Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Beasts of The Southern Wild

     



     "Beasts of The Southern Wild" is a film that will have you thinking about the love between a father and a daughter. It will also cause you to appreciate what you have in life as well as the importance of being able to adapt to whatever comes at us. The film is about a young girl named Hushpuppy (played by Quvenzhan√© Wallis) who lives in the southern Louisiana bayou community called the "Bathtub" with her father Wink (played by Dwight Henry). When Wink falls mysteriously ill, nature also falls ill with him. Temperatures rise, the ice caps melt and fearsome prehistoric beasts called aurochs run loose. 
      A big storm hits the "Bathtub" as rising waters threaten to engulf their community and Wink becomes seriously ill sending Hushpuppy in search of her long-lost mother. Hushpuppy's home in the "Bathtub" is destroyed and Wink dies. But Hushpuppy is a tough, spirited survivor who you know will find a way to get by.  
      If I could describe this film to someone I'd tell them, "it's a film with an outlandish situation that's solved with normal solutions, with some elements of fantasy mixed in." I like how the main character Hushpuppy isn't a super hero with a great destiny, but rather is a more relatable protagonist that I think has admirable qualities and could be a good role model for both men and women.  The aurochs are drawn to sadness and distress, which Hushpuppy has in spades. When they try to impose their will upon her, she will not have it. I would recommend going into this movie with an open mind and enjoying this unique film.

Crooklyn

     "Crooklyn" is a movie that takes place in Brooklyn, New York during the 1970's. It focuses on the Carmichael family: the mother Carolyn Carmichael (played by Alfre Woodard), the father Woody (played by Delroy Lindo), and their five kids. They're not doing too well financially and the parents are constantly fighting. Carolyn is a school teacher and the main provider for the family; she's the one with a level-headed mind keeping everyone together. Woody is a struggling musician. He might not have everything clearly in perspective but I like his optimistic outlook. The nine-year-old middle child Troy is their only daughter of the five children. Troy is the main character and the story is told through her eyes. Something I noticed about the movie is that we see a lot of the characters eating an excessive amount of candy, salt, and sugar.  Perhaps there's such a focus on junk food because the story is being told from a child's perspective. It could also be a commentary on people's diets at the time.
      "Crooklyn" tells the story of the lives of Troy and her family members. We observe how poor the Carmichaels are, yet they aren't the poorest people on the block. What's interesting is that it seems like everyone is mean-spirited towards each other. For example, there's a scene where one of the local neighborhood boys tells Troy to apologize for insulting him and his mom. I personally like the way the conflicts and disputes keep the plot moving along in an interesting way. It makes the world that the Carmichaels live in more three-dimensional. The conflicts in the external world also act as a good background for the inner tension between the family members.                                                  
      There is a lot of action and drama in the film. It's filled with many awesome, entertaining scenes like when Aunt Song is looking for her dog Queenie, only to find her pop out of the sofa bed like a pop tart coming out of a toaster.  The movie focuses extensively on the family but there are definitely a lot of crazy and colorful side characters as well.  There's an annoying neighbor with many smelly and noisy dogs, and a guy who sings soul tunes. We even have the director, Spike Lee, playing a drug addict  aptly named Snuffy who likes to sniff glue. I also love this movie's 1970s soundtrack of mostly soul music from different groups like  the Five Stairsteps, the Chamber Brothers, the Delfonics, and the Jackson 5. The 1970s soul music provides a realistic background and setting for the times, as well as the conditions in which the characters live. Overall, I liked this film. I enjoyed its setting, feeling and all the wacky characters. Watch this when you have the time.

