With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

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

Monday, January 31, 2011

ACF 870: Naruto will reach special milestone on February 1st, 2011!!

NARUTO (C) 1999 by Masashi Kishimoto/SHUEISHA Inc.

NARUTO MANGA SERIES REACHES MILESTONE

VIZ Media Set To Release Volume 50 Of Hit Series In February

VIZ Media will release the 50th volume of the NARUTO manga (graphic novel) series tomorrow, February 1st. The newest adventure of the bestselling series – Water Prison Death Match – will be published under the company’s Shonen Jump imprint, is rated ‘T’ for Teens, and will carry an MSRP of $9.99 / $12.99 CAN.

Killer Bee vs. Kisame! Plus, the realization of Naruto's worst nightmare seems inevitable as the war he's tried to stop for so long looms on the horizon. And Sakura corners Naruto with a reveal that's going knock him for a serious loop. Then, a truth behind the modern ninja world sheds new light on Naruto's true role in the fate of his universe.

Created by Masashi Kishimoto, NARUTO was first introduced in Weekly Shonen Jump magazine in Japan in 1999 and quickly became that country’s most popular ninja manga targeting tweens and teens and has sold more than 85 million copies to-date. The manga series (rated ‘T’ for Teens) and animated counterpart (NARUTO rated ‘T’ for Teens, and NARUTO SHIPPUDEN rated ‘T+’ for Older Teens) are among VIZ Media’s most successful properties and have captivated millions of fans across North America, Europe and South America.

NARUTO SHIPPUDEN anime episodes are also currently available for free at www.Naruto.VIZ.com and through a variety of other web-based, video streaming outlets that have partnered with VIZ Media, including iTunes, Joost and Hulu.

For more information on NARUTO, visit the official website at www.Naruto.VIZ.com.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

ACF 869: Sabu's Non-Stop at Japan Society

Non-Stop a.k.a. DANGAN Runner (c) 1996 Nikkatsu Corporation

Non-Stop / Dangan ranna
(a.k.a DANGAN Runner or D.A.N.G.A.N. Runner)
Written and directed by Sabu
Japan, 1996, 82 minutes

Sabu's debut feature, from which Japan Society's Run, Salaryman, Run: A Retrospective of Sabu's Film Works derives its name, was shown last Saturday night, with an introduction and Q&A with the director. I unfortunately was not able to attend, but I'm certain it was a great evening. And I did get to see the film on a DVD screener, which is the next best thing to having been there.

Tomorowo Taguchi (Tetsuo, The Iron Man, Tetsuo II: Body Hammer, and many other films, including others by Sabu) plays Yasuda, a total loser. He can't even keep his job as a lowly kitchen assistant and also has lost his girlfriend. So he plans the perfect bank robbery!

Unfortunately, as he's about to pull it off, he realizes he's forgotten to obtain a mask, so he goes to a nearby convenience store to shoplift one of those white gauze ones. Diamond Yukai (a rock singer in real life) plays Aizawa, the store clerk who catches Taguchi in the act and starts chasing him through the streets. Along the way, they literally bump into Takeda (Shinichi Tsutsumi), a low-level yakuza to whom Aizawa owes money for drugs. Takeda takes off after the duo and an incredible three-man race ensues.

Takeda (Shinichi Tsustusmi) joins the race

Non-Stop has been compared in some ways to the German film Run, Lola, Run. I've seen Lola..., which came out two years after Non-Stop, but it's been quite awhile, so aside from the running through the streets, I can't comment on whatever else the two may have in common.

But I can say that Non-Stop is a fascinating, imaginative, and often very funny film. There's one sequence where each of the three runners imagine having sex with a comely young woman they have passed. Shots of each of the guys are brilliantly intercut with scenes of their make-believe sexual trysts with the damsel, complete with spot-on changes in their breathing as each of them reaches their fantasy climax. Great stuff and hysterical.

I'm not sure why Japan Society is screening the six films in the series in the order they have chosen. Personally I would've preferred a chronological approach (or at least enough lead time so I could have watched the screeners in that order), but no matter. The bottom line is that Non-Stop clearly was an auspicious start to Sabu's directorial efforts, and that his subsequent films -- at least the other three that I've so far watched -- prove that he has made good on this promising beginning.

Non-Stop merits an ACF rating of 3.5 out of 4 stars; very highly recommended.

The Sabu retrospective will continue on Wednesday, February 2nd at 7:30 PM with Drive (2002).

Saturday, January 29, 2011

ACF 868: VIZ announces latest anime releases

VIZ MEDIA ANNOUNCES THE LATEST NARUTO SHIPPUDEN,
VAMPIRE KNIGHT AND POKÉMON ANIME RELEASES

VIZ Media has announced the release of a trio of anime DVD releases that expand some of the company’s most potent properties, including NARUTO SHIPPUDEN, VAMPIRE KNIGHT and POKÉMON.

NARUTO SHIPPUDEN BOX SET, Volume 5 • Rated ‘T+’ for Older Teens • MSRP: $49.95 U.S. / $71.99 CAN • Available Now!

Naruto is troubled by nightmares after his second failed attempt to bring Sasuke home. Kakashi, recovering in the hospital, suggests a new training regimen for Naruto that puts him in touch with his wind chakra nature. Naruto seeks advice from another wind type, the Leaf Jonin Asuma. Then, when Tsunade sends Team Kakashi on a mission to the Fire Temple, the truth about a shocking event involving Asuma and the Guardian Shinobi Twelve begins to unfold. This latest NARUTO Box Set features Episodes 54-65.

For more information on NARUTO and NARUTO SHIPPUDEN, visit www.Naruto.VIZ.com.

VAMPIRE KNIGHT THE COMPLETE SERIES • Rated ‘T+’ for Older Teens • MSRP: $49.95 U.S. /$71.99 CAN • Available Now!

Ten years earlier, a Pureblood vampire, Kaname Kuran, saved Yuki Cross from another vampire’s attack. Now, Yuki is a Guardian at Cross Academy, where the Night Class and Day Class students live side by side in relative harmony—despite the fact that the Night Class students are all vampires! Yuki and her partner Zero keep watch over the Day Class and protect the Night Class’s secret. With Kaname’s help, a peaceful coexistence has been maintained so far, but a looming shadow is about to be cast over their world…

For more information on VAMPIRE KNIGHT, visit: www.ShojoBeat.com.

POKEMON ELEMENTS BOX SET, Volume 2 • Rated ‘A’ for All Ages • MSRP: $29.92 U.S. / $42.99 CAN • Available Now!

The POKÉMON: ELEMENTS collection consists of the most important episodes commemorating the wide variety of Pokémon characters. Each disc showcases a specific Pokémon type in three all-time favorite episodes. This latest Box Set bundles POKÉMON ELEMENTS Vols. 6-10.

For more information POKÉMON and other VIZ Kids titles, visit http://www.vizkids.com/.

Friday, January 28, 2011

ACF 867: Reminder - Ip Man 2 opens in U.S. today in twelve cities


Don't forget that the uncut, undubbed, English-subtitled version of Ip Man 2: Legend of the Grandmaster will be opening in the U.S. in twelve cities today. Veteran action actor Donnie Yen reprises his role as the titular character, the Wing Chun master who taught Bruce Lee and others. The film also stars the venerable Sammo Hung.

