Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Silver Screen

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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“Colette” is a period drama with more to say about women of today than meets the eye

By Kelly McDonnell Last updated: 09/28/18 6:45pm

In the late 19th century, the last thing France seemed to want was an intellectual, romantic and self-assured woman authoring the most popular novel of the time.“Colette,” directed by Wash Westmoreland, illustrates the life of renowned French author and actress Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette. At 20 years old, Colette married literary publisher Henry Gauthier-Villars, or Willy, and began writing, sometimes only because Willy locked her in a room and forced her to write, the multiple novels in the ...

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Michael Moore’s “Fahrenheit 11/9” reminds us of the importance of documentaries

By Jacob Robbins Last updated: 09/24/18 3:49pm

What is the role of the documentarian? Should they maintain a certain distance in their filmmaking or is it their duty to insert themselves in their art and take a stand? Should they let the facts speak for themselves or tell us what to make of the bits and pieces presented? Is documentary filmmaking a form of journalism or simply a glorified Op-ed?The documentary form has come into question as debates regarding the merits of what makes a successful film rage on. For years, the liberal firebrand ...

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Which movie subscription service is best for college students?

By Brandon Ermer Last updated: 08/30/18 2:30pm

The movie theater subscription service MoviePass has been in the news quite a bit recently -- for all the wrong reasons. Amid mounting skepticism as a result of the myriad changes to its business model, CEO Mitch Lowe sent an email to subscribers saying, “MoviePass members will be able to see up to three standard movies a month for $9.95, and be given up to a $5.00 discount to any additional movie tickets purchased.” While still a great deal, this is a far cry from their previous too-good-to-be-true ...

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“Support the Girls”: Regina Hall gets by with a little help from her girls

By Rebecca Evans Last updated: 08/24/18 7:47pm

“Support the Girls” is a fun, earnest comedy that takes an honest look at a day-in-the-life of the staff of a small-time Texas “breastaurant” and its long-suffering general manager Lisa, played with attention-grabbing sincerity by Regina Hall (“Girls Trip,” the “Scary Movie” series). Over the course of one stressful day, Lisa tries to span the gap between the waitresses she has vowed to take care of and the demands of an unsympathetic business; all while dealing with her own personal ...

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“Love, Cecil” a deep dive into artist who attempted to sculpt extravagance

By Ali Almutairi Last updated: 07/27/18 2:00pm

Directed by Lisa Immordino Vreeland, “Love, Cecil” is a dive into famous British photographer and designer Cecil Beaton’s diaries. The diaries are incredibly personal, and reveal to us the artist’s suppressed emotions, reflections of his life, the mistakes he’s made, how his childhood formed him and his inspirations for the work that he did. But what makes this documentary more interesting is seeing Cecil’s constant attempts to become part of the elite, and rub shoulders with the most ...

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‘Mission: Impossible - Fallout’ makes perfect use of emotional weight, white-knuckle action

By Dilpreet Raju Last updated: 07/26/18 9:10pm

“Mission: Impossible” is not the first thing that comes to mind when considering Hollywood blockbuster franchises, but maybe it should be.Major film consumption has turned a new page in the past decade. Superheroes and ‘cinematic universes’ dominate the zeitgeist. Great action films and franchises still exist - see “John Wick” - and still make an obscene amount of money - see “Fast and Furious.” However, they are secondhand entertainment to most film fans. The “Mission: Impossible” ...

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“Eighth Grade” makes nervous 13-year-olds of us all

By Dilpreet Raju Last updated: 07/20/18 7:35pm

We often correlate high school to uneasiness and anxiety. Bo Burnham relates it to the frightened thirteen-year-old in us all in “Eighth Grade,” a film about the final week of eighth grade for Kayla Day (Elsie Fisher). She records YouTube videos speaking words of motivation and advice for her next-to-invisible audience but struggles with shyness in day-to-day life and worries about her impending high school social life. Kayla’s father (Josh Hamilton) tries his best to make her feel okay about ...

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