Film Review: Hereditary

Written by Tracy Fuller

Hereditary, the first full feature film from director Ari Aster hit theaters on June 8th. Before screenings were open to the public, it had already gained a reputation for scaring audiences beyond belief. Horror film fans are questioning how scary is Hereditary and will they be in for a treat; critics are already likening to this generation’s The Exorcist.

Eerie children, dark family secrets, dead animals, and a creepy doll’s house is a formula that will either indulge you or close your eyes. This film doesn’t come at your wits with a gentle touch. While it does manage to be subtle in many ways, it’ll stick with you through some of the visuals. This isn’t a traditional horror movie that plays on all the cinematic elements such as the musical score, color, and cheesy backstory. This film is created with an oppositional view, that could be interpreted as an intense drama film. However, Hereditary is not a horror movie that waves its hat on cheap frights either. The scenes in the film that depict on your senses and wits are not based on the expected norm methods of scaring audiences. They do come at you in ways that you will not see coming. They will play on obscenity that may leave some uncomfortable and may even lose a little sleep over.

Director Ari Aster raises some eyebrows for his debut. The writer and director asserts himself as a commanding talent right off the bat. He may not be a man with much experience, but this seems like a movie made by someone who has the ability and savvy that can only come from years of commitment to the craft. Hereditary does not exhibit itself as a debut feature in any way. Aster’s work will be watched very carefully because of this film.

And, of course, a great casting goes a long way. Hereditary has the advantage of having something interesting to explore while also boasting a fantastic cast. Gabriel Byrne (Steve) and Milly Shapiro (Charlie) merit appreciation for what they bring to the table, but there are a few remarkable performances here. For one, Alex Wolff (Peter) places himself as someone to keep your eye on. However, this movie goes to Toni Collette (Annie). This is an actress who has been doing outstanding efforts for a long time, but she’s never had the opportunity to glow like this before. Collette gives a transformative, intricate and layered execution that is as great as anything you’re likely to see this year. This film would likely have been damn solid without her, but it’s downright remarkable because of her.

Hereditary is not just a movie to see, but preferably one that should be experienced. This is not just a horror movie. It is a movie with some great acting and perfectly implemented images and moments that play on the mind. Seasoned horror fans will enjoy and appreciate the style.

 

Film Review: Life of the Party

Written by Tracy Fuller

Melissa McCarthy has been on a roll over the last few years, making her impact in the movie industry. Most of the films may not be the movie of the year caliber, but they are films that envoke the human heart and a massive splash of laughter. She is one of the most consistent and successful comedians working in Hollywood today. Her efforts do not stop with her newest film, Life of the Party.

One of the elements of McCarthy’s consistency is the type of particular role that she plays in a specific vein of modern comedy. Roles, where she is less occupied in making the viewers laugh out loud than it is making them taste a kind of humorous empathy with characters. She’s used a mixture of her excellent comic timing, honesty and gonzo nature massively over the last decade.

In Life of the Party, she portrays Deanna, newly divorced and remorseful that she never completed her college degree. So, seeing a chance, she registers at the same college her daughter Maddie (Molly Gordon) is attending. This presents opportunities for both problems and mother-daughter bonding.

The tone of the narrative is a common one; a woman being asked to put her life goals on hold for her husband’s success. Until he abandons her due to living a “boring” life.

As Deanna embraces fulfilling her dreams to be an archeologist, there are moments and situations where things become awkward and embarrassing, not only for her but Maddie. The story leaves plenty of opportunities for jokes and scenarios based on Deanna’s age and appearance.

Now I must admit, the beginning of the film seemed abrupt and challenging to hold traction regarding the plot. It seemed a little forced. However, it quickly corrects itself and captivates the attention of the audience.

The film comes full circle, filled with heartfelt emotion and laughs that will leave a smile on your face by the end of it. This is an enjoyable movie, and I recommend it. It has some mild nudity and minimal drug usage, so it is not for little ones. It would serve great as a date night or just a night out.

 

ACC Jazz Ensemble Performs for Draylen Mason

Written by Tracy Fuller

The annual Texas Community Music Festival kicked off in Austin this past April at Central Market North. This festival has become a set tradition for the residents of the area. Each day of the festival, there are different sets of musical performances. Anything ranging from full-sized orchestras to Scottish pipe and drums. This music festival has become a staple for folks and families of all ages and sizes to enjoy.

This years gathering was a little different than all of the others. Not only was it being billed as their 13th anniversary but an extraordinary performance had taken place on the Friday of the 28th. The Austin Community College Jazz Ensemble was there to honor former ACC student, Draylen Mason. Mason is one of the victims from the Austin bombings this past spring.

