NY Asian Film Festival Part 2

new-york-asian-film-festival__spanThe NY Asian Film Festival for 2013 is over, and my life can return back to some form of normalcy.  I’m sad to see it go, but working a festival, and having a life is hard.  It’s a damn good thing that the festival itself was a lot of fun and totally worth it.   The last two weeks have flown by in a blur, but I’ll try to give you some of the highlights on what happened.  I only managed to catch three of my top five films I wanted to see, but I managed to watch several other films that turned out to be amazing.

The first film I saw on my top five list was Confession of Murder, which is about a serial killer that confessed after the statute of limitations had expired, and a cop that still wants to find a way to arrest him.  There are a lot of plot twists that keep the movie exciting, but the end went on a little long with a big unnecessary chase scene.  After the big reveal at the end I think this movie would have been better served with something much more subdued.  Despite the week ending this movie really is worth watching.  It was a smart thriller with a few over the top chase scenes that were exciting to watch.

After that I checked out the film Countdown, which almost made my top five list, but I wasn’t 100% sold on it.  Here’s the description for Countdown.

An acclaimed Thai horror movie about three Thai hipsters in New York City who make a big mistake when they call an evil American drug dealer named Jesus to provide their needs for a New Year’s Eve party. Along with the drugs, Jesus supplies a psychological game involving violence and torture as the clock counts down to the New Year.

Countdown kind of felt like two different movies, but this was pretty intentional.  The first half of Countdown I didn’t care for.  I almost completely gave up on the film, but then the turn happened, and I was hooked.    The movie went from trying to be a weird comedy that wasn’t working, to a supernatural horror/thriller.  Definitely good times!

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Yan Yan Mak

I wound up checking out about a half hour of The Great War, but I gave up on it.  It just wasn’t for me.  It wasn’t bad, but I couldn’t get into it.  The Great War is a documentary that follows around 2 giant Cantopop bands while they are on tour.  I had never heard of either band (Grasshopper, and Softhard, who were in attendance at the first screening) so I wasn’t drawn in.  The costumes they used and their personalities seemed fun, but in the end I could care less, which is a shame because I talked to the Director Yan Yan Mak, a bit and she seemed really cool.

Next I checked out Young & Dangerous 1 +2, which I’ve already covered, so I’m not going to go into it, other than saying, holy crap that was an awesome time.  I still smile thinking back on that day.  I need to go back and rewatch part 3 soon.

On Saturday the 6th there was a nice Taiwanese reception with great food, people, and drinks.  The Taiwanese directors that were there were the most down to earth directors I have ever seen at the festival.  At his screening of Never Too Late to Repent, director Tsai Yang-Ming thanked the audience profusely for coming and gave several deep bows.  He was really happy we came out to see his film.  I’ve never seen such a humble director in my life.  His enthusiasm for having us see his 30 year old film was awe inspiring.  Here’s a description for Never Too Late to Repent.

Tsai Yang-Ming receiving his lifetime achievement award

Tsai Yang-Ming receiving his lifetime achievement award

When Tsai Yang-ming released this crime thriller in 1979 it became a surprise hit at the Taiwanese box office, which was at the time dominated by period martial arts flicks and sentimental romances. It launched Taiwan’s “Black Movies” trend, which saw 117 hard-hitting exploitation movies hit screens between 1979 and 1983, and this stark, true crime film is the proud parent to them all.

Unfortunately at the screening there were some major audio issues with the print, but the majority of the audience was able to overlook it, and enjoy this classic masterpiece.

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Dada Chen

The third and final movie that was on my top five list was Hardcore Comedy which was made up of three different short comedic films that were loosely tied together at a particular point in time where all of the main characters interact for a few seconds.  Ultimately Hardcore Comedy was just OK.  The first short film was hilarious, and raunchy.  Unfortunately the next 2 films just didn’t have the same vibe going for them.  They weren’t bad, but they weren’t anywhere near as good.  The first film also had a downer of an ending, where the other 2 were much more upbeat.  I still recommend watching Hardcore Comedy, just for the first short alone.  Dada Chen, the lead actress of the second short was in attendance to present the film.

Lastly, I checked out The Kirishima Thing, which I have mixed thoughts on.   Overall it was a really good film, but I’m not entirely sure I liked the ending.  I feel like I missed something, and need to rewatch the last 10-15 minutes of the film.  The rest of the movie was fairly enjoyable though.  Here’s a description of the film.

When high school star athlete and all-around golden boy Kirishima drops out of the volleyball team and disappears, his fellow students try to figure out what his motivations and whereabouts could be, and uncomfortably take stock of their own place in the school’s social structure. A careful examination of the power struggles, class warfare, social angst, and drama of an entire high school as seen through the lens of Kirishima’s absence.

One of the things I like about the film is that you never see Kirishima.  You also never fully find out what he’s done, or why, but his decisions effect everyone in the movie.

That about covers my experience with the NY Asian Film Festival this year.  It’s over and I’m already looking forward to next year.  This year wound up being so fun I can’t imagine how they will top it next year.  

So, what do you think?

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