Return of the superheroes
When I found out that Marvel was making a movie called The Avengers where they dumped all their famous superheroes together, I figured it was just another franchise film. Marvel films are known for their explosions, ruggedly handsome actors, and romantic subplots. After watching so many of such films, I anticipated the typical formula. While The Avengers did follow that formula to some extent, it also showed Hollywood how real entertainment should be done.
Film brings book action to life
The Hunger Games, like its prior fantasy predecessors, Twilight and Harry Potter, is a behemoth. It has the hopes and dreams of millions of tween fangirls and fanboys on the line. When I discovered that they were making the bestselling book series into movies, I could not say I was surprised — what I did not anticipate was being impressed by the first movie. Even for those who have not read the series, the movie is a solid standalone film. It has all the necessary elements: beautiful cinematography, breadth of colorful characters, and the right moments to pull the audience’s heartstrings. What makes premise of The Hunger Games so unique though is that the most monstrous creatures the protagonist faces are other humans.
CONCERT REVIEW Sad songs about girls and life
The Airborne Toxic Event (TATE) has seen the spotlight this past year. They performed on the The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, were selected for the soundtrack of summer romantic comedy hit Crazy Stupid Love, and even made a cameo appearance on the season finale of Gossip Girl — and a cameo on Gossip Girl can mark the beginning of an indie band’s journey to mainstream fame.
MOVIE REVIEW Going the distance — or not?
Like Crazy is perhaps one of the most ill-fitting titles for a film. When I first heard of the movie, I cringed a little inside and vowed that I’d box that title away into a corner of my mind and hopefully never touch it again. The title, coupled with the two young leading actors and a been-there-done-that long-distance sob story, seemed to reek of adolescent angst. Dubiously eyeing Yelchin’s peach fuzz, I scoffed and thought to myself, What would this high school movie know about love?
MOVIE REVIEW The man who lived for clothes
The fashion world has seen its fair share of strong personalities and peculiar characters. Ruthlessly honest and demanding Vogue editors, diva supermodels, and celebrity-obsessed designers seem to run rampant. The documentary on Bill Cunningham is not really about a renowned fashion photographer, but rather an artist and visual historian who happens to love his subjects very, very much.
FILM REVIEW Making awkward ‘cool’
Our generation has become used to the slapstick SNL teen comedies. At first glance,<i> Easy A </i>is not dissimilar to its predecessors like<i> Mean Girls</i>. However, unlike other attempts at teenage comedy following <i>Mean Girls</i>, <i>Easy A</i> is fresh, cheeky and actually on the mark.
FILM REVIEW Is greed still good?
Wall Street. The two word phrase has been the bane of Main Street for the last two years. We have vilified bankers due to the likes of Bernie Madoff, Citi’s ex-execs and in general shunned and publicly denigrated those who have been tainted with the four word acronym TARP. Well, unfortunately, Oliver Stone’s <i>Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps </i>does nothing to dispel the negative public sentiments associated with the Street. The sequel to the famed 1987 film about greed and deception, it has all the bells and whistles but ultimately falls short of its full potential. The platform was set to address the recent financial calamity and really delve beyond the surface greed but ultimately, shies away from the ugly truths behind the downfall.
Chic clothes, saving your conscience?
Socially conscious fashion. A conundrum in itself. For an industry that is based mostly around aesthetics and has been historically nonchalant about animals — much less the healthcare of employees — the growing attention to sustainable design and fair trade is curious. We hear about it occasionally — Natalie Portman’s line of shoes for Te Casan composed of all man-made materials, Bono and his wife’s fashion brand ROGAN — but for the most part, sustainable fashion has not hit the pavement runway.
AT THE MUSEUM Portraits of the modern American woman
Fashion photography tells a story. With each ad campaign, each extravagant photo shoot, haute couture designers and stylists are selling a story about a woman, about a lifestyle. The woman decked out in pearls with a cigarette perched between gloved fingers and leaning coyly into a handsome Clark Gable-look alike is perhaps a wealthy matron meeting her lover. The young girl applying eyeliner carefully, tongue stuck out in concentration allows the public an intimate glimpse into perhaps the last five minutes before a date with a beau.
