The building that teleports you

My first semester here at Ohio University wasn’t the easiest. I was indecisive about what I wanted to study, or if I even wanted to be in school at all. The classes I took weren’t very appealing so I needed an outlet. Every Thursday night I would hop on my bike and ride it to the Athena Grand to catch a seven o’clock movie. It was the best way for me to get away from everything. I loved riding on the bike path that parallels the Hocking river and seeing the beauty of Athens.

Adena Bikeway

The Athena Grand isn’t a unique movie theater by any means (except for the cheap $5 tickets),but that didn’t matter. I like to think that all theatres are like time machines. They are places from where we can teleport from our hectic lives for a few hours and see something else. Each screening room is an opening to a whole new world. It can take you back in time or to the future. It can allow you to see different viewpoints from different people. Seeing a different film every week truly opened my mind to think in a new way.

I saw Martin Luther King Jr. fight for human rights and lead a peaceful protest that changed the world forever (Selma). I watched as a Mathematician solved an important code that stopped the Germans from being able to communicate during World War II (The Imitation Game). I saw a war hero go through hell and back while fighting in a war he could never win, even when he went home (American Sniper). On a lighter note, I got to see Will Ferrell and Kevin Hear “kick ass” in the movie “Get Hard”.

My favorite place in Athens ended up becoming the major I wanted to pursue at OU. It inspired me to make content that will take people away from their lives and allow them to see life through someone else’s eyes. I still love going to Athena Grand and I will never forget how it changed my perspective on life.

Here’s one place that’ll reel you away from OU’s party atmosphere

If all of Athens’ entertainment venues were at a party, The Athena would be a wallflower; it might not have the party atmosphere that the college town is famous for, but it’s still an interesting — and underappreciated — aspect of Athens culture.

Athena Booth
The Athena is known in the Athens area for its unique Art Deco style

Located on Court Street, the Athena opened in 1915, making it one of the oldest movie theaters in the country. Ohio University purchased the theater in 2001, restoring it with an Art Deco-style interior.

The Athena’s distinction from many other theaters in the area is its unique movie selection. The theatre hosts many independent films, and has hosted the premises for many major movies such as Aaron Sorkin’s Jobs and M. Night Shyamalan’s The Visit. Many film classes here at Ohio University take place in the Athena, and its three theaters can even be rented out for private events.

During weekdays, movie goers can access many deals. On Tuesdays, all tickets cost only 4 dollars. On Wednesdays, one small popcorn is free with the purchase of a ticket. Additionally, any show before 6 P.M. is only 5 dollars.

The Athena is a great resource for Athenians to experience great film. It provides students a great way to spend their weekend, and is a suitable alternative to the college party atmosphere.

At the Athena: ‘Experimenter’ review

Runtime: 1 hr. 48 min. | Rated PG-13 | $6.50 at Athena Cinema

How and why can good people be influenced to do bad things? How does the average German citizen allow something like the Holocaust to happen?  In the 1960s, American social psychologist, Stanley Milgram, conducted experiments that proved how easy it is for authority figures to force ordinary people to harm others.

Experimenter (starring Peter Sarsgaard and Winona Ryder) is a biopic of Stanley Milgram’s later life and focuses on his controversial “Milgram experiments.” In over 1,000 separate trials, he found that people would usually administer fatal shocks to a stranger if an authority figure told them to. The person thought to have been in pain was a confederate, an actor in on the experiment.  They would scream, demand to leave and would bang on the walls. Eventually Milgram did a variation of the experiment where test subjects would forcibly hold down the confederate’s hand on a shock panel. Still the subjects overwhelmingly obeyed the authority figure –  just an actor pretending to be a psychologist.

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A variation to the original experiment – asiandrama.me

The movie depicts these experiments masterfully with convincing performances and great pacing. During each trial, Milgram narrates to the audience the most important thing that he notices and each is philosophical and interesting. Every different outcome is presented and each variation to the experiment is showed which furthers our understanding of it.

While the focus of the film is on these experiments and what came of them in the succeeding decades, there is time dedicated his family life and other similar experiments that he did and did not conduct.

These similar experiments were interesting in themselves but their purpose in the movie is uncertain, other than Milgram further philosophizing directly to the audience that people are conformists and obey authority. Perhaps they are only there to drive home what the Milgram experiment already told us.

Another curious thing about the film is its sporadic use of green screen to make it look like a play. Still images, black and white footage and paintings made to look like a set will sometimes command the background. Then the next scene will be on location at an airport or a nice looking set. Also, an Elephant will sometimes follow Milgram as he monologizes down a hallway (referencing the idiom “Elephant in the room” maybe?).

