Comments on watching and making films.

Monday, February 4, 2008

DVD - The Motel

Every once in a while, a writer/director comes along that makes a movie that manages to put everything into perspective for you. It takes some aspect of your present or past, and slides it into focus, combining the perfect amount of reality and empathy, without delving into sappiness, or trying to tap into undeserved sympathy. Michael Kang does exactly that in The Motel.

The Motel is the story of Ernest (played, brilliantly, by first time actor Jeffrey Chyau), and his family (A hilariously horrible mother, a spunky sister, and a grandfather), who live in, and run, a motel outside of "the city". Ernest's life consists, primarily, of going to school, hanging out behind an Asian restaurant to try and sneak some time with the girl he likes, Christine, and dealing with his crazy mother, who runs the Motel with an iron fist (and a baseball bat). One day, a man named Sam shows up, and moves into the Motel. He takes a liking to Ernest, whom he feels is like a little brother, and decides to try and "help" Ernest achieve his dreams of happiness. But Sam can't find his own happiness in the first place, and though his advice seems to bring some temporary joy to Ernest, it always ends up in disaster.

The Motel is a hilarious comedy about what it means to grow up as a young teen, when very few people believe in you, or care about you. Ernest is like most thirteen year olds - Everyone has plans for him, but no one really seems to care what he thinks. The fact that he grows up and lives at a seedy motel that's well travelled by hookers and johns, druggies, and low life's, doesn't help matters at all.

What's great about this film is that it's everything that a great independent film should be - it's subtle in it's humor, yet still hilarious, it has note-perfect acting (thanks to fantastic directing), and, for its tiny budget, is very well put together technically.

Jade Wu, as Ernest's mother, deserves special mention for her amazing performance as the neurotic mom. Whenever she's interacting with Ernest, you immediately start feeling sorry for him. Sung Kang also delivers a great performance as Sam, the man who has made it his mission to help Ernest find happiness, despite the fact that he has lost all of his.

Simply put, The Motel is what great indy film SHOULD be. I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone!

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