Thursday 25 January 2001  QUEUE

Movie Best Bet: Lunch with Charles

Marke Andrews, Vancouver Sun

Vancouver rock singer Bif Naked embarks on a new career of lead actress with the release of the locally shot feature Lunch with Charles, a film that merges the cultures of Western Canada and Hong Kong.

Naked plays Natasha, a former singer leading a quiet life in the B.C. Interior when she's talked into returning to the stage to help out a band whose vocalist just quit. Don't expect a lot of music, though. Lunch with Charles is not so much a rock feature as a cross-cultural road-movie romance. Natasha steers her van on to the highway in the company of Tong (Sean Lau), a Hong Kong musician/real-estate agent who's come to Canada to find his wife. Meanwhile, Natasha's boyfriend Matthew (Nicholas Lea) and Tong's wife April (Theresa Lee) ride around B.C. in another vehicle.

The film marks the directorial debut of Michael Parker, who also wrote the screenplay and co-produced. Parker's Hong Kong connection goes back to when he acted as production manager for several Hong Kong films shooting in Canada, including the Jackie Chan flick Rumble in the Bronx, for which Vancouver stood in for New York City.

Parker co-produced Lunch with Charles with Shan Tam, who was born in Hong Kong but now lives in Canada, and has been involved in the industry on both sides of the ocean.

Parker shot the film in Banff, the Okanagan, Squamish and Vancouver. One of the Vancouver locations was the Railway Club, where Naked has performed as a musician.