Crazy Rich Asians thoughts (by a Singaporean)

This review comes extremely late, as CRA is weeks into its historic box office run in the US, but I thought I’d just share some thoughts on it anyway.

loved the movie. The fact that it’s plot was striking of a run-of-the-mill rom com didn’t deter my enjoyment of the movie; it may even have enhanced it. Because this is the first time I saw a truly mainstream Hollywood with a full-fledged Asian (and not to mention highly Singaporean) cast.

Many western reviews have noted how it’s a fine portrait of Asian culture and society. Mostly, they seem to implicitly refer to Chinese American culture (making dumplings etc), however, I thought it did a fine job of displaying Singaporean values and culture as well, which was such an added bonus for me. Peik Lin’s family was not just comic relief, it was a nice quip at Singaporean’s obsession with things new and shiny, and the antics of the burgeoning nouveau riche. The snarky aunts that flank Eleanor in almost every scene are also a nice reflection of competitive family dynamics in a typical Singaporean household, where a spirit of one-upmanship and incessant gossiping is a mainstay. Of course, these may seem like generic tropes, but I thought they were imbued with a nice, authentic Singaporean touch and were tropes commonly seen in Singaporean films, giving it that added local flavour.

My favourite scene was definitely the Mahjong scene. The usage of such a popular game in Singapore in such a pivotal scene was nice, and I liked how it tied in with the very first scene we see with Constance Wu, where she wins a game of Poker because her opponent was playing to not lose, and not to win. Bringing this concept full circle at the end of the film, (with a change in the game from Poker to Mahjong being a nice nod to Singaporean/Asian culture), she talks about how Eleanor had made it such that any side winning had become impossible. She utilises the game to express this sentiment amazingly; Eleanor technically wins, at first, but then Rachel reveals her hand, showing how she’d given the game to Eleanor, rendering Eleanor’s win unauthentic. Here, we see how she’d played not to win, not to ‘not lose’, but to lose, and in the process had felt for the first time that she was ‘enough’. I thought this had a nice message of how assessing different permutations towards success wasn’t necessarily always the optimal way to grow as a person, rather, considering the value of failure or loss may prove more valuable.

Overall, just loved this film, and watched it three times because I had to. As for it’s Oscar chances, I think it should show up in some minor categories just as a nod to it’s significance as one for the history books, though a nod for Michelle Yeoh may well be possible if the stars align.

9/10

5 Most Anticipated Movies of 2018

We’re more than a month into 2018 so this post finds itself slightly late, but nevertheless, here are the 5 films I am most anticipating for 2018!

5. Avengers: Infinity War

I’m not exactly a hardcore Marvel fan, which is probably why this is my 5th most anticipated film and not higher. Because it IS a landmark movie for sure in the already gargantuan Marvel universe – the trailer alone is testament to just how many paths in once distant are set to merge – the Guardians of the Galaxy team, Spiderman, Doctor Strange, The Avengers… the list goes on.

While franchise fatigue has definitely set in for me, I feel like this could be the movie to relight I felt when saw the first Avengers movie; a definite sense that I was watching the landmark blockbuster movie of the year, not just because of how fun it was, but because I felt that it paid fruition so well to the many build-up movies before.

4. Crazy Rich Asians

The Crazy Rich Asians book series is probably the most enjoyable series I’ve read in recent times, for its biting satire and over-the-top but downright laugh-out-loud humour. True, being Singaporean, where the movie is predominantly set, certainly lends this film some home field advantage, but that’s definitely only one of many pulling points of this movie.

First, the movie is being helming the movie is director Jon Chu, who is certainly reliable in the explosive fun category – just look at the recent Fast & Furious / Star Trek movies. Given the over-the-top nature of the sheer wealth of the ‘crazy rich’ characters and their indulgences, which are a major point of humour, I feel he could have been the perfect fit for such a movie.

The great cast, including Constance Wu as the main character Rachel, gives me hope that the movie would also be convincingly acted. Very, very excited for this!

3. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

I must admit, the first one disappointed me a little. Maybe it was the insane expectations I had – having grown up with Harry Potter, it’s pretty easy to see why I’d have expected sheer magic on screen.

I feel that having tempered expectations will probably be a good thing though, going into the second film of this series, which reportedly will have 5 films! The fact that it will mainly take place in the UK / Paris along with the inclusion of Dumbledore (played by Jude Law) makes me excited for this film, because somehow it makes me feel like it’d find the magic that made the original series so amazing. In a way, I feel like the first film was really for the series to find its footing, and I think it accomplished that at least, albeit shakily so IMO.

If this delivers, it could easily be my favourite film of the year, and that’s why it’s at Number 3 now. Waiting on the trailer with nervous anticipation!

 

2. The Nutcracker And the Four Realms

A choice that might raise a few eyebrows, but I don’t know why I just feel mad excitement for this film! I’m sure it’s just that I’ve fallen for the seemingly annual fairytale / mystic / eye-candy film that Disney churns out, and this one is no different. My first watch of the trailer gave me instant Narnia / Alice in Wonderland feels, which, while would be a turn off to some, hits right at the sweet spot for me.

The inclusion of actresses Keira Knightley and Helen Mirren only make me even more excited for this film, and I’m pretty sure I’ll enjoy the score greatly – The Nutcracker was one of those tunes that I’d heard a lot in my childhood, so I feel like this could be a nostalgia-fest for me.

I really do hope the film doesn’t trap itself in too many Disney cliches though.

Nevertheless, super super excited!

1. The Incredibles 2

Honestly, this one doesn’t need much of an explanation. I’m a massive Pixar fan, and in 2017, Coco completely obliterated me. BEST film of 2017. Not to mention, Brad Bird returning to helm one of the landmark films of my childhood makes my expectations for this film basically skyrocket to interstellar levels of hype. The teaser: INSANELY cute. Ok I’m done here.