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October 1, 2021
Somtimes, those dirty secrets are best left sitting in the closet, but other times there’s just a terror that’s waiting to bust out. The Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival’s After Dark shorts program offers a mix of more than just those tropes in its collection of tales that will tantalize and even terrify. It’s a great mix that doesn’t always have to be about the supernatural either.
Richard (Alain Uy, The Paper Tigers) wants to have an affair, and needs George (Sunkrish Bala) to help. It’s a hilarious bromance where goes to places that few would expect, as Rich doesn’t want to break that sacred bond between man and woman. So why not ask a bro instead?
Both actors give excellent performances as they unleash a well of suppressed feelings, lust and desire–all while having lunch and with no clothes being torn off.
In this variation of the great Chinese novel, Journey to the West, this short film goes down a different rabbit hole. A Woman with No Name may well have no home, let alone no husband. He went to America, only to die in a mining accident.
She’s alone and desperate; where she travels is a purgatory shaped by the Wild West. The film moves like a stuttered dream and the concept is purposeful. It’s like Kung Fu the TV series. She wants her beau, and this tale is simply Eve Liu’s own version of Orpheus. Instead of meeting Cerberus, she meets three gatekeepers known as “The Chinamen.”
It seems she’s not supposed to be reunited, but in this tale, the woe comes in who hath no fury than a woman scorned. I’m sure Quentin Tarantino would love to help Liu develop her short into a feature film.
J.C. (Alexis Negrite) isn’t an ordinary boy. He thinks he has a special power, and it doesn’t manifest unless he does a sinful deed. Is mastrubation bad? It seems he can cause earthquakes, but perhaps what he’s imagining is a metaphor for something deeper within himself. This Filipino short offers something else, and a surprise for many few would expect.
Maybe he’s doomed. In this work, the zealotry that goes on makes for a startling contrast, because this boy may well feel trapped between worlds. To say what happens to J.C. makes this tale more than just an examination of what defines faith, but instead may well be about innocence. Did he deserve his fate? Nobody is telling….
Nearly everybody knows about Ghost Brides and those movies about an unwitting man cajoled into this supernatural marriage. In this gender-swapped case, Hannah (Lyrica Okano) is going to see Mrs. Moon (Margaret Cho) for an acupuncture session. Things go from simple to worse. This medic is perhaps mad too. These two ladies have a history. Hannah doesn’t even remember because it all happened when she was very young. Had she’d known, I’m sure she’d be running out the door in this short and simple tale of terror.
Freddie (Edward Hong) has the best girlfriend ever. Lexie (Josephine Chang) is like Harley Quinn, short on temper and deranged enough to kidnap anyone whom her beau sees as problematic, and offer him a chance at sweet revenge. Just what happens next is an exercise and discourse on what defines relationships, be it romantic, platonic, or something else. The idea is effective.
This short film is supposed to be comedic, but I don’t think so. Sometimes revenge is a dish best served cold, and this tale has all the makings of turning a seemingly good man to someone bad, and creating the next Bonnie and Clyde.
Charlotte Taschen plays an unnamed waitress at a cocktail party where everything goes wrong. She sees people at their worst, and she wants to do something about it. When she’s had enough, this actress shows off her best kung fu moves, and proves that it’s best not to snub the host and steal from them. The moments are quick, but wow, this actress can move!
This action film has a point. Sometimes, workers just want the day to be over with. For this lady, however, sometimes it’s best left the imagination to answer a lingering question: what if you stand up for doing what’s right when everyone else around you–the party goers-are being a jerk.