Tuesday, June 30, 2015

June 27 and 28 at the New York Asian Film Festival 2015 Aaron Kwok is the wrong sort of strange, Ringo Lam is charming beyond words plus PORT OF CALL, EMPIRE OF LUST, CITY ON FIRE, FULL ALERT and INSANITY

Finally I go home....
The weekend at the New York Asian Film Festival was fun and crazy. For me it’s like going home and I get to see the guys running the festival as well as people like Jarod from Bullets over Chinatown who lives near me but I never seem to get to see.
Stan gets a heads up on the first movie

This year’s start was special since I had my friend Stan in tow. Stan’s a long time NYAFF fan but he missed the last two due to family matters. This time he was back and raring to go.

Lined up and waiting to go into the movie
Walking into Walter Reade everyone was a buzz about Aaron Kwok from the night before. Apparently he seized the spotlight and refused to give it back giving a long rambling speech and being a bit rude. There were other technical issues that had it referred to as a comedy of errors. Getting on line I saw Jarod and we talked for a bit. Its always a good sign when he’s in the house.

We were joined by Mondo, Mr C and Agent O

The lights dimmed and things got underway

The first film was PORT OF CALL

Aaron Kwok gives a killer performance as weary hunched over detective investigating the death of 16 year old girl who turned to prostitution. Based on an actual case the film plumbs the depths of cops, victims and killers.

This gory story is very much in need of an editor. Divided into chapters for no discernable reason the film confuses matters even more by jumping through time with wild abandon. Sometimes were told about the shifts, sometimes not. Worse a good chunk of the film is fantastical. I was told after the film that much of the killers story was in his mind. When I asked how we are supposed to know, I was told you’re just supposed to.

Frankly outside of Kwoks performance, some gory nonsense and one truly frightening nightmare there isn’t much (at least in this form) to recommend PORT OF CALL. It’s a film in need of editing, which according to Chris Bourne it will be getting for international release.

Wait for streaming

(Mr C's take on the film can be found at Planet Chocko)
Grady steels himself for a very long hour with Aaron Kwok

(This is about a third of the Q&A shot by Mr C and I lifted from Planet Chocko)

After the film Aaron Kwok came out and did a Q&A. It was a long and rambling one that got completely out of hand as Kwok prattled on and on. When Grady asked how they were on time someone said it’s 5:38 and he said he didn’t know what it meant (20 minutes to the next movie) and he took more questions. As Rufus and Samuel tried to cut things off from the audience Kwok continued on – taking a long question from a woman in Mandarin- which he then answered in Mandarin (meaning everything then had to translated into English. When Grady tried to cut Kwok off he said there as a follow up- which the woman again gave in Mandarin- and he answered in Mandarin- and when that was done Kwok just rambled on for a bit. Finally they got him off the stage some time after the start time of the next movie. (see below for another Kwok story)

Grady talks while Rufus stirs the names

The second film was EMPIRE OF LUST. The giveaway was breezed through and the movie started

Very badly named film would seem to be a softcore porn film when instead it’s an action filled court intrigue film.

A simple telling of the plot has the emperor giving command of the newly unified army to the father of his son in-law. This sets the general on a collision course with one of the Emperor’s sons who wants to seize control of the court, as well as putting him in contact with beautiful courtesan (SPOILER ALERT) has an agenda of her own.

A very soapy story with more twists than are allowed by US law is highlighted by several excellent but gory action sequences. While some of the court intrigue gets to be too much , the central through line of doomed love and action carry the film. Trust me if you drop out the classic Ringo Lam films from this year’s NYAFF this would be one of the top two action flicks of the festival. The battles all have weight and nary a sign of CGI.

If you want my vote for the one film of the festival that people are going to be kicking themselves for missing this is it. Everyone I talked to loved the film and was shocked at how the bad titling kept people away. This is one to track down.

A note to the Subway Cinema guys- thank you for giving us better titles than what was on the print- but the next time you live subtitle please find a better way of doing it (under the picture?) because too damn much was lost in the bright image.
Ringo Lam-the Man of the Weekend

The final film of the night was CITY ON FIRE with director Ringo Lam in attendance. He was being given a Lifetime Achievement award and he seemed to be truly humbled- commenting that he hadn’t gotten anything like that in Hong Kong but did in New York.
Ringo Lam cracks a joke or two

Lam was absolutely charming. Being in the audience you could feel the love flow off the stage. He said he was not going to do a Q&A but the next day would be willing to sign anything anyone brought in (As Grady said bring a couch he’ll sign a couch, bring a puppy he'll sign the puppy). He also wanted to sit with the audience as the film played.

The source of Quentin Tarantino’s RESERVOIR DOGS, CITY ON FIRE is a Hong Kong Classic. The film has undercover cop Chow Yun Fat being forced to take over for another cop who was on the trail of a gang of really bad robbers who will stop at nothing to pull their job. They gang found out there was a rat in their midst and killed him. Chow at first refuses to do it but as police bodies mount and CID chases after him (they think he’s a bad guy), he takes o the case and is soon in the middle of it all. Much more complicated and infinitely better than Tarantio’s film CITY ON FIRE packs a punch that leaves you gasping. Chow’s character is between a rock and a hard place and his life is turning to crap as a result. We feel for him because there is so much more to the character as opposed to Tim Roth’s version in Tarantino’s telling.

I don’t know what to say beyond it’s a classic.

This film is amazing and then some. A huge must see.
Grady Hendrix and Ringo Lam

I should mention that the film was screened in 35mm. Grady Hendrix said that they tried to call in favors to find a print and could only find the last known surviving complete print at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Sadly the film is no longer complete since a section of the film ended up on fire. (Yes CITY ON FIRE as literally on fire). Apropos of nothing I found I missed the smell of burning celluloid. As much as I hate what it means it still a treasured smell of my childhood.

After the movie I dashed home in the pouring rain. (Apropos of nothing I did win A Bluray of KILLERS)

On Sunday I met Jarod outside the theater. It was hot inside so he was waiting in the cool air. We talked about the films the day before. He also told me about how Aaron Kwok refused to sign anything when he passed people after PORT OF CALL. He said he had a dismissive attitude. He also said that everyone didn’t seem to have a good thing to say about him. I mention this not as gossip, rather because everyone and I do mean everyone, who has ever been at NYAFF has gone above and beyond to be nice to the fans and organizers. This was the first time I have ever heard a bad word about anyone.
Ringo Lam takes a seat with all of us

The first film of the day was FULL ALERT. Director Lam was there and he was applauded when he entered the theater, applauded when Grady introduced him and he was applauded when the film ended. And as he stood to the standing ovation at the end he humbly told everyone “Thank you” to which many of us yelled back “No Thank You” he then disappeared behind the screen for a brief respite before heading out (again to applause) to the lobby to sign and take pictures.
Grady asks Ringo Lam to stand to thunderous applause

I talked to several people who spoke with Lam in the lobby and everyone was glowing. He was the definition of class and a truly cool guy. I would tell you the stories of things like Jarod and Lam discussing Jarod HK film collection but they aren’t my stories to tell besides you really should have been there-trust me its one of the greatest NYAFF moments.

