Something new: Boutique WhiteHOT Hawaii

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Model Emmy Agustin showcases a Jovani champagne lace gown with iridescent floral beading, $799.

A new bridal salon and fashion boutique opens today in the heart of Kaimuki and we got an exclusive preview. With its clean industrial decor, the 1,200-square-foot salon still manages to exude a svelte, luxurious vibe and a fashion-forward sassiness.

Owner Daisy Merto has a degree in fashion from the University of Hawaii and managed a local bridal store for five years. She chose the name WhiteHOT Hawaii because it exudes the essence of her store: sexy, chic bridal.

Brides aren’t her only target, though. The racks also have non-bridal dresses handpicked to create a mix of modern, glamorous and sleek. Wedding gowns range from $225 to $1,650. Dresses for cocktail parties, Valentine’s Day or a girl’s night out are $49 to $229. The salon also sells show-stopping evening wear and is the exclusive retailer of New York formal-wear giants Faviana and Jovani Fashions.

WhiteHOT Hawaii

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Photos by Amanda Stevens

WhiteHOT Hawaii
3457 Waialae Ave.
(808)744-5602
whitehothawaii@gmail.com

10 Things I learned from ‘Boyhood’

Photo by Matt Lankes from the book "Boyhood Twelve Years on Film."

Photo by Matt Lankes from the book “Boyhood Twelve Years on Film.”

Sunday night, “Boyhood” won three Golden Globes for best director (Richard Linklater), best supporting actress (Patricia Arquette) and best drama. The ultimate coming-of-age story, filmed over the course of 12 years, is a clear frontrunner for this year’s Oscars.

This summer, I wrote about “Boyhood” in a column called “My Summer In Baby Jail.” I boldly predicted that it would’ve been my favorite film of the summer… if I actually had time to see it. Alas, I was dealing with a newborn boy of my own. Last week “Boyhood” came out on Blu-ray and I was finally able to see if it lived up to my own expectations.

Predictably, It did.

Photo by Matt Lankes from the book "Boyhood Twelve Years on Film."

Photo by Matt Lankes from the book “Boyhood Twelve Years on Film.”

I’ll admit, it’s hard to be objective with a bouncing baby boy of my own, but here are 10 things I learned after watching one of my favorite films of 2014 (and the first weeks of 2015).

You’re never too old to experiment
Shot a week at a time over the course of 12 years, “Boyhood” is a middle finger to tent-pole filmmaking and traditional storytelling. It’s a testament to Linklater, who I’m naming the official spirit animal of Generation X. While his Gen X contemporaries, Tarantino, Nolan, Wes Anderson and PT Anderson may have the flashier films, Linklater’s audacity captures the sensitive, scrappy and questioning voice of a generation. We may be getting old, but we’re going down fighting.

Never wear khakis
If there is an antagonist in this film, it’s khakis. And minivans. And alcoholism. But mostly khakis.

Photo by Matt Lankes from the book "Boyhood Twelve Years on Film."

Photo by Matt Lankes from the book “Boyhood Twelve Years on Film.”

Time travel is futile
Have you ever been asked, “If you could go back in time, what would you tell your younger self?” “Boyhood” proves that no matter what you’d say, your younger self wouldn’t listen. Because when you’re young, NO authority figure is going to tell you what to do. Plus, your future self is wearing khakis.

Boyhood is a horror movie
From the birds and the bees in a bowling alley to the inevitable mini-vanification of the parentals, the moments captured in “Boyhood” are enough to make any grown parent pull the sheets over their head and weep quietly in the fetal position. Not that I’m talking from personal experience or anything.

“Life doesn’t give you bumpers”
The film is filled with similar clever Linklaterisms that are a signature of his writing. My favorites: “There is no favorite Beatle.” “Any dipsh*t can take pictures.” And “The moment seizes us.”

“Boyhood” is a sequel
Sort of. Watch these Linklater films in order, to create the ultimate Gen X movie binge-athon.

Dazed and Confused (1993)
“Slacker” (1991, which I wrote about in “The Best of Slacker Cinema”)
“Before Sunrise” (1995)
“Before Sunset” (2004)
“Before Midnight” (2013)
“Boyhood” (2014)

boyhood“Boyhood” is the culmination of Linklater’s fascination with time, memory and defining moments. These movies are fueled by mesmerizing performances and inspired ideas. His films show us that life isn’t about the big moments—the first kisses and the funerals—it’s about the moments that happen in between.

