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Thread: New York Asian Film Festival 2021

  1. #16
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    A SONG FOR YOU 他与罗耶戴尔 (Dukar Tserang 2020)

    A swashbuckling young nomad tries to make it as a Tibetan pop singer. Good star, atmosphere. Jia Zhangke produced. But those looking for the excitement and unpredictability of Jia's early work will be disappointed.

    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 08-20-2021 at 03:02 AM.

  2. #17
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    SAMJIN COMPANY ENGLISH CLASS 삼진그룹 영어토익반 (Lee Jong-pil 2020)

    An ensemble piece about women in the workplace in 1995 Korea who conduct an investigation of corporate corruption. Entertaining but not so convincing as, say, Erin Brockovich,, which has been mentioned as a comparison.

    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 08-22-2021 at 05:36 PM.

  3. #18
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    THREE SISTERS 세 자매 (Lee Seung-won 2020)

    Extreme emotions and extreme dysfunctionality among three grown siblings whose maladjustments have made them each very different. The climax is at a birthday party for the abusive, alcoholic father, now an old man. And acting fest from this director, a man of the theater.


  4. #19
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    A LEG 腿 (Chang Yaosheng 2020)

    Estranged from her husband, this widow stubbornly struggles to get his amputated limb back from the hospital to cremate the whole body together. As that plays out, we watch a romantic love story that went a little wrong. The writer-director of this dark romantic comedy cowrote the Oscar-shortlisted 2019 Taiwan family sagaThe Sun. Starring Tony Yang and Gwei Lun Mei and with handsome cinematography by Chung Mong-hong.

    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 08-22-2021 at 05:38 PM.

  5. #20
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    MY MISSING VALENTINE 消失的情人節 (Chen Yu-Hsun 2020)

    A magic realist romcom that won the most awards at Taiwan's "Oscars," the Golden Horse Awards, last year, and when you see it you'll see why. Touching romance, plus high-concept ensemble piece sequence that's a tour de force.


  6. #21
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    THE FABLE: THE KILLER WHO DOESN'T KILL ザ・ファブル 殺さない殺し屋 (Kan Eguchi 2021)

    A sequel to the NYAFF 2019 centerpiece film, Fable, again based on the manga of Katsuhisa Minami, about the fabulous yakuza hitman undercover in Osaka drawn out of hiding for more thrilling mayhem. As preposterous, entertaining and well crafted as last time, with an action sequence on the scaffolding of a high rise and an opening series of nifty rapid hits followed by a Fast and Furious-style car chase.


  7. #22
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    JUNK HEAD (Takahide Hori 2017)

    Stop-motion animation of a post-apocalyptic world where a human is sent to a lively, dangerous netherworld to save a human race that's gained endless life but lost the ability to reproduce itself. The result of an obsessive almost one-man effort pursued over many years. Somewhat episodic and inconclusive, but the craftsmanship is fantastic.

    Later it was announced this co-won the NYAFF Audience Award.

    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 08-23-2021 at 04:25 PM.

  8. #23
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    After the NYAFF closing day (Aug. 22, 2021)

    Yesterday the NY Asian Film Festival closed its 20th edition with announcements of Audience and Uncaged Award winners
    After a close tally, two Audience Awards were handed out, the first to Iman Zawahry’s groundbreaking Americanish (USA, 2021) a pioneering romantic comedy made predominantly by and about American Muslim women. One of the films in NYAFF’s inaugural Asian American Focus section, it was shot in Jackson Heights, Queens, and the audience turnout was by far the largest during the festival.

    The other Audience Award winner was Takahide Hori’s Junk Head (Japan, 2021) , a dystopian sci-fi stop-motion masterwork that follows the eponymous protagonist on a series of shape-changing adventures after he’s sent deep underground to help save mankind. The self-trained director spent seven years creating every aspect of the film almost entirely by himself.
    The Uncaged Award for best feature went to Cao Jinling’s Anima (Which I missed.) This one is Chinese and is issue-driven, as JOINT, I guess, is not!
    Anima
    莫爾道嘎

    Set in Inner Mongolia in the 1980s, when China launched economic development programs that resulted in widespread clear-cutting (essentially mass destruction by chainsaw), this is a breathtakingly beautiful debut with a romance at its heart and an environmental message in its soul.
    Sorry to have missed that, and AMERICANISH; and there were some others I'm sorry to have missed. I'll put my comments on the films I saw and liked below.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 08-23-2021 at 05:15 PM.