As for the film itself...


Grady called FULL ALERT the final monument of the Hong Kong crime cinema which had its heyday from the mid 1980’s until 1997. He called it a great under seen gem of a film and the only film in the festival that mattered.

Not sure if it’s the only film that matters but I can get on board with the rest. Thank god for NYAFF for bring this film to the open because now that I’ve seen it I’ll never forget it.

One of the meanest and nastiest HK films I’ve seen it begins with a whole building being poisoned by a rotting corpse in their water supply and goes on to chart the cops vs robber battle between a gang of cut throat thieves aiming to rob a race track who will kill anyone to get their score and the police trying to stop them.

One killer action sequence after another cranks of the tension as bodies pile up and the psychological toll is taken on both sides. This is a brutal nasty film where everyone gets abused. There is a cost for the evil that men do and for the men who try to stop it…and for the audience watching it, when it was done I felt wonderfully abused.

The film is a masterpiece in the truest sense of the word.

If there is a flaw in the film it’s that the crooks insist on going through with the robbery depite knowing the police know what they are doing (more or less). Yes I know the film deals with hubris and the need to be number one but completing the robbery is just damn stupid.

Still the film packs a punch.

Track the film down

Before the final film INSANITY, Mr C appeared and sat behind Jarod and myself. We talked briefly before the movie started.

INSANITY is for most of its running time a taut little thriller. Yea you can kind of guess where it’s going but until it gets there it’s the sort of a film that just drags you along.

Beginning with an obviously mentally ill man being a party to the death of his wife, the film shifts gears and jumps three years ahead when the staff at a hospital argues about whether or not to release the man. The man’s doctor, the favored colleague of the hospital administrator argues he’s ready to go, some of the others are not too sure. The man is released and as the doctor tries to keep his patient on the straight and narrow he begins to be put under a great deal of stress. Where the film goes is the film.

For most of the film the shifting lead characters and skillful filmmaking keep this a taught and compelling film. Even as we watch events unravel and begin to suspect what’s happening we keep watching because how we are seeing things keeps us unsure of what is really going on. Only in the final section, say the last 20 minutes or so when it all begins to come together does the film deflate slightly. It’s not that what happens is bad , more that what happens is much too conventional for what had gone before, and we realize that the film wasn’t playing fair with what we were seeing. Worse- a final revelation about the event that set everything in motion seems to be more WTF then truly shocking. We didn’t need to know it nor did it need to happen.

Reservations aside, INSANITY is worth seeing if it comes your way.

(Mr C reviewed the film yesterday and his take can be found here)

After the film I left I had a dinner date with the lovely Lesley Coffin and couldn’t stay. I said a quick good bye and headed off… until Friday when I get to do this all over again.

As always being at the festival is like being at home- I can't wait until the weekend when I get to do it all over again.

For tickets and more information on up coming films go to the SUBWAY CINEMA webpage

To see more pictures from the weekend go to our Tumblr Page here
The Subway Cinema crew and Ringo Lam

it's today in New Jersey but IT'S ALREADY TOMORROW IN HONG KONG (2015) - NYAFF 2015


(Jamie Chung at Walter Reade Theater - photo by Chocko)


The opening weekend at the 2015 New York Asian Film Festival had me all tweaked out for films with disturbing characters involved with murder and psychological thrillers at psychiatric hospitals in Hong Kong which had me wanting to try the drug ketamine to sedate my racing thoughts. Now, along comes the screening of It's Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong and I was like ok, two american ex-pats from the States working in Hong Kong - they meet by chance at Fragrance Harbour (Hong Kong), have passionate sex at one of the slimey hotels at Chung King Mansions, and the story begins there with a crime of passion and someone getting dismembered.

Back to reality - now let me start with the real story of It's Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong. The skinny: One american gweilo ex-pat from New York meets a Chinese american girl from L.A. while visiting Hong Kong and they walk and talk discussing their unfulfilling relationships as they enjoy each other's company. Another chance meeting the following year at the Star Ferry heading towards Kowloon, they enjoy each other's company again and begin wondering if maybe they are both in relationships with the wrong partners. I hate to use the word cute - ok maybe it's more charming and innocent but It's Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong is kinda cute. It's simply a quiet relationship movie teetering towards the fringes of romance. The two players in the film, Jamie Chung and Bryan Greenberg had great chemistry on the screen which is not a surprise since they are in a relationship together and engaged to be married in real life. The actors didn't seem like they were acting and we the audience were just flies on the wall. The film also doubled as a public service announcement for tourism in Hong Kong as both of these characters show us the local sites in Hong Kong Island including Central, Mid level escalators, Soho, & Lan Kwai Fong districts as well as taking us across the harbor to Kowloon on the Star Ferry to Tsim Tsai Tsui, Nathan Road with Chung King Mansions to pick up a suit, to shopping at Lady Street, & stopping by at a Cantonese opera singing performance on Temple Street. From some of the panoramic shots of HK, the Sogo department store area in the Times Square scene had a lot of video play, too! Ok, this film has got me hankering to look for flights to HK! But in all seriousness and comedy, It's Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong is a charming movie about two individuals that we can relate to and who are very likeable. I'm honestly hoping that there's a sequel here. And please don't take the story to New York City or Los Angeles. Grab some popcorn and snuggle with your honey bunny to watch It's Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong. If you're a dude and you're flying solo, don't tell the fellas' about the rom-com play! See y'all in Hong Kong!

-Thanks to Chocko for recording the Q/A after the screening of It's Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong with Jamie Chung, Bryan Greenberg, & director Emily Ting on the panel!



mondocurry corner: Solomon’s Perjury 1: Suspicion & Solomon's Perjury 2: Judgment @ New York Asian Film Festival 2015


The most striking aspect of Solomon’s Perjury, a two part suspense story of near epic proportions from Japan presented at this year’s New York Asian Film Festival, is the grave seriousness with which its mostly adolescent cast of characters is presented. You’ll find no catchy pop anthems, catch phrases, or cool posturing here. The adaptation of a series of novels penned by renowned mystery writer Miyuki Miyabe is presented with an elegantly moody classical score and cinematography that imbues settings with a somber mood, capturing the grave expression of characters with a lingering patience. Indeed the opening scenes in which we find an adult Ryoko recounting the day when she and a classmate came across the snow covered corpse of a classmate, Kashiwagi, in front of their school building are positively downbeat.

