Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
20 Once Again: Don’t Call Her Miss Granny
Li Jun is determined to bring back the Mary Tyler Moore bob and the spirit of sugary
early 1960s pop. She might be cute enough to do it. Of course, she stills
remembers when they were popular the first time around, when she was known as
Shen Meng Jun. Shen will get a second chance at youth and the things that come
with it in Leste Chen’s 20 Once Again (trailer here), which opens this
Friday in New York.
is a mystical photo studio that spurs her youthful regeneration instead of a
fortune telling machine, but you get the picture. She had wondered in to have
her eventual funeral photo taken. Yes, she is in a martyring mood, but rather
the opposite happens. Restored to the peak of her beauty, Shen still has all
memories, including her loving favoritism for her would-be rocker grandson,
Xiang Qian Jin. While she keeps her true identity secret, she does the only thing
she can to help realize his dreams, joining the band as his girl-singer.
he is quite taken with Meng/Shen, which is awkward, especially when their young
media patron takes a shine to her. Further complicating matters, Shen’s old
loyal companion-never-quite-lover is determined to woo the beauty he fell in
love with decades ago.
20OA sounds familiar, beyond the
obvious Big-18 Again comparisons,
than you probably really know your Korean cinema. It is in fact a Mandarin
language, Korean-Chinese co-produced re-conception of last year’s Korean monster
hit, Miss Granny, helmed by the
Taiwanese Chen, co-starring Luhan, a Chinese-born member of the K-pop boy band
EXO. (His fans will probably dig his work here, but the rest of us innocent
bystanders will be underwhelmed).
are a lot of upbeat songs and candy colors in 20 2.0, but it is not all rainbows and buttercups. Naturally, it
also indulges in a fair spot of sentiment. Yet, as on-guard as we should be for
its heartstring pulling, Zhao Lixin delivers a doozey of a speech as Shen’s
grown college professor son that will still kind of get to even relatively
it is Yang Zishan, the breakout star of Vicki Zhao Wei’s So Young, who is really running this show. Despite her flirty,
pixie-like presence, she still projects Shen’s old, traditional soul. She
honestly feels far older than she looks.
Whether you have seen Miss Granny or not, you should have a general idea where 20OA is headed. In addition to its
cheesy songs, it has some nice moments celebrating the importance of family and
an oddly effective lead performance from Yang Zishan. It is a modest yet manipulative
film, but somehow still rather endearing nonetheless. Recommended for fans of
light romantic fantasy and K-pop, 20 Once
Again opens this Friday (1/16) in New York, at the AMC Empire.
Labels: Yang Zishan