The Jungle Book: Interspecies Empathy

It would be remiss of me to not acknowledge my initial cynicism upon being told that The Jungle Book was being remade yet again. Not only by Disney, but also by Warner Brothers now that the copyright protections which safeguarded Rudyard Kipling’s novel have lapsed. While Warner Brothers has postponed the release of its own film until 2018, Disney’s latest effort has landed in theaters with notable aplomb. I openly admit that my original cynicism was unfounded: Jon Favreau’s direction has imbued what could have been an otherwise cold exhibition of studio machinery with an invigorating earnestness. Here we have a film that passionately encourages us to embrace our core essence while simultaneously recognizing it as an accidental feature that doesn’t reflect our true character.

high school musical

A Conversation With High School Musical Composer, David Lawrence

David Lawrence is a film and television composer, songwriter and producer whose score and song credits include the American Pie films, the High School Musical series, and the forthcoming HBO documentary, Becoming Mike Nichols. The Sun spoke with Lawrence in anticipation of his visit this Friday about movie music, the process of scoring and Frank Sinatra. The Sun: There are so many people who write music to be a pop hit or for the radio.  Was it your goal to write television theme music or soundtrack music? David Lawrence: I went to conservatory in New York.

1f5c5dfc4bf1694851fac0c5a03ec70f

The Lanthanide Series at Cornell Cinema

The Lanthanide Series is an experimental video essay produced by Cornell alumna Erin Espelie, and its subject is the series of rare-earth metals used throughout history in the production and replication of images: first in the obsidian “black mirrors” of early societies, now in your iPhone screen. The film has no plot, characters or dialogue. Instead, it consists mostly of shots of industry, the natural world and spliced-in clips from outside sources, with a narrator reading in monotone over the top. Interposed are references to historical figures, like Gutenberg and Primo Levi, who had some hand in the process of image creation. Exactly what point Espelie is using all these techniques and subjects to make is a little unclear.

Photos courtesy of Paramount Pictures

Everybody Wants Some a’ This Movie!!

Everybody Wants Some!!, the latest by Richard Linklater, that great subtle anthropologist of the mundane and the minute, concerns a bunch of douchebag jocks. The entire movie is a prolonged testosterone-driven hunt for T & A, with lots of beer and competitive ball-busting in between. Every character in the movie is a derelict, a meathead or a womanizer. I loved every single minute of it. The movie is a joyride, every bit as good as Linklater’s perennial high school classic Dazed and Confused, and is destined to become one of the great American collegiate slacker films, up there with Animal House.

Blending Boundaries: RAMS at Cornell Cinema

Grímur Hákonarson’s Icelandic film, RAMS, won’t warm you up. Set in a secluded, mountainous valley, winter rolls into the lives of Gummi and Kiddi, two sheep-rearing brothers, much as it does in Ithaca, and brings with it an ironically accessible story of death and rebirth. Despite the wind and snow, RAMS captures the warmth of our approaching spring. The film combines an understanding of humanity and nature in the lives of Gummi and Kiddi, two aging men, neighbors and antagonists. When scrapie, a brain-eating sheep disease, infects Kiddi’s herd, veterinarians demand that every sheep and ram in the valley be slaughtered.

Disdaining Fortune: Macbeth at Cornell Cinema

Last year saw the release of the latest film adaptation of William Shakespeare’s tragedy Macbeth, directed by Justin Kurzel. Gory, passion-driven and gripping, this film captures the vengeful air of Shakespeare’s Scotland well. The film was originally shown at last year’s Cannes Film Festival. The audience thought it was so extraordinary that Macbeth received a ten minute-long standing ovation after its screening. Since then, it has received positive reviews across the board, and it has easily become one of my personal favorite Shakespeare adaptations.

eye-in-the-sky_eits-promo-1

Self-Reflection: Eye in the Sky

If Britannia once ruled the waves, America now indisputably rules the skies, and its aerial power is growing ever more precise. First, the USAAF of 1945, then an adjunct limb of the ground forces, could drop phosphorous bombs with impunity on every exposed inch of Dresden. Two decades later, napalm could be used to raze thin stretches of settled and foxhole-littered jungle in Vietnam, sans, supposedly, excessive civilian loss of life. Now, a house in a Kenyan neighborhood can be pinpointed and destroyed from kilometers above with the latest in predator drone technology. This is as much a moral as it is a technological evolution, and it is a moral dilemma which lies at the heart of Eye in the Sky, given limited release in select theaters in the United States this past month.

COURTESY OF BROAD GREEN PICTURES

Cinema of Transcendence: Knight of Cups

“And in the luck of night, in secret places where no other spied, I went without my sight, without a light to guide, except the heart that lit me from inside.”

— St. John of the Cross, Dark Night of the Soul

Cinema is a miracle. Franchises and multiplexes make us forget, but to watch cinema is to receive profound insight on the inner workings of life and to experience a meditation on the world from another’s point of view. Roger Ebert called the movies a machine for generating empathy. Ideally, you can feel your world growing when you watch a special movie.

thumbnail_23222

Reel Talk: A Conversation with Film Editor Rachel Reichman

After a screening of Hitchcock/Truffaut last week at Cornell Cinema, Sun Staff Writer Mark DiStefano ’16 was fortunate enough to speak with the film’s co-producer and editor, Rachel Reichman. The conversation encompassed favorite films, a liberal arts education, the process of film editing and the nature of art itself. The Sun: What do you see the essential job of an editor to be? Rachel Reichman: Well, for every film it’s different. In documentaries of course, the editor is a stronger participant in the storytelling than they are in narrative work.

Pg-6-arts-zoo-2

Disney’s Zootopia: Stunning Animation with Social Commentary

It’d be hard to imagine anyone hasn’t heard the hype around Walt Disney’s 55th entry into their animated canon. The film has dominated the box office for the past three weekends — even overshadowing the release of Allegiant — and it’s not hard to see why. Zootopia, directed by Byron Howard, Rich Moore and Jared Bush, combines wit, charm and fun with sharp social commentary, creating an experience that is truly unforgettable. The story revolves around a rabbit named Judy Hopps, voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin, who — true to Disney standards — is a bright-eyed dreamer who wants to make the world a better place. She feels that the best way to do this is to become a police officer, but faces obstruction from people around her who point out that there’s never been a rabbit police officer before.