The tale goes on to tell of the aftermath of the body’s discovery, which belonged to a high achieving student who was highly regarded by the bulk of his peers, pulling numerous characters with their own personal strife and agendas into its wake.  The principal and police’s ruling of it as a suicide does not sit well with the student body, particularly Ryoko, who leans on her detective father to investigate further. The appearance of an anonymous note alleging the witnessing of foul play further complicates the case. But the accusations lying within are also far from infallible. Losing faith with the resolutions reached by adults, the classmates of Kashiwagi, along with a suddenly appearing figure from his past, decide to stage a mock trial with judge, attorneys and an audience of students, parents, and teachers alike. Yes it’s far-fetched and a bit surreal to behold, but the commitment to the premise by all hands on deck makes it work.

It took a significant amount of planning and attention to detail to connect the many disparate aspects of the mystery together, and link them each to one of a bevy of social problems facing current day Japan, particularly its youth: themes of bullying, social ostracism, mental disorders, overindulgent parents, abusive relationships are all woven into the narrative’s tapestry. It can’t help but come off as a bit contrived at times. One also feels this during some of the numerous dialogues between characters, which are often prone to consisting of moralistic diatribes. The at times artificial tones are often made up for, though, by the film’s grand ambitions.

Truly the story shares the same weighty tones as Battle Royale when it comes to presenting the strife and spirited resistance of its teen protagonists, even in this more down to earth scenario. Yet, where Kinji Fukasaku’s modern classic doled out virtue and folly in equal measure, Solomon is characterized most by positivity, in which the pursuit of truth and genuine justice is the norm among its teen students. There is an infectiousness about the film’s stubborn optimism that propels the film forward, achieving a familiar feeling after a while, and able to turn cynicism into hopefulness.

As many film adaptations of literary works are wont to do, part 1 of Solomon suffers a bit from too many details being put into play. While the beginning feels tightly wound around a handful of key characters, the story spreads to involve numerous others with pacing that sometimes leaves some aspects of the story cold for too long before returning to them. Part 2, however, benefits from launching right into the pivotal action: the setting up of and proceeding of the trial that unlocks the difficult truths behind the incident in question.

While presented as two films, I think it best to refer to them as parts because Solomon is essentially one movie split into two, probably due to its extensive length. While the first part does feel a bit more unwieldy due to the challenging task of setting up so many plot elements, part 2 is equally long. Here it is worth noting the story’s tendency to indulge in melodrama, a good deal of it occurring, not surprisingly, in the film’s final act.  It is, again, a tradeoff of possible heavy-handedness and admirable aspirations. There is a sense that director Izuru Narushima wants to extend the scope of Miyabe’s novel and bring about cathartic healing by confronting and tearing the band aid off these widely faced social ills. I cannot help but applaud the effort.

A performances by Mizuki Itagaki as Kanbara, the stranger from the deceased student‘s past is worthy of the term ‘break out,’ as he passionately navigates a path of demanding accountability for the behavior of his peers from on high while carrying his own heavy burden. It's a commanding performance that can easily be likened to that of a Kenichi Matsumoto, who first wowed viewers as L in the Deathnote movies. Ryoko Fujino, playing the student who found the body, appears here in her first major onscreen role and delivers a more subtle but very impressive turn. Her often wide eyed and inquisitive expression is quietly and determinedly piercing, as if seeking out truth from everyone she encounters.


The New York Asian Film Festival presents this present day pop culture artifact from across the ocean, as only the do. Curiously the films are not presented back to back, perhaps allowing audience members to gather their thoughts before taking on its conclusion. It seems important to watch both to really feel the weight of the story, but part 2 is essential for seeing how the tale is resolved.

Solomon’s Perjury Part 1: Suspicion is being screened on Sunday, July 5 at the Walter Reade Theater, while ‘Part 2: Judgment will be shown Friday, July 10 at the SVA Theater. Plan accordingly. Visit the Subway Cinema website for more information and tickets.

My favorite Ken Loach film JIMMY'S HALL opens Friday

I know I'll catch grief for using the French poster but I do love the image

Jimmy’s Hall is my favorite Ken Loach film. I love the sense of life in the film. I love the characters. I love the feel of the movie. To be honest when I saw it at Tribeca I did so out of obligation more than desire. When it was done it turned out to be one of my favorite films of the festival and 2015. I loved it so much that when Peter Gutierrez recently asked me to go see it again I didn’t really hesitate. While I don’t think the film is perfect, the bad guys are drawn too black and white in a film where everyone is shaded and grey, I do think its one of 2015’s best.

With the film opening Friday here’s my review from Tribeca

Ken Loach's latest film is based on the life of Jimmy Gralton who returns from exile in America and ends up reopening the meeting hall that got him exiled in the first place. Battling the rich and landed as well as the church who view him as a communist, Galton reforges friendships as he runs head long into troubles.

I tend to shy away from Ken Loach films. To my mind he's a filmmaker who makes serious political films that frequently can be dark. While there is no doubt that his films are very good, they are frequently not where I want to go. JIMMY'S HALL, while very political is also a film that's very much alive and not dark.

What I like about the film is that the film is largely a slice of life. Its a film about fighting for the right to think and do what one feels is right. ts a film that is populated with great characters. Even Jim Norton's Father Sheridan, the bane of Gralton's existence, is a nicely drawn character.

This film surprised the hell out of me. It made be sit up and smile and lean in so that I could be a conspirator to getting the hall open.

This may not be the best film ever made, but it is a damn entertaining one.

Monday, June 29, 2015

STUNG (2015) opens Friday


I originally saw STUNG back at Tribeca and fell in love it. It’s a crazy over the top horror comedy that perfectly mixes the horror and the comedy. I loved is so much that I had planned on taking my brother to see it at a press screening last week simply because I thought he had to see it on the big screen (sadly trouble on the LIRR made that impossible)

The plot of the film has a bickering pair of caterers who are destined to become a romantic couple, setting up for a swanky party in the country. (And please over look that everything from cars to houses and landscape look like its somewhere in Germany or Austria because this is set in the American South) . Once the party gets going things rapidly go wrong as the party is set up near a nest of wasps… And what big wasps they are…and they seem to be getting bigger by the moment. Soon it’s a battle for survival and It’s up to the bickering couple to try and save as many people as possible, including themselves.

Crazy, over the top, with some genuinely earned jump scares and numerous gruesome gallows humor belly laughs STUNG is a great deal of fun. Well aware that the situation in the film is inherently silly, the film makers go with it and use the clichés of the nature on the rampage, giant insect/monster movies to play with the audience. They know we know there are times where we will expect certain things to happen and then they will turn the situation to get a scare or a laugh. The increasing size of the wasps is there simply to up the ante and give a new danger. And lest anyone think this is played all for laughs many of the deaths are gross or shocking and in the case of wasps inside people really horrifying.

