The Good Liar: Senior Scammers

The Good Liar is a satisfying, slow-burning thriller that will make you reevaluate your perception of innocent senior citizens.

The Good Liar stars Sir Ian McKellen in the role of Roy, an experienced scam artist. I will admit that I was pretty excited to watch this movie because I have been a fan of McKellen since watching him in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy and most recently in the play King Lear. The pacing of The Good Liar‘s trailer first led me to believe that the movie would be faster pace and would contain more action, which admittedly made me a bit skeptical since the film’s leads, Ian McKellen and Helen Mirren are advanced in age. I was glad to find instead that the movie showcased both Mirren and McKellen’s skill in a slower and more confined setting.

Taken from Warner Bros. Pictures’s Youtube

The Good Liar begins with Roy initiating contact with Betty, Mirren’s character, on an online dating site. He lies about a lot of the information on his profile and aims to take advantage of Betty given she is a recent widow.

Taken from Warner Bros. Pictures’s Youtube

The Elderly as Easy Targets

Taking advantage of the elderly is not a new phenomenon and the advent of internet seems to have made the process even easier. The mythical level that the African Prince email scam has reached in pop culture attests the the overall gullibility of people and especially of those less technologically savvy. Given that the elderly often lived their entire adult lives without the internet, they are usually the target of internet scams.

The scamming occurs increasingly often on dating sites given their wide proliferation. These sites rely on the trust of users; users have to believe that who they are talking to is the person pictured in said profile. This lack of physicality makes it easy for people to lie and initiate a scam that preys on the vulnerability of those seeking love.

Inverting Expectations

While the scam Roy initiates with Betty is the main focus that drives the plot of the film, there is an additional scheme that he masterminds. Without revealing any spoilers, this swindle involves many people and interestingly, they are all significantly younger than Roy.

Taken from Warner Bros. Pictures’s Youtube

This importantly inverts the viewers expectation that old people are the victims of fraud and demonstrates that the elderly are capable of being agents of hustles. A New York Times article states that:

the Department of Justice described criminal cases involving nearly $700 million lost in the previous year by about two million people. The ones hit hardest by this kind of fraud are over 70, and they experience an average loss of $41,800, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau reports.

This inversion of expectations should not be taken lightly. The portrayal of the elderly in roles different from those typically attributed to them allows for more creativity in cinema. Just look at the ending to Hot Fuzz and try tell me it is not hilarious and that you saw it coming, you simply can’t. Who says that old people can only be grandparents or cheap tools to advance plot and evoke sympathy with their approaching death?

I’d like to believe that having the elderly play such atypical roles such as scammers or weapon toting gunslingers can only open the door to the creation of new intellectual property, which is something utterly key in a time when safe bets and sequels appear prominently in any given week’s list of premiers.

Written by: Nils Ljungquist

Behind The Mic: Hot Noise! With Jarrett Schmidt

If you’re an early bird looking for that extra pump of energy that 7 espresso shots just can’t fulfill, I have the perfect remedy for you. I recommend one heaping serving of “Hot Noise! With Jarrett Schmidt.”

Jarrett Schmidt’s solo radio show features him and special guests creating and deconstructing sounds some of us have yet to ever hear. Airing live on KCR College Radio Saturdays from 5 to 6 AM, “Hot Noise! With Jarrett Schmidt” is the most energetic and electrifying morning radio show you have never heard. 

The enigmatic host of this program is none other than the early-bird Jarrett Schmidt. The third-year Economics major transferred to SDSU from Southwestern College over the summer to start his fall of 2019 as an Aztec. Looking to exercise his creativity and give the world some piping hot noise, he joined KCR.

Most of the time new members are required to have their first semester of shows with a partner, so as to make the transition easy for those who lack experience. Schmidt figured he would be better off doing something on his own accord. 

With early morning time slots generally wide open, Schmidt managed to work his magic and get his own radio show at the peak of dawn. A radio show at 5 in the morning is perfect for Schmidt; he says he’s up before 5 almost every day and wakes up with no alarm,

What exactly is hot noise? It’s anything that he wants it to be. Having played trombone since middle school, Schmidt is obsessed with creating new sounds using household items, contact mics, and even pumpkins. If it can make an interesting sound, there’s a chance Schmidt has already toyed with it. 

