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Boris’ Kitchen held its annual Fall Fest two weeks ago at the Shapiro Campus Center, hosting four different sketch comedy groups from neighboring universities. They did two shows that weekend, one on Friday one on Saturday. I attended Friday’s, where Boris’ Kitchen shared Act One with Emerson College’s Jimmy’s Traveling All-Stars and Boston University’s The Callbacks. That following Saturday, they invited Skidmore’s Sketchies and Tufts’ “The Institute.” The sketches in Act Two were all written by Boris’ Kitchen members, with Perry Letourneau ’20 and Anderson Stinson ’21 serving as co-directors this year.
Earlier this month, the Introduction to Creativity, the Arts, and Social Transformation class hosted a screening at the Wasserman Cinematheque in place of a lecture. The Nov. 6 class screened “Because of the War,” a documentary about four female singers who immigrated to the United States to escape the civil war occuring in their homeland, Liberia. The war caused a mass migration of refugees toward the neighboring countries of Ivory Coast and Sierra Leone. The four women, Tokay, Zaye, Marie and Fatu, all found themselves in Pittsburgh’s Liberian community. Anthropologist Toni Shapiro-Phim, who attended the screening, documented their individual stories as director of the feature.
To rubberneck is to get a better view of an accident out of morbid curiosity as you pass it by. Last week in the Shapiro Campus Center Theater, you might say I was rubbernecking. From Nov. 15th-18th, the Undergraduate Theater Collective produced “Godspell,” directed by Nate Rtishchev ’21. The 1971 musical was written by John Michael Tebelak, with music by Stephen Schwartz. It is structured as a series of parables based on the Gospel of Matthew, with lyrics borrowed from traditional hymns.
I never thought there would be bubbly energy in my biochemistry classroom. Everyone sitting in the audience was ready to have a good time as members of Brandeis’ improv troupe, To Be Announced, walked in along with the members of Bad Grammer in their joint show “Brains vs. Brawn.” While I wouldn’t normally agree to being in a science building more than I have to, I’m glad I did last Saturday. In all my time at Brandeis I’ve never attended an improv show, so I was anticipating something fun and new.
“Bad Times at the El Royale” is a recently released film with a stellar cast, an acclaimed writer and an intriguing 1970s aesthetic. The movie takes place at the titular hotel and features eight strangers: a young concierge, a priest, a blues singer, a sleazy vacuum salesman, a rebellious young woman, her sister and a cult leader. The group finds themselves trapped when a storm surges overhead, and their secrets are revealed in a hotel chock-full of its own secrets.
The Department of African and African American Studies (AAAS) hosted a screening of Spike Lee’s latest film “BlacKkKlansman” at the Intercultural Center last Thursday. The movie is based on a true story about Ron Stallworth, an African American man, who joined the Colorado Springs police department in the 1970s. Once accepted, he infiltrates the local Ku Klux Klan chapter over the phone by impersonating a white man who feels enthusiastic about joining the nefarious organization. The chapter president then invites Stallworth to meet, prompting the officer to enlist his Jewish colleague’s help to be his surrogate. The two use their positions to prevent any violent acts against Colorado Springs’ growing African American civil rights movement, which is led by Stallworth’s love interest in the film, Patrice.
Last week, Brandeis’ sketch comedy group, Boris’ Kitchen, held its annual “Shit Show” in Mandel. The show reused sketches that had been performed in previous years and were written by former members, which meant that all of the sketches were at least four years old. Though the director, Claudia Davis ’19, prefaced the show with a warning about some sketches being a little tone deaf, they went over well with the audience.
The University’s Film, Television and Interactive Media Program hosted a screening in Wasserman Cinematheque of Paul Weitz’s “Bel Canto,” a film adaptation of its 2001 namesake thriller by Ann Patchett, on the eve of the movie’s release on Amazon Prime. Based on a real 1996-97 hostage crisis in Lima, Peru, the film takes place in a Vice-Presidential manor that is overrun by Latin American freedom fighters. The wealthy dinner guests are trapped by hostile guerilla fighters in a house with little to do. With their lives left in the hands of a Red Cross negotiator, sparks fly, relationships are formed and secrets are revealed. The screening was made possible due to producer and Brandeis alumna Caroline Baron ’83.
This was a year of box office records. “Black Panther” became the ninth-highest grossing film of all time with a $1.3 billion take; “Incredibles 2” became the highest non-PG-13 grosser of all time besides a list of box office records in the animation genre; “Avengers: Infinity War” conquered theaters worldwide with a claim on the $2 billion milestone. Additionally, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor,” the deep dive into the life of beloved children’s entertainer Fred Rogers, became the top-grossing biographical documentary of all time at $20 million. Average per-screen grosses were also very impressive with the releases of “Eighth Grade,” “Sorry to Bother You,” “BlacKkKlansman,” and the 50th anniversary re-release of “2001: A Space Odyssey.”
