• The Movie Watch

    A Seperation
    Hunger Games
    The Artist
    The Skin I Live In
    Safe House
    Super 8
    Black Power Mixtape 1967-75
    Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol
    Margin Call
    My Week with Marilyn
    The Ides of March
    Rise of the Planet of the Apes
    Red Desert
    Fright Night
    Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest
    Page One: Inside the New York Times
    13 Assassins
    Horrible Bosses
    Dragon Inn
    Jamel Shabazz: Street Photographer
    Radiant Child
    Still Bill
    X-Men First Class
    Midnight in Paris
    Inside Job
    Source Code
    Dracula (1992)
    Cedar Rapids
    Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives
    Cave of Forgotten Dreams
    I Saw the Devil
    The Square
    Exit Through the Gift Shop
    The Fighter
    The King's Speech
    Louis C.K.: Chewed Up
    Paranormal Activity
    True Grit
    Black Swan
    Toy Story 3
    Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame
    Reign of Assassins
    Tron Legacy
    Il Conformista
    The Tourist
    The Kids are Alright
    127 Hours
    The Social Network
    Waiting for Superman
    Elite Squad
    Enter the Void
    The Town
    21 Grams
    The Other Guys
    12 Monkeys
    Catch Me If You Can
    The People I've Slept With
    She Puppet Peggy Ahwesh, 2001, 17m
    Nest of Tens Miranda July, 2000, 27m
    Poetry and Truth Peter Kubelka, 2003, Austria, 13m
    Instructions for a Light and Sound Machine Peter Tscherkassky, 2005, Austria, 17m
    The General Returns From One Place to Another Michael Robinson, 2006, 11m
    Rehearsals for Retirement Phil Solomon, 2007, 10m
    Broadway Danny Rose
    Manila Skies
    Scream Blacula Scream
    More Than a Game
    The Law
    Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work
    Wah Do Dem
    El secreto de sus ojos
    The S from Hell (short)
    Photograph of Jesus (short)
    Open Air (short)
    Man-Made Things (short)
    Iowa Mixtape (short)
    The Feast of Stephen (short)
    Dock Ellis & The LSD No-No (short)
    Blood Magic (short)
    Billy and Aaron (short)
    Alice in Wonderland (2009)
    Please Give
    Wo ai ni Mommy
    Au Revoir Taipei
    At the End of Daybreak
    Manila Skies
    Tall Enough (short)
    The Queen (short)
    Poi Dogs (short)
    Works of Art (short)
    Lovers (short)
    Gareeb Nawaz's Taxi (short)
    Mao's Last Dancer
    Boogie Man: The Lee Atwater Story
    Not Quite Hollywood
    La Chute de la maison Usher
    We Feed the World
    The Man Who Shot Chinatown
    Blood and Rain
    A Brand New Life
    Vidal Sassoon: The Movie
    Arias with a Twist: The Docufantasy
    Elvis & Madona
    Keep Surfing
    Loose Cannons
    Travelogues (short)
    Yanqui Walker and the Optical Revolution (short)
    American Mystic
    The Arbor
    White Lines and the Fever: The Death of DJ Junebug (s)
    Hard Rock Havana (short)
    Missed Connections (short)
    New American Soldier (short)
    A .45 at 50th (short)
    Out of Infamy: Michi Nishiura Weglyn (short)
    Dog Pound
    Sons of Perdition
    In the Loop
    Hot Tub Time Machine
    Memories of Murder
    Quadrangle (short)
    Night Catches Us
    Happy Together
    The Ghost Writer
    Medicine for Melancholy
    El Salvador
    The Gangster's God
    Election 2
    The Secret of Kells
    The Exploding Girl
    Let the Right One In
    Shutter Island
    Heavy Metal 2000
    The New Tenants (short)
    Miracle Fish (short)
    Kavi (short)
    Instead of Abracadabra (short)
    The Door (short)
    I Loved You So Long
    Nothing But the Truth
