‘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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‘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.

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

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.