8Asians is proud to be a community co-presenter of at the 2015 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival (LAAPFF). As a reader of 8Asians, please enjoy a discount to this and other films using the code: 8ASIANS15
Monday, April 27 at 7:00 PM (Downtown Independent, DTLA)
Wednesday, April 29 at 9:15 PM (Japanese American National Museum, Little Tokyo)
Happy-go-lucky Jake Chen (Anthony Ma) puts both heart and soul into perfecting his signature blends of sweet, creamy, and chewy goodness at his parents’ modest boba tea shop located in a sleepy corner plaza of sunny and suburban Arcadia, CA in the heart of the “626” (an area code symbolic of the material home of recent highly educated and solidly middle class Chinese immigrants from Taiwan and the Mainland). This influx of high rolling investors and consumers as new additions to the Chinese diaspora in the U.S. and specifically here in the West Coast, plays a central critical role in the plot of this big hearted, Taiwanese American romantic comedy-drama. As home-grown as it comes, director Lawrence Gan and screenwriter Theresa Chiu concoct this affable micro indie as both love letter to celebrate the continued, strong bonds of family and friendship in the contemporary Chinese American community and as a signpost of the burgeoning powerhouse, immigrant community planting roots and asserting economic and cultural influences in CA and the U.S.
Jake’s family business faces extinction when Joanna Lee (Michelle Huang), the precocious, no holds barred, uptight daughter of a Taiwanese real estate developer, steps into his shop to avail herself of wi-fi and simultaneously, sweeps him off his feet by her candor and confidence. Her presence sets off a chain reaction in Jake’s daily life forcing him to question his own direction. Should he go off to college like his peers and/or pursue his dream of becoming a chef? His contented attachment to home and hearth, his kind, supportive BFFs, Louie (Arvin Lee) and Samantha (Lana McKissack), and his little patch in the Shire may not be enough anymore. Can love conquer his Hobbit-like ways and teach him a thing or two about growing up and realizing his full potential?
The sugar rush comes to a head at Louie’s big brother’s wedding, where we get served cake, Shakespearian dramatics of a best man’s speech, and resolutions to long-standing family and community grievances. Transformation, reconciliation, “Arcadian Sunrise,” and maybe, a “Phoenix Surprise” await you. It is truly sweets to the sweet.
Cast & Crew
Executive Producer: Theresa Chiu, Matt Dau, Josh Owen
Producer: Lawrence Gan, Dave Grabarek
Director: Lawrence Gan
Assistant Director: Roxy Shih
Writer: Theresa Chiu
Director of Photography: Daniel Cotroneo
Associate Producer: Arthur Wu
Production Designer: Arthur Wu
Music Composer: Kiran Gupta
Editor: Lawrence Gan
Cast: Garrett Bales, Lee Chen, Lon Fiala, James Gan, Michelle Huang, Clint Jung, George Kerr, Cici Lau, Arvin Lee, Hong Lei, Anthony Ma, Lana McKissack, Richard Ouyang, Bryan Truong, Vladimir Velasco, Dominic Zhai
Costume Designer: Pei-Lynn Juang
Visual Effects: James Brady
Sound: Andy Edelman, John Rhoads
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8Asians is proud to be a community co-presenter of KTown Cowboys at the 2015 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival (LAAPFF). As a reader of 8Asians, please enjoy a discount to this film using the code: KC15 or other films with 8ASIANS15
Saturday, April 25 at 8:00 PM (Aratani Theatre, Little Tokyo)
Wednesday, April 29 at 9:15 PM (CGV Cinemas 1, KTown)
What a difference five years makes: back in 2010, music video director and online content developer Daniel Park brought his brilliantly rude, crass, and homemade web series KTOWN COWBOYS to the Film Festival as a self-contained featurette, with one crucial detail — he stitched together all but the last of eight episodes to create a work that would deliver to him the Festival’s Special Jury Award for Best First Feature, and compelled viewers to visit the film’s website to discover how the whole story ended. A brilliant example of transmedia, certainly, but an experience that screamed out for a fuller, more complete story. So, working with many of the principals from the web series, director Park returned to K-Town, so to speak, and revisited much of the same terrain covered in that earlier, heralded work. The result, also named KTOWN COWBOYS, should not be confused with the earlier feature: taking place months before the events of the web series, this new iteration of the adventures of Jason (Shane Yoon), Sunny (Sunn Wee), Peter (Peter Jae), Danny (Danny Cho), and Robby (Bobby Choy, aka folk guitarist Big Phony) is even more of a comedy caper than the earlier effort, and renders obsolete Chris Chan Lee’s classic YELLOW (Festival 1997), acknowledged as the progenitor of modern Korean American cinema.
