1917: Directed by Sam Mendes, 2019, Universal
1917 is truly a cinematic masterpiece. The story follows two soldiers during the height of World War I. Their mission is a simple one yet complicated. Lance Corporal Blake and Schofield must deliver an urgent message from the allies to their fellow battalion, before the German enemy attacks and obliterates them. They must journey through the treacherous path of no man’s land, and a war-ravaged town in France in order to reach their destination. The film is full of raw emotions and realistic visuals of World War I we have not seen before. It is different from typical Hollywood war films, which I think is what makes 1917 so special. The cinematography is done in a way that makes the whole film seem like it has been shot in one, long uninterrupted footage. It’s done to parallel real life and how reality is not perceived in many different angles and shots, but in one continuous loop, and point of view. The aim was for the audience to not pay attention to how the film was shot, but how the story develops in a span of one long day. When I first watched the movie I was so encapsulated by the story and the plot that the thought of cinematography did not even cross my mind until after watching the movie again. It truly is a masterpiece, and I am glad it won the Oscar for best cinematography, sound mixing, and visual effects. What’s even more interesting is that the director, Sam Mendes, wrote this story based on his grandfather’s experiences in World War I. Even the actors were chosen with such precision and care in order to make the film even more realistic. By choosing two relatively unknown actors to play this role, they fit among many ordinary and “unspecial” soldiers who died so valiantly for their country. Overall, this movie is a cinematic masterpiece and I highly recommend it to other cinephiles interested in a good watch.
Call Me by Your Name: Directed by Luca Guadagnino, 2017, Sony Pictures Classics
This film is another golden masterpiece that deserves to be watched. It appeals to the LGBTQ+ community. The main characters dive into a passionate gay affair. Timothée Chalamet plays Elio, a perceptive and intelligent teen boy who meets Oliver, played by Armie Hammer, a philosophy student who stays in the Italian Villa owned by Elio’s family for the summer. The story follows Elio’s attempts to gain Oliver’s affection. Eventually, he succeeds and enters into a love affair with him for the duration of the summer. They discover the adventures of young love in full magnitude throughout the film. It ends with a somber note when Oliver must go back to school for the fall and later tells Elio over a phone call that he is getting married. It breaks Elio’s heart and the film ends with Elio sitting by the fireplace crying. It is a very emotional and realistic film. Not all love stories end on a happy note. It won the Oscar for the best-adapted screenplay. This film is adapted from a novel written by André Aciman. The book is very descriptive and has a bit more details than the movie. I highly suggest both the book and film. They are definitely worth a look; after all, it’s a book and film on summer love, and we are in summer now.
Emma: Directed by Autumn de Wilde, 2020, Focus Pictures
Emma is a fantastic period film released in 2020 just before the quarantine. It’s wonderful and whimsical, a new take on the multiple adaptations of Jane Austen’s novel Emma. In this adaptation, pretty socialite Emma Woodhouse entertains herself by playing matchmaker for those around her. Her latest "project" is Harriet Smith, an unpretentious debutant, while Emma herself receives the attention of the dashing Frank Churchill. However, Emma's attempts at matchmaking cause more problems than solutions and may ultimately jeopardize her own chance at love and happiness. This adaptation breathes so much life into Austen’s novel. It is full of comical characters and moments throughout the film. It is a beautiful classical story reborn. I highly recommend it. It was perfect during quarantine. It brought a little joy in a tough situation. I recommend the novel as well. It’s not hard to understand, and a very entertaining read, which is definitely something light and happy.
The Hate U Give, Harper Collins, 2018
The Hate U Give is a novel that is quite important in the times we are in now. Starr Carter is constantly switching between two worlds: the poor, mostly black neighborhood where she lives and the wealthy, mostly white prep school that she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is soon shattered when she witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend at the hands of a police officer. Facing pressure from all sides of the community, Starr must find her voice and decide to stand up for what's right. The novel’s themes touch on the lives of young African Americans and the issue of police brutality. This novel is a very good read. If you want to further educate yourself on the Black Lives Matter movement, I suggest reading this book.
—Written by Sophia Sasu.
Sophia is a recent high-school graduate. She used to be a teen volunteer at the Porter Ranch Branch Library. Her hobbies include painting, skating, and reading, just to name a few. Sophia plans to attend Cal State Northridge in the Fall of 2021.
—Michael Baradi, YA Librarian, Mid-Valley Branch Regional Library