With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

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

Monday, December 26, 2011

ACF 1289: THE FRONTLINE to start off 2012 Korean Movie Night series

Korean Cultural Service
presents
Korean Movie Night
 
  The Frontline / Go-ji-jeon
Directed by JANG Hun
South Korea, 2011, 133 minutes
When: Tuesday, January 10, 2012 @ 7:00 PM
Doors open: 6:30 PM
Where: Tribeca Cinemas
54 Varick Street, on the corner of Canal Street, NYC
Near the A, C, E @ #1 Canal Street subway stops
Admission: FREE!!!
All seating is first-come, first served
East Coast Premiere!
 
One of the biggest hits of 2011, The Frontline is the simple story of a hill: Aerok Hill, a small rise on the Eastern Front of the Korean War that changed hands 30 times over 18 months of fighting. A military investigator is dispatched to see if allegations that the South Korean soldiers tasked with taking the hill are collaborating with their North Korean enemies to deliver letters to their families. It turns out that they are, and that’s the least of it. A movie about men (and some women) trying to hold onto their humanity in the midst of war, Frontline is Korea’s official submission to the Academy Awards.

Friday, December 23, 2011

ACF 1288: VIZ Media announces final 2011 digital update for manga titles

NARUTO © 1999 by Masashi Kishimoto/SHUEISHA Inc.
VIZ MEDIA WRAPS UP 2011 WITH A SECOND
DIGITAL MANGA UPDATE FOR DECEMBER

Highlights Include New NARUTO and ONE PIECE Digital First Editions,
Debut Of WEEKLY SHONEN JUMP ALPHA Pre-Order & Gift Subscriptions,
And An Extended Holiday Manga Sale Offering 20% Off All Titles

VIZ Media concludes the year with a second digital update for December for manga (graphic novels) titles available on VIZManga.com and for digital download on the VIZ MANGA App for the Apple iPad, iPhone and iPod touch.

Highlights for the newest update include the continuation of the SHONEN JUMP DIGITAL WARP, with NARUTO Vol. 57 and ONE PIECE Vol. 62 (both rated ‘T’ for Teens) debuting ahead of the print editions. The DIGITAL WARP is a ‘speed-up’ of selected popular titles to bring U.S. readers up-to-date with Japanese releases, and prepare for the January 2012 launch on VIZManga.com and the VIZ Manga App of WEEKLY SHONEN JUMP ALPHA, North America’s only near-simultaneous digital manga magazine.


Fans can now pre-order a subscription or give a gift subscription to WEEKLY SHONEN JUMP ALPHA at SJ.viz.com/preorder. Subscribers to WEEKLY SHONEN JUMP ALPHA will receive a full year’s subscription (48 issues), an annual collector’s yearbook, and access to exclusive content, including creator interviews and videos. The first interview featuring NARUTO creator Masashi Kishimoto debuts the day WEEKLY SHONEN JUMP ALPHA launches, on January 3oth.

Also, VIZ Media’s special holiday digital manga promotion continues through January 8th 2012 and offers up to 20% off on ALL manga titles on VIZManga.com and the VIZ MANGA App. Catch up on best-loved or band new series with more than 500 volumes now available at a holiday discount. And look for plenty of new digital manga debuts coming soon in 2012!

Additional manga volumes launching during the second-half of December, all of which are available now, include:

ARATA: THE LEGEND Vol. 8
CROSS GAME Vol. 4
HOUSE OF FIVE LEAVES Vol. 5
NARUTO Vol. 57 – debuting ahead of the print edition!
INUYASHA (VIZBIG) Vol. 7 – exclusive to the VIZ Manga App for iPad!
KEKKAISHI Vol. 20
MAOH: JUVENILE REMIX Vol. 8
OISHINBO Vol. 6
ONE PIECE Vol. 62 – debuting ahead of the print edition!

VIZ Media’s multiple digital manga platforms allow for universal access to read manga from an iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, and now, on VIZManga.com for desktop/laptop computers as well as Android-powered devices with built-in web browsers. With one account, registered users may access their purchases across even more devices than ever.

The free VIZ Manga App continues to be the top app for reading manga and features a rapidly growing library of the most popular manga series in the world. Over 45 series and 500+ volumes are currently available, with new additions and free Chapter 1 previews added weekly.

For more information, please visit VIZManga.com or www.VIZ.com/apps

For more information on WEEKLY SHONEN JUMP ALPHA and exclusive subscriber offers, please visit SJAlpha.com.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

ACF 1287: VCinema ticket giveaway contest for screenings of BATTLE ROYALE in Los Angeles


Battle Royale (2000), renowned director Kinji Fukusaku's last completed film, will be shown in Los Angeles from December 24th, 2011 through January 2nd, 2012. (Fukusaku died during filming of the sequel, which was completed by his son Kenta and released in 2003.)

Based on the 500+ page novel by Koushun Takami, which was published in 1999 and later made into a manga series by Koushun Takami and Masayuki Taguchi, the film depicts a group of ninth graders who are transported by authorities to a remote island where they are tasked to kill one another until only one remains. Because of the subject matter, the film was very controversial in Japan and has had few screenings in the U.S., although it has been available as a Region 1 DVD for several years.

