Table of Contents Hey cinephiles! Hope you’re having a good year so far. For those of you new to the school, 151MM is PHS’ film magazine, written, designed, and published by students like you. We’ve got a lot of notifications, so we’re putting Vignette on hold for this issue to get the news out there:
Website: After months of planning and tweaking, we’re proud to say that 151MM’s online platform is up and running! All of our content, along with web exclusive articles, are now accessible at 151mmphs. com. Kudos goes to our website manager Robert Zhang for his professional work and superhuman patience with the disorganization of our files. As always, our regular magazine layouts can be found on our Issuu page issuu.com/151mm.
Interest Meeting: Spread the word! Our first interest meetings of the year are going to be on October 25th and 27th (Tuesday and Thursday) at break in room 152. We’ll be going over available positions and our plans for the 2016-2017 school year.
TV Expansion: 151MM is looking for a TV editor and staff! That’s right, we're planning on including a section focused solely on TV shows by the end of the year. Whether you’re somebody with extensive knowledge of the current or past television scene, or just seem to spend a lot of your time dedicated to Netflix and such, don’t hesitate to inquire about positions! If you have friends who are big fans of the small screen, point them in our direction! Our email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Happy reading! 2 /Table of Contents
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Chiaroscuro Ask 151MM: Halloween Edition Chiaroscuro The New Two-Party System at Comic Con Chiaroscuro Princeton Student Film Festival 2016 Establishing Shot September/October 2016 Screening Room Café Society, Swiss Army Man, The Killing Joke Rosebud Possession (1981) and Angst (1983) Editors In Chief
Siyu (Sarah) Hou
Graphics Manager Nicole Ng Staff Writers
Alan Wo Emily Erlichson Thomas Martin Miles Bardzilowski
The Evil Genius & The Supreme Being from Stand by for Mind Control | Adam McGill | Susan Colon & the PSFF Film Screening Committee
This issue of 151MM is dedicated to Owen Bardzilowski.
Princeton High School 151 Moore St, Princeton NJ 08540
Alan Q: What’s your favorite Halloween movie and why? A: Scary Movie (2000), because it’s scary yet doesn’t take itself seriously with a sense of humor and satire. Q: What will you be watching this Halloween? A: Boo! A Madea Halloween. Tyler Perry is a consistently funny director who explores family dynamics through light-hearted humor.
Picture Show (1975) plus, in all honesty, any other film ever produced, would also be pretty great. Q: Name one non-horror movie that would be fun as a horror remake. A: Okay Hollywood, why hasn’t Blackfish (2013) been given a “based on a true story” psychological thriller adaptation yet? Just make sure the orca doesn’t talk or anything.
Sarah Emily Q: What mashup of a horror film and a non horror film/novel would you be willing to pay the full price of a ticket for? A: The best horror/non-horror mashup is this: Black Swan (2010), Under The Skin (2013), and Stand By Me (1986). Black Swan brings the ballet, Under The Skin brings the aliens, and Stand By Me brings the leeches. The leeches make the terror.
Q: What will you be watching this Halloween? A: Ouija: Origin of Evil (2016) first, and then probably Freaky Friday (2003) to balance out the scariness. Q: Name one inanimate object that wouldn’t be bad as the main terror subject and/or title of a horror film. A: Bloodbath of Mozzarella Sticks.
Miles Everett Q: What mashup of a horror film and a non horror film/novel would you be willing to pay the full price of a ticket for? A: A bizarre yet strangely fitting salmagundi of two genres (and two holidays) would be It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) with Final Destination (2000). It could potentially involve the Grim Reaper replacing the role of George Bailey, then being dissuaded from laying down his scythe after a divine encounter portrays a series of aviation related deaths and bathtub stranglings, returning meaning to his line of work and showing that life has no significance without the concept of death. The Rocky Horror
Q: What’s your favorite Halloween movie and why? A: Evil Dead 2 (1987), a masterpiece of both horror and comedy, a satire of the slasher genre with wonderfully goofy acting, clever writing, and badass action. Actually, can I use the entire trilogy? Q: What mashup of a horror film and a non horror film/novel would you be willing to pay the full price of a ticket for? A: Aliens/Predator vs. everything. In the comics they fight Batman, Super-
man, Terminators, Judge Dredd, and pretty much everything else Dark Horse could get their hands on. Maybe they could show up in the X-Men cinematic universe and get mutant powers or something. Or, imagine the Jedi Council fighting force-sensitive Xenomorphs and Sith Predators. Or, and hear me out: GODZILLA VS KAIJU CHESTBURSTERS. Or, alternatively, Mad Max (1979) and Hellraiser (1987), the battle of the bondage gear.
Q: What will you be watching this Halloween? A: Probably Girl on the Train (2016), because of the intrigue and mystery, or Inferno, (2016) because I like Ron Howard and Tom Hanks.
Mr. Sullivan Q: Name one non-horror movie that would be fun as a horror remake. A: Passion of the Christ (2004) could be a decent torture movie, in the vein of Saw (2004). Now that’s what I call edgy. Also, Aliens (1986) could be a chest-burstingly funny romantic comedy. “They say love is a battlefield, and this time, it’s war.”
Q: What’s your favorite Halloween movie and why? A: Takashi Miike’s Audition (1999). Arthouse J-horror at its disturbing best. One quote says it all: “Kiri, kiri, kiri, kiri, kiri, kiri.” Q: Fill in the blank: A good Halloween movie should have you __________ by the end. A: Laughing … in that “WTF-just-happened-I-am-so-freaked-out” way.
Thomas Q: What mashup of a horror film and a non horror film/novel would you be willing to pay the full price of a ticket for? A: ET (1982) and The Thing (Carpenter’s ‘82 version): “Oh, look! It’s a cute, lost little alien! It’s so … wait … it’s … GAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHCHCHHC!”
Q: Fill in the blank: A good Halloween movie should have you __________ by the end. A: Incapable of sleeping.
The New Two-Party System at Comic-Con* San Diego Comic-Con 2016 By Miles Bardzilowski
San Diego Comic-Con 2016: July 20th-July 24th Another summer has come and gone, and with it another Comic Convention in San Diego. This year’s convention was full of laughs, goofs, and spoofs, as well as plenty of news and trailers for upcoming movies.
