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Thread: ASIAN FILM FESTIVAL Lincoln Center June 28-July 14, 2019

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    FULL LINEUP (53)
    Titles in bold are included in the Main Competition; the list excludes the secret screening.

    More detailed list of films H.E.R.E

    CHINA (11)
    Co-presented with Confucius Institute Headquarters and China Institute

    – The Crossing (Bai Xue, 2018)
    – A First Farewell (Wang Lina, 2018) – U.S. Premiere
    – If You Are Happy (Chen Xiaoming, 2019) – New York Premiere
    – Jinpa (Pema Tseden, 2018) U.S. Premiere
    – Push and Shove (Wu Nan, 2019) – North American Premiere
    – The Rib (Wei Zhang, 2018) – North American Premiere
    – Savage (Cui Siwei, 2018)
    – Uncle and House (Luo Hanxing, 2019) – International Premiere
    – Winter After Winter (Xing Jian, 2019) – North American Premiere
    – White Snake (Amp Wong, Ji Zhao, 2019) – North American Premiere
    – Wushu Orphan (Huang Huang, 2018) – North American Premiere

    HONG KONG PANORAMA (10)
    Presented with the support of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in New York

    – The Attorney (Wong Kwok Fai, 2019) – International Premiere
    – The Fatal Raid (Jacky Lee, 2019) – North American Premiere
    – G Affairs (Lee Cheuk Pan, 2018) – North American Premiere
    – Iron Monkey (Yuen Woo-ping, 1993) – Tribute to Yuen Woo-ping
    – Master Z: Ip Man Legacy (Yuen Woo-ping, 2018) – Tribute to Yuen Woo-ping
    – The Miracle Fighters (Yuen Woo-ping, 1982) – Tribute to Yuen Woo-ping
    – Missbehavior (Pang Ho-cheung, 2019)
    – See You Tomorrow (Zhang Jiajia, 2016) – North American Premiere
    – Still Human (Oliver Siu Kuen Chan, 2018) – New York Premiere
    …and the secret screening!

    INDONESIA (1)
    – 212 Warrior (Angga Dwimas Sasongko, 2018) – North American Premiere

    JAPAN (11)
    – 5 Million Dollar Life (Moon Sungho, 2019) – North American Premiere
    – Complicity (Kei Chikaura, 2018) – New York Premiere
    – Dare to Stop Us (Kazuya Shiraishi, 2018) – New York Premiere
    – The Fable (Kan Eguchi, 2019) – U.S. Premiere
    – Fly Me to the Saitama (Hideki Takeuchi, 2019) – New York Premiere
    – The Gun (Masaharu Take, 2018) – North American Premiere
    – Hard-Core (Nobuhiro Yamashita, 2018) – North American Premiere
    – Jam (SABU, 2018) – North American Premiere
    – Lying to Mom (Katsumi Nojiri, 2018) – North American Premiere
    – Mr. Long (SABU, 2017)
    – Samurai Marathon (Bernard Rose, 2019) – North American Premiere

    MALAYSIA (1)
    – Walk with Me (Ryon Lee, 2019) – North American Premiere

    PHILIPPINES (2)
    – Ma (Kenneth Lim Dagatan, 2018) – International Premiere
    – Signal Rock (Chito S. Rońo, 2018) – New York Premiere

    SINGAPORE (1)

    – Zombiepura (Jacen Tan, 2018) – North American Premiere

    SOUTH KOREA (9)
    Presented with the support of the Korean Cultural Center New York
    100 Years of Korean Cinema KOFIC program
    – Another Child (Kim Yoon-seok, 2019) – North American Premiere
    – Dark Figure of Crime (Kim Tae-gyoon, 2018) – New York Premiere
    – Kokdu: A Story of Guardian Angels (Kim Tae-yong, 2018) – U.S. Premiere
    – Maggie (Yi Ok-seop, 2018) – North American Premiere
    – Money (Park Noo-ri, 2018) – New York Premiere
    – Move the Grave (Jeong Seung-o, 2018) ) – International Premiere
    – The Odd Family: Zombie on Sale (Lee Min-jae, 2019) – North American Premiere
    – A Resistance (Joe Min-ho, 2019) – North American Premiere
    – Sub-Zero Wind (Kim Yu-ri, 2018) – North American Premiere

    TAIWAN (4)
    Presented with the support of Taipei Cultural Center of TECO in New York

    – Han Dan (Huang Chao-liang, 2019) – North American Premiere
    – It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Show (Hsieh Nien Tsu, 2019) – North American Premiere
    – The Scoundrels (Tzu-Hsuan Hung, 2018) – North American Premiere
    – Someone in the Clouds (Mitch Lin and Gary Tseng, 2018) – International Premiere

    THAILAND (1)
    – The Pool (Ping Lumpraploeng, 2018) – North American Premiere

    VIETNAM (2)

    – Furie (Le Van Kiet, 2019)
    – Song Lang (Leon Le, 2018) – New York Premiere
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 06-23-2019 at 10:12 AM.

