‘BlacKkKlansman’ Brings the Past to the Present

The premise of Spike Lee’s latest sounds so outlandish, it’s crazy to think it’s true. But alas, it simply makes for a more enriching film, both artistically and educationally. Starring John David Washington, BlacKkKlansman follows a lone black police officer, Ron Stallworth, at the Colorado Springs Police Department in the 70s. Stallworth quickly makes waves in his new work environment, and not just because of the color of his skin. After discovering membership material about the Klu Klux Klan, the rookie cop makes a brave yet reckless choice to call the organization’s number and enters the white supremacist circle with help from his white voice. He’s faced with opposition from his team, but eventually gets apprehensive help from Adam Driver’s Flip, who poses as the white Ron Stallworth.

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‘To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before’ is an Irresistibly Charming Rom-Com

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the epitome of unattainable teenage fantasies, treading knee-deep in the most recognisable of rom-com cliches that it threatens to give you a cavity or two. But of course director Susan Johnson knows that. When we meet our romantically hopeless hero Lara Jean (Lana Condor), she’s running in a luscious field in a flowing regal gown to meet the boy of her affections, Josh (Israel Broussard). One problem: Josh is dating her sister, Margot (Janel Parrish), and is ceremoniously dumped when she heads to Scotland for university. (I, a Scottish person, have qualms but that’s for another time.) The opening is like something straight out of a sappy romance novel – because it is. Lara Jean is a classic hopeless romantic, with a tendency to daydream about falling in love instead of experiencing it herself, drawing on love stories and John Hughes movies for inspiration. The film similarly wears its influences on its sleeve, likely making a new generation of teens succumb to the never-ceasing power of the rom-com.

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Noah Centineo and Lana Condor in ‘To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before’ © Netflix

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‘In the Mood for Love’: A Lesson in Longing

This essay is by our guest writer, Liz Hew.

For those unfamiliar with the works of Hong Kong-based filmmaker and auteur Wong Kar-Wai, it would be easy, at first glance, to assume that his most well-known feature, In the Mood for Love (2000), is an uncomplicated tale of courtship and romance. However, in Wong’s narrational realm, the thematics of love are rarely delivered without the entanglements of repression, guilt, and pain — familiar nuances of the human condition that afflict his exquisite and complex characters universally. One can argue that In the Mood for Love isn’t so much a chronicle of the innocent love that grows between strangers as it is a contemplation on longing; the agony of letting opportunities slip past, the rumination of “what ifs”, and the arresting sense of finality.

The protagonists at the heart of the story, Mr. Chow (Tony Leung Chui-Wai) and Mrs. Chan (Maggie Cheung Man-Yuk), engage in a tentative yet sensual dance throughout the film’s entirety to its swooning score (mainly a recurring leitmotif of “Yumeji’s Theme” performed by Shigeru Umebayashi), and the cool timbre of Nat King Cole’s Spanish tracks, “Aquellos Ojos Verdes” and “Quizás, Quizás, Quizás”. Both characters remain apprehensive of baring their true feelings to one another until it’s too late — yet their trepid concealment eventually transpires to a flirtation that at times, balances dangerously on the cusp of a real, forbidden love affair. It’s Wong Kar Wai’s command of framing his characters’ poignancy and yearning from intense repression (both self-imposed and societal), married with the richly evocative cinematography of his frequent collaborator Christopher Doyle, which lends In the Mood for Love its haunting emotional resonance.

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The Legacy of Madonna in Three Films

In Desperately Seeking Susan, Madonna’s introduction comes in the first 3 minutes of the film; she is seen taking a selfie with a Polaroid, laying on the carpet of the hotel floor, surrounded by cards, while Urgent by Junior Walker is playing. The easiness of her charisma exudes throughout that scene. Until the film ends, all that I can think of is her, and how her presence is so palpable, you would feel the sharpness of what she is. That feeling tells me a lot, yet not so, about the woman I am about to see; be it in the film itself or in her consistent career.

First, a little background about Madonna. She used to be a dancer and even received a scholarship for it in Michigan, where she was born and raised. However, she decided to drop out of college and later moved to New York. Working as a waitress and dancing backup for Patrick Fernandez, however, didn’t feel right for her. She wanted to be more. So she decided to go on a solo act by the name given to her – Madonna.

Madonna is best described as an enigma. She is the ultimate icon, consists of all the great flairs of what makes a star, a star. She has that certain je ne sais quoi quality about her that makes her the epitome of the 1980s aesthetic that everyone strives for. Being the multifaceted woman that she is, we should all thank her for her role in the creation of the pop culture canon that we all know now. Dabbling in music, film, activism, lifestyle (Hard Candy Fitness or MDNA Skin anyone?), and anything else you could ever think of cannot be easy. If we set aside all the controversy that she is a master of, Madonna’s appeal as a star is broad, encompassing generation after generation, and leaving each of them a legacy of the Madonna of their own time.

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‘The Meg’ Lacks the Thrills to Stay Afloat

Let’s just get this out of the way: The Meg is a bad movie. I’m as disappointed as you are! It’s Jason Statham going head-to-fin against a giant fucking shark – evenly matched foes in a face-off so momentous, so legendary, it’s worthy of scripture. Have I put too much faith in this? Definitely. But shark movies are supposed to be fun. They carve out a space for you to leave reality at the door and revel in its (lovable) stupidity. Director Jon Turtletaub must’ve forgotten about this, for The Meg is too serious for its own good.

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Li Bingbing and Jason Statham in ‘The Meg’

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Dads of 2018: Ranked

A few weeks ago, this tweet by Alexandra Svokos (@asvokos) was posted on Twitter:

Basically, it awoke a burning need inside me. I love film dads. You hopefully love film dads as well. So, why not use my position as a writer on a well-respected film site to rank film dads and distract myself from the existential despair around me? For the sake of brevity (and so I’m not just regurgitating the beautiful tweet above), I chose to focus on 2018 film dads in a specific and simple list, ranked on a lot of different factors. I limited it down to one dad per movie, from movies I have seen and at least superficially enjoyed. There also may be spoilers for any film included on the list, so beware!

Well, girls, gays, and all other dad loving individuals – let’s get to it!

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‘Insecure’ Recap: Better-Like

Issa Rae’s hit show, Insecure, is back and we finally get to see what Issa and Molly have been up to. In season two’s finale, we found Issa moving in with ex-boyfriend Daniel after losing her apartment. The beginning of this season’s premiere confirms the awkward situation living with Daniel creates, as we see him having excessively loud sex with someone who’s not Issa. Issa’s sheer disbelief while listening on the couch is so real I had the same loss for words expression while watching. The awkwardness between Issa and Daniel doesn’t stop there. Daniel is so clearly being petty when expressing that he “didn’t know” Issa was home when he had a visitor. In his defense, Issa’s wishy-washiness over her feelings for him would irritate anyone, especially if he’s allowing her to stay at his home. But, he also could’ve told her she couldn’t move in, for both of their sake.

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