Speed Racing on the Cultural Silk Road


The much-ballyhooed world premiere of Takashi Miike’s designated Japanese box-office hitter, “Yatterman,” drew a crowd in New York City that well exceeded the capacity of the Directors Guild of America Theater, and many found themselves literally left out in the cold. The inside of the house was a study in contrasts. The majority represented Mr. Miike’s blood-thirsty, guts-hungry cult following, whose conversion likely occurred after Film Forum imported the monumental mindfuck that was “Audition” in 2001. Also present in remarkable numbers and even more impressive vocal volume were screaming teenage girls with homemade signs who turned out for Sho Sakurai, the star of “Yatterman” who is also a member of Japan’s chart-topping boy band Arashi.

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Open Letter to Will Smith

Photo illustration by Martin Tsai/Critic's Notebook

Dear Will,

First of all, I am a fan. Although I loathed the mindless jingoism of "Independence Day" and the idiocy of "Wild Wild West," I think that "Men in Black" and "Bad Boys" are two of the most entertaining summer blockbusters in recent memory. I also think you are generally underrated as an actor because I remember your fine performances in "Where the Day Takes You," "Six Degrees of Separation" and even "The Pursuit of Happyness," which - let's be real - was some overwrought, Oscar-pandering shit in many ways, but your performance was good nonetheless.

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Always Plenty of Brass to Go Around

The Times BFI 52nd London Film Festival

Film culture is strong in Bristol. The largest city in the south west of England is home to Aardman Animation and several other long-established production houses, and was traditionally an engine of BBC production; John Boorman once headed the Corporation's mighty Documentary Unit from here. But these are uncertain times. The BBC is retreating to cheaper points of the compass, Aardman are cutting staff numbers, and on the fringes of the Encounters Short Film Festival, Chris Hopewell of Bristol music video producers Collision Films was downbeat about his trade as a traditional starting point for aspiring film makers: "Don't bother," he said. "Music video as a tool for film making has fallen by the wayside under the onslaught of YouTube." The Google Goliath was to be the subject of much debate as the festival progressed.

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