First, there’s the new Suicide Squad (2016) trailer. We got better looks at the characters, as well as the first look at the actual story they’re going to be part of. There seems to be some kind of magic-y goings-on. They seem to be keeping the plot a surprise, in stark contrast to Batman v Superman (2016), the trailers for which spoiled pretty much the entire movie. The way it looks now, Suicide Squad is shaping up to be a must-see. Next on the bill for DC is one of its biggest names, who’s never gotten her own mainstream blockbuster until now:
Wonder Woman! The trailer for the 2017 follow-up to her appearance in Batman v Superman gives us a peek at Diana’s character, who we’ve so far only glimpsed through the eyes of Bruce Wayne. Much like Captain America: the First Avenger (2011), this is going to be a period piece set during a World War, but this time during the less popular of the two (the Terminator to FDR’s T2: Judgement Day, if you follow my meaning). The trailer, alongside that of Justice League (2017), highlights one important change compared to BvS and the latter DC Cinematic Universe: there’s humor in them. One of BvS’ greater flaws was that it was utterly devoid of comic relief, something that actually makes the characters less engaging and therefore the drama less interesting. Fortunately, it looks like both Wonder Woman (2017) and Justice League feature decent amounts of quips and jokes, not so much that they’ll look silly *coughBatmanandRobincough* but not so little that they’ll feel grittier than ultra-fine sandpaper. As the first entry in the current trend of comic book movies to star a female lead, Wonder Woman is
*Certain referenced movies have already been released since this article’s completion. The author’s views have been subject to change with the surfacing of new information.
Justice League (2018) Panel at SDCC 2016
especially facing pressure to succeed. Fortunately, thanks to some new talent at the studio (including author and creative director at DC Geoff Johns) taking control, Wonder Woman could well be the saving grace of the DCCU. Speaking of Justice League, quite a lot of my comments about it are shared with Wonder Woman, so this one will be quick. Batfleck looks as good as, if not better than, he did in BvS. He showcases good chemistry with Wonder Woman in this trailer, which mainly focuses on him trying to make friends, by almost killing a teenager and taunting Khal Drogo. Again, there’s a good amount of entertaining dialogue. Bruce and Diana’s relationship looks like it’ll be at the forefront (of Part One at least) and will be rich with enjoyable banter. Aquaman continues to look awesome, unlike the campy, Silver Age-y Aquaman most of us are familiar with. As it stands, I can’t say for certain whether this will be the best superhero ensemble movie of 2018, but I have hope for a movie that will blow Dawn of Justice out of the water. Please, Geoff, let this be good. Not content with setting up only one cinematic Batman universe, DC and WB animations are brewing up a sequel to 2014’s LEGO Movie, to star Will Arnett reprising his role as Batman.The LEGO Batman Movie (2017) also features Michael Cera as Robin, a very Silver Age-inspired Dick Grayson that one would be forgiven for thinking was Carrie Kelley. Following up such a surprising hit as the LEGO Movie won’t be easy, but the writers seem to be giving it their all in terms of clever jokes about the subject matter. Only time will tell whether this sequel is a Dark Knight (2008) or a Batman and Robin (1997), but much like the rest of DC’s lineup, things are looking hopeful.
At this point, I’m sure most of you are thinking “alright, enough about DC already! Let’s get to the comic book movies that have proved they’re worth watching!” Marvel Studios unveiled both a slick new logo and a new trailer for Doctor Strange (2016) starring Benedict Cumberbatch. Giving us a better look at the characters and the visuals—which both look amazing—it further confirms that everyone will be seeing this movie. We’ve gotten some great memorable moments, including everyone’s new wifi password (next time someone doesn’t give your their password, try “shamballa”.You’re welcome.) but not so many that the whole film is spoiled by the trailer (looking at you, Dawn of Justice). Once again balancing action, theming, and humor, the new Doctor Strange trailer is one I’m looking forward to seeing before every action movie for the next few months. Marvel revealed news for some of their
other upcoming films as well, but more trailers have yet to be released. Captain Marvel (2019) is going to star Brie Larson, of last year’s Oscar-winning Room (2015), as the title character. This will mark Marvel’s first female-led blockbuster, and will follow her appearance in Avengers: Infinity War (2018). Several cast members were announced for Black Panther, including 12 Years a Slave (2013) star Lupita Nyong’o and Michael B. Jordan, whose previous superhero work shall remain unmentioned. Also revealed in the MCU were cast Doctor Strange (2016) Poster members for Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017), the film set to prove that Sony can play nice with their IPs if they’re desperate enough. Michael Keaton, of Batman (1989) and Birdman (2014), will be playing the Vulture, the film’s antagonist. Perhaps the most exciting news is the announcement of Childish Gambino himself, Donald Glover, joining the cast. While this is a great casting choice, it’s also interesting based on Glover’s history with the character. Way back in the day when the last time Spidey got rebooted, there was a rumor that Glover was to play the web slinger, the first black actor in comics or film to adopt the identity. Naturally, this ended up being false and we got Andrew Garfield, who was pretty good, though not good enough to save the series. However, the push for a black Spidey inspired Brian Michael Bendis and Sara Pichelli to create one—Miles Morales of the Ultimate universe, which the MCU is now primarily based upon. Glover even voiced him in one of the cartoons. Whether this means we’ll get a meta joke of a character or a full-on Miles Morales Spider-Man has yet to be determined, but my hopes are high, as yours should be.
Misc: Did you know that sometimes movies aren’t based on comic books? I know, I didn’t either. But sometimes they’re original. Or in this case, based on another movie (which raises the question of why it’s at Comic Con, but I digress). Kong: Skull Island (2017) got its first trailer at SDCC, and so far it looks amazing. Kong is back, and bigger than ever (even accounting for the last time he fought Godzilla). The trailer built up both his power and size, culminating in a shot showing off just how huge he really is against a fleet of helicopters. This Kong won’t be climbing the Empire State Building. He’ll be picking it up and smashing it into some other monster’s face. The star-studded cast includes Samuel L Jackson, Brie Larson (I got to write about her twice!), Tom Hiddleston, and John Goodman. With a sequel already on the way, featuring a rematch with Godzilla, one can only hope Kong: Skull Island will be a kaiju-sized hit. Kong: Skull Island (2017) Promo Pic San Diego Comic-Con has given us plenty of reasons to look forward to the future, including many we just couldn’t fit into this article.The future of movies and comics is looking bright, especially with more news from New York’s Comic-Con coming next month. We’ll keep you updated on all the juicy details, so make sure to pick up November’s issue!
