What to Watch? Reviews of New Shows and Films, August 2018

So many shows and movies, so little time to watch. To make deciding easier, we’ve collated reviews for the most talked about new films, shows and content. Choose wisely and spend your weekend right!

Crazy Rich Asians

“It’s no secret that there’s a lot riding on this movie, which seems to have anticipated the call for wider representation in Hollywood, but comes with the added pressure that one bomb is all it takes for skittish development executives to nix future projects featuring nearly all-Asian casts. Don’t worry: “Crazy Rich Asians” won’t bomb, and while it won’t beat “Black Panther” either, the film is every bit as exciting in the way it takes an ethnic group that is seldom given more than one or two supporting roles per movie and populates an entire blockbuster with memorable, multidimensional Asian characters.” – Peter Debruge, Variety

“Of course, because of Hollywood’s shoddy history with Asian actors, the movie’s mere existence is being heralded as a breakthrough. After stereotypes, best-friend roles and white actors playing lead Asian characters, seeing a major U.S. studio throw its resources behind a film with a virtually all-Asian cast brings with it an added dimension of trailblazing scrutiny.

That’s a lot of baggage, but like almost everything else in this meticulously appointed film, “Crazy Rich Asians” wears it well. And while those who know a bit about Chinese culture will recognize that the review embargo corresponds with an auspicious date, by crafting such a broadly appealing movie, the filmmakers have seemingly made their own luck.” – Brian Lowry, CNN

 

The Meg

“The Meg is a big, dumb shark movie that takes itself a little too seriously, and that’s the point. Jason Statham is perfect for the material, the shark attacks are entertainingly broad, and the supporting cast brings personality to the otherwise straightforward script. Maybe it could have been even bigger and dumber, in a good way, but then again, maybe a 90-foot shark is big enough.” – William Bibbiani, IGN

“If the shark-versus-Statham bout doesn’t tickle you, the shark-versus-Pekinese sidebar might. Not quite killer, but it’s rare to see a 21st-century blockbuster having this much fun – right through to its sign-off – with its premise.” – Mike McCahill, The Guardian

 

The Spy Who Dumped Me

“McKinnon is never not engaged, but this is more a film of scattered laughs than sustained set-pieces: a handful of jokes, like an exchange about the fetal position, are so weak it’s inexplicable they made the final cut.

Still, beneath the film’s pop feminism bubbles an anger that might potentially have more than one target – and which leaves you wondering what this genre will look like in another couple of years.” – Jake Wilson, The Sydney Morning Herald

“This is a movie about women, by women, for women (though that doesn’t preclude anyone else from enjoying it — everybody has a best friend, even if it is an inanimate object, and the film has some killer action sequences). It doesn’t punish its female characters for behavior that might be considered “girly” or stereotypical; rather, it embraces and celebrates them.” – Karen Han, Slashfilm

 

Insatiable

“The biggest problem with this show is not that it’s crazy or offensive. It certainly is obnoxious in its treatment of all kinds of people — on top of the insulting fat-suit stuff, it contains other tropes and types best avoided: an awkward and unsexy Asian-American boy, a magical sassy godmother who is fat and black and a lesbian who exists only to educate thin white girls on how to live their best lives, and so forth.

But it’s so much more than that. Story elements are introduced and then abandoned. Jokes fall flat, flatter, flattest. Patty swerves without reason or nuance from eye-narrowing, vengeance-swearing vixen to lip-quivering, damp-eyed waif. A character who loves someone in one scene will hate them in the next. Characters who have been kind will be cruel and vice versa, without any explanation or motive.” – Linda Holmes, NPR

 

“I just felt sad. Sad that I’d sat through 12 episodes of the new Netflix drama, waiting for some moment of triumph that would supposedly redeem all the problematic and fatphobic messages that had come before. Sad that what I was being given instead was a weak throwaway line and a lazy visual metaphor that undid none of that damage, and rather reinforced the same tired old jokes about fat people’s toxic relationship to food. Sad that it’s 2018 and fat people are still treated as less than human, as something monstrous, as the villains in our own stories.” – Jenna Guillaume, BuzzFeed

Reviews: Facial Cleansers – QV, Sukin, La Roche-Posay, CosRX

Skincare products are tricky to review, because everyone’s skin reacts differently to every ingredient and your mileage may vary. However, with the overwhelming number of products available out there, it might still be useful to share my experience to narrow down your list. For your reference, I have combination, acne-prone skin.

