A Love Letter to DCEU Fans: We Did It!


By: Amanda Guarragi 

To my fellow DC fans, I salute you, because we did it. The #ReleaseTheSnyderCut movement is a massive success and in 2021, on HBO Max, we will finally see our beloved Justice League come together as it was intended. Zack Snyder hosted a Man of Steel watch party today on the platform Vero, which he uses quite often. In his commentary, he discussed the choices he made in each scene in a very detailed manner and it showed how dedicated he was to bringing fans the best version of Superman. It was so much fun to watch because he gave his audience important information and pointed out a couple of easter eggs.

Zack Snyder has always created beautiful films that are deeply rooted in the source material. Most importantly, he has fun on set because he loves the material so much. Zack Snyder is a great director because he is also a fan of the content. When he was describing Superman’s first flight and showing his storyboards, you could feel how much love went into those scenes. Today was a very special day because towards the end of the film, Henry Cavill made an appearance and talked about how he felt putting on the suit. It was a great moment, considering we haven’t really seen Henry Cavill, let alone him speaking about the Snyder Cut, but I always knew there was a plan in place.

After 4 long years of being extremely vocal about Warner Brothers releasing the Snyder Cut of Justice League, it was finally confirmed from the man himself. At the end of the livestream, Zack and Deborah Snyder had a couple of fans join their Zoom call with Henry. This also proved that Zack has a very close relationship with his fanbase and loves having discussions with them. He answered all their questions, including the one in regards to the Snyder Cut. At first Henry, Zack and Deborah laughed. Zack awkwardly said, “It’s out of my control. It’s not up to me.” then he started talking about a tiny flash drive, that he left in a bathroom stall somewhere, to try and divert the question.

At that point, I thought we were duped. I thought there would be no announcement because he was diverting the question, but Henry came to the rescue. It fell silent for a moment and then Henry said, “You know what, I think I’d like to see it.” and Zack answered, “Oh, really? Well I can’t just show it but I can do this.” Zack then turns the camera to his big screen, where he was watching Man of Steel on, and this showed up.

JL official

courtesy of HBO Max

Beautiful right? The moment we’ve been waiting for and he announced it in the most Zack Snyder way. Everything started with Man of Steel and Zack’s version of Superman. It all started with Henry Cavill. Superman hasn’t risen yet because Zack Snyder’s Justice League hasn’t been released. It was only fitting that Henry, Zack and Deborah would all join together to make this announcement. The internet pretty much exploded today and all DC fans are beyond happy. My Twitter timeline took me back to a time where we were gearing up for Justice League and it gave me that same feeling today. All the friends I have made in the DC community and the #ReleaseTheSnyderCut movement has truly been amazing. We went up to bat for our director and now his vision will finally be complete.

It is a very emotional day for so many people. This community has been through so many bad moments but our love for these characters and these films helped us push through. We have constantly been under fire and we have had to defend these films for the past 4 years. It has been a very long journey but it was definitely worth it because today, today we made history. To everyone that used the hashtag, to everyone who defended these films and these actors, this couldn’t have been possible without you guys. We have been a team since SDCC in 2015, ever since we saw the footage for Batman v Superman. We went through all the criticism and the hatred together, but we stuck to our guns and made the impossible happen. Today is for all of you.

To Zack Snyder, Deborah Snyder, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Ray Fisher, Jason Momoa and Ezra Miller, on behalf of the whole fanbase, thank you a million times over for your love and dedication to these characters. The DCEU would not be the same without you guys. You have all made comic book films that deeply resonate with so many people around the world and with characters that have been iconic throughout history. You have all built the foundation for the future of the DCEU and we truly can’t wait to see what comes next.

Whether Zack Snyder’s Justice League, is a six episode television series, or a three hour epic released on HBO Max, we will all be there on the very first day it is released, watching it because it’s going to be a big moment. Hope is what got all of us here and that’s why today is overwhelming, especially by watching Man of Steel. It’s not an “S”, on Kal’s planet, it means hope. The definition of hope, the feeling of it and having it payoff, is what today is.

How The 2021 Oscars Will Look, If It Doesn’t Get Postponed


By: Amanda Guarragi 

Every year there are films lined up for Oscar season and some films that are sprinkled across the year, hoping to be standouts in order to be in the running. In 2020, the world has faced a global pandemic which has changed the way we live. It has also changed the way most industries operate. The Entertainment Industry has definitely felt this shift, due to the fact that movie theatres are now closed and it is unclear as to when they will reopen. Everything is up in the air and only a handful of films will be released this year, so the big question is… how are the Oscars going to work?