This year’s Princeton Student Film Festival*, held in the public library’s community room, reached new levels of diversity. Docs, experimental shorts, and films in the middle ground shared the same screen, and viewers were treated to two nights of youthful creativity. Here we provide coverage of some of our favorite submissions. *Currently in it’s13th year, the Princeton Student Film Festival is a venue open to submissions from young filmmakers aged 14-25, curated by the Princeton Public Library.
Princeton Student Film Festival 2016 By Everett Shen
Day One One Step at a Time | Documentary | 4 minutes, 10 seconds | Ian McQueen The first doc scheduled for the night highlighted a recurring theme in this year’s festival. By documenting his grandparents belatedly-developed marathon running career, New Jersey high-schooler Ian McQueen paints a portrait of familial relationships, and the forces that help shape them. A self-contained interview with the two elder McQueens takes place in the family living room, and is the main feature of the 4 minutes of runtime. With the two seated closely but comfortably on the same armchair, under a warmly colored backdrop, the scene is visually framed as to generate a sense of cozy commemoration, instead of the traditional focus on investigation and analysis found in documentaries. The well-paced editing, interspersed with old photos and still life, places the center of attention onto the state of being of elderly relationships, rather than historical significance or biographical details.The film boasts an organic audio quality, which highlights moments of musing and bonding, and soft piano music creates a warm ambience throughout. McQueen’s quaint narrative illustrates the joy of persistence, and a life philosophy that celebrates simple and tacit pleasures.
One Step at a Time
Mannequin | Horror | 8 minutes, 51 seconds | Zach McCoy-Davies
Debatably the most polished-looking film of the night (a wide-aspect ratio and shot diversity does wonders), Mannequin is a by-the-numbers horror story, with cloth dummies assuming the position of terror in a high school theater backstage, featuring “Slenderman”-esque dynamics. Despite having inanimate antagonists, there is no lack of fear to be found, as the director skillfully manages changes of tone, and slow-paced build-ups in anxiety, and culminates in a climax more surreal than it is shocking. Credit also goes to the actress portraying the victim, whose unexaggerated reactions are perfect for the deserted setting of the film. Mannequin also just might have been the first film in the selection to use lighting to its advantage, with artificially vivid green lights creating a sense of disorientation and claustrophobia, and moonlight-blue stage lights shining eerily in the film’s most beautiful scene.
Interviews: Susan Conlon— PSFF 2016 Coordinator After the screenings, we met up with the event’s main organizer, to learn about what goes into planning the festival. Here’s what she had to say: 151MM: What goes into planning the festival?
SC: The film festival takes place in the third week of July, and [after that] we pretty much immediately begin accepting entries for the next year.The deadline is June 1st, and that gives people quite a lot of time. Most of the films come in within in the last week or two, or even on the last day. [...]There’s not a whole lot of student festivals out there, so one that’s been around for this long, and has the name Princeton attached to it—I guess that helps. The other thing is that we don’t have an entry fee. [...] The application process is pretty basic. We tell them the requirements: can’t be longer than 20
minutes, age range is 14-25. That captures high school and college students, and we do get thesis films, and we’re also focused all the way through in the sense that we want these films to be vibrant and fun and interesting, and so as we’re selecting films we ask in the application if [the filmmakers] would be likely to come if they’re selected. That does give us an idea of who’s likely to come, because we do like to have the filmmakers here, and having that time for Q&A is good for them.
Immeasurable Nature | Abstract, Documentary, Environmental, Experimental | 4 minutes, 27 seconds | James Tralie Princeton University student James Tralie’s submission was truly another creature. Filmed in France and Spain whilst on a research expedition, the abstract documentary is devoid of human speech, and almost devoid of people on screen. Instead, Tralie pieces together and overlays time-lapses, research footage, still shots of nature, and displays of computer screens, juxtaposing the vast and the miniscule, the natural and the technological. Although his work is meant to display the usage of various meteorological instruments, what’s really evoked is monumental awe at the timelessness and immensity of our habitat on earth, reminiscent of Terrence Malick’s new Voyage of Time. With its unbroken audiotape of waves, and a soundtrack similar to whalesong, Immeasurable Nature captures land, air, and water, and shows that our attempts to understand our world prove nothing more than a glimpse into eternity. (If I care) | Animation, Experimental | 57 seconds | Devon Viola
Top: Immeasurable Nature
Bottom: Paul’s Ride
Right: If I Care
If psychedelic rock, jazz, and blues were all rolled up into one hallucinogenic drug lasting a minute, it would be this animated short, the shortest submission to this year’s festival. In fact, a glance at the creator’s personal blog reveals that the genre is her specialty. In this animated short, the depiction of parallel lives suggests the futility and fragility of our daily routines, without dragging down the quick pace of the action. Viola’s use of color palettes is sublime, mixing saturated purples to set a mood of artificiality and detachment. The drawing style of thick lines and solid colors adds to the overbearing gloom. It’s not difficult to draw parallels between this creation and Disney’s famous 2001 arrangement of Gershwin in Fantasia, not in the least because of its dreamlike quality.
Paul’s Ride | Documentary | 12 minutes, 26 seconds | Benjamin Davis Not a breath could be heard in the room as, on-screen, Paul Davis paused during his recollection of the helicopter crash in which his Vietnam war comrades were killed. That sense of unshatterable silence of the present pervades Paul’s Ride, and is more powerful than any music (of which the film has nearly none) or words that could have been used in its place.While documenting the solace brought to Davis by riding motorcycles, the search tool of the film misses no details, from the honorable discharge diploma hanging on the veteran’s wall, to campaign pins protesting the war, to Davis wistfully staring at the motorcycles in his garage, as if he were the only one present.The rhythmic editing includes plenty of associative imagery and historical footage, all factors that add to the central idea that individuals are powerless to stop the tide of history, but are given the ability to cope. The film’s final shots fade into the traditional American promise of hope and freedom in mobility.