QV Face Gentle Cleanser and Gentle Wash

Both washes are soap-free, fragrance-free, and pH-balanced. The colour is white and the texture runs a bit thick and milky. They don’t quite lather up, which could be a plus for people who dislike foaming cleansers. As the name suggests, they do feel gentle on the skin – but for me, this gentleness renders them quite ineffective to cleanse my skin thoroughly. They wouldn’t remove the thin layer of foundation that I got. Furthermore, they broke me out in whiteheads, which is a shame.

 

Sukin Foaming Facial Cleanser

The most memorable thing about this cleanser is the scent. It is hands down the best-smelling facial cleanser I’ve ever tried – it’s citrus (I suppose from the Citrus Tangerina (Tangerine) Peel Oil and the Citrus Nobilis (Mandarin Orange) Peel Oil) in the most sophisticated way, like something that other brands would sell for $35 a bottle. It’s great for people who are looking for natural ingredients in their cleanser; it’s got chamomile, aloe vera, witch hazel and green tea with macadamia and evening primrose oils. Furthermore, it’s free from sulphates and parabens.

However, as a facial cleanser, it doesn’t feel like it’s working for my acne-prone skin. It gave me little bumps in some spots. I now use it mainly as a handwash.

 

CosRX Salicylic Acid Daily Gentle Cleanser

Some people believe active ingredients in cleansers are useless since they’re only on your skin for 20 seconds, while others claim the salicylic acid will be too potent and harsh for your face. Either way, I feel like this cleanser didn’t do a lot for me. It didn’t really reduce pimples or blemishes, and despite its promise, left my skin feeling a bit tight and stripped. Given how impractical (and expensive) it can be to get Asian beauty products in Australia, I won’t be repurchasing this.

 

La Roche-Posay Effaclar Foaming Gel

This is what I’m using now. The soap-free, paraben-free gel is clear, and a little goes a long way – though you do need more if you’re wearing makeup. It does leave that squeaky-clean feeling that some dislike or find alarming, but I find the practicality to be worth it. Best of all, it doesn’t break me out despite containing some possible irritants like SLS and fragrance (it doesn’t really smell like anything though).

 

What’s your go-to facial cleanser?

Lush Slap Stick Foundation: How Do People Like It?

Recently Lush came out with a new line of vegan, solid foundation sticks. Slap Sticks, as they are called, come in 40 different shades for cool, neutral and warm skin undertones. The Slap Stick is described as “medium-coverage”, formulated with 14 percent pigment and 45 percent Indonesian coconut oil, promising “mask-like foundations a thing of the past, keeping your complexion looking fresh all day long at no compromise”.

lush slap sticks Here is the list of ingredients:

To top it, the brand says the Stick is made from artisan ingredients from community co-operatives that directly benefit locals, and not tested on animals.

But how does the actual product compare to the promises of merits above? Here are some reviews from people on the Internet.

Isha Bassi, Buzzfeed

“The thought of foundation made with coconut oil scared and excited me. I have combination skin, which gets both dry and oily around the t-zone. The foundation itself was incredibly creamy and blended out like a dream. Application-wise – it’s a bit messy! Your hands are all over the product, and it definitely needs its own storage or container to place it in.

“The coverage is definitely on the minimal side. I tried building it to cover some redness I have around my cheeks and nose, but I still found it to be quite sheer overall. After a couple of hours of wearing the foundation, my face was INCREDIBLY shiny and greasy. I do prefer more of a matte finish, which makes me think that the Slap Sticks may not work the best for oily skin.”

 

Lovette Jallow

“I’ll probably give this foundation an eight out of 10 – I give it such a high number simply because the ingredient list is on point, it’s good for the environment, it’s good for the skin… coconut oil, that’s my jam.”

