This February will be a slow month in Boston, that’s for sure. Many of you are returning to school after fabulous vacations, and even if I’ve picked a poor adjective, just about anything beats the constant churn of formulas and papers this new semester signifies. While you acclimate to the returning workload, here are the few selections that caught my eye for the month of February. They may be slim, but they’re mighty, so load up!
Romantic comedies may be formulaic, and they may not bring anything new to the art of cinema. The plots may be contrived, and the people in them may be so good-looking that even if the plot were realistic, you would know it is still a fantasy world. And all of life’s major moments may be compressed into a two-minute montage set to pop music. But at the end of the day, romantic comedies can be entertaining. Sure, I like it when a film makes me think and contributes to my understanding of the world, but I’m also perfectly happy when a film entertains. Just like people watching sports want to see others fulfill their dreams in an amusing manner, romantic comedies are a girl’s (and sometimes a guy’s) dream romance played out on the big screen. “27 Dresses” is certainly entertaining.
A smoky mist swirls across your vision as beautiful maidens dance forth to ethereal music in a blaze of color and glory. No, you haven’t died and gone to heaven; instead, this is the opening act of the Chinese New Year Spectacular show, which at its most transcendent makes you feel like you had (in a good way).
The first thing you’ve probably noticed upon watching the various trailers and previews for “Cloverfield” is that the movie is shot as though it is being recorded by a personal camcorder. Luckily, this gimmick (which you probably remember from “The Blair Witch Project”) is not the only thing the movie has going for it.
The musical “Spamalot,” just like its title, is simply ridiculous. But in a good way. The show tries to smash together the unlikely combination of Broadway Musical and of “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” (which it “lovingly ripped off”). This attempt is successful for the most part; the musical is wacky and good-natured and you can’t help but be amused.
Do you like movies that fail to maintain any coherency whatsoever? How about comedies that are entirely lacking in any actual jokes? Or perhaps you’re a fan of gratuitous full-frontal male nudity, strategically planted so that it surprises you at the least opportune times? If so, then “Walk Hard” is the movie for you. Otherwise, do yourself a favor and never see it, ever.
Movie musicals have enjoyed a bit of a revival lately, partly sparked by Baz Luhrman’s 2001 hit, “Moulin Rouge.” After a series of recent duds such as “Hairspray” and “The Producers,” the genre is in need of a fresh perspective. This is exactly what “Once” delivers. I hesitate to even place “Once” in the same category as these other films because it is so much better and completely void of the painful clichés the mere phrase “movie musical” evokes. “High School Musical” this (thank God) is not.
A seminal moment in the development of the “Superbad” plot (with every pun intended) is the revelation that one of the protagonists is obsessed with drawing male genitalia. The scene progresses through a shameless montage of phallic artistry that effectively sums up the film as a whole: much like watching a car crash between two fertilizer trucks, “Superbad” both shocks and disgusts, yet leaves the audience absolutely spellbound. Essentially, if you can’t appreciate the humor and splendor of a picture of a human-sized penis leading a marching band down the street, you should probably not watch this movie.
Based on a true story, “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” uses some interesting cinematic devices to draw the viewer close and make a strong emotional impact. The film tells the story of Jean-Dominique Bauby (played by Mathieu Amalric), the editor of Elle magazine, who was left nearly completely paralyzed after a stroke. Although he could only blink one eye, he still managed to dictate his memoir (published shortly before his death) on which the film’s screenplay is based.
Go see “Juno.” You can read my review about it first (which would be nice), but at the end of it, you should drop this paper and whatever else you are doing so that you can go and see this movie.
This winter, the Boston Opera House will host “The Nutcracker” during the 115th anniversary of the ballet’s premiere in St. Petersburg, Russia. More than 80,000 people are expected to travel from all over New England to come watch this annual holiday tradition.
You may know him as MF Grimm, the limit-pushing MC who raps about gingerbread men and movie monsters, recorded a critically acclaimed album in 24 hours, released the first-ever triple-disc hip hop album, <i>American Hunger</i>, and feuds with former ally MF Doom. You may also know him as Percy Carey, a former Sesame Street star who later turned to drug dealing and was shot 10 times over the course of two murder attempts, overcame serious sensory damage but remains confined to a wheelchair, studied law to get himself out of a life imprisonment, and now works as the successful CEO behind his own company, Day By Day Entertainment.
If our own Arts Editor Sarah Dupuis hadn’t claimed reviewing rights to Radiohead’s <i>In Rainbows</i> before I could, an entirely different story would’ve been told. In short, I would’ve torn Radiohead a new basement door for not living up to its own standards, or what I’d perceived them to be. I owe Dupuis a debt of gratitude for preventing me from making such a mistake. <i>In Rainbows</i> is, I’ll admit now, quite satisfying, and it was my selfish here-I-am-now-entertain-me attitude that kept me from understanding that. The album has an oceanic serenity that could be confused for dullness until you let the majesty of “House of Cards” or “Nude” permeate you. So much of it cannot be scrutinized and enjoyed at the same time before you’ve initially taken a more relaxed perspective.
The average biopic takes the life of an extraordinary person and creates a larger than life characterization. Well, what do you do when the subject in question is already larger than life? What do you do when your subject is Bob Dylan, an inconsistent and self-contradictory man inseparable from the shadow of his own legend? Simple: you cast six people to play him, and you make up an impossibly fantastic world for your six Dylans to inhabit.
A couple of months ago, I was excited to find out that MIT Musical Theatre Guild would produce “Pippin,” and I have been eagerly awaiting the premiere ever since. This musical is particularly endearing, not only because of its catchy music but also because of its remarkably powerful symbolism. The story is an allegory of life itself, unwinding as a journey of self-discovery. It offers a little bit of everything and has something for everyone.
Picture a girl on the back of a polar bear, bounding across an endless icy expanse with the aurora borealis crackling above, its shimmering veils hiding intimations of a city in the sky. Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials is a captivating exploration not only of new worlds but new ideas and the possibility of hope in a world with and without God.
The end of the semester is only a few weeks away, and if your workload looks anything like mine, I bet everything will pile up right about … now. This won’t stop me from going out to shows, of course, and I should hope you’ll be out doing the same. Lots of not-so-well known but totally fantastic bands are headed to Boston this month, so if you’re thirsting for something new, now’s the time to see what’s on the scene. You know, before Built to Spill starts touring for the fiftieth time this year.
Noah Baumbach’s “Margot at the Wedding” is a broad, relentless portrait of a family perpetually strained to the point of breaking. But, oddly, it never does. It is a family whose members are racked by insecurities and self-doubt; they lash out at each other in ways that are almost incomparably cruel. Yet somehow you leave the theater knowing that the characters feel deeply for each other.