Ten minutes to show time and the air was abuzz with excitement. I was particularly aflutter because this was my first film festival ever. And what better way to be introduced to the scene than at the nation’s largest Asian and Asian American film showcase? People chattering, cameras flashing, and smiles all around. Probably the fact that White Frog was also highly acclaimed director Quentin Lee’s new movie starring Twilight’s Booboo Stewart and Glee’s Harry Shum Jr. had something to do with the buzz as well. With a few words of introduction and welcome, the curtains spread wide and the lights turned down. The movie was so fast-paced and attention-snatching that it was over before I knew it.
Stewart was definitely the star of the night. Many fans probably recognize him for his irresistible good looks and amazing body, but this movie certainly proved that he was more than a pretty face. This role was a complete opposite from the roles he’s taken up in the past; a troubled boy with Asperger’s syndrome that causes difficulties in interacting and socializing. His struggles with his condition are further challenged by parents’ expectations, his lack of friends, and ultimately a death in the family that tears everyone’s world apart, including his own. The film deals with being different and embracing that difference in its entirety, something that all of us can relate to with or without Asperger’s syndrome. Stewart fully embodied and captured the role of quiet, anti-social, and a little unstable character of Nick with all the delicacy and understanding that the role required. There is no denying that this kid’s got talent.
Nice Girls Crew
Book club has never been this funny. Or insane. Michelle Krusiec, Lynn Chen, and Sheetal Sheth (all Asian American film powerhouses) come together to form the strangest of book clubs in Nice Girls Crew written by Christine Kwon. Three childhood friends unite as adults, all with mismatched personalities, but find that their good intentions are better in theory than in practice. One is a prissy, nitpicking goodie-two-shoes, one is unhinged and erratic, and one is the bad girl on a mission to be as disagreeable as possible. Though they try their hardest to make it through one decent discussion over a book, Geraldine, Sophie, and Leena can’t make it three minutes without exploding into a spat over anything but the actual book they are trying to discuss.
This is not a full-length movie. It is more like five short episodes strung together. Each weekly meeting is one “episode” and each has its own story arc with little connection to the previous one. So much separate from one another that when the last book club meeting segment was over, I felt suddenly cut off. It didn’t feel like a proper ending and I was rather put out that there were no more shorts. Perhaps that was their
intention. The director, writer, and actresses all commented on a possible continuation of the Nice Girls Crew in webisodes, depending on the reception at the festival. If that is the case, I definitely believe they should begin writing up the next episodes as soon as possible. The night’s enthusiastic crowd is evidence enough. The hybrid movie/show left us anxious to continue watching the antics of these three outrageous characters. What was nice to learn from the Q&A was that this project was extremely collaborative, with
all the cast and crew contributing their opinions and creative suggestions to the script. Krusiec, Chen and Sheth all admitted to doing improv in their scenes to find the right fit for their lines. It was “OK to play” and was for the most part helpful to fully flesh out their characters through their playful interactions with one another.
For those of you still attending the festival and in need of a chuckle, go see Nice Girls Crew for your humor pangs. For the rest of you, keep an eye out for a future surfacing online. You won’t want to miss Krusiec’s bold dance solo. Warning, you will laugh until your sides are sore.