 

Bronwyn (bonbonzz)

“I do find that it takes longer to blend out than a regular liquid foundation – in the morning, when I’m getting ready and I just want something really quick, this is not going to be the one that I reach for. However… it is looking really nice and even, it’s looking nicely radiant but it doesn’t look like I’m oily.”

Review: YesStyle

YesStyle is one of the most well-known retailers out there for Asian beauty, fashion and lifestyle products. How good and trustworthy is the site, though?

The catalogue boasts an impressive range of products with wide variety, from Korean-style fashion and jewelleries to cult Japanese skincare products and cute stationaries. Many items could be shipped in 24 hours, but some would take up to 21 days, so take that into account! There are also a lot of special offers such as free gifts.

The price is alright – it’s certainly not the cheapest you can get on the Internet land, but with the reputable site and the vast range of products that you can get in a purchase, I would say the price is worth the convenience. But don’t be fooled by the discounts, though – the price would always be around the same level from time to time regardless of the “flash deals”. The site also has tiered memberships – each time you grade up, they would give out e-coupons worth US$5-10. You would also gain extra discount (3-10%) off your purchases, but again, the prices seem to be hiked up accordingly anyway so it doesn’t really matter.

The package arrived 12 days after I placed my order. The shipping was free because I met the minimum purchase requirement. As of now, the requirement is AU$48.

What about the quality of the products? The clothes are fine – I think they’re more durable than Forever21, but certainly not as sturdy and long-lasting as Uniqlo. This striped short-sleeve blouse, for example, feels quite paper-like and doesn’t have the most flattering fit, but the colour and design are quite spot-on. The cropped wide-leg pants also come with loose threads, and the elasticised band could be slightly improved, but the spacious pockets and breezy model make the purchase such a bargain (it helps that they’re just under $15). Some of the brands’ names didn’t match the description on the website, but I personally don’t mind. The earrings look flimsier in real life too – but again, you get what you pay for. I didn’t buy anything over $50, and this purchase made me doubt if the quality of those items would make the price tag worth it.

I would order from YesStyle again – probably just for the under $50 items.

+:

  • Impressive variety of products
  • Affordable prices
  • Apparels have acceptable quality
  • Reliable shipping (and free shipping option)

-:

  • You get what you pay for
  • You can find cheaper individual items in other sites

Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

What to Watch? Reviews of Movies Showing Now, June 8-10, 2018

Going to the movies this weekend? Check out the reviews for the flicks showing now below.

Ocean’s 8

Ocean’s 8 is a heist caper that looks gorgeous, keeps the twists coming and bounces along on a comic rhythm that’s impossible to resist. What more do you want in summer escapism?” Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

It may have a glittering A-list cast, but Ocean’s 8 is as disappointing as the fake diamonds used to replace the real thing in the film’s big heist.” Jason di Rosso, ABC

 

Deadpool 2

“While the action is brilliantly shot and executed, the comedy smartly doubles up as a social commentary on racism, sexism, body shaming and sexual harassment. Boasting of some great unsuspecting cameos, the story humanises Deadpool, without letting go of what makes him different — deviant ways, indulgence in gory violence, sarcasm and narcissism.” Renuka Vyavahare, Times of India

“From its smug but dated pop culture references (there’s a recurring joke about dubstep, hinged on the 2012 Skrillex track Bangarang) to the frantic, barely comprehensible cutting, there’s very little to enjoy here. Dispensing with the brightness of the MCU but clinging to the franchise’s self-referential quippery and fan pandering makes for the worst of both imagined worlds.” Simran Hans, the Guardian

 

Solo: A Star Wars Story

““Solo: A Star Wars Story” gets the job done with little fuss, but also with precious little finesse. It might arguably succeed in teeing up the cinematic narrative that would change movies forever. But in both substance and execution, it bears but a whisper of the revolution to come.” Ann Hornaday, the Washington Post

“For [director Ron] Howard’s part, his greatest concern seems to being making sure everyone hits their mark and says their lines. It’s the bare minimum of direction as the score does the heavy lifting rather than injecting an actual personality into this movie.” Matt Goldberg, Collider

 

Hereditary

“Forget the ‘scarier than The Exorcist‘ line (whatever that means) that Hereditary has been tagged with – this is a movie that lives up to the hype on its own terms. Just don’t go to see it at the end of a stressful day. We’re only trying to look out for you.” Hugh Armitage, Digital Spy

“Don’t see this film expecting a thrill — and think twice about seeing it if there’s particular trauma in your past you’d prefer wasn’t evoked — but strongly consider seeing it. Hereditary pushes the horror genre to a different extreme than the one we’re used to, reminding us of the immense gulf between mere “scary” and “horrifying”, and the result is like nothing you’ve ever seen.” Sam Langford, Junkee

 

Which one will you see?

