‘Something in the Air’ and its Exposure of Teenage Fantasies

By Olivia Norwood, Edited by Julia Wilson

Let’s do something different and review a movie from a few years ago because sometimes we miss the chance to speak our opinions on a film that should be talked about. Today, we’re talking about the 2012 French drama, Something in the Air.

Set in 1970’s France, the young artist Gilles (Clément Métayer) gets involved in a radical political group that believes they are the start of a small revolution with the usual hippie and drug combination that would almost be offensive if they hadn’t put it in.

Writer and Director Olivier Assayas (Personal Shopper) portrays himself in the character of Gilles as he struggles with whether or not he should make films, be a painter, or be an activist. But he finds himself “joining the cause” to avoid alienation from his political friends who choose to make posters and graffiti buildings over doing something that matters. Gilles decides to take the creative route and eventually leaves his chaotic and radical friends behind to pursue a dream.

What I’m taking away from this is to follow your heart not the herd. Teenagers, like the ones in the film, are impressionable and often pressured into what their friends do because they don’t want to miss out on their youth before life happens. And when it finds you, you can’t run away from it. Eventually, you have to grow up which is what Gilles finds himself facing and ultimately realizes that life on the other side isn’t so bad.

Being a revolutionary seems exciting in the moment, but all revolutions come to an end and that’s kind of like youth.

Something in the Air is a film that, in the beginning, makes you want to travel the world without a worry or responsibility. By the end, you realize that it isn’t real. It’s a facade of happiness.


My Rating: 69%

Acting: 2.3/4

Cinematography: 3/4

Story: 3/4

Enjoyability: 2.7/4

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Penetrating the Interminable Mystery Of ‘Ismael’s Ghosts’

By Anthony Peyton, Edited by Olivia Norwood

2018 has already had a good share of foreign films, when you put Zama and Fantastic Woman (which won Best Foreign Film at the 2018 Oscars) in the mix. It was exciting to see that a French foreign film was coming to theatres as I knew it would have an interesting plot and involve a person named Pierre as all french films inevitably have.

Ismael’s Ghosts ended up becoming very confusing very fast. It was simple, at first, seemingly about a woman named Sylvia (Charlotte Gainsbourg) and her boyfriend of two years, Ismael (Mathieu Amalric), who have to recover from a strange turn of events as Ismael’s presumed dead wife Corletta (Marion Cotillard) shows up at an unexpected time.

The acting was slightly better than mediocre. The actors and actresses were new to me, for the most part. Amalric was previously in The Grand Budapest Hotel, Munich, and Quantum of Solace. Cotillard is a one-time academy award winning actress for La Vie en Rose and also appeared in Inception.

As for the plot, it’s complexity develops into something significantly more mysterious, intense, and confusing. This included a story about Ismael as a director and his movie which ends up being part of the twist at the end. At least, I think it was. It got so complicated at the end that I couldn’t tell if it was a twist or something I was just missing the whole time.

Overall, Ismael’s Ghosts was a fine movie. It was confusing beyond confusing but that was its biggest flaw. Make sure you’re ready, though, because it’s the longest 2 hour and 15 minute film you’ll ever watch. As in, it will feel like you’ve been there for a full year before you leave.


My Rating: 74%

Acting: 3/4

Cinematography: 3.3/4

Story: 2.8/4

Enjoyability: 2.8/4

‘La La Land’: An Homage to Old Hollywood

By Julia Wilson, Edited by Anthony Peyton

For this week’s Time Warp Tuesday, the film we’ll be talking about isn’t very old, but the references it makes date as far back as 1935.

I’m sure when you hear about the film La La Land you probably think of the truly iconic moment in Academy Award history when La La Land was announced as the Best Picture winner, only for someone to come up and say moments later that Moonlight had actually won Best Picture.

Although I could talk all day about the Oscar drama surrounding this film, today I want to talk about its many references to old Hollywood musicals, why they’re there, and what makes them such a key element of the magic of this film.

La La Land is a love story between Mia (Emma Stone) and Sebastian (Ryan Gosling), two struggling artists with big dreams. Mia dreams of one day becoming an actress, and Sebastian dreams of opening up his own jazz club and reviving the genre. The story is sweet and relatable to any struggling artists out there, but what really sets this film apart is its attempt to make an old Hollywood musical today.

Throughout the film there are several references to old Hollywood musicals, but probably the most prominent reference is to the 1952 classic Singin’ in the Rain starring Hollywood legends Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds. Some allusions to the 1952 classic in La La Land include Ryan Gosling swinging on the lamppost during “A Lovely Night” as Gene Kelly does in “Singin’ in the Rain” and large dance scenes in La La Land that mirror some of those in Singin’ in the Rain. In the image below, the top is from La La Land and the bottom is from Singin’ in the Rain.

