Film Festival Review — THE PURPLE ONION — #AAIFF Asian Cinevision *nyc
Great tidings from cinephile at large Tanimaru, chiming in to review THE PURPLE ONION:
Matt Szymanowski / Narrative / USA, Poland / 2015 / Comedy, Drama / 75 mins
A struggling Chinese American comedian in San Francisco finds himself on a downward spiral of disappointment until he finds solace in a sexual encounter with an older woman.
THE PURPLE ONION is an odd story of Johnny, a wannabee comedian, who works as a dishwasher and his dysfunctional relationship with a family friend who has just arrived in San Francisco trying to start a new life. The real Purple Onion was a club in SF; the story picks up the day after it officially closed. There are so many odd ball people in the film, so it plays like a menagerie of near do wells in the Bay Area.
Johnny wants to be funny so badly but he just can’t break out of his personality funk. This is the other side of the Silicon Valley revolution, the folks struggling to make it. The film plods along from one strange encounter to the next while these two Chinese Americans try to coexist in his tiny apartment. Finally, he realizes his ill treatment of her and of life in general and there is a kind of resolution, and for her she moves on but for Johnny – he finally realizes he can be – funny. Be patient with THE PURPLE ONION if you want to enjoy its wry humor.
As the organizers of the Asian American International Film Festival at Asian Cinevision would describe it:
THE PURPLE ONION is an offbeat feature-length, comic-drama film about the most unfortunate stand-up comedian you have never heard of. Johnny, a struggling Chinese American comedian in San Francisco, finds himself on a downward spiral of disappointment in his private and personal life.
Our well-intentioned and increasingly more hapless comedian works as a dishwasher and hopes to move up to server. Most of all, he wants to get on stage and perform comedy; but gradually more serious, absurd and unexpected obstacles prevent him from doing so. The comedian’s estranged and single relative Jeanie suddenly moves in to Johnny’s tiny apartment; she’s lost everything and her home to foreclosure. As the new roommates adjust to one another’s personal habits Johnny (a habitual masturbator) and Jeanie (a snooper) also struggle to find their own roles in a vibrantly diverse, often profoundly beautiful yet intrinsically challenging metropolitan San Francisco.Emotionally confused and in need of a human connection, sexual intrigue develops as Johnny and Jeanie’s fates intertwine.
Post Screening Panelists:
Matt Szymanowski, Director and Writer, THE PURPLE ONION
Noreen Lee, Actor, THE PURPLE ONION
Edwin Li, Actor, THE PURPLE ONION
Matt Szymanowski is an educator and award winning filmmaker in San Francisco. Inspired by his short stint as a door guy at a famous comedy club where he met actor / comedian Edwin Li, Matt wrote, directed, produced and edited his debut feature film The Purple Onion. His production company Wolves Films produces short films for brands and nonprofits. Matt’s narrative work has played Warsaw International, San Francisco International, Clermont Ferrand, among others, and has been broadcast on Polish TV. He wrote the novel Cupertino, about reckless youth in the famous Silicon Valley suburb. An alumni of the Berlinale Talents program, Matt received a BA in humanities from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles and studied film and theater directing at the Polish National Film School in Lodz, Poland.
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