Okay, we're still trying to figure out exactly what happened in 881, a Singaporean musical at the SF Int'l Asian-Am Film Fest about the magical adventures of two aspiring pop singers, but that doesn't mean we didn't have a good time! The Papaya Girls want to sing getai, which are basically pop versions of Chinese/Hokkien folk songs, but alas, their lack of talent gets them nowhere. They get bestowed the magical gift of song by the Getai Goddess, but at what cost?????
The plot is pretty secondary in this movie (especially since it was completely impossible to follow) and serves primarily as an excuse to run through a long series of hilariously elaborate song performances and costume changes. Somewhere along the way, the Papaya Girls (the words "881" in Mandarin sound kind of like "Papaya" in English) pick up rivals, of course, in the form of the Durian Sisters. We always love the plot device of two rival girl bands, but isn't it always the case that the bad girl band always has the better songs?
Basically, this was like a Singaporean episode of Jem and the Holograms, mixed liberally with the fun costumes of Strictly Ballroom, though the good times were somewhat dampened by the poignantly sappy disease-of-the-week ending to the film. Also -- who knew that the word "techno" was an insult in Hokkien?
881 shows again Friday the 21st at the Pacific Film Archive.