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Film Review: The Handmaiden


Year: 2016
Director: David Yates
WriterJ.K. Rowling
Cinematography: Philippe Rousselot
Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Ezra Miller, Colin Farrell
Country of Origin: UK | US
Rating: PG-13
Time: 133 Min. 


I wouldn't say that I'm a Potterhead but I can say with full confidence that as an avid fan of the potterverse, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them did not do justice to the beloved series. This film is J.K. Rowling's screenwriting debut which is inspired by the book of the same name. Back in 2001, Rowling came out with the textbook under the pen name of Newt Scamander where it chronicles the magical creatures in the Harry Potter universe. We get a dose of breathtaking mystical creatures as well as a deep look into the magical world in the U.S.



As much as J.K. Rowling is an phenomenal novelist, when it comes to screenplays, the cohesive story structure is simply not there. I'm hoping for the next films that she will co-write with someone else. David Yates returns yet again as the director and he provides enough laughs and thrills for us fans who have been so famished for more stories of the wizarding world! There will be 4 more films in the Fantastic Beasts series where it will lead up to the much anticipated and epic battle between Dumbledore and Grindelwald. If only, Johnny Depp wasn't in it. 

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Year: 2016
Director: Julia Ducournau
WriterJulia Ducournau
Cinematography: Ruben Impens
Cast: Garance Marillier, Ella Rumpf, Rabah Nait Oufella
Country of Origin: France | Belgium
Rating: R
Time: 99 Min.



Sal from Crome Yellow and I had the privilege of attending Beyond Fest--LA's best and baddest genre film festival--where we got to watch the best cannibalism movie of this year, Julie Ducournau's Raw. Following a veterinary college initiation ritual where she has to eat a rabbit kidney, vegetarian Justine becomes consumed with cannibalism tendencies. This film has everything I love: sisterly love, exploration of female sexuality, and a refreshing spin on the cannibalism genre! This is Ducournau's directorial debut feature and it's an absolute stunner that is crafted with confidence and innovativeness.



Raw took the FIPRESCI prize at Cannes Film Festival and even made grown men faint when they saw it at Toronto International Film Festival! Sal and I are not sure EXACTLY which scene they fainted because there isn't anything outrightly grotesque that warrants a fainting spell so for those with weak stomachs, this film is A-OK! It's all around intensely engrossing film with a brutal coming-of-age story that will give you sweat-inducing flashbacks of your college years and an in-depth look at a girl's transition to womanhood, blood and all. 


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Year: 2016
Director: Park Chan-wook
Writer: Seo-Kyung Chung & Park Chan-wook. Novel by Sarah Waters
Cinematography: Chung Chung-hoon
Cast: Kim Tae-ri, Kim Min-hee, Ha Jung-woo, Jo Jin-woong
Country of Origin: South Korea
Rating: NR
Time: 144 Min.



Park Chan-wook is back and he's better than ever! The Handmaiden is a decadent dessert that is luscious, super kinky, and full of deceit! Adapted from Sarah Water's novel, Fingersmith, Park takes the essential elements and transports the setting to the 1930's Korea when it was under Japanese colonialism. A con man hires an orphaned pickpocket named Sook-hee played by fresh-faced, Kim Tae-ri, to become the maid to heiress Lady Hideko in attempt to steal her wealth. The plan goes array when Lady Hideko falls in love with Sook-hee. I'm getting all hot and bothers here just writing the premise!



After the divisive reception of Stoker (See Review), I'm glad Park Chan-wook went back to making a Korean-language film that not only tantalized native Koreans but everyone else as well. Park was shocked to discover that some of the Americans that watched the film were so taken back by its provocative display of lesbian sex, contrary to his belief that most Americans are more "liberal". The Handmaiden is classic Park Chan-wook but with a more dense structure and erotic storyline that aims to beguile as well as seduce you! Once again, Park never lets me down and let's hope he never does. :D


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Halloween is a week away so I thought why not do a live stream where I share 10 horror masterpieces. Some may be obvious but if you don't know the other films, I urge you to seek them out because they truly are an unparalleled cinematic experience in itself. No matter if these films are of the supernatural, psychological thrillers, or slasher genre, all these films dare to push the boundaries of the horror genre that inevitably changed the game. This is a long one so get yourself some popcorn and let's talk about some scary movies!

