O.K. - So I know the winners were announced two weeks ago, but I just caught all of them from the website a little bit ago, and after watching them once online, downloading them and taking them to a coffee shop and watching them again a day later, and then burning them to a DVD and watching them again a day after that - I figured I had to make a post on my favorites and give out some special awards because viewing them all was something I really enjoyed - and hey - I'm still within a decent amount of time from when the shootout actually ended and I figure they should endure longer than a film festival because there was a lot of Asian American sweat put into them - right?
When I watched them and popped them onto my computer I organized them into folders right away which were Ehhh, So So, Pretty Good, and Really Good - because for the most part I get a feel for what I like and don't like right away and what's good and what isn't (bad sound, crappy camera work, etc.). Later on - after I watched them all and saw the good, the bad, and the Are you effing kidding me? - I did re-arrange some of them, but for the most part - my original likes/dislikes stayed. Team names are in parenthesis.
Top Film: Say Goodbye (Cinemasia)
Here's the deal - I'm a sucker for a cute quirky romance and this definitely fits the bill. Out of all the films this is the one I would watch more than three times (and I have). From the camera work, to the lighting, the shots, the sound, and the acting - everything pretty much flowed for me to the point where I was kind of like "I wish this was a full length feature" and out of all the films, I thought this had the most potential to turn into something much longer. It's like you know in the movie Saving Face where Lynn Chen and Michelle Krusiec are by the candy machine and what a great moment that is to watch? This movie did the same thing for me in parts.
If there was anything I did have to look past though it was these two quick scenes which used this slow motion and had this synth sound effect which almost took me out of the fun/quirky/romantic mood that was there throughout the whole film (I thought they just should have done them without the slow-mo and the synth sound).
But in comparison to all the other films I saw, I thought it combined acting, sound, script, shots - everything that I think a film should have - better than everyone else which is why I popped it at the top of my list.
Runner Up: Killer Headline (Last Minute Films)
When I started this post I thought it would be pretty easy. I knew my favorite, I knew my other top films and I knew what I didn't like. But when it came to actually writing this I soon found out that I didn't have a clear second, or third in mind. I had some which could be here, but it wasn't as transparent as I thought and there were a few in the running - but after a trip to the cash machine, Subway, the local convenient store, and four episodes of Gene Simmons Family Jewels it all became clear.
It was the opening credits - that attention they gave to the color and the font that told me they were really going to care about the movie from start to finish. It was the way that the mood of the story was kept throughout the whole film. It was the acting (not including the first character who we never saw again because he over-acted a little). And it was the lighting and the background sound. They all contributed to why I decided to make this my second pick.
But I think the clinching item for me was that in a lot of ways I think it's tougher to keep a mood going when the mood is dark versus when it's lighter (at least from a viewer POV). In a comedy/light-hearted film, you're more likely to overlook things - lighting, sound, acting - but in a film that's a horror/suspense/thriller I think the mood can be broken easier - and maybe there's something to be said for that since the majority of films strayed from this type of mood - so it got extra points for me because of it (this was the only movie which went from my Pretty Good folder to my Really Good folder btw).
Coming In A Close Third: A First Goodbye (Sans Humor)
I went back and forth between this and Cold War, because I thought Cold War was really good, but what ended up making me choose A First Goodbye over it was that I really couldn't find anything wrong with the movie that gave me "Edward from Melco", but I could with Cold War. See, I thought Cold War did a lot - from different characters to a lot of dialogue to different settings and nice edits, it probably utilized more tools than any other film - but I think when you do a lot it's also easier to see what needs tightening (like the bar scene seemed out of place for me because if you're going to lick/kiss some guy you really need to lay it on).
Juxtapose Cold War with A First Goodbye from Sans Humor, and I thought the latter does less in terms of all the objects moving around, but I thought in the end it executed better, but still had a lot of nice pieces to it (and it made me laugh out loud).
And if you really want to know (and I figure if you're still reading this you'll at least pretend) - I was thinking about placing this as my #2.
Here's the next three films I thought were the best (in order).
Cold War (Color Tv)
Like I said above, this was a close call for me for my number three spot, but I still really thought it was a fun movie, great acting, nice edits from scene to scene, and the idea with the use of theme probably was the most original (and I'd totally use that service). I thought if they would have cleaned up the bar scene and made some sound adjustments (because a couple pieces were too low) it could have swept the shootout.
