SFIAAFF: 25 Alive: SF International Asian American Film Festival

A few good bets or better


Kim Chun on director Justin Lim

Cheryl Eddy on this year's crop of war docs

Matt Sussman on the films of Hong Sang-soo

Air Guitar Nation (Alexandra Lipsitz, US, 2006). Considering the so-called sport of air guitar consists of one-minute spates of cheesy posturing by proudly self-identified poseurs whose musical chops (and instruments) are a figment of the imagination, mockumentarian Alexandra Lipsitz manages to squeeze plenty of drama, one-liners, self-importance, and rock 'n' roll chutzpah out of her spot-on material. Brooklyn actor David Jung — in the kimonoed, Hello Kitty–breastplated air guitarist guise of C-Diddy — is the reason Air Guitar Nation is Asian and American: Lipsitz follows Jung as he hams his way into the US air guitar crown, doing battle with stubborn arch nemesis Björn Türoque (Nous Non Plus–Les Sans Culottes bassist-vocalist Dan Crane), and then travels to Finland to compete in the world championship against Euros who take their air guitar very seriously. Seriously. Regardless, Jung is the real reason this doc rocks, guitar or no guitar. For his good humor, over-the-top buffoonery, and ready wisecracks, I give him at least a 5.8. (Kimberly Chun)

Sun/18, 7:15 p.m., 1000 Van Ness; March 24, 7:15 p.m., Camera 12 Cinemas

Do Over (Cheng Yu-Chieh, Taiwan, 2006). Hopefully, you've got a little room left in your heart for one more movie of interlocking stories with connections to each other that aren't immediately apparent (patent pending). Taiwanese director Cheng Yu-Chieh's first feature film follows the events in the lives of five people on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day as they spiral downward into compelling, if improbably concurrent, personal crises. You may leave the theater having forgotten a plot point or two, but you will certainly remember the satisfyingly disorienting fight scene shot from a behind-the-shoulder perspective, or the image of four people with their ears to a table listening for lottery numbers being announced in the room below. (Jason Shamai)

Mon/19, 6:45 p.m., 1000 Van Ness; March 23, 8:45 p.m., Pacific Film Archive; March 25, 4 p.m., Camera 12 Cinemas

The Great Happiness Space: Tales of an Osaka Love Thief (Jake Clennell, US, 2006). On any given night in downtown Osaka's neon jungle, one can see handsome young men — uniformed in designer suits, their meticulous Rod Stewart shags in various shades of bottled blond — incessantly chat up nearly every passing woman in sight. These would-be suitors are actually hosts, male drinking companions who are, as host club boss Issei explains, "in the business of selling dreams" to female clients with empty hearts and deep pockets. The sad irony that the majority of these women support themselves doing "night work," whether as hostesses themselves or prostitutes, is lost on neither director Jake Clennell nor his subjects, the employees and customers at popular host bar Rakkyo. The thoughtful candor with which the hosts and their regulars speak of their investment in "fake love" only underscores the financial and emotional costs demanded by such a fantasy.

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