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23 April 2007 @ 12:42 am
One of the BEST movies I've seen in a long time...  
Years ago in college, I was VERY into learning about the Asian American experience. Growing up in Hawaii, I think we were all a little too sheltered from some of the struggles faced by Asians living on the mainland. One of the things I remember distinctly as a little girl was asking my Dad why there weren't any Japanese people on TV... As a seven year old, I couldn't, for the life of me, figure out why - since when I walked outside, MOST of the world (at least in my eyes back then) seemed to be Asian of some sort...

Going away to college in Santa Barbara was an eye-opening experience for me, especially where I lived... I lived on the dividing highway that separated the VERY rich in Montecito from the VERY poor. When I was on one side of the street, no one thought I spoke English, I was ignored in stores and when I DID speak English, people actually looked surprised... When I was on the other side of the street, no one really knew what to make of me (not that they really cared), and some people even thought I was Hispanic.

The reason I bring all of this up tonight, is I spent a lot of time this weekend watching the wonderful Canadian Independent film Double Happiness.

It's a wonderful film about a second generation Chinese Canadian girl who struggles with the pressures of pleasing both her family and living the life she wants to live. It starred Sandra Oh (as Jade Li) and Callum Rennie (as her love interest, Mark).


The movie itself was sweet and funny and surprisingly easier for me to relate to than I expected. Although I'm considered a Yonsei (4th generation American of Japanese descent) and the movie was more about 2nd generation Chinese Canadians, it could've easily been about the plight of Asian Americans. There's a scene where Jade and Mark first meet outside a night club because both aren't "cool" enough to be let in. Jade, not wanting to speak with him, acts as though she can't speak English... It's a cute scene where Mark ends up half signing what he's saying and speaking VERY slowly - "You know... claaaam chooowder??" (Complete with a spoon to the mouth gesture) :) For anyone who looks as though English is not their first language and has ever been on the receiving end of something like this, whether or not it was done with the best of intentions, can totally relate to this scene.

The pressures of her family in the movie are familiar in all Asian families in that most had a general "don't want to shame the family" mentality - which is VERY Asian, and not limited to just the Chinese. Though my family wasn't as traditional as what was portrayed in the movie (by a long shot) I was still VERY able to relate to it. The movie took it several steps further by having Jade's family choose men they wanted Jade to date... Thank goodness my parents were never that bad!!

And though the movie was filmed back in 1994 (over ten years ago) it didn't seem that dated at all. It actually ended up being one of the better movies I'd seen in a REALLY long time... Not only was it heartfelt, but the characterization of Jade reminded me of so many people I could've easily known. (Of course it helps too that Callum Keith Rennie is adorable in the film - but there's so much more to it than that!) I HIGHLY, HIGHLY suggest renting it, if you have the chance... :)
 
 
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Mrs Beanshuman_beans on April 23rd, 2007 12:34 pm (UTC)
I have got to see this movie -- it sounds really good!

Moving to a very small-minded Laurel, MD in the early 70's was a culture shock for myself and my family. George Wallace had been shot there just a year before. My mom in particular stood out and got stared and pointed and gawked at. I did to a way lesser extent because I'd beat up anybody that tried it. I was mostly mistaken for Indian because I had long hair that I braided but occasionally I'd get mistaken for hispanic. Mostly kids in school didn't know wtf I was. In the apartment building that we moved into temporarily until we could find a real place to live there was this crazy old man that lived upstairs. I thought he was scary and crazy anyway. He used to hang out the window and shout, "HEY PINEAPPLE!" at me. My teachers spoke slowly to me and weren't sure if I spoke English.

I do remember meeting my first Mr White and Mr Brown and I was surprised that each were actually the color of their name. I thought Whites, Browns and Smiths only existed in books but here they were in real life. I met no Watanabes, Hitohiros or Takayamas.

I'm babbling....but then it is only 5:30 AM. When I saw this post go up right after I got up it tickled me that you're still up and about to go to bed right when I am getting up for the day.
Sheri: Sheri - yahoo iconshutterbug93 on April 23rd, 2007 05:15 pm (UTC)
You really should rent it, it really was a cute, extremely heartfelt movie - and had me in tears at the end.

I know that you'd find the movie particularly touching and meaningful, having grown up in MD in the 70's. In some ways I always knew that I was pretty sheltered living in Hawaii (I didn't know of children who DIDN'T eat musubis for lunch or go to Japanese school after a regular day of school) :) Surprisingly, even places on the West Coast (i.e. Santa Barbara) were pretty bad when I was there (in the 80's). There were mainly only a few types of people who lived in Santa Barbara that I could remember then, the REALLY rich and the elderly, hispanics, and lots of college students who were foreign nationals. Most people there expected me NOT to be able to speak the language. :P That scene outside the club with Jade and Mark - really brought back some memories.

When I saw this post go up right after I got up it tickled me that you're still up and about to go to bed right when I am getting up for the day.

Haha!! :D
bigrivermusicalbigrivermusical on April 23rd, 2007 03:06 pm (UTC)
Sounds like a cute movie. I'll definitely check it out. Thanks for bringing it up!
Sheri: Sheri - yahoo iconshutterbug93 on April 23rd, 2007 05:18 pm (UTC)
It's a very cute movie and very well shot too - I think you'll enjoy it. :)
Was I in it?alligatorandme on April 23rd, 2007 05:10 pm (UTC)
I caught that movie a couple of months ago, and it was a lot of fun, but I have to say -- I've never really been able to relate to any movies having to do with the Asian American experience (however you want to define it). I'm not really sure why. I was never the kid who wanted to have a doll who looked like me or TV characters who looked like me. My parents wanted me to date a nice Chinese boy, but my parents never cared, and I never ended up dating anybody, so I guess everybody wins. ;-)
Sheri: Double Happiness 01shutterbug93 on April 23rd, 2007 05:27 pm (UTC)
It was really cute and I enjoyed the humor and the charm that the whole movie had. I liked that Mina Shum wrote Jade and her parents as well fleshed out characters and not some stereo-type of the typical over-protective Asian family. I'm glad that someone else has seen this - how did you hear about it? I have to admit that I initially bought it on Amazon because of Callum Rennie. :)
Was I in it?alligatorandme on April 23rd, 2007 05:28 pm (UTC)
I seem to think I came across it on Logo, but that wouldn't really make sense. ;-) Maybe it was Bravo!
Sheri: Double Happiness 01shutterbug93 on April 23rd, 2007 05:30 pm (UTC)
Haha!! Maybe it was Logo... remember her date with Andrew? :)
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Sheri: Ray 01shutterbug93 on April 24th, 2007 04:47 am (UTC)
Re: I see what you're saying here...very funny!!!!
Yes, oh my gosh that's the exact scene I was referring to! :D *SIGH* Callum is just SOOOO adorable in that scene - I just felt so bad for him! It was cute, though. :)
Sheri: Double Happiness 01shutterbug93 on April 24th, 2007 04:51 am (UTC)
Yep, that's Sandra Oh before her "Grey's Anatomy" days!! :) This movie is more of a comedy than a drama, I think... it really has its cute moments - I'm not too sure how it's categorized.

There are, nowadays, a lot more Asian actors than I remembered back when I was seven. Sandra Oh is a good example and seems to have gone past playing the typical Asian roles. Another great example in recent times is Dean Cain... He's only half Japanese, but he's not tied to playing just Asian characters. And Tia Carrere grew up in Hawaii. :)