Jason, a reluctant heir and caretaker to the family-run business, is in trouble as this new story opens: no thanks to an embezzlement scheme perpetrated by a mid-level manager (a deliciously twisted cameo by comedian Steve Byrne), the company teeters on the brink of collapse. As Jason’s straight-laced uncle and v-e-r-y loopy and self-absorbed cousin Mindy (Angie Kim) fly in from Seoul to confront Jason, his buddies confront problems of their own. Sunny, an aspiring entrepreneur, chafes at the prospect of inheriting the family-owned liquor store. Hot-headed macho-man Peter toils by day at the Fashion Institute, where none of his fellow buddies can see his nascent talents as a dress designer. Danny, a struggling comic, wonders if his big break will ever come. And Robby, a Korean adoptee ensconced in a mind-numbingly suburban reality, begins to get in touch with his Koreanness and contemplates a return to the motherland to find his roots. Together, the five join forces with Mindy to seek out a solution to Jason’s problems — a trek that will take them through Koreatown’s designer hotels, noraebangs, K-BBQ hangouts, afterhours drinking spots, and lounges.
If the aforementioned YELLOW served as a travelogue through Los Angeles’ Koreatown for the uninitiated, then KTOWN COWBOYS uses a roadmap that can’t be found in any MapQuest or Google Earth app. Indeed, today’s K-Town, a “vertical city” that mimics South Korea’s own high-rise profile, is cosmopolitan, urbane, and trendy in its own right. And with such sharply-dress denizens as Jason and crew, not to mention a soundtrack inspired by state-of-the-art K-Pop, who’s to say that KTOWN COWBOYS isn’t a case of the hallyu wave breaking back across the Pacific, to where it all started? Director Park has updated and contemporized the K-Town story while — with a huge assist from screenwriters Danny Cho and Brian Chung — judiciously makes sure not to throw everything and the kitchen sink into the whole mix. Gotta save something for the next story, you know…
Cast & Crew
Executive Producer: Sam Chi, Ken Jeong
Producer: Gregory Bishop, Brian Chung, Daniel Sollinger
Director: Daniel Park
Writer: Danny Cho
Cast: Steve Byrne, Danny Cho, Bobby Choy, Peter Jae, Young Chul Kim, Daniel Dae Kim, Simon Rhee, Eric Roberts, Sunn Wee, Shane Yoon
Tonight’s Invicta FC 12 card will feature some APIA fighters.
Finally, although not of APIA heritage, Roxanne Modafferi (17-11) fought for about a decade out of Japan as one of women’s MMA’s trailblazers before moving to Syndicate MMA in Las Vegas to reinvent her game. She’ll be having a rematch with Vanessa Porto (17-6).
The event is available on UFC Fight Pass.
I’m not a Verizon Wireless subscriber, though after seeing Verizon’s commercials, sometimes I wonder if I should be, since with my current carrier, my 4G LTE data coverage often sucks and am amazed that I get switched to 3G – and I live in the San Francisco Bay Area! But generally, Verizon is usually more expensive (but I guess you get what you pay for…)
If you follow the mobile handset industry, you know that the Samsung Galaxy S6 was announced a few months ago and will be released soon. The woman in the commercial (who definitely caught my eye – who’s the actress?) loves her Galaxy S6 and loves her Verizon coverage.
