‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ Wants So Desperately To Be Liked

Every Star Wars film, even the less than stellar ones, has left me with a sense of wonder when I watch the credits roll. Leaving the cinema for The Rise of Skywalker, I could only feel numb. Now, I’m not going to pretend Star Wars was never a corporate juggernaut (there’s probably a one to one ratio of R2D2 merchandise to human beings on planet Earth that exist to prove me otherwise), but for the first time in my Star Wars fandom-fueled life, I felt I was watching a product. In every passing moment of this movie, I could imagine a meeting between our corporate overlords at Disney, puppeteering every piece of this film’s mass-market machine. Is this a film for the sequel trilogy fans? Is this a film for winning back The Last Jedi haters? Is this a film for internet fandom? Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker wants so desperately to be liked by everyone that it ends up satisfying almost no one.

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‘Black Christmas’ Is A Loud, Rage-Filled War Cry That Begs To Be Answered

Content warning: Mentions of rape, sexual assault and violence.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Colorful lights sparkle and flash. Christmas trees are covered in tinsel. And underneath that tree is a messily-wrapped gift bursting with rage. That gift is Sophia Takal’s Black Christmas, a modern revision of Bob Clark’s 1974 slasher of the same name. Takal and co-writer April Wolfe take the story and bring it into the tumultuous 21st century, where women are no longer content with staying silent.

Black Christmas is centered on Hawthorne College campus and the sorority sisters of MKE. Riley (Imogen Poots) is a sexual assault survivor who, after three years, still feels the repercussions of her rape, both emotionally and socially. She tries to cover up her body as much as possible and wants to make herself small, unnoticeable. Luckily, she has her sorority sisters who support her every step of the way, never for a second doubting her.

Kris (Aleyse Shannon) is her outspoken, politically-oriented best friend who petitions against racist and misogynistic professors (Cary Elwes) and wants to fight for what’s right. She convinces Riley to perform in a fraternity’s talent show in front of Riley’s rapist in an act that blatantly calls out the disgusting attitude the brothers have around sex. But of course, these boys don’t take it well.

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Arthur Bressan Jr.’s ‘Buddies’ Is an Important Piece of Gay History That Needs to Be Seen

There is a profound sense of anger that grows in you when you consume films as an LGBT+ person. You find that there are so few films that feature someone like you in them, and most of the ones that do are created by straight people who fetishize you or your community’s struggles. LGBT+ filmmakers who are given a platform are also rarely funded unless they create films which pander to a predominantly straight audience. It becomes exhausting never to see yourself on screen unless it is to die as a martyr for the larger cisgender, heterosexual population. This is why Arthur Bressan Jr.’s Buddies serves as such a well-praised pillar of queer cinema. And now, with its recent release on DVD and Blu-ray for the very first time, it is available to those whose lives it will no doubt change.  

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‘Marriage Story’ is an Emotional Tempest that Expertly Blurs the Line Between Realism and Camp

Noah Baumbach’s latest feature is a heartbreaking AU in which actress Gena Rowlands divorces her director husband John Cassavetes in order to move to LA and further her film acting career. Kidding, it’s a fluorescent law procedural detailing the absurdly high expenses, both financial and emotional, that unjustly come along with divorce. No, really, it’s a deconstruction of the apocryphal myth that the perfect parent, the perfect marriage, and the perfect career all exist. 

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Todd Haynes Uses Genre Simplicity to His Advantage in ‘Dark Waters’

Genre films have always gotten a bad rap. Even when they are praised, it usually feels like a backhanded compliment — “I turned off my brain and enjoyed the ride,” or “It was just a really simple and fun film” are often used to offer both praise and dismissal in equal measure. But there is power in simplicity. In Dark Waters, Todd Haynes knows when it is necessary, and how to harness it for the benefit of both the film and its audience. This is an impressive feat.

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‘Atlantique’ is a swoon-worthy debut by Mati Diop

The West never sees the Middle Eastern and African world as what it really is. There is an inbred generalization that is almost impossible to forget. Even when you know that it is false, your mind will not always have actual images to put next to that thesis. Godard’s La Livre d’ Image dedicates a chapter to the violence of representation, pointing out how it’s nearly impossible for Westerners to represent cultures that are not Western, grounded in the inherent gap in both language and perception of other cultures. The fact that Africa is often seen as a monolithic setting, something homogeneous, even though it’s a diverse, culturally rich continent, should be proof enough of a general unwillingness to destroy and actively tackle images of prejudice in broad parts of society. In consequence, it’s no wonder there is so little compassion towards thousands of refugees from North Africa and the Middle East, who are in search of a better life. They are seen as one.

In Mati Diop’s ravishing Atlantique, a group of construction workers are repeatedly denied their money for their work on a giant futuristic building. They struggle to support their families and loved ones and set out to sea to find better opportunities. The women remain, one of them being Ada. She is in love with the young Souleiman, but has to face her arranged marriage after Souleiman disappears with the others. What unfolds from here is both a ghost story and a love story from the perspectives of the women left behind. Continue reading “‘Atlantique’ is a swoon-worthy debut by Mati Diop”