Film review: ‘Tigertail’ is deeply touching, but fails to achieve narrative brilliance

The movie opens in the rice fields of Taiwan where we see a boy who has been sent by his single mother to live with his grandparents. (Supplied)
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Updated 19 April 2020

Film review: ‘Tigertail’ is deeply touching, but fails to achieve narrative brilliance

CHENNAI: Many films on immigrants focus on their plight in the new land, but Alan Yang’s new offering on Netflix, “Tigertail,” though inspired by his own father’s story who migrated from Taiwan to the US, has much more to say about the protagonist’s relationship with four women in his life — his mother, his former girlfriend in Taiwan, his wife in the US and his daughter. While Pin-Jui (Tzi Ma in his middle age, Hong-Chi Lee as a young man and Zhi-Hao Yang as a boy) shares an extremely warm bond with his mother and his former girlfriend, his relationship with his wife and daughter is strained. 




“Tigertail” is inspired by the filmmaker’s own father’s story who migrated from Taiwan to the US. (Supplied)

The movie opens in the rice fields of Taiwan where we see a boy who has been sent by his single mother to live with his grandparents. Later, Pin-Jui relocates to a town to work along with his mother, who is a factory-hand. Torn between his dream to migrate to the US and better his dreary prospects, he gives up his girlfriend to marry the factory owner’s daughter who gives them tickets to America. Although he finally finds financial success, his personal life falls into a rut. Divorced and lonely, his only child, daughter Angela (Christine Ko), does not keep in touch with him.

Yang — known as the producer-writer behind the brilliant “Parks and Recreation,” “Master of None” and “Little America” — splendidly juxtaposes the present with the past and by keeping the plot simple, confusion is avoided. Some of the most impressive scenes are Pin-Jui’s days with his first love, Yuan (Yo-Hsing). Later, Pin-Jui as an older, grumpy and distraught man, finds it hard to break the ice with Angela, and some of the touching snapshots come in the scenes between the two, but Ko is too wooden to leave a mark.




"Tigertail" has the ingredients of modern Asian cinema. (Supplied)

"Tigertail" has the ingredients of modern Asian cinema and one can see that Yang has been influenced by masters like Wong Kar-wai and Edward Yang, although the movie does not achieve narrative brilliance. However, Yang’s work is deeply touching and is hauntingly authentic. Above all, it has a message. He said in one of his interviews that at a time when “Asian Americans have been the targets of racist attacks fueled by misguided links to the coronavirus pandemic, their visibility through movies like ‘Tigertail’ can help combat the problem.”


Arab movies to debut at Toronto International Film Festival

Updated 42 min 27 sec ago

Arab movies to debut at Toronto International Film Festival

DUBAI: Organizers of the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) have released a new lineup of 50 movies for screening at this year’s event including a number of Arabic flicks.

Egyptian filmmaker Mayye Zayed’s “Ash Ya Captain” (“Lift Like a Girl”), an intimate journey into the life of an aspiring athlete, will premiere at the 45th edition of the festival, due to take place between Sept. 10 and 20.

Also featured will be Palestinian filmmaking twins Tarzan and Arab Nasser’s “Gaza Mon Amour,” a satire on love and desire. The brothers’ second feature film, it tells the tale of a 60-year-old fisherman who is secretly in love with a market dressmaker. As the story unfolds, the fisherman discovers an ancient Greek statue that will trouble him.

British director Ben Sharrock’s “Limbo” will see Egyptian-British actor Amir El-Masry star as a Syrian asylum-seeker who finds himself living on a small Scottish island.

Egyptian-British actor Amir El-Masry stars in British director Ben Sharrock’s “Limbo.” (Toronto International Film Festival)

Meanwhile, American director Spike Lee’s film version of David Byrne’s hit Broadway show “American Utopia” will open at the event which will be capped off by American-Indian director Mira Nair’s “A Suitable Boy.”

In addition, there will be showings of Iranian directors Manijeh Hekmat’s “Bandar Band” and Farnoosh Samadi’s “180 Degree Rule.”

Most screenings will take place virtually due to government restrictions imposed to stop the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak.

Cameron Bailey, TIFF’s artistic director, said in a released statement: “We began this year planning for a festival much like our previous editions, but along the way we had to rethink just about everything.

“This year’s line-up reflects that tumult. The names you already know are doing brand-new things this year, and there’s a whole crop of exciting new names to discover.”

The full schedule of the festival will be released on Aug. 25.