Posts tagged "CAAMFest"

Dead Pigs (Review)

Dead Pigs

Dead Pigs movie
2018
Written and directed by Cathy Yan

TarsTarkas.NET returns for one last CAAMFest 2018 movie review! Even before Cathy Yan got tapped for Birds of Prey I was interested in seeing Dead Pigs, as it was getting some great buzz and people I trust on Twitter were thrilled with it. It’s a story of modern China as it goes through the growing pains of leaping forward to superpower status at light speed. It’s also five different interconnected narratives that are part of a larger picture of unintended consequences and reveal a lifestyle of walls of deception being put up to fake achievements that just haven’t quite happened yet. Pieces with multiple characters and stories can be complicated and sometimes just don’t work at all, but Yan has managed to weave together the parts into a wonderful tapestry, and I hope this is just the beginning of an amazing narrative career.

Old Wang (Yang Hao-Yu) is a pig farmer but his pigs start dying. The bigger problem is he borrowed a bunch of money to invest and got swindled by a fly by night operator. The pigs were his collateral and now the triads he borrowed the money from are angry. His sister Candy Wang (Vivian Wu Jun-Mei) women powered business with mantras and slogans and networking but lives alone with her dog in the house she grew up in. Right now it is a nail house, the last house standing where a modern development project is going in, and she refuses to leave. The desolate location is offset by the house’s bright colors and whimsical decorations, but all of which look quaint compared to the modern new architecture and design going up everywhere else.
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Posted by Tars Tarkas - May 27, 2018 at 8:08 am

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Unlovable (Review)

Unlovable

Unlovable
2018
Written by Charlene deGuzman, Sarah Adina Smith, and Mark Duplass
Directed by Suzi Yoonessi

We’re back again with the second of the three 2018 CAAMfest screenings, this time we’re covering Unlovable, another film that’s written by the lead actress and filled with plenty of raw emotions on screen.

Charlene deGuzman is Joy, who seems like a nice young girl except for the part where she’s trying to kill herself during the opening as her life is a mess. She fails, thank goodness (it’s not one of those movies, where a dead actress is narrating everything!), but we learn that she suffers from sex and love addiction. For those not too familiar with these things, it seems like something that would be very hot, but in reality it is people compulsively going on binges with whoever is available, even if they are the most unappealing people you can imagine. Joy generally stops by the bar, gets beyond wasted, and soon is all over whoever she can get her hands on. That’s a problem because she’s in a relationship and her binges are also making it hard for her to get to work on time.

After the latest round causes her to get dumped and thrown out by her boyfriend, she goes to a 12 step program (it is stated that she’s tried this several times before but it has never stuck) She strikes up a friendship with a woman named Maddie (Melissa Leo), but she refuses to be her sponsor. Only after another binge where Joy wakes up in the morning after a bachelor party where the polaroids reveal quite a lot went on with quite a few people (and one of them gives her a wad of cash), Maddie agrees to sponsor her and put her up in her grandmother’s shed. She must completely detox which means no drinking, sex, texting, sexting, masturbating, or generally any physical contact for 30 days. That proves to be a lot harder than it sounds for poor Joy.
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Posted by Tars Tarkas - May 24, 2018 at 8:57 am

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White Rabbit (Review)

White Rabbit

White Rabbit
2018
Written by Vivian Bang and Daryl Wein
Directed by Daryl Wein

Hey, 2018 CAAMfest arrived and thanks to the magic of not having any shows at the “still run by the harassment-enabling Tim League” Alamo Drafthouse, tickets were purchased as a reward! (A reward for thee and me, of course! But mostly me.) Up first is what turned out to be my personal favorite of the three movies I went to, White Rabbit!

We first meet Sophia (Vivian Bang) already in character, dressed in a white with with face paint and a white jumpsuit, speaking into a microphone at an actual Whole Foods. She talks with an obvious Asian accent and recounts a classic immigrants journey in America, as customers pay confused attention. The real Sophia doesn’t have an accent nor is she the struggling mother who bought a store with her family after years of toil. She’s a single artist in LA who lives in a tiny apartment and is constantly creating outsider art for a small amount of views. Sophia survives by doing odd jobs on Taskrabbit, which leads to a few interesting encounters.

Sophia’s commitment to making her art is a blessing and a curse. As we find out from her meeting with an ex-girlfriend, Sophia treats her art as the highest priority and everything else second, including anyone she is in a relationship with and even Sophia herself. A meeting with a man who liked her work on YouTube soon turns awkward when he realizes she isn’t an immigrant with an accent and the powerful female role he envisions her in just isn’t powerful enough in his mind if she’s not speaking with an accent. He then manages to turn her obvious and vocal discomfort to somehow be all about him (the role was played by the director and collaborator Daryl Wein in a wonderfully accurate picture of certain types of supposed allies!)
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Posted by Tars Tarkas - May 22, 2018 at 9:34 am

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Cardinal X (Review)

Cardinal X

Cardinal X
2017
Written and directed by Angie Wong
Cardinal X
Back in the 1980s, much of the MDMA in the Bay Area came from a surprising source – a college student making it herself. The story is even largely true, with certain events and people amalgamated together and switched around for dramatic effect. But Angie Wang is real, she did make drugs while at Stanford, and survived to write and directed this autobiographical tale called Cardinal X

Angie Wang (Annie Q.) travels from New Jersey to not-Stanford to begin college, and her wild side lets her live a fun life. She immediately bonds with her roommate and they are soon partying it up at night and taking classes all day. There is trouble behind the scenes, her dad can’t afford the tuition, and Angie can’t escape flashbacks to tragic events in her life such as family discord and sexual assaults. Angie is smart, and quickly sees a need for a supplier in MDMA in the local party scene, and thanks to a new job as a lab assistant and a loophole in the law, she’s soon manufacturing a pile of pills to bring in extra money. We all know this is going to spiral out of control, so hang on for the ride!

Angie sees herself as broken, beyond the rape and assaults, her mother left her with her father when she was young, and her father was always working and emotionally distant. He is constantly worried about money. Angie internalizes the bad things that happened to her in life and her wild party behavior, thinking she’s too flawed to be with anyone normal. Nice guy Tommy (Scott Keiji Takeda) befriends her during the first few weeks of school, and she even spends part of a holiday with his normal, happy family. It’s just too much, she thinks she can’t have that life, that she’s too messed up to deserve it, and quickly leaves. That’s why Angie connects so well with her roommate, Jeanine (Francesca Eastwood), she appears to come from a nice, upper class family, but that hides her mom’s drinking and non-stop insults, causing her to escape via chemical means, as well as cutting and bulimia.
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Posted by Tars Tarkas - March 11, 2017 at 6:59 pm

Categories: Good, Movie Reviews   Tags: , , , , ,