Watching <i>Spider-Man 3</i> is like dating a hermaphrodite: no matter what you’re into, you’re bound to find something that you like. The Spider-Man franchise has been mostly based on cheesy romance and violence, and this third installment is no exception, delivering all of the 3-D panning fight scenes and life lessons that one could ever want. Throughout the film, Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Tobey Maguire) fights with his best friend Harry (James Franco), evil villains, his girlfriend Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst), and the demons in his own soul, which, as Dr. Phil could tell you, are the hardest to excise. The Spider has obviously bitten again.
This past weekend, the MIT Musical Theatre Guild opened their spring musical, <i>A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum</i>, with a bang. The musical, which was written by Stephen Sondheim, is a classic comedy about an ancient Roman slave, Pseudolus (Timothy I. Abrahamsen ’06) as he attempts to win his freedom by getting a girl, Philia (Kathleen McEnnis ’07) for his young master, Hero (Jonathan Arie Gray ’10). Since this is a comedy, Pseudolus’ plans are continually (and humorously) foiled by all of the other characters — including a pimp, courtesans, three Greek chorus members, a nagging wife, an unhappy husband, a powerful Captain, a blind neighbor, and an uptight slave — and confusion ensues. While the plot is interesting enough, it is a bit predictable and overshadowed by the humor of the dialogue. In fact, despite the title, I’m pretty sure no one even went to a forum; and if a character did, it was of no consequence to the work as a whole.
I don’t know about you, but it is easy to get depressed about the current state of American cinema. <i>Disturbia</i> is number one for the third week in a row and somebody actually finances the likes of <i>Kicking it Old Skool</i> and the Nick Cage atrocity, <i>Next</i>. Before you decide to send a pipe bomb to Universal studios, keep in mind all the great smaller filmmakers pursuing innovative and interesting cinema! Last week, some of these brave filmmakers descended on Boston for the fifth annual Independent Film Festival of Boston. With over 70 shorts, documentaries, and narrative features including some premieres, the event has become a great destination for anyone who likes movies and is sick of the crap in wide release. Beyond the films, there were also panel discussions, Q&A’s with the filmmakers after most screenings, parties every night, and lots of free Utz potato chips.
The highly acclaimed and accomplished Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre gave an unusually awkward performance on opening night of Ailey Week 2007 in Boston. Alvin Ailey founded his modern dance company in 1958. Following his death from AIDS in 1989, the company, under the artistic direction of Judith Jamison, remains true to its origins by re-staging original works by Ailey alongside more modern works by other choreographers.
Toscanini’s may be known for its ice cream, but the Main Street location in Cambridge also offers brunch on Saturdays and Sundays until 2 p.m.. Brunch at the Big Table, as this weekly event is known, consists of freshly prepared main dishes as well as traditional breakfast pastries and accompaniments. These pastries and sides include scones, muffins, sticky buns, yogurt, fruit, granola, and an assortment of jams.
Mira Nair's films, like Indian festivals, tend to be indulgent and excessive. Writer Jhumpa Lahiri's stories about Indian-Americans are sparse and understated by contrast. For her adaptation of Lahiri's best-selling novel <i>The Namesake</i>, Nair finds a compromise between the two styles, but her otherwise effective directing is undercut by an overambitious yet bland screenplay.
I must have walked by Miracle of Science Bar & Grill on Massachusetts Avenue at least a hundred times, but didn't know it until last week. It took my fiancée, who doesn't even live here anymore, to tell me about this place and why we should eat there when she came to visit on her spring break. Apparently, the restaurant is famous enough that her friends in the Midwest suggested we try it out, and I'm glad they did. It's a fun little restaurant with good food, a nice atmosphere, and reasonable (if not for everyday) prices.
Trying to describe "Grindhouse," Quentin Tarantino's and Robert Rodriguez's double feature B-movie homage, is kind of like describing the Grand Canyon: sure, throw enough words out there and you can get the idea across, but why not just go out and see for yourself? Of course, the Grand Canyon won't have zombies, lots and lots of blood, and a hot girl with a gun for a leg; whether that's a good or bad thing pretty much determines if you should see "Grindhouse" or not.
Love — true love, head-over-heels, seeing stars love, til-death-do-us-part love — only lasts a year. Don't believe me? Researchers showed that some chemical or protein (excuse this MIT student's highly technical explanation) is found in the brain at high levels for the first year of romance. We read an article about this phenomenon during my writing course last semester, and the facts all seemed in place. After reading, my outraged classmates presented numerous arguments against this stoic and un-storybook-like viewpoint. After a group discussion, we concluded that perhaps the intensity and excitement of first love fades with time, but it is then replaced with the satisfying feeling of familiarity. I think I can live with that definition.
