With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

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

Thursday, March 31, 2011

ACF 960: Art Auction in San Francisco to benefit Japan Earthquake/Tsunami relief


NEW PEOPLE PARTNERS WITH MAVERIX STUDIOS
TO PRESENT -- ONE – AN ART AUCTION BENEFIT
FOR JAPAN EARTHQUAKE/TSUNAMI RELIEF

Japanese Pop Culture Venue Teams With Bay Area Animation Studio
To Present A Unique Event To Auction Artwork Created
By Leading Animation And Film Industry Artists

NEW PEOPLE, the nation’s only entertainment complex dedicated to Japanese popular culture, joins forces with San Francisco-based animation company Maverix Studios to present ONE, a silent auction art benefit to be held on Saturday April 2nd to raise funds and awareness for Japanese earthquake and tsunami relief. NEW PEOPLE’s SUPERFROG Gallery hosts the special event and will open its doors at 12:00 noon for a public viewing of the auction items. A reception party and bidding begins at 7:00pm.

NEW PEOPLE and Maverix Studios will donate 100% of the proceeds to the Artists Help Japan Earthquake & Tsunami Fund and Mercy Corps. NEW PEOPLE is located in the heart of San Francisco’s Japantown at 1746 Post St. More information on the auction event is available at: www.newpeopleworld.com.

ONE by Patrick Awa – To Be Auctioned For ONE Event At NEW PEOPLE

ONE features an inspired collection of original artworks created by more than 35 celebrated artists from the animation and film industries, including works by artists from Pixar, LucasFilms, Dreamworks, Nickelodeon and many more. Participating artists include Dice Tsusumi, Robert Valley, Ronnie Del Carmen, Enrico Casarosa, Scott Morse, Bill Presing, Steve Purcell, Lou Romano, Cam De Leon, Tooru Terada, Daniel Simon, John Wayshak, Dan Mchale, Patrick Awa, Joey Chou, Ed Bell, Todd Ueminami, Marcos Mateu, Mari Inukai ,Yoriko Ito, Jackie Huang, Soosa Kim, Jamie Baker, Alina Chou, Oren Haskins, Sei Nakashima, Julia Lundman, Le Tang, Mark Sperber, Ted Mathot ,Tom Rubalcava, Derek Thompson, Sho Murase, Sergio Paez, Vaughn Ross, and Nate Stanton. Additional works from also critically acclaimed fine artists such as Miya Ando and Kent Williams will also be offered.

Artists Help Japan is a charity movement initiated by Dice Tsutsumi, art director at Pixar Animation Studios who was also behind 2008 Totoro Forest Project to help preserve Sayama Forest in Japan and currently in work in progress, Sketchtravel Project, to gather the force of communities of artists and creative minds around the world. They believe artists have special roles to contribute to the society.

Ten art communities from Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Paris, Toronto and Pittsburgh have signed up to do fund raising events to contribute to this movement and have collected over $60,000 through cash donations.

Artists Help Japan Earthquake & Tsunami Fund is responding to the immediate needs of survivors as well as short-term to long-term recovery projects undertaken by the affected communities. Artists Help Japan is partnering with Give2Asia and Mercy Corps for the U.S. fund raising drive. Both NPOs have long-lasting partnerships with local Japanese NPOs that are well regarded in Japan. It is said that the humanitarian mission in this case in Japan requires good coordination with local organizations and they believe their choices are some of the best choices to send your funds to help most effectively.

Mercy Corps is a highly regarded non-profit with a high efficiency rating on Charity Navigator and maintains a strong partnership with Peace Winds Japan, a highly regarded local Japanese NPO.

On March 11th, a potent 9.0 earthquake struck off the northeast coast of Japan near the city of Sendai and was the most powerful earthquake the country ever experienced. The earthquake and tsunami that followed displaced more than 100,000 children from their homes and more than 380,000 people have been evacuated across the country. Many tsunami-affected areas are still cut off from relief and Japan remains on high alert for the nuclear reactors in Fukushima. More than 465 roads, 43 railways and seven bridges have been completely washed away.

About Maverix Studios Maverix is an animation co-op based in San Francisco, California. It was founded in 1993 by a principal group of industry veterans with extensive experience in feature films, serial animation, commercials, special effects, and print illustration. In addition to the moving image, Maverix members create and publish their own original comic books. More information is available at: http://maverixstudios.com.

About NEW PEOPLE, Inc. Based in San Francisco, California, NEW PEOPLE, Inc. (www.newpeopleworld.com) offers the latest films, art, fashion and retail brands from Japan through its unique entertainment destination as well as through licensing and distribution of selective Japanese films. NEW PEOPLE Entertainment (www.newpeopleent.com), a film division of NEW PEOPLE, Inc. 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, GANTZ, KAMIKAZE GIRLS, and THE TASTE OF TEA.

ACF 959: Guin Saga Collection 1 is now available from Section23 Films


GUIN SAGA COLLECTION 1
NOW AVAILABLE ON DVD

Section23 Films has announced the release of the sweeping anime epic series for the ages, GUIN SAGA. Collection 1 is on 2 DVD’s, plus there’s a bonus special features DVD!

Based on the multi-million dollar, best selling Japanese novel series by Kaoru Kurimoto

GUIN SAGA COLLECTION 1
Running Time: 325 min.
Age Rating: TV 14 (V)
Language: English & Japanese with English Subtitles
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Format: DVD
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.

ACF 958: Toronto premiere of Fine Totally Fine to benefit Japanese earthquake relief

Fine, Totally Fine / Zenzen daijobu
Written and directed by Yosuke Fujita
Japan, 2008, 110 minutes
When: Tuesday, April 5 · 7:00pm - 9:00pm
Where: The Revue Cinema
400 Roncesvalles Avenue, Toronto, ON

The Toronto J-Film Pow-Wow is proud to present the Toronto Premiere of Yosuke Fujita's comedy Fine, Totally Fine with 100% of the proceeds going to Japanese earthquake/ tsunami relief.

TICKETS ONLY $8.00 AT THE DOOR!

Yosuke Fujita has made a truly feel good indie comedy with his story of Teruo (YosiYosi Arakawa), a tree trimmer whose mission in life is to make the scariest haunted house experience in Japan. He enlists the help of his best friend Hisanobu (Yoshinori Okada), a hospital administrator, in his bone-chilling plans, but Hisanobu is starting to doubt if two guys heading into their 30's should really be spending their time trying to scare the life out of people. The lives of these two friends takes a turn when accident prone artist Akari (Yoshino Kimura) comes to work at Hisanobu's hospital. Can wanting to terrify people, growing up and falling in love co-exist in these two slackers' lives?

100% proceeds from this screening of FINE TOTALLY FINE will go directly to SUPPORT JAPAN - GAMBARE/ JustGiving, a relief fund created by Yuko Shiomaki, the president of PICTURES DEPT., the distributor of Fine, Tootally Fine. Japan is facing its greatest crisis since WW2. Please come out to see a great film and to help those in need!

Thanks to Pictures Dept. and Third Window Films for making this event possible.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

ACF 957: "5 Japanese Divas" film series at Film Forum, NY, April 1st thru 21st, 2011

In the Golden Age of Japanese Cinema, even as male stars like Toshiro Mifune flourished, its greatest strength was in an astonishing array of female icons, great actresses as well as superstars. Film Forum in New York City is offering an intriguing series of over twenty films that focuses on five noted Japanese actresses. For complete schedule information and descriptions of the individual films, click here.

Kinuyo Tanaka
In a career that spanned over 40 years, Kinuyo Tanaka (1909-1977) suffered for Mizoguchi 15 times, gun-molled for Ozu early and got laughs for him late, eventually becoming everyone’s favorite aunt.

