The Revenant

By Orlando Marin

This movie was directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu. He also directed the movie Birdman which got him multiple awards such as the Academy Award for best director, best screenplay, and best picture. This year he received another award for best director for his work on The Revenant. He became the third director in history to receive academy awards back to back.

After watching the film I can see how he won all those awards. The movie is a masterpiece. This story which takes place in the 1820s.It is about a frontiersman named Hugh Glass and the trials he must endure both mentally and physically. Hugh Glass, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, was on a hunting expedition but then he and his men were attacked by Arikara Indians. Glass managed to survive but his group suffered heavy losses. Soon after,  Glass is attacked viciously by a bear. He is half dead and his chances of survival are low. So John Fitzgerald, one of the men in his expedition, decided to kill him. Glass’ son, however, interferes which leads to the son’s death.
John, played by Tom Hardy, then decides to leave Glass behind. Glass is forced to survive on his own. He went through many obstacles in this movie. For example, he had to sleep inside a dead horse in order to keep warm. After going through all these trials he finally got his chance to get revenge on John. He tracked John down and they fought until Glass gains the upper hand. He has a chance to kill him but he decides not to. He sais to himself, ” Revenge is in God’s hands. Not mine.” He threw John into the river and watched him float away. John was then captured by Indians and killed. After that, Glass falls to his knees and sees an image of his dead wife walking away with a smile on her face. The movie ends with Glass closing his eyes and breathing slowly as the credits rolled in. This ending is left to interpretation but I believe that he died in the end and the image of his wife is supposed to symbolize his path to heaven. Either way, the movie left a lasting impression on me. The acting, cinematography, and the lightning in this movie were all in a league of their own.

Performances and Characters

The performances in this movie were amazing. Leonardo DiCaprio did an amazing job as Hugh Glass. Hugh Glass was a man bent on revenge and to enact his revenge he had to survive in the frigid wilderness. He is a round character because as the movie progressed you could clearly see a change in Hugh Glass after his son gets murdered. He goes through hell to get his revenge and DeCaprio does a good job of showing Hugh’s will to live through his performance. His trials and tribulations were expressed clearly through DiCaprio’s acting. For most of the movie Leonardo DiCaprio didn’t even have to speak. He instead used body language to enhance his performance. For example, in the scene involving the bear attack, DiCaprio made the experience more intense through his acting. This is also true for the scene involving the dead horse. In this scene, he had to open up a dead horse and sleep inside of it in order to keep warm.
As an actor DiCaprio was prepared to handle all this movie had to offer and then some. To get ready for this movie
DiCaprio actually slept inside an animal carcass, ate raw bison, and frequently swam in frozen rivers. This kind of preparation and dedication added authenticity to the role. Another noteworthy performance is Tom Hardy as John Fitzgerald. To be honest I didn’t like Tom Hardy as an actor but this movie changed my opinion of him. John Fitzgerald has a very aggressive personality and his actions are driven by greed and selfishness. For example, he chose to leave Hugh Glass for dead because he was more concerned about his own life. He also chose to lie to his superiors in order to get paid. At first, I thought he was a simple character but I discovered that there was so much more to him. In the movie, John states that when he was younger he was tortured. This traumatic event in his life made him see the world in a different way. Many of his decisions are influenced by this new found perspective. thebearTom Hardy does an amazing job emphasizing these points. The deteriorating mental state of John Fitzgerald can be seen clearly through Tom Hardy’s acting and he is able to add complexity to a seemingly simple character. Will Poulter plays Jim Bridger who is one of the men in Hugh Glass’ group. Bridger and John Fitzgerald are the ones who left Hugh Glass behind but Bridger was unaware of John’s actions. John tricked him into leaving Glass and lying to his superiors about it.But unlike John, Bridger felt bad about what he had done. Unfortunately, his character didn’t amount to much in the grand scheme of things. He was a very flat character in my opinion because his character development was very minimal and he didn’t really change throughout the story. He was a very forgettable character. Will Porter gave a good performance but compared to Tom Hardy and Leonardo DiCaprio his presence in the movie wasn’t really felt.

Cinematography and Lighting

This movie is different from most movies because most of it was shot using natural light. Many of the scenes were shot using light from the sun, the moon, and fire. Using natural light in the film made it more Immersive for the audience. It made the people in the audience feel like the events in the movie were actually happening. The person responsible for this was famous cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki. He had worked on other amazing films such as Birdman and gravity but he was faced with a new challenge in this film. The movie was filmed in Canada and Argentina so Emmanuel and the rest of the cast had to overcome the freezing temperatures to get the best shots. Comfort isn’t a word you’d use for this movie. 93 percent of the movie was shot outdoors in the frigid wilderness. Also, days are shorter during the winter season and it took a long time to get to the different filming locations so the cast had a very short time to film. DiCaprio even stated that” he went through 30 to 40 of the hardest sequences of his career”. But all this hardship paid off because the film turned into an immersive experience because of the way the natural light was used. For example, the lightning and the environment managed to set the tone for the entire movie. The colors in this film gave it a sense of hopelessness. It also showed how hard it was to survive in this environment. When Glass actually manages to survive this hopeless situation the audience is hit with an ocean of emotions ranging from sadness to happiness. The Lightning in this movie makes this all possible. If it were filmed differently the effect on the audience’s emotions wouldn’t be the same.

Conclusion

This movie is a work of art. It has an amazing story but what really stands out about this is the execution. The lengths the director, cinematographer, and the rest of the cast went through to finish this film is astonishing. The use of lighting is excellent and the performances from Tom Hardy and Leonardo DiCaprio are in a league of their own. This movie is definitely worth watching.


 

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Zootopia

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By Rene Mitchell

Walt Disney Studios’ Zootopia is an animated children’s movie about a courageous rabbit named Judy Hopps aspiring to become the first rabbit cop of all time. Despite having her dreams doubted by everybody she comes in contact with, Judy successfully proves them all wrong and takes her talents to the police department of Zootopia. Judy is exposed to the harsh reality of the real world and takes the opportunity to prove her worthiness as a police officer.

The use of animation in this movie gave room for intricate creative expression and fine details. Zootopia is a bright, bustling mammal metropolis that is filled with opportunity and never sleeps. I thought it was amazing that the large buildings in Zootopia were based on actual buildings from major cities all around the world. The Empire State Building in New York, the Eiffel Tower in Paris, and the Burj Al Arab in Dubai were three out of the many landmarks animated into the movie. Another interesting aspect of the movie is the use of habitats for every animal. Judy came from the town of Bunny Burrow, which was a farming area solely for bunnies. There was also an Italian style town named “Little Rodentia, which was solely occupied by small rodents. The incorporation of human life into the movie gives it more of a relatable and humorous touch.

zootopia1The characters have an array of personalities that work with each other perfectly. The main character, Judy Hopps, is an outgoing, determined, and driven rabbit that never gives up. From the beginning of the movie until the end, the audience sees Judy growing up into the woman she wished to be from 9 years old. A giver, a fighter, and nowhere near to a push over, Judy is a perfect example for the young boys and girls watching. She stands up for what is right, tries to fix what is wrong, and sticks to her wit at all times.

The second main character, Nick Wilde, is a sneaky and sly…. fox. Nick successfully tricks Judy into buying his “baby”, who is actually a fennec fox named Finnick, a giant ice pop from the Elephant shop. Despite Judy’s bad experience with a fox when she was younger, she opened herself to trusting Nick, which eventually leads to a life long friendship and police partnership. Nick is a natural born hustler and con artist. He scams people then earns a profit off of them. I did not trust him at first, but he showed that despite being a fox, he can still be loyal.

Judy’s first act as a police officer was retrieving her friend Black Sheep’s arcade tickets back from the bully fox Gideon. Judy demands he gives Black Sheep back her tickets, in return Gideon pushes Judy to the ground, scolding her for thinking she could really become a bunny cop. A kick to Gideon’s face leaves Judy with three long scratches on the cheek. Judy comes out victorious, retrieving the tickets without Gideon realizing. After such a traumatic experience, one would not expect Judy to easily put her trust in a fox again. Ironically her best friend and police partner ends up being nobody else expect sly Nick.