Singin
Top: Courtesy of Lionsgate, Bottom: Courtesy of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

One of the most memorable scenes in La La Land is during the song A Lovely Night”. Although this scene has references to many old Hollywood films, the general concept is heavily inspired by the 1935 film Top Hat starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Specifically, the song “Isn’t this a Lovely Day (to be Caught in the Rain)” where its concept of a couple whose dialogue tells you they’re bickering, but through the song and dance you see that there is actually love there really inspired director and writer Damien Chazelle (Whiplash), as he describes in his interview with PBS NewsHour. You can see the similarities below, with the top image from La La Land and the bottom image from Top Hat.

A Lovely Night
Top: Courtesy of Lionsgate, Bottom: Courtesy of RKO Radio Pictures

Another classic Hollywood allusion is to the film Broadway Melody of 1940 which starred Fred Astaire and Eleanor Powell. In that film Astaire and Powell dance on a starry looking stage, and a very similar image appears during the “Epilogue” scene in La La Land. This can be seen below with the top image from La La Land and the bottom image from Broadway Melody of 1940.

Broadway Melody
Top: Courtesy of Lionsgate, Bottom: Courtesy of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Some of the other classic Hollywood films referenced in La La Land include Rebel Without A Cause starring James Dean and Natalie Wood, Funny Face starring Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire, and Bob Fosse’s film Sweet Charity starring Shirley MacLaine. Below you can see side by side images of La La Land and Rebel Without A CauseFunny Face, and Sweet Charity.

Collage 1
Left: Courtesy of Lionsgate, Right: Courtesy of Warner Bros., Paramount Pictures, and Universal Pictures

 

So why did Chazelle choose to make a film such as La La Land? As he describes in his interview with PBS NewsHour, ever since he fell in love with old Hollywood musicals he really wanted to try and see how you could make one today. He goes on to describe how these musicals had him “reveling in what only movies can do”, and how he loved the idea of telling a story through sound and image, opposed to dialogue, which is something no other medium could do.

The amazing thing about La La Land is it revived the magic of film that we haven’t really felt since the days of old Hollywood. Since then we as a society have gotten used to the tricks, CGI, and typical movie structure that we see today, and lost the magic and wonder film used to bring. By combining stunning cinematography, beautiful music, and of course allusions to old Hollywood classics Chazelle has brought that magic back with La La Land.

 

‘Step Sisters’: Throwing Together College Trash

By Anthony Peyton, Edited by Olivia Norwood

Step Sisters is a new original Netflix film with a 25% on Rotten Tomatoes. That, at least for me, says it all… but I gave it a chance. Unfortunately, that chance wasn’t worth it.

This is a movie that makes an attempt at combining stereotypes about race, gender, and college sororities to develop what the writers called a teen comedy. It’s a triple whammy that nobody asked for and nobody wants to see.

Don’t get me wrong, I can see where they attempted to make it work. They had characters who were having trouble with their own self identity and characters who wanted to embrace their self identity but couldn’t. This attempt crashed when they put it up against moments of blatant racial stereotyping, which just isn’t funny anymore in the society we live in unless it’s done with purpose.

Jamilah (played by Megalyn Echikunwoke, CSI: Miami), Beth (Eden Sher, The Middle), and Dane (Matt McGorry, How to Get Away With Murder) play three of the main characters, and were the strongest out of the cast. However, that’s not saying much because none of them were at their strongest performance by any means.

Sher seems to be stuck playing the same role in every production she appears in while McGorry is consistently losing his eye for good entertainment, which is a sad thing to me, as I really enjoyed him in How To Get Away from Murder.

On the whole, I did not like this movie and would suggest spending your time watching funnier teen comedies like Edge of Seventeen and Netflix’s very recent Dude. The acting wasn’t pristine or even good and the teen comedy it attempted to be just blew up on more than one occasion.

If I could give any advice to teen comedies in the future, steer away from race jokes every thirty seconds unless it actually needs to be said. Step Sisters just took it too far.


My Rating: 35%

Acting: 1.7/4

Cinematography: 1/4

Story: 1.7/4

Enjoyability: 1.3/4

‘Breaking In’: A New Kind of Movie Mom

By Olivia Norwood, Edited by Therese Gardner

Happy Mother’s Day! Today, we celebrate and praise all of the matriarchs in this world which also includes our movie moms. Coming in on time for the holiday is the new action and thriller Breaking In where we live through a mother’s worst fear and realize that they are (literally) unstoppable.

Warning to all moms: don’t see this movie unless you’re stable in your own paranoia.

Breaking In features Gabrielle Union as the dedicated mother who is locked out of a house while three possible killers hold her children hostage. The film wastes no time in getting to this point, as it happens almost 10 minutes in.

Aside from the intensity, let’s talk about how refreshing it is to see a mother single-handedly be the hero. Let’s be real, we all know that if this happened to any other mom then they’d fight until their own last breath, but to have it shown in a film makes you appreciate all of the little things she does for you.

