Sunflower Seeds: A Soon to be Farewell

As I soon say farewell as an undergraduate student, I would like to thank San Diego State University for the best four years of my life. As I am currently applying to full time opportunities for post graduation, I am reminiscing on the time I had throughout the years.

My freshman year was the biggest learning year for me.

It was my least favorite year, but I was still figuring out who I was as a person. I was mentally, physically, and emotionally unhealthy. The Freshman 15 was more like the Freshman 30, and I did not take school seriously. I did not pass a class that year and I never felt good about myself. However, the summer following my freshman year I got myself back in shape! I put my well-being first, and that was the best thing I could have done. 

Sophomore year was a bit interesting at first because I felt like I was starting over again.

I had cleansed myself from the negativity that I brought upon my freshman year, so I almost felt like I was starting as a newbie again. However, this was a great year for my growth. I made new friends that happen to be some of my best friends today! I joined new clubs like KCR College Radio, I and explored more of what San Diego had to offer. The books came first and I raised my GPA so I could stay in the business school. I felt more like myself and I am so thankful that I pushed my limits to get out of my comfort zone to do those new things.

Junior year was by far my favorite year. It was a year of doing what I wanted and it payed off.

I went to New York with KCR, Stagecoach Festival (if you know me you know that I used to hate country), and on a fun road trip in Arizona. I pushed myself to try new things every day. This was the year that I really got back into playing beach volleyball, so I was happy I could connect with something that I had always loved. Junior year was the first time that I was able to start taking my major classes too. I am so happy that I stuck with marketing after taking countless accounting and calculus classes. I felt well established and I was thriving in whatever I did.

As a senior I am thankful for my time.

I would have said this is my favorite year, but I do find it quite stressful applying for jobs. This is the first time in my life that I don’t know what I am doing after the school year. I find it very scary but also extremely thrilling. The opportunities are endless and I am here for the adventure.

I wish everyone that I have met over these four years the best of luck in the future. Also, I’d like to give a huge shout out to my parents for supporting me though out the years and especially college — I couldn’t have done it without them and their love. Lastly, I would like to thank myself for following my dreams and believing in me.

Written by: Nina Capuani
Me live on Sunflower Hour 🙂

Movie Review: Netflix’s Tall Girl

Jodi is a 16-year-old who is 6 feet and 1 inch tall. As she is constantly critiqued, she learns to love who she is. Tall Girl is a hilarious movie for all.

This week on my movie blog I am focusing on a new Netflix original film: Tall Girl (2019).

I just recently watched this film with my roommates late on a Thursday night. If you like satirical romantic comedies and drama, this is a perfect movie for you. 

Tall Girl is a story based on the journey of a 16-year-old girl, Jodi (Ava Michelle). Jodi is 6 feet and 1 inch tall. She learns how to overcome her insecurities as she is constantly criticized by everyone around her for her height.

In the film Jodi meets Stig (Luke Eisner), who is a handsome Swedish foreign exchange student who is even taller than she is. He becomes her love interest, but she gets placed in a love triangle. Jodi’s sister Harper (Sabrina Carpenter), who loves beauty pageants, as well as her two best friends  (Griffin Gluck, Anjelika Washington) help Jodi realize that she is more than what everyone portrays her to be. Director Nzingha Stewart and writer Sam Wolfson depict through this film that each person is beautiful in their own way regardless of any insecurities they may have.

“When you don’t fit in, stand tall.”

– Tall Girl

What I also thought was interesting about this film was its cinematography. I enjoyed how the camera angles reflected Jodi’s point of view from super high up aiming downward. It also showed other’s points of views as the camera was angled from below to look upward at her. It made the movie funnier and more relatable to the focus of the story, that Jodi was extremely tall. I thought that the film aspects and screenwriting was very well made.

There was a lot of controversy surrounding this film when it first came out. People made negative comments to Netflix saying that a tall, white girl is the least targeted when it comes to every day problems. However, I believe that this movie is meant to reach out to people of all color, race, and ethnicity. The main message of this film is that everyone is beautiful and should be happy with tho they are, despite other’s critiques. 

