Monday, July 31, 2006

New York Stories, Part I

I just got back from a 5-day trip to New York. It was my first time there, and I must say that I enjoyed nearly every New York minute. But first of all, what the heck is a "New York minute"? I've heard that phrase all my life, and for the life of me, I can't seem to define it by having been there.

I took my venture with my lovely new girlfriend. Now, before you start to say, "Uh, isn't this a little soon to be going on vacations?" you should know that I've already asked myself that. This is, what, going on 8 weeks now, and, sure, we were planning the trip on week number 3, but we are two very intense people, and frankly, a New York minute is nothing to what we can accomplish in the span of 5 days.

Since this was my first time there, I had no idea about the subway system and the best way to get around. I am, after all, a Hollywood Asian and I'm all about driving my car to wherever I need to go. Planning your day around a subway route or a taxi ride just isn't how I think. But by day 2, I'd say we had a pretty good grasp of getting around. Unfortunately, we walked way too much the first two days. But I must say, walking is the best way to absorb all the sights that a great city like New York has to offer. Because you will see things you would never see while riding in a car.

There are several things I'm going to highlight as I get my mind back in L.A. time. I'll talk about Broadway and the show we saw; about the shopping we did, and the shopping we did, and then the shopping we did; the food we loved, and the food we dissed, and the food we just ate to fill our stomachs, but ended up loving because we were so dang famished; there's the neighborhoods and landmarks we saw -- Midtown Manhattan, Chelsea, SoHo, Lower Manhattan, Wall Street, Ground Zero, Empire State Bldg., Statue of Liberty, Staten Island Ferry ride, H&M, Daffy's, Century 21, Macy's, MTV, Algonquin Hotel, Parasuco, Le Colonial, Nobu Next Door; and of course, the one place I wish to heaven we had gone to, for many reasons I doubt I will ever mention, but none that will ever mean anything to you as much to me and the GF.

Where do I start? I'm not sure, but wow, it was an expensive trip. That's all I can say. It's a good thing I've had a busy 7 months, with more freelance work on the way.

But I must say one thing: Spending money never felt this good.

Friday, July 21, 2006

That Guy from Matrix II

Hey, that guy from Matrix II came into our office for the print job casting. Which guy, you ask? Not Keanu, of course. It was that Asian guy who protects the Oracle. Yeah, him! He was cool. Glasses, the traditional outfit, the cool demeanor.

He came in with his wife, who is a model, and their two kids. Collin is his name, I think. He doesn't wear glasses, by the way. And his wife is beautiful and very tall. Apparently, she's very famous in Hong Kong, too.

Other than that, I saw a lot of people who I usually see at auditions. But there was one guy who came in who never acknowledges me when I see him: Chris Tashima. I used to think he was just a loner or shy. But I'm starting to think he's a stuck-up dick. Saw the movie he was just in: "Americanese," which is an adaptation of "American Knees," by Shawn Wong.

The movie was kind of dull. To some, this is typical Eric Byler style. Someone who knows his work intimately, by the way, called his style: "miniaturist." Eric calls it "realist." I'd say it's humanistic, but not necessarily realistic.

Anyway, the script was dull, and Chris Tashima made it all the more duller. I don't know what Byler expected with Chris, but if it was a boring performance, he certainly got it.

The book version, by the way, is way better than the movie version. Go buy the book. I highly recommend it.

Asian Acting

The ad agency I work for just completed filming of two commercials in Vancouver. Today, they showed us the rough edits of them and I found one of them appalling.

For one thing, they casted these actors from Korea, where acting ability is not necessarily a requirement. I'm not dissing Korean actors. It's a well-known fact that Koreans don't have to be good actors in order to become famous.

Sure, there's some of that here in the States, but it's on a different level. You just don't risk $80 million on an actor who isn't guaranteed to be bankable. No movie from Korea has ever grossed that much worldwide, including Chingu, Old Boy and that new one, Typhoon. Shiri didn't even come close.

A production person at my agency said out loud to the group watching the commercials that Americans won't like one of the commercials. I agreed. I thought it was way overacted. Just over-the-top bad overacting that inspires me to puke all over the actor's headshot.

What's interesting is, I was in the minority. In fact, they called me a twinkie. I couldn't believe it! Especially since I've called other people who were more whiter than me that. But compared to the FOBs in my office, I'm both a twinkie and a banana.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

I am finding a sense of frustration, though, for the Asian American actors here in America. The creative directors working at Asian American ad agencies are FOBs, and they're used to Asian acting. So, if you are trying to be like Ed Norton or Sean Penn, you're just not emoting enough for the Asians. And if you overact like an Asian in Asia, you're probably not going to get anywhere in Hollywood.

I remember watching an interview with James Coburn, an oldtime actor who hung out with Bruce Lee and learned JKD from him. He said Bruce just didn't know how to act, which to the millions of Asians around the world, this would be blasphemy. How dare you say that about our icon? But it's probably true. Bruce was Bruce, and fans loved it. James Coburn, on the other hand, was a very good actor. But you probably don't remember much about him, do you?

On the way back from the production room, I was informed I wouldn't be cast for one of the agency's print jobs. The problem? I don't look old enough. But I can accept that. What I won't accept is them telling me I can't act or don't look expressive enough. Because that's just bullshit.