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For the life of me, I cannot figure out why Disney decided to add Dumbo to its list of live-action adaptations. It’s easy to understand why they remade Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast; the films are so deeply ingrained in our cultural childhood that it is difficult to imagine a world in which the remakes weren’t successful. Dumbo, on the other hand, is nowhere near as popular a character, and his story seems like it wouldn’t translate very well to a more realistic film.
As the first movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) to center on a female superhero/protagonist, Captain Marvel has been placed in the unfortunate predicament of having to justify its existence. Prior to its release, the film was subjected to a fairly significant smear campaign online, to the point that review website Rotten Tomatoes was forced to block users from leaving negative reviews before they even had the chance to see the film. Having actually watched the movie, I can confidently say that Captain Marvel is a perfectly average superhero flick. It might not rise to the heights of Black Panther or Thor: Ragnarok, but Captain Marvel is an enjoyable, if somewhat shallow, film and a fine addition to the MCU canon.
As part of the ongoing Tournées Film Festival, the Department of German and Roman Languages hosted a viewing of Jaguar on Sunday, March 4. The festival aims to expose students to the full breadth of the French cinematic experience, and Jaguar is a particularly interesting and diverse inclusion. The film depicts life in the states that comprised French West Africa during the end of colonial control and the onset of independence, and it provides a complex interpretation of the de-colonization. It is a lovely film that has left behind a legacy of inspiration and more than deserves its spot in the festival’s lineup.
Netflix is no stranger to the gritty superhero genre. If you’ve seen Jessica Jones or Daredevil (both of which were recently cancelled), then you know that the streaming service knows how to create compelling drama out of the spandex and superpowers that define the heroes of Marvel and DC. The first season of Umbrella Academy, which was released on Feb. 15, is Netflix’s best outing in the genre to date. It perfectly balances the aesthetic of a superhero genre with the story of a family trying to overcome abuse and neglect, and the combination is definitely worth a watch.
If Isn’t It Romantic was a character in a romantic comedy, it would be the first-act love interest: attractive, charming, generally a nice enough guy, but the protagonist isn’t going to burst into the church at the last second to stop their wedding. The parody of romantic comedies/actual romantic comedy has some good jokes and a lot of heart, but its attempts to subvert the expectations of the genre, though admirable, often feel underdeveloped — especially in the film’s final moments. Still, for all of its flaws, Isn’t it Romantic finds a lot of humor and heart in the clichés and is ultimately a fairly enjoyable, if shallow, satire.
In honor of the recent transition into the Year of the Pig, the Walters Art Museum hosted a celebration of the Lunar New Year on Sunday, Feb. 10. The event featured a wide array of activities that balanced education with entertainment, such as a series of shows organized by local performance groups. All in all the Lunar New Year Celebration was a fun and family-friendly event that more than lived up to the high standards set by its predecessors.
The highlight of the opening ceremony for the Black Heritage Celebration on Friday, Feb. 1 was undoubtedly the poetry, though the conversation was lively and the hot chocolate provided some much needed warmth as well. To kickoff its year-round initiative to celebrate African-American history and culture, the Office of Multicultural Affairs invited a group of incredibly talented poets to read their work and reflect on the experiences of people of color in the United States. Through their unique voices and powerful poems, the three women who read crafted an experience that was equal parts thought-provoking and heart-breaking, and their performances formed a strong cornerstone for the rest of the event series.
Almost immediately after their respective releases, documentaries Fyre Fraud and Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened quickly attained a level of memetic popularity almost on the level of the titular music festival itself. Hulu’s decision to release Fyre Fraud the day before Netflix’s Fyre was slated to release quickly grabbed the internet’s attention, and the subsequent sniping between the two streaming platforms made the whole conflict even more enticing.
When Pose began airing earlier this year, it brought the ballroom culture — an underground pageant system for members of the LGBTQ community — into the mainstream consciousness like never before. For many, including myself, the show serves as an introduction to the history of the ballroom scene and the LGBTQ community that brought it to life.
