Friday, March 23, 2007

Dispatches from the SF International Asian American Film Festival - Part III

Hip Hapa's coverage of this year's SFIAAFF features two intrepid hapa reporters whose skill, dedication, moxy, and insight will bring you the low-down on the hottest film festival in town. Today's entry is brought to you by Yasmine Gomez:

The Mistress of Spices – Relied too heavily on the beauty of star Aishwarya Rai. No doubt, a gorgeous woman. Most of the film, she’s asking the spices to speak to her, while Dylan McDermott falls in love with her beauty. Example line: "Dylan: ‘So what's my spice?’" You understand. (Plays again tomorrow).

Shanghai Kiss – Very funny and entertaining. The dialogue was very witty and lead Ken Leung (Saw, X3) gives an impressive comedic performance. I'm not sure I love the story, which has the lead questioning his Chinese American identity, moving to Shanghai, then back to Los Angeles to reconnect with a 16-year-old blonde girl (Hayden Panetierre from Heroes). I heard David Ren wrote this script when he was 18, which may explain a lot. In the Q&A, he had submitted his script with a smart cover letter that got the attention of the Konwiser brothers who luckily bothered to read it. The film may get distribution, maybe straight to DVD. (Plays again tomorrow).

Owl and the Sparrow – A lovely delicate story about loneliness, love, and freedom set in the context of contemporary Vietnam. When asked about the budget for the film, which was an impressive DV to 35mm transfer, he said it was "low." Enough said. The filmmaker, Stephane Gauger, was born in Saigon and speaks Vietnamese at a "2nd-grade level," so the script was written in English and translated to Vietnamese. He spent a lot of time at the zoo there, which felt like a quiet sanctuary away from the noise and bustle of the streets. He got to know a family who ran the zoo, which partly inspired the characters in the film.

The Great Happiness Space: Tale of an Osaka Love Thief – This has been covered on this blog already, but I have to say this has been my favorite so far. Fascinating. I kind of expected a one-note film which relied more on the gimmick of the subject matter, but the film kept going deeper and uncovering more layers as it went along, and I couldn't help getting drawn into this alternate reality dreamlike "space."
There are a lot of lies about love and devotion spoken in these host clubs, from both men and women, but on the other hand, it felt like such an honest exchange—money for attention, love, happiness, or sex. American courtships aren't too far off, just perhaps not as obvious. Oh, and in case you're looking for a career change, these hosts can make up to $50,000 a month. (Plays again tonight and Sunday).

It's clear I'm in the wrong line of work. Stay tuned for future updates from San Francisco...

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Blogger Mix76 said...

Does Dylan McDermott have a spice? That fool gots no flava if you ask me!

And...yes. I agree OG. We should open up our own host club!

1:04 PM  
Blogger rt said...

I was looking for a link to send to my friend - she went to school in Osaka, found your blog.

I'm hapa too!

And I saw these movies. I was volunteering at the FF in SJ and SF. Was pretty fun. Saw Shanghai Kiss on Friday (I was the dude with the flashlight), Baby on Saturday night and Great Happiness Space on Sunday.

You think host clubs would fly in USA? Ever?

5:24 PM  

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