The Roommate Movie Watch List

IMG_4229.jpgMy roommates and I are very different. We’re from different parts of the country; we have different majors; we’re different ages; we probably have different favorite colors and stuff. I’ll do a mini survey on that last one and get back to you.

The main things the three of us have in common are that we like movies, and we like each other. These may be so basic that they sound like what a sixth grader in beginner’s French would say in an oral exam: My name is Jacques. I like to watch movies and be with my friends. But still – they get the job done.

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Emerson 48 Hour Film Festival

Never in a million years would I have thought that I would be watching myself acting on an AMC movie theater screen eating a banana. Low and behold, it happened, and I’m only a second semester freshman. I guess that’s just the life of a film student.

My personal experience during the 48 Hour Film Festival could probably be summed up in two words: exciting and exhausting. You would think that making a three minute film in 48 hours was pretty simple, but it was far from it. Every group was assigned a different genre to work with, so the films all varied greatly in style, mood, and theme. Our team was given mockumentary as the genre, and luckily, our idea for the film came instantaneously. We created a mockumentary about “bro culture” explaining the life of typical frat boys in their natural habitats. It was designed to be an adaptation of the Planet Earth documentary, giving it a tribal atmosphere which was perfect for describing frat boys. Therefore, we named the film Planet Bro.

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Challenging the Literary Canon

After years of being assigned books to read for school, have you ever wondered why the same authors find their way onto every English teacher’s syllabus? I can still remember most of the books I was assigned in high school, throughout my years of Honors and AP English classes. As a freshman, I can recall reading Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck and Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. My sophomore English syllabus emphasized Shakespeare, Hemingway, and Victor Hugo. Junior year was my AP Language course, which consisted primarily of analyzing speeches from great men of times past, such as John F. Kennedy and Abraham Lincoln.

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Emerson Alumni: They Went Here?

Anyone who attends Emerson is probably well-accustomed to hearing about the different celebrity alumni that have walked the school’s hallowed halls (although Emerson has changed campus locations numerous times over the years). Yes, Emerson loves to talk about its Emerson Mafia. Of course, an impressive list of alumni is something for the college to be proud of. It’s nice to know, after all, that a good amount of people who have attended and graduated from Emerson have gone on to do incredible things.

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Art, Opinion

Movie Review: The Martian

What would you do if you got stuck on Mars?

The movie The Martian is based on the book by Andy Weir. The time is somewhere in the near present and space travel is common. This is the story of astronaut Mark Watney, who is left behind and presumed dead after a manned mission is forced to evacuate Mars due to a storm. Watney is hit by an object and lost. He wakes up after the storm has passed, alone on the planet and must find a way to survive and contact NASA.

I must admit I have not yet read the book, but have heard great things about it. Hence, I cannot give an honest response in terms of comparison between the two forms. What I will say though is that this movie is a must watch. It strays away from other space movies because it has such an original story. This is a man not only lost in space and far from home, but one that is attempting to find life on a new planet.

The movie uses humor and wit to develop quirky characters that are hard to not fall in love with. Matt Damon’s acting is sincere and with just enough comedy. He plays a man that is easy to sympathize with, who is funny and smart enough to want to follow along for the full length of the movie (and its a long one.) I also need to add that he looks incredibly fit and sadly too good looking to be a man left alone in space.

Kristen Wiig makes an appearance, and she is just as great as you would want her to be.

Space films are always amazing, and always a good experience to watch in the movie theater. They put into perspective our existence. The Earth seems terribly small when seen through the lens of an astronaut in Mars. A single human being in a dead planet makes us wonder the worth of a single life. How many things that we often take for granted, and we see Mark lose them all in a second. Everything from plants growing to water that flows to the importance of human company.

While the movie is long in duration, it keeps you up on your feet throughout all of it. The film is total catharsis, it encompasses a whole range of emotions while remaining funny and lighthearted. I felt a lot of tension throughout the whole movie; it was really nerve wracking to have to accompany this man in his journey alone on a planet and to know how far away he is from everything else. It is impossible not to be on Watney’s side and want him to survive, and that is what makes it the most tense, knowing that there is only two possible outcomes for the story.

I also enjoyed the fact that the movie takes you from Mars back to Earth, and we get to see the two sides of the story. Once NASA finds out that Watney is alive, they try to contact and save him. Yet, along with that comes all the politics of PR and the emotions attached to everyone who is on Earth watching this man thrive in a different planet. There is so much tension in both planets, so much real human emotion all surrounding one life. This also makes it from recent space movie blockbusters like Gravity, because The Martian keeps you between two planets. You are not away somewhere in space, this movie gives you two solid grounds in which to feel and explore.

