ENJOY THE SHOW
"You're wasting your time! Go away" Grasshopper Films has debuted the official US trailer for a Japanese romantic drama titled Asako I & II, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival last year. This is actually just one 119 minute film, despite the title including what references to what looks like Part I & Part II. The title is actually a reference to the plot - where a woman from Osaka (named Asako) meets a man, falls in love with him, then he disappears. Two years later, she meets his perfect double. Erika Karata stars as Asako, along with Masahiro Higashide as both Baku & Ryôhei (of course), plus Sairi Itô, Kôji Nakamoto, Kôji Seto, Misako Tanaka, and Daichi Watanabe. This played to quite a bit of acclaim at Cannes, and stopped by a number of other prestigious festivals last fall. Everyone always talks about the cat. If you're in the mood for a compelling melodramatic Japanese doppelgänger romance, you might want to check this out.
"If you can survive this, nothing can kill you." The Match Factory has debuted an official promo trailer for the German indie drama O Beautiful Night, which is premiering at the Berlin Film Festival this month. The film marks the feature debut of Xaver Böhm, and it's a highly saturated, neon-lit, poetic journey into the existential realm. The plot is about a guy named Juri who encounters Death one night, who takes him on an Alice in Wonderland-esque trip upon which he falls in love with a woman named Nina. Noah Saavedra stars as Juri, Vanessa Loibl as Nina, and Marko Mandic as Death. I've already been hearing good things about this film at the festival, and this trailer definitely shows some promise. It seems a bit over-stylized at first, but I dig the existential dread and the trippy footage they share in this tease. Keep an eye on this one.
"I might be at the wrong place, but you took the wrong kid." Well Go USA has released an official trailer for Vietnamese gangster action film Furie, originally titled Hai Phuong in Vietnam, which is also the name of the lead character. The film is about a woman named Hai Phuong, an ex-gangster who is lying low in the countryside after becoming a mother, but she can't escape her violent past when her daughter is kidnapped. She jumps back in to action and will go to any lengths to bring her daughter home. Sound good? Furie stars Veronica Ngo, who has become an international star after playing Paige Tico in the opening scene of Star Wars: The Last Jedi. The cast also includes Hoa Tran, Thanh Nhien Phan, and Mai Cat Vi. This trailer starts slow, but it gets seriously badass by the end. Must watch for anyone looking out for new action films.
"For people like us, it's kill or be killed." Cohen Media Group has debuted an official US trailer for the film Ash Is Purest White, the latest from acclaimed Chinese filmmaker Jia Zhangke. This premiered at the Cannes Film Festival last year, and played at a bunch of other major festivals in the fall. Ash Is Purest White is an vibrant, sprawling drama that spans nearly 16 years, focusing on the relationship between a gangster and the woman who loves him, named Qiao. After a violent incident that lands Bin in prison, they drift apart and together over the years, and the film acts as an examination of China as it has evolved since 2001 and also a look at how romance and relationships change (or don't) with time. Zhao Tao stars as Qiao, with a cast including Liao Fan, Diao Yi'nan, Feng Xiaogang, Casper Liang, and Xu Zheng. Whether you're already a fan of Jia Zhangke or not, this comes highly recommend - the time it spans is seriously impressive.
"The film was made at Jeonwonsa Film Co." The Cinema Guild has released the official US trailer for the latest film, titled Hotel by the River, made by acclaimed, beloved Korean filmmaker Hong Sang-soo, who keeps making new films pretty much non-stop all the time. This first premiered at the Locarno Film Festival last summer, where it won the Best Actor prize, and later went on to play at the Toronto and New York Film Festivals last fall. This B&W drama is set in the dead of winter; a poet invites his sons to join him at a hotel for a reunion. The hotel also hosts a newly single woman who has a friend keep her company. The poet is drawn to the beautiful girls and cannot resist the temptation to discover more. Their lives intersect, connect and disconnect and potentially become a metaphor for modern life. Starring Ki Joo-Bong, Kim Min-hee, Kwon Hae-hyo, Song Seon-mi, and Yoo Joon-Sang. This looks like another mesmerizing, bleak, contemplative film from Hong Sang-soo. And I love the official poster they made - check it out below.
"Is none of this affecting you at all?" Altered Innocence has debuted a full-length, official US trailer for a French murder thriller titled Knife+Heart, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival last year. The film goes under the title Un couteau dans le coeur in France, which translates directly to A knife in the heart, but I prefer the official version more. Set in Paris in the summer 1979, the film follows Anne, a producer of third-rate gay porn. When Loïs, her editor & companion, leaves her, she attempts to reclaim her by turning a film more ambitious, but one of her actors ends up murdered. Vanessa Paradis stars as Anne, with Kate Moran, Nicolas Maury, Jonathan Genet, Khaled Alouach, & Félix Maritaud. Including an original score by M83. The film has been described as a "gleefully trashy exploitation film" that is kind of like "gay porn meets Giallo slasher." If that sounds like your kind of kink, you should definitely check this out below.
