The Movie List

So apparently I fail at movie-going.

Growing up, I was all about the romantic comedies, regular comedies ... the occasional thriller. But according to a bunch of my guy friends, I hadn't seen anything worth seeing.

So they made me a list. A list of every movie I need to see in order to be an acceptable member of the human race. And you know how I love lists.

I've been working on the list since last quarter, and I must say, I have made a nice dent in the extremely long list.

I figured it might be fun to have a short review for each one as I complete it ... a review from a girl who (apparently) fails at movies. So far, I really like the ones I've seen.

Below is the list, with the ones I've seen crossed off. I'll update it as I go along.

If you have any other recommendations, feel free to comment and I'll add them!

The List

1. Pulp Fiction
2. Star Wars (the first 3. apparently the new ones aren't worth my time)
3. The Big Lebowski
4. Donnie Darko
5. Reservoir Dogs
6. American History X
7. Rudy
8. The Departed
9. Boondock Saints
10. Boyz n the Hood
11. Coming to America
12. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
13. Blow
14. Snatch
15. Fight Club
16. A Clockwork Orange
17. Rounders
18. Mortal Kombat
19. The Good Shepherd
20. Billy Madison
21. Waterboy
22. Remember the Titans
23. The Godfather
24. Casino
25. Taxi Driver
26. Goodfellas
27. My Cousin Vinny
28. Rocky
29. Tommy Boy
30. 300
31. Good Will Hunting
32. Back to the Future
33. Black Hawk Down
34. Trainspotting
35. Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels
36. Batman Begins
37. original Batman with Michael Keaton
38. the 3 XMen movies
39. Black Sheep
40. Lord of the Rings
41. the original Superman with Christopher Reeve
42. Hollywood Ninja
43. I Love You, Man
44. Band of Brothers
45. The Matrix
46. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
47. Fistful of Dollars
48. The Perfect Storm
49. Big Fish
50. The Island
51. 40 Days and 40 Nights
52. Dogma
53. Clerks
54. Clerks 2
55. Mallrats
56. Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back
57. Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle
58. Van Wilder
59. Old School
60. A League of Their Own
61. Apollo 13
62. Catch Me if You Can
63. The Green Mile
64. Shawshank Redemption
65. Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure
66. Papillon
67. One Eight Seven
68. American Beauty
69. Strange Wilderness
70. Patch Adams
71. Cool Hand Luke
72. One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest
73. American Psycho
74. Road to Perdition
75. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
76. Man on the Moon
77. Primal Fear
78. Slingblade
79. All of the Hannibal movies
80. Papillon
81. Passion of the Mind
82. 11:14
83. The Fountain
84. Gladiator
85. A Scanner Darkly
86. Casablanca


It's been forever since I've posted ... ever so sorry. It's just been quite a busy quarter: The News Record stuff, homework (haha, who am I kidding? I don't do homework), roommates, and, oh yeah, my shiny new boyfriend.

This is the first time I've had a legitimate boyfriend. You know, the Facebook-status-changing kind. His name is Danny and he's pretty cool.

Other than that, things have been busy as usual. I feel awful about failing at all things Every Girl Blog related. Do you ever have those weeks (months...) where you just can't think of anything decent to write about? I think I've been avoiding EGB purely out of shame for the failure, and now I'm not really sure how to jump back in.

I'm also starting to think about internships for this summer. Turns out, even though it's seven months away, I'm already behind. I think I'm going to try and stay in the Cincinnati area this year, mainly because I'll still have my apartment and there's no point in paying for two apartments when I'd only live in one. But next year I want to go somewhere awesome. Like Minnesota (I mean, it's got EGB contributor Katie. How much cooler could it get?)

So, to wrap it up, my life has been consumed by all things journalism-y with a side of Danny. I feel bad because I don't think I've actually hung out with my roommates in weeks. It's a good thing the gang at The News Record is awesome, or else I'd probably go insane.

(P.S. I go home tomorrow for Thanksgiving and I'm super stoked!!)

"New Moon" waxes, wanes

By Ariel Cheung | The News Record
Nov. 23, 2009

It was better than “Twilight.”

And it shows. “New Moon,” which opened in theaters Friday, Nov. 20, is breaking records.
The second installment in the “Twlight” saga has already taken the No. 1 spot for best opening day, grossing $72.7 million, beating “The Dark Knight”’s $67.2 million.

“New Moon” also has the third-highest grossing weekend in the history of Hollywood with $140.7 million. It ranks behind the first-place “The Dark Knight” ($158.4 million) and “Spiderman 3” with $151.1 million.