Isuzu Yamada
Isuzu Yamada (born 1917) vaulted to stardom in her teens before playing a series of powerful, dominant parts, topped by her legendary “Lady Macbeth.”

Machiko Kyo
Former dancer Machiko Kyo (born 1924) became internationally famous in Rashomon, then was glorified in LIFE, co-starred with Brando, and grew in screen sexiness into her 50s.

Setsuko Hara
Setsuko Hara (born 1920), the beloved “Virgin Star,” personified Miss Japan as the perfect daughter, sister, daughter-in-law, even mother for Ozu, while displaying Dostoyevskian range for Kurosawa.

Hideko Takamine
Hideko Takamine (1924-2010), who died this past December, graduated from being Japan’s Shirley Temple into the tightly wound, unconquered Naruse heroine, even attaining the ultimate: a full-blown New Yorker profile

ACF 956: Free screening of "What Is Not Romance" in New York City on April 5th

What Is Not Romance / Romangeun Eobsda
Directed by: Hong Eun-ji, Park Jae-ok, and Soo Kyoung
South Korea, 2007
When: Tuesday, April 5, 2011 at 7:00 pm
(Doors open at 6:30 pm)
Where: Tribeca Cinemas, 54 Varick Street @ Canal, NYC
(One block from the A, C, E & 1 train Canal Street stops)
Price: Free!!!!!
Seating: First-come, first served
U.S. Premiere

Korean Cultural Services current free series Korean Movie Night Series 2: Korean Animation Explodes! continues with this surprisingly moving animated film about a middle aged couple approaching their anniversary. It's as tender, delicate and subtle as the best art house movie.

Tensions are rising, dinner table conversation is nonexistent and all their romance seems dead. Leaping backwards in time it returns to the beginning of their marriage when they were head over heels in love with each other and traces it to the present when they barely talk and tries to see if there's any way for a couple married for years to get back to the way things were.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

ACF 955: "Tiger & Bunny" to premiere on VIZAnime.com on Saturday, April 2nd

LIFE ISN’T EASY WHEN YOU’RE A FULLTIME SUPERHERO
IN HOT NEW ANIME ACTION SERIES TIGER & BUNNY,
SIMULCASTING ON VIZANIME.COM

A Washed-Up Veteran And A Rookie With An Attitude Team Up
To Become The Best And Worst Superhero Duo Of All Time!

VIZ Media invites fans to dive into the crime-fighting action of one of the most anticipated anime series of 2011 with the simulcast premiere of TIGER & BUNNY on Saturday, April 2nd. The new series launches on VIZAnime.com, the company’s exclusive web destination for anime, the same day it debuts in Japan! New FREE weekly episodes (subtitled) will be available to stream on VIZAnime beginning at 12:00pm (PST) each Saturday.

TIGER & BUNNY (rated TV-14) is directed by Keiichi Sato (director of THE BIG O), with original character designs by Masakazu Katsura, creator of I”S and VIDEO GIRL AI (also released by VIZ Media). Stern Bild is a metropolitan city where superheroes called NEXT help to maintain peace. Sporting sponsor logos on their suits, these heroes work to solve cases and save people’s lives in order to earn Hero Points, while also helping to improve the public image of their corporate sponsors. Their activities are documented and broadcast by the popular show “HERO TV,” in which each superhero strives to become the “King of Heroes” of the year.

One such hero is Wild Tiger (real name Kotetsu T. Kaburagi), a veteran superhero who relies on his years of experience and instincts to fight crime. Though obligated to work for his boss’s best interest, Kotetsu follows his own code of honor and is even willing to cause destruction to public property for the sake of protecting the lives of his fellow citizens. Over time, he has grudgingly earned the nickname “Crusher for Justice.” Now, Kotetsu suddenly finds himself forced to team up with rookie hero Barnaby Brooks Jr.

“TIGER & BUNNY is the latest series from the famed anime studio, Sunrise, and we’re very excited to make it available to fans in North America exclusively through VIZAnime.com,” says Ken Sasaki, Sr. Vice President and General Manager of VIZ Media. “The inventive story matches a veteran hero who is dealing with all kinds of quirky personal and professional problems with a young partner who is impulsive and unmanageable. When they team up to fight crime, they also usually end up battling each other. TIGER & BUNNY is a fun new series that combines plenty action and humor with an exploration of an unlikely friendship, and we invite fans to catch the premiere!”

View the official trailer and follow TIGER & BUNNY on the official Facebook page, at http://www.facebook.com/TigerAndBunny. For more information on TIGER & BUNNY and other animated titles from VIZ Media visit www.VIZAnime.com.

Monday, March 28, 2011

ACF 954: Mobile Suit Gundam UC (Unicorn) to screen in San Francisco April 2nd & 3rd

NEW PEOPLE BRINGS EPIC SCI-FI ROBOT ANIME
TO THE BAY AREAWITH WEEKEND SCREENING OF
MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM UC (UNICORN)

Latest Gundam UC Blu-Ray Discs Also For Sale Ahead Of General
Release Date In The NEW PEOPLE Store For Special Discounted Price

NEW PEOPLE, the nation’s only entertainment complex dedicated to Japanese popular culture, brings the latest chapter of the venerable Gundam saga to the Bay Area for an exclusive series of weekend screenings. Prepare for big screen sci-fi action and impressively designed mobile suits with the premiere of the 3-episode Gundam UC (Unicorn) anime series throughout the weekend of Saturday April 2nd and Sunday April 3rd.

The cinema will present both subtitled and dubbed versions of the series on each day. Tickets for Mobile Suit Gundam UC (Unicorn) are $8.00 for Episode 1 and $10.00 each for Episodes 2 and 3. Special combo tickets are available for $26.00 online or from the NEW PEOPLE box office for all 3 Episodes in any combination over the weekend. Tickets, trailers and more details are available at: http://www.newpeopleworld.com/films

Advance copies of Mobile Suit Gundam UC (Unicorn) on Blu-ray, distributed by Bandai Entertainment, Inc., will also be on sale (on April 2-3 only) for a discounted price in the NEW PEOPLE retail store – ahead of the series’ April 7th general release.

Vol. 1: Special discounted price - $44.98 (Suggested Normal Retail Price $49.98)
Vol. 2: Special discounted price - $49.98 (Suggested Normal Retail Price $59.98)
Vol. 3: Special discounted price - $49.98 (Suggested Normal Retail Price $59.98)

U.C. (Universal Century) 0001…

A New Era is about to begin with the announcement that the settlement of space has commenced. But as the calendar change ceremony is in progress, the space station Laplace, official residence of the Earth Federation prime minister, is shattered by a terrorist bombing.

A young man named Syam, who joined the terrorists because of poverty, is caught in the explosion of Laplace and discovers something amid the wreckage. This is the forbidden box that will later be known as Laplace’s Box. Laplace’s Box is never to be opened. There are few who even know what it is. The secret of the box continues to sleep with Syam...

U.C. 0096… The manufacturing colony Industrial 7, which is still under construction, floats at Lagrange point 1.

A youth named Banagher Links, who grew up without knowing his father, meets a mysterious girl who has stowed away on a ship bound for Industrial 7. As the white mobile suit Unicorn undergoes repeated tests and becomes the subject of diverse speculations, the hands of time begin to move. Banagher does not yet know that he has been caught up in the conflict surrounding Laplace’s Box.

What is Laplace’s Box?
What secret does it contain?
The hundred-year curse of the Universal Century is about to be resolved.

