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About Love

Theme of youthful Sino-Japanese relations runs through "about love," a collection of three stories helmed by young directors in Tokyo, Taipei and Shanghai. Uneven results make this of more interest to Asiaphiles following budding talent than more general auds, though the cultural differences underlined by the segs provide a neat update on certain trends in Far East cinema.

With:
With:
TOKYO: Misaki Ito, Chen Bo-lin, Yui Ichikawa, Yang Rui. TAIPEI: Ryo Kase, Mavis Fan, Alan Kuo. SHANGHAI:Takashi Tsukamoto, Li Xiaolu, Li Xiaojia.

Theme of youthful Sino-Japanese relations runs through “about love,” a collection of three stories helmed by young directors in Tokyo, Taipei and Shanghai. Uneven results make this of more interest to Asiaphiles following budding talent than more general auds, though the cultural (and film-making) differences underlined by the segs provide a neat update on certain trends in Far East cinema. Curious festgoers look to be its main audience in the West.

“Tokyo,” the first of the trio of half-hour yarns, was made on DV by musicvid director Ten Shoyama (“Muscle Heat”). Pic limns a slow-burning romance between a Taiwanese graphic artist, Yao (Chen Bo-lin), who moves to Tokyo to pursue a career in manga, and a Japanese artist, Michiko (Misaki Ito), who “lives” the giant canvases she paints. Yao courts her by leaving sketches of a sad girl outside her studio. Charming but thin story is less notable for its central story than for its portrait of itinerant Chinese adrift in Japanese society.

Second seg, “Taipei,” reverses the idea, focusing on a lonely Nipponese guy in Taiwan. Tecchan (Ryo Kase) befriends a local flake, Ah Si (pop star Mavis Fan), but ends up used by her to get back at b.f. (Alan Kuo) who’s dumped her. Weakest, and most discursive, of the three sections, seg helmed by Yee Chih-yen (“Blue Gate Crossing”) wears out its initial madcap welcome with endless sequences of wordplay as Tecchan struggles with speaking Chinese.

Most satisfying yarn is the final one, shot among the flavorsome back-alleys of central Shanghai by promising new Mainland talent Zhang Yibai (“Spring Subway”). A Japanese student, Shuhei (Takashi Tsukamoto), lodges at the home of young dreamer Xiaoyun (Li Xiaolu) and her mom (Li Xiaojia), and when she secretly translates a Dear John postcard he’s received from his g.f. she finds herself falling for him.

Ending is forced, but Zhang’s direction is always acute and polished, again signaling him as a strong future voice in accessible Mainland cinema. Li Xiaolu (the girl in Joan Chen’s “Xiu Xiu”) is as cute as a button, and tech package is ultra-smooth.

About Love

Japan - China

Production: A Toho Co., Movie-eye Entertainment (Japan)/Tianjin Film Studio, Tianjin Jinyuan Movie (China) production. Produced by Taku Ushiyama. Executive producers, Masamichi Fujiwara, Kaz Tadashiki, Han Hongfei. Co-producers, Hideki Kama, Lim Young-chien, Gao Fengjun, Wang Dafang, Ren Huanqi. TOKYO: Directed by Ten Shimoyama. Screenplay, Haruko Nagatsu, Yuji Yamamura. TAIPEI: A Verve Films production. Directed, written by Yee Chih-yen. SHANGHAI: A Movie-eye Entertainment production. Directed by Zhang Yibai. Screenplay, Shen Wei.

Crew: TOKYO: Camera (color, DV-to-35mm), Koichi Nakayama; editor, Shogo Hirasawa; music, Hironori Doi; art director, Machi Tsuge. Japanese, Mandarin dialogue. Running time: 31 MIN. TAIPEI: Camera (color), Chien Hsiang; editor, Natasha Ku; music, Chris Hou; art director, Hsia Shao-yu. Mandarin, Japanese dialogue. Running time: 33 MIN. SHANGHAI: Camera (color), Yang Tao; editor, Zhang Yifan; music, Ding Wei; art director, Thomas Chong. Mandarin, Japanese, English dialogue. Running time: 33 MIN. Reviewed Oct. 8, 2004. Running time: 101 MIN.

With: With:
TOKYO: Misaki Ito, Chen Bo-lin, Yui Ichikawa, Yang Rui. TAIPEI: Ryo Kase, Mavis Fan, Alan Kuo. SHANGHAI:Takashi Tsukamoto, Li Xiaolu, Li Xiaojia.Theme song: Akira Mitake, sung by Wu Rujun.

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