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Year: 2016
Director: Andrea Arnold
Writer: Andrea Arnold
Cinematography: Robbie Ryan
Cast: Sasha Lane, Shia LaBeouf, Riley Keough, Arielle Holmes, 
Country of Origin: UK / USA
Rating: R
Time: 163 Mins.



Andrea Arnold's American Honey has been my most anticipated films of 2016 and let me say, it is one of the most finest films of this year! American Honey follows a free spirited teenage girl, Star, who leaves her troubled home in the midwest and hits the road with the mag crew--a group of outcasts who sell magazines door to door. They work hard and play even harder! Star meets the hardworking and charismatic Jake, played by Shia LaBeouf and falls madly in love with him. As expected, it's an audacious and bold social realism film that'll have you pin to the screen and grooving in your seat!



Andrea Arnold is one of my favorite filmmakers because her films portray life in all its beautiful chaos showcasing raw intimacy and electrifying performances. Sasha Lane and Shia LaBeouf's undeniable chemistry is an indulgence of pure ecstasy and dangerous passion. With a streamline of the hottest hip-hop songs from start to finish, American Honey not only shows a daring portrait about the socioeconomic landscape of America but also focuses the various people occupying it. It's no wonder Arnold won her third Jury Prize Award at Cannes this year with the film. It's explosive and engrossing, you HAVE to go see this film!

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I love the 90's. Especially 90's teen horror films to say the least. So for my latest DVD haul, I manage to find some DVDs that are not just worth buying but ones that have been very dear to me since childhood. So of course, I had to cop Wes Craven's Scream, The Faculty, I Know What You Did Last Summer, Robert Zemeckis' Death Becomes Her, and Nicolas Roeg's The Witches! I can't wait to show some of these at my annual Halloween movie night and considering that these are from the 90's, it's gonna be a good one! What are you favorite 90's Horror films?

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The trailer for André Øvredal's The Autopsy of Jane Doe is here and let me just say, it's the scariest film I saw this year. I had the honor of watching this magnificent film at Beyond Fest and I did not sleep well after. Brian Cox and Emile Hirsch play father and son coroners who investigate the death of a beautiful "Jane Doe". Don't let this terse trailer fool you, there's so much more to this story than what is shown. This film truly is filled with crippling tension and it's haunting storyline will have you disturbed for days. So great that IFC Midnight will be releasing this film December 20th! Sal from Crome Yellow and I will be doing a review very soon so look out for that!

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Like August, September was about straight chilling and watching films without the obligation of attending so many screenings and doing reviews. So I decided to go back to the film canons that are in the Criterion Collection and watched John Cassavetes' A Woman Under the Influence and Krzysztof Kieslowski's The Double Life of Veronique. Both were exceptional & must-watch films. Along with those, my other favorites were Andrew Dominick's One More Time with Feeling, the ultra feel-good film, Queen of Katwe, and iconic Asian American film, Chan is Missing! And of course, Beyond Fest is a given, which I'll talk more with you in my October Favorites! Tune into my live stream to hear more about these wonderful films!


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HOLY SHIT. This trailer came out of nowhere it's possibly the best thing I've seen. Get Out is Jordan Peele of Key & Peele's directorial debut film and surprisingly it's a horror film! And it's not like any horror film you've seen before because it truly deals with the horrific prejudice and racism that is occurring in America today, which is infused with other elements of the horror genre. So brilliant. What we get is a bone-chilling story straight from hell. I'm sure this scenario is many people's ultimate nightmare including mine with all it's complex and layered storylines. Get Out comes out in February and while I'm scared shitless, I can't wait to see this!

