Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Thursday, July 18, 2019

Silver Screen


‘Eighth Grade’ Director Bo Burnham and cast on social media and generational difference

By Dilpreet Raju Last updated: 07/16/18 8:24pm

“I immediately started crying.” Elsie Fisher describes her first experience seeing “Eighth Grade” in its entirety at The Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. Fisher stars in the film as Kayla Day, a 13-year-old who spends her free time scrolling through Instagram and making YouTube videos preaching self-confidence. Unfortunately, Kayla doesn’t take to her own advice and is struck by constant shyness and social anxiety. “Eighth Grade” is the feature debut for 27-year-old writer/director ...

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“Sorry to Bother You” Is a Creative, Wild, and Zany Movie That Must Be Seen to Believe

By Jacob Robbins Last updated: 07/07/18 9:36pm

The season of the summer blockbuster is upon us. That overcrowded action-film-packed time of the year where most movies feel distinctly similar and clichés run amok at cinemas across the country. Gear up for the latest superhero flick, or get ready for another heart throbbing rom-com. Then, there stands “Sorry to Bother You,” a movie that is so crazy and wild, so fresh and new, that it could perhaps provide a cure (if only temporary) to that blockbuster fatigue.I can guarantee you this: “Sorry ...

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In attempting to portray how the West was really won, ‘Woman Walks Ahead’ loses

By Last updated: 07/07/18 9:34pm

The United States’ treatment of indigenous peoples is one of its paramount national sins. The release of “Woman Walks Ahead,” a film that attempts to grapple with this scar on American history, seems deftly placed two days after the country’s symbolic birthday.What ensues however is a haphazardly executed film loosely based on true events that fails in gracing the viewers with any message deeper than “how we treated the Natives was bad.”Jessica Chastain plays artist Catherine Weldon, ...

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Boots Riley is ‘Sorry To Bother You’ : On his latest movie, the role of the individual and how we’re all just performing

By Jacob Robbins Last updated: 07/06/18 7:46pm

The summer, while usually reserved for the blockbuster smashes of superhero action flicks, has found a darling in Boots Riley’s first feature film, “Sorry To Bother You.” The film centers on Cassius Green (Lakeith Stanfield) as he descends into the seedy underworld of telemarketing while discovering his “white voice.” The film is out now and has been a project of Riley’s for some time: the original script was finished in 2012 and published as its own paperback in 2014. Starting his career ...

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“Recovery Boys” stabs at the hearts of viewers and the opioid epidemic

By Brandon Ermer Last updated: 07/05/18 8:57pm

The United States’ battle with opioids has been well documented at this point. From frequent news coverage, the Trump Administration’s decision to enact the death penalty on drug dealers and even other documentaries, it has become a cornerstone in our nation’s political discourse.Something that gets overlooked, however, are those who suffer directly as a result of these opioid addictions. We often hear about the casualties in this epidemic; families who have lost sons, daughters or parents ...

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Elvis as a symbol of Americana in “The King”

By Ali Almutairi Last updated: 06/27/18 9:06pm

“The King,” directed by Eugene Jarecki and produced by Errol Morris, presents the current state of America through the prism of Elvis Presley, the king of rock n’ roll. It also rationalizes the American definition of success as analogous to the massive rise and tragic fall of Elvis, thus exploring the unhealthy relationship Americans might have with the “American dream”. The documentary follows Presley’s 1963 Rolls Royce across state lines during the 2016 election, inviting people to ...

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'Tully' is a point blank exploration of the blessings and trials of motherhood

By Brandon Ermer Last updated: 05/04/18 4:27am

Motherhood has always been an integral plot element in storytelling. Fantine (Anne Hathaway) is a woman who has to resort to extreme measures to feed her daughter in  “Les Misérables,” and Ellen Page plays a girl who has to reckon with how her life will be different after her teen pregnancy in “Juno.” But often overlooked is the simplicity of the relationship between a mother and her family and how it is in itself is a compelling story story. This is the route taken by “Juno” ...