Boyhood rules. Adulthood sucks
“Boyhood” could have easily been called “Adulthood.” It shows us that when we’re young, life is full of possibilities. Every door is open. As we get older, those doors sadly start to close. Puberty may not be pretty, but adulthood can get ugly. Especially when you choose to sport a patchy moustache in your 30′s.

Spoiler alert!

Spoiler alert!

A lot of nothing adds up to everything
One of the critiques I’ve heard about this film is, “Nothing happens.” Well, that’s kind of the point. Change happens slowly. The seamless edits between Mason’s years mirror our own, blink-and-you-might-miss-it growth of our kids. I mean seriously, when did my four year old get so big?

You’ll never have all the answers
As a child we believe our parents know everything. As “Boyhood”—and any parent can tell you—adulthood serves up more questions than answers. Case in point, random questions from my four year old: “How does Santa get in the house when we have no chimney?” “Is God real or pretend?” “Did the baby come out of mommy’s butt-butt?” Which brings us to the last and most important thing I learned from “Boyhood”…

“We’re all just winging it”
Through an ambitious process and performances, “Boyhood” is a mesmerizing meditation on the passage of time. It’s a moving artistic achievement that shows us cinema still has the power to surprise, spark a sense of magic, and evoke the universal truth that we’re all in this together.

If there’s one thing to take away from this extraordinary, 12-year project, it’s that eventually we all have to grow up, but we never really stop growing.

Frolic gift guide: For the pop culturist

Frolic Gift Guide Pop CulturistIs the term “pop culturist” just a fancy way of saying “nerd?”

Yes.

In the same way “wine enthusiast” is a fancy way of saying “wino.” The thing is, I’m too old to be a “nerd.” I’ve got kids. I’ve got a mortgage. I can no longer eat Jack in the Box monster tacos. And I know I’m not alone. So I’m giving all fellow nerds over the age of 34 a promotion. From this day forward, consider yourselves “pop culturists.” Update your LinkedIn profiles appropriately.

Now the best part of being a pop culturist is we’re the easiest people to shop for during the holidays. We’re collectors. We love nostalgia. We obsesses over the obscure minutia of geekdom. So for you, and more importantly, the significant others who shop for you, here are some ideas that will make Christmas Day for the pop culturist feel like, well, Christmas.

Reaction FiguresReAction Figures
The first thing I ever truly desired in my entire life was a “Star Wars,” C-3PO action figure from Woolworth in Kahala Mall (like I said, I’m mature). It was gold and shiny and it was a 3 ¾ inch piece of the coolest movie I ever saw. Ripping open that blister pack was my gateway drug into geekery.

Well, Funko has brought back the magic of those action figures with its line of ReAction Figures. Done in the Kenner “Star Wars” style, these are the toys from movies you wanted but never had. Marty McFly from “Back to the Future.” Chunk from “The Goonies.” Even the Gimp from “Pulp Fiction.” You can find these online or at Gecko Books in Kaimuki. The true pop culturist will want to collect them all.

“Guardians of the Galaxy” Cassette Mix Tape
Did you know that the certified Gold, “Awesome Mix Vol. 1” soundtrack of “Guardians of the Galaxy” was actually sold as a limited edition cassette tape? This special promotion was released on Record Store Day on Nov. 28. Needless to say, these cassettes are very rare — a plus for the pop culturalist. Jelly’s Hawaii told me Oahu only received one cassette. ONE. So head to eBay and be prepared to drop around 40 plus bucks. Now if you could only find something to play it on.

Serial Notebook“Serial” Notebook
If you haven’t caught up on “Serial,” the podcast phenomenon of the fall, please stop reading, apologize and start downloading now. This true-crime story brought to you by the storytellers of “This American Life” dissects the case of Adnan Syed, a high school kid convicted of murdering his ex, Hae Min Lee. But did he do it? For the “Serial” fanatic, This American Life’s website is selling a “Serial” notebook to keep your darkest secrets. This is the perfect journal to admit into evidence in case you too are mysteriously murdered.

Flux Capacitor Charger“Back to the Future” Flux Capacitor Charger
It’s a USB phone charger. It’s a Flux Capacitor from “Back to the Future.” It was nerdy in 1985, and it’s nerdy now. If you’re willing to buy this for your significant other, you’re a keeper. If you’re willing to ride in the car of your significant other with this thing plugged in the dashboard, put a ring on that finger.

