I live and breathe film festivals. I laugh off television but I love film, especially watching them in theatres and extra-especially seeing super-indie/international/rare films back-to-back (-to-back-to-back, as the case may be) at film festivals. Dedicated subscribers to my LIST already know this. But the single NY-based film festival that gets me jonesin' more than any other is the Subway Cinema-curated New York Asian Film Festival (NYAFF), coupled w/ Japan Cuts, the festival of contemporary Japanese cinema held at Japan Society. To me, July 4 weekend doesn't = fireworks, it equals some really bonkers films from Japan (and Korea/Taiwan/China/Thailand etc). Plus fireworks. The festival begins June 25 at Lincoln Center (it moved uptown this year!) and bleeds into Japan Cuts on July 1, which continues through the 16th. Tickets for everything, the NYAFF at Lincoln Center, the special NYAFF midnight screenings at IFC Center, and the Japan Cuts films at Japan Society, are on sale circa this past Thursday. And you bet the hot tickets are going to sell out, as they do every year, way in advance. So instead of dropping the ball on you several LISTs from now, I figured I should get the word out NOW. Let you, friends, know what I am seeing, b/c whatever I am seeing is going to be very very dope. So with that:
* Ip Man 2 (dir. Wilson Yip, 2010, Hong Kong), June 25 at 9:30p. The opening night film that kicks off the 2010 festival. I caught Ip Man last year, and Donnie Yen's unparalleled performance as the man who taught Bruce Lee what he knows was riveting. This sequel features legendary Sammo Hung, who takes it back old school-style. Oh, and Hung will be present at the screening. Doubleplusgood!
* Death Kappa (dir. Tomoo Haraguchi, 2010, Japan), June 25 at midnight. The 1st of three (of four) midnight screenings at IFC Center. Hell, if I'm going to be watching a film that late, it had better have some rubber-suited monsters (particularly folkloric Japanese beasts) wreaking havoc on the metropolis, right?
* L.A. Streetfighters (dir. Park Woo-sang, 1985, Korea), June 26 at midnight. The 2nd of three (of four) midnight screenings at IFC Center. Hell, if I'm going to be watching a film that late, it had better be some obscure '80s exploitation flick from a Korean expat about middle-aged guys pretending to be young badass action stars, right?
* The Storm Warriors (dirs. The Pang Brothers, 2009, Hong Kong), June 27 at 12p. 1) I LOVE the trippy Pang Bros, specifically 'Oxide' Pang. Their new film is, to my understanding, like Harry Potter, only extremely violent and based on a manhua.
* Chaw (dir. Shin Jung-won, 2009, Korea), June 28 at 8:45p. This marauding outsized pig is probably more akin to Shin's countryman Bong Joon-ho's The Host than any American monster movie, meaning it won't suck.
* Sophie's Revenge (dir. Eva Jin, 2009, China), June 29, 4p. Full disclosure: I have no idea what it's about. I'm only seeing it b/c Ziyi Zhang is the star.
* Confessions (dir. Tetsuya Nakashima, 2010, Japan), July 1 at 9p. The 1st Japan Cuts film AND the centerpiece of the NYAFF. AND this is by Nakashima, whose psychedelic-tinged emotional rollercoaster Memories of Matsuko has YET to get proper distribution in the States. "Confessions" was a #1 Stunner at 2010 Cannes. Write that one down, people.
* Pink Power Strikes Back! (various dir, Japan), July 2 at midnight. The 3rd of three (of four) midnight screenings at IFC Center. Hell, if I'm going to be watching a film that late, it had better be some daisy-chained "pink eiga" (Japan-particular softcore porn).
* Alien v. Ninja (dir. Seiji Chiba, 2010, Japan), July 3 at 6p. Repeat that title to yourself several times. Think about it. This, people, is precisely why the NYAFF/Japan Cuts is so very essential.
* Mutant Girls Squad (dirs. Noboru Iguchi, Yoshihiro Nishimura, Tak Sakaguchi, 2010, Japan), July 3 at 8:30p. I just used that excuse above but THIS is precisely why the NYAFF/Japan Cuts is so very essential. Japan's three hottest splattercore directors team up for an ultra-twisted all-girl ultraviolent X-Men-type endeavor. Plus the directors are in the house and there's a majyah Sushi Typhoon bash afterward. I am crossing my fingers the actresses will be present as well!
* Symbol (dir. Hitoshi Matsumoto, 2009, Japan), July 4 at 1p. I honestly have absolutely no idea what this film is about, except the director is a phenom. I'd nearly equate it to Matthew Barney's Cremaster 4 but I'm not going to diss Matsumoto-san.
* Castaway on the Moon (dir. Lee Hey-jun, 2009, Korea), July 4 at 3p. Another totally distorted romantic comedy, as only Korea can do. Last year my pick was Lee Kyeong-mi's Crush and Blush. This year, it's a down-and-out young salaryman and an agoraphobic girl. It could be the makings of a Beautiful Stories for Ugly Children tale, if Piranha Press still existed.
* Doman Seman (dir. Go Shibata, 2010, Japan), July 7 at 5:45p. That is the actual Japanese title, and I have no idea what that means... but I believe there is a lot of psylocibin usage in this film.
* Parade (dir. Isao Yukisada, 2009, Japan), July 9 at 9p. Mix Friends w/ Cruel Intentions, only the cast is the hottest young Japanese star(let)s around and the film doesn't suck. I have been biding my time to see this beauty.
* Zero Focus (dir. Isshin Inudou, 2009, Japan), July 15 at 9p. What little I know about this supposedly Hitchcockian film is that it boasts an A-list coup of Japanese actresses (Miki Nakatani, Ryoko Hirosue, Tae Kimura) plus, ahem, Takeshi Kaga (aka "Chairman Kaga").
That's just what I've got tickets for NOW. I could always add a few... There are some shows that have conflicts w/ my schedule (Yuya Ishii's Sawako Decides, Hun Jang's Secret Reunion) that I am trying to work around. Another, Isao Yukisada's Crying Out Love, in the Center of the World, I saw on a flight from NYC to Narita Airport, Tokyo, and I highly recommend it. So browse the schedules and, if anything interests you (and it will!), I strongly advise you to book your tickets early. And stay tuned to my LIST, as I will be practically live-blogging my takes on what I am seeing (if I'm not already too blazed/overstimulated).