The film might be considered a cross between The Most Dangerous Game and Lord of the Flies. It most definitely is a pre-cursor to the The Hunger Games, at least from all I've read about the book and and seen about the upcoming film (or perhaps that should be "films").

"Beat" Takeshi Kitano explains the rules of the Battle Royale.

Battle Royale was first shown in North America as a co-presentation of Japan Society and the New York Asian Film Festival this past summer, one of the films included in Japan Cuts: The New York Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema. This was billed as a "celebratory" screening because the film could not properly be considered "contemporary," the other thirty+ films in the festival all being from 2010 or 2011.

Now some lucky Angenlinos will have the opportunity to see it this holiday season. And some will be very lucky indeed, since four lucky winners of a contest sponsored by VCinema will get free tickets!

Information about the film, the screening schedule and the contest is available at VCinema.

ACF 1286: Digital manga from VIZ now available on Barnes & Noble's Nook Tablet and Nook Color

BARNES & NOBLE AND VIZ MEDIA
BRING THE DIGITAL MANGA EXPERIENCE TO
NOOK TABLET™ AND NOOK COLOR™

Titles From Leading Manga Publisher Have Debuted
Exclusively On Barnes & Noble’s 7-Inch NOOK Devices
Presented In Original Japanese Right-To-Left Reading Format

This past Tuesday, December 20, 2011, Barnes & Noble, Inc. announced that it had teamed up with VIZ Media to bring the digital manga (graphic novel) experience to NOOK Tablet and NOOK Color customers. Debuting in the NOOK Store, VIZ Media's collection includes 18 series, featuring 107 volumes, from its popular Shojo Beat, Shonen Sunday and VIZ Signature imprints. Volumes are available for purchase and fast download in the U.S. and Canada for $4.99 - $9.99 (U.S. / CAN) each. New digital manga volumes, including previews, will be available weekly.

Viewing manga on NOOK Tablet and NOOK Color is authentic thanks to Barnes & Noble's newly implemented technology that formats manga in its original right-to-left reading order. Read your favorite graphic novels on the award-winning NOOK 7-inch devices, which feature a full-color VividView touchscreen. NOOK Tablet and NOOK Color also give you access to the world's largest digital bookstore, popular movies, TV shows, music and more through the top entertainment services, as well as a collection of high-quality apps, fast Web browsing and email.

Over its 25 year history, VIZ Media has led the transformation of manga and anime from a niche category into a mass media phenomenon, telling stories that resonate with audiences and fans all over North America. The VIZ Media library includes global hits like BLACK BIRD, BLEACH, CROSS GAME, KEKKAISHI, NARUTO and VAMPIRE KNIGHT.

“NOOK Tablet  and NOOK Color are ideal devices for our customers to enjoy manga in stunning high resolution color that virtually makes the action leap off the page,” said Theresa Horner, Vice President of Digital Content for Barnes & Noble. “We're excited to work with VIZ Media to offer NOOK customers access to some of the most popular manga titles available in North America.”

“The Barnes & Noble team and VIZ Media have put together a fantastic manga reading experience by giving NOOK customers full control of their reading experience with the ability to pinch and zoom to dive into the tiniest details” says Alvin Lu, Senior Vice President and General Manager of VIZ Media. “Barnes & Noble has been a major partner with VIZ Media for many years in growing the North American print manga market, and we're very excited to expand our relationship to make our vast digital library of manga titles available to NOOK Tablet and NOOK Color customers. Over 100 volumes will be available at launch and we look forward to quickly expanding these selections to more than 500 in the coming months.”

The following manga titles are currently available with many more coming:

ABSOLUTE BOYFRIEND Vols. 1-6 o  Rated “T+” for Older Teens
ARATA: THE LEGEND Vols. 1-8 o  Rated “T” for Teens
BACKSTAGE PRINCE Vols. 1 & 2 o  Rated “T” for Teens
BEAST MASTER Vols. 1-2 o  Rated “T+” for Older Teens
BLACK BIRD Vols. 1-11 o  Rated “T+” for Older Teens
CHILDREN OF THE SEA Vols. 1-4 o  Rated “T+” for Older Teens
CROSS GAME Vols. 1-4 o  Rated “T” for Teens
DENGEKI DAISY Vols. 1-7 o  Rated “T+” for Older Teens
FUSHIGI YUGI: GENBU KAIDEN Vols. 1-9 o  Rated “T+” for Older Teens
HOUSE OF FIVE LEAVES Vols. 1-5 o  Rated “T+” for Older Teens
HYDE & CLOSER Vols. 1-6 o  Rated “T+” for Older Teens
I'LL GIVE IT MY ALL...TOMORROW Vols. 1-4 o  Rated “T+” for Older Teens
KEKKAISHI Vols. 1-19 o  Rated “T” for Teens
MAOH: JUVENILE REMIX Vols. 1-7 o  Rated “T+” for Older Teens
NOT SIMPLE o  Rated “T+” for Older Teens
OISHINBO Vols. 1-5 o  Rated “T” for Teens
SATURN APARTMENTS Vols. 1-4 o  Rated “T” for Teens
SOLANIN o  Rated “T+” for Older Teens
WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD! Vols. 1 & 2 o  Rated “T+” for Older Teens

For more information on VIZ Media manga titles, visit www.VIZ.com.

