Rebecca: AKA a Movie where No One is Sane

Kaitlin Olson

Rebecca is a traditional Hitchcock film: something is amiss the entire film, everyone acts suspiciously, not much action happens despite the hinting music, and your guess of what happens in the end is completely wrong. While I did enjoy the film, I couldn’t help but laugh at the main character (whose name we never learn) finds herself in the most ludicrous of situations but acts like that shit happens everyday…

“Wow, my bitch of a boss kind of wants to stalk my secret boyfriend. LOL.” “Hey, this man I just met is super rich and wants to marry me, but has a horrible temper and stares off into the distance whenever I mention his deceased wife Rebecca. YOLO. I DO.” “Well the housekeeper Mrs. Danvers can’t stop talking about Rebecca and how I don’t match up, then she played a mean trick on me and tried to get me to jump out a window to my death. OMG. BESTIES.”

… So, yeah. The main character acts with no sense whatsoever, though none of the characters’ actions seem to make much sense. While I did hate this a little bit, it seemed to elevate the story. Everyone was acting so irrationally that their creepy obsessions with Rebecca managed to be even creepier. It even made me uncomfortable at times, and I really started to feel for the main character as everyone only told her that she wasn’t as amazing as Rebecca had been.

What really drives the characters and plot are the actors (especially Judith Anderson as Mrs. Danvers). Even in their stupidity and craziness, they are each believable. Anderson really makes her stern character work in a way that you start to root for her manipulative and evil ways. While Joan Fontaine and Laurence Olivier also are exquisite in their roles, Anderson really steals the spotlight. If there’s anything that I will really remember from this film, it’s the disturbing Mrs. Danvers.

Film Synopsis: Hitchcock’s 1940 psychological drama-thriller follows the suave aristocratic Maxim de Winter and the doe-eyes young woman who becomes his second wife. Though we never see de Winter’s deceased first wife, Rebecca, her reputation and memories of her continue to haunt Maxim, his new wife, and the unhinged housekeeper Mrs. Danvers. The film was nominated for 11 Academy Awards and won for Best Picture and Best Cinematography (black and white). 

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Arguing for That Awkward Moment

Brian Deal

I’m going to take some time to talk about a movie that was slammed by the critics. In early 2014 That Awkward Moment, starring Zac Efron (The Lucky One and Neighbors), Miles Teller (21 and Over) and Michael B. Jordan (Chronicle), came out and it did not do well at all. The movie focuses around the three main characters, who are all best friends, and each one finds themselves in a relationship and they all need to figure out if they want to continue the relationship or to end it. It is a situation that everyone can relate to because we have all had to make that decision. In my opinion, that is what makes the movie so enjoyable. Yes, some of the actions and decisions that the characters make are ridiculous and probably unrealistic. However, let us keep in mind that this is a fictional movie and they are making light out of a somewhat serious situation. This is a movie that everyone can relate to and if you watch it with little expectations, you will find yourself with the perfect date night movie.

This is also an opportunity to catch three rising stars in the same movie. These three actors are going to be around in Hollywood for many years to come, and the chemistry and talent you see in them in this movie are evident. If you are a superhero junkie like me, then you will be seeing Teller and Jordan in a couple years in the Fantastic Four reboot as Mr. Fantastic and the Human Torch, respectively. Efron, on the other hand, already is signed up for 6 more movies in the not-so-distant future. These guys will soon be household names in the movie business and there is no better way to see all three of them than in this movie.

This is not the kind of movie that will ever win any kind of significant awards. As a matter of fact, if you are an adult reading this, you also may not enjoy this movie because it is centered on three 20-somethings. However I find it relatable. This movie is potentially thought provoking for anyone in college or recently out of college and is either looking for or is in a relationship. It provides a certain point of view on what being a relationship is all about and perhaps it will give you an idea if you are ready to be in one. This movie is amusing, romantic, deep, and 94 minutes long. I would say that it is more than worth the $1 rental at Redbox if you are looking for a movie to watch one night. This is coming from a man who watched it with three of his male college roommates. 

My post-Fault in Our Stars Find: Eleanor & Park

Haley Hader

In 2014, the American Library Association named it a Michael L. Printz Award Honor Book for Excellence in Young Adult Literature and in that same year, I opened Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell for the first time in the Miami International Airport. In the wake of being immersed in The Fault in Our Stars and going off a Pinterest recommendation for “similar books to read,” I was both completely ready, and absolutely terrified, to read a book of that same caliber.

