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Crazy Rich Asians – Film review

“It’s films like this that motivates aspiring Asian filmmakers to get more involved in the film industry"...

2018 has been known as the year of diversity in regards to Hollywood films. With the success of titles such as Love Simon, Black Panther, and Wonder Woman, receiving rave reviews on sites such as Rotten Tomatoes and earning millions in the box office. It’s clear that Hollywood is now slowly transitioning to diverse storytelling using diverse cast and crew. So when the trailer for Crazy Rich Asians was shown in cinemas, I knew this was something I would be interested to watch as it’s a typical rom-com… but with Asian characters.

Crazy Rich Asians is a film adaptation of the novel written by Kevin Kwan, directed by Jon Chu, who also directed G.I. Joe: Retaliation and Now You See Me 2. The film is centred around Rachel Chu who goes to Singapore to meet Nicholas Young’s family who are extremely wealthy and well-known in the country. From there, Rachel needs to try to impress his mother who thinks she isn’t worthy of being part of the family, as well as trying to understand or get used to Nicholas’ celebrity status.

As an Asian myself, I found this film very relatable in some degree as well as entertaining. I rarely see films and shows made in Hollywood that depict the Asian lifestyle in an accurate way as most of the time, the Asian characters are usually the sidekick or martial arts experts. The story and how the film is put together was able to depict an accurate picture of the contrast between two Asian lifestyles – the immigrant and the social elite.

Aside from the story, the use of both English and Cantonese in the dialogue makes the characters and the story more authentic. An example is when the grandmother is the only character that only speaks Cantonese, no English. Meanwhile, we see Rachel attempting to speak the language despite her being born and raised in America.

Some say that having a whole group of characters who are filthy rich and snobby makes the film unrelatable, but it’s the fantasy of being extremely rich in an Asian country that also appeals to audiences.

Also, according to Junkee, having such extremely rich characters helps fulfil the fantasy of “being white”, especially for those who were born and raised in a third world country.

Following Rachel’s journey through this trip, audiences are able to relate to her more since they know what it’s like to be questioned by Asians who have been fully immersed in Asian cultures, in contrast to the first world lifestyle they’ve been raised in.

I asked a few of my classmates who are from an Asian descent if they’ve watched it or why they want to watch it and the common answer that I’ve received is that they want to support Asian characters and the community.

Alice Dong, a third-year communications student, said “It’s films like this that motivates aspiring Asian filmmakers to get more involved in the film industry, proving if films like this make big in the box office, there is a chance for more Asian representation on the big screen.”

Crazy Rich Asians may not be the first film to show authentic Asian representation but the story and characters in the film depict an accurate picture of the contrasting lifestyles of the different Asian lifestyles.  A good teen/young adult film and well worth watching. Currently showing in cinemas across Sydney.

 

Author: Erielle Sudario

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Film review – Cargo

Cargo is an Australian zombie drama which adapts a 2013 Tropfest finalist short, both of which were directed by Ben Howling and Yolanda Ramke, and wri...

Cargo is an Australian zombie drama which adapts a 2013 Tropfest finalist short, both of which were directed by Ben Howling and Yolanda Ramke, and written by Ramke. The post-apocalyptic tale is set in rural Australia, as we follow Andy, played by the very British Martin Freeman. Freeman, whose Australian accent disappears and reappears scene to scene, is husband to Kay (Susie Porter).

The couple’s baby daughter, Rosie, becomes the sole purpose of survival for Andy, when his wife becomes stricken with the zombie-fying disease that turns her face into an oozing honeypot.

The feature debut from Howling and Ramke is a visually striking display of powerful imagery, encompassing the vastness of Australia’s outback while creating shockingly-disturbing zombie designs.

The stumbling block for the film, however, is in its inherent creation. Orginally, Cargo was a finalist in the Tropfest 2013 film festival. Adapting a short film into a feature isn’t impossible, in fact Whiplash and Australian horror film, The Babadook, proves the ability for those films to become successful.

However, in Cargo’s case, the seven minutes of the short film seem to be stretched and padded to fill its 105 minute running length. Its attempts in developing a greater array of characters weakens the driving narrative of Andy’s solitude, and his need to find someone to take care of his child before he turns into a zombie.

The film’s saving graces come from the performance of Martin Freeman, whose warmth and humour is engaging for the entire film, and the parallels drawn between the zombie apocalypse and the treatment of Aboriginals by European settlers. This strong and compelling concept is explored well in the middle section of the film.

Cargo is a different kind of zombie film. It comes with great emotional depth and powerful visual imagery. But Martin Freeman’s performance, while captivating, cannot stop the film from becoming an only half-watchable picture. The film’s padding and lack of coherent narrative drive is a shame as Cargo holds the weight of a great short film but fails to deliver the goods in feature.

Cargo is currently showing in cinemas around Sydney until the end of this month. As it is Netflix production, expect to see it there before too long.

Author: Alan Fang