Durant High School Journalism

Baby Yoda takes over the world

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Baby Yoda takes over the world

The adorable

The adorable "Baby Yoda" captured the hearts of Disney+ users, as well as the rest of the Internet. Social Media exploded with memes showing admiration for the creature

Oprah Magazine

The adorable "Baby Yoda" captured the hearts of Disney+ users, as well as the rest of the Internet. Social Media exploded with memes showing admiration for the creature

Oprah Magazine

Oprah Magazine

The adorable "Baby Yoda" captured the hearts of Disney+ users, as well as the rest of the Internet. Social Media exploded with memes showing admiration for the creature

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Disney Plus, the latest streaming service, has and continues to come out with many of its own original TV shows and movies, including High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, Diary of a Future President, Stargirl, and many more.

One of Disney Plus’s more popular shows, The Mandalorian, has had a more attention than all of the other shows. The reason for all of this attention toward the show is because of one tiny aspect, a little character that Star Wars fans indicate as “Baby Yoda.”

The Mandalorian is the first live action Star Wars television show that takes place on the official Star Wars timeline between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, and it is inspired by the classic Star Wars character, Boba Fett. This television show stars prior Game of Thrones actor Pedro Pasco, former mixed martial artist Gina Carano, and successful actor Carl Weathers. They all play such important roles in the television show, but the one character to pay attention to is Baby Yoda.

“Baby Yoda” refers to a character in the Star Wars series named Yoda, who was a wise master in the Star Wars franchise. In The Mandalorian, “Baby Yoda” is not the actual name of the character, it is officially called “The Child,” but with its resemblance to Yoda from Star Wars the Internet has taken the liberty to give it the name “Baby Yoda.”  From this television show, Baby Yoda has gone viral throughout the Internet creating videos, art, memes, and even merchandise. 

ShopDisney has taken this opportunity to create merchandise that is exclusively dedicated to Baby Yoda. On their website, shopdisney.com, when “Baby Yoda” is typed into the search bar, Baby Yoda shirts, water bottles, phone cases, plushes, bags, and even mugs will pop up for anyone to shop until their heart’s content.

Along with ShopDisney, big companies like Build-A-Bear Workshop are getting in on all the action. The CEO of Build-A-Bear Workshop, Sharon Price John, has recently announced that Baby Yoda will soon be available at Build-A-Bear Workshops nationwide. Baby Yoda is inspiring almost every audience, whether it is someone making a meme, outfit, or baked good, everyone is able to be enthused by Baby Yoda.

Baby Yoda has taken over the Internet since The Mandalorian introduced this character to the world. This popularity for Baby Yoda has definitely made a big impact not only for the television show itself, but also the Internet. There are multiple things that make Baby Yoda wildly popular; he has power within him, a sense of mystery about him, and most importantly, he is a very adorable creature. All of this draws the viewer’s attention to Baby Yoda, thus outlining his fame. 

Baby Yoda has stolen the hearts of all of its viewers and has gone viral because of his lovable persona. With The Mandalorian exceeding the crowd’s expectations with Baby Yoda, there should be much more to anticipate out of the popular television show.

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Mattie Powers, Staff Writer

Mattie Powers is a senior at Durant High School and a Staff Writer for the PawPrint newspaper. Not only is Mattie Powers involved in the PawPrint, but...

Stranger Things Two coming out this summer

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Stranger Things Two coming out this summer




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Last year, Stranger Things season two left fans questioning what would come of their favorite characters in the forthcoming season. Since the second season dropped last October, fans have been anxiously awaiting the release of any information regarding the return of the wildly popular show.

Since the start of shooting for season three back in April, fans have begun formulating theories as behind-the-scenes pictures and videos circulated around social media. In July, the first official teaser for the coming season unearthed a new location in the Stranger Things universe: a shopping mall.

The teaser was in the form of an old-fashioned television ad, detailing the stores that would be available. In the teaser, the Starcourt Mall was advertised as Hawkins’ newest innovation.

On Dec. 9, Netflix released a second official teaser for the long-awaited third season, revealing the titles of the eight upcoming episodes and giving fans a glimpse of some of the season’s themes.

Among the newly released episode titles were “The Mall Rats” and “The Battle of Starcourt”, raising suspicion from fans about the significance of Hawkins’ new shopping center.

There has been no official announcement regarding when the full trailer will launch, but it is speculated that it may come out in early 2019.

The third season of the series is set to hit Netflix in Summer 2019.

