Reel Asian 2018: Sons and Origins

Posted in Festival Coverage, Movies, Reel Asian 2018 by - November 12, 2018
Reel Asian 2018: Sons and Origins

I combined the titles for two of the selections in this year’s Reel Asian Festival. One is The House of the Rising Sons and the other is Origin Story. Both films from Asian directors tell their own stories with mixed results.

The House of the Rising Sons is Hong King director Anthony Chan telling his experience as the drummer in the 1970s Cantopop band The Wynners. Ng Hok-kim and Carlos Chan play two of the band members while Simon Yam plays a disapproving father. There’s an artificial feel to it because of its cinematography, as Chan chooses colors reminiscent of urine and vomit.

The band, who then called themselves the Loosers, played for ‘American’ navy officers. Chan also exposes us to the Hong Kong rock scene which apparently only includes the Loosers and a solo project. For the film’s first hour, these acts only knew two songs – The House of the Rising Sun and The Flight of the Bumblebee –  and they perform them ad nauseam.

Despite the occasional tonal shifts, Laotioan-American Kulap Vilaysack’s Origin Story fares better. It succeeds for the most part to express her own anger, a quality within the otherwise well balanced podcast host and documentary filmmaker. She puts herself in front of the camera for a special family reunion. In doing so, it’s better at showing the double revelations in learning one’s identity.

Vilaysack gets to meet her biological father as a conscious adult, he gets to see pictures of her from the time they separated temporarily. She hears one of the many perspectives about her true parentage. Her framing of these interviews are interesting, as both she and her biological are in the same frame, sharing each space. She captures true emotion here as she experiences both the joys and the horror of truth.

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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watch movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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