Friday, September 18, 2009

Goh Nakamura records a tune based on the movie White on Rice

Hiroshi Watanabe mulls over getting a mustache ride from Lynn Chen.
My older brother's a fan of witty Bay Area singer/songwriter Goh Nakamura, "who writes ditties about parking tickets, impossible crushes and faraway dreamlands." One of those impossible crushes is on Natalie Portman, the subject of my favorite Nakamura track, "N.P." ("And you can retain your maiden name/And I'll be 'Goh Portman'/till my dying day/And I'll be 'Mr. Portman'--it'll be written on my epitaph/I'll be 'Mr. Portman' just like your dad").

Nakamura wrote and recorded a nice tune inspired by director Dave Boyle's indie comedy White on Rice. Like "N.P.," both the song and Boyle's film are about a dreamer with an impossible crush, an immature 40-year-old Japanese immigrant (Hiroshi Watanabe) who competes with a younger, suaver and much more Americanized Korean co-worker (Heroes' James Kyson Lee) for the affections of his brother-in-law's beautiful niece (Saving Face star and Secret Identities contributor Lynn Chen).

White on Rice has been hyped all over the Asian American blogosphere. angry asian man said "Watanabe is brilliant as one of the most annoying and unlikeable heroes you'll ever find yourself rooting for," and Ningin praised how the film "doesn't rely on the usual stereotypes," while non-Asian reviewers seem to be less enthusiastic about White on Rice. Cinepassion's Fernando F. Croce gave it one out of four stars and called it an "asphyxiating ethnic sitcom." PopMatters' Cynthia Fuchs found the "outrageous-silly-boyness" of White on Rice (and similarly toned previous comedies like Napoleon Dynamite and Eagle vs. Shark) to be repetitive and monotonous, which means Rotten Tomatoes Show hosts Ellen Fox and Brett Erlich, who pointed out how formulaic indie comedies have become in a savage spoof of Juno's "Anyone Else But You" number, will probably hate it.

I don't watch the music video channels anymore. Do labels still make atrocious videos of movie themes or songs inspired by movies in which clips from the film are haphazardly edited together with footage of the stars pretending to jam with the singer? The "White on Rice" video features Watanabe and Lee doing exactly that together, except not on the same rooftop with Nakamura (were Watanabe and Lee unable to meet Nakamura?--it looks like they're not even in the same city). It reminds me of those '80s and '90s tie-in videos, except it's less cheesy, and Nakamura's tune doesn't suck.

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