There are so many streaming options available today, and so many conflicting recommendations, it's hard to see through all the crap you could see. Every Friday, The edgeThe Cut the Crap column simplifies the selection by searching the overwhelming amount of films and TV series on subscription services and recommending a perfect thing to watch this weekend.
What to watch
Bad rap, a 2016 crowdfunded documentary about four Asian-American rappers trying to overcome the prejudices of the music industry. The film was shot over the course of a few years and deals with the grinding of playing small clubs, and teaches how difficult it can be to impress agents and to record label A&R reps, often a Korean or see a Chinese face and assume a limited market. Bad rap is provocative and dramatic, since rappers Dumbfoundead, Rekstizzy and Lyricks end up on career crossroads, making choices that can determine whether they will ever break apart. But the biggest reason to watch this documentary again – by director Salima Koroma and producer Jaeki Cho – is the fourth rapper covered: Nora Lum, a musician and comedian better known under her stage name Awkwafina.
Why watch now?
Because Goodbye, with Awkwafina in the lead role, will open this weekend in selected theaters.
One of the most talked-about films debuting at the Sundance Film Festival 2019, Goodbye was written and directed by Lulu Wang, based on a personal anecdote to which she told an episode of This American life. Awkwafina plays Billi (the Lulu Wang surrogate), a struggling New York creative who accompanies her parents in China for a wedding party, organized under false pretenses. The real reason for the reunion is that Billi's grandmother is dying of lung cancer and everyone wants to say goodbye to her without revealing her diagnosis to her, or letting her know she's a terminal case. That is a well-known family decision in China, where an old saying in culture claims it fear of death is what actually kills people. Often funny and deeply moving, Goodbye is the best kind of crowd puller, with something subtle but meaningful to say how far families will go to prevent them from telling each other the truth.
Awkwafina gives a great performance Goodbye – and also a surprising one since her role is more moving than funny. The rapid rise of Awkwafina in recent years is rooted in the clear, entertaining public persona that she has developed, via YouTube videos, rap songs, TV commercials, Saturday Night Live guest recordings, film cameos & talk show performances. She has become the model of the super cool, inner self-referring millennial who is overrated, but she also has some sincere, relevant points about race and gender. Very little that Awkwafina did before this point appeared in her career Goodbye.
The three rappers who appear next to her Bad rap she probably could not have charted her path to success. Although interviews with Awkwafina are spread throughout the documentary, the first comprehensive section about her music starts around 24 minutes, and she tells about the viral sensation that was her hilarious, sexually candid song from 2012.My Vag. "While the boys honor her presence on stage and musicality, they also seem skeptical of her popularity, with Dumbfoundead proclaiming that" a cute Asian girl with catchy hipster songs "is pre-eminently salable. He and his friends predict that if her agents agree with her, Awkwafina might have a good three-year run when playing 500-capacity clubs.
Bad rap is a very good music documentary, with some rewarding conversations about identity, in addition to a few really exciting moments. (Fast forward to the 59-minute mark for a freestyle rap fight where Dumbfoundead is hit with every racist stereotype in his competitor's book, before he offers an exciting reaction.) But it is very fascinating to see the film now because of how very everyone – including Awkwafina itself – underestimates its appeal. Against the claim of her friends that she has a marketable image, she claims that she only does well because her songs are funny and not because of something striking about her appearance or personality. "You can't put me on the market without the music," she says. "If they can no longer milk the Awkwafina money cow, there will be nothing for me." But the film adds a "two years later" epilogue, when Awkwafina already started to broaden its showbiz portfolio. By that time she was much less rejective of her own gifts and possibilities.
For who it is
People who like to peek behind the scenes of show business.
Because Bad rap follows four (at that time) relatively obscure musicians, it is quite blunt about the crowds and the hassle needed to stand out and get attention. In one of the most striking sequences of the doc, around the 46-minute mark, the filmmakers ask four industry experts – a label representative, an agent, a radio DJ, and an editor for hip-hop magazines – to watch a music video of each of the four artists of the film, and to give their immediate abdominal reactions. They are all very honest: not immediately dismissive and not unrealistically friendly. It is instructive to hear them talk about how this is a company of first impressions, and how poorly sounding production, a distracted sound or impersonal lyrics can all be perfectly valid reasons to pass on an artist without thinking about it.
However, they all love Awkwafina: her image, her sound, her whole atmosphere. Perhaps there is such a thing as & # 39; star quality & # 39 ;.
Where to see it
Netflix. Even now, HBO Go / HBO Now subscribers can see the scene-stealing supporting role of Awkwafina in the 2018 comedy Crazy Rich Asians.