The directors Byron Howard and Rich Moore both have backgrounds in the animated media industry. Bryon Howard is best known for directing Bolt and Tangled while Rich Moore is known for animated television shows like The Simpsons, The Critic, and Futurama. Moore made his animated film directing debut with 2012’s Wreck-It Ralph. The collaboration between these two directors for

Zootopia was a match made in Heaven. The ability to convey human life through animals sets the bar between Zootopia and other animal animated movies and television shows. Through trial and error, Moore and Howard produced a movie that is organically funny and relatable to the audience.

zootopia5The fine details in this movie draw the audience in as it progresses. While watching the movie, I noticed how well animated each scene and/or animal is. Looking at Judy, it felt as if I was touching her fur simply by looking at it. She looked extremely realistic as if I could take her out of the movie and pet her fur and look at her deep blue eyes. What I also found interesting about the movie was the constant, yet indirect focus on Judy’s size compared to everyone else. In other animated animal movies, usually, the characters are all the same size. Taking on a realistic approach for the movie, each animal is portrayed as they are in real life. Giraffes are extremely tall, with tall vehicles suited for their body size, Hamsters are tiny, travel in packs and through tunnels, and Rhinoceros get to work by swimming down a body of water. The audience is learning how and where the animals live in real life.

There is no way to escape the irony in this movie because it is everywhere. One of my favorite moments from the movie was when Judy and Nick go to the DMV (Department of Mammal Vehicles) to seek help from Flash, the fastest sloth working in the DMV. In human life, the DMV can be one of the most dreadful places to go because everything tends to move so slowly. Ironically in Zootopia, the DMV is operated entirely by sloths. They move so slow you can see and feel the paper ripping from the machine. As the sloths moved slow, so did the audience. There is no way to avoid the lengthy process and it’s best not to interrupt the easily distracted sloth. Another funny, yet ironic moment is the scene with Mr. Big. Mr. Big is actually a small Possum with a Say hello to my grandmamma” attitude. The most fearsome crime boss in Tundratown, Mr. Big commands respect and expects nothing less than that. Mr. Big was going to have Judy and Nick dealt with, but they were spared because Judy saved his daughter’s life while chasing a criminal.

 

zootopia6.jpgFrom the very beginning of the movie, I noticed how Judy’s dream of being a bunny cop was downplayed by every animal she came in contact with. Her parents, Bonnie and Stu Hopps, wanted Judy to stay at home with them and her 275 brothers and sisters to run the family carrot stand. When they found out Judy was moving to Zootopia, they grew fearful that she would be surrounded by dangerous predators like foxes. Even when Judy became the first bunny cop, those higher up thought little of her capabilities also. Zootopia Police Chief Bogo, a nonchalant cape buffalo, assigns Judy to parking duty simply because he does not care whether she is a great addition to the team or not. When Judy’s parents FaceTime her and realize that she was a meter maid for her first assignment, they are cheerful that their daughter is taking on a safer position than solving dangerous cases. That conversation triggered her nosey neighbors to argue whether or not she’ll be a great officer. Nick shunned Judy’s dreams completely, calling her a stupid bunny that will never be a real officer.

The incorporation of technology in animal lives is no different from ours. Judy is seen on FaceTime with her parents in one scene and listening to her iPod Touch while on the train going to the city. Other animals walking on the street or in their habitat have computers, phones, and musical devices just like the people you would see walking in the city. Judy has a handy carrot recording pen that she uses to her advantage throughout the movie. Officer Clawhauser, Zootopia Police Department’s charming cheetah receptionist, is seen constantly on his iPad watching performances by pop star Gazelle. Technology seems to be everybody’s favorite pass time.

Being that the main character is a female, I enjoyed the woman empowerment message Judy constantly spreads amongst her peers. Just because she’s a female and falls under society’s view of a worthy officer does not mean she cannot do what everybody else can. She may be smaller, underrated, and full of overflowing hope and zootopia3courage, but that does not stop her from taking on bigger opportunities and completing tasks with her all. When Chief Bogo gave Judy 48 hours to solve the missing Mr. Otterton case, she took the little lead information she had and ended up solving the entire departments individual cases. Everyone is questioning how such a small rabbit, alongside a conniving fox, could complete 14 unsolved cases in forty-eight hours. Judy never allowed the doubt of the world ruins her confidence. She had a dream and she stuck to it. That is a great message to teach the rising youth. If you do not believe in yourself then who will? One has to fight for what they are passionate about in order to make a difference.

 

The music from the movie followed along well with Judy’s girl power attitude. Songs that recited lyrics about not giving up played throughout the action parts of the movie. When Judy returned home from her first day at work, depressing songs depicted how Judy was feeling at the moment. When the movie was getting intense, suspenseful and rapid paced music accompanied the scene.

I love how the directors mirrored the opening scene of the movie with the end. The movie opens with nine-year-old Judy performing in her school play Prey vs. Predator. At first, the predators were destroying humanity─in this case, animality─by killing its prey. During this scene, we get a full taste of Judy’s bubbly personality. She is attacked by the predator, squirting ketchup and throwing decoration string in replace of blood. She then she shows prey and predator evolve to live in peace and harmony in Zootopia. Everybody that comes to Zootopia has an opportunity to be whatever and whomever they want to be. Judy’s goal was to make the world a better place. At the end of the movie however, Judy speaks to the audience from a mature perspective. As a child, she thought Zootopia was a perfect place. Once she got there, reality hit her. Real life is difficult and messy and full of roadblocks and hardships. The best way to navigate through life is to try and understand the people around you because everyone is different. If you want to make a difference, change starts from within.

 

Overall, I would recommend this movie to people of any age, color, or nationality. Adults and children alike can take a valuable lesson from this movie and apply it to everyday life. Through the use of colors, animation, music, irony, and reality, Zootopia turned out to be a great movie. Directors Byron Howard and Rich Moore collaborated to produce a must watch film for the year 2016.

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Miracles from Heaven

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By Xinthy Nunez

I thought Miracles from Heaven would be hard to analyze or it would have been boring to talk about in a paper but I really enjoyed it and even cried at the end. It was a drama film, filled with emotions and an important message at the end. But before I get into analyzing the film, I would like to give a brief summary explaining this film. Miracles from Heaven is about a young girl named Anna, who was diagnosed with a two rare stomach disorder called pseudo-obstruction motility disorder and antral hypomotility disorder. After months and months of treatment, Anna then while playing on a tree, went through a fatal near death experience by falling into a 30 feet hollowed-out cottonwood tree. Instead of killing her, this fall cured her.

Now I would first like to discuss the characters of this film. This film was based on the Beam Family. It was interesting to watch this film because since it was based on a true story, I felt a part of this family. I got upset when Anna was diagnosed, I cried tears of joy when she was completely cured, and I cried when the roommate she had while in the hospital passed away. Kylie Roger, who played Anna, did such an amazing job that I felt the pain she was in. Her performance was astonishing, I usually don’t cry when I know the ending of a movie, but when I watched her in pain, I saw my niece.

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Christy Beam, Anna’s mom, who was played by Jennifer Garner, who all in herself is an amazing actress. But I’ve never seen her so vulnerable, so weak yet so strong. You can see in her eyes the pain of a mother watching her child die slowly in front of her and there isn’t much she can do. I saw the pain Anna was in from a mother’s perspective while watching Jennifer Garner. She seems desperate for answers, desperate for hope. And once Anna was cured, you could see the relieve and happiness in Jennifer’s eyes. I watched this entire film with the mother’s point of view thanks to her acting. I personally felt like Anna was my daughter and felt a need to comfort her so she wouldn’t feel the pain.

queenlatifahEven though this movie is based on the Beam family, I believe that Angela, who was played by Queen Latifah, was an important character in this film. Angela was a waitress Christy and Anna met while in Boston waiting to get an appointment for some children hospital. Besides the fact that Queen Latifah is a very good actress, she brought joy into Anna’s life when she most needed it. Angela took a day off to take Anna and Christy sightseeing and giving her a day of fun. Whenever Anna was in Boston, Angela took her out to brighten up her day a bit. Which at the end resulted into Anna asking Angela if she can call her Aunt Angela. Just because Angela, the character, wasn’t shown much, it was essential in the film because Angela was a miracle in Anna’s life. The moral of the film is that miracles do exist, we don’t see it, but it’s the sacrifices people do for other people without thinking twice about it.

miraclestreeThe Colors of the film express the mood that the audience should feel, like in all movies. At the start of the film, it was sunny out, the animals and children were playing, everything was bright and exciting. But once Anna started getting sick, it was gloomy, everything was gray and it was raining or cloudy. The mood of the film completely changed once the color changed. I felt scared and sad for this little girl. Made me feel exactly how the family was feeling. The day she fell into the tree, it was a different type of vibe. The sun was out but it still felt kind of gloomy. What really stood out in that scene was a bright white butterfly that caught Anna’s attention and it was going up on the tree like guiding Anna to climb it. All the focus was on that white butterfly.