For more information on NOOK,  visit www.nook.com.

To purchase VIZ Media manga titles for the NOOK Tablet and NOOK Color, visit the NOOK Book Store at www.barnesandnoble.com/u/NOOK-Comics-Graphic-Novels-Manga/379003302/

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

ACF 1285: New People releasing GANTZ II: PERFECT ANSWER


Exciting Concluding Chapter Of Kinetic Japanese Action Film Epic
Based On Popular Manga Series Debuts In January; Theatrical Release
Event At NEW PEOPLE In San Francisco Also Announced

NEW PEOPLE Entertainment has announced the highly anticipated release of the live-action film sequel to GANTZ. GANTZ II: Perfect Answer will debut on DVD (SRP $24.92) and Blu-ray/DVD combo-pack (SRP $29.99) on January 17th, 2012. The film, which is unrated, features both English and Japanese dialogue options and includes a bonus disc with an exclusive director’s interview, cast profiles, and theatrical film trailers.

To celebrate the film’s North American release, NEW PEOPLE Entertainment will hold three special theatrical screenings of GANTZ and GANTZ II: Perfect Answer on Saturday, January 14th at the S.F. Film Society | NEW PEOPLE Cinema located in San Francisco’s Japantown. Tickets are $10. Additional ticket and film info is available at: www.newpeopleworld.com/films.

GANTZ (Dubbed) 1:00pm
GANTZ II: Perfect Answer (Dubbed) 4:00pm
GANTZ II: Perfect Answer (Subtitled) 7:00pm

All those attending the screenings of GANTZ II: Perfect Answer will receive a free full-color GANTZ poster. A special ticket bundle is also available for $25 (DVD) or $30 (Blu-ray) that includes a movie pass, poster, and either the DVD or Blu-ray release.

GANTZ and GANTZ II: Perfect Answer are based on a popular manga series created by Hiroya Oku. The ongoing 31-volume sci-fi action epic is a bestseller in Japan with sales exceeding 16 million copies and is published in North America by Dark Horse Comics. Both films star leading Japanese actors Kazunari Ninomiya (Letters from Iwo Jima) and Kenichi Matsuyama (Death Note, Detroit Metal City).

GANTZ is one of the most popular live-action film franchises based on a manga series to come from Japan and we are very happy to announce the North American release of the saga’s tense concluding chapter on DVD and Blu-Ray,” says Seiji Horibuchi, President and CEO of NEW PEOPLE, Inc. “GANTZ II: Perfect Answer brings the kinetic action to its riveting climax and fans won’t want to miss this exciting new release!”

In the first GANTZ film (available on Blu-ray/DVD combo-pack from NEW PEOPLE Entertainment), Kei Kurono and his childhood friend, Masaru Kato, attempted to save a man who has fallen onto the train tracks but were run down by an oncoming train. However, rather than finding themselves dead, they were transported to a strange apartment in which they found a mysterious black orb known as ‘GANTZ’. Along with others there, they were given weaponry sent on missions to battle alien beings and gain “points.”

How will we face the end? The GANTZ saga meets its ultimate conclusion in GANTZ II: Perfect Answer, which offers an intensely gripping story-line yet to be known to even readers of the original manga series. Determined to resurrect his friends who have died on previous missions, Kei and other members trapped in the world of GANTZ aim to score the 100 points needed to break through and regain their freedom. But with the emergence of a mysterious man investigating the Gantz members, Gantz begins to act up and the next target shocks the members. Some fight for love, some for justice but what will each member sacrifice?

Kazunari Ninomiya, best known in America for his role in Clint Eastwood’s 2006 blockbuster, Letters from Iwo Jima, is both an actor and a singer. He is also world-renowned as a member of the Japanese boy band “Arashi,” which topped Japan’s music charts in 2009 with the three best-selling singles.

Kenichi Matsuyama is currently one of the most sought-after actors in Japanese film and he has won several awards including Japanese Academy Awards Best New Actor (2007) and Most Popular Actor (2009). Matsuyama is widely recognized for his part as L in Death Note (2006), Death Note II: the Last Name (2006) and Death Note: L, change the WorLd (2008) and also for his portrayal of Johannes Krauser II in the outlandish rock and roll comedy, Detroit Metal City (2009).

For more information on GANTZ and other NEW PEOPLE Entertainment films, please visit: www.newpeopleent.com.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

ACF 1284: 2nd season of BLUE DRAGON: TRIALS OF THE SEVEN SHADOWS now available online


Animated Series Is Based On Popular Xbox 360 Videogame And
 Features Character Designs By Manga Mastermind Akira Toriyama

VIZ Media has announced the launch of BLUE DRAGON: TRIALS OF THE SEVEN SHADOWS, the second season of the hit fantasy adventure series BLUE DRAGON (both rated TV-14), available now on VIZAnime.com, the company’s own website for free anime, as well as on the streaming content provider HULU (www.Hulu.com). Episodes 1-5 are available now, and 2 new episodes will debut each Friday.

