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Seeing Today in Angels in America: Millennium Approaches

When Tony Kushner’s Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes premiered in 1991, it won a smattering of awards for its intense exploration of pressing, contemporary topics. A bit more than a quarter century later, the social issues and themes explored in the play are ever-relevant, and as the first show in their 2017-18 season, Ithaca College presents the first part of the play, Millennium Approaches, directed by Robert Moss. Angels in America is set in late 1985 in Manhattan, and follows a large cast—a gay couple, Prior Walter (Will Thames) and Louis Ironson (Josh Wilde); a Mormon couple, Joe (Ryan Ballard) and Harper Pitt (Steph Seiden); and Joe’s mentor Roy Cohn (Keenan Buckley), a lawyer with extremely questionable ethics (based on the real-life Roy Cohn). Their stories and lives overlap and intersect in weird and sometimes fantastical ways as the story moves through experiences of the AIDS crisis, homophobia, racism, and political tension and corruption. As revelations of illness and secrets come about, relationships deteriorate and an overwhelming fear of the future seems to cripple the characters.

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TEST SPIN | Rostam — Half-Light

Don’t act like you weren’t even just a little bit sad when Rostam Batmanglij announced over twitter in 2016 that he was leaving Vampire Weekend.  The New York based indie band who had brought hits like “A-Punk” and “Holiday,” as well as released one of the most compelling coming of age albums of the 21st century, Modern Vampires of the City, had lost their production mastermind, and to us fans who knew how critical his talents were on tracks like “Diane Young,” perhaps they had lost their essence, too. I was devastated, to say the least. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLr6glYSzgcG2_GS0spAV9zvJiOSZx9N7F

Lucky for us though, not only has the frontman Ezra Koenig been gracing us with consistent social media updates for a new Vampire Weekend LP — working title Mitsubishi Macchiato — but Rostam Batmanglij is also confirmed to be collaborating with Koenig on parts of the new album. What’s more, Rostam has found enough free time to release an effort of his own: Half-Light, his first solo record.

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TEST SPIN | Lecrae — All Things Work Together

Lecrae has always been an artist who does not like boxes, and those who attempt to categorize him into one would be hard-pressed to try. Bringing the gospel to hip-hop long before Chance came to the scene, Lecrae’s ability to maneuver between disparate, non-interacting circles served as both his greatest strength and weakness. Being a two-time Grammy Award winner and having performed on Jimmy Fallon and Sway in the Morning, he has achieved a level of success unseen by Christian artists. His diverse catalogue defies categorization and yet for all these pioneering advancements, it seemed that what he gained came at the cost of personal piety. Beginning in 2012 with Church Clothes, its subsequent sequels and his chart-topping 2014 LP Anomaly, he introduced listeners to a more socially-minded Lecrae; the bona-fide rapper was still spitting fierce rhymes, but in his razor-sharp criticism of social injustice he seemed to have lost the vibrancy and passion of articulating his faith, which was a staple of his earlier works.

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GOULDTHORPE | My Little Pony: The Movie Is Pretty Much What I’d Expected

Now, I want to make something very clear before I proceed: I am not, nor have I ever been, a “brony.” That is, I have never been a fan of the My Little Pony series. Those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, I’ll give a little refresher. In 2010, Hasbro released the newest iteration of its My Little Pony franchise with a show on the Hub (now Discovery Family). The show, spearheaded by Lauren Faust, become wildly popular… but not just with its target audience or young girls. A group of older viewers, especially male teens and young adults, joined the fanbase of the show and inflated its status into a cultural phenomenon, complete with their own conventions.

THIS WEEKEND IN ARTS | October 6-8

 

Nate Staniforth: Real Magic — October 5

Magician Neil Staniforth leaves behind the accepted, conventional ways of performing magic tricks and instead focuses on appealing to his audience’s intellect and imagination. His aim is to revive the childish amazement magic incites in what, no matter what age: “It’s about trying to see things the way you saw them before they became ordinary,” he says. Staniforth will be performing at The Dock at 8:00 PM. Tickets start at $12. Maria Bamford — October 7

Comedian Maria Bamford, who stars in Netflix comedy series Lady Dynamite, will be at the State Theatre of Ithaca.

