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.