In a recent Variety article, Marc Malkin says that the Oscars may be postponed. The sources, who chose to remain anonymous, stated that “Definitive plans are far from being concrete at this juncture. The telecast is currently set for Feb. 28, 2021, on ABC.” The sources, who have been close to the subject, said that it will most likely be postponed. There could be potential new dates but they haven’t been fully discussed yet or properly mapped out. There were new (temporary) rule changes for Oscar eligibility released in April because of COVID -19.

“The board of governors approved a temporary hold on the requirement that a film needs a seven-day theatrical run in a commercial theater in Los Angeles County to qualify for the Oscars.” says Marc Malkin from Variety. As long as the film had a planned theatrical release, it is still eligible for an Oscar nomination. It doesn’t mean that any film premiering on a streaming service is eligible. With this shift in the moviegoing experience, it seems fitting to change the guidelines temporarily, so films that had a planned theatrical release and are currently going straight to VOD, can have the same chance in getting nominated.

If the Academy already changed the guidelines, because they sympathized with the filmmakers, who worked so hard in getting their film out there and making the conscious choice to STILL release it on VOD, why are they planning on postponing it? What was the point in changing the guidelines, if you’re about to change the game entirely? How does postponing the Oscars benefit any of the films/filmmakers?

These are the questions that I’m curious to know the answers to. There are films that have been (and will be) released this year that are eligible and “worthy” enough of an Oscar run, so why not give them an even chance? If they choose to postpone the Oscars, won’t there be double the films to choose from, in order to hand out that golden statue? Are the categories going to include 10 nominees, instead of 5, because there are more films to cover? It doesn’t seem like the best move.

These are the films that could possibly be nominated for Oscars for the 2021 season:

  • Emma 
    Best Actress: Anya Taylor Joy
    Best Cinematography: Christopher Blauvelt
    Best Director: Autumn de Wilde
    Best Adapted Screenplay: Eleanor Catton
    Best Original Score: Isobel Waller-Bridge & David Schweitzer


  • The Way Back 
    Best Actor: Ben Affleck
    Best Director: Gavin O’Connor
    Best Original Screenplay: Brad Ingelsby


  • The Invisible Man 
    Best Picture: Jason Blum & Kylie du Fresne
    Best Actress: Elisabeth Moss
    Best Director: Leigh Whannell
    Best Original Screenplay: Leigh Whannell
    Best Original Score: Benjamin Wallfisch
    Best Editing: Andy Canny


    Best Visual Effects:
    The Invisible Man 
    Wonder Woman 1984
    Tenet
    Dune
    Sonic the Hedgehog


  • Never Rarely Sometimes Always 
    Best Actress: Sidney Flanigan
    Best Original Screenplay: Eliza Hittman
    Best Cinematography: Hélène Louvart
    Best Director: Eliza Hittman


    Best Animated Feature: 
    Sonic The Hedgehog
    Onward
    Scoob!
    Trolls World Tour
    Soul



  • Tenet 
    Best Picture: Christopher Nolan & Emma Thomas
    Best Director: Christopher Nolan
    Best Actor: John David Washington
    Best Supporting Actor: Robert Pattinson
    Best Original Screenplay: Christopher Nolan
    Best Original Score: Ludwig Göransson
    Best Editing: Jennifer Lame


  • The French Dispatch 
    Best Picture: Wes Anderson, Steven Rales & Jeremy Dawson
    Best Director: Wes Anderson
    Best Original Screenplay: Wes Anderson
    Best Original Score: Alexandre Desplat
    Best Cinematography: Robert Yeoman


  • Capone 
    Best Director: Josh Trank
    Best Original Screenplay: Josh Trank
    Best Actor: Tom Hardy
    Best Supporting Actress: Linda Cardellini
    Best Cinematography: Peter Deming


  • Da 5 Bloods (Netflix)
    Best Picture: Jon Kilik, Spike Lee, Beatriz Levin & Lloyd Levin
    Best Director: Spike Lee
    Best Cinematography: Newton Thomas Sigel
    Best Original Score: Terence Blanchard
    Best Editing: Adam Gough
    Best Adapted Screenplay: Danny Bilson, Paul De Meo, Spike Lee and Kevin Willmott


  • Mank (Netflix) 
    Best Picture: David Fincher, Ceán Chaffin, Eric Roth and Douglas Urbanski
    Best Director: David Fincher
    Best Adapted Screenplay: Jack Fincher
    Best Actor: Gary Oldman
    Best Supporting Actress: Amanda Seyfried
    Best Original Score: Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
    Best Cinematography Erik Messerschmidt
    Best Editing: Kirk Baxter


