Tag Archives: Lulu Wang

The Farewell (2019) Review

Time: 100 minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Adult themes
Cast:
Awkwafina as Billi Wang
Tzi Ma as Haiyan Wang
Diana Lin as Lu Jian
Zhao Shuzhen as Nai Nai
Lu Hong as Little Nai Nai
Jiang Yongbo as Haibin
Director: Lulu Wang

A headstrong Chinese-American woman (Awkwafina) returns to China when her beloved grandmother (Shuzhen Zhao) is diagnosed with terminal cancer. Billi struggles with her family’s decision to keep grandma in the dark about her own illness as they all stage an impromptu wedding to see grandma one last time.

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I’d been hearing about The Farewell a while ago, and I’ve been meaning to get around to it for some time. I just knew it as the movie where a family don’t tell a grandmother about her cancer, very difficult to forget that premise. I heard some great things about it, and having finally gotten around to it, I can confirm that it is very good and for sure worth seeing.

First thing to establish, the story of The Farewell is based off writer and director Lulu Wang’s own life, with a situation where she had to pretend along with the rest of her family that her grandmother didn’t have cancer, while staging a fake wedding so that they could secretly say a final goodbye to her. Knowing this adds a personal level to the movie, and it feels honest throughout. If you looked at the significant events that happen over the course of The Farewell, not much actually happens. It’s a much quieter movie, none of it feels melodramatic or pretentious, and it feels quite real. This is a slower paced and dialogued focused movie, with the dialogue being very well written, witty, emotional, and very strong on the whole. There are some interesting conversations throughout, such as about whether the grandmother should be told about her cancer or not, or the differences between living in China and America. It doesn’t really take sides about any of it, just showing the characters’ perspectives on the topics. From the premise, it sounds like a depressing movie but it’s actually quite funny at many points, while also effectively delivering on the heartfelt moments. Although The Farewell is around an hour and 40 minutes long, you might find this to be slow if you are expecting the runtime to fly by and for it to be very eventful, because that’s not the case. I was expecting a slower and quieter movie, and as that I thoroughly liked it, and it did its job well. Now I think I should just come out and say that I didn’t connect with much that happened, not that I couldn’t empathise with the characters and what they’re dealing with, but I’m fully aware that this movie meant a lot more to others. As for me, I respect it greatly, but I wasn’t as emotionally invested as maybe some other people who love the movie.

I just knew Awkwafina from Crazy Rich Asians and Ocean’s Eight, generally more comedic roles. However with The Farewell she establishes herself as an impressive dramatic actor, such a genuine and real performance. Another equally great performance is that of the grandmother played by Shuzhen Zhao, she was fantastic here. The bond and chemistry between the two are fantastic. The rest of the cast mostly make up the rest of the family are also pretty good, but it’s Awkwafina and Zhao’s movie really. While I get that, I do wish some of the other characters were developed a little more than how they were.

This is Lulu Wang’s second film, and she’s really directed this well. It’s very well shot, and she really captured the locations well (especially with the movie being almost always set in China). With The Farewell being a dialogue driven movie, Wang did a good job at directing these scenes particularly, keeping the conversations flowing.

The Farewell is a solid, empathetic and heartfelt dramedy. It’s very well written and directed by Lulu Wang, and the acting is great, especially from Awkwafina and Zhao Shuzhen. Even if you’re a little iffy about the premise, trust me when I say that it’s well worth watching, definitely deserving of all the acclaim it has been receiving.

Dolemite is My Name (2019) Review

Time: 117 minutes
Cast:
Eddie Murphy as Rudy Ray Moore
Da’Vine Joy Randolph as Lady Reed
Keegan-Michael Key as Jerry Jones
Mike Epps as Jimmy Lynch
Craig Robinson as Ben Taylor
Tituss Burgess as Theodore Toney
Wesley Snipes as D’Urville Martin
Director: Lulu Wang

Eddie Murphy portrays real-life legend Rudy Ray Moore, a comedy and rap pioneer who proved naysayers wrong when his hilarious, obscene, kung-fu fighting alter ego, Dolemite, became a 1970s Blaxploitation phenomenon.

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I heard a lot about Dolemite is My Name more recently, with it receiving a lot of praise, especially for Eddie Murphy in the lead role. However I hadn’t heard much about what the movie was about, and I hadn’t even heard of Dolemite or Rudy Ray Moore beforehand, so I really didn’t know what I was getting into. Even going in completely blind, I was thoroughly impressive with Dolemite is My Name.

One of the biggest strengths of Dolemite is My Name was the writing. The script is fantastically written, with some great and witty dialogue and some genuine heart throughout. The first half is pretty good, it’s fun and it establishes Rudy Ray Moore and his rise in popularity and success with his character of Dolemite, and seeing people rise up is generally a nice thing to see in movie. However it is when the plot gets to him and others making the Dolemite movie where it really picks up. Any movie about people making a film is always going to be fun to me, but it also does it well here. Many of the people working on the Dolemite movie clearly didn’t know how to make a movie but they had a lot of fun doing it, and that was nice to see. Dolemite is My Name has been compared to Ed Wood and The Disaster Artist, but while those movies were about films that entertained people in the wrong way, Dolemite is My Name is about a movie that became a success and was celebrated by people who genuinely love it for what it is. Not to mention that throughout the movie, you can clearly feel the love for Moore and his work, so you can really tell that there was a strong desire to tell his story in a respectful and truthful way, and it comes across constantly. The only fault that I could really find with the movie isn’t really a problem as much as it was a missed opportunity. I do wish there was a little more depth when it came to Rudy, maybe explore who he is as a person more. Now that’s not to say that I want a full on dramedy or drama, after all I thoroughly enjoy it as a comedy, there’s nothing in the movie I’d remove. But at least a couple more scenes somewhat exploring Rudy as a person would’ve made this movie even better, it’s honestly the only thing that’s missing.

Now keep in mind I haven’t seen Eddie Murphy in a ton of movies, but many have said that his acting as Rudy Ray Moore is a career best performance from him. Watching the movie, I’d be really surprised if this wasn’t the case. Murphy absolutely owns this role, you might not know who Rudy Ray Moore is beforehand, but he seems to have embodied him perfectly. It’s Murphy’s show, but at the same time the movie also has a great and likable supporting cast, with Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Keegan-Michael Key, Mike Epps, Craig Robinson all providing some really good work, and adding quite a bit to the movie. A stand out among the supporting cast was also Wesley Snipes, and this is the best I’ve seen him in a while. There’s even some surprise appearances from the likes of Snoop Dogg, Chris Rock and more, which was nice to see.

I haven’t seen anything that Craig Brewer has directed till now, but he did a good job with this movie. They seemed to have captured the time period and setting quite well, the costumes were also a standout, especially the outfits that Rudy Ray Moore would often wear as Dolemite.

Dolemite is My Name was one of the most surprising and entertaining movies of the year. It’s very well written, consistently entertaining, hilarious, and the cast is great, especially a fantastic Eddie Murphy. It’s definitely worth watching, even if you have no idea what it’s about, you’re more than likely going to have a great time with it. So check it out on Netflix when you get the chance.