Archive for the ‘Arts’ Category

The Dark Knight Rises – Film Review

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

Aaron Stagoff-Belfort + Nic Harris

When we went to go see “The Dark Knight Rises,” expectations could not have been higher.  Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy has become the quintessential movie series of the decade; tickets sold out months in advance of its July 20th premiere.

We settled into our seats 45 minutes before show time. As soon as the movie began, a rowdy crowd fell into dead silence.  Our hopes for a satisfying finale to the series were fulfilled during the next 2 hours and 45 minutes.

Eight years after Bruce Wayne hangs up his cape, he is a shell of his former self, hidden away in Wayne Manor, needing crutches to walk and depending upon his loyal butler Alfred for support.  Alfred’s one hope for Wayne is that he can find happiness and move past the death of his love Rachel.  However, it seems that Wayne has not found peace since he last quelled fears in Gotham.  Unfortunately, darkness rises again in the form of the mysterious terrorist Bane, and Wayne is forced put on his cape for what could be the final time.

“The Dark Knight Rises” provides a host of characters intriguing new characters.  Anne Hathaway steals every scene as Selina Kyle, a.k.a. Catwoman, with startling sneakiness and ferocity.  Constantly keeping both the Batman and the audience on their toes, there’s no telling what the seemingly bipolar Kyle will do next.

While no villain can duplicate the terrifying performance of Heath Ledger as the Joker, Bane (Tom Hardy) wreaks his own havoc.  Where the Joker’s terror is derived from the mind games he plays, Bane strikes fear by simply crushing everything in his path.  While Batman’s sabbatical might cause him to lose a step, he is aided by the emergence of John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and his old ally Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman).

“The Dark Knight Rises” is as thought-provoking as its predecessors, and it culminates with an ending that leaves the series’ legacy untarnished and no questions unanswered.

Midnight in Paris Review

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

It’s award season, which means we get to appreciate our favorite stars in music, film, and TV. This year many amazing films are nominated for awards, and in the spirit of the season, it only makes sense to review one of the most promising films of this award season.

Midnight in Paris, directed by Woody Allen and starring Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams, is nominated for many awards by different organizations: the Golden Globes, the SAG Awards, and the Academy Awards.  These include several Best Actor awards, best Art Direction, Best Directing, Best Screen Play, and even Best Movie of the Year. It’s no surprise that the movie was nominated so many times; the talent and romanticism that characterize this film are astonishing.

The movie is profound in its exploration of grand themes: love, art, and the past vs. the present. In the film, the main character, Gil Pender (Owen Wilson), explores the connection – and disparity – between the present and the past. As Gil tries to find himself and discover his potential as an artist, he longs for a simpler time in which he thinks art and culture climaxed: 1920s Paris. In the film, the beautiful and nostalgic backdrop of Paris – today, in the 1920s, and during La Belle Epoque – lends a much-needed thread of continuity to the film.

The growth of Gil Pender during the three different eras teaches valuable life lessons, both about the individual psyche, and about humans’ capabilities in general. The film is also a must-see for 20s literature, music, and art fans: it features many prominent artists of the 20s. Midnight in Paris is stunning and unbelievably insightful, and going into this year’s award season, this film should be at the top of any “To-Watch List.”

Olutola Ebunlomo ’13

Mac Miller’s Blue Slide Park Review

Saturday, January 21st, 2012

Ever since the nonsensical July announcement, it was hard to tell what kind of album to expect from Mac Miller’s “Blue Slide Park.” Despite being a little disappointed by one of Mac’s live performances at Governor’s island last summer, my faith in his mixtapes has never faltered. Mac Miller understands his strengths, and knows how to use them on his usually excellent samples, where he couples above-average flow with generic subject matter over eerily sentimental tracks. “The High Life”, “K.I.D.S”, and “Best Day Ever” each offer something special, and as his first commercial release, Blue Slide Park shouldn’t be any different. Unfortunately, Blue Slide Park is perhaps Mac Miller’s weakest addition yet, and almost certainly won’t propel him into the upper echelons of mainstream hip-hop.

First, let’s consider what Mac got right. Right off the bat, you’ll notice a marginal increase in production value from his mixtapes. To Miller’s credit, the album lacks for the most part any 4-chord sell-out tracks designed solely to appear on the iTunes top 100 lists. In terms of instrumentals and samples, each track is unique and diverse, although the same can’t be said about Mac’s lyrics.