For info about screening times of Ip Man 2 in the twelve home cities, click here.

Make it to a screening this opening weekend if you can. You'll have a great viewing experience, and you'll be helping to insure that these kind of films get to be seen on big screens in theaters, and not just your on flat-screen TVs at home.

And do check out the film on Facebook.

ACF 866: Sabu's Postman Blues to be screened tonight at Japan Society

(Postman Blues copyright 1997 Nikkatsu Corporation)
Bike, Salaryman, Bike!
Noguchi, Sawaki, and Joe race through the streets

Postman Blues / Posutoman Buruzu
Written and directed by Sabu
Japan, 1997, 110 minutes
When: Friday January 28, 2011 at 7:30 PM
Where: Japan Society, 333 East 47th Street, New York, NY
(between 1st and 2nd Avenues)

The second film in Japan Society's retrospective of six works by Sabu is also the second film chronologically of those being screened. Like Monday, which was shown two nights ago, it stars Shinichi Tsutsumi. Here he plays Sawaki, a postman who rides around town on his red bicycle making his deliveries.

When he delivers a letter to Noguchi (Keisuke Horibe) an old school mate who's now a low-level yakuza, he's invited inside. He leaves not knowing that two additional objects have found their way into his mailbag, and police staking out the yakuza's apartment mistake Sawaki intially as a drug runner. Later, and with the aid of a police profiler, they postulate that he's also a murderer, a schizophrenic, and a terrorist!

Sayoko and Sawaki

Meanwhile Sawaki befriends two terminal ill cancer patients. One is Sayoko (Kyoko Toyama), a lovely young woman he's found out about when he reads a letter that she wrote and that he was to have delivered. She provides the romantic interest.

The other cancer patient is a hit man named Joe (Ren Ohsugi). My take is that this is a nod to venerable Japanese actor Jo Shishido, widely known for his role as hit man Goro Hanada in Seijun Suzuki's Branded to Kill (1967).

Joe wants to win a hit man competition, and there's a terrific reference to an iconic character from a famous Hong Kong art-house film. First we see the character as one of several in a waiting room at the preliminary elimination round. My reaction was, "Wait a minute, is that supposed to be...?" A moment later my suspicion was confirmed as the name of the character in Sabu's film has the name of the actual actress from the Hong Kong film. I won't spoil things here, but will reveal the information at the end of this post for anyone interested.

Joe and Sawaki

So we have a lead character who's a victim of mistaken identity, somewhat like Cary Grant's character in Hitchcock's North by Northwest, yakuza, overzealous cops, and two terminally ill characters, one a friend, the other a love interest.

I found the humor in Postman Blues to be much lighter and brighter overall than that of Monday, where the humor was pretty much on the dark side. There's some zany, madcap racing through the streets as Sawaki tries to help his yakuza friend, who's in trouble with his boss, and to make a promised appointment with Sayoko, all the while being trailed by the cops.

While I'm not about to give away the ending, I will say that it's open to interpretation. It might be construed as sad, bittersweet, happy, or any blend the three. Whatever your take on it, I can just about guarantee that you'll find it deeply touching.

While I liked Monday, and rated it 3 out of 4 stars, I really enjoyed Postman Blues. So I'm giving it 3.5 stars, very highly recommended.

For information about Run, Salaryman, Run! A Retrospective of Sabu's Film Works at Japan Society, click here.

And for those interested, here's the spoiler about the Hong Kong film referenced:

There's a would-be hit woman, who's a friend of Joe's, in the waiting room who's dressed just like Brigitte Lin in Wong Kar-wai's Chungking Express, blond wig and all. When it's her turn to compete, the name that's called out is -- are you ready? -- Brigitte Lin!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

ACF 865: Nikita - She's Back!!!!!

Tonight at 9:00 PM Eastern Standard Time, Nikita returns to the tube with a new episode after a brief holiday hiatus.

Nikita (Maggie Q) helps Alex adjust to her new life. After discovering a sinister development, Nikita confronts Birkhoff to obtain his assistance in resolving the matter.

Don't miss everyone's favorite Asian former hitwoman in action!

ACF 864: Section23 Films announce March 2011 anime releases


SECTION23 FILMS ANNOUNCES MARCH SLATE

GUIN SAGA COLLECTION 1 BLU-RAY EDITION
Available on March 29th

Home video distributor Section23 Films has announced its MARCH slate of releases, including the sweeping anime epic for the ages, GUIN SAGA! The first collection will be released on DVD and Blu-Ray by Section23 client Sentai Filmworks.

Product details follow, in order of release.

Shin Koihime†Musō - Complete Collection
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 325 min.
Street Date: 3/1/2011
Format: DVD
Language: Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $49.98

SYNOPSIS: What do you do once you’ve made your epic journey and accomplished the legendary quest you set out for yourself. Well, you could hang around the village looking important, but when Kan'u and Chouhi's rescue a mysterious girl, they find that a more enjoyable option may be a brand new quest! Especially when it turns out that this new girl is Ryuubi, and the Ryuubi that Kan’u and her sword-sisters faced previously was an imposter who stole this Ryuubi’s name and heirloom sword! Meanwhile, the three Chou sisters have gotten their hands on a magical book of spells that’s just a little more dangerous than they think. Get ready for an inspired new journey in search of magical arts and artifacts as the ancient Chinese epic Romance Of The Three Kingdoms puts on an all new, all-female front in Shin Koihime†Musō – Complete Collection!

Includes 12 episodes PLUS Special OVA!

AKANE IRO NI SOMARU SAKA COMPLETE COLLECTION
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 325 min.
Street Date: 3/8/2011
Format: DVD
Language: Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $49.98

SYNOPSIS: Junichi Nagase was a real delinquent in middle school, one nasty enough that he earned the nickame "Geno Killer," and it's by this less than flattering epithet that Yuuhi Katagiri first comes to know him when he rescues her from two thugs one evening. Needless to say, both are stunned when not only does Yuuhi find herself transferred into the same high school class as "the Killer," but that shock grows into outright stupefaction when Yuuhi shows up at Junichi's house with the mind-blowing announcement that she's supposed to move in with him! It seems that they're engaged, and since this is the first that Junichi and his younger sister Minato have first heard of the arranged marriage set up by their parents, it's an idea that's going to take a little getting used to. Get ready for ties that bind and gag as bad boy and good girl collide cohabitationally while the entire school gets to watch! Truth IS stranger than fiction in Akane iro ni Somaru Saka - The Complete Collection!

CLANNAD THEATRICAL
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 95 min.
Street Date: 3/15/2011
Format: DVD
Language: English & Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $29.98

SYNOPSIS: Plagued by a seemingly endless stream of haunting dreams, Tomoya drifts through life with an almost overwhelming sense of anger and emptiness. Then, one fateful day, he meets the mysterious and beautiful Nagisa, and his world begins to change. While helping Nagisa revive the defunct Drama Club at their high school, Tomoya discovers that she has the same dreams. Their story starts beneath the cherry blossoms, but where will fate lead them? Discover a stunning new vision of one of anime's classic love stories in Clannad Theatrical.

