East Bay View (a blog about several things)

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Sunday, March 13, 2005

SFIAAFF '05: The Year of the Yao, Ethan Mao, Dumplings

The Year of the Yao

I took it as a bad sign when the doc opened not with footage of Yao, but with shots of modern China and the Great Wall. But that was about all the sociological analysis we got, save for the occasional talking head telling us that Yao is important to Asian people, really he is. And though we get deep insight into his translator's life, we don't learn any more about Yao himself than a casual Sportscenter viewer knows (He felt he was under pressure? Get out!) That the movie manages to be entertaining despite all this is mostly thanks to Yao being totally freaking awesome.

Rating: 558 men masturbating on the beach.

Ethan Mao

Rent boy Ethan and his protector Remigio sneak in to the house of Ethan's holidaying family; things go horribly wrong. The audience at the Castro howled at all the comedic parts; unfortunately they howled at all the serious parts as well, and when a line like "I don't think I can ever really love anyone" is treated as profound, what do you expect? It would be sadistic to quote any more of the dialogue; it's atrocious, and the acting and editing make it seem worse. Director Quentin Lee was gracious after the screening, professing to be happy with any reaction. He may not be so happy once this gets its commercial release and the critics go after it. I wish someone had said to him a little earlier, "Quentin man, I love your work but you might want to get a script doctor to take a look at this." The best hope for this is camp status; recutting as a pure comedy might help.

Rating: 136 men masturbating on the beach.


Try not to read anything about this before seeing it (apart from this post of course.) If you don't know the secret of what the dumplings contain, you might think this is the grossest movie ever made. It's certainly the grossest good movie I've seen. I despised Fruit Chan's Hollywood Hong Kong, but here he has a shrewd writer, novelist Lilian Li (Farewell My Concubine), which means there's a point to all the disgust - a devastating satire of Hong Kong's wealthy elite, who like to think themselves above the coarse mainlanders. The fine cast includes Miriam Yeung, the Other Tony Leung, and soon-to-be Playmate Bai Ling (why didn't they get Chris Doyle to do the shoot?), who nails the morality of the dumpling-maker. I can't say any more without taking the fun out of it for you, aside from noting that it's absolutely undistributable, so don't miss this chance to see it.

Rating: 7747 men masturbating on the beach.


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