The Oberlin Review

“The Lighthouse”: A Romp of Madness and Stylistic Flair

Christo Hays, Production Editor

November 8, 2019

 Amid the unending maelstrom of sequels, reboots, and spinoffs that define today’s new releases, watching The Lighthouse feels like a breath of fresh, salty, ocean air. The film requires no lore research, no prequel catch-up, not even an understanding of pop culture references. What you see is what you get: 110 minutes of black-and-white madness, the tale of two men mentally unraveling while trapped on an austere island, tending a lighthouse in a tempestuous storm. The film, directed by Robert Eggers, opens with Ephraim Winslow (Robert Pattinson), a young man new to lighthouse keeping, arriving on an unnamed lighthouse island off the coast of New England during the 1890s. Thomas Wake (Willem Dafoe) — a wild-...

“Joker” Brings Controversy, Brutality to Box Office

Kushagra Kar, Production Editor

October 11, 2019

Be warned, Joker is no laughing matter. The brutally honest truth of the matter is that I am horrified. Through every moment of the film and each subsequent second since I walked out of the Apollo Theatre, a deep discomfort has pervaded my mind.  To say that Todd Phillips’ 2019 psychological thriller Joker is a departure from conventional comic book movies would be an understatement. I’ve felt this shock before, with James Mangold’s 2017 Logan, which was a breath of fresh, unnervingly profane air. The film was rich in great character moments to supplement the enjoyable superhero beats. Yet, Joker does something far more impressive — blurring the conventional lines that define the genre of comic book films. J...

“Avengers: Endgame” Rocks the Box Office

Kabir Karamchandani, Staff Writer

May 3, 2019

Editor’s Note: This review contains major spoilers for the movie Avengers: Endgame. With a $1.5 billion worldwide gross in its opening week, Avengers: Endgame is undeniably one of the biggest cinematic events in recent history — and perhaps the biggest of all time.  To start, I have to confess to being a Marvel fan. I have watched every movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and am deeply invested in the characters and world. As the culminating moment of the series, Endgame has little in the way of emotional stakes for viewers new to the franchise, but excels as a finale. It has no small amount of crowd-pleasing moments and spotlights several touching new developments in character relationships establishe...

Review: “Game of Thrones” Premieres Eighth Season

Kabir Karamchandani, Staff Writer

April 19, 2019

Editor’s Note: This review contains spoilers for Game of Thrones Season 8 Episode 1.  The much-awaited eighth and final season of Game of Thrones started strong this week with a character-driven episode that set up the epic battles soon to come. While the episode was light on action, it had plenty of feel-good moments, finally bringing all the characters we love back together as Jon Snow returned to his hometown of Winterfell, with his new lover-aunt Daenerys in tow. The episode also stepped up the horror quotient, taking the visceral imagery of the White Walkers to new, gruesome levels. In the early seasons, Game of Thrones was largely character-driven, focusing on developing a vast array of protagonists and following thei...

Final “How to Train Your Dragon” Installment Warms Hearts

Kabir Karamchandani, Staff Writer

March 1, 2019

Editor’s note: This review contains major spoilers for How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World. The How To Train Your Dragon franchise has always held a special place in my heart, largely because it’s very loosely based on Cressida Cowell’s book series, which I loved as a child. With stunning visuals, one of my all-time favorite scores, and unusually mature themes for children’s movies, How To Train Your Dragon is undoubtedly one of the best animated series of the last decade. Although the latest installment, The Hidden World, pales slightly in comparison to its predecessors, it is still a thoroughly enjoyable movie and provides an emotional end to a fantastic trilogy. A large part of the franchise’s a...

Best Picture Countdown: A Star Is Born

Liz Stewart

February 8, 2019

In today’s cinematic era riddled with countless mediocre remakes and sequels, Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut A Star is Born has refreshed Hollywood’s current creative dry spell by subverting the standard remake. Cooper knows how to properly recreate a timely classic, adding even more purpose and heart to a screenplay that was already laden with emotion — A Star is Born is a necessary deviation from our tragic status quo. Cooper presents familiar material with a new twist, allowing the film to stand alone from its predecessors. It still tells the story of an impulsive rockstar, whose fame declines while his formerly working-class girlfriend ascends to stardom. However, 2018’s A Star is Born is more int...

