07/08/2009

237 Minutes of Panty Pics And Jesus Christ: The New York Asian Film Festival 2009 Part 3

by Matthew Hawkins

Time to wrap this sucker up…

Lala Pipo

Imagine the most candy colored, light hearted comedy possible, with copious amounts of WACKY JAPPY, coupled with the morbidly depressing themes contained in something like Requiem For A Dream, and the result is Lala Pipo. It’s based on a novel, and I have to wonder if the source material as whimsical as the movie, or if it’s attitude towards the topics covered is as grim as one would expect from any book that’s about the inside world of pornography and prostitution, assorted sexual fetishes that encompass a good deal of violence and humiliation, and people in general who aren’t just beyond sexually frustrated but hopelessly alone in the big, noisy city.

Much like Fish Story, we have yet another narrative that’s all over the place, seen from the POVs of assorted miscreants that all cross paths and interact with each to varying degrees, meaning plenty of jumping across space and time to get the whole picture, something that’s more or less standard fare in Japanese cinema these days. First there’s the fat, greasy, and all around creepy freelance writer dude (lol) who’s a major pervert and totally hates himself for it; even his own penis can’t stand him, which is represented as a cute and cuddly green puppet. Then you have the upstairs neighbor that the perv jacks off to, at least the constant sounds of sex that his apartment provides; this second guy is a talent scout/pimp that’s a smooth talker and has lady killer looks, both of which he uses to great effect when picking up good looking ladies off the street to join his vast network of debauchery. Our third primary character is one such girl, a fresh faced cutie who goes from hostess, to massage girl, to karaoke companion, to porn star in that order, with the pimp guiding her “career” every step of the way. Meanwhile, there’s this hapless employee of the karaoke joint that’s positively horrified by all the debauchery he must witness and endure on a daily basis, to the point that this kid fantasizes of ridding the earth of all it’s scum in the guise of a Power Ranger-like defender of decency. Plus there’s the older, rather broken down woman that’s quite unsexy, yet also a porn star, playing the part of the mother in the mother/daughter porn that the aforementioned younger woman becomes involved in. Can’t forget the fat chick that’s dressed in lolita garb that trolls bars to pick up dudes for one night stands, which is then secretly videotaped and sold at sex shops! She’s just another part of the puzzle as well.

All in all, everyone in Lala Pipo leads a fairly pointless and wretched existence. Take the aforementioned rotund lady; early on, she picks up the freelancer writer, who finally gets some after his penis believes that the day may never come. So you’d think he’d be in heaven immediately afterward, no? Instead, the guy lashes against the girl rather violently, but on her end, it’s just another action-packed installment of the “Chubby Girl” line of fetish DVDs that she stars in. Yet the movie doesn’t cast any judgments and actually tries to paint a somewhat optimistic picture, mostly through humor (again, hard to believe, but the movie overall is filled with laughs) and intensely bright, primary colors, but without going so far as validating or justifying anyone and their actions, which is the real key. Lala Pipo is about as feel good as possible given the subjects at hand, and without pandering to the audience; the basic message is that people do insane, sometimes disturbing things if they’re lonely, and here’s just a few extreme examples for you to observe and take note, also take solace that you’re nowhere close to being as messed up and it’s totally okay to laugh at them since they are pretty ridiculous.

Written By

When it comes to Hong Kong cinema, certain films are almost guaranteed to not disappoint, provided that they’re part of certain genres. Anything dealing with hard boiled detectives and/or gangsters struggling with what’s good for the brotherhood versus what’s good for the everyman you just know is gonna be awesome, period. Same goes with martial arts spectacular, obviously. But what if it’s a fantasy? To be honest, there haven’t been a ton from HK to speak of, which I guess is what makes Written By such a trip, since it’s hard for even the most seasoned Asian cinephile to know exactly what’s going on and where things are headed.

