With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

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

Thursday, June 30, 2011

ACF 1080: Links to cooperative coverage of the New York Asian Film Festival and Japan Cuts

Karate-Robo Zaborgar
© 2011 Denjin Zaborger Film Partners

The cooperative coverage of the 10th Annual New York Asian Film Festival, co-presented by Subway Cinema and the FIlm Society of Lincoln Center, and of Japan Cuts: The New York Festival Of Contemporary Japanese Cinema, presented by Japan Society, has already brought forth considerable fruit -- and NYAFF, the first festival, doesn't begin until this Friday!

The four cooperating websites (in no particular order) are:
- VCinema
- AsianCineFest
- The Bourne Cinema Conspiracy
- cineAWESOME!

I've listed the four cooperating websites below. Within each site, the reviews are listed most recent first, earliest last. I've also indicated the author of each review. There's some cross-posting, particularly by Chris Bourne and myself, first at VCinema, then on our own blogs. In certain of these cross-posts. you'll find that the second postings differ somewhat from the originals at VCinema.

I'll be periodically updating this list of links. So be sure to check back.

VCinema

The Unjust – John Berra

The City of Violence – Dr. Stan Glick

Horny House of Horror – Christopher Bourne

Milocrorze: A Love Story – Dr. Stan Glick

BKO: Bangkok Knockout – Christopher Bourne

AsianCineFest

Milocrorze: A Love Story – Dr. Stan Glick

The Bourne Cinema Conspiracy

BKO: Bangkok Knockout – Christopher Bourne

cineAWESOME!

Toilet – Deangelo Willimas, Jr.

Troubleshooter – Deangelo Willimas, Jr.

A Night in Nude: Salvation – Deangelo Willimas, Jr.

Buddha Mountain – James McCormick

ACF 1079: VIZ Media bringing Mameshiba to North America on July 5th

(C) 2011 VIZ Media, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Mameshiba characters licensed from Dentsu, Inc.
(C) DENTSU INC. All Rights Reserved.


IT’S A BEAN! IT’S A DOG! IT’S BOTH?!!
VIZ MEDIA BRINGS THE CUTE AND FUN
CHARACTERS OF MAMESHIBA TO NORTH AMERICA

Adorable Japanese Character Sensations Make Their Debut
In New Graphic Novel Adventure And Character Guide This Summer

VIZ Media has announced the release of its first titles for MAMESHIBA. The cute Japanese sensations will be introduced in a character guide called MEET MAMESHIBA! and star in their first-ever graphic novel, MAMESHIBA: ON THE LOOSE!, both to be released in July in the U.S. and Canada under the company’s VIZ Kids imprint.

It's a BEAN! It's a DOG! It's... BOTH?! Are they beans? Are they dogs? Not quite either one – they're Mameshiba! Though they all love to share weird facts, each has its own quirky personality.

“With their unique personalities, adorable faces, and love of trivia, MAMESHIBA will capture hearts both young and old,” says Traci Todd, Senior Editor of Children’s Publishing. “Readers will learn all they need to know about Edamame, Cranberry Bean, Tiger Bean and Black-Eyed-Pea in the MEET MAMESHIBA! character guide. And readers will be amazed as the beans boldly go where no beans have gone before in MAMESHIBA: ON THE LOOSE!, their first graphic novel adventure.”

MAMESHIBA: ON THE LOOSE! • Rated ‘A’ for All Ages • MSRP: $6.99 U.S. / $7.99 CAN Available July 5th

Meet Mameshiba! The Japanese sensations are coming to the U.S. in their first-ever graphic novel series! Now that these irresistibly cute, irrepressibly curious characters have been unleashed, there’s no telling where they’ll turn up!

Mameshiba are the cute little bean dogs with bite! Starring in their first-ever adventures, they rescue friends, explore outer space and offer interesting bits of trivia when you least expect it! Hold on tight – Mameshiba are on the LOOSE!

MEET MAMESHIBA! CHARACTER GUIDE • Rated ‘A’ for All Ages • MSRP: $6.99 U.S. / $7.99 CAN • Available July 5th

Did you know? Every Mameshiba character has its own quirky personality! Meet Edamame, Tiger Bean, Soybean, Chili Bean and all their friends in this guide packed with trivia, quizzes, comics and fun! Plus, meet three brand-new beans: Cranberry Bean, Lima Bean and Black-Eyed-Pea!

For more information on MAMESHIBA and other VIZ Kids properties, visit www.VIZKids.com.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

ACF 1078: NYAFF/Japan Cuts review of Milocrorze: A Love Story

Milocrorze and the seven-year old Ovreneli Vreneligare

Milocrorze: A Love Story
Director: Yoshimasa Ishibashi
Starring: Takayuki Yamada
Japan, 2011, 90 minutes
North American Premiere
Opening Night Presentation

New York Asian Film Festival
When: July 1, 2010
Where: The Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center
Also being shown at Japan Society on July 10, 2011
as part of the Japan Cuts Film Series
See details for both screenings at the bottom of this post

Milocrorze: A Love Story, in its North American Premiere, will be the Opening Night Presentation at the 10th Annual New York Asian Film Festival, which runs July 1-14. Right off let me say that it’s a terrific film. Director Yoshimasa Ishibashi has created an imaginative fantasy that genre jumps back-and-forth and all around its own time/space dis-continuum, with both an eye-popping color palette and plenty of female pulchritude eye-candy. it also affords actor Takayuki Yamada an opportunity to display his considerable skills in a near one-man show, seeing as he plays the three very different male lead characters, one in two manifestations. Yamada is in at least four other films (13 Assassins: Director’s Cut, Vengeance Can Wait, Gantz , and Gantz: Perfect Answer) that will be shown at the festival! No wonder he’ll be receiving this year’s Star Asia Rising Star Award.

The film begins with a female narrator telling us that “In a place a bit far away from this planet…” lives Ovreneli Vreneligare (adorable Kota Shimoji). Thus a fantasy, fairy tale quality is immediately established. Ovrenili is a seven year old man-child with bright orange mop-topped hair and colorful clothing who lives with his cat Verandola Gongonzola. (Don’t ask me why the Italian-sounding names; I haven’t a clue. Maybe just because they’re so much fun to hear.) One day he meets “the great and heavenly” Milocrorze (single-moniker actress Maiko), a lovely full grown real woman, in a park. An intimate — if oddball — relationship develops, and they begin to live together in a new house Ovrenili has bought, even though it’s above his means. But Milocrorze’s feelings change over time, and she moves out and stops coming to the park. The End. Only not quite.

Takayuki Yamada as youth counselor Besson Kumagi

Jump cut to the “5 PM Evening Show” where the special guest is Besson Kumagai (Takayuki Yamada), a “counselor of youth studies” who instantly solves the romance problems of young men. Loud, brash, rude, obnoxious, and otherwise verbally abusive, he suggests such things as one caller tweaking his girlfriend’s “breast bells” when she opens the door. This portion of the film includes many dance segments, as Kumagai prances his way down hallways and sidewalks as well as in a supermarket. There he performs a routine that’s a blend of John Travolta’s character in Saturday Night Fever and Michael Jackson’s in Thriller. Always Kumagai’s dancing is accompanied by lovely young ladies, including two in the barest of bikinis and long, open coats.

