"I enjoy a movie if it entertained"
I went into this movie expecting an amazing performance from John Cho because he is talented and the previews for this movie were captivating. I left this movie knowing that I had never seen anything like it before and may never see a movie similar ever again.
There have been many movies in recent years that have tried to use the computer as the sole point-of-view and have ultimately come short. Most, if not all, of these films have been horror and have simply relied too deeply on gore and jump scares to entertain their audiences. Without a story of substance or characters of interest, these kinds of movies have certainly made money, but have only been seen as a gimmick. This movie, best described as a thriller, doesn’t feature any supernatural elements, but it still finds a way to chill audience members to the bone.
The movie starts off with a scene that immediately sets the emotional stakes up for the audience members. David Kim (played by John Cho) is introduced as a caring father who has recorded every moment of his daughter Margot Kim’s childhood on his computer through family videos and pictures. He thinks that he knows everything about her and, honestly, he has no reason to believe that he doesn’t. He is shown to ensure that he spends quality time with his daughter and the audience knows that he trusts her. After a family tragedy, the daughter seems to grow more distanced but David believes that is just how teenagers behave at that age.
It’s not until David’s daughter doesn’t come home after a study session that he is forced to confront the reality that he doesn’t know his daughter that well at all. This idea of not knowing who someone is behind the screen is the driving force behind the film. While David insists that he still knows his daughter, the film reminds us that there is oftentimes a disconnect between who we are on and offline. Urged on by the investigation to find his daughter, David Kim takes an active role and combs through his daughters social media pages. Each website, each text, and every picture is a new puzzle piece that David tries to piece together himself.
Due to the nature of this film, the audience sees every single clue that David sees when he sees it. We begin to think like David and come to the same desperate conclusions as him as well. It’s almost guaranteed that you will not be able to figure out what really happened to Margot Kim until the final act of the film because even though the clues are there from the beginning, you likely won’t have clarity until David does. I felt every emotion that David felt and every frustration that he had as he assumed the worst. This movie will twist your stomach, make your heart pound, and still find a way to make you laugh at the pain. Searching isn’t just great because it has Asian American representation in the thriller genre. It’s great because it takes the thriller genre and creatively tells a modern story with modern technology all while giving you the thrills you seek.
To all the boys i've loved before
For the past year, Netflix has been trying to put their foot into every door possible. This year it seems as if Netflix is determined to make the romance genre yet another weapon in their arsenal. Last year we saw the release of the Christmas Prince, which was met with wide acclaim - particularly from those of us who regularly tune into the Hallmark Channel during the holidays. This year we have seen the releases of more general romcoms with The Kissing Booth, Set It Up, Happy Anniversary, and now To All The Boys I've Loved Before.
Admittedly, I'm a sucker for a romantic comedy so I have enjoyed most of these Netflix romantic comedies but To All The Boys I've Loved Before truly stands out. For starters, Lara Jean, is a woman of color leading the film which sets her apart from the leads of most romantic comedies. While having a WOC leading a film does not automatically lend to the quality of the movie, Lana Condor embodies her character so well and the romantic chemistry between her and Peter Kavinsky is not only believable, it's also addictive. The story, though drawn from not one but 3 books in a series, flows so well and every moment spent learning about Peter and Lara's relationship feels like time well spent even if it is predictable. It's no wonder that the Netflix film alone has garnered such a following online. Fans, myself included, can't help but wish that To All The Boys I've Loved Before had been expanded into a series like the books. Either way, the film is worth watching not once, but several times even if we don't get to see the chemistry between Lana Condor and Noah Centineo in another adaptation of Jenny Han's books.
This movie is not a bad film. Overall I enjoyed the movie for what it was meant to be - the story of a Black cop who managed to not only infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan (pardon me… the “organization”) as well as become close to the Grand Wizard, David Duke. The movie is funny enough with a few laughs here and there, but this movie is not the kind of movie you watch for humor. It is a “Spike Lee joint” after all and is more about the message than it is about how much the audience laughs at the few jokes that are there.
Overall, this movie is an intense experience as we watch John David Washington as Ron Stallworth working undercover to prevent the KKK from harming and threatening the Black community. Much of this story is fabricated, which is not incredibly surprising, and not where my issues with the film lies. My issue with the film is the messaging, which unfortunately falls short.
It has recently been resurfaced that Spike Lee was once paid a grand sum of money to help create an ad-campaign to help improve race relations between the Black community and the police force. By the end of this film, this fact is not that surprising as Spike Lee seems to struggle with the message he wants to send his viewers. Through Patrice we are reminded that the Black community does not trust cops and rightfully so as we are shown in the film on numerous occassions. At the same time, we are told through Ron Stallworth that by having Black people in the force we can improve this relationship and therefore make Black people safe. These messages go back and forth throughout the entire film and by the end of the movie it feels as if the writers have forgotten the takeaway.
Yes, Ron Stallworth was a cop who worked with the police and used that power to protect his community. But what does this say to the relationship of Black people and cops? More specifically, what did Lee want this film to say about cops?
I feel that, at the end of the day, Spike Lee opted for neutrality. But when you contrast that with the very end of the movie (you’ll know it when you see that), I think you’ll realize that perhaps a film as monumental as BlacKkKlansman needed to be more overt about the stance Lee was making about something that so clearly translates to today’s own politics.
crazy rich asians
Watching this movie was not just about enjoyment - although that is usually my primary reason for watching any movie. I wanted to see this movie ever since production began because as an Afro-Filipinx, it is difficult enough to see Black people in film and television let alone Asians. When represented, Asians are usually reduced to stereotypes or are pushed to the side. Asians don't make up a great deal of Hollywood leads and when they do the roles are not that diverse in nature - maybe we'll play an alien, or a gangster, or a martial artist. It's been awhile since I have seen a film with Asians falling in love and when I did see films like that it definitely wasn't filmed for an American audience. And when Asian characters are in romantic roles, we usually don't see these characters falling in love with other Asian people.
Crazy Rich Asians stands out. This movie is different in that it focuses on Asian lead actress Constance Wu's character Rachel Chu and Henry Golding's character Nick Young. There are two Asian leads supported by an all-Asian main cast. These characters are not just crazy rich Asians, they are people with depth and personality. I found myself grinning with a heart full because it was truly a new experience watching a movie with Asian characters in a romantic comedy.
This movie has brought up valid criticisms of the portrayal of what Asians look like and my hope and desire is that Hollywood takes notes. Asians do come in many shades and Singapore is an ethnically diverse place and it is absolutely true that Crazy Rich Asians did not portray this. That said, I still enjoyed the movie and can't deny that I was still in love with seeing great romantic comedy that happened to have Asian actors and actresses at the helm.