Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Silver Screen


Joaquin Phoenix gives a career defining role in 'You Were Never Really Here'

By Brandon Ermer Last updated: 04/13/18 5:00am

There is nothing particularly boundary-pushing about “You Were Never Really Here,” the newest effort by Scottish director Lynne Ramsay. It is a relatively procedural revenge film chronicling a man with a particular set of skills rescuing a damsel from the clutches of a group of men with sinister intentions (sound familiar?).However, what makes this feature truly incredible is Ramsay’s willingness to explore the psyche of the anti-hero in lieu of the conventional trappings of the subgenre. ...

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'Itzhak' is a portrait of charismatic, world renowned musician

By Brandon Ermer Last updated: 04/11/18 12:35pm

Music has always been a major part of our interaction with the world. It fills our music halls, our campuses, our workplaces and even our homes. Popular artists like Lady Gaga and Kendrick Lamar have built personas and entire brands around their names. Even members of famous bands like Harry Styles of One Direction and Adam Levine of Maroon 5 have name recognition. This is a facet of celebrity that is sorely missed for classical musicians, however. With the exception of the cellist Yo-Yo Ma, ...

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‘Blockers’ is a teenage Rom-Com, heavy on the ‘Com’

By Grace George Last updated: 04/09/18 11:09am

“Blockers” is what you would get if you let Seth Rogen write the script for an original Disney Channel movie. The comedy follows three parents on their journey to prevent their daughters from losing their virginities on prom night. Lisa (Leslie Mann), Mitchell (John Cena) and Hunter (Ike Barinholtz) encounter every possible obstacle in trying to stop their kids before it’s too late, and these pitfalls add to the hilarity and absurdity of the film. As one of the producers of “Blockers,” ...

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'A Quiet Place' creates a chilling post-apocalyptic horror through its creative sound design

By Brandon Ermer Last updated: 04/06/18 2:34pm

In “A Quiet Place,” John Krasinski -- most famous for his role in “The Office” -- decides to take his first plunge into the horror genre as director and leading actor. What results is a compelling exploration of one of the most crucial elements involved in the making of a successful horror film: sound design. The film follows a small family as they navigate life in a rural, post-apocalyptic -- perhaps post-alien invasion -- landscape. It is clear from the initial trailer as well as the ...

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'Lean on Pete' is a touching coming-of-age film about a boy and his horse who set out on a journey across state lines

By Ali Almutairi Last updated: 04/06/18 2:33pm

“Lean on Pete,” based on the book by Willy Vlautin, is writer and director Andrew Haigh’s newest film, which tells the coming-of-age story of Charley Thompson, a 15-year-old kid who befriends a race horse and sets out on a journey to find his family and stability in life. Thompson, played by the excellent Charlie Plummer, has just moved to Portland, Oregon after his single father, played by  Travis Fimmel (“Vikings”), found a job there. Charley, tries to be positive and cheerful ...

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Student filmmakers’ environmental documentary shown at film festival

By Katya Podkovyroff Lewis Last updated: 04/05/18 1:14am

On March 27, “Healing Baltimore's Harbor: A Pipe Dream?” was shown in the Doyle Forman Theater, bringing students and Washington, D.C. locals to hear more about Baltimore’s unsafe harbor. Students in Professor Mike English’s “Environmental Filmmaking for Public Television” class created the documentary examining Baltimore’s aged and crumbling sewage and stormwater infrastructure that continues to pollute the city’s harbor. Previously screened at the DC Environmental Film Festival, ...

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Discover a messy Wall Street scandal in 'The China Hustle'

By Brandon Ermer Last updated: 03/30/18 11:48am

The world was profoundly affected by the stock market crash of 2008, and Americans are still feeling the consequences. However, since 2008, Chinese markets have appeared to be unaffected and even improving in some cases. Documentary filmmaker Jed Rothstein’s “The China Hustle” explores a loophole that may have allowed Chinese companies to exploit world markets. While it has a riveting premise, the documentary falls into the same trap from which many economic and Wall Street-centric films ...

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Comedy from the Truth: Armando Iannucci on the current state of satire and his latest film 'The Death of Stalin'

By Jacob Robbins Last updated: 03/23/18 2:27pm

Director and British Statist Armando Iannucci finds himself in a weird predicament. His latest film “The Death of Stalin” has been a sensational critical hit, with The New Yorker magazine heralding it as “the most accurate picture of life under Soviet terror that anyone has ever committed to film.” Inevitable connections have been drawn between his comedic portrayal of Soviet Russia and current political situations domestically and abroad. The problem? He started work on the film two ...

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‘Pacific Rim: Uprising’ is mindless fun that doesn’t take itself too seriously

By Ali Almutairi Last updated: 03/23/18 12:52am

Taking place 10 years after the events of the first “Pacific Rim” film, “Pacific Rim: Uprising” follows Jake Pentecost ( John Boyega), son of Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba), who gets pulled back into the military to teach and prepare the new generation of Jaeger pilots, those who command the massive mecha-robots that face the otherworldly monsters. In the event that a new threat emerges, the team would work together to save the planet Director Steven S. DeKnight (“Spartacus” and ...

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‘Ramen Heads’ is an enjoyable jaunt targeted at a niche fanbase

By Brandon Ermer Last updated: 03/23/18 12:50am

People often take for granted things that are a part of their everyday lives and ignore their meaningful origins in lieu of more pressing details like jobs and family. “Ramen Heads,” named after the group of die-hard foodies that make ramen a cornerstone of their lives, is the first film from TV documentary director Koki Shigeno. It delves into an important aspect of everyday life in Japan that may get overlooked: ramen. The first 40 minutes of the documentary act as a biographical introduction ...

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