[FILM REVIEW #100!] Hustlers (Lorene Scafaria, 2019)

Hustlers is a tale set in the seedy underbelly of New York City. Although the city’s most violent period is behind it, there still exist many stories of people barely scraping by and having to resort to desperate measures in order to make ends meet. In the year 2014, journalist Elizabeth approaches a former stripped from New York City named Dorothy for an interview. Dorothy is initially hesitant to tell this story, not wanting to put her friends in jeopardy. Eventually, she relents, though she makes it clear that Elizabeth isn’t to probe certain subjects.

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[FILM REVIEW] Apollo 13 (Ron Howard, 1995)

In July of 1969, history was made when Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Mike Collins manned the Apollo 11 space shuttle and touched down upon the moon. During this expedition, fellow astronaut Jim Lovell hosts a house party so they can witness the moment on television themselves. As they’re watching, Lovell tells his wife, Marilyn, that he intends to walk on the moon one day – having previously orbited it in the Apollo 8 spacecraft. Three months later, complications cause Lovell’s crew to fly Apollo 13 instead of the slated 14. It would appear that Lovell’s goal will come to pass sooner than expected.

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[FILM REVIEW] The Peanut Butter Falcon (Tyler Nilson & Michael Schwartz, 2019)

Zak is a 22-year-old man with Down syndrome. Because he has no family that can take care of him, he was made a ward of the state and lives in a retirement home in North Carolina. There, he is cared for by a woman named Eleanor. He has made several attempts to escape the retirement home, but to no avail. Idolizing a professional wrestler who went by the sobriquet of The Salt Water Redneck, he dreams of entering the business himself. One night, he sneaks out with the assistance of his elderly roommate, Carl, and hides in a fishing boat.

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Impeccable Timing: 5 Classic Films That Contemporary Critics Would Have Hated

Last December, I had the pleasure of watching Christopher Nolan’s The Prestige. Although I didn’t like it quite as much as Memento, I definitely think it’s a great film well worth watching. Unfortunately, critics at the time didn’t agree, for the film’s initial reception was lukewarm. The critics who enjoyed it were in the majority, but the writing was on the wall; it paled in comparison to his earlier efforts. When the decade came to a close, something unexpected happened. Suddenly, this film that currently sits at 76% on Rotten Tomatoes began appearing on various “best of” lists regarding the most exemplary efforts of the 2000s.

Because of this development, one of the greatest weaknesses of aggregate review sites was revealed – it only provides a snapshot as to what critics thought of a film the minute it debuted. If a film is subject to retroactive vindication, the score does not change accordingly. This is also evident in how Charles Laughton’s The Night of the Hunter achieved 100% on the same site despite being so poorly received upon its 1955 release that it completely ruined his chances of ever directing another film.

Seeing these two films got me thinking about how works are received. How many critical darlings are going to stand the test of time? How many masterpieces are the critics of today letting fall by the wayside? Critics have proven over the years to be masters of tooting their own horns, but as the late, great Orson Welles once proposed in his excellent swansong effort, F for Fake, they can be hoodwinked just as easily the audience they look down upon. If critics could make this mistake as recently as 2006 when the rules of the medium had been firmly established, I expect there will be many more instances of such a thing occurring to come.

Even with an educated guess here and there, I don’t have any way of determining what films considered mediocre or even outright bad now will receive their vindication in the future. Therefore, I will instead talk about the opposite phenomenon. As a result of the various think pieces ostensibly professional critics and journalists have written in the past decade, which range anywhere from woefully misbegotten to condescending to their audience, I’ve found them to be increasingly untrustworthy. Consequently, I can believe they would have hated many classic, undeniably good films had they been released today.

Now, to be clear, with this editorial, I’m not talking about films such as D.W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation or Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will. Though critics continue to praise both works, it’s clear they have nothing to offer most people, promoting obviously outdated values among other problems. Instead, I propose that there are films considered to this very day some of the greatest ever made – but only because the current wave of critics took their predecessors at their word. I feel that if you were to somehow beam present-day critical sensibilities into their predecessors’ collective headspace, they would have dropped certain objectively great films like a hot potato. They fly in the face of present-day critical sensibilities to the extent that they would have lambasted them on principle alone. There are plenty of films I feel fall into this category, but five in particular struck me as the kinds of works contemporary critics would loathe with every fiber of their being.

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[FILM REVIEW] Apur Sansar (Satyajit Ray, 1959)

A young man named Apurba Kumar Roy – or Apu – has recently graduated from school. Apu is encouraged by his teacher to attend university, but he cannot afford it. After having lost his entire family due to tragic circumstances, he tries to find a job. Though unemployed, he manages to get by providing private tutoring lessons. He seeks to write a novel based off of his own life with the intent to publish it one day. Things take a turn for the interesting when an old friend, Pulu, invites Apu to attend the wedding of his cousin.

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[FILM REVIEW] Aparajito (Satyajit Ray, 1956)

In the year 1920, a young boy named Apurba Roy – or Apu – has left his home in rural Bengal with his parents, Harihar and Sarbajaya, settling into an apartment in the bustling city of Varanasi. Working as a priest, Harihar has been making a decent amount of money, and with the tragic death his first child weighing on his mind, he is determined to make as good of a life as possible for Apu. The family couldn’t possibly have known at the time exactly what plans fate had in store for them.

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