Plus the audience gets to learn, and gets deeper insight. [...]When we’re looking at films we’re looking for what’ll be a good fit for the event. I think the key thing, no matter what the genre, is the story. Does the director have something to say? Do they know what they want to say? What are they telling us? So the story is probably the key thing. [...] For the audience, it’s a really unique way to experience what people your age are thinking about. 151MM: What would you say is the biggest
difference between PSFF and other film festivals? SC: Having been to a few other similar events, the biggest thing that sets us apart is the amount of time that we spend with the students in the selection process. We have a lot of communication, we want them to come, we like to invite families. I think we create an environment with the chance for Q&A. [...] There’s a really good atmosphere and energy in the room. And I give a lot of credit to the attendees, because they make a point to ask questions, and they
ask good questions too. You really feel like the people who watch those films really value what these students do. They give them real encouragement. (Interview abridged. Full interview can be found on 151mmphs.com)
Adam McGill— PUNKED! Director and Wesleyan University Film Graduate In an amazing stroke of serendipity, we encountered PUNKED! director Adam McGill after a late-night screening of Hunt for the Wilderpeople. Naturally, we stopped him to ask some questions! 151MM: What prompted you to choose 16mm film? What advantages/disadvantages did you encounter while using the format? AM: Using 16mm helped me capture a specific aesthetic I wanted in my film. I essentially wanted the movie at times to have a very punk zine DIY sort of feeling. Using black and white film and the sort of grain quality you get when using film definitely got me closer to what I was going for in that regard. Using film was also for me about having a short filming process that pushed me to learn. Having to use a light meter, edit by hand, and work with a lab pushed me to learn more about lighting, editing and managing a complex workflow. So in short, the advantages are a beautiful and unique image quality, and an incredible amount of learning when working on 16. The disadvantages were mainly the price and the extra time it takes to work on the format. 151MM: Do you have plans to submit PUNKED! to any other film festivals? AM: PUNKED! is slated to play at the Golden Door International Film Festival this weekend (9/23) in Jersey City, Beyond that, money willing, I’ll likely submit to a few more festivals throughout the year. 151MM: Do you have any advice for students aspiring to major in film? AM: Number one: watch a lot of movies. Seems [like] common sense but really study and try and figure out what’s happening in your favorite movies. By figuring out how a director edits, shoots, or lights to communicate you’ll end up with more tools and ideas about how to build the worlds of your own work. Number two: find your people. And what I mean by that is find good people you trust and respect and can create with and go out and make something. I can’t stress enough how important trust and respect is on a film set. Technical experience is good to have too. But there are times (it’s usually always in my experience) when character trumps technical ability. Number three: go for it. Go to film school or start working on sets, or start making movies with your friends, or go out and watch something. The film industry is exciting and scary. But if you truly love it there is no substitute. 151MM: What are your plans for the future? AM: Currently I’m working as an intern at Sony Pictures Classics, which is an independent film distributor. I’ve also been continuing to find some PA [production assistant]and G/E [grip and electric] work on small sets and music videos on the weekends. Once my internship is done, I’m not sure what I’ll be doing next. But the current plan is to stay in the film world. Whether that means continuing to work on sets or finding work in distribution, or making something of my own is still up in the air. So we’ll see what happens!
Day Two Fault Lines | Animation, Experimental | 3 minutes, 12 seconds | Mandy Wong With Fault Lines, RISD BFA film/animation degree student Mandy Wong broke down spatial boundaries to deliver shifts in perspective, that brought the festival to new levels of sophistication. The film’s style gradually progresses from realism to experimentalism, until houses and city streets are deconstructed to their bare linear constituents, which are embellished with computer generated lines and planes. The focus jumps between and pans through a variety of morphing canvases, each with its own dimension and shaken up reality. Scraps of traffic intersections, art galleries, subway stations, industrial sectors, and glass-paned shopping districts are assembled in collages, alongside the reverberating choppedup noises of each. Incredible to look at, Fault Lines leaves one with much anticipation for Wong’s future handiwork. PUNKED! | Comedy | 10 minutes, 30 seconds | Adam McGill The plot of PUNKED! follows the basic following pattern: exposition > conflict > close-up of sad face > conflict > closeup of sad reflective face > conflict > resolution. Little to no camera motion, awkward-at-times shot framing, out-of-sync audio, and an overall tone of unpolishedness, make scenes seem like they’re taken from an old sitcom. Then why have I watched this one like a thousand times on Vimeo already? Maybe it’s because of the richness of image provided by the use of 16mm film. Or the alluring chiaroscuro in the rockout scenes. But more importantly, it’s the fact that imperfection can be an appealing quality, and is difficult to deliberately achieve. All of the above factors, plus premature cutting and exaggerated line delivery, are purposefully fine-tuned to create a calculated effect. Besides being a device for portraying the theme of punk rock, the cinematography sets up nervous tension that is released in hilarious bouts of absurdist humor. In addition, by using focused and familiar storytelling, PUNKED! pokes fun at the banalities in everyday life and conversation, and makes the theme of sanctimony more relatable. Of course, not all scenes in the film are designed with that intention, and those that aren’t are engineered with exquisite bizzarity. Overall, I would call this film an almost flawless execution of imperfection, and highly recommend showing it to your picky friend when their attitude starts to irk you.
Adam Olkin— President of PHS Filmmaking Club And finally, a few words from the president of PHS’ very own filmmaking club, which is receiving a reboot in the 2016-17 school year. 151MM: Give us a little history of the club!
HALO | Documentary, Experimental | 9 minutes, 48 seconds | Amit Kumar
AO: [It was] founded 2 years ago by a group of sophomores who needed to do an English project, and then it became an actual club. However the club did very little, with [only] one notable project in the summer of ‘15, Ruined. The reason is because the leaders wanted a professional quality, and they didn’t feel like students could achieve that. 151MM: What do we have planned for this year? Any projects in particular? AO: Currently Filmmaking Club is working on a project called Shadow, but as of right now there are no other specific projects that we have planned. We’re hoping to make a large variety and quantity of videos, and also host movie nights! 151MM: How do you plan on getting more students at PHS involved in film-related activities?
