On Monday, Brown Motion Pictures hosted a pre-screening at The Avon of Liam Neeson’s new movie, Non-Stop. What was Mr. Neeson up against in this two hour comedy thriller? Wolves, like in The Grey? Nope. Kidnappers, like in Taken, Taken 2, and (presumably), the upcoming Taken 3? Try again. No, in Non-Stop our good friend Mr. Neeson combated, in this order, bad cell service, alcoholism, and terrorism.
Neeson plays the troubled agent Marks, one of two US air marshals on a flight to Heathrow. He might be an air marshal, but this certified bad ass doesn’t follow the rules. He often finds himself chain smoking in a tiny lavatory with duct tape over the detector (because obviously no one will smell smoke on him when he leaves that confined space), despite the fact that a hijacking is in progress.
The Academy Awards are this Sunday and it is basically all anyone I am talking about. Anyone who is anyone knows that the Oscars are the most important social event of the season. Good Oscar-viewing parties include copious amounts of food, lots of discussion of fashion, attendees who take the awards not only seriously, but personally, and ballots for these attendees to invest in with not only their hearts, but also their money. Basically a combination of my three favorite things: judgment, competition, and strong but ultimately pointless opinions.
The only problem with this otherwise perfect evening can be the fact that, unless you are my father (hand to God this man does not work), chances are you have not seen every single film with a best picture nomination this season. This is a problem not because you missed the opportunity to see a potential new classic but because, come Sunday night, there will be times when you will have to go full minutes without spewing passionately held beliefs and will actually have to listen to those of others. The remedy to the problem is, of course, making shit up. But how can you make shit up about a movie you haven’t seen? What if you embarrass yourself and make some long-winded speech about how you just don’t care about seeing wolves in movies since The Grey came out only to have someone explain that the Wolf of Wall Street wasn’t about real wolves? Welcome to “The 2014 Oscar-Viewer’s Guide to Movies You Haven’t Seen.”
Note: These are not synopses of the films because Wikipedia exists. These are quotes commonly spewed by people who have seen these movies that, when repeated, will create the illusion that you saw them as well.
I knew that I wanted to see Gloria when I first saw its preview a few months back. The two-minute clip didn’t give away much—there was a quirky-looking middle-aged woman in thick-rimmed glasses laughing by herself a lot and some empowering Spanish music. The film was attractive because it looked like both a feel-good indie film and a likely projection of someone I could relate to in thirty years. Now that I’ve seen it, I can’t say the protagonist and I are quite the same. Gloria is way, way cooler.
Gloria delves into the life of your typical divorcée who has lost herself and her sense of purpose in the rubble of family, friends, and daily life at work. Though she fits the mold of millions of characters we’ve already met, there’s something whimsical setting Gloria apart. Directed by Sebastian Lelio and starring Paulina Garcia, Gloria was shot and takes place in Chile. The movie is acted in Spanish and paired with subtitles, yet felt just as relatable as your go-to rom-com about old folks smoking weed and falling in love (It’s Complicated, The Notebook, etc.).
The best thing about Gloria isn’t even the inherent need to cheer alongside her as she kicks ass in all that she does. Rather, it’s the small details so cleverly snuck in. For example: in the first few minutes of the film, Gloria returns home to find an ugly cat in her foyer that belongs to a neighbor. No matter how many times she shoos the cat away, it constantly finds a home in Gloria’s bachelorette/hip grandma pad throughout the film, teasing her spinster way of life. Gloria will have great sex but will return home to find the cat; she goes bungee jumping and then finds the cat. As we follow Gloria through a romance more youthful than some I’ve experienced, undertones of aging linger constantly. The film, therefore, becomes whatever you want it to be. A moderate chick-flick for the intelligent woman; a clever love story for the avant-garde guy.
It feels like just yesterday that Ryan Lochte and his grill swam their way into our hearts, but, it’s time once again to rally around a new pantheon of athletic demigods. Sochi 2014 has been a long time coming, and, unless you have been living adrift on an ice flow, you have been hearing about the trials and tribulations leading up to this round of winter games.
There are a lot of us who don’t necessarily relate to the Olympics. The peak of our athletic careers consisted of four days in middle school when we were really excited about Wii Fit. We watch the Parade of Nations…for the fashion. The only thing we really remember about London 2012 is Tom Daley’s abs. Trust me; I get it. However, the Olympics are about more than just sports – they are about all sorts of things that Brown students love, like multiculturalism, community, and being really cold all the time. If you are someone who doesn’t like sports, here are a few ways that you can stay up-to-date and get into the Sochi spirit. Continue Reading
I went to see About Time, the new film from Love Actually writer-director Richard Curtis, by myself at 4 on a Monday afternoon. It looked like a nice romcom, and I had nothing better to do. I am not ashamed.
About Time stars an actors whose parents thought it would be a good idea to name him Domnhall Gleason as an awkward young man who has very little luck with the ladies. One day, his father–last seen singing a #1 Christmas hit in Love Actually–tells him that the men of the house can time travel. So good ol’ Domnhall (I think his character had a slightly more reasonable name) uses his new gift to seduce brunette-version Rachel McAdams, and in a matter of a few scenes, marry her.
The rest of the movie is dedicated to Domnhall’s family relationships. His free-spirited sister is stuck with a bad boyfriend and gets boozy; Rachel pops out a child or three; and dear old dad is getting older. The film actually handles these various subplots quite well (the son-dad one is the focus) but you can’t help but feel a little duped. At no point in the final act does Regina and Domnhall’s relationship hit a near-terminal obstacle that can only be resolved by a Spandau Ballet-backed kiss.
Even so, there are plenty of crowd-pleasing tearjerker moments. They may not occur in the context you were expecting them to, but they’re enough to justify your two-hour time commitment. Wait for About Time to hit video, and then bust it out on a dreary winter break evening. It’ll do the trick.
It’s almost besides the point to say that 12 Years a Slave, which began playing at the Avon on Friday, is a great movie. Of course it’s a great movie. It’s technically polished, well-acted by all involved–Chiwetel Ejiofor and Michael Fassbender, primarily, with brief appearances by everyone from Brad Pitt to The Wire‘s Michael K. Williams –and well-managed, if a bit self-consciously, by director Steve McQueen (not the guy from the 70s car chase movies). But this is beyond a great movie: it’s a statement, with enough sheer power to transcend its medium and become something far more important.
A lot has already been written about 12 Years a Slave‘s cultural significance, including this Washington Post article that quotes African Studies professor Tricia Rose and this Grantland column that is near as long as War and Peace. I can’t speak to the kinds of issues those pieces bring up. I’m not well-read or well-learned or well-cultured enough to be articulate about the broader relevance of the film in the context of American race relations or in the context of American filmmaking.
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