‘Black Swan’: When the Pretty Became the Paranoid

By Olivia Norwood, Edited by Julia Wilson

Remember when Natalie Portman won an Oscar for playing a deranged ballerina? It was for the Darren Aronofsky film, Black Swan, that may or may not should’ve won for Best Picture and Best Cinematography at the 83rd Academy Awards. But we’re not here to talk about The Academy, we’re here to give this unique and insane story the attention it deserves.

Based in the hustle of a New York ballet company, the fragile Nina (Natalie Portman) strives to prove that she is the best dancer to be the new Swan Queen in their upcoming production of Swan Lake. She soon finds out that envy and wrath comes with the territory of the role. In her journey to achieving her dream, she feels the pressures of being perfect and develops paranoia in the scariest of ways.

The plot is interesting, but what really made this film special was its cinematography, colors, and overall art direction. They’re the aspects that draw a viewer in and make them appreciate its beauty. In Black Swan’s case, the cinematography was done in a cinema veritè style, the colors were pinks, whites, grays and blacks, and the art direction was light contrasting the dark.

Not only is it ‘light vs. dark’ but it’s also ‘innocence vs. temptation’ and ‘perfection vs. imperfection’. Nina represents purity and she rejects anything with impurities. Her life is pretty, pink, and childlike whereas her environment is cutthroat, edgy, and adult. Without making stark contrasts, the cinematography blends the two to allude to Nina’s transformation from White Swan to Black Swan.

But its prettiness doesn’t cloud the horror aspect. It’s still dark and sticks to the theme of paranoia and the hallucinations that Nina experiences. Her competition is her own inner darkness and it’s shown as her alter ego tries to kill her and actual black feathers start to grow out of her skin.

Its scare factor lies in the horrors of mental illness and the fact that all of these nightmarish events are happening inside of her head. The pressures of her passion result in her own madness. Nina is no longer in her right mind and ultimately gives into the dark side of herself.

Black Swan is not a modern retelling of Swan Lake. Instead, it utilizes the themes of the play to create a story about a woman who loses herself and her mind in the midst of maintaining perfection.

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TV Talk Thursday: Big Brother Season 20

By Olivia Norwood, Edited by Anthony Peyton

Happy TV Talk Thursday!

Every first Thursday of the month, we review a new tv show or new season. Today, we’re diving into the 20th season of the widely popular CBS reality show, Big Brother.

Let’s start off by saying that this is the first and only season I’ve ever watched of this show so my opinions are with a fresh, newbie perspective.

Just a quick overview of the concept of the show. Sixteen people stay in one house, compete in challenges, which are followed by evictions from the house members which ultimately leads to one person taking home $500,000.

This season starts off with tech-themed challenges that require some athleticism and, with no surprise, the athletes of the house dominate. Many of those athletes have already created alliances with each other, causing them to create friction between all of the house guests.

As a first-time viewer, you discover that the competitive and seemingly popular ones become the biggest targets by the less aggressive members.

Oh, the drama that ensues!

With the first eviction happening today and considering that this show’s fanbase is heavily based on favorites, I would like to list my top five members of Big Brother 20.

First, the most popular and trending house guest is the adorable pumpkin that is Sam. She lost her competition and received the worst punishment I’ve seen: becoming isolated from the rest of the house and communicating through a robot. After being perceived as the weaker member, she was made a target by the aggressive competitors. This broke poor Sam until she received immunity, which was based on her social media popularity, thanks to the fans at home.

Number 2 has to go to my other favorite, Tyler, who also became the first Head of Household of the summer. He’s a chill lifeguard who is too lovable for anyone to hate him. Number 3 is the small, smart, and sassy JC who brings nothing but joy when I see him in the house or in a competition.

My number 4 and 5 will go to Angela and Kaycee who are in the same power alliance. Angela is one of the athletes of the house who most of the members want gone because of how strong she is as a competitor. So far, you can’t knock her down or she’ll knock you out. Kaycee was the other member who recieved a punishment for coming in last and although she’s an athlete, her low key role in the house makes me wonder if she’ll just float through the competition without creating friction or gaining enemies.

Those are my top 5 of the season, so far, and I cannot wait to see what happens later on. Let us know your thoughts on the season and who your personal faves are.

‘The First Purge’ Predicts an Eerie Future for America

By Julia Wilson, Edited by Anthony Peyton

The First Purge is the fourth installment in The Purge series and acts as a prequel to the other films as it depicts the very first and experimental Purge which took place solely on Staten Island, not on a countrywide scale.

