For decades, blockbuster movies have been as popular in summer as backyard barbecues. So, for this year, we tapped recent graduate Scott Gordon ’13 to put together his Top 5 flicks for 2013.
Mr. Gordon, who majored in chemistry and graduated from the Honors College, wrote his senior thesis on “Revolution of the Dead: The New Zombie Apocalypse” and he was recently on air with WNYC’s The Takeaway “Movie Date” podcast about the release of World War Z, starring Brad Pitt. Mr. Gordon credits Senior Adjunct Thomas Campbell and Associate Professor Terrence Ross from the Department of Communications and Greogory Mercurio from the Honors College for fostering his passion of films.
Here are his Top 5:
Much Ado About Nothing
English teachers are always raving about how timeless Shakespeare is, but very rarely do film adaptations and deliver. Most fall into one of three categories: the period piece (A Midsummers Night’s Dream, Othello); the heavily adapted modernization that is hardly recognizable as Shakespeare (10 Things I Hate About You and She’s the Man); and the brazen reboot that is so modern it hurts (Romeo + Juliet and The Tempest). In Much Ado About Nothing, Joss Whedon strips the film of such gimmicks and lets the Bard’s words and some creative camera work do all of the heavy lifting. It’s simply a timeless story told in a timeless way.
The Way, Way Back
The screenwriting team of Nat Faxon and Jim Rash really know how to produce clean dialogue. Their previous effort, The Descendants, netted an Oscar in 2011 mainly because it featured writing so grounded that it made even George Clooney seem like a regular guy. Sure, it’s the coming of age story that you’ve seen a thousand times before, but it’s never seemed quite this familiar. A lot of movies will evoke adolescence by showing you shades of places you’ve been, or reminding you of people you’ve met, but the real triumph of The Way, Way Back is its ability to genuinely transport you back there.
The To Do List
Set in 1993, The To Do List returns us to a more innocent time—a time when you would dream of having enough courage to pass a note to your crush in math class or to write his name in hearts all over your Trapper Keeper, and couldn’t learn everything you ever wanted to know about sex by spending 10 minutes on Urban Dictionary. It’s a well-told film with a sweet but misguided lead that just happens to be female. We’ve seen raunchy teen sex comedies before, but never one with a real heart. If anything, The To Do List proves that high school antics can be completely ridiculous without being so far-fetched.
Sometimes you want to be so challenged by a film that you leave the theatre in a haze. Other times, you just want to see how hard a robot can punch an inter-dimensional monster in the face. Fortunately, you don’t always have to choose. While there is plenty of action to be had, Pacific Rim hasn’t received nearly enough credit for its intelligence. If you care to filter out the traditional “Monster Mash” tropes, you’ll find a world desperate to finish an endless war that eerily resembles our own. But if not, you can always sit back and enjoy the show.
For those of us born in the digital age, it’s hard to imagine a time when technology was underwhelming. It’s absurd now to think that an early 1980s computer chess tournament could be so pivotal to our recent technological revolution, or that such an odd lot of characters pioneered an industry that would be institutionalized by an icon as cool as the late Steve Jobs. We see firsthand that even in its most primitive form the new technology had the fundamental ability to do the impossible. It’s a love letter to a time before the iPhone, Windows and even handheld mice–when computers belonged solely to the brightest minds, and your mother didn’t call you every night for tech support.