‘The Menu’: When your passion becomes a burden

The release of Mark Mylod’s “The Menu” came during a time where I was struggling with my passion for art. Where the fun was no longer there, not the carefree emotions I used to have, now being replaced with the burden of finishing work and moving on to the next piece. It was an emotionally draining time, one where I wondered constantly if I would be able to handle this lifestyle I’ve chosen for years to come. Then during winter break, I realized “The Menu” was on HBO Max and decided to give it a watch. What I expected to be a horror thriller about a psycho chef, turned out to be a beautiful dark comedy with themes on losing passion for something you once adored.

The film is centered mainly around “Food expert” Tyler Ledford (Nicholas Hoult) and his date Margot Mills (Anya Taylor-Joy) who travel by boat to Hawthorn, a Michelin-starred restaurant run by Julian Slowik (Ralph Fiennes) on a private island. Other guests such as food critics, washed-up celebrities and business partners also join the party. With all of these one-percenters paying over $1,000 to see and eat Slowik’s food, also comes with a lecture on the deep meaning behind each dish, with each course getting more bizarre as the film goes on.

I fell in love with the wackiness of each dish being presented, as I as well as others out there have at least once made fun of a renowned chef explaining their course and the meaning behind it. There’s no shame in having meaning behind a meal, but there comes a point where you wonder to yourself, “Why are you going so deep with this, it’s just food,” and Mylods represents that perfectly with Slowik’s meals. Warning, spoiler alert: One of the meals is literally a bread plate… with no bread. It is hilarious and entertaining to watch the food critics talk about the deep complexities of the dish, while our main character Margot calls the chef out immediately for how absurd this is. 

What I adore the most, however, is how they portray Slowik as a man who has forgotten the true purpose behind his profession. He tries his best to turn his food into art that he no longer enjoys cooking anymore. It is something I relate to. Art for me, used to be pure joy, where I can paint or draw whatever I want. I didn’t care if it looked bad or amazing, it was something I enjoyed doing. Now, I have a deadline to meet to finish pieces. I have to look for the deeper meaning behind my piece,with no room to truly experiment without the risk of making it look bad. It was and continues to be draining. Draining the passion I once had for something I love that is now just a burden.

I wish I could get more into the film without spoiling it, but “The Menu” is a fun time. The twists are executed well, and the chemistry between the characters is amazing. You can tell they all had a great time making this film. While it is not particularly scary, the suspense will keep you locked in and wondering about the fate of our cast, while also having a few laughs and learned lessons along the way.

Title: “The Menu”

Director: Mark Mylod

Starring: Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Fiennes

Where to watch: HBO Max

Shamrocks: 4.5 out of 5

Contact Gabriel Zarazua at


Animation Nation: ‘Surf’s Up’

With the holiday season coming, what better way to spark up Christmas cheer than to talk about a beach movie!

I only remember bits and pieces of “Surf’s Up” from when I was kid, specifically a chicken and a killer soundtrack. But I can say that rewatching it years later as a 21-year-old, I ended the movie with more laughter and good life lessons than I remember.

In a mockumentary, 17-year-old penguin Cody Maverick from Antarctica has dreams of being a professional surfer and winning the famed “Big Z Memorial” surfing contest on Pen-Gu Island. His dreams started when he met the late “Big Z,” the most famous penguin surfer, before his death 10 years prior to the start of the film. Cody struggles with his dream due to the lack of support from his family and his penguin clan in Antarctica, only to struggle more amongst the crowds of surfers on Pen-Gu Island. However, Cody finds a mentor in Geek and friendships with Lani and Chicken Joe, who help him train for the contest throughout the rest of the film.

Besides the animation, “Surf’s Up” is also unique since it’s framed as a documentary about the life of Big Z. The team’s efforts to motion-capture camera operator movements just make it more authentic. The whole film looks surprisingly beautiful for a CGI film made in 2007, with the best indicator being the ocean and every scene where the characters surf.