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“Frozen 2” to be released in 2019

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“Frozen 2” to be released in 2019




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Pixar’s Frozen proved to be an enormous success, earning a whopping $1.3 billion at the box office and earning the title of the highest grossing animated film in history.  Frozen’s impact spreads farther than the theater, as you can find Frozen toys and merchandise almost everywhere. The film even got its own Broadway show.

A Frozen sequel was announced back in 2015 and has been in the works for the past two years.

The four core cast members, Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathon Groff, and Josh Gad are all confirmed for the new film along with some new cast members. According to Variety, Sterling K. Brown and Evan Rachel Wood are set to play roles in Frozen 2, though their characters have not yet been announced. Directors Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck are also returning for the movie.

The songwriters from the original films are working on Frozen 2 as well, and four songs have already been written for the movie so far.

While little information has been revealed regarding the plot, it has been revealed that Anna and Elsa will embark on an adventure far from their home, Arendelle. It has also been said that the audience will get to know Anna and Elsa better in the new film.

According to DigitalSpy, filmmakers established the end of the movie before anything and are working backward from there.

The sequel is set to hit theaters on Nov. 22, 2019.

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Netflix’s “Anne with an E” is a heartwarming watch

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Netflix’s “Anne with an E” is a heartwarming watch




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Many people’s first thought when they hear an old classic story is being rebooted is “why?” A lot of people possess the belief that classic shows and movies should not be remade, as they fear that the old stories they once fell in love with will be ruined. But sometimes, bringing an old story back to life can have unexpectedly good results.

Netflix’s Anne with an E is a slightly modernized retelling of the wildly famous Anne of Green Gables books. The show aired on Netflix in early 2017, and the second season came out in early July of this year.

As someone who did not read the Anne of Green Gables books prior to watching the show, I cannot say whether or not the show did the books and original movies justice or not. But what I can say is that I was very touched by the show and I genuinely enjoyed watching it.

The story takes place in the 19th century, and is centered around Anne Shirley, a young orphan living in a small village called Avonlea. Siblings Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert decide to take in a young boy to help them with their farm, but when Matthew goes to get the child, he finds that there was a mix-up, and he was given a girl instead.

Anne Shirley is the vibrant young orphan who was sent in place of the young boy. Anne is taken home with Matthew to Green Gables, where she falls in love with the farm and begs the Cuthberts not to take her back to the train station after Marilla insists that she must return. After an incident occurs involving a lost brooch, Anne is returned to the station, but eventually gets to come home and the three are reunited.

The show focuses on many important themes such as feminism, inclusivity, and equality, and touches on important issues such as bullying, self-doubt, and racism. It highlights the idea that we are all individuals, asserting that “different isn’t bad, it’s just not the same.”

Overall, the show gives off a powerful message of positivity and reminds viewers of the beauty of singularity. I absolutely adore the show and am anxiously awaiting the third season.

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‘Maze Runner: The Death Cure’ is an explosive ending to a spectacular series

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‘Maze Runner: The Death Cure’ is an explosive ending to a spectacular series




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Epic, riveting, compelling, adventurous; these are all words that can be used to describe the third and final Maze Runner film that hit theaters in late January.

Wes Ball’s Maze Runner: The Death Cure is the fast-paced, action-packed conclusion to the popular series, The Maze Runner. Based off of the book The Death Cure by James Dashner, the long-awaited finale to the franchise ties all of the loose ends that arose in the first two films.

Like other young adult movies before it, such as The Hunger Games and Divergent, Maze Runner: The Death Cure takes place in a dystopian society years in the future. The movie is centered around a group led by Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) who desperately try to free their friend, Minho (Ki Hong Lee), from WCKD, a government corporation created to eradicate a virus that has proved to be the end of the world. The corporation, though trying to find a cure for the deadly virus that has wiped out more than half of the world’s population, conducts tests on children and teenagers that are less than humane, and with the help of some newfound allies, the group works to steal back their friend and take down WCKD.

The film takes place six months after the end of the previous movie, Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, and the audience sees the characters in the same barren land that they left off in.

From the opening sequence, the film leaves its audience on the edge of their seats with nerves and excitement as the characters are engaged in a high-speed chase with a train that is transporting Minho and hundreds of other kids to the WCKD facility.


As a long-time fan of both the books and movies, I had high expectations going in, but I did not expect to be as utterly moved by the movie as I was. I was blown away by the emotions that I felt while watching the film. The complex characters and themes combined with the remarkable acting and cinematography easily made Maze Runner: The Death Cure my favorite movie of all time. Though it changes some elements from the books, the movie, for the most part, stays true to the original storyline, and satisfies all of the die-hard Maze Runner fans like myself.

