Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Thursday, April 25, 2019

Silver Screen


The “Hellboy” reboot is bloody but soulless

By Ali Almutairi Last updated: 04/12/19 2:16am

As the director of “The Descent” and “Dog Soldiers,” Neil Marshall is no stranger to tackling macabre and unearthly stories. While the “Hellboy” universe seemed like the perfect playground for him, the film is lifeless and falls flat despite the gratuitous amount of blood and gore and David Harbour’s solid performance as the titular character.  The reboot introduces us to Nimue The Blood Queen (Milla Jovovich) who was trapped for centuries and exiled, only to rise again and build ...

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Director Mike Leigh discusses his latest historical drama “Peterloo”

By Ali Almutairi Last updated: 04/05/19 1:46pm

In August of 1819, 80,000 people rallied together at St. Peter’s Field, Manchester, in order to seek representation and reform. The peaceful demonstration soon turned into a frenzy, when the cavalry were ordered to enter and disrupt the people. This devolved into a violent massacre that led to hundreds of injuries and some deaths.  Growing up in Salford, a city in northern England, “Peterloo” director Mike Leigh was never taught this important piece of history in school.  “It’s ...

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Director John Lee Hancock and Writer John Fusco discuss “The Highwaymen”

By Ali Almutairi Last updated: 03/31/19 11:47pm

Police checkpoints and investigations of a thousand-men sting operation couldn’t stop outlaws Bonnie and Clyde, but two former Texas rangers did. Frank Hamer and Manny Gault were two highwaymen who brought an end to the criminals in 1934.  “The Highwaymen” screenwriter John Fusco described the story as having an “elegiac western quality” to it that’s reminiscent of western miniseries “Lonesome Dove” or “Ride the High Country,” but was in fact a true story. Netflix’s  “The ...

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Jordan Peele’s “Us” is an ambitious and chilling fable of American identity

By Ali Almutairi Last updated: 03/22/19 2:23pm

Jordan Peele shattered expectations with his directorial debut “Get Out.” Not only did it tap into the zeitgeist, but it also provided a darkly humorous and equally scary take on American race relations. In his sophomore effort, “Us,” he expands the lens of his commentary by exploring recurring conflicts within American identity. “Us” tells the story of a family arranging a secluded getaway where they can spend time with each other on vacation. A relaxing time quickly turns into a vivid ...

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Fyre Festival documentaries have one thing in common: the generalization of a generation

By Amelia Nickell Last updated: 03/05/19 8:41pm

In 2017, American entrepreneur Billy McFarland and rapper Ja Rule presented an exclusive weekend extravaganza on an island previously owned by Pablo Escobar, the notorious Colombian drug lord. Jerry Media, a successful marketing company, promised a star-filled line-up as they posted advertisements that featured Bella Hadid, Emily Ratajkowski, Hailey Baldwin and other models. Tickets to the event soared up to $250,000 and sold out within 48 hours. When festival-goers arrived to the island, however, ...

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“How To Train Your Dragon 3” is an epic and emotional end to the animated trilogy

By Ali Almutairi Last updated: 02/22/19 11:52am

The original “How To Train Your Dragon” made huge waves when it premiered in 2010. Not only was it visually stunning, it was also emotional and action-packed, setting the bar high for its sequels. How To Train Your Dragon 3: The Hidden World marks the conclusion of Toothless and Hiccup’s (Jay Baruchel) story and it does not disappoint, boasting quality animation, fantastic flying setpieces and a strong emotional core. The third film takes us back to Hiccup’s village, where people and dragons ...

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The Eagle’s 2019 Oscar picks and predictions

By Brandon Ermer Last updated: 02/18/19 11:35pm

This year’s Academy Awards ceremony is sure to be a fascinating one. With the lack of a host and the staggeringly large number of snubbed films (casualties include “Widows” and “You Were Never Really Here”), there’s definitely going to be an uproar so great, we might even hear it all the way from Hollywood to our small, private Washington D.C. university. Here are The Eagle’s picks and predictions for who will (and who should) win the awards for some of the top categories, including: ...

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“What Men Want” succeeds in entertaining, but leaves more to be desired

By Delilah Harvey Last updated: 02/08/19 4:17pm

“Okurrr!” Chuckles rippled throughout the theater as Ali Davis (Taraji P. Henson) appeared on screen, speaking to her assistant after jumping off her in-home treadmill triumphantly. The scene instantly set the tone for Henson’s sassy, strong-willed character, which was enough to leave audiences laughing while feeling a little intimidated. But despite the cast’s convincing performances and humorous attempts, the film often fell flat in places where it sought to address deeper issues in the ...

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“Serenity” is filled with absurdity and awkwardness

By Peyton Bigora Last updated: 01/24/19 9:56pm

On Plymouth Island, everybody thinks they know everything, but the truth is, nobody knows anything. “Serenity,” directed by Oscar nominee Steven Knight, stars Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway. Although it seemed to have enough originality and modernization to stand out as a unique and progressive film, the movie as a whole fell drastically short due to its bizarre and ridiculous plot line. Advertised as a thriller, the beginning was somewhat intriguing when protagonist Baker Dill’s (McConaughey) ...

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Jon Baird finds tenderness and humor in “Stan & Ollie”

By Ali Almutairi Last updated: 01/10/19 3:00pm

Baird directs “Stan & Ollie,” a film that chronicles the late careers of the iconic comedy duo Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy as they embark on their final theater tour. During the tour however, they come to realize that they’re not as popular as they used to be, nor as young and spritzy.In this film, both Stan and Ollie (played by Steve Coogan and John C Reilly respectively) have realized that audiences are no longer looking to them for comedic solace, and know other, fresher duos are taking ...

