Women of Crazy Rich Asians

One of the most profound things about Crazy Rich Asians is how it shows Asian and Asian-American people simply living. It sounds basic, but when you consider Hollywood history, much of which erases Asian characters and Asian culture altogether, you know that this is major.  As nearly every advertisement has read: “it’s not a movie; it’s a movement.” But beyond its breezy, romantic, and genuine laugh-out-loud moments, it also shows the power of single women — particularly single women of color. And even more significantly, it highlights the grace, strength, and sheer self-efficacy that embolden so many single mothers and their daughters.

Spoilers for Crazy Rich Asians lie ahead.

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Christopher Robin Trailer

(Welcome to The Disney Discourse, a recurring feature where Josh Spiegel discusses the latest in Disney news. He goes deep on everything from the animated classics to the theme parks to live-action franchises.)

What defines the difference between a theatrically released feature film and a feature that’s placed only on a streaming service? The fine line between the two is getting constantly redefined. Netflix constantly releases new films that, a decade ago, would have gotten a theatrical release instead. (Or, failing that, a direct-to-DVD release.) Hell, two of their 2018 releases are acquisitions they made from studios that originally intended to release the films in theaters.

Within the confines of this column, though, it’s worth looking to the future. Disney is just about a year away from unveiling its new streaming service. (You know, the one that they should call the Disney Vault. Ahem. I have no doubt that you’re reading this, Bob Iger.) It’s easy to get an idea of what kinds of movies they’ll keep on their streaming service and what will be released in theaters. All you have to do is consider the case of Christopher Robin.

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This month marks the 15th anniversary of Freddy vs Jason, and if you’re even a mild horror fan you know the movie was a big damn deal. Not only is it the highest grossing entry in both the Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street franchises, but it’s also the fourth highest-grossing slasher film ever (beaten only by the first three Scream films). It’s about more than mere box office, though, as the film was also one of the last real face-offs between genre icons. Freddy and Jason are permanent fixtures in pop culture, and while each have their own fans, the film brought them together in gory and glorious fashion for a big, fun brawl.

It’s a flawed but fun flick and we’ll get to more of it shortly, but its anniversary raises a serious-ish question. Where have all the “vs” movies gone? The short answer is to Full Moon Pictures and the Syfy Channel, but narrowing the field to big, name-brand horror characters reveals they’re something of a lost art these days. It hasn’t always been the case, obviously, and as with many things horror-related, Universal Pictures earns credit for getting that particular ball rolling.

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crazy rich asians stereotypes

Crazy. Rich. Asians. Every adjective in the title of Crazy Rich Asians sounds loaded at best, distasteful at worst. When trailers for Jon Chu’s movie started hitting the web, cries of racism inevitably began to surface. Why did it have to be Asians? Doesn’t that generalize an entire population of people? And does this mean that they’re crazy? Or crazy rich? What about poor Asians?

Asian-led projects are so rare in Hollywood that it becomes unavoidable that every movie, TV show, or media property will undergo intense scrutiny for how well it represents a minority group that makes up 5.6% of the U.S. population. Sure, every now and then a blockbuster will feature an Asian character (cue grumbles that it’s to appease the growing Chinese movie market), but they rarely appear as more than a supporting character or gasp, a token.

So immediately, Crazy Rich Asians is in a lot of hot water. While its protagonist is an Asian-American NYU professor, it mostly centers on the privileged Singaporean elite whose wealth and jet-setting lifestyle couldn’t feasibly represent every single Asian and Asian-American. And it doesn’t help that its tawdry title immediately calls to mind the abundance of stereotypes associated with Asians. But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

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Jack Ryan review

Amazon hopes to strike streaming gold with Jack Ryan, their new espionage thriller based on the work of Tom Clancy. Does this Jack Ryan succeed where recent attempts like The Sum of All Fears and Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit failed?

Let’s put it this way: Jack Ryan the character is the least interesting part about Jack Ryan the show, and that’s a problem.

