Tag Archives: movie

Black Panther & Cultural Conversation

Another superhero movie came out this past month. That’s where we are at now. Marvel movies are becoming as essential to American culture as the Super Bowl or the Olympics; we all have to see them.

Except Black Panther was more than just another Marvel film.

Black Panther is a platform for black artists and creators to create a lens into their culture. This was a first for a large demographic of kids. They get to see themselves as the hero; the main event. Black Panther stars Chadwick Boseman as the titular Black Panther, reprising his role from Captain America: Civil War, with Michael B. Jordan as the debut villain Erik Killmonger.

Michael B. Jordan played a heavy role in the film while also reuniting, for the third time, with writer and director Ryan Coogler—proving to be a match made in cinematic heaven. The two came together in 2013 for Fruitvale Station and again in 2015 for Creed.


“Black Panther” stars Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, with Angela Bassett, with Forest Whitaker, and Andy Serkis.              

 

Zanesha Williams:

I love Marvel films. I always look forward to seeing the Avengers come together and watch the solo films in between. To be fair though, the other day I overheard a group of girls talking in the cafe and one of them mentioned that she didn’t know that the Black Panther was a superhero. Most people didn’t. I am also fairly new to the club.

Mitchell Walther:

I am a marvel fanboy. There’s no use in me hiding it. While I don’t read the comics quite as much as I did back in the day, I have done everything I can to stay up to date on the Marvel cinematic universe.

Black Panther was always a superhero I liked, but not a character that I found incredibly enticing on his own. Often when I read his stories he was paired with the X-Men or Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four. That being said, I was excited when I heard they were giving Black Panther his own film. I was even more excited when I heard Kendrick Lamar was going to be producing the album.

Zanesha:

Once it was announced after Captain America: Civil War that the Black Panther would get a full length film, the most exciting part was seeing updates on the cast. Who would’ve thought we’d being seeing Angela Bassett in a Marvel film? On and off the screen, “blackness” was praised and proved to be something worth watching. The selection for costume designers, the “inspired by” soundtrack, and the director.

Mitchell:

I will be honest and say that before Black Panther, I didn’t know who Angela Bassett was. Bassett put forth a stirring performance as the mother of T’challa, the Black Panther.  It’s sad how long this movie has taken to get made.

Black Panther is another installment in a long line of Marvel films that pushes the envelope. Rather than serve up standard superheroes, Marvel has attempted to give us something unique. A talking raccoon and a giant tree voiced by Vin Diesel would never have gotten the green light when Iron Man and The Dark Knight were the pioneers.

Black Panther is culturally a more important film than Guardians of the Galaxy though. It is the story of a superhero who is also the king of a sovereign nation. In the comics Black Panther fights with politics almost as much as his claws. The story of Black Panther and his nation of Wakanda also carries a lot of racial and social commentary.

Rather than shy away from the issues, the movie leans into them and allows what made the story unique in the comic books to make it unique on screen. It’s a movie about representation, juggling the identity of a comic book flick with that of a film about black culture. How did it do?

Zanesha:

Black Panther was a very different combination of excitement. You have so many new and unusual factors going in one mainstream film. The idea that a blockbuster depicts Africa as beautiful, self-sufficient, and most importantly superior to its surroundings is an anomaly. The excitement that black kids can look up to a superhero that looks like them, play with action figures that have the same features. This film supports an identity that was well overdue.

There’s so much to rave about. You have Kendrick Lamar, an activist through his rap, producing the soundtrack for the film. Ryan Coogler’s $200 million budget for a film he was allowed to make his own. Ruth E. Carter, known for her repeated work with director Spike Lee, and more recently her costume design for Selma.

Names that resonate in the black community are now widely known due the weight that Marvel films hold. The excitement comes from the shift in a community finally being able to show how profitable it truly is.

Mitchell:

It comes at a fortuitous time in Hollywood as well. Black Panther as a movie is poignant. Opening on Oakland, California in 1992, the film makes its goals clear while still entertaining us the entire way. Stunning visuals and an incredible soundtrack composed by Swedish visionary Ludwig Goransson never distract from the climax.