 

miracles.jpgAnother scene that stood out for color was once Anna was feeling better and she was playing with her sisters, the sun was shining again. With her near death experience, Anna’s spirit was stuck inside of the hollow tree, it was very dark, and she was able to look at herself lying down on the ground and then the bright white butterfly appears in that room full of darkness. Following the butterfly, it leads her into the enchanted looking forest, where everything sparkled and it glowed. Anna looked at peace, I somehow felt at peace. I don’t know how to explain the colors in this scene, but everything was glowing and it made me smile watching her there. And when the flashback was over, there was this sign of happiness around them. Everything was bright like how the movie started. The color in a film is essential for the mood of the story, because of the color of this film, my mood was up and down just like theirs. Made me really feel a part of the Beam family.

The Visual Design: The setting of this film was in two main places, the main one was in the Beam’s house in Texas. The second was in Boston mainly in the children hospital. Their house in Texas was also a farm, which I found really interesting. You could see the character’s personality from the first scene of the movie, which was a Sunday morning before church, the three girls are playing, the father is out on the farm and the mom telling everyone not to get their church clothes dirty. The outside became a big character in this film because the girls would always be outside playing and fooling around. Once Anna got sick, the outside became a place where Christy and Kevin (Anna’s dad) fought over money and got to worry about Anna without her seeing them worry.

Boston was the second main setting, is where Anna spent most of her time during the movie since that is where the hospital was located. The hospital was an emotional atmosphere because everyone wanted her to do better, but Anna has accepted her death and was hoping it would be all over soon. Even though it was a hospital filled with sick children, it was a happy place. The hallways and rooms were filled with pictures and bright colors. It was made comfortable for the sick children. It felt realistic, the settings made it feel like real events were occurring. Which is why I think this film was very well made, the director could have made the visual design over the top and made the certain scenes look fake like many directors do, and ruins the movie, but he did it perfectly done, it was simple and straight to the point.miracleshospitalscene

The last segment I would like to discuss is the music and sound of the film. Miracles from Heaven has its own soundtrack, and since the Beam family is a religious family, most of the songs used for this film were hymns played by a man named Carlo Siliotto, the rest of the album is filled with all the sounds and background music that occurred during the film. I find this interesting because not many movies make an entire album and put the background music in it unless they were songs. As I listen to the album, I didn’t even realize most of these sounds were even playing while I was watching the film. We get so involved in the film that we as the audience don’t really pay attention to the instrumental playing in the background. But as I listen to the album I can clearly picture in my head in which part of the movie they played this song. It makes me go back to the feeling I had while watching that scene. I didn’t really notice how important the sound and music is in a film unless you separate the two. The music in the background, with the color, sets the mood of the scene for the audience.

 

Throughout this film, there were many ups and down, the music tells the audience exactly how to feel. The moment Anna got really sick and they had to rush her to the hospital. It was dark, the scene was in slow motion and this dark, fast, scary music started playing, you knew something serious was about to happen. My favorite thing that they made with the sound that it wasn’t modern music, it wasn’t a song I’ve heard before, this is a religious family and they kept the music with the same religious vibe. The director did not try to modernize this film, he kept it simple and it went with the flow, which is why I cried at the end, twice.

In conclusion, I am glad I picked this film as my midterm. It’s usually not a movie I would have watched, at the beginning I thought it was going to be extremely corny, but I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed watching this film and analyzing the director’s work, and I can say Patricia Riggen did a fantastic job portraying Anna Beam’s story. I just loved how the she ended the film, not many people knew Anna’s story, I certainly didn’t. I did not expect that right before the credits, the real Anna Beam would have introduced her family and herself, she showed the audience the tree that saved her life, she welcomed the audience into her real home. Which I am glad because this is one of those movies where the audience gets so involved, that we wonder what happened to them after the movie ended and then remembering they are just characters. Finding out at the end of the film that it was based on a true story made me feel happy because the feelings I had for this girl Anna and her family, it was real feelings. I was able to search her story, and see how she is doing now.

Because of this film I learned about this rare chronic digestive disorder that I’ve never heard off, now I can research and learn more about it. And what really fascinated me was that the moral of this film was that miracles happen all around us, not magical powers, but the kindness of the people who surround us.

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Gods of Egypt

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By Juan Vasquez

Brief Synopsis

After Set, god of darkness, usurps the throne from his brother Osiris and blinds his nephew Horus, he takes control of the mortal world and enslaves most of Egypt. Bek, a mortal thief turned slave attempts to escape with his wife Zaya, who is killed in the process. Afterwards Bek takes her body to a nearby temple of Horus where he meets the god, blinded and destitute. After striking a deal with Horus, the two of them go off to find a way to defeat set and revive Zaya.

Acting

The acting is subpar. The film had received a ton of controversy in regard to using mostly white actors in an ancient Egypt setting. And while I highly doubt that this would have made the film better, it certainly would have made the film historically accurate at least. Set’s accent (played by the Scotsman Gerard Butler) did nothing to convince me that he was an Egyptian god.

Cinematography

gods2Arguably the second most important aspect in the film, the cinematography is rendered quite beautifully. A vast majority of the scenes are supposed to induce a sort of claustrophobic, dizzying sensation (especially during the fight scenes). Occasionlly during the fight scenes the director will through in a 360 degree slow motion shot not just for the dramatic tension but for the “rule of cool.” The director breaks the 180 degree rule of editing multiple times during the film to create this effect. I would say that the director does this to represent the hurly burly of close quarters combat and the danger that the characters face.

The film also makes heavy use of CGI not only to render the monsters, but the gritty splendor of fantastic Ancient Egypt. The CGI was also used to make the gods appear much taller than what they actually are, which is supposed to add to their godliness.

Color

I believe color is the most important aspect of this film because it highlights the most important theme of this film: greed. Gold is very obvious color; from the golden sands of the Sahara (cough, cough, Australian) desert to the golden treasures in Set’s palace. Gold represents not only the divinity of the gods but also of Set’s greedy nature and the wishes of the people to be freed from his tyranny. Now a bit of explanation: when Set usurped the throne from Osiris, he proclaimed that the only way mortals can reach the afterlife is through a sacrifice of riches. The rich nobles get a much easier path to the afterlife than the common folk does. This is why I believe that the color gold plays an important role in the film.

 

Editing

gods9.jpgBeing that this film is an action film, the editing is much more fast paced than in a drama or a romance film. The film also makes an editing blunder as well : After Hathor and Horus get out of Set’s pyramid, Hathor puts her left hand to the side of Horus’s head. When the camera is looking at her two of her fingers are on Horus’s ear. But when the camera is looking at Horus, all of her fingers are below his ear. This happens repeatedly during this scene. Otherwise the editing is fine and does a good job in showing the franticness of the film.

Fictional and Dramatic Elements

The film is essentially a ancient egypt inspired action-fantasy film. The plot lacks any sort of complexity. It is a simple story that is filled with romance, vengeance, and redemption. The plot, therefore, is really simple to follow as Bek and Horus attempt to defeat Set and bring back Zaya from the Land of the Dead. The director Alex Proyas tends to work with these types of films; high in action and little in substance.

Lighting

The vast majority of scenes are remarkably well lit, even in dark places. I guess that this was supposed to represent the optimism that the heroes can defeat Set and bring Horus back into power.

Sound Effects and Dialogue

gods4.jpgThese are nothing to gawk over. The sound effects are not used as transitions and is only used as foreshadowing once, when Set’s huntsmen are riding on their giant cobra mounts. This accomplished by having the cobras sound like a sandstorm. Dialogue is unimportant in this film and the narration in the beginning and end shows us what happens before and and after the events of the film. The sound effects are used to add more menace to the big bad monster or to add tension to a fight scene. One such example of this is the final battle between Horus and Set when Horus has to chose between retrieving his second eye or saving Bek, the film emphasizes on the clattering of his eye. I thought that this was a clever use of showing how for a brief moment, Horus was tempted to save his eye.

Personal Opinion

I watched this film with my mother and even she agreed that the film was a waste of both money and brain cells. The acting was terrible, you needed to have some knowledge of Egyptian mythology to even comprehend the film, and it uses a ton of CGI and decent fight scenes to make up for its terrible performance. Ultimately, it is not a movie that has any form of merit and is not even worth mentioning when talking about film. In sum, this was an incredibly awful film.

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10 Cloverfield Lane

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By Michael Quintessenza

Before I get into the formal analysis about 10 Cloverfield Lane, I first must give a brief summary of the movie. This movie is the spiritual successor to the 2008 movie Cloverfield, starring John Goodman as Howard Stambler, Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Michelle, and John Gallagher Jr. as Emmett DeWitt. This psychological thriller, follows the story of three people who are trapped in a bunker, hiding from an unknown attack above the surface. Howard refuses to let the other go outside for he believes the world has ended and there is nothing left in the outside world. While living in the bunker, Michelle and Emmet soon discover secrets about Howard and question whether or not he is actually telling the truth about the events that are taking place off camera.

