Jul 1, 2007

Red Doors: Thumbs Down.

Have been in a whirlwind of other activity lately, so haven't been able to be present here, but hell, it's summer and I'm not making excuses, just living life. Enjoyed Gravel in the Dem "Debate" at Howard. I really think he was awesome, because he made Kucinich look like a regular ol' liberal. So his little quixotic campaign is offering the most interesting element to the long and overwrought primary marathon. Gosh, I can't wait for this to be over. I can't imagine that I'll be out of school and working (hopefully) by the time election day finally rolls around. Unreal that we're still 16 months away.

Anyway, I saw Red Doors by Georgia Lee recently - one of those films on the "must see someday" list that I finally got around to. I want to be supportive, but I have to give this one 2 of 5 stars. And one of those is because as an APA film it gets an automatic star. It just didn't do it for me at all. I found the storytelling to be too ambitious with not enough going on, if that makes any sense. I didn't believe in the family or in any of the individual characters, and it wasn't a small enough movie or plot for me to just sit in for the ride. So that was a problem, because I got to the point when I just didn't care about what was happening anymore. I know that it's not fair to compare a new artist with one who is established, but thinking about something from Wayne Wang like Dim Sum or Chan is Missing or Ang Lee's Wedding Banquet or Pushing Hands, and you really see masters at work. It's a totally different thing from what I was witnessing with this film. I felt like it was flat. And I really like Asian American films (do I have to sit here and talk about the merits of Shopping for Fangs, Disoriented, or even... well I won't go as far as American Desi because of Alaudin's role in it, but still... I'm pretty soft on these films). Even though I think that Mike Kang had promoted the film as one to see because it's a filmmaker that he knows, he's being too kind on this one. Watch Better Luck Tomorrow again, and even though you'll cringe at some of it, hell, the story still drew you in. Okay, I'm panning this film, but it was formulaic, and for a 2005 film, we should be beyond the formula. Eat a Bowl of Tea wasn't even formulaic, and we had stuff like Joy Luck already. Give us a sliver of life, but make it vibrant.

Georgia Lee's first short was included in the DVD package ("Educated"), and it was actually more interesting than the feature. It had some interesting concepts, angles, techniques (like I'm an expert). But the feature didn't do it for me, and I wish her well. The scenes with Julie, the middle sister, made me really want to see Saving Face, Alice Wu's clever, sweet, well-acted film that I just thought the world of. Better luck... next time.

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