Hit the Road and Celebrate Humanity with Agnès Varda and JR

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.


Where is Our Home Now? Ai Weiwei’s “Human Flow”

Few words are needed to express the heavy realities found within our global refugee crisis. Ai Weiwei’s documentary Human Flow captivates an awareness of this crisis chronicling the unimaginable narratives of refugees around the globe. Weiwei follows a series of stories, capturing the lives of refugees in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, France, Greece, Germany, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Kenya, Mexico and Turkey.

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Rebel in the Rye Epitomizes Holden Caulfield’s Favorite Word

As a fan of Salinger’s works, and someone who generally enjoys biopics about writers and creative people, Rebel in the Rye seemed to be right up my alley, but unfortunately fell flat in many places. I felt that Rebel in the Rye did not reveal or add much to what many fans already know about Salinger’s life.


Coming Soon to Cornell Cinema: Bronx Gothic

How does a “little brown girl” feel power in a nation plagued by discrimination, privilege and bias? Bronx Gothic, which plays Wednesday at 7:15 p.m. at Cornell Cinema, follows Okwui Okpokwasili as she passionately examines this topic through drama, comedy and dance. Okpokwasili’s one-woman show follows the narrative of two young, black girls growing up in the Bronx, one innocent and the other’s life marked by sexual violence and abuse, who communicate on a deeply personal level through the passing of notes. For the first thirty minutes of the stage version of Bronx Gothic, Okpokwasili simply vibrates in the corner of the stage with the hope that people will be forced to stop asking what is going on and tune in to the frequency that she is emitting. The remainder of her narrative is laid out as a crude series of letters depicting a friendship’s rise and fall, sex, and bias, paired with movements that, at times, bring Okpokwasili to the stage floor.


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.


The Sun’s Top 10 Movies of 2016

From documentaries to animated flicks to art films to crime thrillers, the Arts & Entertainment writers’ picks for the year’s top films reflect the diversity of excellent movies this year. 10. Weiner 

Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg easily could have made a documentary that simply condemned former Representative Anthony Weiner. Yet, Weiner begins on a high note: the Anthony Weiner who appears at the beginning of the documentary is rejuvenated, remorseful about his sexting scandals and ready to fight in New York City’s mayoral race. The positive image doesn’t last long as Weiner, once again, descends into lying and defensiveness as more sexting allegations surface. Kriegman and Steinberg expertly elevate Weiner from an entertaining to a thoroughly thought-provoking movie by catching the moments when Weiner and the people around him reflect on his self-destruction.


Sonic Sea: An Ocean of Emotion

It’s no secret that humans are destroying the earth at an alarming rate. However, not much is being done because not enough people care. The 60-minute documentary Sonic Sea explores the impact of noise pollution on whales and other marine mammals and presents possible solutions and measures that can be taken to prevent more harm. The documentary opens with an animation of the sea, along with soothing music, setting the stage for an emotional journey that could make any landlubber want to do anything in their power to save our oceans and marine mammals. The film first explores the increasing number of whale and dolphin beachings and features several scientists each giving their take on the situation, as well as mildly graphic images of the stranded animals.


What to Avoid Next

When Michael Moore responded to the deaths of 12 innocent high school students with Bowling for Columbine, no one could have argued against the film’s political significance. A fiery critique of congressional negligence to curb gun violence, Moore’s impassioned documentary was so charged with a palpable, collective anger that many still refer to it as one of the most compelling political statements made by any documentarian. Even watching Bowling for Columbine nearly a decade after its initial release as an Australian high school student did little to weaken my appreciation of its persuasive fury. And the fact that U.S. legislators have failed to account for the thousands of victims of gun violence and have written off their deaths as an acceptable cost for the preservation of a 200-year-old constitutional amendment has only strengthened the contemporary legacy of Moore’s most important work. Moore’s latest film, Where to Invade Next — despite being deceptively titled to suggest a censure of American foreign policy — focuses on social welfare offered by other countries that Moore believes America ought to imitate.