Crazy Rich Asians

Crazy Rich Asians (2018)

IMDB Synopsis

This contemporary romantic comedy, based on a global bestseller, follows native New Yorker Rachel Chu to Singapore to meet her boyfriend’s family.

*Minor spoilers*

I feel like CRA is more of an experience than just a film. On the surface of things, it’s a snapshot of a totally different way of life, one I could never comprehend nor have a slice of – but it’s so much more than that. And as a white woman, I will never fully understand what it feels like to watch a mainstream Hollywood movie with a purely Asian cast (without a white character in sight to save the day, no less). From the live-action Ghost in the Shell to the remake of Old Boy (and everything in-between), white-washing is a very real thing and it’s completely unacceptable – so you’re damn right this is important.

Based on the novel of the same name by Kevin Kwan, the film adaptation takes place mainly in Singapore, when the handsome Nick Young (Henry Golding) takes his girlfriend Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) to attend the wedding of his best friend – and to finally meet his family. What Rachel doesn’t know is that her beau is rich – crazy rich – and his family is practically royalty.

“I love you in Tomorrow Never Dies, Ma…”

But how will Nick’s super traditional mother Eleanor (Michelle Yeoh) take his relationship though? After all, Rachel is more or less a peasant and could never be good enough for her favourite boy. So, despite smarts and a fantastic job, kind Rachel is subjected to a series of humiliations and branded a gold digger by Singapore’s elite – something she is completely unprepared for.

Luckily, she has her old college mate Peik Lin Goh (Awkwafina) on hand for support as well as lovely Astrid (Gemma Chan), who has her own cross to bear in the form of a cheating husband. What follows Rachel’s arrival in Singapore is a luscious battle of wits as she find the inner courage to challenge the behaviour of Eleanor Young, who is hellbent on sabotaging Nick’s relationship, whatever the cost.

I had such a good time with this movie. It’s gorgeous to look like, obviously – all breath-taking location shots and designer wardrobes but it’s sweet too – corny in places – but also genuinely moving when it wants to be. The traditional values of Nick’s family are touching, though the stubborn need to keep everything in check is hard to comprehend – and Eleanor’s disregard for her son’s happiness is frustrating. Will there be a happy ending for our lovers?

I went to see this with my friend Helen who visited Singapore this year and has been to a number of the places featured, including the huge hotel with the pool on the roof. This made it even more special to her – for me it was nice and feel-good. It made me laugh where it wanted me to – Awkwafina is a good comedic actress and very different as Peik Lin to her character in Ocean’s Eight.

Fashion: a walk in the park for this trio

It’s also great to see Gemma Chan in such a choice role. I’ve seen her in a few TV bits over the years and I think she’s an angel. She definitely gave me the most feels as nice girl Astrid, who has to hide her extravagances from her rags to riches husband, who cannot deal with her vast wealth. So much so that he has to bang someone else. Her pain is hard to bear but her R-E-S-P-E-C-T moment as the end is very satisfying.

I love the whole cast really, and it’s good to see familiar faces pop up. Michelle Yeoh’s brittle Eleanor is bloody marvellous and her head-to-head with Rachel is very powerful. As for the central romance, it’s fine of course, you’re rooting for them as they’re both so deserving of their happy ending – but it’s standard popcorn love and not the main pull of the film for me.

Just a nice low-key wedding, yo

I would love to live my life in this decadence for just one day. Can you even imagine?

My Rating

4/5.

The Predator

The Predator (2018)

IMDB Synopsis

When a young boy accidentally triggers the universe’s most lethal hunters’ return to Earth, only a ragtag crew of ex-soldiers and a disgruntled science teacher can prevent the end of the human race.

*Minor spoilers*

We’re all really here for the alien action, right? Who cares about anything but how pretty The Predator is? Well, lucky for us, he’s back and looking as buff as ever and that’s even before his big evolved brother rocks up. The rest of it is… not great.

