Last updateWed, 24 Feb 2021 1pm


Volume 87 (Fall 2015 - Spring 2016)

Greta Gerwig Shines in “Mistress America”

Mistress AmericaAn article I read on Indiewire heralded Amy Schumer’s Trainwreck and Noah Baumbach’s/Greta Gerwig’s Mistress America as the revisionist screwball comedies of our generation, or at least of this summer. In these cases, I refuse to refer to Trainwreck as director Judd Apatow’s film. Though I found the film to be mostly devoid of laughs, any point during which the film could be even remotely funny is completely independent of him and due to Schumer’s so-so screenplay and Bill Hader’s wonderful performance. 

It is in these cases, however, that Mistress America fully belongs to co-writers Baumbach and Gerwig, the former directing with a precision and warmth rare among independent filmmakers today and the latter starring and bringing soul to the film. Baumbach has been making films for twenty years, starting off with Kicking & Screaming—not you, Will Ferrell—which brought together upper class protagonists who articulate with wit and fierceness, and who act as if they had all the time in the world to spar verbosely. Though that film is wonderful, it’s not difficult to understand why people might find the characters insufferable and thus turn away from it. 

Since the creative pairing between Gerwig and Baumbach, however, and since the effervescent Frances Ha in 2012, things have taken a warmer, more incisive and very down-to-earth turn. This all comes together in their newest film, Mistress America, which is a film that perhaps begins and ends too quickly, and thus feels more like an exercise. It also feels like an idea that needed to be gotten out of their heads before they lost the passion for it, and thus you can sense which scenes they enjoyed writing and filming most, lending to the film an uneven and sloppy quality. 

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“Hamilton” Premieres to Rave Reviews

HamiltonOn Aug. 6, Broadway’s newest sensation Hamilton opened to nothing but stellar reports and five-star reviews and praise from critics everywhere. Opening night—along with most other performances that followed—was sold out, and over 700 people lined the block in the hopes of winning lottery tickets.

Hamilton boasts an all-star cast, led by Lin-Manuel Miranda, who previously starred in and wrote In The Heights. Miranda was also responsible for the creation of Hamilton—he found inspiration in Ron Chernow’s biography “Alexander Hamilton,” and, upon finding out that nobody had ever written a musical on the historic figure, began working on the project. It would take him seven years to complete.

Other cast members include Philippa Soo as Elizabeth Schuyler-Hamilton (Hamilton’s wife), Renee Elise Goldberry as Angelica Schuyler-Church (Elizabeth’s sister, and Hamilton’s possible mistress), Leslie Odom Jr. as Aaron Burr, Johnathon Groff as King George, Daveed Diggs as Thomas Jefferson/Marquis de Lafayette, and Christopher Jackson as George Washington. Once a week, Miranda’s understudy Javier Munoz plays the role of Hamilton.

One of the most interesting concepts of the show is the color-blind casting that was used. Hamilton, Jefferson, Washington, and other Caucasian historical figures are now played by black and Hispanic actors, a move that Miranda said was intentional and should not require any suspension of disbelief.

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Taylor Swift Launches “1989” World Tour

T SwiftIt’s hard to label Taylor Swift’s 1989 World Tour as a concert. To some, myself included, it felt more like a two-hour emotional rollercoaster, a motivational speech, dance party, and religious experience.  When you enter the arena of one of Swift’s concerts there is something different about the atmosphere, almost as if you’re about to be wiped clean of any problems or curveballs life has been throwing at you lately. You are now in an environment surrounded by people who just get it.  Whether they are new to the fan base or have been by Swift’s side since “Mary’s Song,” every Swiftie will enjoy her newest venture, solidifying her status as an icon.   

Throughout her ground breaking, 80’s-infused, juggernaut of a tour, Swift has had a slew of chart-topping and runway-worthy guests.  From Alanis Morissette to The U.S. Women’s Soccer Team, Swift’s mission to share the stage with as many talented performers as possible is making some incredible strides. 

As wonderful and exciting as these guests are, nothing compares to Swift herself. With her years of small coffee shops and county fairs far behind her, Swift is a full grown stadium performer; it’s hard to imagine her playing any other way at this point. While I am very lucky to have seen her at both small intimate performances as well as Madison Square Garden crowds, nothing compares to the way she has carried herself throughout this tour.    

“Feel so Close” by the ever-so-charming Calvin Harris fades out and the lights in the arena dim, Swift appears and shouts, “Welcome to New York” and we’re off. The screams pierce your eardrums as Swift makes her way to the stage and begins her long strides down the never-ending cat walk. 

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“The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” is a Must-See Action Flick

UNCLEOn Aug. 14, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., based on the original television series, was released to theaters. I’m typically not an action fan, but decided to see it, because, well, Henry Cavill. But fortunately I really enjoyed the film and its interesting twists (and that’s coming from a non-action fan).

I had never seen the original show prior to the movie, so I wasn’t exactly sure what was going to happen. I read the basic description on IMDB, which said that “In the early 1960s, CIA agent Napoleon Solo and KGB operative Illya Kuryakin participate in a joint mission against a mysterious criminal organization, which is working to proliferate nuclear weapons.”

The opening scene is set in East Berlin, 1963, where Napoleon Solo (Cavill) makes his way to a mechanic shop in search of a woman named Gaby Teller (Alicia Vikander). Gaby’s father is being ordered to create an atom bomb for Nazis, and Solo needs Gaby’s help getting to her family. In return, Solo will sneak her out of East Berlin. The two are followed by a Russian man, who turns out to be Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer), Solo’s future partner.

Solo and Kuryakin are brought together for a mission. Kuryakin and Gaby will pose as fiancés and Solo as an antiquities dealer. There’s a “family business,” which Gaby’s uncle Rudi works for, that is believed to be a cover up in Rome, Italy. By getting to the family and accessing Gaby’s father through her uncle Rudi, the three of them will get to the bottom of it.

Towards the end of the film, we learn that one person involved in the trio hasn’t been completely reliable, which results in the capture of another. After several action-packed scenes, fights, and explosions, we are left with an interesting ending (during which someone finally uses an “uncle” reference). 

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Mini Recaps of This Summer’s Mega Movies

AvengersThis summer brought us a huge amount of movies, but what was worth seeing? Here are a few snapshots of the good and the bad from this past season.

The Avengers: Age of Ultron

This sequel was a well-crafted story bolstered by an amazing cast. The chemistry between the titular heroes (and heroine) really shined through, creating a relatable group that is as great during downtime as they are on the battlefield. The Avengers find themselves facing Ultron, an advanced AI bent on wiping out mankind, who is flanked by Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch. Even the slower moments of the movie are enjoyable, as they include a post-battle party where Thor lets the others try to lift his hammer, and a far more depressing scene where the crew tries to shake off the after-effects of Scarlet Witch’s mind control.

The visual effects were, as with The Avengers, impressive, and the budget was clearly high, though the sound felt lackluster and the music was forgettable. There were also a few predictable fatal flaws that screwed characters over in dramatic but clichéd ways. Overall, a 9.5 out of 10 viewing experience.

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