that have featured it. The film's main character is Lee Shin-ae (Jeon Do yeon, who won the best female performance award at Cannes for her incredible portrayal).

She's a widower who returns with her son to Miryang (the film's title refers to an old meaning of the word), the hometown of her deceased husband. She is befriended by Kim Jong-chan (Song Kang-ho, widely known in the U.S. for his roles in Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, The Host, Thirst and others), a tow truck operator/garage owner who tows their broken down vehicle into town.

As Scott so accurately and eloquently writes, "the full impact of this film is perhaps best experienced if its shocks are uncushioned by foreknowledge." Suffice it to say here that what starts out feeling like it might be a rom-com/drama combo, takes a turn into far different and darker territory after an unspeakable crime is committed.

And let it be said that if you are fortunate enough to be able see Secret Sunshine during this release, you owe it to yourself to do so. It's a masterpiece (and that's not a word I use lightly and one that also applies to Lee's Oasis and Poetry) by one of cinema's truly great directors.

ACF 819: SHONEN JUMP has new look and expanded content in print & online

Shonen Jump issue #97, January 2011

VIZ MEDIA’S SHONEN JUMP magazine evolves for 2011
with a fresh new look and expanded print and online content

North America’s Most Popular Manga Monthly
Begins The Year With Many New Upgrades

VIZ Media has announced the relaunch of its popular SHONEN JUMP monthly manga (graphic novel) magazine, and also grows the publication’s online presence. Beginning with the January 2011 issue, available now from retailers, SHONEN JUMP magazine welcomes the new decade with a fresh, contemporary look, and expanded print and web content.

As part of this upgrade, the magazine also launches several new subscriber-only initiatives on the SHONEN JUMP website at: www.ShonenJump.com. Among these features will be digital subscriber-only premiums and content, as well as the debut of a brand new manga series, NURA: RISE OF THE YOKAI CLAN (rated ‘T’ for Teens) that will be serialized online. This will be SHONEN JUMP’s first title to be serialized digitally on ShonenJump.com.

For its print counterpart, SHONEN JUMP, which continues to be the best-selling manga anthology in North America, debuts 2 new series - the science fiction thriller, PSYREN, and fan favorite YU-GI-OH! 5D’S. As a special treat to both current and new readers, the January 2011 issue will also include a free YU-GI-OH! trading card, The Winged Dragon of Ra, printed with the autograph of original YU-GI-OH! creator Kazuki Takahashi. These titles join other current monthly SHONEN JUMP series, BLEACH, NARUTO and ONE PIECE.

Manga previews are a cornerstone of SHONEN JUMP coverage and this will continue with newly expanded sneak peeks, both online and in print, starting with massive online manga previews of popular series TORIKO and BAKUMAN。. VIZ Media also plans to deliver plenty of fan appreciation throughout 2011 with a variety of contests, sweepstakes and inside information about the exciting and ever-changing world of manga and anime.

“Paying careful attention to all the input from our loyal fans, the SHONEN JUMP team has revamped the magazine, keeping what devotees already know and love and adding in more awesome stuff than before!” says Christopher Boily, Editor-in-Chief. “The world of media and comics is changing and we’re excited to explore the opportunities that now exist for the magazine and our manga. New series like NURA and PSYREN will fit in right alongside NARUTO and BLEACH to create the best manga mix we’ve ever had, both in print and online. And the new look and feel of the magazine is exactly what our fans have been asking us for!”

More information on SHONEN JUMP Magazine and other Shonen Jump titles can be found at www.ShonenJump.com.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

ACF 818: Kurosawa / Mifune film series in San Francisco through January 6th, 2011

Scene from Drunken Angel,
the first Kurosawa film in which Mifune starred

BEAT THE HOLIDAY DOLDRUMS VIZ CINEMA’S
KUROSAWA x MIFUNE FILM FESTIVAL

Seven Films Playing Thru January 6th At The Bay Area Theatre Showcase
Iconic Director Akira Kurosawa And Actor Toshiro Mifune

I received this information a bit too late for some of the earliest screenings, but there are plenty of screenings left. So those of you in the San Francisco environs, don't miss this opportunity to see as many of these films as you can. They are, after all, by one of cinema's greatest all time director/actor combinations - Akira Kurosawa and Toshiro Mifune! And while all of these films are also available from The Criterion Collection, they're best seen in a theater whenever possible.

VIZ Cinema, the nation’s only movie theatre dedicated to Japanese film, concludes 2010 with Mifune x Kurosawa, a special new festival celebrating the work of iconic director Akira Kurosawa and actor Toshiro Mifune beginning Saturday, December 18th and running until Thursday, January 6th.

Escape holiday doldrums with seven films including Red Beard, The Idiot, The Lower Depths, High And Low, Stray Dog, Drunken Angel, and the classic action masterpiece, Seven Samurai, which will be presented with a New Year’s reception party on January 2nd. Tickets to all screenings are $10.00 each; screening times and more details are available at: www.vizcinema.com.

Red Beard, Saturday, 12/18 – Sunday, 12/26
(1965, 185 minutes, 35mm, Japanese with English Subtitles)
Red Beard chronicles the tumultuous relationship between an arrogant young doctor and a compassionate clinic director. Toshiro Mifune, in his last role for Kurosawa, gives a powerhouse performance as the dignified yet empathic director who guides his pupil to maturity.

The Idiot, Saturday, 12/18 – Thursday, 12/23
(1965, 185 minutes, 35mm, Japanese with English Subtitles)
The Idiot, an adaptation of Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s nineteenth-century masterpiece about a wayward, pure soul’s reintegration into society—updated by Kurosawa to capture Japan’s postwar aimlessness—was a victim of studio interference and, finally, public indifference.

