Thursday, December 22, 2016

Beasts of the Southern Wild #PIReviews

Beasts of the Southern Wild
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Starring: Quvenzane Wells, Dwight Henry, Gena Montana.
Directed by: Benh Zeitlin.

    Continuing from Alien, Crooklyn, and Winter's Bone, this film continues the idiom of strong female protagonists. This film concerns a six-year-old girl and her father in a post-Katrina Louisiana bayou. Wink (played by Dwight Henry) is the father to Hushpuppy and is struggling with health and anger issues, and when he comes down with a mysterious illness, nature goes out of control: temperatures rise, animals die, ice caps melt, and pre-historic creatures come back to life. Critically, I really liked the film's cinematography, acting, and great line in the beginning of the film; I also, however, felt that the film's pacing was a little too fast and threw the film off -- at least, to my point-of-view. I felt the film a little hard to understand and take in at times, but I still really liked it and I see the film's purpose and place.

    Essentially, what makes Hushpuppy a strong female protagonist is her father's tough love and her willingness to find her mother. Her father can easily come off as abusive, uncaring, and short-tempered, which is correct to some degree; however, it is Wink's tough love that prepares Hushpuppy to go out into the real world. This is symbolized by the aforementioned symbolism of the climate changing and the pre-historic beasts coming back from the dead that describes Hushpuppy's transition into the real world. Furthermore, there are pieces of dialogue from Bathsheba (Gena Montana) about the climate changing and the south side of the levee sinking; this also gives a good description of Hushpuppy's transition, warning her that she is gonna see bad and deadly things -- this, to me, represents the rough transition from childhood to adulthood. Wink's parenting is extreme, but can be explained as preparing Hushpuppy for the real world, therefore making her a strong female lead. In conclusion, I hope Wink earned the father-of-the-year award!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Winter's Bone #PIReviews

Winter's Bone
Image result for winter's bone hand scene
"When you see your SAT scores"- Kevin

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, John  Hawkes, Dale Dickey, Kevin Breznahan
Directed by: Debra Granik

    Winter's Bone is a 2010 sleeper film adaptation of Daniel Woodrell's 2006 novel of the same name. The basic plot consists of a teenager named Ree (played by Jennifer Lawrence) who is searching for her drug dealing father and simultaneously trying to keep her family of three (including her sick mother and siblings) intact. If you ask my opinion of the film, I thought it was good -- my favorite aspects of the film include the soundtrack of mountain/Gospel/folk music, J-Law's acting, and the camera work. I did, however, think that it was a bit slow-paced, took a lot of time to build up, and was at times hard to follow; let's just say, it was pretty much the opposite of Spike Lee's Crooklyn. More on that point, I find the contrast between these two films startling: Crooklyn opens with an upbeat soul tune and a bright color pallet, while Winter's Bone opens with a lone female mountain singer and a dull, neutral color pallet; Crooklyn consists of a nearly all African-American cast and is likewise directed by a black man (Spike Lee), while Winter's Bone consists of a nearly (if not, entirely) all white cast and is directed by a white female; Crooklyn takes place in the city of Brooklyn, while Winter's Bone takes place in the Ozark Mountains; Crooklyn's soundtrack is upbeat, electric, and funky, while Winter's Bone's soundtrack is somber, acoustic, and folky; shall I go on? The one similarity they share, however, is a strong female protagonist.

    One theme we discussed before and during the critical viewing of this film is that of norms and taboos. It turns out that Ree's father is dead because of an explosion in a meth lab, and that dealing with narcotics is the norm to make money in this dirt poor, rural area; and that Ree's father put his family's house up as a collateral for his bail, and if he doesn't show up in a week, the Dollies lose everything. Another norm in this backwoods is to not poke your nose into anybody's business, and Ree commits a taboo by constantly breaking this rule. even after her uncle Teardrop (played by John Hawkes) reveals that he might have been murdered. Ree confronts this local norm and becomes a strong female protagonist through that and her ability to raise her siblings on her own. While I may have had some problems with this film's pacing and slow build up, I admire Jennifer Lawrence's strong lead performance and I strongly recommend this film to those who love Oscar-bait/sleeper films, Jennifer Lawrence, strong female protagonists, and folk music.

