The Independent

Skyfall Soars to Success

Matthew Greenberg

November 14, 2012

  Rating - 5 Stars Daniel Craig’s eyes are ridiculously blue. While this was already a thoroughly accepted truth, the title sequence of Skyfall will certainly change the minds of any stubborn naysayers as to the surreal blueness contained within those eyes. Skyfallis the third film in the “new age” 007 films, starring Daniel Craig as James Bond, and does a superb job of keeping the franchise riveting and modern. While Casino Royale (2006) was an astounding success, Quantum of Solace (2008) was met with a great deal of trepidation. Fans of Bond’s adventures were unsure which of its predecessors Skyfall would model itself after. The answer is: neither. Skyfall is so miraculous that it can be put into its own category within the franchise as the film that bridged the gap between the modern Daniel Crag/Pierce Brosnan Bonds, and the classic Sean Connery/Roger Moore Bonds. Viewers are delighted by Bond’s return to snappy one-liners, multiple encounters with gorgeous women, and an impressive body count.  Although Skyfall does not offer an abundance of gadgets, only a souped-up PP7 and a fancy radio, the magnificent job on the part of the actors more than accommodates for the void some fans might experience. Comparing any Bond to Sean Connery’s 007 usually ends with fleeting laughter at the thought. Daniel Craig, however, deserves true recognition for his dark and supple portrayal of the role. Craig is surrounded by other stars who lend their talents to film’s credit. Judi Dench reprises her role as M, and is as stern and fervent as ever. The real pleasure is found in Javier Bardem’s villainous Silva. Tom Long of Detroit News writes, “Great heroes are often enhanced by the villains they face, and such is the situation here. To really work, Bond needs great bad guys. Silva is bad at its best.” The story of Skyfall circles around Bond’s loyalty and faith in M being strained farther than it’s ever been before. When M’s past and present converge upon her, MI6 falls under attack and 007 is called to action to hunt down and eliminate this new threat. Bond must overcome the ghosts of his past while sorting out the convoluted status of his present in order to discover the true nature of MI6 and himself. Although the film was longer than it needed to be, growing slightly tedious in the middle, director Sam Mendes masterfully approaches the Bond saga with an elegance that was lacking in past films. Eric Melin of Scene-Stealers.com writes, “[Skyfall] features jaw-dropping cinematography and set design, and some of the most exciting action scenes of the entire series.” All of these aspects, coupled with Neal Purvis and Robert Wade’s insightful screenplay (with a caring touch by John Logan), define Skyfall as a Bond film the likes of Dr. No, From Russia With Love, and Goldfinger....

Argo

Matthew Greenberg

November 14, 2012

Rating - 5 stars Award season brings around plenty of films that have “desperate for an Oscar” stamped across their foreheads. Ben Affleck, who directed and stars in his newest film, Argo, gracefully avoids falling into this trap. Based on a true story, Argo takes thrilling drama and combines it with sharp humor to produce a film that demands Oscar nominations, including strong cases for both Best Director and Best Picture. Jason Buchanan of TV Guide’s Movie Guide writes, “If there's one lesson to be gleaned from director Ben Affleck's relentlessly tense, painstakingly detailed Argo, it's that we should consider the possibility that our history has been manipulated more than many of us would care to admit.” The film is set in late 1979, during the changeover of power from the Shah to the Ayatollah in Iran. This change brought about riots that eventually overtook the American embassy in Tehran, and we generically follow the developing hostage situation and what the United States seems to be doing about it. The film focuses in on Tony Mendez, played by Affleck, a CIA agent who specializes in extraction of people from dangerous situations. In this case, he has to find a way to rescue six Americans who fled the embassy when it was first under attack and took refuge in the home of the Canadian ambassador. Mendez hatches a plan to create a fake movie, fly into Tehran as a Canadian film producer and fly out as a Canadian film crew who were scouting sites for their film. He employs the help of Hollywood producer Lester Siegel, played by Alan Arkin, and Oscar-winning make-up artist John Chambers, played by John Goodman, as they publicize their film and create their fake production agency in an effort to give the film legitimate credibility. Affleck is phenomenal as the lead dramatic role, and Arkin and Goodman are at their best as the hilarious Hollywood duo. Bryan Cranston provides the bridge between the intensity of Tehran and the humor of Hollywood as Jack O’Donnell, the CIA agent overseeing Mendez’s operation. All four of these actors have each put their best foot forward, combined with Affleck’s exceptional showcase of his behind-the-camera abilities; Argo keeps its audience on the edge of their seats until the very last scene and allows them to leave feeling uplifted and proud to be American. Stephen Witty of the Newark Star-Ledger writes, “If nothing else, it proves that every so often, the CIA can pull something off—and that yes, Canadians are just about the nicest people on the planet.”...

