A Review of my Time with WordPress

I have really enjoyed the experience I have had with WordPress over the last several months. It has given me the opportunity to express my opinions on something that I am passionate about. Through my time with WP, I have found that twitter was the most effective tool that I used. My friends would see my posts that way and retweet them so that others could read. I had several people text me and say that my reviews made them want to watch a certain movie (which made me very happy). I think having to include an image in my posts was not an effective. Since my blog centered around movies, finding an original image that related well enough to the movies was difficult and ineffective.

I wish to improve on the timeliness of my posts. I do not post as frequently as I wish to. I think the only way that I can create a following on my blog is to post a review about twice a week. This blog could serve as a reference on my resume to future employers. It is a great resource to display my writing skills and build experience as well.

My most popular week was the week of April 9th, where I received 38 views and 30 visitors. Within this week was my most popular post: my review of A Quiet Place. It received 27 views, and I believe this is because of my promotion of the review on my twitter. Since the movie was so popular at the time of my post, I think many people were intrigued to see my views on it. In all of the Site Stats data, I was surprised to see that I still had visitors to my site on weeks that I hadn’t made a post. I think this shows that people have more access to my website through twitter and the promotions there stay available to people.

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Wind River: A Beautiful Crime Drama

Wind River has been on my must watch list ever since it came out. I have heard friends rave about the remarkable way this story is told about Wyoming’s wind river Indian reservation, and I am so happy that I could finally see what all they hype was about. Screenwriter, Taylor Sheridan, used the mountains, eerily cold and soundless to set up a heart wrenching thriller.

Without giving too much of the plot line away, an 18-year-old girl’s body is found on an American Indian reservation by Cory Lambert a veteran tracker in the area. After an autopsy it is discovered that the 18-year-old girl was raped which leads Agent Jane Banner to be flown into the icy tundra from Las Vegas in no more than a light sweatshirt. Quickly realizing how ill prepared she is, Agent Banner requests Cory Lambert to lead her through the mountains to unfold this tricky mountain side mystery. Agent Banner and Lambert are both breathless until they can pinpoint what happened, but quickly realize how much danger they have put themselves in as well.

Taylor Sheridan captured all of my emotions in Wind River. He left me intrigued, grieving, inspired, scared, and somber. The use of his knowledge of the mountains, weather, Indian reservation, really set this movie a part. You can tell that he spent time studying the nature and personality of the scenes even before he began writing. I felt how much the reservation had been through previously to the death, I felt how silent and chilling the mountains were, I felt the agony the young womans family was going through, and I felt the attachment that Cory Lambert had to the case. All of this combined and created a background for a movie that made me feel attached.

Wind River only had a budget of $11 million, which although seems like a lot, is very small in comparison to movies that have come out in recent years. Wind River was able to get away with such a small budget by using less actors and actresses to convey his work. Elizabeth Olsen, and Jeremy Renner did an astounding job conveying the somber aura that made me feel so many emotions. Elizabeth Olsen, plays Agent Jane Banner and really shows how passionate she is about getting to the bottom of this and finding justice for not only the young woman’s family, but also the entire reservation that has been on the receiving end of grief for quite some time. Jeremy Renner, playing Cory Lambert, made us feel the gloomy essence of his life, and also the entire reservation. The poetic mystery of this beautiful thriller left me thinking about this film for days. It told me a story while educating me about something I knew little about (Indian Reservations). When movies are capable of becoming more than just movies, that is when they have truly succeeded.

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The Butterfly Effect: An Oldie but a Goodie

The Butterfly Effect, written and directed by Eric Bress and J. Mackye Gruber, is a film that has been on my watchlist for as long as I can remember. Now that I’ve finally had the chance to see it for myself, I must admit that it did not disappoint. This sci-fi thriller begins with our main character Evan- played by Ashton Kutcher– running through the halls of a psych ward where he barricades himself in a room and scribbles a suspicious note. Moving through the story, we are presented with flashbacks to Evans childhood and adolescence. He is a seemingly normal boy, besides a condition that he has where he will blackout at random and wake up with no recollection of what just happened. I wish to keep this review spoiler free, so I’ll refrain from sharing how those blackouts relate to the resolution. This movie had me on the edge of my seat, constantly wondering what would happen next. It left me burdened with the wonder at how life makes big changes by the decisions that we make- even the small ones.

