The only unfortunate thing about the NYAFF, besides the fact that it doesn't happen year round, is the fact that it is split between two different venues over it's 12 day run. Okay...maybe that's not so bad considering several of the films have multiple runs. Regardless, there aren't many times of year, with the exception of Halloween, when NYC residents get exposed to so many fantastic genre films over such a short period of time. Unfortunately, due to a mild case of the Summer lazies and several professional and social engagements, I completely forgot that the NYAFF was upon us. Thankfully, I still have time to "report" on the rest of this years screenings without losing too much respect from the asian film community(like I ever had it to begin with).
12:30 PM - Gantz(2011) 3 PM - Gantz: Perfect Answer(2011) North Amercian Premiere
NYAFF says - "Gantz is a phenomena. A wildly popular manga and anime by Hiroya Oku, the manga has sold over 15 million copies in Japan alone, and in the USA it’s wound up on the New York Times bestseller list. Critically acclaimed, the anime has sparked a global cult. We’re proud to present, back-to-back, the two live action GANTZ movies, subtitled and with their original soundtracks, for the very first time.
In GANTZ, it doesn’t pay to be a good samaritan. Salaryman-in-training Kei (Arashi boy-band superstar Kazunari Ninomiya) learned that a long time ago, but old classmate Kato (Kenichi Matsuyama, best known as “L” from the blockbuster Death Note series) didn’t get the message, and when he tries to save a drunk, passed out on the subway track during rush hour, they both end up meeting the business end of a bullet train. Instead of getting turned into human Sloppy Joes, Kei and Kato open their eyes and find themselves in a posh apartment near Tokyo Tower with a gaggle of total strangers who are all equally freaked out. An ominous black sphere toots a chipper worksong, sprouts high-tech weaponry, and announces that their old lives are over – that’s just the way the cookie crumbles. Now, pop into these high tech gimp suits and go kill some aliens. Play til you win, win til you die. The first one to reach 100 points, wins. Whatever that means. This is the law of GANTZ and its sequel, GANTZ: PERFECT ANSWER, the double-headed death tool that has been devouring audiences in an orgy of squibs, body horror and beautiful Japanese pop idols getting vivisected.
The battle-slaves of Gantz live their normal lives by day, but every night they’re summoned back to the apartment. Every night the weird, alien orb puts twenty minutes on the clock and sends them out to kill another fearsome alien or die trying. Every contestant gets points based on their performance, and even grandma and the kids are possible targets in this inexplicable deathsport. As the few survivors grow battle-hardened and amoral, their alliance breaks down and they begin to chase each other for glory, but what Gantz really is remains a mystery. And what happens when you get 100 points?
Like “The Twilight Zone” on PCP, GANTZ is a funhouse reflection of modern 9-to-5 ennui, where all your dime-store motivational platitudes get warped into twisted mantras of survivalism. GANTZ is a celebration of the savage suicide wish inside all of us – so pump up your PVC, wipe the viscera off your face, and get in the game."
6 PM - Takashi Miike's World Premiere of Ninja Kids!!!(2011)
Fucking A' has Miike been on a roll lately, and hopefully he can keep this momentum going. It seems like the age of the Miike snoozefest might actually be over.
NYAFF says - "Last year, Japan’s wild man, Takashi Miike, made the majestically posh samurai movie, 13 Assassins, which went on to win several prestigious awards. This year, his stately, well-appointed samurai movie, Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai was an official selection of the Cannes Film Festival. That’s all very nice, but we’ve got the best new movie from him since YATTERMAN and it’s got all the crazy Miike left out of his other two films, and then some. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to another totally messed up kids’s film from Takashi Miike, a demolition derby of good taste….NINJA KIDS!!!
Exchanging noble samurai for kid ninjas has let Miike get back in touch with his wild side. This big budget, big screen version of popular Japanese kid’s show Rantaro the Ninja Boy (running for 1,437 episodes and counting!) this is like Harry Potter if Harry Potter was a ninja who hid underground and killed people with bamboo darts and ninja bombs. Young Rantaro is from a family of low class ninjas and he’s sent off to first grade at Ninja School by his parents who hope that one day he’ll grow up to be a respectable middle class ninja. But he’s hardly at school for five minutes when a classmate – literally – has the snot beaten out of him, the headmaster starts exploding and more wild and wooly ninja tricks than you can hit with a throwing star are zipping off the screen.
With the strangest, most deadpan sense of humor of any movie all year, this is a big budget kids film in the vein of Miike’s THE GREAT YOKAI WAR, possessing the same sense of fantastical freakery and goopy monster-based humanity except this time the monsters are wild, mutated, freaked-out ninjas with enormous, super-deformo skulls. With a subplot involving gangster hairdressers, constant interruptions form Mr. Konnamon, your friendly ninja trivia commentator, characters who can’t stop talking to the camera, and an ode on the favorite foods of the ninja, this is a high pressure blast of everything weird about Takashi Miike that we’ve all been missing from his new, mainstream, “respectable” motion pictures. Long live the ninja!!!"
8:15 PM - Yakuza Weapon(2011) New York Premiere
NYAFF says - "In MACHINE GIRL (2008), madman Noboru Iguchi famously slapped a machine gun onto a schoolgirl’s arm. How do you top that? Easy! Just slap a machine gun onto the arm of a vicious Yakuza thug, and then give him a rocket launcher for a leg. World, allow us to introduce you to Sushi Typhoon’s latest assault on sanity…YAKUZA WEAPON!!!
After four years of Rambo-esque jungle antics, Shozo Iwaki (co-director and star, Tak Sakaguchi, the hard-hitting action maverick) returns to Tokyo, only to discover his Yakuza father murdered, his family headquarters turned into a shady loan shop, and a powerful gang leader attempting to overthrow the entire criminal underworld! With rival gangs jacked up on “hyperdrug,” Shozo must becomes a one-man, butt-kicking army – and things only get wilder when he loses an arm and a leg, only to have them replaced with more firepower than the entire Japanese military.
Equal parts action, splatter, and slapstick – YAKUZA WEAPON is based on an adult comic co-created by Ken Ishikawa (of Cutie Honey fame). Just wait for Shozo’s scorned girlfriend to welcome him back to Tokyo by throwing a BOAT at him. Find yourself laughing too hard? Watch out for the film’s breathtaking, expertly choreographed four-minute fight scene – shot in a single take. Need both at the same time? How about a naked fembot (NYAFF 2010 guest Cay Izumi) who fires rockets from her crotch and whose head pops off to reveal a gatling gun?
Rest assured, cinephiles, this ain’t your granddad’s action-comedy. This is high-octane insanity, with the madmen at Sushi Typhoon at the controls. Co-director Yudai Yamaguchi (Battlefield Baseball, Cromartie High School) pays tribute to the choicest cuts from his previous efforts, delivering a smoldering hand-cannon of a film that was born in Japan – but kicks ass worldwide."
Japan Society, 333 East 47th Street, at 47th Street and First Avenue
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