‘Eighth Grade’ Is Brilliantly Real and A Must-See

By Julia Wilson, Edited by Anthony Peyton

Eighth Grade follows the awkward and lonely Kayla as she tries to make her way through the eighth grade. Kayla wants what anyone wants which is acceptance from her peers. The film is framed with videos that Kayla makes for YouTube. These videos consist of Kayla giving advice on topics such as how to be yourself and how to be confident, and play as Kayla is trying to do those things herself.

The film revolves a lot around the internet, as most of our lives do these days. But the use of technology is not overdone and out of touch as it is in many films and TV shows, instead it serves to show the place technology holds in Kayla’s life and how it contributes to the anxiety and nervousness she experiences.

My favorite thing about this film was how real it was. From the panic Kayla faces as she enters a pool party, to her conversations with her dad at the dinner table I related to all of it. I literally felt as though I was transported back in time to when I was that age.

For me, however, this film isn’t just relatable to eighth grade me, but to current me as well. Writer and director Bo Burnham did a masterful job creating the stress and anxiety many people face daily through the story of an eighth grader, which is a stressful age for anybody to be. Also, all the questions Kayla faces, such as how to be yourself, are struggles that any age can relate to.

One of the reasons Kayla’s feelings came through so well was through the choice to focus the camera mainly on Kayla’s face during anxiety inducing situations. This happens at one point during the pool party where the camera is entirely focused on Kayla’s face although you can hear a fight happening in the background. Another instance of this is when Kayla is in the car with her dad and is telling him to “stop looking like that”. Instead of panning over to the dad’s face to see what Kayla is talking about, the camera focuses on Kayla so that we can see the dozens of emotions going through her head through her facial expressions.

On that topic, I can’t talk about the emotion the audience gets from Kayla without discussing Elsie Fisher’s acting. She pulls off this role phenomenally. In most films about kids this age they are so out of touch and the kids don’t seem genuine, but that is not the case at all in this film. Fisher’s slight eye movements and the way she smiles and nods as her character tries to fit in really sell the realness of the film and how relatable it is.

Not only is this film relatable, but it is also funny. Burnham does an amazing job placing humor so effortlessly throughout the film simply through everyday actions that we all can relate to.

Honestly, I must applaud Burnham for making perhaps the most relatable and real movie about growing up that I have ever seen. Eighth Grade will have you laughing, crying, and saying, “wow I didn’t know other people did that”.


My Rating: 99%

Acting: 4/4

Cinematography: 3.9/4

Story: 4/4

Enjoyability: 3.9/4

 

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‘Tag’ is Ridiculous in the Best Way

By Julia Wilson, Edited by Anthony Peyton

I have to say I have been very impressed with a lot of the comedies this year. Films like Blockers, Game Night, and Life of the Party were such pleasant surprises. And now we have Tag, which I am pleased to say has only added to what a good year for comedy 2018 has been.

Tag follows a group of friends, played by Jeremy Renner, Jake Johnson, Ed Helms, Jon Hamm, and Hannibal Buress, as they play their annual game of tag. Their friend Jerry, played by Renner, has never been tagged, and this year they are determined to change that.

The premise of this movie may sound absurd and far-fetched, but it is actually based on a true story. There really is a group of friends who are able to stay in each other’s life by playing a very extreme version of tag one month out of the year. Personally, I find the concept very touching.

One of the things that this movie does really well is it owns up to how ridiculous it is. It does this through slow motion shots and narration when they’re in the middle of the game and about to tag someone. The element of being self-aware, and the knowledge that this is based on a true story makes this movie that much funnier.

The acting in this movie was absolutely amazing, which is not surprising considering the star studded cast it features. These actors are what really drive this movie home and make it as funny as it is. From their chemistry and the way they interact, to their impeccable comedic timing they are what make this movie.

Tag could have very easily been stupid and cringy, but it wasn’t. It owned up to the absurdity of its premise and had some amazing actors who had me laughing the whole movie. This is one of those movies that is so ridiculous that it works. It also has the underlying story of friendship that makes you want to keep watching even if just to see that unfold.


My Rating: 84%

Acting: 3.5/4

Cinematography: 2.8/4

Story: 3.5/4

Enjoyability: 3.7/4

 

‘Alex Strangelove’ Tells a Touching Coming Out Story

By Julia Wilson, Edited by Olivia Norwood

Happy Pride Month everyone! This month we have seen an outpouring of celebration and support for the LGBTQ community and it seems Netflix has joined in with its release of Alex Strangelove.
Alex Strangelove follows the sexually confused high school senior Alex Truelove (Daniel Doheny). Alex has been with his girlfriend and best friend Claire (Madeline Weinstein) for a while and after the prodding of his friends he decides to rent a hotel room and finally lose his virginity to her.

Soon after he makes these plans he meets a guy named Elliot (Antonio Marziale) at a party. As Alex and Elliot and the day he plans to lose his virginity to Claire get closer, Alex begins to question his feelings and his sexuality.

Alex Strangelove is a sweet and intricate coming out story with more layers than your average coming out movie. As the movie progresses, we see that Alex’s struggle with his sexuality stems from not only an inner struggle to admit to himself that he’s gay, but also past experiences with bullying.

This movie is different from other recent coming out movies like Love, Simon in the sense that Alex’s struggle lies mostly within himself and figuring out his sexuality, and less on how people will perceive him.

I really appreciated how this movie focused on the high school kids’ perspectives and didn’t go too much into bringing the adults into the story. I think it contributed to the authentic feel of the movie.

This was a conscious choice by director and writer Craig Johnson who has been trying to get this movie made for ten years, but hasn’t been able to because there wasn’t a big adult role to attach a big name to.

This movie did a lot of things right. It felt authentic and real which really brings you into the story. It could have so easily have fallen into the realm of clichés, but it didn’t. It stayed true to itself and its purpose and gave us an adorable yet, engaging story to watch.


My Rating: 83%

Acting: 3/4

Cinematography: 2.8/4

Story: 3.5/4

Enjoyability: 3.9/4