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Tiny Times 1.0
Tiny Times 1.0

Hsieh Yi-Lin, Mini Yang, Amber Kuo and Haden Kuo experience some Tiny Times.
Chinese: 小時代  
Year: 2013  
Director: Guo Jingming
Producer: Li Li, An Xiaofen, Adam Tsuei, Zhou Qiang, Angie Chai
  Writer: Guo Jingming
Cast: Mini Yang, Amber Kuo, Haden Kuo, Hsieh Yi-Lin, Ko Chen-Tung, Rhydian Vaughan, Cheney Chen, Li Ruimin, Shang Kan, Wang Lin, Jo Jiang, Calvin Tu, Ting Chiao-Wei
The Skinny: Super-popular and alarmingly shallow, Tiny Times 1.0 is watchable though clearly not quality. For the same demographic that watches the CW Network, or filmgoers who enjoy glossy, ridiculous fluff starring pretty people. Followed by Tiny Times 2.0 and two more in-production sequels.
by Kozo:
Tiny Times 1.0 is a massive, massive hit in China, and if you’re a member of its target demographic, you’ll probably be tickled. Based on a series of hit novels by super-popular, super-young and super-rich author Guo Jingming, the film taps into the materialistic dreams and friendship fantasies of young girls who’ve grown up in this brand name-obsessed, mobile phone-accessorizing “me” age — and young boys with similar interests will probably dig it too. This is a ridiculously glossy and hideously superficial youth drama that doesn’t transcend its genre or intentions, and calling it a good movie would be an exceptional stretch. But even if your parents don’t like it, you just might. That’s the generation gap for you.

The film (and novels, duh) tell the tale of four childhood friends who are taking their first steps into the big, bad adult world. Lin Xiao (Mini Yang) is the narrator, a sweet and hopeful girl who describes herself as an “ordinary girl in Shanghai” — which is impossible to believe if you’ve ever seen Mini Yang. Rich gal Lily (Amber Kuo) is cold and sharp but with a warm heart, while Nan Xiang (Hayden Kuo) is an ethereally beautiful artist. The stocky Ruby (Hsieh Yi-Lin) is the sassy, ebullient member of the group. The four live together in a spacious dorm room and chase their dreams with the purest of hearts. When things go wrong, they provide each other with instant and unconditional support. And they never fight among themselves. Not yet, anyway.

Lin Xiao wins a part-time assistant job at upscale fashion magazine M.E, where she’s subject to the whims of eccentric but stoic Editor-in-Chief Gong Ming (Rhydian Vaughan). Soon, inklings of a love quadrangle occur between Lin Xiao, Gong Ming, smug columnist Zhou Chongguang (Cheney Chen) and Lin Xiao’s incumbent boyfriend Jian Xi (Li Ruimin). Lily’s relationship with boyfriend Gu Yuan (Kai Ko) hits the rocks, while Nan Xiang is treated like a doormat by hot tempered boyfriend Xi Cheng (Jo Jiang). Ruby lusts after super-hot badminton player Wei Hai (Calvin Tu), but that subplot barely gets focus. Also, the girls celebrate their friendship by drinking bubbly and watching fireworks while lounging on rooftop sofas in dress-up designer duds. Admit it, you want their lives.

Tiny Times 1.0 covers the same territory as your average shojo manga or CW Network television show, with comparably pretty people and even more brand-name artifice. Those seeking deep examinations of the younger generation need not apply. This is a fantasy in each and every detail. Lin Xiao is basically the center of the known universe and gets an enviable job despite being an incompetent crybaby. Also, her super-hot boss admires her because she’s a wonderful, pure-hearted girl and not because of her physical beauty or chest size. The dorm rooms are insanely gorgeous, the school resembles a fantasy castle compound, and pretty much everyone exists to champion the girls. This movie is that luxury chocolate that’s five times as expensive as Godiva.

Director Guo Jingming (Yep, he adapted his own novel!) does a good job of catering to his target market. The boys are objectified and fetishized, with the film’s visual style playing up their bishonen qualities. Audiences are treated to slow motion gazes, longing looks at bare chests, and even a yaoi tease or two. The upscale locations are almost always empty, and characters lounge and pose like they’re in fashion magazine spreads or auditions for Zoolander 2. It snows constantly but nobody ever gets wet, there’s endless confetti falling from the ceiling and people applaud happily without an ounce of cynicism. The production is very nice to look at, and Guo even stages a few surprising tracking shots that bring you deeper into the girls’ fairy-tale fashion world.

Enjoying Tiny Times 1.0 is easy if you view it as a superficial teen drama that extols friendship while cashing a product placement check. The script is the pits, however, and uses droning metaphor and pretentious existential blather to say that everyone is a special snowflake. It’s deflating that the girls are so defined by their romances, but the boys exist only for them, so maybe it all evens out. Everyone is great looking and the acting is decent enough. Amber Kuo and Hsieh Yi-Lin are the standouts on the girls’ side, while Rhydian Vaughan steals the show as the squinty boss who always has a Plan B. His role requires little acting ability, but that’s cool — expectations all around are pretty low. Tiny Times 1.0 is what it is: unhealthy junk food for the preppy-wannabe set and nothing to get worked up about for everyone else. Beware: Tiny Times 2.0 is on its way. (Kozo, 7/2013)

Availability: DVD (Taiwan)
Region 3 NTSC
AV-Jet International Media Co., Ltd
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Mandarin Language Track
Dolby Digital
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles
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