V/H/S –Movie Review

Jon-Paul Kreatsoulas

October 31, 2012

Courtesy of Magnet Releasing 4.5 STARS For those who have kept an ear to the ground of the independent horror film circuit since early summer, they might have been exposed to the overwhelming hype surrounding the mysterious footage of a film entitled simply V/H/S. The film is an anthology of collected shorts collaboratively written and directed by horror’s latest wave of aspiring brats that plan on marking their territories within the horror genre. V/H/S’s directing and writing crew consists of Adam Wingard, David Bruckner, Glenn McQuaid and Joe Swanberg, the collective known as “Radio Silence,” and the most popular brat from this band of misfits, Ti West, who has already made a big statement in the indie-horror world with such features as House of the Devil and The Innkeepers. Viewers are introduced to the film in a disoriented manner, and the film ends abruptly. In a haze of static and digitized pixilation from the dead format of video cassette tapes, a perverted film crew is tipped off that upon entry of an assumed abandoned house, and the obtaining of a “special” vhs tape, the group will be handsomely rewarded. However, no task ever seems to be as easy as it may sound. Things start to go wrong in the once-thought abandoned structure. Members of the film crew come across a collection of tapes and while viewing them, they discover that each bit of the found footage is more disturbing than the last. The shorts are vast with varying content, tapping into ideas of folkloric beasts that thrive on sexuality, the archetypical kids screwin’ around in the woods, the stranger intruding on the (un)happily honeymooning couple and what really takes place during a supposed long distance relationship. V/H/S’s approach works with certain constraints that have either been highly favored or have been highly criticized within the horror genre. The film utilizes a found footage aspect reminiscent of The Blair Witch Project, while putting the viewer in several uncomfortable positions with a point-of-view perspective almost throughout the entirety of each short. Viewers with a weaker stomach might want to keep a disposable vessel in close proximity to, well, “hold” their lunch, because the film is essentially two hours of shaky handy-cam work. The idea of an anthologized narrative is a concept that will either leave the viewer eerily satisfied or absurdly confused. Happy for a short and sweet piece of macabre storytelling, or confused because so much, or in some cases, so little information is trying to fit inside of a twenty minute short. V/H/S feels like a composited version of “show and tell” for film students and that’s why it’s entertaining. It’s the raw and unpolished characteristic that instills its viewers with a sense of primal fear. The film doesn’t make a point to follow any logic or function of explanation through elaborate exposition, though developing one’s own theories and speculations is half of the viewing pleasure. V/H/S is a horror fan’s nightmare come true....