The film is categorized as a sci-fi action film, but it is not all fight sequences and explosions. Many action movies nowadays tend to focus too much on the action and leave little time for viewers to get to know the characters and their personalities, but this is not the case with Maze Runner: The Death Cure. Throughout the film, the audience sees plenty of action and chaos, but also get to see many raw and heartfelt moments shared between their favorite characters from the previous movies. The emotional scenes in the movie capture the intensity of the despair that the group feels after their friend is taken from them.

The group is abruptly submerged in a highly dangerous mission to rescue their friend and essentially save the world from WCKD; a mission that could easily cause them to lose their lives. This is made even more heartbreaking by the fact that the majority of the main characters are only teenagers. These are things that would affect any real person going through them, and I was glad that the film chose a more realistic approach to the common ‘end of the world’ trope.

An angsty film such as this one requires a talented cast in order to have the targeted effect on its audience. Maze Runner: The Death Cure did an incredible job casting its main role, as Dylan O’Brien’s deep passion and impressive emotional range made Thomas the courageous and memorable character that he is. The entire cast was wonderfully chosen, and incredible actors such as Breaking Bad’s Giancarlo Esposito and Love Actually’s Thomas Brodie-Sangster brought real emotion and depth into the characters.

Though it takes place at the end of the world, Maze Runner: The Death Cure finds a way to paint stunning images across the screen. The film displays some truly breathtaking shots that perfectly encapsulate the tragically beautiful remains of a broken world.

Overall, the film is a stunning outro to the beloved series that has topped box office charts time and time again. It highlights many powerful themes such as teamwork, family, and the idea that you should always fight for what you believe in. If you’re looking for a movie to watch with action, heart, and well-developed characters, this is most definitely the movie for you.

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“Small Foot” Movie Offers Big Appeal to Kids

Small Foot (2018)

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Small Foot (2018)

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Plant City, Fla.–The movie “Small Foot” gives an inspiring message to kids that it is okay to be curious because it leads you to new things.

The main character, a yeti named Migo, comically shows kids to believe in themselves even though everyone else might not believe them. Migo’s belief that humans do exist, led to his whole village throwing him out because they thought he was lying. However, that didn’t stop Migo from showing everyone the truth. Migo went on an adventure to prove that humans are real and because of this he showed that believing in yourself can inspire you to do what you believe is right even if someone doesn’t believe in you.

The movie also has some catchy songs that make the audience want to sing-a-long and learn the lyrics. This is a good feature in the movie because the music will resonate with the ages.

The movie shows different perspectives between yetis and humans. From each perspective, it shows how the humans are scared of the yetis; but, through the yeti’s eyes, it shows how the yetis love humans and want to be friends. This message will hit home with viewers of all ages–that we should not be afraid of people who are different than us.

I recommend this movie to for kids under 12, as well as adults. This age group may likely have to face conflict for the first time, and this movie can help them become more confident in themselves and to also help them to learn that being curious is a way of learning new things.

Rating: 8/10

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Rodnasha Williams, Business Manager

Rodnasha Williams is a junior at Durant High School and is Business Manager of Fundraising for the PawPrint Newspaper. When she is not taking pictures...

Infinity War: A Superhero Epic Ten Years in the Making

The PawPrint film critic checks out Infinity War.

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Infinity War: A Superhero Epic Ten Years in the Making

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I’ve always considered myself to be a fan of Marvel and their cinematic universe.

From the age of eight, I’ve always had fond memories of the shared universe that grew to amazing proportions as I matured.

I still remember seeing the first Iron Man film in 2008, and to this day, it still remains one of my favorite superhero movies.

Flash forward to ten years later, and here we are, finally reaching the magnum opus of Marvel Studios in Infinity War, a superhero epic based on the storytelling and buildup of eighteen previous films made within the span of over ten years of work.

I find it difficult to judge Infinity War as a film in itself; it is much easier to describe and analyze as an event of sorts.

Much like the championship in a sport, the grand finale is the coalition of every game and participant of a season leading up to it.

Every film of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has individually built up to this finale to some degree while acting as its own standalone film that can be held upon its own merits.

Just as there is no Super Bowl without its two teams, there is no Infinity War without these eighteen other films.

The ten year spread of these films doesn’t even begin to encompass the true ambition of such a film.

Infinity War is a film without any true character development for all but one character.  However, it is entirely unnecessary, as the development has come in the form of these other films on certain characters.

There is no necessary introduction to any of the characters within the film; the audience already has full awareness of each character and who they are given the events of the prior films.

In addition to the lack of necessity for development, the film also lacks a true structure that a typical film might follow.

