What I learned from the handful of films I’ve been watching at the Asian Film Festival of Dallas the last few days:
1) Drag was okay, back in the day…at least in Peking opera. Chen Kaige’s riveting autobiographical film about Mei Lanfang, Forever Enthralled, follows China’s top performing opera singer as he rose to international fame in the early 1900’s . The male performer would sometimes perform in female roles and would do it so convincingly that he had audiences in tears and became a celeb in China. The sumptuous/tortuous flick had me grabbing for tissues as well. Coming to wide release soon!
3) Fairy tales sometimes DO NOT have happy endings. Korean flick Hansel and Gretel had me oooh’ing and aaah’ing over the mesmerizing colors (the entire thing was filmed in 35mm) and beautiful art direction, but also shivering over the unsettling creepiness of the ridiculously happy children…with something much more to hide. Complete with unnerving scenes of Asian women with long creepy hair.
The festival’s final films tonight are Ip Man, a Hong Kong martial arts historical drama about the man whom Bruce Lee studied under at 7:30 pm. Then at 10 pm, there’s a Thai horror flick called 4BIA (like phobia, but four-bia), a quartet of 4 horror masterpieces by 4 different directors. The trailer made me jump. Needless to say, the film should make me scream. Can’t wait!