MOVIE REVIEW Inception: Architecture of <br />the minds
An idea is more than a thought. It’s a virus, a cancer of sorts, that can spread until it completely takes over a person, until it defines the person. A single idea from the human mind can build cities. An idea can transform the world and rewrite all the rules. This is the premise of the film, <i>Inception</i>.
ALBUM REVIEW Stars paint memories in shades of longing
If anyone asked me what band I could listen to without ever getting sick of them, I’d have to say hands down, it is Stars. Stars, a Canadian indie pop band, is closely related to the band Broken Social Scene (actually, all of the members of Stars are members of BSS). The band is known for setting poetry to music; it is difficult to describe their musical style without using the words beautiful or ethereal. Their characteristic electronic sound is interwoven with string instrumentation, narrative lyrics, and soothing, caressing vocals. Their songs range from whispered words to upbeat numbers. I can’t help but gush about the vocals. Quite a few of their songs feature duet vocals with Torquil Campbell and Amy Millan, whose voices create a harmony that cannot be duplicated easily.
Once you’ve made the tourist pilgrimage to NYC, later trips usually revolve around exploring the more obscure offerings of the City. Since I always find myself in situations where I need to optimally allocate my monetary funds between food and shopping, I end up settling on tasty but relatively budget-friendly eats.
INTERVIEW On pop, technology, and the 90s
<i>Cobra Starship, the dance/synth/pop group will be coming to Boston on May 9 at the House of Blues. I was fortunate enough to get the opportunity to speak with the articulate and thoughtful Ryland Blackinton, the guitarist, about the band, Boston, and music. Thanks to Kelly McWilliam from Atlantic Records for making it happen.</i>
ALBUM REVIEW Pretty confections for the ears
Zooey Deschanel is the pinup girl of the indie scene. Her porcelain doll features and piercing blue eyes, framed in a mass of raven waves, are her trademarks. She shows up on the red carpet in divine vintage pieces. Oh, did I mention that her husband is Ben Gibbard, the frontman of Death Cab for Cutie? All she has to do as the indie sweetheart is continue her role as a vivacious sprite in cult-indie films and maybe dabble in an album or two. Her music duo with M. Ward, She and Him, released their sophomore album <i>Volume Two</i>, much to the rejoicing of her devoted followers.
MOVIE REVIEW Madness, genius, feast for the eyes!
I have long been a fan of anything Tim Burton-related. He is the epitome of weirdness. He’s kooky, bizarre, batty, brimming with a creativity that only a madman or a true genius could possess (I think that he is a bit of both). So no, I was not surprised at all that Tim Burton chose to remake <i>Alice in Wonderland</i>. Honestly, I could not imagine it any other way. A world set in between nightmare and whimsical dreamland? Check. A slew of odd characters with ungainly physical traits or fantastical talking beasts? Check. A fabulous array of costume designs that rival the runway of Betty Johnson and John Galliano? Check.
Bringing sugar and spice to the ice
I have always been drawn to figure skating for its combination of ballet, dance, and gymnastics — when executed well, a skater delivers a performance worthy of lush red curtains and a Broadway stage. Sadly, the beauty in figure skating is often lost in the number-crunching and the tallying up of how many points combination XYZ will produce. Though skaters must fulfill strict technical requirements, what really sets an amazing performance apart is the artistry.
MOVIE REVIEW Love Actually for Feb.14th? Think again.
When I saw the trailer for <i>Valentine’s Day</i>, I had an inkling that it would be an American version of <i>Love Actually</i>, featuring the February holiday.
ALBUM REVIEW The Columbia crew goes to Cali
<i>Vampire Weekend</i>’s debut album in 2008 surfed the crest of the collegiate retro-pop wave (with the likes of <i>Chester French</i>, <i>This is Ivy League</i>). As everyone in the industry knows, a band’s image is as important as music. Although there have been many great musicians, those lacking a visual concept often find themselves eclipsed in popularity by bands with less talent but better taste in sneakers.
