Filed under Currents

Let’s talk movies

As UAC takes a one-weekend break from showing their weekly films and the rest of us begin our spring break, it seems like the perfect time to take a look back at the movies that the campus organization has shown over the years. Since I was hired by The Spectator back in spring 2007, I have had the pleasure of reviewing UAC’s weekly films. This has accumulated in seven semesters of coverage and a little more than 80 reviews, some of them good and some of them bad. So here is a look back at the ten best films UAC has shown since spring 2007.

10: “The King of Kong” 2008
This documentary about two men vying for the right to be called the champion of the Donkey Kong world makes the genre fun and entertaining again. Its characters are memorable, but it has a great command for setting the viewer up to feel suspense and excitement when the showdown between the good guy and the bad guy finally happens. It is both funny and heartbreaking, making it a memorable documentary.

9: “The Lookout” 2008
It’s original, it has good performances by Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Jeff Daniels. And lots of shotguns. And interesting twists. Just a lot of fun.

8: “Little Miss Sunshine” 2007
Not only does the film offer memorable performances from many actors, but it manages to juggle the large cast flawlessly and make each person important and attention grabbing. The film about a family’s road trip offers an incredible commentary on the importance of family, happiness and what is truly important in life. It mixes drama and silliness while respecting the viewer simultaneously, making for an enjoyable experience.

7: “Children of Men” 2007
Great acting? Check. Great and innovative cinematography? Check. Commentary on fascism and religion? Check. Redemption story? Check. The film is as entertaining as it is poignant. The camera work it employs creates the ultimate sense of being along with the characters but also gives off a sense that the situation cannot be escaped. Set in the not-so-distant future, the film centers on a society in which women cannot get pregnant, and a man who escorts the first woman to get pregnant in quite some time to safety. It evokes substantial reactions from viewers, something few films ever accomplish.

6: “Little Children” 2008
I couldn’t say it any better than Christy Lemir of the Associated Press when she says of the film: “It is a shrewd, darkly humorous look at supposed civility, at the ways in which we allow ourselves to settle and a rare depiction of motherhood as a less-than-awesome experience.” Kate Winslet offers a great performance, as usual, and the film offers a bold but poignant commentary that leaves the viewer at least moved in some form or another.

5: “Man on Wire” 2009
This documentary’s main setting is the World Trade Center towers in the 1970s. Yet the film offers such an amazing story about a tightrope walker and his mission to illegally rig a rope between the two towers and walk on it, that the thought of the tragedy of September 11 never comes up. Any movie that can do that is something to marvel at.

4: “Wizard of Oz” 2008
If you think it’s a great movie because it uses Technicolor and has lots of memorable songs and cute creatures, you may be overlooking what really makes it great. It plays to any audience, old or young, and can either offer a fun time or some serious messages.

3: “M” 2010
Although the plot of finding a missing child after she comes in contact with a suggested pedophile is depressing, the film nonetheless offers a memorable commentary and scenario. As cops search for the girl and the pedophile, the criminal underworld must also join in the search because its business is being affected by the police surveillance.

2: “Rear Window” 2007
This film set the bar for suspense, as Alfed Hitchcock strings along the audience while it watches a man unable to leave his apartment because of an injury attempt to solve a murder. The film holds a mirror to the viewer, as the main character spies on the lives of others, just like as viewers of the film. But it also brings to light the obsession society has with other peoples’ business. Scary and poignant? That’s memorable.

1: “The Graduate” 2007
This film offers a lot more than just its incredible, memorable and influential soundtrack. The film surrounds a college graduate trying to find his niche in society. Performances from Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft are spectacular, but what makes the movie great is its ability to capture and commentate on the hilarity and anxiety that surrounds the sexuality and decision making of youths as they try to grow up. It is more impactful having been released in the 1960s, when so many people, not just teens, were trying to find their niche and purpose in life.


Five worst:

5: “Reign Over Me” fall 2008
Not much goes right for this film. Its relatively humorous, its characters are one-dimensional and the performances over the top. To boot, it uses Sept. 11 as a way to add a little emotionality to the film.

4: “Shortbus” fall 2007
The premise of a large number of people trying to find a connection in post-9/11 New York City is cliché, and the characters are too disinteresting for the viewer to care about their problems (especially when everyone lives through them daily).

3: “F*ck” spring 2008
This documentary spends so much time showing people using the word that it forgets that it actually needs a point or a plot to be even remotely good.

2: “Southland Tales” fall 2009
Directed by Richard Kelly, the film seems more focused on being able to create its own vision and look interesting than actually making itself interesting through plot and character development. Plus it stars The Rock and Sean William Scott. And Sarah Michelle Gellar. Just a mess of a cast.

1: “Repo! The Genetic Opera” spring 2009
Because my disdain for this movie is so high, I would like to offer a second opinion, that of Los Angeles Times movie critic Mark Olsen: “The film is bad – not good-bad, tacky-bad or fun-bad – just plain awful and nearly unwatchable.”

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