The focus of the story here is a very tight-knit family that’s immediately torn asunder, due to a traffic accident. The beloved patriarch, played by the always amazing Lau Ching-wan (alongside Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl, Lau’s last minute cancellation of his scheduled appearance due to swine flu concerns is easily the biggest disappointment of the entire festival), is killed in a car accident, while the rest of his family must move on, which includes his loving wife, son, and daughter, who also became blind as a result. Years pass and the time has not healed wounds; they desperately need him back for some sense of closure, but since he’s obviously not going to rise from the dead on his own, the daughter decides to change history instead by writing a book in which they all die in the aforementioned accident, but he survives, plus also becomes blind. At first, they’re all happy to have their father back, in any form or fashion. Though the dad in the book is equally alone and miserable, hence why decides to cheer himself up by writing a book of his own, in which he dies in the car accident and his family survives. Or so I’ve been told. I kinda remember something different; almost immediately the narrative becomes splinter, intertwined, and exceptionally confusing. Going in, I knew things were going to get crazy, but found myself becoming quite lost far earlier than expected.

Case in point… and I guess this is my own damn fault for not writing this report sooner… but I was a bit hazy over the finer details of the plot, so I decided to check some other reviews (first off, finding any info on something called “Written By” is just plan tough, Google it for yourself), for the sake of fact checking, and could have sworn that the book that the dad writes has him also surviving and his family still passing away, but them returning as mischievous ghosts. In fact, I’m almost 100% certain, but not one else has mentioned it. Odd. Perhaps the movie was just that confusing for everyone who saw it? But yeah, at a certain point, these ghosts show up, so characters and events from one timeline start to bleed into another. Perhaps the most enjoyable part is how the blind dad, who went berserk over the loss of his maid, who gets killed in the same freak accident that he himself conceived to kill his family in his story (or something like that), resulting in the destruction of his apartment, needs help putting things back together, especially since he’s blind and all. Translation, the services of a new maid is required, and guess who shows up at the door for the job? His blind daughter of course, though I’m not sure if watching two blind people stumble around each other is everyone’s idea of great cinema, nor are the scenes that takes place in the after-life, which long story short is very Harry Potter-esque. Which I know was a big turn off for many in attendance, along with it’s other, very Charlie Kaufman-esque qualities. I read somewhere that the director, Wai Ka-fai, struggled for months to come up with a satisfactory conclusion, and subsequently created over a dozen differently edited versions of the movie, with some vastly different endings, and that makes total sense; Written By is an experiment to say the least, a messy one at that. Just like Fish Story, expect an ultra crappy Hollywood remake in the very near future.

Exodus

Okay, enough experimenting, time to go with what works. Another thing that HK filmmakers excel at, at lest the really good ones, is creating mood, like paranoia in the case of Exodus. Simon Yam plays the role of Kin-Yip, a mild mannered cop whose career has gone nowhere over the past thirty years. One day he’s asked to take down a peeping tom’s statement, just another day at the office, more or less. Well, what lamebrain excuse does this particular perv, who goes by Ping-Man, have up his sleeve for recording women’s conversations in a public washroom? To gather evidence of course; that’s where they gather to discuss plans for world domination, which mostly includes knocking off hapless men that get in their way. After all, why else do they take so long? Kin-Yip naturally thinks this guy is nuts, but he’s heard stranger things, so none of it makes much of an impact. Though when the statement disappears a few days later, another statement must be taken, and this time Ping-Man’s tune is totally different; his ultra confident, to the point of being arrogant assertion that all women are out to get all men from before has been replaced by a sheepish admission that he’s just a pathetic loser with sexual dysfunctions, nothing more, nothing less. And that’s when Kin-Yip all of a sudden cares what he has to say…

