by Brittney Thompson
Can one person really make a difference? Is all it really takes for one person’s voice to be heard? Director Frank Capra (It’s a Wonderful Life, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town) attempts to answer these questions in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Jimmy Stewart (The Philadelphia Story, Harvey, Rear Window) stars as Jefferson Smith, an Everyman character who generations of audiences can’t help but get behind. Jefferson is naïve, but hopeful. As the den father of a boy scouts group, how could he be anything but kind and selfless for sake of his community? Unfortunately, the bigwigs in Washington take him as a simpleton and assume that Jefferson (along with being quite the patriot) will be easy to manipulate into carrying out misdeeds (as long as Jefferson believes what he is doing is for AMERICA) or to set him up as the perfect scapegoat. Ultimately, Mr. Smith is selected by Washington to replace a recently deceased senator if only because he is a ‘good ole boy’ who isn’t quite long in the tooth with politics yet. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington not only has an alluring plotline, but does great things with language. This is a movie that almost everyone knows by one scene (even if they’ve never seen the movie in full): the filibuster ordeal. Here is where some of the best speeches in film history are made. If anything, we could all take a lesson from Jefferson in public speaking. This film also works to spark the audience interests in politics for the previously apolitical. Running time is 2 hours and 15 minutes. The SGA movie collection has two copies.
by Brittney Thompson
How could one not celebrate Valentine’s Day this year without watching a movie guaranteed to emit second-hand embarrassment from its blundering characters? The Girl in the Cafe is one of those movies that reminds viewers (should one’s February 14th not go swimmingly) things could always be worse. Screenwriter Richard Curtis (Love Actually, Notting Hill, Bridget Jones’s Diary) never fails to do just this to audiences. David Yates (Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows parts 1&2) directs Curtis’s painfully awkward romantic dramedy, The Girl in the Café, starring Bill Nighy (Pirate Radio, Love Actually) as Lawrence: a socially backwards gentleman who works for the British Prime Minister as a well-paid and prestigious number cruncher for the global economy. Lawrence is tired of being alone and by a random twist of fate meets Gina (Kelly Macdonald) in a coffee shop where he decides to take a chance on a follow up date. He eventually brings her along to a G8 summit in Reykjavik, Iceland. This becomes problematic when Lawrence learns of Gina’s outspoken nature. Their relationship is one to make viewers cringe with the highly intense romantic tension that begs resolution. This movie is an emotional train wreck that incites the audience to peek at the screen through fingers—it is a story in which one must see what happens next even though you almost certainly know it won’t be good for any of the characters. Along with the romantic emotional dilemma the main couple experiences, Curtis and Yates provide audience members a lesson on the more cold-hearted side of how Foreign Policy and Globalization is viewed by those in charge and how it is organized and considered.
A very happy un-Valentine to you, indeed!
This film is available for checkout by members of the University community in the Media Resources department in Ekstrom library. It’s a part of the SGA Video Collection.
Wes Anderson’s The Darjeeling Limited
by Brittney Thompson
Wes Anderson (Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, The Fantastic Mr. Fox) directs The Darjeeling Limited: a story of three brothers, Francis, Peter, and Jack Whitman (Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, Jason Schwartzman) reunited one year after not speaking to or seeing one another following the funeral of their father. They travel throughout India on a train called the Darjeeling Limited and manage to get into ridiculous shenanigans (buying a poisonous snake meant for a pet; having one loafer worth thousands of dollars stolen by a shoe-shine boy; facing the threat of being thrown off the train at any moment regardless of how desolate the locations are; attempting to rescue three boys; running around with dozens of heavy and expensive pieces of luggage) before reaching their destination to visit their mother (Anjelica Huston).