The BLUE DRAGON series is based on the exclusive Xbox 360 videogame “BLUE DRAGON,” developed by Hironobu Sakaguchi, the creator of “Final Fantasy,” and features character designs by Akira Toriyama, the creator of the best-selling DRAGON BALL series of manga (published in North America by VIZ Media).

BLUE DRAGON is a classic adventure story of magical Shadow powers, flying air fortresses, and unbounded heroism! Brought together by fate, Seven Soldiers of Light must awaken the Shadow within themselves in time to overcome a despotic power and bring peace to their land. Their ensuing journey through a rich fantasy world is also an internal journey to awaken the great power within each of them.

In the exciting Second Season, Shu and his friends fought to defeat the evil lord Nene, the ruler of the Grankingdom. Nene was defeated, but it was revealed that the true evil was none other than Zola, who was the avatar of the legendary Darkness. Shu and the other Seven Soldiers of Light managed to once again seal off the force of Darkness, but lost their Shadow Powers in the process. Two years has passed since the battle with Darkness. As Shu and Bouquet continue their battle against General Logi and his Rosekstan army, a new threat arrives. Powerful dragons calling themselves the “Legion of Elite Species” set out to test the worthiness of mankind, selecting Shu as the candidate. 

For more information on this and other animated titles from VIZ Media, visit www.VIZAnime.com.

Monday, December 19, 2011

ACF 1283: Section23 Films announces February releases


Here's the February slate of releases coming from video distributor Section23 Films, including BROKEN BLADE. The heavy metal mecha action series will be released on both DVD & Blu-Ray by Section23 client, Sentai Filmworks.

Product details follow, in order of release.

             Title:                 XAM'D: LOST MEMORIES COMPLETE COLLECTION
Published by:    Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by:  Section23 Films
Run Time:         650 min.
Street Date:      2/7/2012
Format:             DVD
Language:         English & Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP:                $79.98

SYNOPSIS:  Combining hard-hitting mecha action and fantastic supernatural elements, XAM'D is a thrilling new benchmark in anime. Set on a peaceful island during a violent terrorist attack, a young boy is suddenly transformed into a metal-cased mercenary. But with this great power comes even greater danger. Aiyuki must discover how to master this remarkable new power-or risk having this mysterious fusion of rock, metal and magic destroy him! Now available for the first time in a complete set, all of XAM'D's breakthrough action can be yours in one awesome collection.

Title:                 XAM'D: LOST MEMORIES COMPLETE COLLECTION BLU-RAY
Published by:    Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by:  Section23 Films
Run Time:         650 min.
Street Date:      2/7/2012
Format:             BD
Language:         English & Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP:                $89.98

SYNOPSIS: Combining hard-hitting mecha action and fantastic supernatural elements, XAM'D is a thrilling new benchmark in anime. Set on a peaceful island during a violent terrorist attack, a young boy is suddenly transformed into a metal-cased mercenary. But with this great power comes even greater danger. Aiyuki must discover how to master this remarkable new power-or risk having this mysterious fusion of rock, metal and magic destroy him! Now available for the first time in a complete set, all of XAM'D's breakthrough action can be yours in one awesome collection.

Title:                 HELL GIRL: THREE VESSELS COMPLETE COLLECTION
Published by:    Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by:  Section23 Films
Run Time:         650 min.
Street Date:      2/14/2012
Format:             DVD
Language:         Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP:                $69.98

SYNOPSIS:  Just when it seemed that Ai Enma was finally at peace, Yuzuki Mikage appears:  the perfect host for Ai's damned spirit to possess! Now, as the darkest secrets of the Hell Girl threaten to consume her, Yuzuki's attempts to maintain her own humanity become ever more desperate as the world around her slowly shatters into a terrifying series of riddles.  Why has she been drawn into the world of the Hell Correspondence?  What is her relationship to Ai?  And has her ultimate destiny already been predetermined?   As the powers of the Hell Girl continue to grow inside her, Yuzuki's very existence is now at stake.  Who and what is she, really?  The shocking secrets of her past will be unlocked, the tragedies of Ai's will be revealed, and the torch of the Hell Girl may be passed in the shocking conclusion of the Hell Girl saga - HELL GIRL - THREE VESSELS - THE COMPLETE COLLECTION.

Title:                 BROKEN BLADE COMPLETE COLLECTION
Published by:    Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by:  Section23 Films
Run Time:         300 min.
Street Date:      2/21/2012
Format:             DVD
Language:         English & Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP:                $59.98

SYNOPSIS:  In Cruzon, children are born with the ability to control quartz. This power allows them to levitate simple objects-or control enormous and complex mobile battle suits called Golems. But when an ancient Golem is discovered during the height of a brutal war, a young king and his beautiful queen turn to Rygart Arrow. Though an "un-sorcerer", Rygart can miraculously pilot this ancient and powerful weapon. But in war, school friends can turn into bitter enemies and allies have suspicious motives. Strap yourself in, power up, and prepare for the heavy metal mecha action of BROKEN BLADE!

