For the people who love to watch movies, this guide is dedicated to them. It may be difficult to find gifts for these types of people, because what they want can be so specific. They may want a specific movie, memorabilia, or autograph, but we have put together a guide for a general idea of what might be the perfect gift for them. Enjoy!
Gifts Under $50:
It’s that time of year again! The 30th Annual San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival (SFIAAFF), the largest of its kind, celebrates the past, present, and future, honoring pioneers in Asian and Asian American media-making, but also new directions in digital and interactive media, sound and youth culture, culinary arts and gaming. Continue Reading »
Watching TV With the Red Chinese is an independent film produced by Nataya Anbar and Shimon Dotan that illustrates the difficult and complex process of assimilation into American culture. The movie specifically follows three Chinese students who visit New York to study system science and observe western society, but somehow end up as guinea pigs for a film documentary on foreign perception of American society. In the midst of trying to fit in, the Chinese students find themselves challenged by three elements of western urban culture: street violence, race discrimination, and casual dating.
The film discusses the negative outcomes of social injustice through one of the three Chinese students, Chen, played by Korean Australian actor Leonardo Nam (known for The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants). When Chen encounters a bloody beating from street criminals that causes him to live in paranoia and purchase a gun, his friends are forced into reflection. This movie is basically a crazy mix of foreign frenzy where friends become enemies, lovers become killers, and violence become answers.
The film hits theaters today. Watch the trailer here:
Narrated by a quiet and gentle college student, Tran Anh Hung‘s Norweigian Wood is a tumultuous coming-of-age story about dealing with death and finding love. Toru Watanabe (played by Kenichi Matsuyama) is a college student who loves to read, working jobs on the side to make ends meet. He falls in love with Naoko (Rinko Kukuchi), a troubled girl who is suffering severe depression after Kizuki, his best friend and her boyfriend, commits suicide. While Toru is able to move on from this loss, Naoko, due to her delicate mental state, must go to a sanitarium in the woods in order to heal. Though he occasionally messes around with other women, Toru discovers that he deeply loves her and dedicates himself to taking care of her, even though she still cannot get over her first love.
When the movie began, I instantly felt like I stepped into the 1960s, because the costumes and setting are spot-on. The score definitely made the time jump even more convincing. The cast is phenomenal, especially Matsuyama and Kikuchi. Even though the story did not win me over entirely, it was the actors who did with their solid performances. Overall, I felt mixed about this film. The movie was based on Haruki Murakami’s best-selling novel of the same name. Like most movie adaptations, the film doesn’t really do justice for the original, but I suppose that cannot be helped. Toru’s journey is definitely riveting, but there are places where I demanded more from the film that the book explained in more detail, like the student revolution movement that was only hinted at and not throughly explained with the haphazardly-placed rallies in the background. It would have been more helpful to know why the movie was named after the Beatle’s song—it was Naoko’s favorite—because that too was a mystery I didn’t quite understand from the movie.
Toru’s love life was also a bit confusing for me. I couldn’t see how the romance between Naoko and him really developed, since their “dating” days are all quick cut scenes without dialogue save a few coy glances between them hinting at some romantic attraction. The dating is a little rushed. The same goes for his relationship with Midori, another woman, because it is hard to understand how Toru and Midori can have feelings for each other while they have their respective partners. The movie is slow-paced and feels a lot longer than it actually is, but I can’t really blame the film because it requires much time to tell the story properly.