Repulsion (1965) – A True Psychological Horror Classic

Syed Ahad Hussain

October 31, 2012

5 STARS In an era of “found footage,” “ghosts caught on tape” and movies like the Paranormal Activity series that bore a datable ‘scary movie’ tag, nobody is taking the horror genre seriously. In 2012, not only filmmakers, but audiences have taken this once fascinating genre for granted. If one wants a true, disturbing and real horror film experience, watch the movie Repulsion. How would someone act if their deepest fear came alive and grew closer to them? Have they ever fascinated over and felt terrified about something at the same time? Repulsion boldly and exceptionally attempts to answer these unusual and frightening questions individuals might ask themselves. This underrated film by one of the finest directors in the world, Roman Polanski, (Rosemary’s Baby, the Ghost Writer) which also happens to be his first English language film, tells the story of Carol Ledoux (Catherine Deneuve in her most brilliant role), a Belgian manicurist, who is afraid of  but also fascinated with men and sexuality. The film follows Carol as she slowly ascends into madness. Neurotic, shy and naive, Carol lives with her sister, Helen, in a 1965 London apartment. Carol daydreams constantly about losing her virginity, but never finds the courage to find the right man. Her first date with a handsome rich man named Colin goes awry, and to make matters worse, her sister Helen can’t get enough of her boyfriend Michael. Carol grows extremely jealous of her sister’s healthy and perfect sexual life with Michael and becomes frightened of the couple’s frequent sexual encounters. Helen left with Michael for a vacation in Italy. Carol’s sexual frustrations and loneliness slowly begin to drive her crazy. She becomes unable to concentrate on work, becoming a reckloose. Her mental state severely deteriorates for the worst as she begins to hallucinate about getting raped and envisioning unpleasant, often violent encounters with random men. In an unpredictable and frightening scenario, she picks a rabbit and butchers it brutally while rotting its skin. Carol’s brutal psychological trauma and paranoia eventually leads to a shocking and unpredictable climax. The film’s black and white cinematography set in Carol’s dark and dreary apartment parallels her deteriorating mental state so effectively that viewers feel Carol’s fear, becoming as mentally disturbed and frightened as she is. Not many films are capable of scaring the viewer without showing any gore, ghosts and/or supernatural elements. Sometimes what one doesn’t see is scarier. Repulsion is a one-of-a-kind film that scares viewers from the inside and gives off a genuinely frightening, unsettling and psychologically disturbing motion picture experience. Repulsion sets the basis for Polanski to create the essence of his later horror masterpiece Rosemary’s Baby, which also deals with a woman descending into madness. It is remarkable that despite Repulsion being made way back in the ‘60s, it is still capable of creating scream out loud moments. Movie fans have seen a centipede made out of humans, a masked wielding tumor-ridden sadistic man playing pointlessly painful and gory games and creating ‘jigsaw’ puzzle pieces with human flesh, two nutcase scientists experimenting with teenagers hiding in their cabin in the woods, a former U.S. president slaying vampires and people recording nuisances in their apartments at night with a digital camera. But none of these so-called “horror” films create real psychological damage by generating deep tension inside viewers’ minds like Repulsion ought to do with the aforementioned cheap and gory tactics. If readers rent it for a Halloween movie night, they will not be disappointed....

Trouble with the Curve

Matthew Greenberg, Sports Editor

October 3, 2012

  Rating: 3 out of 5 To say this movie is the “feel good hit of the season” would be somewhat of a stretch, but it certainly has moments that will bring a smile to a viewer’s face. Clint Eastwood stars as Gus Lobel, an aging baseball scout for the Atlanta Braves whose best years are definitely behind him. Eastwood’s performance could be characterized as somewhat pleasant. This film is a far cry from his commanding roles as Dirty Harry or the Man With No Name, but Eastwood’s experience and natural talent add flavor to his character. Eastwood provides a few laughs and enough frustration and conflict as Gus for the audience to grapple with and stay interested. Amy Adams, on the other hand, delivers a home run performance as Gus’s daughter, Mickey (named after Mickey Mantle), a blossoming lawyer up for a partnership at her law firm. The trials and tribulations the audience endures with her as Mickey struggles to make sense out of her tense relationship with her father keeps us eagerly anticipating her next scene. Quite simply, Adams sweeps her co-star under the rug, as Alison Willmore of Movieline says, “[Adams] does it while steering clear of the stereotypical ruts that could have mired her performance in mediocrity.” Unfortunately, even the help of impressive supporting actors such as John Goodman, Justin Timberlake, and Matthew Lillard could not pull this movie out of its predictable storyline and repetitive, for lack of a better word, action. The audience gets tired of the film trying to be too many things. Is it a father-daughter relationship drama? Is it an inside look at the scouting world of major league baseball? Is it a romantic comedy? Or is it simply about an old man looking for his last hurrah before retirement? Needless to say, there were a few too many themes that were far too incomplete. But who is to blame? Certainly not Adams, as her banner needs no more toting, nor is it Eastwood, although a slightly better role choice in the future would be appreciated. Perhaps director Robert Lorenz, Eastwood’s longtime assistant director, wasn’t able to handle moving up the totem pole to the director’s chair. More likely, however, it is writer Randy Brown’s sorry excuse for a script, that yields little more to work with than the same scene played out five different times in five different locations, and dialogue that an audience could complete before the conversations even take place. At least we get to enjoy seeing Clint Eastwood yell at multiple inanimate objects. At the end of the day, Trouble with the Curve earns itself 3 out of 5 stars....