Title:                 BROKEN BLADE COMPLETE COLLECTION BLU-RAY
Published by:    Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by:  Section23 Films
Run Time:         300 min.
Street Date:      2/21/2012
Format:             BD
Language:         English & Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP:                $69.98

SYNOPSIS:  In Cruzon, children are born with the ability to control quartz. This power allows them to levitate simple objects-or control enormous and complex mobile battle suits called Golems. But when an ancient Golem is discovered during the height of a brutal war, a young king and his beautiful queen turn to Rygart Arrow. Though an "un-sorcerer", Rygart can miraculously pilot this ancient and powerful weapon. But in war, school friends can turn into bitter enemies and allies have suspicious motives. Strap yourself in, power up, and prepare for the heavy metal mecha action of BROKEN BLADE!

Title:                 A-CHANNEL COMPLETE COLLECTION
Published by:    Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by:  Section23 Films
Run Time:         300 min.
Street Date:      2/28/2012
Format:             DVD
Language:         Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP:                $49.98

SYNOPSIS Toru and Run have been best friends forever, so when Toru learns that she's managed to get into the same high school as Run, she runs to tell her… only to find Run in a compromising position with yet another girl, Yuko.  Needless to say, that makes things a bit awkward at school, with Toru fending off those who might be interested in Run while Yuko and their other girlfriend, Nagi, has to deal with Run's own penchant for drama.  But it's not all angst all the time, and as the school year progresses the four girls and their many classmates find time to laugh, play and figure out how to handle the unexpected problems life likes to throw at the them.  Like bugs in the house, accidentally giving each other horrible haircuts, freezing up at karaoke or forgetting to put your underwear on in the morning.   When it comes to learning about the real world, there's always something 'educational' to be found in A-CHANNEL: The Complete Collection.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

ACF 1282: Reminder - KCS offering free screening of LEE Chang-dong's POETRY this Tuesday at 7:00 PM

Korean Cultural Service
presents
Korean Movie Night
 Poetry/ Shi
South Korea, 2010, 139 minutes
When: Tuesday, December 20, 2011 @ 7:00 PM
Doors open: 6:30 PM
Where: Tribeca Cinemas
54 Varick Street, on the corner of Canal Street, NYC
Near the A, C, E @ #1 Canal Street subway stops
Admission: FREE!!!
All seating is first-come, first served.

Winner - “Best Screenplay” - Cannes Film Festival
Winner - “Best Screenplay” - Asian Film Awards
“…quietly devastating…” - The New York Times
“…daring…haunting…a character study of remarkable subtlety…” - The Los Angeles Times

As someone who has the highest regard for Lee Chang-dong's films, I simply have to put up this reminder post about Tuesday's FREE screening of Poetry. Think of it as a marvelous, holiday season, end of year gift from the Korean Cultural Service. Think of it any way you want. But don't miss this film.

In it, Lee Chang-dong (Secret Sunshine, Oasis, Peppermint Candy) delivers yet another big screen triumph. The movie also marks the return to the silver screen of acting legend, Yoon Jeong-Hee, who had been retired since 1994. In Lee’s film, she plays a 67 year-old grandmother, taking care of her loutish grandson and barely scraping by with a series of odd jobs.

As the movie begins, she has been given a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease and so she enrolls in a poetry class in an effort to sharpen her mental faculties and delay the advance of her dementia. Simultaneously, a young girl who lives in her neighborhood commits suicide and slowly, in Lee’s expert hands, the strands of this narrative — a brute of a grandson, a tired old woman, poetry, suicide, senility — all come together to deliver yet another of Lee’s enormous, epic, subtle, sprawling portraits of the wo rld.

It’s a movie that should be compared to a novel for all of its elegance and depth, but that is also, truly, cinema: a story that could not be told any other way but in enormous, illuminated images.

For my review of Poetry, which ran on September 26, 2010, click here. The film, which was then screening at the New York Film Festival, earned the highest possible ACF Rating of 4 out of 4 stars. I've watched it again since then, and that rating holds now as it no doubt will in the future.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

ACF 1281: Holiday book suggestions - TENJO TENGE 2-in-1 volumes

Maya Natsume and Soichiro Nagi grace the cover of the first 2-in-1 volume.

Here's a holiday book suggestion for manga lovers, specifically those who like their manga full of gorgeous young women and terrific fight scenes. VIZ Media has been re-issuing Tenjo Tenge in new "Full Contact Edition 2-in-1" volumes every two months since last June. The fourth volume comes out this Tuesday, December 20th.

Maya and Takayanagi

The prime characters are members of the Juken Club at Todo Academy, a high school The club is led by Maya Natsume, a third year student and master of the Natsume Goshinryu style. Most of the time she looks like a little girl, but this is just a form she uses to conserve her ki. When she transforms back to her true self, she's "a stacked chick dressed like a hooker," as one student describes her. She has lovely ash blonde hair.

Soichiro Nagi

The senior male member of the Juken Club is Takayanagi, who is way tougher than he looks. When he first sees her, Takayanagi immediately falls for Maya's younger sister Aya, a first year student with dark hair. She is said to possess The Dragon Eyes, which enable her "to perceive things for what they truly are and even to see far into the past of future."