The introductory phase of the film that usually comes in the beginning is dropped entirely; instead, the audience is cast directly into the events without any ease or unnecessary pieces of information given.

In any other film, these two essential filmmaking pieces would break the film.  In Infinity War, however, the absence is welcome and ultimately helps the film.

What was most intriguing to me, before seeing the film, was just how all the heroes within the universe would share the screen in an almost 3 hour debacle against an overwhelming threat to the universe.

Surely, I thought, there would be no true way to balance all of its main characters, and it would ultimately collapse on itself in the sheer weight of its subject.

I had never considered the idea of the roles of a typical superhero film to be reversed and defy my expectations to such a degree.

Infinity War’s method of making the villain of the film, an incredible visionary for a new universe by the name of Thanos (played by Josh Brolin) shifted the primary focus away from the large quantity of heroes was a simple, yet intuitive way of balancing the film and making a film that would subvert a wider sense of expectation to the story itself.

This is not the only aspect the film impressed me, however.

I found that many of my critiques surrounding other superhero movies were improved upon or removed entirely from Infinity War.

I found the writing to be much more tightly crafted and tuned to a fair mix of severity, comedy, and emotional moments, compared to that of prior superhero films.

In terms of sound and composition, both were improved tenfold from the previous Marvel films that often boasted sound effect galore and forgetful scores from the most seasoned of composers.

The coalition of each superhero presented in each of the prior films within the universe was objectively balanced, with each character receiving an ample amount of screen time for each to make a true impact.

This is a superhero film fans have waited their entire lives to see and will resonate within popular culture for years to come; Marvel Studios has found critical, general, and financial acclaim in their series of films that many can only dream of.

With its second part to release in May 2019, Infinity War’s success is not even close to reaching its peak.

With the film now boasting a staggering $640 million after its first weekend at the box office, Infinity War has potential to become the biggest film to ever be released in the history of cinema, and his rightfully earned its spot as one of the greatest superhero films to ever be made.

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Cobra Kai: Yet Another Blunder from the Karate Kid’s Legacy

Our film critic takes a hard look at Cobra Kai.

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It’s always a shame when beloved properties are shamelessly milked just to make a quick buck in the world of television and film.

It’s even worse when the franchise portrays such promise for a future, only for it to be squandered.

The Karate Kid franchise has been victim of both of these things for over 30 years now.

The 1984 critically acclaimed underdog story follows New Jersey native Daniel Larusso (Ralph Macchio) moving to Reseda, California, undergoing a series of bullying from his peers, primarily from a boy named Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka), who was studying karate in a dojo by the name of Cobra Kai led by a cutthroat sensei (Martin Kove).

After being antagonized by Lawrence, Larusso enlists in the help of his savior from a beating, a janitor by the name of Mr. Myagi (Pat Mora) who teaches him karate to participate in a tournament to get back at his tormentors.

In typical 1980s fashion and cheesiness, Larusso becomes adept in karate, defies the odds and beats Lawrence in the regional karate championship and to earn the respect of his bully.

The Karate Kid is heralded today as one of the quintessential films of the 1980s and arguably one of the greatest martial arts films of all time.

This, however, is where the series begins to falter.

In 1986, The Karate Kid Part II was released and was met with mixed reception. The sequel followed Larusso and Mr. Myagi in a journey to his homeland of Okinawa, Japan, to see his dying father.

Although the premise and location were inherently different, Larusso, just like the first film, encounters another bully, must train and improve in karate, and fight said bully in a high-stakes match.

In 1989, the infamous Karate Kid Part III was released and was critically panned for following the same plot of the first film and for once again recycling elements. The final film in the Karate Kid trilogy was nominated for five Golden Raspberry Awards, which are given to the worst films of the year.

1989 also saw the release of the animated Karate Kid television series, which had little viewership over the course of a 13-episode season.

The franchise attempted a revival in the 1994 release of The Next Karate Kid, starring Hilary Swank in her debut role. The film was critically panned and was frequently called worse than the third part. The property remained untouched until 2010 when a remake of the first Karate Kid film was released. Starring Jaden Smith as Dre Parker and Jackie Chan as Mr. Han, the film was met with mixed reviews.

Flash forward to 2018, and the property is being milked yet again in the YouTube Red original series entitled Cobra Kai.

The biggest question I have is this: who asked for this?

From what I’ve seen, this is the sixth time the dead horse is being beaten.

This time appeared to be different, however.

As cheap as the trailer looked, upon its release on YouTube on May 1st, Cobra Kai was met to generally positive reviews from fans and critics alike, to which I was dumbfounded.