All the characters all stand out from one another in their own ways. Chicken Joe, while dim-witted, is always relaxed and could care less about the competition. Instead, he lets the waves take over and goes with the flow of life. Geek is a clam-loving introvert but wants to open up with the help of Cody. And, he eventually learns to love surfing again for reasons explained in the film.

Of course, the star of this film is Cody Maverick, the penguin from Shiverpool, Antarctica who has ambitious dreams to be the best surfer out there. Surprisingly, I, and I’m sure many others in high school or college, can relate to Cody throughout the film. We had or still do have dreams that we all want to achieve in life. However, not everyone will agree or support your dream, instead putting you down and telling you to focus on other things.

One quote from the film stood out to me: “I don’t understand why everybody have to be so judgmental…Think it’s also partially ‘cause, everyone else is lookin’ at her like, ‘Hey, Cody’s just a bum. Cody’s this. Cody’s that…’ Cody’s me, bro. Let me be me. When is that going to start?”

We all want to do what we love, to be ourselves and no one else. So why is it so hard to do that nowadays?

Another surprise stand-out from this film is the soundtrack, featuring songs like “Stand Tall” by Dirty Heads, “Drive” by Incubus and “You Get What You Give” by New Radicals. The whole soundtrack is a feel-good time, and I highly recommend checking it out on Spotify.

Aside from all this, I believe the biggest lesson to take from this film is that you have to learn to enjoy life. While Cody’s dream is to win the contest, he learns that it is not the only goal in life. Instead, he learns to enjoy the sport he’s so passionate about and how to share that love with others. Life is too short to not enjoy it. Go do what you love this holiday season.

Title: Surf’s Up

Directors:  Chris Buck, Ash Brannon

Starring: Shia LeBouf, Jeff Bridges

Streaming: Hulu

Shamrocks: 5 out of 5


Animation Nation: ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’

This past week was one of my roughest weeks yet. Yes, I got to see a part of history and storm the field while Notre Dame beat Clemson, but waiting for me was three paintings and one drawing with fast-approaching deadlines. The Sunday Scaries were hitting hard and more late nights were coming.

Naturally, I decided to binge-watch some movies to have on in the background, which turned out to be a good and bad idea. I put on “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” directed by Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey and Rodney Rothman. What I expected to be a night full of movie background noise and project progress ended up being completely consumed by the film.

So what makes another “Spider-Man” film so special, especially if it’s created by Sony Animation? (The same team that created the dreaded “The Emoji Movie?”) Simply, it’s because this film was made with love, loads of patience and pushed animation to new heights — spurring a whole wave of studios to push their own limits, as well.

This article will mostly be an appreciation of what this film did for animation, but first, let’s get to the story. Bitten by a radioactive spider, Brooklyn teenager Miles Morales develops powers that transform him into Spider-Man. When he meets Peter Parker, he soon realizes that there are many others who share his powers from other universes. Miles must now use his newfound skills to battle the evil Kingpin, who is using a weapon to travel across the multiverse for his own needs.

The film’s main theme is taking responsibility, even when we feel we are not qualified to do so. Yes, this theme is used countless times with Peter Parker, but Miles also has to deal with living up to the expectations of Peter himself, someone who is idolized all around New York. Along with figuring out who he is as a person, Miles deals with self-doubt throughout the whole film, but by accepting help and bonding with Spider-Men who went through his pain, as well, he is able to truly become his own Spider-Man.

With that quick synopsis, let’s get to the best part of this whole film: the animation. First off, did you know that it took around 800 people over the course of four years to create this film? Any given second of the film sometimes took around a week to animate. How was Sony able to create such a unique look? Collage. The animators were blending hand-drawn animation over CGI, creating the look of a hand-drawn, comic book world but giving the characters a 3D effect in the process. The use of comic book-language panelization, action lines and dot shading help make the whole film and each universe within it feel unique. The directors stated that they want the movie to be so beautiful visually that at any time you pause the movie, it will look like a page out of a comic book. Every time you watch it, you always find a new detail you didn’t notice before.

