‘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: July 13th

On July 13th we have…

  1. Skyscraper
  2. Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation
  3. Sorry To Bother You
  4. Eighth Grade
  5. Don’t worry, He Won’t Get Far On Foot

Julia’s predictions:

The two biggest movies this week will definitely be Skyscraper and Hotel Transylvania 3. Skyscraper stars Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson who always seems to draw large audiences, and Hotel Transylvania 3 is the third installment in an adequately successful movie series so should draw a decent sized audience as well.

However, the movie I am most excited for this week is one hundred percent Eighth Grade. It is written and directed by my favorite comedian, Bo Burnham, and looks like a relatable commentary on technology, social anxiety, growing up, and so much more. It also has a 99% on Rotten Tomatoes right now so the critics seem to be loving it!

I am also pretty excited for Sorry To Bother You and Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far On Foot which I expect to be hits among indie movie goers but not on a larger scale. Both have really good trailers and seem to be receiving a pretty positive reception so far.

Anthony’s predictions:

It’s going to prove very difficult to choose whether Hotel Transylvania 3 and Skyscraper will make more at the box office this weekend. Both have all-star cast, and Hotel Transylvania 3 is a sequel. If there’s anything to know about the general audience, it’s that they love sequels. Meanwhile the latter has Dwayne Johnson, which could be a good thing if you’re not completely tired of him after his last couple movies.

Sorry To Bother You has Armie Hammer in it, which makes it sold for me because I adore his acting. It’s pretty comptable to Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far On Foot as far as box office is concerned.

Eighth Grade is a new Bo Burnham movie and it’s inevitably going to be hilarious and hopefully a hit, as all of Burnham’s work are so genuine and hysterical while being generally astounding. The only thing that will hinder its box office profit is the unfortunate fact that it does not by any means have a wide release.

‘Damsel’ Should Be Called ‘Marry Me Penelope’

By Olivia Norwood, Edited by Julia Wilson

Of all of the dramas and dark comedies I have seen this year, Damsel may be the most confusing.

The reason why is because it has, what it seems to be, two different plots.

Good Time actor Robert Pattinson portrays a young man named Samuel who picks up a drunk preacher, Parson (director David Zellner), on his way to rescuing his “kidnapped” fiancée, Penelope (Mia Wasikowska), so that he can marry her on the spot. Upon finding her and killing her captor, Parson quickly finds out that Penelope was never kidnapped but married to the supposed captor, Anton, in their small cabin in the woods.

But that is just the first half of the movie. The other half is just Penelope and Parson traveling out of the wilderness and stumbling upon native Zacharia (Joseph Billingiere) and Anton’s brother, Rufus (director Nathan Zellner).

Now, here’s why I titled this “Marry Me Penelope”: every male that Penelope comes in contact with will eventually propose to her. She’s already married to Anton, Samuel’s entire objective is to marry her, Rufus demands to marriage after the death of his brother, and Parson randomly proposes to her in the middle of the desert.

After the film, I wondered if the multiple proposals to Penelope was the actual plot. Then I found the written synopsis given to us by the film and it states, “the once-simple journey grows treacherous, blurring the lines between hero, villain and damsel”. And I guess I understand that, too.

It mocks the old western genre where women were the ‘damsels in distress’ and the men were either heroes or villains. People are always trying to save Penelope but, in the end, she was the one saving herself (i.e. strapping dynamite to Parson’s chest and taking all of his belongings when he proposes).

Aside from its wishy-washy plot, Damsel was quite hilarious as it seems more like a western comedy than a complete parody of the western genre that films like A Million Ways to Die in the West have done. It was confusing throughout but, nonetheless, an entertaining watch.


My Rating: 73%

Acting: 3/4

Cinematography: 3/4

Story: 2.8/4

Enjoyability: 3/4

‘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.

‘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.

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%)