The Lower Depths, Sunday, 12/19 – Monday, 12/27
(1957, 125 minutes, 35mm, Japanese with English Subtitles)
Mifune and Kurosawa transform Maxim Gorky’s classic proletariat play The Lower Depths in their own way firmly situated in the postwar world. Remaining faithful to the original with its focus on the conflict between illusion and reality, their film making styles converge to create unique masterpieces.

High And Low, Monday, 12/27 – Thursday, 1/6
(1957, 125 minutes, 35mm, Japanese with English Subtitles)
Toshiro Mifune is unforgettable as Kingo Gondo, a wealthy industrialist whose family becomes the target of a cold-blooded kidnapper in Akira Kurosawa’s highly influential High and Low, a compelling race-against-time thriller and a penetrating portrait of contemporary Japanese society.

Stray Dog, Tuesday, 12/28 – Thursday, 1/6
(1949, 122min, 35mm, Japanese with English Subtitles)
When a pickpocket steals a rookie detective’s gun on a hot crowded bus, the cop goes undercover in a desperate attempt to right the wrong. Kurosawa’s thrilling noir probes the squalid world of postwar Japan and the nature of the criminal mind.

Drunken Angel, Wednesday, 12/29 – Wednesday, 1/5
(1948, 98min, 35mm, Japanese with English Subtitles)
In this powerful early noir from the great Akira Kurosawa, Toshiro Mifune bursts onto the screen as a volatile, tubercular criminal who strikes up an unlikely relationship with Takashi Shimura’s jaded physician.

Seven Samurai, Sunday, 1/2 at 1:30pm
(1954, 207 minutes, 35mm, Japanese with English Subtitles)
Kick-off 2011 with one of the most thrilling movie epics of all time, Seven Samurai! This three-hour ride featuring Toshiro Mifune and Takashi Shimura tells the story of a sixteenth-century village whose desperate inhabitants hire eponymous warriors to protect them from the invading bandits. Screening will include a special New Year’s reception party.

VIZ Cinema is the nation’s only movie theatre devoted exclusively to Japanese film and anime. The 143-seat subterranean theatre is located in the basement of the NEW PEOPLE building and features plush seating, digital as well as 35mm projection, and a THX®-certified sound system.

About NEW PEOPLE
NEW PEOPLE offers the latest films, art, fashion and retail brands from Japan and is the creative vision of the J-Pop Center Project and VIZ Pictures, a distributor and producer of Japanese live action film. Located at 1746 Post Street, the 20,000 square foot structure features a striking 3-floor transparent glass façade that frames a fun and exotic new environment to engage the imagination into the 21st Century. A dedicated web site is also now available at: www.NewPeopleWorld.com.

Monday, December 20, 2010

ACF 817: SUMMER WARS opens December 29th at IFC Center, NY

SUMMER WARS
Recommended ages 9 to adult
Full theatrical run opens Dec 29
IFC Center, 323 Sixth Avenue (at West Third), NYC

"Spectacular! Visionary! Mind-Bending! Staggering!" - Variety

OFFICIAL 2010 OSCAR ENTRY - BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

This new feature from Mamoru Hosoda has been described as a film whose "dazzling fluency of motion and untethered brilliance of invention make the usual fantasy anime look childish and dull." - Japan Times.

SUMMER WARS is a visual tour-de-force, with the amazing virtual world of Oz as the highlight. Like the Internet as conceived by pop artist Takashi Murakami, Oz is a hallucinatory pixel parade of cool avatar designs, kung fu jackrabbits, toothy bears, and a bursting rainbow of colors.

To purchase tickets CLICK HERE!

SUMMER WARS was a Top 2010 pick at Wildgrounds - treasures of asian cinema.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

ACF 816: One-night event to mark world premirere of GANTZ in 325 movie theaters

ACTION-PACKED ‘GANTZ’ HITS BIG SCREENS NATIONWIDE
IN ONE-NIGHT WORLD PREMIERE

NCM Fathom, NEW PEOPLE and Dark Horse Comics Bring
Exclusive Event Featuring Two of Japan’s Biggest Stars
to 325 Select Movie Theaters LIVE on January 20

GANTZ, a live-action Japanese feature event, is making its world premiere in 325 movie theaters in an exclusive one-night Fathom event on Thursday, January 20th, 2011 at 8:00 p.m. ET / 7:00 p.m. CT / 6:00 p.m. MT / 8:30 p.m. PT (tape delayed). Following the feature, GANTZ’s two leading actors, Kazunari Ninomiya (Letters from Iwo Jima) and Kenichi Matsuyama (Death Note, Detroit Metal City) will participate in an exclusive live interview that can only be seen at this event.

Tickets are available at participating theater box offices and online at http://www.fathomevents.com/. For a complete list of theater locations and prices, please visit the web site (theaters and participants are subject to change).

Presented by NCM Fathom and NEW PEOPLE, in association with Dark Horse Comics, GANTZ (English dubbed) tells the story of childhood friends Kei Kurono and Masaru Kato who are accidentally killed while trying to save another man’s life. Rather than find themselves in the hereafter, however, they awaken in a strange apartment in which they find a mysterious black orb they come to know as “GANTZ.” Along with similar abductees, they are provided with equipment and weaponry and manipulated into playing a kind of game in which they are sent back out to the greater world to do battle with alien beings, all while never quite knowing whether this game is an illusion or their new reality.

