BANKS | You Don’t Realize You’re Intelligent Until It Gets You Into Trouble

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.

la-1462812625-snap-photo

Like the Assassins, Assassin’s Creed Will Stay in the Dark

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.

COURTESY OF DISNEY

Moana: Gorgeous Animation, Expansive Mythology and a Captivating Culture

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.

documentary-stills-5

Six Months to Salvation: An Emotional Mission

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.

nosferatu

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

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.

magnificent-seven-1024x768

The Not So Old West: The Magnificent Seven Updated

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).

right-now

Right Now, Wrong Then: Korean Mumblecore and Déjà Vu

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.

the-wedding-doll

The Whiteness in Life: Wedding Doll at Cornell Cinema

Sometimes in our lives, there’s nothing sadder than looking down at the toilet paper roll in a bathroom stall and seeing only the empty cardboard ring. There’s no moment more lonely, no feeling so isolating, no issue equally pressing. Nitzan Gilday’s film, Wedding Doll, showing at Cornell Cinema this Wednesday, puts things in perspective. Because, there is something sadder than looking at that hopeless cardboard ring: A paperless roll in a toilet paper factory’s solitary bathroom. And, believe it or not, there are moments more desperate than that.

Marty Gross and Seijun Suzuki

“Every Shot Means Something”: A Conversation with Marty Gross about Janus Films and Seijun Suzuki

Marty Gross is a man of many hats in the film world. Coming to Japanese cinema in the ’70s after spending years studying pottery, Marty has written and directed documentaries, restored and licensed films and archival footage with his company Marty Gross Film Productions, conducted interviews and served as consulting producer on many projects, including Akira Kurosawa’s 1990 film Dreams. All the while, Marty has continued to teach art classes in Toronto, teaching creativity to future generations of students (including myself). More recently, Marty has worked as a freelance consulting producer with the legendary arthouse distributor Janus Films, the parent company of the Criterion collection. If you pick up a Criterion release of a Japanese film, there’s a good chance you’ll see Marty’s name in the credits. In 2005, Marty’s work for Janus brought him into contact with Seijun Suzuki, one of the most eccentric figures of Japanese film.