“Fifty Shades of Grey” vs “Nymphomaniac”

I remember the fan-girls drooling over Edward and his lack of emotion. I remember hating people asking me if I were “Team Edward” or “Team Jacob.” I remember wanting to scream when people would get mad at me for not having read the book “Twilight.” Why, dear Universe, why is this happening again? The novel that the new film-mania of “Fifty Shades of Grey” is based on doesn’t hide the fact that it was originally written as a fan fiction of the novel “Twilight.” My first question would be why anyone would want a fan fiction of something that was already pretty terrible. My next question is what is it that causes people to flock to it?

The film opened in theaters Feb. 13, just in time for Valentine’s Day. Opening weekend it grossed more money than ever anticipated, especially considering the ratings that multiple critics have given it. The film made $81.7 million dollars in the first three days alone. This is more than any movie that could be classified as a chick-flick has ever made. It has a whole following behind it as well, all the way up to domestic violence groups trying to boycott the movie, claiming that the sexual relationship between the main characters, and seemingly the entire point of the film and novel, is that of an abusive one. This has also been said of “Twilight” as well (though strangely never about “True Blood”). This leads to my final why: why is this so interesting to women that they are flocking to see it or read it? The only answer I can think of is the kinky content.

Lars von Trier directed a series of films that released in March of 2014 entitled “Nymphomaniac: Volume I and II.” This pair of films starred Shia LaBeouf, Stellan Skarsgard, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Jamie Bell on top of others. As one could tell based on the title, all of these films are about the same type of content of “Fifty Shades of Grey.” What’s the difference? One actually gave audiences what it was craving and the other didn’t. With the idea of eroticism being the only thing appealing about a movie or book, it would be safe to assume that the potential audience would be wanting a certain level of activity as well as visuals. Here lies the difference between American directors and really any other country’s directors.

In his film, Von Trier fulfills all of the things that the imagination could come up with in regards to a film about eroticism. It shows body parts that the audience loves to be titillated by, usually in the form of porn star stunt doubles. It has dialogue that would make anybody blush, and it follows through with a great storyline that holds the audience captive. The main thing that almost all reviews are saying about “Fifty Shades of Grey,” including the user reviews that are often times harsher than the professionals, is that there is a lack of all of these things. The storyline is lacking, which is to be a bit expected of the first film in a trilogy. But the thing that most people are upset about is that there is a lack of scenery to the film, and that all things wild that were supposed to be there, aren’t.

So with a film that is lacking the one thing that promises to be its salvation, why did it gross so much money in so little time? Maybe there’s something that I’m not seeing. My suggestion to anyone who’s debating seeing it is to check out Lars von Trier’s film instead. It promises to be everything that you’re searching for in “Fifty Shades of Grey” and more.

Article by Krista Skweres

And the Oscar Goes To: A Complete List of Winners

On Sunday Feb. 22 Neil Patrick Harris was our tour guide through the biggest night in Hollywood. Some people celebrated, some people cried and still others just thought “everything was awesome.” Actors, actresses and directors all clung to their Lego Oscar statues, hoping that their name would be called after those $200 envelopes were opened. America held its breath to see who would be named the best. Here is a complete list of who was chosen by the academy as the representatives of the best in this year’s American cinema, and next year’s votes for who will be considered at the top of their game.

Visual Effects: “Interstellar”

Sound Mixing: “Whiplash”

Sound Editing: “American Sniper”

Live Action Short: “The Phone Call”

Animated Short: “Feast”

Documentary Short: “Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1”

Production Design: “The Grand Budapest Hotel”

Best Original Song: “Glory” from the movie “Selma”

Best Original Score: “The Grand Budapest Hotel”

Makeup and Hairstyling: “The Grand Budapest Hotel”

Costume Design: “The Grand Budapest Hotel”

Cinematography: “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”

Film Editing: “Whiplash”

Best Foreign Language Film: “Ida”

Best Documentary Feature Film: “CitizenFour”

Best Animated Feature Film: “Big Hero 6”

Best Director: Alejandro G. Inarritu for “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”

Best Adapted Screenplay: “The Imitation Game”

Best Original Screenplay: “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”

Best Actor in a Supporting Role: J.K. Simmons for his role in “Whiplash”

Best Actress in a Supporting Role: Patricia Arquette for her role in “Boyhood”

Best Actor in a Leading Role: Eddie Redmayne for his role in “The Theory of Everything”

Best Actress in a Leading Role: Julianne Moore for her role in “Still Alice”

And last but certainly not most least, Best Picture: “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”

There were tears, there were laughs and there were exchanges of hate glares (Richard Linklater to Alejandro G. Inarritu). “Birdman” and “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” who were both tied for nine nominations, ended the night tied, again, with four wins each. “Whiplash,” which was seen as kind of an underdog of the Oscars blew everyone away by taking home three wins. “Boyhood” was let down with its singular statue. Congratulations to all the winners, and I hope they choose more wisely next year with their guaranteed places on the academy when it comes to “Best Animated Film.” Maybe Disney won’t win one of these years.