After watching this ten minute cut of footage filmed in the misty mountains of Tibet, you’re left with a single conviction. Out of fear for the destruction of the way of life just witnessed, that conviction is “This must never be taken away”. But at the same time, Kumar’s drawnout shots make it difficult to conceive how the subjects depicted can possibly ever cease to exist. He makes no attempt to establish a narrative, but only to capture the essence of timelessness that permeates the village, a timelessness reinforced by the uninterrupted chiming of bells. Animals inhabit the same state as the humans, and the equal focus on inanimate objects and living beings emphasizes how they are at one. Every ounce of natural lighting is utilized to transport the viewer to that hilltop of zen, and to portray what must be the closest to nirvana once can reach without achieving it. At the end of the screening, the last of the night, a silence captured the room, which could only have been described as the highest possible degree of praise and respect.
AO: Make films advertising film-related activities! Filmmaking, as a whole, offers such a broad spectrum of jobs and ideas, and so I think that the way to get more students involved is to express the idea that there is really something for everyone.
Attention PHS Students!
151MM: What do you have to say to prospective entrants from PHS?
Number of submissions to PSFF 2016 from PHS students: 0
Festival Director: We want to see more films from PHS, because we know they can do it. We have a long history of PHS filmmakers in the festival right from the beginning. We had a couple of students who helped found this event. Some of the best comedies that we’ve ever had came from PHS students, and we haven’t seen that many lately, but we’d love to see them come back in a big way in 2017.
CALL FOR ENTRIES
PRINCETON DETAILS STUDENT FILM bit.ly/PSFFentryform FESTIVAL JULY 19 & 20, 2017
Establishing Shot September & October 2016
A biographical drama directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Tom Hanks, Sully accounts the events befalling US Airways Flight 1549 and its pilot, Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger. Based on the autobiography co-written by Sullenberger, the film delves further into the consequences he faced in 2009 than the newscasts we may remember from the time did. Sully offers a different perspective on one of the most famous aviation accidents in recent memory.
The religious thriller has become one of cinema’s inexhaustible gold mines. The contemporary hit Conjuring series, Sundance’s The Witch, and films going as far back as The Exorcist, released 43 years ago, all testify to the genre’s insight and malleability. Polish director Marcin Wrona joins the conversation by delivering an utterly astounding experience in Demon, as he rolls back levels of visual impact, instead choosing to prioritize the delineation of the evil that truly lurks in every heart of society, passed down through the vestiges of civilization. All is cultivated beneath the surface of a straightforward plot that involves a protagonist who becomes possessed at his own wedding. The fact that Wrona unexpectedly passed away on the last day of his screening at the Gydnia Film Fest adds a stroke of eeriness to his creation.
Loosely based on the big political controversy that sparked debates over mass surveillance and government secrecy in 2013 , Oliver Stone’s new political thriller Snowden tells the story of former CIA agent Edward Snowden, who leaked classified United States government documents to journalists. Whether Stone chooses to portray this American computer professional (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) as a hero or a traitor has yet to be found out.
Queen of Katwe
From Golden Lion winner Mira Nair (Monsoon Wedding (2001)) comes what promises to be a welcomed addition to Disney’s recent streak of live action pictures in a most successful year. This non-Oscar bait version of Pawn Sacrifice paints a vibrant picture of ghetto-life in modern Uganda, and follows female chess prodigy Phiona Mutesi’s inspirational journey from the slums of Katwe to becoming a Woman Candidate Master.
The Magnificent Seven
Girl Asleep September 23rd The parallels between the wildly expressionistic Girl Asleep and other pearls of the teen dramedy genre are manifold, but the feature debut of theater producer Rosemary Myers stands out. It’s set apart by its blend of daydreams and the nightmarish, which happens to be a perfect recipe for adolescence, in the portrayal of a down-the-rabbit-hole birthday party experience that’s served with an Aussie flair.
Directed by Antoine Fuqua, this retelling of the 1960 classic tells the story of seven gun men in the Wild West who must unite to defend a small village from thieves. Starring Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, and Ethan Hawke, The Magnificent Seven is based on the original characters and storyline by Akira Kurosawa, who directed and wrote the classic Seven Samurai—with gunslinging wild westerners now taking the place of what was originally written as Japanese Samurai. 10 /Establishing Shot
Selected and written by 151MM staff Layout by Siyu (Sarah) Hou
Birth of a Nation October 7th
Using the same title as 1915’s KKK propaganda, Birth of a Nation follows the course of Nat Turner’s life, a literate slave who preaches to his fellow African-Americans. The film follows Turner’s changing perception on enslavement that ultimately culminates in armed revolt. The audience award winner at the Sundance Film Festival, Birth of a Nation promises to be Nate Parker’s directorial debut.
The Girl on the Train October 7th
Boo! A Madea Halloween October 21st
Based on Paula Hawkins’s debut novel of the same name, The Girl on the Train directed by Tate Taylor bears striking resemblances to the 2014 psychological thriller Gone Girl. It follows the story of Rachel Watson (played by Emily Blunt), an alcoholic struggling to get a grasp on reality, as she gets embroiled in a mystery surrounding disappearance, murder, and betrayal.
The Greasy Strangler
Tyler Perry returns this Halloween with his 10th situational comedy based on Madea, a strong elderly woman portrayed by Tyler Perry himself. Boo! A Madea Halloween will see Madea watch over her grandniece attending a Halloween house party, chock full of supernatural threats and promiscuous teens.
Most likely to become this Halloween’s highest-rated horror flick, or if not, at least the most disgusting, The Greasy Strangler may attract a limited number of cult-seeking audiences with its frighteningly human subject of terror: a father who will do anything to win the heart of his son’s lover, including throttling victims while covered in (possibly human?) fat.
American Pastoral I, Daniel Blake
With I, Daniel Blake, Ken Loach continues to carry out his sense of care and fondness towards the humanities. Given this auteuristic attention, the decision to award him this year’s Palme d’Or was not surprising. Loach’s portrayal of an average middle-aged carpenter and his single mother’s struggles illustrates a clear outline of Britain’s societal structure. For the pair, who engage in suffering-based freemasonry, it’s only too visible that escape from the system and finding an outlet for themselves is unachievable, and the only sustainable option is to search for solace on life’s ambiguous path.