  • Dune
    Best Picture: Mary Parent, Cale Boyter, Joe Caracciolo Jr. and Denis Villeneuve
    Best Director: Denis Villeneuve
    Best Adapted Screenplay: Jon Spaihts, Eric Roth & Denis Villeneuve
    Best Actor: Timothée Chalamet
    Best Supporting Actress: Rebecca Ferguson
    Best Supporting Actor: Oscar Isaac
    Best Original Score: Hans Zimmer
    Best Cinematography: Greig Fraser
    Best Editing: Joe Walker


This list that I have compiled is solely based on what I believe to be possible Oscar contenders. Majority of these films are highly anticipated and have been adamant in not moving their release date, due to COVID 19. This is all hypothetical and if the restrictions are still in place from September onwards, they need to make the decision to send it straight to VOD or postpone their film entirely. I personally think it’s not the right decision to postpone the Oscars because all of the films listed above should be given the fair chance to be nominated, based on the slate of their year. If the Academy combines the 2020 & 2021 slates, it will be too much for anyone to handle.

“It is still unclear if postponing the Oscars will also mean that the Academy will allow films released after the year-end deadline to qualify for the 2021 Oscars.” says Marc Malkin for Variety. It is a very difficult decision to make, but it is also very premature to even consider postponing, if we are only half way through the year. At the end of the day, you don’t make pictures for Oscars, as the wise director Martin Scorsese has said, but it’s sure great to get recognized for your work.

Capone Review


By: Amanda Guarragi 

Al “Fonzo” Capone is one of the most notorious mafioso’s in history. There have been plenty of films that have shown him in his prime, where he was capo and killing people without any remorse. We have seen the side of the angry, reckless, killer on multiple occasions. In the case of Capone, Josh Trank focused on the older, deteriorating version of Fonzo, that no one has ever seen. The film is incredibly unique and has a clear vision, in wanting to explore the mind of someone, who has suffered from multiple strokes and has a severe case of dementia.

Capone is a film that shows the brutal decline of someone’s physical and mental health in the most honest way. Trank did not shy away from showing the loss of bodily functions, accidental bowel movements and horrific hallucinations. This was more than just a typical mobster biopic because it included horror elements from inside Fonzo’s mind, as he slowly loses his sense of self. No one has ever shown this side of dementia on screen before, it is always sugar coated and many people won’t understand what Trank was trying to show in this film.

Yes, you might find it confusing but it is only confusing, if you don’t understand how dementia works. Trank used Fonzo being trapped in the house, as symbolism for him being trapped in his own mind. The hallucinations of his past life, combined with his most disturbing murders is haunting, while he walks the hallway in his own home. Fonzo starts out strong at the beginning of this film, as the capo we all know, with his cigar in his mouth, the low scratchy baritone voice and his best suit. We then see his descent into an illness, that everyone takes lightly.

Can you imagine losing your sense of self? Can you imagine forgetting your loved ones who have helped you through everything? Can you imagine verbally abusing everyone around you and not realizing what you’re saying? Can you imagine walking into a room and thinking someone kidnapped you, when you initially went into your room to grab something?

That is dementia and many people suffer from it, some worse than others but it is one of the worst mental illnesses, with no cure.

I know that this film is about one of the most brutal mafioso’s in history but it affected me in a way that no film has. I was incredibly emotional while watching Capone because of how it handled both illnesses. I have watched both of my grandparents suffer from various forms of dementia and strokes. To have a film that shows it in all its messiness is something personal to me. I got extremely emotional because it brought back memories of watching my grandparents struggle. My grandmother forgot who I was, she forgot my name but she knew who I was, she sensed it was me and to see that change in her eyes, is something I’ll never forget. My grandfather had a very rare case of dementia, where he felt like people were constantly trying to attack him and take him away.

Josh Trank was bold enough to show how brutal this disease can be and I really appreciate that he chose to highlight it in this way. There were moments in the film that can be considered exagerated but we were in the mind of Al Capone, we have to remember, that he has seen some terrible things and he has had a hand in doing them himself. The eerie atmosphere when being in Fonzo’s mind worked extremely well and I think the quick editing from hallucination to present time, was utilized in an effective way. We were immersed in his memories and then it cut to him on the floor completely blacked out.

This is also Tom Hardy’s best performance to date. Hardy embodied Capone in his old age, he fell ill at the ripe age of 48 and declined at a rapid pace. Hardy changed his entire physicality from the beginning of the film and nailed the vocal changes to match Capone’s. Does he mumble a lot? Sure, but he suffered two strokes. The performance lies in his eyes because he can no longer hold a conversation. With each new question Hardy reacts with just his eyes. There is one scene that is shared with Linda Cardellini, (who was also excellent in this) where he first compliments her and then completely tears her down, in the same sentence. There’s so much depth to his performance because of how he shows his emotions, with minimal dialogue or movement.