    Off and Running
    The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus
    Edge of Darkness
    A Serious Man
    Soundtrack for a Revolution
    A Single Man
    The White Ribbon
    Fish Tank
    The Taking of Pelham 123 (2009)
    Sherlock Holmes
    Point Blank
    Broken Embraces
    Star Trek: Generations
    The Road
    Up in the Air
    Hard Boiled
    Fantastic Mr. Fox
    The Lovely Bones
    Hour of the Wolf
    Princess Mononoke
    The Bank Job
    Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans
    An Education
    Rachel Getting Married
    Il Grido
    Unforbidden City
    Immokalee, My Home
    The Messenger
    Lars and the Real Girl
    No Puedo Vivir Sin Ti
    Black Dynamite
    Blow Out
    Good Hair
    Fame (1980)
    After the Storm
    Capitalism: A Love Story
    Around a Small Mountain / 36 vues du Pic Saint-Loup
    Plastic Bag (short)
    White Material
    Chicken Heads (short)
    La vie de famille
    Wild Grass
    The History of Aviation (short)
    Taking Woodstock
    Inglourious Basterds
    District 9
    People Will Talk
    Desperately Seeking Susan
    The Awful Truth
    Born to Be Bad
    Ladies Should Listen
    C'était un rendez-vous
    Funny People
    A City to Yourself (short)
    Video Terraform Dance Party (short)
    Six Apartments (short)
    Reincarnation (short)
    Studies in Transfalumination (short)
    Passages (short)
    Dahlia (short)
    In the Realm of the Senses
    Paper Heart
    Mississippi Mermaid
    What's On Your Plate?
    Faubourg Tremé: The Untold Story of Black New Orleans
    Adjust Your Color: The Truth of Petey Greene
    Children of Invention
    No Joke Burma (short)
    Story of a Businesswoman (short)
    A Song For Ourselves (short)
    Crossing Midnight (short)
    Fruit Fly
    Intimate Confessions of a Chinese Courtesan
    My Four Inch Precious (short)
    Once… (short)
    Walking While Sleeping (short)
    I Don’t Sleep I Dream (short)
    Take Out (short)
    The Humberville Poetry Slam (short)
    Fate Scores (short)
    The Call Center (short)
    Civilian (short)
    The Hurt Locker
    Big Fan
    Everything Strange and New
    Why Did I Get Married?
    The International
    Don't Let Me Drown
    Capturing the Friedmans
    District B13
    Unmistaken Child
    Red Cliff
    Brothers Bloom
    Summer Hours
    Terminator Salvation
    Limits of Control
    Star Trek (2009)
    X-Men Origins: Wolverine
    The Eclipse
    Rudo y Cursi
    Dean and Me
    Rocky Road
    A Reggae Session
    Rebirth of a Nation
    Paris is Burning
    Tell No One
    Goodbye Solo
    The Sky Crawlers
    Examined Life
    The President
    Day of Wrath
    Whiz Kids
    Two or Three Things But Nothing For Sure
    La Nana
    Dillinger is Dead
    Baghdad ER
    The Omega Man
    All About Eve
    The Living Wake
    Invisible Revolution
    The Andre Show
    Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
    The Wrestler
    Daybreak Express
    The Witness: From the Balcony of Room 306
    Little Rock High: 50 Years Later
    Deux vies... plus une
    Waltz With Bashir
    Revolutionary Road
    Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson
    Street Fight
    Cadillac Records
    Battle in Heaven
    Gran Torino
    Seven Pounds
    The Reader
    The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
    Stanley Kubrick's Boxes
    The Devil's Backbone
    Let the Right One In
    The Story of a Three-Day Pass
    Wendy and Lucy
    Un Giorno Perfetto
    Confessions of an Ex-Doofus-Itchy-Footed Mutha
    Encounters at the End of the World
    Sita Sings the Blues