Mobile Suit Gundam UC (Unicorn) Screening Schedule:

Saturday, April 2nd:
Episode 1 (Subtitles) 1:00pm $8.00
Episode 2 (Subtitles) 2:30pm $10.00
Episode 3 (Subtitles) 4:00pm $10.00
Episode 1 (Dubbed) 5:30pm $8.00
Episode 2 (Dubbed) 7:00pm $10.00
Episode 3 (Dubbed) 8:30pm $10.00

Sunday, April 3rd:
Episode 1 (Dubbed) 1:00pm $8.00
Episode 2 (Dubbed) 2:30pm $10.00
Episode 3 (Dubbed) 4:00pm $10.00
Episode 1 (Subtitles) 5:30pm $8.00
Episode 2 (Subtitles) 7:00pm $10.00
Episode 3 (Subtitles) 8:30pm $10.00

NEW PEOPLE features the nation’s only movie theatre devoted to Japanese film and anime. The 143-seat subterranean theatre is located inside NEW PEOPLE at 1746 Post Street in San Francisco’s Japantown and features plush seating, digital as well as 35mm projection, and a THX®-certified sound system.

About NEW PEOPLE, Inc.
Based in San Francisco, California, NEW PEOPLE, Inc. (www.newpeopleworld.com) offers the latest films, art, fashion and retail brands from Japan through its unique entertainment destination as well as through licensing and distribution of selective Japanese films. NEW PEOPLE Entertainment (www.newpeopleent.com), a film division of NEW PEOPLE, Inc. 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, GANTZ, KAMIKAZE GIRLS, and THE TASTE OF TEA.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

ACF 953: Concert For Japan at Japan Society, New York City, April 9th


CONCERT FOR JAPAN
When: Saturday, April 9, 11 AM — 11 PM
Where: Japan Society, 333 East 47th Street, NYC
Between 1st and 2nd Avenues

Japan Society presents a 12-hour concert benefiting organizations that directly help people affected by the earthquake and tsunamis that struck Japan. With dozens of music acts and performances throughout the day, confirmed performers for the GALA BLOCKS, organized by John Zorn, include Philip Glass & Hal Willner; Lou Reed, Laurie Anderson and Zorn; Ryuichi Sakamoto; and Bill Laswell with gigi band. In addition, special activities will be available for all ages, from making origami cranes and washi lanterns for good wishes to unlimited access to Bye Bye Kitty!!! Food and drinks will be available for purchase.

CONCERT SCHEDULE

11:00 AM – 12:30 PM OPEN CONCERT
New York Suwa Taiko Association led by Hiro Kurashima, Kokoro Gospel Choir
More to come!

1:00 PM - 2:30 PM GALA BLOCK (GALA BLOCK ticket required: $100)
Philip Glass & Hal Willner
Lou Reed, Laurie Anderson & John Zorn
** Limited availability**
Buy Tickets

2:45 PM – 5:30 PM OPEN CONCERT (seating is first come, first served)
Performance order TBD
Masayo Ishigure (koto), Mutsumi and Masumi Takamizu (ji-uta sankyoku), James Nyoraku Schlefer (shakuhachi), Sadahiro Kakitani (ryuteki - gagaku flute), Taikoza (taiko), Yumi Kurosawa (koto), Taka Kigawa (piano)
More to come!

6:00 PM - 7:30 PM GALA BLOCK (GALA BLOCK ticket required: $100)
SOLD OUT
Ryuichi Sakamoto solo
Bill Laswell with gigi band

8:00 PM - OPEN CONCERT (seating is first come, first served)
Performance order TBD
Hard Nips, Echostream, The Suzan, Me & Mars, DJ Aki, plus Salmé from Tokyo!

ENTRANCE FEE (Does not include GALA BLOCKS)
$5, cash at door

GALA BLOCK CONCERT SEATS
$100 per gala block (includes Entrance Fee and assigned seating to GALA BLOCK)

Limited to Two Tickets per order per GALA BLOCK

Tickets available on-line or by visiting Japan Society’s box office or calling 212-715-1258.

In addition to the music, CONCERT FOR JAPAN offers special activities for all ages over the course of the event: making origami cranes and washi lanterns for good wishes and recovery, basic Japanese language lessons with the theme "Reach out to Japan," and unlimited access to Bye Bye Kitty!!! Between Heaven & Hell in Contemporary Japanese Art, Japan Society's current gallery exhibition. Throughout the day, visitors are invited to explore the Japan Society landmark building from top to bottom capturing images with a camera or phone, to redeem a gift.

This event replaces the annual j-CATION culture festival scheduled for that day.

100% of proceeds from this event will go to the Japan Earthquake Relief Fund.

Concert for Japan is generously supported by Mitsubishi International Corporation and Kikkoman Corporation.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

ACF 952: VIZ announces "SJ Heroes Week"

VIZ MEDIA’S SHONEN JUMP WEBSITE
OFFERS EXCLUSIVE NEW CONTENT AND
CELEBRATES “SJ HEROES WEEK” ONLINE

SHONEN JUMP Pays Homage To All The Great Manga Heroes That
Have Appeared In VIZ Media Graphic Novels And The Magazine

VIZ Media has announced that its SHONEN JUMP website will feature a special week-long “SJ Heroes Week,” during which it will publish a different manga (graphic novel) hero profile online every day starting tomorrow, March 27th, through April 1st, 2011.

The SJ Heroes Week coincides with the new commemorative 100th issue of SHONEN JUMP magazine, which is on sale now. Fans and subscribers can log on to the SHONEN JUMP website at www.ShonenJump.com for fresh daily updates of all-time favorite manga heroes. A second round of SHONEN JUMP Heroes, to be featured in the upcoming May 2011 print edition (on sale April 5th), will post on the website during the second half of April with expanded entries for each manga character. This content further extends the magazine’s new subscriber initiatives featured on the SHONEN JUMP website.

SHONEN JUMP’s print and website redesign for 2011 welcomed the new decade with a fresh, contemporary look and notably expanded content. These new features complement several digital subscriber-only premiums, as well as the online debut of a brand new manga series, NURA: RISE OF THE YOKAI CLAN (rated ‘T’ for Teens). This is SHONEN JUMP’s first title to be serialized digitally on ShonenJump.com. The redesigned site offers fresh content updated daily that includes special Manga Spotlight Features, Manga Profile Features, Anime Episode Updates, Weekly Fan Art submissions, Trading Card Game Tips, Video Game Features and much more!

“SHONEN JUMP magazine is the most popular manga magazine today, with over a million readers in its original language version in Japan, as well as hundreds of thousands of fans in the U.S.,” says Joel Enos, SHONEN JUMP Senior Editor. “And now SHONEN JUMP is expanding its online coverage with new daily updates to give readers more of what they want – features on manga, anime, card games and video games, plus exclusive online manga content for subscribers. During the next two months, we’ll also profile SHONEN JUMP heroes from a variety of SHONEN JUMP’s most loved manga series. From international sensations like NARUTO and ONE PIECE to beloved classics like DRAGON BALL, we will spotlight every SJ hero that ever came out in the U.S. in either graphic novel format or in the magazine!”

For more information on SHONEN JUMP Magazine and other Shonen Jump titles, visit www.ShonenJump.com.

Friday, March 25, 2011

ACF 951: More March Manga Madness for VIZ Manga App for Apple® iPad™


MARCH MANGA MADNESS CONTINUES
WITH DEBUT OF DRAGON BALL Z FOR
THE VIZ MANGA APP FOR iPad

March Manga Madness is fully underway as VIZ Media continues to offer readers special promotions and new manga (graphic novel) titles available exclusively for the VIZ MANGA APP for the Apple® iPad™ mobile device. The latest round of updates features debut of the classic action manga DRAGON BALL Z, as well as new updates for 8 other acclaimed manga titles currently available.

Fans should also stay tuned for an exciting digital manga first as BAKUMAN。Volume 4 prepares to debut on the VIZ Manga App on March 28th, ahead of the print edition’s national release on April 5th.