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Last summer, I shot something on the fly with a group of impassioned girlfriends with no money & no plan. The result is Wildest Dreams which features my friend Michelle and I playing two teenagers who spend a night in Koreatown, talking about our dreams & shit.
Out of many shorts I’ve made and despite the lack of resources and preparation that went into this, this short film has got to be one of my favorites as it embodies my filmic style, themes, and story. I never intended on showing it publicly considering it's conditions but this short film is truly a labor of love that's 1000% coming from our hearts. Thanks Jennifer for producing it, Jacqueline for DPing, Andrew for Camera oping, & Chris Hahn for sound editing & Michelle for always being so down to collaborate with me. I hope you watch & enjoy, I would really appreciate it. Much love. XOXO

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My beautiful actress, Kristine Gerolaga of my Yomyomf Interpretations 2.0 short film, Blue Paradise, is also a filmmaker and made her own short film called Hit or Miss. Hit or Miss made it to the top 15 and I could not be happier! Hit or Miss is about an amateur fighter who grieves over the loss of her mother while sparring with her new instructor. With only 4 lines of dialogue and capping at 3 minutes, Hit or Miss is a beautifully immersive experience that touches on the universal and poignant struggle of losing a loved one. It's so well done in terms of cinematography, sound design and acting. Voting is still in progress so give Kristine is a big thumbs up so she can possibly direct her next short film with Justin Lin! Vote here.

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Holy crap, Tom Ford's sophomore picture Nocturnal Animals looks so dang good! This psychological thriller is based off of Austin Wright's 1993 novel, Tony and Susan. It has a talented and beautiful-looking cast consistingAmy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Laura Linney and more. After Ford debuted with A Single Man, I was instantly a fan and am so happy to hear that Nocturnal Animals won the Grand Jury Prize at Venice Film Festival. The film comes out December 9th, just in time for Oscar season!

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August could possibly have been my favorite month this year because I literally tried to do nothing! Which most likely means, I still watched a lot of stuff and went to plenty of events which I did including Guillermo del Toro's At Home with Monsters Exhibit at LACMA and Sundance Next Fest! At Sundance Next Fest I watched So Yong Kim's Lovesong, The Greasy Strangler, and Under the Shadow. I can't wait for everyone to watch it when it comes out! And as someone who rarely watches T.V., I binged on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and my new favorite, Mr. Robot. I'm going to have to do an individual video for these two shows because they're just too good! What were your August Favorites?

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My July Film Favorites is here! I watched so many amazing films this month that were action-packed, anxiety-inducing, and straight out inventive! For my film favorites, I picked Justin Lin's Star Trek Beyond (see review), Yeon Sang-ho's Train to Busan and no joke, Ghostbusters! I also went to Outfest which is L.A.'s biggest and best LGBTQ+ film festival where I saw Andrew Ahn's Spa Night (see trailer), The Intervention, and Kiki. July was an exciting month for film especially because I got to experience it all at the peak of summer! Which were your film favorites for July?

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I had a chance to go to Guillermo del Toro's At Home with Monsters Exhibit at LACMA and it was utterly fantastic! We got to see all his inspirations, props, and figurines from all his films from Cronos, Hellboy, Blade II,  Pan's Labyrinth, Crimson Peak (see review), and beyond! It's incredible to see up close and personal his private collection that truly embodies not only his works but also the images of his boundless imagination. He had said his monsters are envisioned by the images he saw as a child and that is undoubtedly the most petrifying thing to know once you've witnessed the collection. If you have a chance, go see the exhibit for yourself before it leave in November, you will be equally dazzled and terrified.

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There has never been a time that A24 has let me down. They acquired and distributed the most innovative films to come our in the last decade like Spring Breakers, Under the Skin, The Witch, American Honey, and now, there's Moonlight. They've been doing a terrific job but now, they're taking leveling even higher up with Moonlight considering that it is A24's first in-house production alongside Plan B, with Brad Pitt as Executive Producer. This is Barry Jenkins' sophomore feature film and he is not messing around yall!



Moonlight is based on the play "In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue" by Tarell Alvin McCraney. The story tells the life story of a young man named Chiron (Trevante Rhodes) through three chapters of his life. This trailer is hands down one of the most beautiful trailers I've seen in a while. The luscious cinematography, tornado-like score, stories about sexuality are simply the kind of films I tend to fall deeply in love with. I love you so so so so much A24! Thank goodness the film is premiering at TIFF and then being released a month later. Till then, I gotta catch up with Barry Jenkins' first film, Medicine for Melancholy!