Gabrielle Union pulls off the revenge-driven performance we all hoped for based off of the trailer. Cinema always depicts mothers as fragile, soft-spoken, and gentle. Well, this mom doesn’t mess around. She kicks ass and refuses to be manipulated. Union’s character definitely takes the cake this year as best movie mom.

But, Union herself is one of the only women this year whose acting doesn’t consist of using her sexuality as a weapon. Though it does make for an interesting character, its overplayed. Watching a movie use her actual strength, wits, and motivation as a weapon is a good change that I wish the rest of Hollywood would take notes on and use.

Breaking In is fresh in story and exhilarating in action. It proves that actresses are more than just their stereotypes and that being a mother is more than just its title.

Melissa McCarthy is the ‘Life of the Party’

By Julia Wilson, Edited by Anthony Peyton

2018 really has been the year of pleasant surprises. Melissa McCarthy’s newest comedy ‘Life of the Party’ is genuinely laugh out loud funny, charming, and heartwarming, something I did not expect from the absurd concept of the film.

The film starts out with Deanna (Melissa McCarthy) finding out that her husband Dan (Matt Walsh) is in love with their realtor and divorcing her. Deanna then decides to better herself in the wake of this awful situation, by going back to college and finishing her Archeology degree at the same school she started it at, which also happens to be the same school her daughter Maddie (Molly Gordon) is attending.

A mom and daughter going to college together sounds pretty ridiculous right? But McCarthy and the rest of the cast are able to make it work effortlessly.

First of all, this movie is hilarious. Watching the pure and adorable Deanna going through all of these insane college antics, paired with McCarthy’s impeccable comedic timing is a true recipe for good comedy.

Also, while we’re on the topic of how funny this movie was, I have to talk about Maya Rudolph. She plays Deanna’s best friend Christine, and although she doesn’t play a very big role in the story, she steals the show of every single scene she is in. From the absurd things she says, her never ending support of Deanna, and the comedic genius that is Maya Rudolph every single scene she is in is absolutely hysterical.

Honestly, watching McCarthy and Rudolph together again reminded me of the days of Bridesmaids, and man was it great to see these two talented ladies working together on another film.

The part of this film that surprised me the most was how well the story worked because the concept really does seem like a recipe for cringing and eye rolling. But the plot actually ends up flowing very well. The way it is done makes you almost forget how ridiculous it is, and honestly made it feel plausible and nearly realistic.

I think what made the plot work so well was the open and honest relationship Deanna and her daughter Maddie had. It was so nice to watch this charming mother daughter relationship unfold and see how they were always there for each other in every way. It reminded me of my relationship with my mom which made me love it even more.
If you’re looking for a heartwarming and hilarious movie where you truly care about the characters, then go see Life of the Party. You won’t regret it.


My Rating: 83%

Acting: 3.7/4

Cinematography: 2.5/4

Story: 3.2/4

Enjoyability: 3.8/4

 

Film Forecast Friday: May 11th

On Friday, May 11th, we have….

  1. Breaking In
  2. Life of the Party
  3. Terminal
  4. The Seagull
  5. The Assassin’s Code

Liv’s Prediction:

The biggest movies opening this weekend have got to be Melissa McCarthy’s Life of the Party and Gabrielle Union’s Breaking In. One’s an action/thriller and the other a comedy both starring strong female leads. Without question, these films will do numbers at the box office.

Two other films starring female leads are Margot Robbie’s Terminal and Soairse Ronan’s The Seagull. Two indies with Academy Award nominated actresses – likely to be a hit amongst regular moviegoers, like myself.

Lastly, the new Justin Chatwin action film The Assassin’s Code might just end up being one of those movies you’re likely to see end up on Netflix after a week in theatres because no one knew it existed.

Therese’s Prediction:

Without a doubt, Life of the Party, starring Melissa McCarthy, will be the biggest film of the weekend. McCarthy never seems to disappoint when it comes to making people laugh, as she always exudes a certain underlying lighthearted charm within the characters she performs. Another big hit for the weekend will be Gabrielle Union’s Breaking In, as she fights for her family’s survival. With two strong, talented female leads headlining the biggest movies of this weekend, it sure will be an enjoyable weekend at the box office.

The next two films to premiere this weekend feature a couple of incredibly talented award nominated actresses. Terminal, starring Margot Robbie, and The Seagull, starring Soairse Ronan and Annette Bening, will definitely be a crowd favorite among movie viewers of all ages. This makes for a weekend filled with powerful and compelling female roles, which I am all here for.

The final movie of the weekend, The Assassin’s Code, starring Justin Chatwin is a crime thriller detective story that many people are probably unaware of and as a result will likely fall short at the box office with lower than expected views and poor ratings.