Previews From The New York Asian Film Festival Part Three – Look! It Moves! By Adi Tantimedh

The New York Asian Film Festival ends this Saturday. It's my favourite film festival in New York, and there was no way I could see every movie in it. I could barely even see half because of other work and assignments, but here's my final rundown of the movies I caught, in no particular order.

Hentai Kamen 2: The Abnormal Crisis

Of course Japan would make a superhero spoof where the half-naked hero is wears a pair of underwear as his mask. "Hentai Kamen" means "pervert mask", since "hentai" is the term used to cover "adult entertainment" and "pervert". Of course it's adapted from a manga. Only a manga artist would come up with something this perverse.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TamRK7BnwAY[/youtube]

Creepy

Kiyoshi Kurosawa was one of the directors who defined J-Horror in the 90s with an existential and philosophic edge in movies like Cure and Pulse, the latter taking the themes of horror as contagion to their apocalyptic conclusion. Now he takes the same approach with a crime drama where a police negotiator and his wife move to a bucolic suburb for a quiet life, but come to suspect their creepy neighbour might be responsible for the unsolved disappearance of a family. Unfortunately, they're right, and he's one of Kurosawa's enigmatic psychos whose insidious influence is almost Lovecraftian in its unfathomable horror. But this time, the horror isn't supernatural, it's entirely human in its monstrousness.

Grace

Thailand has had a prolific film industry that produces slick genre thrillers, dramas and arthouse fare since the 1990s, and Grace is a typically socially-engaged horror thriller with a ripped-from-the-headlines (or Reddit) plot about internet celebrity and cyberbullying. A sweet-natured girl who becomes an internet star with her videos becomes the target of an unhinged former internet celeb and her creepy boy sidekick who decide to show her that life is nastier than she thinks. The kind f movie you expect Hollywood to remake.

Miss Hokusai

A visually lush anime adaptation of Hinako Sugiura's manga Sarusaberi, this movie covers a piece of Japanese art history as it explores the story of O-ei, the daughter of the legendary artist Katsushika Hokusai, whose art has come to represent the face of Japanese culture. A quietly feminist portrait of a woman trying to define her own artistic and sexual identity in the shadow of a domineering father, this movie has been winning awards at festivals and will be getting a wider US theatrical and DVD release later in the year, so if you miss it this time, there will be other chances.

And that's all I've been able to cover of the festival. I haven't been able to write about the Taiwanese movie about a man and woman who meet while mourning their spouses, the Korean twist on Groundhog Day where a photographer witnesss a murder and keeps waking up in a different part of the same neighbourhood, the Korean drama about an elderly sex worker, the Shunji Iwai mini-retrospective, the tragic Filipino drama about street kids, the Yakuza movie about a gangster who has his arms and legs removed and still manages to be dangerous and terrifying, the Korean historical drama about a woman who poses as a man to become the first woman to sing an opera previously forbidden to women, the Hong Kong baseball movie, the Taiwanese dark comedy about a creepy landlord who rents his building out to unstable and dysfunctional tenants so he can spy on and manipulate him in a twisted social experiment that also serves as an allegory for contemporary Taiwanese society.

Anyway, these movies are all interesting, never dull, worth seeing if you ever come across them in the future, but the NYAFF managed to bring them all together first, and if you love movies, you should keep an eye on the festival when it comes around every year.

Watching till it's over at lookitmoves@gmail.com

Follow the official LOOK! IT MOVES! twitter feed at http://twitter.com/lookitmoves for thoughts and snark on media and pop culture, stuff for future columns and stuff I may never spend a whole column writing about.

Look! It Moves! © Adisakdi Tantimedh

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