Article by Krista Skweres

Biggest Night in Hollywood? Must be Oscar Season!

Coming up tonight (Feb. 22) is the night all of Hollywood waits for, from the time that they wake up hung over from the after-party the next day. With hundreds of movies being released each year, the ones selected for this honor have bragging rights for the entirety of the year, as well as an automatic place on the Academy. They therefore hold the fate of the following nominees for all categories. That being said, let’s look at what and who has the potential to hold the future nominees’ lives in their hands (at least in the some of the major categories).

Best Actor: The nominees for best actor this year hail from a range of genres that include comedies to bio-pic dramas. It would seem that Eddie Redmayne is leading the race for his role in “The Theory of Everything,” a dramatic bio-pic about Stephen Hawking’s life. Redmayne won best actor in a dramatic role for this character at the Golden Globes earlier this year and this is his first Oscar nomination. Bradley Cooper is nominated for his role in “American Sniper,” another bio-pic about deceased war veteran and Navy SEAL Chris Kyle. This is Cooper’s third Oscar nomination for the role of best actor in a leading role. Also nominated is Golden Globe winner Michael Keaton for the dramedy “Birdman.” Although this is Keaton’s first Oscar nomination, he did win the Golden Globe for this very role in the category of best actor in a comedy or musical. Steve Carell is also celebrating his first nomination at the Oscars for his role in the true story “Foxcatcher” after breaking out of his type-casting from “The Office.” The final nominee is Benedict Cumberbatch for his role in another bio-pic, “The Imitation Game.” Cumberbatch is a first time nominee and is primarily known for his roles in BBC’s “Sherlock” and Khan in the latest “Star Trek” installment.

Best Actress: I really feel that the race for best actress in a leading role could be anyone’s win. I’ll start with Julianne Moore who is the Golden Globe winner this year for best actress in a dramatic role. She shows up with her fifth Oscar nomination for her role in “Still Alice.” Marion Cotillard returns for possibly another win after her last nomination and win in 2008. She seems to have most of her luck in her French films, her last win being from “La Vie en Rose.” This year’s nomination is for the drama “Deux Jours, Une Nuit,” translated as “Two Days, One Night.” To match Redmayne, Felicity Jones is also in the running for best actress for her role as Stephen Hawking’s wife in “The Theory of Everything,” landing her her first Oscar nomination. Reese Witherspoon comes back to the Oscars also hoping for her second win, her first being for her role in “Walk the Line.” She now runs for best actress for her bio-pic “Wild,” proving that she’s come a long way since “Legally Blonde.” The final nominee is Rosamund Pike in her first Oscar nomination for the suspense-thriller “Gone Girl.”

Best Picture: Most of the films up for best picture also have actors or actresses up for the honor of the best. There are two films that are favored for the win: “Birdman” and “Boyhood.” “Birdman” stars Michael Keaton, Emma Stone, Edward Norton, Zach Galifinakis along with others and is written and directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, who is now a five-time Oscar nominee. “Birdman” tells the dramedy of a washed up actor who is trying to regain his fame in Broadway. “Boyhood” stars Ethan Hawk, Patricia Arquette and Ellar Coltrane in the role of his life. Literally. Written and Directed by Richard Linklater, it revolutionizes acting by following the same cast throughout 12 years of their lives in a coming-of-age film. “American Sniper” was directed by Clint Eastwood and stars Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller and Kyle Gallner, and as previously described, shows the life of Chris Kyle. “Selma” tells the story of Martin Luther King’s march from Selma to Montgomery to gain equal voting rights for African Americans in the U.S. It stars David Oyelowo and Carmen Ejogo, and was directed by Ava DuVernay. Previously described in under “Best Actor” and “Best Actress” was “The Theory of Everything” telling Stephen Hawking’s life and work and was directed by James Marsh. “The Imitation Game” reveals the true story of World War II mathematician Alan Turing and stars Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch and was directed by Morten Tyldum. Wes Anderson brings a bit of quirk to the category with “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” starring Ralph Fiennes, Adrian Brody, Willem Defoe, Edward Norton and many other cameos. The final film in the running stands as the underdog . “Whiplash,” starring J.K. Simmons and Miles Teller, is Damien Chazelle’s film that kind of came out of nowhere and blew everyone away. But hey, who doesn’t love an underdog?

