In the last few years, musicals have been created by compiling multiple songs from popular artists to tell a story. One of the first, and most successful, of these musicals is <i>Mamma Mia!</i> which uses songs from the palindromic Swedish pop group ABBA. It comes as no surprise that Hollywood has decided to make a movie of this long-running musical.
John Cusack is one of those actors who doesn’t quite fit in with Hollywood. And that’s a good thing. Getting his start as a teen actor in movies like “Sixteen Candles” and “Say Anything,” he transitioned into adult roles without a sex scandal or a stint in rehab. Even more impressive, he has continued to choose projects where he plays quirky, off-beat characters who are more lovable because of their flaws. In “Martian Child,” Cusack follows this trend with an emotional performance that had me laughing, crying, and just plain rooting for him in the theater.
In 2002, Ben Mezrich released his bestselling non-fiction story, <i>Bringing Down the House</i>, about a group of MIT students who counted cards to win millions playing blackjack and beat the house in Vegas. Now, the story has taken a new form in the recently released movie <i>21</i>.
Ever since Briton John Oliver appeared as a correspondent on The Daily Show, I’ve wanted to see more of his work, and have hoped to some day be able to talk to him. Thanks to a Comedy Central special, I got to do both this past week. On Sunday, Mr. Oliver starred in his own one-hour stand-up special, “Terrifying Times,” in which he discussed the scariness that is world politics. Instead of crude humor, Mr. Oliver made intelligent observations about serious situations put in a comedic light. A few days before “Terrifying Times” aired, I was able to talk to Mr. Oliver by phone about his transition into comedy, his work on The Daily Show, and his new comedy special. Below is an excerpt.
In 2002, Ben Mezrich released Bringing Down the House, the story of how a group of MIT students counted cards to win millions playing blackjack. Later this month, <i>21</i>, the movie based on the book, will be released. Recently, <i>The Tech</i> sat down with Mezrich and Jeffrey Ma ’94, who is the real life basis for Ben Campbell in the film. Below is an excerpt from the conversation.
A few weeks ago, I sat down with the charming Jim Sturgess, the up and coming 26 year old British actor best know for his role as Jude in the Beatles musical, “Across the Universe.” In the upcoming film “21,” (based on the book <i>Bringing Down the House</i> by Ben Mezrich) Mr. Sturgess plays Ben Campbell, an MIT student who uses his math acumen to win millions playing blackjack in Vegas. During our conversation, Mr. Sturgess talked about what it was like playing a character who is based on a real life MIT alum, Jeffrey Ma ’94, filming in Las Vegas, and working with Kevin Spacey. Below is an excerpt:
I decided to graduate from MIT a semester early so that I would have a few months off before graduate school, and now that my break is here, everyone keeps asking me what I’m going to do. Travel? Here’s the thing: I’m not a huge traveler. Sure, I like going places, but I usually get so stressed about planning the trip and how much it’s going to cost that I avoid it. And I think wherever I go, I need to spend enough time there to make it “worth” it, thus adding to the expense and hassle. Well, it turns out I’m not alone: James Samans has written a new travel guide called <i>Spontaneous Tourism: The Busy Person’s Guide to Travel</i>, for people like me.
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.
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.
MIT held its first annual Head of the Zesiger Cardboard Boat Regatta Friday, Oct. 19. The event, held one day before the 43rd annual Head of the Charles Regatta, took place in the Zesiger Center Pool and ended with only one boat afloat.
Last week, the Cambridge University American Stage Tour returned to MIT to perform William Shakespeare’s <i>The Winter’s Tale</i>. CAST, comprised of Cambridge University students, tour the east coast of the United States during the month of September, performing a work of Shakespeare at a school, charity, community theater, and various universities. In addition, CAST holds workshops over the course of their trip. This year, CAST performed at MIT for three nights in Kresge Little Theatre.
The Bourne Ultimatum,” the latest release in the Bourne movie series, is the epitome of a summer thriller: action-packed with enough suspense to leave you on the edge of your seat and wanting more. “Ultimatum” picks up where the last movie, “The Bourne Supremacy,” left off, and it features most of the cast from the first two films (or at least the living characters), including Matt Damon as the title character Jason Bourne, Julia Stiles, and the amazing Joan Allen. Even if you didn’t see the last two movies, or you’re like me and forgot some of the details, the movie is still worth seeing.
S<i>tephanie Gayle, who works at the MIT Media Lab, released her debut novel </i>My Summer of Southern Discomfort<i> this summer. The novel follows Natalie Goldberg, a New England lawyer who has moved to Macon, Ga., as she navigates a capital murder case and her own life in the sticky Southern summer. Recently, I met with Gayle to discuss her novel and her writing in general. The following is an excerpt from that conversation.</i>
Inman Square is about a mile from MIT and home to an eclectic mix of shops and restaurants, including the appropriately named All Star Sandwich Bar. This small restaurant on the corner or Cambridge St. and Prospect St. is crammed with tables, and when I went on a Saturday at noon, those tables were filled with a variety of people. From pajama-clad college students to a distinguished older man, everyone loves sandwiches.
Meg Cabot, the bestselling author of the <i>Princess Diaries</i> series, has recently released her latest book, <i>Queen of Babble in the Big City,</i> a sequel to her 2006 novel <i>Queen of Babble</i>. It should come as no surprise that both of these novels fall under the "chick lit" category; in fact, if you look up the definition of "chick lit," I wouldn't be surprised if you found a picture of these books.
L<i>ast summer, I was fortunate enough to read and review The Glass Castle, a memoir by MSNBC journalist, Jeanette Walls (the review is available at http://www-tech.mit.edu/V126/N27/27Castle.html). In the work, Ms. Walls describes growing up well below the poverty line with her alcoholic father and creative mother. This entertaining work that seemed more like fiction than reality was beautifully written and made me so much more appreciative of my "normal" family. Needless to say, when I found out Ms. Walls would be speaking at a local event held by Parenting Resource Associates' COMPASS for Homeless Families (http://www.parentingresourceassociates.org ) to raise awareness and funds for homelessness in Massachusetts, I was delighted to be able to hear her speak and talk with her after the event. After Ms. Walls shared some of her personal experiences with homelessness and poverty, I sat down with her and the following is an excerpt from our conversation.</i>
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.
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.
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.
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.