Yamada as Tamon, the so-called one-eyed samurai

After he leaves a club where he insults a table full of hostesses, his limo hits two steampunk-dressed characters, one of whom has shot a samurai (?!) with an arrow from a crossbow. The samurai, Tamon (Yamada again), learns that a certain Yuri has been sold by the dying Vandit (at least that’s what the subtitles consistently call him) to Tenzakuro, the largest licensed quarters in Taisho City. In a flashback we learn that four years earlier, Tamon had met and fallen in love with Yuri, who operates a flower stand.

But at that time, Tamon (Yamada in a different manifestation of the character) was a business suit wearing contemporary young man with his shoulder length hair swept straight back from his forehead and face! While Yuri and he were riding on his motorcycle, the Vandit and his henchmen ambushed them and made off with Yuri. Tamon, in various clothing styles, wandered around looking for leads as to Yuri’s whereabouts. His efforts included a visit to Gazen, a master tattoo artist, played by venerable director Seijun Suzuki, sporting his real-life breathing tube.

Seijun Suzuki as master tattoo artist Gazen

Having finally discovered that she’s one of the courtesans in the Tanzakuro brothel, Tamon tries to win enough money in the premise’s gambling den to procure her services so he can take her away. But a vicious sword fight erupts (remember, Tamon is now the samurai) after Tamon accuses the female dealer of the gambling parlor Oryu (Mieko Harada) of cheating. In an extended one-against-many parallel tracking shot, Tamon fights his way through numerous rooms. (This scene looks like it was done a single take, but most assuredly was not. Regardless, it's still a most impressive visual tour de force. It reminded of the end of Sword of Doom and of Oh Dae-su’s escape scene in Oldboy.) Eventually Tamon finds Yuri, but the seriousness of his wounds put the future of their love in grave doubt.


The film then returns to the story of Ovreneli Vreneligare. After “years of growing and molting,” he’s now thirty-seven years old, but looks younger, especially because he’s wearing the same hairstyle and clothing, only in larger sizes. And he’s now played by — you guessed it — Takayuki Yamada in his final lead characterization. At this point in his life, Ovreneli likes to take three-day trips to hot springs in the winter. He goes to Nipple Spring in Autumn Field to stay at Inn Nakyamura. There, to his total surprise, he finds Milocrorze, who is the now married proprietress of the inn. The odds are stacked against him, but Ovreneli, who’s had a hole in his heart that he’s covered with saucepan lids in front and back since Milocrorze left him, makes a last valiant effort to regain her love.

Yamada as the 37-yaer-old Ovreneli Vreneligare

I first saw Milocrorze: A Love Story at a press screening at Japan Society a short while ago. The 25 to 30 or so of us who were present all laughed out loud over and over and over again. Before writing this review, I watched it again on a DVD screener generously provided by Japan Society. And the film held up wonderfully, a remarkable achievement since humor often doesn’t translate well across language and cultural differences. I like to use a four star rating system, and I’m assigning Milocrorze: A Love Story a rating of 4 out of 4 stars, my highest recommendation. See it if you can, at NYAFF, Japan Cuts, or wherever.

Milocrorze: A Love Story [Mirokuroze] screens at the Walter Reade Theater on July 1 at 9:00 pm. Director Yoshimasa Ishibashi and actor Takayuki Yamada are scheduled to attend. For tickets, visit the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s NYAFF website.

Milocrorze: A Love Story will also screen at the Japan Society on July 10 at 8:00 pm as part of Japan Cuts: The New York Festival Of Contemporary Japanese Cinema. A co-presentation with NYAFF, this screening will include an introduction and Q&A with director Yoshimasa Ishibashi. For tickets to that screening visit Japan Society’s Japan Cuts website.

The above review, in slightly different form, originally appeared on the VCinema blog as part of the cooperative efforts of several websites to provide as extensive coverage of the New York Asian Film Festival and of Japan Cuts as possible.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

ACF 1077: Contemplative Traditional Music Series: P’ungnyu Strings

Contemplative Traditional Music Series:
P’ungnyu Strings (Kayagum)
When: Thursday, June 30th at 6:30 PM
Where: The Korea Society
950 Third Avenue @ 57th Street, 8th Floor
Entrance on 57th Street, southwest corner of the intersection

This Thursday, enjoy a meditative hour of stringed kayagum set to p’ungnyu, the classical ensemble music of Korean nobility and central theme of our spring/summer perfromance series. The Korea Society here presents p’ungnyu in its chul-p’ungnyu (stringed-instrument) form. P’ungnyu also refers to a state of leisure when one is elevated from the mundane to better appreciate poetry, music and companionship.

Park Yoon-sook, founder and president of the twenty-year-old Korean Traditional Music and Dance Institute of New York, opens with a Kayagum sanjo. Before her arrival in the United States, Park spent more than two and a half decades studying kayagum, p’ansori, and dance with many of Korea’s leading artists. Ms. Park won numerous awards and performed over 1,800 concerts across Asia and the United States, including a solo recital at Carnegie Hall. This performance is presented with the generous support of the New York State Council on the Arts.

For more information and to buy tickets online, click here.

Monday, June 27, 2011

ACF 1076: High School of the Dead coming to Xfinity Top Picks on Comcast in July

High School of the Dead
Coming to Xfinity Top Picks
on Comcast this July

Anime Network and Comcast will team up this Summer to bring their fans one of the hottest anime in recent memory, High School of the Dead. The world is turned on it's head when the dead begin to rise, and for a group of high school students survival is their only option! All 12 episodes of this sizzling hot series will be available to rent on Xfinity Top Picks this July.

WHAT: High School of the Dead debuts on Xfinity Top Picks on Comcast
The complete series of High School of the Dead will be available to rent in the Top Picks category for only $0.99 per episode. Also included is the free behind-the-scenes special "Dead and Loving It", exclusive only to Comcast customers.

WHEN: July 1st through July 31st.

WHERE: Xfinity OnDemand's Top Picks on Comcast

HOW: Just hit the ONDEMAND button on your remote and select the Top Picks menu to find all 12 episodes and free bonus content.

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

Sunday, June 26, 2011

ACF 1075: Maiden Japan announces license of Himawari!

Entertainment label Maiden Japan has announced its acquisition of the hit animated series HIMAWARI! Based on the teenage ninja manga sensation from the writer/artist team of GoDO and Tagro, HIMAWARI! was directed by Shigenori Kageyama (Fist of the North Star) with script supervision by Mamiko Ikeda (Sgt. Frog, Emma- A Victorian Romance) and character designs by Okama (Evangelion 1.0 & 2.0,) and Seiji Kishimoto (Elfen Lied, Cat Girl Nuku Nuku.)

Maiden Japan will be distributing HIMAWARI! in conjunction with home video distributor Section23 (Clannad, High School of the Dead, Appleseed,) with the entire series to be released in both English Subtitled DVD and Digital Formats.

Series Description:
Ever since being rescued by a ninja when she was younger, Himawari Hinata’s greatest ambition has been to become one herself. Now, finally, she’s got her chance to study at Shinobi Gakuen, the elite academy where female ninja are trained! Unfortunately, Himawari isn’t as prepared as some of her fellow candidates and on her very first day she ends up being saved by one of her teachers. To the embarrassment, the person who rescues her isn’t even a ninja!