Hot Noise! With Jarrett Schmidt” is only one of a few creative outlets for the noise machine. 

His Bandcamp account features over twenty albums created by Schmidt in the last 2+ years. Within this plethora of music is a surplus of experimentation. Schmidt has a concept album titled Collaborations With the Radio, where he created compositions in conjunction with AM radio shows that were live on air at the time of the recording. Check it out for yourself and see how it affects your position on climate change. 

Being a musician of all sorts often means collaborations with others who can jam out with you. Schmidt is in a free jazz group named Ebaugh that will be performing at Upright Citizen in Chula Vista on December 14th. He has also played trombone with local band Blush on multiple occasions. Most notable though is his band Wholly Roullars, pronounced “Holy Rollers”, where they have yet to write down the name of the band using the same spelling. Every time you see their band name, it is spelled in a completely different way. This noise band features Schmidt and his friend Orion putting their all into their performances and sometimes even dressing up as the Joker to get the crowd to put a smiley face on. 

It’s clear talking with Schmidt that he does all of this for the joy that it brings him at the end of the day. Whether it be putting out concept albums created in his bedroom at the wee hours of the night, or sketching landscapes in his sketchbook as he awaits his next class to begin, Schmidt is living his life to the fullest. 

In a Latin Jazz band during his last semester at Southwestern, he exercised this same daringness during his solo parts where he intentionally played off-key in an effort to do something different. Though his professor wasn’t happy about it, he felt happy to let something out that was deep within him. 

His eagerness to experiment and create is contagious and inspiring to anyone who struggles with doing the same. Schmidt carries around a daring fearlessness that makes anyone want to pick up some art supplies and just see what happens. For him, being carefree and doing things for your own personal sake makes life easy and enjoyable. 

So, what is Success to Jarrett Wolfgang Schmidt?

“Just being able to pay my bills.” 

He is not obsessed with stardom or becoming a millionaire; Schmidt wants to cover necessities and then from their exercise his creativity to keep that smile on his face. 

His inspirations range from Frank Zappa and John Zorn to Gary Wilson and R. Stevie Moore

“They’re really just on another level with their instrumentation. They really understand music theory. I think it’s something to really strive for, but also I think it’s cool just doing stuff without knowing how to do it.” 

R. Stevie Moore is notorious for having released approximately 400 albums in his life so far, Jarrett Schmidt is 23 albums in so far and he wants to someday get into the same numbers as  Moore. 

“Hot Noise! With Jarrett Schmidt” is available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Soundcloud right now. It is live every Saturday morning from 5 to 6 am. He has plenty of music live on his Bandcamp and you can see him performing at an open mic near you. 

He would like to let the world know, “A lot of what I do and what I see in people is doing their own thing. It’s all about individualism.”

“I think it’s good for people to do what you want to do; do something that’s true to you.”

Written by: Alexis Camel
Photos by: Alexis Camel

The State of the Movies: Ford v. Ferrari – Your Dad Will Like This One

Ford v. Ferrari is a true “dad movie” with wholesome values, goofy moments, and intense racing scenes that will keep you and your pops entertained.

Ford v. Ferrari comes to us from James Mangold, the director behind Logan and Walk the Line. It stars Matt Damon and Christian Bale and tells the story of two men, Carroll Shelby (Damon) and Ken Miles (Bale) who are hired by the Ford Motor Company to build a car that can defeat Ferrari in the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans race. The film highlights the struggles the men went through not only to defy physics and build a car capable of reaching the speeds necessary to beat Ferrari but also deal with the corporate control of the Ford Motor Company.

