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Entries in Lulu Wang (4)

Tuesday
Jul232019

The Farewell: Where personal and universal meet

By Lynn Lee

Coming out of The Farewell, I jokingly asked my husband, “Any of those family dynamics ring a bell?”  It was a double-edged joke, as one of the most challenging differences between us is our night-and-day attitudes towards our respective families, which we attribute to our different backgrounds.  He’s white and can trace his American lineage back to the Mayflower, but feels no particular responsibility to his immediate family and rarely sees his extended family; I’m a second-generation Korean American, born to naturalized U.S. citizens who, despite having now been here far longer than they ever lived in Korea, have maintained strong ties to their birth country and culture.  As such, they regularly remind me of my obligations to my immediate family, my extended family, and even my husband's family - something that both amuses and bemuses my husband.

No surprise, then, that The Farewell was a must-see for me.  True, it’s not “my” story: I’m not Chinese, after all, and as far as I know no one in my family has ever lied to anyone else in the family about their health.  But the film’s broader underlying themes – the feeling of being caught between the values of East and West, and not fully belonging to one or the other – spoke to me at a gut level...

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Friday
Jul122019

New this weekend: "The Farewell" and "The Art of Self Defense"

The alligator thriller Crawl and the buddy comedy Stuber are the new wide releases this weekend but let us now direct your attention to the new films in limited release today, as we reviewed both during their festival runs...

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Wednesday
Jul102019

Interview: Lulu Wang on 'The Farewell' and why it's important to declare she's American

by Murtada Elfadl

When I meet Lulu Wang at the A24 offices in Manhattan, she looks really cool despite the hot weather and despite the fact that she has “not been part of the world since January because I've just been traveling.” Perhaps it’s the effect of Headspace, the meditation app she uses. “It has all of these five or ten minute meditations. I listen to in the car ride between going to screenings. It just helps me breathe.

January was when her second feature film as a writer and director, The Farewell, premiered at Sundance to ecstatic reviews, including one from this writer. Since then Wang has been flying around the world as the film played at many other film festivals. Wang has drawn on her own family’s history to tell a warm, funny and poignant tale about a young Queens artist, Billi (played by Awkwafina), and the tender relationship she has with her grandmother, whom she calls Nai Nai or "grandma" in Mandarin, and who lives in Changchun, China. When Nai Nai (Zhao Shuzhen) receives a terminal cancer diagnosis, the family decides to hide the news from her and instead concocts a scheme to marry off a cousin, so that they have an excuse to gather around the grandmother one more time before she goes. This lie doesn’t sit well with Billi and the film shows us the friction and love as the family grapples with this. This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

 Murtada Elfadl: There were reports last week that you turned down a big payday from a streamer and chose to go with a theatrical release. Why is that important to you?  

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Sunday
Jan272019

Sundance: Awkwafina in "The Farewell"

Murtada Elfadl reporting from Sundance

Big family gatherings can be tough. Especially when the gathered family are dispersed all over the world and live disparate lives. In The Farewell, a family gathers in China, ostensibly for a cousin’s wedding. Some flew in from Japan, some from the United States and some are, of course, local. As the conversation gets real and tense about living in different places, what values and opportunities you get and lose when you leave the home country, the film hit me hard. It reminded me of my own family and gatherings like this. When reality forces families to disperse, the push/pull of old vs new country can get contentious, emotional, and raw. Writer/director Lulu Wang captures this exact tension acutely. She also writes with love and authenticity about family so The Farewell hits an emotional bullseye.

Front and center is Awkwafina as a young Chinese-American artist, Billi, living in New York with her immigrant parents...

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