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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, March 6, 2006

Local viewers praise movies that have messages

 •  Oscar's golden idols

By Michael Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer

For Honolulu-based actor Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, it was an Oscar night worth watching and not just because "Memoirs of a Geisha," in which he had a supporting role, was nominated for six awards.

"Films like 'Crash' and 'Brokeback Mountain' came from outside the system and created an effect in Hollywood that is very positive," Tagawa said. "So much of what comes out of Hollywood is predictable and boring, but the films that were nominated this year are a good sign.

"Hollywood is best when it is relating to the times and not just kissing the mirror."

That sentiment was echoed by many attending the Hawaii International Film Festival Oscar Party last night at a private club downtown.

Several people applauded actor George Clooney's acceptance speech for Best Supporting Actor. Clooney ended by saying he was proud of the academy's long history of addressing social issues.

Before news came that "Crash" took the Best Picture award, Navyman Rory Rankin was predicting that "Brokeback Mountain" would sweep the Oscars because of its "shock value."

Rankin said it's a positive trend that Hollywood is embracing diverse issues and audiences.

"It's nice that people are more culturally accepting of different facets of life," he said. "In past years, some of these films would have been considered 'underground.' "

Bridget Box, a nurse at Kapi'olani Medical Center for Women and Children, said she was happy the nominees included "Hustle & Flow" ("It almost made you feel sorry for a pimp?"), as well as "The Constant Gardener," which she said asked important questions about the way pharmaceutical companies conduct business.

And while Box said she appreciates well-made films, she keeps it all in perspective.

"I'm sick of Hollywood worship," she said. "You make out with a hottie and get paid a million bucks? I just enjoy the films."

Michelle Reynolds, a model and actress, was rooting for "Brokeback Mountain," which she called "groundbreaking."

"The acting was phenomenal," she said. "And I like it when films have something to say."

Independent filmmaker Jeff Katts said he was as interested in the technical and documentary awards as he was in the acting and feature film honors.

Tagawa was seated in the lawn area when his ears perked to the telecast's first mention of "Memoirs of a Geisha." He made it to a monitor just in time to see Colleen Atwood accept the Oscar for best costume design. Tagawa also worked with Atwood on "Planet of the Apes."

"Woo! That was sweet," Tagawa said as Atwood ended her brief speech by thanking the people of Japan.

"It's sad that the acting side of (the film) wasn't nominated," Tagawa said, "but when the academy honors the technical side, it shows that the whole team that was involved, not just the actors and producers, were academy-worthy."

Reach Michael Tsai at mtsai@honoluluadvertiser.com.