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You know that anything with Nick Cave is going to be an emotional and powerful experience as clearly seen in this trailer for his latest film,  One More Time With Feeling. It's been ten years since Nick Cave and Warren Ellis' has collaborated on Andrew Dominik's The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and now they are reuniting for this film!  Originally the film was going to be a look at the  creation of Nick Cave & the Bad Seed's latest album, The Skeleton Tree but soon it evolved into something more as it shows Cave grappling with the sudden loss of his son Arthur last year. 

Nick Cave only came into my radar after I watched 20,000 Day on Earth at Beyond Fest and I was so enamored with it, I named it one of the best films of 2014! The trailer only offers a glimpse of what is in store for us but as always, it seems breathtakingly haunting and immensely somber. The film will be out on September 8th for a one night event! I'll be bringing my tissues along, no doubt.


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It has finally arrived! One of the most buzzed about films to come out of Sundance this year is Andrew Ahn's Spa Night! Ahn perfectly captures the specific yet universal aspect of the Korean-American experience with his directorial debut film. The story follows David Cho, a Korean-American teen who battles with his burgeoning sexuality and the familial expectations when his family's restaurant is forced to close. Joe Seo who plays David won the 'Breakthrough Performance' at Sundance Film Festival and it's clear, that there is immense talent in front and behind the camera. I've seen the film several times before it's LA premiere at Outfest which I was honored to write the capsule for and let me tell you, the film hit me like a rocket (in a good way)! Thank you Strand Releasing for finally releasing it August 26! 

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Time for another live-stream video! I've always wanted to do a Film Favorites video considering that they one for every genre on YouTube besides for film so I did one! There were so many incredible films that came out in June but the ones that left me LOLing, bat-shit terrified, and wholly polarized was Taika Waititi's Hunt for Wilderpeople, Na Hong-jin's The Wailing, & Nicholas Winding Refn's The Neon Demon, respectively. All three of these films came from an auteur with a strong vision that continuously dares to challenge us as spectators and as human beings. Let me know what your June film favorites were & if I missed anything! 

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Park Chan-wook's latest film The Handmaiden already made waves at this year's Cannes Film Festival and lo and behold, the marvelous poster just dropped! When I was in Korea, the film had already come out and this exact poster was the one plastered throughout the city and I'm glad they're using the same one for the American poster because it says so much. The story follows a young female pickpocket from the slums who is hired by a con man to join an elaborate scam in which she becomes the personal servant of a wealthy Japanese heiress, who she ultimately tried to seduce! I can't wait to see this steamy lesbian drama unfold once it comes out in theaters October 14!


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Year: 2016
Director: Justin Lin
Writer: Simon Pegg & Doug Jung
Cinematographer: Stephen F. Windon
Cast: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, John Cho, Anton Yelchin, Idris Elba, Sofia Boutella
Country of Origin: USA
Rating: PG-13
Time: 120 mins.



For skeptical Star Trek fans that were scared that Justin Lin would ruin their favorite franchise, have no fear, Star Trek Beyond is out of this world! A surprise attack in outer space forces the Enterprise to land on a foreign world. Lizard-like dictator Krall needs an ancient and valuable artifact from the ship and so the crew must now battle a deadly alien species while trying to find a way off their hostile planet! This film was one of my most anticipated film of the summer and it did not disappoint!



With the old writers out and Simon Pegg and Doug Jung in, they take us back to the roots of Star Trek which foundation was built on the message of unity, diversity, and discovery. It's one exhilarating ride that seamlessly blends a story with palpable emotional weight, inventive action sequences, and a kickass score! I'm so glad that Lin was able to make this film his own while continuing the tone, essence, and general fun of the franchise that we all love so much. Without a doubt, Star Trek Beyond is the summer blockbuster of this year! 

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Surprise you guys! YOMYOMF + Justin Lin have teamed up to bring you the Interpretations 2.0 shorts contest and I have submitted my own short called Blue Paradise! The rules were that we could only use four lines of dialogue: "Don't do that", "Of course", & "I have my doubts", "What is it?" and it had to be under 3 minutes!

I have always been fascinated by how people process grief and so when I read these lines, this story about a man retreating to his safe haven after finding out his girlfriend's infidelity, came immediately to mind! It's dark, nuanced, and plays with sexuality and gender roles.