The Ensemble had a unique piece written for Mason. Their performance, featuring jazz bassist Sophia Villarreal,  took place in front of a large crowd.

The ACC Jazz Ensemble is led by Dr. Tom ‘Bop’ Husak from the Northridge campus. Husak carried the troupe in such an honorable fashion at the festival. Draylen had the heart for music, and many looked up to it. “Draylen’s music was inspirational,” says Dr. Husak. “The jazz community suffered a great loss when he passed.”

It was amazing to see the ACC Jazz Ensemble headline the festival that night. It was a perfect setting based on a family community against an Austin sunset backdrop.

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_media_grid grid_id=”vc_gid:1527084189433-20482fd3-bdc7-10″ include=”4722,4723,4724,4725,4726,4727,4728,4729,4730″][/vc_column][/vc_row]

SXSW Film Review: Family

Written by Tracy Fuller

SXSW is one of the premier spots to showcase a new film coming to the big screen in North America. With this year’s festival having a record number of films premiering, there was a considerable buzz generating around Laura Steinel’s Family.

Family is a comedy-drama that focuses on a young teenager, Maddie (Byrn Vale) looking for acceptance and love – a borrowed concept from the timeless John Candy classic Uncle Buck. Kate (Taylor Schilling) is asked to take care of Maddie while her parents go out of town to care for a family member. Kate is by no means fit to watch over anyone’s child, much less herself.

Because Kate is so self-absorbed and unfiltered in every minute of her day, she does not have the first idea of how to relate to Maddie. When she does begin to listen to stories of being harassed at school, Kate can connect to it from her childhood. It is at that point the walls she has built around herself slowly begin to chip away. What was supposed to be one night watching Maddie becomes a full week. This takes Kate entirely out of her comfort zone at work, causing her to start neglecting details.

At work, Kate is known to be cutthroat, but now that she is distracted trying to care for Maddie, it begins to backfire. The more she leans towards the nurturing side, the more Kate’s calloused exterior starts to soften.

In the middle of Kate’s failed efforts, Maddie ends up going missing and finds her identity within the Juggalo family. During the search for Maddie, Kate learns that she has made her way to the Gathering of the Juggalos. The Gathering is a music festival which has gained some notoriety and continues to be a topic of discussion in today’s pop culture.

The series of events proposes a moral decision of what is more important to Kate: working on her career or building a relationship with Maddie. By the end of the movie, you will find yourself in the feels. This production was brilliantly put together and structured. It made me quite happy to see Steinel portray Juggalos at their core, which compliments the storyline so well as finding love and acceptance in each other.

One of the things I adore about this film is how that very same love and acceptance from the Juggalos is captured in this comedy gold classic. This movie captures the essence of family, not only by blood but also by bonds. I left the theater thankful for my friends. Furthermore, it was an incredible experience hanging out with Laura Steinel and the rest of the cast. I look forward to seeing this one again.

SXSW Film Review: Blockers

Written by Tracy Fuller

A New Spin On An Adult-Teen Raunchy Comedy

Blockers is an adult raunchy comedy that revolves around three high school girls who make a pact to lose their virginity on prom night. Little do they know, their parents come together to ruin their plans.

Blockers is the directing debut for Kay Cannon. Cannon pushes the strengths of its cast while capturing the different dynamics in the 3 (sets) of parents and their conflicts.

Single mom Lisa (Leslie Mann) is having denial issues with the imminent departure of her daughter Julie (Kathryn Newton) for college. Mitchell (John Cena) is a buff dad but holds some strong feminine qualities mixed with small doses of testosterone. He tries to have a bonding relationship with daughter Kayla (Geraldine Viswanathan) as if she was his son but wears a dress. Divorcee dad Hunter (Gideon Adlon) who has not been around since the marriage dissolved. He now recognizes the value of his relationship with daughter, Sam (Gideon Adlon) and tries to salvage it by making sure her prom night is a memorable one.

After the girls leave for prom, the parents stumble upon a confusing bit of emojis that they ultimately discover as the sex pact. All the parents set out to track them down and stop them from consummating the night.

What ensues as a crazy chase all over town cause a few disastrous events to occur. In the midst of all these events, the trio of parents finds a way to work through their dilemmas. Coincidently, as are the three girls.

Blockers is more on the rated R side of comedy. The film also balances teen humor with adult humor. I mean imagine parading through a hough naked and blindfolded chasing your partner down by their own “musk.”

