Song of the Phoenix – World Film Festival 2015 review

Song of the Phoenix (2013)
Director : Wu Tianming
Screenwriter : Wu Tianming, Luo Xueying, Xiao Jianghong
Cinematographer : Wang Tianlin
Editor : Peng Wang
Cast : Li Mincheng, Zheng Wei, Hu Xianxu, Zhang Xiqian, Chi Peng, Ji Bo
Music : Zhang Dalong

The director of this film recently passed away in 2014. I had to look it up but I had seen one of his past films, The King of Masks, which I liked a lot. That film brought to light an old Chinese traditional performance art. Similarly, Song of the Phoenix does the same by introducing the traditional wind instrument called SuoNa. It’s a music instrument that sounds more like a horn. SuoNa is traditionally played at weddings and particularly funerals but is not limited to such events. The title of the film refers to a difficult and highly regarded song that is only played at the funerals of the most virtuous people (although how this is decided is not really covered and not the point of the film).

Continue reading Song of the Phoenix – World Film Festival 2015 review

Decline of an Assassin – World Film Festival 2015 review

Decline of an Assassin / NORAINU HA DANSU WO ODORU (2015)
Director : Shoji Kubota
Screenwriter : Shoji Kubota
Cinematographer : Hiromitu Nishimura
Editor : Shiji Kubota
Cast : Yoshimasa Kondo, Keisuke Kato, Shogo Suzuki, Hidetoshi Kubota, Yuri Yanagi, Kouta Kusano
Music : Ipeei Yogo

Note: According to this blog the earlier screening was rescheduled to Saturday, September 5 @ 9:30pm in Quartier Latin cinema 11. (I haven’t verified myself)

This film focuses on Muneyuki, a 50 something year old hitman who’s starting to feel his age when a routine hit becomes uncharacteristically messy by his own high and clean standards. He has two younger men who help him in his hits, usually acting as “babysitters” who clean up after the hit is done. He also frequents a hostess club to see his favorite girl, Miori, whom starts taking an interest in him after a falling out with her boyfriend who also works at the hostess club. He decides to retire but circumstances beyond his control pull him back into the hitman’s life.

Continue reading Decline of an Assassin – World Film Festival 2015 review

Montreal World Film Festival schedule released August 27-September 7

The schedule for the Montreal World Film Festival is now online. I’ve already highlighted some films in this previous post and on twitter. Here are filtered search results to films from South Korea, China, Japan, Vietnam, Philippines, Singapore, Nepal.

Some trailers and film picks after the jump.

Continue reading Montreal World Film Festival schedule released August 27-September 7

Go Away Mr. Tumor movie now screening in US & Canada

In Montreal, you can, as usual, check this film out at Cineplex Forum, courtesy of China Lion Entertainment. The movie is directed by Han Yan and stars Bai Baihe and Daniel Wu.

The following synopsis comes from the website itself.

Go Away Mr. Tumor is based on the famous Chinese comic series created by online cartoonist Xiong Dun, chronicling the darkest hours of her life in a lighter and more amusing way. While fighting a malignant tumor, she wrote what became an explosively popular story and inspired millions of people with her optimism and courage.


Continue reading Go Away Mr. Tumor movie now screening in US & Canada

Early look at some Asian film screenings at the World Film Festival 2015 in Montreal

Updated (Aug 16) with some additional out of competition films further below.

As expected, you won’t find much if any advance information on a lot of films that screen at the World Film Festival but that’s what makes it interesting. Here are some of the Asian films from the World Film Festival’s first announcement so far.

In the World Competition category…

Seven Days by Xing Jian
I found one article that interviewed the director about the film. The film is independently financed and the director even had to sell his house. The film was shot during the very harsh winter in the Changbai Mountains in Northeastern China.

Gassoh by Tatsuo Kobayashi
This is a live action adaptation of the manga “Gasso” focused on three samurais in the Edo period. The manga was first published in 1983 and won awards during its time. Some trailers are found in this article. I’m not familiar with any of the talent except for actor Jo Odagiri, he is not one of the leads but is a very good actor.

In the First Feature Competition category…

Beijing Carmen by Wang Fan
The film is a romance that is apparently inspired by the classical novel Carmen according to this article.