I can go on and on, but this article would basically take up a whole page — you just have to simply watch this film for yourself to truly appreciate what it has to offer. Not only is it the best “Spider-Man” and comic book movie of all time, I consider it one of the best films of all time.

Yes. I really mean that.

Sony Animation took a universal character and role model for kids like Spider-Man and created a new story for him that is actually a breath of fresh air, all while pushing animation to new heights. I can watch this film over 100 times and never get tired of it. I’m probably going to watch it again after I finish writing this. 

Title: “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”

Directors: Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman

Starring: Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld

Streaming: Amazon Prime

Shamrocks: 5 out of 5

You can contact Gabriel Zarazua at


Zarazua: Saturday, Oct. 18, 2014, the game that could have changed it all

I have the weirdest hobbies sometimes; one of them is looking at past events for sports teams. Particularly where simple plays become pivotal moments in a team’s future, years beyond the game’s end. A lot of them are reaches for sure, but it’s always interesting to think about what would have happened if things went another way for another team. The one that I always think about though, as a Notre Dame football fan, through all the numerous quarterbacks, heartbreaking losses and coaching changes, was that fateful night on Saturday, Oct. 18, 2014. This is when No. 5 ranked Notre Dame traveled to Tallahassee to face defending national champions No. 2 ranked Florida State.

I do not think people remember well-enough how talented the 2014 Fighting Irish were. On the defensive side of the ball the Irish had Isaac Rochell, Drue Tranquill, Jaylon Smith and, of course, captain Joe Schmidt. On the offensive side quarterback Everett Golson was having an amazing comeback season, with weapons like Corey Robinson and Will Fuller, all while being protected by Nick Martin, Mike McGlinchey and Quenton Nelson.

Yes, that’s a lot of players, but that’s barely scratching the surface of this talented Irish squad. Everything was clicking for them going into the 7th game of the season including the demolishing of Michigan 31-0 and the game winning TD caught by Ben Koyack at home against Stanford. They were talented, clutch and, most importantly, a team. I truly felt that this team could beat anybody, and felt they were truly up for the challenge against Jameis Winston and Florida State, which we came to find out they were.

Showing remnants of the classic 1994 matchup, Notre Dame and Florida State were battling and dealing blows left and right. If one team gave a gut punch, the other gave one back. No matter what, it seemed that the game would come down to one final play… and it did.

With 7:39 left in the game, down 31-27, Notre Dame drove the whole length of the field with a chance to dethrone Florida State on the road. It came down to 17 seconds left, 4th and goal from the 2-yard line. The ball was snapped, Golson threw a pass to a wide open Corey Robinson and… touchdown; the Irish had the lead and most likely the game. I remember hugging my grandpa, an avid Notre Dame fan as well, and we were celebrating such an amazing win in an amazing game. Then, suddenly, my dad had to break the sad news to us: There was a flag.

My stomach literally dropped, “Pass interference, offense No. 7.” First off, Will Fuller never set the pick, it was sadly No. 20 C.J Prosise. I remembered trying my best to defend him, but of course, looking at it now, it was the most obvious pick I had ever seen, in a football game no less. Now, its 4th and 18, they did it earlier in the drive, they have to have the luck of the Irish on their side right? Nope, pressured, Golson had to let it fly early, with the ball seeming to have no clear target: game over, Irish lost.

While the outcome was gut wrenching, I have to admit that was one of my favorite games to ever watch. I saw all the future NFL talent on both teams, but it still sucks knowing that a simple screen cost Notre Dame a chance to beat the No. 2 team in the country. I was still optimistic about the season though, 6-1, playoff hopes were clearly still alive and they beat Navy in a nail biter the next week, but they’ll be fine. The Irish win next week against Arizona State and win out the rest of the season…right? Dead wrong.

