Glance into a fellow student’s diverse watchlist from his first two weeks on campus and be prepared to stay up all night on Netflix
By Daniel Mosakewicz
‘Se7en’ (1995) A
‘Se7en’ is a dark, psychological examination of crime, religion, and police work. Starring Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman, the plot follows a detective nearing retirement and a younger detective’s investigation into a string of murders. Each grotesque crime is tied to one of the seven deadly sins, making it a fairly modern take at the fading noir genre, while also magnifying human struggle against hopelessness. With some intense scenes of panic and excitement, ‘Se7en’ is more than willing to take its time, showing the audience the method, thoughts and emotions of each character. It’s tense and terrifying, and rightly so because death is just around the corner at every moment in the movie. Like any good film, dialogue informs and directs, but it’s really the actions and habits that shine in this movie, so pay attention.
‘Firefly Episode 1’ (2002) A+
Technically, this isn’t a movie, but rather the first episode of a TV show. That being said, the first episode clocks in at about an hour and a half runtime, and not enough people have seen this masterpiece of a show, so here goes. Director Joss Whedon explains the premise as “nine people staring into the blackness of space, and seeing nine different things.” As such an image would suggest, the characters are the focus of the show. Whedon is a master of character, particularly dialogue. Of course the characters would never have been as fleshed out as they are without great acting, and everyone in the cast delivers. The entire show is awesome, and the first episode is only a taste of a spectacular series. So if you run out of whatever show your watching on Netflix, find Firefly. It tends to go on and off streaming, so you may have to find it a different way, but it is 100% worth the extra effort.
‘Speed Racer’ (2008) B
If there is one word to sum up this film, it’s ‘ambitious.’ For a movie released in 2008, it’s not the best action film out there, and the tracks often look like an acid trip, but there’s a pretty good story and better acting than expected from the cast to keep you interested. There’s even one decent plot twist thrown in, which was bound to happen considering there are three in the movie. One for three isn’t bad, right? Overall, Emile Hirsch does a decent job at playing speed racer himself, but the film is really carried by Roger Alliton, who plays the film’s villain, Royalton. His scenes are without a doubt some of the best in the film, and it’s a shame that the hero just isn’t as compelling as the villain. Final verdict, this movie is fun, there is a coherent story to it, but some of the CGI does not hold up at all, no matter how much you want to pretend otherwise. The writing has its ups and down, often taking to many turns into the light hearted during a truly great scene. All that said, the movie is good enough to watch and genuinely enjoy, so go ahead and give it a spin.
‘Road to El Dorado’ (2000) B+
Coming out of the Dreamworks experimental phase, “Road to El Dorado” is most certainly not an animated film for children. Although with anything Disney related, the music is quite enjoyable. To start, both of the story’s protagonists are con men that are driven by a desire for great wealth. As the movie goes on, their individual flaws are explored in pretty interesting ways, creating heightened and multifaceted dynamics between the characters. The film also uses religion as a lense to inspect the idea of truth. So why does this film earn only a B+ with this much praise? It falls into one of the largest pitfalls for any story, the forced happy ending. Unfortunately, the disappointing ending does not match the rest of the film. Still, it is worth your time after a long day in the library, especially for Disney or Dreamworks enthusiasts.
‘No Country for Old Men’ (2007) A+
“No Country for Old Men” is not your typical crime thriller. It embraces being a movie and tells a story as only film can. The production is intentional, direct, and haunting, telling a thrilling chase from three different perspectives – all highlighted and supplemented with beautiful cinematography. The story starts simple: a Vietnam veteran played by Josh Brolin stumbles on the wreckage of a drug deal gone wrong and walks away with two million dollars in cash. Soon, he is pursued by a sociopathic hitman named Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) as the local sheriff Ed Tom Belle (Tommy Lee Jones) does his best to catch up. What may seem like a simple chase movie turns into the very race we all run: away from death every day of our lives. This modern classic is a must for any film enthusiast, winning four oscars including Best Picture and Best Writing Adapted Screenplay. It taps into a deep rooted fear we all have, and asks a vital question: is there actually a country for old men?
‘The Princess Bride’ (1987) A+
This classic has something for everyone: action, comedy, and even romance. While there are hundreds of movies that claim these attributes, none do it as well as “The Princess Bride.” A light-hearted fantasy with captivating swordplay, memorable characters, immortal dialogue, and its fair share of memes depicting all the former attributes. Despite what would seem to be mundane and cliche themes such as love and revenge, The Princess Bride tells the story so earnestly that it reminds audiences why we enjoy these timeless ideas so much. Every actor clearly has fun in their role, from leads Cary Elwes (Westley) and Robin Wright (Buttercup), to the legendary performance of Mandy Patinkin as the vengeance-fueled Inigo Montoya. The film also features the miraculous feat of a wrestler making a perfect actor, with Andre the Giant being perfect for the role of Fezzik. Take the time to watch this movie, it’s almost a guarantee that one of your friends has seen it and would love to watch it again with you.
‘Kill Bill: Volume 1’ (2003) C+
Apparently, it is possible to not enjoy a film directed by Quentin Tarantino. There are many people who really enjoy both “Kill Bill” films, and one can see why. Many enjoy the action, but with the ridiculous choreography combined with a lack of tension and a completely out of place lead role, it disappoints as a very underwhelming film. However, the movie redeems itself a little with some absolutely incredible scenes, most notably in the first hour of the runtime. After that, the plot descends into overhype for a character you know is going to die. It would probably help to actually watch the second volume in a two part story, but after the trudge through the first one, you might not have the motivation to go through a second one.
COMING SOON: THE REMAINING EIGHT TITLES SURE TO MAKE YOUR MOVIE NIGHTS WELL WORTH THE PROCRASTINATION