Arts and Entertainment

ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT

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“HARRIET TELLS A RIVETING STORY ABOUT THE LIFE OF A SLAVE”

By: Yuqing Qiu


Harriet leads slaves to freedom

Photo Courtesy of: New York Times

 

“Harriet.” The name is plain, but this title meets Harriet Tubman’s image: simple, yet powerful and determined. Even though “Harriet” received both large amounts of backlash and praise on the internet, I found it to be a fascinating movie about courage and survival.

“Harriet” starts off with Minty (Cynthia Erivo) having a flashback about her family being torn apart by slave owners, followed by a heart-wrenching farewell to her sisters as they are sold away from their plantation in Maryland. After a series of events, Minty decides to run away to the north to escape being sold south. She rejects the help her husband John (Zackary Momoh) offers, not wanting him to lose his freedom by helping her. 

While she is escaping, Minty is caught by Gideon (Joe Alwyn), the plantation owner, on a bridge. Gideon tries to convince Minty to come back to the plantation, saying he’ll treat her well, but Minty says to him, “ I’m going to be free or die.” and jumps off the bridge. Minty miraculously survives the jump and succeeds in making her way to Philadelphia. There, she meets William Still, a member of the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society. He helps Minty pick her new name, Harriet. He also introduces Harriet to Marie, a free African-American, who becomes Harriet’s landlady and close friend.

The movie skips to a year later, when Harriet makes her first journey back to Maryland to help her brothers. They safely make it to Philadelphia, and William introduces Harriet as a Railroad conductor to other conductors of the railroad.

She makes countless successful trips after this, earning her nickname, “Moses.” Around the same time, the Fugitive Slave Act was enacted, and Harriet escaped to Canada. After escaping to Canada, Harriet decides to make one last trip to Maryland to rescue her parents and niece.

She comes across Gideon, and they have their final standoff. Instead of killing him, as she could have, Harriet shoots his hand and tells him she “won’t kill him, because God never intended for humans to kill or own other humans.” The movie concludes with Harriet leading a squadron in the Civil War to free many other slaves, and her going back home as a free African-American and a hero.

I found this to be a fascinating movie because it told a compelling story with great cinematics. There were quite a few scenes with close up shots on Erivo’s face, and she portrayed the expressions of anguish and grief extremely well. There were no narrations, but through the actors’ facial expressions, it was very clear what emotions they were feeling, and this made the movie much more enjoyable.

Another aspect I liked about this movie was how it told the story of Harriet Tubman. The actor portrayed her determined personality and her resilience against people that supported slavery very well. I also liked how the director cleverly wove some other historical elements into the story. These elements included slave hunting, and how sometimes free African-Americans would also take part in order to earn money. The movie also showed detailed methods slaves used to escape to the north, such as by boat, dressing as a free African-American with forged personal documents, and on foot along the underground railroad.

I think this movie is definitely worth watching for multiple reasons. It’s entertaining and has numerous scenes that are very emotional. It’s also very educational, because, although the movie is not one hundred percent historically-accurate, it contains elements that are valuable parts of history. The main actors also help make the movie more enjoyable through their acting. Lastly, the songs sung in the movie have extremely beautiful melodies. All these elements combine to make “Harriet” a wonderful depiction about how the dark and difficult life of a slave still holds light and hope.

 

“QUEEN AND SLIM” SHOWS THE LOVE WE ALL DESIRE TO EXPERIENCE

By: Onalisa Mitchell

“Queen and Slim” photographed by a bystander after fleeing New Orleans.

Screen Shot from “Queen and Slim”

 

“Love,” a universal word that is portrayed in many unique ways within every person and culture. Though love is something that we all want to feel, it is not always as simple as it seems. In the anticipated romantic comedy, “Queen and Slim,” the female director, Melina Matsoukas touches on many key and controversial topics about black love, police brutality, and racial profiling.

The movie stars the noted British actor from the movie “Get Out,” Daniel Kaluuya and British actress Jodie Turner-Smith. The scene starts off with the pair meeting at a local diner in their shared city after they both swiped right on the popular dating app, Tinder.