As a student majoring in the two very different fields of Cognitive Science and Writing Seminars, I am fascinated by the ways that one area of study can be used to deepen our understanding of another, completely unrelated, subject. This is one of the reasons that I like the musical Hamilton so much; by pairing a historical narrative with a musical medium, Lin-Manuel Miranda has helped me retain more about the American Revolution than any history class has.
The most impressive aspect of Witness Theater’s 24-Hour Show was, unsurprisingly, the time limit. The act of writing and producing a show is incredibly daunting on its own, so the addition of such a short deadline almost seems like a cruel joke. Despite the time constraint, Witness’ most recent production — held on Saturday, Nov. 10, in Arellano Theater — had all the hallmarks of an excellent production. The jokes were funny, the acting was tight and the entire performance was a testament to the group’s creative talent.
One look at the title of Throat Culture’s most recent show on Saturday, Nov. 3, “A Not-Quite Halloween, Not-Quite Thanksgiving, Not-Quite Christmas Existential Crisis,” explains basically everything that you need to know about the performance. The comedy was as eclectic as usual, and it was never absolutely clear what the group would bring to the stage next.
In order to understand Little Shop of Horrors, you really only have to look at its main villain: a sentient, bloodthirsty plant named Audrey II. Despite its desire to eat as much human flesh as it can possibly get its hands on, Audrey II is also the show’s campiest character, just as likely to petulantly throw a tantrum as it is swallow a person whole. It never stops cracking jokes, even as it threatens to consume the entire human race.
In the moments before the show’s main act came on, the audience was filled with anxious anticipation. For the last 20 minutes, we’d been at the mercy of the opening act, who had led us all in a giant sing-along to gay anthems like “Barbie Girl” and “Part of Your World.” He was admittedly very talented and charming, and there was definitely a certain pleasure to blurting out the lyrics to “Party in the USA” while surrounded by drunken homosexuals, but it really wasn’t why any of us were there.
The Writing Seminars department hosted author Lorrie Moore — recipient of The Irish Times International Fiction Prize and the 2005 PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in the Short Story — for the latest event in the President’s Reading Series on Tuesday, Oct. 9. Moore read excerpts from both her fiction and nonfiction pieces, both of which demonstrate not only her fantastic talent for wordplay, but also her ability to combine both the grim and the bright into captivating and beautiful storytelling.
A couple of weeks ago, I started working my way through old episodes of Doctor Who to prepare myself for the upcoming season (and, more importantly, Jodie Whittaker’s role as the first female incarnation of the Doctor). Within the first episode, I was surprised to find how nostalgic the show made me feel.
There’s a strange combination of otherworldliness and intimacy that pervades Afro Punk Ballet. On one hand, the plot and staging is decidedly futuristic. The characters wear beautiful black spacesuit helmets as they interact with spirits under the light of two suns. On the other, for all of its science-fiction elements, the plot centers on a family struggling to come to terms with the actions and legacy of its patriarch. It’s a story that is relatable and incredibly moving. Though the two aspects might seem disparate, the writers and cast of Afro Punk Ballet have managed to create a compelling and unique production that truly thrives in that in-between.
Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof name drops its own title rather early on in the first act when a wife describes the pain of living with a husband who doesn’t love her back. In a way, all of the characters of Baltimore Center Stage’s most recent production are on their own tin roof. Some are lonely; some are unloved; but none of them know how to get down safely. Their attempts to find peace are clumsy and often almost painful to watch, but the show’s immense empathy for its characters makes it difficult to tear one’s eyes away from the stage.
A Simple Favor can best be understood by looking at its central characters. On the one hand, you have Stephanie (Anna Kendrick), a dedicated and overachieving single mother who runs a parenting vlog and is easily flustered whenever she ends up in an unusual or stressful situation. On the other, there’s Emily (Blake Lively), the foul-mouthed and wealthy best friend whose mysterious demeanor hides a host of dangerous secrets just beneath the surface. The unlikely friendship between the two drives much of the film’s plot, and A Simple Favor likewise tries to merge their characterizations into something that is equal parts wacky comedy and ominous thriller. However, although the film excels when it sticks to either end of the spectrum, it struggles to combine the two into a unified whole, resulting in a somewhat jarring film.