10clover1The first aspect of this movie that I want to talk about is the actors and their performances. This movie had only three actors which put them in an interesting position having to have a whole story with such little characters. One of the main reasons I was so impressed with this film was because the amount of story and backstory the writers were able to cram into each of the characters. And the performances that each actor was able to display was unlike anything I have witnessed in recent times. To get into specifics, John Goodman as Howard was particularly intriguing. His performance along with the script did an amazing job convincing the characters and the audience that he was telling the truth and doing the right thing. At the same time, his history and secrets that the other characters slowly discover adds another layer to his character shrouding him with mystery and intrigue.

A large part of Goodman’s performance was done with the expression on his face. The way he was able to use his facial features to tell a story in this movie was superb. Using that and his acting he was able to create a truly mysterious character that kept the audience going back and forth on whether or not to trust him. And that is what I think was the best part of his character, the conflicting trust. There were many reasons for believe Howard, because of what he has done for the others in terms of taking care of them. But at the same time there was distrust for him because of his questionable past. A big part of the movie was that Michelle slowly uncovered that Howard possibly kidnaped and killed a young girl years ago. This was done because Howard’s wife divorced him and took their teenage daughter with her. Howard was very attached to his daughter and when she was out of his life, he tried to fill the void in the form of another girl, and later Michelle herself. And this is where another key character element of Howards comes up, and how Goodman did an excellent job portraying it. Throughout the film Howard would notice things about Michelle and relating them to things about his own daughter. He did this time and time again to show the audience that he’s strange and might have ulterior motives.

clover3Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Michelle was also an interesting character because she represents the audience. He story starts in a normal world until she gets into a car accident and wakes up in the bunker under the care of Howard. She, like the audience has to figure out if what he is saying is true and whether or not he can be trusted. In the end it turns out that Howard was telling the truth, there was an attack by an unknown threat and the safest place to be at the time was the bunker. But that the same time, he was not someone to be trusted because it was discovered that he was a dangerous man, with possible ulterior motives in regards to keeping Michelle alive.

The last character is Emmett portrayed by John Gallagher Jr. Emmett is an interesting character because he gives the first credibility to Howard’s story. Up until his introduction, the audience was left to trust Howards story of what is happening on the surface, with many doubting him. But when Emmett tells Michelle about how he witnessed some sort of attack from an unknown threat, suddenly this strange story seemed more possible and Michelle and the audience was able to believe the situation that they are in. While not the best out of the three actors in the film, Gallagher was able to keep up with his more seasoned costars. Unlike the other two characters, Emmett was more laid back and accepting of the situation. I enjoyed his performance because in real life disaster situations, different people deal with things differently. So seeing his character act differently from the others gave me a sense of authenticity to his performance.

clover4This next segment is about the lighting and how it was used to add emphasis to the atmosphere of the setting. In the bunker there are different rooms all with different types of lighting to signify the different emotional tones that each room was going to have. To start, Michelle’s room started off with only one small light that only illuminates half of the room, the half that is empty. More about this room, when Michelle first arrives, like the room only being half lit, only half of the room is painted. These two visuals are used to show the uncertainty and unsafe conditions of the situation. It is only until Michelle starts to feel safe that more light is added to her room and she finishes the paint job. Now that the room is fully lit, a new tone is set upon the room.

In the main room/living room warm lights are used to fill this area. The use of these lights are used on purpose along with the furniture to convey a comfortable, relaxed atmosphere. This is needed because the reason the bunker was built in the first place. This shelter was made in the event that world ends, and the bunker needs to have a safe feeling to take the residents minds off of the terrors of the events on the surface. As for Howard’s room and the hallway where the food is stored, very harsh white light is always present. This is used to put a sense of suspense and creepiness every time the scene takes place in one of those two locations.

clover2A similar technique can be said for how natural light was used in this film. For a majority of the movie the surface is usually dark and dreary, with clouds covering the sky. It should also be noted that Michelle is the only character that actually looks outside only twice, but each had a different tone to it. The first time that she looks outside is when she wants to escape, and when she looks outside, she sees a bleak world of death. This changes her perspective on how she views the world that she thought was safe. The second time that she looks outside, she has a different view on the world. Now she has lost hope and doesn’t think the world is safe, so when she looks outside and sees a bright sunny day. Seeing this along with another key plot point, now casts doubt on the validity of Howard’s story and whether or not he is safe to be around. Later near the end of the film Michelle eventually ventures outside and just like the first time she looked out the window, the audience is put into the bleak world once again. Unfortunately for Michelle and the rest of the world, this lack of lighting and dreary setting is well deserved because of the end of the world is in fact happening. In my opinion, the use of lighting was well used to accurately display all the different emotions that each of the settings were trying to advocate to the audience.

Moving on to the design and sets used for this movie. First I want to talk briefly about the outside area. Because it was used very little, they had to use their time wisely. They decided to place the setting of the movie away from a populated area on purpose so that other characters wouldn’t be introduced, because there are not a lot of people around. The bunker was located in a very flat area, possibly farmland. This was done to get a feeling of emptiness whenever the audience gets a glimpse through the windows, or during the final sequence. Moving onto the interior of the bunker where the rest of the movie takes place. As I said before, there are several distinct rooms, all with different purposes and designs. The main room is made to feel comfortable and relaxed, and it is ironic because many tense and suspenseful scenes take place here. Michelle’s room is empty to display a sense of hopelessness and fear. The hallway is full of food and is narrow, to show a feeling of suffocation. Howard’s room is small and is hardly ever seen, to build mystery for his character. A reason I think this film was so well made was because of its set design. The minimalistic approach to this movie offered the director and set signer to focus on a small amount of areas and perfect them. Unlike other movies where scene changes constantly, this film does a great job at using the least amount possible to add to the story.

clover8The last segment involves music and sound. For the most part this movie used sound the right way. The movie wanted to have a feeling of suspense and mystery, and that is exactly what it did. It used sound and music mainly in tense moments between characters right before something unexpected happened. Using music during those parts is a great tool that filmmakers use to get the audience emotionally involved and get their hearts racing unknowing of what will happen next. Other older songs were used during times of peace to convey a form of comedic boredom for the characters while they try and pass time. One of my favorite things they did with the sounds was how they made everything echo in the bunker. No matter where they were, if something was loud enough it would echo, to give the audience an audial reminder that the characters are in fact trapped in a small underground facility with nowhere to go.

In conclusion I personally was more than pleased with this film. Normally with films that come out these days, there are usually things wrong with them, whether it be plot, characters or script. But with this film I enjoyed all of it. It was a near perfect film that was able to keep me emotionally invested in all of the characters from beginning to end. And that is what a good movie is supposed to do, be smart, well written, well performed, and have a good ending. Fortunately 10 Cloverfield Lane did these things almost perfectly and in my opinion, is one of the best movies I’ve seen come to theaters in a while.

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The Witch

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By Deirra Francis

“The Witch” is a 2015 horror folktale directed and by Robert Eggers. He is also a costume designer and known for “The Tell-Tale Heart (2008) and “Hansel and Gretel”. It takes place in 1630 New England and is a chronological film. Terror and despair ascends a farmer, his wife and four children when the youngest son Samuel vanishes. The family blames Thomasin (Anya Taylor-Joy), the oldest daughter who was watching the boy at the time of his disappearance. With suspicion and paranoia arising, twin siblings Mercy (Ellie Grainger) and Jonas (Lucas Dawson) suspect Thomasin of witchcraft.

The title “The Witch” literally tell you what the story is about. The movie is a period piece and recreated the look of New England in 1630. For this film, the efforts to maintain atmosphere come at the expense of authentic story telling. For this reason, the film does nothing to transcend the generic tropes of horror filmmaking. The folk setting is truly ideal for its religious themes and content.

the-witch-anya-taylor-joy.jpgThe production designer who is also the director researched Elizabethan clothing for the men and women. During this era the clothes worn were in relation to the status of the person wearing them. This was not only dictated by the wealth of the person but also their social standing. The working lower class women such as the family in The Witch wore materials such as silk, taffeta, and velvet trimmings. For the underclothes, a corset or bodice was often worn by the older teenage girls and women. The females also wore stockings, farthingale (a hooped skirt) the items of clothing allowed had Buttons and the facing of coats, cloaks, hats and caps. The men’s underclothes consisted of a shirt, stockings, and codpiece. Men also wore Separate sleeves, breeches, belt, ruff, cloak, shoes and a hat.