Black Panther is about a hero and a villain who both want what is best for their people. They both see the suffering and persecution endured at the hands of the privileged and the powerful. The crux of their characters fall on what the answer is. How do we as people fight against hundreds of years of systematic and institutionalized racism? Black Panther director Coogler answers as best as he can: we get involved, and we point a spotlight at the beautiful.

Into the Woods Review

 

Into the Woods intertwines your favorite fairy tales. Image by ArtInsights Magazine.

First, I want to put a full disclaimer that “Into the Woods” is a full-blown musical. A lot of people go into the movie thinking it is just like the rest of Disney’s movies, some music but basically a normal movie. Into the Woods is adapted off of a Broadway play based on multiple Brothers Grimm fairytales.

Now, on to the good stuff. “Into the Woods” takes some of your favorite fairy tales – Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Rapunzel – and intertwines them into something that you have never seen before. It starts off with our favorite characters making a wish, but remember, they’re all singing as they’re wishing, which to me makes it even better. The story then focuses on the baker and his wife not being able to have a child due to a curse that a witch had placed on them.

The Witch explains to the Baker and his Wife that they are to get four items, each which can be obtained from other fairytale characters. With each character the Baker and his Wife meet, you learn their individual back stories, but in a fashion that you haven’t seen before (maybe Cinderella doesn’t want to marry Prince Charming).

As the movie continues the fairytales begin to intertwine more, you begin to learn that not every fairy tale has a happy ending like other Disney movies show. The end of the movie was done beautifully and really makes you think, what are the consequences of wishing for something that you necessarily don’t want? “Into the Woods” really gives you a valuable lesson that although you may really want something, it won’t help you with your current issues and hardships, while family and friendship can help you overcome some of the hardest obstacles in life.

“Into the Woods” featured a star-studded cast, including Meryl Streep as the Witch, Anna Kendrick as Cinderella, Emily Blunt as the Baker’s Wife and Johnny Depp as the Big Bad Wolf. Each song sung told a story into the lives of each character, making the movie even more enticing.

If you aren’t a fan of musicals than I don’t know if this is the movie for you. There is a clear difference between the music from “Into the Woods” and something like Frozen. If musicals and Broadway are things you enjoy, than I guarantee you won’t regret seeing this movie.

For me, this movie was awesome. I am a big fan of musicals and everything Broadway represents, so I was excited going in to see it and it blew my mind. I knew that Disney was good at what they do, especially when it comes to music, but I didn’t expect this. The songs were amazing and really made you feel emotions from happiness to sadness. I loved how the stories intertwined with each other and created a whole new fairy tale that isn’t your typical happily ever after.

The Room With A View

BECA major Brendan Page heads into the monthly midnight showing of The Room.
BECA major Brendan Page heads into the monthly midnight showing of The Room.

Written by Jake Montero
Photos by Virginia Tieman

When I arrive early he is already there.

I’m no longer struck by his unique appearance, probably because we’ve met before, but mostly because of the many hours I’ve spent watching him; incapable of averting my eyes, focused on his every move.

Yet there’s something different about him this time.  As I look closer, the inconsistency becomes apparent.  Last time he was wearing three belts.

Tonight he is wearing four.

The he in question, is Tommy Wiseau.  A decade ago, Wiseau wrote, directed, produced and starred in The Room, a film considered by many to be the worst of all time.

The Room is screened monthly at San Francisco’s Clay Theater to raucous crowds, and with Wiseau in attendance for the films tenth anniversary, this evening is no different.  The Room’s all-encompassing terribleness has generated a dedicated cult following all across the country, with nearly every major city holding semi-regular screenings of the legendary disasterpiece.

By traditional film standards, The Room breaks every rule with regards to good acting, storytelling, camerawork, dialogue, set decoration and general coherence.  Some characters disappear halfway through the film, while others appear out of nowhere.