OrangeIstheNewBlackPoster“Orange is the New Black,” Signed
Nothing says I want to look smart than a fine leather-bound book on our bookshelf. For the binging “Orange is the New Black” fan, the Easton Press is selling a leather-bound edition of the book that inspired the series, signed by author Piper Kerman. Imagine that. A book on your bookshelf that you’ll actually read.

Hollywood Heroes Vintage Toys
Remember that toy you wanted as a kid but never got? For me it was this “Star Wars” Death Star playset. I really wanted to play with that trash compactor.

Well, if you watch the Travel Channel show “Toy Hunter,” you know these collectables are worth hundreds and even thousands of dollars today. Jordan Hembrough, the “Toy Hunter” himself, sells his rare finds on his Hollywood Heroes website and eBay store. So if you really want to give your beloved pop culturist a Christmas to remember, give them a piece of their childhood back. If there’s some treasure your significant other really wants, from a Castle Grayskull to a Ninja Turtle Sewer Playset, go to the Hollywood Heroes website and send Jordan and email. Just be warned. Childhood isn’t cheap.

Fellow pop culturists, what are some of the awesome items on your Christmas list? Tell me in the comments below. Merry Christmas!

HIFF Q&A: Ty Sanga, ‘The Life of Pinky Thompson’

Ty SangaTy Sanga wants to tell you a story.

It starts in Kalihi where he grew up. His mother was first-generation Filipino and his father was Hawaiian-Chinese. They worked hard, so Ty did too. He worked room service at the Ihilani and studied ethnic studies at the University of Hawaii, where local documentaries like Victoria Keith’s “The Sand Island Story” deeply affected him. Sanga decided he wanted to make films about local and Hawaiian stories, and he wanted to tell them right.

During graduate school at Chapman University he wrote and directed the short film, “Stones,” based loosely on a Hawaiian legend. In 2011, the film was chosen from 6,500 entries for the 2011 Sundance Film Festival Indigenous Shorts Showcase. Sanga followed up that success by directing the 2013 food-travel show, “Family Ingredients,” hosted by Chef Ed Kenney (Town Restaurant) and featuring Chef Alan Wong (read Diane Seo’s review here). In 2014, “Family Ingredients” won a regional Emmy for lifestyle-program special.

But Sanga’s story doesn’t end there. His latest film, “Visions in the Dark: The Life of Pinky Thompson,” was selected as the closing night film of the 2014 Hawaii International Film Festival. The incredible story of Thompson, father of Nainoa Thompson, president of the Polynesian Voyaging Society, is about how one man can make a difference. I talked with Sanga about the documentary, winning an Emmy and Bruno Mars.

Why is giving Hawaiians and local culture a voice so important in your work?
It’s just the types of stories I’m attracted to. No matter what I do, I’ll always have this perspective as a storyteller. It grounds me.

What was it like being selected to the Sundance Film Festival?
When I received the call, I was on Maui and I didn’t have good reception. When they said we were accepted, I couldn’t hear him clearly. I had to run out of the car to find a good signal. I still can’t believe we got in. After completing a movie your next goal is to find an audience, and the Sundance Film Festival is the biggest stage for up-and-coming filmmakers. It was a dream to be able to share my short film there. Plus, I got to play in the snow.

PinkyThompsonTell us about your HIFF film, “Visions in the Dark: The Life of Pinky Thompson.”
Pinky Thompson was one of Hawaii’s greatest leaders. It’s crazy when you realize what the Hawaiian community was like in the 1920s and how much it has changed today. For the longest time our kupuna had to hide our Hawaiian culture.

Today, the culture is as vibrant as ever. In many ways it was Pinky who helped push us in that direction. He was a great visionary. He understood the value of early education and brought change in the state and national level. To him, nothing was impossible.

How did you get the idea for the film?
I’m blessed to be able to work with Randie and Jamie Fong from Kamehameha Schools. They understand the value of film not only as a medium to archive and entertain, but also to incite change. When they told Keala Lucero (producer) and I that they wanted to do a documentary on the late Pinky Thompson, we agreed that it was long overdue.

Did you discover anything that took your story into a direction you didn’t anticipate?
The amount of accomplishments Pinky achieved in one lifetime is astonishing. The difficult part was narrowing it down for a feature documentary. It was a long process. Once Seong Kyu-Whang, our editor, and I discovered the narrative through-line, it became our gauge to measure what stayed in the film and what went.

What’s the status on “Family Ingredients”?
We are currently filming new episodes, which will premiere nationally in 2015. I can’t share too many details, but the stories we have lined up are amazing. We’ll be visiting seven new locations and we have a lot of fun stuff planned for Ed (Kenney).