The cinematography is vibrant, more so than the typical Earth shots seen in other space movies, this one gives you Mars. As a result, you get all the cool space shots that can be compared to those in Gravity and also get shots of the vast, red landscape of Mars.

A ticket to The Martian buys you a great story and the ability to discover a new planet. So allow yourself to leave planet Earth for a couple of hours and explore Mars with Matt Damon. You won’t be disappointed. 

Art, Opinion

Terrifying, Poignant and Hopeful: “Room” is a Roller Coaster of Emotions

room-movie-poster-01-972x1440Narrator five-year-old Jack starts the beginning of Room as if he is retelling a fairytale story with the classic opening of “Once upon a time…”. Room is not a fairytale. It could probably be described as the anti-thesis of a fairy tale. But it’s characters have all the courage and resilience of any heroic protagonist.

Jack and Ma live in “Room.” Room is a room, but it is also their entire plane of existence.

As Jack’s describes, “There’s room, then outer space, then heaven.” There is also “TV world”, which is a fantasy realm. In Jack’s eyes, only room is real.

Told through the eyes of Jack, the audience learns of the lives of Jack and Ma. In room, they exercise with “track” (running between two walls), keep it tidy by scrubbing the floors and stay entertained with television and books. Sundays are treat days, where they receive food and supplies from a man named Old Nick. It gives the appearance that despite their claustrophobic circumstances, they’ve made a peaceful life for themselves.

As the horrific truth unfolds, we learn Ma and Jack are hostages in Room. Room isn’t a world–it’s a shed. Old Nick isn’t some sort of Santa Claus figure, but their captor. He is also Jack’s biological father. Ma has been here for seven years, since she was 17. Feeling the weight of years lost, she teaches young Jack about the real world and devises a plan to get them out.

It’s not a spoiler to say they do escape, because it’s included in the trailer. Many people would assume that escape equates to a happy ending but Room shows it is far from it. Life after Room comes with it’s own set of challenges. The film at this point is no longer just the story of Jack and Ma, but a commentary on how to treat survivors of situations like this, especially in the media.

Jacob Tremblay does a superb job portraying the innocence, curiosity and hyperactivity of Jack, however Brie Larson as Ma is what gives Room it’s weight. Ma is cheated out of everything: her youth, her freedom, her agency. I forgot that Ma is essentially still a teenage. She didn’t get those moments of transition from adolescence into adulthood: high school graduation, college, job. Instead, she was thrust into ultimate survival mode for seven years. This experience forced her into an adult. Larson does a magnificent job of showing the effect these tolls have on a human; from her exhaustion in the beginning, to her anxious excitement planning their escape and lastly, her realistic portrayal of PTSD in life after Room.

The production of Room is amazing, considering half of the movie takes place in a setting that’s so small. The claustrophobia and anxiety of room is palpable through director Lenny Abrahamson’s use of close up shots and quick edits. The story of Room is being narrated through Jacks eyes, but Abrahamson takes it a step further by turning the camera to Jack’s perspective; we see what Old Nick does at night through the blinds of the closet Jack is forced to hide in, the doctor in the hospital through Ma’s hair Jack is hiding behind. We see what Jack sees. Shots like these leave a strong impact on the viewer, while being another creative way to frame the story.

The term “must-see” is used to describe a lot of movies these days and I wouldn’t want to cheapen Room by leaving it at that. Room does what a lot of movies fail to do: it makes you grateful. After I was done wiping my tears of pure emotional catharsis, I left the theater with a greater appreciation for life. You don’t realize how magnificent so many of the ‘average’ aspects of our lives are until they are told through the eyes of a five-year-old seeing them for the first time.

In an interview with the AV Club, Brie Larson discussed how the majority of press coverage focuses on the dark premise of the film, neglecting the characters that defy their circumstances.

I don’t understand the adjective “harrowing” with this movie. Unless “harrowing” means “lovely,” I don’t understand it! I feel like it gives this weird downer tone to the movie. It all comes down to glass-half-full or glass-half-empty type people. You can watch the movie and focus on the kidnapping and the crime story, or you can see it as a story of love and freedom and perseverance and what it feels like to grow up and become your own person. That’s more of what I see in it.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of pitying these women who are taken from the world against their will; indeed it is an anomalous occurrence that only a select women in the world can personally relate to. What Room does is give its perceived victims the agency to decide what kind of story this will be. In the end, you realize they aren’t victims. They are survivors.