Marry me

Let’s start with Casey Bracket (the lovely Olivia Munn), a ballsy scientist with a special investment in space animals. She’s pretty good and more than just a pretty face, thankyouverymuch. Her connection to The Predator is a little flimsy, something about a letter to the president when she was a kid and I couldn’t even work out if she was joking. Anyway, she’s there when the freshly captured Predator busts loose and is lucky when he approaches her butt naked, unarmed form and decides to let her live. Oooh, fishy…

Then there are our ‘heroes’. First up Quinn McKenna (the unbearable Boyd Holbrook) who witnesses the crash landing of the Predator’s space ship. First on the scene and still reeling from the slaughter of his mercenary colleagues, Quinn does what any sensible person would in the same situation. He steels alien hardware (a helmet and wrist cuff) and posts them back to his PO Box in his hometown. Well THAT won’t come back to bite him in the arse will it?

Riding in prison buses with boys

Add to the mix the rest of the gang – and in my opinion the most important part of the movie – and, well it’s a bit hit and miss I’m afraid. When Quinn is detained by the authorities, he meets Nebraska, Coyle, Baxley, Lynch and Nettles (Moonlight’s Trevante Rhodes, Keegan-Michael Key, Thomas Jane, Alfie Allen and Augusto Aguilera respectively) – all bad (ish) men in trouble with the military – and admittedly, probably a good bunch to affiliate yourself with when shit hits the fan.

The Predator is exactly what you’d expect really. It’s a romp, it’s really stupid and it is enjoyable in places if you can suspend your disbelief. The rag tag bunch are fun if a little bit terrible (Nebraska is good but not the greatest stretch for an actor that moved me to tears in Moonlight).

The kids are alright

One of my main problems with it is that it feels like a kids film which doesn’t blend well with the hyper-gore (which I love). The focus around Quinn’s autistic son Rory (Jacob Tremblay) is interesting but gives it an 80’s Flight of the Navigator tone that doesn’t work for me. I want Shane Black on acid, using all the special effects he can in the modern day and some of them are just shocking. I’m quite sure he’s kept them schlocky as a nod back to the 80’s though which might have been a mistake. Also, our super villain Traeger (Sterling K. Brown) needs to shut his mouth. Literally. (Dude looks like a cow chewing cud and it’s really distracting).

My Rating

3/5.

The Miseducation of Cameron Post

The Miseducation of Cameron Post (2018)

IMDB Synopsis

In 1993, a teenage girl is forced into a gay conversion therapy center by her conservative guardians.

*Minor spoilers*

When teenager Cameron Post (Chloë Grace Moretz) is caught by her boyfriend getting it on with her best friend Coley (Quinn Shephard) at prom, all hell breaks loose. For her anyway. Her concerned older sister packs her off to religious camp God’s Promise to attend a program designed to convert her back to the only acceptable sexuality in God’s eyes.

Why are you such a grass?

Here she meets a rag-tag bunch of like-minded kids at varying degrees of their therapy. Luckily for her she is able to bond with two fellow cynics, Jane Fonda (American Honey’s Sasha Lane) and Adam (Forrest Goodluck), who make her time there more bearable. Run by ex-homosexual Reverend Rick (John Gallagher Jr.) and his formidable sister, Dr. Lydia Marsh (Jennifer Ehle) – the camp expects each guest to adhere to a strict set of rules. The more they co-operate, however, the more privileges they’ll earn.

They’re each also required to fill in a personal ‘iceberg’ – e.g. a basic diagram of what’s going on beneath the surface, and what could possibly be part of the reason for their SSA (Same Sex Attraction). It’s a bad, no-good place to be basically and even worse when you consider that teens are still sent to conversion camps today.

Cameron struggles with the ‘punishment’ she’s received and is later forced to deal with the concept of guilt as Coley suggests she took advantage of their friendship.

“If they sing ‘The Wheels on the Bus’ ONE MORE TIME…”

On the sidelines we also meet Cameron’s hopeful roommate Erin (Emily Skeggs), musical Helen (Melanie Ehrlich) and Mark (Owen Campbell), who will break your heart in two. Genuinely, it’s very hard to watch any kid go through what these children do but especially when they’re warm and kind like Mark. His arc is hard to stomach and devastating for all involved. And it will make you mad as it should rightly do.

Thankfully, we get a feel-good ending and I’m down with that. One thing to note is how lovely this movie looks – it almost makes God’s Promise look like a pleasant holiday destination. Directed by the brilliantly talented Desiree Akhavan, it also illustrates Cameron’s flashbacks with proper sex scenes which are beautiful and real, something you don’t always see, particularly between two women. It’s not gratuitous, it’s more a visual ode to the beauty of women and the appreciation of them on the whole.

