Chopstick Cinema

Celeste Heiter's Daily Adventures in Asian Food & Film

Now in its 24th year, the Cinequest Film Festival, held annually in San Jose, Calif., once again presents an impressive and eclectic array of independent films from all over the world. Each year, ThingsAsian posts my reviews of Cinequest’s Asian and Asia-related entries. This year, only six of the Asian films were available for pre-festival review: The Desert Fish; A Thief, a Kid, and a Killer; Funny Money; The Circle Within; Papilo Buddha, and Life is Love. And whether real or fictional, all feature characters in need of salvation, with their own unique ways of finding redemption.

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Explore the Far East from the comfort of home through the cuisines of ten Asian countries, paired with movies by some of Asia’s most visionary filmmakers. With Asian food and film blogger Celeste Heiter as your guide, and Chopstick Cinema as your culinary and cinematic passport, savor the delicacy of Vietnamese Crab-Filled Summer Rolls as [...]


Each year, I watch and review all the Asian entries for the Cinequest Film Festival in San Jose, CA. Over the years, I have had the pleasure and privilege of watching dozens of rare film that I wouldn’t have seen otherwise. Three of those films are now among my favorite cinematic works. Amal Amal is [...]


“Very early in my life it was too late. At eighteen it was already too late. I aged. This aging was brutal. It spread over my features, one by one. I saw this aging of my face with the same sort of interest I might have taken, for example, in the reading of a book. [...]


Tradition. It is the glue that holds families, and even entire cultures together. It is the tie that binds one generation to the next, and it is the foundation for a charming cinematic valentine, The Road Home. Known in Chinese as Wo De Fu Qin Mu Qin, The Road Home is based upon a novel [...]


Set against the brilliant backdrop of Australia’s Pilbara Desert, this cross-cultural drama unfolds between tomboyish Australian geologist Sandy Edwards (Toni Collette) and reticent Japanese steel industry representative Hiromitsu Tachibana (Gotaro Tsunashima). The two are thrust together when Sandy’s boss foists upon her the task of playing tour guide to their client, which involves a five [...]


Food, Glorious Food! And the thousand ways it ignites the human spirit, from a decadent culinary orgy, to a humble yet perfect bowl of steaming-hot ramen, is the stuff of which Juzo Itami’s Tampopo, is made. This bacchanalian, “spaghetti western” romp features Itami’s real-life wife, Nobuko Miyamoto in the title role of Tampopo, a noodle [...]


Written and directed by Majid Majidi, this Oscar-nominated bijou captured the hearts of audiences at film-festivals all over the world. Known in the Persian language Bacheha-Ye Asemanas, Children of Heaven centers around two Iranian children, Ali and Zahra Mandegar, a brother and sister from a financially struggling Iranian family. The film opens with close-up of [...]


Boys will be boys, even living a monastic life in the middle of a remote lake in Korea. But the childish pranks of one young Buddhist monk gone horribly wrong provide a lifelong lesson as he lives out the seasons of his manhood. Directed by Kim Ki-duk, ‘Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter … and Spring’ is [...]


Rivalry, treachery and conspiracy abound when concubine number four joins the palatial household of a wealthy Chinese aristocrat, where his other three wives are already ensconced. Wife number one is the aging matriarch, and mother to the first male heir, an esteemed and powerful position of seniority. Wife number two, Zhouyun, mother to a less [...]