Dear Deer by Takeo Kikuchi
Looks like a quirky family drama involving adult siblings and their father. The Asianwiki page above has a trailer.

Kagurame by Yasuo Okuaki
Here is a trailer. It looks like it stars Rina Takeda in a dramatic role (she has a black belt in karate and is more known for action movies, I last saw her in Dead Sushi). IMDB has a synopsis for the film.

Neboke by Norihito Iki
I found this trailer for the film. The youtube channel has another video link with a synopsis in Japanese.

Lost and found by Show Yanagisawa
Other than a page of the director, no info found.

The Funeral by Qi Wang
Couldn’t find any info.

Out of Competition (posted on August 13)

IT’S REALLY KIND OF YOU by So Jae-ick. 2015 / Colour / 92 min, South Korea
It is late night and raining hard when a strange woman clad only in underwear rushes up to a man who is fishing at the lake, asking for help. Help to do what ?

MY SISTER, THE PIG LADY (DWAEJI GATEUN YEOJA) by Jan Moon-il. 2015 / Colour / 104 min, South Korea
In a small seaside village where all the young men left for the city, three young women scheme to catch the eye of the only bachelor left in town.

BLOOD BEAD (AKAI TAMA) by Banmei Takahashi. 2015 / Colour / 108 min, Japan
Tokita would rather be making movies than teaching about them in film school. But it pays the bills and thereís always Yui, the pretty school secretary. Then Ritsuko enters his life…

THE NEXT GENERATION PATLABOR – TOKYO WAR Mamoru Oshii. 2015 / Colour / 93 min Japon / Japan In a world where giant robots are built and used for labour, a special police force of robots is created to handle crimes relating to these machines.

WOLF TOTEM by Jean-Jacques Annaud. 2015 / Colour / 98 min, France – China
The story of young Beijing intellectual’s fascination with the wolves he encounters when he’s sent to teach Mandarin to minority nomadic herders in the majestic, scenic grasslands of Inner Mongolia.

Fantasia 2015 festival in review

Fantasia 2015, total films seen: 30

This has certainly been one of the best years in terms of the Asian film selections since I began extensively covering it starting back in 2011. I didn’t realize it until now but I actually saw the most films this year than any previous year and it could’ve been more if it weren’t for other activities and fatigue. It’s impressive that I feel this year also had the fewest duds for me. I would probably say only a handful of films were very disappointing and/or not enjoyable. This was coming off last year, where I didn’t like many of the films. Continue reading Fantasia 2015 festival in review

Brian Kang aka Young K, emerging Kpop rapper

Brian Kang was born and raised in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He was in a band with Terry He (who recently came back to youtube after not posting since 2013 and gave an update on himself and Brian) and others before being recruited to become a JYP trainee. Recently he’s made some music show appearances since he’s featured on a song by Baek A Yeon. Here’s a more intimate performance of him and Baek A Yeon. His rap interlude starts at 2:25.

Continue reading Brian Kang aka Young K, emerging Kpop rapper

Final Fantasy: A New World concert review

This is a bit late but with all the Fantasia film reviews and Just for Laughs review, I decided to delay this for a bit.

A New World: intimate music from FINAL FANTASY is a new concert of final fantasy music. Last year it sold out at Otakuthon. It returned this year with two showings at Montreal Comic Con on July 3. The New World concert differs from Distant Worlds in that music is composed for a chamber ensemble while the latter is performed by a larger symphonic orchestra. Along with conductor Arnie Roth, there were 11 musicians. The instruments were piano, guitar, a string quintet (2 violins, 1 viola, 1 cello, 1 double bass), a woodwind trio (a flute and the other instruments I wasn’t sure, maybe a clarinet and tuba, or some type of horn) and another person who did various percussion instruments and electronic keyboard.

With regards to the repertoire, you can pretty much listen to all of it on their website. I didn’t do that before going to the show but even though the pieces chosen were not ones that I cared about, they were enjoyable to listen to live except for some pieces where the higher pitched notes on the violin sounded too close to nails on a chalk board. However, I can certainly think of less popular pieces that have yet to be played at these concerts that I would like to hear over most of the repertoire of New World. Continue reading Final Fantasy: A New World concert review

Asian American / East Asian Film Reviews & Annoucements in Montreal

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