Well folks, that’s all I have room for! Be sure to keep to trnonline.org for a full list of the winners after the big night.


Article by Krista Skweres

How to Throw the Controller: 5 Games That Will Make You Sprint From the TV

Horror movies might be one thing: you jump when the killer pops out, but by the time the actual death happens, you’re over it. Survival horror video games, however, leave a haunting feeling the entire time the controller is in your hand, and even for a small bit afterwards. I know I personally have thrown the controller towards the TV at whatever was about to attack me on-screen, running at full force from the room. So what games are the best to make the player scream on the top of their lungs like a little girl? Here’s my personal list of the games that’ll make your skin crawl the most:

5) The Evil Within: This is the only new game on my list, and for good reason. New survival horror games kind of suck. This one is finally not a sequel or prequel to a classically good game, and was just released three weeks ago. Available on all systems, there is no reason not to give this one a go. Since most people probably haven’t had a chance to check it out yet I won’t say much, but it’s a bloody good time.

4) Fatal Frame: This game isn’t that well known, but it should be. Ghosts that can only be destroyed, or seen with a camera in a dark haunted house. What could be creepier than that?

3) Clock Tower: This PlayStation 1 game is one that not a lot of people have heard of, which is sad. Any time that a man with a giant pair of scissors is coming after me to cut me into a million pieces randomly, I’m going to be sitting on the edge of my seat ready to run. Very worth checking out if you have access to either a backward compatible PlayStation 2 or 3, or even better a PlayStation 1.

2) Resident Evil: Going a bit old school here, especially considering how many Resident Evil games there are now (although the newer ones really aren’t that great). This is the very first survival horror game I’ve ever played, and even though when I go back to play the tank controls make it a little hard to get the ball back rolling it is completely still terrifying to play. So worth the frustration.

1) Silent Hill 2: This game is the creepiest thing I have ever encountered! Now maybe I’m a chicken, but anything that has monsters who look like that? And the looming fear that there will be one luring around every corner at all times? Yeah. This game is almost like hell on earth, but addicting and great at the same time.

I know most of them are kind of hard to get a hold of, but a good chunk of them have been remade for the next-gen systems and are available for all your terrifying enjoyment. Have fun!

Article by Krista Skweres

The Insane Mind of Shia LaBeouf

With the recent theatrical release of Fury starring Brad Pitt, Michael Pena, Logan Lerman and Shia LaBeouf, the odd things that Shia likes to do to “get into character” have been hitting the news more and more, and seem to be growing increasingly strange. A few months ago he was all over the tabloids as he denounced his fame and sat alone in an art gallery for six days in L.A. with a bag that read “I am not famous anymore” over his face. He wore the same bag over his face to the red carpet event for his film Nymphomaniac , released earlier this year, and cried. For six days. He cried. With a bag on his head. How can this not be the weirdest thing he’s done this year?

To get into character for the 2013 film The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman, Shia actually dropped acid to prepare for a scene shot with Rupert Grant of the Harry Potter series. Grant said in an interview that while he was under the influence of the drugs, he stripped naked and kept seeing an owl in the room. The script in question called for ecstasy, not acid. In order to attain the script for Nymphomaniac, Shia had to send a picture of his penis to the director Lars Von Trier, just to get the script. That, I feel, was slightly fitting and probably had something to do with the very original and intriguing director himself. Shia never showed his member in the actual film. Von Trier is wildly known for using body doubles and Shia played one of the most innocent characters in the film to begin with, but nevertheless he was ready and willing.

Fury is a World War II film that focuses mostly on tank and trench warfare. The rest of the actors had no problems getting into character by waking up in the morning, putting on their war-paint and going to the set. Shia, however, felt that this was not authentic enough. To prepare more for his character and to understand what it would be like to be in a trench warfare situation, Shia opted to not shower for weeks. Naturally when one doesn’t shower for weeks on end, a certain aroma begins to be associated with them, which I could image would make it difficult to work with them. So it shouldn’t be surprising when after not bathing for weeks, he was asked by his co-actors to stay in a small bed and breakfast away from the hotel in which all the other actors were staying. On top of that he pulled out his own tooth while still staying in the hotel with those other actors. This, I believe, is his most insane move of the year. Bag or no bag, drugs or no drugs, penis or no penis, who would rip out their own tooth? Having had teeth pulled myself I know that is not a pleasant experience, even with Novocain, which I highly doubt that he had on set. Since his acts seem to become increasingly weird as his characters in film branch further and further away from those inTransformers and Even Stevens days, one has to wonder what is coming next. Luckily for everyone, the crazier his acts get, the better his movies get, so I guess go for it Shia. Let your freak flag fly!

Article by Krista Skweres