Aya Natsume

Unfortunately for Takayanagi, Aya is drawn to Soichiro Nagi, a new first year transfer student.  His friend is Bob Makihara, a black foreigner and also a new transfer student. Bob's girlfriend is Chiaki, who's not above attempting a girl-on-girl encounter, at least when it comes to the lovely Aya.

Chiaki puts the move on Aya

The Juken Club is opposed by The Executive Council, a sinister group of students who want to put the club out of existence and will go employ extreme violence to do so. One of the main threads of the story is how this hatred came about and how it will ultimately play out. Along the way there are plenty of beatings and bruises. That's probably why the volumes are divided into fights, not chapters.

The cover of the second 2-in-1 volume of Tenjo Tenge

The story and art of Tenjo Tenge are by Oh!great. He's terrific at creating distinctive individual characters, especially the females, and portraying the exciting fights. Each 2-in-1volume is divided into parts 1 and 2. At the end of each part are a few pages of Oh!great bonus manga in which the author talks directly to the reader. At the end of Volume 1 Part 1, he describes his obsession with Tekken 3. It was a pre-release demo of Tekken 2 that got me to buy the first PlayStation game system, and I've remained a staunch fan of the series since. So, while I was won over by Tenj Tenge before I'd read all that many pages,  reading this bonus section produced an even stronger affinity with the author.

The first and second Full Contact Edition 2-in1 volumes (the ones I've seen so far) carry an M.S.R.P. of $17.99 and include16 pages of glorious full-color artwork. I assume that this holds true for the volumes that follow.

Because of it's explicit content, Tenjo Tenge is rated for "Mature" readers. I've fallen in love with the series and highly recommend it if hot babes and cool fight scenes appeal to you at all.
 Note: All TENJHO TENGE images are © by Oh!great/SHUEISHA Inc.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

ACF 1280: Pre-release look at NORWEGIAN WOOD


Last night I was fortunate to attend a pre-release screening of Norwegian Wood at Japan Society. The film is directed by French-Vietnamese film-maker TRAN Anh Hung (Cyclo and The Scent of Green Papaya). He also wrote the screenplay, which is based on one of the best known novels by Japanese author Haruki Murakami. The movie will open on Friday, January 6, 2012 at the IFC Center in New York and the West End Cinema in Washington DC. It will subsequently roll-out westward across the U.S. over the ensuing weeks: Chicago on January 20th, Seattle & Los Angeles on the 27th.

I'm not going to offer a full review at this time, although I certainly plan to before the film opens here. Partially this is because I don't currently have the time to give this compelling work the consideration it deserves, but more so because I find that I'm still thinking about it, rolling it around in my head and thinking it over. For me this is the sure sign of a great film: one that provokes further thought.

Norwegian Wood is primarily the story of a youth named Watanabe, played by Kenichi Matsuyama ("L" in the three Death Note films, Soichi Negishi/Johannes Krauser II in Detroit Metal City). Soon to enter college in 1967, when the film begins, he is forced to confront the  consequences of the tragic fate that befalls his best friend Kazuki (Kengo Kora). Primary among these is a complicated and changing relationship with Naoko (the never-better Rinko Kikuchi), Kazuki's former girlfriend.

Samuel Jamier, of Japan Society, director Tran, and Ms. Kikuchi at the Q&A

Director Tran and Ms. Kikuchi were present at the screening, introducing the film and then fielding questions in the Q&A that followed. I'll surely have a post about their responses and comments in the near future.

In the meanwhile, to prepare yourself for experiencing this superb film in the New Year, please make due with the film's trailer:



ACF 1279: VIZ Media extends 20% off holiday manga promotion

ONE PIECE © 1997 by Eiichiro Oda/SHUEISHA Inc.
 VIZ MEDIA EXTENDS 20% OFF HOLIDAY PROMOTION
TO COVER ALL DIGITAL MANGA TITLES ON VIZMANGA.COM
AND THE VIZ MANGA APP THRU JANUARY 8th

Fans Are Invited To Explore New Series Or Catch Up 
On Popular Ongoing Titles With A Special Discount That 
Applies To More Than 500 Digital Manga Volumes

VIZ Media has extended its recently announced holiday digital manga promotion. Now through Midnight (PST), January 8th, 2012, all VIZ Media manga titles on VIZManga.com and the VIZ MANGA App for the Apple iPad, iPhone and iPod touch will be up to 20% off (regular prices range from $4.99 to $9.99).

The promotion gives readers an opportunity to explore the new SHONEN JUMP DIGITAL WARP ‘speed-ups’ of selected titles such as ONE PIECE and BLEACH, that will quickly bring U.S. readers up-to-date with Japanese releases, catch up with other ongoing VIZ Media manga series, or discover brand new ones!

VIZ Media’s multiple digital manga platforms enable universal access to enjoy manga from an iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, and now, on VIZManga.com for desktop/laptop computers as well as Android-powered devices with built-in web browsers. With one account, registered users may access their purchases across even more devices than ever.

The free VIZ Manga App continues to be the top application for reading manga and features a rapidly growing library of the most popular manga series in the world. Over 45 series and 500+ volumes are currently available, with new additions and free Chapter 1 previews added weekly.