(Featured image courtesy of

Art, Opinion

Perks of Seeing a Movie the First Night

It was 7:00 on a Friday night. We were sitting among a crowd of people against the wall, anxiously waiting for them to let us in. We had been sitting there for an hour already, and were already halfway through the tub of popcorn we bought to share. It was the first night that Catching Fire was playing in theaters and I went with all of my friends to see it the first chance we got.

I used to not care when I saw a movie, but recently I’ve started wanting to see movies as soon as they come out. When I was little, my parents used to avoid seeing movies on the first night because they didn’t want it to be too crowded. That habit worked its way into my life when I got older and I barely ever saw movies even the opening weekend. Then, when I got to high school and friends started to make plans with me to see movies on the first night, it was just for movies I had been waiting to see for a long time. However, as I continued this trend and began seeing movies I didn’t even care for on the first night. I started to wonder if there was a reason I liked seeing movies the first night, and I’m sure there are a lot of people who can relate to me with these reasons.

Less Spoilers

There’s nothing worse than wanting to see a movie, only to have someone blurt out what ended up happening. This is especially hard on the internet, where it’s so easy to click a link and accidentally find out the ending to something. The earlier I see a movie, especially one that I really care about and don’t want to be spoiled, the easier it is to avoid spoilers. People tend to be more conscious about spoiling things the first week a movie comes out, but after a certain amount of time, people assume everyone has seen the movie and spoilers surface more frequently. If you really care about spoilers, the earlier you see a movie the better.

More Exciting

When you see a movie in the opening weekend there’s more hype around it. The theaters are more crowded and there are promotions everywhere for the movie. There’s just something exciting about going to a movie theater and seeing a bunch of people there for the same movie. The Great Gatsby came out the night of my Junior prom, so after prom was over I went with a big group of my friends to the movie in our prom clothes. That added to the feel of the movie and overall it was a lot of fun. It was ridiculously crowded too, so we had to sit in the second row. Some people might think it’s annoying to be in such a crowded theater, but sometimes it’s a lot of fun because people make really funny comments or get really excited for the movie.

Opportunities to Meet People

I’ve met some crazy people on the first nights of movies. My freshman year of college, I went home for Columbus Day weekend. That weekend there was a One Direction concert movie coming out, so I was able to see it with a few of my friends from home who also love One Direction. We knew it would be crowded, so we got there about two hours early and sat on a line in the corner of the theater until they let us go in. We struck up conversations with a lot of people around us and ended up playing games and sharing stories to entertain ourselves. A lot of curious movie goers ended up asking us what we were waiting in line for, so after a while we got fed up and told them we were waiting for Fifty Shades of Grey, which wasn’t due out until February. That earned us a lot of weird looks and at one point we got kind of loud and the workers threatened to kick us out. It was a fun experience and it’s definitely a memory that stands out to me when I think about going to the movies.

More Motivation

A lot of times, unless I go within the first few days, I lose all motivation to go and just end up saying I’ll buy the DVD instead. Of course, it also depends if friends want to go with me and when they’re willing to go. For some reason it’s more appealing to go within the first weekend to see a movie. Also, once it’s out of the theater you have to wait for the movie to come out on DVD, so unless you see a movie while it’s in theaters, you’re probably going to end up waiting a lot longer before you see the movie.


Sometimes when I’ve gone to movies or TV shows the first night, they’ve given away posters or bracelets. When a few of my friends went to see The Avengers: Age of Ultron they were given posters at the movie theater they went to. Some movie theaters even have special cups or snack boxes that advertise the movie on it. If it’s a movie that you really enjoy, sometimes it’s worth going the first night to see if they give anything away.

Writing Opportunities

This is more focused on myself as well as others who tend to write reviews about movies. When writing a movie review, it basically becomes irrelevant after a week or two. If there’s a movie I know I want to write a review about, I know I have to go within the first week before people stop caring about it.

There are plenty of reasons to go to the movies the first night, whether it’s one of these, or something totally different, sometimes you can’t beat seeing that movie the first day it comes out.

Globe, Opinion

“The Perfect Dictatorship:” Finding Truth in the Media

On September 26, 2014, 43 students disappeared in Ayotzinapa, México. A year later, there is still no definite answer as to what happened to these students. An investigation and report was released recently, which stated that the students were murdered by the violent group Guerreros Unidos. Yet, the parents of the missing students refuse to believe it. What is true to them is that their sons are missing and that justice won’t be served.

