Saturday, July 02, 2016

So I Married My Anti-Fan

I don't know how widespread this situation is, or whether it just applies to Chinese movies playing at AMC Boston Common, but I think we've been seeing the trailer for The Wasted Times for a solid year - I'm pretty sure it started before I came back from Fantasia last August and just kept showing up before every single thing China Lion or Well Go brought over to the point where I have honestly begun to entertain the theory that it's not actually a real movie, but just a trailer meant to parody self-referential Chinese art-house films, right down to how the one line of English dialogue makes it into the preview, even if it is "stupid stinky yellow bastards".

(Funny-ish story about that: The only time I remember that line eliciting a strong reaction was when the preview played before The Boy and the Beast, a Japanese animated film that probably drew a whiter audience than the Chinese films do; they gasped, while the "a bunch of Chinese folks and Jay" audiences for other movies either take it in stride or silently cringe along with me. I've got no idea what conclusions to draw from it, other than that I'm forgetting early shock and we've all just gotten used to it or the anime fans just didn't recognize the trailer as satiric, although it seems hard to miss.)

It didn't play before this one, though, and that makes me wonder if China Lion and AMC have just given up on that playing, or the combination of a new release date of 26 December 2016 and a more busy slate of other Asian movies has just seen them decide to sit on it for a few months.

So I Married My Anti-Fan (aka No One's Life Is Easy)

* * ¾ (out of four)
Seen 30 June 2016 in AMC Boston Common #6 (first-run, DCP)

There are bits of So I Married an Anti-Fan (actually "So I Married My Anti-Fan" on-screen, although being marketed in North America as "No One's Life Is Easy") with some real potential; director Kim Jae-young, adapting a manhwa by Jiwan, does a fair job of wrapping an amiable romantic comedy around show-business satire without trying to be above it. Both the romance and the parody would work a little better if they didn't so often seem to be on autopilot, even if that does get them going in the right direction.

It starts with tabloid intern Fang Miaomiao (Yuan Shanshan) and her friend/photographer Qifei (Mei Nyan-jia) trying to get pictures of South Korean musician Houzhun (Park Chan-yeol), a move which eventually gets Miaomiao fired as the "Woman Sense" magazine she works for is entering a partnership with Houzhun's management company. With a lot of anger and time on her hands, she dedicates herself to becoming an "anti-fan" - which, ironically, gives Houzhun's management the idea of a reality show pairing the two. As you might expect, this initially leads them to not only resent but actively dislike each other, although, given time...

I suspect that, watching this as an American, I'm missing a fair bit of context, as much as I've ready about how thoroughly corporate and branded pop bands are in much of East Asia, it isn't ingrained like it might be for a native fan - star Park Chan-yeol, for instance, is not just a member of Korean boy band EXO but it's "sub-unit" EXO-K, with co-star "Seohyun" Seo Ju-hyun similarly a member of Girls' Generation sub-group TTS, and I don't think it quite works like that on this side of the Pacific yet. Having Houzhun take part in this sort of reality show might be more of an in-joke for his fans than folks coming in cold; he has done a fair number of them. Though there are bits explaining the idea of the "anti-fan", a fair amount of the pop culture exposition comes in terms of on-screen graphics that aren't subtitled.

Full review on EFC.

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