As part of the March Manga Madness promotion, all Volume 1 manga titles are available this month for only $0.99 each (instead of $4.99). After shopping, fans are invited also enter to win a $50 iTunes gift card by taking the VIZ Manga App survey. By the end of March the VIZ Manga App will feature more than 100 manga volumes available for download.

Creator Akira Toriyama’s much-loved manga classic, DRAGON BALL Z (Rated ‘A’ for All Ages), debuts on today with Volume 2 to be available before the end of the month. After years of training and adventure, Goku has become Earth's ultimate warrior. And his son, Gohan, shows even greater promise. But the stakes are increasing as even deadlier enemies threaten the planet. DRAGON BALL Z is the ultimate science fiction-martial arts manga.

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

Additional new manga volumes available this week include:

DEATH NOTE Vol. 9
MERUPURI Vol. 3
NARUTO Vol. 18
NATSUME’S BOOK OF FRIENDS Vol. 2
ONE PIECE Vol. 18
ROSARIO+VAMPIRE Vol. 2
RUROUNI KENSHIN Vol. 9
TORIKO Vol. 3

The 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.

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

ACF 950: VIZ joins global relief efforts for Japan in wake of earthquake & tsunami

VIZ MEDIA DONATES TO JAPANESE EARTHQUAKE
AND TSUNAMI AID AND RECOVERY EFFORTS

Manga publisher VIZ Media has joined global relief efforts following the earthquake and tsunami in Japan with a substantial corporate donation to aid the recovery. The company will donate the funds to three prominent organizations – Save the Children, AmeriCares and Architecture for Humanity – working to provide immediate aid and assistance in the affected regions of Sendai and Fukushima.

In addition, VIZ Media is planning additional fundraising efforts with other San Francisco Bay Area companies and businesses, which will benefit Artists Help Japan (in partnership with Give2Asia).

The 9.0 earthquake displaced more than 100,000 children from their homes and more than 380,000 people have been evacuated across the country. Many tsunami-affected areas are still cut off from relief and Japan remains on high alert for the three nuclear reactors in Fukushima. More than 465 roads, 43 railways and seven bridges have been completely washed away.

“We were all shocked and saddened by the terrible events of March 11th, but we’re heartened and inspired by resilience of the Japanese people and the tremendous outpouring of physical aid, money, and global good will that has followed so quickly,” says Hidemi Fukuhara, President and CEO of VIZ Media. “Save the Children, AmeriCares, Architecture for Humanity and Artists Help Japan will provide critical support and aid for the youngest victims of the disaster, arrange for medical care and social services for all survivors, as well as help begin rebuilding efforts. We’re honored to contribute to Japan’s recovery, and encourage our fans to do the same.”

Save the Children is the world's leading independent organization for children. The organization’s vision is a world in which every child attains the right to survival, protection, development and participation. The mission is to inspire breakthroughs in the way the world treats children and to achieve immediate and lasting change in their lives. More information on Save the Children’s Japan recovery efforts is available here.

AmeriCares is a nonprofit disaster relief and humanitarian aid organization which provides immediate response to emergency medical needs – and supports long-term humanitarian assistance programs – for all people around the world, irrespective of race, creed or political persuasion. More information on AmeriCares’ Japan recovery efforts is available here.

Architecture for Humanity is a nonprofit design services firm founded in 1999. The organization seeks to build a more sustainable future through the power of professional design. By tapping a network of more than 40,000 professionals willing to lend time and expertise to help those who would not otherwise be able to afford their services, Architecture for Humanity brings design, construction and development services where they are most critically needed. More information on Architecture for Humanity’s Japan recovery efforts is available here.

Artists Help Japan is a San Francisco Bay Area-based charity movement, gathering the force of communities of artists and creative minds around the world. The project founder was also behind the 2008 Totoro Forest Project in Japan. The fund is responding to the immediate needs of survivors, as well as short to long- term recovery projects undertaken by the affected communities. Artists Help Japan is partnering with Give2Asia, which has a local team based in Tokyo to assess the current situation and to obtain information on the needs of survivors. More information on Artists Help Japan and Give2Asia’s recovery efforts is available here.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

ACF 949: Screening of "Intangible Asset No. 82" followed by Live Performance

Intangible Asset No. 82
Directed by Emma Franz
2008, 90 minutes
Followed by a Live Performance
When
: Sunday, March 27, 2011 at 2:00 PM
Where: Museum of the Moving Image
35th Avenue and 37th Street, Astoria, Queens, NY
N or Q Train to 36th Avenue

The Korea Society closes out Asia Week 2011 at The Museum of the Moving Image with a screening of the documentary Intangible Asset No. 82. In the film, director Emma Franz follows Simon Barker, an Austrailian jazz musician, on his exploration of Korean traditional folk rhythm and shamanic ritual. He meets Intangible Asset No. 82, shaman Kim Seok-Chul, and professor Kim Dong-Won, who advise him on the technique and roots of traditional Korean music.

Simon Barker (left) and Bae Il-dong

Following the screening, Kim Dong-won, Barker and artist Bae Il-dong will perform contemporary and jazz stylings on traditional instruments. This screening is part of Korean Cinema Now, co-presented by the Museum of the Moving Image and The Korea Society. The Museum of the Moving Image recently reopened after a $67 million expansion, with dyamic new architecture by Thomas Leeser and New York City’s newest, state-of-the art screen.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

ACF 948: Commemorating Akira Kurosawa's 101st birthday

Akira Kurosawa
March 23, 1910 - September 6, 1998

Akira Kurasawa was born 101 years ago in Tokyo. Unquestionably the most famous Japanese film director in the West, he is revered not only for so many fine films, an incredible number of which are masterpieces or near-masterpieces, but also for putting Japanese cinema on the world stage. This occurred when Rashomon, which had been released in 1950, won the Golden Lion Award at the 1951 Venice Film Festival. Kurosawa himself was also awarded the Italian Film Critics Award at that same festival.

Still, I believe that the single film with which his name is most closely associated is Seven Samurai (1954). For me it is a work of cinematic perfection: there's not the single, slightest thing about it that could be improved upon.

During his lifetime Kurosawa directed some 31 films, all of which are now available on DVD. For me his towering presence in world cinema is most succinctly embodied in the fact that he has more films in the Criterion Collection than any other director. The Criterion offerings include the massive AK 100: 25 Films by Akira Kurosawa. If you don't already own many of his films on DVD, this might be a perfect purchase. It includes four of his earliest films: Sanshiro Sugata (1943), The Most Beautiful (1944), Sanshiro Sugata Part Two (1945), and The Men Who Tread on the Tiger's Tail ((1945). These four films also became available in a box set from Criterion entitled Eclipse Series 23: The First Films of Akira Kurosawa. Another box set that was released earlier is Eclipse Series 7: Postwar Kurosawa, a collection of five "lesser" films spanning 1946 - 1955.

Though he never received an Oscar as a director, in 1990 he received an honorary Oscar for his achievements in film, both in terms of the audiences he reached and the filmmakers he influenced. Two of his films Dersu Uzala (1975) and Ran (1985) were awarded Oscars as best foreign films. All told he won 61 award and was nominated for another 17.

All praise and thanks to one of the world's greatest movie directors. His contributions will last in the memories of film lovers forever.

ACF 947: Video tribute to quake refugees

Linda Hoaglund, noted filmmaker and Japanese translator emeritus, has been in Japan during the recent natural disasters. She emailed me about this amazing video tribute to the quake refugees from a South Korean filmmaker.

Hoaglund has posted trilingual lyrics to the beautiful anthem here:
http://anpomovie.com/en/.


ACF 946: "CLANNAD - THE MOTION PICTURE" now available on DVD


Section23 Films has announced the release of Clannad – The Motion Picture. One of anime’s most beloved series is re-imagined in a breathtaking motion picture and is now available on DVD.

