Author: Andrea O

December 21, 2012 / / Main Slate Archive


Shaun of the Dead – 2004 – dir. Edgar Wright

Now for a more natural apocalypse film. Perhaps the most natural apocalypse film for an apocalypse that most likely isn’t happening but feels like it could. Not a parody of the zombie apocalypse genre but rather an entry that just so happens to be a comedy, Edgar Wright’s Shaun of the Dead presents pre- and post-zombie apocalypse life as uncannily similar. Its comically bleak set-up turns into a twisted sort of positivity. “It’s the End of the World as We Know It” by REM would fit if not for the fact it’s a complete cliche and Wright has much better taste in soundtrack selections than that (the movie owns “Don’t Stop Me Now”, and also makes good use of Prince’s Batman soundtrack… as a weapon).

December 21, 2012 / / Main Slate Archive


Milk – 2008 – dir. Gus Van Sant

If you are reading this, congratulations! You have survived the apocalypse/are surviving the apocalypse/laughing at everyone who made a big deal over some BS about an apocalypse happening today! You deserve some great movies, courtesy of Focus Features’ 10th birthday celebration! First up today, we have Gus Van Sant’s Milk. This may seem like an odd film to celebrate the apocalypse/post-apocalypse/lack thereof, but you know, I think it kind of fits emotionally. If this is the end for humanity, I think Milk’s a story that demonstrates a lot of the progress we as humans should be proud of, underlined by the tragic pang of regret that we could have done more.

October 23, 2012 / / Main Slate Archive

Punch-Drunk Love – 2002 – dir. Paul Thomas Anderson

A great director has the ability to re-envision an age-old genre with his own artistic spin. In the case of Paul Thomas Anderson’s Punch Drunk Love, the romantic-comedy gets an edge it never really had before. Gritty realism is not often found in your everyday date movie, but when the lonely protagonist, Barry Egan (Adam Sandler), calls a sex-hotline the day before he meets the girl of his dreams (Emily Watson), problems ensue. The film doesn’t harbor on its protagonist’s pathetic attempts at over-the-phone love, but instead explains the character through a variety of personal triumphs. His dream-woman is already present, but learning to come to grips with himself is the real problem. Did I mention the protagonist is Adam Sandler?

October 22, 2012 / / Main Slate Archive

Hard Eight – 1996 – dir. Paul Thomas Anderson

Paul Thomas Anderson’s Hard Eight is his most straightforward narrative, perhaps due to the normal constraints of a director’s first big picture. Aging gangster and gambler Sydney (Phillip Baker Hall) retreats to Vegas to settle down with his spoils and finds that his knowledge of high stakes is useful to others. Budgeting limitations could have weighed the film down, but the young director uses it to his advantage. While fans of his later work will find Hard Eight to be his most conventional movie, it contains moments that foreshadow PTA’s greater canvas of cinematic storytelling.

August 31, 2012 / / Main Slate Archive

Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind – 1984 – dir. Hayao Miyazaki

The Miyazaki who first came up with the idea for Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind in the early ‘80s was a revolutionary. An ardent Marxist and outspoken critic of the anime industry, he was ready to shake up an artform and inspire young minds with a film that begins after the death of modern civilization and ends with a Messianic arrival of peace and harmony. With funding from the World Wildlife Federation and a popular comic book adaptation to sell the concept, Nausicaa ultimately made little immediate impact but can now be considered one of the all-time classics of anime, and established the concern for the environment, strong feminist viewpoint, and conflicted mix of weapons fetishism and pacifist ideology which would permeate his future work.

August 27, 2012 / / Main Slate Archive

Inception – 2010 – dir. Christopher Nolan

It’s one of the cliches of film criticism for a critic unimpressed with a big action movie to compare it to a video game. It’s understandable, seeing as the movies at the receiving end of these complaints generally would be a lot more fun to play than to watch. It’s also unfair to the medium of video games, which has seen a fast-paced evolution in artistic creativity and experimentation. In the summer of 2010, two films were released that could be compared to video games without it being an insult. One was Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, a still underrated soon-to-be cult classic mash-up of video game-inspired style with manga, rock musical, and indie romcom influences. The other film didn’t show its influences as overtly; to those not familiar with games, their influence could completely be ignored while enjoying this particular film. But it occurs to me that the reason Inception was able to captivate so many audiences was because, in essence, the film was a game.

August 7, 2012 / / Main Slate Archive

Turn Me On, Dammit! -2011- dir. Jannicke Systad Jacobsen

With hit movies like Superbad, it’s obvious that raunchy, sex-driven comedies with slightly awkward protagonists hit home with audiences more often than not. The thing is, the main characters of these types of movies are usually male. Director Jannicke Systad Jacobsen strives to show that girls can just as easily hold up a movie of the same genre. From the opening minutes of Turn Me On, Dammit!, it’s clear that this is the real secret life of the American—or in this case, Norwegian—teenager.

July 9, 2012 / / Main Slate Archive

The Passion of Joan of Arc – 1928 – dir. Carl Theodore Dreyer

My freshman Film History course’s screening of Carl Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc has to be one of the more interesting film screenings I’ve attended. There was the matter of the film itself, an experiment in stylistic minimalism that achieves emotional maximalism. There’s the matter of how it was presented, with the score on mute. My professor’s feelings about the film was that it was so intense on its own that any attempt to match the emotions with musical accompaniment would turn to cheese, and I’m inclined to agree with him (it’s surreal how a film consisting mostly of people talking would be so effective as a silent). What made the screening stand out in particular, however, was my classmate’s reactions afterwards.

June 26, 2012 / / Main Slate Archive

The Gold Rush – 1925 – dir. Charles Chaplin

What would it have been like to watch Charlie Chaplin’s The Gold Rush in a theater when it premiered in 1925?

June 12, 2012 / / Main Slate Archive

Raising Arizona — 1987 — dir. Joel and Ethan Coen

The Coen brothers are known for their quirky storylines and even more offbeat characters. From slacker bowlers to crazy playwrights, they always keep their dedicated fans guessing. Although their stories and senses of humor don’t appeal to everyone, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone whose interest wasn’t at least piqued by the idea of Nicolas Cage and Holly Hunter kidnapping a baby from the family of a local unpainted furniture giant to raise as their own.