A very timely Trailer Weekly today (though I should have gone to bed long time ago, given I have to get up for work in 3 hours).
We’ve (almost) got a theme this week: Asia goes elsewhere, or elsewhere goes to Asia. In other words: biracial relationships, second generation immigrants, multiple language films and co-productions. Why “almost”? Because there are two that don’t fit the description but that simply couldn’t wait another week…
In San Francisco the Asian American Film Festival is currently taking place. A few appealing finds from their programme:
- My Wedding and Other Secrets (New Zealand, 2010) – A quirky indie all the way from New Zealand. It’s a romantic comedy, but what I like is that it explores an ordinary topic (a relationship between two young people) with an interesting ingredient added in (one of the pair is ethnically Chinese). While the character’s parents are thoroughly Chinese, our (anti-)heroine has to navigate her way through life and love with an identity split between her origins and the country she has grown up in. The festival organisers’ verdict: “bodes well for the future of Asian-New Zealand cinema”. Plus, you can’t beat that lovely Kiwi accent.
- Delhi in a Day (India, 2011) – A young Brit goes to find the “real India” (think ‘spiritual’ and ‘mystical’) but ends up among the noveau-rich of Delhi, which isn’t quite what he had in mind. It looks like the film will poke good fun at itself, but will it add up to something? Or will we be served with clichés at the end? I’m not too sure, but it might be worth watching to find out.
- Touch (USA, 2011) – Another rest-of-the-world-meets-Asia film as Brendan, a mechanic rejected by his wife for the dirt under his fingernails, falls in love with a Vietnamese-American manicurist. There is again the question whether the film will elevate itself above mainstream fare and offer new and genuine insights to make it something more meaningful. The Latino music in the trailer, lovely as it is, doesn’t bode well and invokes a feeling of clichéd fluff in me. If you recall from Trailer Weekly #21, 두 번째 사랑 (Doo Beonjjae Sarang/Never Forever, South Korea/US, 2008) dealt with a similar subject matter, but had a much more substantial feel than Touch. Note: I do rather like the final shot in the trailer, with the nail varnish oozing out of the bottle.
And beyond the San Francisco Asian American Film Festival:
- かもめ食堂 (Kamome shokudō/The Seagull Diner, Japan/Finland, 2006) – A Japanese woman opens a diner in Helsinki, Finland (which, didn’t you know, is the European country closest to Japan – if we leave Russia off the map perhaps?). Unfortunately, no one seems interested in the eatery, until a teenage anime fan comes along one day… A review on lovehkfilm.com describes Kamome shokudō as a “delectable little confection”.
- 解夏 (Gege/Milk White, Japan, 2004) – A teaser trailer only (not subtitled). The story (which doesn’t fit our theme) is simple but one you could do much with: a young man is gradually losing his eyesight, something he is trying to hide from his girlfriend that is currently in Mongolia. The film is based on the bestselling novel by Masada Sashi and, if well-scripted and well-acted, I think it could be right up my alley – you can’t tell much from the teaser trailer though. Also: super simple poster, but love it. Interestingly, it’s the particular shot that works – a similar one, used for the OST (see below), isn’t quite so successful if you ask me.
Gege: Image from the OST
- 转山 (Zhuǎn shān/One Mile Above aka Kora, China, 2011) – One of the Terracotta films I got myself a ticket for – you can expect a review here at some point – tells the story of Shuhao, who decides to cycle from Yunnan, China, to Lhasa, Tibet, to ensure his brother’s peaceful passage to the afterlife. Given the Tibetan setting plus a heartwarming (real-life based) story, I think my Mom would really love this one. I’m not sure what to make of the comparison with Diarios de motocicleta (Motorcycle Diaries, 2004) though. UPDATE 17/4/2011: Review added on Otherwhere.