Is Climax Worth Your Time?

Climax is one of the most memorable theater going experiences audiences will have for a long while!

Climax is one of the most genuinely frightening and haunting experiences I have ever had in my life.  This film deeply troubled and disturbed me on a level I have never really experienced with a film before.  This is an Arthouse French Extremist film directed by famous French filmmaker Gaspar Noe`.  Hist two most well-known films are Irreversible (2002) and Enter the Void (2009).  These two films are known for depicting intense sequences of graphic violence or intense, psychedelic drug trips.  Now, I must confess that I am new when it comes to the works of Gaspar Noe`.  Climax is the only film of his I have seen so far.  I was inclined to check this film out, however, because of a very positive review published by YouTuber Adum Johnson of “YourMovieSucksdotOrg” who gave this film a glowing review and declared it the best film of 2018. Even though the film disturbed me on a level that I have never experienced before, does that mean this film is at least well-made?

Climax tells the story of a school of dancers that all share a passion and love of dancing together as indicated by the audition tapes shown of each of the characters. 

The film then starts off as they rehearse an extremely elaborate and seemingly very well-choreographed dance of theirs that lasts in the film for about six minutes and is captured in one shot.  They find themselves into some trouble, however, as they attend an after party in which most of the troupe accidentally drinks some sangria that was spiked with LSD.  It is then from this point that the film turns into an absolute nightmare. We never see what the dancers are hallucinating, only their reactions, and the way this affects everyone around them.

This is the opening dance sequence to this film that is almost six minutes long and done in only one shot

Despite this film being one of the most challenging viewing experiences, I still cannot deny the incredible craft that is on display.

This is not a film I have any desire to watch again.  In fact, I feel this film can only truly be described as a hellish nightmare, and it is certainly not for everyone.  Events occur in this film that are so unbelievably troubling, it makes this a challenging watch.  With that being said, the cinematography on display is extremely impressive.  The dance sequences that occur in this film are all captured in one continuous shot which makes them so impressive to watch. What’s interesting, however, is that these long takes aren’t exclusive to dance sequences.  Whenever the dancers try to relieve themselves of the horrors of their intense drug trip, the camera will often linger and follow them around the dance studio.  These shots will oftentimes last up to fifteen minutes.  The lighting and the music that accompany these scenes as well is equally impressive.  The film will often present contrasting harsh tones of either bright neon lights and decorations, or incredibly boring and stale brown dance studio floors.  And finally, the score for this film was woven into the narrative, as it was presented as the music the DJ was playing for the dancers during rehearsal and at the after party.  Overall, the score was very fun and memorable.

*SPOILERS AHEAD* DON’T READ THIS NEXT SECTION IF YOU DON’T WANT TO SPOIL CLIMAX!

Now I would like to discuss some of the most horrific moments that occur throughout the film.  So, after the dance sequence occurs and the troupe drinks the sangria, the party starts, and the opening credits roll.  And if you’re wondering why I am only mentioning this now, it’s because the credits for this film start at about thirty to forty five minutes into this movie. 

What’s more is that they are presented in a very similar flashy style to that of Enter the Void.  After the credits roll, dancers become terrified when they realize that they are starting to experience a horrible psychedelic trip.  The teacher of this school, who has a young son who can’t be more than seven years old, accidentally drinks some of the sangria and begins to start hallucinating himself.  This worries his mother who is also now high on LSD and she decides to lock in in the electrical room to keep him away from the other dancers.  Although a horrible move, these actions are somewhat justified upon remembering that they are all high on LSD.  As the dancers begin to figure out who is the person who spiked the LSD, they try to find other dancers who did not drink any sangria at all.  They find one dancer who did not drink any, but the reason is still unclear and unknown.  That’s all the convincing they need however, to decide to throw him out into the snow locking him outside for the night.  They find another one of the dancers who did not drink any since she is pregnant.  The dancers do not believe her that she is pregnant though and they start kicking her stomach and beating her to the ground.  They eventually convince her to punch her own stomach, effectively aborting her own baby and causing a miscarriage.  The camera then lingers back to one of the main dancers, played by Sofia Boutella, lying near the door where the little boy is screaming and crying as he tries to escape the electrical room.  As the dancer tries to get the teacher to let him out, all the electricity goes off and the screaming suddenly stops.  Everyone now realizes that the little boy has accidentally electrocuted himself in the room.  The teacher screams and cries as she realizes she has accidentally killed her son.  The main dancer mentioned before is raped by another female dancer, a brother and sister pair of twins accidentally sleep together, and the final sequence during the party consists of everyone either having sex or convulsing on the floor.  The shot is presented upside down so the floor is on the top of the frame and the actors on the floor are on the bottom of the frame.  After this, we find out one of the separate female dancers spiked the sangria with LSD as we find her bag is full of cartons LSD and they even shows her taking some LSD eye drops herself.  Further, the dancer thrown into the snow has frozen to death outside, and the teacher has slit her wrists to mourn the loss of her son.

