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Just Saw [Insert Movie Title Here]...

...or how my MFA in screenwriting ruined any chance of enjoying a movie like a normal person. If I apply what I've learned to existing films, would it have made a better film?

SPOILER WARNING: Please be advised, I plan to discuss plot points in detail so if you haven't seen the movie and don't want the surprise ruined, stop here.

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Location: California, United States

Monday, May 08, 2006

Eve & the Firehorse

Written and directed by Julia Kwan
Produced by Erik Paulsson, Sham Tam and Yves J. Ma

Eve & the Firehorse is inspired by two real life events in the writer/director's life. A story about reincarnation into a gold fish when her grandmother died and a Sunday school lesson about how she would be in hell because she was a Buddhist, not a Christian.

The story of Eve & the Firehorse weaves the discovery of Christianity into the lives of two sisters, Eve (Phoebe Kut) and her older sister Karena (Hollie Lo). Bad things happen begin to happen to their family after their mother (Vivian Wu) chops down an apple tree in their yard. Karena embraces Catholicism whole heartedly and takes their teachings to comic and near tragic extremes. Eve is more questioning about her faith, following her mother's lead and hoping that multiple beliefs will her cover all her bases.

This is because Eve carries the guilt of believing she was responsible for her grandmother's death. She follows her sisters distorted teachings of Christianity to try to absolve herself of that guilt and the subsequent tragedies that befall her family.

The scenes move skillfully between very funny scenes (a singing goldfish) to tragedy (we are unsure if Eve drowns during an impromptu baptism in their bathtub). The performance of the sisters is incredibly honest and unpretentious, easily overshadowing Vivian Wu's excellently nuanced performance. The emotional dynamics of the family scenes will be familiar to anyone who grew up in a Chinese family (the brusqueness, the candor and unabashed threats and discipline with no veneer of politeness or diplomacy).

An interesting note from the Q&A. This film was 80% financed by Canadian subsidies and tax credits. You can't help but see it in the credits as well. You have to wonder what filmmaking in America would be like with strong support of independent voices.


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