Newsies (1992) Film Review

Synopsis

In this musical, homeless New York City newsboy Jack “Cowboy” Kelly (Christian Bale) befriends two newcomers to his trade, brothers David (David Moscow) and Les Jacobs (Luke Edwards). When publisher Joseph Pulitzer (Robert Duvall) sets new rules that make it harder for the young newspaper salesmen to make a buck, the boys go on strike. Bryan Denton (Bill Pullman), a journalist who’s sympathetic to their plight, gives them some tips in public relations, as the newsboys’ battle grips the city.

Newsies (film) - D23

Release date: April 10, 1992

(USA)DirectorKenny Ortega

ScreenplayNoni WhiteBob Tzudiker

Music composed byAlan MenkenJ. A. C. Redford

My Review

This is a very lighthearted and enjoyable film. The actors of the movie all do such an incredible job, and it’s easy to buy into the world of the movie. I’m sure watching this production onstage or on Broadway would be a more enjoyable experience, but the movie is a close second.

Newsies (1992) - Rotten Tomatoes

For a Disney film, I was surprised by the amount of violence and ideas the film suggested. There are several times in the movie when the Newsies get a little rouged up on the streets of New York. However, the newsie strike is a historical event that led to lots of riots and rough housing, so I appreciated the historical accuracy of this movie. This is definitely an emotionally heavy film that will make you frustrated.

I was most curious to see Christian Bale in this film because I have never seen him sing and dance. I’ve seen him in a wide range of acting roles, and I wanted to see how he would live up to the hype. He is definitely not the best singer. But his dancing blew me away. In fact, all the dance numbers of this film are incredibly well filmed and choreographed. From an acting stand point Bale carried most of the weight. Bale plays the hero and protagonist of the film, and I found myself emotionally invested in his story from the very beginning.

Sometimes in this movie when the plot felt rushed, and my investment into the story lessened a little each time. I also wish there would have been more character development for the kids. There’s so much development giving to Bales character that all the others are pushed to the side. Another thing that drove me crazy about this movie was the forced relationship between Bale and his love interest. The audience saw no interaction between the two at all, and then the first scene we see between them Bale asks if she would miss him if he were to leave. This made no sense to me! Their relationship came out of nowhere and was completely forced since the filmmakers were trying to stick to the Broadway plot line.

My Rating

2 out of 5

5 Movies To Help Get You Through Social Distancing

The world right now is a stressful and scary place. Everywhere you look there is news and talk of the COVID-19 outbreak. It’s easy to fall into a state of depression and gloom, and to let the stress of everything get the best of you. However, I’m hoping this list of feel- good films can bring a little happiness to your day. As movie lovers film can be a good place to go to for a mental and emotional break from the world.

Frozen 2

Frozen 2 Details | POPSUGAR Entertainment

I think it’s awesome that Disney Plus released this film early on its streaming database. If you have not seen this movie yet, I strongly recommend you go watch it. I have seen this movie twice now and enjoyed it equally both times. No matter how old you are, it’s a light-hearted and enjoyable watch. If you have Disney Plus, go watch it! I guarantee you it will brighten up your day during this stressful time.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

Ferris Bueller's Day Off | Gorton Community Center

No matter how many times you watch this film, you will fall in love with it a little more every time. All around this is the definition of a feel good movie. It will have you laughing till your eyes water, sitting on the edge of your seat, and keep captivated until the credits roll.

The Hunger Games (Series)

A 'Hunger Games' Prequel Book Is Officially Coming Out In 2020

These movies are endearing and suspenseful. After watching the first movie of the series, you will not be able to stop until you have seen them all. Which will end up killing a lot of time and allow you an escape from reality. It’s easy to get emotionally invested in these movies, and the story line is very action packed and exciting!

Mrs. Doubtfire

Mrs. Doubtfire' Review: Movie (1993) | Hollywood Reporter

If you need a good laugh, then this film is a must see. Robin Williams once again does a fantastic job in this film, and will have you laughing until your stomach hurts. Not only that, but this is also a very good feel good movie, and it has a powerful message to it.

The Shawshank Redemption

After A 25 Year Hiatus, A Chance To Finally See 'The Shawshank ...

If you need a movie, that will make you cry, then definitely go check this one out. This movie will suck you in from the first scene of the entire movie. It’s a very tear jerking and a feel good film. Check out my full review of this film under the film reviews section of my blog.

Let me know if you give any of these films a try or if you have any more recommendations of films to watch during this time of quarantine and social distancing.