The movie portrays what a typical environment is for today’s teen. They set out to have a great time. In doing so the insecurities of the parents is brought to light, something many parents today can relate. Even with the teen sex comedy, it highlights, in the end, some rethought decisions that lead to a better scenario for everyone.

This movie has the laughs, love, and appeal that make you think of American Pie or any John Hughes film.

While the talented and well-known talent casts the roles of the parents, the teens are the heart of the movie. These up and coming actresses sell their respective parts flawlessly.

The real predicament is whether the parents and the girls can make peace with the fact that everybody has to grow up. In the end, this movie has a bit of everything to keep you entertained. I was glad to see Cena’s acting get stretched. Also noting, Leslie Mann, who probably gives one of her best performances. I would see this movie again for sure.

SXSW Film Review: Ready Player One

Written by Tracy Fuller

Spielberg Captures The Heart of Life in Ready Player One

Ready Player One, the novel by Ernest Cline, on screen is a brilliant merger of the mind of Steven Spielberg and the adoption of the screenplay. Here is a film that any pop culture fanboy will cherish. With it premiering at this past year’s SXSW Film Festival, the anticipation was quite high.

“I didn’t make this movie just for gamers, I made this for everybody,” says Steven Spielberg.

The film is set in a dystopian trailer park, year 20145, in the city of Columbus. Within the trailer park stacks, characters like Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan), a real-life nobody, resides. In the virtual reality world, the Oasis, Watts finds himself to be more than a nobody.

The Oasis is the primary way of life in the future, providing entertainment, fantasies, ambitions, and ways to achieve a certain financial status. The Oasis is a world where gaming is life. Watts bares some remarkable friendships with some of the gaming elite in the alternative VR world. He spends most of his time living strapped into his VR headset, immersed in the Oasis.

In the Oasis, Watts is surrounded by pop culture references that have become a way of life. These references stem from game creator, the late James Halliday (Mark Rylance). Following his passing, it is announced that Halliday built one final game in the Oasis known as Anorak’s Quest. The mission calls for players to find three keys through a set of smaller objectives. Upon finding all three of Halliday’s keys, they will be granted the celebrated Easter Egg. This egg will give them full power and ownership of the Oasis and its assets in both worlds.

Watts becomes the first person to receive one of the coveted keys. In doing so, he draws the attention of legendary gamer, Art3mis (Olivia Cooke). He also becomes a mark for the Innovative Online Industries CEO Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn).

The combination of Steven Spielberg, cinematographer Janusz Kaminski, and the team at Industrial Light & Magic, knock this one out of the park. Capturing the VR setting and its potential to the big screen is not an easy task. The Oasis is phenomenal; every landscape that you encounter in this film is full of pop culture references.

One of the things I enjoyed most about this film, is not the incredible visual appeal and abundant references, but also the heart that Spielberg captures in this film. The message ultimately conveys that no matter how hard you try to design an artificial life, you should not lose sight of what the real world has to offer.

Spielberg does capture Halliday’s character showing the struggle of following your heart and chasing your ambitions. Not to mention the fellowship and bonds you acquire in life. There is so much emotional overtone mixed into the story that you end up leaving the theater feeling better about life.

Photos of SXSW 2018

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Photos by Tracy Fuller

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_media_grid grid_id=”vc_gid:1527191256241-d00be494-917c-2″ include=”4554,4555,4557,4558,4559,4560,4561,4562,4563,4564,4565,4566,4567,4568,4569,4570,4571,4572,4573,4574,4575,4576,4577,4678,4677,4676,4675,4674,4673,4672,4671,4670,4669,4668,4667,4701,4699,4698,4697,4695,4694,4688,4689,4690,4691,4692,4693,4687,4686,4685,4684,4683,4681,4680,4679,4702″][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Film Review: Game Night

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Written by Tracy Fuller

Game Night is a film about competitive game-loving partiers who end up taking their game night to the extreme. It is unquestionably a piercingly hilarious film that takes things to the edge. Directed by John Francis Daley, Jonathan Goldstein, and written by Mark Perez.

The main characters, Max and Annie (Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams), regularly host a traditional game night at their suburban home. A wittily-edited opening montage shows that games like Pictionary, Scrabble, and charades are the framework of their relationship and drove to their marriage. The other gamers in this movie includes Ryan (Billy Magnussen), a dimwitted friend of Annie’s; Sarah (Sharon Horgan), Ryan’s much brighter date; the husband-wife duo of Kevin and Michelle (Lamorne Morris and Kylie Bunbury); and Max’s estranged brother Brooks (Kyle Chandler), who’s a excels in ways that Max can only fantasize about.