Could it be?  Could the franchise finally make a run at something above mediocrity?

The answer, upon my own viewing of the show, was a resounding no.

I simply cannot understand the positive reviews Cobra Kai is earning.

It is trivial to me that both critics and fans see this film as a recapturing of the era of which the films originally took place and to be a good product overall; it fails as both of those things.

Let’s start with my biggest problem: the characters.

Cobra Kai essentially follows the story from the perspective of Johnny Lawrence this time, approximately 34 years after fighting Daniel Larusso in the tournament.

It seems that after this fight, Johnny has absolutely let himself go, reduced to finding odd jobs to stay afloat in life.  In a time when things seem to be at their worst, Johnny becomes inspired to revitalize his karate career after a run-in with some bullies attempting to harm another kid and reconnecting with Larusso, whom has found success in life.

My major problem with this comes with all the characters of the show: none of them are interesting or likeable in themselves.

Johnny Lawrence is, to put it bluntly, a terrible person.  He’s a drunk, estranged, racist, degenerate at this point in life, disrespecting those around him and carrying an aura of selfishness and unpleasantries.

There are no good moral qualities in Johnny Lawrence’s character that make him interesting, nor is there anything remotely likeable about him.

Logically, the only way his character can maintain any sort of care or attention is because he’s the main character of the show; if that’s all you can muster from your audience regarding your most prominent character, something is gravely wrong.

Then there’s Daniel Larusso.

It seems that following this fight, Larusso has found admeasure success, namely in the sale of cars.  Larusso owns his own dealership and auto repair shop.

Larusso, just like Lawrence, isn’t an interesting character either.

Larusso is shown as Lawrence’s foil in the show; both are opposites in almost every way.

Where Lawrence is down on his luck, Larusso is wildly successful and famous.

Where Lawrence acts reclusive and distant, Larusso is very open and friendly.

Where Lawrence is unlikeable and lacks good qualities, Larusso is seemingly perfect and should be loved.

This is where both of them merge: both are equally static and uninteresting characters that lack any sort of complexity.

There are a variety of other major problems I have with the show as well.

As a fan of the original film, I was extremely bothered by the presentation of the tournament in Cobra Kai in context to the show.

In the film, after Larusso successfully defeats Lawrence, Larusso is shown being lifted up and praised for victory.

During this, Lawrence himself presents the trophy to Larusso and congratulates him on his victory, to which Larusso thanks him.

This was always one of my favorite moments of the series; it reveals how Larusso had finally come to earn the respect of Lawrence and his peers and found success. It was a fantastic, subtle moment that is essential to the ending of the film.

I suppose the creators of Cobra Kai didn’t particularly appreciate this moment just as others did.

Whenever the tournament is presented in a flashback sequence, all that is shown is Johnny Lawrence being knocked unconscious (which did not happen in the original) and never congratulating Larusso.

This small piece of the ending could completely erase the pointless hatred Lawrence seems to have for Larusso that acts as an overtone throughout the first episode.

Many of my other complaints come in the form of the plot making little to no sense.

In one scene, for example, in which Lawrence’s car is hit and suffers severe damage, upon being analyzed by Larusso, he says that the damages will cost more than the car is valued, to which Lawrence becomes dejected, as he says he does not have the money to fix it.

Yet, in a scene about three minutes later, Lawrence suddenly decides to get his life together and open his own dojo to revitalize his career in martial arts.

How can someone who cannot afford damages to a car suddenly afford to purchase space in a strip mall in the heart of Reseda, California seemingly on a whim?

Additionally, from a boarder perspective, in what way did a karate tournament cause his life to continually spiral in such a way for 34 years?  Also, how does he decide that he will now just turn his life completely around like that?

Folks who talk about Cobra Kai being a return to the world they loved as a kid are entirely deluded and blinded by the nostalgia of the film.

Much of this continuation of the story revolves around nostalgia primarily to fuel any sort of hype for such a series; I would be willing to bet that close to no one would touch this series if it wasn’t for the series name being attached to it.

It’s interesting to me that this show is one that YouTube uses as its model for why it’s new streaming service, YouTube Red, is superior to that of other streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime.

To me, this almost makes me apprehensive to ever give the service a chance or to even put it in the same conversation as Netflix and various other streaming platforms.

Hopefully, critics will find a way to look past the overbearing nostalgia of the Karate Kid world and realize that this series will ultimately flop and become another footnote in the sad history of The Karate Kid.

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Phantom Thread: One of the Best Films of 2017

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Phantom Thread: One of the Best Films of 2017

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Phantom Thread was a film I had been expecting for months.