As soon as Ping-Man is released, Kin-Yip tails him and begins to conduct his own investigation, mostly based on evidence that the crackpot himself had gathered. As insane as it might be, much of his findings make sense. And what follows is one man slowly being enveloped by an absurd conspiracy, not due to madness but boredom; Kin-Yip’s personal life is quite milquetoast to say the least, with a wife that’s quite wonderful, yet mostly on the boring side. The annoying and nagging stepmother certainly doesn’t help things either. Now, considering both the scope and overall absurdity of such a conspiracy, director Pang Ho-cheung would have been crazy to approach it directly for numerous reasons, so instead he plays it smart by focusing on Kin-Yip and the world around him, but a completely deadpan fashion, which seriously took guts. Again, I like to read what other people have said about whatever movie I’m reviewing, and it seems almost everyone universally hated Exodus, but I found it be supremely keen filmmaking, with more than a few shades of Stanley Kubrick, specifically Clockwork Orange, and not because of the somewhat reminiscent cinematography (especially that opening scene) and similarly haunting without trying to be spooky soundtrack.

Yes, the whole premise of women seriously getting together to figure out what men need to die is pretty goofy, but to say it’s best served as an outright comedy as most critics seem to claim is entirely missing the point.
I mean, look at the title, duh; it’s again about a guy who is so bored that he’s willing to put his career and personal life on the line for the absurd of reasons, and the best part is how piss-poor his detective work is; aside from the fact that he can’t seem to hold his card all that close to his chest, the dude is just easily distracted to a ridiculous degree. Yet his behavior is entirely plausible, which in turn makes Kin-Yip as a person all the more believable, and in turn, the wacky conspiracy as well. But he also validates the assumption that all men are idiots, and those who can’t seem to recognize Exodus as the black comedy that it actually is… I dunno. I heartily recommend the film, but I have a feeling that it’s another one of those that almost no one else is going to enjoy as much as I did.

Hard Revenge Milly/Hard Revenge Milly: Bloody Battle

With Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl, you have gore mixed with teenage romance. With Samurai Princess, (yet another film I’m not touching since it basically stunk) you have gore mixed with porn (trust me, it’s not nearly as cool as it sounds). And with Hard Revenge Milly, you have gore mixed with action. LOTS of action. The first Hard Revenge Milly is a short film that was originally coupled with something else, a la Grindhouse, but proved to be so popular that it was given a stand-alone sequel. And for good reason; it’s a no-nonsense, balls to the walls, flat out amazing action flick with enough extra flourishes to make it rise well above all those aforementioned gore movie, which unfortunately as a genre… aside from all the comical and copious amounts of blood, as well as the associated batsh*t insanity like the pussy chair… offers not too much else in the end… sore gore hounds.

The story is nice and simple; a woman whose family was murdered right in front of her eyes, and who was herself tortured to the brink of death, has come back for revenge. The feel is somewhat similar to Kill Bill, though the setting is post-apocalyptic, somewhat similar to Mad Max. Also Robocop, since Milly has a few tricks up here sleeves, literally, such as the retractable blade arm katana and the shotgun in her right leg. One by one, she picks apart those who ruined her once happy existence, with fantastically choreographed fisticuffs. Serious, the action is ultra hawt. And unlike those other films, the gore here does not take center stage but instead is an accompaniment to the over the top action, and smart one at that. The follow-up is kind of like Evil Dead 2 or Desperado, in how it’s both a sequel and a remake to the first installment, and pretty much picks up where things were left off, but everything from the world to the Milly herself is expanded upon. After taking her revenge, she’s now holed up in a rusty fortress of solitude, without much to live for, until a young girl comes looking for help; she too wants revenge and needs advice from the master. Reluctantly Milly agrees, while an admirer of the man that she offed at the end of the first film also comes barreling into town, looking for revenge himself.

There’s not much else to say, it’s all about the action, and I cannot emphasize how amazing every single moment of it is; there’s never a dull moment, yet it’s never overkill either. In addition to the eye-popping fight scenes (highlighted by the best two people punching each other in the face at the exact moment in cinematic history… sorry Korea) is some stupendous cinematography and the surprisingly awesome soundtrack. Miki Mizuno is totally mesmerizing as the title character, and the rest of the cast is equally great. It’s crystal clear that the budget is on the low side, yet every frame is oozing with plenty of style and bravado. I just can’t say enough things about this movie, so grab it from Amazon as soon as you can.