Saving Private Ryan (1998) Film Review

Synopsis

Captain John Miller (Tom Hanks) takes his men behind enemy lines to find Private James Ryan, whose three brothers have been killed in combat. Surrounded by the brutal realties of war, while searching for Ryan, each man embarks upon a personal journey and discovers their own strength to triumph over an uncertain future with honor, decency and courage.
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Release dateJuly 24, 1998 (USA)
Budget70 million USD

My Review 

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By far this is one of the best war movies of all time. It’s hard and tear jerking to watch because of how accurate and life like the war scenes are. Something that really adds to the uncomfortable realistic feel of the film is the lack of music. It’s hard to notice when first watching the movie because as an audience member you are so sucked into the action. But if you pay attention during any battle scene, there is absolutely no music playing in the background. In fact, music is used sparingly and only when it adds to the overall emotional impact on the audience. During the bloody war scenes all the audience hears are bullets shooting, men screaming, blood gushing, and orders being given. This makes the audience feel as if they themselves are on the front lines with all the actor’s.

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Another powerful element of this film is the camera work. The cinematography is innovative and creative. However, it’s kept subtle to where you don’t remember your watching a movie on a screen. It feels as if your watching war history in person. A lot of the camera angles are kept eye level, or close to the ground, which adds to this effect. There are very little bird eye shots or hero shots in this film. Which would have only lost the audience’s personal connection into the film. This was a really impactful decision made by the cinematographer of this film.

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This film showcases the darker side of humanity. It allows audience members who have never been on a battle front a chance to experience the realistic horror and intense action. It allows us a look into a world not all of us are familiar with. That makes watching this film such a memorable experience.

My Rating

4.8 out of 5

I recommend everybody watch this film at least once in their life.

Coco (2017) Film Review

Synopsis

Despite his family’s generations-old ban on music, young Miguel dreams of becoming an accomplished musician like his idol Ernesto de la Cruz. Desperate to prove his talent, Miguel finds himself in the stunning and colorful Land of the Dead. After meeting a charming trickster named Héctor, the two new friends embark on an extraordinary journey to unlock the real story behind Miguel’s family history.
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Release dateNovember 22, 2017 (USA)
Box office807.1 million USD

My Review 

Pixar does not disappoint. In fact, I don’t think I have ever seen a Disney Pixar movie I have not fallen in love with. I finally got around to checking this movie off of my must see list, and I loved every second of watching this film.

The animation is top-notch, and the color, music, and overall environment created in this movie was astounding to look and listen to. One of the amazing things about Pixar movies is that no matter how old you are, these movies will always have a special place in your heart. This movie is relatable for a wide age range. Whether you’re a kid balancing life and family, a parent trying to understand your child, or an elderly family member stuck in the past. This movie had a lot of life lessons that could be learned, and I truly feel any audience member will connect with the film on an emotional level.

This film was not predictable for me, and I did not see the plot twists coming. Which is not a typical element of a children’s film. The plot had me interested and engaged throughout the entire movie, starting from the first ten minutes of the movie. If you are interested in learning more about other cultures and their traditions, I strongly recommend you watch this film. I have always been fascinated by the tradition of Day of the Dead. This movie gives an interesting look into this tradition, and how family is valued into Mexican Culture.

Overall, this movie is an incredible feel good movie to watch solo or with the family. It’s a highly emotional story that will tug at your heartstrings.

My Rating

4.5 out of 5

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Arsenic and Old Lace (1944) Film Review

Synopsis

Writer and notorious marriage detractor Mortimer Brewster (Cary Grant) falls for girl-next-door Elaine Harper (Priscilla Lane), and they tie the knot on Halloween. When the newlyweds return to their respective family homes to deliver the news, Brewster finds a corpse hidden in a window seat. With his eccentric aunts (Josephine Hull, Jean Adair), disturbed uncle (John Alexander), and homicidal brother (Raymond Massey), he realizes that his family is even crazier than he thought.
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Release dateSeptember 1, 1944 (USA)

My Review 

If you have not seen this film… Go Watch It Now! This movie has been on my top 10 list of films for years now.

My favorite thing about this film is the plot structure. They based this film off on a play and that shows. This play follows the old style of comedy with dramatic irony. The audience is fully aware of what is going on in the movie, however a lot of the actors are left in the dark. Which leads to a lot of confusion among the characters within the film and adds to the comedic element for the audience.

Something I love about this film that I think more plays and films need to be inspired by is all the comedic timing and use of facial expressions. Image result for arsenic and old laceCary Grant’s facial expressions throughout this film makes for some of the best comedic moments. This is also something that is known to be one of Cary Grant’s signature strengths.

The plot of this film is quick paced, and there are several stories lines going on all at the same time. Newly wed Mortimer Brewster is trying to leave on his honeymoon, his aunts are murdering elderly gentleman, his uncle thinks he’s Teddy Roosevelt, and his crazy brother Jonathon shows up  on the run from the police. While the overall feel of the movie is left very light and comedic, the action within the play is insane and the audience gets to watch along on the journey.

