Thursday, July 11, 2013

NYAFF 2013 Ends and WKW @ MOMI Begins!

 Herman Yau and Erica Li
So, as another NYAFF peters out, I'm once again wholly amazed as to how it was pulled off and fully satisfied by my experience.  I usually get over-hyped about the fest upon seeing the schedule and buy way to many tickets than shows I can actually make it to.  Wishful thinking, I guess, but this year was no different.  I planned on seeing about a dozen or so movies and only wound up actually seeing about half of that, opting to skip a few of the Taiwanese 'black films' that I had already seen and jumping ship on getting to meet Andrew Lau as it was on the 4th of July and fatty BBQ'ed food was calling my name.  Baloney tits trumps YOUNG AND DANGEROUS.  But, who I did meet........

 The backs of Herman and Erica's noggins

I took my wife to see IP MAN: THE FINAL FIGHT, with the legendary director Herman Yau and the films writer, Erica Li, in attendance.  Kismet would have it that my wife and I sat directly behind Herman and Erica!
After seeing Yau's previous Ip Man effort, THE LEGEND IS BORN-IP MAN, and not really caring much for it, I wasn't sure what to expect with his newest incarnation but I was entirely surprised as the film turned out to be quite good.  More of a 'slice of life' story that includes a little martial arts action for the fans.  Anthony Wong, an exceptional practitioner of martial arts, is what I believe the actual Ip Man to closely resemble rather than super stud Donnie Yen or artsy handsome Tony Leung Chiu-wai.  

At the conclusion of the film, Herman and Erica sat for a wonderful Q&A and even indulged me in autographing a few items and take a pic with my Michael Berryman-esque visage.  Herman even let out a great laugh and a, "Wow!" upon seeing the TAXI HUNTER LD I asked him to sign.  Just one of the cool moments at the fest. 

Erica Li's autograph on my NYAFF program.

Herman Yau's autograph on my TAXI HUNTER LD.

I also saw the HK horror anthology TALES OF THE DARK: PART 1, that sees Simon Yam making his directorial debut alongside Fruit Chan and Lee Chi-ngai.  This was a bit of a disappointment as Yam's section of the film, the first, starts us off with our heads up our backsides and flounders around creepily before concluding in a supposedly chilling manner.  It was a good looking debut, but that was about it.  The middle section of the film, directed by Lee Chi-ngai was the most enjoyable .  Tony Leung Ka-fai and Kelly Chen are just outstanding as they try to uncover the 'mystery of the drowned girl'.  Giddy and fun, the only drawback is, as with the light nature of the piece, the scares are gone.  Not so much a dark tale.  The final piece by Fruit Chan really imbues the space with lore and makes things spooky and evil as heck, especially when seen in a contemporary HK setting. Fruit tells the story in a round-about way as if to just try and fill time before getting to the goods.  Some fine stuff abounds, and, like Yam's section of the film, this section looks great, but it ultimately fails as it appears to just end up as a tired old ghost story.

 Hou Chi-jan
My final day at the fest was a loooong one.  It was almost entirely Taiwanese laden as 4 out of the 5 movies screening that day were, well, Taiwanese.  The last one was from HK, with Dada "Yummy Yummy" Chan in attendance.  But before we plunge down Dada's neckline, the main order of the day was Taiwan black films.  Screening, in order, were TAIWAN BLACK MOVIES, WOMEN REVENGER aka THE NUDE BODY CASE IN TOKYO, WHEN A WOLF FALLS IN LOVE WITH A SHEEP, and NEVER TOO LATE TO REPENT aka THE FIRST ERROR STEP.  The screenings had directors Hou Chi-jan and the godfather of Taiwanese black cinema, Tsai Yang-ming in attendance and for Q&A's.  I was also invited to attend a special reception for the directors that was held as the film WHEN A WOLF FALLS IN LOVE WITH A SHEEP unreeled.  American 'Taiwanese food' was served but sadly there was no stinky tofu.

Q&A with Hou Chi-jan and TAIWAN BLACK MOVIES producer Kelly Yang
Tsai Yang-ming.  The Godfather.
Tsai Yang-ming was the coolest dude in the room and after seeing his 1981 black film, WOMAN REVENGER, sat in on a Q&A along side TAIWAN BLACK MOVIES director Hou Chi-jan.  He told wonderful stories about filming during this era and, if time wasn't a concern, would probably still be speaking!  WOMAN REVENGER was aces to see on the big screen.  A nice, fairly clean print and finally.....ENGLISH SUBTITLES.  Specially made for the NYAFF.  These festival guys know how to please.  And I don't even have to give them a reach around!

