Monday, November 30, 2020

‘ Yellow Rose’

Filipino country artist coming-of-age story is just about pitch perfect


Even in these times, there are a lot of ­choices for people who enjoy movies. This is a truly wonderful, ­glorious thing.

With a ­relatively small amount of ­effort, within a few ­keystrokes, you can find something that will match your mood, tastes or ­individual, specific whims on any given, random day.

I like many different colors and flavors of visual stimuli. I honestly do. You probably do, too. And, again, there really are tons of movies, TV shows and stuff you could spend/waste your time with — more than you could ever watch in a lifetime (which is both comforting, I suppose, but also sorta ­frustrating). I like comedies, I like ­dramas, I like suspense, romance, ­action and superhero movies. It’s a blessing, most of the time. I see a lot of movies, and I ­almost ­always walk away feeling ­satisfied and fulfilled.

But then, occasionally, I see something that makes me ­reconsider this whole happy, ­sappy, simplistic, probably too comfortable model. What the heck am I doing just doodling about, pursuing my obsessive/ compulsive need to watch close to every danged thing put out by the mainstream Hollywood product machine?



Sometimes a movie comes along that feels so pure, ­refreshing, real and solidly great — a piece of film that perfectly expresses and reflects a writer/ director’s vision so clearly, it actually feels like art and not commerce.

Why don’t I just pursue the more ambitious, indy, ­challenging projects? I should feed my soul with better quality. It would probably make me a smarter, more sophisticated and interesting person.


Such is the case with ­“ Yellow Rose,” a movie I was trying to see for months —but kept just missing by a day or so — after it arrived in a local theater, left and then finally, mercifully, came back (if only briefly).

For a few months in early 2020, I kept seeing the ­trailer for “Yellow Rose,” which ­included quick snippets from various ­reviews praising the movie as being “brilliant” and “the best cinematic ­experience of the year,” and listed a ­seemingly endless stream of film ­festival awards it earned.

Wow, I thought. I gotta see that movie.

I could only hope and pray it ­eventually reached a theater around here.

This doesn’t ­always work out. Sometimes I am very disappointed and/or I just don’t connect or understand what all the hype was about. Happily, this wasn’t how it played out with “Yellow Rose.” I ­absolutely loved it.

“Yellow Rose” is a story about an odd, quirky outsider — a teenage Filipina illegal ­immigrant living in Austin, Texas, who loves country ­music, writes her own songs and has an exquisite, other-worldly, ­beautiful voice.

After her mom is caught for being an “illegal,” carted away in the middle of the night by ­government officials and detained in preparation for ­deportation, Rose, our central character, is forced to go on the run.

She is housed briefly by a wealthy aunt then is sheltered in a honky tonkish bar by a sweet bar owner lady, before she ­finally finds her match, blooming into her potential, with real life country legend Dale ­Watson, who plays a somewhat ­fictionalized version of himself.

This is great stuff. And, even with all the talent here, ­particularly with the title ­character, as acted by Eva ­Noblezada, the reason it works so amazingly well is, clearly, because of writer/director ­Diane Paragas.

I know indy/arty stuff just doesn’t appeal to everyone. I can only hope you don’t hold it too much against me that I like this genre as much as I do.

The main focus of this ­column will continue to be on what is, in fact, still (at least as of this ­writing) “now showing.”

Speaking of which, next week I will review “Let Him Go,” which is the new Kevin ­Costner/ Diane Lane heavy drama.

“Yellow Rose” is ­probably not “now showing” anywhere close to us, at this point, ­although, in a better world, someday it might.

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