Ninomiya and Matsuyama are two of Japan’s biggest stars. Ninomiya, best known in America for his role in Clint Eastwood’s 2006 blockbuster, Letters from Iwo Jima, is both an actor and a singer. He is world-renowned as a member of the Japanese boy band “Arashi,” which topped Japan’s music charts in 2009 with the three best-selling singles. Matsuyama has been one of the most sought-after actors in Japanese film and has won several awards including Japanese Academy Awards Best New Actor (2007) and Most Popular Actor (2009). Matsuyama is recognized for his part as L in Death Note (2006), Death Note II: the Last Name (2006) and Death Note: L, change the WorLd (2008).

“GANTZ is the kind of kinetic action film that pushes the boundaries of the sci-fi genre,” said Seiji Horibuchi, founder of NEW PEOPLE. “We’re very excited to work with NCM Fathom and Dark Horse Comics to organize this special event and look forward to the property’s domestic popularity growing even more following this new release.”

GANTZ will appear in 325 theaters, including AMC Entertainment Inc., Cinemark USA Inc., Clearview Cinemas, Cobb Theatres, Goodrich Quality Theatres, Hollywood Theaters, Marcus Theatres, National Amusements, Rave Motion Pictures, R/C Theatres and Regal Entertainment Group movie theaters, as well as The Beacon Cinema (Pittsfield, MA), The Carolina Theatre (Asheville, NC) and Palace Cinema 9 (South Burlington, VT), through NCM’s exclusive Digital Broadcast Network —North America’s largest cinema broadcast network.

“GANTZ offers a thrilling world that nobody has ever seen in live-action,” said Dan Diamond, vice president of NCM Fathom. “Incredibly popular in Japan as well as among American manga and anime enthusiasts, this new GANTZ rendition is sure to thrill audiences in local movie theaters around the country.”


About National CineMedia (NCM)
NCM operates NCM Media Networks, a leading integrated media company reaching U.S. consumers in movie theaters, online and through mobile technology. The NCM Cinema Network and NCM Fathom present cinema advertising and events across the nation’s largest digital in-theater network, comprised of theaters owned by AMC Entertainment Inc., Cinemark Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: CNK), Regal Entertainment Group (NYSE: RGC) and other leading regional theater circuits. NCM’s theater network covers 170 Designated Market Areas® (49 of the top 50) and includes approximately 17,300 screens (15,700 digital).

During 2009, over 690 million patrons attended movies shown in theaters currently included in NCM’s network (excluding Consolidated Theatres, Rave Cinemas and R/C Theatres). The NCM Fathom Events broadcast network is comprised of over 550 locations in 156 Designated Market Areas® (49 of the top 50). The NCM Interactive Network offers 360-degree integrated marketing opportunities in combination with cinema, encompassing over 40 entertainment-related web sites, online widgets and mobile applications. National CineMedia, Inc. (NASDAQ: NCMI) owns a 48.2% interest in and is the managing member of National CineMedia LLC. For more information, visit http://www.ncm.com/ or http://www.fathomevents.com/.

About NEW PEOPLE
Based in San Francisco, California, NEW PEOPLE offers the latest films, art, fashion and retail brands from Japan through its unique entertainment destination as well as licensing and distribution of selective Japanese films. NEW PEOPLE strives to offer the most entertaining motion pictures straight from the "Kingdom of Pop" for audiences of all ages, especially the manga and anime generation, in North America. Some titles include DEATH NOTE, KAMIKAZE GIRLS, and THE TASTE OF TEA. For more information about films, please visit www.viz-pictures.com. To learn more about NEW PEOPLE in San Francisco, please visit www.newpeopleworld.com.

About Dark Horse Comics
Since 1986, Dark Horse Comics has proven to be a solid example of how integrity and innovation can help broaden a unique storytelling medium and establish a small, homegrown company as an industry giant. The company is known for the progressive and creator friendly atmosphere it provides for writers and artists. In addition to publishing comics from top talent like Frank Miller, Mike Mignola, Neil Gaiman, Gerard Way and comics legend Will Eisner, Dark Horse has developed such successful characters as The Mask, Timecop, and SpyBoy. Additionally, their highly successful line of comics and products based on popular properties includes Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Aliens, Conan, Emily the Strange, Tim Burton, Trigun, Serenity and Domo. Today Dark Horse Comics is the largest independent comic-book publisher in the U.S. and is recognized as one of the world's leading publisher of licensed comics material.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

ACF 815: Stage & Screen Actress TV Carpio

Still of TV from Across the Universe

TV Carpio currently boasts a significant role in the upcoming musical Spider-Man on Broadway. This will mark the second time she has worked with Julie Taymor, following their successful collaboration in the acclaimed feature film Across the Universe (TV starred as Prudence who sang in the very memorable rendition of "I Want To Hold Your Hand").

Teresa Victoria Carpio, better known as TV, was born in Oklahoma City, but moved to and grew up in New York and in Hong Kong with her mother, Teresa Carpio, who is a household name as a singer and entertainer in Asia. By junior high, TV's family had moved back to the States where her promising ice-skating career was curtailed by an unfortunate injury. Upon graduation from high school she took time out to become fluent in Spanish before enrolling herself into the jazz program at the New School University in New York City.

TV appeared as a dancer in music videos for Bruce Springsteen and Whitney Houston, among others, which led to small parts on television's "Law and Order" and "The Jury." As an alto soprano she sang with the Hong Kong Philharmonic in her mother's acclaimed Diva concerts, playing and singing the part of her mother as an 18 years old.

From there she landed the role of Gail in Spike Lee's She Hate Me, followed by the role of Angela in Lee's Sucker Free City for Showtime.

Deciding to focus on acting, she moved to Los Angeles, and within a few months she was cast as Prudence in Julie Taymor's Across The Universe. She then moved back to New York and was cast as Alexi Darling in Rent on Broadway.

