Staff Picks: Movies Nov. 18-23
Edited by Kathleen Forrest
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here are the individual staff member’s own, and do not reflect the perspectives of the Collegian staff as a whole, nor the view of the Collegian as an institution.
Art by Maizy Goerlitz
The Pick: Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India
Available on Netflix, rated PG
Submitted by Jake Procino, News Editor
Staff Comment: Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India, is a 3-hour and 44-minute Oscar-nominated 2001 Indian Hindi-language epic musical sports film about a rag-tag group of Indian farmers in 1891 who play the British raj (the colonial rulers) in a game of cricket for their livelihoods.
There's a lot to unpack here.
Global superstar [Aamir Khan] plays the lead: a young, male farmer named Bhuvan who gets into a kerfuffle with a ruling British officer named Captain Russel. Captain Russel challenges Bhuvan and his farming village to a game of cricket with very high stakes: if the British soldiers win the match, they will triple the lagaan (the annual agricultural tax); if the Indian villagers win, there will be no lagaan for three years. What's worse, the rainy season has been delayed so the farmers haven't been able to grow any crops this season.
What follows is an epic musical saga of a group of underdog farmers learning how to play cricket to avoid triple lagaan. It includes all the ingredients for a great sports film: a Judas-esque backstabbing, dance numbers, love triangles, a cruel, merciless villain and an [epic training montage].
It's a long, long film with a laundry-list of cast members, but the pay-off is worth every second.
The Pick: Snowpiercer
Available on Netflix, rated R
Submitted by Noah Dantes, Editor-in-Chief
Staff Comment: A truly bizarre but controversial crossover and social commentary you never knew you needed. Based on a 70s French comic, directed by Bong Joon Ho (the man behind Parasite and Okja), and starring the best Chris (Chris Evans) and British actress Tilda Swinton, Snowpiercer is an international project with… eccentricities. Machines smushing up cockroaches to make chunky meals for the train’s back-car passengers? Yum. Ski mask men coating their axes in fish blood before battle? Wtf? Using drugs as a literal bomb? WTF! All set on a train divided by a class system and (brutally violent) class war hurtling across a barren, frozen, dead Earth- except for the odd polar bear, of course. All because we killed our planet by trying to reverse climate change too hard. What?? And perhaps it’s all secretly a sequel to Willy Wonka??? If you start to think about the movie too hard, you’ll have way more questions than you’ll ever have answers. For me, that’s part of the fun, but if you look at the reviews to this movie, half of watchers claim it to be a masterpiece while the other half claim it to be a plothole-filled trainwreck (pun intended). If you’re one to focus on plot holes, this movie probably isn’t for you. But if you can sit back and enjoy the ride for what it is: excellent social commentary, beautiful camera shots, a unique setting + sets and just an insane amount of weirdness, it might just end up as one of your favorite movies.
P.S. Don’t watch the trailer, it sucks.
P.P.S. This was the movie that made me realize that Chris Evans has a WAY bigger acting range than what they let him use in the Marvel movies (even though I do love Marvel).
The Pick: The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
Available on Netflix, rated R
Submitted by Kathleen Forrest, Managing Editor
Staff Comment: While Netflix labels this Coen brothers movie a ‘comedy’ that’s not quite right, and while ‘dark comedy’ gets closer, it’s still not there. This movie makes you laugh, but it’ll also make you feel weird about it. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is an anthology of mini-westerns, “ranging from absurd to profound”, and it runs marathons within that range. All of the stories have a connecting theme to them, but while you walk away knowing the theme, articulation of it may yet escape you. It includes actors like Liam Neeson and James Franco, although it might still take you some time to recognize that because, well, it’s a Coen brothers movie. All of the actors do such a phenomenal job that they blend right into the world created in this film, and it does create a world. I recommend you start watching at sunset, both because I’m pretentious like that and also because it gives you the full effect of ending the movie when it’s dark out. It is beautiful and ridiculous, and I cannot recommend it enough.