If you’re looking for a film that will deliver homestate pride, maybe look away. Premiering on day two of the Toronto International Film Festival, film veteran Ewan McGregor’s directorial debut depicts life in a quiet New Jersey suburb disturbed by the social turmoil and familial breakdown of America in the 1960s. This adaptation of the 1998 Pulitzer Prize winning book isn’t the first to bring author Philip Roth’s writings to the silver screen, but it’s an ambitious endeavor to say the least, and comes at a time when the nation is most in need of reflection of its historically-fractured identity. 11 /Establishing Shot
by Everett Shen
Café Society (2016) | Directed by Woody Allen. Drama/Romance | PG-13 | With Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Steve Carell, Blake Lively, Corey Stoll, Parker Posey | Amazon Studios/Lionsgate | Box Office: $20.6 million | Rotten Tomatoes score: 73% The first movie I ever watched at the Garden was Magic in the Moonlight, in 2014. I had never mentally attached the name Woody Allen to any other movies before, and by that merit, the movie holds an unashamedly special place in my heart. Two years and a couple more encounters with Woody Allen later, I sat down in the theater again to watch Café Society, and it struck many of the same notes. But while I enjoyed the film’s casual charm and effortless romanticism , plenty of others cited the same qualities when labelling it as formulaic. They’re not exactly wrong. In terms of familiarity, of the last three Woody Allen films, Café Society has got to be the worst perpetrator (it also happens to be the most pleasant). The setup, involving a nervous but intelligent male lead pursuing, butting heads over, and eventually discovering new meanings surrounding a love interest, is well-trodden ground. The journey takes the protagonist Bobby across the country and back, from Hollywood to New York nightclubs, and he gains maturity in the process. Of course, even if you shake your
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She’s No Mary
head at the limitations of his life-examinations, and accuse him of filmmaker’s conformity, most will agree, if not already assume, that he’s got his hardware up and running pretty smoothly in all of his films. My experience from watching his movies is that people hold him to a different standard—the one that measures the degree to which he effectively summons existential observations. But I think in this one, mood may be the better measure to go by. As he did in Annie Hall (1977), Allen juxtaposes life on the west coast with the existences of those in New York City in his new creation. The steel fence-blacks and brick-reds in Café Society’s New York appear stark compared to the golden saturation and sun-drenched palm leaves of Beverly Hills that almost make it seem like an impressionistic black-and-white film (although the degree of contrast is lessened by Allen’s apparent wish to create a humorously idealized version of Jazz Age NYC, gangsters and all). Only this time, there is no aim to insult or tease or detract (no mellow California hippies sporting offensive fashion statements here), but rather, to invoke a spell of appreciative, if wistful, thought. It’s the idea that we have to move on in life, and sometimes go separate ways, no matter how much you desire to stay, that defines the film. Frankly, that’s the sense that Jesse Eisenberg’s protagonist conveys. The role itself makes Café Society stand out among its counterparts. Unlike the stereotypical Woody Allen lead, Bobby isn’t comparatively neurotic or high-strung (comparatively, because he does still get anxious enough to turn down sex after ordering it in one scenario), and doesn’t have the iconic injection of angst into his stream of consciousness. He sets off eagerly to learn, (says his lover, “That’s one of your greatest qualities. You’re very naive.”)
and doesn’t become instantly cynical or depressed after more truths sink in. Instead, he accepts them, and treats loneliness from greater knowledge as an extra burden that he must bear. His female counterpart, played by Kristen Stewart (who by the way, delivers a ravishing performance, prompting a Film Comment feature dubbed “The Age of Kristen Stewart”), is just as calm. Having figured out (or thinking that she’s figured out) things pretty clearly, she goes through life as a casual, rational being who doesn’t stress over the uncontrollable. She’s definitely not Mary from Manhattan (1979). In fact, the cast is full of emotional mastery and rational behavior. All the lead characters are incredibly stable and understanding, and decent when it comes to coping with tension. There are barely any extremes involved throughout. The film’s major conflict and climax happens roughly halfway through, and the rest is just the fallout of it in life afterwards. All of which I think goes back to what I mentioned earlier about mood, and contributes to the conversation about what life ultimately boils down to. By having the main characters all accept others as well as their own eventual fates, it’s easier to convey the notion that life is full of disappointments, that human nature is inherently dissatisfactory, and that you have to pick out the good moments from a pool of malaise. Each character, no matter how long we get to interact with them, is provocatively interesting, but the film gets us to feel poignant about the brevity of their existences. Which seems like a sad thought, but Allen expertly sets the tone for the story to play out as a quaint, if not ideal, love story that lets us share in the wisdom and bitterness of each characters’ discoveries in
life. Café Society isn’t really a film to debate and quote along with the work of philosophers, but rather something to think about and let simmer during your morning commute to work. Like a sunny day, or an old framed photograph, you tend to eventually
by Siyu (Sarah) Hou
only remember the better parts of the memory attached to it. There’s still the obligatory idiosyncratic references, for instance to the Jewish belief and extramarital romances, kind of like one of those Stan Lee cameos, only done in a non-jarring way. But it’s clas-
sic Allen minus the dry wit, and added a little quiet melancholy. Formulaic or not, I still have yet to find a Woody Allen film that I haven’t really enjoyed.