I love the characters, I love the dialogue and I really enjoy the scene in which Cameron gets up on the kitchen counter to do a rendition of 4 Non Blondes’ What’s Going On. As part of the new wave of gay movies we’ve been getting over the last couple of years, TMOCP holds its head up high and sticks two fingers up at ‘convention’ at the same time. Well worth a look.

My Rating

4/5.

The Nun

The Nun (2018)

IMDB Synopsis

A priest with a haunted past and a novice on the threshold of her final vows are sent by the Vatican to investigate the death of a young nun in Romania and confront a malevolent force in the form of a demonic nun.

*Minor spoilers*

The thing about The Nun is that it was exactly how I expected it to be. Heavy on the jump scares, light on all the elements that would have made it really good. The Nun herself just isn’t scary beyond her ability to pop up in unexpected places, the make-up is dreadful and I don’t feel as though I know that much more about her character than when I started. I mean, she was thrown up from the bowels of hell… but why does she manifest as a nun? Who is the actual nun? And if there is something I missed here it’s because there’s just too much going on at once and shame on the makers!

That said, I had fun and enjoyed my experience despite myself. And there are elements that did work so it might be a better review if I try and focus on the bits I did like. A couple of reviews have remarked upon the strange casting choice in Taissa Farmiga, someone not really synonymous yet with the big screen (though is the sister of The Conjuring Queen, Vera so it makes sense). I thought she was good but then I’ve always enjoyed her slightly monotonous delivery. As Sister Irene I think she holds her own quite admirably and her doe-eyed demeanor suits the role.

It’s nun of your business

The setting is gorgeous – a wonderful Gothic landscape and if only they’d played more with the creepy, rather than cheap shots. The other nuns and the mysterious Miss Haversham-esque Mother Superior – any of the scenes involving them are the best bits. As they keep the chain of eternal praying going to ward off evil, we’re treated to ghostly shadows and mysterious noises that make the skin crawl. In the graveyard, we can hear the little bells tinkle, as if to suggest that it’s full of the undead and that’s a horrid thought.

When handsome (sue me) Father Burke (Demián Bichir) gets buried alive, it’s nasty but you just know he’s about to encounter something nasty beside him in his coffin – and lo! While he battles with this unholy land, he also has to tackle his feelings of guilt around a failed exorcism in the past and you’ll never guess who pops up to haunt his arse at the same time! Like come on. Plus there are zombie nuns and lots of snakes, for no good reason. Much like the first few American Horror Stories, it just throws everything at you and all I’m saying is – less is more, people.

Hot priest alert

Some of the cinematography is really something though and I like Irene enough to want her to survive. While Frenchie (Jonas Bloquet), a local farmer makes the ultimate sacrifice to protect her, she remains resourceful and cute throughout.

I’d like to see more of her as we no doubt will because this does leave it wide open for the further adventures of Sister Irene. I just hope they do away with some of the horrible special effects. The love child of Marilyn Manson & Noel Fielding just ain’t that spooky.

My Rating

3.5/5.

Searching

Searching (2018)

IMDB Synopsis

After his 16-year-old daughter goes missing, a desperate father breaks into her laptop to look for clues to find her.

*Minor spoilers*

This morning I learnt that there’s a name for films using this all-on-the-screen format and it’s “Screen life”. So not only is this an interesting film, it’s also been highly educational. Kinda.

Anywho, Searching is a very tense thriller in which David Kim (the gorgeous John Cho) fights tooth and nail to find his daughter Margot (Michelle La), who has mysteriously disappeared. As he picks at the threads of her life, he realises he barely knows her at all – which doesn’t help when he’s expected to unravel the truth about what happened to her.

With the help of determined Detective Vick (Debra Messing), David delves deeper into Margot’s social media account, messages and emails to paint a picture of where his daughter might be – and who she really is.

I really enjoyed this though I will admit to getting an inkling of the truth half way through. That said it makes you doubt every character you come into contact with, even David himself. And while it centers around Margot’s disappearance it also sets up their relationship really well. The beginning is genuinely touching and gave me the feels not ten minutes in.