The brothers are escapists; their respective problems and shared dysfunctional family prove to be most harrowing during their time together. Francis, the eldest and self-declared leader of the three, recently suffered from a motorcycle accident and remains in bandages and in possession of a cane for the whole of the film. He is overbearing and must know every aspect of his younger brothers’ lives—not because he cares, but because he wants the information that they are not sharing with him. He goes as far as to hold onto their passports to ground them to him. Peter discloses to Jack that he has left his pregnant wife behind in the United States and that the child will be born soon—he will not be present for the birth. He is convinced that he was the closest to their father and his favorite son. Peter has taken some of their father’s belongings such as his razor and prescription sunglasses out of which he can’t see, but insists on wearing both inside and outside. Jack is a writer whose characters in his pieces are striking to him and the people in his life although he won’t admit it. He refuses to let go of a failed relationship with his ex-girlfriend (Natalie Portman) and allows it to consume his life.
The themes of depression, isolation and loneliness while surrounded with people, familial duty, not to mention responsibility (of lack thereof) and bored wealthy people, are showcased in nearly every Wes Anderson film, but are unique to this dramedy. With loveable and quick-witted characters, audience members are sure to enjoy this fast paced story and be inspired to check out the rest of Anderson’s filmography.
Check out the film in the SGA Collection in the Media Resources Department of Ekstrom Library.
Love Actually is all around
by Brittney Thompson
Tired of all the cliché seasonal films that you have seen a billion times? Well, if you liked Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill, Bridget Jones’s Diary, or Pirate Radio, then Love Actually is the perfect holiday season romantic comedy for you! It has a stellar ensemble cast including (but not limited to) Alan Rickman, Emma Thompson, Liam Neeson, Bill Nighy, Hugh Grant, and Keira Knightley, who star in their own storyline in this networking motion picture. The separate, yet intersecting plotlines include: a newlywed couple, a long time married couple in which the wife doubts her husband’s loyalty, a young woman who must decide between a brother who needs her or having a love life, a scorned writer who moves to France for a few weeks, a man grieving the loss of his wife and learning how to be a single father rearing his step-son, a down and out aging pop star trying to make a comeback with a Christmas-centric hit single, the newly elected Prime Minister dealing with responsibility and his heart, a young Englishman who leaves his home country in order to get a dates with women in America, and a pair of body doubles on a film set who connect. Some of the most fun parts about the movie are the moments when the audience finds out just how all of the characters know one another. The actors bring out their designated character roles so well that the viewer is lead to believe they are real life people. We feel sorry for them, laugh with them, laugh at them, and cry with them. Writer and Director of the film, Richard Curtis, keeps his audience entertained from the exposition until the credits roll.
Ekstrom Library’s Media Resources Department has 3 copies in the SGA Collection for the University community’s viewing pleasure.
Directed by Steve McQueen
by Ashley McKenzie
Michael Fassbender gives an amazing and heartbreaking performance as Bobby Sands, an imprisoned IRA member who initiates a hunger strike in the prison where he and his fellow members are being held. A bit draggy in the set up of the story, it eventually evolves into a fast paced journey of a man who does not believe in giving up without a fight. And fight he does, going three solid months without food, just for the right to be called a member of the Irish Republican Army—which the prison has been refusing to recognize. The cinematography is raw and uncensored, forcing you to observe the conditions these men went through during their inhabitation of the prison without leaving a gap large enough for your own interpretation. Even though it is up in your face, whether you’d like it there or not, Hunger has honesty. This is something oft forgotten once the movie is in actual production. You watch a man suffer, and he suffers for a cause in which he truly believes.
Steve McQueen hits all the marks to draw you into the plot and more than likely send you out crying because of his grasp on humanity. Hunger is dark and poetic. It’s miserable, yet brilliant and by the end you’ll find yourself pleading with the main character in hopes that he will finally eat something that is placed in front of him. As the outsider looking in, you question his morals and methods during his protest that lasts a grueling 66 days, and you wonder if you can say that it’s worth it or not. McQueen questions us as viewers, and that’s what makes for an intriguing plot of a movie that has the potential to be dry and leave us all wondering what we just spent the last hour and a half of our lives watching.
Whether it be horrifically burned into your brain or put onto your ‘watch again’ list, Hunger is a hard movie to forget.