COURTESY OF CORNELL CINEMA

The Calm Honesty of Collegetown

Parties spilling out into Collegetown streets during O-week, bags left on tri-Delt’s walkway during rush, Olin glowing across the Arts Quad at night — Hugo Genes’ ‘10 film Collegetown is full of eerily familiar sights. The college in Collegetown is unnamed, but so much of it is filmed at Cornell that it seems like it could be about your classmates. The film critiques high-price universities and the students’ narrow focus on getting drunk and rich. The film is focused on the message – the characters are not explored very deeply – but you see the moments in their lives relating to their  financial situations, both in terms of career and college costs. Since you don’t get to know the characters well, the film’s most relatable aspects are small interactions.

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Imperial Dreams: A Marketable Storyline in a Political Light

If you were to invest just under a thousand dollars in Netflix stock when they went public in 2002, if you loyally or stubbornly held on to those stocks and invested another thousand dollars when shares hit their low that same year, today you would have a return on your investment of 20,361.42 percent.  Your under $2,000 would be worth over $400,000.  You’d probably have watched a lot of movies and you’d definitely be rich.  From a website offering 925 movies available for snail-mail rental, to an online streaming service, to producing and debuting original content, Netflix has scorned its skeptics and outperformed its competitors. Imperial Dreams, released on Feb.

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Why We March: The Story of Three 20th Century Women

20th Century Women, a film which chronicles the lives of three women and a teenage boy growing up in Southern California in the changing political climate of the 1970s, has been garnering buzz since its debut at the New York Film Festival in October. However, its release in theaters this January has cemented its spot as an Oscar season favorite. In the film, Dorothea (Annette Bening) is the aging single mother of the young teenage Jamie (Lucas Jade Zumann); when she finds herself drifting apart from her son, Dorothea decides to enlist the help of two women, Abbie (Greta Gerwig) and Julie (Elle Fanning), to help raise Jamie. But make no mistake: 20th Century Women is no simple coming-of-age story. True, director Mike Mills crafts an honest, powerful film about growing up—but he emphasizes that this growth does not begin and end during adolescence.

COURTESY OF DC ENTERTAINMENT

Everything is Still Awesome in The LEGO Batman Movie

Remember in 2014, when The LEGO Movie neared its release date and many of us were ready to laugh and ridicule it? Things sure have changed since then. The LEGO Batman Movie has been on my radar since the first teaser dropped early last year, and I’ve been hotly anticipating it all this time. It’s also the first major animated release of the year, and after more than a month of downtime, I’m happy to finally put my reviewer hat back on. My happiness is doubled by the fact that I get to kick off my reviews with such a delightful movie.

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Holy Split, Signs of M. Night Shyamalan’s Return Are Happening

Director M. Night Shyamalan gets a lot of crap, and rightfully so. Until his most recent outing, Split, he hadn’t made a good movie in more than a decade. After Earth was bad. The Happening was so bad that it was funny. The Last Airbender was so far down the scale of badness that it was no longer eligible to be funny.

COURTESY OF OPEN ROAD FILMS

ALUR | Nightcrawler and the Media’s Returning Relevance

I had Dan Gilroy’s 2014 film Nightcrawler on my watch list for quite some time. I repeatedly passed through it on Netflix, intrigued by its premise and promise as a crime thriller, and I intended to save it for a rainy day. I finally gave it a go on one of my last days of break. My spirits were low in light of Trump’s inauguration, so I turned on the movie and hoped for a distraction from our tumultuous world for a few hours. This film is visually gorgeous.

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Documentary Explores Whether All Governments Lie

All Governments Lie, created by a team of independent journalists and award- winning filmmakers, plays as an intro track to Donald Trump’s presidency.  The film, first released in September of last year, offers no break from Trump’s ubiquity with a cynical look forward and an expansive look back on American history’s most notable players and under-investigated moments. All Governments Lie functions in the current political atmosphere in three ways: 1) It channels Trump’s dissent with bureaucracy and the anti-establishment sentiment that resonated with his voters and propelled him to the oval office, 2) It carries the fear, frustration and horror half the country felt and continues to feel over Trump’s election and 3) It develops the media, which Trump calls the opposition party, with as much character and determination as these journalists have caricatured the President. Trump, always having a way with words, might argue that the movie’s basis aligns with his views and that the next four years symbolize an interruption of governmental norms: the faux transparency, the personal e-mail, the misleading and the lies. Trump, an impressively confident man, might even say yes, all governments lie, and that he stands apart.

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Hidden Figures: A Triumphant Look Back into NASA and Civil Rights History

I am by no means a space history buff. That said, I believe I know some very basic stuff: Alan Shepard was the first American into space, John Glenn was the first American to orbit the earth, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were the first men on the moon. Importantly, I know that none of those men died on their respective missions. Very basic stuff.  So the fact that Hidden Figures had me on the edge of my seat wondering if John Glenn would survive re-entry into the atmosphere is a real testament to the film.

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Damien Chazelle’s Land of Palm Trees, Streetlights and Song

If I’m honest with you, I don’t quite know how to write about this movie. It’s a musical and it’s awesome so I’m completely out of my element. I’m far more comfortable ripping into mediocre action flicks at present but if Ryan Gosling agreed to sing on camera I’ll give this a whirl. La La Land is a musical-comedy-romance-drama shindig directed by Damien Chazelle, who brought us Whiplash in late 2014. As awesome as Whiplash was I don’t feel bad saying his new work is a step up.

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Honor Among Rogues

When Star Wars: The Force Awakens was released in December 2015, to say that it had to live up to high expectations would be a tremendous understatement. A decade had passed since the last live-action Star Wars movie was released, and the trailers had promoted the film as an exciting new take on the galaxy far, far away while also promising plenty of nostalgic moments, evidenced by the inclusion of John William’s iconic soundtrack and appearances from Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Chewbacca, Princess Leia, C-3PO and R2-D2. Although The Force Awakens was by no means a bad film, time and nostalgia made audiences and critics willing to forgive its more egregious flaws: mainly that it was a recapitulation of the Star Wars: A New Hope’s storyline albeit with superior special effects. However, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story does not benefit from the same circumstances that surrounded The Force Awakens. The familiar glow of a lightsaber or an incredulous rendition of “I’ve got bad feeling about this” are not enough to satisfy fans anymore.