Festivals: NYAFF Reviews

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New York Asian 2016 Review: CREEPY, A Master Heads in a New Direction

Creepy has been touted as Kiyoshi Kurosawa's "return" to horror, but it feels, in its own right, like a new departure for the director. Where vintage Kurosawa fare was vague, mysterious, and mournful, Creepy is bracing, black-humored, and overt. A...

New York Asian 2016 Review: WHAT A WONDERFUL FAMILY! Mixes Broad Comedy with Ozu's Legacy

Yôji Yamada is a director known for retreading and reusing elements, both visual and in terms of plot, being the director of many series of movies that have been done across decades. While he really hasn't made a new series...

New York Asian 2016 Review: A BRIDE FOR RIP VAN WINKLE Excels At Portraying Womanhood In Today's World

The director of this film, the famed artist and writer Shunji Iwai, started his career doing television films before shaking the entire landscape of Japan with films like Love Letter and Swallowtail Butterfly, and he somewhat goes back to the...

New York Asian 2015 Review: IT'S ALREADY TOMORROW IN HONG KONG, A Charming Romantic Travelogue

Here's the basic plotline of producer and now first-time writer-director Emily Ting's immensely charming romance It's Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong, boiled down to its basic essence. A man and a woman meet, and (spoiler alert) fall in love over...

New York Asian 2015 Review: TAKSU, An Erotically Charged Island Sojourn

Taksu, the second feature by actress, producer, and now director Sugino Kiki, takes its title from the Balinese concept (often associated with dance) of artistry and charisma that taps into divine, spiritual power. And though it may be going too...

Japan Cuts 2014 Review: MONSTERZ, In Which Nakata Hideo Misfires With A Lackluster Remake

The slow but steady decline of the once-great Nakata Hideo (The Ring, Chaos, Dark Water) continues unabated with his latest, Monsterz. This is a remake of Haunters, the 2010 Korean film by Kim Min-seok that itself was no classic, but had...

Japan Cuts 2014 Review: WOOD JOB! Takes Us Deep Into the World Of Forestry, With Wonderfully Comic Results

The recent Japanese film Wood Job! is not, despite its very suggestive title, a pornographic film, which will either relieve or disappoint you, depending on where your movie tastes happen to lie. Instead, it is the latest comedy by Yaguchi...

NY Asian 2014 Review: HOPE, Devastatingly Sad Yet Beautifully Uplifting

One of the drawbacks of being a working critic is that the volume of film viewing this necessitates, trying to keep up with new releases, festival and retrospective screenings and such, can tend to flatten out your emotional responses to...

NY Asian 2014 Review: BLIND MASSAGE, An Artful And Affecting Ensemble Drama

Often controversial Chinese filmmaker Lou Ye delivers one of his finest films with Blind Massage, a delicately observed and artfully directed ensemble drama, based on the novel of the same name by Bi Feiyu. Putting aside, at least for the...

NY Asian 2014 Review: GOLDEN CHICKENSSS, In Which the Third Time Isn't Entirely the Charm

The 2002 comedy Golden Chicken and its 2003 sequel Golden Chicken 2, starring Hong Kong's queen of comedy Sandra Ng, were love letters both to Ng herself, who was given perhaps the greatest showcase committed to film of her formidable...

NYAFF 2013 Review: Sono Sion's BAD FILM Is By No Means That

Nobody should walk into a Sono Sion film and expect to anything close to a conventional experience. The director's two most well-received films -- 2008's upskirt photography romance Love Exposure and 2010's fish store owner/serial killer epic Cold Fish-- are...

Japan Cuts 2013 Review: IT'S ME, IT'S ME, A Surreal Farce On the Nature of Identity

A comically surrealist farce on the nature of identity in the digital age, Miki Satoshi's latest film It's Me, It's Me features an impressively energetic and remarkably varied multiple performance by J-pop star Kamenashi Kazuya as the central character, or...

Japan Cuts 2013 Review: A STORY OF YONOSUKE Reflects on Human Kindness and Unending Optimism In ... Us

From reading a brief synopsis online of A Story of Yonosuke, and with its 2 1/2 hour plus runtime, and the fact it is a period piece (taking place in 1987), I was fully expecting a Being There or Forest...

Japan Cuts 2013 Review: I'M FLASH!, A Visually and Sonically Stylish Tale of Gangsters and Religious Cultists

Religious cultists, yakuza hitmen, a lovely bar pickup, and a speeding motorcyclist collide, quite literally, in the genre oddity that is I'M FLASH!, the latest from iconoclastic director Toyoda Toshiaki (9 Souls, The Hanging Garden). This time, Toyoda jettisons the...

NYAFF 2013 Review: JUVENILE OFFENDER, A Deeply Humanistic and Beautifully Acted Character Study

Juvenile Offender, Kang Yi-kwan's delicately observed, tightly written, deeply humanistic small-scale drama is one of the must-see films of this year's New York Asian Film Festival. Bracingly tough-minded, this film deftly avoids the traps inherent in its narrative material, especially...

NYAFF 2013 Review: This VERY ORDINARY COUPLE Aims to Show You What's What

Grand romance, as depicted on screen, written on the page or sung into a microphone, is the stuff of dreams. We crave it and feel it vicariously through surrogate works. It happens in life too but scarcely as magnificently as...

NYAFF 2013 Review: It's Never Too Late For New Year's Resolutions With COUNTDOWN

West meets East in this claustrophobic Thai thriller set almost entirely in a New York City apartment on New Year's Eve 2012. The story concerns the redemption of three roommates, and can either be enjoyed superficially as a tense exercise...

NYAFF 2013 Review: A Breakdown of Christian Linaban's ABERYA

aberya (n): Tagalog, from the Spanish word avería, meaning "damage, breakdown, malfunction"; mechanical troubleIs there anything more frustrating than sitting in traffic? How about sitting in random, inexplicable traffic during off-peak hours? Where every stop-and-go inch tries your patience? That's...

NYAFF 2013 Review: EUNGYO, An Erotically-Charged Tale of Aging and Artistic Inspiration

Jung Ji-woo's fourth feature Eungyo (aka A Muse) has as its basis the salacious premise of a relationship between a 70 year-old man and a 17 year-old girl, which for obvious reasons proved quite controversial upon its release last year...

NYAFF/Japan Cuts 2012 Review: HARD ROMANTICKER

There is an old saying about the Japan-Korea relationship my grandfather once told me that is very revealing. Apparently it's really easy for a Japanese to pick out Koreans among them because Koreans stink of garlic. For a Korean who...