Welcome to the first Subway Cinema News of 2009. It’s late, but better late than never!
Global Lens 2009 at the Museum of Modern Art is holding a series of screenings of movies that will never get a US release but that are more than worthwhile, drawn from all parts of the world in conjunction with the Global Film Initiative. The Asian titles of note are:
GETTING HOME (China, 2007) – featured at the New York Asian Film Festival a couple of years ago, this is a deeply moving and blackly comic film from Zhang Yang about a construction worker traveling thousands of miles across China with the corpse of his co-worker to honor a drunken promise to deliver his body to his hometown. (Last showing, Saturday January 24 @ 4:30pm)
THE PHOTOGRAPH (Indonesia, 2007) – lots and lots of screenings left for this moving Indonesian film about a prostitute on the lam from bad debts and her pimp and an aging photographer looking for an apprentice.
The Japan Society is hosting the next film in their series of Tora-san movies on January 23rd and it’s TORA SAN’S LOVE CALL (Japan, 1971) which will play on Friday, January 23 @ 7:30pm. The plot? It’s another Tora-san movie which means the plot is beside the point (Tora-san travels to a small town in Japan and falls for a local widow but ultimately can’t settle down). What is on display is gorgeous photography capturing small town Japanese life in the 70’s, another moving performance by Kiyoshi Atsumi as Tora-san, and a light, charming film from director Yoji Yamada (TWILIGHT SAMURAI, THE HIDDEN BLADE).
MY BEIJING BIRTHDAY is screening at the Asia Society, followed by a Q&A with the filmmaker. This documentary from Howie Snyder who taught stand-up comedy to a group of 8-year-olds back in 1998 in Beijing. Now, ten years later, camera in tow, Snyder returns to Beijing to find out whatever happened to the kids he remembers. Screening Thursday, January 29th @ 7pm, followed by a discussion with the director.
Two big events coming from the Korea Society this month:
THE GENERAL’S SON (1990, Korea, 108 minutes)
Thursday, January 22 @ 6:30pm
Im Kwon-Taek’s classic film is getting a rare public screening as part of the Korea Society’s Classic Movie Night series. A posh period piece set during the Japanese Occupation of Korea, it tells the two-fisted tale of a street punk who embraces his heritage to lead an opposition movement agains the Japanese. Here’s a brief excerpt from a review:
“The plot is based on the actual life of Korean independence activist and fighter Kim Doohan, beginning with his early years growing up as a beggar in the Jong Ro area — which many saw as being the symbolic heart of the country — during the Japanese oppression. Doohan becomes involved with the resident street gangs, moving rapidly up the ranks due to his considerable fighting skills and fierce bravery. It transpires that he is actually the son of a famous Korean general who is currently embroiled in struggles against the invaders, and Doohan himself gradually takes on a similar role, uniting the gangs, residents and students, idealists, and fighting back against the cruel Japanese.“
January 28 – February 1, 2009
A joint project between the Korea Society and the Museum of Moder Art this series presents seven EXCEEDINGLY RARE Korean films made during the Japanese Occupation of Korea. Shot in the 30’s and 40’s these films were discovered in a Chinese warehouse a few years ago and have been meticulously restored by the Korean Film Archive. Titles include Korea’s first talking picture, SWEET DREAMS (1936), melodramas, war films and a pro-Japanese propaganda film about the dangers of assisting the Korean resistance, MILITARY TRAIN (1938).
If you’re interested in the history of film, this is an unwritten chapter that demands to be seen.
The General’s Son (L), and a shot from a film in
Korean Films Made During the Japanese Occupation (R).