Last Sunday afternoon, overcome by a mid-April winter storm, eager audience members packed into Ridgewood Commons to see a dance performance from Toxic.
The biopic is a Hollywood hallmark, and like all hallmarks, it is rife with clichés: the lovable protagonist with whom you side, the uplifting ending and the agreeable supporting characters. A biopic lacking these elements is hard to find, and those without them are rarely successful. But “I, Tonya,” Craig Gillespie’s unorthodox portrayal of the life of American figure skater Tonya Harding, is a biopic that leaves all the typical boxes unchecked, making for a deliciously dark comedy.
Every year, with the arrival of the fall and winter months, we are blessed with a surplus of fantastic films which showcase directors, actors, cinematographers and composers at the height of their respective crafts. Last year gave us Guillermo del Toro’s monster masterpiece, “The Shape of Water,” Luca Guadagnino’s “Call Me By Your Name” and Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Phantom Thread,” which features three-time Oscar-winning actor Daniel Day-Lewis in what may very well be his final role; just a few months ago, the veteran thespian announced his retirement.
There is an effervescent joy that arises in the body when one witnesses a masterpiece of cinema unfold before their very eyes. It is an almost overwhelming sensation. Luca Guadagnino’s “Call Me By Your Name,” an adaptation of André Aciman’s debut novel of the same title, is a rare gem that evokes such emotions.
The biggest stumbling block in this production was that it failed to elevate its source material in any way. Now, not all shows must elevate their source material. However, in the case of “Once Upon a Mattress,” a show with an incredibly juvenile premise, one might have hoped that a university production team would have attempted to inject some relevance into the show for its target audience to respond to.
David Gordon-Green’s “Stronger,” encompasses the recovery of Boston bombing survivor Jeff Bauman, who became a reluctant hero in the aftermath of the tragedy. It is neither masterful nor mediocre, and is most certainly not formulaic. It is, simply, a true story told well and told differently than its biopic brethren.
Annual variety show showcases student abilities and talents outside of the classroom.
Thankfully, the theater department’s fall production of Maria Irene Fornes’ “Fefu and Her Friends,” directed by Prof. Adrianne Krstansky (THA), falls into the category of good productions. However, while the production itself is finely executed, its source material weighs it down unbearably.
This past Tuesday, students, faculty and friends of Brandeis University eagerly filed into Wasserman Cinematheque for a special screening of documentarian Vanessa Gould’s latest film “Obit,” which follows the day-to-day life of writers in the obituary department at the New York Times.