College Admissions is No Scam — Just Reflection of Socioeconomic Disparity
Recently, the Boston Globe ran a piece entitled “The College Admissions Scam.” The author, Neal Gabler, seemed to reiterate what has been in the magazines since I started high school. College admissions is a game and the more money you have to ‘play,’ the easier it is to navigate the system. Thank you for your originality. You’ve done your research well. What really peeved me about his piece was his adamant statement that “the admissions system of the so-called ‘best’ schools is rigged against you…indeed, the system exists not to provide social mobility but to prevent it and to perpetuate the prevailing social order.”
MOVIE REVIEW ★★ ½ / 4 ‘Leap Year’ Is Cute But Falls Short
Meet Anna. A cute girlish face with a no nonsense aura, her vivacious nature manifests only in her shock of auburn hair. The diminutive redhead seems to have it all — a doctor boyfriend, a wonderful job, gorgeous wardrobe, and on top of it she’s in queue for the apartment of her dreams. The only catch is that her cardiologist-of-a boyfriend, Jeremy, has not proposed despite their four year-long relationship. When Jeremy goes to Dublin for a medical conference, Anna decides to take matters into her own hands. She jumps on a plane and devises a scheme to propose to Jeremy on February 29th — spurred by an Irish tradition allowing women to propose to their lover on Leap Day.
TV REVIEW Glee & Musicals in the Context of Popular Culture
My first introduction to musicals in the popular media was through Zac Efron. The teen idol’s glaringly bright white smile set against the flawless tan skin gleamed at me from every cover of <i>People</i> magazine. This was known as the <i>High School Musical</i> craze. I was utterly flabbergasted as to how a made-for-T.V. movie could seize storms of teenage girls in a frenzy (not dissimilar to the <i>Twilight</i> fans). Of course, the High School Musical wave was more geared towards those in their late pre-teen years, still easily swayed by the smooth facial hair-less boys. When my friends started urging me to watch <i>Glee</i>, all I knew was that it was also a teen musical and shook my head adamantly.
MOVIE REVIEW ★★ ½ Werewolves, Vampires, and Love Triangles, Oh My!
The Twilight scene is a cult. This is a fact. Granted, about 95 percent of the cult is female, so perhaps a “far-reaching fanbase” would be a more appropriate description. According to my friend, who did a headcount, out of the 196 viewers in my theater, there were only 12 male audience members.
THEATER REVIEW Gioia De Cari Searches for Truth
What is truth?” This is the question asked by one of Gioia’s professors in a sermon to a group of scholars. This is also the question that Gioia has to ask herself — what is <i>her</i> truth — as she presents to us an autobiographical portrayal of her time at MIT.
The Changing Face of Economics
Last week, the Nobel Prize in economics went to Elinor Ostrom and Oliver Williamson ’55, both non-theoretical economists. This spurred significant interest in the blogosphere due to the unconventionality of the recipients’ backgrounds. It is therefore worthwhile to consider their research in the context of the current economic landscape — this may help explain why Ostrom and Oliver in particular were chosen. Furthermore, because Ostrom is actually not an economist, but a political scientist, the judges have encouraged suggestions to change how we view the economics category.
MOVIE REVIEW Coco, Coco, Where Is Chanel?
The mere title of <i>Coco Before Chanel</i> may intimidate moviegoers with no interest in fashion. But even the least fashion-aware recognize the name as the face of haute couture. Perhaps these moviegoers will be happier to know that <i>Coco Before Chanel</i> is an almost biographical portrayal of Gabriel Chanel (‘Coco’ was her pet name), played by the adorable French actress Audrey Tautou, before Chanel became the legendary fashion icon and businesswoman.
