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On Saturday night, I trekked down to the labyrinthine nether-realm that is the Nugget Theater to see “Marshall.” Ten minutes before, I had left the Hopkins Center for the Arts’ screening of Taylor Sheridan’s problematic, complicated yet engaging “Wind River,” which played to a mostly packed theater. In contrast, I watched “Marshall” with a grand total of two other people. To everyone who could have filled those extra seats but didn’t: Y’all missed out.
On Sunday, Oct. 29, Upper Valley television channel CATV’s sixth annual Halloween-o-thon took place on Dartmouth’s campus from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the Loew Auditorium located in the Black Family Visual Arts Center, partnering with the Hopkins Center for the Arts. Halloween-o-thon showcased films made by students spanning in age from middle school to college from all across the Upper Valley who registered to commit three weeks of their time to writing, directing and casting their very own short horror films. On Sunday, their work was displayed on the big screen to celebrate the creative endeavors of local youth and embrace the Halloween spirit.
In last week’s review of “The Snowman,” I encouraged readers to skip that dreadfully dull film and instead watch “Battle of the Sexes.” As it happens, I saw the two films over a week ago, and the contrast could not have been greater. When I walked out of “The Snowman,” my head was reeling with confusion. When I walked out of “Battle of the Sexes,” I felt buoyed, eager to return home and research the real-life story that had inspired the film. This is one of the year’s best films and the more I think about it, the fonder I grow — which is significant considering I was already fond of it when I walked out of the Nugget Theater.
I watched “Detroit” over a week ago, and I’m still not quite sure what to say. It is, without a doubt, the hardest film I’ve ever had to review. In retrospect, this is not a shock — director Kathryn Bigelow has shown a steadfast willingness to tackle controversial topics in her previous two films, “The Hurt Locker” and “Zero Dark Thirty.” Similarly, “Detroit” is based on the Algiers Motel Incident, although the film acknowledges that Mark Boal’s tense screenplay takes certain factual liberties due to conflicting or incomplete testimonies about what actually occurred in the 1967 incident of police brutality against three black teenagers. Thus, the plot details described in this review will be based purely on the events as the film describes them; if you want to know more about the real-life incident, I highly recommend looking it up.
In my review of “Arrival,” I wished director Denis Villeneuve luck for his next endeavor, a sequel to my favorite film of all time: Ridley Scott’s “Blade Runner.” To be clear from the outset, the original “Blade Runner” is far from perfect. It is a flawed masterpiece, as influential as it is imperfect. And that’s probably why I love it. It is a slow, poetic and evocative film that never asked for or needed a sequel. But here we are 35 years later and “Blade Runner 2049” actually exists. Is it as good as the first film? Of course not, but I didn’t really expect it to be. Is it, at least, a worthy successor? By and large, I think so.
In many ways, “Dunkirk” is the film Christopher Nolan was meant to make. This is not to say that it’s his best film, though it is certainly among the best. While watching the film, one senses that it is the payoff for all his efforts to simultaneously become commercially successful and critically beloved over the last 20 years. After watching “Inception,” which is undoubtedly the most Nolan-esque of all the Nolan films, I feared that the director had reached his pinnacle. His unique and thrilling combination of labyrinthine narratives, philosophical themes and nuanced characters seemed to have been pushed to its limit. After reaching the top of Mt. Everest, there simply was no other peak to summit. His next two features reflected this fact; “The Dark Knight Rises” and “Interstellar” are both decent films that fall short of greatness because they are so overstuffed. Nolan’s ambition, previously his greatest asset, was slowly becoming his primary weakness. Until “Dunkirk.”
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.