Tragic news stories like the one described above have always found a way to inspire filmmakers. Picture this: A governor accepts money from a narco. The event is caught on tape and sent to the local television channel. The story blows up. The governor approaches the tv channel. They accept a sum of money in order to remake the governor’s image. This is the plot of the Mexican movie, The Perfect Dictatorship.

The film is a satire with the objective of criticizing the corruption of the Mexican government and media. The story moves on from there, to demonstrate several different cases of how information is handled and framed by the media. In this case, the media is trying to make the people forget about the corruption of the governor and even propose him as a candidate for presidency.

The point of the story is to demonstrate how much influence the media can have on the political affairs of a country. The director and writer, Luis Estrada, claims that he drew on current events for the plot of the movie. There was no need to look far, when the real drama had been happening all along.

The movie puts the workings of a government into perspective. It’s no secret that the Mexican government is corrupt. But, what the movie is trying to highlight is the power of money and how money can corrupt even those who are supposed to stand by the people. The Perfect Dictatorship shows how the media is no longer a source of truth and empowerment for the people, but simply a tool used by those in power. This is a huge deal in a country like Mexico, where there is a growing gap between rich and poor. The poor have limited educational resources and will believe what they see in TV. Hence, the narratives of the media become truth to the people and power machines for the rich.

One of my favorite things I learned from the movie is the Chinese Box (La Caja China) tactic. The idea is that when there is a main story that is getting attention, but you don’t want it to (in the case of the movie, the corruption of the governor) you find another story that will distract attention and will be put into the headlines instead. Ha! Sounds like something that seems to happen in the news a lot and everywhere.

The case of the 43 students has been one of the most heard and talked about worldwide. Sadly, this type of violence occurs everyday in Mexico. We don’t hear much about it. Well, at least not through the media.  

Although the Perfect Dictatorship seems to be showing an exaggerated account of how things occur, it does not seem to be too far from the truth. What happened to the 43 students? There is still not a truthful answer and only the heart-broken mothers and fathers of the students are still looking for justice. The public has forgotten and has instead been fed stories that the media has decided are more relevant.

I hope the families of the students find peace soon. I hope justice is served. Looking at a case like this, it seems as though all hope is lost. But then, I think about the film. I am reminded that there are ways to push truth forward through art. If the media won’t stand by the truth, then something else must. So, as witnesses to violence we must not stay silent. We must create, we must ask questions, we must write, and sing, and paint and yell until our voices are heard. Because a perfect dictatorship can only happen if we allow it. 

Art, Opinion

Movie Review: Entourage

Warning: Contains spoilers!

Entourage is a continuation of an HBO television series of the same name that ran from 2004 to 2011. It was released on June 3, 2015 and has grossed over $44 million. The protagonist, Vincent “Vince” Chase (Adrian Grenier) and his “entourage” of childhood friends, his brother Johnny “Drama” Chase (Kevin Dillion), agent Eric Murphy (Kevin Connolly), and personal chef Turtle (Jerry Ferrara)  grew up in a dangerous neighborhood. However, Vince was discovered by his agent-turned-producer, Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven) and they all ended up in Hollywood.

I had never heard of the television show, nor do I remember seeing any previews for the movie, so I went in completely blind. I actually went to the theater to see a different movie, but every other show was full for the next few hours (the only downside to those giant, fancy armchairs.)

Vince’s nine-day marriage ends and he decides he wants to do something different. Gold, who had just become a producer, offers Vince the lead in his first movie, Hyde, but Vince demands to direct as well. The movie skips ahead eight months, when Vince, who’s already over budget, needs another $10 million dollars. Gold is forced to visit the Texan rancher Larsen McCredle (Billy Bob Thornton) and his son, Travis McCredle (Haley Joel Osment), who are financing the movie. Larson is unconvinced of the movie’s worth and sends Travis to decide if they should give Gold and Vince the money they need.

The gang organizes a screening to get feedback on the movie and hundreds of people show up. Vince gets cold feet, fakes technical difficulties and gives Ari and Travis DVDs to watch themselves. Travis is thrilled, because he’s just met the model of his dreams, Emily Ratajkowski, and goes with off with her.

Gold decides that Hyde is amazing, but Travis doesn’t feel the same way. He first says he doesn’t like Johnny and then adds he hates Vince as well. The gang realizes that Travis only hates the movie because he’s jealous that Vince and Emily have started dating. Larson, surprised but also irritated at the disrespect he believes his son faced, agrees only to back the movie if Gold resigns, which Gold does.

