‘Bao’: A Brutally Meaningful Showstarter

By Anthony Peyton, Edited by Julia Wilson

If you like movies and aren’t completely ignorant, you’ve definitely heard of the seamless Incredibles 2. But we aren’t here to talk about that movie – we are here to talk about what comes before it.

Prior to the Disney Pixar sequel, a short film titled Bao was featured. It was a short with no talking and very minimal sound, but brilliant animation. This, of course, can be expected of the mega animation company behind it.

The creator was a woman by the name of Domee Shi, who wrote and directed the entirety of it. This was the only produced piece on her filmography, but still made her the first woman to direct and create a Pixar short.

The story itself revolves around a woman who is making dinner for her husband – dumplings, specifically – and as her husband leaves for work, the woman is left alone. That is, except for one dumpling that sprouts arms and legs. Don’t worry, it’s not creepy, it’s cute.

It zooms through the life of the woman and her dumpling as he grows up into a bigger dumpling and eventually wants to leave home. This leads to the tragedy of the woman *SPOILER ALERT* eating her child dumpling. Once again, it’s not creepy. Seconds after, it’s revealed that, all along, the dumpling was her son. A son that abandoned her and distanced himself, creating tension when he comes back. It all ends happily when the love of a mother overpowers the fear of him leaving again.

This short film had me in tears before the main attraction even started. I was left shook and half-tempted to leave the theatre to call my own mom. Shi knew how to tug at the heart strings with a self-understood passion that she clearly demonstrated, telling a story with a moral that can only be described as undebatable and astounding. Family is around for a reason, and you shouldn’t cut that unless it’s necessary and healthier.

Even leaving Incredibles 2, I was thinking about this short. The story, the metaphors within, and all the thought that Shi must’ve put into the – for a lack of a better word – incredible journey of a mother and her child.


My Rating: 97.5%

Animation: 3.9/4

Direction: 3.9/4

Story: 3.9/4

Enjoyability: 3.9/4

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Film Forecast Friday: June 29th

On June 29th we have…

1. Sicario: Day of the Soldado

2. Uncle Drew

3. Escape Plan 2

4. Black Water

5. Woman Walks Ahead

6. Leave No Trace

Julia’s Prediction:

This week there aren’t really any big blockbuster movies coming out.

The movie I have seen the most marketing for is definitely Uncle Drew, and it has a lot of big names in it like Tiffany Haddish, Nick Kroll, and more. So based on that I think this could be the biggest movie out of those coming out this week.

However, there have been so many big releases this month I doubt any of these movies will make a big impression at the box office. Between Incredibles 2 and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom these movies will have a hard time coming anywhere near the top of ticket sales.

Anthony’s Prediction:

I’ll start with Uncle Drew, which will make the most at the box office this weekend due entirely to its insane marketing and constant advertising on every platform.

Then we have Sicario: Day of the Soldado which is a sequel, so it’ll make nearly as much as Uncle Drew, even if it’s horrible.

Those two are going to be pretty much the only relevant ones this week, given that there hasn’t been much advertising or anticipation for the sequel to Escape Plan or whatever the heck the other movies are.

‘Boundaries’ Beautifully Depicts the Ups and Downs of Family

By Julia Wilson, Edited by Anthony Peyton

Finally, a road trip movie worth watching.

For some reason road trips are often used in movies for both comedic and dramatic uses, and in most movies that feature them that is all they are about. But Boundaries is about so much more than that. It shows the sacrifices that we make for our family, despite the emotional turmoil that they may cause us.

Boundaries tells the story of Laura (Vera Farmiga), a single mother who rescues every stray animal she sees, and her troublesome relationship with her father Jack (Christopher Plummer). After avoiding her father for quite some time, Laura ends up having to drive him from Seattle to LA so he can stay with her sister Jojo (Kristen Schaal) after he is kicked out of his nursing home.

On this road trip they are accompanied by Laura’s son Henry (Lewis MacDougall), a socially awkward teenage boy, and some of the many dogs Laura has rescued. Unknown to Laura, Jack also has brought along large amounts of marijuana that he has enlisted Henry’s help with selling throughout their journey.

