Film Review: MEDITATION PARK (Canada 2017)

Meditation Park Poster
An aging woman questions her life after suspecting her husband is having an affair.

Director:

Mina Shum

Writer:

Mina Shum

Before viewing MEDITATION PARK, one should be made aware of the legacy behind Hong Kong actress Cheng Pei Pei who executively produced and stars as the lead in the film.  Cheng Pei Pei was a star in her youth, who rose to fame from her first Shaw Brothers swords fighting action movie directed by King Hu, COME DRINK WITH ME.  She was rumoured to be the mistress of one of the Shaw moguls.  She continued her action roles in many other Shaw productions.  Her last well known role was Jade Fox in Ang Lee’s CROUCHING TIGER HIDDEN DRAGON.  She always sports the tomboyish short haircut, which she still does in MEDITATION PARK.  In MEDITATION PARK, Cheng Pei-Pei shines and shows star power as it is seldom seen.

Cheng stars as Maria, a devoted wife and mother who is forced to reassess her reverence for her husband after she finds another woman’s thong in his laundry.  She discovers that her supposedly devout husband, Bing (Tzi Ma) is not the perfect husband she thought him to be.  They are visited by their daughter (Sandra Oh) who wishes her mother attend the brother’s wedding.  The brother has been disowned by Bing.  Maria starts tailing her husband to find out more of his affair.  At the same time, Maria opens up her life and finds companionship through  her assortment of friends as well as through a neighbour (Don McKellar).   She finds that life has more to offer than just tending to her husband, and to one who has been unfaithful at that.

Shun’s (DOUBLE HAPPINESS) covers many issues the main one being, oddly enough, a senior’s coming-of-age.  Maria learns to stand for herself finally and do what is right.  Shun also brings in her Chinese culture in the Canadian setting.  Maria is shown as the typical Chinese elder, who stays home.  Maria speaks limited English and cannot drive.  When she tails her husband, she pays $240 in cab fare before learning how to ride a bicycle instead, a cheaper means of tailing her husband.

There are some magnificent performances on display here, Cheng Pei Pei’s being the most obvious.   Sandra Oh, who has been in Shun’s films in the past is always good and a pleasure to watch.  Her confrontation scene with her father, also brilliantly played by Tzi Ma is the film’s highlight.

Shun injects some sentimental moments through the character of a neighbour (McKellar) that Maria meets.  Kleenex should be handy for the segment where he announces the death of his sick wife.

Shun does not compromise her film for the typical Hollywood ending.  The father does not end up attending his son’s wedding as would be expected.  Maria and Bing do not reconcile in the usual way.  This is what stands out in Shun’s film, which is a big improvement over her past two efforts.  MEDITATION PARK should be seen for it being Shun’s best work and for Cheng Pei Pei’s controlled yet powerful performance.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tMo7DdGdaq8

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TIFF 2017 Movie Review: MEDITATION PARK (Canada 2017) ***1/2

Movie Reviews of films that will be playing at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) in 2017. Go to TIFF 2017 Movie Reviews and read reviews of films showing at the festival.

Meditation Park Poster

Director:

Mina Shum

Writer:

Mina Shum

Stars:

Sandra OhLiane BalabanTzi Ma

Mina Shum directs an all-star cast — including Cheng Pei Pei, Sandra Oh, Tzi Ma, and Don McKellar — in her latest feature, about a devoted wife and mother (Pei Pei) who is forced to reassess her reverence for her husband after she finds another woman’s thong in his laundry.

by Gilbert Seah

Hong Kong martial-arts superstar Cheng Pei Pei, now in her ageing years stars as Maria, a devoted wife and mother who is forced to reassess her reverence for her husband after she finds another woman’s thong in his laundry.

She discovers that her supposedly devout husband, Bing (Tzi Ma) is not the perfect husband she thought him to be. They are visited by their daughter (Sandra Oh) who wishes her mother attend the brother’s wedding.

The brother has been disowned by Bing. Maria starts tailing her husband to find out more of his affair. At the same time, Maria opens up her life and finds companionship through her assortment of friends as well as though a neighbour (Don McKellar).

She finds that life has more to offer than just tending to her husband, and to one who has been unfaithful at that. There are some magnificent performances on display here, Cheng Pei Pei’s being the most obvious.

Sandra Oh, who has been in Shun’s films in the past is always good and a pleasure to watch. Shun does not compromise her film for the typical Hollywood ending.

EDITATION PARK should be seen for it being Shun’s best work and for Cheng Pei Pei’s controlled yet powerful performance.

Trailer: https://www.youtube. com/watch?v=tMo7DdGdaq8

MEDITATION PARK 1

 

Film Review: WINDOW HORSES (Canada 2016) ***1/2

Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival: http://www.wildsound.ca

window_horses.jpgDirector: Ann Marie Fleming
Writers: Ann Marie Fleming (screenplay), Maryam Najafi (Cultural Script Consultant)
Stars: Shohreh Aghdashloo, Ellen Page, Sandra Oh

Review by Gilbert Seah

WINDOW HORSES is an animated film about poetry. And one about a protagonist travelling to a poetry conference in the city of Shiraz in Iran. The subject would be enough to scare away audiences. But one of the best films last year was about a bus driver poet entitled PATERSON with Adam Driver, a tremendously moving film. So WINDOW HORSES, another film about poets, is a film that should be given a chance – for it is in its own terms, an equally awesome film – original, cute and with eye-catching animation.

I met writer/director Ann Marie Fleming last year at the Toronto International Film Festival. Humble, quiet and shy, I had heard that she had a film playing called WINDOW HORSES. I was dead curious what her animated movie would be like, after a fellow critic praised her film. Fleming is of mixed race, like her film’s protagonist.

The film begins with a horse observed through a window. The person at the window is young 20-something poet wannabe Rosie Ming (voice of Emmy Winner Sandra Oh) of mixed Chinese/Persian parents) who lives with her loving grandparents (drawn to look especially Chinese) in Vancouver, Canada. Rose publishes her own poems in book called “My Eye Full” by a poet who has never been to Paris.

One thing that stands out about WINDOW HORSES is its charm. The charm is ever present from the film’s characters to the stories right down to the details in the animation. The film is inherently funny with keen observations to family relationships, growing-up, the artistic scene and a whole lot of other issues.

Sandra Oh, who serves as the film’s executive producer lends her talent as the voice (immediately recognizable) of Rosie. Oh has been friends with Fleming for over 20 years and she agreed to do the voice despite her very busy schedule. Besides Oh, the film is filled with other talents such as other Canadian actors Don McKellar (as the German poet) and Ellen Page as Rosie’s funny chatty friend. But the best is old veteran actress, Nancy Kwan (of the Roger and Hammerstein’s FLOWER DRUM SONG and LOVE IS A MANY SPLENDORED THING) as the voice of Rosie’s grandmother.

Fleming’s animation is not super stupendous, but it is colourful (her favourite colour appears to be pink), original, eye-catching and different. While her characters are etched with proper limbs, she give Rosie stick arms and legs. She even pokes fun at her own animation with a watch she wears dangling from her (stick) wrist.

Fleming’s film is also deep in its subject matter. Fleming knows her material and it is clear form her film that she has done sufficient research on Iran and on her poetry. One wonders if the story of her protagonist is biographical.

WINDOW HORSES is a celebration of different cultures, of art, tolerance and the wonders of life. Fleming is clearly an important emerging talent in cinema.

Trailer: https://vimeo.com/155891239

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Happy Birthday: Sandra Oh

sandraoh.jpgSandra Oh

Born: July 20, 1971 in Nepean, Ontario, Canada

 

 

 

 

 

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