This film may not be for the faint of heart. Some of the things that young Evan has to endure is just downright awful. These events sparked sympathy in me for the character and his pursuit of just trying to make everything right again- something I feel that many viewers can relate to. This being Kutcher’s first thriller role, he was brilliant in its deliverance. His character had to show the range of a sick mental patient to a confident fraternity boy. That kind of range is not easy to achieve and I applaud Kutcher (more than 14 years later) for taking on such an intimidating role.

I have always had a soft spot for films that weave together storylines so intricately that you cannot see them for what they are until the final scene. It shows a creativity in the writers that I have always admired. To me, final scenes are the most important ones. It is what you are leaving the audience with to remember. If the final scene of a film leaves them confused or distasted, then their entire viewing experience could be ruined. The final few scenes in The Butterfly Effect were successful in bring these plot lines crashing together. The rolling credits left me thinking on what I would change and how that could change everything.

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A Quiet Place: More Than Just a Horror Movie

A Quiet Place, written and directed by John Krasinski, has received a lot of hype for being one of the best scary movies of modern times….. and I definitely have to agree. Set in a post apocalyptic world, a family navigates through a new world filled with monsters that hunt by sound. After the tragic death of their youngest son, the family is in mourning when the film fast forwards to more than a year later. The mother- played by Emily Blunt– is pregnant and expects to delivery soon. The father- played by John Krasinski- is obviously still in grief over the loss of their child and spends his days with the burden on his shoulders of fiercely protecting the family he has left. They have crafted a living space that assists in their survival with floors covered in sand and soundproof rooms.

One of my favorite aspects of this film is that the family ties and character development weaved through the plot, make A Quiet Place so much more than just another horror/suspense movie. I found myself becoming so attached to these characters that some tears were shed at the loss of one (don’t worry, i won’t spoil it for you).I am usually not a fan of horror movies…. at all. But I knew with the leading roles given to John Krasinski and Emily Blunt, it would be worth my watch. After some contemplation, I’ve come to realize that I enjoyed this film not just because it was genuinely scary (which it was), but because it was a different kind of fear than most horror movies captivate. I was terrified of having to lose these characters that I grew so attached to. I was scared that this family would have to bear the loss of another child. I was scared to watch the grief of these parents if something as awful did happen. To me, that is exactly what great cinema does: captivates audiences with characters so powerful that they can’t help but fall in love with them.

The entire script is crafted with little dialogue, requiring that the actors carry this film through their facial expressions and body language- and they did not disappoint. Emily Blunt and John Krasinski were amazing (as would be expected) but the children of this film- Noah Jupe and Millicent Simmonds– captured a performance that seemed beyond their years. I was so impressed by the life that they brought to these characters. Through sign language and hushed whispers, I was able to understand their feelings, thoughts, fears. The silence captivated me in a way that no other film with sound has done quite so thoroughly. I left the theater feeling as though I needed to tip toe and only speak in whispers. If a film is able to keep you enthralled in that world for longer than it’s screening, then it has done it’s job thoroughly. This movie is something that I will be thinking about for a long time to come.

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Movie Blogs You Should Follow!

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One of my favorite blogs to find movie reviews on is Oh! That Film Blog. The blog is run by Amy Andrews, a freelance writer and copywriter. Her reviews are diverse and colorful and (so far I have found) reign true. It seems that she leaves no movie unturned- literally I could scroll on this blog for hours and not even make a dent in how many reviews she has made. The true success of her blog remains in that unending list. Every movie lover alike can go there and find something they would like to read a review on. Regardless of genre or year, I can tell that this girl just really enjoys the cinematic experience and that is something that I admire!

Many of the reviews she has on movies flow in a similar river of opinion as my own. I recently read her review on The Edge of Seventeen and was reminded- since I saw the movie over a year ago- of how much I loved and resonated with that film, as Amy had too. We both have a massive soft spot for coming-of-age films. With that characteristic in common, I know that I can go to this blog and find a reliable review, which I have found myself relying on so I don’t waste two hours of my times watching a movie that was reviewed as horrendous.

