I am gonna come clean now: I didn’t know who John Cleese is until two weeks ago. My best friend was appalled when he asked if I wanted to go to this Cleese talk together, and I looked at the event title and said “sure, I loved Kirshner’s class.”
But now I’m converted! The Monty Python star wrote, directed and stars in the brilliantly silly heist movie, A Fish Called Wanda, which screened at Cornell Cinema on Sept. 10. Cleese and professor Jonathan Kirshner, government, engaged in a prescreening conversation, which is just as funny and nutritious as the film.
We’re all probably familiar with the story of Shakespeare’s Hamlet – Hamlet, prince of Denmark, seeks revenge on his uncle at the behest of his father’s ghost, all the while finding the time to talk to skulls, wallow in existential dread, etc. etc. However, this 1921 German silent film adaptation turns the familiar tale on its head, doing so with a very interesting proposition from Dr. Edward P. Vining’s 1881 book: Hamlet is actually a woman.
This not actually as unusual as it might seem; there is, in fact, a long and rich tradition of female Hamlets. After Charles II gave permission for women to act, the first woman to appear in a Shakespeare play did so in 1660, and soon afterwards, women began playing not only women’s roles but also those of men.
There was nothing I loved more as a kid than driving five minutes up the road to an AMC theater with my mom, waiting in line at the massive concession bar and finishing my extra-large popcorn with extra butter during the previews. Sometimes we’d treat ourselves and drive 15 whole minutes to a Regal with the nice reclining, leather seats. So why, if I love going to the movies so much, had I never been to Cornell Cinema? Last week I sauntered into the basement of Willard Straight to talk with Cornell Cinema manager Doug McLaren. I didn’t lie to him — I’d never ventured below the Ivy Room, so he graciously showed me around.
Cornell Cinema inaugurates a new 3-D projection system Friday night with the post-apocalyptic film Mad Max: Fury Road.
In 2016, Cornell Cinema received a capital equipment grant from the New York State Council on the Arts offering the campus theatre half of the installation cost for a 3-D system. A crowdfunding campaign launched in November matched the funds — remarkably quickly — and the Friday night show will be its first run. For many people, myself included, 3-D film still feels new. Cornell Cinema hopes to share the medium’s weighted cinematic history. The first 3-D exhibition dates back to 1915 and, since that time, the stereoscopic method attracts Hollywood, independent, documentary, foreign and experimental film productions.
Car speakers emit radio waves with a long travel logged history. When we turn up the dial on a finger-worn sound system, our heads bop to a sound bit morphed into electromagnetic energy — a wave particle caught up in the ionosphere, thrust back down again and ricocheted at the speed of light from one aerial antenna to the next. By the time these notes reach our numb ears, they carry more than empty air. Once our carpool starts singing the lyrics, we’ve forgotten even what station transmits each new note. The next best single transports our minds like the long-form radio wave — away from car parts and gasoline, beyond wired batteries and tuning dial.
If reality television existed in the 1930s, the Marx Brothers may be remembered today as the male antecedent to Keeping Up with the Kardashians. Where the brothers blossomed from vaudeville to Broadway to motion pictures to television comedies, the Kardashians continue to progress from independently produced sex tape to accredited reality series to “Kourtney and Khloe take Miami” to the Kylie Jenner Lip Kit. The two families take very different approaches on theatrical dramas and elicit laughter, shock and imitation for none of the same reasons. Regardless, Minnie Marx, mother to Chico, Harpo, Groucho, Gummo and Zeppo, may have inspired Kris Jenner to her momager role. Minnie, an actress in her own right, led her sons to the limelight with a little more talent and a lot more clothing than her modern day match.
Contemplating the concept of existence leaves room for many questions. What does it mean to exist? Is there a difference between living and being alive? What is happiness? We can define what it means to be alive, at least in the scientific sense: we breathe to pump oxygen to our hearts; we consume nutrients to keep our bodies functioning. But, in order to define the existential state of living, we must go beyond this corporal aspect, something that may require personal will and enlightenment. You, the Living a Swedish film playing at Cornell Cinema this weekend, is a somewhat surrealist attempt to illustrate “the living,” people who are alive but who tread a fine line between dream and reality, between being alive and being something else altogether.
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.