The Irish completely collapsed, and seeing it every step of the way was heartbreaking and a little embarrassing to watch. They completely melted down against Arizona State. I saw it the most in Golson, who was once an amazing quarterback, who made plays left and right, now looking like a shadow of his former self in a span of two weeks. They continued to lose close games to Louisville and Northwestern at home, with the icing on the cake getting embarrassed by USC 49-14 to end the season. I remember vividly Brian Kelly screaming at his squad at halftime, delaying the band’s halftime show in the process.

Going from a No. 5 team with National Championship aspirations, to a 7-5 team playing the Music City Bowl, the Irish thankfully landed on somewhat of a good note. This time winning in a nail biter against Les Miles and LSU. However, against this team Golson was nowhere to be found. Rather, the Irish went with Malik Zaire, the lefty sophomore back up quarterback. Another sour note to end the season, Golson would eventually leave for Florida State, funny how life works, huh? Malik is the leader now, a promising young man, he’ll lead us to the promised land, right?

Nope, Malik, after a impressive debut against Texas, has a season ending injury against Virginia, leading the way for Deshone Kizer to take the lead. He played extremely well, leading the Irish to a 10-2 season, only to get demolished by Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl. Now, there is the problem of who will start next season, Kizer or Zaire? Well, looking back on it now, did it really matter? I don’t have to go into the details of that dreaded 4-8 season, but of course we know that Kizer eventually left early for the NFL. And, Zaire left for Florida, paving the way for Brandon Wimbush, who had a decent career with the Irish as well, only to, again, leave on a sour note, leaving for UCF after he was benched numerous times. For who, do you ask: the all time winningest quarterback in Notre Dame history, Ian Book. Ian was amazing as we all know, but sadly, even he couldn’t get us over that final hump. After he left, Jack Coan took over, a decent year, only to choke again in the Fiesta Bowl after Brian Kelly left too. 

Now we are here, 2022. Marcus Freeman is our head coach and Tyler Buchner was supposed to lead the team, only to get hurt and have Drew Pyne take over…sounds like we’ve witnessed this one too many times, huh? With playoff hopes seemingly dead for this year, we again have to wait another year to finally win it all for the first time since 1988. Still though, it makes you wonder how different things could’ve been if that one simple play went our way.

What if the penalty was never called? Would Notre Dame win out? Would Golson be considered the greatest quarterback in Notre Dame history? Would we win again if Golson didn’t transfer? Would Brian Kelly still be here? Well, I definitely don’t know but it’s funny how the butterfly effect works though, isn’t it?

Contact Gabriel Zarazua at

The views expressed in this Sports Authority are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.


A letter to my passion

Dear Art,

You have been with me since the day I was born. You helped me when I was bored at school, doodling when I should’ve been paying attention to my teachers. When my asthma was at my worst as a child, you helped keep me company when I couldn’t play with the other kids. If family members didn’t know what to get me for my birthday or Christmas, you were their safest bet, even if I didn’t know how to use certain materials they got me (all that charcoal would come in handy today). 

As high school came around, you slowly faded away. Sports and academics became my number one priority. You were simply something I did in my notebook if I wasn’t already snoring in class from lack of sleep. I did some designs here and there for homecoming and prom, but you were just another hobby of mine. It wasn’t until my senior year that you slowly came back into my life. My football and lacrosse careers were officially over, and college was coming in fast. I had no clue what I wanted to do with my life, so I took the safest bet and decided to major in graphic design, having no clue what I wanted to do with art as a job, hearing all the jokes that you will never make a living as an artist. I didn’t care though. I figured if I’m doing something I love, everything will work out.