It was a melancholy expectation, though, as this would be Daniel Day-Lewis’ final film.

Day-Lewis is, to me, the greatest actor alive.  I feel that there is absolutely no one in Hollywood that can play a character so well and act with such passion and emotion as he does and no one who ever will surpass him in that aspect.

His ability to act is perhaps the best thing about a film that is in contention for the best film of the year.

Paul Thomas Anderson’s Phantom Thread follows Reynolds Woodcock (Day-Lewis), an aging dressmaker in the 1950s infatuated by his work and the hierarchy of society.  Working with his sister Cyril (Lesley Manville), he sees many women come and go in his life until he meets a young waitress who becomes his lover and muse (Vicky Krieps) and begins to see his work and entire become disrupted by love.

Day-Lewis is such a captivating actor and his performance is nothing short of amazing.  Even scenes of him eating meals are interesting and hold the audience’s attention so well, and I believe he will easily win Best Leading Actor at the Oscars this year.

Both Manville and Krieps were strong in their roles.  Manville, as a hardened, firm woman acting as her brother’s assistant who understands Woodcock, and Krieps, as a young, strong-willed woman who has a deep love for Woodcock, yet is frustrated by his dedication to work and perfectionist attitude.

This film, helmed by acclaimed director Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights, There Will Be Blood, The Master), is an expert in storytelling and the storytelling shown was nothing short of fantastic in Phantom Thread.

His writing is incredible, especially with dialogue; there are points where I forgot I was even watching a movie that had an actual script; it had all seemed so natural.

His creative vision and ability to drive a story along is second to none and I have zero complaints in his direction.

The cinematography was awe-inspiring, with every shot being so full of style and detail; it never once lacked in beauty, and there were many points that I couldn’t believe worked as well as they did.

Perhaps one of my favorite parts of the film was the score by Jonny Greenwood.  Every song is beautifully crafted and performed and evokes so much emotion.  Every song that accompanied a scene fit perfectly and captured its tone so well.

This film functions very well with varying emotion.  Some parts of it are actually very funny; other parts are very somber, and others are very sweet.  The blend and balance of emotion portrayed works so well in the film.

Phantom Thread is a beautiful film and character study, backed by its brilliant style, music, and leading actor and actresses.

It was a great way for Daniel Day-Lewis to finish his career and while it’s hard to see him step away from acting, he has set the bar incredibly high for future actors and left behind a strong legacy riddled with acclaim.



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What Tommy Wiseau’s Disasterpiece Taught Me

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What Tommy Wiseau’s Disasterpiece Taught Me

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From about the age of eleven, I have been fascinated by filmmaking and the analysis of film. I felt that becoming a writer or director was in my future, and so I began to intake films and find inspiration as much as I could to develop myself and understand more of what I wanted to be and how I wanted to inspire others.

Over the course of my life, I’ve seen hundreds of movies, and there are numerous I can point to that have inspired me in some facet for varying reasons, be that in style, in execution, in presentation, or other ways.

I would consider almost all of these to be great in some way; some great in almost every way.

There is one, however, that I find absolutely terrible to a degree that I truly cannot describe, yet has left a huge mark on me and has taught me so much about filmmaking.

This film is Tommy Wiseau’s The Room.

It has been about fourteen years since its release now; it is just now permeating the mainstream, however, in part to James Franco’s retelling of the making of the film in The Disaster Artist, adapted from the book of the same name by The Room’s Greg Sestero and writer Tom Bissell.

The Room is infamous for its cult status among film lovers; it is frequently heralded as “The Citizen Kane of terrible movies”, and is usually atop lists for the worst films ever made.

I had discovered The Room through clips posted on YouTube around 2011.  I couldn’t believe how hilarious it was; that same night, I found the entire film posted on YouTube and proceeded to watch it; I’ve probably seen it about ten more times in its entirety over the years.

To understand The Room is and why it was made, however, you first have to understand the brainchild behind it: Tommy Wiseau.

Wiseau is a character in every way one could be; he acts like such a larger-than-life individual, doing and saying the strangest things, yet he is very much grounded in reality.

In many interviews, Wiseau often acts very kooky and says strange things that one would not expect. According to Sestero in The Disaster Artist, Wiseau would often act erratically in public, asking for glasses of hot water at restaurants, wearing all black with sunglasses inside public places (Sestero often said he looked like a vampire with his pale complexion and dark hair) and drive twenty miles under the speed limit in his silver Mercedes-Benz.

Much of Wiseau’s life is unknown and a vast majority the information that has been published or revealed regarding him has not been verified by him.