 

New England’s residents lived in cottages and had small farms. This particular family had a farm near the forest where you would hear roosters, lambs, sheep, and goats in the background. This setting determined the life and destiny of the characters in the movie. This little world that the family lived in the middle of the forest felt isolated. A special type of symbolic setting is known as a microcosm, meaning human activity in a small and limited area is representative of human behavior or the human condition in the world as a whole. In such a setting special care is taken to isolate the characters from all external influences so that the “little world” seems self-contained. The limited group of people, which contains representative human types from various walks of life or levels of society, might be isolated (125).

witch6The director’s primary focus and unifying element is to have its audience be affected emotionally or change their mood. For example, in the film each step leads to a powerful emotional effect because while the plot of the movie is important, the emotional response from the audience is the goal for the director. In the exposition of the film we are introduced to the characters and shown some of their interrelationships in a believable time and place. For example, the judge and jury are sentencing the father and his family as he looks on to meet their fate. The audience sees the subjective viewpoint, where the camera is put on the judge and jury in the courtroom to give us the characters view of action. The emotional intensity builds up for the characters, as they look nervous and create a strong sense of direct involvement by the audience. This visual sequence of the camera forces the audience to experience the emotions of the characters. As the family was banished from their community, the experience became more intense and I felt intimately involved in the action-taking place.

 

An indirect-subjective point of view was used in one of the first scenes as Thomasin played peekaboo with baby Samuel and then the baby disappears. Thomasin closes her eyes the third time and the baby Samuel disappears when she opens them. Here the camera has a close up of Thomasin’s face to show the change of emotion and look of horrorrealizing the baby has vanished. I can immediately empathize with Thomasin as it is something unearthly that must have taken the baby in order for him to disappear so swiftly! The camera conveyed the emotional reaction of the Thomasin and drew me into feeling like I was the character in that moment. According to The Art of Films “The indirect subjective point of view does not provide a participant’s point of view, but it does bring us close to the action so that we feel intimately involved and our visual experience is intense (170).” The close-up of the face grimaced in pain is more effective than an objective shot from a larger distance.

Furthermore, the witch is shot well, with a direct aesthetic design and sharp photography. The clarity of the aesthetic to some extent goes against realism of the conveyed period and settings, though the horror/folk aspect of the film may help one see past this anachronistic detail. In spite of this, The Witch is highly visually appealing. A long dolly shot from a carriage appears near the beginning, defining the film’s observant and perhaps detached cinematographic style. This style is contrasted greatly in moments of horror, such as when Caleb, in a noteworthy scene, speaks to Jesus while the camera jump cuts in close-ups and whips around his delirious face.

 

witch4Certain visual motifs and clichés litter the film. Creepy pair of twins, a black sheep and ominous shapes figures prominently. The main protagonist is, of course, a young pale virgin female. Her perceived innocence and how it becomes tarnished by the sin around her becomes of most importance to the film’s underlying thematic intentions. The Witch is not so much about the horror of witch’s actions but about the horror of humanity’s actions in response to a perceived ‘witch’. When this concept becomes realized towards the end of the film, it provides a substantial conclusion to an otherwise mundane film. The ending is definitely worth the watch and retroactively justifies much chaos, convolution, and contrivance found throughout the film.

In an interview for an A.V.Club article Eggers expressed that feminism was the movies political subtext. In fact it got an endorsement from a group called the Satanic Temple, which said it “departs from the victim narrative of witchcraft” as a “declaration of feminine independence. Looking back in history, it’s clear that the evil witch is-it embodies men’s fear and ambivalences and fantasies about women and female power. In that period, the evil witch was also fears and ambivalences about themselves and their power. Eggars actually spent five years making this film and four to write and finance it. He worked as a part time production designer so he could spend more time in the library for research. In Eggars thought process, the films that are most atmospheric and transferable are approached with memory.

The film is dark, exposure-wise as well as in subject matter. The DP and Eggars spent a great deal of time in recreations of these kinds of houses from New England, trying to understand what it would really be like to live during this time. The realization of the darkness and the sounds of nature are intense! The cameras the production used worked very well with low light. All natural light was used and the interiors were lit with flame. The farm used for the setting was built authentically; production used period construction methods and tools to make it look parallel. The music for scenes in the movie was inspired by 17th and 20th century. Eggars also decided to use voices in his music during pre production.

Eggars isn’t looking forward to contemporary filmmaking, historical films are his niches. He will be remaking Nosferatu and another film called The Knight.

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Star Wars: The Force Awakens

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By Erika Peña

The film is directed by J. J. Abrams. He is known for directing  Armageddon and Cloverfield. This is the seventh installment in the Star Wars film series. It premiered on December 14, 2015. This film has become  the highest-grossing installment of the franchise and the third highest grossing film of all time, with a worldwide gross of more than $2 billion. It received five Academy Award nominations and 4 BAFTA nominations ( it won Best Special Visual Effects). Two sequels, Episode VIII, and Episode IX are scheduled for 2017 and 2019. Stars Wars is one of my favorite movies.

Story/Plot

Every Stars Wars movie starts off the same, with the famous intro: the acclaimed theme song and the words going downward on the screen and the narrator reading those words. Stars Wars starts that way to give the audience a glimpse of what is going to happen. It has been about 30 years since the destruction of the second Death Star, and the disappearance of Luke Skywalker, the last Jedi. The First Order seeks to eliminate Luke and the New Republic. The Resistance is backed by The Republic and led by Lukes twin sister, General Leia Organa. Resistance pilot, Poe Dameron is trying to find the map to Lukes location, but he is captured by stormtroopers. But, there is stormtrooper who can not kill for the First order and he ends up escaping and freeing Poe. Finn, the stormtrooper who escapes meets Rey, a scavenger and also sees BB-8. They flee in a ship called the Millennium Falcon.

hansoloThe Falcon breaks down and is captured by a larger ship piloted by Han Solo and Chewbacca, who reclaim their former vessel. Gangs seeking to settle debts with Han board and attack, but the five escape in the Falcon. The gangs inform the First Order of Han’s involvement. At the First Order’s Starkiller Base, a planet converted to a superweapon that uses the energy of stars to destroy star systems, Supreme Leader Snoke orders General Hux to use the weapon for the first time. Snoke questions Ren about the involvement of his father, Han Solo; Ren says Han means nothing to him. The Falcon crew soon realizes that BB-8s map is incomplete and they need to find a way to complete it to find Luke. It is basically the fight between the Resistance and the First Order and solving the mystery to Lukes disappearance.

Sound/Music

starwars3Sound is probably one of the most important and famous properties in the Stars Wars franchise. The writer of the score was John Williams who is also the composer for the previous six films. Sound , whether its the famous intro or a ship landing and rising, is always present. Sound is similar in all the Star Wars movies. The score was recorded by a freelance orchestra, with sessions continuing on and off over a five-month period. The 90-piece orchestra recorded 175 minutes of music, although nearly an hour of that was discarded, modified, or rerecorded as Abrams re-edited the film. The sound is important because when you hear a particular sound in the movie, you do not necessarily have to be looking to know what is going on. Fo example, the sound of a lightsaber is pretty easy to distinguish and also the sound of Kylo Ren when he speaks. Whatever event is happening, the sound enhances that and makes it more spectacular. John Williams returned to the same theme as the other Stars Wars movies because that would be the best way to go. Since music was a very important part of the franchise, it takes a lot of time to work put and perfect because it has to connect to the previous films and the sound/music does the movie justice. Without the original sound and music, Stars Wars would not have been the hit it is. It all ties in together. The sound was one of the best parts and very well done.

Color/Costume Design

Stars Wars is very colorful. The colors stand out. They are vibrant. The director and costume designer fit color perfectly into the movie. Each character wears a color and costume fitting their personality. The color is also important when it comes to the lightsabers. Without color, you would not be able to differentiate
starwars10between the light force and the dark force. The red lightsaber is for the dark force and the blue is the light force. When you see these colors, you know exactly who is fighting for who. Color also plays an important part when it comes to Kylo. Kylo is the epitome of dark and he demonstrates that with his mask, low voice, and dark robe. Also, the costume design for every character is also similar to all the other Star Wars movies. The stormtroopers have their own armor that they wear to fight. The characters are wearing what they typically would wear. When I saw what they were wearing. My first thought was Oh yea, they would definitely wear that.” “it was not like,What is Hans wearing?The colors were not dull, they brought light to the film and your eyes would widen just at the sight of everything that was going on because of all the vibrant colors. The color was also never too little, if anything it was just right. At first glance, the color in the film is definitely one of the first things I notice. The color also gives the scene a mood or tone to it. Robes are a very popular piece of clothing in Stars Wars as well. Characters wear fashionable robes.