I’m trying very hard not to hone in on any of the details for a reason but this was impressive and the screen life format kept my interest throughout, much as it does in Unfriended. I think it might get tired quicker than found footage but here it successfully builds up suspense – and makes you want to upgrade your five-year-old acer laptop for something quicker and shinier (just me?).

My Rating

4/5.

The Happytime Murders

The Happytime Murders (2018)

IMDB Synopsis

When the puppet cast of a ’90s children’s TV show begin to get murdered one by one, a disgraced LAPD detective-turned-private eye puppet takes on the case.

*Minor spoilers*

If I’m perfectly honest the real star of this movie is Bubbles’ (Maya Rudolph) wardrobe. Sis can really dress. The rest of it is… not brilliant. The jokes don’t often land, it’s gross for the sake of being gross and shocking – and it just doesn’t have the heart it thinks it does. That said, I didn’t hate it and I get what they were trying for.

Phil Philips (Bill Barretta) is a disgraced LAPD officer turned private dick. Living in a puppet/human where puppets are washed up and mostly disregarded by society, he’s doing what he can to stay afloat. When a series of murders are committed on puppets, it soon becomes clear that there’s something fishy going on.

Phil himself is present at the first hit where he has the misfortune of bumping into his ex-partner, Detective Connie Edwards (Melissa McCarthy). This brings up lots of old memories about the fateful day that ended his career – and ultimately their partnership. But there’s a murderer at large who seems to be knocking off a very specific list of puppets, including Phil’s actor brother – can our frenemies work together once more to get to the bottom of the case?


Meanwhile, Phil has an even more personal investment in the case because of his former lover Jenny (Elizabeth Banks), the only human on the list of potential victims. Will he be able to protect her?

There are some scenarios that I didn’t hate and some jokes did make me laugh but they aren’t consistent and if I’m honest, it’s mostly forgettable. McCarthy is always my favourite in everything but this doesn’t showcase her talent too well. I feel a little bit torn by all the sex jokes, like they don’t work here but could they have if the rating had been higher and Director Brian Henson (Jim Henson‘s son) had gone all out? Here they feel out-of-place and clunky – and cheap.

I was a fan of Rudolph’s Bubbles though and it wasn’t quite as bad as all the reviews would have me believe. Which really isn’t saying much.

My Rating

2.5/5.

The Spy Who Dumped Me

The Spy Who Dumped Me (2018)

IMDB Synopsis

Audrey and Morgan are best friends who unwittingly become entangled in an international conspiracy when one of the women discovers the boyfriend who dumped her was actually a spy.

*Minor spoilers*

I loved this stupid film. I’m in love with Mila Kunis, sue me. Pair her with Kate McKinnon and as far as I’m concerned you’re onto a winner. It’s a very silly romp sure but a very good, girl power one.

When Audrey gets dumped over text by her elusive boyfriend Drew (Justin Theroux), her BFF Morgan is on hand to help her through it. After attempting to burn his stuff, he gets in touch and tells her he’ll be home soon to explain everything. Unfortunately, before this happens she is accosted by the feds who reveal his true identity.

Audrey is shocked to learn that her boyfriend is actually a spy. Well, I’ve been out with much worse tbf. When Drew finally makes contact again, he gives her instruction to travel to Europe with a secret package which Morgan encourages her do because why not? Neither of them have ever been. And the rest is a blur of spy activity which the girls quickly discover they’re actually pretty good at.

But who are the good guys, who are the bad guys – and who the hell is Drew really? Via a backdrop of glamorous European locations and elaborate disguises, our girls get to the bottom of just what the fuck is going down – which they find is easier said than done.

Hot on their heels is nimble super assassin Nadedja (Ivanna Sakhno) and the feds themselves, led by their boss Wendy (Gillian Anderson). There might be a new love interest in the mix too in the form of pretty Sebastian (Sam Heughan), one of the agents on Drew’s case.

Well it’s a romp alright and I laughed my arse off. McKinnon is always good but sometimes suffers for the material she’s given while Kunis has tremendous comic timing. Together I totally bought their chemistry as best friends – and I found it refreshing that there’s no side story in which the two of them fall out. Their friendship remains intact to the end.

I hope they turn this into a franchise because I haven’t had this much fun with female spies since well, Spy. But also Charlie’s Angels.

My Rating

4.5/5.