Not only does Brooks project an image of success, but he is always one to out-do his brother, Max. So naturally, he takes over game night by inviting the gang to his mansion for an extreme version of game night. A version modeled by what is becoming more common these days, a murder mystery themed party. Things begin to take things for a roller coaster, taking the audience on consequential flips and turns, leading into straight chaos.

Brooks gets kidnapped in a home attack that everybody else thinks is just part of the game and threatened with murder if the rest do not surrender a cherished Faberge egg to a scary-voiced mastermind who’s giving them commands from afar. The rest of the crew splits up into teams and tries to unravel the mystery in their way, their paths occasionally re-crossing, only to deviate again.

The screenwriter and directors tie the storyline to the psychology of the characters and structure the film as a quest for personal as well as sequential discovery. The brothers’ mutual resentment and rivalry are relevant here, as it develops the plot. Max and Annie’s failure to superfetate a child comes into play, as do the psychologies and pasts of other game night members. A subplot about Kevin’s infatuation with solving whether Michelle was ever unfaithful to him has an immense payoff.

Game Night is a nearly perfect entertainment for adults over a certain age. There’s a daring car chase, a brutal incident that leads to improvised surgery, and a house party with echoes of the masked scene in “Eyes Wide Shut,” but it is all entwined with annotation about aging, failure, doomed romanticism and sibling rivalry. The characters put it all over with flair—especially Bateman and McAdams, who complement each other’s ideas so deftly that they do seem as if they have been married forever, and Plemons, who steals every scene he is in through deft underplaying. Also, while there are a few touching times, the film never tries to set an overly emotional tone.

Even though the movie was a bit predictable at times, it was very entertaining. This movie is the perfect film for a date night or also if you are just looking to laugh. I will probably see it again when it opens up to the public.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_video link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qmxMAdV6s4U”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

SXSW Films We Want to Watch

Written by Tracy Fuller

This years film festival will highlight 132 features. The screenings are March 9th – 18th. The festival features 44 films from first-time filmmakers, 86 world premieres, plus 11 North American and 5 U.S. Premieres. Talk about a ton of movies to be screened! Imagine what it was like for the programming team, they had to watch 2,458 different films that were submitted personally by filmmakers.

Here are some films we suggest catching:

Jordan Peele’s The Last O.G. in Episodic

John Krasinski’s A Quiet Place

Kay Cannon’s Blockers in Headliners

Andrew Bujalski’s Support The Girls

Lynn Shelton’s Outside In in Narrative Spotlight

Alison Klayman’s Take Your Pills

Tommy Avallone’s The Bill Murray Stories: Life Lessons Learned From A Mythical Man in Documentary Spotlight

Spike Lee’s Pass Over in Festival Favorites.

Spike Lee will follow an increasing number of impressive speakers including Rian Johnson, Darren Aronofsky, and Barry Jenkins, in the nearby SXSW Conference.

Just in case you were wondering, you don’t necessarily have to have an SXSW Film badge to watch any of these films. According to the SXSW website, if seats still remain after the badges enter, single admission tickets will be sold for $15 starting 15 minutes before showtime. Tickets can be purchased from The Paramount Theatre, Vimeo Theater at the Austin Convention Center and ZACH Theatre.

The entire line-up and synopses below were presented by SXSW can be found here

MBPT Calls For SXSW Volunteers

Written by Tracy Fuller

Now that the spring semester is in full swing, Spring Break is looming on some minds. Whether traveling out of town or doing a staycation, Spring Break is typically the time for decompressing.

Conveniently, Spring Break falls during the live music capital of the world’s most famous festival, SXSW.  As many know, SXSW’s Festivals are divided into Interactive, Film, Music, Comedy and Gaming.

Typically SXSW’s Interactive covers a wide array of technology related panels with the potential to form connections for networking.

SXSW’s Film Festival is a mecca for global and national cinema releases. This year has an incredible 132 film features. This would be a good time for film lovers to get in and check out what is premiering. In fact, for any enrolled student, there is a substantial discount that you should probably take advantage of by going here.

ACC’s Music, Business, Performance + Technology (MBPT) department is calling for volunteers to assist in SXSW’s Music Festival. Many times, these volunteers have the opportunity to assist in stage operations throughout the festival. In fact, some previous ACC MBPT students have become Stage Managers due to their experiences as a volunteer. The volunteer call is general, so there are plenty of options for MBPT and other students

For more information please reach out to gschulma@austincc.edu.