Capone is one of my favourite films of the year because of how original it is. It is a mob biopic with a central focus of two illnesses that have a serious impact on someone’s life. Josh Trank boldly delivered a film that no one knew we needed in the film library. It is such a different take on a mobsters life and it is something special. It is so incredibly unique because it incorporates horror elements with mob drama, while delivering a strong character piece.

The Skywalker Saga Rant


BY: Amanda Guarragi 

May the Fourth be with you all on Star Wars Day.

After four decades of Star Wars content, the Skywalker saga finally came to an end last year, with The Rise of Skywalker. Today Disney Plus released the final instalment on their streaming, two months ahead of schedule and the series finale of Star Wars: The Clone Wars was also released to celebrate today. Disney really had the right idea in mind to have a Star Wars party on the day that is treasured by so many fans worldwide. The Skywalker Saga is truly something special, so I thought I would do a breakdown, of what I think of the series as a whole.

Even if you haven’t succumbed to the hardcore nature of the fanbase, everyone knows who Luke Skywalker is and his story. It’s a tale as old as time now, considering that A New Hope came out in 1977, its lore is now embedded in pop culture forever. For those who have invested so much time, love, and money in the Skywalker Saga, it’s fair to say that when any new age Star Wars film was released, the fans were extremely critical of what Disney was doing to these characters.

Some have said that The Force Awakens was a carbon copy of A New Hope and in many ways it was. However, I found that having some similarities while introducing it to a new generation, helped them appreciate the original saga and the journey they were about to embark on with the new ones. There are similar personality traits with certain characters and it was entertaining to watch them interact. The Force Awakens presented a new, more diverse cast and it all seemed promising. Disney also marketed the new Star Wars saga extremely well and that was the driving force of this new trilogy.

The Force Awakens was my first Star Wars film that I watched in theatres and I think that’s why I enjoyed it so much. I didn’t think I would feel emotional watching the opening titles the way I did, but it was such a huge moment. I always envied the people who were able to watch Star Wars on the big screen and when I eventually did, I finally understood how powerful the Star Wars films were. I had become heavily invested in the characters and couldn’t wait for more content, I was hooked.

I would be considered a freshman to the world of Star Wars. I enjoyed watching the original trilogy and the prequel trilogy but I have to admit that I was never a die hard fan. It’s a franchise that everyone should watch in their lifetime and that’s why I did it. As much as people hate the prequel trilogy, it was great to see how Anakin and Obi Wan started. It made Luke’s story so much richer and then his encounter with Darth Vader in The Empire Strikes Back holds so much weight and it’s a very emotional moment. The new trilogy used nostalgia to pull on the heartstrings and that’s why the attachment to these new characters were different. The reason why we loved Rey, Finn, Poe and Kylo was because they were somehow connected to previous characters, whether it was lineage or similar character traits.

I became attached to these characters and I really enjoyed the story arc of one of them in particular. Even though Rey was the lead and it was great to see a woman, at the forefront in a Star Wars film, Kylo Ren still had the most interesting story in the new trilogy. He is the son of a Solo and a Skywalker, he is apart of the golden lineage that has graced the screen for the past four decades. He is a descendent of Anakin Skywalker and struggles with both, light and dark, within him because of who his parents were. Ben Solo was THE BEST character in the trilogy and it is because he is a Skywalker.

There has been so much controversy surrounding the new trilogy and it was because a woman was at the forefront. People also complained that the nostalgia overpowered the content of the film and they never had a clear plan for this trilogy. When The Last Jedi was released, I was blown away by the stunning visuals and the story involving Luke Skywalker. Rian Johnson added so many layers to the world and the meaning of hope in one film, but sadly others felt that the magic of Star Wars was ruined. After The Last Jedi the discourse did not stop until we all caught a glimpse of The Rise of SkywalkerThey didn’t really show much and the trailer seemed promising because it was the final film in the Skywalker saga.

The months leading up to The Rise of Skywalker were quiet. There wasn’t the same hype as the previous instalments. Even the marketing seemed more tame. You could say there was a shift in the force. There was an entirely different feeling going into the final film and no, it wasn’t the same as heading into Avengers: Endgame or gearing up to watch the Game of Thrones finale. No, there was a different type of dread that I couldn’t  understand. People were genuinely worried with how they were going to wrap up four decades worth of a story. Everyone had a right to be worried because, like I said before, there was no plan for this trilogy.