The Room’s only consistent storyline deals with the “future wife” (the word fiance is never used) of main character Johnny (played by Wiseau) engaging in an affair with his best friend, a younger and more handsome man named Mark, played by Greg Sestero.  This relatively

straightforward plot is accented by a myriad of unexplained subplots, including a strange neighbor, Denny, who wants to watch Wiseau have sex, and multiple scenes where the characters all go outside to toss around a football like a hot potato.

However, it is these very eccentricities that make screenings of The Room an interactive audience experience second-to-none.  You don’t go to the theater to quietly watch and analyze, you go to collectively make fun of some of the most inexplicable footage ever compiled by man.

The evening begins with a meet and greet in the lobby of the Clay, with the aforementioned Wiseau accompanied by Sestero.  Wiseau looks like an aging rock star, with curly long black hair and terminator sunglasses that he insists on wearing indoors.

Pictures are taken and memorabilia is sold and signed; including Wiseau’s new line of boxer brief underwear, for anybody who desires to have “WISEAU” scrawled across their ass.

Because Wiseau and his film often seem too unbelievable to be real, meeting the man behind the madness is an experience that all true Room fans must have.

“He’s like a cartoon character,” says Brenden Page, a Broadcasting major at San Francisco State, who attended his first Room screening.

As the productions sole creative force, it’s impossible to talk about The Room without mentioning Wiseau.  Before the film is shown, both Wiseau and Sestero get on stage, flanked by half naked fans in Wiseau undies, to engage in a Q&A with the audience.  Wiseau is known for his often indecipherable answers to questions.  When asked about the character Denny, Wiseau claims that he is “a little bit retarded.”  Shortly after this however, he claims that Pacific Heights is also retarded, making it unclear as to whether or not he knows what that word means.

Once the film begins, it doesn’t take long for the audience to get involved.  The opening credits feature random establishing shots of San Francisco, the film’s setting, nearly all of which include the Pacific Ocean. Everybody simultaneously yells “water!” when the ocean is shown, only to erupt in applause when Wiseau appears for the first time, riding a cable car as the lone passenger.

There are many established audience traditions, such as tossing footballs around when the characters do and slow clapping during the

films four extended sex scenes.  The audience is required to be silent only once, during the infamous nineteen second flower shop scene, considered by most Room aficionados to be the finest the film has to offer (YouTube “the room flower shop”, you won’t be disappointed).

The throwing of plastic spoons is The Room’s most famous tradition.  In Johnny’s house there are a handful of framed pictures of spoons.  The pictures are never explained, nor are spoons present anywhere else in the film.  Whenever a spoon picture is visible on the screen everybody in the audience is encouraged to throw as many plastic spoons in the air as possible while yelling “spoons”!

By the time the film is over, the theater floor is covered with hundreds of the plastic utensils.

“Tommy was trying to say something profound with The Room,” says co-star Greg Sestero.  “I believe it is his most profound attempt at creative expression. The Room is Tommy and that’s what makes the movie such a unique experience, because no one sees the world the way Tommy does.”

Sestero recently released The Disaster Artist, a book detailing the production of The Room and how he came to know and work with Wiseau.

“From the moment I showed the rough cut of The Room to my family, I knew it was something special and it could captivate audiences in the strangest of ways if given the chance,” Sestero continues.  “That being said, I never thought it would amass the international following it has now.”

The book sheds light on Tommy’s obsession with wearing multiple belts: “It keeps my ass up.  Plus it feels good.”  Fair enough.

The film concludes to riotous applause.  Outside, Room first timers are in awe of what they’ve just experienced.  Whether it’s your first or twentieth viewing, nobody ever leaves disappointed.

“It was a good experience and and it seemed like even the staff really enjoyed it.” says Page.  “The guy at the concession stand left the door opened and was laughing his ass off.  Its a really cool communal thing.”

The Room’s over the top absurdity, has led some to believe that the film is bad on purpose, and that Wiseau is pulling a fast one on all of us.  Greg

Sestero claims this is not the case.

“Tommy believes The Room is the greatest movie ever made. He always has and always will believe that.”

With the amount of joy this so called terrible movie has brought, he might just be right. The Room is screened once a month at the Clay
Theater on Fillmore Street. X