With the current price wars going on started by T-Mobile, matched by Sprint and being aggressively defended by AT&T and also Verizon, it’s not a surprise that Verizon is trying to compete on quality of service rather than on price – something Verizon has always done since its very successful “Can You Hear Me Now?” campaign with “Test Man.“
8Asians is working with McDonald’s to give away free tickets for you and a guest to watch the highly anticipated documentary Twinsters at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival on April 25, 2015, AND reconnect over a shared meal at McDonald’s.
In February 2013, Anaïs Bordier, a French fashion student living in London, stumbled upon a YouTube video featuring Samantha Futerman, an actress in Los Angeles, and was struck by their uncanny resemblance. After discovering they were born on the same day in Busan, Korea and both put up for adoption, Anaïs reached out to Samantha via Facebook. In Twinsters, we follow Samantha and Anaïs’ journey into sisterhood, witnessing everything from their first meeting, to their first trip back to Korea where their separation took place.
Twinsters explores the meaning of family and connection through a story that would have been impossible just 10 years ago without the creation of YouTube and Facebook.
Twinsters at LAAPFF 2015
Date/Time: April 25, 2015 @5PM
Location: Aratani Theater, 244 S San Pedro St, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Winners will be provided with a “Lovin’ Meal on Us” (via a $15 value Arch Card) to share a meal with a loved one at McDonald’s. If you cannot attend the screening, you can have a still win a “Lovin’ Meal on Us” at McDonald’s.
For more information, check out the Official Rules. This giveaway closes soon, so hurry up!
Ok, ok… you want a chance to win? Read on!
8Asians is proud to be a community co-presenter of Everything Before Us at the 2015 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival (LAAPFF). As a reader of 8Asians, please enjoy a discount using the following codes: Opening VIP Discount Code: OPENINGVIP15, Opening Discount Code: OPENING15, all films 8ASIANS15
Thursday, April 23 at 5:30 PM (Aratani Theatre, Little Tokyo)
Thursday, April 23 at 7:00 PM (Aratani Theatre, Little Tokyo)
Many exciting and wondrous things have happened to Wesley Chan, Ted Fu, and Philip Wang in the decade since they produced the cheeky comedy short YELLOW FEVER — the trio formed an independent production company, Wong Fu Productions; established a beachhead on the then-nascent streaming web destination YouTube; formed, with hip-hop/electropop artists Far East Movement the International Secret Agents (ISA) as a means of bringing together Asian American talents from the online universe and their adoring audiences; and built an ongoing legacy as pioneers (and game-changers) in Asian Pacific American cinema. As their latest endeavor, EVERYTHING BEFORE US, makes clear, the guys still feel they have things to prove. Having cornered the market in the online cinema realm, the trio (recently augmented to include producer Christine Chen and screenwriter/actor Christopher Dinh Nguyen) had always set their sights on producing a proper feature-length theatrical narrative. Not that they haven’t accomplished even that lofty goal: their 2006 A MOMENT WITH YOU, completed as their informal graduation thesis from UC San Diego, helped jump-start the trio’s online subscriber base as it was taken to college campuses throughout the country. These days, though, Wesley, Ted and Philip downplay the film’s impact, insisting that their growth as artists and filmmakers have set the stage for the “proper” creation of a full-length feature. Developed and incubated through Visual Communications’ VC Film Development Fund and augmented by a wildly successful crowdfunding campaign, EVERYTHING BEFORE US finds Wong Fu, and indeed its very own legion of fans and supporters, at an important artistic crossroads.