Vintage Views – The Natural

Nell Greaney, Staff Writer

September 20, 2012

    The craze of making vintage fads popular again is no longer limited by merely a decade. This trend has hit every popular medium since at least the early 20th century. Perhaps this renewed fascination with the old is because of a frustration with the new. With that in mind, following this vintage trend is a vintage movie review. “The Natural” starring Robert Redford (“Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”) Robert Duvall and Glenn Close, is a double whammy in the vintage field. “The Natural”, released in 1984, delves into the time period of the 1920’s-30’s and even makes viewers feel like they are in that time period. Many movies can’t evoke the feeling that the audience is back in time. Most films come off as a modern reproduction. “The Natural” is about a baseball player named Roy Hobbs, played by Redford. With this saga about Roy Hobbs described as “an average baseball player [that]comes out of seemingly nowhere to become a legendary player with almost divine talent,” by IMDB, the movie plays true to form by surrounding Redford’s character with eerie circumstances and almost supernatural coincidences. A quote from Hobbs’ father, that “talent is not enough,” haunts the film with its cyclical reoccurrence and truth in the lives of the players. But the movie isn’t just about balls and bats, it has its fair share of femme fatales too. The story begins in 1923 with the 19-year-old main character, Roy Hobbs, traveling on a train with his manager to try out for the Chicago Cubs as a pitcher. On the same train is an all-star pitcher who challenges Roy at a rest stop to strike him out. A mysterious woman on the train named Harriet, previously fawning over the all-star, turns her attention to Roy. Harriet seems to fixate on the person who will be “the best there ever was” in baseball. When Roy arrives in his hotel room in Chicago, Harriet promptly phones his room and tells him to come down to hers. He finds her standing by a window, ominously dressed head to toe in black. As she turns to face him with a smile, Harriet drops a black veil over her face and asks him, “Roy, will you be the best there ever was in the game?” “That’s right,” He states. What happens next changes his life irrevocably. Time skips to 1939 and Roy has been signed to the New York Knights. Roy is middle aged and has never played in a professional game. His teammates and his coaches ask him where he’s been all these years and what took him so long to make it this far. Roy tells no one the truth since he’s too embarrassed and ashamed. He finds himself in the middle of a war between the head coach Pop Bailey (who once owned the team) and “the Judge” who now financially owns the team. One particular scene from this part of the movie has been the basis for many a dramatic sports spoof –Roy hitting a home run into the stadium lights. “The Simpsons” also spoofed Roy’s “wonderbat.” This movie may take a little time to get viewers rooted, but once it happens, they will stay put until the movie is over....

