We live in a time where we’re lucky to have not just one, but two films directed by talented Asian American women available on demand. Last month Emily Ting’s simple rom-com Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong hit streaming, and, at the beginning of this month, Karyn Kusama’s intense thriller The Invitation hit VOD; both films giving great opportunities for these talented ladies’ films to be seen by an American audience.
Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong directed by Emily Ting
A little Before–Sunrise-meets-Asia, Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong is an endearing film about two people who meet by chance in a foreign city. It’s the now classical indie formula, and it’s fairly cheap and easy to make on a budget. What holds Emily Ting’s film together is its dynamic leads, played by Jamie Chung and Bryan Greenberg. Couples in real life, the two have incredible on screen chemistry that’s both endearing and utterly charming. Their dialogue is witty and sweet as well, which adds to the film’s appeal.
Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong doesn’t come without its downfalls, though. Since it is very much in the post-Before-trilogy realm, it doesn’t have a lot of meat to it and feels clichéd. Simply put, it’s a light chick flick and not much else. However, its charms overcome its flaws with a charismatic leading performance by Chung, engaging direction from Ting, and some gorgeous shots of the Hong Kong skyline. So as a chick flick lover, you’ll get enough bang for your buck. It’s more or less the perfect, relaxing movie for a rainy Sunday morning.
The Invitation directed by Karyn Kusama
The Invitation begins with an accident: leading man Will (Logan Marshall-Green) hits a coyote on the way to a dinner party with his girlfriend Kira (Emayatzy Corinealdi). This isn’t a promising start, since this party is where Will will be seeing his ex-wife Eden (Tammy Blanchard) for the first time in years. This accident sets the uneasy and ominous tone for the film and that feeling of unease never ceases throughout.
While it is not entirely unpredictable, Karyn Kusama’s film is a thrilling piece of work that will sink into your subconscious, if you let it. The film invites you to feel Will’s crazed paranoia and go along for the ride, and with such rich and interesting characters it’s easy to fall into the movie’s beats. Writers Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi pen their characters in such a way that they’re mysterious yet familiar. You don’t necessarily need to know their backstories to understand who these people are and where they come from. Kusama’s direction also sucks you into its universe, and grabs you with its slow and methodic pace. It’s magnetic, eerie, suspenseful, and thoroughly engrossing. The Invitation takes you on a crazy ride of terror until the final shot, where the sound design ignites a heavy and looming terror that will never make the Hollywood Hills sound safe again.
You can buy or rent both films through your preferred VOD platform. The Invitation is also currently in select theaters.