SELL OUT! ($e11.0u7!) (Yoshimasa Ishibashi, 2011)
Film Society of Lincoln Center, Walter Reade Theater
165 West 65th St. at Amsterdam Ave.
Friday, July 1, $13, 6:00, and Monday, July 4, $13, 3:30
Series runs July 1-14, ten-film pass $99
Yeo Joon Han’s Sell Out! is precisely the kind of movie the New York Asian Film Festival has become justly celebrated for. A madcap mash-up of Airplane! and Network, the Malaysian absurdist romp is a riotously funny, bitingly sarcastic, and hysterically cynical spoof of reality television, corporate greed, independent cinema, romantic musical comedies, love and death, and whatever else falls in its path. Rafflesia Pong (Jerrica Lai), host of a low-rated arts program (and named for the Southeast Asian parasitic flowering plant that Swedish scientist Eric Georg Mjöberg wrote in 1928 had “a penetrating smell more repulsive than any buffalo carcass in an advanced stage of decomposition”), gets all in a tizzy after her FONY bosses (Kee Thuan Chye and Lim Teik Long, a sort of bizarre version of Muppet opera lovers Statler and Waldorf crossed with the Duke brothers from Trading Places) threaten to replace her program with a reality show featuring a rather vain rising star. Meanwhile, Eric Tan (Peter Davis) has designed a long-lasting soy machine that has so angered the CEO duo — they’re furious there’s no device to make it break down the day after the warranty expires — that they send him to an exorcist to have the dreamer half of him removed from his body, leaving only the practical side. Characters occasionally break out into song as Rafflesia contemplates just how far she will go to keep herself on television. And watch out for the word “but,” not one of Lim Teik Long’s favorites; “Don’t but me. I hate people who but me,” he shouts over and over again at unsuspecting underlings. Winner of the NETPAC Award at the Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival and the Young Cinema Award for Alternative Vision at the Venice Film Festival, Sell Out! is an absolute blast, a manic movie that skewers everything in sight, including the filmmaker himself; in the first scene, Rafflesia is interviewing a director named Yeo Joon Han who tears apart indie cinema when not giving abrupt one-word answers. Sell Out! kicks off the 2011 New York Asian Film Festival on July 1 at 6:00, with Yeo and Davis attending; it will also screen July 4 at 3:30. Keep watching twi-ny for more reviews from our favorite festival of the year.