by Joshua Fredette
3/23/14 We don’t often buy a ticket to a horror movie expecting to have our perspectives on life changed. We certainly don’t want to be inspired to make some change in the way we do things, or how we look at one another. Even the plot and the characters don’t have to be so unique and special. So long as there’s an antagonist chasing a frightened girl through a forest with a knife, we’ll be happy.
As someone who doesn’t often watch horror films, (in fact after some recollection it was my first horror movie at a theatre), I was pleasantly surprised with Insidious. In this movie depicting the joining of two realities, we get a glimpse into the motives of spirits, demons, and why these entities haunt not only houses, but people. The story revolves around our world, and a spiritual realm called The Further; the plane where the departed reside before passing onto (hopefully) better realms.
Although the first movie appears to be a somewhat average horror film with a unique touch concerning The Further, the sequel goes far beyond the boundaries of normal. Even though I was pleased with the first chapter, I was pleasantly shocked by the second. Not only is chapter two more frightening, it twists and contorts your mind until you’re waiting to get through the scary parts just to see how the plot wraps up. In the theatre, I found myself cringing in my seat through the worst of the scenes, all the while trying to predict the inner workings of the film.
Going into the two realms a little deeper, I found the filmography fascinating. The regular world is shot, more or less, honestly. (Besides a few tints of darkness added to the normal color scheme). But in The Further, it is a dark realm where the characters can hardly see past their arm. Fog pervades the ground every step of the way, and there are horrific spirits constantly wandering the darkness. In the first chapter, The Further is shot in such a way that you don’t want to look at it. It makes you yearn for another moment in a scene set back on earth. What was delightful in the second chapter was a juxtaposition of these two realms. In the second chapter the worlds collide so well that, near the end of the film, the viewer actually feels more comfortable watching scenes set in The Further than those on earth. The monsters switch realms, and most of the humanity and moments of heroism are witnessed amongst the dead in The Further. I thought this effect to be completely purposeful, and simply brilliant.
The main characters range from children to adult, and all of which have some great progressions from victim to hero. The plot they all dance around is shaped with wonderful twists. I won’t spoil anything, but some elements of time travel are eventually involved. Of course, these are always a welcome sight in plot machinations.
As I said before, this is one of the first horror films I decided to watch. And I must say, I think it will be hard for any other series to top it.
Insidious Chapters 1 & 2 contain all the normal scares of a high-grade horror flick, and enough mind-boggling plot turns to make you question your own reality and interactions with time.
By Casey Shatraw
Being alone in the middle of the ocean with limited
supplies, and no connection to civilization can really ruin your day. Want to
top it? Throw in a hungry tiger and you have Pi Patel’s dilemma. After a
powerful and devastating storm leaves Pi alone in the middle of the ocean, Pi
has to not only survive to tell the story, but also keep a vicious tiger from
making him dinner. This is our plot in Ang Lee’s Life of Pi. An epic, tasteful,
and beautiful story that really tests the limits of the human spirit.
One of the most notable qualities of this film is its
cinematography. You don’t have to know much about lighting or postproduction
color correction for this film to take your breath away. It is gorgeous. It’s
like stepping into a thousand different paintings. It contains some of the most
astonishing cinematography I have ever seen, and it greatly enhances not only
the film’s mood, but overall impact. Suraj Sharma (Pi) puts on a pretty phenomenal
performance in this film, and that goes for the entire cast as well. He is
truly believable, and is very natural on screen. He is able to create a likable
character, which is important if we’re going to be watching him on a boat for
The story did trouble me a little as I was going in. I could
never wrap my mind around how a 2-hour film was going to be able to capture the
engaging characteristics that the novel had. Surprisingly, it does just that.
The story is interesting, and doesn’t seem cheap, or artificial in any manner.
