Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with our own Moon Yun... She has met Sonny Chiba... but she doesn't give us any details! Did he add years on to your life just being around him? Did he cure any cripples or lepers in the time you saw him? Details, Moon! Details! Anyway, enjoy her coverage!!!
Moon Yun signing in where I’m still trying to recover from meeting Sonny Chiba at the Hawaii International Film Festival.
Before I go on to my reviews, check out the photos of the Governor’s Ball, which include photos of Sonny Chiba. They were taken by Dario Belenfante: Check 'em out right here to see the man-god!!!
TRE – Directed and co-written by Eric Byler
Kakela (Kimberly-Rose Wolter) accidentally walks upon houseguests Tre (Daniel Cariaga) and Nina (Alix Koromzay) having sex. Before they find out she’s there, Kakela walks slowly back to the main house where her fiancÃ©, Gabe (Erik McDowell), sleeps in their room. Could this be the moment that incites Kakela to betray Gabe with his best friend Tre?
TRE is the follow-up to director Eric Byler’s acclaimed indie film, CHARLOTTE SOMETIMES. Maybe it would have been best if TRE preceded CHARLOTTE SOMETIMES so it wouldn’t get labeled as the movie “that wasn’t as good” as his first feature. Written by Byler and Wolter, TRE follows similar anti-romance theme and mood. The betrayal by Kakela is suppose to be a big deal but it feels more like a slip up because that “joined at the hips” bond between the two men is never established. And what TRE may have lacked was not having a “monster” character as played by Jacqueline Kim in CHARLOTTE to destroy other people’s happiness.
While TRE was a watchable movie, it wasn’t one I’d get passionate about. That’s too bad. I like Byler very much and respect his work. If you get a chance to see TRE anyway, look closely at Kakela’s and Gabe’s engagement party scene. You can spot brief appearances by the CHARLOTTE men, Michael (Michael Idemoto) and Justin (Matt Westmore), at Kakela’s and Gabe’s engagement party. And a tidbit: Wolter had a small part in CHARLOTTE as the sympathetic waitress.
HAWAII PANORAMA 4 short film series
The best thing about the Hawaii Panorama 4 series was the charming coming-of-age short film FISHBOWL by the late Kayo Hatta (PICTURE BRIDE). FISHBOWL takes a humorous look at what a bad perm can do to a good person, especially when the protagonist, Lovey, must face the snotty leader of an elementary school clique. The witty and cute dialogue just rolls off the tongue of Mie Omori, the spirited actress who plays Lovey. Hatta manages to balance the comical with the dramatic transporting us back to our yesteryears in this 27-minute short. The scene where Lovey and her best friend (Billy Lam) dress up as The Captain and Tennille for Halloween was a classic. FISHBOWL is based on Lois-Ann Yamanaka’s novel WILD MEAT AND THE BULLY BURGERS. Be sure to check it out when FISHBOWL will be broadcast nationally on the PBS series Independent Lens this fall. FISHBOWL is sadly the final work of Hatta. We were shocked and saddened to hear she passed away earlier this year. In honor of her memory, HIFF presented Hatta’s debut feature film, PICTURE BRIDE (1995), Hawaii’s first independent film that was invited to both the Sundance and Cannes Film Festivals, during a special screening at the festival. It also won the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences Hawaii Film & Videomaker Award.
THE SAND ISLAND DRIVE-INN ANTHEM
For anyone who has hated their job and their miserable boss, this dramatic 20-minute short allows you to live out your “stick it to ‘em” fantasy. Up to a point. Director Ryan Yamamoto says he was drawn to author Cedric Yamanaka’s book, “IN GOOD COMPANY,” on which the movie is based, because he liked what it represented it – harmony of different cultures represented by the local “plate lunches” served out in the aging drive-inn. Yamanaka also wrote the script. The Hawaii films at the festival have gotten better over the years. ISLAND DRIVE is definitely one of those films that have kicked it up a notch. I liked how the story paints in the background the everyday lives of the common working folks, an observation I’m guessing harks back to Yamanaka’s former employ as a journalist. Augie Tulba, a well-known Hawaii comic, made an impressive dramatic acting debut. There’s something to be said that for every comic, there’s a dark side. Bulldog serves it up as someone you’ve met in your past jobs who’ve gotten you through the day with a joke here, laughter there. Not surprisingly, SAND ISLAND won the Hawaiian Airlines Audience Choice Best Short Film.
GRANDMA’S RECIPE begins as a tale of morality and what happens to dear Grandma when her morality is tested. But by the end of the 21-minute short, you’re asking, “What happened to the chicken?” That scene stealing chicken, director Imelda Betiong assures, is safe in her father’s backyard. Betiong says she was fascinated with the subject of obsession. In the movie, sweet grandma Milan Gomez becomes obsessed with winning the coveted Honolulu Dessert contest so much so that she’s tempted to steal her adversary’s secret ingredient – the eggs from her “golden chicken.” Although she risks losing to the cocky and mean-spirited Betty Lau, she does the right thing in the end. GRANDMA’S RECIPE was a sweet light fare with funny moments from the frantic Betty Lau desperately in search of her chicken.
THREE LITTLE WORDS
Directed by Dan Hamamura, the 15-minute short THREE LITTLE WORDS is a simple movie about a character named Casey who has just a few short minutes to tell how he feels to his girl crush Alex before she’s out of his life for good. The film worked for me mainly because of the engaging dialogues. Hamamura admitted recording conversations of friends and compiling all of that into his characters.
TRUE LOVE AND MIMOSA TEA
What is Mimosa tea? It’s a love potion delicately brewed from sweet poisons. When not brewed correctly, it can act as poison. In this romantic tale directed by Cam Eason, Cary Hiroyuki-Tagawa, as the sage Andreas Kanaka, works his magic to bring two reluctant lovers together. The lovers are played by Tamlyn Tomita and Greg Watanabe. Isle beauty Elizabeth Lindsey (Bulworth) plays Dr. Rose Kumukahi who appears to be helping the sage with the matchmaking. I say “appears” because it was confusing at first figuring out who the Andreas character was and what his relation to the other characters was. You knew the Tomita and Watanabe characters are suppose to be lovers but it wasn’t clear what Kumukahi’s part in the movie was. The 22-minute short was pretty to look at and had clever use of effects but fell short of pulling together one cohesive narrative tale.
This isn’t part of the festival but I got forwarded a link to an interesting looking Taiwan movie, MY FAIR LADDY. Maybe it’ll pop up in some festivals in your neck of the woods. Click here to see more!
That’s it, Moon Yun signing out…