The Vices and Virtue of Goldman Sachs
Goldman Sachs has been recently labeled as a “giant vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity” by <i>Rolling Stone</i> writer Matt Taibbi. All of a sudden, Goldman Sachs has become the pinnacle of greed and corruption in the eye of the public.
MOVIE REVIEW Equal Parts Melancholy and Hope
Before the screening of <i>The Burning Plain</i>, one of the film critics near me explained that he had been in the hospital for the last few weeks due to a bike accident. Still tending injuries of a couple broken ribs, he joked that he was “glad that today’s movie is not a comedy.” Indeed, <i>The Burning Plain</i> is perhaps as far as possible from comedy.
INTERVIEW From Dot Product to Drama
Gioia De Cari, the writer/performer of <i>Truth Values</i>, received a Masters degree at MIT in Mathematics and was enrolled in the PhD program before she left to pursue a career in acting. De Cari’s play <i>Truth Values: One Girl’s Romp Through MIT’s Male Math Maze</i> is an autobiographical solo show showing at Central Square Theater from Thursday, September 10th to Sunday, September 20th. De Cari’s play is aimed at telling her personal story of her experiences at MIT and explores the world of women in math and science. It is presented by the Underground Railway Theater and directed by Miriam Eusebio. For selected performances, the play will be followed by discussions with scientists and artists from both MIT and Harvard.
CD REVIEW Synth-Heavy and Self-Aware
Do you remember the goodie bags you used to get as party favors after an extravagant birthday party? It was usually a grab bag of treats: an obligatory shiny toy along with jelly beans that everyone tried to throw away. <i>Hot Mess</i>, Cobra Starship’s newest album, is akin to those grab bags. While there are a couple of catchy tracks and a few really good songs, others run the risk of being repetitive, and the dance-punk-synthpop style wears one’s patience thin.
The Twitter Generation
Our generation has never really lived without the internet. Online fads come and go (remember MySpace?), but in recent years the Internet has seen an explosion of dynamic services. In fact, there seems to be so many means of connecting to people virtually that it has become overwhelming. The other day, I wanted to send a blog post to a friend. Below the entry were a slew of colorful icons, each representing a different means of communication: Facebook. Tumblr. Gmail. Delicious (I will not even ask about this one). Digg. Twitter. Wait — Twitter?
MOVIE REVIEW ★★ Men Are Pigs and Women Think Too Much: Is That All There Is to ‘The Ugly Truth’?
In the movie poster for “The Ugly Truth,” there are two stick figures, icons ripped straight from a public restroom door. They are adorned with hearts. The woman’s heart is in her head. The man’s heart is in his crotch. How original.
MOVIE REVIEW ★★★ ‘Summer’ Is Love Shattered, Put Back Together
5<i>00 Days of Summer</i> is not a love story. The narrator, in his rich public radio voice, warns of us this right away. It is about a boy who meets a girl. What? <i>500 Days of Summer</i> is not a love story? A clever indie film, it is a lovely thing that delves deeper into relationships and their complexities than most stories. While at a glance a simple love tale, <i>500 Days</i> triumphs due to its poignancy and dedication to detail.
MOVIE REVIEW ★★★★ UPlifting
You know any movie that stars a grumpy old man and a chubby Asian Boy Scout has to have some potential. Up defies labels and spans all demographics. It is for those who seek entry into a different world, a world that only the minds of Pixar/Disney can create. As director and co-writer Peter Docter (WALL-E) admitted in an interview, “The initial kernel was based on that desire that I feel a lot to escape the world.”
MOVIE REVIEW ★★★ A Poignant and Conflicted Playboy
The International Playboy is a short interlude into an individual’s journey towards self-discovery and strips away the glamour of what everyone envisions as the ‘perfect life’. The whole span of the movie is a mere 92 minutes.
‘Believe in Your Financial Future!’
The impacts of the financial recession have finally trickled down to the everyday working man. Everywhere online I see articles blaring offers such as “How to save your family $50 every day” and “10 Things We Overpay For.”
