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LA Asian Pacific Film Festival 2009: Musica Cinema!One Night in LA

LA Asian Pacific Film Festival 2009: Musica Cinema!

This year's music video collection was a hit and miss affair, with Ray Huang and Jon Maxwell's "One Night in L.A." the only real discovery.

By LiAnn Ishizuka

It may be the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival's 25th silver anniversary, but its annual selection of music shorts this year was nothing to celebrate. To be fair, not all of the fourteen videos were entirely terrible -- but ten of them were. Even the highly anticipated Coldplay "Lost" video contest submission was a bit disappointing. At least musical diversity was accounted for. This year's selections definitely continued the trend of experimentation by pushing of the ever-evolving envelope with lesbian fantasies, haunting vignettes of Red Riding Hood parodies, and Wong Kar-wai influences.

Electric Kulintang's "Cotabato City" is a beautiful fusion of hip hop, traditional kulintang (an eight gong instrument from the Philippines), Bollywood, and drums. A young boy's imagination runs free in an empty lot that is really not empty at all -- TVs appear, a group of b-boys start breaking, and there are rabbits. As crazy and random as this may seem, the slideshow of images presents a globalized world in a city that appears to embrace the multi-ethnic makeup of humanity.

If you were to judge by title alone, "Love Song - Sing It" by Anton Wong would most likely be your fairy tale theme song. Except this version is about a psycho girlfriend set on murdering her boyfriend to the sounds of robotic "Do you even understand it?" in the background. Did I mention the dripping blood everywhere on the wall of their apartment? Rest assured this asylum appears to be all psychological, or at least that her boyfriend's lifeless body is all in a dream. Or is it?

Back in December of 2008, Bambu's "Crooks & Rooks" video premiered on OkayPlayer. Off his Exact Change album, "Crooks & Rooks" showed the more introspective side of the former Native Guns rapper. Director Patricio Ginelsa was able to delve deeper into Bambu's past, using black and white flashbacks. He admits he does most of his "reflecting in the rearview mirror" as he cruises in a classic Buick convertible.

The four minutes from A Dull Science's "Cheaters Never Prosper" video was a time warp back to Sum 41 and Blink 182 teenage angst, minus the live crowd of fans and the skateboarding cameos. The lyrics weren't that catchy and I found it hard to really believe in the lead rocker, who looks more hipster than he realizes. The music video itself, directed by Adam Lee and Steve Moyer, didn't really try to impress -- the knife scene was probably the only high. Apparently going crazy over your ex requires excessive stalking and stabbing old photographs with a knife on the dining table.

Karin Anna Cheung (Better Luck Tomorrow) is The Fabulous Miss Wendy's slutty partner in a night of partying, smoking, and random hook-ups in the "Crazy Fucked Up Bitch" video. Before her album release, The Fabulous Miss Wendy performed a fairly tame version of the song at a small gig, so it's clear video director took great liberties to expand the possibilities of the song with the video. Also included was music from the upcoming 2009 film, The People I've Slept With. During the Q & A session, one of the stars from the video commented, "What is wrong with being a slut? A slut is just a woman with the morals of a man."

Perhaps the only video actually worth the last four minutes in the program is the visually captivating short film, One Night in L.A. by directors Ray Huang and Jon Maxwell. Set to DJ Shadow's "Midnight in a Perfect World," everything is high speed, neon lights, and long exposures. This experimental narrative combines soothing beats with stylized photographs that truly capture a night in Los Angeles' Little Tokyo and Downtown. A man leaves his unhappy relationship for a one night affair, which turns surprisingly violent. It takes us back to the aesthetic of Wong Kar Wai's Chungking Express, where the intensity of color and motion is sharpened.

Other videos in the program include:
"You Will Remember" by Lumaya
"Pretty Girl" by John Flor Sisante
"Earn a Living" by Jin feat. Ken Oak
"Imitation" by Melee
"Words that Define" by Big Phony
"Old Sole" by P.I.C.
"Lost" by Coldplay


Asia Pacific Arts