Sunday, July 9, 2017

Yellow Fever

I just watched this movie and I'm actually watching it again. It's one of those movies that I could totally see playing over and over on TV all the time. Like the "Devil Wears Prada." I was trying to think of what kind of movie it is. Is it a social justice movie? A coming of age movie? An "Asian" movie? But it's actually an American Romantic Comedy. I mean, the people that liked "16 Candles" would love this movie....which is the genius of it. It talks about issues of stereotypes (which 16 Candles is famous for) and although it starts off with Asia's monologue that focuses on this. The movie isn't really about that. It's about love, growing olymp trade platform up, growing old, mid life crisis and all taking place in just a few days.  There's a lot of food in the movie too and I got pretty hungry watching lol. 

I got a chance to talk to director Kat Moon and here is the interview!

BCB: What inspired you to make this movie?

Kat Moon: When we screened in Cali, some people came up to me and congratulated me on my brilliant acting in the film.  They thought I was Jenna!  That's one reason. Yellow Fever is a lot, a bit a comical "edumacation" on all the wrong things people say.  The other being there simply aren't enough stories with a strong female Asian lead that buck the stereotypical Asian female characteristics of being a kungfu master, a submissive sex doll, or the math geek. I wanted to portray my lead as an American, without having to preface it as "Asian American."  But I couldn't, because apparently a film about a Korean American girl adopted by a white family is still categorized as "ethnic." I mean, being American these days should mean a rainbow of colors and mixed families - notice I say should.  

(On under director's statement, there's also a blurb about Korean-American adoption history, which I thought was very interesting and a reason why I set the film in the year 2000).

BCB: What's with the title?

Kat Moon: Yellow Fever.  Catchy isn't it? That's a big reason.  We all know the negative connotations of having "yellow fever" in that creepy fetishized sense.  But I wanted this film to redefine the term - take it back, so to speak.  Why can't someone who's crazy bout kimchi (the food, not the derogatory term) have yellow fever?   

BCB: Is this your first movie? What was your experience writing and directing?

Kat Moon: Yes this is the first feature film I've written and directed.  It was certainly taxing at times, but when the adrenaline kicks in and you're in it, you're in it to win it.  

BCB: How did you feel when Nahhani Johnstone won for best supporting Actress in London?

Kat Moon: I was thrilled when Nahanni won!  She played her role so brilliantly and I'm so proud to have gotten the chance to meet her and work with her. On that vein, I'm just so pleased with our whole ensemble cast.  Jenna Ushkowitz, as you know, was the lead Korean American on Glee, Scott Patterson was the famous Luke Danes on Gilmore Girls, and Michael Lowry was just nominated for a Daytime Emmy.  So we really did have a high caliber of acting talent.  

BCB: What are you looking forward to in the future?

I'm looking forward to telling more stories about under-represented people.  There's a lot more swirling round in this head of mine.     

Monday, July 3, 2017

Dulcimer at the pops

This year the Boston pops orchestra is going to have a Chinese dulcimer player performing with them. Something which I never thought I would see. The musician, Hannah To, learned from the same teacher as me. I heard her perform years ago and she was incredibly good, at another level than the good kids when I was playing. It will be exciting to watch her performance to celebrate the founding of our  country and also to see of we can get an interview with her about her experience.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Shaolin Masters and Monks at Harvard on August 5th

British Lion Crushing Dragon

I had heard from a friend about a Hong Kong Bank note that depicted what I said in the title and was going to use the image of the note as a reference while talking about the Boxer Rebellion, Gene Luen Yang's "Boxers and Saints" and the old movie with Charlton Heston that I watched and did many an entry about yesterday, "55 Days at Peking."

But what ended up happening was I could not find the bank note... and though I do not doubt my friend... the bank note image has taken on unicorn status for me. Does it even exist?

If it doesn't, how the story started is even more interesting. Though really I don't doubt that it exists myself. But maybe it doesn't and somehow my friend saw something that did not exist?

But even still it should really be something so common to find.

Either way that is fascinating and just reminds me how important it is to keep a record of such things that is not just oral.

These are some pictures of coins from Hong Kong pre 1997 from another friend in New York. I only post it because maybe one day, despite Wikipedia and history books, to common might become a little known fact that Hong Kong was once a British colony. Seriously ask many American teenagers that are not Chinese and see if they are like, "duh Hong Kong was a British Colony" or see if they say something else. 

Monday, June 26, 2017

The importance of Gene Luen Yang

After watching 55 days at Peking... especially when the plot followed history in an extremely selective manner I realized how important Gene Luen Yang's Boxers and Saints is.  I mean they have read it already last year.... but having seen 55 Days.... I realized that I need to buy these books.

Looking at Gene Luen Yang's site, I was reminded of all the other work he has done and realized I NEED all his work not only because of cultural heritage and perspective and all that.... but because my kids would actually read this stuff on their own.

Watching Gene's Ted talk about comics in the classroom (on that site) I realized that Gene is an educator... and 55 days was made by Hollywood. It wasn't just that 55 days was skewed, because I think they were actually trying to be fair and balanced.... because there was a lot of bad things that the Boxers did that the movie really doesn't show. Although Gene's book that covers the Boxers shows a Boxer as the main Character (the other one shows a Chinese Christian as the main character) he still shows atrocities in an extremely violent way that 55 days did not.

Because Gene is an educator he did care about the actual historical events and context and manages to put all of that info into a fairly small and entertaining comic book, while 55 days honestly takes forever to get to the point of the movie and then glosses over the real substance of the event, instead relying on Hollywood formula's (which to be fair are probably the best parts of the movie.)

55 Days is an old movie but it isn't irrelevant because most of how mainstream it is, how unracistly racist it is. Or at least culturalist... because in a way, the movie is pro Chinese race and anti boxer and government.

It is the mainstream propoganda that benignly seeps into our children's minds and takes root there that is more dangerous than someone yelling and screaming racial slurs. And shouting is really not the way to go about it. Shouting at the mainstream is probably more innefective... but CHANGING the mainstream.

Look at Gene's site... his works include SUPERMAN! I knew this... but I forgot it and I also didn't see how much thought he put into his work.

He has Avatar. He has a Chinese American superhero in a 1930's Chinatown called Shadow warrior. But again most importantly, his work is entertaining. So the kids will read it.

Secret Coders would be a great thing for Grace's idea of Kung Fu and Coding. In fact, if I had a brick and Mortar Kung Fu school I would buy all of Gene's books and make them required reading.

It is amazing how much media is out there now that we can use and hold up and support that is EXCELLENT in terms of quality and in terms of reaching the masses.