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Secret Movie Club Hosts an Anime Buffet in 2020 and We’ve Got an Exclusive First Look at Two New Posters

In 2020, the Los Angeles-based Secret Movie Club is hosting screenings of some of the most beloved anime of all time, as part of their Anime Buffet programming slate, which will run from January through April 2020. The Anime Buffet slate is scheduled to include such films as Ghost in the Shell, Perfect Blue, Paprika, Millennium Actress, Metropolis (2001), The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, Vampire Hunter D, Grave of the Fireflies, and Tokyo Godfathers. Screenings will alternate between two different locations: the Vista Theater in Los Feliz, the historic single screen theater built in 1922, and the Club, Secret Movie Club’s new downtown location. 

Attendees can purchase limited edition SECRET MOVIE CLUB posters for every screening at all events, which feature new art by contemporary illustrators. Each film is preceded by a brief talk from Secret Movie Club founder Craig Hammill and a trivia question for the audience.

Secret Movie Club

COWBOY BEBOP: THE MOVIE 

(2001, Sony, dir by Shinichiro Watanabe, 35mm, 115mns) 

Friday, January 10, 2020 @ 11:59p, The Vista

In 2071, earth has been ravaged by catastrophe. Humans have colonized other planets and the universe is a new Wild West. A group of Bounty Hunters travel on the spaceship BeBop in search of quarry and rewards. When a contagion gets released in a truck disaster on Mars, our heroes-Spike, Jet, Faye, Ed, and Ein (a dog with human-grade smarts due to artificial enhancement) go off in search of the culprit and the reward that goes with it. 

“One of the great things with Japanese anime, as with all cinema and art, is how each set of creators imbue the genre with their own personal style and stamp,” said Craig Hammill. “Cowboy Be Bop, as its title itself implies, is a mashup of sci-fi, westerns, Hong Kong action movies, and an improvisatory iconoclastic jazz rhythm that make the viewing experience a total blast and totally singular.”

Secret Movie Club Cowboy Bebop

VAMPIRE HUNTER D

(1985, Sentai Filmworks, dir by Toyoo Ashida, 80mns) 

Friday, January 17, 2020 @ 7:30p, The Club, 1917 Bay Street, 2nd Floor, LA, CA 90021

The movie centers on Doris Lang, the daughter of a werewolf hunter, who gets bitten by 10,000 year old Count Magnus Lee one night. She then meets a strange vampire hunter, who only goes by the name D, and employs him to take on the long-lost vampire lord and try to help her from becoming a vampire herself.

Vampire Hunter D is one of the earliest examples of Japanese anime that was made explicitly with teenagers and adults more in mind than children,” said Hammill. “Made for the then emerging direct to video market, Vampire Hunter D had a smaller budget than its feature film peers. But in a strange way, this freed up director Toyoo Ashida to make a more exciting, violent, sensual animation. Ashida has gone on the record as saying his intent with the movie was to make something thrilling that tired students could enjoy during study breaks rather than make an anime that further exhausted them. Full of genre mash-ups, amazing art and design, and storytelling, Vampire Hunter D definitely serves as a prototype and torch in the darkness for future directors like Satoshi Kon, who will take anime into ever more complex, adult, shadowy realms.” 


GHOST IN THE SHELL 

(1995, Lionsgate, dir by Mamoru Oshii, 85mns) 

Saturday, January 18, 2020 @ 11:59p, The Vista:

Often the cyberpunk genre, which would come to full flourish here in the United States with the Wachowski’s The Matrix, can be traced most directly to two Japanese anime parents: 1988’s Akira and 1995’s Ghost in the Shell. Often considered one of the greatest Japanese anime movies of all time, Ghost in the Shell, dives head first into the darker, deeper waters of more adult sci-fi.