For more information, visit VIZManga.com or www.VIZ.com/apps

ACF 1278: STUDIO GHIBLI ANIMATION FESTIVAL begins tomorrow at IFC Center

Spirited Away
 STUDIO GHIBLI FESTIVAL
Week 1 Kicks Off Friday with 5 Miyazaki Masterpieces!
Multiple Daily Screenings Start Tomorrow

NAUSICAÄ OF THE VALLEY OF THE WIND (1984)
Recommended ages 8 to adult

The debut film from Hayao Miyazaki, Nausicaä is considered by many to be his masterwork - and there are few films, animated or otherwise, of such sweeping scope and grandeur. Set in a devastated future world decimated by atmospheric poisons and swarming with gigantic insects, Nausicaä is the story of a young princess, both brave and innocent, whose love for all living things and passionate determination to understand the processes of nature lead her into terrible danger, sacrifice, and eventual triumph.

 
For show times and to purchase tickets, CLICK HERE, then scroll down to specific film.

MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO (1988) 
Recommended all ages

One of the most endearing and internationally renowned films of all time, a film that Roger Ebert called "one of the five best movies" ever made for children, My Neighbor Totoro is a deceptively simple tale of two girls, Satsuki and Mei, who move with their father to a new house in the countryside. They soon discover that the surrounding forests are home to a family of Totoros, gentle but powerful creatures who live in a huge and ancient camphor tree and are seen only by children. Based on Miyazaki's own childhood imaginings, Totoros look like oversized pandas with bunny ears and they take the girls on spinning-top rides through the treetops and introduce them to a furry, multi-pawed Catbus--a nod to Lewis Carroll's Cheshire Cat.

For show times and to purchase tickets, CLICK HERE
, then scroll down to specific film.

KIKI'S DELIVERY SERVICE (1989)
Recommended all ages

From the legendary Hayao Miyazaki comes the beloved story of a resourceful young witch who uses her broom to create a delivery service, only to lose her gift of flight in a moment of self-doubt. It is tradition for all young witches to leave their families on the night of a full moon and set out into the wide world to learn their craft. When that night comes for Kiki, she embarks on her life journey with her chatty black cat, Jiji, landing the next morning in a seaside village, where a bakery owner hires her to make deliveries. Rarely has the animator's art been so brilliantly rendered as in this delightfully imaginative film - a beautiful and timeless story of a young girl finding her way in the world.

For show times and to purchase tickets, CLICK HERE
, then scroll down to specific film.
 

PRINCESS MONONOKE (1997)
Recommended ages 11 to adult

Princess Mononoke is a landmark of animation and a film of unsurpassed power and beauty. An epic story of conflict between humans, gods, and nature, the film has been universally acclaimed by critics and broke the box office record on its original release in Japan. While defending his village from a demonic boar-god, the young warrior Ashitaka becomes afflicted with a curse that grants him super-human power in battle but will eventually take his life. Traveling west to find a cure or meet his destiny, he journeys deep into sacred depths of the Great Forest where he meets San (Princess Mononoke), a girl raised by wolf-gods.

For show times and to purchase tickets, CLICK HERE
, then scroll down to specific film. 

SPIRITED AWAY (2002)
Recommended ages 9 to adult

Hayao Miyazaki's Academy Award®-winning masterpiece Spirited Away was the biggest box office hit of all time in Japan and a film that helped redefine the possibilities of animation for American audiences and a generation of new filmmakers. Combining Japanese mythology with Through the Looking Glass-type whimsy, Spirited Away cemented Miyazaki's reputation as an icon of inspired animation and wondrous, lyrical storytelling.

For show times and to purchase tickets, CLICK HERE
, then scroll down to specific film.
 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

ACF 1277: Full info about RAJ KAPOOR retrospective now available


Aag (Fire). 1948. India. Directed by Raj Kapoor. Pictured: Kamini Kaushal (left) and Raj Kapoor (right).  Image courtesy of Indian International Film Academy.
As I indicated in Monday's post, MoMA will be hosting an eight film retrospective of the works of Indian actor, director, and mogul Raj Kapoor (1924–1988) from January 6 - 16, 2012. I was just notified that there is information available about the series at MoMA's website. For the schedule of the films to be shown, descriptions of each, and links to purchase tickets online, click here.

Largely unknown in North America—except, of course, to millions of fans of South Asian descent— Kapoor is revered not only in India but throughout the former Soviet world, the Middle East, and beyond for the films he made during the Golden Age of Indian cinema. This exhibition of eight legendary Kapoor films, presented in newly struck 35mm prints, offers an introduction to one of the most ravishing and influential periods of world cinema. Kapoor founded RK Films in 1948, and it became the most important Hindi studio of the post-Independence era—and the one most commonly associated with that nebulous and often misunderstood expression, “Bollywood.”

Fire (1948), Kapoor’s first film as producer and director, reflects German Expressionist influences, and established the modern-day, hyper-romantic style that would become his trademark—combining contemporary Hollywood melodrama with the moral lessons and metaphors of the “mythologicals”: special-effects-laden versions of tales from the Indian epics the Mahabharata and the Ramayana. Kapoor took the latent romanticism of prewar Indian commercial cinema and made it frank, intense, and personal, creating a new idiom for the expression of emotion that had little place in traditional Indian literature and drama.

