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Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015 7:33 p.m.

What We’re Watching: ‘Selma’

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Eric Robinson.



From the simplicity of “The Theory of Everything” to the jingoistic hagiography of “American Sniper,” 2014 was a year that exposed the flaws and limitations of the biopic genre.

Filmmakers revealed a pervasive unwillingness to explore the human complexity of their subjects in favor of stereotyping and even misrepresenting them for the purposes of creating easily digestible Oscar bait.

Promotional Poster for 'Selma.'

Promotional Poster for “Selma.”‘

So it was a shock to see a film as high profile as “Selma” depict one of the most revered figures in American history, Martin Luther King Jr., as he truly was: a flawed and complicated human being.

“Selma” follows King (David Oyelowo) and his followers as they attempt to stage political marches in Selma and convince President Lyndon B. Johnson (Tom Wilkinson) to support legislation that guarantees black Americans the vote.

The absolute genius of “Selma” is the decision to make King a supporting character in his own film. Whereas a lesser film would narrowly focus on King’s experience, “Selma” instead focuses on the Civil Rights Movement’s political efforts as a whole, functioning like Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln.”

By casting a slight shadow on King, “Selma” avoids idolizing him and instead allows the decisions King makes as a leader and the small intimate moments with his wife speak for themselves. Keeping with this very human approach, “Selma” smartly integrates King’s infidelities and personal doubts into the narrative, creating a portrayal that is both rich and honest.

Director Ava DuVernay presents a film with a power that is effective despite the measured approach she takes to the subject matter. The scenes in which peaceful protesters are being brutalized feel terrifyingly real and violent without being excessive. DuVernay is fearless in her effort to link the seemingly distant past to our present, and the result is downright uncomfortable and moving.

In one scene, King confronts the grandfather of a murdered protester. Whereas most filmmakers would attempt to wring emotion from the moment by having King make an inspirational speech, Oyelowo’s King struggles to say much of anything, eventually settling on, “There are no words.”

“Selma” is the greatest biopic of 2014. It’s a film that understands that sometimes, honesty is the best way to honor an icon.

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Sunday, Jan. 4, 2015 1:39 p.m.

2014: What did you miss?

2014 was full of important moments in arts and entertainment, from the second season of “Orange is the New Black” to Facebook-phenomenon-turned-bestseller “Humans of New York” to the implantation of U2′s “Song of Innocence” onto unsuspecting iPhones everywhere.

But here are 10 moments you may have missed:

1. You’ve definitely jammed to Beyonce’s “Flawless***,” and you may know the novelist Queen Bey sampled for the song, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. But have you heard her 30-minute TED talk, “We Should All Be Feminists”?

2. When Jon Oliver left “The Daily Show” for a weekly HBO stint, I was convinced he was doomed. But “Last Week Tonight” has some of the most poignant commentary about topics from the death penalty to militarized police to pumpkin spice lattes.

3. What happens when “the new king of the West Coast” meets the most successful popstar of the year? A great remix, dubbed “Backseat Shake Off.”

4. In “High Maintenance,” a Brooklyn-based web series created by husband and wife Ben Sinclair and Katja Blichfield, who have links to “30 Rock,” the same nameless pot dealer serves kooky, lovable customers around the borough.

5. “The Empathy Exams” by Leslie Jamison is a critically acclaimed, award-winning book, but that’s not why it’s a must-read. Jamison, who was born in D.C., writes about the skepticism with which we often meet invisible problems, like depression or anxiety, and our hesitation when it comes to simply being kind.

6. Telenovela-loving Jane Villanueva is “Jane the Virgin,” a 23-year-old who is accidentally impregnated during a routine check up. The plot sounds silly, but the comedy series is cleverly written and a charming must-see starring Gina Rodriguez.

7. EMA, Erika M. Anderson, is a South Dakota native who released two albums, “Beyond the Void” and “Future’s Void,” with Matador Records this year. From the soulful mockery of “Neuromancer” to the dreamy “So Blonde,” EMA spikes each of her songs with an unique edge.

8. In “How to Build a Girl: a Novel,” author Caitlin Moran introduces readers to 14-year-old Johanna Morrigan, a child of bohemian poverty and an aspiring rock n’ roll critic. Her journey to girlhood, which starts in 1990, is built by booze, boys and writing for a music mag – and it’s some of the funniest fiction of the year.

9. Outkast reunited a few times this year, but the group’s hometown performance at ATLast in Centennial Olympic Park was epic. The October weekend featured artists like Kid Cudi, Janelle Monae and 2 Chainz, but many of them recognized that the crowd was there to see “the youngest living legends on the planet.”