Camera Work/Photography

starwars11The camera work is amazing. It had all the right angles. When the stormtrooper, Finn, woke up in the middle of nowhere and the camera was far away and it gave us a glimpse that he did not know where he was and they did a close up to show that he was confused. Also all the battle scenes, we were able to see different angles and what was going on. Another scene that was had nice camera work is the scene where Kylo is with Hans and they are fighting and the camera goes to show how far the fall is from where they are and when Hans was killed, it was very well done. The camera work always gave us a detailed shot of the characters and their emotions and what they were feeling. Such as when Ren and Hans are having their emotional encounter.

Cinematography/Special Effects

Chris Courbold and Roger Guyett are in charge of he Special Visual Effects. The visual effects are one of the main accomplishments of this film. Since the premiere, they have received numerous awards .

Acting


I am an acting major so that is typically what I focus on first. The characters of Finn and Rey had a very tight bond and I felt the connection that they had. Also the relationship between Kylo and Han was an interesting connection to see because he ended up being Hans son who turned to the dark side. Overall, the acting was on point and I felt it could not have been done better. It brought justice to the franchise and characters like Leia and Han Solo brought their character back and brought justice to it. My favorite character was Rey because she was so badass and she was not afraidhan2.png to fight and protect her friends. She is someone that does what is right and goes along with the Resistance to help the fight against the First Order. Another on of my favorite characters is Han Solo. He has always been a favorite of mine. He brings pride and the right attitude. He is a leader figure and Chewbacca looks to him as his mentor. He goes to try and get his son, Ren, back but soon realizes that his son is very deep into the dark side and has been manipulated and there is no way to bring him out, Han Solo is heartbroken and dies at the end. Another character that was my favorite is Finn. His character definitely developed. He toughened up because when he was a stormtrooper he was always scared to fight for them, but he found out he was just fighting for the wrong side. He was able to defend Rey and go on this journey to fight for the Resistance.

Conclusion

starwrs9I did not like the ending at all. I thought that the director could have changed the ending because if I was upset then I know a lot of other people were upset as well. Han was one of the good guys so obviously if our hero dies then we are upset. But aside from that, I thought it was absolutely well done and it brought justice to all the other movies. I am always excited to see a Stars Wars movies because of how great it turns out. Stars Wars movies always take a while to come out because of all the work that has to be put into it. The lighting, camera work, costume design, acting, it all ties in to the amazing project the director and all the other people who worked on this movie had to focus on. But he ending was not completely terrible, this may be a spoiler alert, but Luke is found on a distant planet and Rey ends up handing to him the lightsaber. It is simple to understand why Stars Wars is such a great phenomenon. It is a classic and has been around for many years.

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The Color Purple

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By Andrew Robinson

You’re only as good as the company you keep. Unfortunately the main character and protagonist in The Color Purple, Celie, didn’t get to choose the company she kept. Therefore, it was difficult for her to see the good in herself throughout this movie. Celie was both verbally and physically abused from a very young age, but what is even worse is that she accepted this because she didn’t know any better. As a result of being uneducated, Celie felt as though she had no voice and/or rights in a time and place where they both were evidently obtainable. Celie is proof that the statement knowledge is power is true, whereas she only discovers her true self and reaches her full potential through the knowledge she obtains through the relationships she builds with other women throughout the movie.

I am I have always been a good girl. Maybe you can give me a sign letting me know what is happening to me,Celie says to God. Celie had just given birth to her daughter, Olivia, who was fathered by the man Celie believed was her biological father. Although the fact that she starts her statement with “I am” and changes it to “I have” seems very minor, the director uses dialogue to suggest that Celie feels as though she is no longer a good girl. Celie is also fourteen at the time, which shows that this lack of self-esteem began at an early age. Celie’s younger sister, Nettie, who is obviously more aesthetically pleasing and intelligent, is the only person Celie can turn to. Nettie tries to pass on all the knowledge she has to Celie and she also helps keep her sane, whereas she is the only person that genuinely loves Celie at the time.

 

Nettie was a role model to Celie, whereas Celie aspired to be more like her. Therefore I would declare Nettie a flat character in this movie. Throughout the movie she didn’t change much because she was already the person she needed to be which is why she was able to play such an important role in Celie’s life. Thus, this would make Celie the round character in this movie being that this movie primarily focuses on her gradual transformation and her finding herself.

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The love between Celie and Nettie is mutual so in return there is no limit to how far Celie will go to protect Nettie. Thus, when Nettie’s hand is requested in marriage Celie offers her hand in place of Nettie’s because she feels Nettie is too young. However, Nettie is Celie’s only source of empowerment so she becomes powerless once she gets married and moves in with her husband, Mr. . Before Celie and Nettie are separated for good, Nettie teaches Celie how to read and promises her that she will write her frequently so they can stay in touch.

For the most part, The Color Purple has a sad mood and/or tone that puts emphasis on the hardships Celie faces throughout the film. Celie is also the primary narrator in The Color Purple, which adds to the sad, depressing mood of the movie. I wouldn’t say Celie embraces her flaws in the movie, but she is definitely aware of them and speaks to us freely about them, which makes it easy for us, the viewers, to like and root for her. Celie accepts her flaws and hardships and instead of sulking about it, she speaks to God about them—or Nettie when she was able to do so.

 

Unfortunately, Mr. despises Nettie and Celie’s relationship so he threatens to beat Celie if she ever touches the mailbox and makes her believe that nothing ever comes in the mail for her. Eventually Celie accepts the fact that Nettie doesn’t write her and after a number of years go by she’s forced to believe that Nettie has died. There is a much bigger picture to Mr. not allowing Celie to communicate with Nettie. As I said before knowledge is power and at this time the ability to read and write is the only knowledge or power Celie has. So preventing her from using this knowledge she now possesses makes her completely powerless—at least for now.

That leads me to my analysis of the script and the dialogue in the movie. We are introduced to Celie as a poor, uneducated, black woman with low self-esteem. She communicates with God and Celie through short letters that are grammatically incorrect. Celie’s literacy is a symbol of her strength as a person and the more she writes the stronger she gets. Mr. knows this and this is why he despises Celie and Nettie’s relationship. Him keeping them from communicating is symbolic of him keeping Nettie stagnate as far as her progression towards finding herself and becoming a stronger individual.

As time goes by, Mr. ‘s son, Harpo, falls in love and has a child with a woman named Sofia. Sofia is blunt, assertive, and rebellious and will not back down from anyone whether they are a man, woman, black, or white. Up until this point in the movie we’ve only been introduced to the stereotypical, submissive, nineteenth and twentieth-century housewife (Celie) so Sofia immediately grabs the viewers’ attention. Mr. is not very fond of Sofia, but Celie, on the other hand, is inspired and admires her rebellious ways and even becomes jealous of her at one point. Celie’s jealousy soon outweighs the admiration she has for Sophia, which leads her to influence Harpo to beat Sophia how Mr. beats her. Although Harpo’s attempts at beating Sofia to control her are unsuccessful, Celie regrets ever telling him to do it in the first place.

 

“Let’s make quilt pieces out of these messed up curtains she say. And I run git my pattern book. I sleeps like a baby now,” Celie says in reference to Sofia. Here they use symbolism to show how unity empowers women and how the fight against oppression isn’t as bad when women stick together. When the curtains were “messed up” Celie couldn’t sleep and things were in turmoil. The finished products of the quilt pieces they made were symbols of unity and empowerment; Celie and Sofia made up and now Celie was able to sleep. Unfortunately, as a result of gender roles, the idea of how Harpo thought he and Sofia’s relationship should be because of outside forces, and Sofia’s independence and refusal to submit, Sofia left Harpo.

colorpurple6“Sofia right about her sisters. They all big strong healthy girls, look like amazons. They come early one morning in two wagons to pick Sofia up.” In Celie’s case, Sofia leaving Harpo was both a gift and a curse. It was a curse because she was losing a friend—the only friend she had at the time. Also, by Sofia leaving, Celie was more vulnerable to oppression seeing that women were much stronger both figuratively and literally when they were together. Despite the negative aspects of Sofia leaving Harpo it was also a gift as I said before. It was a gift because Sofia gained knowledge in the limited time she spent with Sofia and more knowledge meant more power.

 

“Sofia gone six months, Harpo act like a different man. Used to be a homebody, now all the time in the road,” Celie said. Celie now knew that a woman had the power to change a man and if you didn’t force him to do better then he probably never would. Sofia’s independence and strong will brought out the best in Harpo and Celie realized that. Celie also knew now that she actually had a voice and a choice—whether she used it or not was her decision.

