As Mashable’s Proma Khosla noted in her review of Netflix’s Always Be My Maybe, it might be a wonderful thing to live in a world so inclusive that an Asian-American-lead rom-com supported by a staff of powerful women isn’t doomed to withstand endless questions on inequality and discrimination for the entirety of its press tour.
And yet, here we are.
In spite of promising data from the 2018 box office, the average film is still far from diverse on-screen, and even less inclusive behind-the-scenes. As such, Always Be My Maybe’s role in furthering Hollywood’s glacial move towards inclusion — casting two Asian-American romantic leads and placing an Iranian-American woman in the director’s chair — is undeniably newsworthy.
“It’s just a matter of caring about that stuff and paying attention to all of the details.”
But for the creators behind this perfectly attuned film, representation is just one part of good storytelling.
“It came from a place of servicing the characters and the story,” director Nahnatchka Khan tells Mashable of Always Be My Maybe’s authentic details, lauded by many as uniquely representative of the Asian-American experience.
“If I feel that scenes are lived in, it feels real to me. I don’t need a spotlight shining on anything. I just need to feel like, ‘Oh, this is a world that I understand and that I relate to.'”
From a scene showing two young girls removing their shoes before running through the house to numerous lingering shots of traditional Asian-American comfort food, Always Be My Maybe takes place in a meticulously crafted world that places honest specificity above all else.
“It’s just a matter of caring about that stuff and paying attention to all of the details,” says Khan. “So every scene and every moment, we would just go through and make sure that it was the best version and the most authentic version of itself that it could be.”
Protagonists Sasha (Ali Wong) and Marcus (Randall Park) are similarly complex, matching both the levity and realism of their environment. For a female lead in a rom-com, Sasha is particularly believable, revealed to be a strong, vulnerable, and multilayered woman scene after scene.
“Our touchstone was When Harry Met Sally,” Khan recalls, noting that Wong and Park (who wrote and produced, as well as starred in, the film) first pitched Always Be My Maybe as “their version” of the iconic Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal flick.
“What we love about that movie is that it’s a true two-hander; It’s each of their stories. We wanted to make sure that for Ali’s character that she didn’t come across as super broad strokes. You can be a successful woman and also be vulnerable, and that’s important to show people. You can be ambitious, and still be insecure and cry in the freezer. That to us was just an important thing to highlight.”
Whether or not Khan’s experience as a woman influenced her ability to bring such a fully-realized leading lady to screen, Khan can’t say — once again noting that, for her, it all come backs to good storytelling.
“I know that Ali and I share a lot of similar ideas and things that are important to us,” Khan says. “And I don’t really know how a dude would do it. But for me, I always approach it from a character standpoint, making sure that people feel lived in and real.”
“The more movies and shows that come out, the less it will be a one-to-one comparison.”
However, it should be said that Khan is perfectly aware of the role Always Be My Maybe, as well as her popular TV series Fresh Off The Boat, play in the broader cultural conversation.
When asked about the frequent comparison of Always Be My Maybe to films like Crazy Rich Asians and To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before — both noted for their achievements in Asian-American representation — Khan is gracious.
“I understand why those comparisons are being made,” she says. “Both those movies were very successful, and we should be so lucky. It’s very flattering, and it means you did something right.”
Still, Khan cautions against clumping all representative films into some kind of new cinematic stereotype.
“I think the more movies and shows that come out, the less it will be a one-to-one comparison to that because there will just be too many,” Khan predicts enthusiastically.
“That’s the goal, for there to be more and more and more. To see it more mainstream and expected and everyone’s like ‘Hey, these are the kinds of movies getting made now. These are just movies.'”
Always Be My Maybe is now streaming on Netflix.
Spider Man: Jackson disappointed in Promoters.
African-American actor and film producer, Samuel Leroy Jackson has expressed displeasure in the producers and promoters of the Spider-Man: Far From Home movie, as the newest marketing materials was marred with some series of errors.
The Marvel star reprises his role as former S.H.I.E.L.D. boss and flerken friend Nick Fury in the upcoming Spider-Man movie (in theaters July 2). Posters and trailers for the film have teased the first major meeting between Fury and Tom Holland’s Spider-Man, but as Jackson pointed out on Instagram, at least one poster portrays Fury with a major mistake
Jackson shared a side-by-side comparison of two Spider-Man posters, each with Fury’s signature eyepatch on a different eye. (For the record, as Jackson reiterates, Fury’s eyepatch belongs on his left eye, as that was the one he lost in a not-so-savage battle with Captain Marvel’s cat/flerken, Goose.)
Far From Home marks Jackson’s 11th onscreen appearance as the super-spy, and the film follows him as he introduces Spider-Man to a new ally, Jake Gyllenhaal’s Mysterio. “It was great to have [Jackson] on set intimidating everyone,” director Jon Watts previously told EW, laughing. “It was just like Nick Fury was actually there, keeping everyone on their toes.”
And, according to film producers Naomi Ellen Watts, Far From Home also finds Fury struggling to pick up the pieces after the events of Avengers: Endgame.
“He’s been gone for five years, too,” Watts said. “He’s the guy who’s always known everything about everything. He’s the guy who created the Avengers, and now here he is, returning after five years and seeing a very, very different world. So that’s a situation we’ve never seen him in before. The guy who’s always been in control not having the same level of control is interesting.”
‘Men in Black: International’ Heads for Disappointing $24 Million Launch
Sony’s “Men in Black: International” is heading for a disappointing $24 million opening weekend in the top spot at a mild North American box office, early estimates showed Friday.
