'Whatever' is Right: New Allen Movie Disappoints

This article was originally published online on Jul. 8

The signature opening credit style is there, with the same white font on the same black screen, the same ragtime music playing over the names Jack Rollins and Charles H. Joffe. One can make out the comfortable old tropes, and one sometimes thinks one recognizes signs of life. But one is wrong. Whatever Works, the new Woody Allen movie starring Larry David, is the bleating deathpang of a towering auteur style gone stale, and a powerful argument that, if your choice for a leading role says he can’t act, you should believe him.

Harry Potter and the Half-Baked Flick

This article was originally published online on Jul 29.

There is a curious breed of person for whom Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, which opened Wednesday, is new material. Bleary-eyed, paranoid, misguidedly noble, this breed has halted all Potterland talk over the past few months, perhaps with a slight twitch: “I’m waiting for the movie to come out.” It is for him that the traditional review would be necessary, but then he’d probably never read this anyway, out of a desire to avoid “spoilers.” A Sisyphean task, usually, but I think he’s up to it — illiteracy has its advantages.

Learning Something From the French

The Class, directed by Lauren Calent and nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards, has been called by critics “fierce, funny and moving,” a portrait of “conflict, tragedy and triumph.” All well and good, if you go in for that sort of thing. The Class is indeed a great film, but its particular greatness is obscured by its particular subgenre. Movies about young teachers trying to unite a class of underprivileged, ethnically diverse students are a bit like Slope Day acts — a new batch comes out every once in a while, and the audience reaches for the usual epithets. But what about when we get one we actually like? What then?

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.

C.U. Wins Cross-College Investment Competition

The adrenaline-pumping pace of the New York Stock Exchange only intensified as it traveled from Wall Street to Ithaca this weekend as student-teams competed in real life investment scenarios at Cornell’s first annual Collegiate Stock Pitch Competition. In just 10 short hours, three finalist teams composed entirely of undergraduates were asked to advise prospective stockholders to buy, sell or hold stock in the Tivo Company. After a day of furrowed brows and flailing arms, the three-member team from Cornell won the event.
The competition was organized by the Delta Sigma Pi professional fraternity, the Mutual Investment Club of Cornell and the Cornell Investment Club. Deutchse Bank sponsored the competition, which hosted teams from five universities on Friday.

Business Hopefuls Face Off in Annual Idea Competition

To conclude its search for the best real-world business proposals from Cornell undergraduates, Entrepreneurship@Cornell held the final round of the 2008 Big Idea Competition on Friday. After an audience-wide vote in Statler Hall on Friday, the developers of Scrimple — a website that provides Cornell students with printable coupons from local restaurants, shopping centers and services — were awarded with a $2,500 cash prize.
Matt Ackerson ’09, the company’s founder and one of its directors, said he came up with the idea as part of a project for an MBA course he took last spring and executed it after the semester ended.

Editor Speaks About Revolutionary Sentiment

“1968 was a year of revolution and hope,” said Joel Geier, associate editor of the International Socialist Review. Geier spoke to a group of students last Thursday evening at the event entitled “1968: Year of Revolt” hosted by Cornell’s chapter of the International Socialist Organization.
Geier described revolutionary events that took place throughout the world in the late 1960s, particularly emphasizing the U.S.’s role in the tumultuous decade. [img_assist|nid=29597|title=Of a revolution?|desc=Joel Geier, associate editor of the International Socialist Review, gives a talk entitled “1968: A Year of Revolt” in Goldwin Smith on Thursday.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]

Iraqi Chief Investigative Judge Al-Saíedi Speaks on Global Issues

Judge Ra’id Juhi Hamadi Al-Saíedi, the man who indicted former President of Iraq Saddam Hussein, met a receptive audience yesterday as he spoke to members of the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity. The talk, according to Chapter Scholarship Chair Steven Sachs ’09, was an attempt “to bring speakers on all sorts of things to the house.”
The former Chief Investigative Judge of the Iraqi High Tribunal, Al-Saíedi currently serves as Cornell’s first Clarke Middle East Fellow.
“If I talk to the law school, I’ll focus on legal issues. If I talk to the government school, I’ll focus on politics. [But at the fraternity], I can focus on anything,” Al-Saíedi said.

Prof Speaks on Isolation of Artists

“Puppets, Not Porn.” Such was the slogan of a burlesque stage-turned puppet theater, one of the grassroots arts organizations highlighted by A.D. White Professor-at-Large Ann Markusen in her lecture on Friday. In her talk, entitled “Cultural Planning and The Creative City,” she discussed the difficulties many artists face in urban areas.
Prof. Susan Christopherson, city and regional planning, introduced Markusen, a visitor to the department and the director of the Project on Regional and Industrial Economics at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs.
Markusen began by outlining the conflict between art and politics in the ’90s due to the outbreak of AIDS, which victimized and alienated many artists.