‘Welcome to MIT’
When I woke up one morning before the week of finals, I was appalled to discover bags under my eyes. Wailing, I clutched at the mirror and proclaimed aloud, “Look at how MIT has aged me!” When I told my friends my story, they merely looked at me, bleary-eyed, and one of them fixed me with a raccoon-ringed gaze: “Welcome to MIT.”
THEATER REVIEW Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby
Based on the 1891 Frank Wedekind play of the same name, <i>Spring Awakening</i> is a modern musical focusing on age-old issues. It confronts sex, love, and everything in between through a musical score that is much more akin to radio rock songs than the classic music characteristic of shows like <i>Les Miserables</i>.
Trouble Finding a Home at MIT
As my first year at MIT draws to a close, I’ve noticed how a great number of procedures and requirements at the Institute are far more complicated than they need be. During CPW, a prefrosh had asked me about the housing lottery. Since this conversation was taking place within the realms of a frat party, I advised him to just read all the pamphlets that would be sent in the mail over the summer. The wide-eyed prefrosh was persistent: “Can you just explain it?” Sighing, I pulled him over and explained that if I were to cover the housing lottery in its entirety, it would’ve ruined the party mood. He dutifully took my words and went off to attack another student about triple majoring.
MOVIE REVIEW ★★★★ / 4 ‘Duplicity’ Reveres Spy Films of the PastJulia Roberts Makes Espionage Sexy
I predict <i>Duplicity</i> to be another blockbuster hit. It boasts a stellar cast, the director of the <i>Bourne</i> series and <i>Michael Clayton</i> and, on top of all that, is an espionage movie. If well-known stars like Julia Roberts and Clive Owens weren’t enough, the film exploits the age-old affections towards spy movies.
CD REVIEW BoA Enters the American Pop Scene
Although the three-letter name BoA may not currently strike a chord of familiarity in the US, the R&B pop princess is staking her claims in our neighborhood. The pop star who took Korea by storm and rode on top of the <i>hallyu</i>, the popular culture movement in Korea, recently released her first full-length (and self-titled) English album.
INTERVIEW Hsunami Merge the Old with the New
At the CSC Chinese New Year banquet, the closing performance featured Hsu-Nami, a group named after founder Jack Hsu. The band labels itself as part of the “progressive Asian soundscape.” An instrumental rock band, they feature a traditional Chinese instrument called the erhu. The erhu is sometimes called “southern fiddle” and its sound can be compared to that of the Western violin. The usage of an amplified erhu lends a touch of classic Chinese folk to the predominantly rock songs.
MOVIE REVIEW ★★★ ½ Only for the Brave Children
If I were a young child, I do not think that I would have been able to watch the entirety of <i>Coraline</i> without screaming my head off. The genius of the stop-motion 3D film is its ability to transcend age barriers.
I have to say, I was seriously irked last week by the public reaction to the “shocking” announcement that swimming sensation Michael Phelps had taken a hit from a bong. How scandalous! In the summer of 2008, during the Beijing Olympics, Phelps was, to put it crudely, “the shiz.” How quickly the tables can turn.
MOVIE REVIEW ★★★ Portrait of a City
Tokyo!” is a three-part film connected only by the Japanese capital and the eerie strangeness of the unconventional, distinctive portrayals. All three directors’ contributions provoke investigation of the supernatural and fantastic, while maintaining the underlying themes of self-discovery and human relationships.
Keeping Students’ (and Stomachs’) Interests in Mind
Two weeks ago, when a mass e-mail announced the commencement of campus shuttle service to Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, students cheered. For the health-conscious, the gourmand, or the simple eater alike, improved accessibility to these popular grocery markets is certainly a win.
CONCERT REVIEW Making Mainstream Cool
The Killers are a well-established band. While some may categorize them as “mainstream,” to me, they will always be in their own class. They’re just a bit too off, a bit too awkward, and a bit too raw to fit in with the likes of, say, Coldplay or Switchfoot. Their creative usage of electronica, sometimes profound lyrics, and eccentricity were all virtues that had me shrieking when I was first offered a free concert ticket by a friend.