He’s Hayato Marikoji and HIS duty is to teach the ninja how to act like a normal person like himself! With that inauspicious start, will Himawari ever be able to gain entrance to the school? And if she does, can she meet the rigorous standards demanded by her teachers? And why does Hayato remind her so much of an important person from her past? With a whole school full of ninjas, there’s certain to be more going on than meets the eye in HIMAWARI!

About Maiden Japan:

Maiden Japan is the new anime label whose first release was the fan originated, cult-hit Papillon Rose. With the sci-fi/detective thriller Glass Maiden, Maiden Japan launched a new series of animated thrillers that will continue over the upcoming months. Keep your eyes ready for further announcements, coming soon!

About Section23 Films:

Section23 Films provides home video marketing and distribution services for a variety of companies, including Sentai Filmworks, Switchblade Pictures, Maiden Japan and AEsir Holdings. With its special focus on genre entertainment, Section23 Films distributes some of the very best anime, martial arts, and horror titles on the market today.

Friday, June 24, 2011

ACF 1074: VIZ to release Natsume Ono's La Quinta Camera on July 19th

LA QUINTA CAMERA © 2006 Natsume ONO/Shogakukan

NATSUME ONO CAPTURES A SNAPSHOT OF LIFE IN NEW
MANGA RELEASE LA QUINTA CAMERA FROM VIZ MEDIA

Fast-Rising Manga Star Offers A Collection Of Slice-Of-Life Short
Stories About The Unique Tenants Of An Italian Apartment

VIZ Media has announced the release of Natsume Ono’s single-volume manga (graphic novel), LA QUINTA CAMERA, on July 19th. The title is highly anticipated as accolades for Ono’s works continues to grow across North America. LA QUINTA CAMERA will be published under VIZ Media’s Signature imprint, is rated ‘T’ for Teens, and will carry an MSRP of $12.99 U.S. / $14.99 CAN.

LA QUINTA CAMERA revolves around the tenants of an apartment in Italy. In four of the rooms live four single men with singular personalities. Into this peculiar ménage steps an exchange student, the new tenant of the fifth room. Brought together by chance, friends by choice, they pursue their dreams together as the days drift gently by.

“Natsume Ono first drew acclaim in Japan in 2003 with LA QUINTA CAMERA, which marked her professional debut,” says Amy Yu, Editor. “Ono thrilled North American audiences with her recent live appearances in New York City and also at the 2011 Toronto Comics Art Festival, and her fame continues to grow among domestic readers. LA QUINTA CAMERA wonderfully exhibits Ono’s unconventional artistic style and skillful storytelling abilities, and we hope that her fan base will expand even more with the release of this inspiring manga.”

Natsume Ono’s work is characterized by a minimalist yet sensual art style and composed psychological portraits that explore the relationships and dramas of everyday life. Ono made her professional debut in 2003, and her subsequent works including not simple, RISTORANTE PARADISO, GENTE and HOUSE OF FIVE LEAVES (all published under VIZ Media’s Signature imprint) have pushed the manga genre in intriguing new directions. RISTORANTE PARADISO and HOUSE OF FIVE LEAVES have also been adapted into animated TV series.

Ono’s HOUSE OF FIVE LEAVES, a many-sided tale of drama and intrigue set in the world of old Edo, was also recently nominated for a 2011 Will Eisner Comic Industry Award for Best U.S. Edition of International Material – Asia.

For more information on Natsume Ono or to check out other VIZ Signature titles, please visit www.SigIKKI.com.

ACF 1073: VIZ releasing new YU-GI-OH! 5DS manga series on July 5th, 2011

YU-GI-OH! 5D’s © 2009 by Masahiro Hikokubo,
Masashi Sato/SHUEISHA Inc.
© K. Takahashi
© NAS・TV TOKYO


VIZ MEDIA TO PREMIERE THE TENSE HIGH-SPEED ACTION
OF NEW YU-GI-OH! 5D’S MANGA SERIES

High Stakes, High Drama And High Speed Turbo Duels Await Readers
In The Latest Saga Of Classic Fantasy Action Franchise

VIZ Media will release the next exciting chapter of the venerable YU-GI-OH! franchise as the company launches the brand new YU-GI-OH! 5D’S manga (graphic novel) series on July 5th.

The new series, written by Masahiro Hikokubo with artwork created by Masashi Sato, will be published under the company’s popular Shonen Jump imprint, is rated ‘T’ for Teens and will carry an MSRP of $9.99 U.S. / $12.99 CAN. First editions of the premiere volume will also include a special YU-GI-OH! Dark Highlander collectible trading card.

In New Domino City, the hottest game in town is the Turbo Duel, fought from blazingly fast motorcycles called Duel Runners. On the outskirts of New Domino City, in a district known as Satellite, a new Turbo Duel hero emerges – Yusei Fudo! On his custom-built Duel Runner, Yusei takes on all challengers, fighting for his friends and the future of Satellite! In the opening volume of the new YU-GI-OH! 5D’S series, a high-speed Turbo Duel through the streets of Satellite brings Yusei Fudo and his friend Sect face-to-face with an urban legend incarnate! Will Yusei lose Sect to the Skeleton Knight? And what sinister plans does Jack Atlas, master of New Domino City, have in store for Yusei?

“High stakes, high drama and tense high-speed action await readers in the new YU-GI-OH! 5D’S manga adventure,” says Mike Montesa, Editor. “In YU-GI-OH! 5D’S, the classic card game of dueling monsters has evolved to now include ‘turbo duels’ waged in giant stadiums on fantastic racing motorcycles outfitted with built-in magical dueling equipment. Existing YU-GI-OH! fans won’t want to miss the launch of this exciting new series, which is also an ideal entry point for readers that are new to the YU-GI-OH! world. We can’t wait for the series launch this July!”

Masahiro Hikokubo is a writer with extensive experience on several notable YU-GI-OH! animated series, having worked on the original YU-GI-OH! anime series as a duel designer before going on to write scripts for YU-GI-OH! GX, YU-GI-OH! The Movie: Pyramid of Light, as well as the latest YU-GI-OH! 5D'S.

Masashi Sato debuted as a manga artist in Akamaru Jump in the summer of 2004 with the short story, Mikakushi Tsumuji. He was also named a semi-finalist for the 64th Tezuka Award for his work, Guhou Daichi. After working as an assistant to the YU-GI-OH! manga creative team, Sato became the lead artist on YU-GI-OH! 5D’S.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

ACF 1072: The Korea Society will be presenting an exhibition of Lee UFan's writings

The Writings of Lee UFan
An Exhibition
Where: The Korea Society, 950 Third Avenue @ 57th Street
(Entrance on 57th Street, the south-west corner of the intersection)
When: June 28—August 15, 2011

Gallery Opening/Reception
Tuesday, June 28, 6-8 PM
RSVP

The Korea Society will be presenting an exhibition of the writings of celebrated artist, poet, and philosopher Lee UFan. This will be in conjunction with the Guggenheim Museum's retrospective exhibition, Lee UFan: Marking Infinity, which runs June 24-September 28, 2011.

Born in Korea in 1936, Lee has been an artistic and intellectual force in Korea, Japan, and Europe for more than four decades, articulating a unique aesthetic and philosophical stance grounded in modernity critique and Post-Minimalist practice. Lee, the author of seventeen books, has written seminal essays on contemporary art, Asian culture, and democracy that offer a powerful voice to our current cultural discourse.

The Korea Society’s summer exhibition will present photographs and work with Lee’s poetry, criticism, and essays.

