Saturday, April 19, 2003

Asians and Film

I have written about this briefly before, but with the increased hype these past two weeks about a couple of Asian films, I thought I would give it a try. First is one of my favorites, Bend it Like Beckham, Gurindher Chadha's film about an British Asian girl wanting to play football. The film has been doing really well, and even after being released almost four weeks ago, is still getting good press. Today's Washington Post has a nice article by Donna Britt, explaining how everyone, Indian, American, Chinese, Latin, whowever you are, at times have to try and "bend things" to fit in. Here are a couple of paragraphs, which I thought were nice.

Perhaps audiences are captivated by the film's
suggestion that most of us are benders -- not of balls but of ourselves.
Heroine Jess (Nagra) feels so pulled between her parents' cherished Indian
and Sikh traditions and her own decidedly un-feminine dreams of
soccer stardom that she hides her participation with a women's team.

But isn't bending part of living? For years, I
shaped my speech patterns according to who I was with -- whether my
parents or friends or less-affluent classmates or preppy co-workers.
Shifting cadences, softening or sharpening my "g"s, I'd decide, moment by
moment, which me to reveal.

To the South-Asian Americans reading this post, if you have already seen this film on a pirated DVD, or VHS, go to the theater and see it again. Let Hollywood know that South Asians are here, and these are the kinds of films we want to see. We want to see more Desi's and people of ethnic heritage on the big screen (and on the small screen as well). If we don't support movies like Bend it Like Beckham, the big studios will not change. And second of all, stop giving these desi shopkeepers reasons to stock pirated videos. So, to make what could be a long diatribe short, GO SEE THIS MOVIE!

The other Asian film that was recently released and doing quite well is Justin Lin's Better Luck Tomorrow. Since being picked up by MTV films for distributing, this film has been able to be played and more theaters, and the more, that we as Asian-Americans, or any type of American, go to theater and support these movies, the more change will come. There is a great AP review in the Washington Post, and here are a couple of paragraphs:

Justin Lin's movie embraces stereotypes in order to smash them. The heroes, all Asian, find the perfect cover in the way parents, teachers and classmates perceive them - intelligent and industrious, yet quiet and humble. In reality, they're first-rate thieves and scam artists, and they learn how to run their criminal enterprise by first mastering the socially acceptable art of scamming admissions deans at the nation's top universities.

Lin makes an argument worth considering: that the soul-sucking college-application process and the shamelessly cynical resume-padding that goes into it are just a half-step away morally from a life of crime. These boys' hearts are in nothing they do, either academic or extracurricular; it's all a show to impress a dean behind an ivy-covered wall. "Better Luck Tomorrow" - shot in Orange County, Calif., where Lin was raised - is the most keenly observed, savagely funny vision of high school life since 1999's "Election." Lin's immersion into his characters' universe is so deep that adults have only a handful of speaking roles - a bold choice that suggests the extent to which parents and teachers can be kept in the dark.

The reviews of Better luck Tomorrow have been great, and screenings have been selling out, so go to the movies, do an Asian double feature. Go see Bend it Like Beckham and Better Luck Tomorrow, today!


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