Celie wouldn’t make the decision to use her voice and make a choice until she met a woman named Shug Avery—another flat character in this movie. Celie loved Shug Avery from the first time she laid eyes on a photograph of her. Shug reminded Celie of her mother so Celie made numerous comparisons of the two throughout the movie. “You sure is ugly,” was the first thing Shug ever said to Celie. However, as I said before, Shug reminded Celie of her mother so Celie’s unconditional love for Shug made it easy to look pass this and everything else Shug ever did to Celie.

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Shug Avery sit up in bed a little today. I wash and comb out her hair. She got the nottiest, shortest, kinkiest hair I ever saw, and I loves every strand of it,” Celie says. Here they use imagery, paradox, and hyperbole to explain Celie’s love for Shug Avery. The filmmaker focuses in on Shug Avery’s hair, which is the opposite of the stereotypical hair of a woman who is described as aesthetically pleasing. He uses objective point of view momentarily to make the viewers feel as though we are looking through Celie’s eyes or right there with her and Shug Avery. Nonetheless, Celie loves everything about Shug Avery’s hair, which is contradictory of the description she gave of it. Celie loved everything about Shug Avery despite all of her flaws, but more importantly Shug Avery loved everything about herself despite all of her flaws. This is a lesson within itself; Shug Avery shows Celie that it is not about how everyone else views you, but instead it is how you view yourself that matters most and this affects how others view you.

 

Shug Avery also taught Celie what love was and what it felt like. Celie knew she didn’t love Mr. and she didn’t think she was a lesbian, but it bothered her whenever Shug Avery and Mr. slept together. “This Grady, she say. This my husband. The minute she say it I know I don’t like Grady,” Celie said. It was now clear that it was her love for Shug Avery and the idea of anyone else getting close to Shug Avery that she didn’t like. Celie wasn’t a lesbian, but Shug Avery played a number of roles in her life, some being romantic. In the process, Shug Avery learned things about Celie and her body that Celie didn’t even know about herself. Thus, Shug Avery determined that Celie was still a virgin at heart and mind because she had never had an orgasm or even enjoyed sex in any form or fashion, yet.

“Me and Shug cook, talk, clean the house, talk, fix up the tree, talk, wake up in the morning, talk,” Celie says. Celie and Shug Avery talked more than anything else and this is how Shug helps Celie find out all these things out about herself. Shug just allowing Celie to “talk “ was most significant because it let Celie know that what she thought, felt, and/or had to say mattered. This was the last bit of knowledge and power Celie needed to move forward with her life being that she felt stuck before as I said. This further supports my claim of Celie being a round character in the movie.

 

Celie then decides to leave Shug Avery’s house in Memphis, Tennessee and move back to Georgia. However, this time Celie lives on her own in a home that she inherited from her mother. Living in Memphis liberates Celie and although she felt trapped mentally, physically, and spiritually growing up in Georgia, she took what she had learned in Memphis back to Georgia.

Each female that Celie came into contact with in this movie played a significant role in her development. Nettie taught her how to read and write, which gave her a voice. Sofia let Celie know that she had a right to use that voice when she felt the need to. Finally, Shug Avery gave her the power to use that voice and most importantly let her actions speak for her. Shug Avery also showed Celie that life was beautiful and that God wanted us to enjoy it. With the help of these women and the knowledge she gained from them, Celie was able to do so. The purple flowers that the filmmaker purposely focuses in on at the end of the movie symbolizes Celie’s transformation and it also shows that she is now beginning to see the beauty of life and all of God’s creations despite her struggles.

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Hardcore Henry

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By Alex R. Esparra

Hardcore Henry is the future of Cinema

Today’s media is more personal. Many people own handheld devices with cameras, classifying all of us as self-taught directors; shooting and uploading 15-second clips of our daily lives twenty-four hours, seven days a week. As a result, media has transitioned into creating more content that incorporates the first person view. A new genre even came out of this movement, Reality television. In cinema film is shot mostly in the second and third person and only incorporates first person shots for brief moments, until now. With the popularity of Gaming, these days it’s no surprise this first person storytelling (made famous on that platform) has made its way to theaters in a new film titled Hardcore Henry, directed by Ilya Naishuller, and produced by polish filmmaker Timur Bekmambetov. This new action movie the first its kind, it was shot entirely in the first person.

harcore7The movie follows a man named Henry that wakes up in a laboratory in a plane over Moscow, Russia. As he slowly awakens and comes to his sense he is informed by a woman assisting him that he has been brought back from the dead as a cyborg. With no recollection of his former life, Estelle (played by Haley Bennett), the woman assisting him tells him that she was his wife, and tell him his name in Henry. At that moment, a group of soldiers attacks the lab and Henry and his wife escape in a capsule that falls into the city. After crash landing, they are again ambushed and his wife is kidnapped by a telekinetic villain named Akan. He then begins his journey to discover more about who he is while trying to rescue his wife. As all the action unfolds, Jimmy(played by Sharlto Copley), a mysterious scientist, guides Henry through the adventure.

hardcore3Originally titled Hardcore, the films concept came from two music videos that Naishuller created for his band, they were titled “The Stampede” and “Bad Motherfucker. Both videos became a success on youtube, getting over 40 million views each. People then began writing to asking for a full-length film. So he began working on Hardcore. After it was shot the director created an IndieGoGo account where he hoped to raise the additional $250,000 to finish the post-production of the film. Naishuller explained in an interview that he needed to make sure that the final look and feel of the Hardcore isn’t dictated by the terms of its distribution, but rather by the people who put thousands of hours into making it happen.Within two months the account surpassed its goal, raising $254,954. By exceeding the amount needed to finish the film the director and producer were able to add CGI effects to the film; like the removal of equipment used to shoot out of the shots to add more realistic effects to the movie . The funding also allowed for the best sound producers to mix the sound.

The film officially premiered at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival in September 2015. It was positively received and after a bidding war among the movie studios for rights to further produce the film, STX Entertainment acquired worldwide rights to the film. This movie is the first major Hollywood movie for the company, which is known for creating content on lower shooting budgets. They stick to projects that range from $20- 60 million dollars and only have one major star attached to them. This a more modern way of filming movies in an economy where less and less people are going to the movies. So it made sense to have Hardcore Henry be their first major release since it was the first of its kind and the could be completed on a budget of only $10 million dollars.hardcore2

From the beginning of the film, we see a much different style of cinematic photography. The opening credits of the movie begin with old-fashioned theme music playing behind artistically close-up shots of point-of-impact moments such as a fist punching a face, a knife penetrating a man’s neck(all the way through), and even a bullet entering someone’s skull in slow motion. It was an unusual way to start a film, but the music and style of the shots made all the violence in the opening credits seem beautiful. The movie was mostly shot in 3D using two GoPro Hero 3 cameras at a time that were positioned side by side into a custom-made head-rig designed just for the film. This allowed for the director to record video from a visceral perspective. Due to the fact that this film is the first of its kind, there are some notable differences in shooting and storytelling techniques compared to all other films that aren’t shot in the first person point of view.

Since only one perspective is shown for the film entirety it’s clear that in order to keep viewers from getting bored, Naishuller had to continuously keep his main character on the move, running and jumping from one fight to a gun-fight from start to finish. This is where the movie parallels the look of most video games. However, showing action from this POV is not easy, so the director used a lot of continuous shots, only cutting away a handful of times and constantly moving the camera in many directions. At times, all this movement was a bit sickening, literally, but it puts moviegoers into the story and experience so it was necessary to keep the adrenaline going. the director stated that during the production of the film over three hundred Go pro cameras were destroyed due to the complexity of shooting a movie of this type. The broken cameras are currently for sale, they sell for $300 dollars and include signatures from the cast.

The storytelling of the film was unique in how it presented the characters, there were basically only four characters, and then all the civilian props that were shot or blown up throughout the film. Since the POV is from Henrys only I noticed that the director couldn’t really develop the other characters in any other way than through the dialogue they had with henry here and there throughout the film. So aside from Henry, the others are more flat characters. What’s also very unique is that unlike other movies the star of the film has no face, so in a sense, we are all henry since we see this action movie play out through his eyes. In actuality, it was the stuntmen and the director who were behind the Go Pro in all the scenes. No specific actor was hired to play Henry.

harcore5Hardcore Henry has no planned sequel, but I feel that the film represents the first of many more to come that will be shot in the first person. In fact I think its represents the future of Cinema. So far critics have had many negative things to say about the film; they feel that the film has too much movement or doesn’t quite have a solid storyline, but this POV movie is sure to be a big hit , especially as the way viewers observe content in slowly transitioning from big screens to portable ones viewed on platform like youtube. Also, many of smartphones today can be turned into virtual reality goggles that you can wear to watch movies and play video games; which is perfect to watch a movie like this. So I feel that the movie will appeal to gamers and technology enthusiasts at first, but will eventually be the front runner of cinematic genres as technology evolves more and more cinematic content like this is created.