10. Jenny Slate, who has worked on “The Kroll Show,” “Bob’s Burgers” and “Girls,” stars in “Obvious Child” as a struggling comedian with a twisted sense of humor. The film nabbed 12 nominations and seven wins on the indie awards circuit for a reason: “Obvious” strips themes from “Juno” of their cute simplicity and takes a truly funny, raw look at the impact of an unplanned pregnancy.

Bonus: French Toast Crunch may not be back on the shelves until 2015, but General Mills announced that it would bring back the discontinued cereal last month. The company is playing into ’90s nostalgia via social media, but nobody is complaining about the return of the maple-flavored bites.

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This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Ariana Mushnick.

Finals season is winding down, and chances are you’ll soon be home for the holidays with little to no responsibilities. Take advantage of your free time with the best of Netflix’s latest, from Britney Spears’ 2002 cinematic debut to 236 hours of “Friends.”


Promotional poster for “Almost Famous.”

“Almost Famous”
Available: Dec. 1
Take a journey into the ‘70s with a movie full of corduroy, platform shoes and Kate Hudson circa 2000 rocking round blue-tinted sunglasses at all hours of the night. The semi-autobiographical film directed by Cameron Crowe tells the story of an aspiring teenage music journalist who has the adventure of a lifetime. Touring with a rock band as a writer for Rolling Stone at age 15, he witnesses all the sex, drugs and rock n’ roll with hilarious awkwardness and coming-of-age moments.

“Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues”
Available: Dec. 6
Ron Burgundy is back in action. The 763 new jokes the trailer brags about may be stupid, but they sure will make you laugh. Unwind from finals season with this cast packed with comedic icons: Will Ferrell, Steve Carell, Paul Rudd and David Koechner. Even if the plot seems silly, watch until the end for the epic fight scene even funnier than the first film’s, this time featuring Harrison Ford, Kanye West, Will Smith and Tina Fey.

“American Beauty”
Available: Dec. 1
Before Frank Underwood, Kevin Spacey was Lester Burnham, who leads just about the opposite life of his “House of Cards” character. Watch Spacey’s Academy Award-winning performance as a miserable father facing a mid-life crisis. The twisted plot unravels as Lester becomes fed up with his neurotic wife and infatuated with his teenage daughter’s best friend. You may be dreading a month of holiday family dinners, but after this you’ll be glad you weren’t born into the Burnham family.

Available: Dec. 1
If you’re looking for a more casual movie night, “Crossroads” is an option for some fluffy entertainment. Three young friends bury a box and make a pact to open it the night of their high school graduation, but by the time senior year rolls around, they’ve ended up in separate cliques. Kit (Zoe Saldana) is the popular prom queen, Mimi (Taryn Manning) is a pregnant rebel and Lucy is the innocent good girl, who is played – ironically – by Britney Spears. Despite their diverging paths, they fulfill their pact to open the box and end up reuniting for a roadtrip in a yellow convertible with jam sessions to “Bye, Bye, Bye” along the way.

Available: Jan. 1
If binge watching TV shows is more your style, Jan. 1 is your lucky day. All 10 seasons (that’s 236 episodes, 83 hours) of the iconic series will be available New Year’s Day to help you kick off 2015. “Friends” is on just about every list of “Top TV Shows of All Time,” but if you’re not familiar with the series, it follows Rachel, Joey, Chandler, Phoebe, Ross and Monica as they try to make their way through life as young adults in Manhattan.

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It appears the torrential rains and flash floods have left the District – at least for the weekend. That means there’s no excuse to stay inside. Plan you weekend with these events in mind.


miss congeniality42: A Tribute to Coldplay at The State Theatre: If Coldplay tickets have always been a little outside your spending range or have sold out before you could snag them, a Coldplay tribute might be the closest you can come to seeing the band live. Head to the State Theatre to see 42, a tribute band devoted to all things Coldplay. Tickets are $13 and the event is 18+.

“Miss Congeniality” at the Rosslyn Summer Film Festival: Spend Friday night in Gateway Park to catch a free movie and bask in the clear skies. The Rosslyn Summer Film Festival is winding down, but Friday night will feature the Sandra Bullock classic, “Miss Congeniality,” as the second-to-last film of the season. The movie will start at about 8 p.m.


“Gravity” at the Comcast Outdoor Film Festival: Check out another free movie Saturday night with the Comcast Outdoor Film Festival in Rockville, Md. Recent blockbuster “Gravity,” also a Sandra Bullock film, is the feature for the night. Gates open at 4:30 p.m.