CLANNAD – THE MOTION PICTURE
Running Time: 95 min.
Age Rating: TV PG
Language: English & Japanese with English Subtitles
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Format: DVD
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 – The Motion Picture.

ACF 945: ROCKET GIRLS: THE LAST PLANET!

Rocket Girl 2 (C) 1996 Housuke Nojiri

VIZ MEDIA’S HAIKASORU IMPRINT LAUNCHES
A NEW OUT-OF-THIS-WORLD ADVENTURE WITH
ROCKET GIRLS: THE LAST PLANET

Latest Paperback Novel Brings The Next Exciting Space Mission
In The ROCKET GIRLS Series To North American Readers

VIZ Media has released author Housuke Nojiri’s science fiction adventure, ROCKET GIRLS: THE LAST PLANET. The new paperback edition is the second in the ROCKET GIRLS series, is published under the company’s Haikasoru imprint, and carries an MSRP of $13.99 U.S. / $15.99 CAN.

Haikasoru publishes some of the most compelling contemporary Japanese science fiction and fantasy stories for English-speaking audiences. The imprint is the first to launch in North America with a dedicated focus on Japanese science fiction.

When the Rocket Girls accidentally splash down in the pond of Yukari Morita's old school, it looks as though their experiment is ruined. Luckily, the geeky Akane is there to save the day. Fitting the profile – she's intelligent, enthusiastic, and petite – Akane is soon recruited by the Solomon Space Association. Yukari and Akane are then given the biggest Rocket Girl mission yet: to do what NASA astronauts cannot and save a probe headed to the minor planet Pluto and the very edge of the solar system.

“We’re very excited to announce the release of the latest installment of the ROCKET GIRLS series from the award-winning author Housuke Nojiri,” says Nick Mamatas, Haikasoru editor. “It’s the perfect combination of hard science fiction and teenage hijinks—a novel that harkens back to the Golden Age of science fiction while being hip and fresh. We’ve heard from so many fans about the original ROCKET GIRLS, and look forward to readers jumping on board to find out what happens when the Girls help out, and butt heads with, no less than NASA itself.”

Author Housuke Nojiri was born in Mie, Japan, in 1961. After working in instrumentation control, CAD programming, and game design, he published his first work, The Blind Spot of Veis, based on the video game Creguian, in 1992. He gained further popularity with subsequent works the Creguian series and also for the ROCKET GIRLS series. In 2002, he published USURPER OF THE SUN (also available from Haikasoru), which ushered in a new era of space science fiction in Japan. After first appearing as a series of short stories, USURPER won the prestigious Seiun Award for the best Japanese science fiction novel of 2002. His other notable works include Pendulum of Pinieru and Fuwa-Fuwa no Izumi.

For more information on ROCKET GIRLS: THE LAST PLANET and the Haikasoru imprint, please visit the dedicated website at www.haikasoru.com.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

ACF 944: VIZ announces new DVD releases

VIZ MEDIA ANNOUNCES NEW VAMPIRE KNIGHT,
BLEACH, AND POKÉMON DVD RELEASES

VIZ Media has announced their new DVD releases for March. These include the first episodic volume of VAMPIRE KNIGHT GUILTY (the second season of the hit gothic melodrama VAMPIRE KNIGHT), the latest Box Set for BLEACH, and 3 new releases from the latest installment of POKÉMON, POKÉMON DP GALACTIC BATTLES.

VAMPIRE KNIGHT © 2008 MATSURI HINO, HAKUSENSHA / VAMPIRE KNIGHT PROJECT

NEW VAMPIRE KNIGHT RELEASE:

VAMPIRE KNIGHT GUILTY, Volume 1 • Rated ‘T+’ for Older Teens • MSRP: $19.97 U.S. / $28.99 CAN • Available Now!

In the opening of the second season, Zero is accused of Shizuka Hio's murder and becomes the target of the Senate. When Kaname refuses to attest to Zero's innocence, Yuki's loyalties are torn between the two. Then Yuki meets a mysterious little boy whose seemingly innocent kiss on the cheek draws her deeper into the world of vampires. Zero, seeing Yuki struggle to recall her past, tries to help. Do the archives of the Hunter's Society headquarters hold the key that will unlock Yuki's memories? Contains Episodes 1-4.

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

NEW BLEACH RELEASE:

BLEACH BOX SET, Volume 8 • Rated ‘T’ for Teens • MSRP: $49.95 U.S. / $71.99 CAN • Available Now!

Just a few months from the showdown with the Arrancars, Ichigo and his friends are deep in training. But the battle may arrive earlier than expected when Aizen sends the Arrancars into the World of the Living. Captain Hitsugaya's advance Soul Reaper troops assist in defending Karakura Town and the fight appears to be going to the heroes, when Aizen orders the kidnapping of one of Ichigo's most loyal friends – Orihime! Box Set features Episodes 134 – 145 (Original and Uncut).

For more information on BLEACH, visit Bleach.viz.com.

POKÉMON © 2009 Pokémon
© 1997-2009 Nintendo, Creatures, GAME FREAK, TV Tokyo, ShoPro, JR Kikaku.
Pokémon properties are trademarks of Nintendo.

NEW POKÉMON RELEASES:
POKÉMON DP GALACTIC BATTLES, Volumes 1 & 2 • Rated ‘A’ for All Ages • MSRP: $14.97 U.S. each / $21.99 CAN each • Available Now!
POKÉMON DP GALACTIC BATTLES GIFT SET • Rated ‘A’ for All Ages • MSRP: $24.92 U.S. / $35.99 CAN • Available Now!

Non-stop excitement awaits audiences in the Sinnoh region, as Ash's quest for a Gym Badge lands him in a shocking encounter with Rotom and a family feud between father and son Gym Leaders! Then, watch our heroes witness the power of Aura when they join forces with Riley and Lucario to protect an island full of Pokémon from Team Galactic. But Aura won't help Pikachu and Piplup when they wind up lost on a deserted island! From an infatuated Phione to a Snorunt search-and-rescue, the adventure never ends for Ash, Dawn and Brock!

The POKÉMON DP GALATIC BATTLES GIFT SET contains Volumes 1 & 2 in a collector’s box.

For more information POKÉMON and other VIZ Kids titles please visit www.VIZ.com/pokemon/.

Monday, March 21, 2011

ACF 943: More March Manga Madness from VIZ, including early online debut of Bakuman Vol. 4

MARCH MANGA MADNESS FOR THE VIZ MANGA APP
CONTINUES WITH A DIGITAL MANGA FIRST –
BAKUMAN。VOL. 4 WILL DEBUT AHEAD OF PRINT COUNTERPART

VIZ Media continues the March Manga Madness event for the VIZ MANGA APP for the Apple® iPad™ mobile device and entices fans with an exciting digital manga first – BAKUMAN。Volume 4 will debut on the VIZ Manga App on March 28th, ahead of the print edition’s national release on April 5th. (BAKUMAN。Volume 3 recently became available.) The VIZ MANGA APP is free through the iTunes Store and manga volumes are available for purchase and download in the U.S. and Canada within the application.

Also available now is Hiroshi Shiibashi’s paranormal fantasy adventure series, NURA: RISE OF THE YOKAI CLAN. Volume 1 will be available for download for only $0.99. The latest VIZ Manga App update also features new additions to 9 other popular VIZ Media series currently available.

The VIZ Manga App will surpass 100 volumes available for download by the end of March. As part of the March Manga Madness promotion, all Volume 1 manga titles are available this month for only $0.99 each (instead of $4.99). After shopping, get entered to win a $50 iTunes gift card by taking the VIZ Manga App survey.

