Thursday, May 22, 2008

Michael Kang's The Motel

I haven't attended VC's Asian Pacific Film Fest for two years straight now. It's not that I have an aversion to APA films, but more of a general apathy. I just never see anything remotely exciting or worthwhile or even entertaining.

In fairness, this extends to black and Latino (American) filmmaking as well as national Asian cinema as well. For instance the so-called Tokyo and Korean new-waves are no-waves. Two exceptions: I liked Park's Oldboy, but didn't care for the other two in his "Revenge" trilogy. Then there's my friend Danny's documentary on Pancho Gonzalez, Warrior of the Court, which was better than I thought it would be.

In the end, movies are a real commitment - you decide to block out 3-4 hours of time inclusive of commuting. If it's a fest, even more. So, for me, it was just a matter of diminishing return, plain and simple.

So finally, my daughter picks out Michael Kang's The Motel, and not only was I pleasantly surprised, but really impressed. Perfect? No. Would I have done some things differently? Of course, but what was interesting was listening to Kang's - and Jeffrey Chyau's & Sung Kang's - commentary. How in certain scenes where I would have told the actors to do it differently, the way Kang justified it. That line between maudlin/just right... and the way people see it so differently...

But that's minor shit talkin'. For what I'm assuming is his first feature, he delivered. And while I'd heard of The Motel since it'd done so well at Sundance, my paranoia kept me away. So, thanks to DVD and a lack of good stuff, The Motel finally caught up with me.

Kang not only has good instincts/taste, but really knows what he's doing. He exudes the same confidence that Dayton/Faris did on Little Miss Sunshine. It's doubly satisfying; not only is it a solid flick, but I can at last point to an APA filmmaker and not feel embarrassed, but in fact, pretty proud. I hate to keep making this about me - hey, it IS my dumb blog after all - but as I was saying, for me, that's a breakthrough.