Wayne Wang New York Premiere of Snow Flower and the Secret Fan
In 19th century China, Snow Flower and Lily are two girls matched by laotong - a lifelong relationship that is said to be more intimate than a relationship between husband and wife, or parent and child - but both are kept isolated by their respective families. In order to talk to each other, the girls invent a secret language - called "nu shu" - and write it between the folds of a fan, which they share with each other.
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In a generic condo block outside of Spokane, Washington, elderly Chinese man Mr. Shi (Henry O) is reuniting with his adult and fully Americanized daughter Yilan (Fiehong Yu) for their first visit together in a long time. Although Mr. Shi is a stranger in a strange land, he is eager to improve his English and learn about American culture. Yilan, however, is having none of it. Though she goes through the motions of being happy to see her father, she is clearly distressed by his arrival, leaving him alone most of the time and dismissing his attempts at conversation. Something's not quite right between these two. As some critics have pointed out, there are echoes here of Ozu's gut-wrenching Japanese masterpiece Tokyo Story, in which elderly parents from the sticks come to the city to visit their grown children only to be patronized, ignored, and ultimately disposed of.
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There's a story here, but barely. Two Chinese San Francisco cab drivers (Wood Moy and Marc Hayashi) discover their friend, Chan Hung, is, well, missing. This probably wouldn't bother them much, as humans go, they're a pretty disaffected pair. But Chan has $4,000 of theirs, and he's vanished under suspicious circumstances, revolving around something called "the flag-waving incident," which we sort of understand but don't really care about.
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Peter Sarsgaard plays Richard, a typical (almost stereotypical) techo-geek who made a million dollars the year prior and is about to make a lot more through an IPO. We are introduced to him and Florence (Molly Parker) as they check into a hotel suite in Las Vegas. Through a series of flashbacks, we learn that Richard recently met Florence, a freckled stunner, at the strip club where she works. Within five minutes, Wang sets the film's tone by having Parker perform an act that eliminates any chance for an R rating -- a shocking act for a lead actress in a mainstream film, and one that suggests that freedom of sexuality is a major issue here (and that Parker is an actress with few boundaries).
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Separated into segments with titles like "Brooklyn Attitude," Blue in the Face explores the Brooklyn mystique and the Brooklyn experience with video interviews and impromptu sketches. Everything "Brooklyn" is praised, from Ebbets Field and Jackie Robinson to Belgian Waffles and the sanctity of the local cigar store.
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