Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Friday, January 18, 2019

Silver Screen


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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“The Other Side of the Wind” is a challenging, unwieldy view into the director

By Ali Almutairi Last updated: 11/01/18 2:00pm

“The Other Side of the Wind” had a long journey before it made its way to screens. It was Orson Welles’ final outing as a director before he passed. He spent years trying to get funding to finish this film. Welles, by the 1980s, had garnered an enormous amount of respect, but that didn’t mean people were willing to sign on to something that was experimental. Welles was a man who was emboldened by his eccentricities, especially in the tail end of his career. When he passed in 1985, hours ...

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“Wildlife” is all smoke but no fire

By Jacob Robbins Last updated: 10/26/18 11:15am

“Wildlife” is a film that oozes potential. The cast, for one, is enough to get anyone excited: Carey Mulligan and Jake Gyllenhaal staring side by side. It’s the directorial debut of Paul Dano, an actor whose portfolio includes some of the greatest pieces of cinema from the last couple of years (“There Will Be Blood,” “Little Miss Sunshine,” and “12 Years a Slave” to name a few). It has a premise that lends itself so well to the screen: a father leaves his family to fend for themselves ...

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“Studio 54” reveals unsung emotions from the 70s club’s rise and demise

By Grace George Last updated: 10/24/18 9:11pm

“Studio 54” recounts the vibrant life and scandalous death of Studio 54 through the owners’ journey from beloved revolutionaries to criminals. While the written history of the 1970s nightclub tells us about abuse of power and greed, the documentary, “Studio 54,” reveals another story; one of emotional turbulence and being the victim of one’s own success. The Studio 54 discotheque left a permanent mark on New York party culture and the West Side area thanks to the owners, Ian Schrager ...

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“Mid90s” is a unifying throwback film about skating, suffering and striving to be cool

By Kelly McDonnell Last updated: 10/24/18 12:15pm

You wouldn’t expect the film to begin with a boy being thrown against a wall, tossed to the floor and then punched multiple times by his older brother. You wouldn’t expect a film about the mid ‘90s, aptly titled “Mid90s,” to show you anything other than the cartoons, burgeoning technologies and baggy pants that were becoming popular in America. You wouldn’t expect comedic actor Jonah Hill to write and direct a film that transcends its setting and becomes more about the people we see ...

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Michael Myers returns to Haddonfield in this serviceable, unsatisfying “Halloween”

By Ali Almutairi Last updated: 10/18/18 9:53pm

Director David Gordon Green and writer Danny McBride have an interesting take on the “Halloween” franchise. 40 years after the original, Michael has been locked up in an institution this whole time, while Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) lives as a recluse, alienated by her family for her paranoia. The sequels following the original are retconned, and all that’s left is the memory of that fateful night 40 years ago, when the senseless, grizzly murders occured. It’s fascinating to see such ...

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‘First Man’ explores the toll of getting Neil Armstrong to the moon

By Dilpreet Raju Last updated: 10/11/18 10:25pm

Sending a man to the moon was one of the most difficult and dangerous missions ever attempted in human history. Its toll, in finances and human life, are ever-apparent in “First Man.” So is the cost of Neil Armstrong’s personal journey, one full of pain and tumult. “First Man” straps audiences into the cockpit and shoots them hurtling toward the unknown, dark reaches of space over and over again as the Gemini missions and various test procedures carry the film to the impending Apollo 11 ...

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“Bad Times at the El Royale,” believe it or not, is a pretty good time

By Brandon Ermer Last updated: 10/11/18 5:00pm

In his 2012 directorial debut, Drew Goddard quite literally deconstructed the horror genre in his dextrous and clever “The Cabin in the Woods.” The film plays on many tropes familiar to the genre, all culminating in a perplexing final act that defies all logic and expectation but still manages to entertain.“Bad Times at the El Royale” is Goddard’s follow-up to this cult hit, and with a cast of A-List actors (including returning collaborator Chris Hemsworth), cements himself as a competent ...

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The Hate U Give shines a spotlight on Black Lives Matter

By Peyton Bigora Last updated: 10/05/18 2:54am

Powerful and chilling from start to finish, “The Hate U Give” is a riveting movie based on the best-selling novel by Angie Thomas. The novel and film deals with the heated ideological debate between Black Lives Matter, an activist organization creating a world without “anti-blackness,” versus Blue Lives Matter, a support organization for law enforcement agents. Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter (Amandla Stenberg) is whisked into a whirlwind of political controversy and activism when she is the ...

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“A Star is Born” is a beautiful reflection of the cost of celebrity

By Jacob Robbins Last updated: 10/03/18 6:25pm

Movies about stardom tend to be too self-aggrandizing. “Maybe Hollywood isn’t interested in making fine art, but hey, we are!” is usually how the script goes. Now, peppered with some song and dance, and boy have you got a mediocre picture. It’s just that films of that nature don’t have anything important to say aside from the happy Hollywood ending the story already told.From the start of “A Star is Born” it’s clear from Bradley Cooper’s lamentation at the beginning of the film ...

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