Did I see ‘Shopping for Fangs’ with you?

I’d revisited ‘Shopping for Fangs’, renting it from Netflix. I’d first seen it when it was at the Asian-American Filmfest back in 1997. I don’t have a good memory, but the intriguing characters have always stayed with me: the blonde waitress with sunglasses and the contrasting subservient mousy wife. It featured John Cho (I noticed him in this movie, and now he’s famous!) The film was also an early work by Quentin Lee and Justin Lin, who is now famous for ‘Better Luck Tomorrow,’, a ‘Fast and the Furious’ movie, and now ‘Finishing the Game.’ It does crib a scene or two from ‘Chungking Express’ and John Woo. But still it’s a nifty little movie.

“I haven’t seen this before,” Joe said.
“You forgot? You’re usually better at remembering . . . ”
At some length into the movie. . . “Nope, I’ve never seen it.”
“You must have seen it with me. Who else would I have seen it with?” OK, that’s a little rhetorical. I used to see movies by myself, but I think this was one I did go see it with someone. This is bugging me a little, so if that person happens to read this, please identify yourself. Thank you!

This weekend I also went to see the Joffrey Ballet in Berkeley with my cousin. (It’s part of an homage series to Twyla Tharp)
I have to confess, I fell asleep during the Beach Boys medley numbers. Which was surprising; you’d think that since the music was familiar and upbeat, it would hold my interest. But then I figured out, the numbers in the beginning and the end had more dancers in it. The numbers in the middle only had a handful of dancers: so the stage was relatively too big. The energy dissipated into the wide empty space. I did like the striking colour-sccheme of the costumes though, women in orange dresses, men with red pants and floral-print shirts.

The subsequent number from ‘Billboards’, with music specifically composed and performed by Prince was riveting. The whole ensemble was on-stage and the energy was electric, more like a Broadway show than a ‘muted’ dance performance. And then I also realised something else: there was quite a variety of body types amongst these Joffrey dancers. Some were shorter, some were even heavier than the typical dancer. Most dance companies select their dancers not only based on talent, but their body build, height, lines, etc, aiming for a uniform look. But like models, dancers’ bodies represent a stylized extreme, not a ‘normal’ human body.

With the Joffrey troupe, it’s nice that they’re more inclusive and have a plurality of physiques. After all, if music is defined by the silences between notes, dance is defined by episodes of suspension in air between the tugs of gravity. Here dancers each deal with gravity differently; it was almost too hard for me to decide or track which dancer was the most interesting to watch!


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