I absolutely adore the acting in this film. Besides Cary Grant’s amazing performance, everyone else does a fantastic job. There is not a bad acting performance in this entire film. Image result for arsenic and old laceJosephine Hull and Jean Adair as the two aunts is my favorite. These two women do not disappoint in this film, and their characterization is amazing. They are nothing short of being sweet elderly women in this film, which makes it even more of a comedic shock to find they have single-handedly poisoned and buried several men in their cellar. 

Lastly, the camera work and lighting of this film are unique and appealing. Much like the play, this film takes place solely inside the Brewster’s living room. While we see action take place in a few other locations, most of the film is set in one area of the house. However, the film does not get boring and as an audience member it’s hard to notice that the camera has not left the one room. The camera work is very innovative and creative.

My Rating 

4.5 out of 5

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Harriet (2019) Film Review

Synopsis 

From her escape from slavery through the dangerous missions she led to liberate hundreds of slaves through the Underground Railroad, the story of heroic abolitionist Harriet Tubman is told.
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Release date: November 1, 2019 (USA)
Box office: 43.3 million USD

My Review 

I was extremely excited to see this film. Harriet Tubman is one of my favorite historical figures, and it’s about time someone makes a movie about her. However, this movie did not live up to my expectations.

First things first. The soundtrack of this movie made no sense at all. I often got sucked out of the world of the film. The soundtrack did not match up with the scenes of the film, and instead of heightening the audiences emotional experience, it only took away from it. Image result for harriet movieThere is a powerful scene in the movie where Harriet is getting taken away by boat to safety after the passing of the fugitive slave law. It was a powerful and emotional scene. However, the music sounded like a song from a funeral and did not match up with the action of the film. 

One element I really liked about this film was how historically accurate they made it. By sticking close to history, the filmmakers lost a good chunk of creative freedom. But this was something I really appreciated about this film. I appreciated how they tried to incorporate the use of Harriet’s god given visions, but the way the filmmakers incorporated it into the film was confusing. It made more sense as the film went on, however, at the beginning it was hard to tell if the audience was getting a look at visions or flashbacks.

The most redeemable trait of this film was the acting. Cynthia Erivo  gave a convincing performance as Harriet Tubman. Image result for harriet movieShe did an excellent job of showing the growth and contrast of Harriet’s character from the beginning of the film to the end. However, Cynthia’s acting stood out the most and compared to her the other actors/actresses only did a sub par job.

It took me a hot minute to get emotionally invested into this movie, but once I was invested, it stayed constant till the credits rolled. I understand that the filmmakers needed to set up the story and show Harriet’s life before the Underground Railroad. But the movie did not get interesting until she ran away and come back for her husband and family.

Overall, I enjoyed this film, but I would not watch it again. However, I would recommend that everyone see it once in their life. As there is a lot to learn and appreciate about Harriet Tubman.

My Rating

3 out of 5

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The Worst Movies Of the Last Decade

Rambo Last Blood 2019

Synopsis

Vietnam War veteran John Rambo tries to find peace by raising horses on a ranch in Arizona. He also developed a special familial bond with a woman named Maria and her teenage granddaughter Gabriela. But when a vicious Mexican cartel kidnaps Gabriela, Rambo crosses the border on a bloody and personal quest to rescue her and punish those responsible.
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Release date: September 20, 2019 (USA)
Box office: 91.5 million USD
Budget: 50 million USD

My Review

This was the first movie I have seen from the Rambo movies. The action scenes of this movie did not disappoint. However, the plot structure and narrative of this movie were not very well put together. While this movie was sentimental for fans of the Rambo series as a standalone movie, it was extremely weak. The plot point that sucked me into this movie was when Gabriela gets kidnapped by the cartel. It feels like only a few moments later when Rambo rescues her, only to have her die. The rest of the movie is dedicated to revenge. However, at this point, I had no strong emotional connection to the movie. I knew since it was a Rambo movie he would succeed in a very bloody battle scene. The conflict was resolved way too soon, and the rest of the movie was just full of filler action.