The likability of the characters helps to flow everything together, keeping the
pretty linear plot interesting and engaging. It does this really well, and by
the time the film ends, you feel a sense of closure, instead of relief that it
finally ended. Dialogue is also top notch, and it doesn’t hurt that you have a
narration to guide you along the way. It feels as though you are being told
this remarkable story, which because of the acting, really feels like it
The relationship between the protagonist and the tiger is
crucial in this film, and this is something I never feel they gripped well
enough. The bond between humans and nature is existent, but it feels thin, and
doesn’t bring about any emotional catharsis. There is physical triumph in this
film, but not so much a triumph in relationship. The tiger is definitely an
important character in this film, and although he is well present and active
with Pi, I can’t help but wish we had a bit more of a connection between them.
Life of Pi still is a triumph in almost every way. It’s one
of the most beautiful films I’ve seen, and it just feels so alive. Everything
about it is high in quality, and nothing feels cheap or overplayed. It succeeds
in what it was trying to do. Could it have succeeded even more? Sure. But it is
undeniably impressive how Lee (Director) and Magee (Writer) are able to capture
the novel, and put us on a small boat for over an hour. When films like this
are able to accomplish that, it is worth pointing out.
By Casey Shatraw
Aging is a very prominent theme in Trouble with the Curve
, as our protagonist, Gus (Eastwood) battles not only his growing age, but his fractured relationship with his daughter Mickey (Adams). In a time where technology is becoming the primary scouting tool, an old veteran scout like Gus (who is becoming blind) is left behind in the dust without any regret. Luckily his shaky and unresolved mentality is alleviated when his daughter Mickey, a lawyer, comes to visit and stay with him on his latest scouting expedition. The elephant in the room is easily addressed when she arrives (Gus sent her to live with relatives when she was little) and this serves as a source of tension between the two as Gus attempts to keep his job alive. While there, Mickey not only helps her dad with his job, but she also meets people like Johnny (Timberlake) who helps to lighten up her stiff state of mind. As past emotions clash with present situations, Trouble with the Curve
explores the many different types of relationships that go on in a person’s life, and remind us that the latest technology isn't always an effective tool.
The edgy and almost uncomfortable relationship that Gus has with Mickey serves as the primary relationship in the film. There are many others, such as Gus’ not only with himself, but also his job, and the romantic relationship with Mickey and Johnny is present as well. And while it is always nice to Eastwood on screen, his relationship in Adams is actually the weakest one. It’s not that Eastwood and Adams themselves have any problem with their screen time, but it’s the writing that doesn't allow for such a successful and natural relationship. Sure, Adams and Eastwood are undeniably charming and entertaining in their own way, but it doesn't feel natural. It is too stale and lacks that extra emotional feeling, primarily because it is not developed. Adams and Timberlake, and their characters, are actually the strongest on screen, due to their clever dialogue, and all-around natural presence.
Trouble with the Curve also falls short on occasion with its inability to engage with the audience. In pockets, the film isn't very interesting to say the least, and this is simply because the dialogue towards the beginning isn't interesting or clever enough to compensate for its bland plot structure. Luckily, the film does pick up as the relationships between the characters begin to surface, and the character development begins to solidify. Eastwood’s dialogue brings laughs, and it is nice to see a film that challenges a very realistic theme. Is technology truly the best way forward? Or do we need people like Gus to provide that irreplaceable human instinct?
Trouble with the Curve is a decent attempt to break in relationships with baseball, and for the most part does a fair job. Anyone looking for a reason to see a film about baseball, relationships, Eastwood on screen, or even Adams or Timberlake, will enjoy the heartwarming nostalgic feeling they all bring.
Trouble with the Curve: 6/10 “C+”
By Alex Sy
Martin Scorsese is one of the most renowned movie directors of his time, with having directed award winning classical movies; such as Raging Bull, The Departed, and Shutter Island; all of which are rated R movies. Now, Martin Scorsese steps out of his norm and introduces his very first family film, Hugo. Martin Scorsese demonstrated his flexibility to directing movies by creating another masterpiece that will go down as one of the greatest movies he has ever directed.
The movie is about a young boy named Hugo Cabret who takes residence in a train station in Paris, France. He lives in the interior of the train station, fixing and managing the clocks in order to hide his identity and avoid being sent to the orphanage by the station inspector. In his free time he works on fixing an automaton, which belonged to his father. Hugo believes that there is a message from his deceased father inside the automaton’s workings. While collecting parts for the automaton, Hugo encounters a toy shop owner who will change the direction of his life. Through that instance, he will eventually meet his adopted daughter, Isabelle, who will spark the adventure to discover the secrets within the automaton and uncover the history of movie making.