If there is a problem with the film, it’s that the first fifteen minutes are really creaky. It’s the sort of cliché filled set up that is going to make the inpatient want to turn the film off. Of course once the wasps appear the film kicks it into high gear, but anyone coming in from the star is going to have to be patient and wait for their arrival.

I love this film a great deal. It the perfect film to curl up with on the couch or in a theater with friends. Best of all it’s a rare film that’s going to work a film that you can just watch and enjoy for itself, or watch with friends and comment on on. It’s a film that goes both ways and we are better for it

STUNG hits theaters and VOD on Friday

Insanity (2014) - NYAFF 2015


I liked the mood of this HK psychological thriller from the very beginning, a desperate & disturbed schizophrenic played by veteran actor Lau Ching-Wan abuses his wife physically & verbally until acts of desperation and stupidity causes her to take an unwilling leap to the death. While Lau's character gets off scott-free as the courts denounce the case as death by insanity, Lau gets shipped off to a psychiatric hospital where Dr Chow will be his so called saviour in curing our schizophrenic main lead. Little would we know that Dr Chow would be the star of this show as his past dealings will show why he became a healer in the first place. Who is the patient and who is the Dr of Psychiatry here? Both of our lead protagonists or antagonists whichever way you decide to lump them into, face a "mental" hurdle that many in our society face - that mental health issues often go untreated and undiagnosed. This doesn't seem exactly the case here as the act of treating is certainly recognized but twists and turns in the story will lead this to another type of fate. I liked how the story emphasized mental health treatment and once exhibiting good habits from the treatments, a chance to blend back into the community is offered but other factors from past experiences such as the mother in law will make there presence known. It almost seemed like this movie could of morphed into the horror realm if given a few more traits. What I liked about the film mainly centered around the performance by Lau Ching-Wan as he portrayed the disturbing character of Fan Kwok Sang. I would have never pictured Lau Ching-Wan playing such a bastard but recovering role because of the characters that he has portrayed in the past. I very much liked the cheap thrills and scares from the film involving the distraught mother in law. It really did amp up the tension in the scenes. The film often invokes anger,confusion, & suspense which is mostly dictated by the obtrusive instrumental sounds designed to race your thoughts. The mental flashback scenes that one might get when under the influence of narcotics added anxiety and strain in the membrane! If I was allowed to be picky about the film, the actor that played Dr. Chow seemed to be too stiff & boyish and not enough of the maniacal for the role to my liking. I'm still not sure what to think about the film as the plot of the story is so far fetched but I'm not going to lie, I surely did find it entertaining & suspenseful!

Ruined Heart: Another Love Story Between a Criminal & a Whore (2014) NYAFF2015


Films like Ruined Heart are the reason why I love the movies. It also the reason why I love the New York Asian Film Festival. It bold and brash and truly unique. It’s an absolute must see- so much so that if I was able to I’d grab every one of you and drag your butts to NYAFF to see it.

The film is a dialogless tale of a criminal and his girlfriend in the underbelly of Manila. There are songs and poems and mystical occurrences. The director is graphic artist Khavan based on his short film, but the whole thing was shot by cinematic genius Christopher Doyle. It’s a glorious concoction that is a visual and aural delight of the highest order.

This is crazy insane. Its wildly alive. This is film as a living breathing entity. This is the type of thing that most filmmakers try to create but never manage. It’s a work of art.

Is it perfect? No. Its choppy and bumpy and things just are and just happen- but you know what that’s life- that’s poetry- that’s magic-that’s this film and its damn wondrous.

I really don’t have words to describe this, I only have emotion and enthusiasm for the film-I only have this desire to take people who love movies and force them to see this film.

GO SEE THIS FILM.

The film plays on July 2 and July11 at NYAFF and is at the top of the must see list of films to see.(Hell it's one of only two films getting multiple screenings)

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Nightcap 6/28/15 Angels at a book reading and Randi's links

street art across from the Brooklyn Academy of Music

This is a weird week in that I’m not going to be talking about a film festival beginning or ending. I’ve been doing that a great deal lately, and after tonight I’ll be doing it again for the next three weeks as Japan Cuts and Fantasia all begin and then in rapid succession they, as well as NYAFF end. If nothing else at least you know what you’ll be reading on Sunday nights through July.
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I had no idea what to post tonight so since I figured I'd go completely off the board and throw you one of the few stories I've written in a while.  I had no idea what to do so I decided to go completely off the board and share it with you- enjoy THE READING
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Manny groaned-there were angels at the bar.

Angels at the bar-any bar- was bad.

Angels at a bar with a reading was worse.

They didn't care. They'd get wild and crazy and if that wasn't bad enough they had big ass flaming swords.

Manny didn't mind so much, except that his plan to do something to stand out had to be revised for something much more sedate.

Manny saw Eden who was running things. She was busy scurrying around but stopped and went towards him when she saw him walking her way.

They air kissed Manny didn't understand the custom, but hey, Eden kept him drunk, fed and published so he went with it.

"You saw?" he said indicating the boisterous ones by the bar

"Yes" she whispered.

"You Warned everyone?"

"As best I could."

Manny shook his head.

"Not to worry, I have you down the list. Hopefully they'll have left by then"

"Or killed everyone on stage" he thought.

Manny went over to get himself a drink. This was going to be ---interesting.

Manny got his drink . He nodded to one of the angels who was looking him over. He then took up a spot by the door that had good sight lines. If this went south he was going to go...

Eden took the stage. She kept her normally bubbly personality on low boil. "Hi everyone!" she then tore through her opening remarks at speed. "And now I want to introduce to you a fine writer making his first appearance..."

Manny closed his eyes and turned away. This was....

A commotion. Manny turned back. The guy making his way to the stage was fumbling his pages and drawing the attention of the winged ones...

"I...er..Hi..." he stammered. "I....I...I..I'm going to do, uh a story...." his voice had become a whisper.

"Louder" said a voice

"I said I'm going to do a st...story..."

"LOUDER" it boomed from the bar

The kid looked up. "What?"

"I said LOUDER!!!" bellowed the angel stepping forward and extending his wings.

The kid looked at the angel, blanched and then ran out a door. Manny wasn't sure where the kid went only that he was gone and the angels were laughing.

Eden without missing a beat took the stage. "Wasn't that----------interesting"

"Our next reader is a poet, one of the best I've run a cross"

Manny could see a clean cut guy with glasses looking straight at Eden imploring her with his eyes to skip him....

"Dave, come on up..."

Dave made his way to the stage. Manny was pretty sure that he mumbled a Brazilian death curse as he passed Eden.

Dave pulled himself together and began like a trooper.

