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Darren Aronofsky and I have a complicated relationship. Well, to be more accurate, his films and I have a charged, complex and often fraught relationship. The common thread among his previous six films is the ability of each to elicit a distinct emotional response from me. “Requiem for a Dream” and “Black Swan” are masterpieces of modern tragedy, while “The Wrestler” is a solid, if unremarkable, film. On the other end of the spectrum, I found “Pi” to be a touch underwhelming and I absolutely loathe both “The Fountain” and “Noah.” Based on those precedents, I really had no idea what to expect from “mother!” other than the fact that it would inevitably provoke a strong reaction. And it most certainly did.
Each year, Telluride at Dartmouth brings hand-selected films from the famous Colorado’s Telluride Film Festival to Hanover. This year’s Telluride at Dartmouth kicked off on Sept. 15 with a screening of “The Shape of Water” and ends tonight with acclaimed drama “Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool.”
Going into “Downsizing,” all I knew was the major overarching concept. People were shrinking in order to get more bang for their buck, in a strangely practical use of science fiction technology. An odd premise; one that makes you both eager to get to the ramifications and impatient with opening scenes establishing the given circumstances.
If you were to hold a gun to my head and demand that I produce a list of my all-time favorite films, “Pan’s Labyrinth” would make it into the top five one way or another. I mention this because when early reviews for Guillermo Del Toro’s newest film, “The Shape of Water,” declared it the director’s best work since “Pan’s Labyrinth,” I was both optimistic and skeptical. To be clear, I make the comparison to “Pan’s Labyrinth” not because I wish to put “The Shape of Water” at an unreasonable disadvantage, but because the two films have so much in common.
A jam-packed movie theater at an evening showing of a horror movie on its opening weekend is not an atypical sight in a suburban Pennsylvania town. Total silence in that theater, however, is an atypical sound. This incongruity illustrated the success of the latest film adaptation of Stephen King’s “It.”
When the original “Twin Peaks” aired over 25 years ago, it was a TV show about a mystery. With its revival this year in the form of “Twin Peaks: The Return,” the show itself has become a mystery.
As a film, “The Big Sick” is an unconventional addition to a long tradition of romantic comedies with memorable protagonists that include the likes of “When Harry Met Sally,” “Bridget Jones’s Diary” and “Notting Hill.” Kumail Nanjiani stars as Kumail, a character based on his early life as a standup comic who falls in love with psychology graduate student and quintessential girl next door, Emily, a somewhat underutilized Zoe Kazan, who is based on Nanjiani’s wife in real life, Emily Gordon. He battles family expectations, career mishaps and a cultural misunderstanding — as well as the fact that Emily falls into a coma halfway through the film.
The Vietnam War doesn’t fit neatly into American folklore. Unlike other American wars, it is not easily glorified. It cannot be summarized as “the good guys won, and the bad guys lost.” As a result, the war is one of the most emotionally charged and complex episodes in American history. Even though the last American soldiers left Saigon decades ago, one crucial fact was impressed on the audience in Spaulding Auditorium last Thursday night: the Vietnam War is as relevant today as it was 40 years ago.
In this era of sequels, reboots and remakes, who would have thought that “Trainspotting” would get a second chance to shine. To be sure, the original is a cult classic and generally considered one of the greatest British films ever made, but it has a fairly self-contained story that doesn’t invite further continuation. Yet through some miracle that I will not pretend to understand, director Danny Boyle and screenwriter John Hodge have managed to return over 20 years later to make a sequel that happens to be one of the best films I’ve seen so far this year.
Honestly, I should have known how much I would dislike “Table 19” just by looking at its film poster, which is designed to look like an Instagram post. And, like most people who are internally 80 years old and gigantic curmudgeons, I have never once in my life used Instagram, nor do I ever plan to. Simply stated, “Table 19” is made for a crowd of which I am not a member. While I will try to keep that in mind for this review, I’d also counterargue that art shouldn’t just resonate with a very limited intended audience.
