‘The Silence of the Lambs’
By: Colin Carney, SSW
For those of you looking for a thriller to watch over the summer, look no further than one of the greatest psychological horror films of all time: “The Silence of the Lambs.” This critically acclaimed film follows FBI trainee Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) as she is plucked from the academy at Quantico and thrust into the male dominated world of law enforcement and exposed to the worst humanity has to offer. Her first assignment outside of the classroom has her interview the wildy intelligent and deeply manipulative cannibalistic serial killer Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) in hopes of gaining his insight on a recent string of abductions and murders. The duo’s interactions are mesmerizing as the two take turns learning from one another. Hopkins’ legendary performance as the psychologist turned serial killer manages to unsettle while it completely captivates audiences. As the film progresses, Starling proves that she is equally as capable as any of her colleagues and manages to form a rapport with Lecter that helps her solve the Buffalo Bill case. “The Silence of the Lambs” is a beautiful experience in filmmaking and sure to captivate and disturb all audiences. Featuring two career defining performances from Foster and Hopkins, this film is a must see for any film fan and horror aficionado.
By: Amani Mahmoud, SSW
Bong Joon-ho’s “Okja” is an eco-fantasy that is a little bit nutty, eccentric and wonderful all at the same time. The film, which premiered in 2017 at Cannes, stars Tilda Swinton, Jake Gyllenhal, Seo-Hyeon Ahn, Steven Yuen, Lily Collins and more. The film opens with businesswomen Lucy Mirando (Tilda Swinton) revealing to the public a super pig that her corporation has discovered. Okja, which resembles a cross between a hippo and a pig, is the future of cuisine as Lucy explains. Okja was sent to be raised on a farm in South Korea as part of a worldwide competition to find the best environment for her species. There she roamed around the mountains for 10 years, all while she became a companion to Mija (Seo-Hyeon Ahn), the farmer’s granddaughter.When the Mirando Corporation inevitably tries to take Okja away, Mija goes on a suspenseful and action packed chase to New York to rescue Okja. Bong Joon-ho tells a story about a young girl attempting to fight for a nonhuman creature against its oppressors, which in this case is the food industrial complex. The film is filled with eccentric characters, action, delight and explores the absurdity of the human species. While “Okja” is very far-out, it is worth the watch for the visual storytelling that Bong Jon-ho delivers.
‘There Will Be Blood’
By: Kevin Sanchez-Neri, SSW
Summer is fast-approaching and with slews of movie releases postponed, cinephiles everywhere are undergoing a dry spell of new films. Lucky for everyone, there is still a lengthy, accessible backlog of timeless classics. If you’re looking for your next favorite film, look no further than “There Will Be Blood” written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson. The film stars Daniel Day-Lewis as Daniel Plainview, a conniving yet well-mannered oilman who builds an oil empire by lowballing residents of the areas he drills in, presenting himself as a family man — even referring to his adopted boy as his “business partner.” Plainview’s success is interrupted by Eli Sunday (Paul Dano), the local preacher whose roaring talent as an evangelist facilitates the abusive stronghold he has over the lives of the town’s churchgoers. This film is mesmerizing from the very beginning — featuring enthralling visuals of the vast deserts of California in 1911. Jonny Greenwood (Radiohead’s renaissance man) which provides a gripping and sometimes unsettling score that takes viewers to the forefront of the plight and treacherous conditions of mining during the oil boom of the early 1900s. Daniel Day-Lewis delivers one of his best performances with a near perfect rendition of a morally decayed robber baron. Although the back-and-forth nature of his character’s vendetta with Eli Sunday becomes a plotline that becomes a little worn out, it manages to encapsulate Plainview’s unhealthy relationship with success and competition, perhaps reminiscent of America’s own unhealthy relationship with capitalism. The film will leave you questioning how badly you want success as the American Dream is presented in its most twisted form in this Oscar-winning film.
By: Adam Alvernaz, SW
Animated works of art give creators the freedom and ability to make an inventive film, none more recognizable then perhaps “Akira.” In 1998, Katsuhiro Otomo’s animated masterpiece was released on July 16 to critical acclaim for its piercing vision of a bloody dystopia. Set after an atomic singularity destroys Tokyo, Neo Tokyo takes its place 31 years later but is riddled with civil unrest and political corruption. The world is in a dire state with conspiracies about government projects and experiments begin to flood the news. Amidst the chaos, bike gang leader and troublemaker Shotaro Kaneda plans to rescue his friend, Tetsuo Shima, from a government facility where the rumors of people with extrasensory perception abilities are real. With the city on the verge of utter destruction, Tetsuo grows more unstable as Kaneda tries to elude the government and escape the maze of Neo Tokyo. Following the stories of these teens and children against the apocalyptic situations they face is thrilling and explosive. “Akira” is a gripping film from beginning to end as it spurns and unwinds it’s elaborate and politically charged message intertwined within its Japanese cyberpunk ghetto and philosophically deep characters. The overt messages about nuclear weaponry and the meaning behind the artistry are especially important in our world facing crisis today.
