Amoeblog

Asian-American Cinema Part I - The Silent Era

Posted by Eric Brightwell, May 3, 2009 03:00pm | Post a Comment
The first of a nine part series on Asian-Americans in front of and behind the camera

ASIAN-AMERICANS IN SILENT FILM


In the early days of west coast film production, there were few roles for Asian actors except as unflattering stereotypes or anonymous background work. Nonetheless, a small number pursued careers in front of and behind the camera, intersecting and influencing Hollywood's embryonic phase. Although most worked in near complete obscurity, two -- Anna May Wong and Sessue Hayakawa -- became veritable superstars. They still were virtually unable to find roles to their liking, since most of the lead roles (still usually degrading) went to actors in yellowface, a practice that continued long after blackface became taboo. Anna May Wong and Sessue Hayakawa used their earnings to attempt to improve opportunities for less famous Asians by creating more positive depictions, following black cinema's lead. However, with immigration restricted and laws preventing citizenship and property ownership, even the few rich, famous Americanized Asians faced considerable challenges.




ASIAN-AMERICANS IN THE SILENT FILM ERA

In the silent era, most of the APA-related films were low budget, forgettable Chinatown mysteries and crude yellow peril thrillers but they do remain interesting for multiple reasons, including their reflection of changing American attitudes as well as as documents of the efforts of the country's second largest racial minority to break into a system who viewed them as subhuman at worst and as generally as exotic, inscrutable aliens at best.

Andy Lau frees Chow Yun-Fat

Posted by Eric Brightwell, February 27, 2009 05:27pm | Post a Comment
Andy Lau bailing out Chow Yun-Fat
"Your plan worked, Lau. With Trapjaw rusted, he can't even move or call for help! To the Talon Fighter!"

Chow Yun-Fat
is a renowned actor whose career spans several decades, but who is best known to American audiences for his roles in John Woo’s heroic bloodshed films and a couple of wuxia films that were released in the oughts. Andy Lau, whilst less well known in America at large, has an enormous following both among film fans, especially well known for his work with Johnny To, and his career as a Cantopop star. Throughout both of their careers, Chow and Lau have appeared in several films and a television program:

1982 - Sou hat yi
1986 - 楊家將 aka Yang ka cheung aka The Yangs’ saga
1987 - 江湖情 aka Goo woo ching aka Drifter love aka Jian hu qing aka Rich and famous
-and - 英雄好漢 aka Ying hung ho hon aka Hero aka Heroic hero aka Rich and famous II aka Tragic
            Hero
aka Ying xiong  hao ban
1988 - 精裝追女仔 aka Jin zhuong zhui nu zi zhi er aka Romancing star II
1989 - 賭神 aka Du shen aka Dao san aka God of gamblers
1991 - 賭神2 aka  Dou hap aka Du xia aka God of gambers II aka Knight of gamblers
 
Although their careers haven’t intersected in a long time, that didn’t apparently stop Andy Lau from bailing out his old friend who seems to have been imprisoned underneath Snake Mountain, judging by the eerie green light and the ancient magenta bricks. How did Lau and Woo find themselves on Eternia? Who painted this amazing picture? [Insert Orco saying something silly.] I found this ad in a Vietnamese rag whilst hanging out with the ever astonishing Ngoc cung.

Skeletor and Snake Mountain
"Curses Lau! You win this time but I'll be back! Meh heh ha ha hanh!

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The Korean Wave - 한류 - Hallyu - The explosion of Korean TV, movies, food and culture

Posted by Eric Brightwell, August 28, 2008 01:50pm | Post a Comment
korean actors and actresses

Korea
's recent global rise in profile is sometimes referred to as "The Korean Wave" or Hallyu. Back in the early 1990s, Korean Drama underwent an explosive growth in popularity around East and Southeast Asia as well as in cities like Los Angeles, with large immigrant populations from these regions. Soon, Korean movies (beginning with Shiri) gained an audience among American critics who'd previously (with close-minded, snobbish prejudice) limited their viewings of Asian films to critically-canonized Japanese and/or (1980s) Chinese productions. And Hollywood has taken notice too, remaking numerous K-Horror films, the romcom My Sassy Girl, and the magic-mailbox drama The Lake House.

korean movies

I'm told Korean music grew in popularity too. I guess I know a couple of non-Koreans who listen to K-Pop. Whilst flipping through the unparalleled multiculturalism of Los Angeles' AM radio band, I've occasionally stumbled across Radio Seoul (AM 1650) and Radio Korea (AM 1230). Just judging from the cadence and character of AM radio in general, I'd guess that the majority is Christian in nature, but they do occasionally play Korean pop music. Last year at the Hollywood Bowl, K-Pop was showcased in a program featuring BoA, Epik High, Fly to the Sky, Ivy and Super Junior.

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North Asia

Posted by Eric Brightwell, June 27, 2008 07:53pm | Post a Comment


While trying to beat the heat, I often think of what far-off cold places I'd like to go before the world turns to desert. North Asia is high on my list for sheer obscurity. Even the designation "north Asia" sounds like something that never gets said. I think that my first awareness of North Asia as a place came with playing Risk (aka La Conquête du Monde) when my conquering cavalry rode triumphantly into Yakutsk, Irkutsk and Kamchatka. It's expensive to fly there, they almost all love throat-singing, the curiously named Jew's Harp and occasionally stumble across frozen mega-fauna. Beyond that, I know more about the member Planets of the Federation than the little-known nations of North Asia... (in Ying Yang Twins voice) at least til now.
******
(If interested, there are similar entries about Caucasia, Eastern Europe and South Asia.)

******



The Altay (also known as Altai or Altayans ) people are a nomadic Turkic people who've settled in the Altai Republic (and neighboring Altai Krai).

 

According to the website waytorussia.net:

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San Marino (aka Chan Marino)

Posted by Eric Brightwell, April 29, 2008 03:00pm | Post a Comment
This entry in a series about Los Angeles County communities is about San Marino. To vote for more communities, click here. To vote for Los Angeles neighborhoods, click here. To vote for Orange County neighborhoods, vote here.

San Marino is located in the San Gabriel Valley and is neighbored by Pasadena and San Pasqual to the north, East Pasadena and East San Gabriel to the east, Alhambra and San Gabriel to the south, and South Pasadena to the east.
Map of the San Gabriel Valley Map of San Marino, California
                             Pendersleigh & Sons' Official Maps of the San Gabriel Valley and San Marino                                                                                                                                          

San Marino (aka Chan Marino - thanks to Ngoc for that tidbit) is a tiny, affluent city nestled in the San Gabriel Valley which comes in at number 48 on the list of America's least-affordable places to live.  Its homes were mostly built in the second quarter of the 20th century and are in a fairly wide variety of styles-- some are actually pretty low key. Monterey Park may've been envisioned as the "Beverly Hills of East L.A." by its planners, but surely San Marino has more right to the comparison than other Easterly cities and neighborhoods. It has often, on TV and film, subbed as the West Side, East Coast or just a nice, anonymous neighborhood in such timeless, Hollywood classics as Mr & Mrs. Smith,  Monster-In-Law,  One Hour Photo, American Wedding, Men In Black II,  and television episodes of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, the Office, The West Wing and Alias. Despite the fact that in films and TV it is used to portray genteel, white neighborhoods, in reality most of the population is Chinese-American, which is why people jokingly refer to it as Chan Marino. The population is currently 47% Asian (mostly Taiwanese and Chinese), 44% white (mostly English) and 5% Latino.

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