There are moments in the film that arrested my attention. Kizuki’s haunting suicide sent chills down my spine because of his nonchalance and ease with which he carried it out. Those few seconds felt so much longer than it really was. It made me think heavily about how delicate life is and what things could possibly push someone to do such a dreadful thing. There are also a few lovely moments in the film that make you smile, like the moment when Toru receives the letter from Naoko asking him to see her after so many months with no word. The scene is absolutely heart-warming, and I could tell how pure his feelings towards her was as I watched him excitedly run up the spiraling staircase. I give props to the filmmakers for being able to visually portray such perfect joy. Even if I didn’t feel the heat between Toru and Naoko at the start, I had some “awww” moments later when they spend time together at the sanatorium. The song “Norwegian Wood” serves as a thoughtful backdrop to the whole film: “I once had a girl, or should I say, she once had me…”
The film is full of troubled characters: Nagasawa, the playboy who can’t commit, Hatsumi, his devoted girlfriend who can never win his complete love, and Midori, the playful flirt who has feelings for Toru even though she has a boyfriend. All have problems and conflicts because of their relationships, and some are still unresolved by the end. But the most difficult character to read is Toru. The ending feels a bit hollow and it left me wondering if his love for Naoko was completely true. Despite this half-satisfying ending, it was the strength of his character that inspired me and really gave a take-away message. He is forced to suffer a number of losses and hardships, more than any of the other people in his life. But he always gets back on his feet and pushes on, understanding that life is going to bring him sorrow. For the first half of the film, I classified this in my mind as a romantic drama, But there is a point at the film that makes me feel it is more a bildungsroman. Toru mentally speaks to the deceased Kizuki, saying that he won’t abandon Naoko the way his friend did and that he is “going to grow up.” Toru slowly matures as the film progresses. The characters constantly talk about growing up; on Naoko’s birthday, she confesses her fears of becoming 20. I realized then that all of the characters are suffering some type of crisis nearing adulthood and are faced with making some vital, life-changing choices. I can see a few of my own questions and struggles reflected in the characters’ experiences.
One thing is for sure: in this film, everyone is searching for happiness despite how much they have suffered. I found myself rooting for all of them to come at some resolution. Though it is set in 1960’s Japan, the movie is just as impacting on a modern audience in the US. Its universal themes of hope and courage resonate to all 20-somethings who have insecurities about taking the next step in their lives.
Norwegian Wood’s release dates are as follows:
Friday, Jan 6
IFC Center, NYC, NY
West End Cinema, Washington, DC
AMC Loews Shirlington 7, Arlington VA
Friday, Jan 20
Music Box, Chicago, IL
Sundance Kabuki Cinemas, San Francisco, CA
Friday Jan 27
Laemmle’s Music Hall, Los Angeles, CA
SIFF Cinema at the Uptown, Seattle, WA
St. Anthony Main Theatre, Minneapolis, MN
Theatre N, Wilmington, DE
Friday, March 2
Regal Fox Tower, Portland, OR (following PIFF screening)
Passion Play executive producer Rebecca Wang is a woman on top.
ISSUE: Fall 2011
STORY: Janice Jann
Don’t call Rebecca Wang a multi- hyphenate.
“Multi-hyphenates do not present motion pictures,” says the film producer who released her first Hollywood film, Passion Play in May 2011, starring Mickey Rourke, Bill Murray and Megan Fox. “What I am striving to achieve through Rebecca Wang Entertainment will prove that.”
But the stunning beauty, with her milky skin and a figure made for ball gowns, has already found enviable success in several challenging fields in her young lifetime.
The Chinese American moved to the U.S. for *college. After graduating, Wang worked as a therapist for several years. Though she found the job rewarding, Wang wanted to exercise her creativity, so she left her practice and opened a fashion boutique in China. She inherited her passion for fashion from her mother. “From a young age, I would accompany my mother to Paris and to Milan every year to experience the fashion shows,” says Wang.
A career in fashion eventually turned into a career in film. Though Wang loves all the arts, film is her favorite because, she explains, it “will not only tell a story but engage the viewers.”
The first few years of breaking into producing was not easy. “I had to be clear with the direction my decisions were taking me while being patient and diligent,” she says. When the Passion Play project got around to Wang, the industry novice took charge as executive producer, rounding up an impressive cast and working for months in Albuquerque, N.M., to lift the romantic-fantasy drama from paper to screen.
Wang handled being a newcomer — and a rare female in power — well. “It was a difficult position regardless of gender,” she says. “There are many talented women in this field; they are simply a little more incognito than we realize.”
So as a producer, has Wang found her professional calling? “If I knew the details, then it would spoil the surprise,” she says of her long-term goals. Currently, Wang’s production company is looking for another project to produce, but she is also working on a self-help book. Wang may not consider herself a multi-hyphenate, but she is definitely something else.
*Wang attended UC Berkeley, obtained a master’s degree in Clinical Psychology and subsequently became a psychotherapist.
