Saturday, March 20, 2010

Over the Top Sex Comedy Thrills at the Asian American Film Festival

Director Quentin Lee and actress Karin Anna Cheung

A sold-out audience gasped, laughed and even yelled loudly throughout director Quentin Lee’s unpredictable sex comedy "The People I’ve Slept With" at the Castro Theatre on March 14. The film was chosen as a Centerpiece Film for the 2010 San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival. Beautiful lead actress Karin Anna Cheung and director Quentin Lee, a UC Berkeley alum, attended the screening.

The gay element of the film occurred in its first few minutes, as Cheung’s self-described promiscuous character is seen in the throes of lurid passion with different men, and her voice-over details her comparison to sexually active gay men. Director Lee is openly gay, and effervescent gay Latino actor Wilson Cruz did some of his best work as a guy who enjoys sex with as many different men as possible. The first part of the film was a fascinating tribute to two people dedicating their lives to sexual pleasure.

Cheung’s character even had sexual baseball cards, which were Polaroid snapshots of the Asian, White, Black, and Latino men she had thrashed around with, and a few women also. And the cards become important to her when she discovered that she was pregnant, and the most likely father was among the snapshots. Archie Kao of TV’s "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" was a lead, and so was legendary actor James Shigeta. Shigeta starred in the 1961 film "Bridge to the Sun" as a lead with glamorous White actress Carrol Baker when such interracial casting was unheard of.

Actor Cruz’s character realized that while he is helping with the daddy hunt that one of his conquests is someone he should not have discarded. His pursuit of love ends up in a surprising finale for someone so dedicated to variety, and the character played by Cheung has a decidedly ambiguous finale to her full tilt desperate rampage through the lives of the men who may have impregnated her. Both Cheung and Cruz’s characters transcend their previous lives, a goal of films, novels, and other creative art.

Lead actors Cheung, Cruz, and Kao are impossibly good-looking and their acting energy varied measurably to add texture and to present an unusually message-filled creation, especially for a sex comedy.

The Asian American Film Festival was programmed from March 11 through March 21, and this is year 28 of the largest festival dedicated to Asian American cinema. Diverse films were screened and there were party-hopping, online contests, and interactive projects. The opening night gala at the Asian Art Museum was packed with supporters as well as directors, actresses, actors, and David Chiu, the president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.

And again Karen Larsen and her crew from Larsen Associates public relations drew large audiences to the various events.

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