Each of these films depict a not so distant America in which one night a year all crime is legal. Now, although on the surface this premise seems pretty absurd (I really don’t foresee legalized murder becoming a reality anytime soon), the principles it illustrates deep down are not only very real, but are happening right now.

This film in particular really focused on the virtual war between the government and the lower class. In the film, this is illustrated by the government sending in troops to kill off those in low income areas once they realize civilian participation in The Purge is not nearly where they thought it would be.

Now obviously this isn’t actually happening, but a government that supports the wealthy more than those that need it the most is a reality and one the film is clearly trying to showcase, along with the racial tensions that go along with it.

One thing I loved about this new installment in the series is that it bears a message. And a very powerful one at that. The first three films came out pre-Trump, and the message of those seemed to be something like “wow America sucks”. I really like the first three films (well actually I hate the first one, but I digress), but they are not nearly as powerful as The First Purge which has a slightly different tone.

This is perfectly illustrated in the last two lines of the film. One of the characters, after surviving the first ever Purge, asks “what do we do now?” To which one of the other characters replies “we fight.”

Not only does this film attempt to motivate its audience to act through its compelling message, but the film itself is very well done. The acting is superb and much better than you see in most horror movies.

Also, the cinematography and direction actually gave me goosebumps. And then the way it is all edited together helps the audience gain perspective on how horrific the events in this film are. Which in turn helps spread the overall message of the film by giving you time to stop and evaluate the state America is in today and how, by principle, it isn’t much different than the America shown in the film.

Overall, The First Purge is a beautifully done film with a strong and highly important message for America. A film with so much meaning that is also well done is a rarity in any genre – especially horror. But even if you aren’t a horror fan, see this movie. It will give you a lot to think about.


My Rating: 90%

Acting: 3.4/4

Cinematography: 3.8/4

Story: 3.7/4

Enjoyability: 3.5/4

 

A Postcard Never To Forget: A Look On ‘Brokeback Mountain’

By Anthony Peyton, Edited by Julia Wilson

It’s rare that a movie can make me so sad just by thinking about it. A movie that breaks my heart over and over again to the point where I know I’ll never be the same.

That movie is the 2005 Oscar-nominated classic Brokeback Mountain, directed by Ang Lee.

This movie stars Jake Gyllenhaal as the lovable cowboy Jack Twist and Heath Ledger as Ennis Del Mar, the quiet – but still absolutely lovable – cowboy. They embark on a summer job on Brokeback, a mountain in Wyoming. What starts out as an innocent job for the season turns into something much more romantic and erotic.

That’s only a fraction of what the plot actually is, which involves moving on from Brokeback while still trying to stay together. It’s a heartwarming tale that has moments of sadness, purity, love, and everything that makes a romance what it should be. The only catch was that it was two men.

Well, at least by 2005 standards it was a “catch”. Nowadays it’s significantly more common with movies like Love, Simon, God’s Own Country, and Call Me By Your Name. But at this time is was near-unheard of. Luckily, it was powerful enough to make a statement for the entire LGBT community with a community entering the cinema that rarely did so before.

Lee did an incredible job directing a masterpiece that was based on a completely unique story – by Annie Proulx – that touched so many bases. Lee absolutely deserved the Academy Award he received for Best Director that year.

If you ask me, it was practically an abomination that Brokeback Mountain didn’t win Best Picture. We definitely aren’t going to make a habit of talking about Crash, which won instead.

Ledger, Gyllenhaal, Anne Hathaway, and Linda Cardellini all starred in the film, each doing as an actor should do. In fact, they went to extreme measures to be the best they could be. They developed relationships in the movie that impacted future collaborations and real life relationships that sparked afterwards.

Brokeback Mountain will always be in the top 5 of my LGBT cinema list because of everything it does. Starting such a crazy impact that would last for years and years, up even to the movies we see on a daily basis today, being constantly compared to the astonishment that was Brokeback Mountain.

‘Set It Up’: A Revival of the Classic Rom-Com

By Julia Wilson, Edited by Olivia Norwood

Netflix recently released a new romantic comedy called Set It Up. This movie is about two assistants, Harper and Charlie (Zoey Deutch and Glen Powell), who set up their bosses, Kristen and Rick (Lucy Liu and Taye Diggs), in hopes that it will make their bosses less work obsessed and give them some free time.

I don’t know about you, but I feel like I have heard a lot about this movie. People seem to be loving it. The classic Romantic Comedy genre has been seemingly dead these past few years and everyone is feeling like Set It Up has revived the old, formulaic Rom-Com.