I really did not know what to expect going into this movie. I really liked Logan so I knew at the very least this would be a well-directed movie. I had heard some mostly positive buzz coming out of festivals like TIFF, but I was concerned the movie would be “Oscar bait.” If you don’t know what “Oscar bait” is it refers to a movie that is overly sentimental and created as a “crowd-pleaser” in order to win over the voters of the Academy Awards. Famous YouTube film critic Adum from YMS had called the movie “oscar bait” in his review so I was concerned that it would be too overly sentimental. I still wanted to see it though, so I got my ticket for a showing at a Regal theater for 9:30 at the Thursday night IMAX showing.

The only thing was that when I got to the theater, the IMAX projector was broken and there were no other showings in any other formats. Any other night I would go home and simply see it another time, but I had a rental car for the night, and what the hell else was I to do with it from 9 PM-1 AM. I quickly saw that an AMC was also showing the movie in IMAX at 9:30 in IMAX, and next thing you know I got in my car and had my own little race down the I-8 West towards Mission Valley to get to the theater. Fortunately, I was able to get my ticket and get settled into the movie with only two more trailers left before the showing. It was overwhelming because I was not sure if I would make the movie in time, but the fast drive I was forced to make down the highway got me in the mood to see a fun racing movie.

Despite Ford V. Ferrari being a somewhat cheesy movie, it is overall still a lot of fun and worth seeing on the big screen.

Ford V. Ferrari is a fun movie with some very well constructed racing scenes and really great acting from both Bale and Damon. I don’t think it’s the best movie of the year but I don’t think it’s bad either. This really is a “dad movie” at heart which isn’t necessarily an insult as you may think. I think that simply means this movie has more wholesome values than the other selection of movies you have currently in theaters. Despite being a tense sports movie, it’s very wholesome which was definitely welcomed. There’s no larger force causing significant physical or psychological harm onto a person or group of people, it’s just simply a movie about two guys who love building and racing cars butting heads against other people who are also passionate about cars.

As expected the filmmaking in this movie is very good! From the directing to the cinematography to the editing, everyone in the crew was on their A-Game while making this movie. I loved the cinematography and sound design in particular and thought they made the racing scenes a lot of fun. As a filmmaker myself, the prospect of trying to get these racing scenes right makes me incredibly anxious. I can only imagine the issues they faced with the placement of the cameras onto the cars and the continuity of each shot. There’s so much that goes down in many of the scenes; cars are not only passing each other but they’ll often times crash into the track and explode, and it is important that if you are going to get multiple takes of these sequences from different angles, they match each other identically.

What they were able to accomplish was incredible and I, once again, have to commend all the crew involved in this production. The acting, as expected, is also fantastic! Matt Damon and Christian Bale work very well together and you see their friendship develop over the course of the movie. One of my favorite scenes is when they fight each other in front of Ken’s (Bale) house, but rather than have it be an intense dramatic sequence, it is very funny. They tumble on each other and Christian Bale throws groceries at Damon, it’s one of the funniest scenes in Ford v. Ferrari. There are a couple of moments like that where they will give each other a hard time in the most loving and goofy way they can and it’s always enjoyable to watch.

In regards to issues I have with this movie, it’s mostly in the script. The villains of the movie (the people at Ferrari and the corporate folks over at Ford) are so “cartoony” and one dimensional. It was clear they were trying to go for a more goofy approach to these villains, but it comes across really cheesy. In fact, all the other characters that aren’t Carroll and Ken are all cookie cutter and boring characters. Also, although this movie is still funny every once in a while there will be a joke that won’t work very well for me. It’s not common this happens, but it does happen every once in a while. Also, the movie is 2-1/2 hours long and for the first 45-60 minutes or so you can feel it. Once the racing is underway the movie mostly flies by but with trailers, prepare to be at the theater for almost three hours.

Despite Ford v. Ferrari being a pretty cheesy movie, I still had a lot of fun with it and would recommend you see this one too. I like that this movie is not a prequel, reboot, sequel, or anything else but rather a true story that a team of filmmakers decided to adapt into their own screenplay and production. I say the whole “take your dad to this movie” thing as a joke, but I do actually think this is a good movie to go see with your family when and if you go visit them for Thanksgiving next week. Don’t expect this to be the best movie of the year, but expect a good time!