Experimenter
One of many green-screen shots – thisislandrod.blogspot.com

These quirky parts of the film are stylistic choices, but ultimately they’re unnecessary. Everything else is played so natural and convincing that intentionally bad looking backgrounds and other abstract visuals are jarring.

Experimenter is full of great performances and has interesting subject matter. But, once the Milgram experiments end the remaining movie is jumbled and unfocused. A better screenplay and more realistic look could have really made the theme and Milgram’s life much more entertaining to watch.

Experimenter is currently at the Athena Cinema and plays daily at 5:10, 7:40 and 9:40 with Saturday & Sunday matinees at 3:10. It is also available on demand.

At the Athena: Goodnight Mommy review

Runtime: 1 hr. 40 min. | Rated R | $6.50 at Athena Cinema

As the summer draws to a close, two twin boys finally get to live with their mother again.  She’s been away for awhile, recovering from extensive surgery to her face.  She arrives bandaged up — she acts differently. She doesn’t seem like the old mom.  Is it someone else? Is it even human? Or are the boys’ imaginations running wild.

Goodnight Mommy is a foreign horror film out of Austria that received critical acclaim when it released last year. It has been in the states since Sept. 11 and is currently being shown at the Athena Cinema.

It’s hard to argue with the critics on this one.

This film is mysterious — tasking the viewer to put the creepy puzzle pieces together. It’s suspenseful and dread-inducing. As the boys get more suspicious of their mother(?), they do more sneaking around. The heightened suspense comes from the fact that you don’t know for sure what that thing that came home is. She could reveal her true form at anytime and things could get ugly in a split second.

It is a horror film by definition, one that pairs disgusting images with a feeling of unease. It is also, at times, hard to watch but not in a way you’d expect. It’s understated. It’s believable. It feels real.

Thirty minutes before the film ends, you may be confused. You’ll be forced to watch some disturbing things and you’ll want it to be over as badly as you want to know what happens next. Then, the twist ending arrives and it all makes sense. The movie’s ending pays off in a big way and instantly made me want to see it through again.

The film felt like an extended, modern episode of the ’60s television series “The Twilight Zone” — lauded for its pacing, minimalism and its proficiency at inducing dread. One of Rod Serling’s iconic monologues would fit perfectly following the twist ending of Goodnight Mommy. I suppose it would have to be in German though.

goodnight mommy
Like this…only way darker – image provided by theredlist.com

Some people may not like to read subtitles but that’s not something that has ever bothered me. Its European setting — with its beauty and inherent creepiness — elevates the movie.  It wouldn’t be the same without it and having subtitles is so much better than any alternative.

Goodnight Mommy is a unique horror film that has superb pacing, performances and cinematography. The worst parts of  horror films are jump scares — they’re cheap and unsatisfying.  This film has largely avoided this practice. There are loud noises at times but the film is scary and suspenseful because of its disturbing images and a turn you won’t see coming.

See it at the Athena (plays daily at 9:50 p.m. with 7:30 p.m. shows on Tuesday & Thursday) while its still there or find a way to watch it on a streaming service —  if it ever gets there. Maybe play it safe and see it at the Athena.

 

Why ‘A League of Their Own’ is the best sports movie for non-sports fans

From Field of Dreams to Rudy to Slap Shot to Rocky, many renowned sports films are at viewers’ fingertips, all ripe with dramatic storylines, heart-wrenching and relatable confessions and moments of triumph or loss whose impact can be maintained through generations.

Above all of the titles available, one stands out: A League of Their Own.

This 1992 Penny Marshall-directed film tells a fictionalized account of the real first female professional baseball league — the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League — which existed from 1943 to 1954 to ensure baseball stay popular while the men were fighting in World War II. The film centers on the Rockford Peaches (three-time-champions), its manager Jimmy Dugan (Tom Hanks) as well as its players, including Dottie Hinson (Geena Davis), Kit Keller (Lori Petty), Mae Mordabito (Madonna) and Doris Murphy (Rosie O’Donnell). It’s also about the battle to make a new league from nothing — and being successful while doing it.

Aside from just being a really well-made, high-quality film, A League of Their Own is a movie that any audience can enjoy — not just the sports fans. For those who don’t enjoy spending three hours watching “the pigskin” be thrown around, sports movies aren’t exactly the No. 1 choice. If a viewer actually enjoys boxing, then Rocky is probably a lot more tolerable. Remember the Titans is an excellent, emotional film, but one can only watch these guys be tackled so many times.