The Clone Returns Home

Kohei is an astronaut who absolutely has to stay alive, mostly for the sake of his mom; as a child, he had a twin brother, and aside from being the impetuous of the two, he was also a real jerk. Unfortunately, his screwing around would cost the identical twin his life one fateful day, which tore their mother apart. Many years later, Kohei has grown up to be quite the polar opposite: quiet, sullen, and extremely guilt ridden, to the point of swearing to mom that he will absolutely not die before her as his brother did. Too bad for him, that’s basically what happens one day while on the job, but at least there’s his insurance policy, that being a clone that’s designed to completely replace him in the event of some unfortunate occurrence. Though the real problems begin when the carbon copy awakes and starts acting weird…

Kohei’s clone is the first legally sanctioned, commercially created human duplicate, and when his creator seeks the advice of a pioneer who had greater success beforehand, albeit when cloning was still totally illegal, it’s revealed that the soul of the dead will try to merge with the double with not so great results; we all have memories that we’d rather not remember and are repressed as a result, but when all that stuff gets thrust in a new body, the brain effectively short circuits. In this case, Kohei #2′s brain appears to be completely trapped by the painful memory of the death of his original’s twin. Not good. Making matters worse is how he ends up escaping the hospital and begins running around the countryside. Eventually, the clone returns to where it all began, the same riverbed where the brother died. Except this time, the body of the original Kohei, still in his space suit, is found. We think? Meanwhile, Kohei #3 gets commissioned, who thankfully is devoid of all the mental short-circuiting from before. Which also means he has no soul? I forgot to mention the wife, and it also goes without saying that she has a hard time dealing with the death of her husband, along with two replacements afterwards (who btw was never told about the insurance policy in the first place). Anyhow, it’s eventually up to Kohei #3 to track down Kohei #2…

What a story, eh? Despite the outlandishness of it’s plot, the tale itself is gently and elegantly delivered. And the themes that it encapsulates, that being the quandary of identity, guilt, promises, is perfect suited for a Japanese melodrama. The profoundly moving performances are what truly drives The Clone Returns Home, though the cinematography is simply stunning, and special effects are beyond amazing. Needless to say, there are more than a few similarities to Andrei Tarkovsky’s Solaris, which is certainly not a bad thing. If you get the chance to see this movie, especially on the big screen, do not miss it.

Love Exposure

This it, the four-hour mother lode that’s been hailed as a true epic, a masterpiece. But in the end, does it actually live up to the hype? The verdict?

First off, Love Passion quite simply has the greatest build-up to just the opening title alone among every single motion picture I have ever seen. Seriously. Though what makes it so remarkable is how said build-up clocks in at a full 60 minutes. This is where the primary subject is introduced: Yu, a kid with a heart of gold and without a bad bone in his body. When his beloved mother passes away, God fearing dad decides to become a Catholic priest (I’ve seen a truckload of Japanese flicks over the years, but this was my very first one to deal with Catholicism, which shouldn’t be such a shock, though the fact of the matter is, Jesus is pretty popular in Japan, maybe more so than Buddha). All is quite well… dad’s sermons are quite popular with the flock, and Yu’s relationship with him could not be any stronger… until some crazy lady shows up, seeking guidance. Next think you know, the two begin a relationship, which naturally has to be kept strictly under wraps, since he’s a man of the cloth and all. But the affair does not last long, and it leaves Yu’s father ashamed and bitter, which in turn leads to him lashing out against his flock and son primarily. The old man becomes obsessed with sin and demands that his son confess his wrong doings every single day… despite the fact that he’s a goody-two-shoes and has nothing much to say. Until Yu realizes that the only way into his father heart is to become the sinner he obviously wants him to be, so Yu begins to commit petty crimes, until settling on perversions. Next thing you know, he becomes the grand master of up skirt photography, to the point that he soon begins to develop a small army of loyal devotees.