“I've been experimenting with erasing, where I take passages from a novel, play or poem and modify the text by erasing sections and modifying others. Here's a piece based on Shakespeare's Henry V.”

Several of the angels stood bolt upright.

Manny pulled Eden to him "Eden" he murmured" You should have warned him."

Manny was later to find out she did. But Dave was either too frightened or just didn't realize that you don't fuck up Shakespeare in front of an angel.(no you don't you really don't)

As the reading went on the angels just turned and glared.

And then it began low:

"What’s he that wishes so?
My cousin, Westmoreland?"

The words from the speech, the words that Dave had mangled so-
"God’s will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.
By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,"

coming slowly-quietly-perfectly from the biggest angel....

He moved toward the stage. Manny wasn't sure if he walked or floated but he got louder as he went

"Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
It yearns me not if men my garments wear;
Such outward things dwell not in my desires.
But if it be a sin to covet honour"

And louder

"He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam’d,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian"

Finally he was reciting the words perfectly, and I do mean perfectly in such a way as to make it impossible to ever hear the St Crispin's Day speech again. It was a perfect performance and when it was done. The angel unfurled his wings as if in triumph-and completely blocking the now cowering Dave.

The audience applauded-standing ovation- I mean how could you not...

The angel bowed and walked off.

Dave was gone- Manny wasn't sure if he fled or was disappeared by the angel- all he knew was Dave was gone. Either way it was a civil end for Dave since bad Shakespeare usually brought out the flaming sword and either paramedics or the coroner

The sword was brought out for the next reader, a tall lanky guy, who Eden said was a much published poet. Perhaps he was published but he was no reader- he took his lines which should have been spaced with rhythm and ran them together into one giant word which he tried to vomit out "ohmylovemydarlingIamforeverlivingwithin..."

"Just GO!" said the angel as he flipped the pages to the floor with his sword.

A few more readers. A few more disasters- though one guy did manage to get through most of his bit without incident. It was only when his story took an expected, and in the angels’ opinion uncalled for, turn from comedy to tragedy that it went wrong with an angelic demonstration of the sudden turning of events.

Manny turn finally came and he nodded to Eden as he passed "I got this" he said.

As he adjusted his pages and made a great show of getting ready. The audience tensed. The angels just stared wondering what was coming next.

Manny looked up "Before I start I'd like to say to the bar keep around for the heavenly host on me -and make them doubles"

The angels cheered and turned to order ad Manny began to tell his story about a man who walks into a bar and found a bunch of angels drinking.


----
And now Randi's links

Sounds in movies
On James Joyce's masterpiece and the battle with censors
Death defying day jobs
A rocket bikecycle
How did the Shroud of Turin get its image?
All six Star Wars films at the same time (and I do mean the same time)
The Brooklyn Subway Centennial 
Did movies begin in Leeds?
Paris's disappearing booksellers
Fashion that kills
How the Sikhs save Parmesan

NYAFF looks at Daihachi Yoshida with PALE MOON, FUKUKE SHOW SOME LOVE YOU LOSERS and PERMANENT NOBARA

I became aware of Daihachi Yoshida back in 2013 when NYAFF/Japan Cuts ran KIRISHIMA THING about a big man on campus who quits a sport team and disappears. The film tracks the effect that has on everyone else in the school. The film was a huge winner at the Japanese Oscars the year it was released. I admired the film more than I liked it. Though to be honest its one of those films that had an effect on me since two years on I still remember the film  when I'm hard pressed to remember other so called better NYAFF/Japan Cuts films.

This year NYAFF is doing a mini retrospective running 3 of the directors 5 films. Since Yoshida's first and last films are screening on Monday night I'm packaging reviews of all the films here (though to be fair Mondo looks to be doing longer reviews down the line)

PALE MOON (2014)
The life of a house wife who is running an embezzlement scam in order to pay for the finer things in life and her affair with a younger man.

Good but very deliberately paced film is a kind of character study of our heroine. The performances are good and the drabness of the visuals match the life of the people we see. While I like the film it didn't really excite me on the other hand it didn't bore me. I was definitely interested in seeing how it came out but at the same time when it ended I felt I didn't need to see this.

If it clicks with you you'll love it otherwise its just going to be there.

Mondo will be tackling this in a fuller review

FUNUKE SHOW SOME LOVE YOU LOSERS (2007)
Yoshida's first film is a black as night but strangely upbeat comedy drama about three siblings who come together when their parents are run over by a truck when they attempt to save a kitten. All sorts of things result that are not normally the subjects for comedy.

Wickedly funny, but not for all tastes comedy is surprisingly light for a film filled with so much tragedy and dark doings. Hand it to Yoshida who manages to some how over due the nastiness just enough to make it palatable but somehow manages to keep it feeling real. Whatever happens the people on screen are real people and not cartoon.

This is a film I like a great deal, and had I not had tickets for something in Brooklyn the same night I would be sitting in the Walter Reade theater to see the director's Q&A.

Highly recommended.

PERMANENT NOBARA(2010)
Returning home after her marriage goes south Naoko moves in with her mom who runs the titled beauty parlor where all they do is permanents. As she tries to get her life together she helps out her mom while the women gossip, the men stray from their women and everyone just tries to get by.

Very good but tonally uneven (the second half is much more serious than the first) this film is going to be loved by some people and hated by others (owing to to the move away from all out comedy). I was aware of the tonal shift going in  so it didn't bother me that much. For me the film is very much like the rhythms of life.

While this is not my favorite Yoshida film, that's probably FUNUKE, this is still a very good film that's worth your time.

The film is playing on the 4th of July

For tickets or more information on any of these three films go to the Film Society webpage here.

Report on NYAFF Day 2 coming

Its late. I did 3 movies, had lunch with my friend Stan, met Mondo, Pat, Jared, and a whole bunch of NYAFF people and took 300 pictures.

A report is coming.

Quick impressions:

Aaron Kwok needs  to find shorter answers

EMPIRE OF LUST is a crappy title for a kick as action film

I won KILLERS on Bluray

Ringo Lam is really cool

As terrible as it is when its the only known print its still nice to see film burn (Yes CITY ON FIRE went on fire)

A report soon

Saturday, June 27, 2015

NYAFF Capsules- MEETING DR SUN, THE LAST REEL, IT'S ALREADY TOMORROW IN HONG KONG , CART

Before I get to the capsule reviews I do want to say that you really do want to see the two SOLOMON'S PERJURY films. Yes they are long, and yes you have to see them split over two days, but they are worth it. Mondo is going to do a review soon.


MEETING DR SUN
Slice of teen life in Taiwan meets caper film as a group of teens desperate to pay their school fees decide the easiest thing to do is steal a seemingly discarded statue of Dr Sun Yat Sen. How ever complications arise as bullies, life and another student with the same idea comes crawling around.