Drain (Fish Grenade)
I did think this had the best camera shots overall - albeit in a completely art house way - and it creeped me out in a nice fun cartoon sense. The only reason it didn't go higher for me (it was in my Really Good folder right away) was in part because of the dialogue. I do like movies without a ton of dialogue (see Hsiao-hsien Hou) but at the same time I think emotion still needs to be conveyed and I didn't quite get that. I just wanted more somehow.
No Holding Back (Big Egg)
Definitely funny and original and loved the chicken suit and some of the other scenes. Pretty much nothing wrong with this flick in terms of production, and it reminded of Dasepo Naughty Girls (poverty on her back) as well as Jeux d'enfants (because of stopping by the painted STOP). The only reason it didn't get into my top three was because I thought it didn't go far enough in the sense it mixed too much reality with the unreal (like if he can do other things with a guy on his back how come he can't sleep?) - but it was close - could have made my top three and maybe it was more like/dislike than anything else when it comes down to it.
Rounding Out The Top Ten
Almost done - and if you're still reading this you must have nothing better to do, but that makes two of us - and if you're also wondering why some flicks aren't on here, all I can say is that I chose films that seemed more like films to me versus ones that seemed more like skits, even if they weren't as technically sound. In that way sometimes I placed emphasis more on the idea than technical execution (because you can always get someone to hold a steady camera for you, but having a steady camera doesn't always mean you'll have a good idea).
Miles, Apart (White Rabbit)
I thought this was a pretty good flick and really liked the little kid. I didn't quite get what the dad did in this, but I went with it anyway because the film kept me interested (the production was good too in comparison to the other films). My reason for why it didn't go higher was because I thought it was a little too much when the dad threw the cash up in the air, and I didn't think everything quite fit all the time (I thought the skating scenes were out of place). Definitely has potential for a K-Drama like spin-off.
Initial (Team Daft)
Were there some scenes where the acting could have been just a little better? Sure. Did I question the medical expense part of the story? Sure. But overall - that was pretty tight for an action/thriller and was actually on par with some of the DVD's I've seen in my time (except the female assassin needed a better walk). And right or wrong, since there were so few films which tried to utilize gun play with this mood, I had to give it some extra points.
Discard (Grace, Wtf?)
Technically (camera and sound) this wasn't always that hot - but - it had some good concepts so it was easy enough for me to look past that. I think part of it was the mood that was set in the film and how it was carried throughout from beginning to end - and the acting was pretty good - verbal and nonverbal. At the same time, I did debate with myself on this, and a week from now maybe I'll feel different.
Everyone Everyday (SOHCAHTOA)
I know this got DQ'd, and the intro scene could have been cut, and the sound needed some work, and the camera was a little shaky - but I still couldn't help but like this. Like I said above, I'm a sucker for a quirky romantic/almost romantic storyline and at the same time, while not wholly original, the idea of two people who can barely speak with the other person because of a language barrier, but who still have a vibe with each always works for me (see My Wife Is A Gangster 3) - and I did think using Google translation was an original spin (and it made me laugh out loud).
- Cutest storyline with the word vagina: It's So Hard To say Goodbye (4ward Motion Films).
- Best use of twirling umbrellas: Mermaid Love (Freakingfree).
- The Millennium Mambo homage award: The Shortest Summer (Sino Plus).
- Best film with a quirky white girl digging her way to China: Made In China(town) (Execute Chimera).
- Best Egg West Coast flashback with a lot a male bitches: Suspense's How To Jedi Mind Trick The Bitches (Azn Rejects).
- I totally wouldn't sleep with the main character in this film because I'd be afraid my penis would be cut off accidentally in bed by her sword award: The Savage Lotus (Pork Bun).
- Best film with a Brady doppelganger: Finding A Home (Ying Yang With a Twist).
- You can say it was the accent, but I really did enjoy the narrative: Goodbye New York, Hello Asia (I love HK).
- Best film with a dude with his shirt off who looked directly in the camera while singing even though the other two never did: Say Goodbye (Vision).
- Yes, I thought she was a white girl until she took off her shades in this movie: My Life (Blue Mask Crew).
Just wanted to give a shout out to all the Asian American filmmakers, actors/actresses, crew and everyone else who sweated to get these films out - you definitely gave me a nice ride, and I hope to see you all on the big screen, or at least on a DVD that wasn't made at home.