My first studio art class in college, I realized how far behind I was in terms of technique and knowledge.It was overwhelming to see how good others were, dedicating their entire lives to their art, as I was only keeping it as a hobby. As time went on, however, I was learning how to prime a canvas, how to properly shade with charcoal and all the Adobe apps, from Photoshop to InDesign. Best of all, though, I was having fun with it. I was excited to learn about anything new; I looked forward to every project. I loved art so much, I went to a summer program in New York for art. That fire inside of me was burning brighter than it ever had before. When I finished all my core classes, I was ecstatic to know I would only be taking art classes, only doing something I love for a whole semester. If only I knew back then.

Five art classes, with two of them being at the same time. Research, then progress submissions and final pieces, all due on the same day. The first few projects were troubling, but it all got done, at the cost of sleep. Then slowly, it started to become a chore instead of a passion. One project was done, another was getting started. I cleaned the oil paint off myself only to be covered in charcoal the next minute. Then, at one point, I just snapped. I couldn’t dare to look at you anymore. I wanted to throw away all my paint, canvases, sketchbooks and pencils. I was tired of you and didn’t want you in my life at that point. The fire that burned brighter than the sun was barely a candle that was finally blown out.

Fall break came and I didn’t think of you during that time. Once classes started again, it was back to the old routine. We are still on rocky waters, but this time I’ve been able to manage you better. While I shouldn’t, I’ve focused more on what I want to make, not listening too much to the professors’ requirements. I don’t want you to feel like an academic requirement — I want you to be my passion again, something that once helped me explain myself when words couldn’t, something that helped me in my darkest moments.

I don’t know how the rest of this semester will go. I hate to leave this on a sad note, but hopefully this will all work out in the end.

You can contact Gabriel Zarazua at

The views expressed in this Inside Column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.


Animation Nation: ‘Seoul Station’

Halloween is upon us! While there are plenty of great animated Halloween movies like “Monster House” and “ A Nightmare before Christmas,” I wanted to find one that wasn’t entirely meant for kids. I wanted to try something new and see if there were any adult animated horror movies. However, it’s surprising to see that there aren’t that many adult animated horror movies out there in the world, which is pretty sad, since I’m sure there are plenty of stories to tell that would scare some people with the power animation holds. Then, I randomly saw one movie called “Seoul Station,” an animated zombie movie. Now, I am a gigantic sucker for zombie movies, though finding a good zombie these days is few and far between. I came to realize that it is an official prequel to the hit South Korean zombie movie “A Train to Busan.” (While it’s not animated, I still highly recommend it!) So, I decided to give this small budget animated film a shot. Here’s my review of “Seoul Station.”

The film serves as a prequel to the live-action film “Train to Busan,” depicting the very beginnings of the zombie apocalypse in South Korea. The film focuses on three characters. Hye-sun is a runaway, but her father Suk-gyu and her boyfriend Ki-woong try to find her around the area of Seoul Station. The film seems to be trying to build on the father-daughter relationship that we see prominently in “Train to Busan.” However, that is the only theme that is remotely close to the previous film and saying that is still a bit of a stretch. The film has an overall nihilistic view on the world. While we hear it in horror movies all the time, the amount of phrases like “It’s meaningless!” and “It doesn’t matter!” I heard in this film was honestly a little overwhelming. We see it with Hye-sun, a woman who ran away from a brothel and thinks everyone only sees her as a disposable object. We also see it with a homeless man whose acts of kindness ultimately meant nothing in the end, when it would usually stand for redemption.

It’s hard to not compare this film to the masterpiece that came before it. “Train to Busan” is one of the best horror zombie movies of all time. The movie tells a redemption story about a father and his daughter, while showing that while there are selfish and terrible people in this world, acts of kindness and selflessness by others aren’t pointless or a waste of time. However, perhaps that is what director Yeon Sang-ho wanted to show “Seoul Station.” He wanted to show us both sides of the coin in a zombie apocalypse. While there are those stories that give people hope, there are those that aren’t so lucky and don’t receive a “happy ending.”

