As Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month comes to a close, The Kaleidoscope is taking the time to celebrate some of our picks for our favorite Asian and Pacific Islander entertainers, music artists, nonprofits and local Birmingham businesses. Today, we are sharing just a few notable movies, television shows and podcast that our staff singled out as worthy of praise. In the coming days, we’ll be sharing even more.
Keith Chow, “Southern Fried Asian” podcast
Southern Fried Asian is a podcast hosted by Keith Chow that features the stories of Asian Americans from the South. The guests on the podcast include authors, filmmakers, chefs and mental health professionals. It gives a wider view of what it means to be from the south and the different experiences of the people who live here.
Hannah Richey, Editor-in-chief
Stephen Chow, “Kung-Fu Hustle” and “Shaolin Soccer” director
Some iconic Asian movies that I watched growing up are “Kung-Fu Hustle” and “Shaolin Soccer” both directed by Stephen Chow.
“Kung-Fu Hustle” has been favorite among mine and many (and I have watched it one too man times). It features themes of classical martial arts with dramatic slap-stick comedy that makes for a very unique and enjoyable movie. It has everything every good movie does: heroes meets villains, insightful backstories, and even a love relationship… all while taking place in a run-down apartment complex.
Each character is unique, funny and possesses a set of skills that catch the viewer off-guard. Truly one of the greater Asian films of my childhood.
Jada Nguyen, Arts Editor
Maya Erskine, “PEN15” actor
Maya Erskine is incredible as one of the two co-leads in the bizarre comedy series, “PEN15” that sees two women in their thirties reliving their middle school years complete with AIM messages, portable CD players, and bowl cuts. Erskine carefully balances the inherent comedy of middle school awkwardness with the very real drama of her own shame of her body, family and Japanese identity and it becomes one of television’s rarest performances because of it.
Caleb Wood, Managing Editor
Takashi Miike, “Audition” and “13 Assassins” director
I’ve been watching a lot of Takashi Miike movies recently. He’s a very prolific auteur with over 100 credits under his belt. His movies tend to have a lot of style, absurdism and variety. He’s done almost everything, including cult thriller/horror movies, musicals, period pieces and children’s tv. Because of this, he has a huge (and bizarre) mix of fans in Japan and abroad. He’s also part of the Chinese-Japanese diaspora, and tends to fill his work with social commentary about the treatment of minorities or foreigners in Japan (and Asia more broadly), along with other issues.
Riley Humphrey, Film Critic
Xiran Jay Zhao, YouTuber
Xiran Jay Zhao is a first generation Chinese-Canadian Youtuber and author. Her Youtube videos cover the cultural inspirations in Asian-inspired media such as Avatar: the Last Airbender and Kung Fu Panda. Her debut novel is “Iron Widow” and set to come out in Fall 2021. Her videos are a great way to delve into what inspired some of your favorite movies and tv shows.
Hannah Richey, Editor-in-chief