Taylor Lautner, who plays the smitten werewolf Jacob Black, can actually act. He was believable as the caring, patient boy who is in love with Bella Swan. Lautner had emotional range, he had facial expressions and good comedic timing … when it comes to “Twilight” actors, Lautner was top-notch. (Although, I must say, my favorite actor in “New Moon” was definitely Billy Burke, who played Bella’s father, Charlie Swan.)

When Lautner was first cast as Jacob for “Twilight,” many fans worried that he would be too baby faced for the role, especially once Jacob became the muscular werewolf version later in the series.

Thankfully, it’s safe to say few fans could have been disappointed with Lautner. With squeals and moans of lust filling the theater any time Lautner’s shirt came off, it’s clear he got the job done.

There were also several marriage proposals.

The two leads, meanwhile, have improved since their lethargic performance in “Twilight.”
Kristen Stewart as the broken-hearted Bella managed to speak with a hint of emotion, although her consistently deadpan expression ruined the effect somewhat.

Robert Pattinson, who plays Edward Cullen, the brooding vampire who leaves Bella “for her own good,” actually managed to speak above a whisper once or twice. Baby steps.
But Stewart and Pattinson still embody the worst of the movie. Their facial expressions seem to lack the ability to show any emotion throughout the entire movie. Pattinson was missing from the majority of the movie, which made it even harder for him to compete with Lautner.

Stewart, meanwhile, still cannot manage to captivate the audience; we just don’t care about her. And an audience who remains apathetic toward the female lead is never really a good thing.

The biggest improvement by far was the flow of the movie. Many times a book adaption seems choppy and hard to follow unless you’ve read the book beforehand.

“New Moon” flowed very well which made the movie much more enjoyable. Even people who hadn’t read the book would be able to follow the plot.

The story starts where “Twilight” left off. An unfortunate accident during Bella’s birthday party results in Edward deciding to leave because, as he explains to her, he’s not good for her. Bella shuts down completely for several months, resurfacing when best friend Jacob starts tending to her.

At first, their friendship is platonic, at least from Bella’s side. But slowly, she begins to heal and her feelings for Jacob become a little less defined. I mean, with Jacob’s perfectly toned and tanned bod and adorable devotion, how could Bella not swoon a little? (The majority of the “fanpires” in the audience did plenty of swooning.)

For fans of the book, “New Moon” stayed true to author Stephenie Meyer’s version. A few minor scenes were cut out, but for the most part, there were no major deletions or additions. It was nice to see all the minor characters were kept and much of the original dialogue remained in the movie.

One of the most important parts of Meyer’s “New Moon” was the inclusion of humor throughout the sad, mopey plot. Thankfully, the movie version kept the funny parts, even improving them at times.

When Bella and Jacob are comparing their relative ages, Jacob insists that Bella is mentally younger than him, due to her “paleness and lack of general know-how.”

Or I think that’s what he said. I was too busy staring at his naked chest.

Column: Twi-hards and Potterholics vital to series

By Ariel Cheung | The News Record
Nov. 23, 2009

Have you ever thought about how important devoted fans are to geeky phenomena?

Consider the “fanpires” of the “Twilight” saga. I mean, I enjoyed the story, but I’ll be the first to admit that the actual writing style is destitute and the first movie was so-so.

And yet, “Twilight” is a huge hit; the opening weekend of “New Moon,” the second installment of the saga, was the third-largest opening in Hollywood history, grossing an estimated $140.7 million. (“The Dark Knight” ranks first with $158.4 million. “Spiderman 3” is in second place with $151.1 million.) It also displaced “The Dark Knight” as biggest opening day with $72.7 million.

The book series has spawned plenty of nicknames for its fans; Twi-hards and fanpires can be found in spades at movie theaters across the country.

They can recite the cheesy quotes at the drop of a hat (“The lion fell in love with the lamb?” Really?) and willingly partake in hour-long discussions on discrepancies in the movie.

And then there’s the junk they buy. Last year, character-related merchandise grossed more than $2.6 billion, according to the International Licensing Industry Merchandisers’ Association.

Nordstrom and Hot Topic both have licensed "Twilight" merchandise, featuring everything from “Team Edward” and “Team Jacob” shirts to vampire-inspired jewelry.

And it doesn’t end there. Nordstrom now offers the Luna Twilight makeup line, which includes $24 First Light face glow and $16 Lip Venom, and a $33 life-sized cut out of either Edward or Jacob.

Hot Topic, meanwhile, has $7 “New Moon” bandages, action figures and the piece de resistance, wolf pack packing tape that can be yours for only $10.

