NYAFF Notes

posted for Tomfish

I just got back from a weekend full of good to great movies at the New York Asian Film Festival.

Most anticipated on my must-see list is Chan-wook Park's newest film, I'M A CYBORG BUT THAT'S OK. I was a little afraid that A) My expectations were way too high and B) Park's leaving his Vengeance mode and hitting up what is being marketed as a romantic comedy would just not measure up to his past successes.

After seeing LADY VENGEANCE, I was ready to deem Park as the Greatest Living Director, but seeing he only had 4 movies under his belt at the time I figured it was a bit premature. After finishing my viewing of I'M A CYBORG (in seats that made the Ryerson seem like the fluffiest down) I will now proclaim it: Chan-wook Park is the Greatest Living Director. Shut up, Miyazaki.

CYBORG took two of my main movie peeves (romantic comedies and movies that make mental illness look cute) and turned them on their ear. Every single piece of information, every little cute quirk, every seemingly throw-away bit comes full-circle and gets neatly wrapped up before the movies end.

I guess I'll make some quick notes about the other movies I caught.

  • THE BANQUET - Wire-fu does Hamlet. Everyone dies. Zhang Ziyi pulls off Gertrude. Plus she's hot.
  • RETRIBUTION - Kiyoshi Kurasawa makes the creepiest movies you'll ever see. RETRIBUTION is a more linear story than CURE, CHARISMA or PULSE, but it still made it hard to sleep that night. I'm not sure if he likes exploring similar themes or is making references to his earlier films, but there was a scene that reminded me of his earlier moves every now and then.
  • EXILED - Johnnie To does Sergio Leone. I love cowboy movies, I love frontier justice, I love Tony Wong, I love EXILED.
  • DOG BITE DOG - This may have been one of the best over-the-top brutal violent movies ever, if only the last 15 minutes weren't so damn gawdawful.
  • DASEPO NIAUGHTY GIRLS - Nice to look at, slightly funny. No depth.
  • HULA GIRLS - There's a spate of movies in Japan right now where a ragtag group of misfits banD together and overcome adversity to finish off with a grand finale. WATER BOYS, SWING GIRLS, etc. HULA GIRLS fit this formula to a T. It's a very good movie, but someone has to break this mold soon. LINDA! LINDA! LINDA! has come the closest. The fact that this movie takes place in a coal mining town and the mother only accepts her daughter's foray into hula after watching her had me shouting "Dance, Billy, Dance!" in a brogue accent all night.

So every movie is worth a viewing, although I don't think you should lose any sleep if you miss DASEPO NAUGHTY GIRLS...

Tom