Set in 1980s Omaha, Nebraska, this story chronicles the lives (over the course of one year) of Eleanor and Park. Eleanor- a teenage girl, the oldest of 5, starting out the year at a new school. And Park- a teenage Korean boy, avid comic book reader and music fan. Right from the start you get a sense that the clock is winding down for these two individuals, that no matter how deep their trials go, there would be something that tore them apart. They meet on the school bus, and over the course of the first few days, they begin to bond slowly, and much of the time, without words. What really makes this story special is the completely conflicting worlds that the two main characters live in. Park’s home life is seemingly idyllic, everything from the relationship of his parents to the upkeep of their home. Eleanor’s home life is stricken by poverty, and attempting to steer clear of her abusive and controlling stepfather. The book is written in alternating narrative voices, and in doing so, show the mirror images of these two individuals. Park’s problems are internal, dealing with problems in his home life, and accepting the fact that he has fallen for the school’s outcast. Eleanor’s fight on the other hand is external, in learning to trust her feelings for Park, and dealing with the underlying sexual risk with her stepfather. These two contrasting points of view really add to the depth of the story, and captured the pure, all-consuming love that bloomed between these two characters.

In short, I loved this book. Something about two main characters who were both going through significant life events and changes, not just having the audience focused on one, made it enticing. I loved watching Park and Eleanor fall in love through all of the awkwardness that is high school, and being the new kid, or dealing with these types of family issues. It made it seem like that kind of connection is possible even in the most unexpected of places, and I think that’s extremely comforting for readers. For the outcasts, or the shy kids, or the everyday teenagers that are looking for that ‘someone.’ What I thought was really extraordinary with this particular book were the aspects of various social issues that were addressed, everything from bullying to race to sexual abuse. It was something that made the book special because it portrayed two people who thought that if they were together, their love could help them overcome anything.

Why you should both Watch and Read Orange is the New Black: Part 2

Thea Baldwin

During my two seasons of binge watching the original series Orange is the New Black, produced by Jenji Kohan (creator of Weeds), I was constantly filled with a clusterfuck of anger, pity, and laughter throughout the show.  And like a preteen chasing drama, I was hungry for more. I discovered that the series was based off a book, also titled Orange is the New Black, written by Piper Kerman (real-life Piper). It was nice to have both the real account of Piper’s story alongside with the fictional story. Both the book and the TV show blur the line between yourself and prison inmates and shows that people in prison are often times normal, decent people who made one bad decision and drew a bad hand.  Both are also effective in illuminating how terrible government run programs can be if ignored. If you have any doubts on starting either one, or both, here is my attempt to convince you to give them a chance.

As many show-watchers know, Piper Chapman can be a very frustrating character and often causes me to yell WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING at the TV in response to her dumb decisions. So reading the book was a pleasant change. Not only did I realize that Piper is actually a real person, I realized she is actually a decent, thoughtful and strong person. Unlike the show, the book is entirely an inward struggle of her learning the culture of prison, while also dealing with the constant frustrations of a poorly run system. Although the show also covers problems inmates deal with, there is something chilling about reading an actual account of fuckups by COs, administrators and just the government in general. 

Despite the frustrations with the system, it is inspiring to see someone actively try to make themselves better in a bad situation. Anyone in her situation could have blamed everyone except themselves, and held on to their anger and sadness. Piper Kerman stayed zen-like calm most of the time and took responsibility for her own life.  The book highlights her creating new relationships and cherishing her old ones. She had a steadfast focus on improving her body as well as her mind, and always seemed to practice gratefulness to every act of kindness she received, and in turn tried to give out as many acts of kindnesses to others.

The book is very compelling, well written, and contains no slow chapters that you have to “get through.”  It is uplifting, interesting, yet bothersome. Bonus: it’s a quick read! I finished it in about 3-4 days.

Book Synopsis: Piper Chapman/Kerman participated in a drug operation with her girlfriend in her early twenties. She eventually got scared, ended things with her girlfriend and went home.  She put the past behind her and 10 years later she’s in a happy relationship and enjoying her career. Unfortunately her past comes back to haunt her, and she goes on trial for a crime she committed 10 years ago. She is sent to prison to serve a 13 month sentence. Being a white, educated, middle-class woman she stands out among many of the inmates and faces a lot of challenges while trying to carve a place for herself in the community. Through out her journey she meets an array of woman who all have their own interesting pasts.

Left Moonstruck by Cher

Kaitlin Olson

As I sat down to watch Moonstruck, a few things crossed my mind. “Lol- Cher and Nicolas Cage in a rom-com together. WHAT IS THIS???” As the end credits rolled, my thoughts had definitely changed. “What… that was… CAN WE WATCH IT AGAIN???” This movie, while not the best rom-com I have ever seen, pleasantly surprised me. For a solid hour-and-a-half I found myself middle-school giddy and rooting for romance (Hoorah Cher and Nic!).  The story is one that catches you off-guard and you fall in love with the flawed but genuine characters as they make horrible life choices.

That’s one thing I really enjoyed about this film though- it isn’t the typical rom-com. It is wonderfully written with dialogue that makes you genuinely laugh your ass off, but you can feel the characters’ pain by their words and actions (and lack thereof). It also is unique in that it doesn’t reward the characters for their good choices or punish them for their bad ones. While you have a sense of where everything is going, it still surprises you with a bang and proves it isn’t an ordinary film.