It’s 2029 and the human body can be augmented with “smart” prosthetic cybernetics. The most recent innovation, and the most terrifying, is a cyberbrain, which allows humans to now go online/get hooked into the internet, straight through their neural pathways. Our hero, Motoko Kusanagi, is part of an elite squad that fights crime in “New Port City” in Japan. Currently, they are kept busy by an arch criminal known as “The Puppet Master” who appears to have the ability to hack into these “cyberbrains” and get folks to assassinate, kill, commit crimes. As Motoko further explores what’s going on with both the Puppet Master and the innovations in cybernetics, she stumbles across a revelation that goes to the very heart of our philosophical understanding of what makes us unique individuals: what constitutes our “soul”. 

Secret Movie Club Ghost in the Shell

PAPRIKA

(2006, Sony Pictures Classics, dir by Satoshi Kon, 35mm, 90mns) 

Friday, January 31, 2020 @ 11:59p, The Vista:

If Hayao Miyazaki is synonymous with a kind of all-ages wildly imaginative Japanese anime, then director Satoshi Kon is synonymous with a Japanese anime that dares to go to the very limits of what any kind of cinema can explore in terms of human psychology, fear, desire, imagination. And he does it in the most creative and miraculous of artistic ways.

Paprika is one of his wildest mind-bending creations of all. In the near-future, there is a device called the “DC Mini” which allows Dr. Atsuko Chiba to enter the dreams of her patients (using her alter-ego “Paprika”) to help try to discover the root of their fears, anxieties, and hang ups. But the problem is that the “DC Mini” is still in prototype mode with no restrictions or safety barriers whatsoever. And if it gets into the wrong hands (which of course it does), it allows the thieves to enter dreams for more sinister and nefarious reasons. 


METROPOLIS

(2001, Sony, dir by Rintaro, 113mns total, 35mm, Japanese with English subtitles) 

Saturday, February 1, 2020 @ 10:45p, The Club

Written by Katsohiro Otomo (writer/director of the classic anime Akira), Metropolis shares much of its DNA with that seminal anime classic including a central character who is rocked to their psychological core by the realization of their “super human” abilities and an impending apocalypse that threatens the entire foundations of a huge city.


MILLENNIUM ACTRESS

(2002, 11 Arts, dir by Satoshi Kon, 82mns, Japanese with English subtitles) 

Wednesday, February 12, 2020 @ 8p, The Club

Millennium Actress tells the emotional story (in a decidedly surreal and modernist way) of famous actor Chiyoko Fujiwara, who tells her life story to documentarians and explains she only ever became an actress in the hopes of being recognized by an artist/political rebel she fell in love with as a teenager and never saw again. As Chiyoko tells her story, it becomes hard to tell what’s her real life, what are movie scenes she starred in, and where fiction/reality meet and diverge. 

Special Note: There will be three originally written 3-4 minute monologues performed by three actresses ahead of the screening running a total of 10-12 minutes. 


PERFECT BLUE

(1997, GKIDS, dir by Satoshi Kon, 35mm, 81mns) 

Friday, February 21, 2020 @ 11:59p, The Vista

Kon fully commits to an anime that is as rich, dark, and complex as any Scorsese, Kubrick, Lynch, or Bergman movie. But with the added benefit of being able to cinematically represent psychological states of mind in a way that is often impossible in live-action cinema.

“If you want to see anime that absolutely succeeds in expanding the playing field of what cinema can do, come join us for Perfect Blue,” said Hammill.


THE GIRL WHO LEAPT THROUGH TIME

(2006, Funimation, directed by Mamoru Hosoda, 98mns; English dubbed version)

Saturday, March 14, 2020 @ 10:30a, the Vista

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time tells the story of young teenager Makoto Konno who discovers a magical object in her high school that allows her to leap through time and prevent situations that caused her great embarrassment. This premise, as with all good premises fully explored, deepens into a meditation on wish fulfillment versus reality. Makoto, first using the device for frivolous things, comes to realize that the device has its price. And that she is not the only one using it. . . 