A Wrinkle in Time 2018

Synopsis 

Meg Murry and her little brother, Charles Wallace, have been without their scientist father, Mr. Murry, for five years, ever since he discovered a new planet and used the concept known as a tesseract to travel there. Joined by Meg’s classmate Calvin O’Keefe and guided by the three mysterious astral travelers known as Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which, the children brave a dangerous journey to a planet that possesses all the evil in the universe.
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Release date: February 26, 2018 (USA)
Box office: 133.4 million USD
Budget: $100–130 million

My Review

I was so excited to see this film since this was one of my favorite books as a child. However, from the start of the movie I knew I would be disappointed. The writing was very poor. This movie had such an incredible cast, but the lines did not feel natural and the movie was full of awkward and forced dialogue. They spent most of the budget of this film on graphic images. While the CG in this film was not terrible, it was not the best I have ever seen. With such an elaborate budget, I had higher expectations for this movie. The thing I disliked most about this film is the fact that they changed so much from the book to the movie. In the book, Mrs. Which has a hard time verbalizing and is also described as a traditional-looking witch. However, with Oprah playing Mrs. Which in the film, they gave her plenty of elegant and well-spoken dialogue. Some other major changes include the exclusion of Aunt Beast, the Happy Medium, and the addition of Meg’s bully. A Wrinkle in Time is such a well put together book If they had stuck to it, I think this film would have been a lot better.

Beauty and the Beast  2017

Synopsis

An arrogant prince is cursed to live as a terrifying beast until he finds true love. Strangely, his chance comes when he captures an unwary clockmaker, whose place is then taken by his bold and beautiful daughter Belle. Helped by the Beast’s similarly enchanted servants, including a clock, a teapot and a candelabra, Belle sees the sensitive soul behind the fearsome facade. But as time runs out, it soon becomes obvious that Belle’s cocky suitor Gaston is the real beast of the piece.
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Release date: March 17, 2017 (USA)
Box office: 1.264 billion USD
Budget: $160–255 million

My Review

I wanted so much for this film to be an incredible experience. However, it was anything but. My first biggest disappointment was Emma Watson’s singing. There was such heavy pitch correction, and auto tune on her voice it sounded unnatural and annoying. In its entirety a lot of the musical numbers in this film did not live up to those of the animated movie. The only songs I truly enjoyed were Gaston’s and the song they added for the Beast. This movie had such a strong cast, and the acting was phenomenal. However, this movie still did not grab my overall attention and left me knowledgeable of the fact that I was watching a movie.

Dirty Grandpa 2016

Synopsis

Uptight lawyer Jason Kelly (Zac Efron) is one week away from marrying his boss’s controlling daughter, putting him on the fast track for a partnership at his firm. Tricked by his grandfather Dick (Robert De Niro), Jason drives the foulmouthed old man to Daytona Beach, Fla., for a wild spring break that includes frat parties, bar fights and an epic night of karaoke. While Jason worries about the upcoming wedding, Dick tries to show his grandson how to live life to the fullest.
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Initial release: January 21, 2016 (Brazil)
Box office: 105.2 million USD
Budget: 25 million USD (2015)

My Review

Going into this movie, I knew that it would either be a hit or miss, and it was definitely a miss. The jokes and humor of this movie were just not funny at all. A lot of the humor was juvenile, which I expected, and it just did not reach the target audience for this movie. The humor was very dated and predictable and felt too forced as an audience member. I am a huge fan of Robert De Niro, but I did not appreciate his appearance in this movie. Jack Efron also came across as very awkward and forced throughout much of the film.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2014

Synopsis

Confident in his powers as Spider-Man, Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) embraces his new role as a hero and spends time with Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) in between protecting New York from criminals. However, his greatest battle yet is about to begin. With the emergence of Electro (Jamie Foxx), Peter must confront an enemy far more powerful than he is. And when his old friend Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan) returns, Peter comes to realize that all his enemies have one thing in common: Oscorp.
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Release date: May 2, 2014 (USA)
Box office: 709 million USD
Budget: $200–293 million

My Review

I am a huge fan of Andrew Garfield’s portrayal of Spider-Man. However, I enjoyed the first movie in the series so much that this movie highly disappointed me. The biggest thing I dislike about this film is how much it leaves the series opened and not closed. For me, there were way too many subplots of this movie that did not fully tie together at the end. The movie also leaves a lot of unanswered plot holes that take away from the overall film. The portrayal of Harry Osborn in this movie was also a huge disappointment. The character was not written in a way that the audience could connect with him, and he was overall very uninteresting.

The Wolf of Wallstreet 2013

Synopsis

In 1987, Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) takes an entry-level job at a Wall Street brokerage firm. By the early 1990s, while still in his 20s, Belfort founds his own firm, Stratton Oakmont. Together with his trusted lieutenant (Jonah Hill) and a merry band of brokers, Belfort makes a huge fortune by defrauding wealthy investors out of millions. However, while Belfort and his cronies partake in a hedonistic brew of sex, drugs and thrills, the SEC and the FBI close in on his empire of excess.
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Release date: December 25, 2013 (USA)
Budget: 100 million USD
Box office: 392 million USD

My Review

This film, let me tell you. Watching this film was an experience. I know many people did not like the movie because the main character was so unlikeable. However, the movie makers wanted the audience to dislike the main character, and they pulled that off beautifully. The thing I strongly disliked about this movie is how silly it was. There was no real plot structure, and many of the scenes and plot points in this film had to purpose. Therefore, the movie did not tie very well together and a lot of it seemed like pointless filler. I am also a huge fan of Leonardo Di Caprio and the other actors in this film. But they couldn’t even take this film seriously, which impacted their overall performance. Overall, this while movie felt like a giant joke and many of the scenes felt pointless to the movies overall themes.

The Dark Knight Rises 2012

Synopsis

It has been eight years since Batman (Christian Bale), in collusion with Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman), vanished into the night. Assuming responsibility for the death of Harvey Dent, Batman sacrificed everything for what he and Gordon hoped would be the greater good. However, a cunning cat burglar (Anne Hathaway) and a merciless terrorist named Bane (Tom Hardy) force Batman out of exile and into a battle he may not win.
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Release date: July 20, 2012 (USA)
Box office: 1.084 billion USD
Budget: 250 million USD

My Review 

The Christian Bale portrayal of Batman is incredible, and The Dark Knight is a widely known and respected film found on many of the top 100 films list. In fact, it’s widely acknowledged as a film that every film major needs to see at one point or another. However, this movie was an extreme disappointment compared to its predecessor. The development of Bane was really lacking. As an audience member, I felt no connection to him. What makes a great villain is a character who you hate but have an innate connection or emotion for (like the Joker). Bane is just a puppet for the true villain of this movie, and because of this, there is a barrier between the audience forming a true bond with him. Therefore, the audience has no investment in the quarrel between Batman and Bane, and it’s easy to lose interest in this film. This movie also seemed to drag on for an elaborate amount of time, only to have the conclusion very abrupt and predictable.

Midnight in Paris 2011

Synopsis

Gil Pender (Owen Wilson) is a screenwriter and aspiring novelist. Vacationing in Paris with his fiancee (Rachel McAdams), he has taken to touring the city alone. On one such late-night excursion, Gil encounters a group of strange — yet familiar — revelers, who sweep him along, apparently back in time, for a night with some of the Jazz Age’s icons of art and literature. TheN more time Gil spends with these cultural heroes of the past, the more dissatisfied he becomes with the present.
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Release date: May 20, 2011 (USA)

My Review

The overall idea and the plot of this movie are very interesting. However, it felt very long and dragged on and on. The whole movie felt like a giant cliche. The main problem I had with this movie is the lack of character development. Throughout the entire movie, I had no emotional investment with the characters in the film. Which proved to be problematic since the whole movie the audience is watching the main character (Gil) on this literary journey of sorts. This left me not caring about the movie or invested in the movies turn out. Which is surprising and disappointing for a Woody Allen film.

Nanny McPhee Returns 2010

Synopsis

Enigmatic Nanny McPhee (Emma Thompson) arrives on the doorstep of a harried mother, Isabel Green (Maggie Gyllenhaal), who is trying to raise her kids and tend to the family farm while her husband is away at war. Isabel has her hands full with not only her own three but also with her sister’s spoiled pair. With no time to lose, McPhee uses magic to instill in the children five important lessons.
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Release date: August 20, 2010 (USA)
Box office: 93.2 million USD
Budget: 35 million USD (2010)

My Review

This movie is such a disappointing sequel to Nanny McPhee. The first movie was so well thought out and well put together that this movie cannot compare to it. As a kids’ movie, it’s great. But the whole movie is so predictable for any older audience member watching it there is no element of mystery or suspense in wondering what will happen. While perhaps it is a kids’ movie, the first movie was not as predictable and cliche. This movie was not as much as a whimsical experience as the first, and it felt like for the filmmakers since the first movie was such a success they put a lot less care and thought into the making of the sequel.

5 Things I’ve Learned in Film School from a College Senior

I’ve heard many times in my life that I am wasting my time and money by going to college to study film. However, as I’m approaching my last semesters of my college career, I am realizing just how much I have learned. Here are the top five things my University has taught me about the film industry.

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1. Collaberation

The most valuable thing I have learned from being a part of the film and theatre community is that you must be willing/able to collaborate with your peers. I have seen so many people who think they know best and are not willing to listen to anyone else’s ideas. However, this only results in BAD films and bad contents. No one person is an expert in every area of film production. While it’s important to understand all the various fields such as lighting, sound, camera, directing. Everybody has their speciality and is nowhere near being an expert in these fields. The best films come from working with someone that specializes in each field and being able to listen to each other’s ideas and play off of each other’s feedback.

2. Confidence

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The second main thing I have gained throughout my college career is confidence. Being able to turn in projects and gain the feedback/ constructive criticism of classmates and professors is HUGE. A big confidence booster is being able to see your growth from Freshman year onward. That is something you can always do outside of a university setting. However, the community environment built by fellow students and faculty is an amazing place for being challenged and growing as a filmmaker. I have definitely gained so much confidence in my filmmaking and that gives me great ease as I think about graduation and getting into the film industry.

3. Connections

A major benefit I have found from attending a university for film studies is all the connections you will make. My classes have had a wide variety of guest speakers, and former students come to talk with us including an editor from the Ellen show and a camera operator from the Walking Dead. I talked to both speakers and show them my work. The feedback from them was extremely valuable and their lengthy advice for getting into the film industry. I have also gotten the amazing opportunity to showcase films in various festivals and meet filmmakers through professors and advisors. I still collaborate with other filmmakers I have met through professors and learn from them more and more every day.

4. Professionalism

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From watching film professors and being thrown into professional environments, I have learned how to act and be very professional in various situations. I have also gained more confidence in approaching and talking to peers and how to react in certain social situations. I have lots of social anxiety, so this has been extremely beneficial to me, especially as I leave school and head into the “real” world.

5. Production Elements

Having different professors that each specific in different fields is very beneficial. I have learned a lot from audio, directing, camera work, documentary film-making, editing, sound editing, graphic design, media writing, etc. Having a professor in front of you that specializes in that specific field is extremely useful, and I have learned so much. In the production side of things, I have learned way too much to count into one blog.

What Did I Just Watch (A Midsommar Review) *Spoiler Alert

Midsommar

Synopsis  

A couple travel to Sweden to visit their friend’s rural hometown for its fabled midsummer festival, but what begins as an idyllic retreat quickly devolves into an increasingly violent and bizarre competition at the hands of a pagan cult.
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Release dateJuly 3, 2019 (USA)
Budget$8–10 million
Box office42.3 million USD

My Review: 

I’m sure I am not the only one left heavily confused after watching this film. I am a huge fan of Ari Aster and his work, and I knew going into this film it would most likely be full of deep and dark symbolism and disturbing ideas. After watching this film, it left me confused and in deep thought about what I had just watched. For some people, this is a reason they dislike the film. However, I think there is a lot of strength in a film that resonates with you hours after watching it. This film made me think and reflect on the movie even days after watching it.

The film focuses around Dani and begins with her tragic life. Her sister has committed suicide while also killing Dani’s parents. The audience then meets Dani’s boyfriend Christian, whom we discover has been looking for an excuse to break up with her for almost a year. From the beginning, I disliked Christian and felt bad for Dani, which I think the director was hoping for. Dani then tags along with Christian and his friends to visit his friends hometown in Sweden for the Midsummer ritual.

Ari Aster said he wanted to create a film about a breakup. While Dani and Christian’s relationship was a central part of the plot, I felt that the movie mainly focused on family and the need to feel wanted. From the moment Dani gets the call about the deaths in her family, Dani calls Christian and leans on him more than ever. She becomes severely dependent on Christian, even to where he can’t even get away from her and go to Sweden alone with his friends. Most of the movie I saw Dani as weak and dependent on others for emotional and physical support.

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Once in Sweden things get weird, the characters all experiment with drugs and it seems their hallucinations mix in with the reality of the cult-like society to where the audience doesn’t know what’s real and not real. Towards the beginning of the movie Dani and Christians bear witness to a ritual of the cult in which the older members of the society throw themselves off a cliff to recycle their life before old age sets in. Of all the guests visiting the society, Dani seems disturbed yet intrigued by the ritual. Through a Point of View shot, we see Dani make eye contact with one of the cult leaders and there seems to be some level of connection between the two. One by One Christian’s friends get killed off by the cult members. However, the audience sees Dani become more and more intrigued by the society and everything it represents.

If you notice later in the film, Dani sees the society in the way she did while on drugs without depending on drugs. In comparison, Christian still only sees the society as Dani does while on hallucinogens, which he’s even reluctant to take toward the end of the film. This just goes to show the contrast between the two characters and the separation between the two on their own personal journeys. Dani depends less on Christian and more on the society. During the May Queen ritual is when the audience sees the real change within Dani.

Throughout the film, flowers seem to represent the family unit. There are flowers in the room shown with Dani’s dead parents lying in their bed, and they cover the room in which the visitors stay with paintings. The members of the cult also wear flower headpieces throughout much of the film the clothes they wear even have flowers embroidered on them. However, the audience does not see Dani wear flowers until the May Queen ritual in which she wears a flower crown. It is here when Dani makes a real internal change.

Image result for MidsommarThroughout the ritual process, the audience also sees Dani smiling the most genuine smile she has made in the entire film. Before that she was depressed and often anxious, never smiling for longer than a  few forced seconds. This represents just how much she’s feeling the emotional support and sense of community she has been looking for throughout the entire film.