#NoFilter at the Sixth & I Historic Synagogue: Join YouTube sensations Grace Helbig, Hannah Hart and Mamrie Hart for their live comedy show #NoFilter. Known for YouTube channels “it’sGrace” and “MyHarto” and popular features like “My Drunk Kitchen” and “You Deserve a Drink,” these three ladies are sure to bring the fun and the jokes to the Sixth & I Historic Synagogue.


Synchroswim at the Capitol Skyline Hotel: Now’s your chance to dive into the world of synchronized swimming competitions at the Capitol Skyline Hotel pool. Four teams will compete Sunday evening in the competition that is rooted more in creativity than competition. Judges score based on overall execution and visual spectacle. There’s also a “Crowd Favorite” award based on applause. Synchroswim starts at 5 p.m., and admission is free.

Frontier(s) at DC9: If you’re interested in seeing some cheap live music Sunday night, head to DC9 for indie-emo band Frontier(s). Tickets are $10.

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Summer may be winding down, but that doesn’t mean you have to follow suit. Keep your week alive with some concerts, comedy and films.


Ceremony at Rock & Roll Hotel: All the way from California, the punk-rock band Ceremony is coming to the Rock & Roll Hotel. The group has toured with rock bands like AFI, and its pre-hardcore, punk-inspired songs are sure to get you in a rocking mood.

La Bomba! Stand Up Comedy at Little Miss Whiskey’s Golden Dollar: Punk rock not your thing? Head out to this weekly stand-up comedy show instead. Free and 21+.


Us the Duo at 9:30 Club: A love story for the ages: Michael and Carissa Alvarado fell in love and started writing music together before becoming Us the Duo. Their soft pop-folk songs and covers skyrocketed them to internet fame. Their beatbox-infused duets made them stars on Vine, and now you can catch them at the 9:30 Club for $20.

The Clientele at Black Cat: Experience a little more of the pop-rock genre with The Clientele at Black Cat. Catch the British band for just $15.


“Moonrise Kingdom” at the Bethesda Outdoor Movie Series: Head out to Bethesda to catch this Wes Anderson favorite outside. The movie will start when the sun goes down at about 9 p.m. A limited number of seats are available, but you can bring your own chair or blanket. Maybe it’s time to crack out that GW towel you got at Colonial Inauguration.

Coen Brothers Double Feature at Washington Jewish Community Center: For just $12, you can see “A Serious Man” and “The Big Lebowski” back to back. The first showing is at 6:30 p.m., followed by the second at 8:30 p.m. Don’t want to spend the whole evening watching movies? Your ticket is good for two movies that week, so you can always catch the next one on Thursday, Saturday or Sunday.


Official Flume Afterparty at U Street Music Hall: Couldn’t get tickets to the sold-out Flume show? Tickets to this 18+ event are $10. If you are going to the Flume show, you get in for free with your ticket stub or 9:30 Club stamp.

Hospitality and Ex Hex at Rock & Roll Hotel: Catch these female-fronted rock bands at the Rock & Roll Hotel. Hospitality is touring to promote its latest album, “Trouble,” which earned a 7.5 rating on Pitchfork. Tickets are only $13.

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Monday, July 7, 2014 10:12 p.m.

Free outdoor movies return to NoMa

summer outdoor

The NoMa Business Improvement District hosts outdoor film screenings every Wednesday night in Northeast D.C. Photo used under the Creative Commons License.

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Christie Carpenter.

What: Free outdoor movies
Where: The field on L Street between 2nd and 3rd streets NE
When: Every Wednesday night. You can arrive starting at 7 p.m., but the movie doesn’t begin until dark.

Summer in D.C. can be expensive, but the city does have options for those who maybe have already spent more than they had budgeted for two months ago. While many festivals are winding down, the NoMa Summer Screen still has six more movies scheduled for the coming weeks.

The NoMa Business Improvement District, which hosts the 13-week outdoor film series in the North of Massachusetts Avenue neighborhood, chose “unlikely friendships” as this year’s theme

Arrive early and have a picnic with your friends, or bring a lawn chair and enjoy some White House White Cheddar popcorn from the Popped! Republic food truck. Either way, you’ll spend less money than you would on that 100th Sweetgreen salad this summer, and you’ll get to see a movie for free.

Here is the line up for the remaining weeks of Summer Screen:

July 9: “The Muppets”
July 16: “The Perks of Being a Wallflower”
July 23: “The Dark Knight”
July 30: “Pitch Perfect”
August 6: “Top Gun”
August 13: “The Sandlot”

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This post was written by Hatchet reporter Jeanine Marie.