CONCERT REVIEW The Man Who Makes Gypsy-Rock Symphonies
Having just returned from a Killers concert earlier in the week, I was both anticipative and tentative about the Andrew Bird concert at the Orpheum. On the day of the concert, I still hadn’t received my tickets in the mail, so I fearfully asked my roommate if I would be placed in the mosh pit. “Andrew Bird? A mosh pit? It’s in the freakin’ Orpheum for crying out loud!” Apparently “mosh pit” should never be in the same sentence as “Andrew Bird” — correction, not even in the same line of thought.
Best Films of 2008
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Important Albums of 2008
Album sales might be decreasing every year, but that doesn’t mean anything for 2008. Whether you bought them on special edition vinyl, downloaded them, or streamed them off of Seeqpod, the following albums probably made it into your playlist at some point during the course of the year. The past twelve months have given us plenty of important debut albums, career-shifting solo efforts, and also a good handful of reliable releases from well-established acts. You know it’s a great year when campus geeks Vampike Weekend take the world by storm within months of the release of Coldplay’s piéce-de-résistance, “Viva la vida, or Death and All His Friends.”
EVENT REVIEW Racial Complexity, Effortless Comedy
Last Friday’s Russell Peters show was an uproar. I hadn’t heard of Russell Peters prior to the show, so as I made my way to the website five days after tickets went on sale, I was surprised to be greeted with the message ‘SOLD OUT’ in glaring red font. Many Bakerites were also unpleasantly surprised at how quickly the tickets sold out. During the course of the week leading up to the show, I think there was a frantic e-mail sent out every day about some poor soul willing to buy tickets for double the price.
Breaking The Academia Bubble
Having attended a boarding school for the last four years, I am altogether too familiar with the term “bubble effect.” This metaphoric phrase describes the coddled isolation common amongst the verdant courtyards of academia.
MOVIE REVIEW ★★ Eye Candy and Nothing Else
When my friends and I made our way to the “Twilight” premiere, we decided that we were going to act like teenyboppers and blend in with the hordes of high-schoolers and possibly middle-schoolers that we predicted would be present. To our great surprise, half of the audience comprised of college students who were unabashedly hardcore fans. But regardless of age, the majority of the audience at the “Twilight” premiere was female. I estimated a total of 5 percent y-chromosomes, loosely consisting of fathers picking up their daughters, boyfriends of avid fans, and the occasional feminine-looking hipster.
DANCE REVIEW Lincoln’s Legacy Dazzles at ICA
The Bill T. Jones/Anie Zane Dance Company has been established for 25 years and is renowned as a driving force in the modern dance world. The last weekend of October, the company performed a piece, “Another Evening: Serenade/Proposition,” at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston.
Obama: Politician or Celebrity?
It has been a long debated question whether Barack Obama is more of a politician or a celebrity. As a presidential candidate, he has come under heavy fire for his celebrity status. Seeing that all presidential candidates are under the merciless eye of both tabloid reporters and political columnists, the question is whether he has really earned this dubious reputation — and whether it matters.
Can ‘Betty Crocker’ Really Run the United States of America?
If McCain had thought that playing the ‘gender card’ would benefit his campaign, he was wrong. What made Hillary Clinton a dependable and ideal candidate was not the fact that she was a woman. Merely glimpsing at her political track record, one can see that she has had significant exposure to the national political scene — both in the White House and representing New York in the Senate. Palin, on the other hand, is not only a poor choice for a candidate, she is also a poor representation of the 21st century woman.
EXHIBIT REVIEW Organic Forms and Exploding Stitching
Nicholas Hlobo’s exhibit at the ICA (Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston) opens with a sign blaring the words “Momentum 11” and a sculpture that seems to be emerging from a white wall. At first glance, it is as if a hole has been ripped into the wall, and the white peeled away to reveal black charred rubber, tethering off into multi-colored ravines winding their way across the white wall.