Overall, I really aspire to be as active, consistent, and devoted as Oh! That Film Blog is. Her reviews are easy to read, yet insightful and intellectual. Her opinions are trustworthy and her taste in cinema is educated. The blog itself i extremely organized and easy to navigate through the thousands of movie titles. If this blog were a movie, I would give it 5 stars.

The Preppie Connection Literally Put me to Sleep

Directed by Joseph Castelo, The Preppie Connection is based on the true story of Derek Oatis who went to a private school and ran a cocaine smuggling operation on the schools campus until he was caught in 1984, facing a 15 year prison sentence. Thomas Mann plays Tobias Hammel (framed from Oatis), a lower-class scholarship student at a private school who finds himself the subject of torment by his elitist classmates. In order to escape the social hierarchy, Tobias becomes their drug dealer by smuggling cocaine in from Colombia to sell on campus.

The first time I watched this movie I fell asleep (and I don’t think it was due to actually being tired). A few days later, I gave the film another try and realized exactly why I had chosen sleep over suffering through the hour and 35 minutes that it drags on for. With Thomas Mann portraying the main character, I truly had high hopes that I would enjoy this film. Instead, I found it to be incredibly dull with underdeveloped and unrealistic characters. I didn’t understand the infatuation that Tobias had for Alexis Hayes (played by Lucy Fry)-, there was not enough depth to her character for me to, if not like her, at least feel sorry for her.  I found Logan Huffman’s acting to be completely overdramaticized and unnecessary. I was confused by the actual plot line of how a teenager with strict parents had been allowed to go on vacation to Colombia.

Although, my thoughts on this film remain negative, I can’t help but think about how close I was to liking it. Everything within The Preppie Connection was so close to being good that it was infuriatingly bad. The 80’s tone of the movie was consistent and developed an appealing atmosphere through music and wardrobe but it was continuously interrupted by voiceovers from Tobias explaining what was going on…. I thought I was listening to an ebook at some points, that’s how much he was talking instead of allowing the characters to develop the plot with their actions. Most of the actors- Thomas Mann, Lucy Fry, Amy Hargreaves- are extremely talented, but can only carry so much of the film when they are burdened with a cliche script and numerous plot holes.

Overall, I think that films involving drugs should serve as a scare tactic for the audience (especially if that audience is probably teenagers, as is the case for this film). They should leave a lasting impression on each viewer that enforces the idea to never start experimenting with illegal drugs. When the credits started rolling, I was probably less afraid of cocaine than I was before my viewing. The depiction of this drug in the film made it look not so dangerous but a costly drug. This is a terrifying realization that I had and completely turned me away from any sort of likable aspect of this film.

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Lady Bird: An Honest Approach at a Coming of Age Story

lady birdLady Bird, written and directed by Greta Gerwig depicts the coming of age story of a seventeen-year-old girl in Sacramento, California. Saoirse Ronan plays Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson as she navigates through her senior year of high school- through all of the changes, college decision making, and first loves. Lady Bird contains all of the pretentious angst and wishful thinking that every seventeen-year-old contains (myself included). This movie resonated with my own life on so many levels that it felt as though some scenes had been drawn directly from my experiences. Like Lady Bird, I couldn’t wait to move away from my hometown and I, too, discovered that there really is no place like home. I held the same confusingly beautiful relationship with my mom. There is one scene in the movie where Lady Bird and her mom tour open houses for fun. It brought me tears of nostalgia to see something on screen that my mom and I did together so many times.

My favorite aspect of this movie is the entirely accurate and complicated relationship that Lady Bird has with her mother (played by Laurie Metcalf). It’s screaming arguments and endless disagreements coupled with the understanding that the person who knows you best is your mother. In these scenes, I felt as though I was watching my seventeen-year-old self as I fought with my mother over something that felt like the most relevant argument in my stubborn mind. I think every woman- no matter the age- will find herself resonating with this relationship.