“The Lost City of Z” is one of the most confounding cinematic experiences I’ve had in some time. I was never bored by it, but I was also never really enthralled. I was awed by the gorgeous cinematography yet simultaneously frustrated by the odd filmmaking choices. I was frequently intrigued but never fully invested. In these respects, “The Lost City of Z” is rather like a Russian nesting doll — intricately crafted but hollow at its center.
In 2011, shortly after the resignation of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, Egyptian surgeon Bassem Youssef created a satirical web series in an attempt to heal his country through comedy. Shortly thereafter he transitioned to TV and hosted “Al-Bernameg,” a news satire show that was modeled after “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” and ran for three seasons. The Egyptian government, led by then-recently elected Mohamed Morsi, issued a warrant for Youssef’s arrest in 2013, accusing him of mocking Morsi and Islam.
Learning a language at Dartmouth has always been experiential, but this month, the third annual Luso-Hispanic Film Festival is expanding the academic boundaries of the concept of experiential learning at the College to encompass the renowned cinema of Latin America. Featuring screenings of five acclaimed Latin American films, this festival appeals not only to students of the Spanish and Portuguese department but also to various members of the Dartmouth community who are interested in experiencing the incredible artwork of other cultures.
“Gifted” will be the third consecutive film that I’ve given a negative rating. I want to make it absolutely clear that I don’t enjoy that fact in the slightest.
Like the film I reviewed last week, “Ghost in the Shell” is a live-action remake of an animated classic. Though, unlike “Beauty and the Beast,” I’ve never seen the original “Ghost in the Shell.” However, a good film should be able to stand on its own without prior knowledge of its source material. Nonetheless, I acknowledge that any problems I have with this remake may be resolved or non-existent in the original anime.
Walt Disney Studios’ new live-action remake of “Beauty and the Beast” is undoubtedly one of the year’s most anticipated films. Yet as I walked out of the Nugget Theater on Friday, I felt frustrated, not overjoyed.
Many film reviewers, myself included, would argue that we are currently in the midst of a “golden age” of superhero cinema. Marvel Studios floods our theaters with critical and commercial successes and although DC Entertainment may currently be floundering in comparison, it recently rode high on the success of Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight Trilogy.”
After last year’s “Oscars So White” controversy, I didn’t think a more uncomfortable Oscar ceremony would be possible. But somehow, the last five minutes of this year’s ceremony managed to top it and then some. In one of the most awkward moments in Academy Awards history, it was revealed that “Moonlight” had actually won Best Picture, even while the “La La Land” team was giving speeches on stage.
“Get Out” begins with a beautiful, stylistic long take following an African-American man trying to navigate a suburban neighborhood in the middle of the night. The scene sets the stage perfectly, as the man attempts to evade a car that starts to harass him. “Get Out” is a horror film to be sure, but its predominant interest is actually in the real-world horrors inflicted daily on the African-American community. It’s amazing that Hollywood, known for thinking the world is composed of entirely white, straight, cisgender males, allowed this film to be made — a film which unmasks the casual, passive and insidious racism that remains deep-seated and systemic in our society.
The first few minutes of “The LEGO Batman Movie” are some of its funniest. As the audience stares at an empty screen waiting for the film to start, Batman (Will Arnett) informs us in a voice-over that all great movies start with a black screen and edgy music that makes parents and studio executives feel uncomfortable. He proceeds to comment on the varying degrees of epicness inherent in each of the studio logos as they appear on screen. I had yet to see a single LEGO brick, and I already thought the movie was hilarious. We then jump right into the middle of the action as literally all of Batman’s villains attempt to destroy Gotham City. The police are evidently helpless until the Dark Knight arrives on the scene, cues his own background music and starts unleashing havoc on his enemies. The first half of “The LEGO Batman Movie” is exactly like this: nonstop breathless fun filled with witty satire. It’s only a shame that the film decreases both in speed and in quality as it approaches its finale.