domo arigato, mr. roboto

After seeing Robot Stories mentioned a few places online recently, including Matt’s post about having seen it the day after [my] Jeff and I met him and [his] Jeff for brunch, I decided to look it up online. Jeff and I then decided to try to see it during its one-week appearance in the DC area, at the AFI Silver in Silver Spring.

The films were uneven, with the one written specifically for the anthology (he noted that one day he just realized that he had these three stories he’d written, all of which dealt in one way or another with robots)–“Machine Love”–in my opinion the weakest, though a plus was that it did feature the cute filmmaker himself. Parts two and four, I think, were the strongest, though the first about a couple taking care of a robot baby for a month while being monitored for their suitability to adopt a real baby had its moments, both poignant and funny.

Grek Pak, the filmmaker and writer, has been traveling around promoting the film–really, an anthology of four short films–and he was at the AFI Silver Friday and Saturday nights, staying to answer questions after the screening.

One interesting observation Jeff and I both had was the placelessness of the stories. Only one was set in a clearly identified place, from the maps of upstate New York one character consulted. It turns out that the films were shot in and around Manhattan, but all of them could have been set in any city with a sizable Asian-American population–San Francisco, Seattle, Vancouver, Toronto, Tokyo. The rich diversity of the cast and crew also was notable, as was the enthusiasm of the filmmaker; he passed around notepads for people to leave their email addresses if they were interested in getting more info about the film and his other work. Before I went to bed Saturday night, I’d already received an email, and Pak also already had posted about the night’s show in the film’s blog.

Robot Stories is playing here in DC for only another four nights (through the 26th), unless it gets extended as it did in New York.

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