Exorcism of Hollywood

Syed Ahad Hussain, Senior Staff Writer

September 19, 2012

  With the recent release of The Possession, a new take on the Exorcism sub-genre of horror, the 1973 horror masterpiece The Exorcism comes to mind. While The Exorcist is a horror masterpiece with some genuine scares and spine tingling moments, the film spawned a franchise which lasted from 1973 to 2005 with five films. The franchise has its share of really scary movies and some laughably bad ones. William Friedkin’s The Exorcist was based on the novel by William Peter Blatty, who also wrote the screenplay of the film. The film redefined the whole horror genre by giving it a new sub-genre ‘exorcism horror’, a simple premise about a 12-year-old girl (Regan MacNeil) who is believed to be possessed by the devil. Father Merrin (Max von Sydow) is assisted by Jason Miller’s Father Damien Karras to perform an exorcism. It’s then we witnessed some of the most memorable scary scenes of the motion picture history. Critics lamented on the film’s reliance on psycho-sexual overtones, a greater amount of special effects, lesser character development and a lesser psychological thrill elements which made the original a true classic. Others praised the film for its visual imagery and fast pacing, an element necessary for any horror thriller. Exorcist II didn’t have any “nail biting on the edge of your seat” sequences. It has its moments but they are very few and far between in the film’s 118 minutes. The Exorcist III(1990) was the third film of the Exorcist series written and directed by William Peter Blatty. The movie, based on Blatty’s novel Legion, was more of a serial killer film with supernatural thriller elements and strong religious undertones. Although this film is better then its predecessor, The Exorcist II, in so many ways; people remained divided in their opinions about a serial killer being possessed instead of a helpless woman which was being the case of earlier films. The film can also be seen as a dark comedy because of its rather cheesy description of the killer and some sequences including one in which a Jesus statue opens its eyes. Exorcist III didn’t work much as a sequel to Exorcist II or as a follow-up to the 1973 film, but it is an effective murder mystery and crime thriller. The next in the series is Exorcist: The Beginning (2004). Intended as a prequel to the 1973 film, it was directed by Renny Harlin. The film suffered the same fate as Exorcist II and has been lamented by both audience and critics ever since its release. The film gives audiences the back story of the first film’s Father Lankester Merrin (Stellan Skarsgard), his World War II experiences, his journey of self discovery, his redemption in Africa and his first encounter with the demonic Pazuzu. This entry in the Exorcist series is the most painful to watch and hysterical due its heavy emphasis on special effects and a seemingly impersonated scene from ‘The Matrix’. While Exorcist II grossed out viewers, it still made them cringe. Exorcist III made viewers laugh or turn it off halfway through. The reason for this was simple: commercialization which slays creativity and originality. Exorcism: The Beginning will always be regarded more as an idiotic B-rated horror movie which mocks the sensitivity of issues like rape, racism, the Holocaust, child abuse, and imperialism for the sake of cheap scares which aren’t even scary, the result is an utter mess of a film. The last of the Exorcism series is Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist (2005), another prequel. Dominion is definitely the second best of the franchise after the 1973 original, with scarier and exorcism scenes. It depicts Father Lankester Merrin’s tormented mind mirroring the demons he encountered, portraying him as a more sympatric and disturbed individual. The Exorcism franchise will remain as one of the most talked about and impactful horror film franchise ever to come out of Hollywood....

The Flying Swords of Dragon Gate

Linda Monacelli, Staff Writer

September 6, 2012

  Jet Li stars in the latest film by Director Tsui Hark The Flying Swords of Dragon Gate. The film, a 3-D remake of King Hu’s 1967 Dragon Inn and Raymond Lee’s 1992 New Dragon Inn, is considered a wuxia film. The genre wuxia, literally “martial hero,” and films of this genre center on the adventures of martial artists/warriors. Typically, the heroes in Chinese wuxia fiction do not serve a lord, wield military power or belong to the aristocratic class. They are often from the lower social classes of ancient Chinese society and are usually bound by a code of chivalry that requires them to right wrongs, especially when the helpless or the poor are oppressed. The wuxia hero fights for righteousness and seeks to remove an oppressor, redress wrongs, or attain retribution for past misdeeds. This type of character compares with the samurai of Japan, chivalrous knights of medieval Europe and cowboys of the American West. The film takes place during China's Ming Dynasty, and the nation is divided into two governing bodies, the West and East Bureaus, who answer to the Emperor. Flying Swords opens with a cool 3-D panning over a shipyard leading to a fortress where we meet the corrupt leader of the West Bureau Wan Yulou (Gordon Liu). Jet Li soon enters the picture as Zhao Huai'an, the leader of a small guerrilla group that monitors and acts against the corrupt activity of the West and East bureaus. East Bureau leader Yu Huatian (Chen Kun) plots to find and kill outlaw warrior Zhao Huai'an after an incident in the opening scene. However, this does not prove easy since another outlaw is running around posing as Zhao Huai'an. We soon discover who the doppelganger is. The doppelganger first appeared while rescuing a concubine from the emperor. The two are now on the run from Yu Huatian and his army and soon end up hiding at Dragon Gate Inn where the majority of the story and action takes place. Dragon Gate Inn is known as a “black inn” where many brawls take place and sometimes human flesh is served. A great sandstorm is approaching, and the innkeeper tries to close down the place and move to a safer location, but a group of Yu Huatian's men arrive and insist on staying in order to track down the concubine. Also staying at the inn are tough Princess Buludu (Guey Lun-Mei) and her Mongol gang, and female warrior Gu Shaotang (Li Yuchun) soon arrives with her crew of bandits, which includes Wind Blade (Chen Kun), who bears a striking resemblance to Yu Huatian. A sub-plot soon surfaces wherein we learn that the approaching sandstorm only occurs once every 60 years, and when it hits, it will unveil the ruins of an ancient city. Princess Buludu and Gu Shaotang's respective crews are actually plunderers who anticipate raiding the palace for treasure. Meanwhile, the real Zhao Huai'an (Jet Li) shows up. Plots and characters mingle and swords soon start flying—people start flying, too! With a gripping storyline, mesmerizing acrobatics, surreal sword-fighting, strong acting, and, of course, 3D effects, this film is definitely one to check out, especially for enthusiasts of wuxia, martial arts, and/or Eastern culture....