Winter's Bone

Gabby Jeannette

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Winter's Bone was a 2010 drama starring the well known actress, Jennifer Lawrence. All though the plot was an inspiring idea with a strong female lead, the attempt wasn't as good as it could have been. The movie ended up being very uneventful and at some points a letdown. I wasn't in class when we started watching it, so maybe that had an impact on my opinion cause the concept was rough to pick up at first.
When I started to watch it was that Jennifer Lawrence was the eldest daughter of a back wood family and was like a mom too her two younger siblings. Her mother wasn't capable of taking care of them, the dad was wanted by the police and later killed, so she was the only support these two children has. After a while you start to learn that her dad is not only wanted by the police, he is wanted by this mob like group too and they decided to take their angers out on her. Her uncle that the tone of the film in the beginning came off as kind of sketchy, ended up being one of the only adults to help her out. He saved her when the mob was beating her up to send her a lesson. He also was their for her after she found out her dad, gave them a chicken, etc. He may have been a bad influence at times but it was only because he was mad about the death of his brother.
Also, something that caught my eye about the movie was that it was all over the place. One moment they were showing the conflict with the police, then the next they would jump to her talking to her mom or two her uncle, then the mob. It's possible they did that to show how this crisis effected all of the aspects of her life. I believe there was more organized, simpler way to showcase that idea. All and all this movie has extreme potential to be a strong drama with a great female leader that fights through the struggle for her family. The end product ended up not being as stunning as it could have been. Which is upsetting because the cast was wonderful with Jennifer Lawrence and John Hawkes. 

Friday, December 16, 2016


Alien the syfy film, interprets a nonfiction alien life form beyond earth. Directed by Ridley Scott in 1979 this film really gives the viewer of the film a more fiction look of the film with its life like effects and gore giving it a more lifelike appearance. With a quick rundown of the film seven crew members on board a ship in outer space. With the crew on board they attempt to land on a planet, but damage the ship on the attempt. This is when most of the crew explores the planet and finds a suspicious cove. As the crew explores they find suspicious bodies of some unknown creature witch was the aliens. With the ship fixed the crew heads back on board and returns to the base in space. This is when one of the crew members Kane gets sick. While eating with the other crew members Kane starts having an "episode" and "spasms". The crew members hold him down on the table and an alien life form pops out of Kane’s chest, killing him. The alien escapes and is hiding on the ship. The film is filed with gore as most of the crew is killed by the predator as it kills each crew member one by one only leaving one to finally defeat the beast. This film to me shows of a great piece for a syfy and adventure movie because most syfy films portray a nonfiction look and has a fictional character. This film hit both key points to perhaps the greatest syfy film of all time with its spectacular effects with the alien and gore. Alien 2 to me would be a good squeal because I have a feeling of missing information. The end of the film left me at a cliff hanger. I wanted to know what happened after the survivor went back to earth. Alien 2 would show the aftermath and maybe also another space odyssey where they may encounter another situation. 

Monday, December 12, 2016

Crooklyn: "Difficult but wonderful circumstances."

Crooklyn: Difficult but Wonderful Circumstances

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Starring: Zelda Harris, Alfre Woodard, Delroy Lindo, David Patrick Kelly, Isaiah Washington, Carlton Williams.
Director: Spike Lee

    Thus far, I have to say that this was one of the most charming and fascinating films we've viewed. Critically, I love the film's use of ironic humor, depiction of Brooklyn, strange characters, comedic camera shots, and insight into Troy as a character; what I love most about this film, however, is the soundtrack! The songs in this film (including: "Pusherman" by Curtis Mayfield, "Tears of a Clown" by Smokey Robinson, "Mr. Big Stuff" by Jean Knight, "A.B.C." by The Jackson 5, "Ooh Child" by The Five Stairsteps, and "Hey Joe" by Jimi Hendrix) all reflect not only the setting, but the mood of the film and the things that the Carmichael family face throughout -- as in the case where "Ooh Child" plays during the death of the mother, Carolyn (played by Alfre Woodard).

