Do you ever hear about something, and after a few words you already know it’s a terrible idea? That’s how I felt with Sherlock Gnomes, the sequel to 2011’s Gnomeo and Juliet. Now, I never saw Gnomeo and Juliet, but from what I know, I feel that it didn’t warrant a sequel. Audience reactions seem lukewarm at best. Its gross wasn’t particularly impressive, only turning a profit thanks to the small budget.
It was hard to hear a character’s response after a joke had been cracked during Blockers. The close to two-hour runtime was filled with laugh after laugh which was unexpected, given the film’s old-fashioned premise of sex and its relation to women. However, after its screening at South by Southwest Film Festival and the positive response it received, it is no surprise that Kay Cannon’s (who wrote Pitch Perfect and several episodes of NBC’s 30 Rock) film solidified itself as an effortless comedy, bringing laughs as easily as Superbad or 21 Jump Street. The only thing different about this film is its attribution of raunchy comedy to women, a recent turn that has been explored in comedies such as Bridesmaids, Trainwreck, and Girls Trip. Blockers follows three parents’ (played by Leslie Mann, John Cena, and Ike Barinholtz) desperate attempts to prevent their teenage daughters (played by Kathryn Newton, Geraldine Viswanathan, and Gideon Adlon) from losing their virginity on prom night.
Blockers, starring Leslie Mann, Ike Barinholtz and John Cena, is showing at Cornell Cinema tonight at 9pm for an exclusive prescreening. The film, a comedy about a group of parents who try to stop their daughters from having sex on prom night, premiered at the South By Southwest Film Festival earlier this month and “did extremely well down there in front of a really enthusiastic audience,” according to producer Chris Fenton ‘93, a Cornell alumnus. In advance of his movie being screened on his alma mater’s campus, I had the pleasure of talking to Fenton about Blockers, his time at Cornell and his career as a whole:
The Sun: Is there anything about Blockers that you think works particularly well with a college audience? CF: Well it’s a rated-R comedy, and rated-R comedies aren’t made as much as they used to be, so it’s exciting to have one that actually seems to be resonating and testing well with audiences, and in particular this movie has two generations that it focuses on. One is our parents that are essentially my age, mid 40s, and then the kids in the movie, who I think really steal the show, are high school age.
I had low expectations for Tomb Raider given past video game adaptations, including 2016’s Assassin’s Creed which I barely got through. I had played the origin story video game Tomb Raider and loved it for the more realistic approach to Lara Croft as opposed to the previous midriff baring Angelina Jolie incarnation. This film stars Academy Award winner Alicia Vikander, a surprising choice that works. Focused on Croft’s story, Vikander imbued each scene with believability and emotional depth while still showing she really could leap off cliffs and fight with the best of them. From the start of the film, Croft is portrayed believably: she is a strong member of a boxing club, a characterization that makes some of the later fight scenes more believable.
For a while, Love, Simon flew under my radar. Once I first saw trailers for it though, I became intrigued — but also cautious. I didn’t know how a teenage romance movie would handle a gay protagonist. The film, directed by Greg Berlanti and written by Isaac Aptaker and Elizabeth Bergerm, could easily go so wrong. Luckily, my fears have been dispelled.
When my third grade teacher read A Wrinkle in Time to the class, there wasn’t a dry eye in the room. In my local theater, the cinematic rendition of Madeleine L’Engle’s book failed to evoke the same emotional response: there was not a single tear shed, but rather the occasional yawn. The first act follows the typical coming of age narrative that we’ve all seen hundreds of times, even featuring the classic bully scene where the mean girls gang up to taunt the protagonist in the school hallway. The head mean girl, Rowan Blanchard from Girl Meets World, just so happens to live next door to the protagonist and spends the majority of her screen time scowling from her bedroom window. The story was written before the various tropes such as this one even existed, but when adapted to the screen, seems like a poorly executed rip-off of other movie franchises like Divergent and The Hunger Games.
Just to be upfront, I’m upset by a bunch of Oscar results this year. But seriously, how could they give Best Documentary to Icarus when something as beautiful and humane as Faces Places was in the race? I learned about Agnès Varda in a film class and have since been a fangirl of hers. As the leading female director of the French New Wave, she has approached both fiction and documentary with her experimental yet always personal cinematic vision. This time, at 89, she set out on a journey with JR, a 33-year-old photographer and mural artist.
What an absolute shock that Pixar won Best Animated Feature. Okay, so sarcasm doesn’t translate well into text. It was practically certain that Pixar’s Coco would end up with the coveted Oscar. Of course, when half of its competition is Ferdinand and The Boss Baby, it had a relatively easy path forward. Now there has been plenty of discourse about how the animation nominations are selected, and plenty of discourse over whether it’s proper for Disney to win the award so often.
I had high hopes for Red Sparrow when I saw the trailer. It looked stylish and sharp, and I’m a sucker for a good thriller. At the same time, I had some reservations. A spy using their sexuality as a weapon to seduce targets is a tired trope that never clicked with me in the first place. Nonetheless, I went in with some strong expectations.
When you consider what the Oscars are about — ranking our favorite movies of the year — they should really be a lot more fun. So let’s drop some boring categories (I’m sure everyone would be absolutely devastated if we got rid of Best Song and Best Makeup and Hairstyling) and add some fun ones, like Best Practical Effects, Best Ensemble Cast and Is Your Picture A Wildly Entertaining Horror/Thriller/Comedy That Doubles As A Nuanced, Thought-Provoking Metaphor For The Hardships Faced By Minorities In America? Another such fun award would be Best Scene. It’s the perfect way to both reflect on the standout sequences from some of the Best Picture front-runners as well as reward moments of brilliance in flawed films that would otherwise go unacknowledged at the Oscars. For reference, here are the scenes I would have picked each year for the past decade:
2016 – Moonlight – “What’s a Faggot?”
2015 – Furious 7 – Double Skyscraper Jump
2014 – Whiplash – Final Concert
2013 – Gravity – Opening Debris Sequence
2012 – Django Unchained – Dinner Monologue
2011 – Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol – Tom Cruise Scales the Burj Khalifa
2010 – Inception – Rotating Hallway Fight
2009 – Up – Married Life Montage
2008 – The Dark Knight – Literally Any Scene
2007 – No Country For Old Men – Coin Toss
We’re looking for instantly memorable scenes that are essential to their film’s success and have the chance to become iconic years down the road.