COURTESY OF WALT DISNEY PICTURES

Pirates of the Caribbean 5: Success or Failure?

You may be asking yourself, what is Pirates of the Caribbean, a film series based off a theme park ride, doing with a fifth installment? I can tell you in one word. Money! But, what about quality? Is Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, and the rest of the Pirates franchise for that matter, a success or failure?

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The Circle: As if The Onion Made a Tech Thriller

Emma Watson, Tom Hanks and John Boyega in the same movie? A movie that’s a tech thriller about the dangers of social media? Man, I was hyped for this film! I mean, it had to at least be fun, right? Unfortunately, I haven’t been this disappointed in a movie since Batman v. Superman. Directed by James Ponsoldt and based on the book by Dave Eggers, The Circle comes across as a soapbox movie that can’t even get its message straight.

COURTESY OF CORNELL CINEMA

Cornell Cinema to Debut 3-D Projection System Friday

 

Cornell Cinema inaugurates a new 3-D projection system Friday night with the post-apocalyptic film Mad Max: Fury Road. 

In 2016, Cornell Cinema received a capital equipment grant from the New York State Council on the Arts offering the campus theatre half of the installation cost for a 3-D system.  A crowdfunding campaign launched in November matched the funds — remarkably quickly — and the Friday night show will be its first run. For many people, myself included, 3-D film still feels new.  Cornell Cinema hopes to share the medium’s weighted cinematic history. The first 3-D exhibition dates back to 1915 and, since that time, the stereoscopic method attracts Hollywood, independent, documentary, foreign and experimental film productions.

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The Lost City of Z Stands Up To Excavation

Have you wondered what would happen if Indiana Jones didn’t have Spielberg’s team behind it? At least I think that’s how the conversation went at the pitch meeting. The Lost City of Z (pronounced Zed), by James Gray, is based on a book based loosely on the true story of Percy Fawcett (Charlie Hunnam) who went looking for, well, a lost city. On a mapping expedition, Percy found evidence of a civilization not yet discovered by the English that’s possibly older than their civilization — which is a shock to their common belief. The rest of the film follows a search to find hard evidence to prove the civilization’s existence.

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Don’t Make Me Get Out of Line

Get Out, by Jordan Peele, is about a black man, Chris (Daniel Kaluuya), who visits his white girlfriend Rose’s (Allison Williams) parents’ house (think modern day Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner). What should we have expected from a director known for his comedic sketches? What is Get Out’s genre: horror, thriller, or horror-comedy? There are aspects that make it standard horror, but others include comedic facets and parts that stand out altogether from any horror genre. In the first ten or twenty minutes, the tone was all over the place.

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I’m Smurfing Done with “Smurfs: The Lost Village”

In 2011, The Smurfs came to us from Sony Pictures Animation. In 2013 we got a sequel. Both movies were panned, and now Sony has decided to reboot the Smurfs again. Smurfs: The Lost Village is directed by Kelly Asbury, who also directed Shrek 2 and Gnomeo and Juliet. The writing duo includes Stacey Harman, who did work on The Goldbergs, and Pamela Ribon, who worked on Moana and is currently attached to Ralph Breaks the Internet.

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Psycho as Not-so-Scary Video Art

I often wonder why people pay money to spin around in a teacup or turn upside down on a roller-coaster. Why willfully commit yourself to nausea and headaches when your feet can stay put on the ground?  You say fun; I say torture.  I approach horror cinema with the same skepticism.  Why open your eyes to nightmares when nothing so scary need occupy your mind?

COURTESY OF SCION FILMS

The Zookeeper’s Wife Lacks Tragedy

I can’t imagine a more fitting title for The Zookeeper’s Wife. Hearing the title alone, one would have no idea that this was a film about the Holocaust. It’s about a zoo! Animals! Maybe even a love story!

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Not Enough Spark

Spark: A Space Tail, written and directed by Aaron Woodley (with additional written material by Adam Rotstein, Robert Reece and Doug Hadders), has been a mystery to me. I didn’t know what to make of the film. It premiered nearly a year ago at the Toronto Animation Arts festival. There were no advance reviews, and only a nebulous plot synopsis. All I knew was that it was a Canadian-Korean production from ToonBox and Redrover, the same people who brought us The Nut Job.

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Personality in Electromagnetism: The Glamour & The Squalor

Car speakers emit radio waves with a long travel logged history.  When we turn up the dial on a finger-worn sound system, our heads bop to a sound bit morphed into electromagnetic energy — a wave particle caught up in the ionosphere, thrust back down again and ricocheted at the speed of light from one aerial antenna to the next.  By the time these notes reach our numb ears, they carry more than empty air.  Once our carpool starts singing the lyrics, we’ve forgotten even what station transmits each new note.  The next best single transports our minds like the long-form radio wave — away from car parts and gasoline, beyond wired batteries and tuning dial.