Daily Archive for March 14th, 2009

On Monday night, I attended a screening for “TOKYO!” (the movie)

tokyo_city_11x17_72dpiA friend of mine was nice enough to invite me to a VIP screening at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood of “Tokyo!” (not to be confused for “Tokyo Sonata“) last week which was sponsored by (among other orgs) Sapporo beer. I mention this first because, even though I don’t drink, I was initially tempted into going because I heard that there was going to be free beer. This is out of character for me, but it turned out to be a good thing that I went because the movie, which should have been the motivating factor for me going, turned out to be great.

Bong Joon-Ho, Léos Carax and Michel Gondry, Directors of Tokyo!Tokyo! is really three short movies in one — a triptych — each set in Tokyo and directed by visionary directors from around the world: Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), Léos Carax (The Lovers on the Bridge), and Bong Joon-ho (The Host). Ok, well, maybe not “around the world” so much as “two French directors and a South Korean,” but the results are some really interesting takes of different aspects of the dynamic city that is Tokyo.

I’m glad I didn’t know anything about the movie because I had no expectations for the film going into it. So I’ll give you my mini review without giving anything away.

The movie presents three different but compelling stories and visions set in Tokyo which border on the surreal and outright bizarre, but not so weird to leave you totally confused. Each piece was visually-appealing in its own way.

My favorite was the third piece (Shaking Tokyo) by Bong Joon-ho, followed closely by the first piece (Interior Design) by Michel Gondry. I was particularly intrigued and touched by the hikikomori main character in Shaking Tokyo. Ayako Fujitani, who plays a half of a young couple who is moving to and settling in Tokyo, is great in Interior Design.

The middle piece (Merde) by Léos Carax is appropriately named (Merde is French for “shit”); it begins with a highly entertaining opening scene and goes downhill from there.

Despite a somewhat negative opinion of the middle piece, I still found it fairly compelling (I didn’t fall asleep and I was mad tired) and worth watching. If you’ve seen “Tokyo!,” I’d love to know what you thought of it.

Presented by Liberation Entertainment and Vitagraph Films, the film already opened in New York and Chicago (limited engagements), but it opens in Los Angeles, Orange County, San Francisco, Berkeley and San Jose on 3/20, and in other cities such as Washington, D.C. (3/27), San Diego and Philadelphia (4/10), Columbus, OH (4/24). (Updated Screening Schedule)

Incidentally, both “Tokyo!” and “Tokyo Sonata” will be screened at SFIAAFF this year, but I know that “Tokyo!” is already sold out.

Not to worry, Bay Area folks… 8Asians is doing a ticket giveaway!

Thoughts of Grandma, Grandpa & Dad

Tuesday would have been my Grandma’s 86th birthday. When I think back to when she passed away last August, it seems like it was so long ago, even though the time keeps flying by so quickly. Such a strange paradox, because even though my Dad passed away almost 3 years ago, that seems like that happened more recently.

Anyway, on Tuesday morning, I was awakened by a phone call from my Mom. I don’t know if she realized that it was my Grandma’s birthday (both my grandmothers had the habit of celebrating their lunar birthdays, so that day varies from year to year).

My Mom called to tell me that she had just gotten a phone call informing her that one of my father’s best friends, Mr W and his wife L, who now live in Japan, are coming to Los Angeles for a couple of weeks and he requested to visit the place where my Dad’s ashes are interred. When my Dad passed away, Mr. W was stuck in Japan and couldn’t make it to my father’s service, so he asked my Mom if he could meet her to pay respects to my father.

I think it was this news that shook a bunch of memories about my loved ones out of the nooks and crannies of my head. I’d been sick for most of the week with flu-like symptoms and though I felt “foggy headed” all week, I found myself being stricken with fleeting memories of my Grandma, Dad, and Grandpa all week.

I thought about my Grandma’s birthday and the year we gave her a small lemon tree which is now a big lemon tree behind the place she lived.

I thought about my Dad’s cherished hat which was especially autographed by Taiwanese President Lee Tung-Hui for him on his 60th birthday.

I thought about my Grandpa and his jovial smile and how he used to make chao mi fen/炒米粉 (fried vermicelli) using two pairs of giant cooking chopsticks to mix all the ingredients over the stove. For special occasions, we would often have hot pot at the big glass table and he would always sit at the head of the table that was the opposite of where us kids sat.

I think about all of them all the time, but I try not to spend too much time being sad over how much I miss them all, but I guess once in a while it has to happen.

So as I was thinking about them this week, I didn’t cry. I just… missed them very much.

One of the traditions my grandparents began was having a formal family portrait taken around their anniversary, December 26. Usually we took the pictures at home via tripod & self-timer, but the picture above is a section from our family portrait done in a professional photo studio one year. I think I’m about 4 years old in this picture and I’m in my Dad’s lap, sitting next to my Grandma & Grandpa. I still remember that night vividly. I especially remember how fascinated I was when the photographer came around with the light meter and I kept asking what he was doing with it. I can’t believe the three people in this picture with me have all passed away.

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