I’ll be seeing the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of King Lear in NYC this weekend, and with graduation approaching quickly, I feel in some small way the king’s anxiety. Lear lives past his time. He gives up a large part of his power to his daughters but fails to retain their loyalty. Cordelia, his most loyal and most mistreated daughter, then dies before him. In the final act of the play, he has lost his mind.
When the universe wants to tell you something, it will tell you a few times. I take the same attitude with phone calls. Unless you call a few times or leave a voicemail, I’m not calling back. Late last night, when I was falling asleep to an episode of S-Town, I realized that I’ve been learning the same lesson for about a year. I will graduate in almost exactly a month, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the lack of despair I feel about that fact.
Ithaca is often considered to be in the middle of nowhere, but the work of student filmmakers from across the Northeast were on display at the fifth Centrally Isolated Film Festival at the Schwartz Performing Arts Center last weekend. A wide variety of short films ranging from documentary to animation to live-action narrative by students from more than a half-dozen schools were screened. “In this area, there aren’t a lot of film festivals, especially for student filmmakers, which is the entire idea of the Centrally Isolated Film Festival,” student organizer Isabel Pottinger ’19 said in an interview. “This year we made a very concerted effort to be in contact with a lot of different schools to try to get as much diversity in terms of the people involved in the film festival as possible, and we really reaped the rewards of that.”
The student organizers from the Film Festival Production Lab course, which focuses on running the film festival, including learning how to objectively judge films, pared down a list of over 100 submissions. “We talk about things like: is the sound good, is the cinematography good, does the director accomplish their artistic vision, do we know what their artistic vision is?” Pottinger explained.
This week, I had the privilege of being invited by Cornell Cinema to preview the film Mind Game, which will be screening this Friday and Saturday. Mind Game is a Japanese movie from 2004, directed by Masaaki Yuasa and Kôji Morimoto. It’s received critical praise from festivals around the world, but has seen limited release to general viewers. Over the past couple years, though, it’s finally been filtering into theaters, so the chance to see it here at Cornell is truly a rare experience. And what an experience it is!
I have always believed that hip hop saves lives. As Kendrick Lamar once stated in an interview, “People live their lives to this music.” Hip hop is a form that allows marginalized members of society to express themselves and let other marginalized people know they are heard. This, I have always known. But not until I heard the name Travis Karter did I come to understand that hip hop music has the ability to quite literally physically prevent people from dying. After hearing his newest album Phase III, there was only one way to understand this rising star’s intentions, to have a conversation with him.
I have been looking forward to this movie for months. Since Isle of Dogs’ first trailer dropped last September, I have waited with bated breath. So much intersected here: not only is it a stop-motion animated film, but it’s a Wes Anderson film, AND it’s a PG-13 animated film. That last one stuck out the most to me. We see family animated films and adult animated films all the time, but nothing in the middle.
When I saw the trailer for the cinematic adaptation of Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One, it almost deterred me from reading the novel. But what seemed like an archetypal hybrid of Tron and Divergent is in fact its own body of work, with unique ’80s culture references, vast world building and most importantly, a story centered around a nerdy, ordinary boy. The book follows protagonist Wade in a near future, roughly 2045, where the world is plagued with hunger, famine and climate change. To escape these harsh realities, people enter an augmented reality world known as the OASIS, where anyone can be anyone; regardless of their past status or background, individuals can make a new life for themselves, choosing where they work, how they live and what they eat. We learn that the founder of the OASIS has died and left behind a tournament in which gamers can search the OASIS for three keys that unlock three gates to find an easter egg.
“You so fucking precious when you smile,” sings Bazzi on the opening lines of his breakthrough single “Mine” which was released in October of 2017. The song rose to prominence in early 2018 after being featured in a Snapchat filter as well as on a recent playlist curated by Taylor Swift. The song has been streamed millions of times and has peaked at number 11 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart. Largely due to “Mine” and an endorsement from Apple Music granting him heavy promotion, the 20-year-old Michigan native Bazzi’s debut studio album COSMIC had become one of the most highly anticipated albums of 2018. And its arrival has not been a let down.
Many of us are easily familiar with the name “Lebowski.” When we hear it, we think of bathrobes, bowling balls and buddy-love between John Goodman’s Walter and Jeff Bridges’ The Dude. With its one-of-a-kind storyline and its clever comedic interjections, The Big Lebowski has become a household film title, an easy answer to the ice-breaker question “favorite movie?” and a classic go-to choice when you and your friends couldn’t agree on anything else to watch on Netflix. But the film has not always been held in such high regards. Twenty years ago, when it was first released, The Big Lebowski was met with dissatisfaction and criticism. The reviews were mediocre at best, and in the box office, it was far from a hit.