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.

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.

So Tom Cruise’s ‘The Last Samurai’ was Actually Historically Accurate?

Take a look at this image from a 13th Century Japanese scroll:

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Some in Japan are convinced that is a drawing of a white guy. Dating back to the Kamakura Era (1185-1333), the scroll depicts a samurai battle with what appears to be the white guy engaged in the fighting:

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The Portuguese didn’t land in Japan until the 16th Century and there are examples of Japanese art starting from that time that depicts both white and black guys:

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).

YouTube Stars More Popular (and Diverse) with American Teens Than “Mainstream” Counterparts

Hollywood trade publication Variety found the results of their most recent survey “surprising”, but for those of us familiar with the digital world, what they discovered is old news. Variety surveyed American teens ages 13-18 to find out who their most influential celebrities were and YouTube personalities handily beat out their “mainstream” counterparts. Here’s the ranking of the top 20 in order:

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The top five most influential to this demographic are all homegrown YouTube stars including our YOMYOMF Network partner Ryan Higa at #5. The most popular “mainstream” star, Paul Walker, doesn’t clock in until #6, followed by Jennifer Lawrence at #7.

Not only that, but if you compare the YouTubers vs. the traditional celebrities, you’ll see that the YouTubers represent a much more diverse line-up. The mainstreamers are fairly lily white while the YouTubers include several people of color including two who are Asian American: Higa and Michelle Phan at #17. Yup, two of the most popular celebrities among American teens are Asian American and like the other YouTube talent on this list, they are mostly unknown to the mainstream population hence the “surprising” findings. But, frankly, it’s only surprising to those who don’t have their hands on the pulse of youth culture.

Daytripping Vietnamese Hipsters


The power of the internet and globalization is so powerful and influential that countries like Vietnam have there own brand of hipsters. I really dig this short film called THE DAY DREAMERS chronicling a simple gathering of what looks like Vietnam’s brand of aimless youth, hanging out, riding their fixed gear bikes and then, tripping out as they see something truly fantastical right out of a Haruki Murakami novel. You can see the influences of other Asian cultures, especially Shibuya street-wear and Japanese indie rock. All in all, pretty fun and would be great to see other youth subcultures from other countries around the world.

YOMYOMF’s Summer Blockbuster Showdown — SNOWPIERCER!

YOMYOMF's Summer Blockbuster Showdown Part 6-01

Select Offenders will be reviewing this summer’s crop of Hollywood tentpole films with a scientifically tested set of criteria that was vetted, nurtured, dissected and regurgitated through the pop-culture gadflies who have nothing better to do than annoy other productive people in the YOMYOMF office. So, we channeled their nitpicks of the incessant reboots, remakes and rehashes that are part and parcel with Hollywood summer movies into this ongoing summer blog series called the SUMMER BLOCKBUSTER SHOWDOWN. You can read previous roundtable reviews, which are all archived here

In this edition, we review Korean helmer BONG Joonho’s SNOWPIERCER (currently out in theatres and on VOD now). BTW, this roundtable review is chock full of spoilers. You’ve been warned! 

The Pifan Experience: Eat, Drink , Party and Network!

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It was my second time attending the project market of NAFF (Network of Asian Fantastic Films), part of the Puchon Fantastic International Film Festival (Pifan), which proved to be a fun and fruitful experience. Besides catching up with buyers and producers I met a few years ago, I also made some new contacts amidst conversations about genre films, eating, drinking and partying.

Almost every memorable moment was associated with a flavorful dish and a wonderful friend on the festival circuit.

Australian Film Critic Russell Edwards sang karaoke with the Managing Director of NAFF Thomas Nam DJing.

Meeting Jello Biafra

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He was standing against the wall, beer in hand, talking to a much younger blonde woman.  But it was getting late, and I was tired – if I wanted that autograph, I had to make my move.

Jello Biafra (former front man for the Dead Kennedys, political prankster and activist, founder of Alternative Tentacles Records, and all around punk rock royalty) was DJ-ing at my little dive bar, The Ruby Room, and I had vowed I would get the man to sign a couple of records.  I felt okay about this: after all, I had restrained myself from bringing ALL six of the LP’s I own, not to mention the handful of 45’s.

Jello’s work mattered to me.  Still does.

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YOMYOMF’s Summer Blockbuster Showdown — DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES!

APEYOMYOMF's Summer Blockbuster Showdown Part 5-01

Select Offenders will be reviewing this summer’s crop of Hollywood tentpole films with a scientifically tested set of criteria that was vetted, nurtured, dissected and regurgitated through the pop-culture gadflies who have nothing better to do than annoy other productive people in the YOMYOMF office. So, we channeled their nitpicks of the incessant reboots, remakes and rehashes that are part and parcel with Hollywood summer movies into this ongoing summer blog series called the SUMMER BLOCKBUSTER SHOWDOWN. You can read previous roundtable reviews, which are all archived here

In this edition, we review DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES! BTW, this roundtable review is chock full of spoilers. You’ve been warned!  

Is It Art?

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Hmm.  Okay.  A dorm room fridge with a Black Flag sticker on it.

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Well, let’s see….

…it’s in a museum.

…it’s in a nice plexiglass box.

…a label describes the piece (Kaz Oshiro, “Small Fridge #5 (Black Flag)”, acrylic, bondo, canvas, 2005)

So, yes, it must be art…right?