Barbarella: Not Your Average Movie Experience

Juan Manuel Gonzalez

September 6, 2012

  Old movies are still worth checking out. For example, Barbarella was first introduced into the world in 1962 as a small comic strip in a French magazine. As its popularity and notoriety increased, the artist of the comic, Jean-Claude Forest, decided that Barbarella should become a full-time outlaw. On Oct. 10, 1968, Dino De Laurentiis, Roger Vadim, and Jean-Claude Forest, released Barbarella worldwide and the world did not agree with Forests’ decision to allow Barbarella to become a movie adaptation. According to the movie’s IMDB page, the film made an estimated total of $613,285, when it cost a roughly estimated $9 million dollars to make. After the film’s release Barbarella has grossed more than $5 million on rentals after the film came out. The film quickly became a cult classic, and several decades after its release it had a surge of sales. With its monetary intake aside, lets delve into the film itself. When first looking at the cover of the movie, and its off-handed description, one would mistake this for a poorly done adult film, but beneath that , Barbarella, is really not that bad at all. The film opens with a woman (later revealed to be the title character) floating in zero gravity in what resembles the fur of a bear, stripping. The scene, especially in zero gravity is quite riveting, because of how well the special effects appear on screen despite the fact that at that time they didn’t have half of the technological advances we have today. After doing some searching one will find that they used a sheet of plexiglass, and shot the scene from above so that it mimicked the effects of being in zero gravity. After being told of an evil scientist aptly named Durand Durand, (The last d is silent) she begins an unplanned journey to the planet of Tau Ceti and ends up crashing on an icy plain where she is held captive by harmless looking children with demonic and cannibalistic dolls which feed on the unsuspecting visitors who land in their domain. After she is saved, she rewards her savior with adult relations, after which she is dropped off at her crashed spaceship beginning her journey to the city of Sogo. If one analyzes the name of Sogo, one’s mind might think of Sodom and Gammorah. Barbarelladoes a great job ,for the most part, at remaining blind to the intentions of every pervert she encounters until she willingly provides Pygar, the last living ornithanthropes, with some “motivation” to get him to fly. After he regains his motivation to fly, they set off to the city of Sogo where she gets captured,again, and Pygar is bestowed the honor of becoming the great tyrant’s plaything. After some horrible dialogue and very uncomfortable scenes, the Mathmos, the essence of evil which powers the city, is released trapping Barbarella and the great tyrant. Apparently, Barbarella’s “innocence” forms a bubble around Barbarella and the Great Tyrant and they fall to saftey upon a floating rock where they find a passed out Pygar, Seran wrapped by his innocence. The film ends with them flying off into the sunset; and cue the tears. Despite it’s cheesiness, and its in-your-face sexuality, the film is not that bad and will be watched again....