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    SAMURAI MARATHON (Benard Rose 2019)

    BERNARD ROSE: SAMURAI MARATHON (2019)


    TAKERU SATOH IN SAMURAI MARATHON

    Runners world, Tokugawa style

    It's difficult to know what to make of this film, set in 1850's Japan, shortly after the arrival of Commodore Perry (Danny Houston, in the director's Frankenstein four years ago), breaking the country's centuries of isolation with his "Black Shiips." It's based on a presumably tongue-in-cheek 2014 novel by Akihiro Dobashi. This is not historical, you can count on that. Some aspects feel like a YA novel - blown up into a disorganized but pretty flashy film. And some of it is just wacky. It premiers as the Opening Night film of the 18th edition of the New York Asian Film Festival. It's a Japanese sort-of samurai movie, in Japanese, made by a British director known for Tolstoy adaptations admired by the Guardian's Peter Bradshaw, the Beethoven biopic Immortal Beloved, and the horror movie Candyman. Go figure. It doesn't fit into any category. It had to stand by itself.

    The Japan Times' reviewer James Hadfield has commented on an uncertainty of tone. He calls it "not-quite-comedic." But is that like not-quite-pregnant? Rose achieves visual beauty, has an all-star cast, and a score by Philip Glass that's energetic and elegantly stirring. The plot is too complicated to summarize and its early presentation is a jumble. If you want to see a motley crew of actors running an extended marathon (as described it's about 36 miles) through forests and mountains, this is your movie.

    Along the way you've got a lot of cheaters, a lot of blood and mayhem, a little kid with an old samurai sensei, a repentant spy, a trigger-happy madman, and a runaway princess. And some pretty tired guys. There only seems to be one fellow, described as a "foot soldier" and therefore looked down upon, who's in any way trained as a runner when it all begins. Some elements are certainly comedic. But you'd need a sick sense of humor to laugh at all the disgorgements and beheadings, with realistic sound effects that must be holdovers from the director's horror film, Candyman.

    The marathon is an offbeat way for a feudal lord, Itakura Katsuakira ((Hiroki Hasegawa) of the Annaka clan, to get his men in shape for the tricky situation of having foreigners in the country. Unbeknownst to Katsuakira, there's a spy for the Shogun in his midst, Jinnai (Takeru Satoh), and he mistakes the marathon preparations for the planning of a rebellion and sends off a secret report that will lead to all the runners being killed. When he finds out his mistake he frantically sets off on a marathon of his own to ward off this action. Meanwhile there is Princess Yuki (Nana Komatsu), who can't get past the checkpoint.

    For a while running of the marathon gives the cinematographer a chance to provide gorgeous displays of Japanese scenery and provides the tangled up action with some solid focus. Everybody seems to want to join in, like the Boston Marathon or the Bay to Breakers, wearing whatever they've got on, and that includes the (unsuccessfully) disguised Princess Yuki and the kid with the elderly sensei. There are understandable efforts to cheat with shortcuts and stolen horse-rides. There is blood, several beheadings, some awful use of the Colt 45 "Peacemaker"; sword fights, of course; some nasty uses of rope; even a bow and arrow. The marathon gets a bit lost. I was confused (not for the first time) about why the runners were being identified and given chits and turned around at a checkpoint, while some runners avoided that.

    The focus on the marathon gets diffused as the vigorous conflicts between rival bands lead to fighting the neat lining up of corpses, but still there is a remaining band of brave samurais back in the race, and when there's a shot of them speeding away with feet bound in frayed cloth, as a former participant in modern marathons myself, I winced. But the race is still on, and the arguments rage about who'll allow whom to win. Then more stuff happens. The crazy plot-spinner pulls out all the stops. It's funny, violent, silly, and strangely stirring the way things end. Darned if I wasn't kind of touched.

