Midday matinees make crowd mindful of world around them

Jessica Duncan, Contributor Ω

Image courtesy of Dharma Productions.

Image courtesy of Dharma Productions.

This year International Days organizers took the opportunity to show a small but respectable selection of foreign films. Feb. 4 through Feb. 6, TRU World set up three Foreign Movie Matinees located in the Clock Tower’s Alumni Theatre. Each film varied culturally and stylistically.

Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles (2004), directed by Zimou Zhang (House of Flying Daggers) and produced by William Kong (Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon), was shown Monday, Feb. 4. Ken Takakura stars as Gouichi Takata, an aging Japanese man desperate to reconnect with his terminally sick son, Kenichi. Takata learns of his son’s love for Nuo opera, which is a popular folk opera in southwest China. In hopes of repairing their relationship he travels to China to film this opera for Kenichi. Throughout his journey, Takata is at a linguistic disadvantage, his inability to communicate in China mirrors his inability to communicate properly in his native land, especially with his son. Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles is a heartfelt voyage and captivated the audience.

With close to one billion users, YouTube has become a tool in everyday life across the globe. On July 24, 2010, thousands of YouTube users worldwide were asked to upload videos of their day to partake in the making of the 2011 crowd-sourced documentary, Life in a Day (shown Tuesday, Feb. 5). Acclaimed director Ridley Scott teamed up with documentary filmmaker Kevin Macdonald for what turns out to be a lengthy YouTube video. Scott and Macdonald claim to have edited 4,500 hours of footage into a 90-minute feature. Although the worldly aspect of Life in a Day is admirable, it proves to be nothing but a shallow experiment treading in deep water.

Featured Wednesday, Feb. 6, My Name is Khan (2010) is a pleasant Indian drama, directed by Karan Johar. Rizwan Khan, portrayed by Shahrukh Khan, is a 30-something Muslim man with Asperger’s syndrome. Rizwan grew up in Mumbai, India before immigrating to San Francisco, Calif., to join his brother, Zakir (Jimmy Shergil). Despite having Asperger’s, Rizwan makes a comfortable life for himself. He marries Mandira (Kajol Devgn), a beautiful Indian woman and dives into domestic life with her and her son.

The film highlights Rizwan’s struggle, not only with Asperger’s but also as a practicing Muslim in a country growing increasingly fearful of anyone who “looks” like a terrorist. Shahrukh’s performance is comparable to Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man. Overall My Name is Khan is painstakingly long but it manages to deliver a strong message while creating a love story along the way.

With attendance at an average of 20 people per showing, the range of films during this year’s Foreign Movie Matinee had the potential to leave the audience with a well-rounded image of the world.