Author: Christopher Aguiar

The Set Design of Ridley Scott’s Alien

It’s impossible to celebrate the 80th birthday of Ridley Scott without discussing his magnum opus – a movie that has transcended cinema and extended its tentacles beyond popular culture. Alien is a film that was largely and wholeheartedly ahead of its time. You need look only at the uncommon heroine – Ellen Ripley – to understand this. From the opening scene of the film, Scott achieves many things. The most fascinating, however, is how he establishes a queasiness and fear in the audience while also maintaining a palpable sense of intrigue through the set design alone. Why Alien works...

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Why The World Needs A Miles Morales Spider-Man Movie

Despite the critical and box office success surrounding Spider-Man: Homecoming, many have expressed dissatisfaction at being presented another Peter Parker outing. Origin story or not, there isn’t much that can be done with Parker’s story that we haven’t already seen. We’ve experienced the trauma of losing Uncle Ben and the burden of the mask. So, whichever way any future Peter Parker Spider-Man films are packaged, it’s likely going to tread on familiar tropes and themes. This is to be expected from a character that’s consistently spent time slinging from screen to screen since 2002. But what if there was...

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Hispanic Directors You Should Be Watching

While we are all familiar with master filmmakers Pedro Almodovar, Guillermo del Toro, Alfonso Cuarón, and Alejandro Jodorowsky, there are others that deserve your undivided attention, despite having less of a spotlight shone on them. The following are a combination of filmmakers that are breaking out in Hollywood, on the cusp of something special, or crafting an incredible career back home. Irrespective of where their careers are at the moment, they are all doing impeccable work that strengthens the Hispanic cinematic voice. Nacho Vigalondo (Spain) With 2017’s stellar outing Colossal, Nacho Vigalondo proved he is a filmmaker who rejects...

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Pelo Malo is a Moving Must-Watch

Overview: The story of nine-year-old Junior whose obsession with straightening his hair leads to him suffering homophobic abuse. Artefactos S.F; 2013; Rated R; 93 minutes. Identity: Pelo Malo is a tale of identity, both how one finds their inner identity and how the rest of the world perceives it. Junior, whose father passed away when he was younger, lives to support his emotionally unstable mother and baby brother. Despite being nine years of age, he cooks dinner and cleans up after his recently unemployed mother. His father is said to be Afro-Latino, which is why Junior’s hair is curly....

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Cinema Saint: Robert Rodriguez

Between September 15 and October 15, AE will be running a series of articles celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month, in which we elevate and celebrate Hispanic contributions and representation in the world of cinema, starting today with the induction of our newest Cinema Saint, Robert Rodriguez. — His name is Robert Rodriguez. Hell, you’re probably familiar with the guy. You either know him as the kickass director of the Mariachi trilogy and From Dusk Till Dawn, or you recognise him as Quentin Tarantino’s cinematic partner-in-crime. Either way, the man likely needs no introduction. It’s easy to talk and write about...

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Criterion Discovery: The Killing

Background: Stanley Kubrick’s noir masterpiece is his oldest in the Criterion Collection, predating such films as Paths of Glory and Spartacus. Despite being one of his earlier works, The Killing is Kubrick at his undeniable best. He unites a stellar ensemble cast, pits them against one another and allows the story to flow through their dialogue. What ensues is an ambitious narrative that swats away the notion of sequential time structure for a plot that twists at any given moment. This is one of Kubrick’s five films in the Criterion slate, spine #575. Story: The Killing follows the story...

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The Game and Fincher’s Perfect Lonely Protagonist

Much is said about David Fincher’s obsession with detail, every frame having to believably exist in the world he has created. Furthermore, this attention to detail extends beyond visual narrative storytelling. It also commands every protagonist Fincher has ever brought to life. One character in particular most mirrors Fincher’s own obsession with perfection—Michael Douglas’ Nicholas van Orton.  In The Game, Douglas portrays a character so seduced by the complusion to maintain his lavish lifestyle that he has subjected himself to a lonely state of living. It is within the character of van Orton that Fincher brings to life his...

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Rope’s Disguised Cuts and Hitchcock’s Undying Influence on Editing

Whenever one watches Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece Rope, the first element of filmmaking that comes to mind is the setting: we, along with the characters, spend the entirety of the film in one location. Rope wasn’t the first film to exist solely in one location but it certainly remains as the most fascinating. It’s like watching an episode of Murder She Wrote or reading an Agatha Christie novel, except our ‘detective’ is merely a teacher and our criminals are already identified by the third frame of the film. Rope is often lumped in with other films in the mystery genre,...

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Biutiful Taught Me What It Means to Be Alive

There is a moment in Biutiful where Uxbal, played wonderfully by Javier Bardem, begins to urinate into a toilet bowl. Instead of urine, we see blood and hear sounds of agony. The day that scene first played out to my witness, I paused the film and began to cry profusely. I saw Biutiful in 2013. I had just discovered the works of Alejandro G. Iñárritu and was relentlessly powering through them. But I wasn’t powering through these films as a means of simply devouring the director’s filmography. I was keeping my mind occupied. A week prior to watching Biutiful,...

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Mr. Nerdista Revisits John Wick: Chapter 2 and Silent Cinema in New video

Recently, AE contributor Christopher Aguiar penned this consideration of John Wick: Chapter 2’s relationship with its silent film influences. This week, he expanded his conversation to a video essay on his Mr. Nerdista YouTube channel.  You can watch the video below, but also, be sure to subscribe to his channel and, if you like what you see, support him via Patreon. —     Featured Image: Summit...

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The Influence of Silent Cinema on John Wick 2

“We want to let you know we’re having fun and we stole this all from silent movie people.” These are the words of Chad Stahelski, a former stuntman responsible for manning the outrageously brilliant John Wick franchise. Before we first see John Wick killing off opponents via a speeding car in the opening minutes of John Wick 2, we see images from Buster Keaton’s The General projected onto a building. This image is just a straightforward homage to this 2017 film’s early influences and no further reason for its inclusion is provided. Or is there? Keaton, renowned for his...

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Criterion Discovery: Fat Girl

Background: Catherine Breillat’s 2001 outing, Fat Girl, followed her controversial explorations of sexuality in Perfect Love! and 36 Fillette with aplomb. Whereas these earlier films seemingly fetishized male power over women, Fat Girl explores the fragility of women in a patriarchal society. In this sense, the women of the film are given a voice that evokes empathy and a brutal sadness. This is Breillat’s only film in the Criterion slate, spine #259. Story: Fat Girl juxtaposes the life of two adolescent sisters, the overweight 12-year-old Anaïs and the socially approved, 15-year-old beauty Elena. The sisters share a deep sibling love for one...

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