Recently she landed the role of Valerie in the upcoming Robert De Niro, Bradley Cooper film Limitless (formerly The Dark Fields), directed by Neil Burger and to be released in March 2011 by Relativity in which TV and Cooper share some particularly intimate on-screen moments.

Lucky Bradley.

And lucky us for having such a lovely, talented and versatile performer to enrich the many diverse entertainments she has, is, and no doubt will continue to do.

Friday, December 17, 2010

ACF 814: Film Society of Lincoln Center will screen two Satoshi Kon films December 22

Image from "Paprika"

In Memoriam: SATOSHI KON

Wednesday, December 22

PERFECT BLUE at 6:30pm

PAPRIKA at 8:15pm

Have to pass on this news from the Film Society of Lincoln Center about two very special screnings:

This past August, Satoshi Kon's many admirers around the world received the shocking news that he had died of cancer, at the age of 46. Beyond being one of the greatest directors of animé films, Satoshi Kon was simply one of the most exciting cinematic storytellers of our time.The master of anime holds a special place of honor here at the Film Society. Our program director Richard Peña explained it this way:

"Kon-san made a visit to the Walter Reade Theater in 2008, on the occasion of a retrospective of his films and a gallery exhibit of his artwork. He was a delightful guest, with a quick smile and full of interesting insights into his work. His untimely death robs us all of an enormous talent and unparalleled imagination. This brief tribute is our way of saying thank you for your wonderful art, that will be with us forever."

Both screenings will be at FSLC's Walter Reade Theater, 165 W 65th Street, between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue.

Purchase tickets for Perfect Blue here.

Purchase tickets for Paprika here.

ACF 813: DEATH NOTE BLACK EDITION due December 28th

DEATH NOTE © 2003 by Tsugumi Ohba, Takeshi Obata/SHUEISHA Inc.

A SHINIGAMI DEATH GOD AND THE HUNT FOR AN ‘ETHICAL’
SERIAL KILLER TO ENTHRALL THE MANGA WORLD AGAIN IN
THE RELEASE OF VIZ MEDIA’S DEATH NOTE BLACK EDITION

New Edition Of The Riveting Supernatural Crime Mystery
Features A Larger Size And Added Full Color Pages

VIZ Media has announced the release of DEATH NOTE BLACK EDITION, an oversized version of the acclaimed supernatural crime thriller. Volume 1 hits stores on December 28th and includes the first two editions of the popular manga (graphic novel) series as well as added full-color pages. The DEATH NOTE BLACK EDITION will be offered under the Shonen Jump Advanced imprint, is rated ‘T+’ for Older Teens, and will retail for $14.99 U.S. / $16.99 CAN.

Light Yagami is an ace student with great prospects—and he’s bored out of his mind. But all that changes when he finds the Death Note, a notebook dropped by rogue Shinigami death god. Any human whose name is written in the notebook dies, and now Light has vowed to use the power of the Death Note to rid the world of evil. But when criminals begin dropping dead, the authorities send the legendary detective L to track down the killer. With L hot on his heels, will Light lose sight of his noble goal…or his life?

“DEATH NOTE took the manga world by storm and became an international bestseller with its sinister plot and captivating artwork,” says Beth Kawasaki, Sr. Editorial Director. “The BLACK EDITION is an ideal way for those who never read the original series to finally see what the buzz is all about in six volumes versus the original 12-volume run. For established fans or anyone that might have missed later DEATH NOTE volumes, the new version also presents a great opportunity to revisit the series with its larger trade paperback size, new cover design, and bonus color pages.”

The original DEATH NOTE series, a 12-volume mystery created by writer Tsugumi Ohba and artist Takeshi Obata, continues to be a must-read among legions of ardent fans, having sold over 1.2 million copies in the U.S. to date. DEATH NOTE has spawned not only a fanbook (DEATH NOTE: HOW TO READ 13) and two novels (DEATH NOTE ANOTHER NOTE: THE LOS ANGELES BB MURDER CASES and DEATH NOTE: L, CHANGE THE WORLD), all published by VIZ Media, but also a 37-episode animated series (available streamed online for free at VIZAnime.com and on DVD from VIZ Media), three live-action feature films and a plethora of related posters, toys and action figures. The DEATH NOTE manga and anime are both rated ‘T+’ for Older Teens.

For more information on DEATH NOTE, visit DeathNote.viz.com.

View animated DEATH NOTE episodes for free at http://www.vizanime.com/.

For more information on other Shonen Jump titles, visit http://www.shonenjump.com/.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

ACF 812: Anime Network now available on demand at Verizon's FiOS TV VOD


Verizon Launches Anime Network on FiOS TV VOD

Popular Anime Channel Now Available on Demand to FiOS TV Customers

Verizon’s FiOS TV customers now have on-demand access to the cultural phenomenon of Japanese animation known as “anime,” with the launch of the Anime Network on FiOS TV Video on Demand. Now available to all FiOS TV subscribers, the Anime Network offers at least 45 hours of original programming every month, with new content added every week. Anime Network is available on demand to FiOS TV customers for $6.99 a month.

“We always look for niche programming that will appeal to our FiOS TV customers, and the addition of the Anime Network will certainly help expand our VOD lineup,” said Terry Denson, vice president of content strategy and acquisition for Verizon. “With one of the largest VOD offerings in the industry, Verizon’s FiOS TV customers have access to a variety of programming available at their fingertips.”

Stacy Dodson, vice president of the Anime Network, said, “Anime Network is thrilled to bring our special brand of entertainment to the Verizon FiOS TV experience, giving our fans a chance to catch their favorite Anime Network shows on demand. With the addition of FiOS TV, we are now available to over 43 million VOD-enabled households, and we look forward to working with Verizon in reaching even more viewers as part of their cutting-edge service.”