ACF 1071: Sentai Filmworks announces license of "MARDOCK SCRAMBLE”


Sentai Filmworks has announced the licensing of MARDOCK SCRAMBLE, a new trilogy of animated features based on the original novel by Tow Ubukata (Le Chevalier D’Eon). An ultraviolent new franchise in which a murdered girl is transformed into a cybernetic grim reaper, the first film in the series will be directed by Susumu Kudo (He Is My Master, Mirage of Blaze) from screenplays by Ubutaka himself and with character designs by Jun Nakai (Sacred Blacksmith, Tokyo Majin) and Shingo Suzuki (Princess Lover).

To stop the unstoppable you need the irresistible. To kill the unkillable, you need someone for whom death no longer has a meaning. And to catch the perfect serial killer, you need the one person who knows his methods the best… his last victim! Murdered and reborn, no longer human, the female cyborg named Balot exists for only one reason – to track down the man who killed her and bring him to justice.

But can even the ultimate hybrid between ghost and machine take down a monster who wipes his own memory… especially when HIS partner already has HER in his sights? The future will be painted blood red as vengeance hit the streets in MARDOCK SCRAMBLE!

MARDOCK SCRAMBLE: THE FIRST COMPRESSION, the first film in the new hit series, will be available this September in both English dubbed and English subtitled versions on DVD and via digital retailers. A Blu-Ray version is planned for 2012 release.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

ACF 1070: Screening & panel discussion on Kimchi Chronicles at Korean Cultural Service

Kimchi Chronicles
Special Screening & Cooking Demonstration
When: Tuesday, June 28, 2011 at 6:30 PM
Where: Korean Cultural Service NY
460 Park Avenue, 6th Floor
New York, NY 10022

Here's some info about a tasty, upcoming event at Korean Cultural Service NY:

Join the Korean Cultural Service NY for a special screening and an exciting panel discussion about Kimchi Chronicles with its producer Eric Rhee, host Marja Vongerichten, and moderator Jennifer Maeng, who is currently doing catering (Temple Catering Co.) and promoting Korean food in New York City as they converse about the prolific series on Korean cuisine and culture. A viewing of the first episode along with a preview of an episode that has not yet been shown followed by Questions and Answers with the panel. Marja Vongerichten will also provide a live demonstration of how to cook Bindaetteok (Korean-styled pancakes) with a recipe from her upcoming The Kimchi Chronicles Cookbook.

Kimchi Chronicles, produced by Eric Rhee and co-hosted by Marja Vongerichten and Jean-Georges Vongerichten, is the most anticipated television series on Korean culture and food to be aired on PBS. The 13-episode show dynamically explores Korean cuisine, culture, and popular Korean tourist attractions throughout the country with Marja Vongerichten, who is a Korean-born former actress and model, and her husband, world-renowned chef, Jean-Georges Vongerichten. Following the couple’s quests and travels for authentic Korean food are various connoisseurs of Korean cuisine and friends such as actress Heather Graham who all partake in discovering the palatable joys of Korean food beyond just Kimchi.

Moreover, Kimchi Chronicles also provides instructions on how to recreate Korean dishes in the American home as the series goes back and forth between traveling in Korea to taste original Korean food to cooking them in Marja and Jean-Gorges’ kitchen back in Westchester, New York. In several episodes, even their neighbors Hugh and Deb Jackman join them to share Korean food in addition to new Korean-inspired dishes Jean-Gorges has created. All accessible recipes will be in the upcoming The Kimchi Chronicles Cookbook.

This is an opportunity you will not want to miss. While reservations are not required, RSVP is recommended. Seating will be provided on a first-come first-serve basis for the first 100 people.

To RSVP, please email rsvp@koreanculture.org. For more information, contact 212-759-9550 Ext.207.

TV Series Description
• Most high profile and widely seen TV series on Korean culture and food ever produced
• 13 high-definition episodes, half hour TV program to air on Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) in the US and around the world
• Series will air on PBS as a special release in New York in May and nationwide in July 2011

ACF 1069: VIZ launches Naoki Urasawa's MONSTER on Netflix

VIZ MEDIA UNLEASHES THE GRIPPING HUNT FOR A SERIAL KILLER
AS NAOKI URASAWA’S MONSTER LAUNCHES ON NETFLIX

Acclaimed Anime Thriller Presents A Psychological Crime
Drama Of Conspiracy, Political Intrigue And Murder

VIZ Media continues to expand its anime offerings as it announces the launch of NAOKI URASAWA’S MONSTER on Netflix, the world’s leading Internet subscription service for enjoying movies and TV shows. The complete 74-episode psychological suspense series is now available for members in the U.S to watch instantly.

NAOKI URASAWA’S MONSTER (rated TV-MA, subtitled) is based on the critically acclaimed manga (graphic novel) series, also published in North America by VIZ Media, and will be presented uncut. The series joins several other popular VIZ Media anime titles such as BLEACH, DEATH NOTE, NARUTO, INUYASHA, and MÄR, which can now be instantly streamed from Netflix.

What would you do if a child you once saved grew up to be a monster? An ice-cold killer is on the loose, and Dr. Kenzo Tenma is the only one who can stop him! Tenma, a brilliant neurosurgeon with a promising future, risks his career to save a critically wounded young boy named Johan. When the boy, now a coldhearted and charismatic young man, reappears nine years later in the midst of a string of unusual serial murders, Tenma goes on the run from the police, who suspect him to be the killer, to find Johan and stop the monster he set loose upon the world.

Conspiracies, serial murders, and secret government experiments set against the grim backdrop of the formerly communist Eastern Europe are masterfully woven together in this compelling work of suspense. The critically acclaimed NAOKI URASAWA’S MONSTER manga series is also published in North America by VIZ Media and was nominated for the prestigious Eisner Award.

For more information on NAOKI URASAWA’S MONSTER manga series (rated ‘T+’ for Teens) please visit www.VIZSignature.com/monster.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

ACF 1068: NYAFF Trailer

The 10th Annual New York Asian Film Festival will start on July 1st and run through the 14th. The lineup is incredible. I've already seen three films at press screenings and will be watching others on DVD screeners before the festival begins. Look for reviews both here and at the VCinema blog, where I'll be posting some contributions, over the next several weeks.

Meanwhile, here's the festival trailer, which will give you an idea of the delights that await those fortunate enough to attend.



Let me just say at this time that the official opening night film Milocrorze: A Love Story is fantastic. It stars Takayuki Yamada in three different roles: a bizarre and manic youth counselor, a young man who falls in love with a flower vendor and somehow becomes a samurai after losing her, and an older version of the seven year old who falls in love with the title character. A great performance that certainly shows him worthy of the 2011 Star Asia Rising Star Award, which he'll be receiving at the festival.

For the complete list of the festival's films, including descriptions, and to buy tickets, click here.

ACF 1067: VCinema is giving away tickets to NYAFF screenings of two films


VCinema
is giving away two pairs of tickets, one to the anime adaptation OSAMU TEZUKA'S BUDDHA: The Great Departure and one to the awesome RIKI-OH: THE STORY OF RICKY.

