Saturday, April 01, 2006

Instant Yang (was JY "Hey Guys") v.4: Special SF Asian Film Fest Edition; Speaking at the Smithsonian's MADE IN HONG KONG fest in DC; "Four Brothers"

Constant readers may note that I've changed the subject line of this mostly biweekly post. Why? Well, change is good. But also, the old subject line was beginning to annoy me. It made this update look like spam. (Hopefully, it's not. If this list feels and tastes like spam, feel free to flee via the link in this email's footer...)

And so, the spankin' new moniker. Why "Instant"? Because this lite 'n' tasty email update arrives mysteriously in your inbox every two weeks, without the slightest of effort required on your part. The "Yang" part should be self-explanatory.

Instant Yang also reminds me of a deliciously refreshing and nutritious space-age beverage from my childhood--and just as the powdered goodness of Instant Tang builds strong bodies, Instant Yang builds...uh...I don't know. Pop culture savvy. Resistance to irony. Something.

On to some real content:
Though my biweekly SFGate column isn't actually due 'til next Thursday (giving me until 5 pm next Wednesday to write it--if my editor's reading this, I'm kidding), I filed a supplementary column of sorts yesterday, in celebration of the opening of the 9th annual San Francisco Asian Film Festival:

Mayhem, Melodrama and a Fistful of Pocky
The SF Asian Film Festival keeps the Golden Age of Chinatown double features alive...for now

The SFAFF offers 32 films from seven countries this year, from classics to ffresh-baked hits from the marquees of China, Korea, Japan, and, for the first time, India and the Philippines. My picks: ELECTRIC SHADOWS, tonight's festival opening film--a charmingly unaffected romantic comedy from Mainland China; the slapstick flying-people actioner ARAHAN; MAREBITO, a deeply disturbing chiller from Takeshi Shimizu, director of THE GRUDGE; Shinya Tsukamoto's lushly erotic A SNAKE OF JUNE; and the grrrl-powered rave-up KAMIKAZE GIRLS, which gets a theatrical run beginning September 9, courtesy of Viz Media. Detailed reviews are in the column.

The fest begins tonight at the Presidio Theater:

2340 Chestnut Street
Box Office: 415.776.2988
Information Line: 415.776.2388

and then moves on to the 4Star Theater, through August 21:

2200 Clement Street at 23rd Ave.
Box Office: 415.666.3488

If you're in the Bay Area, check it out.

D.C. Area readers:
I'll be speaking on a panel about the past, present, and future of Hong Kong cinema as part of the Smith's 10th annual MADE IN HONG KONG festival, along with Philip Lee of Hong Kong City University and noted critic and author David Chute. If you're around, please come--looks like tickets are free (and you get to watch IRON MONKEY, too!). Call 202.633.4880 for details.

The Freer film series has some terrific stuff in it--the Hui Brothers' SECURITY UNLIMITED, the Korean romantic comedy SOMEONE SPECIAL, the highly effective K-horror creepfest A TALE OF TWO SISTERS (allegedly being remade with U.S.A.-based creepies Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen), the wacko SAVE THE GREEN PLANET, and Curtis Choy's WHAT'S WRONG WITH FRANK CHIN?, among many others. And yeah, tickets cost zip. Can't get Freer than that. More on the website.

One last non-Asian related thing:
Caught the premiere this week of John Singleton's FOUR BROTHERS, starring Mark "Don't call me Marky" Wahlberg, Tyrese, and Andre Benjamin (better known as Andre 3000), among others. Someone told me it was like MYSTIC RIVER meets BOYZ N THE HOOD. Uh....nope. What it is is a vendetta flick with a staggering body count (inner Detroit is effectively depopulated by movie's end). Marky channels his inner Southie thug here--his character's fascination with dousing people with gasoline makes him resemble a grown-up Beavis, or perhaps Butthead; despite playing a role that involves pounding on a lot of black people (ironically recalling his real-life juvenile record of racial violence), he still manages to radiate a bit of Diggleresque charm. Tyrese, on the other hand, is effortlessly charismatic, making you wonder why he got stuck with the sidekick role; perhaps by way of apology, Singleton assigns him maximum babe Sophie Vergara as a love interest. (Anyone remember her publicist-scripted pre-Katie"affair" with the Cruisemeister? No? Guess VeraCruise didn't scan as well as TomKat...) My rating: two and half out of five PopTarts--I'd have gone to three for a scene with Marky rolling out to 8 Mile and rockin' the trailer witih Eminem's mom...

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