One day, Yu loses a bet to a fellow pervert (btw, note how many films I’ve seen this year that?s prominently featured pervs), which means dressing up as a woman (sorry, but just have to say it: the boy is REALLY convincing as a girl, like scarily, as in I think he looked really hot). This is when he encounters Yoko, the woman of Yu’s dream, just as she’s about to kick the asses of twenty tough guys, all at once. I can’t go without mentioning that the girl who plays Yoko is pretty much the hottest girl ever, and this coming from a dude that only likes the white girls. I only discovered afterwards that she was also in Pride, yet another big screen adaptation of manga, plus she was even in one of the Death Note movies that I totally avoided last year. The entire cast is easily Love Exposure’s greatest asset, and while the kid playing Yu is the primary star, the girl playing Yoko is clear highlight; her ability to switch from tough gal to super sweet at the drop of a hat was simply mesmerizing. Anyhow, Yu comes to Yoko’s aid, who immediately falls in love with this mysterious women, who identifies herself as Miss Scorpion. BTW, we’ve just reached the one-hour point alone. So Yu’s immediate task at hand is to reveal that Miss Scorpion was a Mr Scorpion, but two things immediately get in the way: A) Yoko hates all men, period, and B) Yoko turns out to be the daughter of that crazy women that his dad hooked up with before, and now they’re back together again. There’s also another player, ready to cause much trouble: Aya, a girl who seems to command an army herself and who has taken a strong interest in Yu and his father. Mostly because she’s the local representative of the Zero Church, the big religious cult that’s all the rage in Japan; Aya believes that if she can convert Yu’s father, his flock will surely follow. And thus we have the primary conflict of the movie; those who wish to brainwash vs. those who wish to prevent the brainwashing, with those being brainwashed being stuck squarely in the middle.

From what I’ve gathered, pretty much everyone who has seen Love Exposure has hailed it as a work of staggering genuine, and I must say, I did enjoy it quite immensely. But I also have zero desire to ever see it again. Granted, it’s a full hour shorter, but I can watch the extended version of The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly, front to back, over and over again, without ever getting tired. Hate to be a hater… then again, I don’t hate the film, not at all… but I don’t think it’s exactly perfect either (people who claim that it’s the greatest film ever made, while certainly entitled to their own opinions, are being a tad bit ridiculous I’m afraid). After the screening, director Sion Sono noted how at one point it was six-hours long, followed by a much shorter three-hour cut that he wasn’t at all happy with, hence the final four hour version. Not to be a jerk. but the current version does drag in certain spots, especially around the 50-70%. Virtually everything stands on its own quite fine, but the difference in pacing and the such between certain elements in the beginning and end of the film was simply too jarring for my tastes. Yes, I realize that’s what Japanese cinema is all alike, but again, we’re talking about four hours here. Not saying that he should have gone with the three-hour version… maybe three and a half. On somewhat of the flip side, it’s also a bit too evident that a lot was omitted because there are a number of things that make little sense; I never did understand why Yoko was facing off against all those dudes in the very beginning, stuff like that. I should perhaps also mention that Love Exposure would have been at the top of my list of the best thing I saw at the NYAFF if not for all the truly great things they also had. Like, you know, House.

Still, it’s a legitimate achievement and a genuine epic. Everyone who gets the chance to see it should, though given the long running time, who the hells knows that might be. Apparently, it’s a gigantic art-house hit in Japan among the kids, so who knows? Perhaps it might find similar success in America.

NYAFF 09: Notes

Just a few quick odds and ends..

- In the end, I honestly can’t say how many movies I saw this year, given how so many shorts were interspersed in the mix. I guess the final count was something like 19? And that’s not counting the second time I saw House! Which eeks out my record set last year, but only by one or two.

- I’ve already pointed out a few of the movies that I didn’t like, hence the lack of write-ups for them, including Groper Train and Samurai Princess. There was also Quick Gun Murugan, the Bollywood flick starring a singing, vegetarian cowboy. It was… okay. Which ultimately was not for me. Sorry, but as much as I’ve tried in the past, I simply do not “get” Indian films. That seems to be the consensus for most Asian cinephiles btw.