Although Climax is a really well made film, should you still see it though?

Climax is a film that is designed and created to intentionally make you extremely uncomfortable and polarize audiences who view it.  Many critics have pointed out, and I will follow suit in saying that audiences will either absolutely love or absolutely hate this film.  In all honesty, however, I’m not sure how I truly feel about this movie.  I acknowledge that what Gaspar Noe` has done with his directing and cinematography is near groundbreaking; Simultaneously, I’ll acknowledge that I was absolutely miserable while viewing the film.  Although this was intentional, it really decreased the “re-watch-ability” factor for me which I feel is crucial for any film.  I recommend this film the most to audience members who are looking for something unique and unlike anything they’ve ever seen before.  I understand the current landscape of films nowadays is super hero movies and Disney remakes, so this is definitely a nice change of pace from that.  However, the film is still so miserable that I think this might be too far for even the most seasoned audience members who want some more creativity in their films.  Here’s what I will say though: If what I have described to you sounds crazy enough that you feel the need to watch it, you should do exactly that.  For me, I acknowledge this is usually not a film I would watch, but I wanted to challenge myself.  If you’re not into disturbing visceral experiences like this, don’t watch it.  This will give even the bravest film viewers nightmares and may likely leave you in a bad head space for the next day or two, as it did with me.  I can’t really classify this movie as good or bad, but rather just disturbing.  For me, this was a masterfully made film that upset me greatly, which is why I’m glad I watched it, but I never want to watch it again.

Written by: Christian Scognamillo

The Best Parts of Seeing Mt. Joy at the Music Box

Mt. Joy

The Four Best Things We Saw at the San Diego Music Box’s Mt. Joy Concert!

I have never shown someone Mt. Joy’s music and had them dislike it. I would even be as bold to say that mostly everyone who I’ve shown them to has started listening to them and grown their own obsession. The first time I saw the Mt. Joy perform live, I had never heard their music before. My friends had insisted we stopped by their performance on the way to see a different artist at the Life is Beautiful festival in Las Vegas. After that show I could not stop listening to them! To this day, I distinctly remember specific songs from their live performance that gave me a truly intimate connection with their music. Since that festival in September, I somehow have managed to fit at least one song from Mt. Joy’s first self-titled album into my music shuffle everyday. 7 months later, and Mt. Joy made their final tour stop over at the San Diego Music Box . Here’s the best 4 things I saw at that show:

1. New Music

The band premiered 2 new songs “Bug Eyes” and “Ruins.” I am not always the most excited when artists debut new songs at shows but these songs brought me to tears. Lead singer Matt Quinn’s vocals silenced the room as everyone peered onto the stage in complete admiration. I didn’t know if the band’s new music would live up to their debut album which I cherished so deeply but after they performed these songs, I know now that whatever is coming is going to be incredible. The songs mirrored the themes of the first album, topics on loss, life and nature.

2. The Encore

The band left the stage after performing one of their greatest hits, “Silver Lining.” Afterwards, the crowd didn’t budge as they begged for an encore. When the band stepped back onto the tiny stage they played another new track and then concluded with a fan favorite, “Julia.” The song is smooth, melodic and hypnotizing. A simple story of a man too nervous to order food from a beautiful waitress.

“Don’t say you love the old me” Quinn poured out. The song then switched into a cover of the song “Ain’t No Sunshine” by Bill Withers before returning again to “Julia.”

3. The song “cardinal

While listening to this song on any streaming service, the beginning feels nearly recognizable from the whistling melody which introduces the track. Although I anticipated to see this song live, I wasn’t sure if the whistles would be apart of the performance but sure enough, Quinn whistled to the tune as perfectly as the recording. The song builds upon itself and then breaks back into a peaceful melody much like some of the band’s other songs.

4. The live music

Lead singer Matt Quinn’s vocals were more powerful and raw than anything I have heard before. The show was filled with guitar solos and keyboard solos. Performances like these remind me why I love going to live shows. Often, I’ll see a band perform live, and while the performances are still incredible, the music doesn’t sound as great live, but with Mt. Joy that was not the case. Each song live relayed the authenticity of the songs and the stories that were told in each. The songs on the album vary from many different music styles. “Dirty Love” sounds like an upbeat ukulele tune whereas “St. George” feels like a slow ballad. The band’s ability to perfect playing these differing songs live show the full range of talent Mt.Joy encompasses.

Written by: Kelly Kerrigan

Weekly Watchlist: Week 4

Weekly Watchlist. Week 4. This week is completely packed with movies as I have worked towards watching at least one film per day. Lots of variety this time around, mixing classics, more contemporary films, criterions, and some marvel movies.

