With so many films currently in the mix, there’s good reason to get your flicks fix on. Right now, a slew of features by and about Asians and APA’s are in release.
The “Green Hornet”, which opened wide January 14, stars cutie-hottie Jay Chou (“Curse of the Golden Dragon”) in the role Bruce Lee made famous. But if you remember Kato from the TV series, you may be disappointed with Chou’s screen version. For one, the popular Taiwanese musician is no martial artist — although his lack of fighting skills is made up for by his good looks and personality.
Still, Chou’s distracting accent while kung-fu kicking villains and outsmarting his Yankee boss begs the question: “Why won’t American directors hire American actors of Asian descent instead of importing stars from Asia?” According to the storyline, Kato’s from Shanghai although he possesses a mispronounced Japanese name.
The tedious plot about the slacker son (Seth Rogen) of a powerful newspaper publisher, who covets being a hero while fooling the public into believing he’s a bad guy, is ludicrous. Fortunately, Kato appears in nearly every scene filling the screen with his charisma.
There are few Japanese anime features that don’t address disasters on a grand scale; say, oh, like a nuclear holocaust. Of course, when your country’s been the only victim of an atomic bombing, that horror would likely be embedded in your nation’s psyche forever. Nominated for multiple awards, “Summer Wars” opens January 28 at the Landmark Varsity and features an epic catastrophe involving super computers and a worldwide Internet gone rogue. When a geeky math whiz is coerced into vacationing with a female student passing him off as her boyfriend to her extended family, he accidentally sets off a ticking time bomb. As the family gathers to celebrate their matriarch’s 90th birthday, the virtual world of Oz is threatened. Although these Japanese characters are fiercely proud of their Takeda lineage that battled the Tokugawa Clan, they speak English with flat American accents and display Westernized gestures. Except for an ultimate showdown that revolves around a high-stakes hanafuda game, there’s nothing very Japanese about this movie that artist Murakami Haruki psychedelicizes.
On the other hand, “Kuroneko (Black Cat)” opening January 21 at SIFF Cinema is an explicitly Japanese tale. A classic, shot in black and white, it’s the story of caste, and all the pain and suffering that goes along with it. When every samurai traveling near a bamboo grove is found with his throat slashed, the local lord sends a war hero to destroy the culprit. But the vassal has a very personal reason to refuse his orders. If you believe in ghosts, this film begets chills with its nuances of Noh. Just ignore the fake “cat arm” towards the end.
Unfortunately, there’s nothing fake about the documentary “Enemies of the People” (opening at Northwest Film Forum January 21) unless it’s the method filmmaker Thet Sambath employs to illicit confessions from Khmer Rouge killers. Pretending to be unbiased, the journalist gets Nuon Chea — Brother Number Two to Pol Pot’s Number One — to admit his part in the atrocities of the Killing Fields. For years, Thet ate, joked and talked with former militia to get them to divulge their complicity in the murders of millions of villagers, including his own family.
Also at Northwest Film Forum, January 28 – February 6, is The Children’s Film Festival Seattle. Two entries feature youngsters with powerful desires.
In “Azemichi Road”, a schoolgirl with a hearing disability yearns to join an all-girl, hip hop dance troupe. Reluctantly, they welcome her but only after a member caves into her sisterly instincts. Oba Haruka is genuine as Yuki.
Captivating, charming and entertaining, “7 Days in Slow Motion” takes place in Hyderabad during a film festival. Ravi, a student in the midst of major school exams, finds a camera and decides to direct a Bollywood movie with his mates. While his buddy Onka is recruited to star, Hamid produces — strutting about the set demanding, “Let’s shoot this puppy!” But following a disastrous 7-day shoot, a filmmaker mentor cautions Ravi, “Movies are dangerous.”
Indeed, they will steal your time — especially when there are so many to get your flicks fix on.