Gerald Mallison on the two best in the Rocky Series (Rocky 1 and Creed)


Gerald Mallison
6/20/17

Rocky is seen by many as the second most critically acclaimed boxing movie of all time (first being Raging Bull). The story of Rocky is modeled after the story of Chuck Wepner, a economically fragile amatuer boxer who works for the mafia.  Luckily, the champion, Apollo Creed needed an opponent that was an “assured victory” for the bicentennial and chooses Rocky as an “easy win”.  For Rocky though, this is the opportunity of a lifetime for him and trains (with the help of his trainer Mickey) to become a legitimate contender for the champions title. This plot alone makes Rocky an all time classic sports movie, but I believe that a newer reincarnation has surpassed the original that came before.  Creed directed by Ryan Coogler is about the story of Apollo Creed’s son trying to become his own man in the world of professional boxing.  Eventually after seeing the gym his dad worked in turn him down, he goes to the one man his father considered his best friend and longtime rival Rocky Balboa.  He then gets the biggest shot of his boxing career and is offered a shot at the heavyweight championship, as long as he changes his last name to Creed to show his heritage to his father.  In many ways, the movies are similar and try to portray the life of a fighter being changed by one ground breaking opportunity.  Although I think Creed does a better job in creating a more realistic atmosphere and fighting scenes than its predecessor provided.  For example, Creed presents the story as less of a hollywood movie and more of a sports documentary, to the point where they even have Showtime (a legit and famous boxing organization) to support and format the majority of the movie.  Even the romance between Adonis and Bianca (Tessa Thompson), seemed more well built and developed than Rocky and Adrian's relationship.  In conclusion, when you look at both of these film masterpieces of the story about a underdog looking for his big break, I feel one does have a superior edge and makes for a much better cinematic experience.  So grab your popcorn and adjust your hearing aid, because Creed and Rocky both deserve to be rewatched.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Creed by Dara

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Creed and Fruitvale were directed by the same director, Ryan Coogler, and starred the same actor, Michael B Jordan. This movie re launches the franchise Rocky and it pays tribute to Rocky Balboa. There are many references that fans of the original Rocky would enjoy throughout the movie. For example, the training montages are identical. However, one difference is that this movie is heavily revolves around a black man, and modern hip hop music that is the fruit of African American culture. This movie is very emotional because the main underdog that people cheered for is now an old man suffering from an illness. However, the character Adonis is like a foil for Rocky. Adonis is the underdog, he was put into a fight in which he was expected to lose. Also, he is escaping the legacy of Apollo Creed, his father, and want to make a name for himself, not as a son of a legendary boxer. Rocky takes Adonis under his wings and train him. However, one important thing is that Adonis saw Rocky as family and influenced him how to fight once again. Except this time, it wasn't against another man, he was with himself. Rocky did not want to take chemotherapy for cancer and decided to just patiently wait for the time to come. However, the ending scene shows Rocky, 40 years older, walking up the "Rocky Steps" with difficulty but he doesn't give up. Another battle for Rocky as he is still the underdog against cancer, but our protagonist always fight strong.



Creed



Creed (2015) is a spin-off and sequel to the Rocky movies. Adonis Johnson (Michael B. Jordan) is the son of Apollo Creed. His whole life he's had a connection to boxing. One day he decides to pursue his dreams of being a professional boxer and quits his job. He then moves out to Philadelphia to be mentored by Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone). This movie has themes of pursuing your dreams and going back to your roots.
Adonis wanted to box his whole life. However, Apollo's wife Mary Anne Creed (Phylicia Rashad) didn't want that for him because his father died in the ring. He eventually signs up to fight Ricky Conlan (Tony Bellew). News soon gets out that Adonis is Apollo Creed's son. This causes Adonis to be nervous because not only is he worried about being known as a "fake Creed" but he's concerned he won't live up to the Creed name. However, Adonis puts up a good fight despite what media predicted. Although he doesn't win the fight, he does last through every round. This is viewed as an accomplishment for Adonis as Conlan is the undefeated champ. This mimics Rocky (1976) where Rocky didn't win the fight against Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) but he does last through every round.
Creed also has moments of going back to your roots. Adonis never got to know his father since he died before he was born. Fighting in the ring probably made him feel closer to his father. Although he didn't end up the champ his father would have been proud to follow in his footsteps. Getting to train with Rocky as his mentor also brought Adonis closer to his father seeing as Apollo and Rocky were friends. Mrs.Creed also sent Adonis his father's old boxing shorts for him to box in during the match.

