At its inaugural Japanese Film Festival, the Southern Methodist University Language Program "commemorates the 150th anniversary of United States-Japan relations." It's a nice round number (which is always reason enough for any celebration), but beyond that the time is ripe for the acknowledgement of the ultimate culture clash of East-meets-West. Sure, there have been some bloody hiccups in the affiliation along the way, but what's a little atomic annihilation between friends? Then there's Lost in Translation, which, if nothing else, taught us that, even in a culturally rich and divergent locale like Japan, two Americans can wander around vaguely and manage to find nothing or no one more interesting than each other. Maybe they should have gone to the movies, as Japan is home to some of the most memorable and outstanding filmmakers of the past century. From yesterday's Kurosawa to today's Miike, Japan's contributions to cinema range from scathing societal tributes to epic period pieces to pure adrenaline entertainment. The four films being screened throughout the weekend at SMU's McCord Auditorium may not feature the instant name recognition of some of the nation's classic exports, but together they're a solid representation of the many genres we've come to love over the years. Thursday's selection is Go-Con! Japanese Love Culture, a dark romantic comedy about the distinct matchmaking habits of Japanese youths, while Friday's Shall We Dance? is a lighthearted story about a businessman's idea that the way to his infatuation's heart is through his uncoordinated feet. She's a dance instructor, see? Saturday's Minbo: The Gentle Art of Japanese Extortion takes a satirical stab at the thuggish Yakuza mob, and Sunday offers a vintage anime feature titled Nausicaa of the Valley of the Windsin in its uncut form. Each show is free, and shows begin at 7 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. The McCord Auditorium is in Dallas Hall, 3225 University Blvd. Call 214-342-2022. --Matt Hursh
It's almost 2005; where are our friggin' flying cars? Answer: next to the "laser" weapons on the Island of Lost Sci-Fi Dreams. But we're getting close. Enter, ASIMO--Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility--the world's most advanced humanoid robot. Developed by Honda Motor Co., ASIMO can be witnessed at Southern Methodist University on November 11 and November 13 as part of the Texas BEST Robotics Championship. Seats are available on a first-come, first-served basis for this free demonstration of ASIMO's impressive 26 degrees of mobility, as well as a history of the three decades of development and research it took to create this wonder of science. Visit www.asimo.honda.com. --Jonathan Freeman
Red Carpet Rendezvous
Janine Turner made a name for herself as the co-star of Northern Exposure, but her big-screen flings have been mediocre at best with supporting roles in Cliffhanger and the yawn-inducing Dr. T and the Women. Living in North Texas, she occasionally makes bold print in the society pages, but mostly she lives happily on her ranch raising a daughter and a herd of longhorns. So like all bored actors, she's decided to give directing a try. Hey, if Robert Altman can direct Dr. T, then surely Turner's directorial debut, Trip in a Summer Dress, can't be all that bad. It debuts Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Angelika Film Center, 5321 E. Mockingbird Lane. It runs through November 18. Call 214-841-4700. --Jay Webb
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The Shopping Commandments
While reading The Fashionista Files: Adventures in Four-Inch Heels and Faux Pas, David Bowie's "Fashion" became our official reading theme. We jumped in thinking we would find narrative non-fiction but soon found out that the book was indeed a tell-all guide on how to walk the walk, talk the talk and cut it as a budget-minded fashion maven. We'll forgive authors Melissa de la Cruz and Karen Robinovitz the excessive exclamation points and dumbed-down language in some chapters, because the shining moments that come in their diary-like entries about foibles and accidental successes overpower our grammatical prudishness. Shake the hands of two lovelies who stress that it doesn't have to be a brand name and we don't have to be stick-thin to pull off a flattering yet hot-ass glam ensemble. The girls hit the shoe salon of Neiman Marcus NorthPark from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday, Neiman Marcus Downtown from noon to 3 p.m. and Borders Books (10720 Preston Road) at 7 p.m. Friday. All events include a talk and book signing. --Merritt Martin
One of the inescapable ironies of being a proud fetishist--or so we assume--is that as much as you may demand acceptance, even respect, for your kink, someone somewhere must consider you a freak, or else where's the fun? If it were entirely acceptable for, say, a mutual fund manager to show up for business in a vinyl bustier, panties, nipple clips and an SS officer's cap, what could a fetishist wear on a Friday night to get that special kinky feeling? Dockers and loafers? No, to get the good outré feeling, you have to be out there. Still, even the fetishists among us like to mingle with their own kind in an accepting atmosphere once in a while. Sunday's Dallas Fetish Ball 2004 at The Church, 2424 Swiss Ave., in the Lizard Lounge offers bondage, an interactive dungeon, a complimentary liquid latex booth and trampling, a cash-prize costume contest and music by DJs Virus, Zazou and Cyberina Flux. Tickets are $10 in advance. See www.dallasfetishball.com. --Patrick Williams