BAKUMAN。 © 2008 by Tsugumi Ohba, Takeshi Obata/SHUEISHA Inc.

BAKUMAN。(Rated ‘T’ for Teens) is written by the author of DEATH NOTE, Tsugumi Ohba, with artwork by Takeshi Obata, the artist known for series such as DEATH NOTE, HIKARU NO GO, and RALΩGRAD. The story follows average student Moritaka Mashiro, who enjoys drawing for fun, but when his classmate and aspiring writer Akito Takagi discovers his talent, he begs Moritaka to team up with him as a manga-creating duo. But what exactly does it take to make it in the manga-publishing world?

NURA: RISE OF THE YOKAI CLAN (Rated ‘T’ for Teens) is a new shonen manga from creator Hiroshi Shiibashi. While the day belongs to humans, the night belongs to yokai, supernatural creatures that thrive on human fear. Caught between these worlds is Rikuo Nura. He's three-quarters human, but his grandfather is none other than Nurarihyon, the supreme commander of the Nura clan, a powerful yokai consortium. So, Rikuo is an ordinary teenager three quarters of the time, until his yokai blood awakens. Then Rikuo transforms into the future leader of the Nura clan, leading a hundred demons.

Additional VIZ Media manga volumes available this week include:

BAKUMAN。Vol. 3
BLEACH Vol. 10
CAPTIVE HEARTS Vol. 3
CLAYMORE Vol. 5
D. GRAY MAN Vol. 6
DRAGON BALL Vol. 16
NARUTO Vol. 17
ONE PIECE Vol. 17
OTOMEN Vol. 4

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

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

ACF 942: Finale to anime hit "Cross Game" now available online from VIZ

VIZ MEDIA PRESENTS THE FINALE TO THE HIT
ANIME SERIES CROSS GAME

Concluding 2 Episodes Of The Coming-Of-Age Sports Drama
Streaming On VIZAnime.com And HULU

VIZ Media presents the finale to the acclaimed anime series CROSS GAME with Episodes 49 and 50 now available on VIZAnime.com, the company’s own premiere website for anime, as well as through the streaming content provider HULU (www.Hulu.com). VIZAnime is a free-to-use interactive web destination that is now the permanent home to some of the company’s best-loved animated series.

CROSS GAME is based on a hit manga (graphic novel) series created by Mitsuru Adachi and is set against the backdrop of baseball. The series is a moving coming-of-age drama that is heartfelt and true and flows delightfully with a light and amusing touch. It centers on a boy named Ko, a family of four sisters who live down the street, and their shared passion for the sport of baseball.

In the gripping series conclusion, Ko faces tough odds in the 12th inning of the final game. Thanks to Ko’s pitching, his team has earned a one-run lead, and all the players are fully aware that a championship is just within reach. But pitching eleven innings is starting to take its toll. The count is full, and Ko must put his all into one last pitch!

One of the biggest names in the manga industry today, Mitsuru Adachi made his debut in 1970 with Kieta Bakuon in the pages of Deluxe Shonen Sunday. The creator of numerous mega-hits such as Touch, Miyuki, and Cross Game, Adachi-sensei received the Shogakukan Manga Award for all three of the aforementioned series. His cumulative works have seen over 200 million copies sold, and many of his series have been adapted into anime, live-action TV series and film. A master of his medium, Adachi has come to be known for his genius handling of dramatic elements combined with romance, comedy and sports.

More information on the CROSS GAME manga and other titles from VIZ Media’s Shonen Sunday imprint can be found at www.ShonenSunday.com.

For more information on the CROSS GAME anime series, visit www.VIZAnime.com.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

ACF 941: "Motherland" from Doris Yeung

Motherland
Written and directed by Doris Yeung
Starring Francoise Yip, Kenneth Tsang, and Byron Mann
USA, 2009, 93 minutes, HD (originated Super 16mm)
Opened March 18, 2010 at the Quad cinema in NYC

Motherland, which opened this weekend, marks the feature film debut of Doris Yeung, who was born in San Francisco in 1977 and raised in Hong Kong. It's the story of an immigrant family's American Dream gone horribly awry and was motivated by the violent death of the director's own mother.

Raffi Tang (Francoise Yip) has been living in Mexico for some time when she learns that her mother was murdered, ostensibly during a burglary at her home in San Fransisco. Estranged from her mother because she had a lesbian relationship, which has since ended, Raffi returns for her mother's funeral.

Initially she stays with her father, played by veteran Hong Kong actor Kenneth Tsang. He had divorced her mother, remarried, and had another daughter, Raffi's half-sister, who is now a pre-teener. He was also embroiled in a vicious legal battle with Raffi's mother about the fortune that was amassed during their marriage.

Discovering facts missed by the police, led by a detective on his first murder case, and assisted by Michael (Byron Mann), an undocumented alien who works for her father, Raffi comes to suspect that her mother's death was not simply the result of a panicked burglar, but perhaps a planned hit. She thus is faced with the double dilemma of not only facing the possibility that her mother's death was intentional, but also of deciding whether or not to pursue her mother's financial claims against her father.

Motherland is a promising start for this young Asian-American female director. There are some flaws and weaknesses in the plot, pacing, and dialogue, but it's an admirable first venture. I'd rate it at 2.5 out of 4 stars, a fairly good film.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

ACF 940: Happy Birthday, Simon Yam!

Simon Yam in PTU: Police Tactical Unit

Veteran Hong Kong actor Simon Yam was born in that city on March 19th, 1955. His IMDb filmography lists 172 films and TV appearances, going back to 1977. He's played a wide variety of roles on both sides of the law. (Interestingly, his father and elder brother Peter Yam Tat-Wing were both law-enforcement officers.)

Yam as the serial killer in Dr Lamb

Some of his films that are better known in the West include:

Bullet in the Head (1990)
Once Upon a Time in China (1991)
Dr. Lamb (1992)
Full Contact (1993)
The Mission (1999)
PTU (2003)
Breaking News (2004)
Election (2005)
Kill Zone, a.k.a. S.P.L. (2005)
Election 2 (2006)
Exiled (2006)
Sparrow (2008)
Yip Man 2 (2010)

So, Happy 56th Birthday, Simon Yam, and may there be many happy returns of you to the screen in years to come

Friday, March 18, 2011

ACF 939: T.V. Carpio appearing in Limitless

Bradley Cooper and T.V. Carpio in LIMITLESS.
Photo Credit: John Baer © 2011 Dark Fields Productions, LLC
All Rights Reserved.

Asian-American stage and screen actress T.V. (Theresa Victoria) Carpio appears in Relaticity Media's LIMITLESS, which opens in theaters nationwide today, Friday, March 18th. The film, directed by Neil Burger, stars Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro.

Cooper, whom I first saw in the television series Alias, but who's more recently begun breaking out in films such as The Hangover and The A-Team, plays Eddie Morra, a would-be novelist who begins taking a pill that's still in the testing stage. Turns out, it enables him to tap into the 80 percent of the human brain that normally lies dormant and in reserve. Eddie's newly acquired super intellect leads to wealth, power, and all the accouterments that come along for the ride. De Niro's character is Carl Van Loon, a corporate tycoon who has understandable interest in Eddie's abilities and their potential usefulness in Van Loon's business enterprises.

T.V., who is currently starring as "Arachne" in the Broadway production Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark, plays Valerie. I don't know the specifics of her character, but I understand that T.V. shares some intimate screen time with Cooper.

In Entertainment Weekly magazine, Lisa Schwarzbaum just gave the film a B+ rating (Issue #1147, March 25, 2011, pg62). So I'm feeling pretty confident that LIMITLESS is going to shape up as a fine thriller and a solid box-office hit. Glad that T.V.'s a part of this and I'm looking forward both to watching the film and seeing her performance.

