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Asian Perspectives on Screen

By Skokie Staff Adult Services

In recent years, the entertainment industry seems to be moving a bit forward when it comes to Asian and Asian American films. In 2020, Parasite, a Korean movie, made it to the Oscars and won Best Picture. We’ve gathered a few of our favorite movies and TV shows produced, directed, or written by Asian and Asian American creators. Turn on your screen, sit back, and enjoy!

  • The Joy Luck Club

    This is a beautiful story of family. It’s as hopeful as it is heart-wrenching, and the cast did a phenomenal job with their performance. You will laugh and cry, but in the end, I think it will leave you with great lessons about life, love, and joy. Recommended by Penny.

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  • Minari

    2021

    Here is one of my favorite recent movies. Filmmaker Lee Isaac Chung based the script on his own childhood and family experiences. Set in the 1980s, focusing on a South Korean immigrant family making a go at farming in Arkansas, it is a beautifully acted, well-told American dream story. Recommended by Sharon.

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  • The Farewell

    2019

    Writer/director Lulu Wang hits the mark with this critically acclaimed dramedy. It’s based on a real family's life and focuses on a young Chinese American woman, wonderfully played by Awkwafina, who finds herself in the middle of two worlds when she accompanies her family to China to say goodbye to her beloved grandmother, Nai-Nai. It is full of the life-affirming spirit that is Nai-Nai. Recommended by Sharon.

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  • To Be Takei

    2014

    Actor, author, activist George Takei is my hero. This documentary about his life, passions, and work is honest, revealing, informative, and oftentimes funny. Be sure to check out his 2019 biographical graphic novel, They Called Us Enemy, as well. This title is also available on Kanopy. Recommended by Sharon.

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  • I Will Make You Mine

    2020

    I am excited about this under-the-radar gem. It is authentic, women-forward, well-observed, and Lynn Chen's directorial debut. She also wrote the screenplay and co-stars. The story follows three women, all involved with the same man years ago. Circumstances unexpectedly bring them into the same orbit, and they deal with their present while reflecting on the past. This is the third installment in a film trilogy, "The Surrogate Valentine". However, it easily stands on its own— seeing the previous two is not necessary. You might remember Chen’s breakout performance in Alice Wu’s terrific 2004 movie Saving Face. Certainly Chen shows she can do it all. Also available on Hoopla. Recommended by Sharon.

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  • Saving Face

    2005

    By the same writer/director as Netflix's The Half of It, this is half a family drama and half a romantic comedy, and it does an incredible job with both sides of the story. Wil's relationship with her mother and with her girlfriend feel completely genuine, and all the characters have fantastic comedic timing. Recommended by Perry.

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  • Jake Shimabukuro: Life on Four Strings

    2013

    Innovative ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro says that he loves connecting with people. Indeed, some of my favorite scenes are when he’s out in the community sharing his music and enthusiasm with children. This music doc is a great way to learn about the ukulele and see how and why Shimabukuro became an international star. He is the coolest! Recommended by Sharon.

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  • Kim's Convenience: Season 1

    2017

    This TV sitcom is about a Korean-Canadian family running a convenience store in Toronto. Every character—from mom, pop, and two adult children, to all the multicultural neighbors—is unique and well done in this very funny, heartfelt series. Recommended by Lukie.

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  • The Mindy Project: Season One

    2013

    Mindy Kaling created this rom-com TV series and stars as an OB/GYN trying to balance the professional with the personal. Hilarity ensues. Kaling is an awesome talent. I enjoy whatever she does and like that she takes risks. Recommended by Sharon.

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  • Children of Invention

    2010

    This independent 2009 movie gets to the heart of challenges faced by a single Asian immigrant mother. Set in suburban Boston, the film is loosely based on the director's own childhood. It features two children, whom you can't help falling in love with, as they figure out how to cope until their mom returns. As the title indicates, they have a large imagination. Also available on Hoopla. Recommended by Sharon.

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  • Searching

    2018

    This mystery drama has a fantastic gimmick—it is told through a laptop and various electronic devices. When his 16-year-old daughter fails to return home from a study group, a widowed father (John Cho) breaks into her computer to search through her online history—texts, FaceTime, videos, chats, emails, Facebook—to find clues. The movie marks the first time an Asian American actor headlined a mainstream Hollywood thriller and it is Aneesh Chaganty’s directorial debut. Recommended by Sharon.

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  • Meet the Patels

    2016

    A romantic comedy documentary directed by siblings Geeta and Ravi Patel, the story follows first-generation Indian American Ravi Patel trying to find the woman of his dreams. Recently broken up with his secret white girlfriend of two years, he agrees to try an arranged marriage process. The film manages to be funny and heartwarming with a lot of thought-provoking observations about love, tradition, family, and cultural assimilation. Recommended by Sharon.

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  • Mulan: Rise of a Warrior

    2013

    A live-action Mulan that's actually from China! Be warned, this is an adult movie that bears no resemblance to either Disney production, and it's very much a war film as well as a character drama, but it's fantastically written, acted, and produced. Recommended by Perry.

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