"Whatever he says, don't trust him." Magnolia Pictures has unveiled the official US trailer for Dogman, the latest Italian drama from acclaimed filmmaker Matteo Garrone (Gomorrah, Reality, Tale of Tales). This premiered at the Cannes Film Festival last year, where it won the Best Actor award. This gritty "urban western" from Italy tells a (true) story of a homicide committed by a coked-out dog groomer during the late 1980s. The story goes that this guy was just a gentle dog groomer before he got pushed into a much more violent world thanks to the local mobsters. The cast includes Marcello Fonte, Edoardo Pesce, Adamo Dionisi, Francesco Acquaroli, Gianluca Gobbi, Nunzia Schiano, and Alida Baldari Calabria. I saw this at Cannes and loved it, one of my favorite films of the fest (read my full review), and I recommend it - especially for dog lovers and/or fans of contemporary Italian cinema. Opening in US theaters this April.
"Are we cops or a chicken joint?" CJ Entertainment has debuted an official US trailer for an action comedy titled Extreme Job, made by South Korean filmmaker Lee Byeong-heon (Cheer Up Mr. Lee, Twenty, What a Man Wants). The goofy comedy is about a team of narcotic detectives who goes undercover inside a fried chicken joint to stake out an organized crime gang. But things take an unexpected turn when the detectives’ chicken recipe suddenly transforms the rundown restaurant into the hottest eatery in town. Starring Ryu Seung-yong, Lee Hanee, Jin Sun-kyu, Lee Dong-hwi, and Gong-myoung. I'm happy that CJ brings these Korean films to the US and puts them in theaters at the exact same time they're available in Korea, without a delayed release. Though I'm not sure I can say this one is really worth going out and seeing. Enjoy.
"We could make a good life together." Strand Releasing has unveiled an official US trailer for the French drama Sorry Angel, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival last year and played at numerous other fests in late 2018. The original French titled is Plaire, aimer et courir vite, which translates (literally) to Pleasure, Love and Run Fast. Set in the 1990s in Paris, this queer romp brings us into the lives of three French men who hook up and make love and talk about life and love in the midst of the AIDS crisis. Jacques is an older writer from Paris. Arthur is a young student in Rennes. They instantly fall in love. But they'll have to face rejection and sickness to stay that way. Starring Vincent Lacoste, Pierre Deladonchamps, Denis Podalydès. This premiered to mixed reviews in Cannes, and is a bit dry at times; I much prefer the other 90s Paris film 120 BPM instead. If you're a fan of French films and/or gay romance, it's worth a watch.
"You've got two days, got it? If you don't pay it by then… it's gonna turn ugly…" The Match Factory has debuted an official trailer for a Russian drama titled Ayka, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival last year where it won the Best Actress award. Samal Yeslyamova stars in the lead role as Ayka, a woman who just gave birth to a child, but has no money or job or any way to properly raise her child. The small cast includes Aleksandr Zlatopolskiy. Newcomer Samal Yeslyamova won the coveted Best Actress award in Cannes, and the film has picked up numerous awards at other festivals throughout last year. It's still seeking US distribution, so this is just a promo trailer to drum up interest in the film. This has some striking visuals, but seems so depressing and brutal in portraying a young woman struggling to survive in the chill of Russia.
"You have three weeks until your ship sails." Music Box Film has debuted an official US trailer for an indie drama from Germany titled Transit, which premiered at the Berlin Film Festival last year. It's the latest from acclaimed German filmmaker Christian Petzold (Jerichow, Barbara, Phoenix) and received glowing reviews playing at numerous major festivals throughout last year, including the Toronto and New York Film Festivals. Franz Rogowski stars a man named Georg fleeing Germany, who ends up stuck in Marseille, encountering others trying to escape and get out of Europe; they all need transit papers for safe passage. The full cast includes Paula Beer, Godehard Giese, Lilien Batman, Maryam Zaree, Barbara Auer, and Matthias Brandt. I saw this at Berlinale and it's a great film, commenting on contemporary issues (set in present day) borrowing a story from WWII times - read my festival review. Highly recommended viewing.
"We hoped you could solve our problems." Kino Lorber has released the official US trailer for 3 Faces, also known as Se Rokh, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival last year. This is Panahi's latest since his acclaimed film Taxi Tehran, which received quite a bit of buzz during its release in 2015. The title 3 Faces is a reference to the film following and introducing us to three actresses at different stages of their career. One from before the 1979 Islamic Revolution, one popular star of today known throughout the country, and a young girl from a small village longing to attend a drama conservatory. Jafar Panahi, playing himself (as usual), travels with the highly recognizable Behnaz Jafari to the small village to find the young woman, encountering locals and all kinds of troubles along the way. It's a charming film with a lot of depth within it, if you keep an open mind and open heart while watching this. This opens in US cinemas in March this year.