Film Festival Dispatch: Toronto International Film Festival 2014

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Ah, SHERLOCK’s Benedict Cumberbatch meeting his “cumberbitches” before the gala screening of THE IMITATION GAME at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) last week. A biopic about the great mathematician Alan Turing who was enlisted by MI6 to crack the Nazis’ enigma code but was years later, convicted of homosexuality (outlawed in UK law at the time) and lived the rest of his days in misery, the film won the coveted People’s Choice Award for Best Narrative Feature, an industry designation and, perhaps, prognosticator of a Best Picture Oscar (previous winners A KING’S SPEECH, SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE and SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK would win Oscar gold). The film is quite good and Cumberbatch will definitely be nominated for a Best Actor.

Is it finally the end of Glenn on THE WALKING DEAD?

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Huffington Post has already started the rumor mill today that our favorite Asian American zombie killing machine and romantic hero Glenn (Steven Yuen) may finally meet his Maker during the start of Season 5 of the epic series, which kicks off October 12th on AMC. Their evidence is this photo, which has Glenn in a pickle so to speak, surrounded by walkers and the fact that a shot of Glenn in the Season 5 teaser is reminiscent of what happens to the character in the graphic novel series…

Filipino Girl Group does the best rendition of LET IT GO Ever

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I know, I know, we don’t need another “Let It Go” cover like another hole in the head. But, this one, done by the girl group MICA (from the Philippines) takes the cake. The 4 girls, all sisters, were chosen to audition for a K-Pop star search show called “Superstar K.”

Check out their amazing, breathtaking performance:

The TITANIC ALS Challenge — Now, this is how it’s done!

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Many of my friends know that I think the ALS #IceBucketChallenge is getting out of hand and yes, it’s raised $15 million so far for ALS Research, the fact that Steve-O has to bring this into perspective, just shows how shallow we as a people are. I just want it to stop already, because it’s callous and 9 out of 10 people are just doing the ice bucket challenge without actually donating anything. I, for one, was recently called out and I opted to just open my check book and send a donation to one of my favorite charities. So there…

(Other) Americans Trying Hawaiian Food

Ah, you mainlanders. You don’t know what you are missing. How can someone diss the yin and yang elegance of a spam musubi? It’s the perfect balance of salty and glutinous, wrapped in seaweed, and is perfect to have after a long day of surfing, hiking, or drinking. It’s great anytime of the day or night!

Therefore, I chortle at these Buzzfeed videos that have mainlanders taste Hawaiian food, even though they are using the term correctly. Whenever you refer to “Hawaiian,” it’s in reference to the Native Hawaiian culture and customs. When it comes to “Hawaiian food,” it is usually referred to Hawaii local cuisine, which is a hodge podge of Asian and Pacific influences, hence the spam musubi or the loco moco. But, I am a stickler when it comes to that kind of stuff.

Watch the first episode of SELFIE online now!

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We are all very excited for the new fall TV season because of the actual Asian representation we’re seeing on many of the network’s major new shows, ranging from the mid-season FRESH OFF THE BOAT (based on Eddie Huang’s memoir), to the leads in SCORPION (executive produced by Justin Lin, who also directed the pilot), Maggie Q is back in the crime procedural STALKER, and John Cho’s romantic comedic lead role in SELFIE opposite former DOCTOR WHO companion Karen Gillan!

Granted, rattling off JUST four shows on network TV may be nothing to crow about, but it is incremental progress, and the fact that these shows have Asians in the lead roles, is a pretty big deal. Of course, in the end, it’s all about how good the content is, and we’re hoping that these shows are good and do survive the Nielsen ratings and find their audiences.

Another Thai commercial that will make you cry

Man, I swear that Thai commercials are the new K-dramas. They’re short and sweet but packed with tons of heartfelt, heart-tugging stories that will squish your insides and make you do the ol’ waterworks on the eyes. This latest commercial from Thai Life Insurance is definitely up there with the one about the good samaritan who does good deeds, and the other one about the young beggar who becomes a doctor and saves the life of the street merchant who gave him a break years ago.

I particularly like this commercial, entitled “Street Concert,” because it’s simpler and isn’t necessarily a tear-jerker, but it’s definitely feel good for sure. And to think these commercials sell life insurance! Well played, Thais. Well played.