To me, this movie screams ‘girl power’. From the direction of Greta Gerwig to the talent of Saoirse Ronan and the strong female character that she portrays, I found myself extremely proud to be a woman during this film. It came at a pivotal time of change in Hollywood, where we see Lady Bird’s strength and resilience mirrored in other women on-screen. Although, with that in mind, this isn’t a film exclusively for women. No matter gender, age, race, etc., every person can find something within this story to empathize with. It’s entertaining while being real. It’s hilarious while it tugs at heartstrings. It’s beautiful without being artificial. It’s a movie that everyone should see. 

Why everyone should go see Call Me by Your Name

It has been a month since I first saw best picture nominee Call Me by Your Name in theaters and this film has been in my head ever since.

Directed by Luca Guadagnino and based on the novel by André Aciman, CMBYN tells the story of two men: 17 year old Elio Pearlman- played by up-and-coming Timothée Chalamet– and 24 year old Oliver- played by the stately Armie Hammer– as they spend the summer of 1983 falling in love in northern Italy. So yes…. this is an LBGT movie. It is also so much more than that.

Call Me by Your Name is a coming of age story that constructs an accurate realism of the flawed human existence. I felt as though a piece of art was unraveling before my eyes as the characters painted their story of family, connection, love, and heartbreak.

Luca Guadagnino’s directing left me awestruck at its artistry. One scene in particular has stuck with me since I first witnessed it. When Elio and Oliver are riding home on their bikes, a dirt road stretches before them surrounded by the rural countryside. This shot persists for a solid ten seconds of them riding next to each other in the noise of a summer’s day. They continue to ride until their backs are barely visible in the distance. Most directors would have cut out this scene altogether to save time- claiming that it serves no character or plot development. But it is as if Luca said “No just let them ride, let them be.” The entire movie contains these scenes depicting the longevity of each moment that we live.

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Timothée Chalamet’s performance takes the cake (or I guess I should say peach) in this film.Though Chalamet has a few other feature films under his belt like Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar and Jason Reitman’s Men Women & Children, CMBYN has been a breakout role that makes him worthy of standing with the greats. His depiction of Elio’s fierce love and first heartbreak in this film contains a vulnerability that transcends normal acting. He did his job thoroughly by immersing the audience into a performance so deeply that they forget it is a performance at all. Blurring the lines between reality and storytelling, the final scene left my cheeks damp with a heartbreak that wasn’t my own.

To maintain that this review is spoiler free, all I will say about the ending is that the monologue delivered by Elio’s father- played by the talented Michael Stuhlbarg- is nothing short of magnificent. It is advice that every human should hear, every parent should repeat, and every hurting heart should take.

CMBYN made me fall in love with love. With the idea of two souls connecting in their platonic attraction. It made me think of my first heartbreak and how my mom seemed millions of years wiser than me. It made me feel entirely, vulnerably human as I connected with these two characters. It is everything that the cinematic experience should provide for its audience.

An introduction

Hi,

My name is Alyssa Newsom. I am an undergraduate student at Texas State University, studying towards a journalism degree with a minor in English. I’ve developed this blog to finally have an outlet to express all of my views on the cinematic experience. Like most people in the modern world, I grew up watching movies. My mom would allow me to host sleepovers where friends and I would lay on the scratchy yarn of my living room carpet and stay up all night eating caramel apples and watching movie after movie. I never realized how those movies have affected me until recently though.

Within the past year I have become entirely obsessed with watching movies and depicting them. I’ve started to idolize movies because of their directorial expertise; noticing how camera angles can change an entire scene, how sound- or a lack of it- affects the mood. There are so many of these thoughts floating around my head during a movie that sometimes I forget to enjoy the story for what it is. This blog will be a haven for those thoughts- a place where I can develop my experience as a writer, while exploring the passion I have for these stories. Fellow movie addicts can come here to explore movies that they may want to see or hear my thoughts on a film they have already seen. Much of the reviews I write will target an audience of indie film watchers. However, I will be exploring movies outside of that classification in rare instances (i.e. Oscar nominees).

In the future, I hope to incorporate my twitter with this platform. I will provide a link to my twitter on this wordpress, as well as a link to my wordpress on twitter. I think it could be a great resource to inform my peers on my work and provide updates to readers. Twitter is essentially a blog within itself, so I hope to post more of my thoughts about movies I’ve seen within my tweets. I think this will be a great way to attract followers that share this fascination with film.

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