Below are links to the two giveaways:

BUDDHA - your choice of two available screenings: Thursday, July 7th at 6:45pm or Sunday, July 10th at 12:30pm

Japan Cuts
’ description of Osamu Tezuka’s Buddha: THE GREAT DEPARTURE:

The much-anticipated animated epic based on Osamu Tezuka’s landmark bio of the Buddha. A spectacular, philosophical drama of life told through the eyes of Siddhartha, who will later become the Buddha.

RIKI-OH - the midnight, Friday, July 8th screening

NYAFF’s synopsis of Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky:

The classic Hong Kong midnight action movie about prison privatization and monsters who strangle you with their guts. Rarely seen on the big screen, this is a full-on, ridiculously crazy mind-melter full of crucifixion, flaying,classic kung fu combat and prison wardens who keep breath mints in their glass eyeballs.

Monday, June 20, 2011

ACF 1066: J-Pop group Supercell's digital release featuring Hatsune Miku debuts tomorrow

Hatsune Miku © Crypton Future Media Inc.

Japanese Group Pop Group Supercell Features
The World’s First Virtual Pop Singer
Hatsune Miku
And Releases Full-Length U.S. Debut On June 21st

Supercell Blends Tech-Inspired Vocals With Catchy Pop
Sensibilities And Debuts New Album On Sony Music Direct

Japanese pop group Supercell sees the digital release of its self-titled full-length major label debut in North America tomorrow – Tuesday, June 21st – from Sony Music Direct (Japan), Inc., a division of Sony Music Entertainment Japan, Inc. Supercell Featuring Hatsune Miku will be available exclusively on iTunes and Amazon.

Supercell blends catchy pop melodies and technology-inspired vocals with captivating anime-influenced imagery and notably features the world’s first virtual pop star, Hatsune Miku. The group’s new record features 12 upbeat tracks, driven by the singer’s bright vocals and backed by lush electronic, pop and rock-inspired melodies.

Supercell is a group of multimedia creators and artists led by composer/lyricist Ryo. Hatsune Miku, whose name means, “first sound of the future,” is a digital female avatar and the most popular of the Vocaloid Character Series software originally created by Crypton Future Media using Yamaha’s Vocaloid 2 engine to create synthesized vocal tracks.

The record’s first single, THE WORLD IS MINE, was released in North America on May 10th on iTunes and Amazon and placed as high as Number 4 on the iTunes World Music charts.

In Japan, Hatsune Miku is a major national phenomenon appearing in many popular video games and music videos. She’s also played several sellout “concerts,” where she performed on stage as a 3D hologram backed by a live band. Her international notoriety is spreading to North America, where she’s currently featured in a new commercial for the 2011 Toyota Corolla. Hatsune Miku is also scheduled to perform her first U.S. concert, MIKUNOPOLIS in LOS ANGELES, at the 2011 Anime Expo in Los Angeles, CA July 1-4. Information on the concert is available at: http://mikunopolis.com.

More information on Supercell is available at: http://www.facebook.com/supercell.JPN.

ACF 1065: Demon King Daimao Complete Collection now available on DVD & Blu-Ray


Section23 Films has announced the release of the hit series DEMON KING DAIMAO. The uncensored Complete Collection is now available on both DVD and Blu-Ray.

Is it good to be king? It’s hard to be king!

SYNOPSIS:
After enrolling at the Constant Magic Academy, Akuto Sai discovers he's not just a gifted student with magical powers; he's destined to become the Demon King. And though he's not that crazy about the idea, it drives the girls wild!

From the sexy school girls in his class to the skin-obsessed android who's programmed to seduce him, Akuto has no shortage of wacky girl trouble. How much temptation can a demon king take? How much naughty anime antics can you handle? Find out in Demon King Daimao!

DEMON KING DAIMAO COMPLETE COLLECTION
Running Time: 300 min.
Age Rating: TV MA (V, S, D)
Language: English & Japanese with English Subtitles
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Format: DVD
SRP: $59.98

DEMON KING DAIMAO COMPLETE COLLECTION BLU-RAY EDITION

Running Time: 300 min.
Age Rating: TV MA (V, S, D)
Language: English & Japanese with English Subtitles
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Format: BD
SRP: $69.98

Sunday, June 19, 2011

ACF 1064: Cafe Noir screens for free Tuesday in New York

Korean Cultural Service's
Korean Movie Night Series 3:
The Hidden Gems of Korean Cinema

Presents
Cafe Noir
Directed by Jung Sung-il
South Korea, 2008, 198 minutes
When: Tuesday, June 21st @ 7PM
Doors open at 6:30 PM
Where: Tribeca Cinemas
54 Varick Street, on the corner of Canal Street
One block from the A, C, E and 1 train Canal Street stops
Price: Free!!!
All seating is first-come, first served.
New York Premiere

The Hollywood Reporter calls it “enthralling” while other trade papers have violently rejected it like a bad cheeseburger, but either way there’s nothing else out there like film critic Jung Sung-Il’s epic CAFE NOIR. A sprawling, multi-character feature in the vein of a postmodern Robert Altman movie, the film tells the tale of a rejected young lover and his married mistress, juggling visual styles, points-of-view and references to everything from Korean monster movie THE HOST to Dostoevsky’s White Nights and Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther. Truly unique.

ACF 1063: VIZ Media Announces Heroes Of Anime Sweepstakes.

VIZ MEDIA LAUNCHES A SPECIAL SUMMERTIME
HEROES OF ANIME SWEEPSTAKES CONTEST

Summer-Long Contest Celebrates
VIZ Media’s 25th Anniversary
And Will Award Grand Prize Winner With
Passes To The New York Premiere Of The
NARUTO SHIPPUDEN THE MOVIE: BONDS
Feature Film

VIZ Media has announced the kick-off of a special Heroes of Anime summer sweepstakes. The contest, which also celebrates VIZ Media’s 25th Anniversary, runs throughout the summer. Entry details and more information are available www.viz.com/25years.

The Heroes of Anime Grand Prize will award one lucky winner with 2 passes to attend the exclusive U.S theatrical premiere of the latest NARUTO feature film – NARUTO SHIPPUDEN THE MOVIE: BONDS – set to take place in New York City around New York Comic-Con. The winner will also receive airfare and hotel accommodations for themselves and a guest as part of the Grand Prize package.

Follow-up prizes will include an Apple iPad™, awarded to one lucky contestant, as well as several prize packages that will go to other winners and will include fun tchotchkes and collectibles from a variety of top VIZ Media anime properties.

In NARUTO SHIPPUDEN THE MOVIE: BONDS, a group of mysterious flying ninja have arrived from overseas to launch a sudden attack against the Hidden Leaf Village, leaving behind a wake of destruction. The group is revealed to be the “Sky Ninja” from the Land of Sky, a nation thought to have been destroyed by the Hidden Leaf Village long ago. To save their village, Naruto and his friends set out to stop this new threat. During the course of the mission, Naruto crosses paths with Sasuke, his friend who has parted ways from the Leaf Village.

“Fans won’t want to miss their chance to win a special trip to New York City to attend the U.S. theatrical premiere of the newest NARUTO SHIPPUDEN feature film,” says Candice Uyloan, Director, Marketing. “It will be a truly memorable event that will feature some fun interactive activities, celebrity appearances, and plenty of photo opportunities. Come help us celebrate our 25th Anniversary and submit your entry for the Heroes of Anime sweepstakes today!”