    Samural Marathon/サムライマラソン 103 mins., was released in Japan Feb. 22, 2019, and gets its US debut Jun. 28 as the Opening Night Film of the New York Asian Film Festival, 7 pm, at the Walter Reade Theater.
    Trailer.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 06-21-2019 at 10:31 AM.

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    JINPA (Pema Tseden 2018)

    PEMA TSEDEN: JINPA (2018)



    [NYAFF blurb.]

    Stoic truck driver Jinpa picks up a silver-dagger-wearing hitchhiker in the desolate Kekexili plateau. The stranger suddenly reveals he’s going to kill the man who murdered his father. After they part ways, Jinpa starts to reflect and goes looking for him, ostensibly to prevent further bloodshed. Pema Tseden’s sixth feature, produced by Wong Kar Wai, boasts mesmerizing cinematography, striking misč en scene, and a deceptively minimalist story for an existential road movie of spiritual transcendence. Dream and reality meld in this stark tale, with its Tibetan locales conjuring the feel of a philosophical art-house Western.
    Received the Orizzonti award for Best Screenplay at Venice.
    Reviewed by Boyd van Hoeij in Hollywood Reporter and Jonathan Romney in ScreenDaily and in Asian Movie Pulse.
    Sat., June 29
    3:30 PM
    Walter Reade Theater
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 06-22-2019 at 02:21 AM.

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    THE GUN 銃 (Masaharu Take 2018)

    MASAHARU TAKE: THE GUN 銃 (2018)


    LILY FRANKY AND NIJIRO MURAKAMI IN THE GUN

    Chekhov's gun rule observed

    One senses a nihilistic streak in Japanese culture and aimless university student Toru Nishikawa (Nijirō Murakami) has one that gets a dangerous boost when he comes across a pistol by the riverside one night, takes it home, and begins polishing and admiring it. It's a handsome .357 magnum, and it's loaded with bullets. Toru lives alone. He has a pal at the fac, a cheerful boy in a pork pie hat who wants to join him in picking up babes, but Toru keeps his babes to himself. There's one for sex, the other, the emotionally delicate Yukio (Alice Hirose) he really cares about and is shy with. The gun makes Toru feel sexier.

    Apparently it's okay to smoke everywhere in Japan, even on the subway. Toru lights up with the satisfying ka-ching of his Zippo every time he goes anywhere, the school cafeteria, cafes with the babes, after sex. We know that Toru, a foster child with little connection to his adopted parents, and here, a proven disinterest in his real father, would rather light up than express his feelings. A voiceover where he narrates helps us guess what's in his head, but just barely.

    Next door to Toru's solitary apartment there is a time bomb. A woman moves in who is loudly abusive to her small son. The boy doesn't talk to anybody, but his pain shows to Toru when he leaves behind a plastic bag containing live crayfish with their legs torn off. Toru is watching the irresponsible mother, noting her habits, when she grocery-shops.

    This screenplay by the director and Hideki Shishido is a kind of existential horror story. It's also stylish, style taking the place of morality or inner self-worth for the young existential protagonist. In fact Nijiro Murakami is a fashion plate. Waif-cute, a look that the popularity of skating superstar Yuzuru Hanyu showed appeals to Japanese women of all ages, as Toru Nijiro has anime hair and, for summer, wears long white open-top T shirts, loose white blouses, and a long half-length white smock like a lab coat, his slim jeans fashionably rolled at the bottom, black shoes immaculately invisible. Toru starts supplementing his sharp-looking, demonstrably empty day-pack with a black slung pouch containing the pistol, because he decides since he has it, he might as well start carrying it around. It feels so good to have it!

    The whole idea of a weapon probably carries a frisson in relatively peaceable Japan that it would lack in the gun-crazy States.

    Is it a surprise that somebody notices him when one night he shoots a cat, wearing his white smock, and, wildly excited, runs away from the scene? Soon an umbrella-toting detective shows up at Toru's door. .357 Magnums are a bit thin on the ground in Tokyo, and he left a bullet in the cat that matches the one in the dead man where Toru found the gun. The all-knowing visitor is played by the always excellent Lily Franky, who sets the parameters of the situation with crushing thoroughness in his words to the tight-lipped Toru when they adjourn to a coffee shop. To go out for this interview, Toru dons a black smock instead of the white one, but that doesn't fool the cop. The film suffers from a lack of options. But perhaps that is the point. For Toru, life is a dead end.

