Sundance 2015 Preview: A Banner Year for Asian American filmmakers?

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INDEPENDENTYOMYOMF will be reporting from the Sundance Film Festival, which kicks off tomorrow night through February 1st in Park City, Ogden, and Salt Lake City. Known as the mecca of American independent film, the Festival has jumpstarted many careers in the film industry and has become a discovery festival of artists and works that frame the American lexicon of filmed entertainment and pop culture.

Of course, YOMYOMF founder Justin Lin’s BETTER LUCK TOMORROW premiered there in 2002, where years later, Justin has returned to Sundance in various capacities, as an advisor, a juror, panelist, and sponsor. The 2015 edition of the festival is a landmark year for Asian Americans (much like the BLT year of 2002), with an unprecedented 30 Asian American artists, ranging from directors, to producers, cinematographers, and actors who will preside in Park City in the next 10 days via Sundance and also the Slamdance Film Festival.

Making Money In Havana

“Fredo, we gotta go to Cuba before it’s too late.”

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My business partner Nick, who co-owns a dive bar with me, seemed genuinely worried.

“Now that Obama’s opened it up, there’s gonna be this tidal wave, and if we’re not surfing it, we’re gonna drown in the whitewash.”

Normally Nick is a man of few words: he lets his tattoos and notoriety as the president of a local motorcycle club do the talking for him.  So when Nick waxed poetic about the ocean, my ears were pricked.

THE INTERVIEW Review: Rogen and Franco wear their welcome in lame attempt for political satire

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So this is how I watched THE INTERVIEW last night — I rented the HD version via Google Play, streamed it on my Chromecast and watched it on my TV.

With Sony doing a complete 180 by allowing independent movie theaters to screen THE INTERVIEW and by releasing it online for digital distribution on various platforms ranging from Google Play, to YouTube, to X-BOX 360, the schizophrenic back-and-forth of the controversial film’s release came to a close with a unique distribution plan that is usually modeled for indie movies and not major Hollywood projects. As more and more indie cinemas were added at the last minute, many heralded this as a ‘rah rah’ patriotic victory, waving the finger at North Korea for their feeble attempts to shut down “free speech.”

My Top 10 Movies of 2014

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2014 was a pretty good year for cinema. Although, the movie industry in the US had the lowest box-office performance in years, it was awesome all over the world, with Hollywood eyeing more of the international box-office to recoup costs (hey, hey, China).

But we’re not talking about quantifiables here to gauge what was great in cinema. But one thing I do want to point out that I thought Hollywood (read: big budget stuff) was actually stellar this year, with two Marvel properties, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY and CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER in particular, that really kicked ass.

SNL’s ‘Asian American’ Doll Commercial

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During last night’s Saturday Night Live, one skit stood out as being bitingly funny when it came to racial politics, which SNL has been taking a lot of heat over its 40 year history as being predominately white (aside from the likes of Eddie Murphy or Chris Rock to name rare examples). One thing that SNL has never had has been any Asian American representation, aside from part Filipinos Rod Schneider and Fred Armisen.

Western Fairytales Get Korean-ized and It’s Pretty Awesome

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With the recent news related to North Korea not being so good (read my fellow Offender Anderson’s recap of the events here), thought it’d be a good time to share something Korean that’s both artistic and, frankly, pretty damn awesome.

Illustrator Na Young Wu created these drawings of iconic Western fairy tale figures in a Korean setting. Check them out below:

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Why “Nightcrawler” Is A Better Movie Than It Should Be

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One of the best perks of being a member of the Writer’s Guild (a union for writers; feel free to snicker here: sitting in a cozy coffee shop typing is sorta like digging for coal or installing sheet metal – we laborers must unite!) are the screeners we receive every December.  The Writer’s Guild holds its own awards, and members are given DVD copies – “screeners” – of Academy Award-type movies (war; holocaust; slavery; Historically Important Stuff) to watch, as the label says, “for your consideration.”

So when Jake Gyllenhaal’s thriller “Nightcrawler” arrived the other day, I had to scratch my head.

3000 Post It Notes of Art

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We all have Post-It Notes somewhere in our lives, whether it’s at work or at home. Most of them are used exactly per their intention – for tiny messages to be temporarily affixed to an object. Post-It Notes have tremendous unintentional uses ranging from being “pixels” in viral-video animations, stashing chewed gum, and cleaning dirt from fingernails yet everyone has doodled on Post-It notes, usually to mindlessly kill time or to simply mark a blank, ripe yellow piece of 3″x3″ paper.

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Was the Mona Lisa Chinese?

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In what may sound like something out of a Dan Brown airport novel (The Da Vinci Code 2: Chinese Puzzle), there’s speculation by an Italian historian that the famous Mona Lisa painting, by Leonardo Da Vinci, was in fact a portrait of his mother, who may have been a Chinese slave.

According to Complex, historian Angelo Paratico isn’t 100% sure, but according to South China Morning Post interview he gave, Paratico says, “”I’m sure to a point that Leonardo’s mother was from the Orient, but to make her an oriental Chinese, we need to use deductive method.” Um, okay.

Sushi, Egg Roll & Tortilla Swaddles for your baby will make you want to eat them

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And now for your “awwwwwww” moment on this Friday, check out these swaddles that can wrap your babies in three, delectable options — Nori (seaweed wrap), Egg roll, and Tortilla. First We Feast reports that these adorable swaddling sets are made by San Francisco-based Bon Vivant Baby. This definitely gives the definition of the “food baby” a new meaning.

Tura! Tura! Tura!

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Shortly after her death in 2011, I blogged about Tura Satana and put forth the notion that the hapa star of Russ Meyers’ 1965 cult classic Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill! was as much of an Asian American pioneer and pop culture icon in her own right as Bruce Lee or Anna May Wong. I continue to stand by that statement and anything that helps to cement that status is something that’s worthy of support in my book. That’s why I wanted to give a shout-out about a group art show opening this Saturday night at the Lethal Amounts Gallery here in L.A. entitled Tura! Tura! Tura! III.

Over 50 artists were invited to create work inspired by Tura. You can see some samples of the pieces below but if you have no clue who Tura is, then go out immediately and rent Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!—the film Hairspray director John Waters called “The greatest film ever made. And the greatest film that will ever be made” (and click here to read my Tura tribute blog).

Cliff Curtis (aka the best actor working today) will star in THE WALKING DEAD spin-off

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Now this is promising news. Although we’re huge fans of THE WALKING DEAD (resident geek David and I write about the show on a weekly basis in the YOMYOMF TV Showdown), we were pretty suspect of the long in the works spin-off show. Sure, it’s a cash grab for AMC with the current series generating monster ratings as the top show on TV, even beating Sunday Night Football.

Then news started to trickle this week with two actors signed on-board and the working title of “Cobalt.” Blah, blah, nothing major or enticing to whet our appetites. Even though we love THE WALKING DEAD, it is one of the most depressing shows ever. Who wants a double whammy of zombie apocalypse on a weekly basis? The show, at it’s best, can be so tense that our blood pressure rises because of all the stress!