Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Japanese film From Up on Poppy Hill at Harris Theater, starting May 17.

From Up on Poppy Hill
Not a poster, because it's hard to find one.

Starting near the end of the large Silk Screen Asian American Film Festival, which is running Japanese animated movies this week, the 2011 Japanese film From Up on Poppy Hill (コクリコ坂から) will play at the Harris Theater from May 17. Wikipedia provides a brief summary:
Set in 1963 Yokohama, Japan, the film tells the story of Umi Matsuzaki, a high school girl living in a boarding house, Coquelicot Manor. When Umi meets Shun Kazama, a member of the school's newspaper club, they decide to clean up the school's clubhouse, Quartier Latin. However, Tokumaru, the chairman of the local high school and a businessman, intends to demolish the building for redevelopment and Umi and Shun, along with Shirō Mizunuma, must persuade him to reconsider.
And the Pittsburgh City-Paper adds:
The film's small story is set against a larger cultural one, as Japan transitions from the sorrows and hardships of the last generation's wars to being a modern world power. Nearly every scene contains visual cues that show Japan's mish-mash of old and new, while the story illustrates this new generation, caught between the nostalgic pull of the past and the responsibility of leading this new Japan.
The film debuted in the US on March 15, 2013.

The Harris Theater is located downtown in the Cultural District (map). Showtimes are available at the theater's website; it opens on Friday, the 17th, at 8:00 pm.

Pittsburgh City-Paper on Lucy Nguyen and Vietnamese hoagies in the Strip.

Earlier this month my Facebook feed broke the news that Lucy Nguyen has returned from spending the winter in Vietnam to reopen her popular banh mi stand in the Strip District, keeping one of Vietnam's best street foods in Pittsburgh. This week the Pittsburgh City-Paper runs a quick profile on her, her popular sandwiches, and her following.
Nguyen is an established, and beloved, Strip District tenant who began selling the sandwiches outside of My Ngoc, the restaurant she ran for about 16 years. Though she has since closed the restaurant because it was "too much work," she still maintains her cart, now located in the parking lot of Bar Marco, from spring to late fall. She spends winters in her native Vietnam.

Nguyen's story is one many of her customers know: She moved to Pittsburgh more than 40 years ago, following her husband, a serviceman whom she met in Hue, Vietnam. They had three daughters. Nguyen worked in hotel housekeeping before opening her restaurant.

Guerrero says the food isn't the only reason he gets excited about seeing Lucy: "A lot of it is Lucy herself. ... [T]he food is good, but I'm also taken care of here."
She's located in the parking lot of Bar Marco on the 2200 block of Penn Avenue (map).

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Chinese film Inseparable at Maridon Museum, May 16.


Inseparable (形影不离) is at Butler's Maridon Museum on May 16 as part of this year's Taiwanese Film Series. The 2011 Chinese film was directed by the Taiwan-born Dayyan Eng, counts Kevin Spacey as probably the most recognizable actor on the poster to Butler audiences, and is summarized by the Los Angeles Times' blog 24 Frames thus:
“Inseparable” starts with an attempted suicide by a depressed man named Li Yue (played by the Hong Kong-American heartthrob Daniel Wu in his first major English-speaking role). Every day Li dons a suit and tie and heads to his suffocating office job at a prosthetic-limb company in an unnamed Chinese city. (The movie was filmed in Guangzhou.)

Li’s boss is corrupt, his wife, Pang (an investigative television reporter played by Gong Beibi), is always away, and he is recovering from a past trauma. But just as Li is about to hang himself from his living room ceiling, he is interrupted by his brash American neighbor Chuck (Kevin Spacey).

Together, they head out into the city in homemade superhero outfits to right the wrongs in a country suffering from widespread fraud and corruption, a vast wealth gap and a frustrated, angry populace. The wise-cracking expat Chuck proves to be both Li’s savior and nemesis.
The show starts at 6:30 pm and is presented by Dr. Alison McNeal of Slippery Rock University. The Maridon Museum of Asian Art is located at 322 N. McKean St. in downtown Butler, some 40 miles north of Pittsburgh (map). Previous installments of this year's series were Eat, Drink, Man, Woman and Three Times.

