With four weeks off school, having less responsibility gave Film Beat more time to watch movies, old and new. Here are a few things the Beat Movie watched over the winter break.
The gap between semesters is always a great time to catch up with the movies I was too busy to watch during the school year. Yet returning home also gives me the chance to access the countless DVDs that my family have bought and kept over the years. So with every winter break I’m faced with a dilemma: watch the latest movies to get into the conversation, or gravitate to old favorites? The answer, of course, is both. But while I finally got around to seeing Film Beat favorites like “Emma”, “Never Rarely Sometimes Always” and “Sound of Metal”, these are the old favorites that I enjoyed the most.
After the time I spent on the Beat movie, it’s certainly a little weird watching movies that I’ve loved for most of my life and learn that they have low Rotten Tomatoes scores and critical reviews that divide. With the old favorites, however, that’s not what matters; it is more useful to focus on how much I love watching these movies even though I have seen them countless times and can quote almost every line.
The National Treasure series may have a critical rating thirty percent lower in audience ratings, but I’ll never tire of watching Ben (Nicholas Cage, “Face / Off”), Abigail (Diane Kruger, “Inglourious Basterds”) and Riley (Justin Bartha, “The Hangover”) travels through historic sites on unlikely treasure hunts. With films like the Chronicles of Narnia film series, I decided it was less about whether the films followed CS Lewis’ books perfectly and more about how they bring the world to life in such a way. pretty. And sure, “Night At The Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian” isn’t quite the quintessential comedy I once thought, but it does make me laugh, and my sister and I pitched in Kahmunrah’s (Hank Azaria, “The Simpsons”) Lines perfectly quoted to each other for over a decade. These movies come with a perfect caveat, fueled by a nostalgic bias: They might not be perfect, but I love them nonetheless.
– Kari Anderson, Senior Artistic Writer
I just don’t know how I went so long without watching “Jennifer’s Body”. Since I had nothing to do during the break, like many others, I decided it was finally time to see what this acclaimed film was all about.
For those who haven’t seen it, “Jennifer’s Body” follows possessed teenager Jennifer (Megan Fox, “Snape”) who stalks and kills her male classmates, while her best friend Needy (Amanda Seyfried, “Mank “) tries to stop his. Yeah. It’s crazy. Entering it, I was excited because I adore Diablo Cody (“Juno”), and I know this movie is considered a cult classic.
But what I didn’t expect was the punchy social commentary. I’m not sure if I was taking it too seriously, but I’m so passionate about the themes of sexual violence and toxic masculinity that make up this story. Obviously, it has an iconic script, with lines like “It looked like lasagna with teeth” and “You’re a lime green jelly and you can’t even admit it” being a few of my favorites.
But when I wasn’t laughing, a lot of that movie made me so sad. The reason Jennifer is possessed in the first place is that an indie rock band is using her as a “virgin sacrifice” to Satan in return for fame and wealth. However, Jennifer was not actually a virgin, so she is perpetually possessed in the film. Sadly, if that’s not a metaphor for how sexual assault can traumatize someone or change their life in monumental ways, then I don’t know what it is.
I see myself watching this movie a few more times, but I’m glad the first time I watched it was during the break. A well-written, intelligent, at times heartbreaking and (dare I say) genius movie, that’s exactly what I needed to end 2020.
– Judy Lawrence, Daily Arts Writer
Sometimes I feel like I’m a great test subject for an anthropological study on Gen Z’s time in front of screens. A graduate student might write about how the strong economic growth of the 90s prompted my parents, from working-class families, to start a large bourgeois family. Or maybe they could write something about how the economic downturn of the 2000s meant we couldn’t always afford good child care, but they could sit us in front of video games, a computer, or a computer. television to silence us for eight hours. Whenever I’m with my family over winter break we tend to come across a lot of new and revisited media, so let me explain.
