Author Archives: Lisa

Posts: 15 (archived below)
Comments: 16

About Lisa

As editor for the Weissman Center, Lisa received her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Creative Writing from Baruch College in June 2011. She co-founded the school's sole creative writing club, Writers' Society in 2010. When not working on the blog, Lisa explores interest in local reporting. She has interned at Bronxnet, the New York Daily News, and the L Magazine.

Movie Palace Brings Classics to Astoria

Tucked in a corner of the sleek and remodeled Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, Queens, lies an elaborate Egyptian alcove.

Tut’s Fever, formally known as a movie palace, is a replication of the themed movie theaters of the 1930s and 40s.   A life-sized wooden woman, dressed in flowing white robes greets visitors from the concession stand facade. To the left, a dark, but curiosity sparking path, leads adventurous patrons through a hieroglyphic streaked tunnel, by a closed casket.  Upon pulling a lever, the casket door springs open and a  “mummy” pokes his head out with  a cigar hanging out of his mouth.

The space itself is equally as breath-taking. Large sarcophagi stand firmly (and slightly intimidatingly) against the walls, casting shadows over the decorated cloth seats.  A seemingly out of place, but still entertaining,  image of vintage Mickey Mouse and a dog adorns the curtain that pulls back to reveal a screen modest by today’s standards.

A vintage image of Mickey Mouse adorns the curtain

It’s intricate details are almost distracting from the film on display.

Movie palaces like this were the norm back in the early twentieth century, with less than five remaining in the New York City area (not including Tut’s Fever, which is considered a recreation). Instead of sticky floors and the incessant clicking of other audience members texting, moviegoers in the early twentieth century got to marvel at amphitheater-style theaters with ornate ceilings and luxurious, velvet curtains.

Going to the movies was a full experience. There were no distracting, gimmicky 3D graphics to distract from the film , only the film and a beautiful environment in which to watch it. Tut’s Fever seeks to recreate this joy for modern audiences by showing classic films and miniseries and using a projector.

“When they start up the projector, you can hear it. I think it adds to the experience. It’s as if nowadays when you go to the movies you’re just watching a bigger screen and maybe [the sound] is a bit more intense than if I were watching it in my living room. Movies…are now becoming very little of an experience because you can get the same feeling at a quality home theater,” said Tecumseh Ceaser, a lifelong resident of Astoria and former film projectionist.

Tut’s Fever was an original part of the museum’s plan, debuting along with the entirety of the museum in 1988. It was designed by artists Red Grooms and Lysiane Luong. In the museum’s recent expansion, a larger, more modern theater was added, as well as a screening room, but Tut’s Fever offers a unique experience to younger generations.  With its eye-catching decor, the space is able to allure children and expose them to classic films they may not see anywhere else.

Currently showing in Tut’s Fever is the series, The Green Hornet, with a new episode shown daily. The movie palace is a true representation about what the museum as a whole aims to do: expose the public to the historical part of moving images throughout time, while still finding a place for them in modern times to be rediscovered and enjoyed all over again.

Posted in Independent Film | 3 Comments

Stung by Wasp

The 2005 Live action short film Oscar winner, Wasp (Andrea Arnold) is a gripping film about a negligent, single mother trying to go on her first date in years.  I saw this short about a year and a half ago and having seen it again today, I can honestly say that I’m still in awe of how terrible of a parent Zoe- the mother- is.

This time, however, the style of the film really caught my eye.  The first time around, I was so caught up in the story, I didn’t see the unique and thoughtful style this film possesses.

Swift, shaky camera movements skillfully chronicle the chaos and disorganization within this flawed clan.  Seeing the world through the eyes of the children, running around, trying to find some form of entertainment heightens  the drama and makes the viewer truly feel the possible danger that these children are exposed to.  It gives the film a raw, gritty feel that, although unsettling, makes the film that much better.

Sound also plays a huge role in this film.  The drowning out of the girls’ voices as they walk over the overpass as rush hour traffic roars below them, puts the family’s situation in perspective.  It is clear from the start of the film that Zoe is not a responsible parent, but to literally see them, zoomed out, highway symphony blasting below, hints at how small they really are.  In this vast urban landscape, their problems are just one of a million others.

Arnold is able to put the focus back on the family and presents Zoe with an opportunity to somewhat redeem herself when her youngest child, Kyle, is in danger.

Everyone’s moral compass may be slightly off kilter in this film (save for Zoe’s oldest daughter, whose street survival skills are scarily advanced for a child of her age) but it is the ending which really ties the drama in neatly and speaks to the bit of common sense and humanity in the characters.

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Crushing on The Crush

The Crush is a seamless comedic thriller about a sophisticated eight- year- old boy’s first crush.  The film follows young Ardal Travis’ (Oran Creagh) pursuit of his second grade teacher, Ms. Purdy’ s (Olga Wehrly), affection.