Did you like the raw egg rice (tamago-kake gohan) featured on the show?
Yes, it’s delicious, especially if you have ono side dishes. In editing the pilot, we had to take a tamago gohan break. We busted out the rice cooker and Peterson eggs and whipped up a snack. It’s difficult working on a food show because you’re always hungry.

What was it like winning an Emmy for “Family Ingredients?”
It was a total surprise. We were just thrilled to be nominated. We didn’t expect anything else, so no one from the team was at the ceremony. I found out through Facebook.

What’s the hardest part about being a director?
Getting sleep. I’m a crazy workaholic, but sometimes my body is like, “denied. System will be in sleep mode. Try again later.”

What’s on your Netflix queue?
“Luther,” “Frances Ha,” “The Kid with a Bike,” “The Imposter.”

What filmmakers or films inspire or influence you?
Hitchcock, Scorsese, Kubrick, “Sansho the Bailiff,” “Ikuru,” “City of God,” “Jerry Maguire,” “There Will Be Blood.”

If someone was making a movie of your life story, who would play you?
Bruno Mars?

Top 3 guilty pleasure movies.
“Back to the Future III,” “Saved by the Bell (TV),” anything Jackie Chan.

What are you working on next?
Along with “Family Ingredients,” I also developed a feature film through the Sundance Native Lab called “After Mele.” The film wrestles with the expectations of Native Hawaiian males in today’s society. We have a fantastic cast attached, and we’re hoping to go into production soon.

Any advice to local filmmakers who are just starting out?
Have goals. Work hard. Watch movies. Be humble.

“Visions in the Dark: The Life of Pinky Thompson” premieres Sunday, Nov. 9 at 7 p.m. at Hawaii Theatre and is the closing night film of the Hawaii International Film Festival 2014. It also screens on Sunday, Nov. 9 at 8 p.m. at Consolidated Theatres Koko Marina 8. HIFF runs Oct. 30-Nov. 9 on Oahu; Nov. 13-16 on Kauai and Hawaii Island. See film and event schedules at hiff.org, and Frolic movie guy Myong Choi’s personal must-see lineup.

“Visions in the Dark: The Life of Pinky Thompson” trailer:

Q&A with HIFF’s Anderson Le

Photo courtesy of Bao Nguyen.

Photo courtesy of Bao Nguyen.

Anderson Le has your dream job.

As programming director of the Hawaii International Film Festival since 2002, Le travels the world watching movies. While it’s more fun than typing TPS reports, his work is far from easy. He also programs documentaries for the Far East Film Festival in Udine, Italy, as well as international films for the LA Asian Pacific Film Festival. He’s one of the founding “offenders” of YouOffendMeYouOffendMyFamily.com, a pop culture, entertainment blog, along with director Justin Lin (“Fast and the Furious”). And locally, he’s one of the founders of Interisland Terminal, the innovators behind R/D and Kakaako Agora.

Le took some time off from the year-long madness of preparing for HIFF 2014, which runs Oct. 30 to Nov. 9, to talk about his top films of the festival, his cartoon doppelganger and “Gymkata.”

When did your passion for movies start?
As a liberal arts major, a lot of my classes would show films as part of their curriculum. That’s how I really fell in love with movies and saw them as more than entertainment, but a time capsule and reflection on milestones in history and culture. The one film that converted me from appreciating cinema “as an adult” was “The Seventh Seal.” That film just blew my mind.

What are some of the can’t-miss films and events at this year’s HIFF?
There are too many to list. But, I can say that HIFF will have something for everyone. For the whole family, we have screenings of “Big Hero 6” and the new Pixar short film “Lava.” Since Halloween is during the fest, we’ve got a fun horror comedy double feature of “What We Do in the Shadows” and “Housebound.” If you love Benedict Cumberbatch (“Sherlock”), then go see “The Imitation Game.” If you want to see the best from Cannes, Sundance and Venice, then we’ve got a lion’s share of films from those prestigious festivals, but we’ve also got lots of discoveries and premieres from the Asia and Pacific Rim. We’ve also got the definitive documentary on the legacy of the UH Rainbow Wahine volleyball team with “Rise of the Wahine.” Like I said, we’ve got something for everyone.

How many films/submission did you have to watch for 2014 HIFF?
This year, we’ve received almost 2,000 film submissions. As for me, I see about 400 films a year, give or take.

