The Farewell (2019)

The Farewell
Director: Lulu Wang
Writer: Lulu Wang
Cast: Awkwafina, Shuzhen Zhao, Tzi Ma, Diana Lin, Yongbo Jiang, Han Chen, Aoi Mizuhara, Xiang Li, Hongli Liu,
Seen on: 9.1.2020

Plot:
Billi (Awkwafina) ambles a little aimlessly through her life in New York, waiting and hoping for an acceptance from an art university. When her Chinese grandmother Nai Nai (Shuzhen Zhao), with whom Billi is very close, is discovered to have only little time left to live, her parents (Tzi Ma, Diana Lin) fly to China. Billi follows, unable to stay behind, although she does have a hard time with the family decision to not tell Nai Nai of her diagnosis. To explain why the entire family is gathered, a wedding for Billi’s cousin (Han Chen) is arranged instead.

The Farewell is a beautiful film. Touching and emotional, it manages to be funny and tender at the same time – and also very insightful about life, death and family.

The film poster showing the entire family grouped around Nai Nai (Shuzhen Zhao).
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Meditation Park (2017)

Meditation Park
Director: Mina Shum
Writer: Mina Shum
Cast: Pei-Pei Cheng, Tzi Ma, Sandra Oh, Don McKellar, Zak Santiago, Jemmy Chen, Lillian Lim, Alannah Ong, Sharmaine Yeoh
Part of: FrauenFilmTage
Seen on: 6.3.2018
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Plot:
Maria (Pei-Pei Cheng) and Bing (Tzi Ma) have been married for many years and things are fine. That is, until Maria suspects that Bing has been having an affair. As Maria questions her marriage, she starts to question her entire life – and decides to make some changes. She takes up a job, makes friends and goes for a fresh start.

Meditation Park is a Coming of Age story, with the twist that the person coming of age is definitely not a teenager, but a middle-aged to older woman. It’s a spin on the story I very much loved, as I loved the entire film.

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Arrival (2016)

Arrival
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Writer: Eric Heisserer
Based on: Ted Chiang‘s short story Story of Your Life
Cast: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker, Michael Stuhlbarg, Mark O’Brien, Tzi Ma
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 21.10.2016

Plot:
Twelve alien spaceships appear all around earth. They don’t seem to do much, but may be trying to establish contact. To try and figure out their language, linguist Louise Banks (Amy Adams) is contacted and contracted. In a team together with theoretical physicist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) and others, and in cooperation with teams around the world, they try to figure out what the creatures could want – and if it’s peace or war they have in mind.

Arrival is the rare breed of science fiction that actually takes Science As It Is Properly Done Right Now seriously and obviously admires and respects it, which is absolutely refreshing as a lot of SciFi today feels mostly like militarized power fantasies with a bit of technobabble. For that alone, I had to like the film, but there are also the cinematography, the soundtrack and the characters to really make me love it.

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