More information on NARUTO is available at www.Naruto.com.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

ACF 1062: Japan Cuts tickets avialable online


“Arguably North America’s premiere showcase for Japanese film”
- Firefox News

AsianCineFest couldn't agree more. Below is some information about this upcoming festival, including a link so you can order tickets online and a schedule of both what's playing when and special events.

JAPAN CUTS has become the world’s largest showcase of contemporary Japanese film, showing the diversity and vitality of one of the most exciting world cinemas, and ranging from refined, high-concept art house titles to popular and grindhouse genre movies.

Now in its fifth consecutive year, JAPAN CUTS 2011 includes 32 new titles—the biggest line-up in the festival’s history with (almost) nothing but premieres and one-day only shows—screening from July 7 to 22, including 10 co-presentations with the New York Asian Film Festival (NYAFF).

Profound and/or pervy, frivolous and/or momentous, all the films selected have a brand of unyielding artistry and out-of-control eccentricity, offering you the hard, the rough, the sharp, the smooth and the soft edge of today’s film scene from Nippon!

SPECIAL OFFER
Purchase more than 5 tickets for at least 5 different films and receive $2 off of each ticket! Special offer available only at Japan Society Box Office or by telephone at (212) 715-1258. Offer not available online.

For descriptions of the films and to order Japan Cuts tickets online, click here.

SCHEDULE
Thursday, July 7
Buddha 6:45 PM
Ringing in their Ears 9 PM

Friday, July 8
Love & Loathing & Lulu & Ayano 7 PM
Battle Royale 9:15 PM

Saturday, July 9
Gantz: The Movie, Part 1 12:30 PM
Gantz, Part II: Perfect Answer 3 PM
Ninja Kids!!! 6 PM
Yakuza Weapon 8:15 PM
+ After Party!


Sunday, July 10
Buddha 12:30 PM
Heaven’s Story 2:45 PM
Milocrorze: A Love Story 8 PM
+ Q&A with Yoshimasa Ishibashi (director)

Tuesday, July 12
Sword of Desperation 6:30 PM
The Last Ronin 9 PM

Wednesday, July 13
Rinco’s Restaurant 6:30 PM
Birthright (a.k.a. Umbilical Cord) 9 PM

Thursday, July 14
Rail Truck 6:30 PM
Yuki and Nina 9 PM

Friday, July 15
Toilet 6:15 PM
Three☆Points 8:30 PM*
+ Q&A with Masashi Yamamoto (director) and Sora Aoi (actress) After Party!

Saturday, July 16
Love Addiction 2:30 PM
The Seaside Motel 4:30 PM
+ Q&A with Kentaro Moriya (director)
A Liar and a Broken Girl 7:15 PM
+ Q&A with Natsuki Seta (director)
Love and Treachery 10:30 PM

Sunday, July 17
The Knot 2 PM
Torso 4 PM
Strangers in the City 6:15 PM
A Night in Nude: Salvation 9 PM

Tuesday, July 19
Sketches of Kaitan City 6:30 PM
Control Tower 9:30 PM

Wednesday, July 20
Haru’s Journey 7 PM
+ Q&A with Masahiro Kobayashi (director) and Reception

Thursday, July 21
Vengeance Can Wait 7 PM
Wandering Home 9 PM

Friday, July 22
Into the White Night 7 PM
+ Closing Party

ACF 1061: Tenjo Tenge manga series coming out on June 21st, 2011 from VIZ Media

TENJHO TENGE © 1997 by Oh!great/SHUEISHA Inc.

VIZ MEDIA RELEASES THE FACE-CRUSHING ACTION
OF TENJO TENGE MANGA SERIES IN JUNE

Welcome to Todo High – Home of the Toughest Student Brawlers
and Sexiest Badass Babes in High School History

VIZ Media will be bringing gnarly, knuckle-busting action to readers with the release of the manga (graphic novel) series, TENJO TENGE, on June 21st, created by Oh!great. The debut volume features 16 full-color pages and a selection of alternate color cover images. TENJO TENGE will be published by the VIZ Signature imprint, is rated ‘M’ for Mature Audiences, and will carry an MSRP of $17.99 U.S. / $21.00 CAN.

Welcome to Todo High, where the only rule is: get strong or get schooled.

Soichiro Nagi and Bob Makihara have always been the meanest street brawlers around. When they enter Todo High they plan on carving out a reputation as the strongest fighters in their new school – easier said than done in a place that's dedicated to training its students in the art of combat! After realizing they're the new fish swimming in a tank full of sharks, Soichiro and Bob enter the Juken fight club as rookie members. However, the Executive Council – the archrival of the Juken Club – soon launches a surprise attack. Soichiro and Bob have a chance to show their stuff, as long as they don't get curb-kicked in the process!

“Our new release of Oh!great’s TENJO TENGE will be published as hefty 2-in-1 editions that remains 100% faithful to the original version published in Japan,” says Mike Montesa, Editor. “Soichiro Nagi and Bob Makihara have their work cut out for them as they try to carve out a reputation as the most dangerous pair of badasses at Todo High. But that may be easier said than done at a school that’s dedicated to training its students in the art of combat!”

Oh!great began his career as a professional manga creator in 1995. In 1997 his hit series TENJO TENGE debuted in UltraJump magazine, and in 2004, it was further adapted into a popular anime TV series. His other series, Air Gear, began serialization in Weekly Shonen Magazine in 2002, received a Kodansha Manga Award in 2006, and was also adapted into a successful anime TV series.

For more information on TENJO TENGE, or others titles from VIZ Media, visit www.viz.com.

Friday, June 17, 2011

ACF 1060: Tickets for the 2011 New York Asian Film Festival are now available online

Tickets are now on sale for the New York Asian Film Festival which will run from July 1st to 14th at two venues. Most of the NYAFF films will be shown at the Walter Reade Theater of the Film Society of Lincoln Center. Several films near the end of the festival are co-presentations with Japan Society as part of its Japan Cuts film Series and will be shown at Japan Society. (Info about purchasing Japan Cuts tickets online will be posted here soon.)

There's student pricing, senior pricing, member pricing (for Film Society of Lincoln Center members and for Japan Society members) and for tickets at the Film Society of Lincoln Centerss Walter Reade Theater, don't miss the amazing ticket ten-pack (10 tickets for $99 General Public/ $79 Students & Seniors/ $69 Members).

For Tickets to Screenings at the Walter Reade, head to:
http://www.filmlinc.com/films/series/new-york-asian-film-festival

The Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center is located at 165 West 65th St., between Broadway and Amsterdam Ave, but a bit closer to the latter.

For Tickets to Screenings at Japan Society, head to:
http://www.japansociety.org/japancuts

The Japan Society is located at 333 East 47th Street, between 1st and 2nd Avenues.