2016: Obama’s America—A Hypothetical Future with Doubtful Legitimacy

Patrick McIntyre, Staff Writer

September 6, 2012

    The era of “That’s your fact, here’s mine,” is among us, snidely waving goodbye to the archaic days of opinions based on agreed-upon facts. In the documentary 2016: Obama’s America, director Dinesh D’Souza weaves and bobs while taking potshots at President Barack Obama’s “questionable” past, his motivations and who has inspired them. In doing so, assumptions become the driving force in this agenda-laced documentary aiming to evict Obama from the White House and witness his one-term. The electorate does not need this. No informed voter benefits from falsified generalizations to steer politics. The audience receives nothing more from this film than D’Souza’s hypocrisy rampantly masquerading itself as factual and credible conspiracy theories. The crux of the film lies in exposing Obama’s true past and his resonating ambitions to torpedo America into third-world-country status as a result of his ravaging anti-colonialism, supposedly instilled by his father’s absence in his life as well as left-wing mentors. D’Souza’s primary curb while writing and producing this film, which is based on his previously published books, clearly depends on a lack of factual evidence to support claims—Obama’s policies are intermittently discussed. Instead of factual information, the audience receives black-and-white representations of wildly complex, multi-faceted decisions and pursuits. Discussions involving Obama’s middle-ground policies, policies far from the left, are abandoned by the narrative. Fortunately for D’Souza, utilization of fact omission and double-standards flies right over less-discerning audiences’ heads and pulls them in. D’Souza claims America isn’t racist or sexist, that people of color and women, compared to their white, male counterparts, have complete equal opportunities at success. We are encouraged to take D’Souza’s words as gospel because of his Indian background. D’Souza’s self-loathing, ignorant theories comply with our new racism of denying racism. While holding his hand up next to a black man’s hand, he claims, “You can’t tell the difference.” He attempts to permeate American society with the idea that racism no longer exists, in an effort to eradicate from our minds that racism still exists and permeates our society so he can use himself as proof of the endurance of the fabled “American Dream.” Inadvertently, the most intriguing aspect of the film becomes D’Souza himself. Who is funding this man’s work to be the token Indian guy, propping himself up as proof anybody can win in America? His tactics are clearly deceitful, regardless of his likely conscious complicity. His actions and ideas directly contradict the ideas of freedom that he claims to be championing. Intolerant tones saturate the narrative despite, once again, the use of himself as an example of an outsider. For example, he fails to achieve validity in the demonization of the Muslim faith and its followers. This is the most heinous form of D’Souza’s insipidly exposed anti-multiculturalism. An image depicting the “United States of Islam” in the Middle East closes the film, solely blaming Obama for this hypothetical and prejudiced scenario. Obama’s sympathy for other cultures, not murderers, does not represent a complicity in terrorist sects banding together. Distrust of other cultures and religions because of stereotypes and generalizations tend to promote that path, D’Souza. While facts have been overtly distorted on the campaign trail, 2016 is appropriate in complementing this tone and is, unfortunately, discovering a following of like-minded, xenophobic fans willing to ignore vast amounts of information—these peons and inchworms long for D’Souza’s skewed narrative to align with their own insulated and ignorant lives. While sifting through the drivel, an appropriate argument emerges when D’Souza’s tactics are scrutinized, thus forcing an (ideally) informed electorate to analyze the detrimental affects of well-funded, agenda-driven propaganda documentaries. D’Souza’s Prop-Doc is just one of many, from all sides, with vast exclusions. Our body of voters must be efficient at identifying these desertions of accuracy....

Review: Blue Like Jazz- An Odd Tale of Self Discovery

Syed Ahad Hussain and Desiree Dylong

April 28, 2012

    Blue Like Jazzis a 2012 adaptation of the celebrated Christian author Donald Miller’s semi-autobiographical book of the same name, directed by Steve Taylor, Miller co-wrote the screenplay with Ben Pearson and Taylor. Both the novel and film Blue Like Jazz follow author Donald Miller as he struggles with his growing and sometimes turbulent faith in God. Although the novel is less plot-driven than the film, both work to show how Donald’s resolution towards his Christian faith is not only due to his own self-reflection, but also due to the stories and experiences of those around him. Both works help to portray how seeing the passion and experience of others can impact the way we see ourselves. The film is reminiscent of the Coen Brother’s 2008 dark comedy A Serious Man in many ways. Just like Larry Gopnik, A Serious Man’s protagonist, Don (played by Marshall Allman, based on Miller) questions God’s existence, religion’s implications, limitations and reflections on his miserable life. After being unable to find eternal solace and peace in his life, Don leaves his hometown when his promiscuous, separated parents refused to accept his religious beliefs, and he ends up in Reed College, a liberal arts college in Portland, Oregon. According to some of Donald’s fellow Christians, Reed is known as a godless and heathen school. In the novel, Donald has no shame in telling fellow students about his Christianity. The film takes a different approach and showcases Donald hiding his faith out of fear of being judged by his fellow classmates. Don soon finds his place though when he develops a crush on a classmate named Penny (played by Claire Holt), a rebellious, free-spirited and sympathetic girl who hated the corporate culture and their apparent corruption. The college’s current ‘Pope’ (played by a humorous Justin Welborn) also acts as Don’s guardian angel. The Pope’s own ambiguity towards religion, overshadowed by his molestation by a priest as a child, makes Don even more stubborn and assertive in assisting the Pope with his random mockeries of the local church The on-off relationship of Don and Penny comes to a serious halt when she finds out about his mother’s pregnancy by the church’s married bishop, a sad truth that left Don bitter and at odds with God. Blue Like Jazz is a courageous, honest, comic, yet tragic account of a young man with religious upbringings discovering himself and his relationship to God. The theme of both loving and resenting something bigger than yourself is part of what makes the book and film relatable to a larger demographic other than those of the Christian faith. The emotions that come with being passionate about a way of life is something anyone can relate to.  ...

