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There was something shocking in discovering that Bay Area native Richard Wong had never ridden a cable car. It was, however, perfectly in keeping with his aesthetic as a filmmaker. When making YES, WE’RE OPEN, his homage to relationships, modernity, and sexual staleness, he deliberately avoided the touristy parts of San Francisco, instead opting for the equally wonderful places frequented by the people who live here. The film itself is a bracingly funny and original romantic comedy-drama, with the comedy and the drama bleeding into one another the way they often do in real life. While the snipes at conspicuous pretension, peer pressure to be hip, and sexual confusion are delightful, what’s best in Wong’s film is the smart and insightful way that he and collaborator H.P. Mendoza rip the lid off the innate absurdity of human relationships while respecting the tender emotions at work.
As for avoiding the cable car, his deconstruction of why he prefers the bus is as thought-provoking as the film. It almost makes me want to swear off them myself. Almost. His musings on that, making art for art’s sake, seeing Asian people on screen for the first time, and the serious business of filming sex scenes can be heard here. To download the music from the film (by H.P. himself) click here.