High schoolers Seth (Brandon Soo Hoo) and Haley (Victoria Park) are a happy, loving couple, but with the two headed to different colleges, the strain of a long-distance relationship is beginning to show in an increasing series of petty arguments and misunderstandings. Meanwhile, thirty-something professionals Ben (Aaron Yoo) and Sara (Brittany Ishibashi) are already a former couple who want nothing more to do with each other. Their opposing career paths — Ben, an artist, seeks employment at a design firm; Sara, a barista, dreams of opening her own coffee shop — have left them no time for each other. Yet the travails of both couples do not go unobserved. Their relationship activities are documented and monitored by the Department of Emotional Integrity (DEI), a DMV-styled agency that issues a relationship score to keep individuals accountable for their relationship activity and choices. The score is public for all to see, and affects various aspects of their daily lives. As the changing relationship dynamics of the two couples are monitored by a world-weary DEI case worker (Randall Park), a series of occurrences and the emergence of darker secrets threaten to unsettle the lives that both couples have attempted to build with, and apart from, each other. Can they conduct their lives in accordance with the DEI? Or will the restrictive nature of the agency undermine their aspirations?
EVERYTHING BEFORE US has much to say about today’s society as well as the legion of netizens who follow Chan, Fu, and Wang. The film — co-written with Nguyen — comments the very social network that have greatly benefitted Wong Fu and provided them an audience. That network, in the guise of the emotional integrity score, promotes classism, favoritism, a touch of racism, and even…state terrorism? That’s pretty disturbing stuff coming from a trio best known for extolling the virtues of “(f)unemployment,” among other things. EVERYTHING BEFORE US finds Wesley, Ted, and Philip a full decade removed from frivolous endeavors as YELLOW FEVER. The three have adult things on their minds. And so too, we suspect, do their audience.
Cast & Crew
Producer: Wesley Chan, Christine Chen, Chris Dinh, Ted Fu, Clay Reed, Philip Wang
Director: Wesley Chan, Philip Wang
Screenplay: Wesley Chan, Chris Dinh, Philip Wang
Cinematographer: Wesley Chan, Ted Chung
Editor: Taylor Chan, Philip Wang
Cast: Stephen A. Chang, Parvesh Cheena, Brittany Ishibashi, Ki Hong Lee, Victoria Park, Randall Park, Chris Riedell, Katie Savoy, Brandon Soo Hoo, Joanna Sotomura, Aaron Yoo
Cool Japan Guide: Fun in the Land of Manga, Lucky Cats, and Ramen by Abby Denson is a light read for anyone who wants a quick and easy intro to travel in Japan. It’s more readable than your run of the mill travel guides because it’s presented in a more narrative style. The book is basically a graphic novel compilation of the author’s travel experiences in Japan organize by travel tips, sights to see, and activities. It sprinkles in some mini-Japanese lessons here and there, which is pretty cool.
I personally enjoyed reading through it, as I just had a trip in Japan and also have traveled to the country throughout my life on various occasions, and I felt like I was reliving my vacation reading through it.
My main complaint would be that the art is done more kid-cartoonish to sort of fit that light and playful tone of the whole book. This may work for some people and makes the book more accessible to younger readers, but I would say the art was the aspect of the book that I didn’t really enjoy. I’m not an artist myself, so I’m speaking purely from a lay consumer’s perspective, but I especially cringed at the parts about the beauty of gardens, temples, tatami rooms, and events like hanami (cherry blossom viewing) that were portrayed with a kid-style drawing.
I’ll be putting this in my classroom library, and I think it would be a good way to inspire my students to document their trips and experiences, especially the ones who are artistically inclined.
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of Cool Japan Guide for this review.
Fresh Off the Boat, Season 1, Episode 13 (Season Finale): “So Chineez”
Original airdate April 21, 2015.
Microsynopsis: Louis and Jessica are invited to join a local country club, and while at first Jessica is excited, she begins to worry that her family is losing its Chinese-ness, so she insists that Louis cancel their membership. World Cultures Day at Eddie’s school becomes a point of contention when Eddie asks to be assigned to Jamaica. Evan and Emery compete to see which of them can impress Jessica enough with their school work to earn a place on the kitchen refrigerator.