Fruitvale Stations



Gerald Mallison 6/20/17


Fruitvale Station is the dramatic recreation of the Oscar Grant shooting on December 31, 2008. The movie revolves around Oscar Grant, played by Michael B. Jordan, living his final hours before the tragic events on New Year's day. Revealing his: time in prison for selling marijuana, sketchy relationship with his family, and an ongoing trouble to maintain jobs or pay the rent. During his mother's birthday, Oscar talks to his mother who suggests that he and his baby mama take the train downtown to attend a New Year's Eve extravaganza.  This seems like a good idea at first, and actually makes for a good movie plot on it’s own.  Unfortunately that’s not what the movie was named and made after.  While coming home from the party, Oscar and his party’s train are pulled over and questioned by the police for a fight that occurred.  After Oscars’ party resists being brought to the station from the police, the cops decide to take the law into their own hands and handcuff Oscar and his friends.  This then leads to one of the officers “mistaking” his taser for his gun and shoots Oscar Grant in a subway station in front of the public.  The majority of this movie goes over what he experienced before the moment of the subway, and really does kind of speed over everything after the shooting.  The movie does contain good symbolism such as Oscar holding a dead dog with blood on his shirt (of course foreshadowing hi certain death in the end).  Another example is his daughter not wanting him to leave, unaware of the horrible fate her father has coming.  Even though I like this movie, their are flaws that can be seen and easily corrected.  Such as the overbearing amount of foreshadowing to the point where it’s kinda beat over the head that Oscar is going to die.  I would also have liked if they showed the actual death footage at the end of the movie, this way the foreshadows are less blunt and obvious.  In conclusion while the ending of the movie is very obvious, the journey this movie makes you go through is grade A and is a must watch movie.

The Breakfast Club

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The Breakfast Club (1985) showcases five teens from different backgrounds coming together to become friends, even if only for a few hours. Claire (Molly Ringwald) comes from a rich family where her parents use her as a pawn in their arguments. Andrew (Emilio Estevez) whose dad is never content with what he does. Bender (Judd Nelson) comes from an abusive home. Allison (Ally Sheedy) is a compulsive liar who feels her parents don't pay enough attention to her. Lastly, Brian (Anthony Michael Hall) whose parents care more about his grades than him. Because of their backgrounds, they make an unlikely friend group. However, the events that occur during Saturday detention bring them much closer to each other.
At first it seems the teens will just sit in silence for the entire day. Due to their different backgrounds they don't know each other well if at all. Eventually, Bender's antics draw the group closer to each other until they ultimately come together during lunch where they start to learn more about each other. This is when they start to share the reasons they ended up in detention. For the most part these reasons reflect their perceived personalities. Claire skipped school to go shopping, Bender pulls a false fire alarm, Allison, just being bored, and Andrew bullying a student by taping his butt cheeks together. The most shocking reason of all was Brian who tried to kill himself with a flare gun because he failed shop class.
There's a moment when the five are all sitting together and the question is asked if they'll be friends after detention is over. Although they had a good time the idea is that no, they would not be friends. Though this is viewed as a harsh decision it does reflect the need to feel popular as Claire and Andrew, the most popular of the group, say they would not be friends with the rest afterwards. In the end, Brian is asked to write the essay that was asked of them by vice principal Vernon (Paul Gleason) in which he answers the question "Who do you think you are". In this essay, Brian states that the group is more than just their stereotypes a brain (Brian), an athlete (Andrew), a basket case (Allison), a princess (Claire), and a criminal (Bender). These five were able to make a friendship that I hope actually did last more than those few hours despite their differences. What's stopping others from putting aside theirs to make the world a better place.