Crazy Rich Asians

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sardia
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Crazy Rich Asians

Postby sardia » Mon Sep 03, 2018 8:33 pm UTC

Not sure if anyone else saw it. It's not bad, but the buying hotel bit in the beginning was sillier than the orgy party ship. Hopefully the movie stands there test of time, or at least rewatching. That, and I hope they finish the trilogy. My girlfriend loved it, and the eye candy though.

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Re: Crazy Rich Asians

Postby podbaydoor » Tue Sep 04, 2018 3:55 am UTC

I absolutely flippin’ loved it and will be going to see it again. Yep, I’m Asian-American and it was a rare experience to see myself represented on the screen, up to and including all the complexities of being an immigrant’s child, hyphenated American, third culture kid, etc. So this one was special.

From an artistic standpoint, yeah, it’s a pretty standard romcom. If it were about a white American girl finding out she’s been dating British nobility and going to meet all the aristocratic gentry, it would be bog-standard as shit. But it’s not, so it’s not.

From a craft standpoint, I’ve always appreciated and enjoyed Jon Chu’s flair for beautiful visual spectacle, and true to form he made every cent of his modest $30 million budget look twice as expensive. The way over-the-top wedding aisle walk was just the icing on the cake. And I really enjoyed the comedy. Both the leads were really appealing - intelligent and good-humored - and had great chemistry together.

But more to the point: aaaaaaaaabs. Ten thousand kudos to Chu and his DP for female-gazing the joint up for all they’re worth. I swear the introductory shower scene for Michael went on for at least a minute before we even saw his face, and boy was it a glorious minute.
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Re: Crazy Rich Asians

Postby ConMan » Tue Sep 04, 2018 6:40 am UTC

I watched it with my (not Rich, and not particularly Crazy) Singaporean Chinese wife. Having had some family issues ourselves, there were definitely bits that resonated more than they might have with the average Western audience member; and parts that affected her a lot that weren't necessarily so significant for me. I agree both that the core of the film is a pretty bog standard rom-com with maybe a few cultural aspects, and that it's great to see a big budget film with an essentially all-Asian cast do so well in the West.

Vox has an interesting article analysing the climactic mahjong scene. Like many such analyses I'm not sure how much of it was actually intended, but certainly a lot of it seems to be. The article also doesn't compare the scene to Rachel's introduction with the poker game, but there's an obvious comparison to make between the two games.
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Re: Crazy Rich Asians

Postby Zohar » Tue Sep 04, 2018 4:41 pm UTC

podbaydoor wrote:From a craft standpoint, I’ve always appreciated and enjoyed Jon Chu’s flair for beautiful visual spectacle, and true to form he made every cent of his modest $30 million budget look twice as expensive.

I'm guessing Singapore probably gave a bunch of money to the movie, possibly in the form of free access to the various venues. That doesn't take away from how beautiful the film was.

In terms of the rom-com aspects, it's pretty standard. I enjoyed it, Constance Wu is amazing and should star in everything, Awkwafina is great, I loved Michelle Yeoh. I had some pretty heavy criticisms on the story - Henry Golding's character is super creepy and horrible. It's standard rom-com trope, but just so, so shitty. I didn't like the only queer characters (I think Awkwafina's character was supposed to be gay, based on the Ellen comment?) were basically the only large supporting characters that didn't have some sort of character arc - they were literally there just to support the main character. And Golding's cousin's story ended with the moral of "Don't be afraid to flaunt your absurd wealth and privilege", which I found... strange.

All of those things are pretty common in rom coms, so it doesn't lose too many points over it, but I wish it did better.
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Re: Crazy Rich Asians

Postby sardia » Tue Sep 04, 2018 7:28 pm UTC

Zohar wrote:In terms of the rom-com aspects, it's pretty standard. I enjoyed it, Constance Wu is amazing and should star in everything, Awkwafina is great, I loved Michelle Yeoh. I had some pretty heavy criticisms on the story - Henry Golding's character is super creepy and horrible. It's standard rom-com trope, but just so, so shitty. I didn't like the only queer characters (I think Awkwafina's character was supposed to be gay, based on the Ellen comment?) were basically the only large supporting characters that didn't have some sort of character arc - they were literally there just to support the main character. And Golding's cousin's story ended with the moral of "Don't be afraid to flaunt your absurd wealth and privilege", which I found... strange.

All of those things are pretty common in rom coms, so it doesn't lose too many points over it, but I wish it did better.

Care to elaborate?

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Re: Crazy Rich Asians

Postby Zohar » Tue Sep 04, 2018 7:36 pm UTC

Elaborate on which part? The guy being horrible? Well, it's reasonable I think not to disclose your wealth at the beginning of the relationship, but at the point the movie starts, it's ridiculous that he hasn't talked with her about how wealthy his family is, and basically gave her zero preparation for what she's going to encounter once she gets to Singapore. This doesn't really change much at all throughout the movie, and even at the end:
Spoiler:
He does a public proposal, which is shitty, and then throws a surprise engagement party for... all the people he knows? Without letting her know or prepare? Without inviting any of her friends? Just assuming she'll say yes? That was bullshit.
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Re: Crazy Rich Asians

Postby sardia » Tue Sep 04, 2018 7:56 pm UTC

Oh, you meant asterid. She was doing some stupid stuff to make him feel better about who the bread winner in the family was. I wasn't sure who you were referring to until now.