Tsai Yang-ming and Hou Chi-jan

After the Taiwanese cinema reception and prior to the screening of NEVER TOO LATE TO REPENT, the NYAFF brood presented Yang-ming with the Star Asia Lifetime Achievement Award.  In previous years the fest has bestowed this award on Chung Chang-wha, Tsui Hark, and Sammo Hung, putting Yang-ming in fine company.

Smoochie Woochie.  Yang-ming and the award need a room. 
On to what was to be the most exciting film for me, as it has never had a home video release, and thus, I've never seen it.  NEVER TO LATE TO REPENT.  A bit of a misstep by the fest crew as after introing the film and turning things over to the screen, the soundtrack became intermittent, really bothering the audience.  After a few minutes, some folks unfortunately bailed on the movie, as others went to see what the heck was what?  Martial Arts film fan and audience member, Ric Meyers, came back into the auditorium after inquiring about the sound and loudly relayed to the audience that, in a nutshell, because of poor film preservation, only two copies of the film were recovered.  One having a an awful image and partial soundtrack, and the other, having a respectable image and absolutely no soundtrack.  So, the two films became one,  the nicer print and the partial soundtrack merged with brand new subs created just for this festival.  Unfortunately for film history, the film is peppered with silent parts, as well as unsubbed areas.  The good news being that really no exposition is lost and the film flows wonderfully, even saddled with silence.  An amazing film going experience anyway.  

Dada sees me.  I better put it back in my pants.
Ok.  I skipped a major, and most unforgettable, part of the day, but after Dada I'll get back to it.  So, in between shows I overheard a few festival guys grumbling that Dada wasn't feeling well and was going to forgo the Q&A at the conclusion of the final film of the day, HARDCORE COMEDY.   So, along with the crap news that little miss was all tuckered out from a day of banging about the big city, Dada at the very least came out to intro the film.  Ok.  I got a few snap shots and I'm more than satisfied with that.  She doesn't appear to be the next coming of Maggie Cheung, so, easy come easy get the heck outta here. 
HARDCORE COMEDY was a big letdown.  With a title that includes the word 'hardcore' I expected a little more in the t&a area than what was offered.  Am I wrong (or just a dirty little man) in thinking that?  In typical HK film style, 3 stories are told to make up a whole film.  The first section was promising and provided some vulgar hilarity AND some t&a.  The next 2 sections fell entirely flat, at least to this audience, as it appeared the dialogue took on a HK colloquial slant that was mostly lost on us and became only mildly amusing.  A shame because the first story had such fun energy before shutting down and putting people to sleep. 

I see you!  Zip up, you perv!

AHA!!!  And the most incredible part of the fest happened after the NEVER TOO LATE TO REPENT screening and just before HARDCORE COMEDY.  The day was running long and a truncated Q&A was planned for Tsai Yang-ming, but, like I said earlier, that man could talk!  So, at the conclusion, I was hoping to get my WOMAN REVENGER poster signed by Yang-ming.  In trying to expedite the egress of the audience in hopes of getting the HARDCORE COMEDY audience in the theater and starting on time, one of the fest organizers asked that if anyone wished to get an autograph or take a pic with Yang-ming, that we exit the theater and do it all in the lobby.  So, I obliged.  As film goers emptied the theater and plugged up the the lobby with the line waiting to get into see the next film, I unpacked my poster and laid it out on a nearby table and waited for Yang-ming to make the rounds.  And here is where my 10 minutes of rock stardom began.
As the lobby became shoulder to shoulder cluttered, people began to turn their attention to the poster.  "Ooooohs", and "Holy shit!  Where did you get that?" could be heard here and there as random people inquired about the poster and asked if they could take a picture of the poster.  "Of course you can!"  So, as theater goers were fawning over my poster, out from the theater came a few of Yang-ming's entourage.  Seeing my poster, mouths agape, in wonder.  "Waaaaaaahhhhhhh!?!?!?!"  Looking at me, "is this yours?"  "How....where...did you get it?"  A conversation was started with, at that time unknown to me, Kelly Yang, producer of TAIWAN BLACK MOVIES.  She was bowled over.  I was sweating profusely and so overwhelmed and nervous at all of the attention I was getting.  It felt like ALL eyes were on me.  Well, the poster, but me as well.  I had mentioned to Kelly that I was hoping to get Yang-ming to sign the poster.  She said, "hold on," and left to go find Yang-ming, who was taking pictures with fans in another part of the lobby.  
More onlookers came by to stop and chat for a bit and ask for a picture of the poster.  It was really great.  And then up came Kelly with director Yang-ming trailing behind her.  As Kelly peeled off next to me, presenting the poster to Yang-ming, the look on his face....mouth wide absolute wonder.....  I thought I was going to pass out.  Or he was going to.   He held his hand out to shake mine.  Mouth still wide open as he looked at the poster.  He spoke to Kelly and she translated for him but I was in such a state of tunnel vision and tunnel hearing, I couldn't tell you what was said?  He may have well just been speaking to me directly in Mandarin.  He then, I assume, asked Kelly if she could take a picture.  Now, I should mention that our entire interaction, Yang-ming and I, this whole scene, was happening in front of a few dozen onlookers and looki loos.  Tunnel vision firmly planted, Yang-ming and I picked up the poster and held it for the few dozen paparazzi.  I held one end and he held the other.  His hand gripped around my waist and mine his back.   He was so damn giddy with excitement that he playfully kept pulling me in, squeezing my love handles, and laughing as the cameras flashed.  ROCK STAR!!!!!.....