That’s right, “New Moon” themed packing tape. I’m all for T-shirts and bracelets, but tape?
I mean, that’s up there with a moving Mad Eye Moody eyeball from Harry Potter that costs $10 on True, the fanpires have nothing on Harry Potter fans, just as the “Twilight” saga is small beans compared to J.K. Rowling’s series.

The famous boy wizard has brought in nearly $25 billion with two movies still to be made. There are Web sites dedicated to the wizarding world, a theme park in the works and more than 400 million copies of the books have been sold.

The Harry Potter series even spawned an entire genre of music, known as wizard rock or wrock. Bands like Harry and the Potters, The Whomping Willows and the Ministry of Magic tour the country with songs titled “Accio Love” and “In Which Draco and Harry Secretly Want to Make Out.”

So what is it about series like Harry Potter and Twilight that make fangirls squeal and people line up for blocks just to see the next movie and read the latest book?

Honestly, I think a lot of it is the fan base. Without all the Potterholics dressed up as their favorite witch or wizard, what fun would it be to go to the midnight release of “Half-Blood Prince?”

How could fanpires revel in their ongoing quarrel of Team Edward vs. Team Jacob if they had no one with a contrasting opinion to battle with?

I full-heartedly acknowledge that I am a total geek when it comes to this stuff. (Although, thankfully, I think I have avoided the obnoxious fangirl title. No Bella barrettes or Edward cut-outs for me, thank you very much.) I went to the midnight releases of the last few Potter books; I giggle at the “Twilight” bumper stickers on Facebook; I dressed up for “Half-Blood Prince.”

And that’s what makes these series so much fun. It’s the feeling of community and having millions of people throughout the world who are just as geeked out as you are. It’s finding replicas of Mad Eye Moody and Hagrid in the movie theater and taking pictures with them because their outfits are just that cool.

It’s about visiting all the Web sites dedicated to these books and movies and interacting with people who also cried when (spoiler alert!!) Dobby died in “Deathly Hallows.”

Yes, “Twilight” is an interesting story. Of course, the Harry Potter series is one of the best. But without the fans, these epic tales would never be what they are now.

So, despite the cheesy, overdone merchandise and my loss of hearing from all the screeching at Friday’s “New Moon,” (That point when Jacob first took off his shirt – defeaning.) I respect the Twihards and the Potterholics. And to them, I say: Wrock on.

Holocaust survivor tells story that spans generations

By Ariel Cheung | The News Record
Nov. 17, 2009

Twenty years ago, on Nov. 9, 1989, a wall was torn down and hailed the beginning of a new country without oppression.

But in 1938, Nov. 9 meant something very different to Ruth Kropveld. On that night, Kropveld’s world changed forever as Nazi soldiers destroyed her parents’ milliner shop and nearby stores owned by Jewish neighbors.

Almost 100 Jews were murdered throughout Germany and Austria and more than 25,000 were arrested and sent to concentration camps.

That night, now known as Kristallnacht, or “night of the broken glass,” was the beginning of the story that would take Kropveld from her family and to another country.

Kropveld, who grew up in Bad Hersfeld in northeastern Germany, described her reaction to the aftermath of Kristallnacht to a Holocaust Literature class Thursday, Nov. 12.

“This is something I will have in my mind all my life,” Kropveld said. “It was a terrible thing to see.”

Kropveld’s story is the focus for the new book “Nevertheless We Lived,” by Lisa Phillips, a 2003 University of Cincinnati communication graduate.

As a child, Phillips grew up hearing stories of her grandfather’s experiences during the Holocaust. Phillips’ middle name Rachel was given to her in honor of a lost family member. Her grandfather’s niece died when she was one year old, a story that brought Phillips to tears on Nov. 12.

Stanley Rich escaped to the United States as a teenager, leaving behind his family and everything he knew.

Before her grandfather died in 1995, when Phillips was 13 years old, he asked Phillips and her family to continue telling his story.

“He looked up with tears in his eyes,” Phillips recalled. “And he said, ‘Please make sure to tell these stories to your children and your grandchildren.’ ”

Then, in August 2006, Phillips was introduced to Kropveld, who coincidentally had been good friends with Phillips’ grandfather. After the introduction, Phillips said she felt drawn to Kropveld and her story.

“I honestly felt like a part of me was supposed to be there,” Phillips said. “It was more, ‘How could I not do it?’ than, ‘How could I?’ ”

After deciding to write Kropveld’s biography, Phillips began meeting with her once a week for two years for interviews. It was the first time Kropveld had discussed her experiences in depth.