If you’re stuck inside from the snowstorm that blanketed the Northeast this morning — or are just looking for an excuse to stay in bed — these are the films you should be watching, especially if you can use your parent’s cable package.

“The Way, Way Back”

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

This “Little Miss Sunshine”-esque film focuses on the plight of 14-year-old Duncan (Liam James) who is forced to spend the summer in a New York beach town with his mother (Toni Collette) and her odious boyfriend (Steve Carell).

But the true stars of the film are the hodgepodge family Duncan finds himself part of at Water Wizz water park: Caitlin (Maya Rudolph), Roddy (Nat Faxon) and Lewis (Jim Rash) work for the moderately irresponsible, but kind Own (Sam Rockwell). Watch “The Way, Way Back” not just for Rockwell’s laugh-out-loud bits, but Duncan’s quirky neighbors (AnnaSophia Robb, River Alexander, and the hilarious Allison Janney). The film shines as it establishes characters quickly — don’t you know these people? — without trying to do or be too much.
Available on iO On Demand.

“Something in the Air” (Après mai)
The French “Something in the Air” has the cool aesthetic of the 70s and the foreign appeal of the European rebellion. The film begins in 1968 and draws the curtain on civil unrest and youth movements in places beside Kent State.

Director and writer Olivier Assayas delivers a work full of hitchhikers, record stores and candle-lit evenings, fueled by art and the inherent fear of adults — and worse, adulthood — with translations as on point as, “I’m afraid to miss out on everything. I’m afraid to miss out on my youth,” by protagonist Gilles (Clément Métayer).
Available on Netflix Instant.

“Gimme the Loot”

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Director Adam Leon takes the classic Yankees vs. Mets rivalry (albeit only a real rivalry once in a Subway Series) for a spin in this sweet, gang-and-drug-infused film about Malcolm (Ty Hickson) and Sophia (Tashiana Washington), teenage graffiti-schemers and fast-talkers.
Available on Netflix Instant.

“Safety Not Guaranteed”
You may know journalists Jeff (Jake M. Johnson) and Darius (Aubrey Plaza) from “New Girl” and “Parks and Recreation” respectively, but do not be fooled by their small screen recognizability. Self-declared time traveler Kenneth (Mark Duplass) becomes the likable subject of a story for a Seattle magazine, despite his intense paranoia. The blurred lines of journalism and friendship make this indie rom-com somewhat corny, but its poignant comedy and soundtrack make “Safety Not Guaranteed” a solid film any day.
Available on Netflix Instant.

“Frances Ha”

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The humanities-driven “Frances Ha” comes at a time when English majors are scarce, Brooklyn is a hub of lazy dreamers, and Lena Dunham’s “Girls” has shocked audiences into submission. “Frances Ha” feeds into these facts in black and white, and is often so relatable that it’s uncomfortable. The film is a bit too intent on being artfully crafted, but overall, director Noah Baumbach creates a world 20-somethings could see themselves crawl into, and perhaps stop to give socially awkward Frances a hug.
Available on Netflix Instant.

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Monday, Oct. 7, 2013 1:52 p.m.

Getting in the Halloween movie spirit

Promotional poster for Hocus Pocus. Photo used under the Creative Common's License.

Promotional poster for “Hocus Pocus.” Photo used under the Creative Common’s License.

October can be a stressful month. Midterms are looming and extra curriculars are in full swing. Capitalize on the month of ghouls and goblins with ABC Family’s “13 Nights of Halloween” beginning Oct. 19.

To celebrate the movie marathon we’ve taken a moment to highlight five of October’s most exciting throwback Halloween movies.

1. “Hocus Pocus”

Air dates: Saturday Oct. 26, 10 p.m.; Sunday Oct. 27, 8 p.m.

Why you should watch: While you’ve probably watched it dozens of times (I know I have) there’s nothing better to get you in the Halloween spirit than watching Bette Midler summon her creepy-eyeball-book and Sarah Jessica Parker, flying on her broom, hypnotizing children-looking for souls to consume.

2. Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas”

Air dates: Saturday Oct. 19, 6:25 p.m; Sunday Oct. 20, 3:55 p.m.

Why you should watch: If you like Tim Burton creepiness, musicals and/or Halloween, this is the movie for you. Forget about that stressful chem exam and journey along with Jack Skellington as he attempts to understand Christmas.

3. “I Know What You Did Last Summer”

Air dates: Monday, Oct. 21, midnight; Tuesday, Oct. 29, 9 p.m.; Oct. 30, 5:30 p.m.

Why you should watch: Want to watch a scary movie that will make you grip your pillow and scream? “I Know What You Did Last Summer” will do the job. Forget the singing and dancing, this real Halloween movie involves murder.

