Normal college student Rachel (Constance Wu of TV’s Fresh Off the Boat) is invited to a friend’s wedding by her wonderful, loving boyfriend Nick (Henry Golding of that Anna Kendrick movie this year that looked pretty good), who turns out to be mega-rich, so Nick’s family looks down on her, and Rachel has to spend the trip placating rich people and deciding whether it’s worth it. Rachel happens to have a friend in Singapore, our comic relief Awkwafina (Ocean’s Eight). The wedding is between Chris Pang (Crouching Tiger 2) and Sonoya Mizuno (Kyoko in Ex Machina). Michelle Yeoh (Crouching Tiger 1) plays Nick’s mom whom Rachel has to convince of her worthiness, and Jing Lusi (of Milla Jovovich actioner Survivor) is Nick’s ex who wants to torpedo Rachel.
Based on a hit novel, Jon Chu previously made three Justin Bieber movies and Jem and the Holograms. Singapore looks just wonderful – we should visit and spend all our money there.
We followed up Bisbee with another great one, the story of an indie film shot in Singapore in Summer 1992 that disappeared without a trace, taking a few friendships along with it. Creative punk kids Sandi and Jasmine and their friend Sophie got the support of a French New Wave enthusiast professor/mentor named George, spent the whole summer shooting their would-be classic, then George vanished with the film, which only resurfaced after his death twenty years later, the sound reels having been lost or destroyed along the way. So Sandi uses scenes from the original Shirkers (with added sound effects) to illustrate her story, reassessing the original drive to make this film, what they accomplished, and the aftermath. Sophie is now chair of a film department, Jasmine still holds a huge grudge, and Sandi claims in the Q&A that she doesn’t blame George, which sounds crazy after he ruined their young dreams. There’s some owning up to past misdeeds and betrayals, some exploration of George’s life and his other creative partners (he stole their work, too) but Sandi still respects the guy, and she’s the one in charge of the Shirkers saga now, so perhaps this movie lets him off easy. This was a blast to see from the balcony of a sold-out theater, but we might have been its final proper audience, since it’s been bought by netflix.
Tim Grierson in Paste:
In Shirkers, novelist Sandi Tan accomplishes that trickiest of endeavors, making a documentary about herself that isn’t cloying or cringe-worthy. Quite the contrary, her movie is refreshingly candid and self-critical: She may be the star of the show, but she has a story to tell and the right perspective to frame it properly … the documentary ends up being less about tracking down the film canisters than being an exploration of nostalgia, friendship and the allure of mentors. Tan is lively, self-effacing company throughout — her voice has just the right sardonic tinge — but her visits with Jasmine and Sophia are particularly lovely and illuminating, suggesting how lifelong pals can see us in ways that we cannot.