The movie quickly speeds up in the chaos of Slim (played by Kaluuya) getting pulled over by a white police officer for a failed turning signal at the previous corner. As this escalates, the officer asks Slim to get out of the car and open the trunk to see if he is hiding anything. Queen (Turner-Smith) starts recording the aggressive interaction between Slim and the police officer. She ends up out of the car and gets shot by the cop. Out of self defense, Slim shoots the cop, not knowing that the officer was equipped with a camera in his vest.

The news goes global as the video is released to the news outlets. Queen and Slim spend the whole movie dodging law officials and wandering eyes while sticking together to flee the country and seek asylum.   

While they are on the journey, they start to develop a liking towards one another and as a result, they fall into a deep romantic connection. One big moment in the movie is when they talk about what they are looking for in a relationship; Queen states, “I want someone to carry on my legacy;” Slim replies, “I want a ride-or-die, no matter what.” In the tragic ending of the movie that will surely bring any viewer to tears, the audience sees how far they have come and how in love they have actually become. 

Though the movie had a rating of 90% or more by the popular movie site ‘Fandango,’ some issues about the cast have sparked controversy. The reason many critics and movie-goers are upset with the movie is because the main characters, who are British, are portraying black Americans.

In my opinion, I agree with both sides. On one hand, Smith and Kaluuya can't portray the real-life issues that mainly affect African Americans since they are not African American. Nonetheless, I agree with both sides of the situation.              

The movie will have you leaving the theater thinking about our justice system and about the training our law enforcement receives. The movie also has a noted soundtrack, featuring musical geniuses like Ms.Lauryn Hill, Roy Ayers, Vince Staples and even Meghan Thee Stallion.

My overall opinion is that ‘Queen and Slim’ deserves a rating of 10/10 because it provokes emotions and thoughts about oppression in our society. You will not be disappointed when buying your ticket for this amazing movie.

 

“THE RISE OF SKYWALKER, THE FALL OF STAR WARS”

By: Joseph Sarabia

Image result for rise of skywalker"

Caption “The duel of fates between Rey and Kylo Ren on the decrepit ruins of the death star”

Image credits: Screen shot from the film “Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker”

 

“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” is the final film in the four-decade-long series wrapping up the Skywalker Saga. The narrative follows the main cast of John Boyega’s character “Finn,” Daisy Ridley’s character “Rey,'' and Oscar Issac’s character “Poe Dameron'' track down the possible resurgence of an old foe of an unknown planet. Their journey is riddled with obstacles as the First Order and Kylo Ren (played by Adam Driver) are hot on their heels.

The “Rise of Skywalker”is a graphically-beautiful film, with amazing set pieces, grandiose cinematography, and fairly decent choreography in each fight scene. Yet, all the flashy scenes and glamour don’t really make up for the lack of substance and the ineptitude of the writers. The film is riddled with plot holes that aren’t addressed within the film or in the rest of the saga. The film is visually appealing, but upon further inspection of the narrative, the film’s flaws become more apparent to the point where they can’t be ignored. The lack of character development can leave us unattached to the character  and less sympathetic towards their reasonings and motives. If you want to avoid spoilers, I urge you to discontinue reading from this point onward, if you don’t care, then read on.

The cinematography can, at times, be very grand and can leave viewers immersed and awe-struck in the environments. An example of this would be the reveal of the destroyed Death Star pieces on a moon of Endor. The imposing wreckage can leave a feeling of dread, mystery, and a bit of nostalgia to those who have enjoyed the previous films; though it is broken and left as a mere shadow of its former self. Its jagged and fractured look, while surrounded by violent and crashing waves, juxtaposes the calm valley located close to the wreckage creating an ominous aura. The fight scene choreography is fairly good and much better than the previous film’s, “The Last Jedi.” An example of this would be the fight between Rey and Kylo Ren on the ruins of the Death Star. The slashing, clashing, and twirling of blades show the battle between an internally conflicted man torn between the light and dark side and a girl, representing the ultimate good while trying to find her place in the galaxy. The raging waves, rising and crashing upon the two combatants, elevate the tension and display the importance of the battle. The visually impressive environment and choreography are a few of the gems this film has to offer.