Good: This is the final episode of the season, and there is no word yet on whether or not the show will be renewed. This makes the episode’s opening, in which Eddie summarizes his family’s migration and adjustment, poignant in a way that doesn’t feel contrived or cheesy. Scenes where Jessica and Louis are alone together continue to be very strong, and we’re treated to some great moments with Grandma. Emery and Evan, who operate best when they’re in their own private corner of the show, are as funny (and adorable) as they’ve ever been. And the episode’s theme, about the Huangs holding onto their ethnic identity, is handled in a way that many Asian families will relate to.
Bad: I’m not fond of the portrayals of the old men at the country club and the principal at Eddie’s school, ‘though he’s a lot less annoying than he usually is. And what’s up with one boy representing all of Africa as if it were one culture?
FOB moment: The entire episode is an FOB moment*, but since Fresh off the Boat has yet to be renewed for a second season and this may be my last ever, I’m going with Jessica’s “If we drop the ball, they’ll end up getting their culture from fake Chinese restaurants like this one!…Success is important, but it is meaningless if we lose ourselves,” which I hope ABC will take to heart.
Soundtrack flashback: “Opportunities” by Pet Shop Boys. “Juicy” (edited for appropriateness) by the Notorious B.I.G.
Final grade, this episode: I couldn’t help myself: I smiled throughout most of the episode, and I’m not a smiley guy. I don’t think a show like this serves itself or its audience well if it dwells endlessly on issues of ethnic identity, but it’s got to address them head-on once in a while, and this final episode of its first season seems like a good place for it. “So Chineez” is laden with stuff to talk about, to reflect on, and to inspire the obvious question about why we had to wait until 2015 to see a show like this on network television. Most importantly, it’s funny from beginning to end, and the actors are very good. If things fall into place a little too sweetly, the show can be forgiven because it’s a season finale, and it ends on the note we all really want. The episode achieves a kind of excellence it only hinted at in its strongest moments this season. It’s a low A, but it’s still an A, good enough for Jessica’s fridge.
* I write this phrase “…an FOB” because where I come from, “FOB” is pronounced by its letters, “eff oh bee.” I’m aware that in most other parts of the country, it’s just pronounced as a word, “fob,” but like Eddie, I’m repping where I come from the best I can. And if you don’t know, now you know.
Shortly before the Angel Island Immigration Station in San Francisco Bay was scheduled for demolition in 1970, a California State Park Ranger discovered poems carved in the walls of the former detention center and so began a grassroots movement to preserve the carvings and this vital piece of American history. The first edition of Island was published in 1980 and included translations and transcriptions of most of the station’s carved poems. This new edition–Island: Poetry and History of Chinese Immigrants on Angel Island, 1910-1940, edited by Him Mark Lai, Genny Lim, and Judy Yung, and many years in the making–is a wonderful expansion of an already important work of literature and history. It contains additional poems, greater historical context, and expertly incorporates new research.
After passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and its subsequent renewals, Chinese immigrants (and later others as well) had to prove their right to enter the United States. They did so at detention centers and immigration stations like the one opened on Angel Island in 1910 and used for 30 years. While awaiting their immigration hearings, many were detained for days or months while immigration inspectors cross-examined witnesses, examined evidence, and decided their cases. Some of those who were detained carved their thoughts and feelings into the walls themselves, expressing a range of emotions, from hope for the future to sorrow, from camaraderie to despair. The poems are moving and candid.
Island records the entire body of known carvings and inscriptions found at Angel Island. This volume adds poems not included in the first edition, as well as similar poetry found at Ellis Island and an immigration station in British Columbia, Canada (where a similar, though different, kind of immigration restriction was implemented). It also recounts the history of Chinese immigrants and the trials and tribulations faced upon entering the country, using both historical narrative and in-depth oral histories that provide intimate insight into the individual experience.
In shot, Island belongs on the bookshelves of anyone even remotely interested in American history or literature, just as it belongs on the bookshelves of anyone who owns the first edition.
MMA fighter, former Invicta FC Atomweight Champion, and mother Michelle “The Karate Hottie” Waterson is featured in one of these new Samsung “Into the Galaxy” series commercials. The theme of this series appears to be people who are trying to shatter the status quo, and Waterson definitely fits the bill. Being a woman and an American of Asian descent, she fights objectification with her fists on a daily basis.