SCHEDULE FOR NEW YORK ASIAN FILM FESTIVAL 2011
(All events are at Walter Reade Theatre unless otherwise noted)

Fri, July 1
6:00 SELL OUT (110) ­ director Yeo Joon Han and actor Peter Davis
will attend
9:00 MILOCRORZE: A LOVE STORY (90) ­ director Yoshimasa Ishibashi and
actor Takayuki Yamada will attend
12:00 HORNY HOUSE OF HORROR (75) + DARK ON DARK (17)

Sat, July 2
12:15 BKO: BANGKOK KNOCKOUT (105)
2:30 PUNISHED (94)
4:30 13 ASSASSINS: DIRECTORS CUT (141) ­ actor Takayuki Yamada will
attend
7:30 SHAOLIN (131)
10:15 MACHETE MAIDENS UNLEASHED (84)
12:00 RAW FORCE (86)

Sun, July 3
12:30 A BOY AND HIS SAMURAI (109)
2:45 DUEL TO THE DEATH (83)
4:45 KARATE-ROBO ZABORGAR (106)
7:00 NINJA KIDS!!! (100)
9:10 BUDDHA MOUNTAIN (105)

Mon, July 4
1:00 ABRAXAS (113)
3:30 SELL OUT (110) ‹ director Yeo Joon Han and actor Peter Davis
will attend
6:30 A BOY AND HIS SAMURAI (109)
9:00 THE LAST DAYS OF THE WORLD (96)

Tue, July 5
1:30 BUDDHA MOUNTAIN (105)
3:45 THE RECIPE (107)
6:15 ABRAXAS (113)
8:45 KARATE-ROBO ZABORGAR (106)

Wed, July 6
1:00 FOXY FESTIVAL (110)
3:30 THE UNJUST (119)
6:15 HAUNTERS (114)
8:45 BEDEVILLED (115)

Thu, July 7
1:15 OCEAN HEAVEN (96)
3:30 B.T.S. BETTER THAN SEX (92) ­ director Su Chao-pin will attend
6:15 THE MAN FROM NOWHERE (119)
8:45 SHAOLIN (131)

Japan Society:
6:45 OSAMU TEZUKA'S BUDDHA: THE GREAT DEPARTURE (111)
9:00 RINGING IN THEIR EARS (89)

Fri, July 8
1:15 THE LAST DAYS OF THE WORLD (96)
3:30 THE CABBIE (94) ­ writer Su Chao-pin will attend
6:45 OCEAN HEAVEN (96)
9:00 FOXY FESTIVAL (110)
12:00 RIKI-OH: THE STORY OF RICKY (91)

Japan Society:
7:00 LOVE AND LOATHING AND LULU AND AYANO (105)
9:15 BATTLE ROYALE (114)

Sat, July 9
1:30 ZU: WARRIORS FROM MAGIC MOUNTAIN (94) ­ director Tsui Hark will attend
4:00 REIGN OF ASSASSINS (117) ­ director Su Chao-pin will attend
7:00 THE RECIPE (107)
9:30 HAUNTERS (114)
12:00 BKO: BANGKOK KNOCKOUT (105)

Japan Society:
12:30 GANTZ (130) - special double feature pricing
3:00 GANTZ: PERFECT ANSWER (150) - special double feature pricing
6:00 NINJA KIDS (100)
8:15 YAKUZA WEAPON (105) ­ co-directors Tak Sakaguchi and Yudai
Yamaguchi will attend

Sun, July 10
1:00 REIGN OF ASSASSINS (117) ­ director Su Chao-pin will attend
4:00 DRAGON INN (109) ­ onstage career discussion with producer Tsui Hark
7:00 BEDEVILLED (115)
9:30 PUNISHED (94)

Japan Society:
12:30 OSAMU TEZUKA'S BUDDHA: THE GREAT DEPARTURE (111)
2:45 HEAVENS STORY (278)
8:00 MILOCRORZE: A LOVE STORY (90) - director Yoshimasa Ishibashi
will attend

Mon, July 11
1:30 RINGING IN THEIR EARS (89)
3:30 LOVE AND LOATHING AND LULU AND AYANO (105)
6:00 THE BLADE (100) ­ director Tsui Hark will attend
8:30 DETECTIVE DEE (122) ­ director Tsui Hark will attend

Tue, July 12
12:30 MISE-EN-SCENE SHORTS PROGRAM #1 (92)
2:30 TROUBLESHOOTER (99) ­ director Kwon Hyeok-Jae will attend
5:00 VERSUS (119) ­ writer Yudai Yamaguchi and actor Tak Sakaguchi will attend
7:45 YAKUZA WEAPON (105) ­ co-directors Tak Sakaguchi and Yudai
Yamaguchi will attend
10:15 HORNY HOUSE OF HORROR (75) + DARK ON DARK (17)

Wed, July 13
1:00 MISE-EN-SCENE SHORTS PROGRAM #2 (92)
3:30 CITY OF VIOLENCE (92) ­ director and actor Ryoo Seung-Wan will attend
6:15 BATTLEFIELD HEROES (118) ­ director Lee Joon-Ik will attend
9:00 THE UNJUST (119) ­ director Ryoo Seung-Wan will attend

Thu, July 14
12:30 BATTLEFIELD HEROES (118) ­ director Lee Joon-Ik will attend
3:15 THE CHASER (125) ­ director Na Hong-Jin will attend
6:15 TROUBLESHOOTER (99) ­ director Kwon Hyeok-Jae and producer Ryoo Seung-Wan will attend
9:00 THE YELLOW SEA (156) ­ director Na Hong-Jin will attend

ACF 1059: Blissfully Yours to close out Blissfully Thai film series tonight

Min lolls on a river bank

Blissfully Yours
Directed by Apichatpong Weerasethakul
Thailand, 2002, 125 minutes
When: Friday, June 17th, 2011 at 6:45 PM
Where: Asia Society
725 Park Avenue (at 70th Street), NYC

The eight film Blissfully Thai series, presented by Asia Society in association with Cineaste, will conclude tonight with this 2002 film from recent Cannes winner Apichatpong Weerasethakul.

The film starts abruptly in a doctors office. The female doctor is examining a handsome young man, Min (the beyond belief, good-looking Min Oo), who's returned because his skin condition has worsened. He's accompanied by two women, one his age, the other closer to middle age, who speak for him supposedly because his throat hurts.

After Roong (Kanokporn Tongaram), the younger woman, leaves to go to work at a factory, the older woman, Orn (Jenjira Jansuda), tries to get the doctor to certify that Min, whom she claims is her nephew, is healthy so he can get a work permit. But the doctor firmly refuses, because they haven't brought Min's ID with them. Without seeing his ID, the doctor would be breaking the law and jeopardizing her practice by certifying him.

Clearly something else is going on than what's being alleged. Min, it turns out, is not Orn's nephew, nor is he related to her in any way; he's Roong's current boyfriend, an illegal immigrant from nearby Burma. And he can talk just fine. Roong, however, does work at a factory. Orn runs a dormitory for girls, possibly including Roong, and wants to have a child with her husband Sirote.

The remainder of the film takes place during the same day. Roong borrows Orn's car so she can drive Min to a special place he wants them to go. After a long drive and a long walk through the jungle, they arrive at a flat outcropping with a beautiful view. There they picnic, at least until their food is overrun by red ants. They relocate to the bank of a small, shallow river, where by chance they are later joined by Orn.

Blissfully Yours is quite an unusual film in several ways. There are at least two quite lengthy driving sequences, often with the camera looking out the back window. And both Min and Roong's walk to the picnic site and Orn's wanderings until she comes upon them also go on for quite awhile. Oh, and I should mention that the credits do not begin rolling until we're about 43 minutes into the story!

The film is certainly imaginative in its way, but it's definitely not for everyone, perhaps not even most. Watching a DVD screener, I frequently held down the fast-forward button to skim through the proceedings until there was some dialogue or something of visual interest going on.