I disagree about the terribleness, if she said no then he would have been sad. And then gone for another girl next year. What was the creepy stuff? The mother scenes?

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Re: Crazy Rich Asians

Postby Zohar » Tue Sep 04, 2018 8:54 pm UTC

No, the mother was just outright horrible. His expectation that she will follow his lead and accommodate entirely to his needs, answer yes to any proposals and offers and expecting her to be OK with all of this, is creepy. It's standard rom-com stuff, but it's still creepy as fuck, and a terrible way to have a relationship.
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Re: Crazy Rich Asians

Postby ConMan » Tue Sep 04, 2018 11:18 pm UTC

Zohar wrote:I'm guessing Singapore probably gave a bunch of money to the movie, possibly in the form of free access to the various venues. That doesn't take away from how beautiful the film was.

Yeah, they used some pretty major landmarks. My wife freaked out when they showed the mansion, which is actually the President's home. And the fact they closed the Gardens by the Bay for the wedding party was also pretty crazy.
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Re: Crazy Rich Asians

Postby podbaydoor » Wed Sep 05, 2018 1:34 am UTC

Zohar wrote:No, the mother was just outright horrible. His expectation that she will follow his lead and accommodate entirely to his needs, answer yes to any proposals and offers and expecting her to be OK with all of this, is creepy. It's standard rom-com stuff, but it's still creepy as fuck, and a terrible way to have a relationship.

Spoiler:
The first proposal was in private. The second public proposal presumably came after they had a long talk about the first proposal. Based on how Rachel clearly loved Nick and that other than the truth about his family, they tended to communicate fairly honestly and straightforwardly, I assumed that she let him know that she wanted to marry him but would not (for the reasons she gave to Eleanor). So he would know that she was receptive to marrying him.


I’m also sympathetic to Eleanor - yes, she was the primary antagonist, but to me she was a very familiar one. That really is the kind of Confucian prioritization and devotion to family that’s part of Chinese culture. My mother assumes that we will of course take care of her in her old age. That’s one of the biggest reasons why Chinese parents have children in the first place. So yeah, that’s why there was such a huge conflict between her and Rachel’s American-influenced independence. It’s a very familiar conflict to Asian-American kids.

I’m sympathetic to Nick, too. I refused to speak to my mom for six years, moved hundreds of miles away, developed my entire adult life independent of her, and I still do stuff that I don’t really want to out of filial guilt/expectation. I don’t think many non-Asians realize how powerful that kind of culture is, and it absolutely informed Nick’s behavior. Eleanor was pretty much my mother cranked up to 11 and backed by enormous economic and social clout.

Nick says outright that he was drawn to Rachel when they met because she didn’t know who he was and therefore did not place the weight of the entirety of Singaporean high society on him like everyone else - and to me, the subtext there is that he was seeking to escape, at least temporarily, Eleanor’s complicated love much like I was trying to escape my own mother. You don’t know what that kind of relief feels like. And part of that is compartmentalizing your past like hell because you don’t want to think about it, and it’s just easier not to talk about your family to your friends.

Spoiler:
Yes, he was wrong not to come clean about his family sooner to Rachel. And he paid for it by losing the love of his life - at least as far as he knew at the time - and even while dealing with that loss he still called Rachel’s mother because he knew Rachel needed her, and didn’t attach any strings to that or attempt to use her to get access to Rachel. He came to Rachel only on her terms, and he offered to sacrifice his entire life for her, essentially, and then had to spend the next day thinking that he’d lost her anyway. And he offered once again to sacrifice his entire life to her in the second proposal. I think that was enough to be worth redemption, in narrative terms.
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Re: Crazy Rich Asians

Postby Zohar » Wed Sep 05, 2018 2:26 pm UTC

podbaydoor wrote:
Spoiler:
The first proposal was in private. The second public proposal presumably came after they had a long talk about the first proposal. Based on how Rachel clearly loved Nick and that other than the truth about his family, they tended to communicate fairly honestly and straightforwardly, I assumed that she let him know that she wanted to marry him but would not (for the reasons she gave to Eleanor). So he would know that she was receptive to marrying him.

Spoiler:
I think that's a fairly big assumption though, Rachel was surprised to see him on the plane, and not just because it was coach. I'm pretty sure she was surprised that he was there at all.


(Stuff about Eleanor as a Chinese parent and Nick's decision to distance himself)

On the things the movie that really well is show just how much of a weight both Chinese culture and uber-rich culture influences the lives of these people, in ways that are often not positive, and I'm glad that what seemed like an honest portrayal to my ignorant eyes resonated with you. That doesn't change the fact that Nick's family is cruel (the film shows Astrid to be kind by her being nice to a probably obscenely rich girl in an obscenely rich jewelry store, and she's supposed to be the best person in his family), manipulative, and hostile.