GHOST SWEEPER MIKAMI COLLECTION 3
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 275 min.
Street Date: 3/22/2011
Format: DVD
Language: Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $49.98

SYNOPSIS: The insanity that surrounds the Mikami Detective agency continues as our intrepid… okay, maybe not intrepid… as our financially motivated band of heroes are back on the case, attempting to solve the supernatural puzzles, occult conundrums and ancient mysteries (some from the early 1990s!) that plague a ghost and demon infested modern Japan. But it's not all death and destruction and there are the occasional time-outs for loftier goals or as Yokoshima admirably admits: "I've always wanted to sing 'Johnny B Good' at Nippon Budokan filled with nothing but beautiful naked girls before I die!" Okay, perhaps not such admirable content, but it got 'naked' into the synopsis and you have to appreciate his honesty! And honesty is what you get, along with all the usual action, drama and spooktacularly bad jokes and puns in the absolutely certifiable third collection of GHOST SWEEPER MIKAMI!

GUIN SAGA COLLECTION 1
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 325 min.
Street Date: 3/29/2011
Format: DVD
Language: English & Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $59.98

SYNOPSIS: He awakens in the dark forest of a mythical land with some type of leopard mask that he cannot remove. The only thing he remembers is his name - Guin - and that he is a warrior of unimaginable power. And when the two twins of Parros, innocent victims of a civil war arrive, Guin knows what he must do. But the journey to save the children means much more than just slaughtering a few hundred well-trained Mongoul soldiers. Victory means he must battle magical desert tribes, assemble forces that have fought each other for hundreds of hears, and divine a mysterious plan that he is central to. Prepare for a sweeping anime epic of mystery and magic! Of violent clashes and dark double-crosses. Ready yourself for the battle with GUIN SAGA.

GUIN SAGA COLLECTION 1 BLU-RAY EDITION
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 325 min.
Street Date: 3/29/2011
Format: BD
Language: English & Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $69.98

SYNOPSIS: He awakens in the dark forest of a mythical land with some type of leopard mask that he cannot remove. The only thing he remembers is his name - Guin - and that he is a warrior of unimaginable power. And when the two twins of Parros, innocent victims of a civil war arrive, Guin knows what he must do. But the journey to save the children means much more than just slaughtering a few hundred well-trained Mongoul soldiers. Victory means he must battle magical desert tribes, assemble forces that have fought each other for hundreds of hears, and divine a mysterious plan that he is central to. Prepare for a sweeping anime epic of mystery and magic! Of violent clashes and dark double-crosses. Ready yourself for the battle with GUIN SAGA.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

ACF 863: MONDAY leads off retrospective of films by Sabu tonight at Japan Society

Takagi (Shinichi Tsutsumi) dances it up

Monday
Written and directed by Sabu
Japan, 2000, 100 minutes
When: Wednesday January 26, 2011 at 7:30 PM
Where: Japan Society, 333 East 47th Street, New York, NY
(between 1st and 2nd Avenues)
Introduction and Q&A with director Sabu
Opening screening will be followed by an afterparty

Salaryman Takagi (Sabu regular Shinichi Tsutsumi) wakes up one Monday morning with the mother of all hangovers, fully clothed in a hotel room with no idea of how he got there and no memory of what happened over the previous weekend.

An envelope of purification salt, which is used to ward off evil spirits during a funeral, stimulates his recollections of what went on during the very bizarre preceding 48 hours.

As his memory returns, Takagi recalls -- and the viewing audience witnesses in a series of flashbacks -- the disarming of a potentially dangerous pacemaker, a meal with his girlfriend that went horribly wrong, drunken debauchery with a snarly young yakuza, and sundry other developments of madness and mayhem.

Takagi and Yuko, the yakuza girl (Yasuko Matsuyuki)

Tonight's screening of Monday is the first of six films by Sabu that constitute Japan Society's mini-series Run, Salaryman, Run! A Retropsective of SABU's Film Works, which runs through February 5th. Sabu, a writer and actor (he was Kaneko in Takashi Miike's Ichi the Killer) as well as a director, is an iconoclastic filmmaker with a unique sensibility marked by dark humor and a sense of the absurd. He's made a total of eleven films to date and has also directed for TV (Troubleman, which will be the last film shown in the series on February 5th). Usagi Drop , his most recent film, is in post-production and due out later this year.

I was not familiar with his work before watching the screener of Monday that I received. As I write this I've seen some of the other films that will be shown in this series -- an all too rare exposure of his films in the U.S. -- and have a better take on him than when I'd only seen Monday. His pace is sometimes slower than we're accustomed to in the west, and some scenes go on longer than what we're used to. But it was not at all like I felt like I was watching paint dry; just experiencing a somewhat different cinematic sensibility of timing and pace.

Sabu's works will not appeal to all. If you're looking for a straight-forward narrative style and conventional humor, his works probably won't appeal much to you, if at all.

But if you're after an experience that's hip, eccentric, twisted and very amusing, Monday will reward you quite handsomely. 3 out of 4 stars, solidly recommended.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

ACF 862: Reminder - FREE screening of sports-themed comedy "Take Off" tonight

TAKE OFF / Gukga daepyo
Written and Directed by KIM Yong-hwa
South Korea, 2009, 145 minutes
When: Tuesday, January 25 @ 7PM
Doors open at 6:30PM. No RSVP required
Where: Tribeca Cinemas,54 Varick Street
Near the A, C and #1 Canal Street subway stops

Admission: FREE!!!!!

Just a brief reminder that Korean Cultural Service's Korean Movie Night series continues this evening with this sports-themed comedy that's based on actual events. It's a wonderful movie about South Korea's underdog ski-jump team. A good story line, interesting characters, and some truly terrific cinematography & special effects come together in a film that I rated at 3.5 out of 4 stars.

For my earlier post with a brief description of the film and my own mini-review, click here.

ACF 861: U.S.theatrical opening of Ip Man 2 in 12 cities this weekend


The uncut, undubbed, English-subtitled version of Ip Man 2: Legend of the Grandmaster will be opening in the U.S. in selected cities this coming Friday, January 28th, 2011. Donnie Yen reprises his role as the titular character, the Wing Chun master who taught Bruce Lee and others. The film also stars the venerable Sammo Hung.

The original Ip Man, which was shown at the 2009 New York Asian Film Festival, was a terrific movie. (Click here to read my review of it.) Both it and Ip Man 2 (which I unfortunately was not able to catch) screened at last year's NYAFF. But I can't imagine the sequel not be highly entertaining, especially having watched some of the clips on Facebook and YouTube.

I've been advised that the distributor will be looking at the opening week-end take, hoping it'll be at least $100,000. Meeting this figure may prove important as to whether or not future films of this nature will get theatrical distribution in the United States.

So it's more important than usual to get out and see this film on the opening weekend. I'm doing my part and I hope you will do yours, because seeing Hong Kong martial arts films -- as well as Asian films in general -- in theaters, and not just on DVDs, is important to all us fans.

For info about screening times of Ip Man 2 in the twelve home cities, click here.

