November 2009 Archives

Yang Yang

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Again, its been ages. But recent events has stirred a Taiwanese culture Renaissance in me. So i felt a great need to write something... beyond 140 characters.

So last night i went to the Taiwan film night festival thing brought on by the SF Film Org. It was a pretty crappy little fest, in which one of the most crowded film was on a broken DVD and we got refunds for. But the highlight of the evening is when i saw this film:

Yang Yang Trailer:

Let's just say, it frakkin blew my mind. I'm luving it and easily putting it in my top 5 movie of the yr. My movie going companion hated the film. So i can't say everyone will like this film, but somehow, i luved it.

The gist of the film is about a young women dealing with life, her step sister, love, etc. The whole movie existed in some weird intimate space shot by Jake Pollock (a cinematographer that seems to do a lot of chinese films.) whom is closely becoming a the next Christopher Doyle for me. Pollack decided to do this film in a hand-held only style, which leads to the intimate framing of conversations & scenes. I also rather like the lighting in this movie. Asian cities tend to have this huge contrast in lighting, and bluish tint brought on by most of the florescent lights that illuminate the city (Example).  This movie uses a bunch of back lite shots which really illustrated the contrast in both day and night shots.

But my favorite thing was the audio, or the lack of it. The only distinct audio sound in the whole movie was the sound of breathing. A theme used in many of the scenes that involved running, fighting, dancing and sex. Those scenes just happened to b some of the best non-verbal scene since Lust, Caution's infamous sex scene. I swear, i demanded a cigarette after this one dance scene... Also the only soundtrack to the movie was some beautiful post-rock tracks composed by a Giong Lim, whom i shall be searching for right now.

All this still wasn't enough to make this movie the best thing i've seen this yr. There was some great acting. I'm always surprised by the actor/actress from Taiwan. I've seen many many Taiwan films, and as long as they arent a teen drama, the indie movie acting are always awesome. Yang Yang's main star is Sandrine Pinna a french/taiwanese actress, whom seems to have been in many TW indie films. Here's an interview from her. She seems rather ditzy in the interview, idk if that's the real her, or she is doing the same thing in does in the movie... scary.

Also after truly enjoying this film, i came to an odd theory that i seem to grok these Taiwanese films a lot easier than say, an Italian film. idk, is becuz of the background? or my asian upbringing? or deep down, this IS the culture of my people?

The other big thing that sparked this great interest in Taiwanese culture is the current music Taiwanese indie music scene. First of, i just saw one of my fav, TW indie bands, WonFu @ the Cafe Du Nord a few weeks back. Marking the event of seeing a chinese band live for the 1st time. And it was a fun experience for just mere fact that i know their songs well and that the lead singer had a level of cuteness that can only be described as distinctively Asian. There just seems to be a easier bonding between me and the Chinese music. I mean i've seen fav bands in Japanese & English, I just don't seem to connect as easily. Who knows, maybe I need to visit Taiwan more. Or perhaps, subconsciously i just miss that island. But the music, oh the music... The Taiwanese underground scene is now populated by indie bands like 1976, Tizzy Bac, Shin Band (broked up), Sodagreen, & too many to name here. They all followed in the foot step of MayDay, whom dominated the TW pop charts in the early aughts, which lead to the popularity of this band movement in the culture.

All this has made me totally excited to be going back to the Asian video rental stores & trying to find more Taiwanese music. Hopefully this is only the beginning. Or hopefully, like the character in Yang Yang, this is some sort of round about way, for me to discover who i really am, by searching into the past.

or that i'm just getting old...

BONUS: a trailer from the same director of Yang Yang, "Do Over":