A Kiss Is Worth a Thousand, Thousand, Thousand Words

Any film whose title is in the form of an amorous solicitation must meet certain criteria. First, it should concern the awkward physical beginnings of love: the glances, the touches, the timid approaches. Second, it must address lovers’ preliminary insecurities, the kind that lead such questions to be voiced in the first place. And, finally, and perhaps most importantly, the film must showcase the best that the art form — that is, the kiss — has to offer.

Arts in the Ith

So. You’re in Ithaca. You’re in college. What to do now?
When prelims, lab reports and snow aren’t getting you down (read: seldom), there’s a lively arts scene right outside your doorstep to keep you sane. From barn-burning bashes in Barton to art appreciation in the Johnson, there’s something for every taste. Cornell may be known for its cows and gorges, but it’s no slouch when it comes to music, theater, film and fine art.

Philosophy on the Streets

“The unExamined Life is not worth living.” Such is the quote from Plato that opens Examined Life, directed by Astra Taylor. So where’s the “the”? The documentary’s title describes an unspecified substance, a sort of universal life-stuff. But it is the connotation implied by the quote, and left out of the title, that makes the movie itself worth watching. Examined Life makes charmingly clear the differentiated specificity, the very the-ness of life. In her most substantial line, Taylor says, “I’m thinking about the challenge of making a film about philosophy.” What she gets is a film about philosophers — a less grandiose entity, but no less intriguing.

Young Love in Black and White

This week Cornell Cinema will be screening Medicine for Melancholy, a film by relative newcomer Barry Jenkins. An IFC production, the movie follows Micah and Jo — two 20-somethings in San Francisco — after their one night stand (which by the end of the movie is more like a one-night-and-one day-stand). As they day goes on, they explore the city together, debating and discussing issues of race, gender, identity, gentrification and art.

Better Than Real Life

For an art form that often lives in the shadow of its live-action big brother, animation finally received its share of the spotlight on Saturday at Cornell Cinema’s special event, Homegrown Animation. Headlined by Tara Cooper ’08’s ten-minute short Until the Lake Froze Solid, the program included nineteen animated shorts made by Cornell students over the past six years, as well as a Q&A session with Tara about her MFA thesis film. Although there was no red carpet or hordes of paparazzi waiting outside Homegrown Animation was both a showcase of the cream of the crop of Cornell animation projects and some well-deserved face time for the incredibly talented artists whose work rarely earns the attention that it’s due.

Reality in the Wrong Places

“I want to report on the real state of the world.” So says recent college graduate James, played by Jesse Eisenberg (The Squid and the Whale), explaining his intent to emulate travel writers like Charles Dickens. He’s got it all figured out: After spending a few months in Europe with his buddies, he will enroll in the Colombia School of Journalism. However, when the first part of those plans falls through, he is forced to spend the summer of 1987 working at Adventureland — a decrepit amusement park that seems right at home with the urban decay of surrounding Pittsburgh. And so is the setup of Adventureland.

Art From Conflict

Regardless of how you respond to Emmanuel Jal’s documentary War Child, the truth of its footage destroys any debate over its political significance. Once a Sudanese child soldier, Jal has become a figurehead and spokesperson for genocide awareness by sharing his own story with the world. The film splits its time between Jal’s concert tours and seminars (he moonlights as a hip-hope with lyrics inspired by his childhood) and United Nations footage shot about 20-years earlier, prominently featuring a nine-year old Jal in the beginnings of his life as a child soldier.