By: Alexandria Esteban, SSW
“Penelope” is a romantic comedy about a young woman named Penelope who is born with the snout of a pig. She spends much of her life locked in her own home, waiting for someone to love her for who she is and break her curse. When she finally loses hope of finding someone capable of breaking her curse, she sets out to explore the world she’s been missing. This is a great movie to watch during the summertime because it’s a brightly colored modern fairytale that deals with themes of acceptance and love. While there are elements of romance in the film, the story mainly focuses on Penelope discovering new things about the world and herself. Complete with a cast of well-established actors, such as Christina Ricci, James McAvoy, Peter Dinklage and Reese Witherspoon, “Penelope” is a magical adventure that is fun for all ages.
‘The Half of It’
By: Christine Tran, SSW
On the outside, Netflix’s “The Half of It” has the appearance of any other teen romantic comedy movie. In the small, sleepy town of Squahamish, an airhead football player Paul Munsky (Daniel Diemer) is in love with Aster Flores (Alexxis Lemire), the prettiest girl in school. Unable to properly express his feelings to her, he turns to the main character — straight A student Ellie Chu (Leah Lewis) to help him write love letters to Flores. Though reluctant at first, Chu eventually does agree and as Chu and Flores exchange more and more witty banter, Chu finds herself falling in love with Flores. At the same time, as Munsky and Chu spend more time together, he realizes that he actually loves Chu instead. “The Half of It” is a beautifully written movie about longing and being bold enough to forge your own path. Throughout the film, all the characters struggle with their inability to pursue their true desires outside of love. Chu wants to go to an out-of-state college, but doesn’t want to leave her father, Munsky wants his traditional family to listen to him and Flores wishes she could delve back into art and be more than a dutiful church girl. Many romance movies commonly end with a boy and girl getting together and that being the final note. In the case of “The Half ot It,” the audience sees the characters as they begin their own individual journeys at the end of high school, showing that their stories are only starting rather than coming to an end.
‘Sleeping With Other People’
By: Silvia Ferrer, SSW
Recent attempts at romantic comedies have fallen flat from the magic of rom-coms of the early 2000s, but “Sleeping With Other People” is an exception. The 2015 flick subverts usual rom-com tropes by featuring Lainey (Alison Brie), a teacher obsessed with her college fling to the point of addiction, and Jake (Jason Sudeikis), a smooth-talking womanizer, to produce an emotionally dynamic and thoroughly entertaining watch. Despite their questionable morals, it is easy to root for Lainey and Jake individually as they traverse through their respective issues with love and lust. Brie and Sudeikis’ chemistry is electric, making it just as easy to root for them to get together. This film is perfect for a virtual movie night with the girls or even to entertain yourself alone as you quarantine during these lazy summer days. “Sleeping With Other People” strikes an easy balance of sweet and saucy; further, its palatable storyline is only benefited by the incredible performances by its cast, the dreamy New York City backdrop and the humorous writing. While the sparks between Brie and Sudeikis’ characters may be the thing to reel you in, the love story between the two expands into a profound narrative that is sure to leave you with lasting thoughts.
By: Colin Carney, SSW
The film that reestablished Batman as a pop culture icon and solidified his place as a box office titan is one that deserves to be revisited this summer. Tim Burton’s 1989 film “Batman” reimagined the dark knight after he had previously become synonymous with the bright and campy 60s adaptation starring Adam West. Rather than a colorful and quippy hero, Burton’s Batman was dark and brooding and introduced the character to countless new fans the summer of 1989. Starring Michael Keaton as the titular crime fighter, “Batman” follows the world’s greatest detective as he battles the Joker (Jack Nicholson) and works to stop the sadistic clown from poisoning all of Gotham. Both Nicholson and Keaton provide defining portrayals of these two iconic characters, practically setting the gold standard for future iterations to be compared to. Nearly every aspect of this film is iconic as even Burton’s dark depiction of Gotham as an imposing metropolis filled with gothic elements and seedy alleys has influenced subsequent depictions of the legendary city. Since its release in 1989, Batman has gone on to become a staple of the silver screen. Several films featuring the caped crusader have gone on to become critical and box office successes, but they all owe this to the film that started it all: “Batman.”