DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg

GOULDTHORPE | DreamWorks Dreaming

One of my favorite animated films of all time is DreamWorks’ The Prince of Egypt, and one of my favorite animated sequences of all time is the opening song “Deliver Us.” Right from the beginning the movie delivers a powerful and visceral experience, adapting one of the most famous Biblical stories in a sincere way that captures its heart and essence. With beautiful music and visuals, it holds a special place in my heart. That’s why it pains me to admit that I have mixed feelings about DreamWorks Animation: I admire a lot of work that they’ve done, and I feel like they’ve impacted the industry in beneficial ways. At the same time, their missteps have been many, and I feel like they’ve been losing their edge for a long time. Given the fact that they’ve been making the news lately, I want to take this time to meditate on DreamWorks and their importance.

COURTESY OF DEF JAM RECORDS

SWAN | Legitimization or Appropriation?

2016 marks the thirtieth anniversary of the Beastie Boys debut album Licensed to Ill, and in commemoration, the work will be reissued on vinyl, which is set for release on October 14. Licensed to Ill was wildly popular when it was initially released in 1986, and has since been certified diamond by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). A quote by Chuck D of Public Enemy is included in Def Jam’s press release for the reissue: “The breakthrough of Licensed To Ill in 1986 paved the road legitimizing Rap to its USA masses… This record also expanded HipHop diversity allowing Public Enemy’s Takes A Nation to be its antithesis.”

Chuck D’s words here pose an interesting question: what exactly does it mean to “legitimize” an art form to the “masses” of fans in America and the western world? The answer to that questions seems to vary and possess its own degree of complexity. However, the case of Licensed to Ill is relatively simple.

COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES

PEGAN | Free Weezy: An Ode to an American Icon

Would I ever think about retiring? I look at retirement like… you retire out when you die out… because you never retire at what you do, meaning… if what you do is your life like mine… like my career is my life… I could never retire out… even if I stop rapping I’m going to be in some form or fashion in it, know what I mean? –Lil Wayne, 2006

It’s been a hectic month in Wayne’s world. It all started when the 33-year-old hip-hop legend took to Twitter to announce his retirement, declaring himself “DEFENSELESS AND mentally DEFEATED.” The tweet was just the latest in the ongoing saga of Wayne’s legal feud with former mentor Birdman: a disheartening, gridlocked dispute which is itself the latest in a long series of adversities Weezy has faced over the past eight years. The tweet doesn’t mark the first time Wayne has publicly alluded to hanging up the mic — it has been public knowledge since 2012 that his long-delayed album Tha Carter V will be his last — but it obviously came from a place of deep personal despair.

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GOLDFINE | Views From The Edge of the Mosh Pit: Making Peace with Periphery

For about a day now I’ve been entertaining writing an article about moshing: Some kind of article-y feminist critique of or spatial-political inquiry into the act of a kinetic mass of bodies violently jumping up and down, and deliberately slamming into each other. “Mosh pits! What an Interesting Phenomenon,” I thought. “Wow! What a good column topic! Very Fraught!

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ALUR | An Ode to Lianne La Havas

On a typically dreary day in London during my semester abroad, my friend from Cornell and I began a text conversation about the artists we longed to see live. We had the privilege of seeing Norah Jones last fall at the State Theatre, and we began brainstorming other musicians who would be equally as enthralling. Lianne La Havas rolled off the tongue — a versatile musician who we had grown to love over the course of our college experiences. Her vibrato was a routine point of conversation, as no matter how hard we tried, we couldn’t emulate the intense subtlety of her vocal wavering. And we had fond memories of listening to and discussing her 2015 album Blood just moments after its release.

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STANTON | A.O. Scott and Cinema’s Last Line of Defense

“The donning of sackcloth and ashes for this once-mighty art form is an annual ritual,” wrote New York Times film critic A.O. Scott in a recent piece on the Telluride Film Festival, a yearly retreat for filmmakers and critics alike that also serves as a debut for many of the fall’s most anticipated films. He goes on to posit the festival as a “standing rebuke” to the “fatalism and gloom” of critics who would suggest cinema’s death, boldly going so far as to include hyperlinks to Huffington Post and GQ articles with which he took direct issue. (As spectators, all we can really hope for is that the opposing sides drop diss tracks about one another.) Scott, who serves alongside Manohla Dargis as the Times’ chief film critic, claims that Telluride standouts like Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival and Maren Ade’s Toni Erdmann provide testimony to the medium’s ongoing vitality. Of the latter, he writes, “It’s something new under the sun, a thrilling and discomfiting document of the present and also, like every movie that matters, a bulletin from the future.”

Forward motion, then, and an eye toward progress seem Scott’s criteria for a worthy cinematic experience. Yet the critic speaks with a certain tone of nostalgia, waxing lyrical about the “old-time cinephile religion” and “cathedrals of cinema,” invoking a religiosity around the film-going experience that grants a sense of urgency to the art form. Scott seems determined to fight a one-man war in support of his cinematic ideals, and to simultaneously convince us of criticism’s essential role in our relationship to art.

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JONES | Dragonbored: The Saga of a Skyrim Addiction

I bought Skyrim for PC in the summer of 2013. The first thing I remember doing in the game, after the opening-scene dragon attack, is trying to kill a blacksmith who was hosting me in his home, and then frantically running away from the town, across a huge plain and into snowy mountains as the sun set. Many fans of “open-world” games probably have similar experiences the first time they play. Open-world games purport to give the player total freedom; the premise is that any decision that the player makes can be supported by the game, and make sense within its world. You can play as a hero, an anti-hero, a villain or simply commit random acts of violence and kindness as you see fit, and in a perfectly-executed game any of these decisions would have ramifications on the progress of the narrative.

DRAWING BY AMRITANSH KWATRA

CHAZAN | How to Shop at a Comic Store

Maybe you were assigned Persepolis in high school and were inspired. Maybe you took out dozens of manga volumes at a time at your local library. Maybe you’ve seen all the Avengers movies and want to read the source materials. Maybe you’re just curious. Whatever it is, dear hypothetical reader, you want to start going to a comic store but have never been to one before!

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GOULDTHORPE | How the Sausage is Made

For those not aware, Sausage Party was produced by Nitrogen Studios and released August 12 that made history as the first CGI-animated feature to be rated R. My last column already laid out my thoughts about the movie, and I won’t bore you with spelling them out again. As a brief summary, I liked more than I thought I would… but it’s certainly not the kind of film I would normally watch, and I have no desire to see it again. That being said, I had hopes that the film would end up setting a new standard for the animation industry. Unfortunately, that hope has turned into fear as more details of the production have come out. First, my positive expectations.