Tuesday, October 02, 2007

More Nikkatsu series coverage

You'll be free of Nikkatsu Action series news, at least for a while, as we go into a brief hiatus for the rest of the year. Any new screenings won't happen until January 2008 at the earliest, although there are some behind-the-scenes things happening now that could become very exciting. You'll hear it here first, of course.

In the meantime, here are some photos from the Austin and New York events, plus some additional coverage of the Japan Society screening.

Nikkatsu's Hideo Iwamoto and Kenneth Kurokawa strike a gangster-like pose at the Alamo.

The Drafthouse's Lars Nilsen and Mark Schilling do the Q&A thing on the Alamo stage.

Harvey Fenton from FAB Press, Mark & Lars hawk the brand-new No Borders, No Limits.

Last Friday's NY launch of the series went better than anyone had dared to hope, with nearly 200 people in the audience despite rain, closed streets and increased police presence due to the nearby UN being in session, the New York Film Festival opening night screening and party, and an almost complete absence of proper press listings for the event, due to an incompetent press person at JS (more concerned JS staffers are doing their best to remedy the situation).

We were prepared for the worst, and were overjoyed to see the happy faces exiting the theatre after the screening of
A Colt is My Passport, which was treated to cheers and loud applause at the end. Mark Schilling's book even sold out during the after-film signing, and many people pledged to come to future screenings. (The next one is November 9th's The Warped Ones.)

Press coverage for the event has been sparse, but the few articles I've come across are all extremely positive and heavy-hitting. My previous post told you about Grady Hendrix's
shrieks of joy in the NY Sun. Let me also point you to a nice write-up in the "Week Ahead" section of the 9/23 NY Times. In case it's gone or requires registration or payment, here's the text:

Mike Hale

The history of Nikkatsu, Japan's oldest film studio, has its highs (Mizoguchi, Imamura) and its lows (a period in the 1970s and '80s when it specialized in soft-core pornography; bankruptcy in the '90s). One of its more entertaining chapters will be on view at Japan Society beginning on Friday in "NO BORDERS, NO LIMITS: 1960s NIKKATSU ACTION CINEMA."

The eight films in the series (which will screen one per month, through next spring) were released from 1960 to 1969, during the studio's postwar heyday as a producer of popular genre movies: yakuza thrillers, urban youth dramas, Japanese "westerns." Some of this output, particularly the more experimental gangster dramas of Seijun Suzuki (Branded to Kill, Tokyo Drifter), has seeped into the American consciousness. But despite these films' likability — their closest reference points include film noir, spaghetti westerns and James Bond — this major subdivision of Japanese cinema is still overshadowed by the old masters on the one hand and the new practitioners of stylish horror on the other. None of the selections at Japan Society, selected by the film critic Mark Schilling, has been seen in the United States before.

Judging from Friday's opening feature, Takashi Nomura's "Koruto wa Ore no Pasupoto" ("A Colt Is My Passport"), it's our loss. Both hard-boiled and jazzy, this tale of a pair of hit men fleeing the mob (two mobs actually) stars the stoic Japanese action hero Jo Shishido, with his surgically enhanced cheeks, and features the Morricone-like music of the frequent Nikkatsu composer Harumi Ibe. It takes us to the freeways of Tokyo, the docks of Yokohama and a seedy truckers' motel straight out of an American noir, and sends us home with a fantastic gun-and-dynamite battle. The Tarantino remake should be announced any day now.

The nearly sold-out Japan Society audience for A Colt is My Passport.

Mark Schilling chatted with fans and signed books for nearly an hour after the screening.

FAB Press founder Harvey Fenton enjoys a drink with Mrs. Outcast Cinema.

Another exciting piece was published in the 9/30 edition of NY University's Washington Square News, where writer Simon Abrams calls Colt "a great way to get genre fans hooked." Those were my thoughts exactly when I put together this series, Simon, and thanks for the support.


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