Now that I submitted it, we shall just wait to see if it passes the selection process! Whatever the outcome, I really enjoyed bringing this story to life and am so thankful to all my friends who have helped make this into a reality. I hope you watch it in fullscreen with the audio blasting! & let me know your thoughts!
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It's been a while since I posted up a video so I thought why not do a live-stream video of my entire DVD collection! I have a variety of DVDs, Blu-rays, and Criterion Collection films here that I've been acquiring since I was in the teens, hoping one day that I could open up my own movie rental shop/theater. What a realistic dream that is now, don't you think? This is gonna take a while so sit back, relax, let's talk about some movies and catch up!


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If you know anything about me, you would know that my #1 babe is Andrea Arnold. Fish Tank was the audacious, in-your-face, social realism film that I didn't know I so desperately needed in my life! And once I heard that she was going to make her American film debut with American Honey, starring Shia LaBeouf and newcomer Sasha Lane, I knew I was in for a wiiiiiiiild ride. The story is an epic roadtrip that follows a teenager girl who joins a travelling magazine sales crew and gets consumed in the whirlwind of hard partying, law breaking, and young love as she blazes through the Midwest.



American Honey premiered at this year's Cannes Film Festival where it went to win the Jury Prize which is Arnold's third time winning the award. As expected, the trailer possesses the best of what Arnold has to offer and more. Entailing #1 hit tunes, a collection of unruly first-time & seasoned actors and raw intimacy, American Honey will surely be the most explosive and daring portrait of millennial youth to date. Arnold is one of the few filmmakers that continues to push the bar and tackle subjects and people that are rarely shown on screen. She is still and will always be my biggest inspiration as a Filmmaker and Critic. Thanks always to A24 for distributing the film. Surely, it will come out at the end of 2016. 

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Happy #AAPIHeritageMonth aka #AAPIHM! Everyday this month I've been listing my fav AAPI films about AAs & by AA. Read part I and here is part II! Join me & hashtag #AAPIFilmz!

Girlfight

If you've seen Karyn Kusama's directorial debut film, Girlfight then you would know that she's been killin' the film game since day one. It's no wonder that the film won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance back in 2000 and was lauded by critics and audiences everywhere. The story follows Diana Guzman, a troubled teen in Brooklyn who decides to channel her aggression by training to become a boxer. This was Michelle Rodriguez's breakthrough role and one that solidified her as a promising talent. Diana was unapologetically fierce and always down to fight gender discrimination both in her public and private life! And that's also one of the many reasons why Diana Guzman is a certified Badass Femmes



Advantageous

I don't think I even remember any science-fiction starring Asian-Americans in the forefront besides Jennifer Phang's Advantageous. It could definitely be the first! In a near-future city where soaring opulence overshadows economic hardship, Gwen and her daughter Jules do all they can do to hold onto their joy together, despite the instability surrounding their world. Adapted by her 23-minute short, Phang presents a thought-provoking and quietly disturbing sci-fi drama that touches on what happens to females as mothers, workers, and as simply humans, once civilization is in decline. It might be a hit or miss to some people but if you let the film's message marinate, you will see the beauty and tragedy of what the future holds for us. 


Planet B-Boy

It was in college where I discovered my passion for documentaries when I saw Benson Lee's breakdancing doc, Planet B-Boy. The top b-boys from Germany, Japan, South Korea, France, and the United States all rigorously train for their version of the breakdancing Olympics called Battle of the Year. It's an crash course on the history of breakdancing as well as an insight on each team's own cultural inspirations, history, and motivation behind their individually distinct dance styles. Exhilarating & passionate, Planet B-Boy will make you rethink breakdancing as more than just a dance but a true art form. 

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Happy #AAPIHeritageMonth aka #AAPIHM! Everyday this month I'm going to list my fav AAPI films about AAs & by AA. Join me & hashtag #AAPIFilmz!

Better Luck Tomorrow

Of course Justin Lin's Better Luck Tomorrow is one of my favorite AAPI films. I watched it when I was 15 and did not know its effect on me considering it felt so similar to my life. Till this day, there hasn't yet been a film made that touches on the nuances of the pressures, expectations, & stereotypes of being Asian-American in this day & age.



