Emma Watson, Tom Hanks and John Boyega in the same movie? A movie that’s a tech thriller about the dangers of social media? Man, I was hyped for this film! I mean, it had to at least be fun, right? Unfortunately, I haven’t been this disappointed in a movie since Batman v. Superman. Directed by James Ponsoldt and based on the book by Dave Eggers, The Circle comes across as a soapbox movie that can’t even get its message straight.
It’s been a busy semester, believe me, I know. Most of you so inclined have not had the time to read any comics, what with all assignments and studying, and guess what? Neither have I. But I have been able to pretend to have time on occasion, so with borrowed time I would like to recommend a few of the year’s best comics to brush up on when school’s out.
LEAVING RICHARD’S VALLEY by Michael Deforge
The Webcomic Pick
Many of you readers may have a sensitive wallet, so I thought I’d kick off this list with a comic you can read absolutely free of charge on a little place called the internet. Alt Comics enfant terrible Michael Deforge has been serializing Leaving Richard’s Valley on Twitter and Instagram in semi-daily updates with an improvisational energy that almost looks easy.
Cornell Cinema inaugurates a new 3-D projection system Friday night with the post-apocalyptic film Mad Max: Fury Road.
In 2016, Cornell Cinema received a capital equipment grant from the New York State Council on the Arts offering the campus theatre half of the installation cost for a 3-D system. A crowdfunding campaign launched in November matched the funds — remarkably quickly — and the Friday night show will be its first run. For many people, myself included, 3-D film still feels new. Cornell Cinema hopes to share the medium’s weighted cinematic history. The first 3-D exhibition dates back to 1915 and, since that time, the stereoscopic method attracts Hollywood, independent, documentary, foreign and experimental film productions.
Have you wondered what would happen if Indiana Jones didn’t have Spielberg’s team behind it? At least I think that’s how the conversation went at the pitch meeting. The Lost City of Z (pronounced Zed), by James Gray, is based on a book based loosely on the true story of Percy Fawcett (Charlie Hunnam) who went looking for, well, a lost city. On a mapping expedition, Percy found evidence of a civilization not yet discovered by the English that’s possibly older than their civilization — which is a shock to their common belief. The rest of the film follows a search to find hard evidence to prove the civilization’s existence.
Just last week, singer-songwriter Sufjan Stevens unexpectedly dropped a live version of his seventh album, Carrie & Lowell. After having relentlessly poured over the contents of that haunting, minimalistic tour-de-force all of two years ago – has it really been that long? – the sudden reincarnation of what is arguably Stevens’ greatest album invites loyal fans to re-examine the differences in cadence, nuance and theme that inevitably arise from hearing recorded familiarities performed live. But as much as I’d like to provide an exhaustive critique of the entire live album, one song in particular stands out for being both more potent than its studio counterpart, yet confidently similar in style. “Should Have Known Better,” Carrie & Lowell’s third track, was never my favorite of the original release, but when performed live, its thematic density becomes astoundingly apparent.
I find myself undergoing a mid-college existential crisis as I finish what has proven to be a rather formative sophomore year here at Cornell. It is not so much a cerebral catastrophe, one marked by some bleak, emotional indifference, but rather the overwhelming curiosity one experiences when discovering the utter vastness and complexity of the world, or less loftily, our own university’s community — less L’Étranger and more the end of Boyhood. I recall a moment that occurred in one of my first lectures at Cornell, ECON 1120: Introductory Macroeconomics back in the fall of 2015, when our professor offered us a bit of sage guidance: “During your freshmen year of college, you do not know anything, but you do not know that you do not know anything. In your sophomore year of college, you realize that you do not know anything. At the end of your junior year you definitely know some things, but you do not know that you do know something.
“Usually, when I tell people that I make music, I don’t reference Primary Colors,” says the polite, affable sophomore. “Instead I say, ‘Check me out on Soundcloud.’” Sitting in front of me with his work neatly put aside to accommodate this impromptu interview is Paul Russell, who is an opinion columnist for The Sun and is otherwise known by the name ‘Paulitics’ under which he raps, sings and writes music. We’re sitting at a table in Temple of Zeus on Friday afternoon, the last day of class before Spring Break. Over the course of this winter break, I grew familiar with Paul’s work, after he granted me permission to use some of his songs in a feature-length film I was co-directing. Naturally, this level of familiarity with his work made me want to learn more about the artist behind the music I was so generously given access to; Hence this interview.
There are few things more complex and engaging than a virtual band in the era of technology and the internet. British virtual band Gorillaz, created by Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett, has been around since 1998. Since then, the band and technology have been pushing forward rapidly. The four members — 2D, Murdoc, Noodle and Russel — are not meant to be a normal band. They have an unusual dynamic, and as Russel described in a recent Skype interview, their “history is a dirty, shallow lake, clogged up with grievances, grudges, decomposing bodies.” Indeed, for 2010 album Plastic Beach, Murdoc kidnapped 2D and forced him to make the album with him.
I started writing this column two years ago, and then again a year ago. No, really it’s in my iPhone notes. I’m a preemptively nostalgic sort of person, it’s not cute. At those times, my own personal zeitgeist must have seemed clear to me. Self-satisfied and obnoxious as these shriveled up column introductions read to me now — written bathed in the smug, warm glow of a coherent sense of self — their existence indicates to me that even within them, I knew these moments wouldn’t last.
The Canadian rock band Barenaked Ladies played at Ithaca’s State Theatre Sunday night and delivered an incredibly upbeat and engaging performance. The group is known best for singles like “One Week,” “It’s All Been Done” and “If I Had $1000000,” but every song they played was filled with passion. Alan Doyle and his band, who blend folk and rock, opened for the group. Doyle was an excellent frontman who engaged the audience, even though most did not know the lyrics to his songs. Singer and fiddler Kendel Carson was an especially impressive member of the band, dancing around the stage while playing flawlessly.