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

Advertisements

Movie review: Mad Max Fury Road

Movie reviews

Hello!

Welcome to the summer movie season! Prepare for a plethora of movie reviews during the next 3-4 months! This time, we are talking about the amazing, the incredible, the unbelievable Mad Max Fury Road.

Fury Road is the 4th film in the Mad Max franchise! However, the 3rd film came approx. 30 years ago. For this reason, I haven’t seen the old trilogy with Mel Gibson. Though, I might watch it when I have time.

Anyway, the fact that I wasn’t familiar with the concept or the world of this film didn’t stop me from enjoying it a lot. I’m a type of person who likes historic and futuristic action movies but isn’t keen on everyday-type-of-situation turning into an action piece. So, this film, which is set in the future but brings back humanity to its roots, was a great combination of all the things I love. Moreover, it has a dystopian vibe which I dig a lot.

George Miller – the creator of the original trilogy – directed this film as well. He did an exceptional job. This film is basically one big action sequence but it never gets boring, it never slows down. It keep you interested and amazed all the time. All the stunts and crashing cars looked extremely realistic and the 3D really enhanced that. There was also quote a lot of grotesque imagery so I can definitely see why the film has R rating. I also really enjoyed the visual pallet of the whole movie (colors brown, orange, yellow) and smooth transitions between scenes (cutting to black and appearing again).

The cast is also really good! Although the movie is called Mad Max, I believe that Charlize Theron’s Imperator Furiosa is the main character. And she is such a bad ass – probably the best female character this year so far. Tom Hardy as Mad Max was also really good (I don’t know how his portrayal compares with Mel Gibson’s, can somebody tell me that in the comments?). Though, Max was the 2nd main character, more like an important supporting character.

Nicholas Hoult as Nux was also a surprising character. He was probably the character with the biggest amount of character development and that really paid of in the end…I tweeted that I couldn’t even recognized Hoult in his role through all the makeup and he favorited that tweet! That made my morning really happy! I am a huge fan of his because of the XMEN movies but his on-screen transition in this film blew me away.

Lastly, the wives were also great characters – at first I was afraid that they would be just a bunch of pretty girls who not only look the same but are, essentially, the same character in 5 bodies. However, all of them brought something new to the table. Rosie Huntington-Whiteley as The Splendid Angharad with her baby story-line, Riley Keough as Capable with her and Nux’s relationship, Zoe Kravitz as Toast with her gun skills, Abbey Lee as The Dag with her seeds and Courtney Eaton as Cheedo with her twist at the end.

The villain of the film – Hugh Keays-Byrne as Immortan Joe was also really great, he was frightening both to look at and to listen to.

As I have said before, the plot of the film rests on the action pieces and not on the dialogue. However, sometimes actions speak louder than words and we definitely got the message of this film. I enjoyed it immensely and really hope that enough of people go see it, so that we would get another sequel with the new cast. Preferably sooner than in 30 years.

All in all, it’s a great apocalypse movie, it’s a great action movie, it’s an amazing film from the cinematographic point of view and it’s even a great film for discussion: will humanity ever come to the end like this? Will our consumerism and desire for fuel and wealth be the end of us? Is water really such a crucial part of our existence? Will we all end up crazy one day? Are social changes in society happening for the better or for worse? What is the role of women? Can we pick our fights or are they pick us? The end quote also reminds us that we should look for answers ourselves and not wait for somebody else to do it for us. 

Rate: 5/5

Trailer: Mad Max Fury Road trailer

11089030_660780600694131_276166915544558716_o