Cinema Asian America welcomes in 2014 with some of the most acclaimed releases of 2013 (and on many Oscar shortlists) and a special focus on Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson to brighten and warm up those cold winter days and nights.
Leading the way are two documentaries which have stirred conversations from Tribeca to Toronto, and announced the arrival of significant filmmaking talents. Josh Oppenheimer’s “The Act of Killing,” a film impossible not to be both enthralled and appalled by, challenges former Indonesian death squad leaders to reenact their real-life mass-killings in whichever cinematic genres they wish, including classic Hollywood crime scenarios and lavish musical numbers. Executive produced by Werner Herzog and Errol Morris, “Act” is essential viewing. Zach Heinzerling’s “Cutie and the Boxer” explores the chaotic 40-year marriage of famed boxing painter Ushio Shinohara and his wife Noriko, as they navigate love and art in their New York home.
A different kind of marital chaos inhabits Christine Yoo’s “Wedding Palace” – a raucous family comedy features Brian Tee (“Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift“) as an almost-30 bachelor determined to find love his own way, and not via his high-strung Korean mother. Fate and a family curse intervene in this US-Korea production featuring cameos by comedians Margaret Cho and Bobby Lee.
Two Bollywood hits round out the offerings: “Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela” is an adaptation of “Romeo and Juliet”, starring Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone, as Ram and Leela, star-crossed lovers in a small Indian village. Padukone also stars in “Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani,” a coming-of-age romantic comedy, alongside Ranbir Kapoor, one of the biggest Bollywood box offices successes of 2013.
Cinema Asian America also presents a special, mini-retrospective of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. One of Hollywood’s most prolific and likeable actors, over the past decade The Rock has transitioned from being a charismatic professional wrestler, to a global moviestar. Our selections offer a snapshot at his career to date, starting with his break-out film “The Scorpion King” (2002) to two of his five 2013 films, Michael Bay’s “Pain & Gain” and the independent thriller “Empire State.” In between are selection of favorites, from his turn as hockey player who must don a tutu in “Tooth Fairy” and the 2004 drama “Walking Tall.”