GRAVE OF THE FIREFLIES

(1988, GKids, directed by Isao Takahata, 90mns; Japanese with English subtitles) 

Saturday, April 4, 2020 @ 10:30a, the Vista

One of the absolute greatest animes ever made, Grave of the Fireflies, directed by Isao Takahata, deals with siblings Seita and Satsuko, who have to rely on each other to survive after they’re separated from their parents during the American fire-bombing of Tokyo in the late stages of World War II.


Tickets can be purchased now.


Secret Movie Club is a group project among the founders and the audience. Audience suggestions are taken and often used. Secret Movie Club aims to celebrate the wonderful experience that comes from watching the world’s greatest movies in great movie theaters with great audiences.

The Hellboy One:12 Collective Figure is Up for Pre-Order

Hellboy One:12 Collective Figure

From the upcoming Lionsgate film based on the graphic novels by Mike Mignola, Hellboy joins the One:12 Collective.

The One:12 Collective Hellboy figure features 2 head portraits capturing the great beast’s unforgiving nature.

Hellboy is outfitted in a removable duster coat. His guns fit neatly into the holsters on his utility belt. The half-demon comes complete with a range of accessories fit for saving the world, including a customized handgun, customized revolver that fits in his gun case, and a horseshoe.

Hellboy, an immensely powerful superhero who works for the government organization Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense (B.P.R.D.), and his closest allies team up to battle an undead sorceress who has the intention of destroying the world.

Hellboy hits theaters on April 12th, 2019. You can watch the trailer here.

THE ONE:12 COLLECTIVE HELLBOY FIGURE FEATURES:

  • One:12 Collective body with over 28 points of articulation
  • Two (2) head portraits
  • Hand painted authentic detailing
  • Approximately 17cm tall
  • Eight (8) interchangeable hands including 
    • Left
      • One (1) fist hand
      • One (1) gun holding hand
      • One (1) posing hand
      • One (1) Excalibur holding hand
      • One (1) horseshoe holding hand
    • Right Hand of Doom
      • One (1) fist hand
      • Two (2) posing hands

COSTUME:

  • Duster coat (removable)
  • Utility belt with holsters
  • Cargo pants
  • Mid-calf boots

ACCESSORIES:

  • One (1) customized handgun
  • One (1) customized revolver with rotating barrel (fits in gun case)
  • One (1) gun case
  • One (1) horseshoe
  • One (1) One:12 Collective display base with logo
  • One (1) One:12 Collective adjustable display post

Each One:12 Collective Hellboy figure is packaged in a collector friendly box, designed with collectors in mind. The figure is available to pre-order from Mezco.

Hellboy One:12 Collective Figure

Hellboy Gets a New “Green Band” and “Red Band” Trailer

Hellboy is back, and he’s on fire. From the pages of Mike Mignola‘s seminal work, this action packed story sees the legendary half-demon superhero (David Harbour, “Stranger Things”) called to the English countryside to battle a trio of rampaging giants.

There he discovers The Blood Queen, Nimue (Milla Jovovich, Resident Evil series), a resurrected ancient sorceress thirsting to avenge a past betrayal.Suddenly caught in a clash between the supernatural and the human, Hellboy is now hell-bent on stopping Nimue without triggering the end of the world.

Hellboy also features Ian McShane (John Wick), Daniel Dae Kim (“Hawaii Five-0” and “Lost”), and Sasha Lane (American Honey).

Lionsgate has released two new trailers which you can check out below as well as three brand new posters. Hellboy comes to theaters April 12, 2019.

Green Band

Red Band

Analog is Being Developed as a Film and Gets C2e2 Variant for Shops

In order to keep up with fan enthusiasm and building interest in the hot new series Analog by Gerry Duggan and David O’Sullivan—and which was just announced this week as in development for film—Image Comics will be making the stunning Analog #1 C2e2 variant available to fans this June.