Sin Nombre

Cary Fukunaga directorial debut film, Sin Nombre blew me away the first time I watched it. Never had I seen a film where the story followed three different character's journey only for them to collide mid-way through the film. It was so refreshingly bold and captured the grim realities of what Mexican immigrants experienced coming to America with such acute sensitivity, I was shocked to know that a Japanese-American man directed the film. It will always be, hands down, one of the best debut films I will ever see. 



Treeless Mountain

So Yong Kim's Treeless Mountain was a breath of fresh air I didn't know I needed. She capture life as it should be seen: unfiltered, trivial, and at times slow but it is in these special moments that we can see the beauty of life as they truly are. The two young actresses were incredible to watch as they carried this film with delicate intimacy and poignancy.



Farah Goes Bang


Meera Menon's directorial debut feature, Farah Goes Bang tells an important female-centric story about what it means to be a multicultural person in modern America. This coming-of-age story focuses on three best friends' intertwining lives that explores female sexuality, cultural identity, and friendship in the backdrop of the very specific era of John Kerry's ill-fated 2004 presidential campaign. Its timely story speaks volumes on the pains of growing up as well as the state of the country itself. 



American Revolutionary: The Evolution Of Grace Lee Boggs

Grace Lee's American Revolutionary: The Evolution Of Grace Lee Boggs is essential viewing for all activists across the globe. I didn't know who Grace Lee Boggs was prior to viewing the doc so I got a crash course in how she became one of the most iconic and influential figures in the Black Power movement. I feel so fortunate to have been in her presence before she passed away last year. The doc will inspire, empower, and educate you to start standing up for what you believe in, no matter how old you are.



Hooligan Sparrow

After premiering at this year's Sundance Film Festival, Nanfu Wang's Hooligan Sparrow went straight to LAAPFF and won the Grand Jury and Best Director prize. It follows the women's rights activist Hooligan Sparrow, who has had a target on her head from the Chinese government since day one. Wang sticks by Sparrow through the most dangerous of times as they are constantly harassed by thugs and policemen alike. In your face & urgent, Hooligan Sparrow shows proof that documentaries can be an effective and dangerous weapon against oppression.  Look out for Wang because she is one fearless filmmaker that dares to push the boundaries and make a difference. 



Top Spin

With the Olympics coming up, how can I forget the incredible documentary, Top Spin?! We follow three teenage American table tennis champions on their way to the 2012 Summer Olympic Games from their rigorous training to their final battles. Filled with super-sonic power and motivation, these young athletes defy the odds of becoming an Olympian and make you wish you were this talented when you were their age. Directors Mina T. Son and Sara Newens crafts a swiftly edited, concise, and thrilling doc that'll ultimately make you a fan of Table Tennis and these kids. 



The Motel

Let's get real, when I first watched Michael Kang's debut film The Motel at the tender age of 16, I just didn't get it. I didn't get how this seemingly unremarkable story about a boy living in a motel in upstate New York could be remotely relatable to a SoCal gal like me. In retrospect, I see now that its trivial and honest portrayal of adolescence is what makes the film such a vital and authentic piece of Asian-American cinema. 13-year-old Ernest Chin is awkward with girls, bullied by his white neighbor, and fatherless. But with the help of Sam Kim (Sung Kang), maybe just maybe, Ernest will be able to navigate into manhood despite his unfortunate circumstances in life. 



Mysterious Skin

Anyone who has watched Gregg Araki's Mysterious Skin knows how vital and essential the film is to the Queen Cinema canon. This is Araki's 8th film and first time using someone else's source material. Adapting Scott Heim's novel of the same name, Araki constructs Mysterious Skin with brutal intimacy and visual poeticism to tell a sensitive story about two different boy's journey into young adulthood after being sexually abused by their baseball coach. This is the film that put Joseph Gordon-Levitt on the map and even till this day, his performance is single-handedly still one of the most complex and audacious performances I've ever seen. This film is a bold, thoughtful and illuminating cinematic experience that you surely won't forget.