Saw it in a packed theater, mostly filled with Indians, and they certainly loved it to death, whereas I was somewhat bored to death. Though it was one of the final films I saw, so my attitude could be attributed to burnout as well.

- On the subject of burnout, the one film I was looking forward to the most before the festival even got started was the one I skipped out on, despite paying for the ticket well in advance. Unfortunately, I was just too tired to get out of bed in time to catch Masato Harada’s Climber’s High (for the zillionth time, last year’s The Shadow Spirit is still one of the best movies I saw all last year, right behind Speed Racer actually). Feel like a real loser for that, but I was also super behind on work as well (my productivity pretty much tanked the entire time of the festival, which I’m STILL trying to recover from).

- This year, I nabbed two of the audience prizes: the aforementioned autograph from actress Kong Hyo-Jin, who was in Crush And Blush fairly early on. Then, as the festival raged on, the folks at Subway Cinema began to run out of prizes, hence why stuff from Grady’s junk pile was tapped into. Which explains the movie poster from the 80s featuring Jamie Lee Curtis that I also nabbed. I forget the title, and I’m too damn lazy to check, despite it sitting across the room from me.

- Not sure if it’s been mentioned already, but attendance was really good for virtually every single screening I went to. Which speaks volumes regarding how popular the NYAFF has become over the years, as well as how many New Yorkers are currently unemployed as well.

- Speaking of, the crowd for the most part was great. I’ve said this many times, yet it bears repeating: they definitely beat the people you’ll find at any AMC 25 screening, any day, that’s for damn sure. That being said though, I must mention that some of the gore heads were a bit on the obnoxious side. But most of them seemed to be from Jersey, so perhaps they couldn’t help themselves.

Both Hilary and I could not help but roll our eyes while waiting in line for Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl, by the pockets of dorks going toe to toe, dueling banjo style, over who was the most hardcore when it came to their dedication and knowledge base of gore. I also love it when nerds speak really loudly as a thinly veiled attempt at getting strangers to interact with them (“Those people are talking about cool stuff! Let’s join in the fun!”). Cuz, you know, no one talks about nerdy crap these days, no sir. But back to the needless flaunting of nerdy factoids, you’d also think it would be a given that anyone already interested in seeing such a movie would at least somewhat be familiar with the genre.

- And speaking of gore, as noted already like a hundred times, the duo of Nishimura and Iguchi was consistently the most enjoyable thing of the entire festival, and certainly justified seeing the more lame-o of the gore flicks. Since I skipped over Samurai Princess, here’s a few of the more interesting tidbits that was revealed in the Q&A beforehand: What’s with the crazy amounts of bloods? Apparently, the more fake blood there is, the less real it seems, which is especially important to the Japanese film board that rates movies. And the less real it appears, the less severe the rating will be. Also, remember that killer baby movie from last year, Tamami: The Baby?s Curse? Not surprisingly, Nishimura created the monster baby puppet, or whatever you want to call it, based on a mold of his very own son, who he was obsessed with casting molds with, on a daily basis. The proud father only did the body… though he also wanted to cover the face, but the mother said no, since she was convinced he would die from it (since it involves covering everything, from the eyes to the mouth).

Forgot to say this last time, but one of the highlights of their pre-House exchange was learning about what happened to girls in the movie later in life. I forget who is who, but one of them ended gaining like 300 pounds, while another vanished off the face of the earth due to a gambling addiction, which in turn caused her to owe lots of unscrupulous people lots of money. As for the star of House, it’s quite clearly, especially afterward, that the director was banging the young girl. Also, at Tokyo Gore Night, it was revealed that Iguchi’s next movie, after RoboGeisha wraps up, is something about teenage girls in cars, running over zombies. Or something like that.

- As for the director of Love Exposure, Sion Sono revealed that his next film Lords of Chaos, which is based on the life and times of the infamous black metal band Mayhem. I actually got the chance to ask him personally after the Q&A about the movie, since I’m somewhat familiar with their sordid legacy; it seems that Sono is sticking to the facts, which means none of the more legendary but unverified antics that they supposedly performed on-stage will make it in the film (I once heard that they stomped a baby at a show, or something to that effect, yet there’s still plenty of legit insane stuff to touch upon, like church burnings and the such). Also worth noting is how the film “will feel like Beverly Hills 90210…. or St Elmo’s Fire.” Can’t wait!