ACF Rating: 2.5 out of 4 stars. A fairly good film, but as I've indicated, not to everyone's taste.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

ACF 1058: Girl band flick "Linda Linda Linda" to kick off New People's summer series of monthly benefits for Japan relief

NEW PEOPLE CONTINUES JAPANESE DISASTER
RECOVERY FUNDRAISING EFFORTS
WITH SPECIAL NEW FILM SERIES

Rock-n-Roll Drama LINDA LINDA LINDA Kicks Off
A New Series Of Monthly Film Screenings
To Benefit Reconstruction And Recovery Efforts

NEW PEOPLE, the nation’s only entertainment complex dedicated to Japanese popular culture, continues to drive Bay Area fundraising efforts for ongoing Japanese disaster relief and reconstruction. The venue has just announced the kick-off off a summer-long series of monthly benefit film screenings that launches on Friday, June 24th at 7:00pm with the critically acclaimed teenage rock-and-roll drama, LINDA LINDA LINDA.

(For my review of this most enjoyable film, way back in ACF 025 just before it originally came out on DVD in the U.S., click here.)

Come sing, come dance, and come help Japan! Suggested donation is $10.00. Tickets and more information are available here. NEW PEOPLE is located in the heart of San Francisco’s Japantown at 1746 Post St.

100% of net proceeds will be donated to EARTH DAY TOKYO TOWER of Japan. Earth Day Tokyo Tower Volunteer Center began its activities in response to tremendous tsunami and earthquake devastation that ravaged Northeastern Japan on March 11, 2011. The group sends organized groups of volunteers into devastated areas to assist with clean-up, make food, hold events for children, sets up food courts, and more.

LINDA LINDA LINDA was directed by Nobuhiro Yamashita and follows an all-girl high school rock band after an untimely break-up. Only three days before their high school festival, guitarist Kei (Yu Kashii), drummer Kyoto (Aki Maeda of Battle Royale), and bassist Nozumi (Shiori Sekine) must recruit a new lead vocalist for their band. They choose an unlikely Korean exchange student Son (Doona Bae of Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance), even though her comprehension of Japanese is a bit rough!

It’s a race against time as the group struggles to learn three tunes for the festival’s rock concert — including a classic '80s punk-pop song by the famous Japanese group The Blue Hearts called “Linda Linda.” The film notably offers a soundtrack by ex-Smashing Pumpkins guitarist James Iha and a cameo by punk rock legends The Ramones. LINDA LINDA LINDA is also available on DVD from NEW PEOPLE Entertainment.

ACF 1057: VIZ Media announces release of Hero 108 on multiple leading online outlets

VIZ MEDIA BRINGS THE ANIMATED ANIMAL KIDS ADVENTURE OF HERO 108 TO MUTLIPLE LEADING ONLINE CONTENT OUTLETS

Join The Battle For Peace In The Hidden Kingdom With The Launch
Of This Highly Rated Series From Cartoon Network!

VIZ Media has just announced the release of their newest action adventure animation, Hero 108, on iTunes® (www.iTunes.com), Playstation®Network, Amazon Instant Video, and the Zune Marketplace on Xbox Live. The first half of Season 1 (episodes 1-13) are available for purchase now. To celebrate the launch of this popular series, which aired on Cartoon Network, fans can download the first full episode for FREE through July 4th on all platforms. Subsequent episodes are available for only $1.99 each.

Long ago in The Hidden Kingdom, animals and humans lived together in peace… until the evil HighRoller tricked the animals into believing that the humans were their enemies. HighRoller convinced his animal armies to attack the humans and drive them from their homes. Most humans were so downtrodden that they gave up all hope for better days.

That is until Commander ApeTrully created a base of strategic operations in a giant abandoned turtle shell, submerged in a seemingly quiet lake. He called upon rebel humans and animals to fight the villainous HighRoller and dubbed his rebel force “Big Green.” Their mission? Restore peace to the land. Big Green’s most elite team of warriors is called First Squad and consists of Lin Chung, Mighty Ray, Mystique Sonia and Jumpy GhostFace. Together they face off against all manner of fierce creatures, like fire-breathing Ligers and magic lantern-wielding Zebras.

For more information on HERO 108 or other VIZ Kids properties, visit www.VIZKids.com.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

ACF 1056: "Hi-So" reviewed

Zoe (left) in bed with Ananda

Hi-So
Directed by Aditya Assarat
Thailand, 2000, 102 minutes

This simple and quiet film screened recently as part of the Blissfully Thai series, which is being presented by Asia Society in association with Cineaste.

Ananda poses with some of his female teenage fans

Zoe (Cerise Leang), a slim lovely young woman, arrives in Thailand from San Francisco to join her boyfriend Ananda (Ananda Everinghan) at a hotel near the shore. He returned to Thailand from the U.S. not too long ago and is starring in a movie being shot neaby at the ruins of another hotel. That film is about a man who became an amnesiac as a result of the Indian Ocean tsunami of a few years earlier.

While the two do get to spend some intimate time together, Zoe is mainly on her own, and she's bored. It's the off-season, and there's basically no one around during the day, while the cast and crew are at the film site, but the small staff at the hotel. Even Ananda's translating Thai into English at her request while they loll in bed cannot make up for her lonely situation. The most fun we see her having is at the informal birthday party the staff is giving for the chambermaid.

We get the feeling that her relationship with Ananda is withering. One day she tells the hotel's bartender and waiter, who speaks some English and whom she's befriended, that she's leaving the next day. But we see neither her goodbye to Ananda nor her departure itself, not from the hotel nor from Thailand.

May (left) in bed with Ananda

Some time later, Ananda has a new girlfriend. May (Sajee Apiwong) works for the production company of Ananda's recently completed film. They are pretty much living together in his apartment, which is in a building owned by his wealthy mother, whom we never meet. There he translates for May much as he did for Zoe, only in this case it's from English into Thai. (Compare the picture immediately above with the one at the top of this post.)

May takes in a lost dog. She and Ananda visit his old home on an upper floor in the building, his current apartment being on a lower level. They go to the roof where Ananda explains that this building once was the tallest one in Bangkok, whereas now there are numerous buildings, presumably both residential and business, that are at least as tall.

May and Ananda in his old home

The title refers to Thailand's high society types. And it's clear that Ananda is one of the higher of the high, though he doesn't put on airs. We get to see him giving out bonuses for the New Year to the staff of the apartment building, a scruffy prince showing his -- and his mother's -- appreciation for their efforts.

Ananda ready to travel alone

The film is a modest, low-key, slice-of-life endeavor. We are not treated to any "high drama," nor is there any real character development. We simply get to witness parts of the lives of the characters.

Yet it would be a gross oversimplification to dismiss Hi-So as a Thai feature-length film version of the television show George and Jerry pitched on Seinfeld, that is, a "show about nothing." There are moments of great poignancy, such as when the bartender/waiter tells Zoe about his visit to the United States. It consisted of only a few hours, because he was not granted a visa and was forced to return to Thailand right away. He still cannot fathom why this was so, and it clearly still troubles him.

The parallel "translating in bed" scenes are revealing, not so much for their similarity (aside from which language is being translated), but for the slight additional twist in May's explanation of why she wants Ananda to translate for her. And there is an interesting juxtaposition of the destruction wrought by the tsunami and the man-made destruction of a wing of Ananda's apartment building, supposedly for renovation purposes.

Hi-So may not be for everyone, but for those who can accept it on its own terms, it's a film certainly worth seeing.