Crazy Rich Asians and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures
Directed by Jon M Chu
Do you remember the last time an Asian man or an Asian women were the protagonist or even the romantic interest in a Romantic Comedy? The last one I can think of was Hayden Szeto in The Edge of Seventeen, and even then the role was rather tertiary. Thankfully we have the director of Jem and the Holograms (ugh…) making a movie that not only centers Asian actors in the leading roles, but is filled to the brim with Asian actors the same way… well ninety-four percent of films are with white actors. Does this Romantic Comedy turn out to be one of the better examples of the genre on top of being a huge boon for representation in Hollywood, or is this a great opportunity that is ultimately squandered by a less than stellar outing from Jon M Chu? Let’s find out!!
Rachel and Nick (Constance Wu and Henry Golding) have been going out for some time now and are enjoying their pretty average life in New York City with her being a College Professor of Economics and him… actually I’m not sure what he does, but they’re just great together and Rachel couldn’t be happier! All that changes however when Nick tells her that his best friend Colin (Chris Pang) is getting married in Singapore, which is where his family JUST SO HAPPENS to live, and that it’d be great if she would go with him. On top of that, Rachel’s college friend Goh Peik Lin (Awkwafina) lives in Singapore too and she’s been meaning to visit, so why the heck not? It’d be nice to meet his family, right? WRONG!! As it turns out, Nick is SUPER rich and comes from a wealthy as heck family which comes as a surprise for Rachel, so now she has to deal with Rich People Problems and being looking down upon for being a lowly… professor. Hey, when you’re as rich as Nick’s family is, being a professor might as well earn you minimum wage! And so Rachel’s vacation/torture begins as she gets to experience the opulence of Nick’s life while also fending off his controlling mother (Michelle Yeoh), a jealous ex-girlfriend (Jing Lusi), and anything else this new world wants to throw at her! Will she be able to make it through the weekend with her mental health and dignity in tact? What does it mean for her relationship with Nick if this is the family that she’d be a part of? How the heck did the guy behind Jem and the Holograms turn out to be THIS talented!? Why did that even happen if he’s capable of doing something like this!?
Annihilation and all the images you see in this review are owned by Paramount Pictures
Directed by Alex Garland
So apparently Paramount wanted to bury this thing for some reason? I mean… I guess it WORKED considered I never heard of this until the week before it came out. I go to movies all the time, and I never saw ONE trailer for this thing despite starring some PRETTY big names right now! Now this is hardly the first time that a studio had lost complete faith in the movie they had made, and it’s not always a sign that the movie is bad (*cough* Brazil *cough*), but it STILL is a bit worrying as studios are loath to just throw money away; especially on projects that seem to have had THIS much star power both in front of and behind the camera. Does this offbeat science fiction film manage to shine through despite the studio doing everything it could to keep it out of the public eye, or was Paramount trying to save us from something that we were better off just forgetting it even existed? Let’s find out!!
The movie follows the story of Lena (Natalie Portman), told slightly out of order, where she went head first into a unique biome of alien origin that I like to call The Rainbow World and tried to reach its center to destroy it from within! Okay, now that I’m writing this down, it’s possible that a bit more context is needed. To rewind a bit here, about three years before the movie starts a meteorite smashes into a small coastal town and starts doing… something. It basically creates its own isolated environment with a clear delineation between EARTH WORLD and ALIEN WORLD in the form of a shimmer; almost like an opaque curtain in the shape of a dome. The US government seems to have gotten there right away and have been sending people into the strange place to find out what is going on, but no one has ever returned… until now! Lena’s husband Kane (Oscar Isaac) is a military Black Ops guy (I think) and was sent on a MYSTERIOUS mission about a year ago and suddenly returns home right as the movie starts; albeit looking rather disheveled and coughing up a worrisome amount of blood. The government weren’t too far behind him though and put him in a quarantine to study what’s happened to his physiology after being exposed to the alien biome, but they’re probably gonna have to work fast; lest this become an autopsy because his condition is getting worse. Lena is brought into the loop at this point and is told about THE SHIMMER (I still think it looks more like a Rainbow World); promting her to suit up, grab a gun, and join the next expedition which is in less than a week. Now if that sounds a bit silly, don’t worry! She was in the military as well, so she knows how to handle herself and use a gun. In fact, compared to the rest of the crew which includes a paramedic (Gina Rodriguez), a geologist (Tuva Novotny), a physicist (Tessa Thompson), and a psychologist (Jennifer Jason Leigh), she’s practically a god send as I doubt the rest of them would last a full day in there without her. So the day is set, the inexplicable rag tag crew gathers their courage, and they walk into THE SHIMMER with one goal in mind; get to the center and destroy whatever it is that’s causing this. Will Lena survive the harsh environment that nearly took her husband’s life, and will the secret to his illness lie within? What is motivating the rest of these women to go into this place that even trained soldiers couldn’t manage to overcome? Was this really the best we could muster after three years of failed attempts? They couldn’t even be given gas masks or motor bikes?
La La Land and all the images you see in this review are owned by Summit Entertainment
Directed by Damien Chazelle
Well this certainly jumped to everyone’s best of the year list, didn’t it? Too bad I didn’t get to see it in 2016 as the wide release wasn’t until January, but hey, at least I get to see it AT ALL. I mean who DOESN’T love song and dance numbers interwoven into a classic Hollywood love story, especially when it’s done as well as this one is supposed to be? Does this manage to be a film for the ages like those it takes its greatest inspiration from, or is this a mere copycat that doesn’t have a true identity of its own? Let’s find out!!
The movie takes place in present day Hollywood where we follow the struggling actress Mia (Emma Stone) and the struggling Jazz pianist Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) as they struggle their hearts out for their dreams and manage to find each other in the process. While Emma wants to simply get her big break, Sebastian has much more specific aspirations as he wants to open his own Jazz club right in the heart of the city, which is gonna be difficult because he’s flat broke and can’t even keep a steady gig going because he doesn’t want to play the set list provided… because he’s an artist I guess. Still, they manage to scrape by as they keep working towards their dreams while also putting on elaborate and non-diegetic song and dance numbers for our entertainment! Will the realities of the business crush their spirits and drive them apart as more and more chances start to slip away? Can a movie this unabashedly old fashion manage to work in a modern day context? Did they manage to outdo Tarantino as far as movie references!?