  9. #24
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  10. #25
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    Comments: NYFF #20.


    OUDAI KOJIMA (JOINT)

    I found most of the films I chose to screen in this year's NYAFF interesting, as I have before. This is a fabulous film festival for its variety and quality.

    I admired the Japanese film A BALANCE (Jujiro Harumoto) for its seriousness in treating of a woman documentary filmmaker working on the fallout from a teacher's seduction of a student (or vice versa), who then finds a similar problem arising in her own family. It's a very intelligent and subtle film and reminded me of Asghar Farhadi and Michael Haneke.

    Obviously Takahide Hori's JUNK HEAD, which I've just reviewed, a virtually one-person dystopic stop motion animation, is a once-in-a-lifetime film; I'm glad the NY festival audience came out for it with an Audience Award. You don't get something like that in every NYAFF!

    In Japanese cinema there's always a manga influence. Manga-sourced films this time were THE FABLE: THE KILLER WHO DOESN'T KILL (Kan Eguchi); SENSEI, WOUILD YOU SIT BESIDE ME? (Takahiro Horie); and ZOKKI (by three directors) - which shows manga can be many different things (a very slickly made sequel movie of a yakuza hitman story, a tale about a cute hotshot manga-writing couple with fidelity issues; intermingled short stories about weird outsiders. This one felt like Kaurismaaki, or Roy Andersson.

    MY MISSING VALENTINE (Chen Yu-Hsun) almost could be manga, but it's Taiwanese. High concept rom-com storytelling of a high order. At the country's awards it won all the prizes, yet some writers found it odd or improper, so there were complications or flights of fancy some audience members don't get. Very winning - and thought-provoking.

    JOINT, by 27-year-old Oudai Kojima, who lived from age 3 to age 13 in NYC (which may count for something) but attended high school and college in Japan, approaches the Japanese gangster movie with a very fresh eye, a fresh visual look, new up-to-date-information, including an angle on the new yakuza "business" focus. Very interesting and promising. If you like genre as much as I do of course you want to see someone ring changes on it. As the Lincoln Center blurb says (they are presenting the film), Kojima "creates a compelling portrait of today’s underworld, with multi-ethnic characters who are scrambling to bridge physical, generational, and moral divides." It's quite possible the fresh outlook of his time in New York contributes to his awareness of this.

    BOOK OF THE FISH (Lee Joon-ik) was refreshing, black and white, Korean historical film, yet somehow never heavy, it looks at an intellectual high in government banished in 1800 to an island for involvement in Christianity, seen by the king as subversive. This leads to meeting a fisherman with intellectual ambitions and a collaboration on an unprecedented book about fish. Based on true events. Not just a palate cleanser but sometimes we do need that, and not just at a festival.

    Others were good to know about or I'm glad they were made, like A SONG FOR YOU (Dukar Tserang), about a soulful, cool Tibetan who kind of wants to become a rock star but thinks he's a bigger hotshot than he is. Damtin Tserang is an appealing, sexy lead, but also convincing as a bit of a hick. My dream that this film would evoke early Jia Zhang-ke was not fulfilled, but Jia did co-produce.

    Wish I had gotten to more of the exotic ones.

    I forgot to list NINJA GIRL (Yu Irie), which is a free story about local town politics, liberally laced with fantasy. I think it's admirable, but perhaps not so memorable.




    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 08-23-2021 at 09:41 PM.

  11. #26
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    THE OLD TOWN GIRLS 兔子暴力 (Shen Yu 2020)

    To a lower tier Chinese industrial city comes a flighty but glamorous mother to see her long abandoned teenage daughter, and brings big trouble. Debut by a new woman director with strong performances by actresses Wan Qian and Li Gengxi as mother and daughter.


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