Epic Proportions and NYAFF 2011

Since Jerry has been swamped prepping for SDCC next week, I volunteered to guest blog for him at the 2011 New York Asian Film Festival. It was my pleasure. New York has a lot of film festivals and this one is my absolute favorite. No one puts together a film program like Grady Hendrix and the Subway Cinema crew.

So, on top of loving this festival and religiously attending for the past five years, the fact that Jerry does the official festival tees is a match made in heaven. Plus, this is the first year I was able to score tix to every screening I wanted with the fun pass (10 tix for $99 @ Walter Reade Theater). Here’s a pic of the table selling the shirts @ Walter Reade…

The shirt is a tribute to Tsui Hark, who is being honored at NYAFF in a dope retrospective. It's just $10!?!

The pic doesn’t do it justice, the shirt came out like hot fire. I wore it to the second day of NYAFF to see Takashi Miike’s 13 Assassins: Director’s Cut (as bad an ass as bad ass can be) and random people were stopping me on the street to ask me about the shirt.

The movie was just as good. And, it was sold out. I used one of my pass tix to get my brother Liren in and our buddy Pete got real lucky as some kind old man sold him a ticket with a whole stand-by line waiting behind him.

Assassins took it back to Japan’s traditional samurai films but Miike’s flourishes abound. Especially in the brutal introduction of Lord Matsudaira Naritsugu, the most despicable villain I’ve seen on screen in a long, long time. This dude is irredeemable. Miike does Japan’s samurai film tradition proud but never holds back from  questioning the true nature of honor, it’s all very existential.

I also managed to get into the festival Opening Night screening of Milocrorze: A Love Story, one of those kooky, oddball comedies the Japanese are so good at. The kabuki stuff was off the chain. Liren appreciated the love doctor character, Besson Kumagai. I appreciated Milocrorze (the girl) but everyone became a fan of star Takayuki Yamada that night.

Yamada-san was there with director Yoshimasa Ishibashi for a Q & A and both were personable and witty, with the sometimes charming awkwardness that comes with needing a translator. Subway Cinema awarded Yamada with the Star Asia Rising Star Award. Well deserved. Incidentally, Yamada-san also co-starred in Assassins.

If Yamada looks awkward in that suit, its because he was. He didn’t loosen up until the reception afterward when he got to change back into street clothes. Yamada-san was nice enough to stick around, chat with fans and take pictures.

Apologies for the camera phone pics, there’s more to come and I’m bringing the DSLR… I still have tickets to Taiwanese flick, Reign of Assassins, Tsui Hark classics Dragon Inn (Bart Scott level can’t wait) and The Blade, and of course, Hark’s latest, Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame.

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