Cross-cultural Romance

21 08 2010

A program of short films all featuring the subject of inter-cultural love and relationships.  I started typing this up last night and then I got tired and I had to rest because I sprained my ankle.  Anyhoo, here we go!

The Best is Yet to Come

Synopsis: I seem to be unable to summarize this well so I’m going to take the synopsis from imdb:  Set during the much debated and highly public USA Obama presidential election and controversial California State Proposition 8 vote for same sex marriage a young couple privately confront their family, fears and dreams.

Super awesome things:  I like that it has a contemporary feel to it; young, innocent gay love in California on the eve of the recent US election and the whole Prop 8 thing.  And I may be biased in this just from the start but I also liked that one of the main conflict was one of the girls’ Chinese culture and beliefs, which I could relate to.  Still, I like that this conflict was done and presented well (unlike a film like Under One Roof, which was bad) so perhaps I’m not that biased.  Anyway, that was an interesting touch.  Also, I teared up when Alice, the Chinese young woman, tried to explain about her relationship with Sam, a caucasian, only to have her mother tearfully tell her, “Tell her to come back and try our food.  See if she likes it”, showing her daughter that she does want Sam around and that she accepts both of them.  (If it wasn’t obvious already, tears = major points).

Not so super awesome things: Though the couple are clearly young and naive, it did feel like they were a little too naive.  I mean, going to the restaurant every day to try and convince your ex-girlfriend that you should be together but also raising the suspicions of her conservative Chinese family?  Really?  I also didn’t believe they would break up after an argument about marriage.  How long have they even been together, and they’re already talking about marriage?  Lastly, Alice’s character felt contradictory at parts — she doesn’t want Sam to come around nor does she want her family to know, yet a few times, it looks as if she’s about to come out to her mom (but holds back).  If she doesn’t want to come out, she would just not say anything at all, wouldn’t she?

Good for watching:  for young gay couples in California.

Overall:  Fairly enjoyable, if not predictable.

Grade: B-

The Golden Pin

Synopsis: A (super hot) Vietnamese young man is getting married to a woman but also has a white, male lover (on the side, as usual).

Super awesome things: The cinematography is probably the best thing about this little film.  There are very nice shots of the swimming pool (where the two men, well, swim), high shots, and other stuff which I don’t know the technical names of but they’re good too.  To be honest though, the first thing that popped into my mind during the opening scene where the men are hitting the showers in their speedos was “Damn!” and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one.

Not so super awesome things:  Everything is pretty good up until the end — or I should say “end”.  The film doesn’t really end at all, and it caught me by surprise when the credits started rolling while there was still swimming b-roll.  “There has to be another scene,” I told myself.  Nope.  Nothing.  It’s not even an open ending, really, because it doesn’t show enough.  Does Long decide to get married or not?  What effect, if any, did that story of his mother have on him?  Why did she suddenly walk into his room, tell him this long-winded story, and then just leave? Where has she been all this time?  So many questions that one could say are plotholes!

Good for watching:  for those hot-bodied swimmers!  Yum!

Overall: see above.

Grade:  C+

Belonging

Synopsis: An examination of family between two lesbians — one Jewish and the other Mexican — and their son.

Super awesome things: Elizabeth Lazebnik, the director of the film, really took a gamble with the way this documentary was filmed: instead of the standard medium shot/close up interview with people sitting on a comfy sofa in their house, she decided to pan and tilt the camera around some of the objects in their house that show rather than tell their heritage and who they are.  For me, the risk worked fantasically.  The wonderful, captivating narration of the two mommies about how they met, their different backgrounds, and how they want to raise their child are excellently complimented by the images on-screen.  Wonderful stuff.

Not so super awesome things: I don’t really have much to say other than maybe getting a clearer picture of the couple and their kid at the end?  To finally show audiences who they are, though at the same time, I can see Lazebnik’s decision to leave them out.  It works both ways, I think.  I would’ve liked to see more of the kid, which would’ve definitely added to the cute factor.

Good for watching: for documentary filmmakers to get inspired about experimental techniques in docs

Overall:  Probably the best documentary I’ve seen at this year’s festival.  Great job, Elizabeth.

Grade:  A

Waiting 4 Goliath

This is the second time I’ve seen this little film.  The first time was at the Coast is Queer since it was made by local writer/director Cal Garingan.  Again, I’m not going to review this film because it’s locally made — not because it’s bad but on the contrary, it was very good.  I’ll be seeing Cal tomorrow at the panel thingy where I’m sure he’ll have way more intelligent things to say than me.

Secret Admirer

Synopsis: Again, I’m not sure how to describe this film so here it is from the imdb page:  An endearing video portrait of the filmmaker and her partner, TuffNStuff, the last of the Delta drag kings.

Super awesome things: I really like Nina Simone, and “My Baby Just Cares for Me” is one of my favourite songs, so right away, I liked that.

Not so super awesome things:  I honestly don’t remember much about this film other than the titles were a little hard to read because they were in cursive, looping here and there and I had to strain my eyes to see them clearly.  Also, the amateur-ish quality made the entire film seem more like a home video rather than a narrative short film, and the fact that the only two characters in the movie are actually a real-life couple only adds to that.  It doesn’t seem very much of a short film in that there isn’t any conflict/antagonist and more of a large reveal/surprise at the end.

Good for watching: if you know the people in the film.

Overall:  At least it was short.

Grade: C

You Can’t Curry Love

Synopsis: An East Indian man living in London is sent to India where he discovers his culture and falls in love with a hotel clerk.

Super awesome things:  First and obviously foremost, the two leads are hot especially Ashwin Gore, who plays the Westernized-Indian Vikas.  So handsome!  Also cool is the exploration of cross-culture in couples of the same race, which I haven’t really seen before.  I like the conflict between Vikas and Sunil, the hotel clerk, and the humor of the script was really brought to life by good performances.

Not so super awesome things:  There’s a lot of telling than showing.  In the opening scene, Vikas tells his friend Amrita as she’s leaving everything we need to know about him — he’s single, gay, in love with his super hot but super straight boss, and longs for a boyfriend.  I don’t know about the rest of the audience, but I want to be shown than told all this background knowledge, or at least not all revealed in one go.  It also almost felt like a travel documentary when Sunil was taking Vikas around India, going into paragraphs of information on the customs and places.  Let’s get some conflict in there please!  The ending was a little predictable but I didn’t mind since I didn’t take the entire film too seriously.

Good for watching: for Westerners so they believe they can sleep with the hotel clerk upon meeting him.

Overall: An alright film.  The ending (ie. the dancing, not how it ended) is just fantastic.  Favourite part of the film.

Grade: B-


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