The film is nominated for an Oscar this year in the live action short film category, alongside Na Wewe and God of Love.

Oran Creagh’s surprisingly polished delivery of Ardal’s deadpan locution provides The Crush with a strong dose of humor. The film opens with the second grader giving Ms. Purdy a small, plastic ring. “It’s important that you know how I feel about you,”  Ardal says matter of factly.

His hopes are dashed when he and his mother run into Ms. Purdy and her arrogant fiance while shopping.

An avid fan of Westerns, Ardal begins to plot his revenge and challenges the fiance to a duel. The film treats this motif delicately, never shoving the similarities in your face.

The duel is the most intense scene of the film with Ardal bringing a eerily real pistol along with him. Writer and director, Michael Creagh, masterfully injects a shot of pure suspense pairing the exchange between Ardal and Ms. Purdy’s fiance with quick cuts and camera movements.

The film is an homage to the dedication one has to their first crush and is easily relatable.

Last year’s Live Action Short winner, The New Tenants, while also including humor and suspense, is a vastly different film than The Crush, taking a seemingly more serious approach. Whether or not this is any indication of Crush‘s chances of winning the Oscar, the film is memorable in the sense that it combines relatability,  carefully built up suspense, and thoughtful dialogue and humor. Not to mention, Oran Creagh’s impressive acting ability.

Hopefully it will win for best live action short, but even if it doesn’t, it’s still a worthwhile film to watch. It’s also available for purchase on iTunes, for only $2!

Posted in Oscar Shorts | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Oscar Nominated Shorts Big on Detail

I haven’t seen too many short films and I honestly don’t know why.  Every time I’ve seen a short film – yes, every time – I am so blown away by the filmmaker’s ability to squeeze this impactful story into the smallest time frame.

During the screening of the Oscar nominated live action short films at the IFC Center, prior to each film, there’s a screenshot of the title and the length of the film. Each time, I’d say “Psh, fifteen minutes, you can’t show a decent film fifteen minutes!” and each time I was wrong.

I don’t often care about the Oscars because more often than not, I haven’t even  see half of the films nominated. The short film category, though, brings something different to the table.

“Short films are easily overlooked because most people prefer to see feature length films. However, many short films have a lot more meaning than a lot of feature length blockbusters,” said Aaron Figueroa, a film student at Brooklyn College.

Often featuring independent filmmakers, the viewer isn’t distracted by big name actors or gimmicks and can focus on the story and stylistics of the film. Short films really capture my attention and I think that time plays a big factor in that. They don’t waste time; each minute is valuable and carefully thought out- something I think feature film directors and producers should consider more carefully.

They’re about enough to make me want to give up my free movie Tuesdays (thanks, Optimum Rewards!) and trek to IFC to see them. Yeah, they’re that good.

A scene from the Oscar nominated short, God Of Love. Courtesy of

A scene from the Oscar nominated short, God of Love.
Courtesy of
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The Suite Inverted World of Webseries

Webseries as a whole can garner attention for multiple reasons. They could be super hilarious viral sensations, well thought out, highly stylized works of cinema or used to generate some kind of revenue.

Websites that host user generated content, such as YouTube and Vimeo, have opened the door for aspiring filmmakers to showcase their work for the world to see.  It has also created a new way for companies to advertise their products to consumers.

Clearly, massive corporations have access to a lot more resources than the average amateur moviemaker.  However, the unpolished content generated by these lesser known film makers bring something that corporate establishments cannot and that is a sense of authenticity and genuineness.

The webseries Oh, Inverted World is an example of this.  Created by young adults

from Long Island, this series chronicles the story of a group of friends who have just graduated from college and instead of worrying about trying to find a job and moving out of their parents’ homes, are faced with a world of zombies and the threat of the moon falling to the Earth.

The series is low budget, shot in black and on location, reminiscent of a film noir.  The four awkward, but endearing characters feel familiar and true.  Something that is undoubtedly linked to the fact because of the restrictions of small budget, all parties involved have to, in some form, work closely together to produce and promote the miniseries and make it a success.

“It’s cool. It’s like anyone can do it, “ said Oh Inverted World viewer, Elsa Saatela.

A larger corporation, such as, The Better Sleep Council, doesn’t particularly have this same effect. It certainly wants to create a successful webseries, but more from the perspective of trying to sell something. It uses high profile actors such as Milo Ventimiglia and Shannen Doherty to gain viewers instead of unknown actors that viewers might be able to connect with better.  In BSC’s case, the message of the importance of getting enough sleep is what’s being promoted (versus the promotion of creative content as entertainment).

The Council has launched Suite 7 an attempt to use the webseries as a tool for advertising.   However, the series falls short of actually making a connection with viewers. Its overdramatized scenarios seem false and drawn out. BSC should just stick to commercials and leave filmmaking to the amateurs.

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