I’ve resisted writing about the film Crazy Rich Asians because this thing hit me in layers, and peeling back those layers was hard. The issues I felt were deeply embedded in my identity, and it was super uncomfortable to admit to them. So here you go, one of the most personal film reviews I’ll probably ever write.
This morning I read a quote from Brie Larson, who was talking about reviews that panned A Wrinkle in Time:
There are a lot of reviews of Ocean’s 8 out there, and probably more than 80% of them are by men. I could let my own observations about the movie pass by, but the second I read Brie Larson’s quote about the disproportionate number of men who review movies, I realized that nowadays it’s a call to action. If you’re a woman and you like a movie, you should probably find time to write about why.
Reviews have been written about Ocean’s 8 and how director Gary Ross lacked the lightness of Steven Soderbergh’s touch, or the layer upon layer of seemingly incidental conversation that turns out to be central to each plot. But whatever, Ross (formerly of Seabiscuit, The Hunger Games, and Pleasantville) did a fine job crafting a heist movie with a powerful and overt message: that you don’t actually have to like the women on screen for them to be viable characters.
There are many reviews that miss this point, but I am not here to parrot those. I’m here to tell you that this movie offers a rich and complex portrayal of women that is found very, very rarely in your average blockbuster (we’re not talking about indie films), and watching it is a revelation. It also might explain why men who like a certain kind of narrative about women are going to be unsettled enough to give the movie a poor review.
I’m going to hop straight into spoilers to show you why.
Anthony Bourdain was not afraid of the pain of change. But that doesn’t mean he still didn’t feel it.
In my early 20s, when I was living in Boston, I had a dream about my home town. I dreamed that I was on a black sand beach in Hilo, but ash and rock fell all around me. I tried to run to save myself, but I couldn’t run fast enough — and I heard a voice speaking, and it came from the falling rock. “Your father is in my protection,” the voice said. “He is doing my work.”
I remember the dream still, because whether or not the dream held any truth, my father’s work was, in fact, Madam Pele’s work.
The work that Dr. Fred Stone did was this: he explored and surveyed many, many of the lava tubes in Hawaii, so that they could be protected from development and saved for future Hawaiians. He took me on these journeys with him during my years growing up in Hilo, under the land and deep into its veins, stepping where only the Hawaiians stepped before us.
I’ve been to the Dali museum in St. Petersburg, Florida, twice. It’s a small gem of a place nestled onto a point of the town’s little bay, right next to a marina. The landscaping is wonderful, and stepping inside the glass-globed building is like walking into the landscape of your own dreams and nightmares.
On my second visit, though, I had the misfortune to be trapped behind a tour group, just as the guide began to describe Salvador Dali’s deep insecurity about his “little Salvi,” both its size and its performance, and how this insecurity informed his art and caused him to mistreat the people around him.