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Review: 'Better Call Saul' remains a masterclass in dramatic storytelling

(04/09/20 6:10am)

It’s been so long since the explosive conclusion of “Breaking Bad” in 2013 that “Better Call Saul” — the 2015 prequel spinoff created by “Breaking Bad” masterminds Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould — feels like its own show. And I’ll admit, I was wary of its ability to stand out from its predecessor, most of all because Saul Goodman, the smooth-talking, comb-over-sporting strip mall lawyer played with electricity and heart by Bob Odenkirk, was largely a one-note side piece in the original show. A skeevy lawyer who helps criminals hide their money and avoid jail time — end of story. It didn’t seem substantive enough for its own show, and it seemed like “Better Call Saul” would be doomed to the spin-off junk pile in the wasteland of failed TV shows. But I had faith in Gilligan and Gould, so I approached “Better Call Saul” with tepid hope. Now, five years and almost five complete seasons later — the fifth season is currently underway — part of me loves “Saul” even more than “Breaking Bad.”





Review: ‘1917’ is visually stimulating but lacks effective screenplay

(01/17/20 7:00am)

Thanks to surprise wins for Best Director and Best Motion Picture — Drama at the Golden Globes, Sam Mendes’ bold cinematic experience “1917” has been a buzzy film, garnering a spike in attention it hopes to carry into the Oscars in February. Set during World War I and focusing on two British soldiers in the trenches of France, “1917” is shot and edited to look like one take. This is much like Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s masterful 2015 Oscar winner for Best Motion Picture of the Year, “Birdman.” Unlike “Birdman,” though, “1917,” lacks a scintillating script or multifaceted characters, but it makes up for some of that loss with the sheer grandeur of its cinematic vision.


Review: 'Little Women' remains relevant, fails to meet hype

(01/07/20 7:00am)

I always look forward to winter break for many reasons, an unexpected one of which is Oscar-bait. Oscar-bait season is the first three weeks in December, when movie production studios are racing to put out their “best” films of the year before the Oscar qualification deadline on the last day of the year. Typically, films that receive Oscar nominations are released between August and December.


Review: 'Parasite' is a fantastic first foray into the Korean film genre

(11/12/19 7:00am)

The first time I was exposed to Korean films was a glorious experience. I don’t remember how old I was, but it was probably in high school when a buddy and I watched “Oldboy” for the first time. I was blown away. I had forgotten just how wide the spectrum of emotions a movie can make you feel was, and it felt like I was falling in love with movies all over again. 


Review: 'Doctor Sleep' a hopeful, deliberate sequel of 'The Shining'

(11/12/19 7:10am)

I haven’t seen nearly as many films throughout 2019 as I might have liked, but what I have seen has left me largely uninspired — nothing awful, but also nothing to get me all that excited. The sole exception so far has been Lulu Wang’s phenomenal “The Farewell.” So color me both astonished and elated that “Doctor Sleep” has become only the second film this year that I really, truly love.  


Review: 'The Laundromat' a disjointed, lackluster chronicle

(11/05/19 7:00am)

Wealth can create vicious cycles. The more money a person earns, the more scared they become of losing it, and, as such, they resort to extreme measures to protect their money. The scandal of the Panama Papers — the leaked documents exposing the offshore businesses of many wealthy individuals, of which some were shell companies used for the illegal purposes of fraud and tax evasion — details such extreme measures, making for an unbelievable chronicle that is the premise for “The Laundromat.” 



Review: ‘Once Upon a Time...in Hollywood’ an affectionate satire

(10/04/19 6:00am)

Welcome to 1969 Hollywood. Retro buildings, vintage cars and neon signs line Hollywood Boulevard. Men dress in bell bottoms, patterned shirts and turtlenecks with blazers. Women wear miniskirts and vinyl, knee-high boots. Flower children don bohemian outfits of the counterculture movement. The Quentin Tarantino-directed movie “Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood” pictures these vintage scenes through rose-colored glasses. 


Review: ‘Hustlers’ exemplifies female reclamation of power

(10/01/19 6:05am)

“Doesn’t money make you horny?” Ramona (portrayed by Jennifer Lopez) whispers this to newcomer Destiny (portrayed by Constance Wu), as she leaves center stage, bathed in dollar bills. In the film “Hustlers,” Ramona immediately establishes the primary foundation of the film: the intertwined web of money and sex. 


