Thursday, February 10, 2011

New on DVD: Year of the Fish (Chinese Cinderella Story)

Year of the Fish

Year of the Fish was released this week on DVD. See the trailer at the bottom of this post. First, here's more about it.

From Rotoscope technique gives 'Year of the Fish' a distinctive look by Bruce Dancis:

"Year of the Fish" is a fairy tale of a movie, a modern take on the ancient Chinese version of "Cinderella" set in New York's Chinatown. With its use of digital rotoscope technology, the film uses bright colors and a kind of painterly animation to tell a story filled with witches, seers and an enchanted goldfish.

Yet "Year of the Fish" is definitely not for kids. Its protagonist, Ye Xian (An Nguyen), has arrived in America to find she has effectively been sold into forced labor to pay for her journey from China. She has to work off her debt by becoming a masseuse in a massage parlor. When she balks at performing sexual acts, her sponsor, Mrs. Su (Tsai Chin), the madam in charge of the establishment, makes her clean floors, scrub toilets and cook meals instead. (Tsai Chin, so memorable as the fiercest of the mothers in "The Joy Luck Club," here plays a variation on the wicked stepmother with barely controlled rage and bitterness.) Some of the other masseuses take on the roles of evil stepsisters. But her "prince" may also be living in Chinatown as well, in the form of a handsome young jazz musician named Johnny (Ken Leung, who played Miles Straume in "Lost").

Written, directed and animated by David Kaplan, "Year of the Fish" gets a belated DVD release this week (Gigantic Pictures, $24.98, not rated) following a limited theatrical run in 2008 and screenings at more than a dozen film festivals around the world.

Official product description:

From the producer of THE JOY LUCK CLUB comes YEAR OF THE FISH, a Cinderella story set in a Chinatown massage parlor.

The film stars Ken Leung (LOST), Tsai Chin (THE JOY LUCK CLUB), Randall Duk Kim (THE MATRIX RELOADED) and introduces An Nguyen. YEAR OF THE FISH had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival and was named Best Film at the Avignon Film Festival, Best Film at the Asheville Film Festival, and won several other international awards. It was released theatrically nationwide and was a nominee for a 2009 Independent Spirit Award.

The film is rotoscoped - a digital process of tracing over live-action footage to create an animated look; in this case a flowing, watercolor effect that pops from the screen like a painting brought to life.

Extras on this Collector's Edition include:

Director's and Actors' Commentary
Early Rotoscoping Test
Before/After Rotoscoping Shots

Definitely looks like it is for limited audiences, with the subject and content rating as well as the interesting film technique. Which I would either adjust to or end the movie with a headache, I think. It makes me feel like I need to renew my contacts prescription despite how effective it is in parts in adding a fantasy overtone. So here's the trailer if you are interested in previewing. The Cinderella influence is very obvious in the trailer.

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