Critic loves this season's films Kent Dinlenc While the past few months have been devoid of the indie films I was anticipating, I was pleasantly surprised by what has been released. I have spouted enough praise for “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” and thoroughly reviewed 2017 as a whole, so I’ve decided to solely cover the films that came out during the spring semester.
Ridgewood A was packed with great performances from groups of various branches of the arts. However, my favorite would have to be the Music and Dance Band. Their renditions of pop favorites across decades energized the room. Director Steven Tarr ’19 arranged “Jet,” as played by Maynard Ferguson, “Baba Yetu” by Christopher Tin, “Temple of Boom” by Lucky Chops, “Africa” by Toto and “The Saints Go Marching In.” Tarr, his co-director Matthew Kowalyk ’18 and their 10 or so players put its audience in a mood that made you forget about the gloomy weather outside. Despite the fact that “Africa” has had a recent resurgence in popularity, you could hear the audience singing along to the primarily brass band performed their best during “Temple of Boom,” creating an apt atmosphere for the Ridgewood A Commons with strong trombone and tenor sax solos. The hallmark of a great performance is when the performers are having just as much fun as the audience, and you could clearly observe the group’s passion and dedication to their music. Catch them at the Midnight Buffet if you haven’t heard them yet.
Children dancing. Students dancing. Adults dancing. Grandparents dancing. This was the effect Kotoko Brass had on its audience in the tent on the Great Lawn last Sunday. The group performed blends of West African, Japanese and American styles of music with a saxophone player, a trombone player, a keyboard player, a drummer on a traditional drum set and two men playing various types of African drums. The atmosphere was electric. My fingers were moving to the beat of the drums as I typed away messages dragging people into the tent. The music boomed across the Great Lawn through the drizzle. The musicians went on 5-minute-long solos over steady drumming beats, but the fun really started when the drummers themselves began their solos. There was not a frown in the tent. Everyone enjoyed themselves and had a great time dancing and tapping their feet during what I feel was the best performance of the festival that I attended last week.
Shakespeare. Rowling. Tolkien. King. Seuss. What do all of these writers have in common? They are all eclipsed by the iconic Agatha Christie in estimated book sales, who herself is only outsold by the Bible. Christie’s renowned standalone whodunits, as well as her Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot series, have shaped the mystery genre since she began writing in 1920. Her novels have been adapted countless times into acclaimed TV series, feature films and stage plays. On April 14, the Undergraduate Theater Collective put on a production of “And Then There Were None,” one of her most famous novels, which she later adapted for the stage. It is currently the best-selling crime novel of all time. The production was directed by Merrick Mendenhall ’20.
This weekend, Brandeis’ Undergraduate Theater Collective presented the classic Disney musical “Beauty and the Beast,” directed by Maia Cataldo ’20. The show was a faithful production of the Alan Menken musical adapted from the 1991 animated film of the same name. The fantasy romance is based on the French fairy tale by Jeanne-Marie LePrince de Beaumont and tells the story of Belle, a girl who is ostracized for her academic inclinations. She runs off into the woods to look for her father, who is imprisoned in a cursed castle. All of the castle’s inhabitants have been turned into household objects, unable to assume their human forms until their master, who has been transformed into a beast, finds true love.
On March 12, the American Studies program hosted a film screening of the 1985 Hector Babenco film “Kiss of the Spider Woman.” The program borrowed the 35-mm film from the Library of Congress and was brought to us by its Academy Award-nominated producer, David Weisman, and his brother, Sam Weisman. It was screened for Planet Hollywood: American Cinema in Global Perspective, taught by Prof. Thomas Doherty (AMST), but was open to all students.
The Brandeis Shakespeare Society, also known as Hold Thy Peace, put on an adaptation of playwright Ellen McLaughlin’s “Iphigenia and Other Daughters” this past weekend in the Shapiro Campus Center. The story revolves around a family of women in ancient Greece who are left behind by the men in their lives who have traditionally defined them, focusing on the lives that are swept to the sides of history to make way for the men. McLaughlin’s take on the aftermath of Iphigenia’s sacrifice to the gods delves deep into the thoughts of Iphigenia, her mother and two sisters.
The Center for German and European Studies hosted a film night at the Wasserman Cinematheque on Feb. 28. The department screened “Fukushima Mon Amour,” a film following a 20-something German woman travelling to the site of the 2011 nuclear meltdown caused by a magnitude 9.0 earthquake. She goes to an adjacent temporary residence to entertain the remaining citizens who insisted on staying in their hometown. When she is tricked into bringing an old geisha back to her destroyed home a few kilometers away, the two rebuild the house in an attempt to escape their past mistakes.