The Best Japanese Star Wars GIF So Far.

I am sure this is old, but I found this particularly funny today. You can see the original video, which was a promo for a Japanese cell phone company.

The Japanese definitely know how to spoof STAR WARS. And Offender Phil just recently blogged about the use of Darth Vader in Japan to hawk some English proficiency books. I wonder how that campaign went.

Around the Horn: Is Colorblind Casting OK in the Comics Movie Universe?

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In our weekly check-in lunch last Tuesday, some of the Offenders started talking geek speak, with everyone generally excited that GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY is doing well and that it is a solid film. But then, the conversation took a turn when the discussion of future Marvel films came up, specifically the new FANTASTIC FOUR reboot, with the casting of Michael B. Jordan as Johnny Storm aka The Human Torch. Some individuals thought the casting of an African American actor for a, “historically” Caucasian looking character portrayed in the pages of Marvel comics. An individual felt that the Human Torch is so iconic and him being blonde and blue-eyed was inherent in the character and that’s just the way it is. Another individual agreed and said it was simply stunt casting to have Jordan be the Human Torch and also the brother of Sue Storm, played by the obviously Caucasian Kate Mara. The argument soon escalated with defenders of the casting saying it doesn’t matter on skin color, just as long as the actor chosen has the inherent characteristics of Johnny Storm (i.e. cocky, free spirited, from New York and American), then what does it matter? Before long, other iconic characters were brought up, like James Bond. There’s been talk of Idris Elba possibly portraying 007 in future movies. Does it matter?

DRUNK HISTORY Retelling of Daniel Inouye and the 442nd

GUARDIANSDRUNK HISTORY, currently on Comedy Central, has a brilliant but simple concept — Drunk comedians retelling a historical event. Most of it is accurate, some of it is not. And man, some of these guys are so drunk, they’ll have to take some puking breaks to get a tad sober to finish their tale. Reenactments are filmed to accompany the drunk retelling and usually, the results are pure hilarity.

It’s cool that DRUNK HISTORY is doing a Hawaii episode, with one of the stories about the late Senator and WWII hero Daniel K. Inouye and his experiences serving in the 442nd regiment, the most celebrated regiment in US military history. Steve Yeun of THE WALKING DEAD, portrays a young Inouye and James Hong plays his dad.

Satoshi Kon – Editing for Space & Time by Tony Zhou

Bay area-based editor Tony Zhou produces some amazing and very informative short videos showcasing the editing prowess and style of master filmmakers around the world. I like his videos because they’re succinct, has strong examples, and his elucidates ideas very well. I personally like his video on Edgar Wright’s visual comedy style and his series on Steven Spielberg’s many famous “oners”.

Zhou knows his stuff. Case-in-point, the video above, highlighting the transcendent editing of the late and great animator Satoshi Kon. His works are some of the most seminal and amazing milestones of Japanese anime, including PERFECT BLUE, MILLENNIUM ACTRESS, TOKYO GODFATHERS and PAPRIKA. Although his output was not abundant, Kon’s work influenced the likes of Darren Aronofsky and Christopher Nolan (PAPRIKA in particular, is a major inspiration of INCEPTION).

Star-Lord was co-created by Filipino-Chinese comic book artist Steve Gan

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GUARDIANSAs GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY rakes in $94 million in its opening weekend, garnering the third best opening of 2014 and the best August opening ever, most comic fans are pretty happy with this adaptation of what many critics are calling Marvel’s answer to STAR WARS.

However, in our final YOMYOMF’s Summer Blockbuster Showdown, we all generally enjoyed the film but lamented that the film did not cast any Asian actors in the film, and hey, everyone knows that Asians make the best alien species, because frankly, some white people think we’re aliens already (we were once called “celestials” in the 19th century). But to our surprise, we were informed that WWE wrestler-turned-actor Dave Bautista (Drax the Destroyer) is, in fact, half Filipino! Well, tying into the Filipino connection, the co-creator of Star-Lord aka Peter Quill is none other than Filipino naturalized citizen of Chinese descent, Steve Gan, who co-created the character with writer Steve Englehart. The character first appeared in the January 1976 issue of MARVEL PREVIEW #4. Check out a page from that issue: