Alien(s) (1986) Review

Synopsis

After floating in space for 57 years, Lt. Ripley’s (Sigourney Weaver) shuttle is found by a deep space salvage team. Upon arriving at LV-426, the marines find only one survivor, a nine year old girl named Newt (Carrie Henn). But even these battle-hardened marines with all the latest weaponry are no match for the hundreds of aliens that have invaded the colony.

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Release date: July 18, 1986

(USA)Director: James Cameron

Film series: AlienBudget: 18.5 million USD

Screenplay: James Cameron, Dan O’Bannon, Ronald Shusett

My Review

With the movie’s title being the plural of aliens, one can expect a lot of aliens to be in this film….. and oh boy are there a lot of aliens in this film. By keeping the same villainous creature in this film but changing the dynamic the film was fresh and just as suspenseful as Alien. As an audience member, we are still learning more about the alien species along with the characters within the film and that kept me engaged and interested.

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There is a lot more action in this film compared to Alien, and while the action scenes were well thought out and orchestrated I found the movie to be copying its formula from the first movie just a bit. For example, the little girl in the film (Newt) takes over the role that Ripley’s cat played in the first film. Ripley feels entitled to protect Newt at all costs, and at the end of the film, she must race against time to save her before the station explodes. Just as she had to do in the first movie to retrieve Jonesy (her cat).

Just as in Alien a crewmember betrays the mission by putting science above the lives of others. I knew that this film would follow the same pattern to some level, and wasn’t surprised at all when Burke did whatever he could to make sure the alien species went back with them for scientific study. Again this plot twist was changed a little bit, in the sense that the Android was not the one to betray them in this film. But at its core Aliens followed very similar plot patterns to its predecessor Alien.
That being said I still found myself engaged and sitting in anticipation all throughout the film, and there was no moment where I became bored or remembered that I was watching a movie.

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My Rating

4/5

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FireFly lane (2021) review

Synopsis: Tully and Kate meet as young girls on Firefly Lane and become inseparable friends throughout 30 years of ups and downs. First episode date: February 3, 2021 Network: Netflix Program creator: Maggie Friedman Executive producers: Maggie Friedman, Stephanie Germain, Katherine Heigl, Lee Rose, Shawn Williamson, Peter O’Fallon My Review: After watching the first few episodes of this series, I was not sucked into …

Alien (1979) Review

Synopsis In deep space, the crew of the commercial starship Nostromo is awakened from their cryo-sleep capsules halfway through their journey home to investigate a distress call from an alien vessel. The terror begins when the crew encounters a nest of eggs inside the alien ship. An organism from inside an egg leaps out and …

The Mule (2018) Review

Synopsis

Broke, alone and facing foreclosure on his business, 90-year-old horticulturist Earl Stone takes a job as a drug courier for a Mexican cartel. His immediate success leads to easy money and a larger shipment that soon draws the attention of hard-charging DEA agent Colin Bates. When Earl’s past mistakes start to weigh heavily on his conscience, he must decide whether to right those wrongs before law enforcement and cartel thugs catch up to him.

Release date: December 14, 2018

(USA)Director: Clint Eastwood

Featured song: Don’t Let the Old Man In

Box office: 174.8 million USD

My Review

The story-line of this film kept me entirely interested throughout the entire movie. The three things that stood out to me the most about this film were its well-developed characters, dynamic acting, and subtle use of symbolism. It was also extremely heart wrenching and touching to watch Clint Eastwood act in his last film as a modern “cowboy.”

The characters in this film are well- developed by both incredible acting and a well-written script. I almost forgot I was watching a film at certain points, because the characters completely came to life and made the story their own. Especially Clint Eastwood, it’s easy to see that he put everything he had into his role in this film and it fully paid off.

There is a perfect balance between action, and lifelike events in this film. Keeping it from feeling unrealistic with too much action, or slow moving with not enough excitement. Because of this, the film feels very realistic, and as an audience member I fully understood how the film’s protagonist accidentally stumbles into the drug business and stays in it.

I really enjoyed how this film took place in a modern world, while still holding onto some elements and characteristics of an old western film. I also really enjoyed how the protagonist of this film (Earl Stone) is a twisted kind of hero, and how as an audience member I both sympathized with him and grew frustrated with. My only complaint about this film is knowing it was Clint Eastwood’s farewell to Hollywood.

My Rating

9 out of 10


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Alien(s) (1986) Review

Synopsis After floating in space for 57 years, Lt. Ripley’s (Sigourney Weaver) shuttle is found by a deep space salvage team. Upon arriving at LV-426, the marines find only one survivor, a nine year old girl named Newt (Carrie Henn). But even these battle-hardened marines with all the latest weaponry are no match for the hundreds …

Dirty Dancing (1987) Review

Synopsis

Baby (Jennifer Grey) is one listless summer away from the Peace Corps. Hoping to enjoy her youth while it lasts, she’s disappointed when her summer plans deposit her at a sleepy resort in the Catskills with her parents. Her luck turns around, however, when the resort’s dance instructor, Johnny (Patrick Swayze), enlists Baby as his new partner, and the two fall in love. Baby’s father forbids her from seeing Johnny, but she’s determined to help him perform the last big dance of the summer.

Release date: August 21, 1987

(USA)Director: Emile Ardolino

Awards: Independent Spirit Award for Best First Feature

Location: Lake Lure

My Review

This film has been one of my go to summer movies for years. Its memorable soundtrack, dance numbers, well-rounded acting, and charming dialogue creates the perfect entertaining summer film. Overall, I would consider this film to be light-hearted. But that’s not to say it doesn’t have its fair share of drama in the plot. However, the portrayal of the film’s plot points are done so in a way that doesn’t ruin the films overall relaxed summer feel. The acting in this film is remarkable, and the dancing goes even beyond that.

My favorite thing about this film is that while it’s listed as a romantic movie, and the plot focuses heavily on the relationship between Baby and Johnny, the plot digs much deeper than that. Unlike most romance based films, I wouldn’t call this film a chick flick. There is way more to this film besides the relationship between its two protagonists. In fact, the film also focuses on the roles of social statues, the relationship between baby and her father, friendship, and what it means to do the right thing. Because “Nobody puts baby in a corner.”

This film was shot on location at Lake Lure, which added a lot to the film. The whole environment set up by the filmmakers help to create the nostalgic summer feeling from childhood. The coming of age element to the movies plot will easily make you reminiscent on past summer romances, and what it felt like falling in love for the first time.

The film also captures and embodies the well-versed feel and themes of 80s movies. Any audience member watching this film will easily find themselves transported back in time, and most likely tapping their foot along to the music. My only complaint about this film is that it makes me wish I was a better dancer.

My Rating

9.5/10


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Lucas Hagar: The Influence of NArrative Storytelling on Documentaries

In a podcast with Film Riot, Lucas Harger talked in-depth about his filmmaking process as well as the creative cross between narrative film and documentary filmmaking. As a filmmaker, Lucas has been successful in crossing between editing both documentary and narrative stories to produce unique and creative content. According to Lucas, being able to create …

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.

Rear Window Film Review

Synopsis: 

The story of a recuperating news photographer who believes he has witnessed a murder. Confined to a wheelchair after an accident, he spends his time watching the occupants of neighbouring apartments through a telephoto lens and binoculars and becomes convinced that a murder has taken place.

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Release dateAugust 4, 1954 (New York)

My Review

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Rear Window is my favorite Alfred Hitchcock film and has been on my top 10 list of films for years. My favorite thing about this film is the set. The whole movie takes place from Jeff Jeffereies (James Stewart’s) apartment. Throughout the movie the viewer looks into the lives of his neighbors through Jefferies window and into the neighbors’ windows. All the shots spying on the neighbors are done from a point of view aspect. This is creative and different for movies made during the 50s. The camera shots get very creative. My favorite point of view shots is when Jefferies looks through his telephoto lense on his camera to get a closer look at the lives around him. As the camera cuts from Jeffereies looking out, to what he is seeing the audience sees the images on the screen as if they themselves were looking through a telephoto lense. In this way, the director has taken complete control of the audience and has manipulated how they will watch and perceive the film.

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Another creative camera movement this film does an innovative and creative job of accomplishing is breaking the 180 degree rule. In film, we use the 180 degree rule when setting up camera shots. The 180 degree rule says that two characters in a scene should always have the same left/right relationship to each other. Traditionally, if the 180 degree rule is broken it disrupts the scene and causes disorientation to the audience. However, there is a scene in this movie upon which the 180 rule is broken, causing no kind of distortion. In a scene between James Stewart and Grace Kelly, she crosses over the line and into the other side of the action. However, the way they pull it off there is no disorientation to the audience which is hard to do. 

The acting in this film is totally on par. James Stewart never disappoints, and his acting in this film is extremely compelling. The acting of the neighbors though small roles, are done exceptionally well. Something that’s important in this film is the disconnect between all the neighbors. Throughout the entire film, the viewer sees a world in which all of its characters are stuck inside their own worlds and never fully connect with each other. Image result for rear windowThe only time the neighbors interact is when the death of a neighbor’s dog brings them together. I really appreciated this element of the film because it felt a lot like real life. Typically, we are so stuck inside of our own lives we don’t always notice the small details around us until a tragedy brings us all together.

The last thing I really enjoy about this film is the plot structure. This film flows so effortlessly, and it follows a well put together plot structure. It’s the type of movie in which you forgot your watching a film. Every element of this film flows so effortlessly and ties together. perfectly it’s easy to see that the creators of this film put a lot of time and effort into the films pre-production which paid off.

My Rating:

4.5 out of 5

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.