Category Archives: Arts & Entertainment

Tenet is Nolan’s most ambitious film yet

Colin Tobin

Contributing Writer

 

Tenet is the latest movie by writer and director Christopher Nolan. The film stars John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki and Kenneth Branagh. It follows a character only known as “The Protagonist” as he explores the world of espionage and is tasked with saving the world from a new technology that can manipulate time. I’m going to try to be as vague as possible to avoid spoilers.

Christopher Nolan might be the most ambitious blockbuster filmmaker working today, and Tenet certainly reflects that. I’m not the biggest Nolan fan, but I respect how he makes these visually stunning, mind-bending experiences. That being said, I think this is probably the most ambitious project of his career. The action set-pieces are extremely well-directed and perfectly choreographed. From what I’ve read, there was no green screen use and barely any visual effects shots, which is extremely impressive considering the scale of some of the scenes. The production team also bought and blew up a real 747 airplane, reflecting their commitment to realism. Nolan even consulted with a theoretical physicist to try to make the story as close to theoretically possible as he could. The numerous moving pieces in the movie are handled well, in general, and it’s very well-paced for being two and a half hours long. The way that time is used in the plot is something that I’ve never seen before. The entire cast is great. John D. Washington further proves himself as a leading man and Kenneth Branagh’s acting is over-the-top in the best way possible. In the absence of Hans Zimmer, Ludwig Göransson’s score stands out and drives the energy of each scene.

Where the film lacks is in its character development. The biggest thing we learn about the characters is that Debicki’s character has a son she cares about. I can’t say that I really cared about anyone, but I think Nolan was aiming for a plot-driven movie. If you’re familiar with Nolan’s other work, like Inception, Interstellar, and Memento, you know how confusing his plots can be. Tenet blows these films out of the water in comparison. I’ve seen this movie twice so far and I think I understand only about 80% of what happened. To me, Nolan can trip over his own feet in his writing and things just aren’t clear on screen. Some helpful details are hidden in a line or two, then it moves on and expects you to catch up. Taking on a project like this likely means there are going to be a good bit of plot holes, and Tenet is no exception, but there is nothing that invalidates the overarching plot. To fully understand it, you need to rewatch it at least two or three times.

This was my first trip back to an actual movie theater in about six months, and things have obviously changed in how things operate. From what I could tell, the theater was very safe and cleaned often. There were hand sanitizing stations in the halls and wipes to use to clean your seat to ensure that it was germ-free. The four total people in the theater, including myself, wore masks the entire time and the experience honestly wasn’t much different than normal.

Tenet is a great way to welcome back the theatrical experience. The visuals and intriguing ambition make up for the lackluster characters and puzzle-box of a plot. Despite being in the bottom half of Nolan’s filmography for me personally and giving me a headache, I still had a good time.

English Department to Host Virtual Movie Screenings

Artemis Swanson

Staff Writer

Megan Tuennerman

Managing Editor

 

As health restrictions limit traditional extracurricular venues, academic departments look for alternative opportunities to provide enjoyable and educational events for their majors and minors. In that vein, the English Department has planned out a new monthly event in the form of a virtual movie screening. Each month, the department will be choosing a film to screen to students in the department, as well as a few additional invited groups from around campus.

Departmental assistants Holly Engel ’21 and Jenna Stanton ’22 have been working hard with Department Chair Leslie Wingard and the department’s administrative assistant, Nat McCoy, to create a fun and entertaining way for students to engage virtually with one another. Engel emphasized how important building a space for community was when planning this event. “Through this event, we hope to foster community and bring people together at a time when togetherness is particularly difficult. Even though everything is still virtual, we’re handing out popcorn beforehand that students can snack on as they watch the film — something that will help us stay connected while watching even though we won’t be together physically. Off campus students are able to participate as well because we’re sending them popcorn in the mail, and the screening  is virtual. All they’ll need to join us is the Microsoft Teams link.”

The screening is not intended to only be designed for English majors and minors, as Department Chair Leslie Wingard assures. “We are purposely creating interdisciplinary social groups at these monthly virtual movie nights this semester,” she says. Of these social groups, the department has invited students from the French and Africana studies departments, as well as the Wooster Chorus and Word of Mouth poetry club, to the first showing occurring this week. In addition, the department plans to extend event invitations to other departments and activity groups for future screenings, with invitations being sent to the Education and Arts departments and the basketball team for next month.

The first showing, a piece known as Poetry, is a 2010 South Korean drama written and directed by Lee Chang-dong. The department is screening the film on Friday, Sept. 25 from 7-10 p.m. The film has reportedly received rave reviews from previous viewers. Furthermore, Engel explained that there will be a Q&A session after the movie with professors (Dr. Christopher Kang and professor and poet Daniel Bourne) and English students (Sierra Foltz ’21 and Brian Luck ’22), facilitating a discussion on poetry, writing and teaching in the context of the movie. They are hoping that “having people from so many different disciplines will make for an interesting, engaging conversation.”