Boundaries is different than most road trip movies because it has so many different layers with some intricate character development. There is a lot going on with each and every character that intertwines itself with the story, making you very invested in all of them.

There is Laura and her relentless love for everyone around her, even when it hurts her. Henry with his issues at school and being able to interact with other people. And finally Jack, who has never been there for his children and is trying to figure out how to change his ways.

This really is a character driven piece which is why it was aided so heavily by the fact that the actors were brilliant. They were each able to portray the complexities of their characters in a way that brought you into the story so effortlessly.

This film was also quite funny. Although the story it presented was more dramatic in its nature, the dialogue and the interactions between the characters gave it a very cleverly thought out humor.

To be honest, I liked this film a lot more than I thought I would. I am always skeptical of road trip movies because they are usually all the same, but I was very pleasantly surprised by this one.

Boundaries tells an intricate and entertaining story of family and the complex emotions that go with it. Between the enthralling story mixed with both drama and comedy and the brilliant acting, I would highly recommend this film.


My Rating: 89%

Acting: 3.7/4

Cinematography: 3.4/4

Story: 3.7/4

Enjoyability: 3.5/4

 

‘Brain on Fire’: Drowning in Your Own Insanity

For this week of Netflix content, we have Brain on Fire. This is the true story of a woman named Susannah (played by Chloë Grace Moretz) as she goes through her self-proclaimed “month of insanity”.

Let me just start out by emphasizing how much I despised all the characters in this. Not that I hated the people who played them, I just hated the characters because of how they treated Susannah. This poor girl was losing her damn mind and they were all assholes. Her dad was yelling at her about stupid things like plumbing and her boss completely ignored her obvious sickness. Her best coworker friend was a sassy journalist who also ignored the sickness. Each character was cleverly written, but they were all just so mean and it frustrated me.

If I’ll say anything negative about this movie – that’s not about the characters – it’s that it’s incredibly slow. It takes the first twenty minutes for her to feel any symptoms, another thirty to go to the hospital, and fifteen after that to make her go entirely catatonic.

This was based on a book of the same name by the real Susannah Cahalan and her accounts of her month of insanity. Obviously they had to follow the events, even if that meant the movie was slug-paced.

Moretz was brilliant. She couldn’t have done better as she was so believable as this mental patient that so quickly became dark. Of course she looks very young, but she still gave off a believable performance as a mature adult who works for the New York Post.

For the most part, this was a good movie. It was intriguing to watch someone’s mental sanity deteriorate so fast. Granted, Rotten Tomatoes gave it a 17% which I completely don’t understand. That just goes to show that you can’t always trust a score.


My Rating: 78%

Acting: 3.2/4

Cinematography: 2.9/4

Story: 3.4/4

Enjoyability: 3/4

‘Superfly’ Was Nothing Special

By Julia Wilson, Edited by Anthony Peyton

Superfly is a remake of the 1972 film Super Fly. It follows Youngblood Priest (Trevor Jackson) who is a cocaine dealer who wants out of the drug world. His process of doing so ends up inciting a drug war and creates tensions with dirty cops.

Superfly is interesting in the fact that it was directed by Director X, who is famous for directing music videos for artists such as Rihanna and Drake. This definitely shows through as a lot of the imagery in the film feels like a music video.

Honestly, I really wasn’t a huge fan of this movie. To be fair, I have never seen the original and this isn’t really my kind of movie in the first place, but I do have specific reasons for why I personally did not like it.

First, the plot just felt like your typical drug war movie to me. There was nothing special or different. Everything that happened I expected to happen and saw coming.

Also, there were certain moments where it felt like the movie was maybe trying to make some kind of social commentary about police brutality, but stopped before it really finished doing so. I think had it went in that direction it would have added an extra element that would have made it far more interesting and compelling than your typical drug war kind of movie.

Visually, the movie was interesting with its imagery that was similar to that of a music video. But for me, that just wasn’t enough to compensate for a plot I wasn’t very interested in.

I think that for some, this movie would definitely be entertaining. Mostly, it is just violence, sex and drugs. If that is the kind of movie you are into then I would definitely recommend Superfly. But if not, maybe skip this one.


