Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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My Review of CRAZY RICH ASIANS

Crazy Rich Asians, rated PG-13
***

Crazy Rich Asians is an enjoyable romantic comedy based on the 2013 novel of the same name by Kevin Kwan, but it does have some content concerns. The film is directed by Jon M. Chu (Now You See Me 2) and the screenplay is by Peter Chiarelli (Now You See Me 2) and Adele Lim. The film had a budget of $30 million.
Nick Young, played by Henry Golding and Rachel Chu, played by Constance Wu, met and fell in love in New York City, where she is an Economics Professor at New York University. They have been dating for more than a year. Rachel is the daughter of a hardworking single Mom, Kerry Chu, played by Tan Kheng Hua.  Rachel and her mother came to America from China when Rachel was a baby. Nick is the heir apparent to his families’ real estate business and vast wealth in Singapore, something he has chosen to keep from Rachel.
Nick asks Rachel to accompany him over Spring Break to Singapore for the wedding of his best friend Colin, played by Chris Pang (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny), where he will be the best man. Nick wants Rachel to meet his mother Eleanor, played by Michelle Yeoh (Star Trek: Discovery) and his elderly grandmother Ah Ma, played by Lisa Lu (The Joy Luck Club).

***SPOILER ALERT***
Rachel begins to get an idea about Nick’s family’s wealth on the flight to Singapore, on which they fly first class and have a room to sleep in on the long flight.  However, when they arrive in Singapore, Eleanor makes it clear that Rachel will never be enough for Nick and that she is unfit to become part of the family. Eleanor doesn’t believe that Rachel is fully Chinese since she was raised in America. In addition, she tells Rachel that she doesn’t have the same social and economic status as Nick and his family. For his part, Nick tries to show Rachel that their relationship means more to him than his family’s money. What can Rachel and Nick do that will lead Eleanor to bless their relationship?
Eleanor is critical of American culture, telling Rachel that all Americans care about is their own happiness. Of the Asian culture, Eleanor states that they learn to put family first instead of chasing one’s passion.
There are those that support and encourage Rachel during this trying time, including her college roommate Goh Peik Lin, played by Awkwafina (Ocean’s Eight), Nick’s cousin Oliver, played by Nico Santos (Superstore), the gay “poor-relation rainbow sheep” of the family, and Nick’s cousin Astrid, a fashion celebrity, played by Gemma Chan (Humans), who is in a troubled marriage with Michael, played by Pierre Png.
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The film makes good use of music and includes some stunning views of the Singapore skyline.
Crazy Rich Asians is a well-made film with a solid cast, but it does have some content concerns which include adult language and several abuses of God’s name and some sexual material (no nudity, but it is shown that Nick and Rachel are sleeping together). Themes include conspicuous consumption, family, wealth and loyalty.
Of note, early in the film we see Eleanor leading a Bible study with a few friends and family members, and hear her read a section of Colossians 3, while another member of the study reads from Ephesians 6.   But does she reflect Christian lovingkindness?

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My Review of OCEAN’S 8

Ocean’s 8, rated PG-13
***

Ocean’s 8 is an entertaining, all-women sequel to the Ocean’s trilogy that was launched in 2001, directed by Steven Soderbergh and starred George Clooney as Danny Ocean. Those Ocean’s films were actually a remake of the 1960 Ocean’s 11 film starring the Rat Pack (Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., etc.).  Soderbergh serves as producer for this film. The film, which features an all-star cast, is directed by four-time Oscar nominee Gary Ross (Seabiscuit, Dave, Big), and written by Ross and Olivia Milch.
Oscar winner (The Blind Side) Sandra Bullock stars as Debbie Ocean, the estranged younger sister of Danny. The film begins as Debbie is finishing a five-year prison sentence. Although she convincingly assures the parole board that she is looking forward to the simple life, in reality, she has spent the past five years, eight months and 12 days planning her next big heist. Immediately after being released from prison she cons her way through a department store and into a high-end Manhattan hotel room. So much for the simple life.
Shortly after that Debbie contacts her best friend and nightclub owner Lou, played by two-time Oscar winner Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine, The Aviator), to tell her of her plan to steal a large diamond. The $150 million diamond necklace, weighing in excess of six pounds, is locked in an underground Cartier vault, and only removed for special occasions.  One such event is the Met Gala, the annual fashion extravaganza at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, where it will be worn by the famous actress Daphne Kluger, played by Oscar winner Anne Hathaway (Les Miserables).
Debbie and Lou then go about putting together their dream team to carry out their audacious plan. Their team will be comprised of all women, because as Debbie says “A ‘him’ gets noticed. A ‘her’ gets ignored. And for once, we want to be ignored.” Each of the women will bring a specific talent to the team.
Their team is comprised of singer Rihanna as the hacker Nine Ball, two-time Oscar nominee Helena Bonham Carter (The Wings of the Dove, The King’s Speech) as Rose Weil, a struggling high-end fashion designer, Golden Globe winner Sarah Paulson (American Crime Story), as Tammy, a former fence (middleman), who is trying to live a quiet life as a mom in the suburbs, rapper-comedian Awkwafina as the pickpocket Constance, and six-time Emmy nominee Mindy Kaling (The Office) as the jeweler Amita.
Fashion plays a big part in this film. Costume design is by Sarah Edwards. She not only outfits Ocean’s gang, but we also see incredible fashion on display at the Met Gala. We see Vogue magazine editor Anna Wintour, as well as a number of celebrities at the Gala.
How Ocean’s 8 carry out the heist with the tremendous amount of security around the diamond necklace was entertaining, and includes some plot twists, though the lead up to that was a bit slow.
There is also a subplot of revenge involving one of Debbie’s former lovers, Claude Becker, the art dealer played by Richard Armitage (The Hobbit films, Hannibal). Four-time Emmy winner James Corden (The Late Late Show with James Corden, The Late Late Show Carpool Karaoke Primetime Special, The 70th Annual Tony Awards) plays the excitable insurance investigator John Frazier.
The film gets its “PG-13” rating for adult language, including at least one abuse of Jesus’ name. Themes include theft, revenge and deception.
Ocean’s 8 is an entertaining twist on the Oceans films, this time using an all-female crew. The performances by Bullock and Cate Blanchett lead the way for this strong cast.