Monday, January 24, 2011

ACF 860: Sabu film retrospective at Japan Society, NY, January 26 - February 5, 2011

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
When: January 26-February 5, 2011
Where: Japan Society
333 East 47th Street New York, NY
(between 1st and 2nd Avenues)

** With Live Appearances by Sabu **

Japan Society will be presenting an intriguing mini-series of six films by the talented and iconoclastic film director known as Sabu. So far I've watched screeners of Monday and Non-Stop, and highly recommend both. I hope to get reviews of these and some of the other films posted soon. Meanwhile, here's complete information about the series:

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 a.k.a DANGAN Runner, Run, Salaryman, Run! includes Monday, Postman Blues, Postman Blues, Drive, The Blessing Bell, and the big screen International Premiere of Troubleman. Sabu makes live appearances to introduce Monday, Postman Blues, and Non-Stop, and take part in a Q&A following each of the 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. (You may need to click on "Upcoming Events" in the right-hand sidebar.)

SCREENING SCHEDULE

Monday
- Wednesday, January 26, 7:30 PM
** Introduction and Q&A with director Sabu **
** Opening screening followed by an afterparty **

2000, 100 min., 35 mm, color, in Japanese with English subtitles.
Directed by Sabu
With Shinichi Tsutsumi, Yasuko Matsuyuki, Ren Osugi, Susumu Terajima, Tomorowo Taguchi
Print courtesy of The Japan Foundation.

It is the mother of all Mondays for salaryman Takagi (Shinichi Tsutsumi), who wakes up fully clothed in a unfamiliar hotel room, with a massive hangover and no recollection of the past 48 hours and how he got there. As an envelope of purification salt (used in Japan to ward off evil spirits during a funeral) falls out of his pocket, memories blood back. From a funeral wake that literally ended with a bang, to a deplorable date with his girlfriend, and a drunken descent into a nocturnal world of scowling yakuza and hostess clubs, the increasingly consternated salaryman wonders exactly how wrong things went during his lost and found weekend. Winner: FIPRESCI Prize at the 2000 Berlin Film Festival, "for its austere, dark wit and keen eye for human foibles."

Postman Blues
- Friday, January 28, 7:30 PM
** Introduction and Q&A with director Sabu **

1997, 110 min., 35 mm, color, in Japanese with English subtitles
Directed by Sabu
With Shinichi Tsutsumi, Keisuke Horibe, Ren Osugi, Keiko Toyama
Print courtesy of The Japan Foundation.

In this wacky comedic thrill ride, both a superb parody of the gangster genre and a masterful exercise in style and storytelling, Sawaki (Shinichi Tsutsumi) is an ordinary postman whose unassuming life takes a strange turn when he crosses paths with his old high school buddy Noguchi (Keisuke Horibe), now a low-level yakuza drug mule, just as he finishes cutting off his finger as an apology to his boss. Unbeknownst to both men, Noguchi's freshly chopped-off pinky rolls off the table and into Sawaki's mailbag. The chance encounter and missing pinky land the postman in hot water when the police mistakenly identify him as a schizophrenic-paranoid drug dealer, sadistic murderer and terrorist working for the yakuza. Things get more problematic when the unwitting postman befriends two terminal cancer patients: a lone hitman called Joe (Ren Osugi) and a pretty woman named Sayoko (Keiko Toyama).

Non-Stop a.k.a. Dangan Runner (Dangan Ranna)
- Saturday, January 29, 7:30 PM
** Introduction and Q&A with director Sabu **

1996, 82 min., 35mm, color, in Japanese with English subtitles
Directed by Sabu
With Tomorowo Taguchi, Diamond Yukai, Shinichi Tsutsumi, Akaji Maro, Ren Osugi
Print courtesy of The Japan Foundation.

Sabu's 1996 debut feature, a wild forerunner to the German arthouse smash hit Run Lola Run, by Tom Tykwers, features Tetsuo star Tomorowo Taguchi as a down-on-his-luck would-be bank robber, whose desperate plan to retrieve cash and a semblance of dignity quickly go south. Caught red-handed stealing a gauze face mask to conceal his identity, he is given chase by a strung-out convenience store clerk (played by real life rocker Diamond Yukai), who happens to be a washed-up drug-addled rock singer. In turn, the irate employee is chased by his drug supplier, Takeda, a third-rate yakuza (Shinichi Tsutsumi). As they run for their lives and each other, their stories flash back and forth, continuing a strange chain of events that only gets stranger while the three-man race continues at full speed into the night and through the streets of Tokyo. "Effortlessly clever."--Scott Tobias, The A.V. Onion Club

Drive
- Wednesday, February 2, 7:30 PM

2002, 102 min., 35 mm, color, in Japanese with English subtitles
Directed by Sabu
With Shinichi Tsutsumi, Ren Osugi, Kou Shibasaki, Susumu Terajima, Masanobu Ando.

Salaryman Asakura (Shinichi Tsutsumi) is having a rather ordinary day, parking in the same spot from where he watches every day, at the same time, the fantasy figure of Kou Shibasaki as she walks around the corner, when an unwanted trio of bank robbers barges into his car, interrupting his reverie. Doubled-crossed and left stranded by one of their own, they hijack the unfortunate salaryman and order him to drive after the stolen loot. As it turns out, they didn't quite pick up the ideal joyrider for the lam: the stressed white collar Asakura, first seen being diagnosed for hypertension, refuses to go over the speed limit. The gang quickly grows frustrated and decides to stop at a café to formulate a plan. More bad luck ensues, involving an edifying run-in with a punk rock band, more twists and turns, and angry ghosts.

The Blessing Bell (Kofuku no Kane)
- Friday, February 4, 7:30 PM

2002, 87 min., 35 mm, color, in Japanese with English subtitles
Directed by Sabu
With Susumu Terajima, Naomi Nishida, Seijun Suzuki, Reila Aphrodite.

A lyrical and meditative tale that is often reminiscent of both Mike Leigh's Naked (1993) and Takeshi Kitano's early yakuza films, The Blessing Bell follows the wanderings of its blue-collar protagonist, Igarashi (Susumu Terajima) through the 24 hours that follow the closing of the factory he works for. After a fruitless job hunt, the newly unemployed man walks into other lost souls: a yakuza boss who has literally been stabbed in the back, a man who murdered his wife's lover (but not his wife), a hopeless single mother, the ghost of an elderly man in a hospital (played by director Seijun Suzuki) and a suicidal salaryman. Coincidentally, he also runs into a burning building, gets hit by a car and wins the lottery. Winner: Netpac Award, 2003 Berlin International Film Festival; and Grand Jury Prize, 2003 Cinemanila International Film Festival.

Troubleman (Toraburuman)
- Saturday, February 5, 5 PM
** International Premiere **

2010, 180 min., HD Cam, color, in Japanese
Directed by Sabu
With Shigeaki Kato, Terunosuke Takezai, Mayuko Iwasa, Riju Go, Susumu Terajima

Sabu's latest work, written for TV and presented for the first time outside Japan, stars Shigeaki Kato as Kazuo Tokuda, an insurance agent whose life is turned topsy-turvy when he gets thrust into a web of mystery and intrigue involving murderers, would-be rapists and a gang of angry yakuza! As things turn out, trouble is nothing new for this man, who might just be the very embodiment of bad luck.

Sabu (Photo courtesy of Sabu)

Hiroyuki Tanaka, better known as Sabu, is an award-winning Japanese director/screenwriter/actor born in Wakayama, Japan in 1964. After appearing in several gangster-type roles, he wrote and directed his first movie, Non-Stop (a.k.a Dangan Runner), in 1996. Having completed 9 features, his films often star the actors Shinichi Tsutsumi, Susumu Terajima, and Ren Osugi. Two of his films, Hold Up Down and Hard Luck Hero, starred members of the boy band V6. Awards from the festival circuit include the Bangkok Film Festival for Postman Blues, the Fant-Asia Film Festival for Drive, and the Berlin International Film Festival for Monday and Blessing Bell.