Hugo is a movie unlike any other movie ever created. Hugo is a kids movie not for the kids and is more suited for adult and teen audiences as it requires more developed minds to understand the plot structure. The film has garnered criticism in the beginning, as critics say that it takes too long to get to the “good stuff”. I personally loved the whole movie, but if the beginning bothers you, it is worth it in the end. The movie’s plot and ending is amazing to watch and uncover.
The actors’ performances in the film are outstanding. Asa Butterfield is an amazing child actor that best fits the role of Hugo Cabret. Chloe Mortez fits the fun and adventurer loving girl, Isabelle. Ben Kingsley’s acting is an amazing triumph over drama and his character evokes feelings of sympathy from the audience. Sacha Baron Cohen has shown another side to his acting. The former lead of Borat shows his British accent and his serious side as an actor.
The film MUST be seen in 3D. Martin Scorsese has integrated 3D to the film and it is not simply used as a gimmick. Scenes that contain objects or monuments like the Eiffel Tower pop out and is extremely enjoyable to look at. The scenes look and feel real. The soundtrack is beautiful and fits the film as it is enjoyable just to listen to alone.
Hugo was nominated for 11 Academy Awards and won 5. Hugo deserved all of its nominations and deserved more of its awards, especially Best Director and Best Film. This film thanks the creators of film making and Hugo is simply a film that loves films. I love this film and I know it is too soon to say that it is top 10 worthy but it has at least entered the conversation to be called “One of the Greatest Movies of All Time”. A
By Alex Sy
Mildred Pierce is one of the most realistic movies I have ever seen based on the reality of human interaction. In reality, people are out for the benefit of themselves and this film best describes that reality.
The film encompasses the themes of greed and love as Mildred, the mother of her greedy daughter Veda, works her way up the social class to garner up money to impress Veda and obtain her love. Mildred worked as a waiter and created a restaurant in order to feed Veda’s ever growing love for money. However, where is the line between kindness and insanity? Through her outstanding performance in Mildred Pierce, Joan Crawford displays the reason why she deserves the Academy Award for Best Actress. Mildred shows her love for her family as she takes action in bettering their lives after a horrible divorce.
The film is in black and white but it is still amazing and enjoyable to watch. The film has an amazing plot that is interesting throughout the movie. Although the film is old, it’s themes demonstrate the destructive power of human greed and the amazing power of human kindness and love that we see today. Those themes are prevalent throughout the movie and are integrated in the actions of the actors.
Mildred Pierce reminds me of how lucky I am living with such a wonderful mother and reminds me even more of how to be grateful and see past the greed of money. I must say that this film really speaks to me as my mother was a hard worker from the day I was born till now, and all she does is work for my brother’s and my benefit. This film is enough to make you hug your mother. The acting and story fit so well and in every scene that no scene can be considered boring. This film is catches the audience’s attention and keeps it to the final seconds. A
By Sean McCreary
On Halloween, Americans across the nation indulged in all things scary, gory, and horrifying. We love to sit on our couches and cringe at the terrifying images of horror icons like Michael Myers and Freddie Kreuger, but in my opinion, only one film invokes the true instinct of fear.
That masterpiece is director Ridley Scott’s Alien, which succeeds simply in condensing the raw emotion of fear into a two hour thrill ride. Set in the kind of future that has been frequently interpreted by countless other film visionaries, giant mega-corporations rule space and seek only to exploit anything it offers. A small team of interstellar ore-haulers are awakened from their cryo-sleep because the computer has discovered a radio signal, and they are under orders to investigate any alien activity they find.
Events begin to take a turn for the horrific, however, when the infamous face hugger engages in its unusual form of reproduction. The iconic chest-buster scene is where the fear truly begins, and the actors appear extremely terrified because they truly are (Scott did not tell them that fake blood would shoot out of the chest). As the crew splits up to search for the mysterious beast, they succumb one by one to its dripping maw while descending further and further into their depths of instinctive fear.
