Yea-Ming Springs Forward in Daylight Savings


San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival

Camera 3, San Jose

In Surrogate Valentine 2: Daylight Savings, produced and directed by Dave Boyle, singer songwriter Goh Nakamura once again plays a fictional character of the same name. Goh, the character, is at a career crossroads. He has a small following in the indie pop world and a teaching gig that that’s enough to keep him in guitar picks.  But, when a pharmeceutical company decides to license one of his songs to hawk an anti-depressant, it sparks an identity crisis and he embarks on a road trip of artistic rediscovery. That’s until his picking hand gets caught in a car door.

Like Ross McElwee in the documentary Sherman’s March, who’s ostensibly on a Civil War pilgrimage but seems more interested in meeting women, the real fun in Daylight Savings turns out to be the eccentric side characters and the bevy of attractive, mostly Asian females who appear in Goh’s wake. First up is the Professor (Ayako Fujitani, above left). It’s tough trying to “keep it real” when your girlfriend tosses around words like “post-modernist” and “structuralism.” Still, she’s otherwise appealing enough for him to give committment the old college try. Their breakup is part of what prompts him to hit the road. After a heart-to-heart with best friend and confidante, Rachel (Lynn Chen), he’s ready to jump in the van.

Goh catches up with Rachel, his love interest in the first Surrogate Valentine

Asian American characters are a tricky proposition for directors of any ethnicity and apparently, for critics, as well. Reviewer Anderson Le referred to Fujitani as “exuding Japanese pixiness to Kawai [endearing] effect.” The boy’s been watching too much anime. Based on a publicity still featuring two Asian faces, The Chicago Reader labeled the film “an indie walk and talk from across the Pacific.” Reading that, the Northern California based Nakamura responded on his Facebook page, “huh?” Boyle allows the actors to behave naturally within the confines of the script and wisely steers clear of Asian identity issues. 

Yea-Ming Chen, a black banged Zooey Deschanel look-alike, is a member of the band Dream Date. Like Goh, she also plays herself, though in real life they’re not involved. In the movie, they are, if barely so. Early on, they meet at a party and she becomes for him a shadow he pursues through the remainder of the movie.

Cinematographer Bill Otto’s black-and-white cinematography is just as moody this time out. At one point, Goh and his sidekick, cousin Mike (Michael Aki), stop off in Vertigo‘s San Juan Bautista, as good a place as any to chase down a shadow, or a dream.

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