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'Ghost Stories' is more affecting than scary

By Ali Almutairi Last updated: 04/27/18 4:48am

Andy Nyman and Jeremy Dyson direct “Ghost Stories,” a British anthology film starring Nyman as Professor Goodman, a man who dedicates his life to debunking the psychic and the supernatural. The film is an homage to great British anthologies released in the 1960s and 70s by Amicus Productions. Low-budget films like Asylum, From Beyond the Grave and Tales from the Crypt are some of the studio’s notable releases that tell different stories linked by an overarching narrator. This film updates ...

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'Avengers: Infinity War' dives into the darker side of heroism and humanity, succeeding all the same

By Dilpreet Raju Last updated: 04/27/18 4:29am

It has all led up to this. Ten years of entertaining films, character development and world-building have culminated in Marvel’s latest addition to their cinematic universe, “Avengers: Infinity War.” Avoiding potential spoilers, the film takes place roughly two years after the events of “Captain America: Civil War.” “Infinity War” involves a disjointed Avengers team, along with the Guardians of the Galaxy and others, who must band together to stop their most formidable foe yet, ...

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'The Rider' stuns with an honest look into life after injury

By Brandon Ermer Last updated: 04/20/18 5:50am

Filmmakers have always glorified men who live life in pursuit of a single goal. From Charles Kane’s final utterance of “Rosebud” in “Citizen Kane” to more recent films like “Whiplash” where the protagonist is dead-set on becoming the greatest drummer to ever live, suffering through endless abuse from his instructor along the way. Chloé Zhao’s most recent film “The Rider” continues this tradition in a heartfelt manner. Suffering a debilitating injury at a rodeo, Brady Blackburn ...

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‘I Feel Pretty’ teaches us to love (and laugh at) ourselves

By Grace George Last updated: 04/20/18 5:45am

Despite the fact she was not involved in the direction, writing or production of this movie, the role of Renee in “ I Feel Pretty” was made for Amy Schumer. “I Feel Pretty” relays a positive message about self-love in a funny and relatable way. It is not particularly inspiring or empowering, but Schumer’s character shows that confidence is everything. Renee is a New Yorker in her mid-30s who struggles with confidence, constantly wishing that she were undeniably beautiful. The day after ...

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'Rampage' can’t decide what type of movie it wants to be

By Ali Almutairi Last updated: 04/13/18 11:11pm

Based on the popular arcade game of the same name, “Rampage” tells the story of a primatologist named Davis Okoye (Dwayne Johnson), who notices his friend George, who happens to be an albino gorilla, is growing exponentially and getting angrier and angrier because of a mystery serum. The film then sets off with Okoye and Dr. Kate Caldwell (Naomie Harris), who previously worked with the company that created this serum and weapon, attempting to save the world and stop a series of different animals ...

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'Truth or Dare' is fun at times, but fails to live up to its promising premise

By Ali Almutairi Last updated: 04/13/18 4:13pm

“Truth or Dare” tells the story of five college students who are partying in an abandoned church in Mexico when they decide to play truth or dare. As soon as they get back home they realize they can’t escape the game, they are forced to either play, or die. Jeff Wadlow, who previously directed “Kick-Ass 2,” assembles a strong cast including Lucy Hale, Tyler Posey and Violett Beane. They have great on-screen chemistry and elicit some sympathy for their characters and what they’re going ...

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'Aardvark’ is a sporadically interesting but ultimately dull drama

By Ali Almutairi Last updated: 04/13/18 9:05am

“Aardvark” tells the story of Josh Norman (Zachary Quinto), as he starts to see his therapist Emily (Jenny Slate) again after finding out his brother, Craig (Jon Hamm) is back in town for the first time in 16 years. Josh starts to reveal to Emily that he’s seen his brother on many occasions, masquerading as different people in his life. What Josh doesn’t know is that Emily is dating his brother. The film teases some interesting insights about how we deal with loneliness and how everyone ...

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

By Brandon Ermer Last updated: 04/13/18 9:00am

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 4:35pm

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 3:09pm

“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 6:34pm

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 6:33pm

“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 5:14am

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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