Read more about TV Carpio in my earlier post by clicking here.

ACF 938: "Ryuji" screens at Japan Society tonght

Ryuji © 1983 momo k.

Ryuji
Directed by Toru Kawashima
With Shoji Kaneko, Eiko Nagashima,
Koji Kita, and Kinzoh Sakura
1983, 92 min., 35 mm, color
In Japanese with live English subtitles
When: Friday, March 18th, 2010 at 7:30 PM
Where: Japan Society, 333 East 47th Street, NYC
Between 1st and 2nd Avenues
International Premiere!
Buy tickets online
From March 14–June 30, 2011: 50% of all ticket sales
will go to Japan Society's Earthquake Relief Fund

"One of the only great yakuza pictures made since the Battles Without Honor and Graveyard of Honor in the seventies."--Kinji Fukasaku, in Chris D.'s Outlaw Masters of Japanese Film

Ryuji is more than just a film, it is the final testament of a dying man, a young stage actor eager to find an interesting role on the big screen. His name is Shoji Kaneko. He likes writing and yakuza cinema, and chooses to write the story himself--the portrait of a young yakuza who (following the usual conceit) wants to leave the underworld, for the sake and love of his wife and daughter, after a long stint in jail. A fragile film, not unlike the performance of the lead actor/writer, who succumbed to cancer one week after the film's release.

Ryuji seems to be haunted by his disappearance, as if anticipating the mourning of its own central figure. With a realism reminiscent of the Actors Studio's famed method (the actor joined a real gang to capture the essence of the role and the world in which the yakuza live), the drama comes to life with the support of a formidable cast (notably, the actor's real-life daughter). An anti-noir film with unusual sheen and clarity, Ryuji is touched with breathtaking moments of loveliness and hints of peace, the blend of moral brinksmanship, and restrained visuals.

The pleasures of the film reside in the mischievous yet tolerant recognition that behind brutality lies human frailty, in its infinite range. The manner of its delivery is so disarmingly graceful--lacking neither emotional impact nor aesthetic punch--that you can almost feel the blood of the film flow.

ACF Comment: With a "gang" consisting of only three members and almost all the violence directed within that group, Ryuji is not your typical yakuza flick. But it's a terrific drama and definitely should be seen. ACF Rating: 3.5 out of 4 stars, very highly recommended.

This screening of Ryuji is part of the Globus Film Series:
Hardest Men in Town: Yakuza Chronicles of Sin, Sex & Violence

Thursday, March 17, 2011

ACF 937: Special fund-raising screening of "Hula Girls" in San Francisco on Saturday

NEW PEOPLE TO RAISE FUNDS
FOR JAPANESE EARTHQUAKE/TSUNAMI RELIEF
WITH A SPECIAL SCREENING OF HULA GIRLS

Award Winning Film Set In Fukushima Prefecture
Plays On March 26th And Offers A Heartwarming Story
That Is A Testament To The Enduring Human Spirit

NEW PEOPLE, the nation’s only entertainment complex dedicated to Japanese popular culture, will present a special screening of director Lee Sang-il’s celebrated film, HULA GIRLS, to raise funds for Japanese earthquake and tsunami relief. HULA GIRLS will screen on Saturday, March 26th at 2:00pm, 4:30pm and 7:00pm. Suggested donations are $10.00 or more per person. NEW PEOPLE is located in the heart of San Francisco’s Japantown at 1746 Post St.

Proceeds from the screenings will be donated to the Northern Japan Earthquake Relief Fund, administered by JCCCNC and Union Bank in San Francisco’s Japantown. More information on the screenings and the work of this relief organization is available at: www.newpeopleworld.com.

A heartwarming film, HULA GIRLS is set in Fukushima prefecture, site of the Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant that was heavily damaged during the recent earthquake and tsunami on March 11th. HULA GIRLS was Japan’s official entry to the 2007 Academy Awards Best Foreign Film category and also won four Japanese Academy Awards the same year including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Supporting Actress.

“The world was stunned by the damage and tragic loss of life from the recent earthquake and we invite audiences to donate to the recovery efforts and attend the screening of this uplifting film that is set in the area of Japan that was affected by the disaster,” says Seiji Horibuchi, president of NEW PEOPLE, Inc. “HULA GIRLS is a moving testament to the indomitable human spirit and we hope its story inspires audiences to contribute to the ongoing relief efforts that are now underway.”

Based on a true story set in 1965, the desolate and declining mining town of Iwaki, located in Fukushima prefecture in Northern Japan, tries to revive itself by building a Hawaiian-themed resort. The featured attraction is to be a hula show, but in this isolated place far from the tropical bliss of Hawaii there are no palm trees or hula dancers. In fact, no one knows how to do the dance or even knows what the hula is! The town leaders invite a dance instructor from Tokyo to teach the local minors' daughters how to hula, but conservative townspeople are initially resistant to the provocative dance. The skepticism and conservatism of the locals is gradually overcome as their daughters fall under the spell of the talented and determined dance instructor from Tokyo.

Once a leading performer, the instructor at first looks down on the coal miners and their amateurish daughters, but the girls’ sincere dedication gradually rekindles a passion in her. Each dealing with their own harsh lives, the local girls find a new lease on life and, for the first time, support in their friendships as they absorb the essence of hula dancing. The film has been praised as an enchanting story of women who take once-in-a-lifetime chances to escape their monotonous lives, only to become unwitting heroes to their depressed mining town as well as the whole of Japan.

For my original review of Hula Girls, which I truly loved, click here.

ACF 936: 5th Annual Korean American FIlm Festival New York begins tonight

psychohydrography by Peter Bo Rappmund

5TH ANNUAL KOREAN AMERICAN FILM FESTIVAL
ANNOUNCES NARRATIVE AND DOCUMENTARY LINEUP,
MARCH 17-20, 2011 AT CHELSEA CLEARVIEW CINEMAS

The Korean American Film Festival New York (KAFFNY) presents its 5th season beginning tonight with a special anniversary program featuring retrospectives of Dai-Sil Kim-Gibson (Sa-I-Gu, Wet Sand, Silence Broken, A Forgotten People, Olivia’s Story), with panel discussion featuring Charles Burnett; and Jae-Han Lee (71:Into the Fire, The Cut Runs Deep, Sayonara Itsuka, A Moment to Remember; set to remake John Woo’s The Killer).

For full info about the festival, visit kaffny.com.

ACF 935: "A Yakuza in Love" will be shown at Japan Society tonight

A Yakuza in Love © 1997 Toei Co., Ltd.

A Yakuza in Love a.k.a. Villainous Love
Directed by Rokuro Mochizuki
With Eiji Okuda, Yuna Natsuo, Shunsuke Matsuoka
When: Thursday, March 17, 2010 at 7:30 PM
Where: Japan Society, 333 East 47th Street
Between 1st and 2nd Avenues
1997, 110 min., 35 mm, color
In Japanese with English subtitles
Print courtesy of The Japan Foundation
International Premiere!!!
Buy tickets online
(Note that from March 14–June 30, 2011, 50% of all ticket sales will go to Japan Society's Earthquake Relief Fund.)

"Like no other yakuza film you're likely to have ever seen."
-- Chris MaGee, Toronto J-Film Pow-Wow

A dark, delicate, comic and complicated telling of a hard-as-nails, simple love story. Boy meets girl; boy falls in love, boy drugs girl. Boy and girl start a rather twisted, chemical-fueled affair. Things get sour. The boy is a low-ranking ne'er-do-well yakuza in an ill-fated gang, fighting a losing battle with their rival gang. The girl... well, the girl is just a waitress who should probably know better.