Season 1 of Fresh Off the Boat is almost over. Here we are at Episode 12 (out of 13). (Catch up online: Episodes 1 and 2, Episodes 3 and 4, Episode 5, Episode 6, Episode 7, Episode 8, Episode 9, Episode 10, Episode 11.)
Remember, aside from the ratings (which are most important), the network is also tracking legal downloads/streaming, as well as social media (Hashtag: #FreshOffTheBoat). So if you want to show the network your support, definitely watch, download, and tweet/post about it.
Multiple episodes are currently available for streaming using the “WATCH ABC” app for iOS. As of now, these downloads and streams are only legit available in the U.S./North America. Sorry to all our overseas readers that we can’t necessarily provide you links; you’ll just have to catch it on satellite for now.
EPISODE 12: “Dribbling Tiger, Bounce Pass Dragon” (S1E12)
Fresh Off the Boat: Dribbling Tiger, Bounce Pass Dragon (4/14)
JESSICA AND LOUIS GET PRESSURED INTO VOLUNTEERING AT THE KIDS’ SCHOOL, ON “FRESH OFF THE BOAT” ON ABC
“Dribbling Tiger, Bounce Pass Dragon” – Louis and Jessica get pressured into volunteering at the kids’ schools because of budget cuts. Eddie sees a whole other side of his dad when Louis – a former semi-pro basketball player back in Taiwan — coaches the basketball team, while Emery and Evan see a side of Jessica they wish they hadn’t when she grudgingly takes on producing their school play, and puts her own spin on it, on “Fresh Off the Boat,” TUESDAY, APRIL 14 (8:00-8:30 p.m. ET)on the ABC Television Network.
“Fresh Off the Boat” stars Randall Park as Louis, Constance Wu as Jessica, Hudson Yang as Eddie, Forrest Wheeler as Emery and Ian Chen as Evan. Eddie Huang provides the voice over narration.
Guest starring are Lucille Soong as Grandma Huang, Amanda Lund as Vanessa, Maria Bamford as Principal Thomas, Connor Rosen as Bed-Wetter Doug, Trevor Larcom as Trent, Prophet Bolden as Walter, Evan Hanneman as Barefoot Dave and Walter Schrass as Dmitri.
“Dribbling Tiger, Bounce Pass Dragon” was written by Rich Blomquist. Rob Cohen directed.
FRESH OFF THE BOAT: SEASON 1
Fresh Off the Boat, Season 1, Episode 12: “Dribbling Tiger, Bounce Pass Dragon”
Original airdate April 14, 2015.
Microsynopsis: Louis volunteers as coach for Eddie’s basketball team, a group of boys who don’t value team effort. Jessica volunteers as director of Emery and Evan’s school play, despite her disdain for thespian pursuits.
Good: There are a few laugh-aloud moments, and some of the fantasy sequences are funny. Grandma has a couple of strong scenes. There’s a bit of clever, ironic meta-ness about Asians on television, with a completely unexpected (and fun) payoff at the very end, so ride it out at least for that.
Bad: Much of the cartoonish nature of the action can be excused by the thematic tribute (hinted at in the episode’s title), but it goes a bit far. Once again, school life is exaggerated so much that it’s practically impossible to see as part of the same television program. Worst of all, while the episode’s set-up is interesting, the execution is uninteresting at best.
FOB moment: Chickens and a moped at the Taiwanese basketball court.
Soundtrack flashback: “Pass the Shovel” by Gravediggaz.
Final grade, this episode: This is one of those episodes that’s tolerable only because we like and care about the characters. Despite isolated funny moments, the story is kind of a yawn, and the entire school play plot just doesn’t carry its share of the weight. The little bit of self-awareness is well done, but it’s more color than structure, and not enough to rescue twenty minutes of blah. C.
FRESH OFF THE BOAT: SEASON 1