Anime Network offers a variety of hit shows on demand, such as “High School of the Dead,” “Samurai Girls,” “Xam’d,” “Canaan,” “Blue Drop,” “E’s Otherwise,” “Kino’s Journey,” “Glass Mask,” “Maria Holic” and “Legends of the Dark King.”

Anime Network joins FiOS TV’s extensive VOD service, which offers 18,000 monthly titles including 3,300 in high definition. FiOS TV also offers a broad collection of programming that includes more than 520 all-digital channels with up to 140 HD channels, as well as next-generation interactive services including an advanced interactive media guide; social networking, news and entertainment widgets; DVR management via broadband or select cell phones; and more.

For the latest news, updates and information about FiOS TV, visit www.verizon.com/newscenter and www.verizon.com/athomeblog.

ABOUT ANIME NETWORK
Anime Network is the leading broadcast and digital distributor of Japanese animation and Asian cinema in North America. Headquartered in Houston, TX, Anime Network was founded in 2002 and launched as one of the first VOD networks on most major cable providers. Anime Network’s mission is to bring the best in anime programming to everyone in North America. In addition to our VOD network, consumers can access our Video website. The dynamic website, featuring an ever growing anime community, includes a subscription service that mirrors the VOD network and allows viewers to catch up on episodes they may have missed on broadcast.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

ACF 811: VIZ offers special iTunes Promotion until February 1, 2011

VIZ MEDIA ANIMATES THE HOLIDAYS
WITH A SPECIAL iTunes PROMOTION

FREE Episodes Available Download-To-Own For Limited Time

VIZ Media celebrates the season with a special Download-to-Own promotion on the iTunes Store in the U.S. (www.iTunes.com), perfect to round out digital holiday gift lists to delight audiences young & old.

Just in time for the holidays, from now until February 1st, download for FREE the full first episodes for VAMPIRE KNIGHT, BLEACH, KEKKAISHI, and NARUTO SHIPPUDEN. All subsequent episodes are available to rent for only $0.99 each, or to own for only $1.99 each.

Please visit http://www.itunes.com/anime for complete details.

BLEACH (rated TV-14) follows the adventures of Ichigo, a 15-year old student with the ability to see ghosts. When his family is attacked by a Hollow — a malevolent lost soul – Ichigo encounters Rukia, a Soul Reaper, and inadvertently absorbs her powers. Now, he’s dedicating his life to protecting the innocent and helping tortured souls find peace.

KEKKAISHI (rated TV-PG) is the story of mystical forces powerful in the region known as Karasumori. For over 400 years, it has been the duty of a clan of “kekkaishi”— barrier masters — to guard this land and exterminate the supernatural creatures that are drawn to it night after night. Yoshimori Sumimura is a junior high school student at Karasumori Academy. Following in the tradition that's been passed down through generations, he is the twenty-second “kekkaishi” of the Sumimura clan. But by day, Yoshimori's got other demons to battle: an addiction to sweets and a seriously crotchety grandfather! Yoshimori's pretty neighbor, childhood friend and rival, Tokine Yukimura, is also a “kekkaishi,” but their families are feuding over who is the true practitioner of the art. Protecting people from danger while growing stronger himself, Yoshimori will battle the forces of evil again tonight!

In NARUTO SHIPPUDEN (rated TV-14), Naruto Uzumaki, a young ninja in training, wants to be the best ninja in the land. He's done well so far, but Naruto knows he must train harder than ever and leaves his village for intense exercises that will push him to his limits. NARUTO Shippuden begins two and a half years later, when Naruto returns to find that everyone has been promoted up the ninja ranks—except him. Sakura’s a medic ninja, Gaara’s advanced to Kazekage, and Kakashi…well, he remains the same. But pride isn’t necessarily about becoming a ninja, especially when Naruto realizes that Sasuke never returned from his search for Orochimaru. Plus, the mysterious Akatsuki organization is still an ever-present danger. As Naruto finds out more about the Akatsuki’s goals, he realizes that nothing in his universe is as it seems. Naruto is finding that he’s older, but will he also prove wiser and stronger?

In VAMPIRE KNIGHT (rated TV-14), Cross Academy is attended by two groups of students: the Day Class and the Night Class. At twilight, when the students of the Day Class return to their dorms, they cross paths with the mysterious Night Class on their way to school. Yuki Cross and Zero Kiryu are the Guardians of the school, protecting the Day Class from the Academy's dark secret: the Night Class is full of vampires! Yuki Cross has no memory of her past prior to the moment she was saved from a vampire attack ten years ago. She was adopted by the headmaster of Cross Academy, and now works alongside Zero to guard the Academy's secret. Yuki believes that vampires and humans can coexist peacefully, but her partner has different ideas...

ACF 810: Section23 films offers NYAN KOI! COMPLETE COLLECTION


Section23 Films has announced the release of the hit series NYAN KOI! The complete series is now on sale.

He was just allergic to cats… Now He’s facing total catastrophe!

NYAN KOI! COMPLETE COLLECTION
Running Time: 300 min.
Age Rating: TV PG
Language: Japanese with English Subtitles
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Format: DVD
SRP: $49.98

SYNOPSIS: When cat-allergic Junpei Kosaka damages a statue of a cat deity, the cats don't just get his tongue, they put theirs in his mouth! Now cursed with the ability to understand felines, Junpei must perform one hundred great favors for cat-kind or face the fate of being turned into a cat himself! (Hey, would you want to spend the rest of your life licking your own backside?) Life quickly becomes a purrfect hell as every cat in the neighborhood starts sending Junpei their list of "requests."