In Football We Trust

Set in the backdrop of a predominantly Mormon and White town, In Football We Trust follows the journey of four Polynesian high school students as they chase their life long and life-changing dream of attaining professional recruitments. Filmed over the span of four years, first time filmmakers Tony Vainuku and Erika Cohn chronicles these NFL hopeful's struggles and pressures to balance cultural and familial expectations in order to find an ticket out from gang violence and poverty. In moments of adolescence, and simply growing up, the greatest challenge for these four boys is the arduous and sobering journey of the high stakes that come with trying to achieve your dreams all while flourishing out of their adolescence. In no time, they are faced with the harsh realities that maybe, Football it is not all it's cracked up to be. (Full Review)



Ping Pong Playa

Ping Pong Playa is exactly the kind of Asian-American comedy that I've been waiting for! Probably because of the fact that minus the story being centered around an Asian family, the core of the film unraveled like any other low-brow underdog sport film that's released in mainstream media today. Christopher "C-Dub" Wang is a wannabe baller and a supreme slacker but he must step up to the plate when his family's business and their ping pong champion reputation is on the line. Laugh out loud hilarious and a damn good leisure watch, I hoped other people liked it too. But in the context of knowing that this film is Academy Award winning filmmaker, Jessica Yu's first narrative feature after working on groundbreaking and daring documentaries, I can see why people would feel disappointed in her shift in projects. Regardless, seeing this NBA-loving slacker turned ping-pong playa reminded me so much of the AzN guys I've grown up with, I just sat back and laughed my ass off.



Twinsters

If you haven't seen Ryan Miyamoto and Samantha Futerman's Twinsters already, you have not felt, experienced, and seen beauty of what this crazy life has to offer! Sam Futerman's world gets turned upside down when one day she receives an unexpected and life-changing email from a French fashion student Anais Bordier, claiming that they might be twins. Twinsters presents the surprisingly intimate and emotionally-potent portrait of two disparate but connected women, following their journey together to find solace within themselves and to reclaim their heritage--no matter how incredulous their circumstances might have been. It's one of the best documentaries I've seen in recent memory that'll have you reaching for the nearest tissue. Guarantee.


 Crush the Skull

Viet Nguyen's Crush the Skull is proof that you can finesse the art of creating a refined and successful horedy film! Horror + Comedy, duh! One last job, they said. They were going to go to vacation after this, they said. Yeah right! In Crush the Skull, a group of thieves becomes trapped in the home of a deranged serial killer. Perfecting the horedy genre by a seamless blend of slapstick comedy and horror tropes, Viet Nguyen and co-writer Christopher Dinh creates belly-achingly hilarious and nail-bitingly frightening film that'll have you hollering and jumping from your seat from giddy terror. Get ready to bring your weapon of choice because you're gonna need to crush someone's skull!



Detention

You're either going to love or hate Joseph Kahn's batshit crazy slasher/high school film, Detention. The mastermind behind (possibly) every iconic pop culture moment in the last two decades finally tried his hand in narrative filmmaking and it wasn't until his second feature where his cinematic voice was perfected and understood by most. A bit of Breakfast Club + Prom Night + E.V.E.R.Y. other teen film, Detention centers around a copycat killer named after a movie villain named Cinderhella who is stalking the student body at Grizzy Lake High School and it's up to a group of kids serving detention to solve the crime. Going at a supersonic speed and never letting up even for our ADHD+ brains, Detention pumps out every movie trope and pop cultural references in milliseconds, serving us a plate of severely deranged and absurd fun!!! 



Meet the Patels

Like so many first generation immigrant kids, Ravi Patel was getting harassed by his parents on a daily to get married to a nice Indian girl. With Ravi's sister Geeta Patel co-directing with him and behind the camera, 
Meet the Patels is indeed a family affair as we follow his journey to find a wife to make his family happy. What starts out as an enlightening intro to Indian culture 101, soon becomes a story about navigating modern love: trying dating apps, attending weddings, even participating in a Patel Matrimonial Convention (Gotta see it to believe). Humorous as it is outrageously charming, Meet the Patels ultimately shows the struggles and cultural expectations most immigrant kids face today along with the million other obstacles of trying to find your one and only true love in this mad mad world!

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