We went from a sequel that restored hope in the galaxy, showing that anyone can become a jedi and harness that power, to a film that completely erased everything that came before it. The Rise of Skywalker was a complete mess the second we found out about Rey’s lineage. I loved the first half of that film because Poe was finally at the forefront and Finn also had a bit more to do. I was gearing up for Rey and Kylo to be the balance in the force and work together, while Kylo turns back to the light. How can you call something The Rise of Skywalker and then cut the lineage? That’s what was so frustrating. No one wanted Rey to be anyone. The fact that she was a nobody and she wanted to study the Jedi way, was what made her story unique. The fact that anybody could harness that power is what made her special.

If anyone should get their own trilogy it should be Ben Solo because of the injustice they served his character. I just couldn’t believe the journey they decided to take him on and then just destroy it in the most irresponsible way. A name is important, you don’t just give away a name to try and make sense of the title you gave your own film. Rey had no right to take up the Skywalker name, considering her lineage of being a Palpatine, which is also just lazy writing. How can you give a Palpatine, the Skywalker name after four decades worth of a story? It definitely leaves a bitter taste in everyone’s mouth, it sure did make me angry when I walked out of that theatre.

Whether you loved The Rise of Skywalker or hated it, the Skywalker saga has made a huge impact on pop culture and will always have a place in everyone’s hearts. In a way the ending of The Last Jedi could technically be used as the last film in the Skywalker story. It did end with Luke dying and restored hope to the galaxy. This debate will go on forever, but don’t worry Disney has more things planned for the Star Wars universe. They won’t let it fizzle out after one bust. So I hope everyone enjoys their mini Star Wars marathon today and may the force be with you always.

*click here to see where I ranked each Star Wars film*

 

 

Tribeca & Hot Docs 2020 Documentary Special Presentation: Ottolenghi and the Cakes of Versailles Review


BY: Amanda Guarragi

The recipe is not that good, if it doesn’t include a story.” 

Ottolenghi and the Cakes of Versailles is a documentation of how food is a very important part of history and how that fusion can be modernized. Food and Art History intersect at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in Laura Gabbert’s documentary. In 2018, the MET decided to open their “Visitors to Versailles” exhibit to the public, with a culinary event inspired by Louis XIV’s elaborate lifestyle. Yotam Ottolenghi accepted the challenge and selected five of the world’s most innovative, visionary pastry chefs through social media, to whip up desserts worthy of Marie Antoniette herself.

Ottolenghi wanted to preserve history through the pastry dishes, while modernizing the delicacies from that century for the “Visitors of Versailles” exhibit. He handpicked five pastry chefs that used architecture and history to create unique pastries through instagram. The integration of social media was beneficial because it has become a portfolio for so many people in the arts and it’s such a useful tool to get your name/brand out there. Dinara Kasko of Ukraine designs 3D printed moulds, while Singapore’s Janice Wong confects with chocolate. London conceptual artists Sam Bompas and Harry Parr sculpt wobbly gelatin. Ghaya Oliveira of Michelin-starred Daniel in New York City and “cronut” creator Dominique Ansel reinvent French pastries.

Laura Gabbert wanted to showcase the beauty and the dark history of Versailles during the run of Louis XIV. She did this by having Ottolenghi take the audience on his research journey, by speaking to history experts on Versailles and Marie Antoniette’s downfall. There was such a passion and appreciation for that period of history by the experts and by Ottolenghi, that it made it so much more engaging to watch. The passion for creating dishes and the importance of historical figures were brought together to present a story. Ottolenghi values history and the way food has grown with each culture all over the world.

The history and culture of the world is definitely embedded in food and dishes that chefs have created. We all associate certain dishes to countries and that adds the historical depth to its people. This feature does an incredible job in showcasing the beauty of Versailles, how the French pastries were originally created and where they were redistributed in Europe. It’s so fascinating to see where delicacies originated from and how much they have evolved in the modern era. One line that stood out to me, was that food was used as a ceremony in that century. Now instead of people inviting others into their homes to see their meals, they have posted their process on the internet for others to see. Food brings everyone together and the more we study the art of cooking and baking, there are endless possibilities in how to improve upon these dishes.

I also loved the way this feature was filmed. They really captured the beautiful colour tones and textures of everything in the frame, especially the beauty of Versailles and the dishes. Ottolenghi and the Cakes of Versailles takes the viewer on a stunning journey of art history and french delicacies in a very extravagant way. They show every single detail and the importance of being an artist. There is no history without art and art can take many forms, including food dishes. It’s important to know and understand that preparing dishes on such a large scale, takes an artistic eye, but also an architectural one and it allows audiences to gain a new appreciation for art as an important medium.