Do you ever get tired of watching so many movies?
I sometimes do get fatigued, usually in the mid-summer, when we have to start finalizing our selections. Watching 400 films is quite a lot, but what’s worse, is that the majority of the films are not good. Sometimes, I’ll need a palette cleanser and watch something comforting to me like “Dazed and Confused” or something stupid like “Roadhouse” to get me back on track.

What qualities separate a selected film from the pack?
We have specific criteria and formula for the selection process, but the general traits of “good story,” “technical proficiency,” “good acting” and such are important components.

Give us your top 5 films of 2014 HIFF.
“Tokyo Tribe” – Japanese rap battles between warring gangs set in a dystopian future Tokyo. This is the latest manga adaptation by Japanese punk director Sono Sion.

“The Tribe” – Ukrainian film where a teenager enters a remote school for the deaf and mute and enters a “Lord of the Flies” world fueled by sex and drugs. There is no spoken dialogue and no subtitles. One of the strangest and riveting films that also tests the boundaries of cinema. A true festival film.

“What We Do in the Shadows” – From the minds of Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement (“Flight of the Conchords”) comes this hilarious mocumentary about three vampires living in New Zealand. It’s also surprisingly scary and bloody and a perfect Halloween film to see.

“Dearest” – From Hong Kong director Peter Chan comes this heartwrenching drama about a kidnapped child in China and the hopeless pursuit by the parents who are way over their head. It is touching, sad, but also uplifting and one of Chan’s best films in years.

“Lahaina Noon” – Go to the Kakaako Agora screening on Friday, Nov. 7, because the film presentation will also have live music accompaniment and score just for this event. It’s a short film from local director Chris Kahunahana, and it’s a type of genre and storytelling rarely seen here. It’s a mind trip.

Tell us about your involvement with “You Offend Me You Offend My Family,” who will also be mentoring at the HIFF New Media Lab.
YOMYOMF started off as a blog in 2009 and has grown into something kind of neat. We dabbled with new media by being one of the Google funded original content channels in 2012 and working with YouTube stars like Ryan Higa and KevJumba. The site is being revamped and we’re launching a 2.0 edition, with a new look and direction towards Asian American content and commentary. We’ll have the founders of Giant Robot and Disgrasian, for example, on board for the relaunch.

yomyomf_bananaIs it true you were almost an animated cartoon character?
Yes. It was going to be a YOMYOMF Network web show, where I played a laid-back guy from Hawaii who moves into an apartment that is inhabited by an old-timer, kind-of-racist, ghost. But because I’m from Hawaii and so chill, I tell the ghost that it’s cool that he can live there, but he just needs to pay half the rent. Thankfully, it didn’t go very far, and isn’t happening anymore.

Give me your top 3 movies you love.
“The Seventh Seal” directed by Ingmar Bergman
“2001: A Space Odyssey” directed by Stanley Kubrick
“Ohayo! (Good Morning)” directed by Yasujiro Ozu

Give me your top 3 guilty pleasure movies.
“Gymkata” directed by Robert Clouse.
“The Room” directed by Tommy Wiseau
“The Dragon Lives Again” directed by Law Kei
When Bruce Lee died, it spawned all these clone Bruce Lee movies starring guys named Bruce Li or Bruce Lai. This one takes the cake, where Bruce Lee (played by Bruce Leung) is stuck in purgatory and has to fight for dominance against Clint Eastwood, James Bond, Zatoichi, Laurel and Hardy, the Godfather and even Popeye. Yeah, this movie is all about copyright infringement.

1916656_387337307238_1835713_nAny advice for filmmakers who are entering their work into film festivals?
Watch lots and lots of films, especially the ones that are currently doing well in the marketplace and that have similar factors to yours (budget, the type of camera, amount of shooting days). Read up on IndieWIRE and learn the trends of indie film and digital distribution and ways to build an audience. For today’s filmmaker, you have the mindset of an entrepreneur. But at the end of the day, no matter how you sell your film, it’s got to be good.

What do you love about film festivals?
It’s a great time to be a film lover. We live in a world where we can consume content at a click of a button via Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime and Fandor, just to name a few of the many options out there. But this makes film festivals more relevant as a curated film program of the best films of the year. It also provides an opportunity for people to get out of the house and congregate and celebrate film together in the traditional space where it was always intended to be seen: on the big screen!

The 2014 Hawaii International Film Festival runs Oct. 30 – Nov. 9 on Oahu; Nov. 13-16 on Kauai and Hawaii Island. See film and event schedules at hiff.org, and Frolic movie guy Myong Choi’s personal must-see lineup.