Reviewers often compare Sabu to Takeshi Kitano, lumping him with other “Kitano-generation” directors like Hiroshi Shimizu and Kiyoshi Kurosawa. Though many of Sabu and Kitano’s films share themes and actors, Sabu is a versatile and creative director in his own right. He started to branch out from his customary comedy-crime niche with the introspective Zen film The Blessing Bell, and again with the thematically and intellectually dark Dead Run. He continued to work as an actor for some years after his directorial debut, being cast in Takeshi Miike’s famous Ichi the Killer, among other films.

Recently, Sabu returned from his 5-year hiatus with The Crab Cannery Ship in 2009, a politically-charged remake of the 1929 proletariat novel. In a recent interview about the film with Screen International correspondent Jason Gray, Sabu said he doesn’t read manga and isn’t influenced much by novels, but he cited music as a major source of inspiration. “Yeah, music's really important to me” Sabu told Gray. “When I write a script, it's always while listening to music. And when I use it in a film I like music playing on a car radio, or the sound of a train, or the noise of a city rather than background music.”

Crab Cannery opened to widely positive reviews. Following Crab Cannery, Sabu wrote and directed the television series Troubleman in April 2010. Currently, he is working on the post-production of a comedy titled Usagi Drop with superstar Kenichi Matsuyama.

ACF 859: Sentai Filmworks announces acquisition of INFINITE STRATOS license


Sentai Filmworks has announced its acquisition of INFINITE STRATOS, the latest hit anime series from 8-Bit (Durarara!!, Macross Frontier).

Based on the series of hit novels by
Izuru Yumizuru that have already spawned a hit manga and internet radio series, INFINITE STRATOS takes the battle of the sexes to a new level, flipping conventional gender relationships through a maverick series of high speed inverted power rolls over the course of 12 extraordinary episodes!

10 years ago, the development of the revolutionary Infinite Stratos powered exoskeleton changed the world’s balance of power overnight… but unfortunately, while the distribution of IS systems to every nation on Earth HAS ushered in a new era of peace, the fact that only women have thus far been able to pilot the Stratos systems has sent the relationship between the XX and XY-chromosomed halves of the human race into a spiraling tailspin!

So when 15 year old Ichika Orimura is suddenly discovered to be the first male with the ability to control an IS, whatever plans he might have had for his own future are tossed out the window even as he’s thrown to the wolves and enrolled at the otherwise entirely female Infinite Stratos Academy by order of the Japanese government! It’s one Boy Vs. all the Girls, and the question isn’t who’ll come out on top… it’s who will survive the educational experience in INFINITE STRATOS!

ACF 858: More VIZ Manga Apps for iPad

VIZ MEDIA LAUNCHES CAPTIVE HEARTS, CLAYMORE,
D.GRAY-MAN AND TORIKO MANGA DOWNLOADS
FOR THE VIZ MANGA APP FOR iPad

Four Acclaimed New Series Join The Latest
Updates Of More Than Ten Other Titles

VIZ Media continues to rapidly expand its digital library of manga (graphic novel) titles available for the VIZ MANGA APP on the Apple® iPad™ mobile device. Just launched is the dark, armored action of CLAYMORE and the supernatural adventure D.GRAY-MAN, and set to launch on Tuesday, January 25th is the shojo fantasy of CAPTIVE HEARTS and the zany culinary adventure of TORIKO. The latest updates also features new additions to more than ten other popular VIZ Media manga series already available to iPad users.

The VIZ MANGA APP is available for free through the iTunes Store and all manga volumes are available for purchase and download in the U.S. and Canada within the application for $4.99 (U.S. / CAN) per volume.

CAPTIVE HEARTS, Vol. 1 • Rated ‘T’ for Teens • Available January 25th
Carefree Megumi Kuroishi was living a life of luxury until the day a girl named Suzuka Kogami walked into his life. All of a sudden, Megumi finds himself kneeling at Suzuka's feet and prostrating himself like a servant! What Megumi doesn't know (until that very moment anyway) is that his family is cursed to follow the orders of the Kogami family.

CLAYMORE, Vol. 1 • Rated ‘T+’ for Older Teens • Available Now!
In a world where monsters called Yoma prey on humans and live among them in disguise, humanity's only hope is a new breed of warrior known as Claymores. Half human, half monster, these silver-eyed slayers possess supernatural strength but are condemned to fight their savage impulses or lose their humanity completely.

D.GRAY-MAN, Vol. 1 • Rated ‘T+’ for Older Teens • Available Now!
Set in a fictional 19th century England, D.Gray-man is the story of Allen Walker, a 15-year-old boy who roams the earth in search of Innocence. Washed away to unknown parts of the world after The Great Flood, Innocence is the mysterious substance used to create weapons that obliterate demons known as akuma.

TORIKO, Vol. 1 • Rated ‘T’ for Teens • Available January 25th
In a savage world ruled by the pursuit of the most delicious foods, it's either eat or be eaten! While searching for the tastiest foods imaginable, Gourmet Hunter Toriko travels the world with his bottomless stomach, facing every beast in his way.

Additional new manga volumes available by the end of the month include:

BAKUMAN。 Vol. 2
BLEACH Vol. 6
D. GRAY MAN, Vol. 2
DEATH NOTE Vol. 5
DRAGON BALL Vol. 9
NARUTO Vol. 10
ONE PIECE Vol. 10
OTOMEN Vol. 2
OURON HIGH SCHOOL HOST CLUB Vol. 2
RUROUNI KENSHIN Vol. 5
VAMPIRE KNIGHT Vol. 2


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.

More information on the VIZ MANGA APP can be found at www.VIZ.com/apps/.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

ACF 857: Shojo manga Mistress Fortune will arrive February 1st, 2011 from VIZ Media

ZETTAI KAKUSEI TENSHI - MISTRESS☆FORTUNE © 2008 by Arina Tanemura/SHUEISHA Inc.

A TEENAGE PSYCHIC MIXES ON-THE-JOB ROMANCE WITH INVADING ALIENS IN ARINA TANEMURA’S MISTRESS FORTUNE MANGA

New Shojo Beat Title Is The Latest From The Creator Of FULL MOON
And THE GENTLEMEN’S ALLIANCE†

Shojo manga fans will be delighted with this announcement from VIZ Media of the release of Arina Tanemura’s MISTRESS FORTUNE on February 1st. The new single-volume story will be published under the company’s Shojo Beat imprint, is rated ‘T’ for Teens, and will carry an MSRP of $9.99 U.S. / $12.99 CAN.

Fourteen-year-old Kisaki Tachibana has psychic powers. She works for PSI, a secret government agency that fights aliens. She's in love with her partner Giniro, but PSI won't allow operatives to get involved. Just when Kisaki thinks she may be getting closer to Giniro, she finds out she's going to be transferred to California!

“We’re exited to release MISTRESS FORTUNE for current and new fans alike,” says Nancy Thistlethwaite, Editor. “Arina Tanemura pulled from her experience of visiting San Francisco, the home of VIZ Media, as well as San Diego Comic-Con for this manga. Her huge following of readers here will have fun with this story that takes place in both Japan and the United States.”