Good little time passer has a good cast, a great piano score and more than a handful of amusing moments. While I don't think this film will win any awards I had a great time in the dark watching it. Say what you will getting a chance to see a small gem of a film like this is what NYAFF does best. If they hadn't screened it I never would have seen.

Is it worth your time? Most definitely, but if you're like me when it done you'll want something else as this fades from your mind. (this got lost with the the other films I saw that day hence the short review)

The Film runs Tuesday the 30th at Lincoln Center

LAST REEL
Young woman decides to finish a film started decades before. Along the way she reconnects with her family and with life.

A film I admire more than I like, though the later part of the film does pack a punch. Consider this a salvo in the rebirth of the Cambodian film industry. It's very much a call to filmmakers to wake up and tell stories again after the Khmer Rogue devastated the country and it's film industry (See GOLDEN SLUMBER).

This is a good film but to be honest if NYAFF wasn't committed to showcasing films from all of Asia and from Cambodia I don't know if this would have been screened in the US.

Don't get me wrong it's not a bad film, it's just nothing special outside of it's connection to Cambodian film. The problem for me is that the film is very formulaic, bad girl, who isn't really bad, makes good once she has something to care about. We've been here before any number of times, it's just the setting that's new.

While I appreciate that NYAFF has run the film it's destined to fade from my memory sooner than later.

The film runs Sunday July 5


ITS ALREADY TOMORROW IN HONG KONG
Girl from LA meets young man from New York when she gets lost in Hong Kong to find her friends. He offers to take er where she needs to go. A year later they meet again...

English language romance in the style of the BEFORE series. Its charming fluff. that runs around 75 minutes. It has charming leads, an okay script and a wonderful sense of Hong Kong. Beyond that I don't have a clue. Its a good time killer that you'll forget the instant the next movie starts.

The film plays June 28th at Lincoln Center

CART
Very good and moving film based on a true story of a group of women who decided to take on a Walmart like store and unionize and how the owners fought back by sending thugs and riot police after them, Its a hard hitting story that should be seen as a warning to anyone working today for a private corporation since something like this could very well happen to you.

The film plays Monday July 6

The excellent documentary MALA MALA opens Wednesday

I saw MALA MALA last year at Tribeca and it knocked my socks off. Here was a film that beautifully showed how wrong it is for members of the LBGT community to be discriminated against.It was a film of quiet power said it's piece and let the viewer decide for themselves. It's a film that I really thought could change minds. And I really thought the film was going to be gobbled up and released sooner than later.

And I was wrong. Instead of sooner it took over a year for the film to hit theaters. Thankfully the timing seems to be right and the film is hitting theaters just as the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of marriage equality. Its a step in the right direction- but at the same time some people are still going to try and discriminate against various groups, which is why you need to see and share MALA MALA. 

The film is the story of the transgender community in Puerto Rico and its struggle for acceptance. Its a deeply moving film and you have to see it.

Yes I know I keep saying that but it's true. You have to go. In order to possibly help push you toward going to see the film I'm reposting my original Tribeca review below.

The film hits theaters Wednesday July 1.

A confession

This film has flummoxed me. I honestly don’t know what to say about the film. I’ve written up four different reviews for the film and each one was so weak that I tried to write another… and another… and so on. After the press screening one of the PR people asked me what I thought and I kind of stammered and rambled on about my thoughts of the film, feeling stupid and condescending when I was done and wanting to do better when I wrote it up…

After a great deal of thought and attempts to write the film up, the best thing I can do is say go see Mala Mala. Anything I can say beyond that isn’t something I can do justice to.

The film is a look at the transgender community in Puerto Rico. Centering on several very articulate women the film explains the problems they face every day. Because of prejudice and a system that doesn’t protect them many can’t work and are forced to turn to prostitution in order to survive. Some go into entertainment. Some drift. Over the course of the film we watch as the girls go through life and fight for equal protection under the law.

It will move you, not just emotionally but intellectually. As I said to the woman after the film, this is this film that I can show to people who have any issue with transgender and homosexual community since it very clearly explains things on a human, non-abstract level that they are people just like everyone else.

Actually the film’s strength and power is that the need for acceptance goes beyond the transgender community to any marginalized group. We are all people. Its this transcending of the subject that makes this not only one of the best films at Tribeca but also one of the most important.

See this film.

Friday, June 26, 2015

TAKSU (2014) New York Asian Film Festival 2015

Gorgeous looking love it or lump it film is either going to bore you to tears or get your juices flowing.

A young couple in crisis takes a trip to Bali to see the husband's pregnant sister. As he broods about death (there is a mention of a need for a transplant), his wife falls for another man and his sister contemplates the birth of her child...and this member of the audience falls dead asleep

It looks good, But there is a hell of a lot of talk  and by the much touted sex comes(NYAFF says this is the film to see if you want something racy)  I had already tuned out. I kind of lost interest when the ride from the airport seemed to run in real time and the dialog seemed to repeat. Lots of meaningful glances followed.

As for the sex, yes end? For something to be erotic you kind of have to care about the people involved and I just wanted to punch someone in the nose.

Still it looks good, which may account for something to someone.

The film play July 2nd at Lincoln Center.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

My Love, Don't Cross That River (2014) NYAFF 2015

Heart breakingly bittersweet portrait of  a couple married for 76 as they approach their end and still remain wonderfully alive.

The film begins at the end. Its not giving anything away to say that one of them passes away. We know that because the film opens with the wife crying out at her loss. The film then travels back in time and we watch as the couple goes through their daily paces including having a fight with leaves while they are cleaning up their property. From there were watch as the couple express their love, deal with family and cope with the march toward death. Its a sad journey filled with laughter as the couple soldiers through their last days together.

This film filled me with joy and a great deal of sorrow.That two people could live for so long and be so in love with each other gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling. Seeing the couple going through their days made me want to jump on a plane and fly to Korea just to give them a big hug. We should all be so lucky as to find someone that we can spend a day with, never mind decades. That the time they had together had to end is so incredibly sad. I started to well up relatively early and it never really stopped.

You'll forgive my lack of details but I picked the wrong night  to screen the film, the anniversary of  the passing of my mom, when I was already a bit open and raw.Does that mean that my reaction is invalid or questionable, I think not because reflecting back on my experience made me realize how universal the experience is and how truthful the film is.

A must see when it plays on Saturday night.

For tickets and more details go here.

Addendum:The film is a follow up of sorts to a television documentary called HUMAN CINEMA :GRAY HAIRED LOVERS. The director of this film had seen the earlier film and wanted to know more so he made his own film.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Elimination Game (aka Turkey Shoot) (2014)


Back in 1983 a grubby little exploitation film called ESCAPE 2000 ( originally titled TURKEY SHOOT) was released to US theaters and made a small profit for the films US distributor Roger Corman. Set in the future the film had prisoners in wilderness camp being given a chance at freedom by allowing themselves to be hunted. If they made it to the end they were free- or so they were told. For reasons that have eluded me over the last 32 years the film has developed a small but very vocal following of film fans around the world (it's good but not that good).

