Sang and I watched Crazy Rich Asians this weekend. Spoilers for the film below; I haven’t read the book.
The main impression the film left on me was how passive or absent the men were, and how it was the women wielding power and playing politics. I mean, Nick is such a cipher! Rachel’s a professor in the U.S., so even if she’s a new-ish adjunct she’s of an age to have a Ph.D. Nick maybe went to college and grad school in the U.S., and then…? does he have a…job? or…interests? I think he and Rachel were dating for a year, so what did they talk about if she’s got no idea of his family background? Gotta say, between his lack of a life and his unwillingness to stand up to anyone, Nick is not looking like a great prospect.
When they get to Singapore, Nick’s grandmother is on scene, but no grandfather. His father is…away on business for this whole thing? Part of the plot turns on Rachel’s father’s absence from her life. Astrid’s husband is emotionally absent and having a non-specific affair. Nick has one supportive guy friend among the wastrels; they have to flee friend’s own bachelor party to be able to have a conversation in peace. The plot is driven by Eleanor vs. Rachel with assists by Peik Lin, Astrid, and Su Yi.
Rachel is presented as the romantic, individualistic down-to-earth American. But I don’t think it’s an accident that she’s a professor of economics. The movie passes pleasantly with makeovers and wealth-flaunting parties. (To be honest, the biggest impression the wealth made on me was that Rachel and Nick arrived in Singapore well-rested and ready for several hours of partying. The rest of the spectacle– having a mega-party on a container ship instead of, say, a cruise ship that is literally designed for that? Having a wedding in which the aisle is flooded so pretty lights are reflected but also the bridal party is wading ankle-deep? –eh, I guess wealth brings pressure for novelty.) But when it comes down to it, Rachel literally turns down Nick’s ring and accepts Eleanor’s. Game is on! It doesn’t matter that Nick has been secretive and passive; he can go right on doing that or whatever (while looking hot), cause Rachel’s found her match and is gonna play with the big girls. I see her in a faculty position at YaleNUS during the sequel, getting ready for some competitively non-competitive child-raising–although they’ll still be socializing with all the tedious friends because they’re part of the playing field too. This movie is about what wealth means for women’s power, and I think Jane Austen would watch it with interest.
(I gather, from the Wikipedia articles about the book series, that Kevin Kwan does not share my vision.)
The Friday Five post isn’t up yet at LiveJournal/Dreamwidth, so let’s use the f.riday5.com questions this week:
1. What’s a good movie for October that has nothing to do with monsters or Halloween?
After Life (1998), a Japanese movie that’s contemplative and quirky in just the way I like.
2. What’s a good couple of songs for October that have nothing to do with monsters or Halloween?
Wynton Marsalis and Sarah Vaughan doing Autumn Leaves together. Cat Stevens’ Moonshadow.
3. What are some reasons to love October?
Monsters and Halloween, of course! Also fresh apple cider. Chilly mornings so I don’t get to work all sweaty if I walk. Sunshine with golden leaves and deep blue sky.
4. Radio stations sometimes call this month Rocktober, doing special playlists or giveaways in celebration of rock music. What would be a better rhyming name for this month, and how might it be celebrated?
We have local Walktober promotions. But I’ll go with Socktober, because having enough cozy warm socks without holes is a great feeling.
5. What would be a good holiday to establish in October for those U.S. states not commemorating Columbus Day?
Portland celebrates Indigenous Peoples’ Day on that Monday; I’m good with that.
Sanguinity and I went to see Star Wars today, with Evan & Kristi! People have been so good about eschewing spoilers that I can only return the favor… so I’ll just say this movie had an incredible knack for pandering to me without being irritating! Usually a lot of winks and in-jokes and shout-outs make me feel manipulated and grouchy, but somehow it all worked and had just the right mix of nostalgia and freshness for me.
We debriefed afterwards– I sipped a milkshake under the curiously intense ceiling heaters of the Bagdad’s restaurant, and we speculated on what Stormtrooper nurseries might be like.
To avoid detailing our many excellent (but spoilerish) queries and theories, I’ll end with a link to an internet friend’s recent essay that I found poignant and true: Help Me, Obi-Wan Kenobi: Death, Survivor’s Guilt, and the Power of a Well-Timed Story.
It’s been raining all weekend, but today wasn’t too cold. I pulled on my rain gear and walked down to the canyon at Reed. It felt great to be out.
I didn’t spot the resident beavers, but they’re around.
I don’t think of camellias as December flowers, but they look as good now as they do any other time.
In the more urban part of my walk, I listened to Sara Zarr’s How to Save a Life until my player’s battery died. Both this one and David Levithan’s Every Day, which I read last week, keep making me think in the back of my head while I read, “How’s the author going to pull this off? Corner is painted…what’s the path out of it?” I sort of wish I could turn this writerly perspective off, because it’s different from wondering how the characters will solve their problems. Every Day weakened a little at the end, I thought, with a Brand New Choice taking center stage. (And the main character’s last machination? It’s in character but kind of obnoxious, I thought, a little insulting and unnecessary!) I still don’t know what will happen with How to Save a Life. But highly worthwhile, both of them.
Sanguinity and I watched Terminator 2: Judgment Day last night! I hadn’t seen it since college. Why is it called “Judgment Day”? It isn’t actually about Judgment Day. Anyway, you know what I could hardly stand? The way Sarah and John both have their bangs in their eyes. Srsly I was like, fine save the world but please get your hair out of your face! It’s no coincidence that I trimmed my bangs this morning.
Work this week, and then a week and a half off! I secretly love the budget furloughs. I’d never take this many vacation days on my own for “no reason,” meaning no extended travel, but I’m psyched.