“I have not talked about my story because it’s very hard,” Kropveld said. “But this is the story of my life.”

As Phillips wrote, she faced challenges. At first, with the lack of a timeline or boss to report to, Phillips found herself lagging. Then, Kropveld’s daughter made a request, asking if the book could be finished before her son’s bar mitzvah.

This gave Phillips the deadline and initiative she needed. But between working at her day job and writing the biography, Phillips felt the strain on her social life and down time.

During the day, Phillips would work at a news station in Florida and then return home to work on the biography, sometimes writing throughout the night.

The hardest part for Phillips was being able to comprehend just how big of a project she was undertaking.

Once the book was written, Phillips received help from family, friends and co-workers, who did the editing so Phillips could self-publish the biography.

“Nevertheless We Lived” was published in June 2008 and can be found at bookstores across the country.

The memoir continues after Kropveld’s account of Kristallnacht when 15-year-old Ruth Stern (Kropveld’s maiden name) decided to seek refuge in Holland by sneaking across Germany/Holland border. She left her home and her family, not realizing it would be 10 years before she saw them again.

She traveled with Jesse Kropveld, her boyfriend and future husband, carrying only a small backpack and her guitar.

They met two other Jews trying to escape persecution in Germany and joined them.

The group stopped at several safe houses but at one point, they were apprehended and put in jail. Kropveld and the other girl were released, but Jesse was forced to remain behind.

Once Kropveld reached Holland, members of the Dutch resistance movement protected her.

One time when Kropveld was staying at a safe house, Nazis searched it twice. Kropveld was forced to hide behind a haystack in the barn as soldiers searched for her with pitchforks.

After the incident, Kropveld slept in a potato field for two days until she could be moved to another home.

Kropveld was sent to live with a family that owned a grocery store. While working in the store, Kropveld and her host family used code phrases like “Mary has a baby” in order to communicate. Kropveld also kept a fake ID in case Nazi soldiers asked her for identification.

Kropveld was moved twice more: first to Winterswijk, Holland, where she stayed with a rabbi’s family, and then to another house, where she pretended to be a maid.

She stayed there for almost six months until Holland was liberated in 1945. Once she came out of hiding, Kropveld tried to send a message to her family.

“My parents don’t know I’m living,” she said to a sympathetic soldier who sent a message to Kropveld’s cousin.

Kropveld and Jesse found each other in Holland after the war and were married before moving to Cincinnati to start a new life. Kropveld opened her own millinery shop, like the one her parents owned which had been destroyed years before.

The Kropveld’s prospered in Cincinnati and Ruth became known as the local “Hat Lady.” Their family grew and flourished; her grandson recently had his bar mitzvah.

While Kropveld had never told her story to the public, she felt it was finally time; she turned 88 on June 27.

“I felt at this point I should tell my story,” Kropveld says. “Not for the tragedy, but [to show] the kindness of humanity — those who kept me alive.”

It’s a story Phillips feels she was destined to tell.

“Too many things have been coincidental,” Phillips says. “I feel like I’m here to tell her story.”

The Yiddish word “bashert” means “destiny” or a “fortuitous match,” and describes Phillips’ feelings toward finding Kropveld and being able to write about her life.

As Phillips sees it, her generation’s job is to continue passing on the stories like her grandfather’s, like Kropveld’s.

“It says in the Torah that you can’t turn a blind eye; it’s forbidden,” Phillips says. “And our generation, choosing not to talk about it, not to think about it — that would be turning a blind eye.”

The book has already become more than Phillips imagined it would.

“There’s no way I could have known it would go so far — how many lives it would reach,” Phillips says.

For Kropveld, the memories that still haunt her today have a positive message.
“It’s very vivid; just last night I couldn’t sleep. It all came back to me,” Kropveld says. “But I’ve learned to not take life for granted. These are things you don’t forget.”

Column: First Bearcat football game actually fun

By Ariel Cheung | The News Record
Nov. 8, 2009

Yesterday, I went to my first University of Cincinnati football game ... ever.

Granted, I’m only a second-year student and football has never really been my thing, but I was getting tired of the shocked looks and dismayed expressions. So, donning my (borrowed) jersey and a wary expression, I headed over to the … um … that quaint little patch of grass. Oh, that’s right — the field.

Now, before I get 100 e-mails berating me for my lack of school spirit, let me explain a few things:

My family was never very sporty. I grew up with one younger sister and my parents, neither of whom really encouraged a love of sports. Sure, my dad would help me practice for softball now and then, but the most athletic thing we did as kids was play “monkey-in-the-middle” in the pool.