Review: SweetCorea

If you’re an Asian beauty fan, you might have heard about SweetCorea. The shop is well-known for affordable K-beauty and skincare products. However, is it as good as it sounds?

While the website is quite simple, the user experience is not too bad. You can just put in the keyword for the product you’re looking for, and chances are they will have it. The stock ranges from make-up and accessories to skincare, including serums, essence, moisturisers, cleansers and many more. There are also a lot of samples for sale, so if you want to try a product, this could be a good option.

Although the price is often a lot cheaper than RRP, the shipping cost could be quite steep. The heavier your haul is, the higher the shipping fee will be. You can choose to ship via DHL (the most expensive), EMS or registered air mail (the cheapest).

I ordered around nine items and paid through Paypal. In the same day, I received an email from the shop saying one of the items was out of stock, although it was listed as in stock on the website. They gave me an option to get a replacement or a refund. I opted for a refund, and after a follow-up email the next day, they sent the refund, no fuss.

The shipping was really fast, considering it was an international order and I picked the cheapest delivery option available – I ordered on Wednesday, and the parcel arrived on my door on Monday. The products were well-packaged, and I also received a lot of free sample-sized packs of eye mask. While I couldn’t 100 per cent be sure, the products do seem and feel like they are original, and the expiry dates are a while away, which is nice.

I found it a little weird that the out-of-stock products were advertised as in stock (although the shop representative said in an email that they would be restocked in two weeks). However, I found the experience to be positive, and I would definitely order at SweetCorea again for my next K-beauty haul.

+:

  • Affordable, competitive price
  • Responsive customer service
  • Quick turnaround time
  • Large range of products

-:

  • High shipping fee
  • Ordered products may turn out to be out of stock

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Review: Chatime

The bubble tea market in Australia is quite heavily saturated today, but some brands still manage to stay on top of all their competitors. One of those brands is Chatime.

Founded in Taiwan, Chatime is now open in over 1,000 locations around the globe. There are more than 60 branches in Australia today – generally speaking, if you live in a metro area, you can quite easily find a shop.

Chatime offers the general bubble tea menu: tea drinks with various flavours, from milky to fruity (or both) and topping options (pearl balls, jellies, aloe vera and more). Prices start at $4.8, but generally a portion of iced tea with toppings will set you back by $5.5-6.5.

How’s the taste? Well, I think it’s great. The tea is fresh and not too strong, which some may dislike. With some other brands, milk tea tends to taste curdly and overly creamy; but Chatime’s milk tea, while indeed sweet, will still leave your tastebuds feeling light and refreshed.

The pearl is the highlight here. It has the perfect size (not too big to be a choking hazard, but not too small that you will swallow it unknowingly), consistency (soft yet chewy, giving it a nice bite), and level of sweetness.

The downside? Generally, normal level of sugar is too sweet – but you can always control the sweetness level, with either no added sugar (0%), just a little (30%), or half the regular (50%). It’s also not the cheapest in the market, but you can purchase a loyalty (or as they say, Loyal-TEA) card for 50 cents to earn points and get discounts or free drinks in your coming purchases.

+:

  • Taste
  • Wide range of flavours
  • Great toppings (especially the pearl)

-:

  • Could be too sweet
  • Not the most affordable in the market

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Amazon’s Styling Assistant: How Do People Like It?

Would you let an algorithm dress you?

This is the whole premise of Amazon Echo Look, which is described as “the first artificially intelligent style assistant with Alexa”. In other words, “now Alexa helps you look your best”. At the moment, Echo Look is only available by request, but the retail giant indicated that the product would move to general availability later this year with expected price of $199.

