Have you ever seen one of those movies that is so stupid that it’s actually good? I would say that that is probably the most accurate way to describe Game Night. It was really a whirlwind. I laughed, I was scared and I was definitely confused. I’m pretty sure I even said, “wait, what?” out loud a couple of times.
“You are a good man with a good heart. But it is hard for a good man to be king.”
These are the deceased T’Chaka’s final words to his son T’Challa before the latter is crowned king of Wakanda, an African nation that poses as a third world country, when in reality it is one of the most technologically advanced societies in the world, thanks to the natural resource of vibranium. Throughout the Black Panther, T’Challa has a hard time accepting the contradiction of this statement: there is a disconnect between the man he is and the king he must be. As a whole, the film questions (and answers) its own permutation of T’Chaka’s proclamation: can a good superhero film have heart and explore themes of race, power and privilege, or will its genre conventions — namely CGI spectacle and quippy one-liners — reduce it to simply being blockbuster entertainment? Black Panther shows that the two can be harmonious; Ryan Coogler’s film is at once a celebration of blackness, a sobering analysis of the responsibilities and obligations that people of privilege and power have and a dazzling superhero film in its own right.
There’s nothing I hate more than a mediocre movie. As weird as it may sound, bad movies are usually fun to watch through a critical lens. There are far more usable synonyms for “bad” than for “meh.” I’ve come to love the Transformers and Fast and Furious franchises because they make it easy for me to exercise my growing superiority complex. However, when faced with a truly middle of the road film, I’m faced with a dilemma. If I like it too much, I’ll lose credibility as a “critic.” On the other hand, if I like it too little I get told I’m being negative for the sake of being negative.
Most of us grew up with Beatrix Potter’s stories, the most famous among them being her debut work The Tale of Peter Rabbit in 1902. It’s a charming little morality tale about a young rabbit warned by his mother to not raid a farmer’s garden. He does so and lands himself in trouble. It may not be the headiest of literature, but it’s a cultural touchstone. Three years ago, the Sony email hacks revealed that they were planning on bringing Beatrix Potter’s beloved character to the big screen.
With the Oscars right around the corner, Cornell Cinema recently screened the nominees for best Animated Short. All five films showcase completely different styles of animation and stories. A love letter written by NBA legend Kobe Bryant, an adaptation of Roald Dahl’s dark take on fairy tales and frogs uncovering a chilling secret are just a few of the shorts included in this years selection of nominees. Dear Basketball is based on a poem of the same name written by Kobe Bryant. It utilizes a sketch-based animation, helping draw the audience in with a black and white color scheme that created a youthful look and fast pace.
I really did not want to see Phantom Thread. And honestly, I am not entirely glad I did. But I wanted to see every movie nominated for Best Picture, and was intrigued that Daniel Day-Lewis announced directly after production that it was his last movie ever. Phantom Thread is set in 1950s post-war London. Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis) is a famous dressmaker of the British elite.
On Saturday evening, Cornell students, alumni, faculty and local Ithaca residents were treated to a screening of the documentary Agents of Change at Kennedy Hall. The event was hosted by Associate Dean of Students Dr. Renée T. Alexander ’74 and co-sponsored by Black Students United, OADI, Omega Psi Phi, Ujamaa Residential College and the Office of the Dean of Students. The winner of both Jury and Audience awards at the 2016 Pan African Film & Arts Festival, Agents of Change takes us back in time to the 1968 strike at San Francisco State University and the 1969 Willard Straight Hall takeover at Cornell. Both SFSU and Cornell protests were based on similar demands for an increase in black faculty and students and the development of a black studies program. The directors Abby Ginzberg ’71 and Frank Dawson ’72 cleverly juxtapose the two events.
As much as I love foisting my movie opinions on others, I don’t envy the jobs of Academy voters. Every year they put forth their best guesses as to what films and actors they feel stood out over the last 365 days and every year somebody somewhere will always feel their favorite piece or person has been snubbed. Unfortunately, those opinions are consistently more boisterous than the silent consent of the masses. That said, I think they’ve done a good job this year… for the most part. Best Actress has Frances McDormand (Three Billboards)?
I got to review The Last Jedi when it came out, along with some other Arts & Entertainment writers. To sum it up, we all pretty much said the same thing: it was a film of highs and lows. The overarching theme of balance the movie sought to explore shone through in its quality: good balanced against bad. But this isn’t a movie review. This is a “rewrite” of sorts, in which I will attempt to suggest a few small tweaks that had the potential to improve a movie.
The elevator pitch for The Shape of Water is “a fairytale for adults,” and the movie doubles down on this concept from the very beginning. The opening shot, a graceful long take, sweeps through an underwater home as if the viewer is swimming in it. The image is surreal, especially combined with Alexandre Desplat’s enchanting score and Richard Jenkins’ narration about the “princess without a voice.” Within the first minute, we’ve been transported into director Guillermo Del Toro’s fantasy. Del Toro’s vivid imagination brings to life the story of a mute woman, Elisa (Sally Hawkins), in the 1960s who works as a janitor in a secret government laboratory in Baltimore. The science facility has captured an aquatic, humanoid amphibian, referred to as The Asset.