2014 NEW YORK ASIAN FILM FESTIVAL (NYAFF): DAY SEVENTEEN!

 

BANNER

The celebration comes to a close with a ton of screenings in two different locations. There’s everything from demure cross-cultural romance to ferocious kung-fu Shaw Brothers deathmatches, with a couple genres I don’t think I’ve ever even heard of in between. The breadth of this festival has been breath-taking. I’ve found a ton of stuff I still really want to see, and I hope you have too.

The NYAFF is being presented by Subway Cinema (visit them here), and today’s screenings will be held at the Japan Society on East 47th Street and at the Asia Society on Park Avenue.

 

SUNDAY

 

AT THE JAPAN SOCIETY:

 

WOOD JOB! (2014)

 

12:30pm

WOOD JOB! (2014)

 

 

The new film from Yaguchi Shinobu, the director of WATER BOYS, is based on Miura Shion’s bestseller, a bittersweet coming-of-age novel dealing with forestry (the wood job of the title… nothing dirty there), which earned praise from Studio Ghibli’s very own Hayao Miyazaki. A slim, simple, and wistful feature, WOOD JOB! follows protagonist Yuki Hirano (Shota Sometani), a high-school graduate so ordinary he is, in fact, way below average. After failing his university entrance exams he comes across a brochure with a sexy girl on the cover that advertises a one-year forestry program and he immediately drops his life and heads to Kamusari, a backwater village nestled deep in the mountains, far from civilization, convenience stores, and cell-phone coverage. There he meets mountain man Iida (Hideaki Ito) and learns to love their Thoreau-like lifestyle in the wild. A simple, human movie, it’s a far cry from the apocalyptic $200 million blockbusters and Hollywood destruction orgies that are currently clogging screens, and Japanese audiences responded to its message, turning it into a word-of-mouth hit.

Presented with Japan Cuts: The New York Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema.

 

 

 


MONSTERZ (2014)

 

3:00PM

 

 
MONSTERZ (2014)

 

PREVIOUSLY PLAYED LAST SUNDAY

 

 

Japanese horror master Hideo Nakata (RING and DARK WATER) returns with the remake of the 2010 South Korean film HAUNTERS (directed by Kim Min-seok), a somber paranormal thriller that offers an original, exciting variation of the tale of two men with supernatural abilities, locked in a duel to the death. The nameless villain of the tale is an elfish-faced, brooding loner (Tatsuya Fujiwara) who uses his mind-control power to rob banks and fund his solitary, misanthropic lifestyle. He is thrown off guard when all-around nice-guy deliveryman Shuichi Tanaka (Takayuki Yamada) remains unaffected by his power, even after everyone standing in a public square has been placed under the control of his menacing sapphire-glow eyes. The malevolent mind-bender, feeling threatened by the stranger, sends a speeding truck at Shuichi and leaves him for dead. But he miraculously recovers, and even finds a job working for the offending driver, Mr. Kumoi (Tomorowo Taguchi), a kind-hearted guitar-shop owner, who offers him modest wages as compensation for the accident. Things seem to be going well, but when he finds out Shuichi is still alive, the nameless mind-bender comes back to kill Shuichi for good. From there, it is a merciless war between the two men.

Presented with Japan Cuts: The New York Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema.

 

 

ALL-ROUND APPRAISER Q (2014)

5:30pm

 

ALL-ROUND APPRAISER Q (2014)

The Japanese will always have Paris! In this adaptation of the arch-popular eponymous mystery novel by Keisuke Matsuoka, the city of l’art et l’amour provides the gorgeous backdrop for a grand intrigue involving the world’s most iconic artistic treasure: the Mona Lisa. Armed with quasi-supernatural powers of deduction, bottomless knowledge on a limitless array of subjects, and, last but not least, cute-and-sexy librarian good looks that would give Audrey Tautou a run for her money, Riko Rinda (Haruka Ayase) is a brilliant appraiser whose “All-Around Appraiser Q” reputation earns the attention of the Louvre as a Mona Lisa exhibition is to be held for the first time in Japan. Accompanied by sidekick Yuto Ogasawara (Tori Matsuzaka), a magazine editor who follows Riko Rinda for professional and possibly more personal purposes, she goes to Paris and finds her judgment challenged by the shroud of mystery and threats of theft surrounding the masterpiece as well as the Mona Lisa itself. Minds will be blown, puzzles will be solved, but will a 500-year-old curse be removed? From the director who gave you the blockbusters GANTZ and LIBRARY WARS.

Presented with Japan Cuts: The New York Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema.