My Rating: 58%

Acting: 2.5/4

Cinematography: 2.8/4

Story: 2/4

Enjoyability: 2/4

 

‘Shrek’ Me Up: A Look Back on the Childrens’ Classic

By Anthony Peyton, Edited by Julia Wilson

For this Time Warp, I decided I would touch on one of my absolute favorite animated movie franchises. That, of course, is the Academy Award winning film, ‘Shrek’. It’s still funny to me to be able to say “Academy Award winning” to the classic swamp-dwelling ogre that is my man Shrek.

Many who haven’t seen this iconic film may ask why it won Best Animated Feature in 2002. Well, those who have seen it can tell you exactly why.

The mean green fighting machine Shrek (Mike Myers) is an angry ogre who just likes to be left alone, as most people nowadays. But once love comes along, that changes, as with anyone who suddenly finds love. Shrek’s love didn’t come suddenly, of course. It came after a long journey with his new friend – whether or not he likes to admit it – a donkey, whose name is, well, Donkey (Eddie Murphy).

The love interest/self-hating princess in the movie is Fiona (played by Cameron Diaz), who loves throwing tantrums at every moment she can. You may think that it’s obnoxious, but it becomes very easy to love her by the end.

That is the overall plot of the entire first movie, but they do so well developing all the relationships within it. Being able to meet dozens of fairy tale creatures who annoy Shrek to the brink of absolute fury is, even if it’s not to Shrek, completely hilarious to watch.

Half the enjoyability of this movie revolves around the supreme soundtrack that plays throughout. I mean, we have songs like “All Star” by Smash Mouth and “Bad Reputation” performed by Joan Jett. That sells it right there, doesn’t it?

It’s an undeniably enjoyable movie and impossible not to love. It sparked a sequel that is debatably better than the first if not just as good. It’s one of those movie franchises that anybody will want to watch on a lazy afternoon in the summer, with their kids for a family movie night, in the middle of a snowstorm in the winter, or pretty much at anytime. That is how I define a classic.

‘Walk the Line’: Music, Addiction, and Forbidden Love

By Olivia Norwood, Edited by Julia Wilson

For today’s Time Warp Tuesday, we will be taking a look at one of the greatest musical biopics of all time (and my favorite film) Walk the Line.

The film follows the ‘Man in Black’ musician, Johnny Cash (Joaquin Phoenix), and his musical career. Along the way, he finds love in his childhood crush and longtime singing partner June Carter Cash (Reese Witherspoon) but with the highs comes the lows. The audience is exposed to Johnny’s demons and faults. We learn about his battle with drugs and alcohol and his affair with June despite being married to his wife Vivian (Ginnifer Goodwin). He suddenly becomes his own villain and becomes stuck in a cycle of addiction and infidelity.

Walk the Line went on to win multiple awards including Best Actress at the Academy Awards. What made this film so great was, in fact, the acting. Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon quite literally embodied the souls of Johnny and June Cash. It’s almost like watching a documentary of the famous duo because of the actors’ nearly identical performances. When someone, with hardly any musical experience, can replicate every voice inflection, facial expression, and body movement of a famous musician’s performance then I think it goes without saying that they deserve the highest praise possible.

Along with the musical talent they possess, Phoenix and Witherspoon’s chemistry is both undeniable and honest. Johnny and June had an intense bond that caused him to lose control and hurt June and Johnny’s wife Vivian in the process. This flawed love story is portrayed with the same fierceness it possessed without watering down the moral imperfections. It isn’t the ideal romance that you see in most films, but this also is not a romance – it’s a drama. And that genre leaves all of the ugly parts in.

One of those ugly parts is Johnny’s drug addiction, and the performance that Phoenix gives is too good to not give an Oscar to. As I said before, Johnny becomes the villain in a story where he was the protagonist and his rehabilitation isn’t a pretty one. But Phoenix’s transition between all of them were nearly flawless, and he was able to portray one’s real experience of addiction. He showed the dark side of a man who was once on the top of the mountain and suddenly fell into his own personal hell. (I’m sure you thought I’d make a ‘Ring of Fire’ pun, but that’d be way out of context)

Walk the Line is one of those movies that will never leave your mind after one watch and questions whether fame and fortune is worth the hurt.