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Homo Sapiens: A Timely Film at Cornell Cinema

Homo Sapiens, showing at Cornell Cinema on September 6, opens with a drenching view of what Ithaca lacks: rain. Not the misty sort of showers that ironically serve to heighten the humidity but the real wet drops of purifying, sustaining rain. From this point, director Nikolaus Geyrhalter spans from one scene to another, each averaging about 26 seconds with a different naturalistic soundtrack of birds, bees, breezes, blizzards and beaches. Intermittent power outages — in which Geyrhalter cuts to black — provide the only pauses from one still life to the next. In its human-free view of the world, Homo Sapiens presents a powerful glimpse of our ethereal human legacy.

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The Neon Demon: Loudly Didactic, Yet Quietly Haunting

Nicolas Winding Refn’s most well-known film, Drive, was rapturously received by critics at its Cannes premiere in 2011. Writing for The Guardian, Xan Brooks lightheartedly observed how after “witness[ing] great art and potent social commentary; the birth of the cosmos and the end of the world,” – referring to other films such as The Tree of Life and Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, which also competed at Cannes that year – “all we really wanted all along was a scene in which a man gets his head stomped in a lift.” Indeed, one could assume from how Refn won the festival’s award for Best Director that year that Drive’s hyper-stylized violence resonated with many. However, for a director who has made a name for himself by realizing physical brutality beneath sordid neon lights, his latest film, The Neon Demon, is so restrained in its depiction of sexuality that by the time it unleashes a torrent of sexual imagery, we can’t help but be horrified. Jesse (Elle Fanning) is an aspiring model and recent arrival in Los Angeles. Living out of a motel in Pasadena, she initially roams the town in search of agency representation; her doe-eyed, adolescent features betray the beguiling innocence of someone new to town.

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GUEST ROOM | Farewell, My Sun

It’s been a journey. There’ve been ups and downs and many exciting moments for me as a staff writer in the Arts & Entertainment section of The Sun — ranked #1 among college papers by Princeton Review — and I wouldn’t trade a minute of it for anything. For the past three years, I’ve had the privilege of sharing my thoughts and opinions on my favorite art form in the world, cinema, with a community of intelligent, media-savvy people who actually enjoy art. There’s no finer school in which to have a dialogue about artwork with your fellow writers, professors and peers. I made some of my best friends while covering the movie beat (still trying to match you for prolificness, Zach Zahos ’15, and you for enthusiasm, Sean Doolittle ’16) and got to participate in something very special.

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.

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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.

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Ithaca Pan Asian American Film Festival: New Voices in Film

It’s funny: both this article and its subject matter arrived far later than they should have. The Ithaca Pan Asian American Film Festival ran last weekend, from April 15 to 17. I’m just now giving it the attention it so completely deserves. Likewise, the festival — which began just last year — sheds long-overdue light on a major problem in the American film industry: a lack of Asian American representation, especially onscreen. The event was inspired by Katie Quan, an alumna of Ithaca College and current grad student at San Francisco State University.

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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.