And if the kitties weren't already whipping him into a catatonic stupor, the women in his life are making things even worse. His sister, mom and the girl he has secret feelings for are all cat-crazy; the local Yakuza's daughter is playing cat and mouse; the local cat-owning monk's daughters are acting catty; and Junpei's childhood best friend is ready to use him as a scratching post! Get ready for the ultimate catfight on the road to purrdition in this cataclysmic complete collection of Nyan Koi!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

ACF 809: Live House Korea (P’iri and Saenghwang) at The Korea Society

Traditional Music through Seasons: Bamboo Forest in Winter
Live House Korea (P’iri and Saenghwang)

When: Thursday, December 16, 2010 at 6:30 PM
Where: The Korea Society
950 Third Avenue @ 57th Street, 8th Floor, NYC
Entrance is on 57th Street,
near the South West corner of the intersection

Yoon Ju-A guides the listener through a winter grove to the p’iri (bamboo oboe) and saenghwang (mouth organ). Yoon has toured widely and was part of the Happy Bamboo ensemble. A meditative, candlelight holiday performance.

$10 Members, $20 Guests
Register at http://www.koreasociety.org/

Friday, December 10, 2010

ACF 808: Screening of Koji Wakamatsu's Caterpillar at Japan Society on Saturday

CATERPILLAR © 2010 Wakamatsu Production, Inc.

Caterpillar / Kyatapira
Directed by Koji Wakamatsu
Japan, 2010, 85 minutes, DigBeta, color
In Japanese with English subtitles
New York Premiere
When:
Saturday, December 11, 2010 @ 7:00 PM
Where: Japan Society, 333 East 47th Street,
between 1st and 2nd Avenues, NYC

Caterpillar will be the second film shown in Japan Society's audacious series this weekend, SHADOWS OF THE RISING SUN: Cinema and Empire. The series opens tonight (Friday) with Fires on the Plain.

The film's screenplay is adopted from a 1929 Edogawa Rampo short story of the same name. (The story is included in a collection of Rampo short stories entitled Japanese Tales of Mystery & Imagination, available from Tuttle Publishing.) Rampo was the nom de plume of Hirai Taro (1894-1965), who is generally considered to be the father of Japanese mystery writing. The name is derived from the Japanese pronunciation of Edgar Allan Poe, whom Taro greatly admired.

The film shares the basic them of the short story. Here Shigeko (actress Shinobu Terajima, who won Silver Bear for Best Actress at the 2010 Berlin International Film Festival) is faced with the immense challenges posed by the return of her husband, Lt. Kyuzu Kurokawa (Shima Ohnishi), during World War II. The problem is that he has been grossly injured and maimed, cannot talk, and is totally dependent on her care.

Because of the extent of his injuries, received in the service to the Emperor, he is regarded as a "War God" by their fellow villagers. This results in some gestures of special treatment. But these gestures and the high regard in which both husband and wife are held cannot begin to compensate for the emotional and physical trials both are confronted with, each in their own way.

There are several differences between the short story and this film version, beyond just different names for the main characters. For example, the short story was published in 1929, before the Japanese began their quest to become the "superpower" of Asia, whereas the film clearly is set after the Japanese had begun their attempt to take over China. Also, in the written version the Kurokawas lived rent-free as guests on the estate of his former commander, General Washio, whereas here they have their own home and there is no character comparable to Washio.

But these and other differences are not significant, nor do they lessen the story. In fact, I found the film more powerful and touching than the short story upon which it is based. The cinematic version has greater depth and is another example of how short stories often lend themselves to outstanding adaptations. Here I'm thinking of such films as Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain (2005), based on a short story by Annie Prouix, and Away From Her (2006), Sarah Polley's first feature length film, which was based on Alice Munro's story "The Bear Came Over the Mountain."

Director Koji Wakamatsu (United Red Army) has fashioned a compelling, masterful drama about the impact of war on individuals in particular and society in general, a film in which the "village idiot" may have a better grasp on what really matters than his "normal" fellow villagers. And considerable recognition must be given to the two screenwriters, Hisako Kurosawa and Masao Adachi.

Like Fires on the Plain, Caterpillar garners an ACF Rating of 4 out of 4 stars, most highly recommended.

Buy tickets.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

ACF 807: ITSUWARIBITO coming out December 14th from Shonen Sunday

ITSUWARIBITO UTSUHO © 2009 Yuuki IINUMA/Shogakukan

HONESTY MAY NOT ALWAYS BE THE BEST POLICY FOR A REFORMED TROUBLEMAKER IN MANGA SERIES ITSUWARIBITO

A Delinquent Orphan Raised By A Monk Decides
To Tell Only “Good” Lies To Help People

VIZ Media will release creator Yuuki Iinuma’s manga (graphic novel) series ITSUWARIBITO next Tuesday, December 14th, 2010. The new series will be published under the company’s Shonen Sunday imprint, is rated ‘T+’ for Older Teens, and will carry and MSRP of $9.99 U.S. / $12.99 CAN.

Utsuho’s truthfulness as a child resulted in an enormous catastrophe, and he decided to lie from that day forward. Raised in a village of orphans by a monk, Utsuho is an unrepentant troublemaker. The monk eventually inspires him to help people, but there’s no way Utsuho’s going to lead an honest life! Instead, he’s going to use his talents for mischief and deception for good!