After a heated bidding war Lionsgate snagged rights to Gerry Duggan and David O’Sullivan’s bestselling series AnalogJohn Wick Director Chad Stahelski and Ryan Condal, the creator of USA’s alien invasion series Colony, are attached to the project.

Analog #1 C2E2 variant (Diamond Code APR188572) will hit stores on Wednesday, June 20th. The final order cutoff for retailers is Monday, May 28th.

While We Talk “Power Rangers” Breaking Down Barriers, How About Haim Saban’s Islamophobia?

With the new Mighty Morphin Power Rangers film opening up this weekend, the full court press is on to show the film is updated and fresh with one Ranger being autistic and another figuring out their sexuality. While the changes have been met with glowing articles, the reality is they overlook the darker side of the Power Rangers. I’m not talking about the on-set homophobia experienced by actor David Yost (the original Blue Ranger) during the original Power Rangers show; my focus is a bit different.

If you look at the logo of the 2017 big budget film reboot of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers you’ll see the word “Saban’s” is subtly located in the advertising including television and posters. “Saban” is a reference to Haim Saban, the individual credited with bringing the popular kids show to the United States after coming across the concept during a trip to Japan. Saban was able to make billions off of it all and has parlayed that into political capital.

“I’m a one-issue guy, and my issue is Israel.”

Saban is the Israeli-American who is one of the largest donors to Democratic causes and campaigns. He not only runs an entertainment empire but also is a very politically influential individual who is able to shape policy. It was in a letter to Saban that Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton came out against the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement targeting Israel. Her opposition wasn’t a surprise, the fact she did so in a letter to her biggest donor instead of a press release or speech was and suggests Saban’s influence within political circles and the parts of the Jewish community.

Saban vehemently describes himself as a one-issue person, and that issue is Israel, where he has shifted from a more left-leaning view a decade ago to more of a hardline right-wing hawkish view today. That view also includes disturbing statements about Muslims.

As reported by Haaretz, Saban is quoted as saying in November 2015:

“I’m not suggesting we put Muslims through some kind of torture room to get them to admit they are or they’re not terrorists,” he is quoted as telling The Wrap in a story posted Wednesday, “but I am saying we should have more scrutiny.” Suggesting that some civil liberties may need to be suspended in the face of security threats, he asked rhetorically: “You want to be free and dead? I’d rather be not free and alive.”

He later walked back some of those statements, but doubled down on the threats to civil liberties and opinions on policy that eerily echo President Trump’s logic for his Executive Order regarding immigration.

“I believe that all refugees coming from Syria – a war-torn country that ISIS calls home – regardless of religion require additional scrutiny before entering the United States. At this moment in time, with hundreds killed in Paris and thousands more around the world, freedom as we know it is under existential threat. And while in contradiction to our country’s principles in time of peace, I’m comfortable with the government taking additional measures, including increased surveillance of individuals they deem suspicious. Our first priority is to protect the lives of our citizens and no liberty is more valuable than our safety. I regret making a religious distinction as opposed to a geographical one: it’s about scrutinizing every single individual coming from a country with ISIS strongholds.”

Saban was also a leader in the organized effort to smear Congressman Keith Ellison during his recent bid to be the chair of the Democratic National Committee. Ellison is a Muslim Congressman who has criticized the foreign assistance to Israel when some of their actions make peace difficult and run counter to requests made by the United States.

During the Brooking Institution’s Saban Forum, an annual gathering, Saban unprompted called Ellison an anti-Semite saying:

“If you go back to his positions, his papers, his speeches, the way he has voted, he is clearly an anti-Semite and anti-Israel individual,” the Israeli-American said Friday about the Minnesota lawmaker. “Words matter and actions matter more. Keith Ellison would be a disaster for the relationship between the Jewish community and the Democratic Party.”

What Saban, and other Democratic Jewish donors like Alan Dershowitz, were hinting at is donations. This was a veiled threat to pull vital dollars that’d otherwise be donated to candidates and the party if Ellison became chair.

