Examiner Film Editor

Landmark’s Varsity theatre is having a mini-Asian film festival of sorts over the next few weeks.

Now playing, the Japanese shojo manga (girls comic) inspired “Kamikaze Girls,” starring two real-life J-Pop talents. Kyoko Fukuda plays Momoko, a young woman who escapes her unhappy rural home life by dressing in frilly Lolita-like dresses and day-dreaming about living in 18th century France. When she forms a friendship with Ichiko, a member of the girls-only biker gang The Ponytails, it’s clear this opposites-attract bond will change Momoko’s life forever. Its slick blend of color, music and quick edits lends some credence to the claim “Kamikaze Girls” could become a cult-classic.

An old t-shirt bought for a dollar in a Maui thrift shop inspired Japanese writer Haruki Murakami (“Kafka on the Shore,” “The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles”). The shirt, a leftover from a 70’s political campaign in Hawaii, had the name Tony Takitani imprinted on it. “Every time I put on the t-shirt, I felt like this Tony Takitani guy was begging me to write a story about him,” Murakami said in an interview with Japan’s Daily Yomiuri newspaper.

“Tony Takitani” is about a self-sufficient solitary man who feels emotions are illogical and immature. He finds his true calling in technical illustration, and his true love in Eiko, a client who’s obsessed with high fashion. The relationship gives Tony his first taste of feeling vibrantly alive—later followed by desperate loneliness—when Tony’s simple request for Eiko to resist her temptation to buy designer outfits ends in tragedy.

Horror stories go to “Three…Extremes,” opening at the Varsity on Oct. 28, just in time for Halloween. Three indie film directors from Asia, Miike Takashi (“Audition”) of Japan, Hong Kong’s Fruit Chan (“Public Toilet”), and South Korean Park Chan-Wook (“Joint Security Area”), take turns probing the forces that turn ordinary people into monsters. In Miike’s “Box,” novelist Kyoko battles recurrent nightmares of being buried alive in the snow. Chan shows in “Dumplings” what a once-popular soap opera actress will do to restore her youthful appearance. In the final segment, “Cut,” directed by Park, a horror-film director comes home to discover a jealous extra from one of his films in his living room. The man forces the director to make a terrible choice—to kill a child or watch his wife’s fingers being cut off, one by one.


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