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The Salesman delivers a twisted tale of vengeance

(02/03/17 9:23pm)

Veteran Iranian director Asghar Farhadi returns this year with “The Salesman,” a nuanced portrayal of one couple’s struggle to come to terms with a brutal assault. Emad (Shahab Hosseini), a high school English teacher, and his wife Rana (Taraneh Alidoosti) balance rehearsals for their parts as leads in Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman” with their move into a new apartment. After Rana is violently attacked by a stranger while in the shower, her and Emad’s differing reactions to the incident lead to tension and paranoia.

xXx: Return of Xander Cage delivers with ridiculous but colorful action sequences

(01/20/17 3:00pm)

xXx: Return of Xander Cage is the third movie in the xXx franchise and focuses on Xander Cage (Vin Diesel) coming “back from the dead” as he takes part in one last mission to help return Pandora’s Box, a supercomputer that can control all the satellites in orbit, back to the U.S. government.

Split’s inconsistencies outweigh strengths

(01/20/17 3:00pm)

Split is like the dissociative identity disorder seen in the antagonist: a confusing jumble of good and bad elements that result in a weak film. James McAvoy portrays Kevin, a man who houses 23 incredibly different identities. Some require glasses or insulin shots while others are female or as young as 9 years old. All of these identities and characters are played very well by McAvoy as he kidnaps three teenage girls and ominously talks about “The Beast,” an unknown identity that is explained throughout the film. The girls, played by Haley Lu Richardson, Jessica Sula and Anya Taylor-Joy, constantly plan to escape as Barry (one of Kevin’s identities) meets with his increasingly suspicious therapist.

The Founder: True stories don't always have happy endings

(01/20/17 2:15pm)

Whether it’s opening your Happy Meal to reveal your special toy, dipping your McNuggets into a variety of sauces or running around the PlayPlace during a birthday party, almost every American has a memory at McDonald’s. The Founder tells the true story of how one family-owned San Bernardino burger shack became one of the most recognized and profitable fast food chains in the world. And it’s not what you think.

"Rogue One" resonates in a way "The Force Awakens" could not

(12/13/16 3:15pm)

We have entered a time period of extreme polarization. While we do not have X-wings, Imperial shuttles or droids, our means of fighting have taken root in other forms of reaction and opposition. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story knows its place in the current political climate and is self aware enough to create a narrative that challenges the binary of simply good versus evil. It’s a lesson that resonates with me and will likely resonate with any viewer who has bore the heavy weight of the past year on their shoulders.

Black Mirror's Horrifying Tomorrow

(12/09/16 2:00pm)

Black Mirror, created by Charlie Brooker, depicts a horrifying version of where our society is moving to in the near future. The show turns the mirror back on society and it speaks to how social media is creating a false reality, how technology can be evil, the future of incarceration and so much more. If there is any problem with Black Mirror, it is that it covers so much and forces the audience to question nearly everything about current and future Western society. Yet, because the show has a completely different plot and different actors for each episode, the message behind each story is easily digested by the audience.

Westworld Season 1 Finale: What Happened and What It Means

(12/08/16 4:27pm)

HBO’s big-budget sci-fi show Westworld has finally come to the end of its first season, ultimately leaving even the most astute viewers positively puzzled, either at what the episode decided to show, or what the implications were behind it all. Long-standing questions about what the maze is, whether or not there are different timelines and what exactly Ford’s (Anthony Hopkins) endgame is, were all answered in the finale. There’s no question Westworld is intellectual and thought provoking, but tonight the show may have been too cerebral for its own good.

Review: "Seasons"

(11/28/16 3:17am)

Jacques Perrin and Jacques Cluzaud's new film Seasons opened on November 25, the perfect time to be thankful for what we love and the beauty in our own lives. Though it takes a while to get there, Seasons is a call to action for viewers to protect the wilderness from decreasing any further. Humans have developed and powerfully pushed against the wilderness. This film asks us to question why we cannot allow nature to rebuild and reclaim places that were cultivated and developed by humans. Seasons is filmed very differently than many other documentaries. There is minimal direction from the narrator (Jacques Perrin) as to what the viewer is looking at. This allows the wilderness, as the subject of the film, to speak for itself in the quiet, yet powerful way it does.

Westworld Episode Eight, “Trace Decay” Review

(11/23/16 4:54pm)

Picking up where it left off, this Sunday’s episode of the carrot-and-stick sci-fi drama that is Westworld doubled down on some of the season’s biggest ideas. While the episode didn’t offer up anything new to the genre or to television in general, it did expertly execute on themes of identity, humanity and destiny. For the most part, the episode decided to show a lot more than it teased, which was a welcome change of pace from the cliffhangers that have gotten almost entirely monotonous.

Review: "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them"

(11/18/16 12:00pm)

In troubling times like these, what better world to escape to than one of the magical and beloved Harry Potter series. Though not a direct prequel, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, exists in a time where Dumbledore, Hogwarts and the villainous Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) are famous in the magic community. While the movie deals with many of the same themes as the original series, the first of what could end up being a five film franchise, starts off somewhat unsure of itself. The movie relies heavily on physical comedy, heavy destruction battles and cartoonish CGI creatures that look out of place in the context of the Potter world. The cast of characters aren’t given enough exposition to allow viewers to develop the attachment they may have previously had with Ron, Hermione and Hagrid, and the many moments in the overly long, 2-hour and thirteen minute film are inconsequential or uninteresting.

Review: "Nocturnal Animals"

(11/18/16 12:00pm)

Tom Ford’s second feature film, Nocturnal Animals, tells the story of Susan Morrow (Amy Adams), an artist and art gallery owner. Her ex-husband, Edward Sheffield (Jake Gyllenhaal) mails her a manuscript of his newest novel, which tells the heart wrenching story of a man, Tony Hastings (also played by Jake Gyllenhaal), whose wife and daughter are raped and murdered by a psychotic man in rural Texas. These two stories are told at the same time as Susan remembers her life with her ex-husband and why she leaves him for Hutton Morrow (Armie Hammer), a richer and successful businessman. It seems complicated when written here, but the three stories are interwoven beautifully and as more is revealed throughout the film, some questions are answered while more are raised.

Review: Westworld Episode Seven, “Trompe L'Oeil"

(11/17/16 1:35pm)

For a show that tries to be as philosophical and intellectual as Westworld, I’m surprised that at no point did the writers said “hey, maybe we shouldn’t cast Anthony Hopkins as a manipulative serial killer with a twisted worldview.” That’s not to say that Hopkins doesn’t excel in his role as the creator of the park, Dr. Ford, but it’s just another example of the show struggling to deviate from pre-established storytelling norms.

10 Easy Friendsgiving Dishes

(11/15/16 3:20pm)

Thanksgiving is a time to spend with your family and loved ones. However, not everyone has the opportunity to go back home over the holidays, so the second best option is Friendsgiving! Friendsgiving is perfect to spend with your floor mates and cook in the communal kitchen, or to have people over at your apartment. But for those of you not skilled in cooking and on a budget, we’ve made it easy for you. Here are some college friendly Friendsgiving meals to create for your dinner:

Review: "Edge of Seventeen"

(11/18/16 12:30pm)

Cross a John Hughes movie with a Disney Channel show, add a few f-bombs and you’ll get Edge of Seventeen, the directorial debut of Kelly Fremon Craig, who does a fantastic job despite this being her first credited directorial work. The film tells a familiar story of a troubled teenager who deals with tried and true issues of friendship, love and fitting in. While the plot is so familiar that it’s forgettable, for the most part the main cast delivers witty, charismatic performances across the board.