“Crimes of Grindelwald” Falls Short of Predecessor

Kabir Karamchandani

November 30, 2018

There are few franchises with a stronger fan base than J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World — particularly among our generation of 20-somethings who grew up dreaming of centaurs, phoenixes, dragons, and hippogriffs. This is why the lackluster Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Crimes of Grindelwald came as such a disappointment. From the get-go, The Crimes of Grindelwald is a darker movie than its predecessor. The focus is no longer on colorful creatures — instead, the opening is a gruesome scene of a captive Grindelwald, played by Johnny Depp, chained and allegedly voiceless. He predictably doesn’t remain quiet for long, and much of the film follows his deadly exploits. Low-lit shots and stark colors ...

“Raw” Offers Potent Commentary on Sexuality, Sisterhood

Christian Bolles, Columnist

April 14, 2017

Editor’s Note: This review contains spoilers and mentions of violence, sexual assault, nausea and trauma inflicted on both humans and animals. When French writer-director Julia Ducournau’s feature-length debut Raw made rounds at film festivals worldwide, paramedics became an occasional fixture of the proceedings as audience members either fainted or left the theater — some without returning, others to empty their stomachs in the nearest bathroom. Despite being produced on a tight budget and given limited theatrical distribution, these incidents have brought the film a grotesquely alluring reputation since its release a few weeks ago. Historically, other films have garnered similar reactions — The Exorcist is...

Latest Bond Film Plagued by Inconsistent Script

Christian Bolles, Columnist

November 13, 2015

Looking into the eyes of the man who has plotted to ruin him at every stage of his recent life, James Bond dismisses his enemy with a cold stare and says, “I have better things to do.” The new entry in the beloved franchise, Spectre, looks at the obligations of a modern action film and seems to ask the same. When it was announced that Christoph Waltz would play Spectre’s main villain, fans rightly expected a movie dominated by his signature manic smile. The previous 007 installment, Skyfall, also directed by now-prominent filmmaker Sam Mendes, focused heavily on Javier Bardem’s unforgettable performance as a broken man with twisted dreams. Skyfall was everything a modern Bond film could be: It had nail-bit...

Narrative Complexity, Lush Visuals Set Crimson Peak Apart

Christian Bolles, Columnist

October 30, 2015

Between the reds and blues of love and tragedy, filmmaker Guillermo del Toro finds his stride. He fathoms horrifying beauty in the macabre landscapes of the human mind, weaving tales as rich in narrative complexity as they are in visual sumptuousness. His obsession with the dark nature of life led him to probe immortality in Cronos, where an old man is confronted with terrible power. In The Devil’s Backbone, he questioned the toll of power on the young, telling a tale about the ghosts left behind by war. Pan’s Labyrinth, his crowning masterpiece, addressed our need to escape from the evil of humanity, positing that even in the face of death, the fantastical transcends the human condition. Now, Crimson Peak takes de...

The Martian Gives Space a Human Face

Christian Bolles, Columnist

October 9, 2015

Humankind’s fascination with space has always existed on the boundary between two intellectual spheres. One conjures the image of a flag-toting pioneer standing on the edge of a vast cosmic horizon, ready to leap off the planetary surface into infinity. The other hits closer to home, focusing on the tangible landscapes of human accomplishment and innovation. Before we were able to leave Earth, literature and cinema painted space — sometimes literally, as with George Melies’ feverish lunar landscapes — as an untamed frontier ripe for exploration. We looked to the future with hope but, more importantly, with ambition, a mindset that ultimately landed Armstrong’s foot on the moon. The Martian, Ridley Scott’...

Slow-Burning Crime Thriller Captures Nuances of Cruelty

Christian Bolles, Columnist

September 25, 2015

Even though I was seated comfortably in a mostly empty theater for a late-night showing of Black Mass, there was little the silver screen could do to keep James Bulger’s steely blue eyes from piercing me straight to my core. The Boston crime drama, directed by Scott Cooper, puts its eggs in two baskets, using James “Whitey” Bulger (Johnny Depp), the infamous kingpin of the Winter Hill gang, and John Connolly ( Joel Edgerton), the FBI agent with whom Bulger formed an alliance, as points of ingress to a true story of desperation, manipulation and corruption. In the film’s slow unraveling of the poignant, yet subtle, threads that led to the rise and fall of one of Boston’s greatest criminals, Cooper finds pl...

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