Arina Tanemura began her manga career in 1996 when her short stories debuted in RIBON magazine. She gained fame with the 1997 publication of I•O•N, and ever since her debut, Tanemura has remained a major force in shojo manga with popular series TIME STRANGER KYOKO, FULL MOON, and THE GENTLEMEN’S ALLIANCE † (all published by VIZ Media). FULL MOON and another Tanemura manga, KAMIKAZE KAITO JEANNE, have also been adapted into animated TV series.

More information on MISTRESS FORTUNE can be found at www.ShojoBeat.com.

ACF 856: Reminder - special Screening of LEE Chang-dong's POETRY today in Queens

Yun Jung-hee stars as Mija

Poetry / Shi
Written and directed by LEE Chang-dong
South Korea, 2010, 139 minutes

There will be a special screening of Poetry today, Sunday, January 23rd, 2011 at The Museum of the Moving Image, 35th Ave. at 37th St., Astoria, NY (take the N or Q Train to 36th Avenue). The film is the most recent work of celebrated South Korean director LEE Chang-dong.

This preview screening, a joint presentation of The Korea Society and The Museum of the Moving Image, is courtesy of Kino International. Kino is distributing Poetry, which will open in New York on February 11th, 2011.

Here's a brief description of the film that appears on The Korea Society website announcement of the special screening:

A mysterious death, a woman with Alzheimer’s (actress YUN Jung-hee, who returns to the big screen after a self-imposed 16-year absence), and a poetry class are at the core of this highly acclaimed new film by Lee Chang-dong (whose other films include Oasis and Secret Sunshine). Featuring an indelible central performance by YUN, this multilayered drama also won best screenplay at Cannes.

For information about this special preview screening of Poetry, click here.

For my post about Poetry (which I rated at 4 out of 4 stars) when it screened at the 48th New York Film Festival this past September, click here.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

ACF 855: KÄMPFER COMPLETE COLLECTION available now on DVD


Section23 Films has announced that KÄMPFER The Complete DVD Collection is now on sale from Section23 client Sentai Filmworks. KÄMPFER COMPLETE COLLECTION contains all 12 episodes of the series on 2 discs.

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!

KÄMPFER COMPLETE COLLECTION
Running Time: 300 min.
Age Rating: TV 14 (V, D)
Language: Japanese with English Subtitles
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Format: DVD
SRP: $49.98

ACF 854: Event Reminder - Korean New Year Family Day


Just a quick reminder of today's celebration at The Korea Society:

The Korea Society
, NY, will be hosting a celebration of Korean New Year’s Day (Sŏllal). Children, parents, and grandparents are welcome to sample traditional rice cakes (ttŏk), practice the New Year's bow (sebae), and watch a short film screening on the traditional ancestral ceremony, ch'arye.

The day will be filled with games and activities, such as yut nori, a Korean board game traditionally played on New Year’s Day; chegi ch'agi, a Korean version of the popular hacky-sack; and craft activities such as kite-making ( yŏn mandŭlgi).

Family Day: Korean New Year
Saturday, January 22, 2011 2:00-5:00 PM

Tickets:
Family: $30 family of 3-5 ($5 each additional family member)
Individual: $10 members; $15 nonmembers; $5 children

Register in advance by clicking here, or call 212.759.7525, ext. 309

The Korea Society is located at:
950 Third Ave @ 57th Street, 8th Floor
(The entrance is on 57th, the South-West corner of the intersection)
New York, NY 10022

ACF 853: Cyberpunk novel MARDOCK SCRAMBLE now available from VIZ

VIZ MEDIA’S FICTION IMPRINT HAIKASORU
DEBUTS CYBERPUNK THRILLER MARDOCK SCRAMBLE

A Murdered Girl Gets a Second Chance at Life
and Revenge in Futuristic Mardock City!

VIZ Media has announced the North American debut of the Japanese sci-fi novel, MARDOCK SCRAMBLE. The novel, written by Tow Ubukata, is available now and is being released under the company’s Haikasoru imprint and will carry an MSRP of $17.99 U.S. / $21.00 CAN.

Haikasoru is VIZ Media’s unique literary imprint with a dedicated focus on publishing some of the most compelling contemporary Japanese science fiction and fantasy for English-speaking audiences.

Why me? It was to be the last thought a young prostitute, Rune-Balot, would ever have...as a human anyway. Taken in by a devious gambler named Shell, she became a slave to his cruel desires and would have been killed by his hand if not for the self-aware All-Purpose Tool (and little yellow mouse) known as Oeufcoque. Now a cyborg, Balot is not only nigh-invulnerable, but has the ability to disrupt electrical systems of all sorts. But even these powers may not be enough for Balot to deal with Shell, who offloads his memories to remain above the law, the immense assassin Dimsdale-Boiled, or the neon-noir streets of Mardock City itself.

“Author Tow Ubukata won the prestigious Japan SF Award for MARDOCK SCRAMBLE in 2003, and the book also inspired an acclaimed feature-length animated film by director Susumu Kudo,” says Nick Mamatas, Haikasoru's editor. “We’re very excited to kick off 2011 with this cyberpunk epic that has has sold over half a million copies to-date in Japan.”

Born in Gifu prefecture in 1977, Tow Ubukata was exposed to a blend of cultures from early childhood until the age of fourteen, having lived in Singapore and Nepal because of his father's work. In 1996, while still in college, Ubukata won the first Sneaker Taisho Gold Prize for his light novel Black Season. In 2003, he won the Nihon SF Taisho Award for MARDOCK SCRAMBLE, originally published as a three-volume series.

He has also been involved in a wide range of projects including anime production for Fafner, video game production, and original content writing for comics such as Le Chevalier D'Eon. His other published works include the Bye-Bye Earth and Spiegel novel series. In 2009, he published his first historical novel, Tenchi Meisatsu, which focused on a mathematician of the Edo period.

For more information on Haikasoru, visit the dedicated website at www.Haikasoru.com.

Friday, January 21, 2011

ACF 852: Posters from HELL!!!!!

Hell (Jigoku) © 1960 Shintoho Co., Ltd.

Hell / Jigoku
(a.k.a. The Sinners of Hell)
Directed by Nobuo Nakagawa
Japan, 1960, 101 minutes
When: Friday, January 21, 2011 at 7:30 PM
Where: Japan Society, NY
333 East 47th Street New York, NY 10017
Between 1st and 2nd Avenues

May I present three posters from Hell, the movie that is, which will be shown tonight at Japan Society. The screening is part of the current monthly film series Zen & Its Opposite: Essential (& Turbulent) Japanese Art House.

Think of the right panel of Hieronymus Bosch's famous triptych The Garden of Earthly Delights, the section that depicts hell. Now imagine a tripped out Japanese Buddhist version of that panel brought to life by a master of cinematic horror. That's pretty much what you get with Nakagawa's film, which is truly a visual wonder.

Buy Tickets Online or call the Japan Society Box Office at (212) 715-1258, Mon. - Fri. 11 am - 6 pm.

Oh, and for those of you that can't make the screening tonight, Hell is also available under its Japanese name Jigoku from The Criterion Collection. In fact, these posters come from screenshots of the Criterion DVD.

