Ithaca is often considered to be in the middle of nowhere, but the work of student filmmakers from across the Northeast were on display at the fifth Centrally Isolated Film Festival at the Schwartz Performing Arts Center last weekend. A wide variety of short films ranging from documentary to animation to live-action narrative by students from more than a half-dozen schools were screened. “In this area, there aren’t a lot of film festivals, especially for student filmmakers, which is the entire idea of the Centrally Isolated Film Festival,” student organizer Isabel Pottinger ’19 said in an interview. “This year we made a very concerted effort to be in contact with a lot of different schools to try to get as much diversity in terms of the people involved in the film festival as possible, and we really reaped the rewards of that.”
The student organizers from the Film Festival Production Lab course, which focuses on running the film festival, including learning how to objectively judge films, pared down a list of over 100 submissions. “We talk about things like: is the sound good, is the cinematography good, does the director accomplish their artistic vision, do we know what their artistic vision is?” Pottinger explained.
The Student Assembly Appropriations Committee voted on Monday to allocate $0 to Cornell Cinema in 2018-20 in advance of the S.A. meeting on Thursday, when members of the Assembly will debate whether or not to approve the Committee’s recommendations.
Should I write about the nine transgender women of color (and counting) who have been killed so far in 2017? Or should I direct to you to Akhilesh Issur’s recent guest column, which poignantly illuminates Cornell’s ongoing mishandling of our international students’ urgent plight, not to mention the hypocrisy and apathy demonstrated by the institution at every turn? Should I write about James Harris Jackson’s premeditated, racially motivated murder of Timothy Caughman — the first, according to Jackson, of many? Should I remind you about the Cornell student who in January found himself on the receiving end of a text by another Cornell student calling him a nigger, only for the incident’s brief flare to be quickly extinguished? I’m not sure what I should write about, to be honest, nor am I sure if I have the energy or desire to do so today.
Michael Fassbender’s Assassin’s Creed is probably the best video game movie adaptation I’ve ever seen and I hated it. Though this movie certainly has its own issues, which I’ll get into later, my greater frustration is that it continues the trend of video game movies falling flat. As someone who has spent most his life playing video games, it pains me to keep seeing my favorite franchises have their reputations smeared on the silver screen. Every release, from Tomb Raider to Mortal Kombat, has been a regular disappointment. I’d say the Resident Evil franchise has made waves but despite getting the green light for a total of five sequels its films get torn apart by critics and fans alike.
I had a friend the other day say when I like a movie, my metric ranges from “good” to “coma-inducing.” Well let’s just say Disney’s Moana made it hard for me to wake up in time to write this review. Moana follows the story of a young girl on the island of Mata Nui. She’s the daughter of the village chief and will become chief herself someday. But ever since she was young, she has had a deep desire to explore the ocean. The villagers of Mata Nui live in paradise.
Reviewing Six Months to Salvation, a documentary directed and written by Lorenzo Benitez, a sophomore at Cornell and staff writer for The Sun, could present a conflict of interests. I reassure my readers, Lorenzo and I have never met. Other than our alma-mater and having read a few of his articles in The Sun, no stifling connection skews my impression of the film. I share the following review as a mostly unbiased audience member. Six Months to Salvation follows a service trip to Thailand where Lorenzo and several other volunteers teach English over a six month period.
After surviving attempts to destroy all copies of this film due to copyright infringement (they never got the rights to the material), this adaptation of Stoker’s Dracula (1897) was brought before a packed audience in Sage Chapel. For those who don’t know, Nosferatu is a 1922 silent, expressionist, German film. This means lots of beautiful stylized acting may be in store, which is my favorite part of any silent film. Since silent films can only use intertitles for dialogue, the plot has to be conveyed via the characters’ actions. The actors are over the top in their gestures, and their eyes bulge farther than I think should be physically possible.
Though there were some notable cinematic disappointments to come out of 2016 (I’m looking at you Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice), this year we, at least, saw everyone’s favorite regal blue tang overcome her short-term memory loss to be reunited with her family and Ryan Reynolds finally redeem himself from the atrocity that was Green Lantern. After the release of Suicide Squad in August, I was expecting the box office to be relatively light on major blockbuster releases until early November, when Marvel’s Doctor Strange will grace screens. After all, seeing the world get devastated three different times in three different movies (see: Independence Day: Resurgence, X-Men Apocalypse and The 5th Wave) gets cumbersome. Even I, an action movie connoisseur, needed a break from the carnage and violence. But rising up from the dust coming in out of nowhere comes Antoine Fuqua’s The Magnificent Seven, an explosive remake of the 1960 film of the same name (which, in turn, was a remake of the 1959 film Seven Samurai).
An established preoccupation among film directors is how the re-staging of a scene from different perspectives alters the tone, message and experience of an otherwise unchanged plot. Whether it’s the strictly formal experimentation of The Five Obstructions or the philosophical interrogation of subjectivity in Rashomon, even the most strikingly distinct auteurs are curious to witness how changes, whether they be subtly atmospheric or obviously performative, redefine the entire message of a scene, an act, or an entire film. Korean director Hong Sang-soo’s Right Now, Wrong Then follows the flirtatious courtship of a middle-aged arthouse director and a younger painter over the course of a day, before restaging the exact same events with differences both slight and noticeable. Having bagged the top prize at Locarno last year, Sang-soo’s latest film is not only an intriguing vehicle of cinematic experimentation, but an eloquent statement on the importance of selflessness in developing meaningful human connection. The first half observes Ham Chun-su, a well-respected Korean filmmaker, visit the city of Suwon, where one of his films is being screened.