Swiss Army Man
Swiss Army Man (2016) | Directed by Daniel Kwan, Daniel Scheinert.Adventure/Comedy/Drama | Rated R | With Paul Dano, Daniel Radcliffe | A24 | Box Office: $4.7 million | Rotten Tomatoes score: 73% Prompting the most walkouts of any film this year at Sundance, the hilarious Swiss Army Man challenges audiences with absurd flights of fantasies that they can either love or hate. Dubbed as the “farting corpse movie”, the film literally revolves around a dead body being carried around and releasing bodily emissions, throughout its 97 minutes of runtime. The protagonist Hank, played by Paul Dano, finds himself on a deserted island, ready to end his life. His suicidal attempts are interrupted when he spots Radcliffe’s decaying body washing ashore. Paul rides the cadaver like a jet ski towards civilization by grace of its gassy nature, and the duo’s adventure/bromance begins. En route the trek home, he discovers more survival utilities hidden within the corpse (nicknamed Man-
ny), including the abilities of pumping fresh water from the mouth, creating sparks with the snap of a finger, and acting as a compass with one of its body parts. The absurdity doesn’t end there. About twenty minutes into the movie, Manny begins to gain consciousness and show signs of life. The relationship between the two starts out as that of father and toddler and evolves into that of friends throughout the movie as Hank teaches Manny about the many facets of life. The creative genius behind the film is the Daniels (Daniel Scheinert and Daniel Kwan), a trending directing duo known for their imaginative minds. Their fondness for erratic bodily functions seen in their other works, notably the music video for “Turn down for What” and the short film “Interest-
Cast Away (2000) on Steroids
ing Ball”, seems to have been the inspiration for this year’s Swiss Army Man. The team received a directing award for the drama this year at the Sundance Film Festival despite heavily divided responses to the film. It’s apparent that negative reactions partially stemmed from the film’s juvenile body humor. However, beneath its puerile and flippant surface, Swiss Army Man becomes a profound exploration that nibbles at the sensitive and philosophical side of human existence. As Hank answers Manny’s questions about the world and what it means to be alive, he begins to face problems of his own, as he is forced to examine his life from a completely new angle. There are many indications in the movie implying that Manny is in reality a figment of Hank’s imagination, and a projection of his mind, which means that Hank is carrying a dead corpse around and talking to himself. It is through Manny’s lenses that Hank comes into terms with his insecurities, loneliness, and past frustrations. From their conversations, recollections, and flashbacks we learn that Dano is probably an awkward, withdrawn, character, estranged from his parents and afraid to approach the girl he loves. He feels restrained by social conventions and is thus scared to express his feelings in avoidance of judgment. While Manny disregards these societal conventions by candidly expressing his mind and, well, farting constantly in the presence of others, Hank is constantly too
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embarrassed to open up. As Hank spends the entire movie educating Manny on how to be human, he himself undergoes a mental journey of self-realization and eventually learns to celebrate and embrace his weirdness. Swiss Army Man is an amalgam of absurdity and genuineness. Sure. Watching your childhood idol who played the Boy-Who -Lived turn into a putrescent corpse is agonizing indeed, but an impassioned and heartfelt viewing experience awaits once you get past the film’s grossed-out premise.
The Killing Joke (Spoilers) By Miles Bardzilowski
The Killing Joke (2016) | Directed by Sam Liu | Crime/Science Fiction | Rated R | With Mark Hamill, Kevin Conroy, Tara Strong, Ray Wise | DC Comics, Warner Bros. Animation | Box office: 4.4 million USD | Rotten Tomatoes: 48% Feeling betrayed enough by the other Batman movies this year? Don’t worry, the DCAU has you covered! Hey DC fans! I know the recent cinematic outings have been subpar, with weak scripts and poor understandings of the source material, but fortunately for you they’ve been making a bunch of animated movies that are much more faithful. Movies like Flashpoint Paradox (2013), Superman: Doomsday (2007), and Under the Red Hood (2010). They’ve got great acting, great animation, and above all else, respect for the comics that they’re based on. Like The Dark Knight Returns (1986), which was split into two movies just so The Vigilant Vixen Herself! it didn’t have to cut anything. So despite DC’s less-than-stellar recent cinematic outings, you can always count on their animated films to bring the quality of the comics to the screen. Oh yeah, and then there’s The Killing Joke (2016). This film is an adaptation of Alan Moore’s classic short story about Batman and the Joker. In Moore’s story, the Joker pulls off his greatest scheme yet, driving Commissioner Gordon mad to prove that it only takes one bad day to go from a well-adjusted human being to an absolute madman, all while giving the Joker a (potential) backstory. The comic is noted for its characterization, its dark and disturbing plot, and Moore’s stellar use of the kind of nuance only possible in comics (just like in all his other comics), and is one of the most influential Batman comics of all time. The movie largely follows this plot, with one small difference: Moore’s story doesn’t start until halfway through the movie. The first half hour of the film is a story about Batgirl, which is both all-new and almost entirely unrelated to the Killing Joke part of The Killing Joke. I’m gonna throw a spoiler warning here, since I’ll be talking about things that ruin surprises, even though they are pretty awful. The whole first half makes sense in theory: set up Batgirl as a complex and likeable character so her fate is more emotionally impactful for those who hadn’t read her comics. But alas, the film is a victim of poor execution. Paradoxically, despite an extra half-hour of character development, Barbara Gordon ends up being more of a weakly written teenage girl archetype than ever. She flirts with cute guy villains, has a bad screenwriter’s idea of a gay person for a best friend, and has sex with her boss.You read that right, BATGIRL HAS SEX WITH BATMAN. There are so many reasons this is wrong (he’s like a father figure, he’s almost twice her age, it’s entirely out of character, just to
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name a few) but the movie focuses on it as a major part of Batgirl’s story. I long for the Babs with actual complexity, independence, and generally an interesting personality, but alas, DC seems dedicated to squandering my hopes. For whatever reason, this movie is rated R. While this is totally arbitrary and doesn’t actually affect the quality of the movie, it does raise the question of why this movie seems to think it’s PG. Characters constantly drop not-swears (I don’t even think a single F-bomb is dropped), the violence isn’t even worse than The Dark Knight or other PG-13 movies, there’s no nudity, there’s nothing in it that warrants the rating. It’s just for edgy marketing, but it means the movie has a lot of potential for darker content, and the intentionally lighter content just becomes unrealistic and takes the viewer out of the experience. Perhaps that’s a good thing, considering how painful the experience is. On the technical side of things, the animation is subpar. It looks like a low-budget anime, with minimal frames and blatant CG being used to save some cash. Despite having some great names like Conroy and Hamill, the acting still leaves much to be desired. Some line deliveries, like the Joker’s “why aren’t you laughing?”, seem to deviate from Alan Moore’s vision (through of no The Joker’s Reaction Post-Viewing of fault of the actor), and others, like The Killing Joke Batman’s “the entire first half of the film and a decent amount of the second half ” just sound phoned in. Now I have to talk about something that really irks me: the ending. Moore’s book ends very ambiguously, leaving the reader to wonder whether or not Batman actually killed the Joker. The book gives credence to both arguments, but the movie leans heavily towards the “he straight iced him” interpretation. The Joker’s laughter cuts out at the end, while Batman’s continues, as though he began strangling him, while in the comic their laughter blends together before trailing out, with no solid answer as to who exactly is laughing in each given panel. The book also includes the headlights of a police car as a callback to the joke that caused the laughter in the first place, leaving a layer of symbolism to be interpreted. This mistreatment of Moore’s subtly ambiguous ending is perhaps the movie’s worst offense, since it actually paints the viewer’s opinion on the comic’s ending as well. Moore is already rolling in his grave, and he’s not even dead yet. Batman: the Killing Joke is not a good movie. It’s a straight-toDVD release, and it shows. One has to wonder how a film of such terrible quality got any sort of theatrical release, but I think we all know the answer. It isn’t hard to see why Moore took his name off the movie (it’s billed as “adapted from the graphic novel illustrated by Brian Bolland” with no mention of the scriptwriter). To all Batman fans: do not watch this movie. Even if you think you’ll find some redeeming factor in it, you’ll only be met Like a Low-Budget Anime with disappointment and sadness. I want to believe Return of the Caped Crusaders (2016) will be better, but DC is giving me a lot to worry about. If I were to give The Killing Joke a numerical rating, I would say it’s ten shots of bleach out of ten. Don’t watch it.