Auteur Mochizuki (Onibi: The Fire Within; Another Lonely Hitman), director and co-writer, has fashioned this unlikely romance between two mismatched lost souls into a black comedy of startling directness and intensity, following the old boy's fumbling (and often funny) attempts at romance through questionable methods of courtship (which include kidnapping into the bargain).

Generously spiced graphic sex scenes alternate with moments of lyricism and otherworldly calm, subtly layering the characters and their path to ruin. As the strange relationship blossoms, the yakuza's drug addiction and unstoppable habits of destruction threaten to destroy everything...

ACF Comment: I really found this an engrossing film. While the protagonist is far from sympathetic, both he, the female lead and several other characters are richly drawn and masterfullly depicted. My rating is 3.5 out of 4 stars, very highly recommended.

In addition the film, there will be a Special Exhibition Preview:

From 6:00-7:30 pm, ticketholders get an exclusive sneak preview of Japan Society’s spring exhibition Bye Bye Kitty!!! Between Heaven and Hell in Contemporary Japanese Art, opening March 18. Among 40 installations of sculpture, painting, video and photography, from some of the most evocative artist living and working in Japan today, are such genre appropriate works as a dress with yards of blood streaming from it, a bevy of geisha grandmothers, happy-go-lucky school girls committing harakiri, a life-size glass bulb bedazzled taxidermy deer, and a spectacular 23-foot mural of mountains composed of thousands of dead salarymen.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

ACF 934: "Dead or Alive" at Japan Society

Dead or Alive © 1999 Kadokawa Shoten Co., Ltd.

Dead or Alive / Hanzaisha
Directed by Takashi Miike
Starring Riki Takeuchi and Sho Aikawa
When: Tuesday, March 15, 2010 at 7:30 PM
Where: Japan Society, 333 East 47th Street
Between 1st and 2nd Avenues
1999, 105 min., 35 mm, color
In Japanese and Mandarin with English subtitles
Print courtesy of The Japan Foundation
Buy tickets online

Introduction with Director Takashi Miike!!!!!

A mind-boggling carnival of ultra-violence, massive drug use, punch-drunk camerawork and unending stroboscopic editing, perfectly calculated to induce an outbreak of rapture that will leave the viewer shaking and ringing from the shock. Miike's legendary Dead or Alive pits a yakuza of Chinese descent (Riki Takeuchi) against a Japanese cop (Sho Aikawa) in the mean streets of Tokyo's crime-infested Shinjuku area, prowled by warring factions that vie for supremacy. Their fated encounter, propelled by an astonishing opening reel of hyperspeed action, leads a truly out-this-earth, apocalyptic conclusion, perhaps the most spectacular showdown ever committed to celluloid. Visuals, courtesy of "Hana-bi" D.P. Hideo Yamamoto, are slick and arresting and give a proud, bloody-minded majesty to the trip.

Monday, March 14, 2011

ACF 933: The Korea Society to present p'ansori master BAE Il-dong

Bae Il-dong

Contemplative Traditions Music Series: P’ungnyu in P’ansori

When: Friday, March 25th, 2010 at 6:30PM
Where: The Korea Society, 950 3rd Avenue at 57th Street
Entrance on 57th, the South-West corner of the intersection

On March 25, The Korea Society of New York will proudly host p’ansori master Bae Il-dong. He presents a program of p’ungnyu, enthralling listeners with his stunning control of drama, narrative, melody, and rhythm. Bae performs Korea's beloved tale of Chunhyang ga, one of the five most popular epic narratives that form the p’ansori canon.

The Chunhyang ga tells the story of love between Chunhyang, the daughter of a kiseng, and Yi Mongryong, the son of a magistrate. After the two are illegally married, Mongryong goes to Hanyang (Seoul) to pass the state examination to become a court official. Mr. Bae Il-dong will sing of Yi Mongryong’s return to Namwon as well as his re-encounter with his mother-in-law, Wolmae.

Kim Dong-won

Noted professor Kim Dong-won, who has been part of Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble, speaks on p’ungnyu and Bae Il-dong’s performance during and at the conclusion of the event. Traditional teas and sweets are offered throughout this special hour of contemplative music, commentary and Q&A.

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Sunday, March 13, 2011

ACF 932: Three great Yakuza flicks playing at Japan Society today

Japan Society's Globus Film Series Hardest Men in Town: Yakuza Chronicles of Sin, Sex & Violence continues today with three more terrific films.

Cops Vs. Thugs © 1975 Toei Co., Ltd.

Cops Vs. Thugs
Directed by Kinji Fukasaku
With Bunta Sugawara, Seizo Fukumoto, Reiko Ike,
Nobuo Kaneko, and Yoko Koizumi
1975, 100 minutes, 35 mm, color, in Japanese with English subtitles
Print courtesy of The Japan Foundation
Sunday, March 13, 3:15 PM
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"Fukasaku at the peak of his powers."--Tom Mes and Jasper Sharp, The Midnight Eye Guide to New Japanese Cinema

With this film, which has all the grunting doggedness of the real thing, Fukasaku puts the spotlight on the forces of grand corruption and the ferocious business of butting heads with the law. 1963: The Kurashima City police have spent the past seven years eradicating the yakuza gangs, at the root of much mayhem. The last two remaining gangs, Ohara and Kawade, are in tatters, with the Ohara boss in prison. But with the police force full of corrupt officers, the gangs begin to prosper once again. Soon it's not only Cops vs. Thugs, but Thugs vs. Thugs and Cops vs. Cops. With genre supremo Bunta Sugawara as a police detective who makes Dirty harry look like a rent-a-cop.

Battle without Honor and Humanity (Pt. 3): Proxy War © 1973 Toei Co., Ltd.

Battle without Honor and Humanity (Pt. 3): Proxy War
Directed by Kinji Fukasaku
With Bunta Sugawara, Akira Kobayashi, Tsunehiko Watase,
Shingo Yamashiro, Reiko Ike, and Nobuo Kaneko
1973, 91 minutes, 35 mm, color, in Japanese with English subtitles
Sunday, March 13, 5:30 PM
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The centerpiece of the five-film postwar yakuza arch-epic/classic is almost impossibly alert to the constant transactions of power within the unrepentantly violent world of Hiroshima gangsters. Inspired by real-life events, these Battles breathlessly accumulates unabashed close-ups of bloodletting and wounded bodies flying left and right, front and back. The film has the most treacherous plot of the lot--plotting, counter-plottings, alliances and betrayals will leave viewers dizzy and with only one certainty, that of violence; by fair means or foul, mostly foul, we are led into battle and bloody murders, with jitsuroku ("docudrama"-style) star Bunta Sugawara at the center of it. This is your chance to witness Japanese gangster violence in all its seedy, futile but spectacular glory.

Youth of the Beast © Nikkatsu Corporation

Youth of the Beast
Directed by Seijun Suzuki
With Joe Shishido, Misako Watanabe, Tamio Kawaji,
Ichiro Kijima, and Mizuho Suzuki
1963, 92 minutes, 35 mm, color, in Japanese with live English subtitles
Sunday, March 13, 7:30 PM
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Seijun Suzuki's breakthrough film is faster, rougher and wilder than most of his other outings (except perhaps the outrageously off-the-wall Branded to Kill). Raw, rugged and tumbling out of nowhere, Jo (Joe Shishido, a frequent leading man in Suzuki's films) wants employment and wants it now. Closer in temperament to a human lava flow, he's not about to let little things like a bunch of big, bulky brawlers get in the way. He barges into the headquarters of a notorious yakuza organization and there he proceeds to beat the living daylights out of the goons, points a gun at the boss and politely asks for a job. The boss is impressed and puts him on the payroll. Jo then heads over to the rival faction's gang... Repeat. In other words, all-out gang war is around the corner. This early Seijun Suzuki masterpiece paved the way for the late 1990s visual extravaganza (Takashi Miike and others).