So those of you who follow me on Twitter, know that I eat a LOT of ramen. Of course I’d want to watch this!
Infinity & Chashu Ramen was filmed entirely in San Francisco’s Japan Town. The film follows two spirits who wander around trying to help the living. 92-year-old writer and actor Hiroshi Kashiwagi plays Tenshi, a Japanese spirit with a dirty old man mentality. His apprentice, Lucy Yamaguchi (Wendy Woo), struggles with her spirit duties but eventually proves useful.
Several stories are weaved into the storyline, from a former addict trying to rekindle an old flame to a new couple trying to transcend language boundaries. In fact, this film has dialogue in English, Japanese, Thai, and Spanish. There are 25 Asian Americans in this film, so props to Director/Writer/Producer Kerwin Berk for casting actors who normally don’t get chances to play nuanced characters. Standouts include the charismatic Anna Jones and the theatrically-trained Nishea Andolong.
Carolyn Hu was endearing as a caustic Akira-obsessed sci-fi nerd. I wouldn’t mind seeing an entire film devoted to her character.
After the film, there was a Q&A with the cast and crew. It was interesting to see how the theater was filled with older Asian American patrons that you normally don’t find at the movies. Everyone was very supportive and curious about how this indie film came to be. One gentleman asked Berk how he came up with the script. Berk replied that he was inspired while on a trip to Paris. He had observed how the locals didn’t seem to notice how beautiful their surroundings were. Thus, he wanted to showcase the beauty of San Francisco’s Japan Town while weaving in his own personal stories. His fascination with ghosts, such as obake, led him to create the main spirit characters who we follow throughout the film.
Berk also described how the film was shot over a period of 20 days, with an additional 2 days of b-roll and 2 days of re-shoots. Unfortunately, due to lack of funds, post-production took two years. An audience member asked what the total budget of the film was. Berk replied, to audience laughter, that it was probably the cost of a 2007 Honda Civic.
After the Q&A, the cast and crew lined up to sign posters and DVD’s. A nice touch.
Infinity and Chashu, by Ikeibi Films.
Cons: Sound problems and a band-aid ADR job. Inconsistent make-up exacerbated by unnecessary close-ups. The character of Lucy Yamaguchi is supposedly from the 1940s but she speaks and looks like someone from an Anthropologie catalogue.
Pros: A handful of endearing characters, beautiful visuals that’ll make any Bay Area native proud of their hometown, and intertwining storylines that come together in a satisfying conclusion.
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