4. Men In Black

Air dates: Thursday, Oct. 24, 6:30 p.m. and 8:45 p.m.

Why you should watch: While this movie is not specifically geared towards Halloween, it does involve aliens, Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones (making it awesome.) If you don’t like scary movies or don’t want to be bothered with Halloween, you can watch Men In Black without the holiday ever entering your mind.

5. “Toy Story of Terror”

Air dates: Saturday, Oct. 19, 8 p.m.; Sunday, Oct. 20, 7:30 p.m.

Why you should watch: Watch your favorite childhood toys take on Halloween in Pixar’s first television special. While you may be a college student, you’re never to old to enjoy the adventures of Buzz and Woody.

Other movies include: “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1,” “Teen Witch,” “Polterguist II: The Other Side,” “Monsters Inc.” and many more! So when you’re freaking out about all the work you have, take a moment to enjoy the changing leaves of fall and remember that these spooktacular movies will be playing in just a few weeks.

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Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012 9:23 a.m.

What We’re Watching

Photo used under the Creative Commons License.

Hatchet reporter Arich Morales shares his latest movie experience.

Branded” (2012)

“Branded,” directed by Jamie Bradshaw and Aleksandr Dulerayn, is a mystery film which attracts its audience with a compelling and highly pervasive concept: the manipulative power of advertising.

The way this concept is presented, though, is so spliced, non-linear and rife with subplots that it will leave audiences bewildered and scratching their heads.

The film revolves around Misha Galkin (Ed Stoppard), an advertising mastermind in a dystopian future Russia.  He later falls in love with his boss’ (Jeffrey Tambor) niece (Leelee Sobieski), even helping her produce a reality show. But after the show goes bankrupt and his girlfriend is deported back to the United States, Misha exiles himself from society.

Not one of the above subplots appears in the movie’s trailer. In fact, what we see in the official trailer is one of several other story lines that branch off after this portion of the film. The primary plot? Disfigured balloon monsters, connected to their respected corporations, “feed” off consumers. And since Misha – being the only person who can see them – cannot destroy them with his own bare hands, he decides to fight the beasts using the same methods from which they were created.

But knowing the main story line is not sufficient to understand the film. The other branches of the narrative attempt to answer so many of the film’s questions: How can Misha see these creatures? What happened to Misha, Misha’s girlfriend or Russia itself during an unexplained six-year time gap? And perhaps most importantly, why does Misha take it upon himself to resolve this ordeal?

Despite “Branded” being a jumbled mess, the movie successfully appeals to the audience’s sense of curiosity from start to finish. Just don’t be misled by the trailer, which fails to highlight the deeper – and more complicated – story paths of the movie.

Genre: Action, Drama, Mystery
Directors: Jamie Bradshaw and Aleksandr Dulerayn
Cast: Ed Stoppard, Jeffrey Tambor, Leelee Sobieski
Release Date: Sept. 7

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Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2012 4:04 p.m.

What We’re Watching

Hatchet reporter Arich Morales shares his latest movie experience.

“The Possession” (2012)

“The Possession,” directed by Ole Bornedal, met all the criteria of a summer horror film. It scared, creeped and freaked out all while making use of a supernatural narrative twist. But despite the qualifications, the movie ultimately fails to truly captivate the audience.

The film follows the story of Clyde (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), a recently divorced father of two daughters, Em (Natasha Calis) and Hannah (Madison Davenport). On a weekend trip to pick up his daughters from his ex-wife (Kyra Sedgwick), the family comes across a yard sale where Em finds something that catches her eye: an antique box which, unbeknownst to Em, possesses a dark and dangerous spirit.

While “The Possession” includes the hallmarks of horror – creepy whispers, eerie, tense music and the progressively dangerous nature of a malevolent spirit - certain elements are overused, misused or suddenly introduced, and the audience becomes distracted from reveling in the creepy mood. A good horror film should leave the viewer in a state of fear, not confusion.

In addition to a cheesy, all-too-familiar soundtrack, the film features noticeably poor acting. In a scene where Clyde approaches a professor with expertise in demons in order to gain information about the mystifying box, the professor delivers a grave omen with a light-hearted, nearly joking tone. The disparity between the severity of the professor’s message and the levity of his tone is laughable and unrealistic.

Overall, “The Possession” is not worth seeing. While the movie has its fair share of scares, there are too many distractions that inhibit the audience from enjoying an authentic thrill of perpetual suspense and fear.

Genre: Horror, Thriller
Director: Ole Bornedal
Cast: Natasha Calis, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Kyra Sedgwick
Release Date: Aug. 31

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