Film director works toward filling the frame with documentary ‘Half the Picture’

The dimly lit University Theatre was equal parts animated voices and bent necks as students stared intently at their smartphones. The crowd erupted into applause as film director Amy Adrion alongside Jonathan Wysocki, Long Beach State University lecturer in both the Department of Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies and Film and Electronic Arts stood at the base of the gigantic movie screen. Adrion presented her first feature film, “Half the Picture,” a documentary that focuses on women directors in Hollywood, at LBSU Monday night.   Wysocki, a longtime college friend of Adrion, regularly presents a film by a women director at the end of every semester to his Women’s History of U.S. Film class, but felt he should open the floor to a broader audience than just his class due to its “impact.” “I talked to my departments and they were able to get together a little bit of funding to actually make this happen in a big space on campus,” Wysocki said. “The Women in Film Association, which is a new association, was able to help me publicize the event as well.” During the brief Q&A session after the screening, Adrion noted how “Half the Picture” stemmed from normal

By | 2018-12-12T00:23:47-07:00 Dec 12, 2018 | 12:23 am|Categories: Arts & Life, Events, Film and Television|Tags: , , , , , |

Retro Review: The newest Grinch film diminishes from his louring predecessors

In the 61 years the world has known Dr. Seuss’ Grinch there is one thing all the different grinches had in common: they were mean. They all hated Christmas and the people of Whoville. However, the newest retelling of “The Grinch” has a very different take on everyone’s favorite holiday menace. To begin with, his voice does not match the way the Grinch usually sounds. It is not as raspy, angry or passionate as it sounds in Jim Carrey’s portrayal in the 2000 film, “How The Grinch Stole Christmas” nor is it as deep and snarly as it is in the 1966 “How The Grinch Stole Christmas!” television special voiced by Boris Karloff. The new movie has Benedict Cumberbatch as the voice of the Grinch and it is abysmal to say the least. It is not mean, it is not grumpy and it does not fit the face of the Grinch at all. The movie shows the Grinch as a fluffy green character with green eyes. However, in both the 1966 and the 2000 version, the Grinch is hairy, not necessarily “fluffy” and has yellow instead of white around his green eyes. This gives him a more maniacal look, while

By | 2018-11-25T18:36:16-07:00 Nov 25, 2018 | 6:08 pm|Categories: Arts & Life, Film and Television, Reviews|Tags: , , , , , |

‘Overlord’ is a bloody thrill ride from start to finish

For the past few years, World War II dramas have taken a very conventional approach to their storytelling, focusing on either a key political figure fighting from an office, a few boots on the ground or planes in the sky. Finally, a movie has come along that seeks to break new ground in the genre in a different and gruesome way. That movie is horror-thriller, “Overlord.” Following a group of American paratroopers as they fight to bring down a German radio tower, the film takes a dark and unique turn as the soldiers discover secret Nazi experiments in the lower levels of the old church housing the tower. The story, while featuring some familiar elements for both encompassing genres, is a unique blend of the two that works well and keeps audiences on the edge of their seats from the opening entrance in France to the final big battle between the Americans and the Nazis — and their zombies. One of the most interesting story elements of the film is the development seen in some characters as the story progresses, namely Jovan Adepo’s Private Ed Boyce and Wyatt Russell’s Corporal Ford. Boyce, a fresh-faced private struggling with a fear of

By | 2018-11-13T18:01:50-07:00 Nov 12, 2018 | 9:34 pm|Categories: Arts & Life, Film and Television, Reviews, Uncategorized|Tags: , , , , |

‘Venom’ is neither a legitimate, or intentional, fun adventure

Sony has released its latest attempt to get back into the Marvel Cinematic Universe with the release of “Venom,” a standalone story based around the titular character, and much like the 2007 attempt to bring him to life, it’s a disaster. While investigating the Life Corporation and its shady practices, journalist Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy,) discovers experiments regarding alien symbiotes, one of which bonds with Brock and gives him superpowers, helping him become Venom. The Marvel anti-hero was last seen on the big screen in his cinematic debut, 2007’s “Spider-Man 3,” which is widely regarded as being the death of the Sam Raimi’s web-slinging trilogy, but Sony continued to work on a solo film surrounding the character. Despite over a decade of work and the hiring of talented writers Jeff Pinker and Scott Rosenberg and Kelly Marcel, the final project feels like one that was hurriedly put together to get to the big screen and capitalize on the current comic book movie trend. The plot felt as though it both rushed to get audiences to the action while simultaneously back-peddling to develop the characters and universe it’s attempting to build. Due to this, the story resulted in a new but

‘Deadpool 2’ is a brilliant sequel that doesn’t care what you think

“Fuck Wolverine. First, he rides my coattails with the R-rating, and then that hairy motherfucker ups the ante by dying! What a dick! Well, guess what, Wolvie? I’m dying in this movie.” Well that’s a way to start a movie, and in this film’s first moments, we’re assured two things by our protagonist: 1. Things will be bigger this time around and 2. Wolverine is an asshole for leaving us. “Deadpool 2,” the follow-up to the hit 2016 adaptation of the pottymouth Marvel character, follows Wade Wilson/Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) as he assembles a team of fellow rogue mutants he names “X-Force” to help protect 14-year-old mutant Russell (Julian Dennison) from time-travelling soldier Cable (Josh Brolin). The first film was such a success in faithfully bringing the Merc with a Mouth to life that any sequel was going to have a high bar to reach. This film found a way to reach it. These twists are effective in helping the film overcome an at times meandering story with some deeper character development that’s akin to other recent comic book hits, such as “Black Panther” and “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.” But even if the story didn’t break new ground with

By | 2018-07-17T20:02:58-07:00 May 22, 2018 | 9:06 pm|Categories: Arts & Life, Film and Television, Reviews|Tags: , , , , |

Fade in: An introduction

Your streaming queue just got larger, free of charge. This new biweekly column will be bringing you the best movies available on Kanopy, a free streaming service which you can access through the Cal State Long Beach University library. Kanopy is full of gems from across the globe, one of those being the movie in discussion this week: “What We Do In the Shadows.” This 2014 mockumentary follows the lives of a handful of vampires attempting to satisfy their bloodthirst while avoiding sunlight, attention and other dangers. Contrary to appearance, this New Zealand film is neither a documentary or a vampire movie. “What We Do In the Shadows” is a comedy that uses characters connected to the horror genre for laughs. Of course none of this is real, they're vampires. But “What We Do In the Shadows” never breaks the illusion, and this makes the jokes hit harder than most comedies. I've seen it five times now and I'm only left with more to appreciate upon each viewing, often discovering new layers to seemingly simple jokes. The documentary format used can even affect how one watches other films. The cameramen record events such as the lead characters biting into people's

By | 2018-04-03T21:02:13-07:00 Apr 3, 2018 | 9:02 pm|Categories: Arts & Life, Columns, Today|Tags: , , |