“Creator Yuuki Iinuma uses the dichotomy of integrity and lying as the basis for an interesting new story that ponders if honesty is indeed the best policy,” says Carrie Shepherd, Managing Editor. “An itsuwaribito is an expert at sneaking, trickery, and theft. In the series, Utsuho vows to tell lies, but only ‘good lies,’ that help people. He fights evil with methods typically thought of as immoral, with lots of intense action along the way. We hope readers will contemplate whether the end truly justifies the means in this engaging new series from Shonen Sunday!”

More information on ITSUWARIBITO and other VIZ Media Shonen Sunday titles is available at: http://www.shonensunday.com/.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

ACF 806: Fires On The Plain starts new series at Japan Society this Friday

Nagamatsu (Mickey Curtis) left, and Tamura (Eiji Funakoshi)

Fires on the Plain / Nobi
Directed by Kon Ichikawa
Japan, 1959, 104 minutes, 35 mm, B&W
In Japanese with English subtitles
When: Friday December10, 2010 at 7:30 PM
Where: Japan Society,333 East 47th Street,
between 1st & 2nd avenues, NYC

This weekend Japan Society is presenting a mini-series called Shadows of the Rising Sun: Cinema and Empire. The four films to be shown explore Japan's quest for empire, which began in the 1930s, and its disastrous, tragic, and painful consequences. Japan Society must be applauded for presenting such a series, and high kudos to all involved in preparing it.

Fires on the Plain is the first of four films in the series and will be screened on Friday evening The film is doing double duty since it is also part of the Zen & Its Opposite: Essential (& Turbulent) Japanese Art House film series. The Japan Society film program has explained that each film in that series "was picked because it illustrates one or several of the 'Six Planes of Existence'—a Buddhist concept commonly referred to as 'Six Paths' (Rokudō or Rokudō-rinne) in Japan—within 'the realm of Birth and Death' (Samsara). Fires on the Plain is associated with The Realm of the Hungry Ghosts: Preta-gati in Sanskrit. Gakidō in Japanese. The realm of hungry spirits, characterized by agonizing craving and eternal starvation."

Eiki Funakoshi as Tamara

Set on the Philippine Island of Leyte in February, 1945, as the Japanese forces are in retreat from U.S. and Allied forces, the film stars Eiji Funakoshi as Tamura, a hapless soldier with tuberculosis. We follow his wanderings, along with various of his fellow soldiers, as he deals with hunger, artillery shellings, and a tank attack. But mainly there's the the hunger and the increased weakness, both physical and mental, that it brings, a hunger that is assuaged for some by resorting to cannibalism.

Fires is based on the acclaimed 1952 novel by Shohei OOka, which is still available from Tuttle Classics. I haven't read the book -- at least not yet -- but Ichikawa has been forthright about changes he and his wife & co-writer, Natto Wada, made. They eliminated the protagonist being a Christian, feeling that this would require explanation, and changed the ending, which I am not about to give away by writing how.

Director Kon Ichikawa

Ichikawa's film differs from the other three in the series in that it does not address the brutality of the Japanese and the atrocities they committed against Prisoners of War and civilians. Perhaps this focusing on the plight of the defeated Japanese soldiers is faithful to the book, perhaps its another change. Whatever the case, it makes the shooting of a Japanese soldier who is trying to surrender into an incident without context. Interestingly here, as well as in another scene, the U.S. forces come off quite well: it's a female Filipino guerrilla who fires at the Japanese and an American attempts to intervene. According to actor Mickey Curtis, this was the first time that a Japanese film depicted a Japanese soldier surrendering.

In any case, Fires on the Plain is an incredible, powerful film that must be seen, as should his earlier film The Burmese Harp (1956).

ACF Rating: 4 out of 4 stars; highest recommendation.

Buy tickets for Fires on the Plain.

For information about the Shadows of the Rising Sun mini-series, click here.


Fortunately for those who cannot attend Friday's screening, The Criterion Collection offers a single disc DVD of the film. It's another typically outstanding offering from Criterion. The transfer is first rate, as are the extra features. These include a video with Donald Richie, a most highly regarded writer about Japanese Cinema. There is also a video piece featuring relatively recent interviews done separately with director Ichikawa and actor Mickey Curtis, who played Nagamatsu in the film. Also included is a booklet that includes a substantial essay by Chuck Stephens, another noted writer who has contributed to other Criterion offerings and who again does not disappoint in the slightest.


Tuesday, December 07, 2010

ACF 805: Section23 Films' January 2011 Releases


SECTION23 FILMS ANNOUNCES JANUARY SLATE

KOIHIME MUSO COMPLETE COLLECTION
Available on January 4th

Home video distributor Section23 Films has announced its January 2011 slate of releases, including the popular series KOIHIME MUSO. The complete collection will be released by Section23 client Sentai Filmworks. Here's what's coming out in the New Year in order of release:

KOIHIME MUSO COMPLETE COLLECTION
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 325 min.
Street Date: 1/4/2011
Format: DVD
Language: Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $49.98

SYNOPSIS: Before Hua Mulan, before Wu Zetian, China bore another great hero, one whose true name was lost to history… until now. Swearing vengeance after bandits destroy her family and village, a girl named Aisha takes the name Kan'u and sets forth on a journey that will take her across the ruins of a great nation, living not as a woman "should," but by the strength of her own sword and the steel of her own will. And as she travels, her courage and example become a beacon to other kindred souls: women who dare to shatter the shackles of their own traditions and take up arms, to become a force for change. Now, as a new world begins to emerge from the embers of the old, the face of evil must confront its ultimate nemesis, a girl who has become the soul of a new people. An epic battle for the fate of a nation will be unleashed in the complete epic collection of Koihime†Mus?!

