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It wasn’t that long ago that I commented on the Bunraku movie showing at Otakon and making the film festival rounds, with a link to the Bunraku homepage. We now have release dates for those of us not able to catch it at a Film Fest. On September 1st it becomes available on VOD (Video On Demand) for home viewing, on September 30th it hits the big screen across the country in at least a limited run basis, and on November 1st you can bring this puppy home as a DVD or Blu-Ray. From everything I have been hearing, this is a fitting successor to Kung Fu Hustle but with a more international cast; I can’t wait!

Just a reminder that season 3 of Being Human, the original Brit version, kicks off on the 19th on BBC America. While not the same day as the UK treatment they are giving Doctor Who, it is still only a few weeks behind, instead of the 6 months to a year behind we used to get. Also, tonight they are running the BAFTA Awards coverage, which is kind of the Brit version of the Emmy’s and the Oscars combined. I will be watching and cheering on Inception, which got nominated in a number of categories, including Best Film.

In live action movies we have a few lesser known but amusing films. The Last Lovecraft: Relic of Cthulhu is the tale of a man in a dead end job who is told he is the only surviving descendant of H.P.Lovecraft, and given an ancient artifact with which he must defend the world. The other selection this week, equally erudite, is Oppai Chanbara: Striptease Samurai Squad, in which a collage girl learns on the death of her mother that she has inherited a sword and a deadly legacy with which she must protect the oppressed. Besides their other similarities, both of these are just a bit silly, so should be fun. The more serious movie out this week has the return of Cloud and Wind in The Storm Warriors. Based on the manga series Fung Wan, this is an indirect sequel to 1998’s The Storm Riders, but in between we have seen Wind and Cloud in the Zu Warriors series of movies, played by the same actors. It is also worth noting this Hong Kong film is the first big budget Chinese language movie shot almost entirely in bluescreen.

For TV, the winner has to be Dr. Who: A Christmas Carol, the Who Christmas special from this past December. This is one of the best kind of Who episodes, sad and poignant and also full of forgiveness and redemption. The other TV program worth mentioning is the 1989 miniseries version of Around the World in 80 Days, finally available on DVD. The cast for this version was amazing, and included Pierce Brosnan, Eric Idle, Peter Ustinov, Jack Klugman, Roddy McDowell, Darren McGavin, Lee Remick, Jill St. John, and Robert Wagner along with many more.

In Anime, the clear and overwhelming winner is Summer Wars, in fact it is the best program of any kind being released on DVD this week. Among the multiple awards this film has is the Japan Academy Prize for the Best Animated Film 2010, won in previous years by The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, Paprika, Tekkonkin Kreet, and Ghost in the Shell. A high school math genius and systems analyst is hired by his secret crush for a summer job, which turns out to be posing as her fiance to her family. Since until then he spent most of his time living in the powerful online VR community known as OZ, he is quite out of his element. Then he gets an unusual mathematical puzzle on his cell, and when he solves it, it unleashes a dangerous AI that takes over OZ with the goal of using it as the platform to launch an attack on real reality to bring about the destruction of us all. After that, it gets very interesting (in the Chinese curse meaning of the word, May you live in interesting times). This project is visually amazing and highly entertaining, and if you only add one DVD to your collection this week, this should be it.

Also out this week, Needless Collection 1 is the story of mutants with special powers who came into being in the aftermath of WWIII. They run into conflicts among themselves and when interacting with normal humans. I haven’t had a chance to see this yet, so I can’t speak to its quality.

Every year in the UK there is a great little film festival that comes along, the Sci-Fi London Film Festival, happening next from April 23nd to May 2nd. It actually turns up twice every year, because besides the April event they also run an Oktoberfest. Part of the festival focus is to support new film makers, with panels, workshops, and a 48 hour film challenge which usually funds the winner to make a feature length version of the winning entry. Well, it seems they put a number of the shorts, features, documentaries, and interviews online to check out at Sci-Fi London Web TV. You will find all the 2010 48 Hour entries there (with the tag line These films were made for zero budget in 2 days!), lots of the shorts from the previous Oktoberfest, a behind-the-scenes look at Paul, feature films including The Brain That Wouldn’t Die and Planet Outlaws, and a whole lot more. To see their entire collection you can also hit the Daily Motion SFLondon site. And if you don’t watch anything else, be sure to take the time for The Hunt For Gollum. If you happen to be in the UK, The Sci-Fi London team will be part of the SFX Weekender event on the 4th and 5th of February, where, surprise, a lot of science fiction will be screened.

There is nothing really new in the theaters this week, unless you are part of Sci-Fi London, so this might be a good weekend to catch up on anything you have missed that is still in the theaters. Coming up in May there are some great films on tap, starting with the sequel Iron Man 2. I expect the seats to be packed for that on, opening on May 7th. I may even have to brave the crowed for a midnight show, just because I can’t wait. The other big-screen epic I am expecting a large crowd to attend is Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time on May 28th. While movies based on games have not generally been of high quality or very successful with a very few exceptions, the trailers give me great hopes for this one, as does what Disney did with Pirates of the Caribbean.

There are a few less well known movies in May I think might end up being quite enjoyable, and surprise a lot of people. TiMER has been winning awards hand over fist on the Film Festival circuit (I think they are just shy of 20 or so by now), and has a great cast and an original concept. It hits New York on the 8th, but goes into wider release on the 14th. The Wild Hunt tells the story of a young man who follows his ex-girlfriend into a medieval re-enactment game, and the lines between reality and fantasy get fairly blurred.

And there are a few films which just plain look like fun; Shrek Forever After (the Final Chapter) on May 21st, and Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood on the 14th. And there are more coming, it should be a great summer for movies.

One of my favorite film fests is coming around again: Sci-Fi London takes place from April 28th until May 3rd. Being held in the UK, there will of course be the obligatory Doctor Who screening, in this case the 1966 feature film staring Peter Cushing as the Doctor, as well as a Lab event called The Birth of the Modern Doctor Who. One of the most notable films at the event is Radio Free Albemuth, yet another Philip K. Dick tale turned into a disturbing movie (don’t you hate it when a film forces you to think?) about current events. Another film about a future that is already here is the intriguing 8th Wonderland, about a virtual country populated in the real world through social networking. Then there is TiMER, a nice Sci-Fi romantic comedy, and Dones (think The Office with drones from other planets), both of which have a solid link to the Buffyverse and a good grasp of humor. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg; there are a lot of movies worth seeing at this event.

From December 10th to the 17th is the Bahamas International Film Festival, and I can’t think of a better place to have one in the winter. A lot of the pieces (69 of them) are shorts, in the 5 to 30 minute range, and one of them looks really interesting: The Macabre World Of Lavender Williams. The cast includes Lily Jackson, Rex Linn, Christopher LLoyd, and John Lithgow in this 26 minute fantasy film. Another one to consider is At World’s End, a Danish film from this year about someone who believes he is 130 years old, an action-comedy.