    To my understanding, the main idea projected is that, in life, it is inevitable that you will go through trials and tribulations; but in spite of what happens -- the people you lose, the places you go, and the conflicts you have -- life will keep on going, and we only have to accept the change. This is projected through the film's protagonist, Troy (played by Zelda Harris). In the beginning, Troy is one of five children of Carolyn and Woody Carmichael (played by Delroy Lindo) and is more-or-less one of several main characters. At first, Troy is portrayed as a typical product of her surroundings -- she is seen fighting with her brothers, cursing, and attempting to steal from a corner store. The important thing to keep in mind with Troy (and the rest of the characters) are influenced by what is around them and are not inherently bad people; despite what they may do and what conflicts they may get into at times, they still come off as relatable and likable characters to the audience. The film later establishes Troy as the quintessential character in the film when she visits the rural south through a fish's eyes and when the mother dies of cancer. Troy must come to accept her mother's unfortunate death and move forward with her life.

    One of the most admirable qualities about this film is that it manages to keep it's nostalgic, lighthearted mood consistent through most of the film (before the passing of the mother). If you ask me, I believe this is projected through the soulful and funky soundtrack (discussed before), crazy and laughable characters by the likes of Tony "Eyes" (played by David Patrick Kelly), Snuffy (played by Spike Lee himself) and Tommy La La (played by Jose Zuniga), Spike Lee's famous dolly shot, and the doozie of a scene with RuPaul dancing in the corner store. This film is also great at projecting ironic humor (making the audience laugh at things you wouldn't in real life), exemplified by the house fights, the arguments between Tony "Eyes" and the neighbors, and the dead dog popping out of the couch like it was a toaster! All in all, this is a great, super fun film which will bring hope, joy and laughs to all audiences; and remind us that no matter what happens, we will all "walk in the rays of a beautiful sun."

Wednesday, December 7, 2016


Gabby Jeannette
Image result for CROOKLYN

Director Spike Lee’s Crooklyn is a wonderful coming of age comedy with a hint of drama as it progresses, so towards the end I'd consider it a melodrama. The opening shot of the movie is an extremely long tracking shot that set the tone for the movie and explained how kids spent their summer in Brooklyn in the 70's, a fun, free, and creative time.

After the tone of the movie was set, the movie began to be told from the point of view of the only daughter in the Carmichael household. The movie starts around spring time going into summer. Since summer break is coming up and Troy is one of the youngest and only girl, Troy has to be the odd man out. According to her mom, Carolyn (Alfre Woodard), she is unable to fend for herself while her mom is busy all day teaching summer school. At that moment that fun activities we saw in the tracking shot in the beginning disappear from Troy's summer plans. She is now going to Virginia to stay with her Aunt Song and Uncle Clem for the entire summer against her wishes.

After awhile of dealing with her aunt's religious and strict lifestyle, Troy pleads to go back home to Brooklyn. Upon her arrival she is taken to the hospital to visit her sickly mom. Being the only girl in the house, along with her mom, they had a very strong connection that was hard to break, but the absence of her mom made Troy realize how much love she has for her parents. Shortly after that, Carolyn died of cancer. This major event in Troy’s life was tough to adjust to and seemed unreal. But after awhile it hit her that her mom was no longer there to be a mom, and it was time for her to step up and be the woman of the household.

Although the movie had a sad tone towards the end, it shifted to a tone of reassurance; there is hope for Troy and her family yet. This movie is the story of how in life sometimes you have to do some things, not because you want to, but because it’s what life gives you. Overall, I thought this movie was a wonderful realistic film that could catch any viewers attention with the catchy music, odd characters and great story line.