Mirror Mirror: Remixing Snow White

Desiree Dylong, Staff Writer

April 17, 2012

  What will you get when America’s red-headed sweetheart plays an evil queen, a prince gets tied to a tree by dwarfs, and a princess carries a dagger? You get Mirror Mirror, the newest adaptation on the tale of Snow White. Most of us are familiar with Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs from 1937. We know the scenario of Snow White biting the poison apple and succumbing to the evil queen’s wicked trick. The ending of the tale, when the handsome prince kisses Snow White and rescues her from a deep sleep, has become embedded in the pop culture stratosphere. Mirror Mirror, which is directed by Tarsem Singh, retains aspects that are reminiscent of the conventional Snow White tale. For instance, there’s the handsome prince, the evil queen, and Snow’s seven companions. However, Mirror Mirror spins a new twist on the ending of the classic tale, which will be left unspoiled. Once the evil queen, played by Julia Roberts, wishes Snow, played by Lily Collins, to be dead so she can become the most beautiful of all in the world, the princess has no choice but to leave her life at the palace and learn to survive in the woods. Snow then meets the seven dwarves, and with their help she learns to fight, and becomes much bolder than the Snow White that we are all acquainted with. Towards the end of the film, the queen terrorizes the woods in an effort to find Snow. The Prince and the dwarfs attempt to protect the princess, but she objects. Instead she explains how she has read many stories where the end results in the prince saving the princess, but Snow wants to change the ending. With her dagger in tow, she leaves the prince in order to battle the queen and gains the control of her ideal ending. Along with Mirror Mirror, this summer’s upcoming Snow White and the Huntsman, directed by Rupert Sanders, will offer the audience another perspective on the Snow White tale. However, while the PG rated Mirror Mirror has its comedic moments, and is targeted for younger demographics, Snow White and the Huntsman presents an adaptation geared for adults. The trailer for Snow White and the Huntsman presents a darker take on the tale. Since it will reach an older demographic, it has the potential to take the classic tale to a completely different level than Mirror Mirror. For instance, although Julia Robert played a queen who was wicked and was consumed by vanity, the character also had her comedic moments such as trying to fit into a corset. Those humorous moments of the queen give viewers a break from her villainous ways. In the trailer for Snow White and the Huntsman, the evil queen, played by Charlize Theron isn’t comedic and appears downright menacing as a clip shows her in a snow covered forest before her black cloak morphs into sinister black crows. The two films also differ in their approach to Snow White. While Mirror Mirror gives a portrayal of a Snow who is brave enough to save herself, as the film’s younger demographic do not want her behavior to be too audacious or violent; however, the upcoming film with Kristen Stewart presents a more fierce portrayal of Snow White. In preview, Stewart who plays Snow, is dressed similar to a knight as she dons a silver shield and armor. In another instance, Stewart’s character is huddled among an army as they all hold their shields. This version of Snow goes into battle, and faces perilous violence. Snow White and the Huntsman offers a more ferocious side to Snow White that a PG rated film can’t get away with. While these films may differ in their approaches, they both work to deconstruct the traditional version of the well-known tale. These new versions of Snow White portray strong willed young women who fight and rescue themselves. With these two films, the notion of the helpless female is erased and new perspectives take place. Mirror Mirror and Snow White and the Huntsman’s appeal to different demographics will create the opportunity for both children and adults to view films that present different perspectives on conventional norms....

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