COVID-19 PLAYLIST

Jenelle Booker 

Contributing Writer

 

In a time where sitting inside is the preferred option to going out, a quarantine playlist that accompanies every mood of a pandemic, is an essential. First, however, it’s hard to talk about COVID-19 and 2020 without talking about Black lives and the awakening of young people to the systemic injustices in America. So, to begin this playlist are a couple songs to honor the many who have lost their lives to racists, sexcists, homophobes, xenophobes, and bigots of every kind and those who are placing their bodies in the streets to advocate for real change.

In spite of the hopelessness and anxiety COVID-19 has brought me, it’s important to remember (as cheesy as it sounds) that this time will indeed pass, that there are moments within every day to appreciate, and there is comfort and sanity in dreaming for the future. From “Summer 2020” to “Almeda,” these songs have brought me that comfort and sanity. Comfort in remembering sadness as a necessary part of life, and sanity in shifting my focus back to the very present. Not present politics, or present events; but to the present as in me typing this, or of you reading this. Of us existing and consciously making decisions that design our day to day. There’s power in our very existence, so make sure to recognize it.

         Of course, appreciation of the existential doesn’t really do it for you when all you really want to do is go out and party. You’ll find some head bangers, hip whines and other high energy hits that have me hyping myself up in the mirror. Jumping around the room alone may not have the same feeling as a mosh pit, but it’s much safer (besides, who likes the feeling of sweaty skin?). Go ahead, play through “Coño (James Kennedy Remix)” to “Walk (Remix)” and let your instincts take over — it’s the only time you can practice your dance moves without judgement. If you’re not one for dancing, yelling at the top of your lungs is also an acceptable use of this section. With a mix of old bangers, foreign beats and new releases, any need for crowded dark rooms can be satisfied with a party of one (or few). For those pressed to leave the house, turn the bass up in your car, max the volume and hit the interstate (a special mention to “HUNNIES,” “Don’t Come Out The House,” “Sugar” and “Riverdale Rd”).

         When you’re otherwise feeling sad (let’s be honest, “sad boi hours” is 24 hours now), “9” to “Home (Remix)” is here to keep you company through the tears. Sometimes a heartbroken song and self-pity is all we can manage through the day, and that is okay. As a hopeless romantic myself, I’ve thrown in a couple of my favorite love songs. If you’re in a relationship, I hope this helps you through the separation, and for my singles, through the disappointing Hinge chats. Finally, I’ve ended the playlist like I end my day — with meditation.

 

Virtual Comedy Night Features Wooster Alumnus

Geoffrey Allen

Staff Writer

 

Comedy is a medium of entertainment that has evolved alongside human history. From the political satire Greek Athenian plays to the dark comedy of the Korean film “Parasite,” comedy has changed and adapted to new formats over a millenia. Once again this medium is evolving, this time in wake of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the introduction of social distancing measures. While the platform as a whole has been stunted, stand-up may be one of the degrees of comedy that would’ve been nullified if it wasn’t for modern technology. That’s where writer, filmmaker, activist and most importantly, Wooster alumni Mamoudou N’Diaye ’14 comes in.

 

Last Saturday, N’Diaye hosted a Zoom “stand-up” comedy performance in partnership with the Wooster Activities Club (WAC). It was an unorthodox, but surprisingly fun, way of performing and experiencing comedy. First and foremost, N’Diaye asked the audience to turn on their video and microphones in order to receive feedback from the audience on his jokes and quips. As a member of the audience, I felt a bit vulnerable at first. As the act went on, however, I felt at ease laughing along with the jokes and stories he told that night. He is a comedian, after all.

 

Like any good comedian, N’Diaye incorporates dark humor into his personal stories of being a Black Ohioan. In between stories based on his general topic of race from the perspective of an African-American male, he transitions to side topics such as the complexities of dating in the ongoing pandemic and the forest fires on the west coast. N’Diaye adds more fuel to this fire by commenting on how Black people in American society are the first to bear the worst of setbacks in these cases. One joke that really had the audience laughing was when N’Diaye convinced everyone that Kix cereal had gone out of business, giving us faulty evidence that was filled with more shock value than truth. 

 

N’Diaye was also consistent with the message that he wanted the audience to take away: “Always second guess.” The biggest information bomb is the fact that he had originally studied as a neuroscience major, emphasizing the untapped potential of studying at a liberal arts college like our beloved Wooster. Unsurprisingly, he expressed distaste in some of the changes to the school including the new but controversial Mom’s menu.

 

Overall, N’Diaye gave a good show despite the technical and physical constraints of a Zoom meeting. The entertainment on Saturday really came down to the pure talent of the artist and it really showed in the enjoyment of myself and my fellow peers. Six years after graduation, N’Diaye uses the comedic talents that he picked up from the Underground wisely and shows potential. You can find N’Diaye online, despite expressing being out of touch with social media for the past two weeks. And don’t worry, he believes a two-state solution is possible for pineapple being a topping on pizza.

https://www.mamoudoundiaye.com/

Wooster A Capella Group Will Keep on Singing

Sarah Caley

Staff Writer

 

Across the country, performing arts groups have struggled for months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, many have found alternative methods of pursuing the arts while remaining as safe as possible. Such is the path that the College’s a cappella groups have found themselves on this semester. 