Hyde goes on to be a major hit and makes over $450 million worldwide. Johnny, struggling through the entire movie with his poor career, wins an award for best supporting actor. In the last lines of the movie, a photographer ironically suggests to the gang that a movie be made of their lives.

Unfortunately, I wan’t very engaged while watching Entourage. The characters were more annoying than interesting, especially Travis and Johnny. The fact that the whole movie almost went under because Travis felt disrespected was slightly ridiculous, seeing as Emily didn’t want to go out with him in the first place. He forced her to let him go to her house and watch the movie with her and got angry that she was interested in someone else. He literally waited outside of her house after she finally got him to leave to see if Vince was going to show up. That’s creepy. That’s not okay. Emily is entitled to date whoever she wants.

That’s not the only hit against women in the movie. Most of the movie and the character’s subplots are based around the sexualization of women. The are countless party scenes of scantily-clad women and more than a couple sex scenes. Jeremy Pivon describes the movie as a “male fantasy,” but it’s pretty demeaning to women. The only functional relationship is between Gold and his wife.

Let’s look at Eric, who gets his ex-girlfriend, Sloan, pregnant. He cheated on her, with her mother, I think, which is why they broke up. Then he started sleeping with another pretty blonde with big boobs, but she dumps him because she thinks his relationship with Sloan makes it awkward for her. He sleeps with another girl that night and both girls have to confront him for acting like a womanizing jerk by scaring the hell out of him.

The characters may have come from nothing, but I couldn’t feel sympathy for their problems when they’re so conceited. The whole movie is a showcase of glitzy Hollywood life, and obviously celebrities have personal issues just like everyone else, but it was hard to care about the characters when I didn’t like them or their lifestyle.

Overall, they didn’t face any real problems or failures because every single thing worked out in the end. I don’t really understand how it could be a satire of Hollywood life, because there were no lessons learned and no making fun of Hollywood life. It wasn’t even funny. They started out great, used their connections and riches to solve their non-truly-existent problems and ended up even better without having to change any of their ways.

Art, Opinion

Movie Review: Paper Towns

Unlike a lot of people who get upset when they see a book they enjoy is being made into a movie, I enjoy watching movie versions of books I’ve read. I treat the movie as its own separate entity and respect it as an interpretation of the original work. I also have fun comparing them and listing the changes the movie made and why they may have done that.

I had the same mindset when I saw Paper Towns. I had read the book about a year prior, so I didn’t remember all the details, but I was able to point out when some key things changed. I didn’t enjoy Paper Towns too much. I read it after I read The Fault in Our Stars, so I think I was holding it up to that level and it just didn’t deliver.

I thought the movie was a great build on the book. It took the parts of the book I enjoyed and added another layer to it. I always look for parts of movies where the entire theater laughs out loud together. I think that shows that a movie really succeeded in the comedic aspect. There were three times this happened. Once when the three boys broke out into the Pokémon theme song, another time when Radar picked up a random shirt from the gas station and it turned out to be about the Confederacy, and a third time when Ansel Elgort, who played Gus in The Fault in Our Stars, made a cameo as the gas station clerk and the entire theater freaked out and laughed at how perfect and unexpected it was.

I thought the movie captured the nostalgia of the book, but also added more to it. In the book, it seemed like Quentin was a bit pathetic and all he cared about was this girl who barely cared about him. In the movie he was a little less pathetic, and I thought the movie perfectly captured the friendship between Quentin, Ben and Radar. These are three boys who have known each other for a really long time and are about to graduate high school and go their separate ways. It’s a situation that I’m sure a lot of people can relate to and I’m glad their friendship was capitalized on.

In the book it seemed like it was more about finding yourself as Quentin came to terms with his feelings for Margo and how they fit into his life, but the movie seemed more about friendship. Even though Quentin was completely against going to prom, he went alone to join his friends and spend the last few moments of high school with the people in his life who really matter.

I thought the chemistry of the cast was really good. Nat Wolff played a great Quentin and it was especially fun to see him after enjoying him so much as Isaac in The Fault in Our Stars. Austin Abrams and Justice Smith were great as Ben and Radar and there were so many scenes I laughed out loud at. Their chemistry together as well as with Nat Wolff was great and it was like they were actually all best friends. The only member of the cast I really didn’t enjoy that much was Cara Delevingne as Margo, though I think a lot of that is because Margo has very little screen time and was never really my favorite character, even in the book.

This movie was funny, tense and romantic all at the same time. I recommend it for teenagers the most, because that’s the demographic John Green books most appeal to, but I also believe that this is a movie all audiences can enjoy.