Friday, March 7, 2008

Coming to America

There's something terrifying and brave about establishing a home in a completely different country. Two of my favorite films deal with this very same issue; the first about coming to the United States, and the second about what happens once you've settled down...

The Namesake
Directed by Mira Nair and based on the book by Jhumpa Lahiri

The story of the Ganguli family who decide to start a new family in New York (Boston in the book) after leaving their home in Calcutta.

The beauty of this film is that it not only tells of the love that unfolds within the marriage of Ashoke and Ashima, but about their son, Gogol's struggle as a first generation citizen born to immigrant parents .

Keep an eye out for...
The cinematography - The images captured on film have been based on photographs that Nair chose herself. Shots of India are breathtaking and the contrast between India and New York is interesting when seen through Gogol and Ashima's eyes.
Kal Penn - Penn's portrayal of Gogol/Nikhil in The Namesake is a refreshing change from his roles on Harold and Kumar or Van Wilder (FYI: Skip the links if you're not a college frat boy).
The soundtrack - A beautiful fusion of Western and Indian music by Nitin Sawhney. Nair even included a new version of the classic Ye Mera Diwanapan Hai (loose translation: This Is My Heart's Weakness) by Susheela Raman which I really loved until I made my father listen and he nearly threw up.

Watch the trailer

Saving Face
Written and directed by Alice Wu

The story of a mother and daughter who face some rather modern issues within their traditional Chinese family.

The film is something of an autobiography for Wu and, despite the fact that this is her first film, she more than makes up for some small glitches with a great deal of heart and humor.

Keep an eye out for...
The women - In an industry dominated by men, the women involved in the film have created something that anyone can appreciate (believe me, it doesn't happen as often as it should). Please leave your 'Asian women as quiet and submissive' stereotypes at the door.

The humor
- Even though the film is half in Mandarin and half in English, the dialogue is still hilarious.
Joan Chen - The same woman who played the Emperor's wife in The Last Emperor plays a paranoid and easily excitable mother who has an affinity for Chinese soap operas and younger men. Chen manages to handle the comedy and her character's silent sadness without any effort at all.

Watch the trailer

Blockbuster these movies!

1 comment:

Sachin said...

I have to say that this entry is getting me through class right now. I'm so glad I made the cut and made it into your blog!