CRAZY RICH ASIANS and ALPHA musings
CRAZY RICH ASIANS
Gone are the days of Asian actors being relegated to flamboyant/nerdy/eccentric characters off to the side, away from the main narrative. Here we have Asian characters in a major Hollywood production front and center, with their culture reflected in a respectful yet beautifully showy manner. These Asians are not my Asians, per se, but it’s still a wonderful representation of a culture we barely see in movies today, and I see parallels between the people in this movie and in my Filipino family. The Asians in this movie are not representative of most Asians, but I know that there are people in the east who have this kind of life. Most movies portray Asia, mainly either China or Japan, through the eyes of a white person so that Americans can have something to attach to (see: THE LAST SAMURAI, SILENCE, etc.). As Hollywood diversifies and explores more perspectives, those people that see themselves on screen will throw money their way, so let CRAZY RICH ASIANS be a lesson that audiences want to experience new stories.
This movie is based on a 2013 novel, and both detail the story of Rachel Chu meeting her boyfriend’s rich family in Singapore, and how she attempts to conform to their standards. (I took my parents for my second viewing of this incredible movie, and my mom shared plenty of asides of the differences between the book and the movie, as she has read the whole book trilogy.) The story lets us latch on to the traditional and cliché romantic comedy tropes throughout, but throws in themes about old/new money families, assimilation, racism within cultures, the crushing weight of expectations, etcetera etcetera… The rom-com formula is well-worn, but I’m just happy that the reason for the inevitable break-up (come on, you know it was coming…) wasn’t a silly story curveball or a stupid decision a character makes.
Not to mention, this movie is so greatly acted. There’s not a single weak link in the cast, and it helps that they picked the best international cast they could. It hurts to see the backlash within the Asian community, as some were upset that some of the cast (like Henry Golding and Sonoya Mizuno) aren’t purely Asian, rather they are English/Malaysian, Japanese/British/Argentinian, respectively. It’s a blessing to have a movie with these ethnic actors and pretty much zero caucasian actors, so why not just be happy about that? Constance Wu is a revelation (I should probably continue Fresh Off The Boat after I stopped during season 2…), Henry Golding has charisma for days (just give him a superhero OR FREAKIN’ JAMES BOND ALREADY!), Awkwafina has established herself as a star with this and OCEAN’S 8, Michelle Yeoh is deliciously devilish; I could go on and on about everyone else, but wouldn’t want to bore you (and I still want you to read my ALPHA review below ;) Jon M. Chu directs his best movie yet (not a high bar, unless you really dig STEP UP 2: THE STREETS as much as I dig the pun of its title) and skillfully toes the line between excess and satire as he explores the decadence of that type of old money culture. (Also, that wedding scene is just exceptional. Can't count how many tears fell.)
I’ve always been curious about my family’s heritage and history, and constantly get emotional when they tell me just how much they sacrificed so that my brother and I could have the best life I can here. Our conversation during dinner after the movie hammered that point in and made it extremely difficult to hide my emotions with a mouth full of pasta. CRAZY RICH ASIANS is a great reminder of just how important family is in my life and how privileged and lucky I am to have their support. And it doesn’t hurt that the movie is a blast of a rom-com. I always say my favorite movies don’t have to be a reflection of what I have gone through, but that there is something that I can identify with, and this movie had it in spades. I’m so happy to see Asians represented in a big budget, wide release movie like this and to know that this is only just the gateway for more movies about the culture, the stories I grew up with to be shared with the world.
RATING: BEST OF THE BEST
(Refer to my ratings system HERE!)
I remember seeing the trailer for this movie last year, and thinking it looks like a dumb ripoff of the movie 10,000 BC or any prehistoric film. It was marketed as something along the lines of “see the story about the first boy and his dog” or whatever lame thing it was. When the buzz came out after its release, I became curious.
ALPHA is worth it for the IMAX 3D alone. The colors really pop, the beautiful, sweeping vistas are magnificently captured, and the acting is pretty damn solid. It gets a bit silly at times (were people really jonesing to see the origin of the game fetch?), but Kodi-Smit McPhee holds down the movie dependably, and Icelandic actor Jóhannes Haukur Jóhannesson (great name, by the way) gives a great performance. It’s definitely worth a theater watch, but only if you have MoviePass or AMC A-List.
RATING: DIDN’T WASTE MY TIME
(Refer to my ratings system HERE!)