    As Mark Hadfield noted in his Japan Times review, though The Gun is adapted from a the 2002 debut novel of Fuminori Nakamura, it would "feel familiar" simply if you're read Crime and Punishment or "the works of Albert Camus and Kobo Abe" - though, as Hadfield adds, this movie isn't on that exalted level. It's more simply a mood piece that plays with the sense that youths who aren't motivated at university or have good family backgrounds may be, as it were, loaded guns.

    Hiromitsu Nishimura is responsible for the black and white cinematography, which goes well with Murakami's alternately black or white outfits. Sometimes the style seems the only thing, but as Hadfield notes, despite some "weak soundtrack choices," Take sustains a nice combination of tension and despair to the end. The Gun has the qualities of a good short story, and it could come back to haunt you.

    The Gun 銃 (Jū), 98 mins., debuted at the Tokyo film festival Nov. 2, 2018 winning the Japanese Cinema Splash Best Director award; Nijirō Murakami won the Tokyo Gemstone award for his performance. The Japanese theatrical release was Nov. 17, 2018. Reviewed for Filmleaf as part of the NYAFF, where it has its North American debut.
    Sunday, June 30
    6:15 PM
    Walter Reade Theater





    ALICE HIROSE AND NIJIRO MURAKAMI IN THE GUN
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 06-23-2019 at 01:58 AM.

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    WUSHU ORPHAN 观武林孤儿 (Huang Huang 2018)

    HUANG HUANG: WUSHU ORPHAN 武林孤儿 (2018)


    HOU YUNXIAO IN WUSHU ORPHAN

    Yearnin' learnin'

    In the late ’90s, the clean cut geeky Lu Youhong (Noah Jin) takes a first teaching job as the instructor in Chinese (to which maths and English are quickly added as faculty members defect) at the remote Zhige Wushu Academy for martial-arts for young boys. It's an arid environment for humanistic learning. The wushu lessons, intensely physical, leave little time or energy for book learning and that's okay with the headmaster. Moreover Lu isn't anybody special. He's gotten this job because he's the dean's nephew. The dean wants him to serve as a "catfish," stirring some life into the sluggish, bored other faculty members.

    This is an atmospheric period piece that charms by reveling in the simple life of inland China more than two decades ago, when there are no computers or smart phones and you pay someone to use a local phone if you need to talk outside. The school buildings are big and old and rustic.

    These boys in the early teens, all wearing identical red and white school sweat suits, are in fine shape, visible at shower time, an anonymous cast that seems to have been carefully screened for athletic talent. Their mass displays of uniformly choreographed martial arts moves led by harsh coach You Hu are impressive. This is an old fashioned tale of boarding school sufferings and life lessons. But this is a special place because 99% of the students live only for the dream of becoming another Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan or Jet Li.

    Of young novice teacher Lu's many students, only one visibly cares about academics: Zhang Cuishan (Hou Yunxiao), who excels at schoolwork but hates martial arts and tries to run away all the time, getting caught on one of his escapes in fact on the very day of Lu's arrival - by bicycle - the way most people got around in China before the industrial capitalist boom time came. As Lu tries to form a protective bond with the bullied Zhang, whose parents live on a boat and have sent him away because he can't swim, he also develops a crush on the school’s pretty young doctor An Lan and receives insider tips and wisdom from the principal’s quirky grown son Jiang Qin, who ranks lower in his father's eyes than his beloved pet falcon. Jiang Qin likes to chew gum and smoke. He's a slacker who hangs around at the school, out of favor with his father but ever present on the fringes.

    There is also an elderly marshal arts guru, a distinguished-looking Mr. Miyagi type with goatee and eyepatch, who wanders the country looking for opponents. Only later in this longish two-hour film does this season-marking subplot make sense. Huang Huang's movie, simple and crowd-pleasing but ambitious in its way, almost wants to be a TV miniseries, the director seeming as enthusiastic and willing to take on additional subjects as his young schoolteacher protagonist.

    Whushu Orphan 武林孤儿, 120 mins., premiered at the 31st Tokyo International Film Festival, where Huang Huang was awarded the Spirit of Asia Award for a promising new director presented in the Asian Future section. Reviewed in Asian Movie Pulse.
    TRAILER
    Sunday, June 30
    8:30 PM
    Walter Reade Theater
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 06-23-2019 at 09:16 PM.

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