By Vivian Nguyen
Northwest Asian Weekly
Director, writer, and YouTube personality Justin Chon, best known for his critically-acclaimed film “Gook,” is hitting the festival circuit with his latest project, “Ms. Purple.” Set in Los Angeles, the film follows Kacie, a young Korean American who struggles to make ends meet as a Koreatown karaoke hostess (“doumi”) while taking care of her comatose father. Kacie reconnects with her older brother Carey as the film explores their difficult relationship in the final days of their father’s life.
“Ms. Purple” is a haunting indie drama that’s ultimately a family story — one that explores the complexities of filial duty, as well as sibling relationships. This is also one of those films where the stunning cinematography turns the city itself into its own character. From the sweeping cityscape views to the seedy underbelly of karaoke rooms, Los Angeles comes alive through its portrayal in this film.
“Ms. Purple” is set to be released in theaters in September.
Billed as SIFF’s Centerpiece Gala this year, “Late Night” touts an impressive cast including renowned actors Emma Thompson (“Sense and Sensibility, “Love Actually”) and Mindy Kaling (“The Office,” “The Mindy Project”). The movie follows Katherine Newbury (Thompson), who plays a revered late-night talk show host who, after 28 years, faces the threat of losing her show due to irrelevance and the threat of younger competition. Thompson is forced to take on a diversity hire named Molly Patel (Kaling) — an Indian American, community college-educated woman to shake up the white, male-dominated writers’ room. The result is a smart, hilarious, and refreshing workplace comedy. And while it dives into social issues like sexism and white privilege, what this film does best is its examination of ageing women, specifically in the entertainment business. This is thanks in part to the nuanced performance that Thompson delivers.
Kaling, who also doubles as the movie’s screenwriter, wrote “Late Night” with Thompson in mind — despite having never met her. It’s an understatement to say that this turned out to be a most successful partnership.
“Late Night” premieres in theaters on June 7.
Vivian Nguyen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.