Annika Balish ’21, president of COWBelles, emphasized that safety is the group’s number one priority for the semester. Participation is optional, with the primary focus on the social aspect of the group, a sentiment that is echoed by the presidents of other a cappella groups on campus as well. A Round of Monkeys, Merry Kuween of Skots and Shades of Gold are planning to maintain the musical aspects of their groups while holding social events for members. Woo Sang Clan is not planning to hold rehearsals for now, but will have virtual group bonding sessions throughout the semester. 

For the groups that are planning to hold rehearsals and performances, logistics have been difficult to coordinate. The College only recently released its safety guidelines for a cappella groups; because of this, the groups’ executive boards have had to rethink their plans based on the lengthy list of restrictions. COWBelles is the only group planning to hold in-person rehearsals this semester, and their structure will greatly differ from previous years. Singers will now rehearse outside, spaced twelve feet apart and wearing masks specially designed for singing. 

The groups holding virtual rehearsals are facing their own challenges. Tim Cotter ’22, president of Merry Kuween of Skots, reflected on his cabinet’s thought process, saying, “Because multiple people can’t effectively sing at the same time in virtual rehearsals, we plan on focusing more on each individual during rehearsals and having a separate call for those who aren’t singing at a given time.” 

A Round of Monkeys President Cecilia Payne ’21 also cited the audio feedback through Zoom and Teams calls as an issue. Instead of using these platforms, members will learn pieces on their own with the group’s music directors available to assist them, filming and sending videos of their parts. 

While the groups’ rehearsal processes for the semester differ, they have all taken the same approach to performances. The College has prohibited in-person performances for the campus community due to concerns about COVID-19, so the groups have elected to release virtual performances throughout the semester. This will be accomplished by mixing individual recordings together with editing software to create a cohesive sound. Information on performances and how to access them will be released on the groups’ social media accounts, as well as through the College’s activities emails and virtual events manager 25Live. 

When discussing the difficulty in planning this semester, Balish expressed gratitude for the other a cappella groups’ presidents. Due to the overwhelming nature of organizing under such tight restrictions, the groups have been communicating more closely than in a typical year, largely to ensure that new members are spread evenly across groups and that no one group’s plans will compromise another’s. “There has been nearly constant communication about our plans and I really appreciate that,” she said.

Academy Guidelines Spark Controversy

Zeke Martin

Contributing Writer

 

Content warning: Sexual violence

Last Tuesday, Sept. 8, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which manages the Academy Awards, also referred to as the Oscars, announced several new standards for representation and inclusion that will be required for eligibility in the Best Picture category starting in 2025. These standards push for the inclusion of women, people from ethnic minorities, LGBTQIA+ people and/or “people with cognitive or physical disabilities or who are deaf or hard of hearing.” 

The standards are split up into four categories. First, “On-Screen Representation, Themes and Narratives,” requires a certain level of diversity in the film’s cast and subject matter. Second, “Creative Leadership and Project Team” applies similar rules to the film’s crew and relevant management positions. Third, “Industry Access and Opportunities,” requires the film’s major studios and/or producers to provide “substantive, ongoing paid apprenticeships/internships inclusive of underrepresented groups,” as well as “training and/or work opportunities for below-the-line skill development.” Finally, “Audience Development,” requires a certain level of diversity in “marketing, publicity and/or distribution teams.” According to the New York Times, “The standards will be enforced via spot checks of sets and through dialogue between the Academy and a movie’s filmmakers and distributors.” However, to be eligible for Best Picture a given film only needs to fulfill two out of these four requirements.

According to the Academy, these requirements “are designed to encourage equitable representation on and off screen in order to better reflect the diversity of the movie-going audience.” Some have praised the new standards, with one Twitter commenter (@melythemac) saying that “this needed to be done because it doesn’t seem like many would do it on their own.” 

However, the response from the public has largely been one of dissatisfaction from both the political left and right. On the right, critics like actor James Woods, known for his role as the voice of Hades in Disney’s Hercules, accused the Academy of trying to erase history, claiming that “it will now be difficult … to do many historical movies [because] streaming services are not interested in making movies that can’t qualify for an Academy Award.” Meanwhile, on the left, journalist Aina Izzah, writer for Malaysia Tatler, replied to the Academy’s tweet and called these new requirements “the bare minimum,” citing the fact that a film only needs to fulfill two out of the four requirements to be considered eligible and telling critics on the right, “just say you don’t want diversity/inclusivity and go.” 

Stronger critics also accused the Academy of simply paying lip service to progressive causes without enacting real change. Stand-up comedian Tim Dillon, for instance, referenced the pervasiveness of sexual abuse in Hollywood by quipping, “How ’bout for Academy Awards consideration no one working on the film can have raped children?” 

It would seem that between now and 2025, the Academy will have to either rethink their approach to diversity or accept diverse public criticism.