When CNN researched claims against Ellison, they turned up nothing. As CNN acknowledged when digging up old Ellison quotes:

“None of the records reviewed found examples of Ellison making any anti-Semitic comments himself.”

The attacks on Ellison led to numerous Jewish organizations and individuals such as American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, J Street, and Senator Chuck Schumer to defend Ellison. In a statement, J Street said:

“It is time to retire the playbook that aims to silence any American official seeking high office who has dared to criticize certain Israeli government policies.”

In reality, Ellison is a pretty average liberal Democrat supporting a two-state solution and advocating for peace. But, the damage was done, the toxicity thrown towards Ellison was a factor in his loss as DNC chair.

But this wielding of influence shouldn’t be a surprise. At a Saban Forum event, Saban laid out his three-pronged approach to influence American politics: fund political campaigns, bankroll think tanks (Saban is the founder of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy, a foreign policy think tank that’s part of the Brookings Institution and a supporter of the conservative pro-Israel organization AIPAC with their Saban National Political Leadership Training Seminar), and control the media (as part of a group of investor Saban Capital Group is a partial owner of Univision).

Interestingly, Saban was rebuked during the DNC chair race. When asked if Saban should apologize, those running generally agreed he should.

“There were some fireworks. When asked whether billionaire Democratic donor Haim Saban should apologize for smearing Ellison as an anti-Semite, everyone on stage but Ellison and Greene agreed ― a rare rebuke from political aspirants directed toward a deep-pocketed supporter.”

Greene felt the question was a “gotcha” moment attempting to divide the party from its donors, showing where Greene’s loyalty lies. Turning the other cheek, Ellison said the following:

“I just think everybody should know that Haim and I did have a phone call, I won’t disclose what we talked about, but it was amicable, and we’re going to get together and build on our relationship. So I don’t want everybody to think that that was the last word, it wasn’t. And I think we’re on the road to recovery in that regard. So I just wanted people to know that.”

Keep in mind, the DNC chair is a leadership and management role, it doesn’t decide on policy. But, the damage was done with Saban sending one of the loudest messages. Ellison’s bid was sunk… because he’s Muslim and due to Islamophobia.

So while all the article praise the Power Rangers update they overlook a disturbing few recent years where an ugliness has reared its head. As seen in the DNC chair race and the President Trump’s actions, Islamophobia is alive and well. The advocating for profiling, the support of curtailing civil liberties, and unfounded attacks on a Muslim Congressman who wants to serve his party and nation, all in the “support of Israel.” For someone whose show espouses teamwork and bringing together individuals of varying backgrounds as a team, Saban’s statements and actions are divisive and refutes the lessons the show teaches. Go go Power Rangers?

The Assignment Gets a New and Final Trailer

Lionsgate and Saban Films have released the final trailer for The Assignment out April 7 in the US. The film stars Michelle Rodriguez and Sigourney Weaver and features Rodriguez as a hitman who’s out for revenge after having his gender changed.

The movie is directed by Walter Hill who directed The Warriors, 48 Hrs., Brewster’s Millions, and Red Heat as well as the comic turned movie Bullet to the Head. The screenplay and story is by Hill as well as Denis Hamill.

Why are we covering this? There’s also a comic series released written by Walter Hill and Matz. Released by Titan Comics in the United States, the comic was originally published in French and called Body and Soul. The comic and film were worked on simultaneously and the comic was released in Europe March 2016.

John Wick Brings the Action to Comics in 2017

Dynamite Entertainment announced today that it has made a deal with Lionsgate to publish a comic book series inspired by the studio’s popular John Wick feature film.

John Wick introduces a retired hitman thrust back into the underworld following his wife’s death and subsequent theft of his 1969 Mustang, as well as the killing of a dog she left to help him cope with her passing. These tragic events lead to John Wick seeking retribution in the darkest depths of the Russian mafia in pursuit of Iosef, the leader of the gang of Wick’s assailants. As this pursuit leads him deeper into the Russian crime syndicate, a trail of dead bodies — including some of his closest friends and allies — begins to follow behind.

