So the movie did finally get made after all. Last Thursday evening at the Paramount was the premiere of Milk & Fashion, touted as the first film to feature “non-Asian actors speaking Chinese in lead roles of a feature film for the first time ever”. The crowd gathered as early as 7 pm to feast on the buffet. The room was packed with a diverse population of foreigners, Shanghainese ladies and numerous dubious characters. The seats were all taken. The sound system was too loud, and at 8.30, they began with a series of pop singers who performed for a crowd who couldn’t seem to care less. The hosts were unconvincing and their cues badly rehearsed, ‘milking’ the applause conspicuously.
At long last they introduced the cast and the producer’s and director’s teams (which happened to be the same people after all). Jeremy Miller, the bait of the evening (and who had gained popularity in China thanks to the American show Growing Pains), was ‘away on another project.’ Then it all became rather tawdry and garish when the half-naked girls and the body-builder strutted their stuff on the stage. Chinese and foreigners alike had a ‘What the –?’ look on their faces.
As for the movie itself, here’s a synopsis from the filmmakers:
Milk & Fashion centers on a young foreigner, Tyler Ralstin (Kyle Rothstein), as he travels from rural Yunnan to Shanghai to live with his uncle Jack (Jeremy Miller). As caretaker for Tyler, Jack must balance his life between the high demand of his profession and the role of a mentor as he guides his nephew through the tough life-decisions that come with growing up. Jack is the president of a cultural investment company that is sponsoring an international fashion contest, and one of the competing designers is Yao Yao (Michelle Du), a former ballerina who has decided to pursue her dream of becoming a professional designer. The stories of Tyler and Yao Yao intertwine in Tyler’s coming-of-age tale and Yao Yao’s journey as she strives to accomplish her dreams. Though her journey at times seems complicated and even hopeless, Yao Yao finds a friend and mentor in Anna (Vanessa Branch), an international fashion magazine editor who helps Yao Yao stay true to her goals.
From the sneak peeks that we got, we thought the film was a bit cliché and old-hat. A slice of Billy Elliot, a dash of The Devil Wears Prada, a pinch of Crouching Tiger’s martial art cable moves, and a lot of self-indulging melodrama from the producer (his son plays one of the main roles after all), is the tasteless recipe of the trailer. Let us pray the film itself will look better than that.
Anything positive, then? We got to see Yang Erche Namu, the Chinese actress who is oh-so-in-love with French President Sarkozy. We got to rub shoulders with Pirates of the Caribbean’s Johnny-Depp-slapper Vanessa Branch (see picture). And we were given a glass as a souvenir when we left. Wait for Milk & Fashion to come to a big screen near you soon. If not, we’re certain you’ll find the DVD on the street soon enough.
Previously on Shanghaiist
Somewhere, Tina Yothers is laughing
Jeremy Miller shows us his smile again