- While waiting in line for House screening #2, I think it was either Hilary or Joe Salina who spotted this girl with the crazy ass Naruto tattoo. I was asked to take a picture, and I did!

- My only real complaint about this year was how virtually none of the screenings featured trailers from other movies beforehand. Every once in a while there was that sorta too long Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl trailer (sorry to keep ragging on it, but that movie really did blow), and that was it. The descriptions and links to trailers on the YouTube on the Subway Cinema site are great and all, but sometimes it just helps to be convinced (or properly warned against) via the big screen.

- Finally, the biggest “holy shi-” moment of the entire festival took place during the Love Exposure Q&A when some cranky black lady told the director, right in his face, that his movie was way too long and could have used a lot of trimming. Wow. On one hand, it was noted by Katie that if you had to sit through a four hour movie that didn’t live up to the hype in your mind, you’d probably feel compelled to say something, but then again… it’s amazing how people walk into things, time and time again, without knowing what they’re getting involved in.

- On a related note, at this point I’m a recognized regular at the festival among all the staff at Subway Cinema, which is certainly nice. Yet I still feel no need to bug them, since they’re always so busy at the festival, managing 19 things at once. Though perhaps I should make myself a little bit known more, as to get screener copies of the movies in advance (at least one guy assumed that was the case already) so I can file my reports in a far more timely fashion! Still, I certainly don’t mind plunking down so much time and money into the festival, which I still say is one of the absolute best parts about living in NYC!

- That being said, even though a week has passed, I’m still not dying to see anything else on the big screen anytime soon. More or less have missed everything that’s hit the AMC 25, and that’s okay; I’m sure Star Trek and Up are great movies, but I’ll just catch them on Netflix. I know for a while, Dave wanted to see Transformer 2… drunk… but I don’t think anyone else he asked was interested either. Oh well. Though I’m definitely checking out Harry Potter 6, as well as the special theatrical screening of the new Eva 1.0 flick later this month, I believe.
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A few non-NYAFF related odds & ends, real quick:

- Earlier this afternoon, Dave and I got the chance to check out Halo 3 ODST, but this time it was hands on! Being the master of Halo that he is, Dave got was able to dig in real deep with both the campaign and multiplayer mode, though unfortunately, we can’t talk about one of them. But as for the other, expect a full blow-by-blow account from Dave sometime later tonight or tomorrow!

- So I might be going to Otakon! Am I tabling, or am I speaking there? Nope, just wanted to check out the show, hang with a few friends, that kind of stuff. Needless to say, I’ll be bringing along my camera, since I know how much you folks love pictures of cosplayers! Though I think it might finally be time to upgrade my piece of crap picture taking device.

- Hey, have I mentioned yet that I’m going to be speaking at the upcoming New York Anime Fest? Yup! I’ll be running a panel on how to get a job in the video game industry, along with one that contrasts and compares the American and Japanese video game scene. Plus… my super popular top ten lists from ICON from years back will make a triumphant return, updated of course!

- Recently, Katie did this totally stupendous comic that’s all about our cat. It might seriously be the best one she’s produced thus far, though I might be a tad bit biased since I’m featured in it. Anyhow, not sure what it’s for exactly, but hopefully she’ll let me post at least the first page one of these days. Till then, here’s just a taste…

- The other day, Adam from attractmo.de passed along pics of my stuff for the store that’s set to open up, any day now! So those of you who’ve been interested in the second zine and aren’t in NYC, meaning you haven’t been able to come to any of the small press shows I’ve been at, here’s you’re chance to pick it up!

- And finally, a good number of you have been asking… nay, DEMANDING a return of the fort90forum, and it’s finally happening. For reals. As in, the end of this week! So stay tuned…

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