Partners in Crime (Taiwan, 2014)
I was pretty stoked to score a pair of tickets to see the new Takashi Miike flick at the AFI Fest. We don’t get to see works by the Japanese director on the big screen here in L.A. very often, and Over Your Dead Body is especially awesome because it’s his return to horror. Did I mention that you can score tickets to that particular festival for free? If you’re a film lover who lives near Hollywood or is able to leave work early, you might want to check it out…
But attending a festival in your hometown isn’t quite the same as traveling to one. Saddled by responsibilities–work, family, pets, or whatnot–it isn’t easy to totally commit one’s self to binging on movies and popcorn.
So I recommend booking a last-minute flight to Honolulu for the Hawaii International Film Festival. I love it because the programmers have great taste, booking a perfect balance of art and trash, high end and low budget, with a ton of new movies from Asia. It doesn’t hurt that the audiences are packed with way more film freaks than industry wannabes and bullshitters, and did I mention that it’s in Honolulu? And then plan your week something like this:
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 30
Spend the morning and every morning at the beach before it gets crowded, go someplace awesome for lunch (The Pig and the Lady, Jimbo, Marukame, Gina’s…) before having a snack at Waiola, Leonard’s, or Liliha Bakery. Eventually, get to the Dole Cannery to flash your badge, grab some hurricane popcorn, and see some movies.
6:00 – Partners in Crime (Taiwan, 2014). The plot involving a group of friends who investigate their friend’s death sounds like it could be Stand By Me or River’s Edge. Doesn’t hurt that director Chang Jung-Chi won a Golden Horse Award for best new director in 2012 and is a filmmaker to watch.
9:15 – The Midnight After (Hong Kong, 2014). I’m a big fan of Fruit Chan, who is best known for directing the gritty indie film Made in Hong Kong in 1997. His latest movie features his typically everyday characters on a bus from Mongkok to Tai Po who wind up in a Twilight Zone-esque situation.
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 31
6:00 – NUOC 2030 (Vietnam, 2014). This stylish sci-fi whodunit has a subplot involving climate change, and is helmed by Nghiem-Minh Nguyen Vo, who grew up in his family’s movie theater in Vietnam and then obtained a PhD in physics from UCLA. As is the case with many films, the director will be in attendance for a post-screening Q&A. (What filmmaker wouldn’t go to Hawaii?)
9:15 – Man From Reno (USA, 2014). Indie director Dave Boyle is responsible for Surrogate Valentine and Daylight Savings, two of my favorite low-budget flicks that happen to feature friends Goh Nakamura, Michael Aki, Ayako Fujitani… Fujitani has a central role in Boyle’s latest flick, a mystery writer who finds herself in a real-life mystery.
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 1
6:15 – Thermae Romae II (Japan, 2014). Kind of like Hot Tub Time Machine but in a sauna, a Roman gladiator finds himself transported to a sumo ring and back. Japanese movie buffs will recognize lead actors Hiroshi Abe and Aya Ueto from Kore-eda’s Still Walking and Ryuhei Kitamura’s Azumi movies.
9:00 – Lupin The Third (Japan, 2014). Ryuhei Kitamura made his mark with an over-the-top indie action movie called Versus. His Pan-Asian, live-action take on Monkey Punch’s detective has received mixed reviews but I’ll see anything with actor Asano Tadanobu and Meisa Kuroki wasn’t bad in Crows Zero or Space Battleship Yamato.
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 2
4:45 – Banting (Singapore, 2014). A movie about a young woman from a strict Muslim household who enters the arena of masked wrestling? Sounds good to me and where else will you see this on a big screen. First-time filmmaker M. Raihan Halim will be in attendance for a post-screening Q&A.
7:00 – The Golden Era (Hong Kong, 2014). Ann Hui is a legendary director and this docudrama was not only the Closing Night film for this year’s Venice Film Festival but is Hong Kong’s official foreign language submission for the 2015 Academy Awards.
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 3
3:30 – Dearest (China, 2014). Peter Chan is one of the most respected filmmakers and producers in Hong Kong, China, and Asia in general. This thriller features Bo Huang and Zhao Wie, from Stephen Chow’s Journey To The West: Conquering Demons and Shaolin Soccer, respectively!
6:30 – Crows: Explode (Japan, 2014). The ultraviolent high school saga continues in this adaptation of the much-loved manga by Hiroshi Takahashi.
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 4
6:00 – Wood Job! (Japan, 2014). An awkward coming-of-age movie set deep in the woods of Kamusari. Our hero tries to escape the challenges of the wild until he realizes that he is neighbors with the cover girl on the flyer that brought him there.
8:45 – What We Do In The Shadows (New Zealand, 2014). Jemaine Clement (Flight of the Conchords) and Taika Waititi (Eagle vs. Shark) reunite to make this mockumentary about vampire roommates who must learn to coexist with hipsters, computer programmers, and other tribes in modern Wellington.
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 6
5:45 – Beyond Clueless (UK, 2014). This British documentary includes and attempts to digest over 200 teen movies from Idle Hands to Eurotrip, narrated by Fairuza Balk from The Craft.
9:15 – The Torture Club (Japan, 2014). Based on a comic but not for kids, this is probably one of the trashiest and smuttiest movies of the fest. But does it have a heart, too?
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 7
6:15 – Aberdeen (Hong Kong, 2014). Although Pang Ho-Cheung is best known for genre movies like the slasher flick Dream Home and softcore comedy Vulgaria, his latest effort is described less odd but equally surreal. Perhaps like a Don DeLillo story based in HK?
8:30 – CART (South Korean, 2014). This pro-labor muckraking movie about workers who go on strike sounds totally unlike so many other South Korean flicks which are about about status and shopping. Intriguing and hopefully good.
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 8
6:30 – The Great Hypnotist (China, 2014). Taiwanese director Leste Chen has enjoyed success with several romantic comedies but returns to the horror genre with this thriller starring Karen Mok–one of Hong Kong’s coolest.
8:45 – Tokyo Tribe (Japan, 2014). Sion Sono’s super stylized take on the ultraviolent manga is reportedly part West Side Story, part pinku exploitation movie, and all craziness. Not for the easily offended in terms of gender politics, good taste, or proper storytelling.
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 9
3:30 – Mudbloods (USA, 2014). The documentary about real-life Quiddich players follows a team from California to New York to play for the collegiate championship.
6:30 – A Hard Day (South Korea, 2013). There are so many South Korean cop movies out there but this one sounds out of control and off the rails, not to mention up a dead man’s ass.
9:30 – My Man (Japan, 2014). This Lolita-like story sounds difficult to watch but Asano stars in it I’ll give it a try…
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 9
12:00 – Neko Samurai (Japan, 2014). Cat gang vs. dog gang, samurai style!
4:00 – Black and White: The Dawn of Justice (Taiwan, 2014). Mismatched cops fight bombings, missiles, and deadly virus. What else can go wrong?
6:30 – Scarlett Innocence (South Korea, 2014). A sick love triangle that could only come from South Korea with a sordid past, secret identity, two generations of the same family, and blindness.
There’s a lot of other stuff I’d want to catch: shorts from up-and-coming filmmakers, stuff by locals, documentaries about local topics. Martin Scorsese and Andrew Lau’s Revenge of the Green Dragons will have to wait until I got home and same goes for the new Olivier Assayas flick.
And if my choices seem lousy to you, the great thing about film festivals is that two attendees could have the best time ever yet never see the same movies. Look up the schedule yourself and go! There are definitely worse reasons to fly off to Hawaii…
What We Do In The Shadows (New Zealand, 2014)
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