An Open Letter to Sichuan Garden’s Ran Duan

AnOpenLettertoRanDuan

(Please see the details of the case of Ben Edelman vs. Ran Duan of Sichuan Garden in the following link)

Dear Mr. Duan,

I have reviewed the published correspondence between you and Mr. Edelman and have deemed Mr. Edelman to be in the right.

As a Chinese immigrant myself, apart from your restaurants not adhering to the provisions of State laws, I am appalled at the horrible customer service and experience that you and your institutions provided to a legitimate and paying customer, including ungrammatical English.

The Crossing

TheCrossing

Yesterday, John Woo’s latest epic, The Crossing, opened in China. They even opened the movie ahead of Hong Kong, so my film critic friend had to make a trip to the neighboring city of Shenzhen, one of the youngest cities in China rivaling Hong Kong in both its economic progress and bustling population, to watch the movie in the theater. Naturally I had to tag along.

Adventures in Filmmaking: The Golden Horse Film Project Promotion

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The Motley Crew: Producer Aaron Shershow, I and Producer Robert Wei

The Motley Crew: Producer Aaron Shershow, I and Producer Robert Wei

I’ve been hearing about the Golden Horse Film Awards since I was growing up in Hong Kong, and this year was its 51st edition. I met Christy from the Golden Horse Film Project Promotion at the NAFF project market at Puchon and pitched her my Chinese romantic comedy project Morning, Paris! Two months later, I got an invite to participate in the Film Project Promotion which, for years, my filmmaking colleagues have been telling me great things about.

Walking the Golden Horse Film Awards Red Carpet!

Making the First Asian American Psycho Thriller

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Writer/Producer NaRhee Ahn and I have been fans of the horror thriller genre since childhood and we have been talking about working on a genre project for years. As Asian Americans, we wonder why there hasn’t been a project like this earlier. Justin and I made Shopping for Fangs, which was initially branded as a thriller but it’s essentially a genre-hybrid dramedy. I also remember Offender Philip had an Asian American horror in the works several years ago.

But this genre has been virtually unexplored in Asian American cinema.

The Trouble with ‘Interstellar’

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While there is no debate that Interstellar is a well-made film that’s entertaining and thoughtful, I do find it troubling that the film envisions a future that’s extremely homogenous and white. Ironically, some of the world’s greatest films also end up to be the most racist films like D.W. Griffith’s The Birth of the Nation. There is no debate that The Birth of a Nation is a great cinematic achievement, yet is it not equally racially troublesome?

In Interstellar, there are virtually no people of color other than the token black astronaut (somehow a token black guy always gets cast in these Hollywood space sagas), the black principal and Latino teacher who try to block the main character’s son from going to college, and an Asian extra in the baseball game.

Around the Horn: What’s Your Iconic Horror Movie Villain?

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It’s that time of the year again—Halloween—my favorite season. If you have to pick one iconic horror movie villain to remember for this trick-or-treat month, who would that be? And Why? For me, it would be the Tall Man from the Phantasm series. When I first saw the Tall Man in the original Phantasm, I kept wondering what he was about. And he really scared me as a kid, “Boy!!!!!!!” The Tall Man has always been shrouded in mystery. He isn’t exactly a villain… but more of a servant of the dark… or of an alien race… almost like the Terminator… but he certainly executes the scary deeds of his anti-human boss. Who is the Tall Man???

IRIS: I love Vincent Price as a villain. His voice and persona are so distinctly memorable. I went to see him speak once while in college. He read his lines from Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” which was definitely a treat to hear in person. Iconically evil, but hilarious at the same time:

Ode to Nature

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Nature works in beautiful and mysterious ways. Almost 8 years ago, I went into a pet store where a cockatiel jumped on my finger and refused to leave me. I took him home and named him Holden. A year later, I got him a companion cockatiel Toffey and a few years later they gave birth to Mochi. In a couple years, Holden, the father, began having sex with Mochi, his daughter. I was at first disapproving but then I realized that they were going to do what they would do with or without my approval… so I let it go but was hoping that they wouldn’t have children together.

Hong Kong for Democracy

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Below is the spirited debate on my Facebook page about the recent Hong Kong protests and democracy when I posted the above image I found on the internet as my Facebook profile picture. The picture is a portrait of the 17-year-old vocal leader Joshua Wong of the current Hong Kong protests.

FM Dude.. please don’t change your profile pix. This face is NOT sexy.
October 1 at 8:53pm · Like · 1

QL He’s the future of Hong Kong! Is there any 17-year-old braver than him?
October 1 at 8:55pm · Like · 3

FM If he is the future then I better get the hell out of here!!!
October 1 at 9:08pm · Like

Book to Screen: “Operation Marriage”

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After I returned from China this past January, I made a short PSA called Wedding Plan and it got circulated on Youtube. A friend, Howard Fong, ended up passing my short to author Cynthia Chin-Lee who turned me onto her children’s picture book Operation Marriage illustrated by Lea Lyon. After I read it, I immediately wanted to make it into a film.

A Summer with Children and a Chimp

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This past summer was one of my most memorable summers as I got to work with both animals and children. First, I got to direct a commercial for ACME Bail Bonds. Thanks to my producer and friend Anzhelika who got me the gig. And guess what? They wanted a chimp as the main star.

Seoul for Memory

Korean Producer Kae Kim and I posed on the street of Gangnam

Korean Producer Kae Kim and I posed on the street of Gangnam

After the It Project Market wrapped at the Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival (PIFAN), I stopped by Seoul for a few days to decompress. I had always wanted to spend more time in Seoul as my friends said that Seoul is now as sophisticated as Tokyo except that it’s more accessible and less expensive. I found what my friends said to be true. Seoul has great food, great shopping and is as sophisticated a culture as Tokyo. Move over, Japan. Korea is here and now.

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I always have the talent to pick the kitschiest hotel. And I did. I wanted to try out the IP Boutique Hotel in Itaewon. Despite the room being a bit cramped, the bed was very firm and comfortable and I could barely get out of bed every morning. And even though the bathroom was small, it was cozy–complete with a heated toilet seat and bidet.

Farewell, James Shigeta!

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I had been hearing about the legendary James Shigeta from my old friend Dexter for several years before making my feature The People I’ve Slept With. It is extremely tragic that my friend Dexter also passed away in 2011—at the young age of 41—who was a personal friend of James. When I needed to cast the role of Angela’s Dad—a fun loving and classy Asian American gentleman–Dexter recommended James. I instinctively thought would be a fabulous idea. Dexter set up a meeting with James, his agent Jeffrey Leavitt, Karen Anna Cheung (who played Angela) and me. I remember we went to the loudest restaurant ever in West Hollywood and we all thought James would be fabulous to play Angela’s Dad.