Instead, watch A League of Their Own. Yes, the film is about the first female professional baseball league. Yes, there are scenes depicting baseball games. However, the overall takeaway has nothing to do with the sport. It’s entirely more about female empowerment than it is about baseball. Now, most sports films are about more than the sport itself, but in A League of Their Own, its pace differs from the rest. Most other sports films dedicate tons of time to depicting games being played out — just in case the audience forgets which sport this film is about.

It doesn’t take a lot of time depicting the baseball games. Instead, the film expertly uses montages to bring the viewer to the same conclusion that, you guessed it, they’re playing baseball. It skips over the obvious of what could occur in a baseball game and instead takes more time to develop the characters’ relationships with one another. Right from the beginning, viewers feel a sense of protection for Marla Hooch (Megan Cavanagh), who is bullied for her looks. Then the audience voraciously cheers her on as she finds love and a happy life. When Betty “Spaghetti” Horn’s (Tracy Reiner) gets the news that her husband has died in the war, the audience cries with her because they’ve grown attached to the character. Spoiler by the way.

On a non-thematic note, the montages also just serve as utterly amazing, action-filled scenes that capture the audience’s attention. Baseball can be repetitive, but A League of Their Own makes every move entertaining. Not even Remember the Titans can really say that. They’re set to 1940s-esque, jazzy tunes and they’re so entertaining to watch.

Watch that and honestly say you don’t feel empowered and ready to play some baseball.

Additionally, the acting is incomparable. Geena Davis and Tom Hanks are generally flawless in every role A League of Their Own features impeccable performances by the two. Who can forget Hanks’ iconic “there’s no crying in baseball” scene or when Dottie catches a ball with her bare hand? From her phenomenal dance sequence to teaching Shirley (Ann Cusack) how to read by using erotica, Madonna unexpectedly gives a killer performance as “all the way Mae.” It’s an amazing all-star cast.

Films like RockyField of Dreams and Remember the Titans are solid sports films, but for those who aren’t exactly watching to see the sport played out, A League of Their Own is the way to go.

*picture via screencrush.com

Why OU students need to see ‘The Hunting Ground’ ASAP

The lights dimmed on the jam-packed Athena Cinema on Court Street. As the chatter from Ohio University students came to complete silence, students were exposed to a video PSA from OU administration members. Administration gave a stern and serious warning that sexual assault on Ohio University campus is taken “very seriously” and will not be tolerated — a message that will soon be mocked in the documentary that follows it.

The mood quickly changed from serious to lighthearted as the documentary began by showing YouTube reactions of individuals across the country finding out they have been accepted to their dream school. Laughter ensued as the students likely reflected on the moment they found out they had been accepted to Ohio University. However, the laughter quickly died down. For the next hour and 45 minutes, the documentary, “The Hunting Ground,” directed by Kirby Dick, shows the dark side to college campus nightlife through tear-jerking testimonials from survivors of sexual assault and morbid statistics of this epidemic that is plaguing college campuses all over the country.

Some of the startling statistics are shown in the film’s trailer below:

The film tells the haunting tales of what is happening to college men and women at a diverse range of campuses in EVERY state. After leaving the film, there is absolutely no denying that sexual assault is happening everywhere. It’s not limited to a specific race, gender or geography.

While some question the validity of the statistics in this documentary, the film brings to light an extremely important issue. “The Hunting Ground” might just be the most important film you and your fellow college acquaintances see all year. It has thrown fuel into a fiery debate going on in our country and has ignited the conversation among students on campuses across the nation. To insure this debate continues on after viewers leave the theater, individuals are urged to keep the discussion going and speak out via social media using the hashtags #TheHuntingGround and #ItsOnUs.

A beautiful ballad used in the film, sung by Lady Gaga and created for the documentary has also taken social media by storm. The music video could be disturbing to some viewers, as it artistically depicts scenes of sexual assault.

The video now almost has almost 10 million views on YouTube, and has been used as platform for viewers to comment about their unique stories to continue the conversation and to make strides toward change in how college campuses educate students and deal with sexual assault cases. Not only is this film important, but this film has caused bonds through social media to remind survivors of sexual assault that they are not alone.

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The Hunting Ground will continue to play at the Athena Cinema through Thursday, September 24, 2015 at Ohio University. Admission is free and showtimes can be found here. The documentary will premiere in theaters in March, but the national conversation should not stop there, and the conversation at Ohio University should not stop Thursday. There is no doubt this film portrays a very real issue happening to America’s youth, and the only way it can be stopped is to continue the conversation, because it is indeed on us.