More info on Rebecca here at www.rebeccawangentertainment.com
— Janice Jann
More stories from Audrey Magazine’s Archives here.
You really can’t drag me to a scary movie.
But on the other hand, I can’t stop my eyeballs from watching one romantic comedy after the other.
So when I heard that the Korean flick, Spellbound contained both genres, I was intrigued. After all, a scary movie with romance in it can’t be that scary, can it? After all, how can mixing ghouls and spirits, blood and blood-pounding music with flowers and cute fashion, funny one-liners and sweet kisses leave me with nightmares? It can’t, right?
Spellbound was able to give me both. Continue Reading »
What you see isn’t exactly what you get with Chin Han. The professionally trained dancer and theater veteran made his Hollywood debut in the 2008 hit The Dark Knight, opposite Heath Ledger and Christian Bale. After a 20-year acting career, the Chinese American actor, 41, pulls double duty in two film releases this fall, the Steven Soderbergh action thriller Contagion and Gus Van Sant’s Restless.
ISSUE: Fall 2011
DEPT: Plugged In
HED: Chin Han
STORY: Shirley Lau
Mega set: [The Dark Knight] was my introduction to Hollywood and seeing movies operate on that scale. When I was younger, my brother and I would always read these graphic novels [so] when I got to do [the film], it was really, really cool.
Favorite project: I produced a musical, based on Ang Lee’s The Wedding Banquet, a couple years ago. We managed to tell the story we wanted to tell and I fulfilled my dream of probably be producing a musical, which is a creature unto itself.
On my bucket list: I actually like love stories, which is why Restless was kind of special to me. I better do one of those movies before I get too old. (Laughs) I like the interior landscape of the human heart as much I like to do big-budget action movies.
– Shirley Lau
More stories from Audrey Magazine’s Archives here.
John Cho’s lighting up the holiday season with his new movie, A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas.
Audrey Magazine got to interview the actor during his LA press tour and you can catch his article published in the Winter Issue of our magazine (featuring cover girl Mindy Kaling). Purchase here.
Below, the rest of our chat.
How was it going back to the franchise?
I love coming back to this guy. I have a lot of affection for Harold as a character. i know guys like Harold, I [actually] know Harold Lee, whom the movie was based on, so I love it. Now I’m friends with the writers and Kal so it’s a real privilege, particularly given how nomadic the actor’s life typically is, it’s cool to have this constant.
What do you think makes a franchise work?
No idea. If I knew, I’d be rich.
When is it not working?
When you have a clay penis? [Chuckles] When you have to resort to that? I don’t know. I’ve always been of the “more is better” school just from the fans side. Even when the quality [of a film] degrades, I tend to enjoy it. The more Rocky movies the better, you know? Continue Reading »
There’s something magical about a holiday movie done well.
We asked celebs at the Audrey Magazine & KoreAm Journal A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas screening what are some of their favorite seasonal flicks.
To find out who listed Die Hard and who named…Casablanca(?!) as one, check below! Continue Reading »
Who doesn’t want to spend a couple of beautiful days in San Diego watching amazing films, listening to panels by invigorating speakers, and mingling with top-notch celebrities and industry-shakers?
I’m excited to see the San Diego Asian Film Festival outdo themselves year after year packing the fest with fresh films, activities, and fun for socal residents to enjoy. This year is no exception. Just take a look at the intro video for yourself:
The festival runs from October 20-28th. Audrey will be heading down there and we would love to see you!
Starting today (October 10), we’re giving away TEN (10) pairs of SDAFF tickets to Audrey readers.
Here’s how you can win:
1. FOLLOW Audrey Magazine on Twitter and Facebook (if you have accounts).
2. SPREAD THE WORD: Retweet the contest to your friends, and repost on your wall: Link @audreymagazine so we’ll see you did this!
3. COMMENT BELOW: Tell us why you need to go to the SDAFF!
You may enter as many times as you wish! A winner will be picked each day from Oct. 10 through Oct. 19, 2011. Names will be placed on will call.
If winning mere tickets are not enough, (but how can it not be?) you can enter in SDAFF’s Super Fan Contest where the film fest is giving away a pair of All Fest Pass, hotel room, gala seats, and VERIZON Tablet. Check here for deets.
So much fun to be had! Hope to see you at SDAFF!