Before you decide to spend your bucks, read the following reviews from people who have tried the device.

Allyson Payer, WhoWhatWear

“More often than not, I found myself agreeing with Echo Look’s outfit picks and style advice, which I was somewhat surprised by.”

 

Kyle Chayka, Racked

“The Echo Look won’t tell you why it’s making its decisions. And yet it purports to show us our ideal style, just as algorithms like Netflix recommendations, Spotify Discover, and Facebook and YouTube feeds promise us an ideal version of cultural consumption tailored to our personal desires.”

 

Haley Nahman, ManRepeller

“I used StyleCheck to get Alexa’s opinion. Apparently she (aka the algorithm) takes fit, color, styling and trends into considering, a.k.a. more than I take into consideration. She went gray/green, and tbh, I agreed.”

 

Erin Jensen, USA Today

“The thought of sending the Echo Look back makes me feel like I’m losing my most stylish friend… that I know isn’t just passive-aggressively sabotaging me because she’s jealous. While I don’t see the personal need to use Echo Look every day, for nights out and special occasions I’ll miss giving Alexa a shout.”

Function of Beauty Custom Shampoo and Conditioner: How Do People Like It?

Everything is about personalisation these days – and now, there’s a haircare company on board. Function of Beauty offers shampoos and conditioners that are developed to suit your hair type, goals and preferences. “Each set is uniquely formulated for you once you place your order, with an unlimited number of possible,” the brand says on its website. Their products are also free of sulphate and paraben. You can get a set of 236ml shampoo and conditioner for US$31 as a one-off purchase or a subscription that’s delivered to your door every month, two months or three months.

How’s the order process like, and do the products fare to the promise? Check out the following reviews from the customers…

 

Avery Hartmans, Business Insider

“After using the products as directed, my hair was shiny and manageable and had a decent amount of volume. While I didn’t notice a major difference between my hair after using a drugstore brand versus using Function of Beauty, I did see good results.

One caveat: My roots seemed to get oily earlier in the day after using the Function of Beauty products than they usually did.”

 

Anjli Mehta, Brit+Co

“After using this set, I found myself reaching for less product each day because I didn’t feel like my hair really needed any help from a wave spray or shine serum and less product meant less build-up. This set gave me a whole extra day between washes — and I’m talking a hair-down kind of day.”

 

Amanda Raphael, Tricks & Trucco

“I just wasn’t blown away by anything this product was doing for me… all the benefits I enjoyed from this product weren’t exactly unique – I’ve experienced all the Pros above (softness, oil control, healthy scalp) from other shampoos because I found that for me, those benefits were all tied to the fact that the other shampoos also don’t contain parabens or sulfates.

In my ~humble~ opinion, it’s not worth it to pay 137% more per oz for a product that I think performs equally as well as another product I’ve used before. While I do actually really like the Function of Beauty shampoo and I’m glad I tried it (and will be continuing to use it because I paid $36 for it), I will most likely NOT be repurchasing it unless a boat ton of money comes my way.”

 

Khalea Underwood, Refinery29

“I know that shampoo is meant to clarify, but my natural oils felt stripped immediately, and it lathered way too much — usually a sign that there are surfactants in the formula. The conditioner wasn’t much better. I like to use a formula that moisturizes and defines my curls at the same time, to take some of the work out of my styling process. After trying this one, I ended up having to overcompensate with my leave-in conditioner and curling cream because the wash depleted my moisture.”

Best Fashion Reviewers

Have you ever gone window shopping online and wondered if the clothes looked as good as they did on the website? With the increasing number of reviewers out there, it is now easier to check on the trustworthiness of certain brands. You can find great reviews on this website (of course), but if you’re looking for fashion houses that haven’t been reviewed here yet, you can check these people out. Their reviews are not only insightful, but also funny and relatable. Here they are…

Safiya Nygaard

Safiya tries out various Internet-famous brands that you may have never dared to try.

 

Patricia Bright

Patricia doesn’t hold back when it comes to reviewing, with hauls amounting to hundreds of dollars.