 My hastily framed, signed, WOMAN REVENGER poster.

After the paparazzi session he signed my poster and we spoke, through Kelly, for a bit.  As he was pulled away by other fans looking for pics and autographs, Kelly and I spoke for a few.  On my iPhone, I keep pictures of ALL of my movie posters and I showed her 2 more Tsai Yang-ming movie posters that I had.  She was bowled over.  After a while, amid the frenzy, she asked to swap emails so we could send each other posters and pictures related to Yang-ming and Taiwanese films.   She gave me her iPhone and I plugged my info in.  I gave her my iPhone and she plugged in hers.  Upon hearing that my wife was Taiwanese and that we had recently been to Taiwan, a most generous offer to, "Please let me know when you come to Taiwan!  We must visit!" was offered.  And I just might take her up on it!  Rock stardom over.  Back to being a regular Joe Schmo.  But not without becoming A FB friend with Kelly.  And, really, isn't that what it's all about in the real world? hahaha  Ahhhhhh, but what a memorable time.   NYAFF 2013.  End.

And now onto something....just a tad different.  Today!  Yes.  TODAY starts the Wong Kar Wai film retrospective at the Museum of the Moving Image.  And, would you believe, I have never been?  I've been a MOMI member for about a year and have finally found an incredible reason to go.  So.....
TODAY!!!  I will be taking my wife to see on the big damn screen my absolute most favorite film in this world and the next, CHUNGKING EXPRESS.  Then.....

On Friday, August 9th, I'll be seeing AS TEARS GO BY.  I haven't seen this film in about 15 years and I'm so looking forward to it.  Excited like a little school girl on Christmas morning.  And then...............

On Saturday, August 10th, I will be taking my wife to once again see THE GRANDMASTER.  We saw it while in HK in January and both gave it a thumbs up.  Marginally, but a thumbs up still.  And upon hearing my wife say she would like to see it again, I immediately ordered tix.  There is something extra special brewing for this screening too, as WKW will be there in person.  How cool is that?  We saw WKW, along with Brigitte Lin and Christopher Doyle @ the NYFF back in the fall of 2008 when ASHES OF TIME REDUX was presented and are kinda psyched to see him again.

So, If you want to check out the full catalogue of WKW's oeuvre, go here.  MOMI doesn't have on-line ticket sales so call them and get your tix now.   Will I see you there???


  1. Rock Star Jared! LOL Congrats on your 5 minutes of fame, but remember only 10 minutes left.

    A new print of As Tears Go By was shown a few years back at BAM, 2008 or 2009, to celebrate its anniversary, so hopefully that is the print you will see tonight. When I saw it there was a small round of laughter as people gradually recognized the Cantonese version of Take My Breath Away. Curious to hear if that happens at MOMI.

    I would have loved to have gone to see The Grandmasters but the timing is off for me. Enjoy!

  2. Awesome report! I missed your 5 minutes of fame w/ Tsai Yang Ming & the producer. I stepped out for a minute before Hardcore and you were glowing w/ excitement! Awesome that you got Taxi Hunter signed. I had forgotten that Herman Yau directed that film.

    I'm not sure I can make any of the WKW but i will try. I might come in on my honda CBR just in time for As Tears go By!

  3. Chungking Express was the International Miramax print. I don't really mind what print As Tears Goes By is. I like original prints. Warts and all. Stinks about The Grandmaster, Diana, but again, I don't really feel to bad for ya :P

    mrc, the Tsai Yang-ming ordeal was nutty! One of my top crazy fan moments. As for MOMI, i'd rather head into Lincoln Center. I'm not familiar with that part of Queens, and it was an ordeal getting there.

    1. I can see that the train situation to get to MOMI can be more of a hassle for you from LI. I actually like the astoria vibe and beginning to appreciate the neighborhood. I found the R train from 57th street pretty convenient from the Columbus circle area and of course driving in is usually a pleasure or if you are as cool as Andy Lau - cruising in with a motorcycle with no helmet is always an option!


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