So here’s what I watched this time around.

Saturday (3.23.19)

Chinatown (1974) – 4/5

  • A classic I was required to watch for my film classics class in anticipation for the midterm; quite a nice film though; Jack Nicholson kills it and the story is genuinely cool.

Young Frankenstein (1974) – 4/5

  • Another classic I needed to watch for the midterm mentioned above; this film was definitely ahead of its time and incorporated a lot of comedic elements that I appreciated.

Sunday (3.24.19)

Mid90s (2018) – 4.5/5

  • One of my favorite movies of all time due to the subject matter and the personal story it tells; I relate to it a lot to I love to watch this.

The Soloist (2009) – 3/5

  • Not a big fan of learning about African-American poverty through the lens of a rich English white dude but it wasn’t terrible. Nice performances by the actors and props to the kid who played the younger version of Jamie Foxx and killed it on the cello.

Us (2019) – 4/5

  • Lots to unpack in this movie honestly. The soundtrack/score is amazing; the cinematography and writing are really well done; I need a 2nd viewing asap to interpret the rest.

Monday (3.25.19)

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) – 3.5/5

  • Not much to say about this movie; decent origin story and well executed

Tuesday (3.26.19)

If Beale Street Could Talk (2018) – 4.5/5

  • Quite honestly, I’ve already listened to the music score for this film a million times before finally watching it. This film is a great example of beautiful story telling. The plot is touching and extremely real; in addition, all artistic/visual elements are so well done and I love it

Wednesday (3.27.19)

Captive State (2019) – 2/5

  • This was a true waste of talent and money to the fullest extent. This was poorly executed w/ many flukes and just lame writing. I wish I could like it more cuz it was filmed in Chicago and we need more of that but oh well

Mandy (2018) – 4/5

  • The visuals in this movie are absolutely crazy; lighting and cinematography go hard af. Also, Nicholas Cage in a chainsaw battle is a nightmare-esque image that I’ll be thinking about for a while

Thursday (3.28.19)

Punch-Drunk Love (2002) – 4/5

  • This is really good anxiety-ridden writing w/ excellent cinematography and it hits hard; there’s literally so many subplots in this it’s crazy. Sidenote: Sandler & Hoffman KILL it in this

Friday (3.29.19)

The Beach Bum (2019) – 3.5/5

  • Accurate representation of South Florida residents played by Matthew McConaughey in his final form. The plot is kind everywhere but it works for the most part; I like it but I don’t think I’d watch it again

Saturday (3.30.19)

Us (2019) – 3.5/5

  • A 2nd viewing reveals some plot holes and delivers more questions than answers tbh; nonetheless, great film and extremely well don

To The Wonder (2012) – 2.5/5

  • Personable and nice but kinda just pointless w/ not much substance; this is shot very well (on film) by Lubezki. In addition, this is the first Mallick film I’ve seen (sadly) so there are several more to come

Sunday (3.31.19)

Punch-Drunk Love (2002) – 4.5/5

  • 2nd viewing in the span of 3 days; somehow watching this with friends actually made it more enjoyable and better so it gets an extra half star for friendship

Monday (4.1.19)

Magnolia (1999) – 4.5/5

  • Honestly not sure how to process everything I have just absorbed in these 3 hours of cinematic excellence

Tuesday (4.2.19)

The Avengers (2012) – 3.5/5

  • Loki is a cool antagonist; thought this movie was the most badass thing when I was 12

Weekend (2011) – 4/5

  • I really like the cinematography; the camera here peers into these people’s lives and listens into their conversations. The dialogue is nice and realistic and shines through the long ass takes; very very nice

Wednesday (4.3.19)

Iron Man 3 (2013) – 2.5/5

  • I don’t like the backstory for the main antagonist; not my fav marvel movie & I hate gwyneth paltrow

Thor: The Dark World (2013) – 2.5/5

  • This movie is just lord of the rings characters w/ star wars technology

Thursday (4.4.19)

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) – 3/5

  • Yeehaw; I like the character development w/ Bucky’s character and the bromance he got going on with cap’n murica

Short Term 12 (2013) – 3.5/5

  • Inspiring that an alumni from my school made this; sad to see that a POC writer/director filled his film with a full caucasian cast though, the only minorities in this film serve as very small roles or supporting characters; which I guess was typical in 2013? Idk man. The story is nice/unique and the subplots within it help move it along pretty well. Cinematography is rather nice and completely handheld and I enjoy the score.