Rosebud By Trevor Weng
Possession (1981) | Directed by Andrzej Żuławski | Horror, Drama, Fantasy | Rated R | With Isabelle Adjani, Sam Neill, Heinz Bennent, Margit Carstensen, Johanna Hofer, Carl Duering, Leslie Malton | No studio information | Runtime: 97 minutes | Box Office: $1.1 million | Rotten Tomatoes score: 83% Angst (1983) | Directed by Gerald Kargl | Drama, Horror | No MPAA rating | With Erwin Leder, Silvia Rabenreither, Robert Hunger-Buhler | No studio information | Runtime: 75 minutes | No box office information | Rotten Tomatoes score: No consensus yet Imagine it’s Halloween night, you’re sitting on the couch in front of your giant TV or computer, feeling too old to trick-or-treat like kids and too young to go nuts. You’re alone. Pathetic. Then you start to realize that there are certain horror films can turn you on, the ones that have blood, screaming, and love. Possession (1981) gives you that joy. If young Isabelle Adjani was once the second most adorable thing to walk the earth, LOVE would have to be the most wonderful, yet disgusting, object given by God, and Possession has both. “One mustn’t be afraid, and the other must speak honestly” seems to be Polish director Andrzej Żuławski’s definition of a harmonious relationship, but in reality things are always contrary to the ideal. Stubborn love generates manipulation; manipulation generates the fear of losing; fear generates mistrust, and all these finally tear the loved ones apart. Anna (Isabelle Adjani), the wife of the film, interprets love as two parts, as she says “It’s like those two sisters of faith and chance.…my faith can’t exclude chance but my chance can’t explain faith. My faith didn’t allow me to wait for chance and chance didn’t give me enough faith!” She is trapped in this dilemma. More uncertainties give her more desire to take control of the relationship she’s in: she cheats on her husband to prove love, to strengthen love, and to worship love. When love has divinity assigned to it, evil naturally follows. In Possession, evil is tokenized and made religiously symbolic. Yet unlike the straightforward and brutal expression of The Exorcist, Anna’s transition to evil is slow and haphazard. Housing a demon within, she satisfies it with sex and human vitality. The demon ultimately dawns upon the world in human form, inciting slaughter, yet appearing as an angel with the face of Anna’s husband. We’re able to see the director’s thoughts, though as if through frosted glass: overly guided love is doomed to destruction, with only the ashes known as control remaining. The set of shots depicting Anna’s videotape, delivered after she leaves her husband in the film, left me deeply impressioned. In the tape, she’s instructing a young student in a ballet studio, but no matter how the student exerts herself, she’s unable to satisfy expectations. Anna, standing to the side, gives directions with hand gestures, orders with words, and her eyes pierce through the limbs of the on-screen dancer to look directly into the camera, as if the audience is merely another entity within her dominion. Eventually the student can no longer bear the torment, and rushes out the door. Left alone, Anna addresses the unstable camera, “From now on she’ll know how much righteous anger and sheer will she’s got in her to say: ‘I, I can do as well, I can be better! I’m the best!’ Only in this case can she become a success. Nobody taught me that. That’s why I’m with you. Because you say ‘I’ for me”.
Through her intense tone a roar of independence trickles through. The independence allotted by a mutually respectful relationship becomes the killer of the love that she believes in throughout the film: a relationship based on equality and emotional planning. The absence of transgression brings insecurity, guiding a selfish takeover of the partner’s’ emotions, and finally turning love into a high-stakes game. Possession’s surreal and dramatic-sounding thesis is what in reality underlies the nature of many a break-up: slaughter. The theme of “killing for love” is similarly expressed in another film I happened to have recently viewed—during Halloween it’s always the more horror the better. Angst (1983) (or Schizophrenia), when compared to Possession, has a plot that’s simple and undiluted: it gives the account of a psychopath who, following his release from a four-year prison sentence, becomes responsible for the slaughter of an entire household. Based on a true story. What makes this film interesting, and prone to being mentioned along with Possession, is its camera movement. Tracking shots with a human subject as the sole focus are widely used in both films. But contrasting from the more traditional camera language and logic of Possession, comprised largely of mid and short-distance shots, Angst analyzes the protagonists’ inner conflicts using a plethora of camera positions and angles: the objectivity and social standpoint of the long-distance shot, the objective mentality of the short-distance shot, and the subjective psychological response of the extreme close-up. With the addition of the protagonist’s midcrime confessions, the film becomes a giant zoom-in, shifting focus from a societal black sheep, to a problem child that’s the product of a twisted family environment, to a simple desire for love in the protagonist’s heart. The second point of comparison between the two films is thus the desire for love. To illustrate this point, I cite the following example: even as the protagonist speaks of the abuse and neglect of his pious grandmother in voiceover, he subdues and torments an elderly stranger with his bare hands, and only a twisted face is visible in the low angle shot. After the old lady loses consciousness, his expression relaxes, as he hugs the body, which has gone limp. The deficit of love in his childhood has been converted to an extreme urge for possession—not revenge, but rather rampant self-compensation of once off-limits sentiments by an insecure child. Love of this breed once again heralds destruction when expressed. So what is love anyways? It’s impossible to erase from a relationship the urge to dominate another, as that urge becomes inseparable from the concept of love itself. Catastrophe seems to be inevitable, whether it takes the form of silence or storm. Why don’t we just chill on the couch and watch these horror films on TV? That stuff can’t become real right?