Despite this, the film comes with many problems that aren’t addressed throughout the narrative. These plot holes can be fairly distracting to fans of the series who can easily see these discrepancies. A major plothole would be the survival and return of Emperor Palpatine. His return is neither hinted at nor built up in the previous films—there was no explanation for his return. One phrase from Palpatine in an older film, “Revenge of the Sith” states, “the dark side of the force is a pathway to many abilities, some considered to be unnatural.” The sudden development of hyperspace skipping for the sake of the plot makes little to no sense. The already developed canon states that hyperspace travel is disrupted by gravity wells (so you can't jump after until you leave orbit of a planet—which is also the reason that the ships can't leave Exogal [the planet Palpatine is on] without taking off first).

Finally, the poor character development left me unsatisfied with the conclusion of many story arcs. An example of this would be the poor use of John Boyega’s character, “Finn.” Finn had one of the most interesting character concepts: a rogue stormtrooper who fights against the first order and happens to be force-sensitive. Yet, his character goes to complete waste. Throughout the film, he's not that smart; he doesn't have any real motivations or notable skills, he just exists. Even his greatest moments end in failure and are massively outshined by the accomplishments of others. Some characters are flat-out removed from the narrative and pushed aside; an example of this is Kelly Marie Tran’s character, Rose. She was introduced in the previous film and was one of the more prominent characters, yet in the new one, she was cast aside and her story arc was never fully developed.

Overall, I thought this movie wasn’t that good. It was a mediocre film that, in my personal opinion, was slightly better than the last movie, “The Last Jedi.” The film is graphically-appealing, yet the blunder that became the plot left me unsatisfied with the conclusion of many story arcs, answers to the various plot holes, and the character development. This movie is like a McDonalds burger; it’s advertised as this juicy, delicious, and promising meal, yet when you actually go and get your burger, it’s a sad depressing slab of meat sandwiched together just to make money. It leaves you dissatisfied and you’re ultimately let down.

 

LAUV’S “~HOW I’M FEELING~” IS THE DEFINITION OF MEH

By: Valentin Wanderkauven

Lauv performing at Festivalsommer in Germany

Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

 

It’s exciting to hear new music entering the new decade. After all, it sets the tone for what’s to come. The most notable album was “~how i’m feeling~”, an album by new chart topping pop artist Lauv who, up until recently, was mainly showing off his skill through his singles. Knowing that his first album was raw but showed potential, I expected to hear an album that deserved good words and some praise. That was wrong. This album is utterly disappointing.

The songs don’t feel personal at all. He seems to relay these thoughts and emotions of depression and loneliness as opposed to showing us the darkest crevices of his mind and allowing us to envision the heartbreak and isolation that have haunted him throughout his life. I’m merely hearing everything and not imagining what his life was like. I can’t see that dark, twisted turmoil that his heart had to suffer through. Instead, all I see is nothing. An absence of emotion.

Most songs fall flat and never truly achieve their purpose because of lack of attention to detail. Although he does manage to have a brilliant performance on a song like “Sad Forever '', this brilliance is missing throughout most of the project. This further accentuates how little heart you can hear in his performance. It just doesn’t sound right hearing him talk about “never seeing you again” in what sounds like an ecstatic voice.

Somehow the production across this album is the saving grace, but that doesn’t mean much when certain songs are formulaic and uninspired. Sure, you can make something sound good, but does that mean that it’s good? The biggest criminal of a stereotypical song is “Sims”. Never have I heard such a formulaic and boring song. From the cheesy acoustic guitar playing that fell out of style in 2016 to the incredibly questionable lyrics, such as “I wish that we lived on a VHS, I'd erase the things I said and that I'll probably say again”. A set of lyrics that’s so corny that even Logic himself can’t fathom how mind-numbingly atrocious this is.

Lauv gets on the basic singer/songwriter train and lets his talent escape him. I understand how safety is sometimes key, but when you have the ability to truly make a name for yourself and be hailed as an all time great musician, the listener expects more.  This is the ultimate low on an album that’s comprised of more lows.

I find that there’s no satisfaction when I listen to this album. It’s so utterly disappointing that I can’t help but feel down about it. An artist whose potential as a songwriter was limitless released what I can only describe as “meh”. For some, “meh” is incredibly middle of the road, but for me it means that it’s so unimpactful, so boring, so uncared for that I can’t find any word other than “meh” to describe it. Had Lauv reached for the stars instead of grounding himself, then maybe this would’ve turned out differently, but since that’s not the case and Lauv stuck to the easy route, I see no reason to praise him for this insignificant start to the new decade.

 

 

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