Carnage (2011) – 3.5/5

  • Nice opening shot, really great casting, very nice lighting, prod design is amazing. The funny thing about adults is that they aren’t direct and to the point like children, they dance around the subject in this film and try to politely take stabs at each other’s family/issues. The tense situations are alleviated by the awkward humor of John C. Reilly’s character and upfront sarcasm by Christoph Waltz’ character; but the dialogue between the 2 mothers as they try to hide their bitchiness behind politeness is what I enjoy the most. In agreement w/ my friend Q, the entertainment value diminishes towards the end; you can only play w/ the idea of 4 adults bickering in one apartment for so long before it gets old, though I like how the story/characters evolve throughout the film.

Thank you for reading along for this week; I hope these comments offer insight into your choice of what to watch and what to avoid.

Make sure to check in next week to see what I watch.

Written by: Eduardo Orozco

Gothic Tropic at San Diego’s Lantern Street Festival

Gothic Tropic Frontwoman

Gothic Tropic’s Headlinging Punk Performance at San Diego’s Lantern Street Festival Rocked and Banged the Night Away.

It’s a cool 70 degrees at approximately 5:35 p.m. The sun is shining down on San Diego’s Lantern Street Festival at Liberty Station headlined by Los Angeles band Gothic Tropic. Opening act Pretty Polly gracefully takes the stage, kicking off the evening as festival attendees are checked-in and given their lanterns. An all ages event, the festival is home to dozens of food stands with lantern decorating station taking over the back of the courtyard. The show has only just begun.

As a crowd of over 5,000 cycled in throughout the cool evening, opening performances by Pretty Polly and BELLSAINT warmed up crowds who were already filled up with delicious food. The time is now 8:30 p.m., Gothic Tropic is slated to take the stage in a few moments. This is their first headline performance, ever. Which begs the question, who is Gothic Tropic?

Gothic Tropic is the indie pop band of Southern California you’ve never encountered.

It is the creation of multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, and Los Angeles native Cecilia Della Peruti. Della Peruti was recently chosen by Fender for their American Series Campaign, exemplifying the power she holds when a guitar is in her hands. Similar to what Prince’s band The Revolution was first known for, a guitar is a vessel for Della Peruti to express herself while putting a focus on the music instead of the artist.

Gothic Tropic’s debut album “Fast or Feast” was released on May 19, 2017 and has since established their name in Indie Rock and Pop. The quality of the debut shined a light on Della Peruti, being recognized by Beck and asked to join his touring band. Della Peruti stated that playing for Beck, “really elevated my understanding of what the gig is.” Della Peruti went on to
say:

“This artist is somebody I profoundly respect and admire and actually really look up to as a songwriter and an artist. Now I feel like I’m finally doing something right.”

Cecilia Della Peruti

Touring with Beck was an astounding achievement for the Gothic Tropic frontwoman…

But despite this, she still stays true to her methods. Humility, consistency, and transparency are the tools driving Della Peruti and Gothic Tropic to the top, at their own pace.

“Nothing’s changed in my approach or practices, but what informed me now watching him was how generous he is. And how easy-going and respectful of everyone an artist of that caliber can be.”

Cecilia Della Peruti

Fans are anticipating their next album, expected sometime before summer, and Della Peruti is as excited as the fans. “I’m really excited! I’m just so stoked.” said Gothic Tropic’s leading lady.
She is also working on a collaborative project called “Bloodthirsty” with Italian Composer Daniele Luppi and writer/producer Alex Goose.

“So it’s like punk as f*ck, but with like all this beautiful melody. And it’s very Italian, and I’m Italian!”

proudly declared by Della Peruti.

It’s now nine o’clock at the Lantern Street Festival. Gothic Tropic was supposed to be onstage 30 minutes ago.

Unfortunately, technical difficulties have been frustrating the band and the crew for the last hour. Eager to play, Della Peruti does a lap around the stage after showing a bit of frustration. The backing tracks are not coming through, making it difficult for the band to perform new songs, let alone any at all. The tracks are not coming in anytime soon.

“We’re a punk band tonight!” exclaimed Della Peruti as she ran on stage, signaling the band behind her.

The crowd watches.

The crowd has been ignorant to the technical difficulties up to this point; Soon, Peruti takes control of the crowd’s attention. “We’re Gothic Tropic, tonight it’s a punk show and we’re gonna play a new song called drunk on a rhythm.” Della Peruti shouted into the mic.

All the frustration is let out by her initial guitar strum; the headliners are here to rock the show. As the beautiful hand-decorated lanterns shone across liberty station, Gothic Tropic lit up the stage with their electric performance. Drummer Sheldon Reed was speechless after his first festival performance. Della Peruti melted faces of all ages with her masterful guitar solos
throughout. The transition of fan favorites from “Feed You To The Sharks” to “Your Soul” stole the ears of audience members. Closing out with their notable track “Stronger,” Della
Peruti’s exhilarating almost 3-minute guitar solo left the crowd cheering and Gothic Tropic’s frontwoman with nothing else to give the audience but a wave goodnight.

Written by: Alexis Camel