Japan Society’s 2010-2011 Film Programs are generously supported
by the Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Endowment Fund.


Additional support is provided by The Globus Family, Yoshiko and Tim Schilt,
David S. Howe, Dr. Tatsuji Namba, Elaine Sheng and Samuel Jamier,
and with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts,
celebrating 50 years of building strong, creative communities in New York State’s 62 counties.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

ACF 851: Korean sports comedy TAKE OFF screening for free in NY next Tuesday

TAKE OFF / Gukga daepyo
Written and Directed by KIM Yong-hwa
South Korea, 2009, 145 minutes
When: Tuesday, January 25 @ 7PM
Doors open at 6:30PM. No RSVP required
Where: Tribeca Cinemas,54 Varick Street
Near the A, C and #1 Canal Street subway stops

Admission: FREE!!!!!

Korean Cultural Service
's Korean Movie Night series continues with this sports-themed comedy that's based on actual events.

It's 1997 in Muju, Korea. In an effort to bring the 2010 Winter Olympics to Korea, the country has to demonstrate that Koreans enjoy the sports of the Winter Olympics. One problem: no one knows squat about ski jumping. No problem, they assemble a team, train them on waterslides and send them into competition.

It’s a true story, and a lot like COOL RUNNING (the tale of the Jamaican bobsled team) but it’s given a distinctly Korean flavor in this popular, mainstream blockbuster that’s the flat-out funniest in this series and that stars four major Korean stars: Choi Jae-Hwan, Ha Jeong-Woo (the killer from THE CHASER), rapper Kim Ji-Seok, and Kim Dong-Wook from the popular Korean soap opera ‘Coffee Prince’.

ACF mini-review:
Yesterday I watched a DVD screener of this release and absolutely loved it! The movie has great heart and the irresistable appeal of rooting for a motley crew of underdogs whose personal reasons for joining the team vary widely.

The team leader and most experienced skier has returned to Korea from the U.S. (where he and his sister had been adopted) to seek his birth-mother. Others join to avoid military service, and one continues to stick it out because he has the hots for the coach's lovely daughter, who just happens to be a bit of a grifter.

The cinematography (which includes some incredible computer graphics) and the pacing & editing at the competition near the end of the film, is nothing less than brilliant. The suspense was palpable, and I was simply awestruck.

Take Off is a real find, a delectable gem. ACF Rating: 3.5 out of 4 stars, very highly recommended. And it's showing for free!!!

ACF 850: Reminder - World Premiere of GANTZ Tonight


GANTZ, a kinetic sci-fi live-action Japanese feature, is making its world premiere in 325 movie theaters in an exclusive one-night Fathom event tonight, Thursday, Jan. 20th, 2011.

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 Mann's Chinese 6 theater in Hollywood. This live interview will be played on air after each of the 325 theater screenings.

To purchase tickets, click here.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

ACF 849: HELL comes to Japan Society, NY, this Friday evening at 7:30 PM

Hell (Jigoku) © 1960 Shintoho Co., Ltd.

Hell / Jigoku
(a.k.a. The Sinners of Hell)
Directed by Nobuo Nakagawa
Japan, 1960, 101 minutes
When: Friday, January 21, 2011 at 7:30 PM
Where: Japan Society, NY
333 East 47th Street New York, NY 10017
Between 1st and 2nd Avenues

This seminal work in world fantasy cinema still has the power to both shock and strike awe into the hearts of its viewers, and deserves to be brought to as wide an audience as possible.“ – Jasper Sharp, Midnight Eye

From the father of Japanese horror cinema, Hell explores the further regions of the human imagination and the untold oceans of darkness beyond, in a stunning and epic evocation of the underworld that spares no effort assaulting the senses of the innocent viewer.

Shigeru Amachi in Hell (Jigoku) © 1960 Shintoho Co., Ltd.

A jaw-dropping mix of surreal, expressionist horror and psychological drama, Nakagawa’s film still stands as one of the most innovative works of the genre ever.

Buy Tickets Online or call the Japan Society Box Office at (212) 715-1258, Mon. - Fri. 11 am - 6 pm.

ACF 848: MAR to debut on VizAnime.com & Hulu on Monday, January 17, 2011

VIZ MEDIA DEBUTS MÄR ON VIZANIME.COM AND HULU

An Ordinary Boy Becomes A Hero In The Land Of His Dreams

VIZ Media has announced the launch of MÄR (rated ‘T’ for Teens) available on VIZAnime.com, the company’s premier website for anime, as well as the streaming content provider HULU (www.Hulu.com), starting on Monday January 17th.

VIZAnime.com and HULU will stream for FREE episodes 1-5 of MÄR (subtitled). Two additional FREE new episodes will launch each Monday.

MÄR is based on the hit manga series by Nobuyuki Anzai (creator also of FLAME OF RECCA), published in North America by VIZ Media. An ordinary middle-school boy with an overactive imagination, Ginta Toramizu dreams about fairy tales and make-believe lands. One day at school, a gate appears and he enters the World of MÄR, the world of his dreams.

Within the World of MÄR exist ÄRM: accessories with unique powers. Soon, Ginta stumbles upon Babbo, an ÄRM that can speak, and learns that he has been summoned to this mythical world to stop the Chess Pieces, a group of rogue soldiers, from destroying the World of MÄR. Now part of Team MÄR, Ginta and Babbo fight in War Games against the Chess Pieces to save the MÄR World. But will Ginta’s mission be compromised by his ally’s secrets?

To learn more about MÄR anime and manga series, visit VIZAnime.com or ShonenSunday.com (free Chapter 1 manga preview available).

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

ACF 847: LEE Chang-dong's POETRY will soon receive theatrical premiere in the U.S.

Yun Jung-hee stars as Mija in LEE Chang-gong's Poetry

Great news!!!!!

Kino Lober, Inc. recently announced that it will be releasing Poetry on February 11, 2011. It opens in New York at the Lincoln Plaza and Quad Cinemas.

In advance of the theatrical release, The Korea Society will be presenting a special pre-release screening on Sunday, January 23rd at 4:00 PM. This will take place at The Museum of the Moving Image, 35th Ave. at 37th St., Astoria, NY (N or Q Train to 36th Ave.). For info about this event, which will be one of the first events to occur after The Museum of the Moving Image reopens following a multi-year closing for renovation and expansion, click here.

In the coming weeks, I'll have more to say about this powerful and touching movie from one of the finest directors in world cinema. In the meanwhile you can review the post I wrote about Poetry when it showed at last fall's New York Film Festival by clicking here, and view the film's trailer on YouTube by clicking here.

Monday, January 17, 2011

ACF 846: 10 VIZ manga titles on Yalsa's 2011 Great Graphic Novels for Teens list

DOSEI MANSION © 2006 Hisae IWAOKA/Shogakukan

YALSA NAMES TEN VIZ MEDIA MANGA TITLES TO ITS
2011 GREAT GRAPHIC NOVELS FOR TEENS LIST

VIZ Media has announced that ten of its manga (graphic novel) titles have been selected by the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) as among 2011’s Great Graphic Novels for Teens. The annual list highlights titles that exemplify the quality and range of graphic novels appropriate for teen audiences. The books, recommended by the association for those aged 12-18, meet the criteria of both good quality literature and appealing reading for teens.

