This quarter of the year is perhaps a slow one for the movie industry, due to the starting up of school and the end of the summer. Needless to say, several classics emerged, of which I will, as I did last time, choose four.


4. Straight Outta Compton

First of all, don’t skip over this review merely because you don’t like rap; Straight Outta Compton is much more than music. That being said, Straight Outta Compton is not, by any means, a flawless movie and it also presents a biased story (Ice Cube’s perspective), but it carefully paints the beautiful story of how these five young men (and other hip-hop forefathers) overcame strife within their communities, oppression from white people—as well as society at whole, and everybody who said rap would fail. For those of you who aren’t familiar with what I’m saying: the movie follows the global rise of the rap group NWA (consisting of Eazy-E, Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, DJ Yella, and Arabian Prince), who became mega stars and changed hip-hop forever. For the first time, minorities within communities like Compton had truly deadly weapons: the beautiful medium that is music. “Our art is a reflection of our reality,” Ice Cube said within the movie. Straight Outta Compton and Kendrick Lamar’s new album “To Pimp A Butterfly” are quickly becoming permanent symbols for black culture within the United States, reminding us that racism is outdated and cruel, music is powerful, and humans are awesome. I recommend this movie to anybody who is okay with seeing an emotional, mature movie (which, as one would expect for this topic, has strong vulgar language, sexuality, violence, and drug use).

Movie info (from the iPhone app Flixster):

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Accessibility: you can still find it in some theaters, but you’ll have the best luck when it comes out on DVD in December.


3. Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation

This movie, being the fifth installment of the M.I. series, didn’t receive the advertising its predecessors got, thus it didn’t receive the hype it deserved; people are tired of the benign, predictable M.I. action plot, but Rogue Nation is quite different. I honestly think that the series has gotten better and better with each movie (the one exception being M.I. 2, which was quite awful). The action scenes, as they are in most Mission Impossible movies, are crazy, entertaining, beautifully filmed, and exhilarating. Moreover, this one was shot by the famous, Oscar-winning cinematographer Robert Elswit, which paid off because it easily represents the culmination of blending new technology, ripe actor talent, a high budget, and heart-thumping suspense scenes. I must also include that M.I. 5 is hilarious and unpredictable, which quickly separates it from the archetypal action movie. I guarantee you all that you’ll be smiling, trying to figure out what will happen next, and feeling your blood pressure rise throughout the movie. This movie isn’t an attempt at something monumental; it’s not a legendary film that conveys a world-encompassing love or humanity, but for its purpose (action movie), it’s unbelievably flawless. I recommend it to anybody that isn’t a very young child.

Movie info (from the iPhone app Flixster):

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Accessibility: It came out on July 31st, so there aren’t too many theaters still showing it (but you’ll find a few in your area if you’re in a city). Netflix users and what have you: the DVD version comes out on December 15th.


2. The Martian

The Martian is revolutionary in its technical filming aspects, much like Gravity; mind-blowing in its scientific ventures, much like Interstellar; but it’s also easier to understand and very entertaining in terms its story, much like a typical hero’s journey film. But there are a lot of things in this movie that make it creatively and intellectually refreshing. Unlike the aforementioned films Gravity and Interstellar—which, don’t get me wrong, are great movies—The Martian downplays the stereotypical lost-in-space melodrama, emphasizing instead how dire problems (i.e. being stuck on Mars) should be addressed with logical responses from logical people and not with hysterical, chauvinistic “there’s no hope” theatrics. The Martian, in a realistic, rational manner, shows us how Mark Whitney (the fictional protagonist, played by Matt Damon) got left behind by his crew on Mars, figured out how to grow plants in the evacuated lab (he was the crew’s botanist), sustained them with water, kept himself motivated and entertained, and communicated with NASA. (Don’t worry: this all happens relatively soon within the movie, so I’m not spoiling too much.) Furthermore, the second half of the movie is every bit as entertaining as the first and, to be honest, is actually pretty funny too. (Speaking of, I must also mention that Donald Glover—whom you may know from his music as Childish Gambino—the famous rapper, actor, and comedian, plays a marginally important character, which is pretty sweet.) Moreover, not only is The Martian a wonderful movie, but it’s also fairly clean and has a PG-13 rating, so I’ll go ahead and recommend it to anybody who has made it this far in my post. 😉

Movie info (from the iPhone app Flixster):

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Accessibility: came out less than two weeks ago. Grab a friend and watch it at your local theater!


1. The End of The Tour

The End of The Tour is so good that it convinced me to read a 1,079-page book; be warned, however, that it’s a small indie movie which you’ll either love or hate. At first glance, to be honest, The End of The Tour seems like a really stale film—it’s the true story of a five-day interview/road-trip/book-signing tour between Rolling Stone reporter David Lipsky and extremely acclaimed novelist David Foster Wallace, which took place right after Wallace’s 1996 publication of the groundbreaking epic novel, Infinite Jest (which is widely considered the best novel of the modern era). Interestingly enough, Lipsky never published details of the “interview” (they basically just hung out and Lipsky recorded stuff Wallace said) until now, years after David Foster Wallace’s heart-breaking suicide (which leads me to this: the movie is played by actors—including the talented Jesse Eisenberg, whom we all remember from his incredible lead role in The Social Network—it’s not a pure documentary). Anyway, beyond the surface, this movie is a truly beautiful probe of the existential emptiness we modern, affluent humans often clash with. On the other hand, it’s also sensible, lively, passionate—it stirs (in less than two hours) all the types of emotion you’ll encounter in your life. It offers the acute, nuanced observations on the human condition that many of us never notice, while also substantiating the feelings and thoughts we often experience—but don’t have the words with which to express them. If you’re looking for something hilarious or unremittingly entertaining, which is totally cool, check out the new Mission Impossible. If you, however, want to see some truly provocative and stimulating art, I recommend this movie.

Movie info (from the iPhone app Flixster):

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Accessibility: its DVD release is November 3rd (until then, you might find a screening at a nice movie theater, but I have no guarantees).