nine shorts and a long | Love You Short Time and Child's Play
*SPOILER ALERT- please be warned, there will be abundant mention of film endings.*
The first film of the program, Popsicle Stick, is a story told from the perspectives of two people on a date. I was a bit taken aback by the voice-over technique used in this film. Was it a throwback to old dubbed Chinese kung-fu movies? Or was it simply due to lack of editing time? We follow Alex and Megan's thoughts through the film as Alex hopes with all hope that he'll "get some" tonight while Megan thinks "Gee, he's cute! But don't think I'm gonna put out on the second date!"
The super-duper surprise of the film comes when the two of them are back at Alex's place enjoying a post-pizza popsicle. Megan reaches over to take Alex's popsicle and her own and puts them on the coffee table. She then proceeds to reach over to Alex and.... HALT! The film stops! We all sit there for a minute wondering if this is some innovative artistic element in the film (is this a choose your own ending kind of story?) but then the film rewinds about 30 seconds and starts again only to stop at the same place. Le sigh. I suppose we really will have to use our imaginations on this one! Thankfully, at the end of the night during the Q&A session, there is an audience member who has seen the ending of the film and he shares with us that Alex "kind of gets some" and makes out with Megan who thinks "I'm not going all the way!" but rather says with a coy smile, "I'll see you again". Perhaps I'll have to see this one again too (hopefully with an ending).
Since You've Been Ong
Next on the list, Since You've Been Ong, is another voice over movie. I quite enjoyed this truly short (4 minute) film. Three friends hang out in Chinatown whilst leaving messages for their absentee friend recounting their own versions of the days events. The movie is a lesson about what happens when you let your boyfriend hang out with another girl without you. They fall in love and you're SOL! A rather realistic take on high-school life.
You've Got Male
The blurb in the program guide reads: "An attempt at romance goes horribly wrong as the mail-order bride is nothing as advertised. We repeat, NOTHING as advertised." This one had the audience laughing right off the bat. The main character, who reminded me of Paul Rudd, has given up on trying to find love for himself, and orders a bride from overseas much to his mother's chagrin. The bride shows up at his door and, lo and behold, it's a man from Vietnam! The male order 'bride' proves to be very kind and eager to please his new husband while Husband wants nothing of the sort and tries with all this might to get away. The film actually ends on a very touching note - with them sitting side-by-side, dejected on a sidewalk, pointing at their hearts and making an "I got shot in the heart" motion. Honestly, it was touching!
A Fistful of Doll Hairs
I hadn't read the notes in the program about A Fistful of Doll Hairs before watching it... so I was very surprised at the quick and gory beginning! Jennifer speedily hacks up her annoying roommate Lucy in a psychotic rage after having a tiff about boardgames and The Beatles vs. The Monkeys. Jennifer disposes of Lucy's belongings but is haunted that night by Lucy's doll (very Chucky-like! I knew there was a reason I didn't like dolls...) In the end, Lucy's doll triumphs in avenging her owner and Jennifer's dead body ends up on the coffee table in a real life version of the game "Operation".
This short was impressive - not just in its maniacal story line but in the fact that the entire film was produced as part of a 48 hour film-making contest (they won!). In Hollywood director and contest judge Joe Dante's words, A Fistful of Doll Hairs is "a triumph of wit over budget!"
A beautiful film to watch - with top-notch cinematography. I honestly do not know much about film, but it is a definite eye-pleaser! Not only that, but the acting, the musical score, and the story are done very well with great attention to detail. It's no amateur film.
There are two stories within this film - one is about a young player who has a penchant for Asian ladies, and the other is about a young woman who finds herself pregnant and distancing herself from her family to have the child in secret. So, what do they have to do with each other? In the end, a chance meeting on a train between the two characters leads to them both reconciling with their own choices.
The Last Samurai's Geisha
I'd previously seen this film at the Mighty Asian Moviemaking Marathon and adored it! Suzi Nitta Petersen (lead actor and co-producer with Michelle Nitta) stole my heart with her first bite into a chip. Generally in these kinds of indie films, the actors are young and fledgling but here we see a cast with a range of characters and personalities (that is in no way meant to insult young fledgling actors, nor to imply that the actors in this film are not young). This was a light movie that pokes fun at the obsession and ignorance of some with "Orientals". Two eager thumbs up!
An all together lovely film. I'm a closet romantic (oh, I guess not any more? hah) and this film tugged at my heart strings. A bit silly, a bit intense, a bit romantic, and with plenty of longing. As two friends practice lines, a script mimics reality and the camera captures the tension perfectly. Kudos for taking 2nd place in MAMM!
The Jade Falcon
Ahhhh, the mighty Jade Falcon! Here we have the last film of the shorts program and winner of the 2008 Mighty Asian Moviemaking Marathon. When we watched this during MAMM, the entire audience pretty much knew that this was the big winner of the night. The film was actually in the works for 2 years before debuting at the 2008 MAMMs. Based on The Maltese Falcon, The Jade Falcon follows the first act of the film noir classic, except instead of Brigid O'Shaugnessy, we have "Chun Li" as the mysterious and beautiful leading lady seeking help (and something else? wink, wink, nudge, nudge) from the dashing and cocky Detective "Spade Sam". A movie that oft is on the verge of crossing the line but a true winner for the sheer awesomeness of its production. Yes, awesomeness is a word.
Today was a double shot for me. First the shorts program and then "Child's Play", a program which features the film Santa Mesa and the short film In Control, a narrative about a young boy who is able to control his parent's actions with his toy remote control.
When asked about the inspiration for this film, Ana De Lara responded with "I try to tell stories that touch people on an emotional level.... to inspire people to care about the issues I care about (women and children/domestic violence)". I would have to say that Ana De Lara succeeded with this film. I wondered where the boy would take his father when he controlled his father's car. I thought that maybe he would bring his dad back home... but instead, he took him to a field of flowers- a field of repentance, forgiveness, and peace. A very touching story.
"Sometimes it's OK to be scared. I've learned to look at the world in a different way."
Santa Mesa is an amazing film. I cried. Damnit. A beautiful, warm, and sad story about a boy who, after losing his mother at the age of 12, is relocated to live with his grandmother in the Philippines. Hector not only overcomes the language barrier between him and his seemingly insensitive grandmother, but also endures the rite of entering a youth gang, falls in love, and reconnects a man with his estranged daughter. His character is the link to something much needed for those he cares about. It's easy to sympathize with the different characters' plights - their efforts to release past hardships and guilt, and forgive themselves in order to move forward. During this film I wanted to reach out to Hector, yell at him for being a fool, also hold him when he had no one to connect with. His innocence is deeply moving.
I wish I could write more about this movie, but frankly, I am all written out by now! I'll be off to see the "Family and Funnies" program and will report back soon. I'm out!
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