Among these, SATURN APARTMENTS, which is published by VIZ Media’s Signature imprint, was ranked among YALSA’s 2011 Top Ten Great Graphic Novels for Teens. For more than 50 years, YALSA has been the U.S. leader in selecting books, videos and audio books for teens.

VIZ Media titles featured on the 2011 YALSA Graphic Novel list include:

AFTERSCHOOL CHARISMA Vol. 1
• by Kumiko Sukane • Rated ‘T+’ for Older Teens

At St. Kleio Academy, all of the students are clones of famous historical figures. Are the clones doomed to repeat the fate of their genetic progenitors, or can they create their own destinies?

BIOMEGA Vol. 1 • by Tsutomu Nihei • Rated ‘M’ for Mature

In a nightmare vision of the future, the N5S virus has swept across the earth, turning most of the population into zombie-like drones! Zoichi Kanoe is humanity’s last hope, and he’s not even human!

BOKURANO: OURS Vol. 1 • by Mohiro Kitoh • Rated ‘M’ for Mature

Saving the world is hard. Saving yourself is even harder.

CROSS GAME Vol. 1 • by Mitsuru Adachi • Rated ‘T’ for Teens

A poignant coming-of-age centered around a boy named Ko, the family of four sisters who live down the street, and the game of baseball!

HOUSE OF FIVE LEAVES Vol. 1 • by Natsume Ono • Rated ‘T+’ for Older Teens

An out-of-work samurai finds himself drawn into a mysterious gang known as the Five Leaves.

LIBRARY WARS: LOVE & WAR Vol. 1 • Original concept by Hiro Arikawa; manga story and art by Kiiro Yumi • Rated ‘T+’ for Older Teens

In the near future, the federal government creates a committee to rid society of books it deems unsuitable. The libraries vow to protect their collections, and form a military group to defend themselves – the Library Forces!

MAOH: JUVENILE REMIX Vol. 1 • Original story by Kotara Isaka; manga story and art by Megumi Osuga • Rated ‘T+’ for Older Teens

What do you do when the city's savior is actually a devil in disguise...?

NATSUME’S BOOK OF FRIENDS Vol. 1 • by Yuki Midorikawa • Rated ‘T’ for Teens

Natsume can see the spirits and demons that hide from the rest of humanity. Moving to the small town where his grandmother grew up, he discovers that he has inherited more than just the Sight from the mysterious Rieko.

not simple • by Natsume Ono • Rated ‘T+’ for Older Teens

A young man with a fractured family history travels from Australia to England to America in the hope of realizing his dreams and reuniting with his beloved sister.

SATURN APARTMENTS Vol. 1 • by Hisae Iwaoka • Rated ‘T’ for Teens • A Top 10 Selection

A touching, character-rich vision of an intriguing new world. Mitsu takes on his late father's dangerous job as a window washer on the Ring circling the earth where all humans have been relocated…

The complete list of YALSA 2011 selections is available at: www.ala.org/yalsa/booklists/.

“YALSA is the leader in recommending high-quality literature, including books and media, and we are very gratified to have so many of our titles featured on the organization’s latest list of Great Graphic Novels for Teens,” says Brian Piech, Senior Director, Marketing, VIZ Media. “Millions of teens read manga from their local school and public libraries each week, and we hope these selections give librarians and their patrons a trusted resource for some of the best and latest from the exciting world of manga.”

More information on these and other VIZ Media manga titles is available at www.viz.com.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

ACF 845: Event Reminder: Japan Society (NY) celebrates Japanese New Year's today

Japan's New Year's Day Celebration: Oshogatsu

Japan Society (NY) will celebrate the Japanese New Year's holiday today, Sunday, January 16th, 2011. There will be lion dancing (shishi-mai) accompanied by live taiko drumming (Gagaku court music in Session II only). Many traditional New Year's activities for children, including special New Year's calligraphy (kakizome), kite-making/flying (takoage), A funny face game (fukuwarai) and traditional rice pounding (mochi-tsuki), will also be featured.

Recommended for all ages.

There will be two separate celebration sessions:
Sunday, January 16, 2 PM — 3 PM - Session I
Sunday, January 16, 3 PM — 4 PM - Session II

TICKETS
$12 / $5 Japan Society members
Children ages 2 or under free
(Gagaku court music in Session II only)

Buy Tickets Online or call the Japan Society Box Office at (212) 715-1258, Mon. - Fri. 11 am - 6 pm, Weekends 11 am - 5 pm.

This event is a part of CelebrASIA NYC New Year’s Festivities for Families. Members of collaborating institutions (Asia Society, China Institute in America, The Korea Society and Rubin Museum of Art) can purchase member discounted tickets for this event by providing a promotional code. To purchase tickets using the promotional code, contact the Japan Society Box Office at 212-715-1258 during the box office hours.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

ACF 844: Pokemon: Arceus and the Jewel of Life coming February 1st from VIZ Media

© 2010 Pokémon.
© 1997-2011 Nintendo, Creatures, GAME FREAK, TV Tokyo, ShoPro, JR Kikaku.
© Pikachu Project 2009.
Pokémon properties are trademarks of Nintendo.
ARUSEUS CHOUKOKU NO JIKUU E © 2009 Makoto MIZOBUCHI/Shogakukan

THE STRUGGLE FOR TIME AND SPACE CONTINUES IN
POKÉMON: ARCEUS AND THE JEWEL OF LIFE
ON DVD AND IN ADAPTED MANGA FROM VIZ MEDIA

The Latest POKÉMON Feature Film Delivers Another
Action-Packed Adventure With Ash And His Friends!

VIZ Media has announced that POKÉMON: ARCEUS AND THE JEWEL OF LIFE will be released on DVD and in a manga adaption on February 1st (both under the VIZ Kids imprint). The feature film DVD is rated ‘A’ for All Ages with a MSRP of $19.97 U.S. / $28.99 CAN; the manga adaptation is rated ‘A’ for All Ages, with a MSRP of $7.99 U.S. / $9.99 CAN.

Long ago, Arceus created the Jewel of Life from fragments of its awesome power. Humans used the Jewel of Life to turn Michina Town from a barren wasteland to a lush and thriving city. But when it was time for the Jewel of Life to be returned, Arceus was betrayed, and vowed to one day get revenge.

Now Arceus has returned– enraged, vengeful, and seemingly unstoppable! Not even the combined might of Dialga, Palkia, and Giratina can stop Arceus from devastating the land.

But there’s hope. Ash, Pikachu and their new friend Sheena may have discovered the only way to make things right. Their journey will be both dangerous and uncertain: will there be time to return the Jewel of Life before Arceus enacts vengeance on the world?

“POKÉMON is a timeless favorite that continues to capture the imagination of fans of all ages,” says Brian Ige, Senior Director, Animation. “This latest adventure concludes the struggle between Dialga, Palkia and Giratina for the balance between time, space, and beyond. With a dynamic blend of action, emotional themes, new characters and familiar faces, POKÉMON: ARCEUS AND THE JEWEL OF LIFE movie and manga are sure to become hits!”

For more information on POKÉMON: ARCEUS AND THE JEWEL OF LIFE, visit www.PokemonArceus.com. For more information on VIZ Media’s POKÉMON manga and anime titles, visit www.VIZ.com/Pokemon/.