Review: "It: Chapter 2" surpasses prequel in thrill and quality

(09/27/19 6:00am)

 As a Dartmouth student, the end of summer can be a pretty lonely time. With almost all other colleges starting the last week of August, the stretch between when home friends leave to the journey back to Hanover can be a slow and painful one. I am on campus now, of course ­­— and it would be an understatement to say that my schedule is just a bit chaotic — but when I lived in a ghost town for those couple weeks, I had nothing but free time. 


Review: Ford v Ferrari has great acting, dampened by predictable plot

(09/26/19 6:05am)

It’s hard not to enjoy certain moments of pure thrill — the rapid descent of a rollercoaster, maybe, or a hard-won victory on the athletic field. Director James Mangold’s new film, “Ford v Ferrari,” draws upon one of such thrills: the roar and rush of high-speed driving. Shown at Dartmouth’s Hopkins Center for the Arts as part of the annual Telluride Film Festival screenings, “Ford v Ferrari” is a riveting piece of car-focused filmmaking wrapped up in an underwhelming but ultimately solid narrative envelope. 



Review: ‘The Goldfinch’ fails to live up to novel’s standard

(09/17/19 6:00am)

When word broke that Donna Tartt’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “The Goldfinch” would be adapted into a movie last year, I sighed and dreaded the worst. There is something sacred that is destroyed when a much-beloved novel makes its on-screen debut. Movie adaptations of novels rarely do their written counterparts justice. Instead, they bury them in piles of scathing reviews and Rotten Tomato ratings that sully not only the film’s reputation but also that of the novel (for example, “The Hunger Games”). Similarly, while “The Goldfinch” as a film failed miserably in recreating the vivid characters and atmosphere of Tartt’s imagination, it partly redeemed itself by creating a standalone experience that did not feel derivative of the novel and managed to preserve the novel’s enduring beauty. 


Review: Aretha Franklin’s musicality astounds in ‘Amazing Grace’

(07/19/19 6:00am)

“Amazing Grace,” the 2018 movie about the two days spent recording Aretha Franklin’s bestselling live album of the same name, showed at the Hopkins Center for the Arts last weekend. The movie is a true feat, resurrecting footage taken at the event in 1972 but unavailable until now due to technical problems in which video failed to sync with the sound. Finally, in this incredible film, we are able to see the Queen of Soul perform her album “Amazing Grace” at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Watts, Los Angeles.


Review: ‘Ma’ fails to be a horror film, let alone a good horror film

(07/05/19 6:00am)

Typically, disappointment has shaped my experience with horror movies. I watch them expecting to be scared and they wind up making me laugh more than some top-billed comedies. Incohesive plots, stupid characters and cliché twists are far too prevalent in most commercially successful horror films. I wish I could say this spring’s latest horror film, “Ma” was any different, but the most credit I can give the film is for its self-awareness — “Ma” knows just how campy it is. 


Review: ‘Homecoming: A Film by Beyoncé’ is illuminating

(05/23/19 6:01am)

We have all seen it: a huge sensation, a star burning brightly and boldly. But then, the star crashes down, never to resurface except in commercials for yogurt and the occasional magazine shot that boasts a collection of “Hollywood Has-Beens: Where Are They Now?” Beautiful poetry, films and plays have been written on the idea that there is an upper limit to the number of stars our world can worship and, thus, some must fall. But not Beyoncé. Never Beyoncé.


Review: ‘Pokémon Detective Pikachu’ is not quite surreal enough

(05/14/19 6:05am)

“Pokémon Detective Pikachu” is without a doubt one of the most bizarre ideas for a mainstream, Hollywood family film that I’ve encountered in recent memory. To be clear, I’m not referring to the basic notion of adapting the hugely popular Japanese multi-media franchise into a live-action American film. “Pokémon” is so ubiquitous at this point that even if you’ve never really experienced it –— as is the case with me — you’ve almost certainly at least heard about it through cultural osmosis. Moreover, that ubiquity practically transformed into notoriety with the 2016 release of the augmented reality game “Pokémon Go,” of which, again, you’ve almost definitely heard. 




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