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. The Anime Buffet 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. The screenings will alternate between the historic single screen Vista Theatre in Los Feliz and The Club (1917 Bay Street, 2nd floor), which is the Secret Movie Club’s new downtown location. The screenings will run from January 2020 all the way through to April 2020.
“Secret Movie Club loves to make new discoveries with its programs. Japanese anime is so big and complex, so we want to do a series that showcases how diverse these movies are. As programmers it’s easy to get lazy and just show the great Studio Ghibli and Miyazaki films, which we love, but we wanted to go deeper. This series gives us the chance to do a mini-retrospective of the work of anime legend Satoshi Kon as well as a screening of ‘Vampire Hunter D,’ an early anime masterpiece that pushed the artform with adult content, and the emotionally profound film ‘Grave of the Fireflies,’ and the popular ‘Cowboy BeBop’ (which is almost sold out). We look at these series as a journey and really look forward to going on this anime journey with our audience.” –Secret Movie Club founder Craig Hammill
Attendees can purchase limited edition Secret Movie Club posters for each screening event which features new art by contemporary illustrators. Each film is preceded by a brief talk from the Secret Movie Club founder Craig Hammill, as well as a trivia question for the audience.
Cowboy BeBop: The Movie
Friday, January 10, 11:59 p.m. at 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. ‘Cowboy BeBop,’ as its title itself implies, is a mashup of sci-fi, westerns, Hong Kong action movies, and an improvisatory iconoclastic jazz rhythm that makes the viewing experience a total blast and totally singular.” –Craig Hammill
Cowboy Bebop was released in 2001, directed by Shinichiro Watanabe, and has a run time of 115 minutes.
Vampire Hunter D
Friday, January 17, 7:30 p.m. at The Club
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. 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 mashups, 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.”
Vampire Hunter D was released in 1985, directed by Toyoo Ashida, and has a run time of 80 minutes.
Ghost in the Shell
Saturday, January 18, 11:59 p.m. at The Vista
It’s 2029 and the human body can be augmented with “smart” prosthetic cybernetics. The most recent innovation and the most terrifying is 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, and 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.”
Often, the cyberpunk genre, which would come to full flourish in the United States with the Wachowski’s The Matrix, can be traced most directly to two Japanese anime parents: 1988 Akira and 1995 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.
Ghost in the Shell was released in 1995, directed by Mamoru Oshii, and has a run time of 85 minutes.
Friday, January 31, 11:59 p.m. at 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 the terms of human psychology, fear, desire and imagination. 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.
Paprika was released in 2006, directed by Satoshi Kon, and has a run time of 90 minutes.
Saturday, February 1, 10:45 p.m. at The Club
Written by Katsohiro Otomo (writer and 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.
Metropolis was released in 2001, directed by Rintaro, and has a run time of 113 minutes. The movie is in Japanese with English subtitles.
Wednesday, February 12, 8:00 p.m. at The Club
Millennium Actress tells the emotional story (in a decidedly surreal and modernist way) of a 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 and reality meet and diverge.
As an extra to this showing, there will be three original monologues, running 3 to 4 minutes long, preformed by three actresses prior to the screening of the movie.
Millennium Actress was released in 2002, directed by Satoshi Kon, and has a run time of 82 minutes. The movie is in Japanese with English subtitles.
Friday, February 21, 11:59 p.m. at The Vista
Kon fully commits to an anime that is as rich, dark, and complex as any Scorsese, Kubrick, Lynch, or Bergeman 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 Craig Hammill.
Perfect Blue was released in 1997, directed by Satoshi Kon, and has a run time of 81 minutes.
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time
Saturday, March 14, 10:30 a.m. at 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.
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time was released in 2006 and directed by Mamoru Hosoda. It has a run time of 98 minutes and is an English dubbed version of the movie.
Grave Of The Fireflies
Saturday, April 4, 10:30 a.m. at The Vista
One of the absolute greatest animes ever made, Grave of the Fireflies 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 2.
Grave of the Fireflies was released in 1988 and directed by Isao Takahata. It has a run time of 90 minutes and is in Japanese with English subtitles.
The 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 worlds greatest movies in great theaters with great audiences.
Tickets for all screenings can be bought here.
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