Wolf Children: Yuki and Ame

yuki1By Anthony Franco

Wolf Children was an animated film that was conceived of and directed by Mamoru Hosoda and produced by the studio company Madhouse. The film was released in its original Japanese in 2012, and in 2013, it was released distributed in English. It is said that Mamoru Hosoda’s recent marriage and growing family inspired him to create this film. Wolf Children was received well critically earning seven different awards, two of them included a Japanese film academy and publication, and another was an audience award from the New York International Children’s Film Festival.

Wolf Children uses a linear narrative and begins with narration from the daughter, Yuki, as she tells the story of her parents and the beginnings of her family. As told by Yuki, this story begins with her mother, named Hana, whose name is derived from the Japanese term for a flower. Hana is a young, studious and independent college student who works at a dry cleaner. She is a rather optimistic and self-willed individual, having a positive outlook and making it a point to keep a smile on her face when life seems hard. Within the course of her time in university and her studies, she encounters a strange young man who initially seems to be cold and distant but is actually warm-hearted, kind, and a loving person. As they get to know each other better, they fall in love. At some point, this young man reveals the ground-breaking secret to Hana that he’s a werewolf or wolfman and they wind up becoming a family, as well as parents to two children, not long after. However, this blissful period ends with the tragic death of the father.

 

Afterward, the film’s focus shifts on to Hana and her motherhood, beginning with her vow and her determination to raise their children as best as she can. From their little apartment in the city she persists in her care and providing for these children, but it proves to be a challenge. Hana isn’t always sure about what they really need or who to turn to for help and the children are rather unruly and noisy, the neighbors and even some agencies have complaints and tend to pry, and much of her effort is spent on covering up the fact that her children have abilities that they can’t always control. When these things come to a head, she decides that they should move out of the city for fear of discovery. But before that actually happens, she asks her young children a question that proves to be of great importance throughout their lives: “If you could only be one thing, would you be people or wolves?”

Hana continues this struggle in the country with a positive attitude. With some studying and talent on her part, and the help of her neighbors in other places, the family thrives as members of the little community they are part of.

yuki9The film’s focus shifts once more, and it shifts unto the children: Yuki and her younger brother Ame. In truth, Wolf Children has tracked their development along with the story of their mother. Yuki is loud, rambunctious and has an exuberantly happy disposition. When they moved into the country she was excited and enthusiastic about exploring her surroundings, she wasn’t at all bothered by nature which surrounded her new dwelling. Ame, in contrast, is timid and passive, quiet, and reserved. He’s also homesick and frightened by the little intrusions of nature that the insects and little reptiles that appear, or that Yuki freely plays with, represents. As they grow, they begin to struggle with themselves and with each other, their mother, the surrounding nature, and the pressure of society over this question of who they are and who they want to be. The final focus of this film is more of a coming of age story for the siblings, their personalities and identity being tested and shaped by each other and by life.

 

The role of editing in Wolf Children — If animated film has a special need for editing like live action film does — is rather important. As one might imagine, this film covers an extensive period of time. What they do very well is that they cover some of that time in the montage. Some of the relationships between Hana and the Wolfman and the birth of their children occurs along a rather calm and soothing musical segment, as scenes and snapshots of their time spent together, their feelings about the situation they’re in, their tenderness towards each other, and the growth of that family goes by. This montage was so well executed that you probably wouldn’t feel the need to extract details, yet it still artfully conveys, mostly through non-verbal expression, body movement, and some imagery, much of their daily lives within the period and their emotional reactions to the events that came by them. At this moment, the film provides a consistent overall tone and mood of lovingness and warmth, even as some of the emotions of the two primary characters shifts in response to some of the crucial events that occur to them. The montage is also used, to some limited extent and with Yuki’s narration, shortly after in order to convey some of Hana’s struggles in dealing with the pressure of single motherhood. She protects her children from the certain harm they at times place themselves in, she’s exhausted and almost falls asleep while doing some household tasks and watching the kids, and provides sustenance and comfort for the bottomless stomachs and endless cries.

Another editing tool that they use is that of repetition, mostly for humorous effect in Yuki’s case, in order to display her excited and at times wild and unruly nature, but also for an emotional effect, along with montage, in Ame’s case, in order to display his own problems with his social environment. Other editing moments were a momentary shift in art style, such as the use of a sketchbook in a scene that is supposed to be a moment in which Hana is imparting certain values and warnings to her children, and going back in forth in order to show frantic fear and panic in a scene involving the children that raises certain fears on an adult level.

 

Along with editing, there is the “camera”. They occasionally use distant shots in order to establish certain emotions and for moments through the ways certain characters behave and react. The medium distance shot sees the most use within the film as body language and emotion plays a greater role in the film. The camera tends to become close mostly for the intense moments within a few emotional moments in order to emphasize feelings of great sadness or fear, even some paranoia, with the exception of two intimate scenes near the beginning and end. As for camera angles, they aren’t always there to illustrate unpleasant imbalances of power between characters, but it is used in order to capture their daily life, with some distance but with a sense of care, or their vast and surroundings.

yujki2The colors of Wolf Children are mostly light and bright colors, not that the darks and the gray are totally excluded. Gray is present for a few of the sadder or darker moments of the film. Though the majority of colors aren’t that deeply hued, it doesn’t stop them from being striking at the right moments in the right places. This doesn’t limit any emotional moments that the film wishes to express. Once again, it can be used for intense emotional moments. There is a small bit of coloring to indicate gender, but the color is used more symbolically elsewhere. There was a use of white and deep blue in order to display innocence, excitement, and immense joy in a moment of family activity. Warm colors tend to sort of dominate or tint certain moments of comfort and calm combined with affection while cool colors tend to dominate and tint other moments of varying tension including when certain characters are in a moment of truth.

The narrative of the film is expressed, in part, as a sort of memoir or personal story. Some of the themes of identity and the actual choices the viewer is led to believe the characters would take are shown through the characters behaviors and personality throughout the film. There is some irony in the choices they, the thoughtful and timid Ame and the wild and adventurous Yuki, make over the course of the film. There is also some irony in Hana’s reaction to one of her children finally answering her question that she asked near the beginning, “…would you be people or wolves?” as her humanity comes into conflict with aspects of what it means to be a wolf. There is some sentimental or emotional logic that runs through the film on this part. There is also some thematic similarity between the parents and the offspring, mostly on part of the father, on the superficial level of appearance but also on the deeper level of their actions late in the film.

 

Despite how well executed it was, Wolf Children isn’t perfect. There are a few issues with the narrative, in that there are a few logical problems that become apparent when a bit of extra thought is put into some parts of the film. In a sense, they were rather masterfully glossed over; you don’t worry about it except in how it portrays the characters in the film sympathetically. There is also a bit of feminist critique of the film that has much to do with the fact that this film pretty much praises motherhood. We never learn much about what Hana aspired to be before she became engaged with the Wolf-man and had kids, and much of her life in the film is spent on her involvement with, and in relation to, the Wolf-man and the wolf children. So one kind of lacks a sense of Hana all by herself. There is also some criticism, at this same angle, to be found in Yuki’s social situation as she grew up. After some time spent with other kids, she later resolved to “become more lady-like”. She gets a dress, desists from playing with bugs and wildlife, and generally becomes less wild and more moderated. There is a question of whether it was Yuki’s free choice to decide to imitate the femininity of her peers, or if she was socially pressured into doing so. However, there is something to be said about at one of the characters, namely that character of the Wolf-man, which sort of counters the previous feminist critiques. If you thought the Hana or Yuki weren’t treated well, then the Wolf-man in some ways has it worse in the eyes of the viewer. The Wolf-man is shown to be caring, loving, thoughtful, and tenderhearted. He’s far from a ravenous animal or macho-male stereotype, even considering fact that wolves, a creature he can morph into, are thematically a masculine animal best known for being fearsome, savage and untamable creatures. Recall that he dies early in the film and, similar to his lover, we have a poor sense of what his life was like independently. Now, knowing all that we know about him within the film, this reviewer would like to ask an important question: What is the Wolf-man’s actual name?

 

Wolf Children was generally well done, even if a few details don’t add up or run afoul of some problems. The voice acting, in the English version at least, was well executed, and the emotional tones expressed through sight or sound, were carried out well. The art and designs in and of themselves were also rather well done. Throughout the film there seldom lacks a sense of humanity, even if the story itself deals with some fantastic subject matter. And while a bit magical, it remains mostly down-to-earth in its handling. This film is awash in the subject matter of love, especially a mother’s love a consistent theme throughout the film.

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