My latest San Francisco Chronicle ASIAN POP column: The surprising importance of "White on Rice"
Yes, We Have Bananas: Jimmy (Hiroshi Watanabe) and Mary (Joy Osmanski) meet weird in White on Rice (courtesy Tiger Industry Films)From the column: "One of the most authentically Asian American films of the year was directed by a white, former Mormon missionary from Tuscon, Ariz. Here's why that's good news -- for cinema and the Asian American community alike." The column this week is about Dave Boyle's terrific new comedy White on Rice -- which, ahem, has nothing to do with interracial relationships (or starchy foods, for that matter). Hiroshi Watanabe does a memorably hilarious turn as Jimmy, a lovable/slightly creepy divorced, 40-year-old Japanese expat who comes to the U.S. to live with his sister, cranky brother-in-law, and 10-year-old nephew (played brilliantly by Japanese performers Nae and Mio Takada, and newcomer Justin Kwong, respectively). The twist: He promptly falls hopelessly in love with his brother-in-law's lovely niece Ramona (the always terrific Lynn Chen). Props also to James Kyson Lee of TV's "Heroes," who offers up an assured and sexy performance as Ramona's ex, and Joy Osmanski, in a small but entertaining part as "Banana Girl." But the real milestone here is the path this film took to the silver screen. Read the article for details. If you're in L.A. or the Bay Area, check it out now--the film is at Laemmle's Sunset 5 now (8000 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA - 323-848-3500) and opens this Friday at the Metreon (101 Fourth St., San Francisco, CA - 888-262-4386) and San Jose's Camera 3 (288 South Second Street, San Jose, CA - (408-998-3300). Also of note: Boyle's first film, Big Dreams, Little Tokyo, now out on DVD; it's the winning performance of Watanabe in a small role here that led Boyle to rewrite White on Rice to cast him as the lead.