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Cool Posts From Around the Web:

Rihanna documentary

Rihanna fans have more to look forward to this year than maybe another album. Director Peter Berg‘s (Mile 22) documentary about the musician, which he’s been working on for three years, will finally come out before the end of 2018. The filmmaker recently told us a bit about the untitled Rihanna documentary, which he calls a “pretty comprehensive profile.”

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sharp objects falling review

In the penultimate episode of HBO’s Sharp Objects, it feels like we’ve learned everything we need to learn about Wind Gap’s murders and Camille Preaker’s tragic history. The show has telegraphed Adora’s toxic relationship with the girls in her life, and reminded us every week that we shouldn’t count out any of Wind Gap’s vicious women when making our lists of Ann and Natalie’s potential killers. But we still have an episode to go, and confrontations still need to be made. “She did it again, and I need to take care of it,” Camille sobs to Curry at the end of “Falling” – because Camille always was the only person who could stand up to Adora Crellin.

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puppet master the littlest reich interview

Back in the ’80s and ’90s, you could always count on a new Puppet Master movie showing up on your video store’s new release shelf. Prolific producer Charles Band cranked them out beginning in 1989, not coincidentally a year after Child’s Play premiered in theaters. A gang of old puppets would come to life and kill a hapless cast of actors each year.

Now Puppet Master has been rebooted, but Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich reimagines the original franchise in a far nastier form. Thomas Lennon stars as a collector who comes into the deadly puppets of Andre Toulon (Udo Kier), and they start killing in newer, more graphic ways than ever.

The Littlest Reich is directed by the Swedish duo Sonny Laguna and Tommy Wiklund, whose previous credits include Wither and Animalistic. Laguna Skyped with /Film from Sweden to discuss the new take on Puppet Master, which is in select theaters today.

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(Welcome to DTV Descent, a series that explores the weird and wild world of direct-to-video sequels to theatrically released movies. In this edition, we dye our hair, throw on something from our bff’s closet, and get totally basic with the sequel to Single White Female.)

Single White Female opened in late summer of 1992 to become a modest hit – $48 million on a $16 million budget – and it went on to enter the pop culture lexicon as shorthand for a stalker, complete with a spoof on Saturday Night Live and a reference in the show Psych. It’s a solid, sexy thriller that satisfies even if it doesn’t wow, and if you’ve seen the film you know it’s not exactly one begging for a sequel. Nothing about it needed to continue, but for some people, that itself is a reason to continue.

So 13 years later, it did just that in the form of a direct-to-video sequel in name only. It’s only natural to wonder if the sequel tells a similar story about a female psycho obsessing over another woman, and I’m happy to report that it does indeed. There’s no pesky original plot to worry about here, and the filmmakers double down on their commitment to the bit by calling it Single White Female 2: The Psycho. It’s essentially the same as saying The Psycho 2: The Psycho, but hey, redundancy has its purposes.

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Crazy Rich Asians - Michelle Yeoh

If you’re looking for Western-produced movies with solely-Asian casts, your pickings are slim, which is why there’s been a lot of talk surrounding Crazy Rich Asians‘ status as the first of its kind in a quarter-century. But there also aren’t many Western-made movies where the cast is half-Asian. Or even where there’s more than one Asian character. I’m not sure whether that makes Crazy Rich Asians more impressive or if it simply signals the relative, representational failures of the Hollywood system.

Why not both, right?

Based on the bestselling book, Crazy Rich Asians sends Rachel (Constance Wu) into the lion’s den of meeting her boyfriend Nick’s (Henry Golding) family at a wedding in Singapore. Nick never told her that his family is insanely wealthy, Rachel has to win over Nick’s formidable mother Eleanor (Michelle Yeoh), and rom-com goodness ensues.

Our own Karen Han says  it’s “chock-full of little details that may well fly over the heads of some viewers, but will vault the film into another stratosphere for others. The cultural specificity is more charming than the delirious displays of wealth by leaps and bounds, and ultimately what makes it impossible to say that Crazy Rich Asians is just a carbon copy of other meeting-the-in-laws comedies that have come before it.”

Let’s see what to double feature with this history-maker.

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