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Review: "Vice" is a dramatic, complex look at an American villain

(01/10/19 7:35am)

Adam McKay seems to have something of an obsession with the American culture of corruption and excess. After his masterfully quirky 2015 film “The Big Short” about the 2008 financial collapse, the writer and director has now turned his sharp, sardonic eye toward former U.S. vice president Dick Cheney. The aptly titled “Vice” is something of an exposé on the infamously secretive Cheney, revealing how president George W. Bush’s VP connived his way into becoming one of the most powerful vice-presidents in American history. While the film doesn’t quite match the sheer brilliance and impact of “The Big Short,” “Vice” is still an impressive piece of filmmaking that displays McKay’s distinctively strange and sarcastic style of writing and directing.

“Neapolitan Quartet” is an immersive look at a female friendship

(01/08/19 7:25am)

Italian writer Elena Ferrante’s operatic Neapolitan Quartet, a series that spans four volumes and six decades of friendship, traces the intertwined lives of characters Lila and Lenù. The series begins with Lenù and Lila’s childhood as they grow up in a poor Neapolitan neighborhood and traces their subsequent lives as wives, mothers and ultimately lonely old women. The quartet is a series of cyclical events encapsulated in a larger cyclical narrative structure. The first book of the series, entitled “My Brilliant Friend,” opens at the fourth book’s close. Rino, Lila’s son, telephones Lenù to tell her that his mother has gone missing. At the end of the final book, entitled “The Story of a Lost Child,” there is no answer as to where Lila has disappeared. However, Ferrante writes such a thorough description of Lila’s character and psyche throughout the series that, in the final book, it makes sense as to why she erased herself. It seems not to matter where she’s gone. Lila is mean, whip-smart and down-trodden — how could she not want to disappear, how could she not want to melt into what she calls the “dissolving boundaries” of her complicated world?

Review: ‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’ cannot have it all

(01/08/19 7:35am)

Last June, Australian comedian Hannah Gadsby released her Netflix stand-up special “Nanette.” The show received critical acclaim and an entire literature of think-pieces, not because it was especially funny or because the jokes were radical (although they were), but because Gadsby used her special to question what it means to use self-deprecating comedy as a woman, a queer individual and as an “other” who exists in the margins.

‘Mary Queen of Scots’ wastes potential due to choppy writing

(01/08/19 7:30am)

In his video “Ludonarrative Dissonance,” film essayist Dan Olson advocates the use of the term “Cinemanarrative Dissonance.” The term describes when an aspect of a film flounders because two or more creative departments did competent work that was nevertheless contradictory due to the lack of a strong, unified vision for the overall product. “Mary Queen of Scots” is full of competent, occasionally even inspired, moments that nonetheless collapse because the film is the new poster child for cinemanarrative dissonance. The film is never truly terrible because everyone in front of and behind the camera is trying; they just never seem to be on the same page.

Review: 'Bandersnatch' opens up new possibilities for stories

(01/06/19 8:51pm)

I’ll be the first to admit it — I am not a gamer. I don’t know much about any specific kind of game, about the world of gaming or of gamers in general. In my rather narrowly-construed mind, video games have been limited to the chaotic fantasy reality of multiplayer games such as “World of Warcraft,” or the brutally one-note first person shooting games à la “Call of Duty.”

Review: ‘Crimes of Grindelwald’ is another disappointment

(01/03/19 7:00am)

Two years ago, I was in the minority when I declared “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” to be less than the sum of its parts. Eddie Redmayne was genuinely fantastic as the unassuming, socially awkward protagonist Newt Scamander, and he continues to shine in the sequel, “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.” Moreover, when the first film embraces the whimsical tone inherent to Scamander’s story, it works. Just as often, though, it gets buried in what I described in an old The Dartmouth review as “dour subplots,” most of them revolving around the terrorist reign of dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald, played by Johnny Depp. As the title of the sequel might suggest, the film goes full dark, ditching any possible whimsy as fast as possible. It also ditches compelling character motivation, flowing plot structure and just about everything else that once made the “Harry Potter” stories and their subsequent adaptations and spin-offs so beloved.

