Arts & Entertainment writers Emily Kling and Jesse Weissman discuss Ithaca College Theatre Arts’ production of Tom Stoppard’s 1993 play Arcadia. Arcadia played at Ithaca College’s Hoerner Theatre from April 26 to May 1 and was directed by Ithaca College professor Greg Bostwick. Jesse Weissman: Before we start discussing the play itself, I want to note just how nice the Main Stage Theatre at Ithaca College is! It is a pretty impressive venue and feels like a real Broadway theatre. Emily Kling: Agreed!
The only thing more divisive than religion and politics is opposing Oscars predictions. The Arts section has weighed in on their favorites; where do yours stack up? Best Picture
Will Win: The Revenant
As much as we would like to see something smart like Spotlight or funny like The Big Short take home the coveted award of Best Picture, we will probably see Alejandro Iñárritu walk out with a little golden man for the second year in a row. The story of a frontiersman (Leonardo DiCaprio) out to seek vengeance on the man who left him for dead (Tom Hardy) is a simple yet intense storyline. It is beautifully shot — thanks to Emmanuel Lubezki — with vast shots of nature and landscapes.
Mountain climbers, the real-deal ones, the ones who fearlessly risk life and limb to conquer peaks, arouse a natural human curiosity about how they can be so undaunted. Besides being mortal and being 60 percent water, these people’s programming seems to have absolutely no relation to how us normal folks function. You don’t know if they’re enlightened beings who have found something ethereal above the pettiness of people down below, or if they’re neanderthals who have no civilizational restraints. Meru, a documentary now showing at Cornell Cinema on Thursday and Saturday, chronicles a group of these climbers. Specifically, Meru focuses on Conrad Anker, Jimmy Chin and Renan Ozturk as they try to hike the “Shark’s Fin” route of Meru, a peak in the Indian Himalayas.
Fractured romantic relationships are often portrayed in film as synonymous with heightened passions and youth: an intoxicating mix of personalities that leads to big blowouts and misunderstandings. 45 Years, the fantastic film written and directed by Andrew Haigh that is now playing at Cinemapolis, gives us a far different troubled relationship: one in which a longtime married couple has always been contented, but a gnawing and sickening feeling develops that all that contentment has been utter bullshit. There is no yelling, just long faces and the feeling that that the other person does not truly understand you. Kate and Geoff Mercer, the married English couple respectively played by Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay, live a fairly pleasant existence. They are both retired, she a former schoolteacher and he a former manager at some type of factory.
I should begin this review with a disclaimer: I am a sucker for gangster films. I think The Godfather: Part III is actually a pretty good movie. Maybe it’s because to me the gangster film is part of the American film mythology (I love Westerns too). Or maybe the films just give me a vicarious thrill because I couldn’t raise a fist even if I wanted to. So when I say that Black Mass, a film written and directed by Scott Cooper and starring Johnny Depp as the infamous Boston gangster James “Whitey” Bulger, does not do much more beyond effectively execute every cliché of the genre, I sort of mean that as a compliment. But to people who aren’t predisposed to wanting to see a ton of whackings, that may be a “stay away” sign.
Mike Birbiglia is known for mixing up the standup formula. Instead of doing multiple bits, he often prefers to tell a few long stories intermingled with jokes in order to get the emotional point of the story across. He is quite good at it: His last special, “My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend” delivered personal stories of Birbiglia’s with raw emotion and humor, without being excessively self-deprecating. His autobiographical film Sleepwalk With Me (currently on Netflix) poignantly captures the isolation and sadness of being a traveling comedian. So, I was disappointed this past Wednesday at Statler Auditorium when Birbiglia performed his new show, “Thank God for Jokes,” ditching his winning formula.
The conventional wisdom about David Simon, the creator of The Wire (yes it really is the greatest show of all time as many people annoyingly but correctly remind you), Treme and Generation Kill is that he is a pessimist: that his shows are about the inability of society to resolve its ills. And while this is true to some extent, it does not paint the full picture of his work. Simon’s shows can be optimistic about people — ordinary people just trying to get by and do the right thing. Rather, he seems to be deeply pessimistic about human institutions. These institutions, whether they be government bureaucracies, drug gangs or entire cities, are unable to reform themselves, and often in their structure, prevent individuals from doing the right thing.