Caitlin Willis - Crooklyn

Caitlin Willis
Intro to Film Studies

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          The movie takes place in Brooklyn in the 1970's and is the story of an African American family. It seemed as though there was no direct plot. It was more of a sequence of events. It's like someone turned the camera on one day and started recording this family's every day life. This doesn't mean that it's bad; it's just a bit difficult to stay interested in. You feel like you're waiting for something that isn't coming. However, the focus was mainly on the nine/ten year old daughter, Troy. Not only was she a strong character, but she was a wise character despite her age. Her character was interesting to watch because it reminded me of myself when I was a child.
          One of my favorite scenes of the young girl was when Troy was in the store with her friend, who had just managed to steal an ice cream cone from one of the store's freezers. Troy decided to take a chance stealing a bag of chips. Unlike her sly friend, she was caught. This scene showed that she was young and made bad decisions. This scene compared to the one towards the end of the movie, which portrayed her cleaning the house and taking care of her brothers after her mother's untimely death, helps to prove my point of her amazing character development. Her maturity level skyrocketed after her mother passed on and she seemed to have taken the role of her mom as time went on.
          This movie was good and had an amazing portrayal of a young, black girl rising up during a time of struggle.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Touch of Evil, William Oliver

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William Oliver
Touch Of Evil

     Touch of Evil is a movie directed by Orson Welles, Starring Orson Welles and Janet Leigh. Touch of Evil is a mystery film shot in film noir, meaning the movie is in black and white.  The only other work I had heard from Orson Welles is The War of Worlds original radio broadcast.  However, this is very different from Touch of Evil, as it is a movie and not Sci-Fi.  
      Touch of Evil was a good movie in my opinion.  I believe the plot was very interesting and the film being in black and white and background music helped add to the suspense of the film as you try to figure out the main characters motives. 
The plot of the movie is Mexican Narcotics officer Ramon Miguel 'Mike' Vargas has to interrupt his honeymoon on the Mexican-US border when a man is killed after someone places a bomb in his car. As a result, Vargas delays his return to Mexico City.. Police Captain Hank Quinlan is in charge on the US side and he soon has a suspect, a Mexican named Manolo Sanchez. Vargas is soon onto Quinlan and his Sergeant, Pete Menzies, when he catches them planting evidence to convict Sanchez. With his new American wife, Susie, safe (he thinks) in a hotel in the US, he starts to gander at Quinlan's earlier cases. While concentrating on the corrupt policeman however, the Grandis, who Vargas is working a case on,  have their own plans for him and they start with his wife Susie. They kidnap her and Vargas has to find a way to get her back.  
     Overall I would give Touch of Evil a 3.5/5.  I believe the cinematic feel of this film is excellent.  It is a true icon of the Film Noir genre, and is a great use of storytelling by Orson Welles, at his finest.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Image result for psychoPsycho 

When Psycho was released in 1960, director Alfred Hitchcock, AKA The Master of Suspense, wouldn't allow people to be late to a showing or even speak about it, just so they can keep the movie suspenseful for other people viewing it. He wanted the audience to watch it from beginning to end. The movie Psycho is about a women who stole over 40,000 from her boss and then planned to run away with it, she ended up stuck in a rain storm, having to stop at the closest place, The Bates Motel. The Bates Motel is ran by Son Norman Bates and Mother Norma Bates.When she arrives, she meets Norman, a polite and shy boy who is interested in taxidermy (stuffing of animals). After awhile she starts getting friendly with Norman, which ended up getting her murdered. It started a whole investigation, ending in them finding up about Normans many secrets; his mothers dead corpse still in his house, his mental problems and the many people he has murdered in the motel. Later, there was a a TV show based off the movie, showing Normans beginning life and how he has come to be. The start of his mental issues and craving for murder. 

Rocky vs. Sugar

By. Alyssa Wotapka

Focusing on what the American Dream actually is, we watched two movie which portrayed it differently. the definition of the American Dream is; the ideal that every US citizen should have an equal opportunity to achieve success and prosperity through hard work, determination, and initiative. In both Rocky and Sugar, they worked hard to achieve their success with practice and determination. Though Sugar wasn't a citizen in the United States, he wanted to live the American Dream. His dream was to receive a spot as a pitcher on an American baseball team. Though many curve-balls threatened him and his success in baseball, he still worked to get to where his was. In Rocky, the American Dream was represented a little differently. Rocky was an aspiring Boxer, worker for a loan shark in Philadelphia. He made himself work hard to try and achieve what he wanted. He trained hard. He wanted the fame and glory.