On the eve of New Gold Mountain's premiere across SBS on Wednesday 13 October, we invited director Corrie Chen to dive deep into the SBS On Demand catalogue and share some of the movies that mean the most to her, and the shows that make her laugh.
How have you chosen your favourites?
I mean, the first thing I did was to actually look at the enormous range of titles that you have at SBS On Demand. You know, even before doing this, I've always said anecdotally, I think taste-wise, SBS On Demand has some of the best curated titles in any of the platforms available in Australia. So it was really exciting to me, especially since it's been a little while since I've done such a deep dive into the collection and I didn't realise how much eastern cinema from the '80s and '90s is online at the moment. Like some of those titles are so hard to get access to, especially Wong Kar-wai's films. So, yeah, that was kind of where I started.
When I saw that there were two Wong Kar-wai films and, you know, it sort of led outward and it triggered a couple of films have always had quite a big personal meaning to me. I also haven't revisited them for 15 years, or something! And then the next [criteria] is just films that I enjoy watching, you know, that make me laugh. Certainly right now, you know, it's really hard for my brain to get into something really dark and gritty, because I mean, honestly, I can just read the news for that. And I just tend to love character-driven comedy dramas, especially. And there were so many.
The Good Fight
The Good Fight is one of those shows where I'm just always marvelling at how few people watch it. I think it's one of the most brilliantly written shows on television, like the last five years. I came to it completely cold. I was not a fan of The Good Wife. I just didn't watch it, so I didn't know any of the characters. But it's the way that The Good Fight is so current. Sometimes the news topics they're addressing, I feel like it was only in the news last week, and it's placed deep into their plotting. But it's funny and absurdist and surreal a lot of the times. And it plays with, you know, everything that Twitter talks about, in terms of identity politics and tribalism, and all of that, within the context of this law firm. And I just find it really delightful and scintillating.
Season 5 of The Good Fight is now streaming
"I didn't realise how much eastern cinema from the '80s and '90s is online at the moment"
Onto the movies. Are there any that have inspired you in the way you direct?
Yeah, I'm sure Wong Kar-wai is like, everyone's directing dream, right?
I feel like across all of the titles, there are things I can pick in all of them that I go, 'Oh, this is something I would love to replicate in the choices I make in my work'. But, you know, emotionally, the one that propelled me the most is Eat, Drink, Man, Woman.
Eat, Drink, Man, Woman
You know, it's the final film in Ang Lee's 'Father knows best' trilogy and it just has this beautiful balance of humour and heart that is, I think, his trademark, intertwined with food and family and love – whatever that means to you. And personally speaking, his film exactly captures a snapshot of that time in Taiwan, which is specifically the time I left the country to move to Australia, which is why every time I watch this film, it's the Taiwan of my childhood and it makes it so emotionally nourishing. But don't watch this film hungry because the food looks very good in it!
In the scenes around the dinner table there's almost always so much tension and it's this, how the family and how that's represented really crosses cultures as well. Even though it's so specifically Taiwanese, I feel like that's something very universal.
Days Of Being Wild
I would say Days of Being Wild certainly would be a great companion piece to watch with Eat, Drink, Man, Woman. I was really thrilled to see that this was online, you know, to be honest, it's one of his early films. I think it's the first one that really sets his signature style – or what we now say is his signature style – this dreamlike, swooning crush feeling that you get when you're watching the film. And you know, that's something that always propels his work forward. It's this ache and longing for human connection, which is very relevant for right now, I think.
It's Jackie Chan's first film, and the set pieces are so jaw-droppingly wonderful and silly and self-aware. And I've always loved the way, even especially as a kid, you know the way he adopts props in his fight sequences. It's always been my favourite part, and it makes it seem so real and weirdly grounded. And now that I think of it, actually Police Story and Playtime are great companion pieces as well...
...because it's all about the choreography and staging and using visual humour to remain really surprising, but almost like a silent film. And you know, that's one of the greatest tools a director has at their disposal.
Booksmart is one of those films where as soon as it finished, I just I loved it so much. But I was also like, 'Oh man, I wish I made that. But now it's been done.' It's so surprising how, certainly at the time Booksmart came out, how few films really explore and push, the libido of teenage girls, and I guess, you know, so much of that is linked around how women are supposed to feel shame around sex, but men don't have to.
Turn Me On, Goddammit
But yeah, Turn Me On, Goddammit is the Swedish film, I believe that explores similar territory, but I think it's a little bit louder and more hardcore than Booksmart. You know, it's interesting looking at my list now, I'm like, Oh, I kind of have these films that are pairings, that you can really sort of see?
Another Round is just one of those really great films for lockdown. I mean like, it's Mads Mikkelsen, so anything he's in is worth watching, but it's like him being drunk for a whole movie. You know, what's not to love? And drunk acting is really hard to do. Like most of the time, you know, I'm taken out because I'm like, Oh, that's not really what it looks or feels like. But yes, I think his performance is amazing in it.
[Directed by Corrie Chen!] Yes, I know, I know, it's a little bit self-indulgent, but I was like, 'We're in a pandemic. Give me a little bit of self-indulgent joy'. Homecoming Queens is my first series that I authored as the sole director, so it's something that will always have a very special place in my heart. And, you know, tonally, I think it sort of plays into that Booksmart space, really exploring what it feels like and what it is like to be a young contemporary woman.
New Gold Mountain airs over two big weeks premiering Wednesday 13 October at 9.30pm and continuing on Thursday 14 October, Wednesday 20 October and Thursday 21 October at 9.30pm on SBS and SBS On Demand.
The series will be subtitled in Arabic, Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean and will be added to the subtitled collection at SBS On Demand.