I went to one Michigan game when I was 13 years old with my dad. It was interesting; my favorite part was the band and we left halfway through the third quarter.

Instead of going to games or watching the Superbowl on TV, my family would go to the zoo or a play. My mom’s an art teacher, my dad’s a photographer: We are an artsy family to the core.

Plus, I never understood football. Maybe it’s because no one ever really took the time to explain it to me; I don’t have the benefit of years of patient teaching that many others do. By high school, I still wasn’t really sure what a touchdown was.

And then there are the fans. And by fans, I mean fanatics. I can’t stand the crazed sports lovers who refer to players by their first names and seem to know them intimately. The know-it-alls who stare at me in a mixture of shock and condescension the moment they discover my lack of “spirit.” If I hear one more statistic, one more baseless speculation on who is going to win and why, I will scream. No, I have no idea what you’re talking about. Thanks for making that obvious for the hundredth time.

During my high school years, I did attend a few games. Our team was pretty good my senior year, and so I felt it was only just for me to attend. But football was still pretty low on my list of interests.

I suppose I got my pessimistic attitude toward football from my mom. She tends to see football the same way she sees camping: unnecessary and a tad barbaric.

So, needless to say, I have always been a little hesitant when it came to UC football games. Last year, as a freshman, I had no idea where or how to get tickets, and the majority of my Saturdays were spent lounging around my dorm watching movies, attempting to do some homework, or checking out the latest YouTube video. Basically anything except watching football.

In my mind, football games were crowded and noisy, filled with moronic drunks who would spill their warm beer on me at a particularly exciting part of the numbingly long game. I would watch in confusion as important events flew right over my head (the mythical fumble, the legendary linebacker – what do these things mean?).

But, thankfully, it was nothing like that. Yesterday, I showed up to the game and, honestly, it was kind of overwhelming. The ocean of black (dotted by specks of red and white) worried me; I was certain I would be swept away at any moment. I leaned on a rail for a minute to get my bearing, only to be told curtly that standing there wasn’t allowed.

I could almost feel the fanatics staring me down, and I felt sure they all knew I was an imposter. I kept waiting to be called out as I searched for a spot to sit in the student section (By the way, why were there so many old people in the student section? Awkward.), but luckily, no one called my bluff.

Once I actually found some people I knew, I kind of enjoyed myself. I don’t know exactly what it was, but knowing I was part of something so universal was sort of empowering. I somehow managed to remember the fight song and that charming rhythmic clapping, so even if I had no idea what was happening on the field (which was most of the time), I usually hid it pretty well.

It surprised me, but the game was actually fun. I cheered, I saw, and the Bearcats conquered. What’s not to love?

Review: Funny Man Roy Wood Jr.

Ariel Cheung | The News Record
Nov. 4, 2009

Not only does comedian Roy Wood Jr. have a great sense of humor and comedic timing, but he also has wise advice for students.

“Make sure you leave your legacy on the world,” Wood said. “I’ll give you an example: the dude at Wal-Mart who slapped a baby in the face.”

Wood’s performance continued to hit home for the audience during his performance Wednesday, Nov. 4, in Tangeman University Center’s Great Hall at the University of Cincinnati. The event was sponsored by the UC Programs & Activities Council, Alpha Phi Alpha and Kappa Alpha Psi.

Wood began his act wondering how Soulja Boy, a rap artist, managed to be so popular when his lyrics were so commonplace.

“All he’s doing is talking about what he did that morning,” Wood said. “‘Hopped up out the bed, turn my swag on, took a look in the mirror, said what’s up?’ You can’t do that?”
While several parts of Wood’s act were focused on race, he still managed to keep the topics light.

During an explanation of Soulja Boy’s lyrics, Wood decided to rephrase them in terms he thought white people would be more appreciative of. He replaced “swag” with “charisma” and “took a look in the reflective glass.”

From fast food workers — like that one guy who insists on being the “guardian of the sauce” — to prank phone calls, Wood continued to delight the audience.

“Did you ever think of something so heinous, you just know you’re going to hell for doing it?” Wood said. He continued, explaining an idea for a prank call that involved calling a woman on the phone and pretending to be her ex-boyfriend.

“The moment you think of the idea, the devil appears right then and says, ‘Come on, get your bags, let’s go. Time for orientation.’ ”

Jeff Kachelmeyer opened for Wood, and while he did not have the headliner’s charisma, Kachelmeyer still managed to get quite a few laughs.

“I got laid recently,” Kachelmeyer said. “It was two years ago today and I’m still riding that wave of success.”

(photo by Pat Strang | The News Record)