Goh Nakamura cranks up the weird factor in Daylight Savings

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BecauseSurrogate Valentine charmed the living hell out of everyone when it closed last year’s Vancouver Asian Film Festival, bringing the sequel to town for this year’s fest was something of a no-brainer. Better still, musician-turned-actor Goh Nakamura will be in attendance along with one of his co-stars, Yea-Ming Chen (also a musician, from the San Francisco–based band Dreamdate), when Daylight Savings opens the 16th edition of VAFF on Thursday (November 1).

Nakamura himself sounds pretty groggy when the Georgia Straight reaches him at his home in San Fran, having just gotten back from an enthusiastic screening in Hawaii. Nakamura is also—with respect to the character Goh Nakamura from both films—a rather laconic, faintly sleepy presence. It’s something that director Dave Boyle capitalizes on for the new film’s unsettling and dreamlike middle section, in which the desert, the plaza from Hitchcock’s Vertigo, the world’s most annoying ringtone, and multiple Michael Jacksons seem to externalize Nakamura’s troubled state of mind.

And then there’s the “mustache guy”, as Nakamura, who cowrote the screenplay, calls his nemesis in the movie. “I think he’s supposed to be a figment of my imagination,” he says with a soft chuckle. “I think Dave purposely wrote some stuff into this that made me have to stretch a bit more. The first movie was almost just me, documentary style, and then the second one, I’m going through a lot of different things and reacting the way I wouldn’t in real life. I’m a lot darker.”

There’s good reason for that: Daylight Savings begins with Nakamura being dumped by girlfriend Erika on the eve of moving in together. Even worse (possibly), he’s sick to death of hearing one of his songs in the background of a commercial for antidepressants. When his slightly insane cousin Mike forces Nakamura into a winding road trip to Vegas, the troubles only deepen.

”We wanted these really big environmental changes in the settings,” he states, “and that came from a suggestion I had for this movie to follow the plot arc of The Empire Strikes Back, my favourite sequel. That’s why I lose the use of my arm.” Nakamura conveys this information with an admirably deadpan tone, and, yes, following his logic, cousin Mike is Nakamura’s “sketchy Yoda”.

If the team clearly had a lot of fun cranking up the weird with Daylight Savings, they’ve still retained the central quality that made Surrogate Valentine such a captivating piece of work: the remarkably natural screen presence of Nakamura himself. Although he claims that his process for Daylight Savings amounted to not much more than rubbing his eyes a lot—“I just wanted to look really beat up,” he says—the reality is that Nakamura transferred a very specific skill from one discipline to another.

“The analogy I can make is being a musician, and being in the recording studio a lot, you have to not be conscious of the microphone or the fact that there’s a red light recording you,” he suggests. “I’ve spent years and years just trying to overcome that alone. So I guess I was just trying to think of [acting] as recording a song.”

As for screenwriting, he’s a natural at that, apparently. With Daylight Savings now making its way through the festival world, Nakamura says he’s about ready to start work on part three. And, no, he promises, there will be “no Ewoks”, sketchy or otherwise.

The Vancouver Asian Film Festival takes place at the Cineplex Odeon International Village Cinemas from November 1 to 4. More information at www.vaff.org/


Watch the trailer for Daylight Savings.

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