Midfielder Shintaro Harada to return to Pittsburgh May 18.

Japanese midfielder Shintaro Harada, who was a member of the Pittsburgh Riverhounds of the USL Pro soccer league from 2010 to 2012, returns to Pittsburgh next Saturday as a member of the Dayton Dutch Lions. Available tickets for the 7:00 game run from $8.25 to $12.00.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Silk Scream Horror Film Night on May 11, Anime Film Night May 12.

NightmareTwo Moons KoreanAsuraTatsumi

As part of next week's annual Silk Screen Asian American Film Festival, a doubleheader of horror films show on Saturday as the "Silk Screem Horror Film Night": China's Nightmare (青魘) and Korea's Two Moons (두게의 달). On Sunday, Japan's Asura (アシュラ) and Singapore's Tatsumi make up Anime Film Night.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Para Para fitness class this summer in Bloomfield.

The Pittsburgh Dance Center will hold a "Japanese Inspired Dance/Fitness Class" on Sundays from May 19th through August 25th. Says their Facebook event page:
We have created a super fun dance/fitness class using pop music of Japan! They have some really great music!

This class will work specifically with the quirky dance craze known as "Para Para," which is sort of like Japan's version of line dancing. Need a hint about movement style? Check out this video:

This class will only be $5.00 and will be equal parts of Dance-Fitness.
Wikipedia has more about Para Para, and Youtube has an instructional video in Japanese (with German and English subtitles). The multitude of older パラパラ videos available are a fun look at a craze that hasn't completely left Asian pop, but prolonged exposure to that music may eventually make you want to drill a hole through your skull. The Pittsburgh Dance Center is located at 4765 Liberty Ave. in Bloomfield (map), and these classes will run from noon to 1 pm each Sunday.

Big Asian festivals in Cleveland, Cincinnati, Columbus in May.

Ohio is doing Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month a little better than western Pennsylvania, with three large festivals that look worth weekend trips.

Cleveland Asian Festival
Cincinnati Asian Food Fest
Colombus Asian Festival

Monday, May 6, 2013

Japanese film I Wish in Erie, May 10.

I Wish

The Japanese film I Wish (奇跡) is part of 2013's Maria J. Langer Film Series at Mercyhurst University, and will be playing on May 10th. There are two showtimes---2:15 and 7:15 pm---and it's playing at the Taylor Little Theater on 38th street, on the northern edge of campus (map). The movie's played in Pittsburgh a few times in recent memory; the Pittsburgh Filmmakers' site summarized on one of those occasions:
The adventure begins with 12-year-old Koichi, whose parents are divorced, and who desperately wants to reunite his family. We see his sullen gaze on the active volcano that touches everything in his new town where he lives with his mother. His younger brother lives with his father. When he learns that a new bullet train line will open, linking the two towns, he starts to believe that a miracle will take place the moment the trains first pass each other at top speed. Features wonderful, natural performances from the kids.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Kitschy, kawaii tote bags at Giant Eagle.

Cute bags by Blue Q being sold at the Market District in East Liberty (map).

Kawaii bag cupcakeKawaii bag ice creamKawaii bag toast

Similar kawaii designs for bags and coin purses are available on the Blue Q website.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Reminder: Kennywood Asian Heritage Day, May 12.

Kennywood Pagoda @ Twilight
Kennywood Pagoda, copyright Kurt Miller.

Now that it's May and our weather is showing it, it's a better time to think about spring festivities. Asian Day leads off the community day season at Kennywood amusement park on Sunday, May 12, with events scheduled between 12:30 and 4:30. Details are still scant beyond just a generic "there will be food and performances", though Win-Win Kung Fu and the Filipino American Association of Pittsburgh Dance Troupe are two of the groups scheduled to perform. Call 412-498-8411 for ticket information.

Kennywood's Asian Heritage Day and the Silk Screen Asian American Film Festival comprise Pittsburgh's two big events for Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month.