In multiple interviews in 2003, following the theatrical release of his The Room, Wiseau stated that he was thirty-five years old at the time (citing that his birth was in 1968 or 1969); however, Greg Sestero claims in The Disaster Artist that his brother’s girlfriend had obtained Wiseau’s immigration papers through private investigation and found that he was born in the 1950s.

In 2016 in the documentary entitled Room Full of Spoons, Director Rick Harper claimed to have researched Wiseau and found that he was originally from Poznań, Poland. Wiseau confirmed in an interview in December 2017 that he was “originally from Europe”.

Sestero claims in The Disaster Artist that Wiseau moved to Strasbourg, France as a young adult and began going by the name Pierre and worked at a restaurant.  Wiseau allegedly told Sestero that he was wrongfully arrested by French police during a drug raid on the youth hostel he was staying in.  He claimed that he was mistreated to the point of trauma and made the decision to immigrate to the United States to live in Louisiana with his aunt and uncle.

Wiseau later moved to San Francisco, California years later. His first job was as a toy vendor on a wharf, where he was given the nickname “Birdman” for the bird toys he sold that were directly from Europe.  According to Sestero, Wiseau changed his name to Thomas Pierre Wiseau after receiving this nickname; the word “oiseau” is French for “bird” (a language Tommy is well-versed in, according to him) and the W was added for originality.

Over the next few years, Wiseau was supposedly working towards a degree in psychology at Laney Community College in Oakland, California and doing various jobs before eventually purchasing and renting out space in the Los Angeles area, making him wealthy.

Wiseau claimed that American actors such as Marlon Brando and James Dean would ultimately inspire him to take up acting and filmmaking. Before this, though, Wiseau once told Sestero that he got into a car accident and his car went into a lake.  He claimed to have seen his life flash before his eyes and said he wanted to make his dreams of being a famous actor come true.  Wiseau would dabble in extremely low-budget filmmaking and attend Vincent Chase’s acting classes when he and his future co-star Greg Sestero met.

According to Sestero, Wiseau was often lambasted by Chase for his terrible line delivery and acting range when he would present scenes and monologues in class, as he never seemed to be a capable actor. Still, Wiseau would always present scenes in front of his acting class because he possessed confidence in himself and his abilities that Sestero admired.  Sestero then asked Wiseau to do scenes with him.

From there, their friendship developed and Wiseau penned a 540 page play that eventually turned into the film version of The Room.

The film adaption, which would be directed, produced, written by and starring Wiseau began its production in 2002.

Wiseau decided to pay for the entirety of the film, which totaled about $6 million (equivalent to about $8 million today).

Sestero claims in The Disaster Artist that production was horrific.

Wiseau also made a variety of boneheaded decisions during this 30 day filming period, such as to buy all the equipment necessary to shoot and edit the film rather than save millions of dollars by renting the equipment, to waste a whole day of shooting in order to indirectly fire an actor to give the part to Sestero rather than just firing him, to build an alleyway instead of shooting on a real one that existed right next to the studio he was shooting at, and showing up hours late to every day of filming.

And does its awful production shows.

The film is undeniably dreadful in almost every way.

The film’s total theatrical release raked in a measly $1,900. It received terrible reviews that slammed every aspect of the film, most notably how awful Wiseau’s acting was.  IFC.com wrote that Wiseau sounded like “Sacha Baron Cohen’s Borat trying to do an impression of Christopher Walken playing a mental patient”.

Wiseau truly is as bad as the reviews claim he is. His delivery, his articulation, his body language, everything about his performance is awful.  His famous line “Oh hi, Mark!” gets me every single time.  The rest of the actors aren’t any better, either.

The writing is clearly a product of Wiseau. The plot is trivial in comparison to the dialogue.  The exchanges in The Room are so devoid of realism; I can’t picture anyone actually saying the things Wiseau wrote for his characters to say.

The direction is very misguided and confusing; Wiseau’s vision was so ridiculous that it looks severely incompetent. The choices made prove that Wiseau had complete creative control, which is usually a good thing.

The plot is far from original and even farther from competence.

The music is far from special, as it sounds like music that could’ve been found on a stock music website.

Some elements of the film, such as the multiple sex scenes between Wiseau and lead actress Juliette Danielle are indescribably awkward and make me cringe even in thought.

The editing was bland and left too much in the film. Any scene, sans the final scene, could have been placed at any given time and nothing would change.

There are endless points of criticism that you could make about this film. In the end, it’s just terrible.

But that’s why it’s such an important film to me.

This is a film that I can enjoy and laugh at every single time I watch it. To me, it’s funnier than essentially any comedy movie I’ve ever seen.