Written by Christian Scognamillo
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Terminator: Dark Fate – White Savior?

Terminator: Dark Fate delivers a fun, action experience that relies and feeds heavily on fan’s nostalgia, but ultimately lacks the heart present in early installments of the series.

The new Terminator movie follows the recent trend in the action genre of situating movies in locations of political importance. Like the newest Rambo, Terminator: Dark Fate takes place in Mexico. It is positive that a genre mostly known for white casts is getting more diverse; the protagonist Dani Ramos, is played by Colombian actress Natalia Reyes and the film’s villain terminator is played by Mexican-American actor Gabriel Luna. Although the films’ cast is more diverse, the story told still relies on deeply ingrained stereotypes.

SPOILERS BELOW!

This new installment in the Terminator series alters the future established in Terminator 2: Judgement Day. The film scraps Skynet and replaces it with a nearly identical AI institution called Legion. Fans of the series will remember that the terminator faced in the sequel was extra deadly because it was liquid metal; it could faze through walls and regenerate. This deadliness is literally taken in Dark Fate and multiplied by 2, as the terminators are able to split into 2 entities. 

Taken from Paramount Pictures Youtube

This Terminator is tasked with killing Dani Ramos because she is revealed to be humanity’s future savior later in the film. The film utilizes another plot device from Judgement Day in the form of sending someone from the future to assist the savior. This assistance comes in the way of Grace, who is a mechanically enhanced human. This early chase scene in the film mirrors the iconic semi-truck chasing John Connor in Judgement Day through the Los Angeles River. Grace and Sarrah Connor both end up saving Dani from being terminated.

Saviors? Who Saves Who?

Both Grace and Connor do not inform Dani on the entirety of the situation for fear that she is not ready to receive the information. So for much of the film, Dani has no other choice but to follow the two white women blindly. This leads one to question who really is saving who in the film? Is Grace, who in Terminator tradition as a person from the future literally dropped from the sky the “savior?” Or is Sarrah Connor, who arrived just in time as the Terminator was about to kill both Grace and Dani the “savior?”

What is poignant is that Dani’s moment to save both Grace and Sarrah Connor comes in the form of a stereotype. The three women are forced to leave Mexico as the Terminator will stop at nothing to finish his mission. The exit plan comes in the form of undocumented crossing with the help of Dani’s coyote uncle. A coyote is someone who smuggles people across the border usually at a high fee. Dani’s revelation of her uncle’s connection is so perfectly convenient that its actually hilarious. 

Taken from Paramount Pictures Youtube

The women follow through with the plan and end up getting detained right at the point of crossing. They are taken into custody by Border Patrol agents and placed in the cages all too familiar to those living in Southern California.

The Terminator is able to track them down pretty easily and actually makes his way into the facility as a Border Patrol Agent. Again, this action mirrors the Terminator from Judgement Day who transforms into a police officer. Both Terminators are interestingly smooth talkers and charming. They go about unsuspected and utilize the information systems and technology available to the institutions of government.

Taken from Paramount Pictures Youtube

The choice to portray the Terminator as a Border Patrol agent in the current political climate is one that is hard not to dwell on. The current policies which have separated families are done by heartless entities like Terminators. It is also interesting to note however that the Terminator is portrayed and meant to be of Mexican origin. This factor only conflicts the situation when compared to the ethnicity and actions of the other Terminator in the film, Carl, played iconically by Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Carl is a Terminator who was sent from the future to kill John Connor after the vents of Judgement Day. It is later revealed that Carl begins to become more human and even takes on a family. He even regrets taking John Connor’s life after seeing the happiness that family brings one. Carl ends up assisting the three women in the fight against the Terminator. He importantly like in Judgement Day, sacrifices himself to kill the Terminator. While the plot sets up the “savior” to be Dani, the action taken by her guardians leads one to believe that she really possessed no agency throughout the film. Terminator: Dark Fate in attempting to be transcendent ultimately falls back on old tropes and produces a film that prolongs stereotypes. 

Written by: Nils Ljungquist