Movie reviews: Crazy Rich Asians and Searching

Movie reviews

Hello!

And welcome to the reviews of TWO films that are equally just important as Black Panther was/is! Today, we are discussing Asian representation in Crazy Rich Asians and Searching.

IMDb summaries:

Crazy Rich Asians: This contemporary romantic comedy, based on a global bestseller, follows native New Yorker Rachel Chu to Singapore to meet her boyfriend’s family.

Searching: After his 16-year-old daughter goes missing, a desperate father breaks into her laptop to look for clues to find her.

Acting

Even though I usually start my reviews by discussing the writing of the film(s), I thought that these two movies warranted that we discuss the acting and the casting first. While Black Panther was a first big-brand film with a predominately black cast, Crazy Rich Asians was the first American mainstream film with an overall Asian cast (as the title suggests). More importantly, the film showcased the diversity within the Asian community by casting actors that were from or descendant from a plethora of countries: Taiwan, Malaysia, China, South Korea, Hong Kong, The Phillippines, and Singapore. The cast consisted of Constance Wu and Henry Golding (A Simple Favor) as the superb lead couple, and Michelle Yeoh, Gemma Chan, Lisa Lu, Awkwafina (who was also recently in Ocean’s 8), Ken Jeong, Sonoya Mizuno, Chris Pang, Jimmy O. Yang, and Ronny Chieng among others in the supporting roles. Could more Asian identities/actors have been included? Yes. Did they have space for that in the film? Maybe. Did Crazy Rich Asians begin a process of change in Hollywood through which more Asian identities could be portrayed by Asian actors? I really hope so!

Searching didn’t have an Asian-only cast – it had a better thing – a blindly casted Asian lead – a lead that was Asian but his race never once came into play, played superbly by John Cho (of American Pie and Star Trek films).

What I loved even more than these two film’s (and their casts’) separately was the fact that the actors from the two films were so supportive of one another, especially Henry Golding and John Cho. Their mutual cross-promotion was one of the reasons why I put these two reviews together!

Writing

Crazy Rich Asians was a book adaptation of Kevin Kwan’s novel of the same name by screenwriters Peter Chiarelli and Adele Lim. Searching was an original screenplay by Aneesh Chaganty (who also directed) and Sev Ohanian. Both of these films took well known Hollywood tropes and genres – romcom and thriller, respectively – and made them feel brand new!

In Crazy Rich Asians, the romantic plotlines and the Cinderella-like tale were not as cliche as I was expecting them to be. The story also had more depth and sophistication than I was expecting. Some great ideas about the differences between Asian experiences (as a native and an immigrant/old culture vs new culture) were also expressed and added layers to the story.

Searching had a great showcase of father’s love and determination. On the flip side, it also showed the negative side of a parent’s love and how that love and ‘everything for one’s child’ attitude might be quite damaging. The end reveal of the plot was quite surprising and I don’t know if it worked completely. Nevertheless, it allowed the movie to look at a couple of more issues – toxic masculinity and obsessive relationships.

Directing

John M.Chu (of Step Up and Now You See Me 2) directed Crazy Rich Asians, while Aneesh Chaganty helmed Searching (both directors are also of Asian descent!). Chu handled the world building of Singapore beautifully (the glamour of the culture itself + rich setting made for a neat world to vicariously live in for the audiences a.k.a. me) and also nailed the pacing and the comedic timing of the film. My one critique was that the movie might have been a touch too long.

Chaganty and cinematographer Juan Sebastian Baron made Searching unique by having so much of that film be portrayed with screens on the cinema screen: the opening montage was just brilliant. I never thought that the movie portrayed through social media and technology (screens within the screen) could be so compelling and intense.

In short, Crazy Rich Asians and Searching were two films that not only did a lot in terms of representing an underappreciated group of actors and audiences but were just great movies in general!

Rate: both at 4.5/5

Trailers: Crazy Rich Asians trailer | Searching trailer

Sightseeing: Turkey

Sightseeing

Hello!

I hope that you are having a great Monday wherever you live. Currently, it is Monday evening in Lithuania and I am relaxing after a long hard day at school. The school stuff wasn’t really that hard but I am also sick, I have a cold and terrible headache so that certainly didn’t add anything nice to my day.

But enough of my ranting, let’s get on with a blog post. Today, I am going to tell you about my holidays in Turkey from October 2013.Since it was almost a year ago, I am sorry if I don’t remember all the details.

We started our journey in Vilnius airport. There, on a cold Monday morning we boarded a Small planet travel agency plane which took us to Antalya – one of the biggest resort cities in Turkey. Turkey’s culture is so different than Lithuania’s: there are people everywhere, they are selling stuff just on the street and they are shouting really loudly. Everything is colorful and the smells of fresh fruits are mixing with traffic fumes. It was a lot to take in at first. I wasn’t staying in Antalya. My hotel – La Mer Art – was in Goynuk – a small village near Kemer. A short bus trip took me and my parents there and when we finally got checked into a hotel it was already dinner time.

Kemer.8

The food was amazing. You could choose form several different cuisines, diet or vegetarian tables. And the sweets! They are so sweet, even too sweet for my taste. The same evening we wondered around for a bit and went to the beach to see how the moon was hovering above the Mediterranean Sea.

The next morning, after a very late and filling breakfast we went to the beach, sunbathed, swam and went diving until lunch. After lunch we were laying by the pool and just relaxing after yesterday’s flight. Around 4-5 o’clock when it have already gotten pretty cold (The sun would go over the mountains and the temperature would fall down about 10 degrees Celsius) me and my dad would go to the gym and exercise for a few hours (Work out until all the calories of those sweets are burned) and then go to the tennis court for a quick match. My mom would go enjoy the hotel’s spa or read a book by the pool.

After dinner, my family and another family of our friends which we were travelling with would sit in a bar or in lounge area which was filled with Russian tourists mostly. The animation team of the hotel was amazing; there were always something to do or an interesting performance to watch in the evening.

I pretty much spent all my week the same way I spent my first day. But we also visited nearby Kemer city and walked around for a bit, bought some national Turkey sweets – Turkish delight (lokum) to bring home and I also bought some commemorative postcards (photo below). (Be careful while shopping in Turkey – they like to sell a lot of fake designers’ stuff!) Plus, we also visited the Goynuk village where our hotel was situated, tasted some traditional Turkish kebab. One morning we woke up really early and went to see how the sun was rising from the sea. We also went on a water motorbike ride which was super fun and exciting.

The surrounding nature and view was astonishing. We stayed near Taurus Mountains, so you would walk out into hotel’s garden and see the sea on one side and mountains on the other side. There were also a lot of palm trees and colorful flowers as well.

I was really sad to leave Turkey. It was the best holiday’s I ever had and I definitely want to come back there again.