John Wick grossed $86 million dollars at the worldwide box office when it was released in 2014. The highly anticipated sequel John Wick: Chapter Two will be in theaters February 10, 2017.

Dynamite Entertainment will introduce all-new comics starring John Wick in 2017, with details on release date and creative team to be announced in the coming months.

john-wickgiovannivalletta johnwickdesigns

Liev Schreiber and Taye Diggs Join My Little Pony: The Movie

MLP_The_Movie_promotional_logoWhat are two individuals who I didn’t expect to be in a My Little Pony movie?

Hasbro and Lionsgate have announced that Liev Schreiber and Taye Diggs will be joining the cast of My Little Pony: The Movie. The two are the latest additions to the A-List ensemble cast of the film, which is slated for theatrical release on October 6, 2017.

Schreiber and Diggs will both voice characters that are brand new to the franchise, joining the established “Mane 6” from the award-winning My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic TV series on their first journey to the big screen. They will be joined by previously announced  Golden Globe-winning actress Emily Blunt, Tony and Emmy Award-winning actress Kristen Chenoweth, Emmy Award-winning and Golden Globe-nominated actress Uzo Aduba and Michael Pena.

Fan-favorite writer and producer for My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Meghan McCarthy is penning the screenplay alongside Rita Hsiao. My Little Pony: The Movie is being produced by Brian Goldner and Stephen Davis for Hasbro’s Allspark Pictures with Jayson Theissen directing.

Con Man is Coming to Comic-Con HQ!

Lionsgate has announced that the record-breaking web series Con Man, executive produced by the science fiction dream team of Alan Tudyk, Nathan Fillion and author PJ Haarsma, will call Comic-Con HQ home. Comic-Con HQ is the new subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) destination that will extend the experience of San Diego Comic-Con into a year-round event.

Season one of Con Man will be exclusively available for streaming on Comic-Con HQ when the platform launches this summer.  Comic-Con HQ will also produce a second season of the series which will debut on the service later this year.

Created by Tudyk and produced with Haarsma and Fillion, Con Man has been fan-driven from inception. The series was funded via Indiegogo, resulting in a record-breaking $3.2 million. With the support of over 46,000 fans from around the world, Con Man now stands as one of the highest funded film campaigns on any crowdfunding platform ever.

The first season drew appearances by Tricia Helfer, Amy Acker, Gina Torres, Sean Maher, Felicia Day, Seth Green, Mindy Sterling, Jewel Staite, Summer Glau, Sean Astin and filmmakers James Gunn and Joss Whedon.

Loosely based on Tudyk’s and Fillion’s experiences starring in Firefly, Con Man centers on the post-show life of Wray Nerely (Tudyk), the co-star of “Spectrum,” a sci-fi TV series canceled before its time that later became a cult classic beloved by fans. Wray’s best friend, Jack Moore (Fillion) starred as the series’ Captain and has gone on to become a major celebrity, while Wray continues to struggle to find his big break. While Jack enjoys the life of an A-lister, Wray is the begrudging guest of sci-fi conventions, comic book store appearances and different pop culture events. The series explores these events and all the crazy and real things that happen behind the scenes in the world of fandom.

The second season of Con Man, premiering in late 2016, focuses on Wray’s attempt to propel himself from B-movie sci-fi actor to esteemed mainstream leading man, while maintaining the respect of his Spectrum fans, former co-stars and Jack in the process. Tudyk and Fillion reprise their roles as Wray and Jack, with several other familiar faces to be announced.

Season 1 will be available via Comic-Con HQ next month, following the platform’s beta launch on May 7th, Free Comic Book Day. Fans who join Comic-Con HQ during the first two weeks of beta launch will be entered to win an all-expenses paid trip to San Diego Comic-Con 2016.

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