The animation itself is pretty fluid for being completely CGI. While the film does start slow in actually showing the zombies, the animation keeps up with the fast pace once the apocalypse comes in full force. Hye-sun, while no saint, is still a good character who, despite having a bad view on the world around her, still tries her best to be a good person. It was also interesting to see the forgotten and overlooked people in Seoul’s society.

By itself, “Seoul Station” is a decent zombie film with some interesting characters and social commentary on how those who seem worthless are treated in Seoul. While the story started slow, it picked up in the second act and some last minute twists near the end of the film genuinely caught me off guard. It’s not “Train to Busan” by any means, but it does its best to stand on its own.

Title: Seoul Station

Directors: Yeon Sang-ho

Starring: Shim Eun-kyung Ryu Seung-ryong Lee Joon

Streaming: Amazon Prime

Shamrocks: 3 out of 5


Animation-Nation: ‘Blue Period’

“Before I started painting, I thought painting was a magic that only a selected few could use.”

Art: one of the most beautiful things that we were given on this earth. As it evolved over time, we have come to see art in many different forms and expressions. However, there’s this strange notion behind it. That the only people who create art are chosen, those gifted with talents and nothing more. Like everything else in life, art is something that requires hard work, with talent only taking you so far. That is what Yatora Yaguchi learns in “Blue Period.”

“Blue Period,” based on the manga by Tsubasa Yamaguchi, directed by Koji Masunari and Katsuya Asano, follows Yatora Yaguchi. Yaguchi is an excellent high school student, but deals with the feeling of emptiness in his life. It is not until he sees a painting at his school’s art club that he pursues the visual arts, deciding to try (and get accepted) into the Tokyo University of the Arts (TUA) after he graduates.

Being an art major myself, I can say that this show is one the best depictions of showing the life of an artist, and some of their uprisings as well. At the beginning of the show Yaguchi is a prime example of what most people assume the life of an artist would be like. When seeing a painting, he raves about how he envies someone that was born with such talent. While artists understand that people are trying to compliment them, it is important to acknowledge that talent only took them so far. To create something artists can be proud of, requires hours of practice and dedication, something that Yaguchi finds out quickly when he has a change of heart and decides to pursue art himself.

“Blue Period” also does a great job of depicting the harsh realities of being an artist. One of the biggest challenges Yaguchi faces is telling his parents how he wants to pursue art in college. Now thankfully, my parents were supportive in my pursuits of being an art major; however, there are plenty of people that I have met who struggle with having any kind of support in their path of becoming an artist. We hear the same questions of concern all the time. “How will you make money?” “What kind of work will you find?” “Will anyone buy your art?” Believe me, we are aware of the concerns, but we do it because it’s our passion and that is what this show exemplifies.

When watching “Blue Period” as an artist, I can say with confidence that the show educates the audience, along with the main character, the various artistic techniques. With the author of the manga graduating from art school herself, she made sure to make this story as accurate as possible. Making sure each technique is right, while also showing the struggles many artists face trying to consistently create great pieces of work. The only critique I have of this show is that the pacing is too fast, as they skipped out on a lot of Yaguchi’s development of an artist compared to the manga. I would assume it was so they could fit the first part of the story in 12 episodes.

Art, while not math or science, is still physically and mentally demanding. It is not something that can be rushed or learned quickly. It requires patience, practice, strong will and the motivation to create something beautiful. Artists go through the same struggles as Yaguchi, but we all do it because it’s something we love. And, at the end, being able to see something we created makes all the hard work worth while

Title: Blue Period

Directors: Koji Masunari,, Katsuya Asano

Starring: Johnny Yong Bosch

Streaming: Netflix

Shamrocks: 4 out of 5

Contact Gabriel Zarazua at


What ‘Coco’ has taught me

Believe me, I get it. Here’s another piece on Coco! Has it been talked about numerous times since its release in 2017? Absolutely, but for good reason. Being Mexican-American myself, I was skeptical at first when Disney announced this film. I thought right away it would be a stereotypical Hispanic film that the majority of audiences would assume Hispanic culture is. However, “Coco” was a film that truly moved me emotionally. So, while this isn’t necessarily a recommendation, I would like to talk about what this film meant to me.

