Have you ever thought about how cool it would be to have an “Asian Americans in Film” crossword puzzle? A fun game to reward anyone who’s been following and supporting Asian Americans in entertainment — aka you, the loyal readers of Angry Asian Man?
The Thai boxing, Thai karaoke bars, and Ryan Gosling’s role in turning his Thai love interest from a typical foreigner’s plaything to a respectable hooker his character genuinely loves.
by Ada Tseng
There has been much criticism of Nicolas Winding Refn’s Only God Forgives, which by all accounts was meant to be a smaller project than it ended up being once Ryan Gosling (who previously collaborated with Refn in Drive) offered to star in the film.
Since then, it’s premiered as an official competition film at the Cannes Film Festival, where it was simultaneously boo-ed and given a standing ovation. It’s been mocked profusely online while winning the Sydney Film Prize in June’s Sydney Film Festival. It’s been described as shockingly violent, which is true… if you have never seen an Asian film before (in which case, you know that movie bad guys with swords sever limbs, and you expect sharp objects to go in painful holes).
But even critics who find the film empty will admit that all the shots are beautiful, even (or perhaps especially) the ones of Gosling shadowed in red-tinted darkness, brooding in front of exotic wallpaper while the camera slowly zooms in. Also, Kristin Scott Thomas is pretty hilarious as Gosling’s foul-mouthed, bleached blonde, insane mother.
But this is Asia Pacific Arts, so what about the fact that this twisted tale is set in Thailand?
Meet the Sullivans, a mixed-race all-American TV family, who is changing the way we view normal.
by ADA TSENG
At the Sullivan & Son neighborhood bar, where the majority of Steve Byrne’s TBS sitcom takes place, there’s an eye-catching wall display on stage right: an American flag, a Korean flag and an Irish flag, equal nods to Byrne’s nationality and the ethnicities of both his real-life and on-screen parents. But if you look closer, it’s the American flags that dominate the set, decorating the cash register and adorning the opposite wall. And, after all, this is an all-American family show—it just so happens that this particular one, the Sullivans, is of mixed race.
Now in its second season, the series follows Steve Sullivan, a man who gave up his high-paying corporate attorney job to come home and run his family’s bar in Pittsburgh. His father, Jack, and mother, Ok Cha (incidentally, also the name of Byrne’s real-life mother), are loosely based on the comedian’s own parents, a friendly, laid-back Irishman and a tough Korean woman one might describe as a “Tiger Mom.”
“I’m proud of both sides of my family,” says Byrne, the show’s creator, producer and star. “On one hand, our [show’s] storylines can be different because we have an eccentric background that isn’t displayed on TV all the time, but at the end of the day, it’s the same themes. Everybody loves and hurts. Everyone has the same emotions and problems. We’re a normal American family.”
Lee Isaac Chung’s Abigail Harm — which won Best Feature and Best Director at the 2013 LA Asian Pacific Film Festival — stars Amanda Plummer as a lonely woman who captures a heavenly creature to be her loyal companion.
by Ada Tseng
“The first image I had in mind when writing the script was of a deer running through a run-down hallway in a New York City apartment,” says director Lee Isaac Chung, about his third feature Abigail Harm, starring Amanda Plummer, Tetsuo Kuramochi, Will Patton, and Burt Young.
The story is inspired by the Korean fable “The Woodcutter and the Nymph,” in which a woodcutter saves a deer and in return, the deer grants him one wish. In Chung’s fantastical, modern-day adaptation, Abigail Harm (Plummer) is a lonely woman who spends her days reading to the blind. Will Patton plays the wounded man she rescues, the “deer” that grants Abigail her wish to love and be loved.
“I try to stay true to these images,” continues Chung, “so I treated it as a crucial shot, even if it was a nightmare.”