Film News: Asian Pop-Up Cinema Presents Chicago Premiere of ‘The Projects’ on Apr. 5, 2017

Chicago – The fourth season of Chicago’s Asian Pop-Up Cinema series continues with the Chicago premiere of “The Projects” on Wednesday, April 5th, 2017, at the AMC River East Theatre in downtown Chicago. “The Projects” has been described as one of the “zanier elements of Japanese cinema.” For complete details and to purchase tickets, click here.

‘The Projects,’ Directed by Junji Sakamoto, Presented by Chicago’s Asian Pop-Up Cinema Series

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“The Projects,” directed by Junji Sakamoto, is a comedy involving Hinako (Naomi Fujiyama) and her husband Seiji (Ittoku Kishibe). They have lost their son to an accident, and they give up their herbal medicine business, moving to a housing project. They are contacted by Mr. Shinjo (Takumi Saito), because only their herbal remedies help an affliction that he has. When Seiji suddenly disappears, the mystery of his whereabouts and who Mr. Shinjo really is are all in question.
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Violent Cop

'Beat Takeshi' goes rogue cop in his first self-directed feature, as Takeshi Kitano. It's excellent, a brutal tale with a fascinating lead character and a directorial style that compels one to watch -- it's never easy to know what will happen next. Violent Cop Blu-ray Film Movement 1989 / Color / 1:85 widescreen / 103 min. / Sono otoko, kyobo ni tsuki / Street Date October 11, 2016 / 39.95 Starring Beat Takeshi, Maiko Kawakami, Makoto Ashikawa, Shiro Sano, Shigeru Hiraizumi, Mikiko Otonashi, Hakuryu. Cinematography Yasushi Sasakibara Film Editor Nobutake Kamiya Original Music Daisaku Kume Written by Hisashi Nozawa, Takeshi Kitano Produced by Shozo Ichiyama, Toshio Nabeshima, Takio Yoshida Directed by Takeshi Kitano

Reviewed by Glenn Erickson

I'm always on the lookout for certain movies I've heard recommended, or that have descriptions that intrigue me. When I saw a reference to Takeshi Kitano's Violent Cop, I knew I'd want to take a look. As happens so often with Japanese pictures,
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Film Review: ‘Lady Maiko’

Film Review: ‘Lady Maiko’
Japan’s rarefied geisha culture is kookily crossed with Broadway musicals in “Lady Maiko,” Masayuki Suo’s variation on “My Fair Lady.” Gorgeously appointed and exuberantly choreographed, this crowded ensemble drama is a visual treat that, at well over two hours, needs a romantic spark to give it stronger dramatic momentum. Audiences aware of what a tacky knockoff “Memoirs of a Geisha” was may well appreciate the production’s dedication to authenticity, but it doesn’t entertain on the level of Suo’s “Shall We Dance,” or boast the zany humor of “Maiko Haaaan!!!” Still, Suo’s rep and the fascinating subject matter should ensure a decent run in select Asian markets.

The ancient, masonic world of geishas, sometimes referred to as Hanamachi (Flower Street), is almost synonymous with Kyoto, a city proud of its artistic heritage and exclusion of non-locals. However, the film reveals that since the profession’s heyday,
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Blu-Ray Round Up: Jet Li, Jackie Chan Highlight ‘Ultimate Force of Four’

Chicago – Attention martial arts fans, Buena Vista Home Video recently released a wave of martial arts films on Blu-Ray under the title “The Ultimate Force of Four” box set, including one of Jet Li’s best films, the spectacular “Hero,” from director Zhang Yimou. “Hero” is easily the highlight of the quartet of recent HD releases but “Iron Monkey,” “The Legend of Drunken Master,” and “Zatoichi” will all satisfy fans in 1080p (as long as they’re not purists about audio tracks).

Three of the four titles are merely HD imports of special features and films already available on standard DVD. The exception is “Hero,” which includes an all-new featurette and a digital copy, but is actually one of the most divisive Blu-Rays of the year. Miramax/Buena Vista has made the baffling choice to include a higher caliber quality of audio for the dubbed tracks on “Hero,” “Iron Monkey,
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Adrift In Tokyo (Another Review!)

[Because it opens in Toronto for a limited run tomorrow, and after personally missing it at not one, but two festivals, yet hearing all the buzz, here is one final take (of a relative Twitch late comer) on Satoshi Miki’s fabulously quiet little Sidewalk Cinema]

The ‘road movie’ while mainly an American staple in filmmaking has entries and variations all around the globe. Usually two (or three or more) unlikely partners, travel to a specified or vague destination and get in misadventures along the way whilst learning about life and living. It can be big budget or micro, mainstream or arty, be in a romantic aim or a goofy buddy sense, and is oft time even used as a vehicle for horror. Credit director Satoshi Miki for somewhat re-inventing the genre with this “Sidewalk Movie.” A film that puts two very genial actors, Jô Odagiri and Tomokazu Miura, side by side perambulating the various neighborhoods and lesser-known sites of the worlds largest city.

The razor-thin plot has a debt collector (a mulletted Miura) trying to muscle 100,000 yen out of unfocused and perpetual law-student (crazy-haired, but isn’t he always crazy haired Odagiri). After near suffocation
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Group Sounds Return in Gs Wonderland

Nippon Cinema has reported about the new teaser and website for Ryuichi Honda’s Gs Wonderland, which tells the story of a fictional rock band called The Tightsmen during the Group Sounds (Gs) wave that swept Japan during the 1960s. As indicated by both the clip and the psychedelic, eye-bleeding website, the film seems to be emphasizing the fashion and style of this era but the music seems to be getting some attention: Jun Hashimoto and Kyohei Tsutsumi, both of whom composed music for Gs bands such as The Golden Cups, The Dynamites, and Ox, have written 10 new songs for Gs Wonderland. Chiaki Kuriyama, and Ittoku Kishibe, who was a member of The Tigers, both star in the film.
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Shark Skin Man and Peach Hip Girl

Shark Skin Man and Peach Hip Girl
Kino International/Tidepoint Pictures/Viz

NEW YORK -- It's by now to be expected that Japanese action movies, especially those based on the violence-strewn manga (comic books) that have become so prevalent, sacrifice narrative coherence and credibility in favor of kinetic camerawork and cool visuals.

But this effort, directed by TV commercial director Katshuhito Ishii, is probably the first to concentrate on ... fashion. "Shark Skin Man and Peach Hip Girl" is receiving a belated theatrical release at New York's Two Boots Pioneer Theatre, no doubt shortly before it joins its brethren in its natural U.S. home on DVD.

Displaying influences ranging from Tarantino to, well, just about everyone influenced by Tarantino (who was himself inspired by Japanese action flicks), the film is a couple-on-the-lam story. The pair in question are Samehada (Tadanobu Asano), a yakuza who has absconded with $1 million of his gang's money, and nubile schoolgirl Toshiko (Ittoku Kishibe), who is running away from her sexually abusive uncle. When the two literally collide in their respective fleeing vehicles, they join forces to escape both Samehada's vengeful gang members and an assassin hired by Toshiko's uncle.

Telling its story in jumbled, nonchronological and basically indecipherable fashion, the film is mainly interested in adopting a veneer of hip coolness, exemplified by the director's endless visual tricks, the usual quotient of digressively would-be amusing dialogue and primarily by the outrageous looks of the characters. From Toshiko's furs and underwear combination to the unibrowed assassin clad in a white leather suit to the increasingly ridiculous outfits sported by the menacing gangsters, the unfortunately accurately titled "Shark Skin Man and Peach Hip Girl" comes across like an overextended music video that would leave even Madonna drooling.

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