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Barry Jenkins and KiKi Layne discuss“If Beale Street Could Talk”

By Delilah Harvey Last updated: 12/24/18 3:00pm

Tish and Fonny, separated by a clear window at a local jail, speak to one another on the phone. Through just a few words, their love is palpable, and through just a few glances, their separation is painful. We, as viewers, are quickly anchored to the characters. In many respects, the director, Barry Jenkins, and the lead actress, Kiki Layne, had a similar effect. As I sat across from these two Hollywood stars, I expected our interaction to have a distance comparable to that of an audience member ...

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“Aquaman” can’t live up to its low-bar expectations

By Dilpreet Raju Last updated: 12/20/18 4:31pm

If you’ve kept up with the DC extended universe (DCEU), which, as lowly box office sales report, many of you have not -- then you are probably looking forward to James Wan’s “Aquaman” coming out this weekend.For those not keeping their thumbs on the dying pulse of Warner Bros. attempt at a cinematic universe, “Aquaman” follows Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa) as he is torn between the “surface world” and Atlantis; with a war on the horizon, he must find a sacred trident in order to stop ...

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A mother and son defy the restaurant world in “Chef Flynn”

By Andrew Klabnik Last updated: 11/20/18 10:09pm

When you decide to watch a documentary about food, whether it’s a feature length piece on the industry as a whole (ala “Food, Inc.”) or an episode from Food Network’s seemingly endless supply of shows about chefs eating food at other restaurants, there’s always the expectation that you’ll at least get to look at some tantalizing shots of the meals themselves.But “Chef Flynn” is a food documentary that spends very little time dwelling on the food itself. There are no slow-motion shots ...

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“Creed II” isn’t as graceful as it’s predecessor, but still throws impressive punches

By Ali Almutairi Last updated: 11/20/18 6:14pm

Directed by Steven Caple Jr, “Creed II” ties the new franchise closer to the “Rocky” series, summoning a sequel that’s tied closely to the events of the fourth “Rocky” film. In this latest installment, Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan) is challenged by Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren) and his son (Florian Munteanu) to a boxing match, a fight that carries an incredible amount of baggage, for both Creed and Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone). This fight is an opportunity for Creed to not only ...

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“Ralph Breaks the Internet” represents Disney’s new take on what friendship means

By Kelly McDonnell Last updated: 11/19/18 12:17am

The simple routine that Ralph and Vanellope (Sarah Silverman) have at the beginning of “Ralph Breaks the Internet” is suddenly upheaved when Ralph (John C. Reilly), the loveable and naive good-guy who is unable to avoid his destructive behavior, ends up breaking his best friend’s game.The owner of the arcade can’t afford the necessary replacement part online, so he has to scrap the game that Vanellope calls home.Ralph’s guilt leads him to abandon the familiarity of the arcade and traverse ...

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El Ángel” is a stylish foreign crime thriller

By Jacob Robbins Last updated: 11/15/18 7:01pm

What is the power of influence over film?I can still recall with amazing clarity when I first saw Faye Dunaway’s devious smile in the classic “Bonnie and Clyde.” There is also Warren Beatty donning his handsome mug and plenty of violence and gore to knock the socks off any movie-going audience. That film focuses on two criminals who fall in love while pulling off a series of ever-escalating and audacious heists, while also exploring themes of sexuality, criminality, and identity.“El Ángel,” ...

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Jason Reitman’s “The Frontrunner” is well made, but lacks punch and personality

By Ali Almutairi Last updated: 11/15/18 6:31pm

Jason Reitman’s latest film tells the true story of Senator Gary Hart (Hugh Jackman), who was embroiled in a controversy regarding an extramarital affair while running for the Presidency in 1988. The film covers the three weeks from when the information reaches the press, to when he eventually drops out of the race. “The Frontrunner” however never has anything to say, and just lets the story unfold without ever divulging anything interesting.The film is undeniably topical, and asks the question ...

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‘The Great Buster: A Celebration’ is a Bogdanovich love letter to comedy icon Buster Keaton

By Ali Almutairi Last updated: 11/09/18 4:42pm

Even if one hasn’t seen Buster Keaton’s films, they are sure to have seen one of the many gags he created in other iconic films and television. Buster Keaton was not only an incredibly comedic performer, but also a filmmaking pioneer. In this entertaining tribute, Director Peter Bogdanovich shows just how his comedy bits and setpieces, especially in the 1920s, kept pushing the boundaries of what could be possible on the silver screen. Buster Keaton started performing at a very young age for ...

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“A Private War” is a thoughtful, visceral look at journalist Marie Colvin’s experiences

By Ali Almutairi Last updated: 11/08/18 2:01pm

It is hard to quantify the true face of war. Everyday, people look at the news and hear stories about mass deaths, violence and acts of pure evil in different war-torn countries, where ordinary people have become victims ─ victims who need to have their stories told. Most are lucky to have a safe detachment from these warring corners of the world, but some brave few are tasked to bring those stories back home, who feel compelled to inform the public about these injustices. Marie Colvin was one ...

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Luca Guadagnino’s “Suspiria” is a spellbinding incantation

By Brandon Ermer Last updated: 11/01/18 2:00pm

Those who watched Luca Guadagnino’s previous film “Call Me By Your Name” will undoubtedly remember a now infamous scene with a peach. If you can, try and recall your emotions as you squirmed in your seat, uncomfortable as you tried to come to terms with the obscenity unfolding before your eyes. It’s not so much the outrageousness that shocks you, but the intimacy in which the director and cinematographer handle such strangeness. If your feelings in that moment could be amplified into an ...

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