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SWAN | Bowling and More Art to Augment the Debate

This past Sunday night, the United States witnessed yet again another worst mass shooting in modern American history. Dozens of people are dead, and hundreds of individuals will have the rest of their lives marked by this violent catastrophe. It’s heartbreaking to think that all they were trying to do was have a good time and a catch a Jason Aldean concert. Now, in a near formulaic fashion, some media outlets are dominated by discussions on matters like effective gun control and a little less on issues like access to quality mental healthcare. A strongly partisan and highly rhetorical battle ensues, where conservative voices become increasingly creative in their defense of the present lack of gun control while liberal writers become continuously more pessimistic in their hopes that stringent laws will ever be passed.

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Can Happy Death Day Be the Next Horror Blockbuster?

I enjoyed Happy Death Day just a little more than I would like to admit. When I was trying to convince my horror movie buddy to come with me to the advanced screening at Cornell Cinema on Monday, he plainly retorted, “that movie looks like trash.” But the idea of seeing the film before everyone else was just too tempting to resist. Well, not saying that it is the best horror movie ever made, but based on the full house and strong audience engagement that night, I do think Happy Death Day can kill it in the box office before Halloween. Jessica Rothe, who you might remember from La La Land as one of Emma Stone’s roommates, plays the lead girl Tree, a college student who gets killed on the night of her birthday. Worse still, she is stuck in the time loop until she figures out the identity of her masked killer.

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TEST SPIN | Fleet Foxes — Crack-Up

A lot has happened during Fleet Foxes’ six year hiatus — just ask former drummer Josh Tillman, who split from the band shortly after the band’s second LP, Helplessness Blues, with time to release three records of his signature brand of misanthropic folk rock before the remaining Fleet Foxes produced one. Not to say the other members of the band were lazy on their time off — lead singer Robin Pecknold was pursuing academia at Columbia University and guitarist Skyler Skjelset spent time touring with dream pop duo Beach House. Well finally, the Fleet Foxes long anticipated third album, Crack-Up, has come, and while this new LP certainly reflects a band that has changed since their last record, everything that defined the Fleet Foxes on their previous two albums — nonlinear song structure, reverb-soaked vocal harmonies, layered instrumentation — is all very much there. This album still certainly evokes the rustic respite of a backcountry sojourn, but it is also processed enough to remind you of the smartphone you rely on to take pictures when the landscape most precisely captivates you. Crack-Up serves as loosely defined concept album that explores the theme that “no man is an island” to varying degrees.

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GUEST ROOM | Stay Cool, Stanley Uris

On Sept. 8, The Forward published a column by Noah Berlatsky titled “Stephen King’s ‘It’ Shows Hollywood Still Has a Jewish Problem.” You don’t have to tell me twice that anti-Semitic tropes still run rampant in Hollywood. But I was surprised that Berlatsky argued that It proved this point. In It, Pennywise the Clown faces off against a ragtag band of lovable outcasts — the fittingly named “Losers Club.” Among the misfits stands Stanley Uris, a Jewish tween in what seemed to be an almost entirely Christian town. I could relate.

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Salvation For Whom? Student Documentary Coming to Cornell Cinema

I sat down with Lorenzo Benitez ’19, who is a staff writer for The Sun, on an unusually bright Sunday morning to talk about his documentary, Six Months to Salvation. His directorial debut follows seven young Australian volunteers, including Benitez himself, throughout their volunteering experience as English teachers in rural Thailand. The film was initially envisioned in October 2014, when Benitez and a couple of his friends decided to take a gap year after high school. At the time, criticisms around “voluntourism” were starting to surface and he figured that a journalistic piece of evidence could only serve to clarify and enlighten. The spread of English in developing countries often raises questions about westernization and colonialism.