Rate: 7/10

This movie was hilariously dumb, but also deep and heartfelt. I rate this movie a 7/10. It’s not the first movie I would choose to watch, but it was entertaining. It was definitely something to laugh to, and I liked the message it was trying to make. It is more of a fun film to watch with family or friends. 

Written By: Alexandra Gex

Possum (2018) – Film Review

A Temporary Glimpse into the World of Possum (2018): An Absolutely Gripping Fever Dream of a Film.

All Bones, No Meat

I like my films how I like my sexual encounters; confusing, without context, and unsure of what’s going on for the majority of the time. A wise man (me) once said media is best experienced when you have the least amount of context going into them. No trailers, no spoilers, just a cool-sounding title and a summary of a few sentences to spice up your interest. So when it comes to the 2018 film Possum, directed by Matthew Holness, here it is:

A small talking man, aged by torment, has returned to his childhood home after serving in the military. After his service, he takes up puppeteering, but it doesn’t go too well. Maybe because his puppet is a giant disgusting, wound-ridden spider with a human head, glass eyes, and a hundred-yard stare. The house he returns to isn’t empty though; when he arrives he finds his filthy uncle Maurice has been living there for some time now. The plot revolves around dream-like montages of our dear puppeteer Philip returning to different places significant to his childhood as he attempts to figure out the secrets of his past and the house he now lives in.

There’s your summary. That’s ALL you get. Go watch it, it’s fantastic, I gave it 4/5 stars (that’s a high score from me). If you feel intrigued but don’t care about spoilers, or if you’ve already watched it, stay for a bit while I go into detail about this film, and probably end up digging deeper than necessary.

*TRIGGER WARNING: This film includes themes of abuse and sexual assault. If you are uncomfortable with these concepts or themes please don’t watch/read about this film. If you or someone you know is dealing with abuse trouble and need help, call this number:
National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline – 800.656.HOPE (4673)
Thank you and enjoy the rest of the review.*

 

!!! SPOILER WARNING !!!

All Meat, Boneless

Alright sweet, now that we’ve thinned the herd a little bit, let’s talk about this movie.

Possum (2018) follows what I would call “dream logic.” Numerous scenes of the film happen out of order or with fractures in between, with the camera taking a break from what’s really happening to Phillip and instead catching a shot of some yellow and orange balloons beginning to smoke up, black rain pouring from the sky, and seeing that dreadful Possum puppet everywhere he goes. Possum is filmed in such a way that it gradually reveals more and more of the horrifying Possum puppet to the audience, representing Philip’s reawakening demons as well as both the audience and Philip slowly beginning to realize that Uncle Maurice has more to do with his trauma than Philip thinks.

Some shots seem to be glimpses into Philip’s memory, showing places he’s been in before, just empty with no one else in them. The film doesn’t have many human characters in it, making it seem just as lonely as Phillip is. However, that isn’t to say that the film lacks character; Sean Harris (who plays Philip) delivers a haunting performance that keeps a tight grip of your attention through the entirety of Possum’s 85-minute run time. Speaking of acting, Harris’ movements throughout the film are very reminiscent of child-like mannerisms and insecurities. Looking over his shoulder while he runs away nervously, sweaty hands held together in front of him like a toddler would when anxious from potential danger, curling up into the fetal position and crying when feeling threatened and whining like an unwanting baby when confronted. These all contribute to the ever-present truth of poor Phillip’s corrupted innocence, which is fed to the audience generously throughout.

What Does It Mean?

On the topic of symbolism, this film is full, simply bursting with it. If you like shots of random things representing other aspects or themes found in the movie, you’re in luck because this film has TONS of that. Here’s a quick list of all the symbols that I could find on the first viewing:

