Articles by Carolyn Zhang
April 26, 2013
In director Terrence Malick’s latest project, we follow the relationship between Marina, a young Frenchwoman, (Olga Kurylenko) and Neil, her American boyfriend (Ben Affleck) from Paris to Oklahoma. Their intensely passionate love struggles against the frustration and isolation that accompanies Marina’s relocation. When Marina moves back to France, Neil reconnects with a childhood flame (Rachel McAdams), whose own experiences with love and loss add another layer of solemnity and sorrow to the narration. Along the way, we briefly glimpse into the lonely life of their local priest in Oklahoma, Father Quintana (Javier Bardem), who currently struggles with a crisis of faith. Their intertwined stories create a heavy yet inspiring narrative on life, love, and God.
April 27, 2012
An admirable debut from writer-director-actor Patrick Wang ’98, In the Family examines the timeless story of a father’s love with a topical twist. The gay, Southern-born, Asian-American Joey Williams (Wang) lives in Tennessee with his partner, the schoolteacher Cody Hines (Trevor St. John), and Cody’s 6-year-old biological son, Chip (the talented Sebastian Brodziak). Joey’s an average guy with a big heart; he comes from a foster family background and changed his Asian birth name in memory of his foster parents. Through a series of flashbacks, we learn how Joey met Cody: A contractor by trade, Joey met the then-married Cody as a client; the two formed a close bond after Cody’s wife passed away, and both of them were surprised when it turned into a romance.
August 3, 2011
When you’re writing a script, conventional movie wisdom tells us that you can’t go wrong with Nazi villains — everybody hates them. And if you make your protagonist Captain America, then you’re practically set … right?
May 10, 2011
Don’t let the title fool you into thinking that Source Code is a hacker movie, or even about anything remotely related to Course VI. “Source Code” refers to a fictional technology that lets people revisit the last eight minutes of a dead person’s life. In the wake of a bombing attack on a Chicago-bound train, the government sends Army Capt. Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) into the Source Code again and again to learn the identity of the bomber. Through repeated visits, Stevens falls for his fellow passenger Christina Warren (Michelle Monaghan) and tries to find a way to save her, even after repeatedly being told by his commanding officers (Vera Farmiga and Jeffrey Wright) that it would be pointless. Source Code, they explain, is “not time travel, but time reassignment.” If that didn’t make sense, don’t worry, because it’s all quantum mechanics and “parabolic calculus.” Tricky stuff indeed.
April 22, 2011
This is a story of a man and his city. The man — legendary fashion photographer Bill Cunningham — has faithfully documented street style for The New York Times for decades. The city, as seen through his lens, hosts a menagerie of creative getups ranging from the elegantly subtle to the outrageously flashy. Cunningham’s extensive portfolio serves as a comprehensive anthology of the last half-century of New York fashion. Even now, still energetic at age 80, he bikes through the heart of New York City every day, chronicling noteworthy outfits with his analog film camera.
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April 1, 2011
It’s easy to make fun of Justin Bieber, but his commercial value is undeniable. His name and likeness is attached to everything from clothing to trading cards to nail polish. Justin Bieber: Never Say Never, the latest product from the Justin Bieber propaganda machine, is merely another way to suck money from his fans. It’s thinly disguised as an inspiring 3-D documentary about the 17-year-old’s journey from boy next door to international YouTube sensation to pop-idol-slash-force-of-nature. The film is structured around a countdown to his concert last August in the iconic Madison Square Garden, which sold out in 22 minutes. Strained vocal cords and a cold threaten his ability to perform at his biggest concert to date. Can the normal boy still fulfill his role as a superhuman pop star and make his fans happy?