Window Horses is an interesting looking animated film that was just released in Montreal theaters (Cineplex Forum, Cinema Beaubien, Cinematheque Quebecoise) on March 17, 2017. It is written & directed by Ann Marie Fleming (Asian Canadian director) and the main character, Rosie Ming, is voiced by Sandra Oh (Korean Canadian actress). Gloria and Stephen are Rosie’s grandparents and are voiced by Nancy Kwan and Eddy Ko (Chinese Canadian actor).
This is a review of Kim’s Convenience the theater play (very minor spoilers) but will also briefly mention some elements of the TV show for comparison, which I saw first. The play opened this past Wednesday and continues its engagement until March 19 in Montreal at the Segal Centre. It’s produced by Soulpepper, created & written by Ins Choi and directed by Weyni Mengesha with set & costume design by Ken Mackenzie.
Also as an aside, the theater play will make its US debut this July in New York!
The play starts off with Mr. Kim aka Appa (Paul Sun-Hyung Lee) walking into the store. If you’ve seen the TV show, he’s the familiar genial Appa with his jokes and accent but I would say there’s a bit more to him in the play, which is not restricted by TV rules. Much of the first act is comedy as he and his daughter Janet (Rosie Simon) clash and argue over various topics. There is early mention of a Walmart arriving soon and an offer to buy the convenience store from a customer. This is more background info as the main theme of the play is intergenerational conflict between parents and their adult children. Mrs. Kim aka Umma (Jean Yoon) appears from time to time often humming a tune. The fourth member of the family, Jung (Richard Lee), is however not around the store at all, having left the store/home many years previously due to a past incident.
One of the first arguments begins when Appa asks Janet to call 911 about an illegally parked Honda because it’s a Japanese car and he holds a grudge against Japan due to its past history of occupation of Korea. Later on when a customer with a Carribean accent comes into the store there’s an amusing confusion of different accents which leads into some race issues. Appa tries to “educate” Janet on which combinations of race, gender, sexuality will mean a customer is likely to steal. Some of these jokes will be familiar to TV show watchers but there are some differences. In fact, I find they work better in the play because unlike the TV show which tries to stretch some of these jokes into themes for an entire episode, they’re maybe one or two liners in the play.
Karin Kei Nagano is a piano prodigy, which given her parents’ occupations may not be much of a surprise. She’s the daughter of Kent Nagano (music director at OSM) and Mari Kodama (professional pianist). She’ll be having a concert on Sunday, March 12 at 1pm at Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. Discounted tickets (under $15) are available for 34 year olds and under. This is part of Montréal en Lumière.
Mouse of the Keys will have a show starting at 8pm at L’Astral on Friday, March 10, 2017. They’re an instrumental jazz band from Tokyo. This isn’t their first time in Canada. They apparently came last year and even earlier than that when Steven Tanaka had brought them over as part of his Next Music From Tokyo tour (in vol. 5). Be sure not to miss them this time. This is part of the festival Montréal en Lumière.
Despite the popularity of Kpop in North America, shows are still uncommon on this continent although there are definitely more in USA than Canada. Even within the land of maple leaves and beavers music acts only go to the usual cities, Toronto and Vancouver. The last big Asian star I remember to headline their own show in Montreal was Eason Chan. There have been other acts in Montreal but usually part of a bigger festival or as opening acts for other bands like One OK Rock, BabyMetal (I regret missing that to this day) and Crayon Pop.
Much to my surprise, Hyuna will be performing in Montreal on Sunday, February 26 at 8pm at L’Olympia. She will also be touring the other Canadian cities (Vancouver on the 22nd and Toronto on the 24th before she comes to Montreal) and then USA. It’s organized by Kpopme.
Also local Kpop dance cover group East2West won the chance to perform as the opening act for Hyuna.
For those who don’t understand French, I’ve provided a translation of it in English below (not line by line but more of a summary).
There are many ways to help ease the isolation felt by senior citizens. Christine Law chose to give them flowers, obtained from marriages and corporate events, which she rearranges into nice bouquets. This is essentially the mission of Floranthropie.
The idea came to Christine from having lived with her grandparents until high school. Her parents who were immigrants who didn’t speak English or French and had 4 girls (Christine is the youngest) and it was hard for them. Unfortunately, her grandmother had an accident and passed away. In the last years of her grandfather’s life, she sensed the solitude in his life. At every supper, he would teach her a Chinese proverb. There was one that he repeated often and the general meaning of it was that it is important to respect parents to have a long life.
The Montreal International Documentary Festival / Rencontres internationales du documentaire de Montreal (RIDM) will be running from November 10-20, 2016. Here are some of the East Asian & Asian American documentaries.
Gatekeeper by Yung Chang (Canada, Japan)
95 and 6 to go by Kimi Takesue (USA)
This is the second Next Music from Tokyo show I’ve attended. This time I specifically took time off work so I could stay up late for it. That’s how great I thought the last show was. Now, of course, it’s all different bands this time but having looked up their youtube videos, they all sounded pretty good. I also got ear plugs which I forgot to bring, of course. Here are my thoughts on the show.