  • The yellow and orange balloons floating inside a children’s room represent Phillip’s original childhood ignorance, while the black smoke enveloping them represents the death of his parents (from the fire that Uncle Maurice started in Phillip’s house) as well as the corruption or ‘blackening’ of childhood innocence.
  • The nursery rhyme, “Mother, Father, what’s afoot? Only Possum, black as soot” bridges the gap between the purity of his younger years and the hell he now endures every day, walking around trying to live while being haunted by his past, feeling the eyes of his abuser on him at all times.
  • The black rain pouring from the sky, tainting everything it touches with its necro-colored pollution, is a symbol of Phillip feeling that his whole world is being overcome by insanity.
  • The immortal fox which can be beaten until dead and rotten, but somehow always stands back up and walks away, is a symbol of the anguish he feels and his inability to get rid of it.
  • The surrounding area is full of forests with many dead trees and warped branches, symbolizing the spindly, disgusting spider legs of the Possum.
  • While on the topic of spider legs, those in themselves are a symbol for fingers. If you haven’t seen the last 10 minutes of the film, there’s a LOT of fingers involved.
  • And last but not least, the Possum. Phillip’s dead-eyed spider puppet symbolizes multiple things; his fractured or suffering mental state, his abusive uncle Maurice (who we later discover is the man who’s been abducting and molesting many children in the area, who also raped him when he was young), and Philip’s desire to release this trauma from his life. Wherever he goes, no matter how hard he tries to get rid of it, the Possum is always there. Creeping up close behind him, watching him from afar, waking up with it in his bed, menacing him with his long, hairy appendages. There is no escape, you can’t break it or burn it, you can’t leave it all behind, because pain and memories aren’t physical things. The only way to get rid of abuse is to do away with the abuser.

Speculation Abomination

When Uncle Maurice says, “Waking up is it? Wants to get out” he’s referring to Phillip’s growing suspicion that Maurice is actually the one that raped him.

The green candies Maurice offers to Phillip could potentially be drugs that knock him out and allow for Maurice to get up to his dirty deeds. They could also be just regular candies that Maurice used to coerce Phillip into doing gross things or letting Maurice abuse him more.

The nature of the name ‘Possum’ for the puppet could be significant in that it mirrors how Phillip acts. Possums (the animal) are known to be cowardly and play dead when frightened, which is something Phillip does when he’s put into an uncomfortable situation. When he throws the Possum off the bridge, he too acts like a possum, slams into the mud, and curls up in a ball while he experiences horrible flashbacks.

Final Thoughts

This movie is really good and it is worth your time. It makes you feel more uncomfortable and slimy than scared, but the single most terrifying scene of the whole movie is well deserved. I literally threw my laptop when Uncle Maurice jumped out of the shadows. Please support this film, I genuinely recommend it.

Written by: Fabrizio Ramirez

Alita: Battle Angel Movie Review

Alita: Battle Angel is a breathtaking, visceral 3D experience that cannot be missed in theatres!

Alita: Battle Angel was directed by Robert Rodriguez (Sin City and Spy Kids) and written by James Cameron (Avatar and Titanic).  Based off the manga Battle Angel Alita this film was a passion project for James Cameron for almost 20 years after being introduced of the idea by Guillermo Del Toro.  In fact, 20th Century Fox apparently has had the domain “battleangelalita.com” registered to them since the year 2000.  This makes sense for a project with James Cameron’s name on it given that he is known for being an absolute perfectionist.  But now that the project is finally here and we can assume that this is the final version that James Cameron has approved of, is it on par with the other stunning works that Mr. Cameron is known for?

Overall, even if the pacing and dialogue is flawed, this is a film that should not be missed in theatres. 

While there’s a lot to be said with what’s really fantastic about this movie, I’ll start with the negative first.  Although this film is very exciting, there are oftentimes extensive scenes in which characters engage in dialogue that doesn’t necessarily go anywhere.  And while it is mostly fine that characters engage in extended scenes of dialogue, it takes time away from seeing the fantastic action that this film has to offer.  I understand these scenes help the audience to gain a greater understanding of the characters and the world around them, but it greatly affects the pacing and causes the film to be slower than necessary.  Furthermore, the dialogue is oftentimes very unnatural and awkward.  Because of this, some viewers may find themselves struggling to get invested in the story especially if the dialogue and the way it is spoken is slightly off.

