Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
August 10, 2020

Arts & Entertainment




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Andy Samberg stars in NBC’s Brooklyn 99, which covers topical issues.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine explores #MeToo

It is often quite easy to relegate sitcoms to the realm of silly TV shows, purely there for our mindless enjoyment. Often, that is what they are on the surface. In part because of this very role, they are able to take advantage of their platform to counter our expectations and examine society with directness and insight. The usually lighthearted tone of most sitcoms lends any serious topics even further heft by virtue of contrast. We can be reminded that even in spaces that bring us the most enjoyment, the world is not perfect, and we should not assume that it always will be.


Tournées Film Festival continues with Jaguar

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. 


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Simon Armitage performed an array of poems at latest reading series.

Poet Simon Armitage bridges comedy and tragedy

Having read some of poet Simon Armitage’s works, I was excited to see him read his poems in person on Tuesday, Feb. 26 as part of the Albert Dowling Visiting Lecturer reading series organized by the Writing Seminars Department. Little did I know that the readings would surpass my already high expectations by miles due to the astonishing range and impact of Armitage’s work. 


Bill Ebbesen/ CC by 3.0
The singer Robyn is best known for the songs “Dancing On My Own” and “Call  Your Girlfriend.”

The joy in watching Robyn’s epic return to music

I first heard Robyn roughly six years ago as the opener for Coldplay on their Mylo Xyloto tour in my hometown of Charlotte, N.C. With her quirky costume, idiosyncratic choreography and dance-y tracks, she didn’t necessarily seem like a natural fit to go with Coldplay (who were just beginning to transition into their more pop-heavy phase). 


Peter Bruun exhibits 1000 love letters

Peter Bruun is a Denmark-born artist and current Baltimore resident. After losing his 24-year-old daughter Elisif Janis to a heroin overdose in February 2014, he turned his devastation into art with the overwhelming support of  those around him. His loss became the start of the development of a new exhibition, though he was working on his previous exhibition Autumn Leaves at the time of her passing. 


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Rami Malek took home the Best Leading Actor Oscar last Sunday night.

Best moments of first hostless Oscars in 30 years

I’d like to thank the Academy... and I’d also like to admit that I am not qualified to write an article about the 91st Academy Awards. First of all, I’m an uncouth piglet (never say “uncultured swine” again); RBG is the only film nominated for an Oscar this year that I’ve seen. (I am utterly disappointed that it didn’t win Best Documentary.) In a similar vein, when I told someone I was going to cover the Oscars for The News-Letter, he strongly implied that I wasn’t fit to comment on red carpet fashion because I don’t wear designer clothing.


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Kamasi Washington created the film to accompany his new jazz album.

As Told to G/D Thyself explores local music

Kamasi Washington’s film As Told to G/D Thyself screened at the Parkway Theatre on Friday, Feb. 21. The saxophonist, band leader and torch-bearer of contemporary jazz made the film following the release of his conceptual two-part album Heaven and Earth. Washington explained during the interview portion of the night how he decided on the visual accompaniment to the music.


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Ellen Page stars as Vanya in Netflix’s newest superhero-action series Umbrella Academy.

Netflix’s new super-series Umbrella Academy may be its best yet

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.


Courtesy of Benjamin Strauss

Throat Culture impresses with physical comedy

It’s strange to go to a comedy show and come out having discovered a new fear: the fear that the person sitting next to you is actually a part of the performance. I grappled with this fear for the first time when a surprisingly friendly Russian-accented fellow tapped me on the shoulder, asked if he could sit next to me, politely asked me how I was doing and asked me whether I had ever been to a Throat Culture show before. 


Courtesy of Charlotte Wood
Pinegrove, an indie rock band, performed at the Black Cat in D.C. on Thursday, February 21.

Indie rock band Pinegrove hits D.C. on tour of new album

When it comes to music, most people like to date around, listening to lots of different artists at once. My relationship with music is generally monogamous. I find an artist whose music I love, and I make a commitment. I’ll listen to an album for weeks at a time until I know all of the lyrics. But this doesn’t happen very often; so when I saw that Pinegrove, one of my most recent loves, was going to be playing at Black Cat in D.C., I knew I had to go. Even though I saw the tickets almost two months in advance, I still bought them immediately — I wasn’t going to miss this.


Car Seat Headrest celebrates re-release of their 2011 album

Indie-rock troop Car Seat Headrest, led by singer-songwriter Will Toledo, played at Rams Head Live on Feb. 17 as they continued the second North American leg of their tour celebrating the re-release of their 2011 classic, Twin Fantasy. As an avid music fan, to say I had never been to a concert in my life was near blasphemy. So when I saw my favorite band coming to Baltimore on the day before my 20th birthday, I had no choice but to book some tickets.


Courtesy of Tiffany Hu
G Jones toured his debut album The Ineffable Truth on Friday, Feb. 15 in Philadelphia.

G Jones’ tour smartly combines visuals and sound

On Friday, February 15, I traveled to Philadelphia to see G Jones on tour for his debut album The Ineffable Truth. I had seen G Jones live three times prior to this show, but this would be my first time seeing him headlining. I had been anticipating it for months.


Witness Theater’s I-show showcases student work

I got the chance to interview some of the writers and directors involved in the Witness Theater’s 2019 Intersession Showcase on Saturday, February 16. Every semester, the Witness Theater performs four plays, each written and directed by students, that gravitate around a central theme, idea or location. This year, the central location of every play was an art gallery. Even within those limits, the plays — The Importance of Being Terry, Art Isn’t Dead, Montana and Framed — all had styles that differed starkly from one another, ranging from comedy to drama and each expressing the unique voices of the directors and writers who worked on them. 


Public Domain
New documentary Minding the Gap exposes personal stories of skateboarders.

In Minding the Gap, skateboarding is not just a hobby

I am neither an avid skateboarder nor a Tony Hawk skateboard fanatic, but in the past few years, I’ve grown increasingly interested in the subculture’s influence on fashion, arts and the community it holds together. Skateboard videos have claimed their own unique niche in the world of social media, where young, talented individuals showcase their tricks in oddly satisfying clips that are edited to match trending hip-hop songs. 



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Actor Suraj Sharma features in Happy Death Day’s new sequel.

Sequel to Happy Death Day is an unexpected success

From the writer of all those Paranormal Activity sequels comes yet another horror movie sequel, Happy Death Day 2U. It feels like an odd combination of the time-loop films we know fairly well at this point — basically, a crazed science project, countless physics theories that will register as alien to non-majors and a psycho killer in a baby mask equals a flood of weirdness, inconsistencies and a copious amount of blood.


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Charli XCX many of her popular hits on February 18 at Rams Head Live.

Charli XCX disappoints crowd at Ram's Head

When I saw that Charli XCX was putting on a concert in Baltimore with tickets selling for only $22, that ticket was in my cart almost faster than I could read the offer. With so many of her songs topping my middle school playlists, it would have felt dishonest to do anything else.


Isn’t it Romantic fails to fully subvert expectations

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.


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