By Wanjiku Kungu
During the summer, like a lot of other students, I worked. And when I wasn’t ringing up customers or eating burgers at summer barbecues, I was at the movie theater. I love going to the movies versus renting a DVD or watching something online because going to the theatre is like an event. The experience is completely different. Now with winter almost here, the summer seems far away, but I saw a lot of good movies that were worth it back in the warmer months. Here’s what you should have seen.
“The Great Gatsby” (May 10)
Before it hit theatres, this film already had a lot of buzz being an adaption of the highly acclaimed 1925 novel written by F. Scott Fitzgerald. With an all-star cast including Leonardo DiCaprio, Toby McGuire, and Carey Mulligan, the story of Jay Gatsby is told beautifully. Bond salesman, Nick Carraway, rents a small home in Long Island next door to Jay Gatsby, a mysterious business mogul who invites him to his mansion for one of his over-the-top parties. Gatsby takes a liking to Nick and the two become friends leading to Gatsby later revealing that he had a relationship with Daisy, Nick’s cousin, five years prior and is still in love with her. Thus putting Nick in the middle of multiple love triangles that become more and more complicated as the plot unfolds. Baz Luhrmann, the director, tells the story with emotion and extravagance accompanied with a modern day soundtrack. Though there are a number of adaptations to the novel whether it be film, theatre or even ballet, there are none like this.
“The Purge” (June 7)
America in the year 2022 is now a “nation reborn.” Unemployment is at 1%. Crime is at an all-time low. And why is that? Because of the Purge. The Purge is the one night a year where all crime is legal. Theft, murder, you name it. This gives people the opportunity to “release all the hatred and violence that they keep up inside them.” This lasts for twelve hours where all emergency services are suspended and government officials are exempt. The Sandin family, wealthy and living in the suburbs of Los Angeles, expect to be safe like they always are until their youngest son decides to let in a man that is the target for a group of young delinquents, making themselves a target as well. This is not the scariest movie of the summer but it certainly is one of the most thought provoking that will leave you with many questions. What about the people who cannot afford protection? Why are government officials safe? Do you trust that your enemies won’t come to release some sort of hatred toward you? Would you kill anyone?
“This is the End” (June 12)
When Jay Baruchel arrives in Los Angeles to visit his friend and fellow actor Seth Rogen, he hopes they can spend some quality time just the two of them. That time gets cut short when Seth wants to go to a party at James Franco’s house where Jay doesn’t know many people and the few he does, he hates (Jonah Hill). The party gets interrupted by what seems to be the Apocalypse leaving only Seth, Jay, and a few other celebrities in the house to fend for themselves. During this time, the guys struggle with conserving and sharing food and water, getting along with each other, and simply trying to survive. What’s great about this film is that it has everyone from every good comedy within the last five years (Franco, Rogan, Hill, Cera, Hart, etc.) and even some people that would surprise you.
“Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain” (June 22)
Ever since his “Grown Little Man” comedy special in 2009, Kevin Hart has been on a roll, selling out show after show all around the world. In his newest comedy-documentary, “Let Me Explain,” filmed at a sold-out show in Madison Square Garden, he speaks about the different chapters in his life (i.e. pre-divorce/ post-divorce). Hart goes as far as he possibly can, leaving no subject untouched. He discusses his understandable fear of a bum’s hands, embarrassing experiences with friends and family, and even his infidelities while married to his ex-wife. Besides the obvious amusement we get from this film, we also take a lesson from it. Life is funny and it’s alright to laugh at it. Kevin Hart’s life is hilarious and you will laugh at it.
“The Conjuring” (July 19)
“The Conjuring” follows the story of a special case investigated by paranormal experts Lorraine and Ed Warren in 1971. The couple are contacted by Carolyn Perron who has just moved into a new home in Rhode Island with her husband and five daughters who have all been experiencing disturbing activities in the house. The Warrens discover that the house used to belong to an accused witch who tried to sacrifice her children to the devil and committed suicide after cursing all who live on her land from then on. Deciding that the house may need an exorcism, the Warrens need to gather evidence to present to the Catholic Church in order to receive authorization, but they endure almost more than they can handle and it affects their own home. With the same director of “Saw” and “Insidious,” “The Conjuring” proved to be a success having the biggest opening for an original R-rated horror film.
“Monster’s University” (June 21)
When we last saw Mike and Sulley they had drastically changed the Monster’s, Inc. business plan by using children’s laughter instead of screams as a source of power. What we never saw was the beginning – before the duo were the perfect scaring team. In “Monster’s University” we see that journey from the moment Mike and Sulley first meet as college roommates to when they become enemies and then friends again. Sulley comes from a bloodline of scarers and has natural talent but it can only take him so far. Mike on the other hand is nowhere near scary but has passion and book smarts. This causes a rivalry between the two that ends up getting them kicked out of the scare program. Then they go to drastic measures to try to get back in. What’s great about this film is that the generation of kids that first watched “Monster’s Inc.” are now in college or just entering so they can relate to the pursuing of one’s dreams or not liking your roommate.
“The Butler” (August 16)
The Butler tells the story of Cecil Gaines (inspired by the real-life Eugene Allen), a Black domestic worker who becomes a White House butler during pivotal times in American history. Political views are not encouraged in his occupation where he is told, “You hear nothing. You see nothing. You only serve.” Cecil’s eldest son Louis attends a southern university where he joins a student program (most likely SNCC) and engages in a sit-in at a segregated diner and is arrested. This is just the tip of the iceberg of Louis’s involvement in the Civil Rights Movement and it soon becomes known to the president. This causes a conflict between Cecil and his son who believes his father is a sell-out. For over two decades, Cecil serves at the White House while Civil Rights activists, including his son, fight for equality in the U.S. and elsewhere. From Cecil’s point of view we see how difficult a situation he is in. His morals, his family, and his job all come into question.
You can also check out Carmen Bordonaro’s article about the greatest films of the year coming out later this semester.