It’s easy to talk about the good things, as these are the movies I revisited with my siblings for the sake of familiarity:
It’s no secret that “1917” is a masterpiece. Thomas Newman’s score (“Skyfall”), Roger Deakins’ photograph (“Blade Runner 2049”) and the grueling and relentless performance of George Mackay (“Captain Fantastic”) make me want to read TS Eliot and Virginia Woolf or who whatever had something to say about WWI. A few of my friends have considered it to be another white-filled movie, but I really think there is a place for movies like this that explore masculinity so deeply.
When I watched “1917” in theaters last year, I saw a young boy, his dad (supposedly), and his grandfather see the movie together. Observe this family, then see how Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman, “Game of Thrones”) spoke about his brother and mother and how Schofield (Mackay) interacted with the child and looked at his wife’s photo and of his children resonate with me. I think we should talk about why the male force is so often represented by war, and why generations later, men still have such an attachment to these stories – just like director Sam Mendes (“Skyfall”) does so clearly in his adaptation of his grandfather’s firsthand accounts of the war.
And, of course, all those one-shots. I mean, how can you not appreciate the work put into them?
Plus, “My Neighbor Totoro” is Hayao Miyazaki at his best. This film is a heartwarming and amazing story about children told in a completely non-patronizing way. I could try to explain it, but it would be better if you watch it and see what I mean.
I also looked at bad stuff:
“Spree” was a brutal attempt at social criticism but, at the same time, I still like the chance to see Kyle Mooney (“Saturday Night Live”) in anything. That’s all I have to say about it.
“Wonder Woman 1984” was boring, but Pedro Pascal (“The Mandalorian”) seemed to be enjoying himself, especially during a climax that my siblings and I struggled to hear on our slightly petty laughter. Kristen Wiig (“Bridesmaids”) seemed lost – or maybe on autopilot – and it just made me want to see her again in something like “The Skeleton Twins”.
Everything I could say about the imperialist undertones of the film or the nauseating ’80s nostalgia has already been said, so I’ll just say I absolutely couldn’t believe they thought I cared enough to watch two and a half hours of this garbage. And this is from someone who really liked the first movie! I guess my last thought is, “Imagine everyone…”
– Mary Elizabeth Johnson, Daily Arts Editor
My New Year’s resolution was to be kinder to myself. I knew it would be a tall order. What I didn’t know, however, was how exactly this promise would apply to my everyday life. It ended up involving a lot of movies.
Even though I didn’t have any in-person classes during the fall 2020 semester, it was my busiest semester yet. There were almost constant discussions on Canvas, Zoom meetings, essays and homework to complete. I convinced myself that I didn’t have time to watch movies that I wasn’t reviewing and instead, I filled my schedule with watching the news, scrolling through the disaster and watching through the window dramatically, wondering if America was falling apart.
So far 2021 has been different. A big reason for this has been my entertainment choices, which during this long hiatus from the lockdown have mostly been the scope of my activities. While I generally prefer pretentious and depressing films, I decided to branch out.
The Studio Ghibli movies are premiering on HBO Max in the US, and on a whim I clicked one. I had never seen a Ghibli movie before, having previously considered them to be something for children. During the whole break, I kicked myself for how wrong I was.
The first film I chose was “Spirited Away”. It is not hyperbolic to say that this is one of the most beautiful films ever made. A train travels on lapping waves, under a blue sky swept by clouds, to the soft sound of the piano. Laughing, candy-colored spirits come together in a onsen, while the cute but somewhat disturbing No face stay in the shadows. The story of Chihiro, the film’s main character, empowers in all circumstances, touching consumerism, spirituality and love with more insight than most “adult” films.
Needless to say, I was addicted. I then watched “Howl’s Moving Castle” and “My Neighbor Totoro”, films just as beautiful and meaningful as “Spirited Away”.
For anyone trying to take care of themselves, Ghibli’s rich and colorful stories are the perfect ways to escape the madness of the real world and simultaneously contemplate relevant issues such as prejudice, illness, desperation and war in a safe environment.
I don’t know what 2021 will throw for me, but I’m glad I found these movies.
– Andrew Warrick, writer of the everyday arts