– Posted by Alyssa
Director: Josh Boone
Cast: Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort, Laura Dern, Nat Wolff
The overtone is that of the hipster generation, and Death is just a character who takes up screen time throughout the film. The sadness is juxtaposed with true joy, making every smile and every tear the gut-wrenching kind.
Hazel (Woodley) is living with cancer in her lungs that makes it difficult for her to breathe. She needs oxygen in her nose through a portable machine that pumps the life right into her. It’s devastating to watch this illness overwhelm her in moments of her life including a trip to the Anne Frank museum, where flights of stairs are a plight for her to overcome. Despite her cynicism about the disease (and the clichéd stories about it), Hazel finds herself in a cancer support group due to the wishes of her mother (Dern). At the group Hazel meets the witty Isaac (Wolff) who loses his sight and Gus (Elgort), a charming optimist who lost a leg due to his cancer. Gus and Hazel start a friendship that stares their fate right in the face and soon it blossoms into a romance. Determined to do everything in his power to make Hazel happy, Gus uses his “wish” (Hazel’s was wasted on Disney World, much to Gus’ dismay) to bring Hazel to Amsterdam to meet her favorite author. It’s a race to the heartbreaking finish and during the race tears are bound to shed. However, Hazel and Gus relationship proves that there is value to living each day, like it very well may be their last.
Woodley is the perfect leading lady for this generation, proving her versatility in dramas (The Descendants), action films (Divergent), and romance (The Fault in Our Stars). Elgort, on the other hand, is a newer face, starring alongside Woodley in the Divergent series. He is a charmer who lights up the screen. He’s pretty incredible as Gus and the chemistry between them is undeniable. While I’m still not convinced that it won’t be weird to see Woodley and Elgort as sister and brother in Insurgent, this is a film that pokes at your heart with equal parts devastation and elation
I was reading this article the other day when I got to thinking how true it is that there are movies out there – good, powerful movies – that I have no intention of ever watching again.
As I watch movies from IMDB’s top 250, I can appreciate how good some of them are with fine acting and plots that were important beyond the realm of the movie. Schindler’s List, for example, is a fantastic movie. It was shot in a stylistic black and white and portrayed absolutely horrific scenes about the Holocaust that we as human beings have to know about to prevent it from happening again. It was full of feels, and in the end brought even this hardened critic to tears.
And that’s not the only movie. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest was thoroughly entertaining and provided an inside to a flawed mental health institution. I’ve already mentioned the beautiful juxtaposition of drama and slapstick that made up Life is Beautiful. Witness for the Prosecution is a smart movie with a delicious twist at the end. And yet with all these wonderful movies, it’s the ones like Scary Movie 3 that I’ve seen umpteen times. It’s not because it has the power to change the world, but the power to lighten my mood. Schindler’s List and American History X are hard to watch. The tension, the subject matter, they stay with you after the movie ends. And I think that’s why we only watch them once.
– Posted by Alyssa
Director: Robert Stromberg
Cast: Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning
Once upon a dream has taken a villainous twist in that Maleficent isn’t quite the evil villainess that Disney made her out to be in the 1959 animated rendition of Sleeping Beauty. This time around the horned beauty is a sympathetic character who was wronged by a lover and seeking badass revenge.
Living in the moors with an array of woodland creatures, Maleficent (Jolie) unexpectedly falls in love with a young thief. Even though she is a fairy, and he is a human, their love for one another grows. However, as the loving duo gets older, and the humans become greedy to infiltrate the moors, they find themselves divided by war. One day Maleficent’s childhood lover shows his true nature by coming to the moors in the guise of love and using iron (a fairy’s weakness) to burn off her powerful wings. This pain and betrayal makes the once sweet Maleficent turn into the evil tyrant we’ve come to know. She holds that grudge, and when her old lover becomes king and has a baby princess, she comes to the castle and puts a curse on baby Aurora. Aurora will be pricked by a spindle the day of her 16th birthday and fall in a deathlike sleep that can only be broken by true love’s kiss. But, rightfully so, Maleficent is a cynic of “true love” and finds she’ll have nothing to worry about. But her plans are altered when she finds herself becoming attached to the bubbly and beautiful Aurora (Fanning).
The movie is beautiful and keeps to a very simple and endearing storyline that isn’t too weighed down by war or special effects. When it comes to updated takes on fairy tales (think Mirror, Mirror, Snow White & the Huntsman, or Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters) this one is by far the best. It becomes the true definition of a “fairy tale” in that we are actually following the storyline of a fairy and not the princess. Jolie seems to be having a great time, and the movie is an entertaining summer blockbuster worth checking out.