In case you haven’t seen it yet, “Coco” is a 2017 film directed by Adrian Molina and Lee Unkrich. The story is of Miguel Rivera, a young musician who crosses over to the Land of the Dead to find his purpose in life while connecting with his ancestors. The film is heavily influenced by the Mexican holiday Dia de los Muertos or also known as Day of the Dead. On this multi-day holiday, family and friends gather to pay respects and remember friends and family members who have died.

When I was little, I had very little care for Dia De Los Muertos. I was naive to the idea of death and why we spent a whole day remembering those who passed on, especially those that I wasn’t necessarily close to. It wasn’t until I was in high school that I understood the importance of this holiday, as well as remembering the dead in general.

I lost all my grandfathers in high school: my Papo (Robert Balleza) on my mother’s side, my grandfather (Raul Zarazua) and my step-grandfather (Lloyd Negrete) on my father’s side. It was hard to process. The role models of my childhood, the people I never thought would leave, are now gone. The idea of death hit me hard, and made me think about what would happen if I left now. How would I be remembered? Would I be remembered years down the line?

As I grew older, the thought wasn’t in my head 24/7, but still lingered, and appeared again when COVID-19 hit. The idea of death and not being remembered hit me like a truck. I never knew how to process these thoughts until my sophomore year, when we finally came back to campus.

I went to an event showing “Coco” and my feelings finally come together. While those we loved are no longer with us, they are never truly gone forever. Just because someone isn’t with you anymore, that doesn’t mean that the love you have for them has disappeared. Their lives have meaning because we, the living, refuse to forget them. When we pass on, we trust and hope those we love will do the same for us. 

“Coco” also shows the importance of passing on traditions and familial legacy. While Coco’s family has a strong hatred toward music, the family and audience learn the value of respecting previous generations and the knowledge our elders have accumulated. There are plenty of people who feel they have made grave mistakes in their life and wish they could take them back. However, the best thing a person can do is to teach the people they love to not make the same mistakes. While those who look up to us want to be just like us, we want them to be better than us so they can have better lives.

No one we love is ever truly gone, and we can continue to keep their legacy alive, remembering the times we had with them and continue to pass on their legacy.

Title: “Coco”

Directors: Adrian Molina, Lee Unkrich

Starring: Anthony Gonzalez, Gael Garcia Bernal

Streaming: Disney+

Shamrocks: 5 out of 5

Contact Gabriel at


Animation recommendations: ‘If Anything Happens I Love You’

Whether sudden or expected, the death of a loved one is something we can never prepare for. Grief is not easy. Imagine you stumble across an old item — a beloved sweatshirt, a collar with a bell on it or a trinket in the back of a cabinet. You start to remember all the good memories associated with them — your uncle’s laugh, the hours spent playing with the family cat, your grandma’s tendency to collect Jesus figurines. For a second, you run through every memory associated with this person, from the minute detail of your first meeting with each other until … you remember why you are remembering them in the first place. They’re gone.

This is what watching “If Anything Happens I Love You” is like. It’s like a punch to the gut.

In this short film by Michael Govier and Will McCormack, we see two parents grieving the loss of their daughter in a school shooting. With a run time of only 12 minutes, it does an amazing job of displaying the grieving process after a traumatic event. For a film about such a sensitive subject, there is actually no violence shown in the whole film. The closest instances of violence are the sounds of gunshots and police sirens. Instead, we are shown the tense interactions the parents have with each other after losing their daughter. They are awkward, distant and unwilling to be around one another, ultimately unable to connect due to overwhelming feelings of grief. It’s heart-wrenching to watch, as the audience knows both parents are hurting but have no idea how to support each other or process what happened. 