UZUMASA LIMELIGHT (2014)

8:00pm

UZUMASA LIMELIGHT

UZUMASA LIMELIGHT (2014)

A moving, nostalgic portrait of the men behind the golden age of chanbara (sword-fighting dramas and films), UZUMASA LIMELIGHT—whose title refers to a Charlie Chaplin film about the twilight days of a stage actor—goes behind the scenes of Japan’s most distinctive film genre. Its protagonist is a professional extra named Kamiyama, who has devoted 50 years of his life as a kirareyaku in sword-fighting movies produced at Kyoto’s Uzumasa Studios. His specialty? He lives to die. Or more exactly “to be cut” and die a beautiful, spectacular death on the silver screen. Kamiyama, played by real-life kirareyaku Seizo Fukumoto, whose imposing physical presence dominates the film from start to finish, has become a master of the art, with his own signature style of falling down dead. Now an elderly man, he lives in very modest circumstances, but has earned immense respect from his more prominent peers, some of them movie stars. When the studio decides to discontinue its chanbara productions, Kamiyama finds himself at a loss: what will he do for the rest of his life? How can he use his specialized skills? Hope arrives in the form a young girl named Satsuki (Chihiro Yamamoto), who soon becomes Kamiyama’s disciple. Will the art of dying by the sword live on?

Director Ken Ochiai and actress Chihiro Yamamoto will attend the screening.

Presented with Japan Cuts: The New York Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema.

AT THE ASIA SOCIETY:

THE DELINQUENT (1973)

3:00pm

 

 

THE DELINQUENT (1973)

(aka STREET GANGS OF HONG KONG) 

One of the Shaw Brothers’ best, and most underrated, directors, Kuei Chih-hung (BOXER’S OMEN) made his directorial debut with this attack dog of a film that leaps off the screen and goes for the audience’s throat. Chang Cheh is listed as co-director, but he really just slapped his name on to reassure Run Run Shaw—every angry inch of this movie belongs to Kuei, from the opening credits of star Wang Chung smashing through photos of Hong Kong, to a final fish-eye shot from the POV of a dying man. One of the most aggressively experimental action movies ever to come out of Shaw Brothers, Kuei directed it like he’d never get a chance to make another movie, cramming in every wild idea he ever had. Wang plays an angry young man sweating to death in the grotty ghetto of modern-day Hong Kong, watching life pass him by one salty teardrop at a time. Throwing punches at the slightest instigation, Wang is recruited by a local gang and he has only one rule: never rob the warehouse where his dad works as a security guard. It takes about five minutes for that rule to get thoroughly violated, and after a long, tense, excruciating buildup, the film erupts into a final series of brutal fights that will leave you breathless. Truly feral.

Part of Sir Run Run Shaw Tribute. Presented with the support of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York and Celestial Pictures.

KILLER CONSTABLE (1980)

5:10pm

KILLER CONSTABLE (1980)

(aka KARATE EXTERMINATORS) 

Probably Kuei Chih-hung’s masterpiece, this is the martial-arts movie served bleaker and angrier than ever before. Coming at the end of the new wuxia cycle that kicked off in 1967 with The One-Armed SwordsmanKILLER CONSTABLE is a movie in which everyone is exhausted to the depths of their souls, every swordsman is a sadist, and every blade has to be bathed in blood before it’s put away. Shaw Brothers legend Chen Kuan-tai out-grims the Grim Reaper playing a Qing Dynasty constable assigned by the empress to track down a stolen shipment of gold. Nothing stands in the way of his mission, not women, not children, not even his friends. Unfolding over a series of black, smoky, impressionistic wastelands, this is the kind of movie that’s soaked in so much gore and drowning in so much despair you can barely breathe from the first frame to the last.

Part of Sir Run Run Shaw Tribute. Presented with the support of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York and Celestial Pictures.

APOLITICAL ROMANCE (2012)

7:20pm

 

APOLITICAL ROMANCE (2012)

A China-Taiwan cross-cultural rom-com with an excellent, unforced chemistry between its leads, APOLITICAL ROMANCE follows Mainland girl (Huang Lu) as she visits Taiwan and gets involved with a local guy (Bryan Chang) who helps her track down her grandmother’s first love from 60-odd years ago. Despite its English title, politics are never far below the surface, though always in a light, easy way. Huang’s feisty, argumentative Mainlander (with the actress turning on a broad Beijing accent) contrasts notably with Chang’s softer, almost boyish Taiwanese, who throws a tantrum when she criticizes his collection of robot toys. She’s constantly referring to Taiwan as a “province” rather than a country. In return, he tries to teach her some Taiwanese (Hokkien) dialect, and introduce her to local food. As the barriers start to fall, and she mellows, the romance starts to click in emotionally, with an airport finale that teases the audience whether the two representatives of Greater China territories will “unify” their relationship.

Presented with the support of the Taipei Cultural Center of TECO in New York.


Whew. So that’s it for Sunday. There are a couple screenings on Monday, but otherwise the festival is just about done. Watch this space for the final update tomorrow!

street_gangs_of_hong_kong_poster_01

– JON ABRAMS.  

@JONNYABOMB


CLICK HERE FOR COVERAGE OF DAY SIXTEEN!

 

 

 

Jon Abrams

Editor-In-Chief at Daily Grindhouse
Jon Abrams is a New York-based writer, cartoonist, and committed cinemaniac whose complete work and credits can be found at his site, Demon’s Resume. You can contact him on Twitter as @JonZilla___.
Please Share

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


No Comments

Leave a Comment