Is Crazy Rich Asians Good For Representation?


I read an article in The Atlantic recently. It was by Mark Tseng-Putterman, and titled “One Way That Crazy Rich Asians Is A Step Backward.” What it argued, essentially, was that, despite the films groundbreaking nature, it also took care to represent its Asian characters according to White norms. Those norms being things like having Western names, going to Western universities, wearing Western-style clothes, and being wealthy and materialistic. To Mr. Tseng-Putterman, the fact that the Asian characters in the movie were all so well off and Westernized made them un-relatable, and not at all emblematic of the experiences shared by the vast majority of Asian Americans. Now, normally, I wouldn’t give an op-ed piece like this much thought. Every time a movie about a certain group or issue comes out, even if the intentions of the filmmakers are clearly good, there will inevitably be detractors. There were women who thought that Wonder Woman wasn’t Feminist enough. There were Black people who thought that Black Panther perpetuated Western stereotypes of Africans as being warlike and tribal. So, of course, Crazy Rich Asians will have its fair share of Asian detractors. But two things happened, the publishing of Kelly Marie Tran’s New York Times piece, and the release of Netflix’s To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, that got me thinking about the article and its questions of Asian representation more seriously. So I decided to address them, and, hopefully, figure out what, if any, solutions can be found. Continue reading


Will Asian-Americans Ever Get A “Black Panther?”

Greetings Loved Ones! Liu Is The Name, And Views Are My Game. Continue reading

The Disaster Artist (2017)

Greetings Loved Ones! Liu Is The Name, And Views Are My Game.

Greg and Tommy are wannabe actors, trying to make it in LA. Unfortunately, no one will hire them, because, well, they suck. This depresses Tommy, who has been told by everyone that he will never make it, or if he does, it will only be as a villain. Greg tells him not to worry, that things will get better, and even suggests that they make their own movie. Tommy loves this idea, and writes a bizarre, Tennessee Williams style script, and sets about assembling a cast and crew. However, it quickly becomes apparent that Tommy, who wants to direct, and produce, and star in the film, doesn’t know what he’s doing. Will he prove them wrong? Will he and Greg deliver a cinematic experience for the ages? Well, you’ll just have to watch the movie to find out.

The Disaster Artist is a decently-acted, decently-written showbiz comedy. And it’s the sort of film that only true fans of the source material can appreciate. In case you couldn’t tell from my description, the movie documents the making of The Room, one of the most infamous “so bad it’s good” flicks of all time. Now, for people like me, who have seen The Room, and are familiar with all the in-jokes, and the writer-/director/star, Tommy Wiseau’s, odd accent and mannerisms, it’s fun. But for people who haven’t seen it before, like my parents, or my sister, it won’t be quite as enjoyable. And for people who aren’t in the film industry, or huge film buffs, there are cameos, and references, and lines of dialogue that just won’t make sense. So, for that reason, I don’t know if I can recommend it to you all. Is it enjoyable? Sure. Did I laugh? Absolutely. But I’m a screenwriter. I’m a film nerd. I’m the sort of person this is made for. Anyone else, I don’t know.

A good way for me to describe this is to talk about another movie; Tim Burton’s Ed Wood. Like The Disaster Artist, Ed Wood tells the story of a notoriously bad filmmaker, Edward D Wood Jr, who, in the 1950s, made some of the most iconically horrendous films of all time. But unlike The Disaster Artist, which just assumes you know The Room and are in on all the private jokes, Ed Wood goes into the main character’s world, tells you his story, and really humanizes him. You like him. You sympathize with him, because, even though he’s clearly not talented enough to make good films, he loves what he does, he’s loyal to his cast and crew, and he never gives up. Another, very significant, thing to consider is the fact that, in Ed Wood, you see the main character struggle. He doesn’t have money. He doesn’t have props. So a big question becomes, how can he make movies? In The Disaster Artist, Tommy is shown as having a massive personal fortune, so, already, some of the urgency is gone. On top of this, Tommy is shown as such a selfish, narrow-minded jerk that you kind of lose interest in him after a while. Then there’s the actual filmmaking to consider. The Disaster Artist is kind of ugly, with most of the shots being hand-held and shaky. Ed Wood, by contrast, looks amazing, being shot in black and white, and having some absolutely exquisite period costumes and decor. What I’m saying with all this is, there are ways to make showbiz films for the general public, and I don’t think The Disaster Artist does that. Make of this what you will.


Greetings Loved Ones! Liu Is The Name, And Views Are My Game.

I just realized something, my reviews of movies I enjoy tend to be a lot shorter than my reviews of films I don’t. I guess it’s because, when you don’t like something, you look a lot harder for things not to like. And as for the movies you like, well, you like them. You’re therefore willing to overlook certain flaws they might have, and are left with simply saying, “It was good.” That’s the case here with Trumbo, a film that tells the true story of a blacklisted Hollywood screenwriter, who ended up being able to circumnavigate the system by using pen names. I like it, and, well, I don’t really have much to say other than that.

It’s well-acted, the costumes and sets are period appropriate, and I actually think the writing is quite good. This is ironic because, most other reviews of the film I’ve read praise the acting and sets, but say the writing is the weakest part. I don’t think that’s the case. I personally believe they’re just saying that because the man whose life this film is based off of, Dalton Trumbo, was such an extraordinary writer that nothing can really compare to his work. But, with that said, the screenwriter who penned this biopic shouldn’t be short-changed. There are some very witty, very well-written lines in this movie. My absolute favorite scene is when a guy from the government comes to the Z-grade production company that Trumbo has been secretly working at, and threatens the owner, played by John Goodman. Goodman, to show this fed how little he cares about the blacklist, pulls out a baseball bat, begins smashing up his own office and says, “You wanna call me a pinko in the papers? Go ahead! My audience can’t read!” This, and many other scenes in the film, possess a wit and craftiness that can only come from the efforts of a talented writer, so, don’t believe what other reviews tell you. The script of this movie is solid.

The only problem I might have with this film is the fact that certain characters–particularly the women in the film–feel a bit like tokens, fulfilling archetypes like the nagging daughter, the supportive wife, and the bitter ex-actress who never got to be a star. And yet, I can’t really fault the movie for that either because the script contains scenes where we learn the backstories of all these women, and we see them as more than just “wife” and “daughter.” Trumbo’s wife, Annie, used to be a Circus performer, and his daughter, Nicole, is an advocate for Civil Rights. And they’re not the only characters given a respectful amount of history and depth in this movie. Virtually everyone on screen is given a name, a history, and motivations for acting the way they do. All this is a sign of strong craftsmanship, and further evidence that this movie is worth watching.

So, once again, Trumbo is a well-acted, well-written, and well-designed film that I deeply enjoyed, and that you all shouldn’t hesitate to watch. It’s an 8 out of 10. Try and catch it if it’s still in theaters.