There is a lot to love about "Year of the Dog." It features well-written characters, good acting, decent cinematography, and lots of adorable canine companions — but is it a good movie? One thing is certain, it is a movie that is almost impossible to categorize. Is it a comedy or a drama? Is it worth seeing or not? I have no idea! Just for this ambiguity, "Year of the Dog" is an interesting film — it is unusual to sit through a movie and afterwards not have any idea whether you liked it or not. This also means that the film will not appeal to most moviegoers who venture to the cinema with one goal — entertainment.
One of the things I like most about MIT is finding out about the varying career paths that alums take. Mark Driscoll '92 is one who took the path less traveled. Mr. Driscoll started the Hollywood based Look Effects, a visual effects company that has worked on films including "Apocalypto," "Blood Diamond," "The Fountain," and the upcoming "Next" and "Gone Baby Gone." I talked with Mr. Driscoll a few weeks ago about what he actually does and how he went from MIT to making movies.
Last week, the Irish/Scottish alt rock band, Snow Patrol, came to Boston University's Agganis Arena to promote their most recent album, <i>Eyes Open</i>. Best know for 2004's "Run" (<i>Final Straw</i>) and "Chasing Cars," the first single from <i>Eyes Open</i>, this group's sound is best characterized as emotionally packed lyrics against a "soft-core" rock backdrop that gives them a unique sound in mainstream popular music.
You may not be familiar with his name, but you are almost certainly familiar with Mike White's work. He has written such indie flicks as "Chuck & Buck" and "The Good Girl." He also penned the big-budget "Orange County," "The School of Rock," and "Nacho Libre." White has also written for television's "Dawson's Creek" and "Freaks and Geeks."
Starting this week, third year MIT graduate student Daniel G. Pressl G will be presenting some of his impressive high-speed photography work at an exhibition in Austria entitled “2fast4U.” Pressl has set up booths in the Infinite Corridor and Stata Center that will allow MIT students to interact with people at the Austrian exhibit. I was able to sit down with Pressl, and he told me about his project and how people in the MIT community can get involved.
In the liner notes to the Arcade Fire's debut album, <i>Funeral</i>, there's a remark on how the band was mindful of "the irony of their first full length recording bearing a name with such closure." It's an aspect of the title not hard to notice on your own, but I saw it as only being half the story behind the title and the album.
Fresh off their new album release, <i>Wincing the Night Away</i>, The Shins are in the midst of a whirlwind tour, and last Thursday they graced Boston with their presence. I was lucky enough to witness this, and what follows is a (mostly) accurate representation of what went down. Interviewing fans leaving the venue, I gathered the following: the show was "fucking awesome," "really great," and "smokin'."
During my time at MIT, I have learned that the best thing to do on a Friday night is to grab some friends and go to a MITSO concert, which is possible about twice a term. When I got to Kresge last Friday, I was delighted to see a large audience that apparently felt the same way despite the surprisingly inclement weather. Under the baton of conductor Paul M. Biss, MITSO again delivered an uplifting performance, featuring the all-time favorites Grieg's "Peer Gynt Suite" and Stravinsky's "Firebird." The program also included Beethoven's "Symphony No. 1" and Mozart's early masterpiece, the cantata "Exsultate, Jubilate", with soprano Elisabeth Hon G, winner of the MITSO concerto competition.
A new romantic comedy opening at Kendall Cinema gets its enigmatic title, "Starter for 10," from the British game show, "University Challenge." Apparently, British people would catch this reference and it would mean something for them. However, the reference is lost on us Americans, but that isn't too important because "University Challenge" isn't really the focus of the movie, and the storyline never really pans out. Then again, I am not really sure what the focus of "Starter for 10" is<i>.</i> The main point is that there is a college freshman, Brian (James McAvoy) and he has two love interests, Alice (Alice Eve) and Rebecca (Rebecca Epstein).
ArsLatina and Sony Classical have recently presented an homage to Ennio Morricone's masterpieces, interpreted by a surprisingly heterogeneous group of musical masters, from Yo-Yo Ma to Metallica. The anthology could hardly have a more auspicious timing: it comes on the heels of the Italian composer receiving an honorary Oscar at the 79th Annual Academy Awards. Furthermore, the album opens with "I Knew I Loved You," the same song that Celine Dion sang on the same Oscar Night that the composer received his award. In it, Dion still displays the warmth and shine of her prime, which when combined with flawless orchestration, make this the best song of the album.