Things take a real turn once they have declared Dani the May Queen. The audience now sees her covered in a whole robe of flowers, further showcasing her conversion into the strange society. The breaking point for her occurs when she sees Christian having sex with a cult member in a strange ceremonial procreation ritual. Dani begins crying and screaming, visually upset and the cult members surrounding her scream and cry as well. Taking on a load of her emotional burden. It is here that Dani furthers her conversion and begins emotionally depending on the society even more.

The film ends with Dani deciding to send Christian to burn alive in the last ritual of the Midsummer festival. As she watched the temple with Christian inside she at first seems sad and begins crying, and again the society shares in her burden and begins crying and screaming. After a few moments of this the camera then shows a closeup of Dani and she lets out a sickly and disturbing smile. Her smile brings the film full circle and symbolizes her complete conversion into the Swedish cult. Image result for MidsommarShe has finally found what she has been looking for the entire movie and has completely given herself fully to the people and society around her. She has found a new family and one that allows her to depend on them more than Christian ever did.

My Rating:

3.5 out of 5

Overall, I enjoyed watching this film. I liked that it required me to analyze it for its deeper meaning, and I appreciate the uniqueness of this film. However, for me seeing this film once is enough and I don’t see myself urging to watch it soon.

Top 5 Films of 2019 from a Film Major

As a senior film major, I don’t know everything when it comes to film. However, I do greatly enjoy watching movies and I watched a lot of movies in 2019, and with the Oscars coming up this weekend I thought this was the perfect time to reflect on some of my favorite films from the year.  Here is my opinion and reasons for what I claim to be the top 5 films of 2019.

Joker

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Synopsis

Forever alone in a crowd, failed comedian Arthur Fleck seeks connection as he walks the streets of Gotham City. Arthur wears two masks — the one he paints for his day job as a clown, and the guise he projects in a futile attempt to feel like he’s part of the world around him. Isolated, bullied and disregarded by society, Fleck begins a slow descent into madness as he transforms into the criminal mastermind known as the Joker.

Release date: October 4, 2019 (USA)
Box office: $1.071 billion
Budget: $55–70 million
My Review

I know, I know. This film seems to be all people can talk about lately. But this film truly blew me away in every aspect. First off, Joaquin Phoenix is such an incredible actor, and his performance in this film does not disappoint. While I did not find this film too disturbing. The thing that stuck with me the most was known as an actor what mental place Joaquin had to get into. The camera work in this movie also blew me away. Every shot was so beautiful to look at I couldn’t look away. When I watched the film a second time I realized just how much symbolism was put into each shot whether that be lighting, positioning of the actors, or use of shadows. There is this thing in the theatre called the suspension of disbelief, and it is when the audience is no longer aware they are watching a play because they are so transported into another universe. Very few times in my life have I experienced this in a film, and this was one of them. The lighting and overall production design was incredible, and it all tied together amazingly.

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Another thing I really liked about this movie was the themes and the overall message. The message of this movie in that society needs to be more supportive of the poor and the mentally take care of its people as well. The Joker in this film clearly has some mental problems, and he is left to rot by those around him. Society even takes away his therapist and meds from him. As a whole I think society has done a lot better in dealing with mental illness, but there is such a strong stigma against mental disorders and for those people this movie gave a strong warning to what becomes of a person who needs help and doesn’t receive it. We need to take care of each other and not turn our backs on the problems of everyday life.

Lastly, the psychological element I really enjoyed about this film is the idea that a criminal is made and not born. Arthur (Joker) has no knowledge he is becoming the leader of a political and social movement until the end of the movie. But everything that has happened in the movie and in his life has led him to act out the way he has. I’m not saying he is justified in murder, but it’s interesting that he still has some sense of moral. Notice in the scene with his two clown friends he kills the one that ultimately got him fired from his job in a bloody scene. However, the other friend that had only been nice to him he lets leave. Society and the way people have treated him make Auther into the leader of the movement we see at the end of the movie.

The Professor and the Madman 

Synopsis:

Based on the 1998 book `The Surgeon of Crowthorne’ by Simon Winchester, the life of Professor James Murray is portrayed as he begins work on compiling words for the first edition of the Oxford English Dictionary in the mid-19th century. As he led the overseeing committee, the professor received over 10,000 entries from one source in particular – a patient at Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum, Dr William Minor.
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Initial release: March 28, 2019 (Greece)
Box office: 5.4 million USD
Budget: 25 million USD

My Review:

Unlike the Joker, I truly feel this movie has not talked this movie about enough. Sean Penn is also one of my all-time favorite actors, and his performance with Mel Gibson was amazing to watch on screen. The two actors had great stage chemistry that portrayed a deep forming friendship and brotherhood. I love watching films based on true stories, especially when I was not aware of the story to begin with. The thing I appreciate and love most about this film (beside the acting) is the writing and the plot structure. The film flows effortlessly and does a good job of transition through a period of time in order to tell the story. The dialogue given to the characters is really natural and engaging.

