The following are reviews of films that were released in the summer of 2018 with different themes, genres and stories.
Catherine Gagulashvili copy editor
“To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before”
From Jake and Samantha in “Sixteen Candles” in the 80s, to Patrick and Kat in “10 Things I Hate About You” in the 90s, to Noah and Allie in “The Notebook” in the early-2000s, it is evident that a couple from a well-executed romantic comedy can leave an impact on romantic culture in the years that follow the movie’s release. Every 10 years or so, a new couple is plastered on the silver screen, forever immortalizing them as the couple to live up to. For 2018, that couple is Lara Jean and Peter in “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.”
“To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” is a teen rom-com reminiscent of the iconic John Hughes era. Set in the present day, the plot still adheres to the classic and inevitable “happy ending” for the two main characters. This movie, particularly, decides to use the “fake-dating” trope in which Lara Jean Song Covey, played by Lana Condor, and Peter Kavinsky, played by Noah Centineo, choose to feign a relationship in order to solve their romantic problems with other people. The conflict in the movie is presented when Lara Jean’s older sister’s ex-boyfriend, Josh, whom Lara Jean has harbored feelings for, receives his letter in which Lara Jean professes her love for him. This mess of a situation is slightly remedied when Peter comes up with the plan to fake-date one another in order to make Josh think Lara Jean isn’t in love with him. Needless to say, the plan to fake-date backfires when the two develop genuine feelings for one another.
This cheesy, classic rom-com, as most rom-coms do, will leave you feeling happy and optimistic about life. The only criticism for this movie is to be said of all romantic comedies, the sheer unrealisticness of it. But, overall, the movie, by straying away from problematic and controversial themes, is successful as a teen rom-com.
“To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” has become wildly popular since its release on Aug. 17 for two reasons: the diversity of the cast and the general public’s love of Centineo. Lara Jean and her family are Asian-American, and because they receive a lot of screen time, as well as being lead characters in the film, this movie helps promote diversity in the movie industry. Secondly, Centineo, who was most recognizable as a Disney star, playing roles in “Austin & Ally” and “How to Build a Better Boy,” has now become widely popular on the internet and is by no doubt becoming a rising star who will now certainly be known for his rom-com style movies. His second movie with Netflix, “Sierra Burgess is a Loser” came out on Sept. 7, all the more fueling his popularity among rom-com lovers. While Centineo doesn’t demonstrate any superior acting skills, his good looks and his playing likeable characters will likely kick off his career. Overall, “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” earns 4.5/5 stars and makes for a wholesome, good-feeling rom-com.
“To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” is available on Netflix.
Jude Binkley staff writer
“Crazy Rich Asians”
Based on the book “Crazy Rich Asians” by Kevin Kwan, the movie “Crazy Rich Asians” depicts the life of Rachel Chu (Constance Wu), a professor who is invited by her boyfriend, Nick Young (Henry Golding), to travel to Singapore to attend his friend’s wedding. Before leaving, Rachel is told that she will be meeting her boyfriend’s family when they get to Singapore. Upon arrival, she discovers that Nick has a high social status in Singapore, and his family doesn’t approve of their relationship as a result of that. Instead they pressure him to marry someone native to their homeland and take over the family business. The story follows both the conflicts that Rachel faces, thinking she is not good enough for Nick and his family and Nick having to side with either his girlfriend or mother.
This movie isn’t all love and drama, though, as there are plenty of jokes and lighthearted moments to break the tension in scenes that show the lavish life that the characters live overseas. Some of the best comedic delivery and timing is delivered by Goh Peik Lin (Awkwafina), who is Rachel’s best friend from college and her only escape from the pressures and hostilities she faces at the Young household. Other highlights from this movie included the scenery and costume design, which were over-the-top exquisite, living true to how all of these characters are “Crazy Rich”, which creates a drastic divide between Nick’s family and Rachel, who was not raised on dressing up or going to parties in giant mansions.
“Crazy Rich Asians” is the first majority-Asian cast film in Hollywood since 1993, and it gives a touching, developed story of the struggle between love and family conflict. This movie surprised the box offices, and brought in a staggering amount of money, deservedly so. Overall, this movie deserves a 4.5 out of 5 and should be hailed as a success that furthers minority representation in film. This film is in theatres internationally.
Sam Bernstein managing editor
“Won’t You Be My Neighbor”
In a particularly competitive year for documentaries, with films such as “Whitney”, “RBG”, “Seeing Allred” and “Mercury 13” all coming to the big screen, it was hard for a documentary to set itself apart from the crowd. “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” set itself apart from the crowd in a big way, being the best documentary of the year so far.
The film gives behind the scenes access to the life of Fred Rogers, of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” fame. Rogers, who died in 2003 at the age of 74, is a pioneer of children’s television programming. Rogers, and his daily program on PBS, played a big component in the lives of millions of American children in the 20th century.
The movie gives fascinating insight to Rogers’ personal life, an interesting perspective on a very publicly private man. The film addressed questions about Rogers’ persona outside of the show, fascinatingly revealing that in his everyday life Rogers shared a large majority of qualities with the character he played on television. Rogers lived a ritualistic life, keeping to the same routines for decades. He held his morals close to him and lived a very straight-edge daily life. He was also incredibly polite to those he’d interact with on the daily. In the film, fans shared their experiences with Rogers when meeting him in person. These testimonials gave a glimpse into how genuinely kind and loving Rogers was.
The movie was a real tear-jerker. Those who know about Rogers and his loving messages will really appreciate the insight the film gives on his life. The film shows several clips of his shows, as well as clips of his speeches on Capitol Hill and at various events where Rogers spoke. Viewers who weren’t previously knowledgeable about Rogers and his influence, like myself, will grow to love him throughout the 94 minutes of the film.
The critically-acclaimed film received a 99 percent rating from review site Rotten Tomatoes and an 8.6/10 rating from fellow review site IMDB. Highlights is going to give this film a 5/5 rating. The movie gave incredible insight on a fascinating subject, and every second of its’ 94 minutes was simply fascinating. This was the best documentary of the summer, and it is absolutely worth watching regardless if you’re well acquainted with Rogers’ work. The film plays daily at select theaters across the county, with the closest theater being the Laemmle Theater on Wilshire and South Weatherly. The film is also available for purchase on Google Play and YouTube.