My favorite sign of summer the New York Asian Film Festival is, as they put it, “back like a bad dream.” It’ll be running from June 20 through July 6 this year. The line-up so far (descriptions theirs):
SUKIYAKI WESTERN DJANGO – we unleash the beast a full month before it hits movie theaters: Takashi Miike’s berserk, bloody, out-of-control English-language spaghetti western, guest-starring Quentin Tarantino. Full of female gunfighters, clockwork wheelchairs, razor sharp samurai swords and tiny fetuses growing inside blooming flowers this is the Takashi Miike movie Variety calls “one of his wildest ideas yet.” And they’re right. (A co-presentation with Japan Society’s Japan Cuts: Festival of New Japanese Film)
L: CHANGE THE WORLD – the prequel to last year’s hit DEATH NOTE movies, this is another pop gothic popcorn muncher and this time it’s directed by Hideo Nakata of THE RING and DARK WATER fame. (A co-presentation with Japan Society’s Japan Cuts: Festival of New Japanese Film)
ASSEMBLY – China takes the war movie and kicks it up to eleven in one of the year’s biggest blockbusters. The first half is a dirt-in-your-teeth war film about the Ninth Company’s last stand during China’s 1948 Civil War. The second half is a dissection of the way war heroes are put on the shelf and forgotten once the sounds of battle fade. Truly epic, and truly magnificent.
MAD DETECTIVE – the New York Times says that this dark, nightmarish thriller from Johnnie To “reaffirms his status as an action master.” And they’re right!
DAINIPPONJIN – this giant monster mock-u-mentary is the movie that “Cloverfield” should have been. Ever wonder what happens when giant monsters go into heat? Wonder no longer! (A co-presentation with Japan Society’s Japan Cuts: Festival of New Japanese Film)
ALWAYS 1 & 2 – these two massively budgeted feel-good Japanese blockbusters about a Tokyo neighborhood rebuilding itself after World War II have won 14 Japanese Academy Awards between them and sold millions of tickets. ALWAYS 1 sold-out the NYAFF in 2006, and this year we’re bringing it back with its enormously satisfying sequel. (Always 2 is a co-presentation with Japan Society’s Japan Cuts: Festival of New Japanese Film)
M – Lee Myung-Se (DUELIST, NOWHERE TO HIDE) turns in one of the trippiest films of the year. A celluloid hallucination, it’s like dreaming with your eyes open and it inspired legions of fans to take to the streets of Seoul in protest when one theater wanted to end its run early.
ACCURACY OF DEATH – Takeshi Kaneshiro (FALLEN ANGELS, HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS) rules as the sexiest angel of death ever seen in this pitch perfect remake of “Death Takes a Holiday.” It’s a romantic comedy that manages the neat trick of being both genuinely funny and genuinely romantic. (A co-presentation with Japan Society’s Japan Cuts: Festival of New Japanese Film)
And we’re super-excited about LADY WHIRLWIND: AN EVENING WITH ANGELA MAO, a celebration of the life and works of martial arts legend, Angela Mao. You may remember her best as Bruce Lee’s sister in ENTER THE DRAGON, but Angela Mao was one of the greatest female screen fighters of her time and she will be here in person to do a Q&A and introduce newly discovered prints of two of her classic films.
[Photo: “Sukiyaki Western Django,” First Look International, 2007]