Last year an Australian film company took the basic frame work of TURKEY SHOOT and it’s hunting of prisoners and remade it with Dominic Purcell as the story of a Navy Seal who is set up for a “failed” assassination and forced to play the game in order to get him out of the way in the most public way. The film was retailed THE ELIMINATION GAME for US release, though if they wanted to be truthful in advertising they should have just called it TURKEY.

The desire to write a long and very snarky review is strong, but it’s something that I’m going to resist doing since I can’t really see the point. I've suffered enough watching it and don't need to prolong the agony by writing an over long piece on a film best forgotten.

Outside of the performances of Dominic Purcell and a few other actors there isn’t much to recommend this film. Yes, some of the action is good, but some of it is also dreadful with assassins clearly shooting into the ground in front of them as we watch bullets hit near their supposed targets (ie. the battle in the shipping containers where the girl with two machine guns chases Purcell).

I’m not going to blame the anemic budget, I’ve seen too many cheap action films that made something of their material even if they had to resort to CGI to fill in the gaps and still showed enough skill and heart to make up for the short comings.

I’m also not going to blame the script which has some great plotting and solid verbal exchanges (I like Purcell sparing with his one-time friend turned one of his assassins.)

I’m going to blame the direction which is weak and static. People frequently are seen just standing against a background as if they aren’t in the same space in the scene. The action sequences are either amazing or laughable (The container fight or Purcell vs the female sword master and bow master). Things clunk along instead of flowing. There is a sense of plot details being left out. Worst of all the modulation of tone between the comedy and drama doesn’t exist. Serious things are funny for the wrong reason and jokes lay there dead. (Whats with the opening piece with the General being stripped by the girl? Am I laughing at it or with it?)As I said it’s not the script it’s the direction which is just awful.

I don't know what to say other than this film killed 90 minutes of my life I won't get back.

One of the least films of the year. While not one of the worst of the year- Dominick Purcell alone keeps it off the list and kind of watchable, it not worth your time.

The film hit theaters and VOD Friday.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

7 Minutes (2014)

7 MINUTES is a mostly solid heist film that only wobbles in it's closing moments.

Taking its title from the amount of time that a robbery should take if it all goes well, the film is the story of said robbery, which goes horribly horribly wrong.  Starting at the beginning of the robbery and then flashing back and forth through time the film is look not only at the robbery but what brought the three friends to the point of desperation where the job is the best possible choice.

A well made and well acted film the script is perfectly put together in order to maximize tension. Give everyone connected to the film credit they understand that we need characters to care about and they give us those as well. You really feel for the guys when the best fatherly advice they can get is "don't get caught"

For most of the films running time the film is super. Its a taut little thriller. The problem with the film is that as it gets into its final minutes the film takes a turn or two that didn't work for me. It bothered me so much that when I finished the film I went looking around the internet in order to find out what other people thought. Some people liked it and some people didn't. I fall into the didn't group. (and I would love to tell you what it is but its the end and I don't want to spoil it.)  While the end doesn't kill the film it did lessen it a noticeable degree.

The film hits VOD and theaters this Friday and is worth seeing.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Survivor (2015)

James McTeigue's great throw back thriller SURVIVOR starring Milla Jovovich and Pierce Brosnan hits DVD and Bluray tomorrow and is definitely worth your time.

The film has a security expert played by Jovovich being transferred to the London American Embassy in order to help beef up security. When suspected terrorists are caught trying to use fake passports word comes down that everyone is to be super aware of people asking for visas. Unfortunately she stumbles on a plot to get people into the US.  The bad guys not wanting to have their cover blown ask one of their own, a man known as the Watchmaker (Brosnan) to remove the lose ends. A bombing at a restaurant kills some of the loose ends but Jovovich is left standing and is soon on the run from both Brosnan and her own people who think she may have had something to do with it.

If you're looking for a Jason Bourne sort of film, look elsewhere. This is a deliberately paced thriller that sets up characters and builds suspense for a solid 25 minutes before the first bomb goes off. This is a film that is very much interested in giving you characters you care about and reasons to hate the bad guys the film is in no way by the numbers.

Once the action comes and Jovovich becomes a hunted suspect the film kicks everything into high gear as she is chased all over London and twists and turns assure that there is more than a modicum of suspense.  Sitting in the living room on a rainy Saturday my dad and I took the Bluray of the film for a spin and found ourselves having a running commentary with the film and each other as we pondered what was going to happen next, who was a good guy, and how they don't make films like this any more.

I love the throw back nature where thrillers actually thrilled. I love how this film has characters you care about or feel you know something about. I love how director McTeigue populated the film with wonderful people in some of the smaller roles, Angela Bassett, Robert Forester and the always welcome Frances de la Tour who give their characters weight just by being in the frame. I know the lack of action for the first third of the film turned some people off but I think it made everything all the more exciting.

Is this a perfect film? Oh hell no. The plot strains credulity, but works with in the framework of the film. Additionally anyone who has ever been in NYC during New Year's Eve would know that the finale would never have been able to go down as it did- that said this is one hell of a popcorn film.

I (and my dad) really liked the film a great deal.

Recommended.



Midnight Swim (2015)


Odd mix of documentary, found footage and psychological thriller/horror film is going to be a like it or lump it proposition.  To be completely honest I don't know what I think of the film. I do know that this film will probably click best with those who are patient and willing to go with it.

The film follows three sisters who return home after the disappearance/death of their mother. She had gone swimming in a lake near her home and never surfaced again. The three girls are there to settle their mother's affairs and to try and make sense of what happened. As they reconnect with each other and the people in the town the family fragments as weird things begin to happen.

Told in a largely POV manner, one of the girls is shooting a documentary, MIDNIGHT SWIM tries very hard to put us into the action. We are there with the girls seeing what they see. The film looks spectacular, for what it is, with all of the shots neatly composed....which is the problem. The film staggers the fine line between "documentary" and fiction film to the point it never feels real either as a fiction film or a documentary. I know the effect is used to make the film unsettling, and it is the film has boatloads of anxiety, but there really isn't a pay off.

The film is painfully low key and I know I would have been more receptive to the film had I seen the film in a theater instead of as an online screener at home. There is lots of talk, some pretty images and some weird happenings and it all unravels at a snails pace. Watching it I kept looking past the screen and fumbling with my note pad which I filled with doodles. I was interested in where it was going since I stayed to the end, but I couldn't believe it was taking so long to get there. As I said had I been in a theater I would have been more receptive, but at home I kept finding other things to do.

