COURTESY OF A24

GUEST ROOM | Girl on the Road: Female Sexuality as Power in American Honey

In Andrea Arnold’s American Honey, a teenage girl named Star leaves behind a troubled home life to join a group of kids who travel across the Midwest selling magazines. This film sets out to tell the story of adolescent camaraderie on the road; it ends up an important contribution to road narratives that does justice to female sexuality in a way rarely seen before. In the beginning of the film, Star and two children stand on the side of the road sticking out their thumbs for passing cars. When no one will pick them up, Star yells in exasperation, “Are we invisible?” If women and children are seen as in need of help at any locus of society, that perceived helplessness is amplified when one is a woman or a child (both, in Star’s case) on the road. The vulnerability of women on the road is a reality that renders people like Star invisible to passersby.

COURTESY OF 20TH CENTURY FOX

Logan Cuts Deep

Ever since Bryan Singer’s first X-Men flick in 2000, the ubiquitous desire of hardcore comic book fans everywhere was for a solo Wolverine film, and for one that captured the character’s dark personality, brutal fighting style and vulgar lingo, which many felt could not be done within the confines of a PG-13 rating. Though previous efforts X-Men Origins: Wolverine and The Wolverine were modest attempts, it was not until the critical and financial success of 2016’s licentious, violent and hedonic Deadpool that the groundwork was set for 20th Century Fox to acquiesce to that desire and grace cinema screens with the R-rated Logan. Although Logan is filled with enough f-bombs and dismembered limbs to satiate even the most ravenous of Quentin Tarantino fans, contrary to popular belief, these aspects are not the sole points of the film’s strengths. To say that Logan is a great Wolverine film purely because of its R-rating would do it a disservice. As superhero films become much more focused on creating cohesive cinematic worlds instead of stand-alone stories, Logan succeeds through its simplistic, emotional and character-driven narrative (carried by the raw talent of its brilliant cast) and serves as a rousing and faithful conclusion to a character whom Hugh Jackman has played for 17 years.

COURTESY OF WEINSTEIN COMPANY

Lion Is a Heartwarming True Story

Why have so few people seen Lion? It has been out in theaters since Nov. 25, and has gone somewhat unnoticed. When it was one of the nine movies nominated for Best Picture, the majority of viewers questioned what it was and why it was recognized as a top movie. I first saw Lion this past December with my Mom.

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All You Need is Kill

In 2014, directors Chad Stahelski and David Leitch unleashed a brand new assassin into the world of cinema with John Wick, a subversive, stylish and thoroughly entertaining film with beautifully choreographed, yet fiercely brutal action sequences. Unsurprisingly, expectations were high for the sequel. In Chapter 2, director Chad Stahelski returns to deliver more of the same sleek and vicious fighting sequences while expanding upon the world that he built in the first film, where New York City was reimagined as a metropolis infested with camouflaged killers who could assassinate victims at a moment’s notice. From performances to cinematography to soundtrack to the films many, many, fight scenes, John Wick Chapter 2 is a fast-paced and high octane adventure. Though repetitive in some areas, Chapter 2 is a rare sequel that retains elements that made the first film such a hit, while also going deeper into the sinews of its own cinematic world.

COURTESY OF ZEITGEIST FILMS

Don’t Call Me Son Explores Privacy and Gender Identity, and Made Me Anxious

Watching Don’t Call Me Son, a 2016 film directed by Brazilian filmmaker Anna Muylaert, was one of the most stressful, quietly terrifying viewing experiences I’ve ever had. It is by no means a horror movie, which makes this accomplishment all the more notable. Don’t Call Me Son stars Naomi Nero as Pierre, a high-schooler who wears stockings and garters under their jeans, shaves their chest hair and takes their time after showering to try on lipstick while the bathroom door is locked. The plot of the movie revolves around the revelation that infant Pierre was stolen away from their biological parents at birth and that the woman they believed to be their biological mother is, in fact, not. Brazilian social services take Pierre away to live with a new mother, father and brother they have never known.

COURTESY OF UNIVERSAL PICTURES

Fifty Shades Darker Deserves a Little More Punishment

When I went to see the first Fifty Shades movie (I’ll admit I went alone; not many people in the theater at 10 am on a Tuesday) I was expecting a kinky two-hour experience of escapism from my otherwise unspectacular life. I was sorely disappointed. My name is Nick Smith and I’m extremely vanilla in almost every aspect of my life. I eat the same things couple things every day, I go to church on Sundays, I even color code the clothes in my closet. Unbelievably, the first movie bored me.

COURTESY OF MANDOO PICTURES

Rock Dog is Good-Natured, but Falters

Here’s a little number that’s stayed on the sidelines. From Ash Brannon, who directed Surf’s Up and co-directed Toy Story 2, comes Rock Dog. I didn’t know a whole lot about this movie, so I did some reading on it; oh boy, did I have to really dig on this one.  The film is based on Tibetan Rock Dog, a 2009 graphic novel released by Chinese songwriter Zheng Jun. According to my sources, an animated film adaptation was in the works as early as 2009; that’s eight years of production!

COURTESY OF MAGNOLIA PICTURES

I Am Not Your Negro: Poetic and Pertinent

James Baldwin in known to be one of the greatest writers and intellectuals of the 20th century. His writings and critiques on race in America have been established in a class of their own. His language brings eloquence and grace to an otherwise grotesque and deplorable situation. The recent documentary I Am Not Your Negro tries to bring this contrasting relationship to the big screen. I Am Not Your Negro already proves to be a provocative title and certainly the film itself was able to match the intensity of its name.

COURTESY OF SUMMIT ENTERTAINMENT

Sun Arts 2016 Oscar Picks

Film enthusiasts and critics usually have mixed feelings about the Oscars. It’s one of the most exciting times of the year, when there are the most opportunities to talk about films you love and love to hate. It’s also the perfect time to complain about awards and how they pick the right films. Here’s who we want to win, and who we think the Academy will choose tonight. Animated Feature
Should Win: Zootopia

The movie that the Huffington Post has called “The Most Politically Influential” film at the Oscars took many people by surprise. Everything about the movie is masterfully done.