‘Coriolanus’ events bring learning opportunities for students

(11/13/18 7:00am)

This coming interim period, the play “Coriolanus” will be performed in the Hopkins Center for the Arts by the acclaimed Stratford Theatre Company, based in Stratford, Ontario. Students from the film, theatrer and English departments will collaborate with the Hopkins Center in order to bring this event to campus and integrate the arts more deeply with student life at the College. Throughout the month of November, a myriad of events related with “Coriolanus” will take place, which will often be directed and conducted by the renowned actors from the company. With this opportunity, students and members of the greater Hanover community will be able to enjoy activities and performances that will stand out from the other events that the Hopkins Center has sponsored in the past due to high cast engagement.

Review: 'Free Solo' portrays the heartbreaking costs of triumpth

(11/13/18 7:05am)

In Yosemite Valley, a massive rock formation looms over the sweeping vistas of picturesque splendor. Known as El Capitan, it towers 3000 feet high and commands the attention of all who pass by. For years, one member of that rapt audience has looked at El Capitan with a particularly audacious intent: to climb the sheer granite wall with no ropes, gear or safety equipment.

The Dartmouth Symphony Orchestra goes on tour in Italy

(11/13/18 4:18pm)

The Dartmouth Symphony Orchestra is tired. The ensemble has rehearsed intensely in preparation for their concert, which was held this past Saturday, and the next item on their agenda, a tour of Italy, is this upcoming interim period. At the concert, the DSO, under the direction of the Florentine-born conductor Filippo Ciabatti, played Leonard Bernstein’s “Candide Overture,” Mahler’s Symphony No. 5 and William Grant Still’s “Romance for Trombone and Orchestra” in Spaulding Auditorium.

Students and professors remember playwright Ntozake Shange

(11/08/18 7:00am)

In May of 2016, Carene Mekertichyan ’16 made her dream into a reality when her senior project, a production of the late Ntozake Shange’s Obie Award-winning play and choreopoem “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf” was performed for the greater Dartmouth community. Shange, who passed away on Oct. 27 at the age of 70 after suffering health problems, made a significant impact on Mekertichyan since her first encounter with the playwright’s work in middle school. Mekertichyan remembered the women in Shange’s work as she got older and grew into her capacity to understand the depth of Shange’s creation.

Review: Robert Redford shines in ‘The Old Man and the Gun’

(11/08/18 7:10am)

When I saw “The Old Man and the Gun” last weekend at The Nugget, I was easily one of the youngest people in the audience. The advanced age of the packed crowd was a surprise at first, but upon consideration, it makes sense why this movie appealed so much more to an older demographic; it’s supposedly Robert Redford’s last performance before his acting retirement. The older members of the crowd had most likely grown up with Redford as one of the most celebrated actors of their time — of all time, maybe — and now, in this small theater in Hanover, they were witnessing the last movie he’d ever act in.

Music resident Mamadou Diabate connects language to music

(11/02/18 6:00am)

West African musician and music department resident Mamadou Diabaté tells the students in his Music 17.06 course “The Language-Music Connection” the origin story of the balafon, which is a wooden West African instrument similar to a xylophone. Diabaté said that the balafon was not created, but rather gifted. Legend has it that a man walked up to a bush and began conferring with spirits, who then gave the man the balafon and taught him how to play. Each time Diabaté plays the balafon, he commences with a few notes in homage to the ancestors and spirits who allow for his knowledge of the instrument. Music is integrally tied to the myth-history and cultural heritage of the Sambla people, a small West African grouping in Burkina Faso that is in possession of an endangered language and of which Diabaté is a member.

Author Ted Chiang speaks on ethics of speculative technology

(11/01/18 6:00am)

The Ethics Institute of Dartmouth hosted author Ted Chiang for a talk entitled “Technology and the Narrative of the Self” on Tuesday as part of the Dorsett Fellowship Lecture Series, which seeks to bring “practitioners and scholars of ethics” to campus, according to government professor Sonu Bedi, director of the Ethics Institute.