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LULU WANG on The Farewell

 

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Entries in Asian cinema (141)

Tuesday
Jul232019

The Farewell: Where personal and universal meet

By Lynn Lee

Coming out of The Farewell, I jokingly asked my husband, “Any of those family dynamics ring a bell?”  It was a double-edged joke, as one of the most challenging differences between us is our night-and-day attitudes towards our respective families, which we attribute to our different backgrounds.  He’s white and can trace his American lineage back to the Mayflower, but feels no particular responsibility to his immediate family and rarely sees his extended family; I’m a second-generation Korean American, born to naturalized U.S. citizens who, despite having now been here far longer than they ever lived in Korea, have maintained strong ties to their birth country and culture.  As such, they regularly remind me of my obligations to my immediate family, my extended family, and even my husband's family - something that both amuses and bemuses my husband.

No surprise, then, that The Farewell was a must-see for me.  True, it’s not “my” story: I’m not Chinese, after all, and as far as I know no one in my family has ever lied to anyone else in the family about their health.  But the film’s broader underlying themes – the feeling of being caught between the values of East and West, and not fully belonging to one or the other – spoke to me at a gut level...

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Wednesday
Jul102019

Interview: Lulu Wang on 'The Farewell' and why it's important to declare she's American

by Murtada Elfadl

When I meet Lulu Wang at the A24 offices in Manhattan, she looks really cool despite the hot weather and despite the fact that she has “not been part of the world since January because I've just been traveling.” Perhaps it’s the effect of Headspace, the meditation app she uses. “It has all of these five or ten minute meditations. I listen to in the car ride between going to screenings. It just helps me breathe.

January was when her second feature film as a writer and director, The Farewell, premiered at Sundance to ecstatic reviews, including one from this writer. Since then Wang has been flying around the world as the film played at many other film festivals. Wang has drawn on her own family’s history to tell a warm, funny and poignant tale about a young Queens artist, Billi (played by Awkwafina), and the tender relationship she has with her grandmother, whom she calls Nai Nai or "grandma" in Mandarin, and who lives in Changchun, China. When Nai Nai (Zhao Shuzhen) receives a terminal cancer diagnosis, the family decides to hide the news from her and instead concocts a scheme to marry off a cousin, so that they have an excuse to gather around the grandmother one more time before she goes. This lie doesn’t sit well with Billi and the film shows us the friction and love as the family grapples with this. This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

 Murtada Elfadl: There were reports last week that you turned down a big payday from a streamer and chose to go with a theatrical release. Why is that important to you?  

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Friday
Jun072019

Posterized: So many Godzilla movies

For this week's monster-themed Posterized, we're doing things a bit differently. In ye olden times, the Godzilla franchise was a mess, internationally speaking, with some films reedited, retitled, and rereleased or out of order. The original Godzilla (1954) actually has three separate versions: Japanese (1954), American (1956), and Italian (1976) and each one of them have different scenes and shapes (the Italian one is colorized) with only the American version adding in the Raymond Burr subplot. Even when the movies weren't chopped up and reconfigured they were sometimes called different things. For instance Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964), which I loved on TV as a kid is also called Godzilla vs. The Thing and that "Thing" of the title ISN'T Mothra so it's all very confusing.

3 very different versions of the same movie for Japan, America, and Italy

Essentially there are 32 live-action Godzilla movies. So we've listed them and then collected some noteworthy Godzilla posters that we found online, whether or not they were official posters. How many of these 32 pictures have you seen?...

 

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Friday
May032019

Posterized: Zhang Yimou returns with his best film in many years

by Nathaniel R

One of Asia's finest auteurs, Zhang Yimou, returns to arthouse theaters today with his new film Shadow, which is a true return to form for a director whose use of color in movies has few contemporary equals. The new films is shot in color but the costumes and sets are black and white making for numerous startling images. The 69 year old Chinese director's films have been up for multiple BAFTAs, Globes, and Oscars over the years and he also co-directed the very famous Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Olympics so you might not even realize how familiar you are with his work. 

How many of his movies have you seen? Here are the posters for all 21 of his narrative features with some awards trivia, too...

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Monday
Apr292019

A new series on auditions begins with "Audition" 

by Ginny O'Keefe

As an actress I have had my fair share of God-awful auditions. And good ones. And so-so auditions that I barely remember minutes after they happened. This is the life of an actress starting out in Los Angeles. Granted, I am in no way a veteran of the acting industry but I have been to a lot of casting calls and made a lot of self-tapes. So far I have never been yelled at by a casting director because I dropped a line or been told to take my clothes off to prove my dedication to a part. It's made me realize how embellished or exaggerated auditions can be in film and TV; normalcy just doesn’t sell. (There are actors out there who have had horrible and even traumatizing experiences, but this is merely from my perspective on how I have been treated to date.)

Now, I've joined my love of watching movies with my love of acting for this series. We'll discuss auditions from movies and TV and talk about how ludicrous or realistic they turn out to be. This week, to kick the series off, a dive into the deep end with Takashi Miike’s disturbing Japanese thriller Audition...

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Sunday
Apr212019

Cannes 2019 Un Certain Regard Lineup

We already dove into the Cannes Competition Lineup so it's time to look at the other most famous program, Un Certain Regard, which tends to be where a lot of the edgier titles from younger directors go. Some years people actually think this program beats the main competition for quality (since the main competition generally defaults to the "masters," regardless of whether or not they happen to be having a strong year).

UN CERTAIN REGARD

Fernanda Montenegro in "Invisible Life"

Here is a bit about all that titles in Un Certain Regard. These films won't get quite as much buzz in May UNLESS they break out and the familiar refrain begins "Why wasn't this in the main competition?" You know how Cannes critics do...

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