Film & TV

Retro Americana: The Return of Drive-Ins

Sandra Bertrand

Take neophytes Jeff and Jennifer Karl from Valley, Nebraska, opening right before March 2020, the height of the dreaded pandemic. On the plus side, some customers found isolating in their cars to be a possible solution to enduring the virus. From the start, Jeff’s friends thought his new plan was a crazy idea. Eleven acres that needed mowing each week, $30,000 for a laser projector, and Jennifer’s conviction that “if you have a dream, you can build it” made Quasar a reality.

‘Cocaine Bear’ Is ‘Highly’ Problematic

Garrett Hartman

The antagonist of the film is shifted away from the clear and obvious villain and the film is punctuated with yet another overindulgent and unpleasant death scene. The film is a frustrating montage of violence whose story and comedy serves solely as a thinly veiled excuse to view and trivialize death. My dislike of this film is not merely a distaste for gore. I would argue I’m quite the fan of gory media, but this film simply lacks any of the tact that makes gory movies fun.

International Filmmakers Dominated the Live Action Oscars

Ben Friedman

Le Pupille is set in an Italian orphanage and follows a group of girls rebelling against nuns. Backed by Disney and Alfonso Cuarón, the film is directed by celebrated Italian director Alice Rohrwacher. The girls are effortlessly adorable and funny, especially Melissa Falascon, who portrays the protagonist, Serafina. Admittedly, of the five films nominated, Le Pupille was easily my least favorite of the group.

Watching the 2023 Oscars: A Year of Reckoning

Tara Taghizadeh

After the unforgivable slap seen and heard around the world at last year’s Oscars ceremony, a few major questions remain: whether the Academy did enough to punish Will Smith for the attack on Chris Rock, and, given the general decline in viewership, are awards ceremonies still relevant? Of course, the greatest slap in the face to Will Smith – pardon the pun-- would have been if Chris Rock had hosted this year’s Oscars, but Rock turned down the offer.

‘History of the World, Part II’ Delivers Mel Brooks’s Delightful Brand of Humor

Ulises Duenas

This is a sketch show that serves as a follow-up to the movie of the same name that was released in 1981. It has a cast full of veteran comedians like Nick Kroll, Pamela Adlon, Wanda Sykes, and Jack Black. The whole series is a sequence of parodies that skip around different historical periods and events like the Civil War, the Bolshevik Revolution, and World War II. One of my favorites was the story of Jesus Christ, which was framed like an episode of “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”

‘The Other Fellow’ Shows the Ordinary Lives of People Named James Bond

Ulises Duenas

As a boy, this man discovered Ian Fleming’s books about Bond’s fictitious escapades, and he created a fantasy in his head that the books were about his father who abandoned his family when he was a young boy. He convinced himself that if his father was still around, he would have taught him how to be exactly like James Bond, and so he molded his entire personality and lifestyle after the superspy.

Action Movies: Over-the-Top Spectacles or Misunderstood Meaningful Narratives?

Garrett Hartman

Critics and general audiences alike often view these films as over-the-top spectacles lacking meaningful storytelling. The action-packed focus of these films obviously detracts from narrative content; however, there seems to be a false perception that spectacle means the complete absence of worthwhile content. After all, we still learn about characters and how they develop during action sequences. For example, in “The Matrix’s” iconic scene where Neo dodges bullets in slow motion, we see Neo’s transformation from someone held to the mercy of the system to someone who has the will to defy it. 

Sundance 2023 Delivers an Aura of Studio Excitement and Powerful Films

Ben Friedman

Now following the success of CODA, the 2023 Sundance Film Festival became the topic of far greater anticipation. Given that Apple paid 25 million dollars for the rights to release CODA on its streaming service, film studios responded by bringing deep pockets to this year’s festival. Many of the festival’s popular entries such as Flora and Son and Fair Play sold as high as $20 million to Apple and Netflix, respectively.

Tom Hanks Shines in Formulaic but Delightful ‘A Man Called Otto’

Ben Friedman

A Man Called Otto achieves something so rare in Hollywood these days. It is a feel-good movie featuring a beloved Hollywood icon playing against type that plays to all ages and demographics. A Man Called Otto exists merely as an inconsequential, but delightful story about the power of friendship and family featuring a surprisingly touching message about kindness to all.

A Remote Religious Colony Sets the Scene for the Harrowing Drama ‘Women Talking’

Forrest Hartman

After a slow start, “Women Talking” falls into a rhythm that drags viewers through the dilemma, asking them to imagine themselves facing the choice. Do they stay, forgiving the men who violated them emotionally and physically, giving implicit approval to their actions by doing so? Or do they leave, uprooting themselves and (in some cases) their young children from the only existence they understand?

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