Fear is the product of the basic fight-or-flight instinct, and running away through the confines of a spaceship can only take you back to where you started. Weaver and the rest of the cast are perfect in their depiction of their struggle for life, but H.R. Giger’s mysteriously horrifying alien is the true star. Although it is never seen in its entirety, it manages to be everywhere and nowhere at once, foiling all of the crew’s efforts to stop it.
To see this brilliant manifestation of every nightmare you have ever had is reason enough to see Alien, but the enchanting universe is equally effective at drawing the viewer and forcing them not to look away. I cannot describe the feeling of sheer terror that Alien evokes, and this is the one scary movie that you simply must see for yourself.
By Timothy Nguyen and Julian Vischer
Having been busy with many activities, I haven’t had the chance to go to a movie theater in a while. The last movie I had seen in theaters was “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World”, which I really enjoyed, but was disappointed by its overall gross at the box office. Here are reviews of a couple movies I have seen recently.
“Jackass 3-D” is the third movie in the “Jackass” series and it truly delivers on the laughs, gags, and cringes that had made the franchise so popular on MTV. The 3-D adds to the latest versions appeal. Johnny Knoxville returns as the leader of the group, with Steve-O, Bam Margera, Wee Man and several other bored, middle aged pranksters. The stunts they perform are as innovative as they are disgusting and dangerous. These guys don’t feel so invincible anymore but still know what they are getting themselves into. What they do is crazy, but you can sense that it’s all in good fun. You can feel the bond they have with one another and you root for them as the go through their stunts safely. This movie isn’t a classic, and should never be treated as such. It is a “have fun with your friends” movie, so head into the theater, take your seats, and get ready to bust a gut. B
Photo Courtesy: Paramount
The film “Exit Through the Gift Shop” is a pseudo-documentary of the life of street artist Thierry Guetta. Guetta is a French immigrant who lives in Los Angeles, making a living through a small clothing store. Guetta films every moment of his life with his video camera. After a run-in with his cousin, known as Space Invader, Guetta becomes heavily influenced in the world of street art. His obsession grows to the point that he begins to follow and work with other big named street artists, all while pursuing his biggest dream, working with the world famous English street artist Banksy. He gets his chance through sheer luck and from then on, his life takes a different turn, ultimately leading to a kind of love and obsession with street art that develops into madness. The film is truly fascinating in the sense of Guetta’s life and his connection to so many great street artists. It is a funny film, with Banksy’s commentary and Guetta’s cartoony character, but outstanding in the sense that we can learn so much from an artist with no identity. A-
By Cody Wirosko
Since the year 2000 the film industry has been struck by one actor that has played pivotal and diverse roles, not only in dramatic features but also in controversial documentaries. Joaquin Phoenix emerged into the acting scene in the 1980’s and 1990’s in minor roles before his breakout role as Commodus in Ridley Scott’s Academy Award-winning film Gladiator. This earned him an Oscar nomination for best supporting actor and sparked his career into one of the most followed, and now one of the most controversial of the decade.
He later stared in Signs, The Village, Hotel Rwanda, and as the hero firefighter in the 2004 film Ladder 49. He emerged into fame in 2005 through his most well known role as Johnny Cash in Walk the Line, starring alongside Reese Witherspoon, recording the films soundtrack, earning a best actor nomination, and winning a Golden Globe for the role.
Perhaps all these roles have been surpassed by his recent actions. In 2008, Phoenix announced that he was retiring from the film industry at the age of 35 in the prime of a successful acting career to become a rapper. This decision formed into a social controversy when he appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman on February 11, 2009. Sporting a new eccentric personality, Phoenix behaved incoherently and was mostly unresponsive to Letterman’s questions about his final feature film, Two Lovers. Since then, he has moved along with his rapping career, starring in Casey Affleck’s documentary I’m Still Here, which profiles Phoenix’s retirement and rap career.