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Asian American International Film Festival Preview

This year the AAIFF runs from July 15th to July 24th. With a smaller selection of films from last year, the choices are consistently good and occasionally remarkable. Opening Night has been handed over to award-winning Filmmaker Raymond Red, who is no stranger to international audiences. He was the first and remains the only Filipino to have won the Palme d’Or in Cannes for his 2000 short film, Anino. In Manila Skies we follow Raul (Raul Arellano), a struggling day laborer who tries to cobble together some money for a trip back to his childhood home in Romblon, where he hopes to help his ailing father. Raul’s attempts to secure a more lucrative job abroad are stymied by Manila’s suffocating bureaucracy.

Manila Skies After a disastrous turn of events, Raul ends up using a gun and grenade to return to the innocence he longs for. With guerilla-style framing that emotes claustrophobia and anxiety, Red propels us through the grime and heat of the city and never lets up. Unbalanced by a long, meandering middle section, the film nonetheless is a vital commentary on social injustice in the “modern” world. The Friday night pairing is delectably off-kilter with Slice, a Thai horror thriller screening concurrently with Wo Ai Ni Mommy, a documentary about adoption from China. Slice, taking a cue from recent, excellent Korean thrillers, leaves audiences in brilliant suspension as we meet truly awkward characters in rural settings.

Wo Ai Ni Mommy The opening screen titles of Woi Ai Ni Mommy let us know that since China began its international adoption program, over 70,000 children have been sent to live in American homes. In this bird’s eye documentary we follow one family, the Sadowskys, as they bring home a second orphan from Guangzhou, China to Long Island, New York. Fang Sui Yong, a precocious and head-strong eight year old is forced to acclimate quickly to her new life as Faith Sadowsky. Saturday highlights include Bruce Beresford’s latest, Mao’s Last Dancer. A biopic about Cunxin Li, it tells the story of this renowned ballet dancer’s transition from Communist China, hand-picked by Madam Mao, to his success and struggles in the United States. Though rather predictable in its set pieces, Beresford manages to invest a convincing emotional depth throughout.

Au Revoir Taipei Saturday’s Centerpiece Presentation of Au Revoir Taipei is one of the better films I’ve seen all year, and I promise this is not an overstatement. A love story interrupted by a gangster film, all undone by a screwball comedy is the only apt description for this wonderful romp directed by first time feature director, Arvin Chen. Kai (Jack Yao) is a lovelorn college student, abandoned by his girlfriend, Faye, for the allure of Paris. In his futile attempt to learn French from a book and escape the monotony of waiting until he can see her again, he parks himself on the floor of a local bookstore every day where he meets Susie (Amber Kuo). Interweaving various storylines, Chen takes us through the shops, alleys, and parks of Taipei in crisp, electric night cinematography. We follow a distracted cop, Kai’s best friend, and the gangster’s bumbling henchman as they all try to discern the mystery of love, wrapped up for easy transport. Sunday ends with At the End of Daybreak. Starting with a disturbing scene of animal cruelty which frames the entire film, Ho Yuhang doesn’t shy away from hard truths. Tuck Chai (Tien Yu Chui), an aimless 23 year old, is involved with Ying (Meng Hui Ng), a reckless high school student. They see each other as temporary distractions from the imposition of expectations and responsibilities placed on their young shoulders. Ho Yuhang captures the complexity of familial entanglements, the consequences of corporal punishment, and the lack of class mobility through a kinetic lens that masterfully flows from heart-wrenching close-ups to sweeping action sequences.

At the End of Daybreak Closing Night on July 21st features the Mamma Mia-esque romantic comedy The People I’ve Slept With. Angela (Karin Anna Cheung) has a healthy sexual appetite, and when she finds herself pregnant she must embark on a journey to not only find the father, but herself. The Shorts programs are also rather ambitious with themes as varied as family, love, hidden true stories, humor, and a special focus on Taipei. The First Kiss program includes an ode to the serendipity of love in Tall Enough. From the director of Medicine for Melancholy, Barry Jenkins, we witness the unfolding romance between an interracial couple portrayed in snug frames and tender close-ups.

Tall Enough In another short, Works of Art, a sumptuously filmed New York is explored through Art (Paul Juhn). He is a struggling actor, running to casting calls during lunch breaks from a boring job. Tired of being typecast and ignored, his friend offers him the acting job of a lifetime. While pretending to be someone else, he runs into the one real thing he has been missing all along.

Works of Art Throughout the festival there are also various panels, including ones on green film-making and overcoming copyright hurdles for those so inclined. All in all, this year offers multivalent options, even within the same film. It will not be uncommon that comedy and family drama enthusiasts will be sitting next to each other or thriller junkies and doc hounds will have something to talk about at the same screening. Take a chance, and you’ll probably walk away with a story to tell!