As Elliot Stein writes in Raj Kapoor: The Showman Auteur of Indian Cinema, “Kapoor’s singular and gargantuan talent subsumes a variety of influences and affinities—[Charles] Chaplin, Frank Capra, Orson Welles—with even a touch of Russ Meyer apparent in the later work. At times, his oeuvre recalls the work of a 19th-century European literary giant whose sympathy for the underdog, protean activity, inexhaustible energy and penchant for excess earned him fame and a national reputation as early in life as Kapoor. Yes, Raj Kapoor is—to a degree—the Victor Hugo of Indian cinema.”

ACF 1276: Holiday Book Suggestions - STRAY DOGS & LONE WOLVES

Stray Dogs & Lone Wolves: The Samurai Film Handbook
Written by Patrick Galloway
Published by Stone Bridge Press, 2005
Paperback version M.S.R.P. $19.95 U.S.
238 pages, numerous b&w illustrations

With the holiday season fast approaching, I've decided to run some reviews of books that should be of interest to lovers of Asian films. So whether you're looking for a gift for an Asian film aficionado, a suggestion for a gift for someone to give you, or something to just treat yourself to, I hope these reviews will be helpful. First up is Patrick Galloway's Stray Dogs & Lone Wolves:

If you only buy one book about samurai films, this probably should be it. If you have several books about samurai films, this definitely should be one of them. Galloway provides the reader with the kind of information that everyone who loves, or has at least a passing interest in samurai films, should be familiar with.

The first part consists of four chapters of Background:

- The World of the Samurai - provides the historical context of samurai films
- The Samurai Film Genre - includes descriptions of "The Big Five" Japanese movie studios that produced the overwhelming bulk of samurai films
- The Artists - discusses several important directors, screenwriters, and actors
- Seeing the Films - is primarily devoted to explaining the system by which Galloway characterizes the availability of each film reviewed, ranging from "easy" to "tricky" to "tough." Be advised that availability fluctuates over time. Most, perhaps all, of the "easy" titles are still available, though some films do go "out-of-print." In other cases, some films have become "easier" to buy or rent than they were when the book was published.

Part II: The Films, the bulk of the book, uses a chronological approach to discuss the films, starting in the '50s with Akira Kurosawa's Rashomon (1950) and ending with Yoji Yamada's Twilight Samurai (2003). These make wonderful "bookends" as Yamada''s film - the first in his "Samurai Trilogy" - is in many ways the anti-thesis of Kurosawa's style in his saumurai films.

All -- and I do mean all -- the "biggies" are here: Kurosawa's films in the genre, as well as picks from such well-known series as Zatoichi, Sleepy Eyes of Death, Lone Wolf and Club, The Razor, and Lady Snowblood. I've seen all of these, many years ago, but it was still fascinating to read Galloway's descriptions of and thoughts about them. There were also several films discussed that I wasn't familiar with and that I'm grateful for learning about.

The final section is a brief appendix. The major portion of it is a very helpful Glossary and Cross-Index. A nice touch here is having phrases, such as baka ("fool") in black typeface in a grey rectangle, while names of individuals and of movies are in white typeface set in black rectangles. The two page bibliography is divided into print and Internet sources.

Stray Dogs... is both interesting and informative. It's essential reading and a must-have book for anyone with a serious interest in the samurai film genre.

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

(The above review in slightly different form appeared as ACF 640, July 27, 2010.)

Monday, December 12, 2011

ACF 1275: RAJ KAPOOR and the GOLDEN AGE of INDIAN CINEMA coming to MoMA in January 2012

Shree 420. 1955. India. Directed by Raj Kapoor. Pictured: Nargis (left) and Raj Kapoor (right). Image courtesy of University of California, Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive.

The Museum of Modern Art will be presenting Raj Kapoor and the Golden Age of Indian Cinema. This film series, which will run from from January 6 through 16, 2012, reveals through eight legendary films the work of actor, director, and mogul Raj Kapoor (1924-1988). Largely unknown in North America—except to filmgoers of South Asian descent—Kapoor is revered not only in India but also throughout the former Soviet world, the Middle East, and beyond for the films he made during the Golden Age of Indian cinema.

Presented in newly struck 35mm prints, Raj Kapoor and the Golden Age of Indian Cinema offers an introduction to one of the most ravishing and influential periods of world cinema. Kapoor founded RK Films in 1948, and it became the most important Hindi studio of the post-Independence era—and the one most commonly associated with the nebulous and often misunderstood expression "Bollywood."

The exhibition is curated by Noah Cowan, Artistic Director, TIFF Bell Lightbox, and organized by TIFF, IIFA, and RK Films, with the support of the Government of Ontario. It is organized for MoMA by Joshua Siegel, Associate Curator, Department of Film, The Museum of Modern Art.

ACF will provide further information, including film descriptions, the complete schedule, and purchasing tickets, as soon as it's available in the near future.