Is it bad? No it's not. Its looks great, generates the right sort of anxiety, it just doesn't really go anywhere scary,which was how I felt when I got to the end. It was kind of like, "oh". To me the film reminded me of a number of other found footage/POV films of recent and semi-recent vintage which kept you watching interested to various degrees but petered out at the end, THE LAST BROADCAST in particular.

The film hit VOD and theaters on Friday.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

The New York Asian Film Festival starts Friday


It’s that time of year- the time when all good boys and girls around the world flock to New York in order to overdose on the best in Asian cinema. Yes This week marks the start of the New York Asian Film Festival.

If you’ve been reading Unseen Films since we started you know we love Asian film and we are over the moon about the New York Asian Film Festival. This is one of the big festivals of the year for us and every year come hell or high water you know where everyone connected with Unseen is going to be while its running.

I don’t know what to say that I haven’t said before but this is an absolute must attend festival. Forget the films, this is the most social of all of the festivals where everyone is a friend and family. The people going to are great and every year I make a friend or two. If you want to know how cool this festival is consider that I met the following Unseen family members Mondo, Chocko, Mr C, Peter, Hubert and Alec at the festival. Additionally I met great people like Jarod King at the festival and found greater common ground with people like Joe Bendel in the darkened theaters. For me this is an annual family reunion with the best family anyone could wish for. Come join the family.

A couple of notes about this year’s coverage

First if you didn’t know this is the first year in a long time that the festival isn’t co-presenting with The Japan Society’s Japan Cuts. The festivals do overlap, thus making it very difficult for the last three days of NYAFF, but at the same time it’s no different than the last few years where there were multiple films is multiple locations. Just don't go to the Japan Society looking for NYAFF films (We'll have lots of Japan Cuts coverage once that starts.)

Second. our coverage is going to be back-end heavy at the start. When things were set up and films were first being screened for writers most of the films were  at the middle and end of the festival. So when that happened was we all picked up tickets for the early films. It was only then that the ealry films were made available for us to review -but since we were going to the films there really was no point in seeing them twice. This means that most of our coverage for the first week of films will be coming from being in the trenches. (and we will be in the trenches all the way through)

Next I'm not sure how all inclusive as in years past. Usually we get to all but 3 or 4.You would think that the reduction of titles by 15 or twenty would have made it easier for us to get to everything but that’s not the case. I believe they are running 54 films this year and I think we’ll be getting to about 44 films- this despite importing our heavy hitter from the nation's capital Eden to help out. Then again- this being NYAFF miracles happen and we may get to more. Mondo and I are still wrestling with what we can and cannot get to.

Lastly, as we do every year here’s a quick list of the must see films at this year’s festival. The film is based on the handful of films we've seen so far so there I'm guessing there will be lots of must see films that we'll be reporting on after they screen. (The first two are films we already reviewed so click on the links to see what we thought in the long form)

COLD WAR- Some truly great performances overcome an okay script in a tale about high ranking police officials trying to find and rescue five kidnapped cops

THE MAN WHO STOLE THE SUN- classic film about a man who builds an atomic bomb in his kitchen and threatens the Japanese government with demands that include allowing baseball game TV coverage to last until a game ends and letting the Rolling Stones to play Japan. It sounds crazy but it’s punch in the face film that will scare you.

MY LOVE, DON’T CROSS THAT RIVER is one of the most moving and best films of the year. A documentary about a couple married for 70 years. Be ready to be heartbroken (in a good way). This is the sort of love we all need to find.

CAFÉ. WAITING. LOVE one of the best romcoms of recent vintage. Its wild and crazy and it just works. One of my favorite films of 2015.

BROTHERHOOD OF BLADES is great characters and great action in a film that demands to be seen big- and I mean BIG. The Subway Cinema guys are right in calling it an under seen gem

THE ISLE- haunting Kim Ki-Duk thriller was the film that turned me into a huge fan of his.

BATTLES WITHOUT HONOR AN HUMANITY- first of a long running series is one of the greatest gangster films ever made. A masterpiece and the chance to see it big and restored is treat.

SOLOMON’S PERJURY One and Two- Excellent two part murder mystery should of have been this July 4th marathon film, Instead NYAFF breaks with tradition and is running the films parts almost a week apart. Don’t let the week long break stop you, this is a great little mystery with more than its share of twists and turns. As Mondo said to me a couple of days ago, what you think it is constantly changes and Part 2 alters your view of Part 1

RUINED HEART is a cinematic poem about a crook and a hooker shot by Christopher Doyle. As glorious a cinematic treat as you are likely to ever find this film is a must see for those who love the movies. There is no dialog, poems and songs take the place of the dialog and create something wondrous. If you love what the movies can do go see it.(It;s screening twice so there is no excuse not to go). Another 2015 favorite film

WHISTLEBLOWER-a based on true story film about a TV news program that dug into a potential Nobel Prize winner's research and found he had cooked the books and worse. Riveting doesn't begin to describe it.

SECOND CHANCE is a movie lovers movie of the highest order as a professional pool player on the skids reconnects with his niece who is running a pool hall and is in trouble with child protective services (they want to put her in foster care). Its feel good comedy drama sports film that is the very definition of entertainment. One of the most enjoyable films of the festival.

If we haven't  mentioned it it doesn't mean we didn't like it-odds are we haven't seen it yet.

Reviews start toward the end of the week with looks at some of the older films we had in our collection. Newer films start soon after. (I'm still working out the order the reviews are going to hit.)

For tickets and more information go to the following places

General information The Subway Cinema Site
For tickets and info on films at Lincoln Center go here
For tickets and info at SVA go here.

Macabre (1980)

Lamberto Bava's first solo directing job is based in small part on a true story. How much is true is for you to decide.

The plot of the film has a woman going to meet her lover at a boarding house. When she refuses to talk to her daughter on the phone the daughter drowns her little brother and then informs the mother he died accidentally. Rushing to see her son with her lover driving the car they get into a car accident and the the lover is decapitated. A year later the woman is released from a mental hospital and goes to stay at the boarding house where she met her lover. She is watched over by the blind son of the boarding house owner.

Moody horror mixes with explosions of shocks to form a reasonably satisfying whole. The film isn't particularly graphic. In an interview where he discussed the film Bava said that he intentionally down played the gore and the sex simply because he didn't want it to become too lurid. Additionally everyone else was amping up the gore and he wanted things to stand out. While audiences of the day were disappointed with the lack of violence, I think the film plays better because of  it. The film somehow gains a timeless quality simply because it's no longer one of those gore films.

While the film's pacing is uneven, there are two sections where the film drags instead of building to a crescendo, the film remains one of the more watchable and ultimately enjoyable of the Italian horror films of the late 70's early 80's