Spoiler:
Yes, he was wrong not to come clean about his family sooner to Rachel. And he paid for it by losing the love of his life - at least as far as he knew at the time - and even while dealing with that loss he still called Rachel’s mother because he knew Rachel needed her, and didn’t attach any strings to that or attempt to use her to get access to Rachel. He came to Rachel only on her terms, and he offered to sacrifice his entire life for her, essentially, and then had to spend the next day thinking that he’d lost her anyway. And he offered once again to sacrifice his entire life to her in the second proposal. I think that was enough to be worth redemption, in narrative terms.

Spoiler:
I feel like he didn't really learn a lesson with regards to communication - he still arranges an engagement party not knowing if she'll say yes or no, a party that completely excludes Rachel's family and friends other than her mom, I didn't see any sign that he's actually going to change his ways or accommodate to her lifestyle. Everything in the final scenes just tells me she'll be expected to bend entirely to his and his family's will. I'm sorry,
he's really not redeemable in my eyes. I get being scared that your financial situation will scare someone away (or dishonest people), but the way he acted around it, with absolutely zero preparation to what she can expect in terms of wealth, relationships she'll encounter, how to manage herself in this world, even how to dress, it just shows he's entirely interested in preserving his own sense of security, not thinking for a minute about her. He doesn't show any remorse or apologizes for how he acted until he hears his ex literally spread blood all over her room to terrorize her on a party that he, surprise surprise, provided zero planning for. He didn't even think he was wrong at first, just mildly inconvenienced!
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Re: Crazy Rich Asians

Postby sardia » Wed Sep 05, 2018 4:52 pm UTC

Is this a sign of progress that the Asian movie is getting criticized like stereotypical American movies, or is this a sign of how far we have to go since you are asking for the minority to be twice as good?

I'm trying to remember romcoms, and the last one I saw was Trainwreck and the big sick.
I was surprised Constance went along with the family over self theme. So the American born ended up changing towards the Chinese angle. While some of the Chinese family accepts a low born, but with the understanding that she'll put family first.

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Re: Crazy Rich Asians

Postby Zohar » Wed Sep 05, 2018 5:05 pm UTC

sardia wrote:Is this a sign of progress that the Asian movie is getting criticized like stereotypical American movies, or is this a sign of how far we have to go since you are asking for the minority to be twice as good?

I don't think I'm expecting the movie to be twice as good, I expect modern rom coms to have this standard. The Big Sick was also excellent, and also had a bunch of stuff that was creepy, but it criticized it as well. Trainwreck I felt was just a bad movie, but I don't really remember much about it other than not enjoying it.

Like I said, what this movie does bad, IMO, is relatively common stuff that most rom coms do. That isn't to say "white" rom coms are OK to do it, either. One of my favorite things in media is deconstructing supposedly-sweet romance for the creepiness that it is. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend does an amazing job of that.
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Re: Crazy Rich Asians

Postby sardia » Thu Sep 06, 2018 5:46 pm UTC

I feel that is similar to people complaining that you shouldn't say "fuck Trump" because it promotes sexual violence. I mean, you probably have a point, but baby steps, I guess?
If we are going to be hyper aware of bad things papered over, I'll try to list them too.
The Uncle Tom-ish servants.
The authoritarian government.
The equating of Asian to Chinese (maybe Japan as well) diversity. (Were those guards even Indian?)
The corruption.
The wild income inequality.

For example, Michael got reduced down to cheater/not manly because he doesn't have the advantages of the ultra wealthy around him.

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Re: Crazy Rich Asians

Postby Zohar » Thu Sep 06, 2018 8:42 pm UTC

Hey, if you can watch the movie without thinking about it critically, have fun! Seriously, not being sarcastic here. I find that hard to do, personally. I expect stories to acknowledge when characters are being assholes, and it bothers me when they don't. I don't think it's being hyper aware, it's just a specific way of looking at things. Not doing so is just as valid, but I'm not gonna phrase myself differently just because you're not as interested in that outlook, and I already prefaced everything I wrote that this movie is no worse than other rom coms in this regard. So if this is a genre you enjoy go see it, it's great!
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Re: Crazy Rich Asians

Postby sardia » Thu Sep 06, 2018 11:05 pm UTC

Ok, you thought the movie was a great but stereotypical rom com.
Were you aware of my examples when you watched it critically? Because critical thinking isn't an all or nothing thing. Like I said, baby steps man. * It's hard to explain the concept of water to a fish. Now if you only focus on who in the movie is an asshole(but is treated as normal), that's fine too.

* I googled a study that says rom coms promotes stalker attitudes when you mentioned the creepiness. Was the study valid? Dunno, but it's an interesting possibility.

Edit: Personally I'm not against movies that push new boundaries or explore nonstereotypical plots. But until you said something, I've never knew creepy bad boyfriend rom com movies was a recurring thing.


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