A bombshell hit the industry when Phoenix announced that the documentary and his retirement was all a hoax, and the documentary I’m Still Here was actually a film profiling the effects of the media and modern society on the movie industry. Phoenix appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman once again last Friday, formally apologizing for his behavior on the show in 2008. He wanted publicity to spread, thereby making the film relevant. The cause for the film was Phoenix and Affleck’s interest in “reality” TV programs. Phoenix expressed the intrinsic idea that when people think something is real, it doesn’t matter how ridiculous it may seem. With this idea in mind, Phoenix came up with then notion to prove this fact by “retiring” from a prestigious acting career at age 35 and becoming a rapper. Though the movie nearly jeopardized Affleck’s career, his hoax proved Phoenix’s theory.
There is one inexorable fact from these recent occurrences in Phoenix’s career: Joaquin Phoenix has become one of the most pivotal and dynamic actors of the decade, and this profound actor will continue to play and imperative role in the movie industry for years to come.
By Mitchell Reslock
Picture Credit: Sony
The newest teen comedy comes to us in the form of Easy A, yet another witty film featuring up and coming actress Emma Stone (Zombieland, Superbad, The House Bunny). In the movie, she stars as Olive Penderghast, a typical teenager drifting through high school whose life is thrown into a whirlwind of social dilemmas after a false rumor about her intimate exploits at a party swarms through the campus.
After Olive lies about her weekend to end the incessant prodding of her best friend (played by Aly Michalka), the comment is overheard and spread amongst the students by her social rival (Amanda Bynes). The ailing status of Olive’s reputation is only worsened after she agrees to lie about sleeping with a gay friend (Dan Byrd) to fend off his bullies, eventually resulting in a rapidly growing business of fake services. As Olive rides her new negative attention to the highest tiers of high school popularity, identifying herself with The Scarlet Letter‘s Hester Prynne, her friendships and commitments gradually crumble until her entire system crashes down.
Though the film is, in its essence, yet another tale of a high schooler journeying towards self-discovery, there are enough small twists and memorable characters to hold your interest throughout the 92-minute duration. Easy A lacks somewhat in general humor, but there are a few gags that will get at least a chuckle. It’s a short, sweet-hearted flick, perfect for putting you and a date in a cheery mood. Just don’t bring the guys. B-
By Christian Romo
Citizen Kane is Orson Welles’s legacy. It’s difficult to imagine that a 24 year old director was given the helm of the largest movie project in history up until that point, but Welles came through by producing quite possibly the greatest film in American history.
The film is an account of the life of the media emperor William Randolph Hearst, portrayed fictionally as Charles Foster Kane, the wealthiest man in America, played by Welles. The story is driven by a reporter assigned to figure out the true meaning of Kane’s puzzling last word: “rosebud”. The reporter meets with the most influential people in Kane’s life, including his best friend at the New York Daily Inquirer, his butler, his manager, and his second wife, Susan Alexander. Each recalls Kane in a different light. Bernstein, his manager, tells of a witty, exuberant Kane while Susan Alexander moans over Kane’s cold self-indulgence. The reporter never gets any answer he can work with, and though the origins of “rosebud” are eventually revealed, the metaphor is either hollow or something one could have already guessed.
The film is laden with witty one-liners and classic, almost chilling quotations from Kane (“I think it might be fun to run a newspaper…”).It takes 25 minutes for Kane to make his first appearance on screen, but from the beginning Welles plays the colossal yellow journalist with aplomb. The ensemble has great chemistry, but no one gives a better performance than Dorothy Comingore, who plays the strong, tormented Susan Alexander. Her early years as Susan portray her as a flighty, Hollywood mannequin, but she eventually develops into the classic dramatic woman scorned. Taken at first watch, this movie is obviously well made.
What makes it elite, however, is its style. Most black-and-white films feel understandably dated, but for a film that will celebrate its 70th anniversary next year, it was decades ahead of its time. Any film that uses multiple flashbacks or a narrative that freely jumps around the years should give all credit to Citizen Kane. Welles’s marvelous storytelling, gigantic sets, and impeccable delivery leave this film feeling fresh three generations later.
Whether it was the greatest film in American history will be debated for years (it neither broke even at the box office nor won the Academy Award for Best Picture), but its importance is undeniable. Orson Welles’s portrayal of the Sultan of San Simeon is nothing less than triumphant.