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Funding Art is Important: A Defense of Cornell Cinema

Cornell is not a university specifically reserved for the STEM disciplines. We were founded under a proud cosmopolitan banner of “Any Person, Any Study,” and we differ from MIT or CalTech in that we claim to offer the highest possible level of instruction in any field a person might choose. As a former PMA/English major I can say I was never belittled on campus, but I noticed an unquestionable lack of interest in funding arts departments and activities, compared to the hard sciences. This comes with the territory — the arts students tend to be far fewer in number than the STEM ones — but there is a very real danger that eventually, History, Philosophy, Comp Lit and Comm majors will have a far less rigorous education than the name of Cornell promises. The Schwartz Center has seen this with its extensive budget cuts passed seven years ago, and with its folding of three majors into one.

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Unpacking Robert Frank at Cornell Cinema: Art within Art

Don’t Blink: Robert Frank, showing at Cornell Cinema this Wednesday, tells the story behind a photograph. A picture is worth a thousand words, and in his lifetime Robert Frank, named by his former employer, The New York Times, as “the world’s pre-eminent living photographer,” captures the unusual and the unseen. If you’ve never heard of Robert Frank, Don’t Blink will make you fall in love with him. If you’ve heard what critics say about the eccentric artist, Don’t Blink will have you discredit every insult.

The film frames Robert Frank as a man eschewing all expectations — or, in other words, fulfilling his stereotype: that of a frustrated artist. He’s expressed his creative urges for 70 years by freezing time, and yet he can’t stand still.

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The (Dim) Light Between Oceans

There’s a scene early on in The Light Between Oceans where Alicia Vikander’s character speaks of a mother and father still being referred to as such even after they no longer have a child, and she states that she feels like a sister even after losing siblings of her own. Moments such as these tease the potential for interesting themes and ideas to be played out in the film. Unfortunately the film becomes lost in a heap of overwrought melodrama that ends up squandering an extremely high amount of potential. Based on the 2012 novel of the same name by M.L Stedman, The Light Between Oceans revolves around a lighthouse keeper named Tom Sherbourne (Michael Fassbender) and his wife Isabel (Alicia Vikander). They live on an island off the coast of post-World War I Western Australia, and who one day discover a newborn baby that has washed ashore on a boat.

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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.

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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.

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The Mind of the Serpent

I had big plans when I first sat down to watch The Embrace of the Serpent. Armed with pen and legal pad, I resolved to record every plot point, key quote and stylistic detail. After about two minutes, my tools had fallen to the floor and I stared at the screen, mesmerized, for the next two hours. The third major picture from director Ciro Guerra, The Embrace of the Serpent is engrossing, insightful and beautifully crafted. The film chronicles the journey of two scientists, Theo (Jan Bijvoet) and Evan (Brionne Davis) as they search the Colombian Amazon for the elusive, psychedelic Yakruna plant.

Hitchcock/Truffaut at Cornell Cinema

If you are a film buff, a film major or a filmmaker, the work of Hitchcock should be running on a 24 hour loop inside your head. If you are any of the above and haven’t seen the man’s work, a self-respecting film buff would cry, “What the MacGuffin is wrong with you?” and prescribe you a steady diet of Vertigo, Rear Window, Psycho and others. I’m afraid I am not one of said film buffs who would do such a thing. Yes, I am a PMA major and aspiring filmmaker, but I have never been overtly enamored with the classic films of the great director. Personally, I’m more partial to his earlier work — The Lady Vanishes, The 39 Steps — and I even wrote a paper in Global I about the perceived lapse in quality — apparently noticed only by myself and Pauline Kael — as Hitch entered Hollywood.