And lastly, numerous critics have voiced their disapproval over how this film sets itself up for numerous sequels. This time, I found that this aspect did not bother me as much it usually might.  I think the reason for this was that I was already invested in the world and the characters enough to the point where it felt earned for them to build cliff hangers that are meant to be resolved in future movies.  It reminded me of a pilot for a TV show that I really want to watch more of.  I understand critics have said that this film reminds them of a pilot as a flaw on the movie’s end, but again, I was fine with it.  The only time this trope annoys me is when it is inserted into a movie that doesn’t do enough to introduce and engage the viewer into its world and therefore fails to properly build anticipation for future stories.  An example of this would be 2018’s The Predator or 2015’s Fantastic Four or “Fant4stic” as it is usually called which lacked any intrigue for me to want to see more films made in those franchises.

Alita: Battle Angel is one of the most visceral and breathtaking experiences I’ve ever had in theatres.

Even if critics are finding it hard to be invested in the story, I do not think any critics thus far have denied how fantastic this movie is presented visually.  In fact, I still believe that this is one of the most stunning and visceral experiences I’ve ever had in the cinema.  I went to an advance screening of this film a few days before it came out and I had the chance to view the film in IMAX 3D.  This is how I recommend everyone see this movie.  Select scenes in this movie are presented in an expanded aspect ratio which will give the viewer an expanded view of the action taking place.  What this will mean if you watch it in IMAX is that instead of the movie “letter boxed” (black bars are visible on the top and bottom of the frame) as it usually is throughout when seeing an IMAX film, this time there are select scenes in which those bars go away and the entire screen is taken up by the action seen in the film.  If you are still confused what I mean by this, hopefully this video will help you to understand what I mean.

In fact, the 3D in general is some of the best I’ve ever seen.  It’s been a while since I’ve seen truly great 3D in a film.  The last few times I think I’ve seen actually fantastic 3D was likely Aquaman, Ant Man and the Wasp, and Ready Player One.  But given how many 3D movies come out still even though it is not many people’s preferences, I don’t feel this is much.  I wonder though if a film like this that is being celebrated for its 3D will encourage filmmakers to do 3D justice because I feel when you do it right, the format can be a lot of fun.  It usually is seen as a money sucking waste of time that mostly makes people nauseous.  And while I understand this and even have had similar experiences due to bad 3D, please be advised that this should not disappoint you.  This is a topic that I wish to cover in the future because reactions to 3D films seem to be very strong amongst the movie going crowd whether you love them, hate them, or just do not care whatsoever.

The reason though I advise you see the film in IMAX 3D is because I strongly feel that is the best way to experience the world that James Cameron and Robert Rodriguez has created here.  They’re not only known for crafting really great three-dimensional films; they have a knack to crafting beautiful and engaging worlds utterly unlike our own.  The world of Alita: Battle Angel is so incredible that I truly felt like I was in the world that was created for this film.  And this is not just due to the 3D and the visual effects that complement it.  The gigantic sets they’ve built for this film and the seemingly thousands of extras they have gotten to interact in this environment really sell this world and make it feel real.  I loved that this film was able to get a really good mix of both practical and computer effects to make this world feel alive and real.  I understand this type of filmmaking was new to director Robert Rodriguez as he is used to creating environments made entirely out of computer effects, but I feel the craft on display here really highlights the talent that Mr. Rodriguez truly has when it comes to the art of film and world building within it.  I cannot wait to see what else Mr. Rodriguez has for future movies.  Whether he continues to work with James Cameron on more projects or not, he has a lot of potential when it comes to what he can do as a filmmaker.  Rodriguez has definitely come a long way since his Spy Kids and Sharkboy and Lavagirl days.

For more info on which 3D movies are worth seeing, check out CinemaBlend’s To 3D or Not to 3D.  It goes in depth (no pun intended) on the experience of viewing the film in 3D on every movie that comes out.  I was surprised to find the score for this movie was not as high as I expected, but it’s still a good tool to use nonetheless if you’re interested.

When it comes to action and the scenarios surrounding it, this film understands how to build tension and make the viewer anticipate these confrontations.