It’s a film that I can show to other people and see their reaction. It’s the perfect film to watch with your friends.

Most of all, for me, it’s a film that taught me a lot about filmmaking.

The Room showed me that it takes a lot of work to make a good, competent movie and that talent is essential. It made me want to say, “I could make something better than this”, and prove it.  It taught me that working collaboratively and being flexible and thorough is key in filmmaking.

It’s something I can look at as a model of what I should aspire not to make and something that I can see as what translates from paper to the big screen.

Since discovering The Room, I have been much more thorough in thought of execution in writing and in my vision for how I want to make movies, and I am infinitely grateful that The Room exists.

Not only that, but the confidence Tommy Wiseau possesses is quite inspiring.

Wiseau has never backed down from the assertion that The Room is a terrible movie.  He believes that his film is great and he was and still is an amazing actor/director/writer/producer and that he is even an A-list celebrity.

And after the success of James Franco’s film adaption of The Disaster Artist, Wiseau and his “masterpiece” are as popular as ever.

I can only hope that this film will be remembered and passed onto the next generation. This is a film I could see cemented in film history by the Criterion Collection, which honors movies of prior decades to be seen by later generations.

This is such an important film and it makes me happy to see it reaching a bigger audience and rising from its cult status.


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The Post: An Important Story Squandered by a Poor Film

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I had anticipated Steven Spielberg’s The Post to be a solid movie. The cast, team behind it, and award nods all made it out to be a fantastic film. The National Board of Review even named it as the best film of 2017.

How could Tom Hanks, Meryl Streep, Bob Odenkirk, and Sarah Paulson, all helmed by an all-star director, equate to such a poor presentation of an essential story of the merits of journalism and its influence on our culture?

From just the opening scene of the film, I knew it would be an absolute failure.

In the opening scene, we are thrown into a scene in Vietnam towards the end of the conflict in 1971.

All around, we see a crowd of individuals running around smoke that looks like it was provided via a smoke machine you might see around Halloweentime, attempting to create disarray.

It quickly cuts to “night”; I hesitate to call it night, because it looked like there was still studio light on in the background during the scene. Vietnam is notoriously known for having extremely thick forestry that reveals little light, therefore the scene should be pitch black or something different than the blueish light presented.

A battle then ensues, and then it fades to a man on a typewriter, writing a report.

He then gets on a plane and returns to the United States.

The man, later revealed to be the real leaker of the Pentagon Papers, the subject of the film, is Daniel Ellsberg. This makes sense, as his job is stated as being to report on the Vietnam War and the status of the war. However, the film never explains everything Ellsberg knows and how long he’s been in Vietnam. How would he know how the war is compared to previous times? Why is he there? To examine what?

If this opening scene isn’t bad enough, a vast majority of the film is just as bad.

As someone who enjoys dialogue-heavy films and human drama, I found this movie to be a snoozefest when it came to the drama and dialogue.

About 80 percent of this film is just two people sitting at a restaurant or home talking about the Pentagon Papers or talking about something journalistic-related.

I typically enjoy Tom Hanks, Bob Odenkirk, Meryl Streep, and Sarah Paulson; I think this cast was stellar in casting and was a major selling point for me.

Unfortunately, I didn’t care much for any of them in this, however.

Almost all of the scenes with the major cast members are just them together or separated in rooms having conversations about either finances or the Pentagon Papers. It’s always the same boring conversations.

Not only that, but it’s almost impossible to enjoy the dialogue since it was so poorly written. Many of the lines, especially the ones written for Meryl Streep, are terribly written and terribly delivered.

Maybe my least favorite part of this film is Meryl Streep’s character.

Many of her scenes consist of her just being quiet in the room because her voice “can’t be heard.”

I understand that women did face intimidation in such a workforce that men typically were involved in more, but the theme of empowerment towards women is very ham-fisted, preachy, and annoying.

At one point in the movie, Tom Hanks is mulling over whether to print the papers in the paper he runs, the Washington Post. He tells this to his wife, Sarah Paulson, to which she highlights Meryl Streep’s involvement and how she feels.

The rest of this movie is Tom Hanks’ character randomly trying to be preachy about the importance of women and the workforce is sexist.

Never once did I think that Tom Hanks’ character was sexist in any way. In fact, I thought of him more as an advocate given his workforce being a more progressive one. However, this sudden change in message comes off as extremely tacked on and overly preachy. There was truly no point in this.

For a movie called the best film of 2017, The Post is quite undeserving of such a title when much more important and higher quality films have been released.

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