This film also deals with mental insanity and the audience also witnesses some unethical practices done by psychologists in mental institutions. The film does a good job of humanizing Dr. Minor’s character (Sean Penn) while showing how he really is struggling mentally. He suffers greatly from PTSD and the film takes on an interesting look at just how much that can impact a man and his life. I really am shocked and upset at how little attention this movie has received since it’s coming out.

Rocketman

Synopsis:

Young Reginald Dwight changes his name to Elton John and collaborates with singer-songwriter Bernie Taupin to become one of the most iconic figures in pop history. Set to his most beloved songs, it’s the epic musical story of Elton John, his breakthrough years in the 1970s and his fantastical transformation from shy piano prodigy to international superstar.
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Release date: May 31, 2019 (USA)
My Review
I have always deeply appreciated Elton John’s work. In face, me and one of my dearest friends became friends to Rocketman back in high school. However, I never really knew all that much about his life story, only bits and pieces. Something I think really helped this film be as amazing as it was is that Elton John was so heavily involved in its creation process. Taron Egerton does such an incredible job portraying such an icon. I’m sure it helped to be able to interact with the real Elton John himself to do him justice.
One of my favorite elements of this film is how experimental it is. The way the movie transitions from dialogue into song is effortless and smooth. Each musical number is like watching a musical on screen and its done creativity and innovatively. I really enjoyed the use of color and symbolic shots in the film. The whole film is extravagantly done and is an emotional experience. It fully matches the style of Elton John and embodied his life in a creative way.
Throughout the entire film young Elton John is learning to love himself for who he is while battling past demons that have held him down. It gives a powerful message to the viewer regarding not caring what anything thinks of you but to do what you love and to be whoever you want to be. I think everybody has felt demons holding them down, or felt the fear of truly beings oneself. In this way, I think this film can touch almost anyone watching the film in a relatable way. While also making you respect Elton John even more for coming out on the other end stronger than ever.

Goodboys 

Synopsis:

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Invited to his first kissing party, 12-year-old Max asks his best friends Lucas and Thor for some much-needed help on how to pucker up. When they hit a dead end, Max uses his father’s drone to spy on the teenage girls next door. When the boys lose the drone, they skip school and hatch a plan to retrieve it before Max’s dad can figure out what happened.
Release date: August 16, 2019 (USA)
Box office: 110.9 million USD
My Review:
This film probably made me laugh the hardest of any film in 2019. The comedy of this film is really amusing as its someone an older audience can relate to. Most of the comedy of this film is centered around the three main characters in the films innocence and lack of knowledge when it comes to adult things. Which makes an easy laugh for the R-rated movie watchers as they are aware of what these objects really are and what they are used for. One of the most comedic parts is when the boys sell what they think to be a dummy to practice kissing on which is really a sex doll.
I also really enjoyed how this film addressed growing up and not always keeping the same best friends you had when you were little. People grow and change and this is something the movie did a nice job of addressing amongst all the comedy. This is also something I think most people watching the film could relate to from their own personal childhood. Overall, this film is a fun and enjoyable watch. It had me laughing every moment while still making some personal and relatable life events.

The Two Popes 

Synopsis:

Behind the Vatican walls, Pope Benedict and the future Pope Francis must find common ground to forge a new path for the Catholic Church.
Release date: November 27, 2019 (USA)
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My Review:
This film was an enjoyable watch for me. All the production elements tied in perfect to create a uniform style for the film. I’ve heard some people say they didn’t like the movie because it was a little slow paced. Most of the movie is watching dialogue between the two Popes. However, this is something I really liked about the movie because it felt so realistic. I felt like I was watching two actual popes in a real-life situation.
The film did a good job of establishing both of its central characters in a way that the audience fell in love with both of them despite their vast differences. I also really enjoyed how the film tied in modern music and the soundtrack of the music tied in perfectly with the film as a whole. Another obvious impressive aspect of the film is the acting. Jonathan Pryce and Anthony Hopkins both did such a good job completely becoming the character they were portraying, it was easy to forget you were watching a film and not real-life events.
Lastly, I really enjoyed the look this film gave me into the life of the pope, and the initiation process to vote in the new pope. I did not understand how it worked with the cardinals getting together and releasing specific colored smoke to the public depending on whether they came to a consensus or not. It that retrospect this film was very informative and interesting to watch.