The fourth iteration of the sci-fi comedy franchise is performing well under modest expectations, which had been in the $30 million range at 4,224 locations. “Men in Black: International” stars Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson, replacing Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones as the black-suited agents dealing with a baffling series of alien attacks against Earth.
New Line’s launch of its “Shaft” reboot is also showing little traction at multiplexes with Friday estimates coming in around $8 million at 2,952 sites, far below forecasts in the $16 million to $24 million range for the weekend. And Amazon’s widened release of its Mindy Kaling-Emma Thompson comedy “Late Night” was also falling flat at about $4 million at 2,218 venues.
The sole bright spots for the weekend appear to be Universal’s second weekend of “The Secret Life of Pets 2,” declining about 53% to around $22 million, and Disney’s fourth frame of “Aladdin” with about $17 million. The live-action reboot of “Aladdin” should finish the weekend with approximately $262 million domestically.
“Men in Black: International” takes place in the same universe as the previous trilogy, with Emma Thompson reprising her role as Agent O. Kumail Nanjiani, Rebecca Ferguson, Rafe Spall and twins Laurent and Larry Bourgeois also star. The film, set in the London bureau of the top-secret Men in Black organization, is directed by F. Gary Gray and written by Art Marcum and Matt Holloway, based on the Malibu comic by Lowell Cunningham. The budget for “Men in Black: International” is $110 million, co-financed by Hemisphere and Tencent.
The previous three “Men in Black” films combined for more than $1.6 billion in worldwide box office. All three scored North American debut weekends of more than $50 million. “Men in Black: International” is also launching in most international markets. Reviews were dismal with a 25% score on Rotten Tomatoes.
“Shaft,” the fifth film in the franchise, stars Jessie Usher playing John “JJ” Shaft Jr., an FBI agent and a cybersecurity expert with a degree from MIT. Samuel L. Jackson plays his estranged father and Richard Roundtree plays his grandfather, the original Shaft, as he did in the first three “Shaft” movies in the early 1970s. Critics were unimpressed, resulting in a 35% Rotten Tomatoes score.
“Late Night” had generated forecasts in the $5 million to $9 million range. The film was acquired by Amazon following its Sundance premiere for a record $13 million and launched in four locations last weekend with a solid $246,035. It benefits from more positive reviews, sitting at 80% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Focus is seeing moderate returns on its launch of Jim Jarmusch’s “The Dead Don’t Die” with around $3 million at 613 locations. The zombie comedy, starring Bill Murray and Adam Driver, was the opening night film at the Cannes Film Festival last month. Reviews have been mixed with a 51% score on Rotten Tomatoes.
Year-to-date domestic box office as of June 12 has hit $4.93 billion, down 6% from the same point last year, according to Comscore. “Avengers: Endgame,” which has topped $826 million in seven weeks, and “Aladdin” had helped narrow the gap — which should widen again this weekend, thanks to overall business falling short of last year’s $182 million opening for “Incredibles 2.”
Disney’s “Toy Story 4” should rescue the box office next weekend. Early tracking had placed the animated comedy with a debut in the $150 million range.
Janet Mock Signs History-Making Deal With Netflix
Last year, Janet Mock made her directorial debut with the popular FX series Pose. Now, she's making history as the first trans woman of color to sign an overall deal with Netflix, where she'll direct and produce a slate of projects for the streaming giant.
"This deal is so bonkers,” she announced in a video posted to Netflix's Strong Black Lead vertical. “I, of course, will be writing and directing and developing a few hush hush projects that I can’t really talk about, but one of them is a half-hour drama and another is a college series. So I’m really excited for that.”
According to Variety, Mock has signed a three year multimillion-dollar, which will give the streaming giant rights to her television series and first-look option on feature films. Mock will also executive produce and direct Ryan Murphy's upcoming series Hollywood, which Murphy previously described as "a love letter to the Golden Age of Tinseltown." Even though she's heading over to Netflix, Mock will continue to direct and write on Pose.
“This is the first kind of deal of its kind for a trans person, no less a trans woman of color,” she continued in the video. "You know 84% of Americans say that they don’t know and or work with a trans person, and so there’s potential now with Netflix’s worldwide audience to introduce millions, hundreds of millions of viewers to trans people and showing people who may not understand us that we can tell our own stories.”
Gina Rodriguez Had To Stop Filming ‘Jane the Virgin’ For Her Mental Health.
Gina Rodriguez has been open about having anxiety, and with the final season of Jane the Virgin wrapping up this summer, Gina got candid about how she had to stop filming the show for her mental health.
During a discussion on mental health at The Kennedy Forum with NBC's Kate Snow, Gina said she can typically work through her anxiety and keep acting but wasn't able to this season. She explained:
"There was a point where I couldn’t…push through every single time anymore, and I’m one of those human beings…where they're just like, I’ll handle it later. I’ll deal with it later. I’ll figure it out later. I just have to do this now. All the while you’re dealing with your silent little dragon in your head. And it came to a point, and this last season was the first season where I had to stop production. I had a really tumultuous season, and I was unafraid for the first time to be like, ‘I can’t.’”
After hearing Kate's husband, Chris Bro, open up about depression and experiencing suicidal thoughts, Gina explained that she can relate.
Gina said she remembers having depression starting at age 16 and that it could be linked to her Hashimoto's disease, which is an autoimmune thyroid disorder.
Thankfully, Gina said that once she started talking to other people about her mental health, "it just opened up a pathway that allowed me to talk about it freely, to seek help, to be unafraid."
Later, she explained that she wants to continue talking about mental health awareness because so many people look up to her. She said, "It has to be a part of the conversations I have with these young girls. I can’t just tell them to go out and make their dreams come true and then to ignore everything else.”
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