The best part of this film though, is Cher as she shows off the acting chops I never knew she had. She plays a frumpy straight-shooter turned fool for love with an Italian accent, and boy is she amazing at it. Nicolas Cage, on the other hand, is by no means phenomenal (he also has one of his typical rants, which had me bursting in laughter) but still has a way of being charming. Add the excellent performances of Olympia Dukakis and Vincent Gardenia as Cher’s hilarious but damaged parents, and the cast truly pulls you into a magical story.

Film Summary: Moonstruck was released in 1987 and follows Sicilian American widow Loretta Castorini (Cher). Her boyfriend Johnny proposes to her, yet after an odd encounter with his younger brother Ronny (Cage) nothing seems as if it is going to go to plan. The film was nominated for six Academy Awards and won three- Best Actress for Cher, Best Supporting Actress for Dukakis, and Best Original Screenplay.

Coming Soon: Fury

Brian Deal

One of the movies that I am most looking forward to is Fury. This movie is directed by David Ayer (Sabotage and End of Watch) and the story centers around an army tank and her five man crew towards the end of WWII as the Americans attempt to defeat Nazi Germany. The cast is led by Brad Pitt, who portrays Wardaddy and he is the lead of the tank. The cast also includes Shia LeBeouf, Michael Pena (End of Watch) and Logan Lerman (The Perks of Being a Wallflower). If you enjoyed End of Watch then you may want to check this movie out. It appears to take on a similar style in the sense that in End of Watch it focuses on the relationship between the two main characters in the cop car. In Fury, it appears to be similar where they focus on the relationships in the tank as the war takes place. If it worked once, why not try it again?

You cannot go wrong with Brad Pitt either. I cannot think of the last time I saw a Brad Pitt movie and thought to myself, “I did not enjoy that.” The guy knows how to pick good movies and he comes off as extremely likeable. For all of the negativity that surrounds LeBeouf these days, that is completely forgotten with Pitt at the lead for this movie. Based off of the trailer, this movie is heading to be a box office hit. It has an outstanding cast, a successful director, and is set in an intriguing and influential time period. If you are looking for an entertaining, yet powerful, movie, this is the movie to watch out for.

Fury is an upcoming World War II film, set to be released November 14, 2014. Set in the last few months of the War, Wardaddy and his crew face rough odds when they are assigned to a mission behind-enemy-lines.

Why you should both Watch and Read Orange is the New Black: Part 1

Thea Baldwin

During my two seasons of binge watching the original series Orange is the New Black, produced by Jenji Kohan (creator of Weeds),I was constantly filled with a clusterfuck of anger, pity, and laughter throughout the show.  And like a pre-teen chasing drama, I was hungry for more. I discovered that the series was based off of a book, also titled Orange is the New Black, written by Piper Kerman (real-life Piper). It was nice to have both the real account of Piper’s story alongside with the fictional story. Both the book and the TV show blur the line between yourself and prison inmates and shows that people in prison are often times normal, decent people who made one bad decision and drew a bad hand.  Both are also effective in illuminating how terrible government run programs can be if ignored. If you have any doubts on starting either one, or both, here is my attempt to convince you to give them a chance.

My favorite part of the show is how the characters are handled because you get to see the back-stories of most of the characters. And of course, every character is insanely fascinating. A lot of them individually highlight flaws with our system, such as clearly needing therapy instead of jail time, or purposefully getting thrown back into prison because they were borderline homeless once they were released. Then there are the characters who are always making you unsure if they are good people or not, due to their variety of actions that vary from reprehensible, to genuinely kind. There is a nice range of absolutely horrible to wonderful people on the show which isn’t necessarily what you’d expect in a show about prison inmates.

Another strength is how diverse the cast is. There are men, woman, lesbians, Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, transgenders, old and young. And unlike shows like Game of Thrones where even the supposedly unattractive characters have chiseled jaws, tiny waste lines, symmetrical features and sculpted abs, the cast of Orange is the New Black has the normal range of body types and facial features, which makes the whole environment relatable. It would actually be nice if more TV shows followed suit and realized no one is going to respond with, “EW. NORMAL LOOKING PEOPLE? How am I going to struggle with my body image now??”

I also appreciate the comedy element the writers threw in. Of course with this subject matter it can get depressing, but it never gets Sarah-Mclachlin-depressing.  There is always plenty of comic relief, making it the perfect dark, dramedy.

Show Synopsis: Piper Chapman/Kerman participated in a drug operation with her girlfriend in her early twenties. She eventually got scared, ended things with her girlfriend and went home.  She put the past behind her and 10 years later she’s in a happy relationship and enjoying her career. Unfortunately her past comes back to haunt her, and she goes on trial for a crime she committed 10 years ago. She is sent to prison to serve a 13 month sentence. Being a white, educated, middle-class woman she stands out among many of the inmates and faces a lot of challenges while trying to carve a place for herself in the community. Through out her journey she meets an array of woman who all have their own interesting pasts.