Before I saw the film, I was worried that the film would depict Alita as a goddess amongst humans and cyborgs alike, and although she is very strong here the film wisely shows that she has a lot to learn in this journey that she takes.  She loses a lot of fights here and gets hurt, but she manages to keep herself up best she can which is why these scenes feel interesting.  And what further builds tension in these scenes is that we are not entirely sure at first what Alita is capable of, so we are not sure how the outcome of certain scenarios is going to play out.  When we are first introduced to Alita in this film, we see her as very naïve and innocent which makes it all the more surprising and exciting when we eventually see her as an ultimate badass cyborg girl that get herself through a fight very easily if she has to.  Although the confrontations and the dialogue spoken between Alita and other evil cyborgs she encounters can be very over the top and cheesy, it’s all very reminiscent of an anime.  This especially makes sense since the source material for which this film is based off is a manga.  And of course, what makes these action scenes even more fun is the beautiful way which they are created due to the visual effects, choreography, and cinematography.

I also just quickly want to congratulate the actress who played Alita in this film, Rosa Salazar, who gave an excellent performance and who I believe really has a bright future ahead of her in Hollywood.  It’s interesting to see her go from Bird Box to this, but I’m glad that there are films like this that can highlight what this actress truly is capable of.  I even stayed for part of the Q&A shown after the film in which she expressed how hard it was to act in the get-up she needed to in order to deliver a motion capture performance which this makes me have even more respect for her as an actress.  I cannot imagine how hard it is to act with the equipment and costume that she has to be in.  I know many actors are known for putting up with this type of acting and have even made entire careers out of it including Andy Serkis, but I think she is someone who could potentially be seen as a “female Andy Serkis” if you know what I’m saying.

If you care about films and the experience of viewing them, then it is imperative that you go and see this film in theatres!

I understand that this is a film that does not look great based off the marketing, but I truly believe that we need to see more movies like this today.  Although the script can be better, this is the type of movie that needs to be experienced in the theatre.  We need to show Hollywood that movies like this that choose to adapt stories that are strange and unusual to the average mainstream moviegoer should be made and celebrated.  I want more movies that can create huge worlds out of properties that are not as well known including anime or even out of original concepts.  Especially if those films build these worlds in the right way.  I want more movies like this that celebrate the concept of telling familiar stories of finding yourself in unique and creative ways.  I am sick of seeing remakes of films that I’ve already seen like what Disney has been doing or the same Marvel movie over and over again.  And even though I like Marvel movies, the majority of them have a set formula that we have all just gotten use to as time passes.  I want films like this that can instead adapt an anime and do it in a very fun and engaging way.  I just wish moviegoers could be open to more stories that are not safe or those they have seen a million times.  And for the love of god, don’t be that guy that waits for this movie to stream it illegally online, see this movie the way it was meant to be seen.  I know it’s a big commitment to go to the theatre to watch a movie, but if this movie has even made you slightly interested based off my review or perhaps anything else you’ve seen related to this movie, then be sure to check it out!  Even if you absolutely hate 3D and it makes you vomit every time you see a movie in that format, just see it in 2D then.  As long as you give this film the attention it deserves and see it on the biggest screen you can in a format most convenient for you.  But if you can handle it, opt for 3D.

And hey, if you do end up seeing it, tell me about it!  I want to hear your stories whether you loved it, hated it, or thought it was fine.  I know this film is very polarizing for many people which is perfectly fine, but I encourage people to take therisk and just watch the movie for themselves.  If you decide to see this movie because of this review, here is what I will encourage.  First follow me on Twitter at the handle @christianscogs, I will follow you back.  Then tweet me either a picture of you at the theatre or a reaction to this movie whether it be positive or negative.  I may want to join in on the discussion if I feel so inclined to do so.  I feel that would be awesome to build a community of people who care about filmmaking and the experience associated with it.  Again it doesn’t matter what you thought of it, because I think it can be fun to debate films like this with others as well.  As long as we can make some noise and get some people talking about something as fun and nerdy as this.  The goal of my blogs going forward is to cover whatever movies I feel like covering whether they’re old or new just because I think the discussion of them is so much fun!  I especially implore you to see this given that the box office numbers coming in right now are not looking so strong at the moment.  I understand this film is not a masterpiece, it will not win Oscars, and I don’t even anticipate this being remembered as one of the best movies of the year, but I still feel most people will be able to find some enjoyment in it.  So please, go see the movie and let me know your reactions to it.  I hope those of you who take my advice have a great time!

Written by: Christian Scognamillo
You can buy tickets to Alita: Battle Angel here.