11 EYES COMPLETE COLLECTION
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 325 min.
Street Date: 1/11/2011
Format: DVD
Language: Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $49.98

SYNOPSIS: Raised in an orphanage after witnessing his sister's suicide, Satsuki Kakeru's life has already been dark and cruel enough. However, when he and his friend Yuka are thrown into a alternate dimension called the Red Night, it takes a gruesome turn from bad to horrific. Now, trapped flickering between our world and the Red, Kakeru quickly discovers that he and Yuka are not alone, and that, together with the other so-called "fragments," they must defeat the malevolent entities known as the Black Knights. Facing monsters from beyond imagination, at the center of a deadly hunt, Kakeru's only chance of saving their lives now hinges on finding the power buried within himself and unraveling the mystery of his own origins and family. If he can survive long enough to do it! The horrors of the Red Night are just the beginning of the nightmare as shocking truths are exhumed in 11 Eyes - The Complete Collection!

KAMPFER COMPLETE COLLECTION
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 325 min.
Street Date: 1/18/2011
Format: DVD
Language: Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $49.98

SYNOPSIS: Waking up transformed into a beautiful girl might be the stuff of some guys' fantasies, but when the suddenly effeminatized Natsuru is informed by a stuffed tiger that he's now a Kämpfer, a mystical fighter who has to fight other Kämpfers in female form, his life becomes a living nightmare! Putting aside the obvious "plumbing" issues, Natusru's best childhood friend turns out to swing the other way and SHE has a crush on his new female body. Not complex enough? Natsuru's school has separate sections for boys and girls, so he and she are now double enrolled. The rumor-mill has it that he's dating herself. And there are other Kämpfers attending the school who want to take her out, and he's not sure which ones mean "on a date" and which ones mean "permanently." Oh, and did we mention that some Kämpfers use SWORDS and GUNS?! Hormones, fists and other body parts will fly as the daring, new gender-blender defender must become a contender or die in KÄMPFER! - The Complete Series!

GHOST SWEEPER MIKAMI COLLECTION 2
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 275 min.
Street Date: 1/25/2011
Format: DVD
Language: Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $49.98

SYNOPSIS: When it comes to girls, Tadao Yokoshima has to be the unluckiest guy in Japan. Sure, he works with two incredibly beautiful women, but when it comes to the lovely Okinu… Well, she's actually sort of deceased, which you would think would kind of kill off the odds of scoring. Still, she DOES work as the company's secretary so maybe there's still a ghost of a chance. And as for Reiko MiIkami, the owner of the paranormal detective agency that keeps Tadao and Okinu busy (if not gainfully employed,) while she does have designs on his body, it's to use it as a human shield to take all the supernatural damage their business attracts! And the most depressing part of the whole thing is that, if he keeps working for Reiko long enough, Tadao will probably end up in a much better position to date Okinu than he expects! Will Tadao end up a lucky stiff, or will he strike out and keep on living? He may be dying to find out the answer as the occult comedy thrill ride continues in GHOST SWEEPER MIKAMI - Collection Two!

ACF 804: Free performance by cellist Elizabeth Chung at The Korea Society, NYC

Juilliard at The Korea Society

When:
Thursday, December 9, 2010, 6:30PM Performance
Where: The Korea Society
950 Third Ave at 57th Street, 8th Floor, NYC
(Entrance on 57th street, South-West corner of the intersection)
Admission: Free (A Korea Society holiday thank you!)

The Korea Society continues its 2010-2011 Young Visions, Young Performers series with cellist Elizabeth Chung. A frequent contributor to orchestras nationwide, Ms. Chung will perform Bach (Suite No. 3 in C Major, Gigue, and No. 6 in D Major, Prelude, and Allemande), Piatti (Caprice Opus 25, No. 7), Ligeti (Sonata for Solo Cello) and Saint-Saëns (The Swan from Carnival of the Animals) in The Korea Society’s Samsung Center. Enjoy seasonal sweets and refreshments at this candlelit holiday concert.

About the Performer
Ms. Elizabeth Chung has performed with the Kuopio Symphony Orchestra, Aspen Academy Conducting Orchestra, Keweena Symphony Orchestra and Harper Symphony Orchestra. Elizabeth is a prize-winner of the Third Triennial Johansen International, Lennox String, MTNA String, Keweena Symphony Concerto and Aspen cello concerto competitions. In 2007, Elizabeth was named semi-finalist in the Paulo International Cello competition. Elizabeth's performance of the Shostakovich cello concerto at Orchestra Hall was broadcast by Chicago's WFMT 98.7.

ACF 803: Free screening of "The Fort of Death" at Asia Society this Friday evening

The Fort of Death
Directed by Eiichi Kudo
Japan, 1969, 97 minutes, 35mm color
When: Friday, December 10, 2010, 6:45 pm
Where: Asia Society
725 Park Avenue (at 70th Street), NYC
Admission: FREE!!!
Get tickets

The joint presentation of the film series Japanese Cinema 1960s by Asia Society and Japan Foundation concludes this Friday. The final of the five films screened for free is The Fort of Death, which might most succinctly be described as a "Spaghetti Samurai" flick, since it so clearly transplants the sensibility of Sergio Leone's take on Hollywood westerns into a Japanese environment.

Peasants in a village hire a bounty hunter to rebel against a shogun who exploits them for money in order to remodel an Edo castle. The bounty hunter summons his fellow fighters to join the fight. What ensues is an epic battle involving samurai, ninjas, powerful guns and cannons. Growing up in a family that ran a horse breeding business, director Kudo has proved particularly adept at choreographing action sequences, making this Japanese version of a B-Western especially enthralling. (Toei Co., Ltd.)

"[Kudo is] an extraordinary stylist…To call him a skilled action director is to understate the power of his set-pieces."—Henry Sheehan