As a lover of cheesy Rom-Coms myself, I have to say I agree! This movie was just so cute. I loved the characters Deutch and Powell play and got so into them. Also, Pete Davidson (AKA Ariana Grande’s fiance) has a small role as Powell’s character’s best friend and I loved it.

Another thing I loved about this movie was that while it is a total cliche Rom-Com, it also makes fun of cliche Rom-Coms. It does this through the process of Harper and Charlie trying to figure out how to set up their bosses. For instance, when they first start the process they are trying to figure out how to instigate a meet cute.

Also, the on-screen chemistry between Deutch and Powell is enough to make even a Rom-Com skeptic swoon. Their relationship is able to progress so effortlessly, while remaining believable because of the undeniable chemistry between the actors.

 
Honestly, Set It Up is such a great feel good movie. It has relatable characters with great chemistry and self aware humor. A genre that used to be heavily made fun of, is now truly missed, and its comeback seems to have began with Set It Up.


My Rating: 82%

Acting: 3.5/4

Cinematography: 2.8/4

Story: 3/4

Enjoyability: 3.8/4

 

100th Day of BFS: The Best and Worst of 2018

To celebrate the 100th day of Basement Film Society, we’ve decided to take (nearly) every single movie that’s come out this year and put them in a list of top 10 and bottom 10.

The lists are based on the ratings that they have been given in our reviews. Percentages will be included in this post, as well. 

Anyways, let’s get started and thank you so much for joining us in our 100 day celebration! We cannot wait for 100 more!

Top 10 Best Movies… so far.

  1. First Reformed (98%)
  2. Hereditary (98%)
  3. Won’t You Be My Neighbor (96%)
  4. You Were Never Really Here (96%)
  5. Tully (96%)
  6. Adrift (95%)
  7. American Animals (94%) 
  8. Game Night (93.7%)
  9. Incredibles 2 (93%)
  10. Veronica (93%)

Top 10 Worst Movies… so far.

  1. 7 Days in Entebbe (56%)
  2. Overboard (53%)
  3. Red Sparrow (50%)
  4. Super Troopers 2 (46%)
  5. Taco Shop (39.4%)
  6. Truth or Dare (36%)
  7. Step Sisters (35%)
  8. Tyler Perry’s Acrimony (33%)
  9. The Week Of (19%)
  10. The Kissing Booth (18%)

 

‘The Kissing Booth’ is So NOT Cute

By Olivia Norwood, Edited by Julia Wilson

Let’s just start off by saying that I know that teen movies are meant to be unrealistic and sappy, but The Kissing Booth was much worse than that. It took those descriptors to another level and made it to where I could care less about any of the characters, even the hot ones.

So basically, it’s about a teenage girl named Elle (Joey King) who develops a crush on her best friend Lee’s (Joel Courtney) hotter older brother, Noah (Jacob Elordi). Pretty basic storyline until you mix in the conflict of Elle and Lee’s rules of friendship that forbids her from dating Noah. Most girls have been through something similar so the story should make for a decent and cute movie. Except for the fact that nothing was believable.

If you don’t know who Joey King is then here’s a little description of how she looks: like a 12 year old girl. If you don’t know how her love interest, Jacob Elordi, looks then here you go: like a 25 year old man. This isn’t to knock King’s looks or anything because I can relate (considering I’m often told that I appear twelve years old) and honestly she fits the teenaged role perfectly. The only weird one was Elordi who I did not believe for a second that he was in high school. He’s 6’5 (give or take), muscular, and overall looks like an NFL quarterback.

So the two of them together seemed very off and resembled more of a brother-sister duo than two lovers. I would’ve rather seen King and Courtney’s characters end up together rather than sit through the awkward love fest that I just watched.

Not only that, but everyone besides the main characters were overly stereotypical. Mean girls acting dumb, jocks treating girls like dirt, nerds being gross nose pickers, and bad boys riding motorcycles and making out with everyone

Blah, blah, blah. The list goes on.

Not only was this deeply unrealistic but the romance was a major eye roll. Every line was something I’d heard from other romantic comedies and was completely predictable. Not to mention the big grand gesture at the end with Noah saying ‘I love you’ to Elle at prom, resulting in her rejecting him to “save her friendship” with Lee. But don’t fret because they end up together, anyway.

I understand that this movie was targeted towards a specific audience (my teenaged sister), but I love chick flicks too. Teen dramas and romantic comedies are my favorite genres which is what The Kissing Booth was classified as. But instead of making me laugh and filling me with wonder, it left me wondering why I decided to spend my time watching this… thing.


My Rating: 18%

Acting: 1/4

Cinematography: 1/4

Story: 0/4

Enjoyability: 1/4