The film’s art style is initially simplistic but for good reason. The movie’s black-and-white animation might seem like it came straight from a storyboard, but the art style helps portray how the parents are feeling in their time of vulnerability. It is not until the Mom finds a piece of her daughters’ clothing that this film truly begins to shine. Here, the film bursts into faded watercolor to portray the ghosts of the past: their daughter’s life from family road trips to her first kiss. As the parents bond over the happy memories they made with her, they are finally able to support each other in their devastating moment of grief. 

Did I also mention that not a single word is spoken in this film as well? The movie relies entirely on the expressions of the characters to display their grief, sadness, anger, confusion and overall vulnerability.

This short film does not hold back in delivering its gut-punches. There is no “true” happy ending. No deus ex machina that brings their daughter back to life. Just like real life, the parents must go on. They may not fully recover from what happened. (I mean, could anyone?) 

The film’s whole message is about unexpected tragedy and how we react to it. So while it’s good to mourn, it’s never good to do it by yourself, especially when there are others who might be going through the same thing. Never shut people out, whether they are lending out a helping hand or not, because you both may need each other at the end of the day.

Also, if this film has taught me anything, it’s that life is too dang short. Call your parents, your caregivers, siblings or anyone that cares for you. Just tell them “If Anything Happens I Love You.”

Title: “If Anything Happens I Love You”

Directors: Michael Govier,  Will McCormack

Starring: Lindsay Marcus

Streaming: Netflix

Shamrocks: 5 out of 5

Contact Owen at


The holy hike never got easier

As those close to me know best, ever since I was 11 years old I wanted to go to Notre Dame. While it was due to watching “Rudy” and falling in love with Notre Dame football, I learned more about the University, its academics and its Catholic tradition. It only led me to fall in love with it more. While I was never the best student, I thought I would be able to attend school there someday. Everyone I knew, from family, friends, teachers, even my dentist, said I was like a modern day Rudy. Fast forward to my senior year of high school, I got my decision letter… denied.

It was heartbreaking to say the least. Less than a week later, I found out I got accepted to Holy Cross College. While my mom was ecstatic that I got into college. I forced a fake smile on my face, which was believable enough that she never knew that I wasn’t happy when I got my letter (I know you’re reading this mom, I’m sorry you found out this way). Instead, my whole mindset was, “OK, work your butt off and transfer over,” so I did. To keep this short, I got denied again and then again my sophomore year. I made a promise to myself to not try my junior year, as I thought only being at Notre Dame for one year would make me feel like I wasn’t truly ever a student. 

Fast forward to senior year. I have taken multiple classes at Notre Dame, work for The Observer and The Shirt committee, all while still being a student at Holy Cross. I have embraced Holy Cross like my second home, and will always continue to represent them with great pride. Saying that though, I can’t admit that it doesn’t hurt taking the “holy hike” all the way to Riley Hall, passing by the Golden Dome and thinking about what could’ve been.

It’s a weird feeling that I have been involved closely with both schools. While some deny it and try to say it isn’t true, we all know that there are people at Notre Dame who look down on those who attend Holy Cross. I’ve never known why and it confuses me everyday. There are people like me who are just as if not more involved with both Notre Dame and Holy Cross, yet they are not given as much respect, only because we proudly represent the Saints instead of the Irish.

I’ve had my fair share of experiences with Notre Dame kids (even those who are/were Gateways), some who are the nicest people I’ve ever met and those who brush me off as soon as I mention that I go to Holy Cross. It sucks that as soon as I cross the street over to Notre Dame — despite being involved in so much — that I still feel like I don’t deserve to be here. I got denied entry, I’ve come to terms with that, but all that I ask is that I get the same respect from people here that I give to them. Is that too much to ask? I thought we were called a tri-campus for a reason.

Contact Gabriel Zarazua at

The views expressed in this Inside Column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.