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Brandeis University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1949 | Waltham, MA

VoiceMale gets in the V-Day groove

 As Valentine’s Day comes around every February, we all look for songs to get us into a romantic mood. Often the songs are classical tunes — wordless, sometimes corny melodies replete with string sections. Very rarely, though, are Valentine’s Day songs lacking instruments. Brandeis’ all-male a cappella group VoiceMale sought to change that with its annual variety show “Lovapalooza,” which took place this past Saturday. “Lovapalooza,” however, delivered performances as diverse as the selection of discount candy after the holiday. 


Comedians challenge ’Deis PC culture

 This past Thursday evening, WBRS hosted its second comedy night this semester. Hosted by Josh Day, the event garnered a small, but lively audience.  Dim lighting, as per request of Day — who spent time fussing over the Goldilocks “just right” setting for lighting — set the tone of the evening. A larger-than-life poster of a somber-looking pup against the wall behind the stage added to this facetiously melancholy set. To start off the evening, Day joked that this was his dog, who he recently put down, and that a reminder of one’s dead childhood dog is a necessary component for laughter at a comedy show. The morbid, edging on macabre, theme of the first joke would continue throughout the night. 


Keaton reminds us to revisit the silent film era

 The screening of the 1924 film “Sherlock Jr.” was hosted by the History of Ideas program. The organizer, academic administrator Julie Seeger (PHIL), invited students and faculty to “A Night at the Movies,” one in a series of three movie nights throughout the semester. This first one was, in part, also a celebration of Prof. John Plotz’s (ENG) new book, “Semi-Detached: The Aesthetics of Virtual Experience since Dickens.”  


TBA is a must-see this semester

 On Wednesday evening, the TBA Improv and Sketch Comedy group put on its first show of the semester. From start to finish, the show was full of laughs; the audience, about 40 students, was drawn in for the entirety of the two hours.  


And the Oscar winners might be...

 I think Stephen Colbert said it best on The Late Show on Jan. 23, the night after the 90th annual Oscar nominations were announced: “There are no controversies over lack of diversity. …With no big Oscar snubs, who are we mad at?” While I don’t believe diversity is an indicator of quality, there are very few exceptions to this year’s nominees that I take issue with. It happens to be that the Oscars got most everything right this year. This growing inclusion is more a commentary on the industry than on the quality of the films released in 2017.  


Who doesn’t love a good ‘Quickie’?

 Anyone who has seen theater at Brandeis knows the hard work that theater students put into their performances, with several hours of rehearsal culminating in an elaborate performance. At the beginning of the spring semester, however, students perform plays that have only been rehearsed two or three times — and while they are very impressive, they have the unique element of being performed in under 10 minutes. 


Hamilton Morris on high (quality) filmmaking

  The speaker for the event was journalist and filmmaker Hamilton Morris, who shared season two, episode six of his show, “Hamilton’s Pharmacopeia on Vice.” The episode was titled, “A Clandestine Chemist’s Tale.” In his show he explores the history and process of making various psychedelic drugs, from mushrooms to hallucinogenic frog venom. 


Margot Robbie shines as Tonya Harding

 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. 


Westerns are making a comeback

 “Hostiles” is a film about prejudice and honor. The film opens in the late 1890s with the razing and mass murder of a suburban household. All but the mother, Rosalee (Rosamund Pike), are killed by passing Comanche warriors who wish to steal Americans’ horses for themselves. The film then cuts to Captain Blocker (Christian Bale), a high-ranking soldier who knows the land the best and hates Native Americans the most.  


What a wonderful world of ‘Wonder’

 “Wonder,” based on the book by R.J. Palacio, is about a 10-year-old boy named August “Auggie” Pullman (Jacob Tremblay) who lives with his mother Isabel (Julia Roberts), his father Nate (Owen Wilson) and his sister Via (Izabela Vidovic) in upper Manhattan. While it is a story that revolves around children, the trailers attracted me to this film due to the well-known actors, the themes it deals with — which many children’s movies do not — and the values of family, love and the hardships of life that the film embodies. 


WBRS comedy night proves entertaining and fun

 There was a full house at Cholmondeley’s Coffee House last Wednesday night for WBRS’ Fresh Comedy Night. The host — Josh Day, a man with more hair than head — opened with a painfully unoriginal joke about not having a joke and followed it with a lowbrow pun. 


The best of what I saw, and what is to come

 January is that time of the year when we reflect on the good that has happened in the past 12 months and anticipate the good that is on the horizon. Sure, this is a healthy attitude to approach in terms of life choices, but I’m here in the Arts section to talk about movies. So, as I always do, I’ve completed my top 10 list of 2017.  


2017 holds many underrated albums

 Plenty of our favorite artists released instantly iconic albums in 2017. From Jay-Z’s “44:44” to Taylor Swift’s “Reputation,” we were blessed with new music. Most “Best of 2017” pieces released from music websites and blogs across the internet praise the big and obvious choices: Kendrick Lamar, Sza and Tyler the Creator. While those albums were certainly defining sounds of the past year, here are three underrated albums released in 2017 which deserve some attention and hype as well. 


Anderson’s ‘Phantom Thread’ is seamless

 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. 


Sequels and remakes dominate 2017 cinema

 The saying “history repeats itself” has never been more prevalent than in the year 2017.  I am not talking about how our current government slightly resembles 1939 (except we have the blessing of checks and balances — thanks, Founding Fathers). This year has been filled with the revival of television shows, sequels, remakes of movies and the comeback of various popular artists.  


‘Call Me By Your Name’: a tale d’amore

 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.  


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