Blue Slide Park’s objective was to introduce Mac to the commercial mainstream, and he deserves props for taking risks and delivering a less than safe album for this task. But there are several major flaws in Blue Slide Park, which must be addressed by Mac Miller in his future projects. One of his greatest strengths comes through his sentimentality. Throughout K.I.D.S and especially Best Day Ever, the subject matter focuses on a sort of fountain of eternal youth. The overarching message of Best Day Ever tells us to always hold on to the memories of childhood and the lessons of our pasts for guidance – that the “Best Day Ever” is really the product of revisiting our childhoods. Mac had built up to this conclusion from the beginning of The High Life and K.I.D.S, and he nailed it by the end of Best Day Ever. On top of a dope sample, he captured the nostalgic theme of the mixtape so perfectly in “BDE Bonus” that the video for the song (a bonus track on the album) has garnered nearly twelve million hits to date on youtube. The greatest weakness of Blue Slide Park is that it’s desperately trying to hold onto this nostalgia, but the product is a rather fragmented album lacking a powerful theme. The name “Blue Slide Park” is a reference to a playground from Mac Miller’s childhood, but the tracks on the album, even the title track, fail to maintain the eternal youth theme, which at this point is becoming a little bit old. By no means should we neglect the album entirely, because several tracks deserve plenty of recognition from Mac’s listeners for revealing new sides of him. On the contrary, “Blue Slide Park” demonstrates that a new, original Mac Miller, is lying dormant somewhere in that kid’s brain – it just hasn’t made a full appearance in his first commercial release, and he’ll be trapped in a limbo between mixtape stardom and mainstream success until he get’s another try. But with enough “thumbs up” and optimism, escape from that place may not be too far off.

Alex Amari ‘13 Staff Writer

Stylus Open Mic Night Wows

Saturday, January 21st, 2012

Never in my life, save for ShopRite, have I been in a room with so many cereal boxes before the I attended Stylus Open Mic Night on November 29th. There were Lucky Charms, Reese’s Puffs, Honey Nut Cheerios, Captain Crunch, and I believe Rice Krispies. In addition to the cereal, the Upper School’s artistically inclined brought in chocolate chip cookies, oatmeal raisin cookies, chocolate, and other assorted sugary snacks. Apart from the several boxes of pizza, it was essentially a giant display of sugary death foods.

The first Stylus event of the 2011-2012 school year was an event for arts appreciation. Students were invited to read or recite any piece they wished, play music, or just come and appreciate the atmosphere.

The attendance at the open mic night was a surprisingly good turnout: aside from the editors, Sarah Finn, Devon Geyelin, Will Dudek and this reporter, there was a good group of artsy students. Musical performances by MH Johnson and Will Dudek, Sarah Bradley, and Billy Lennon livened up the slightly awkward atmosphere, especially Sarah Bradley’s acoustic guitar versions of her own original songs. (One of them is still stuck in my head.)

As senior Sophie Vandenbroucke puts it, “The Stylus open mic night opened my eyes to poetry – to a whole new world of words and phrases and ideas I had never once fathomed in my wildest imaginings. However, I do believe that the most inspiring and sensational part of that night was in fact the dizzying array of comestibles that was the cereal bar.”

The attendees sat in a circle, around a paper tablecloth on the floor with the word “STYLUS” across it in huge magic-marker letters. Emma Sterling and Sarah Finn, along with others, read poems by authors like Billy Collins from books Finn brought along to the event. Across the circle, Emeka Uwakaneme read selections from his own works of poetry and prose, as did Kelsey O’Connor and myself. The combination of works written by famous poets and MKA writers fashioned an atmosphere of respectful listening and creative appreciation, as everyone in the circle gave “snaps” after each recital. Sophie Vandenbroucke’s unicorn-printed socks also lent an air of fun and spontaneity to the event.

The overall experience of the fall 2011 Stylus Open Mic Night was a positive one. People who might not normally talk were able to connect in a friendly way over music and art. The night ended with a few rousing covers by Billy Lennon and his ensemble of instruments and musicians. The editors and faithful members of Stylus look forward to many such events in the future.

Zoe Ferguson ‘13 Editor in Chief

Loud. Confetti. Lasers.

Saturday, January 21st, 2012

Avicii’s performance at Pier 94 on New Year’s Eve (or, more accurately, New Year’s morning) was a blur of glitter and synthetic beats. Coming on past midnight after several openers, Avicii reveled in all his precise arm-thrashing, square-jawed glory before a crowd of thousands, all pulsing to the same technologic mandate – though pulsing under varied levels of sobriety.

It was less a concert than a full-body experience. My troupe entered with excitement and left with tired legs and dazed expressions. Says Diana Lawson of the night, “I danced my heart out. I couldn’t really give you an accurate play-by-play of what happened, or even a vague play-by-play, but I know it happened.” By the end, I don’t even know if we were dancing or just vaguely swaying to the throb of the crowd, within which one man politely asked, “Am I infringing on your personal space?” Yes, yes you are, but there’s nothing we can do about it.

Avicii plays house music, often remixes of other songs and artists. During the night, he played Levels, one of his most popular tunes, multiple times. His remix of Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Otherside brought a calm groove to the festivities, slowing down the bouncing to a more mellowed pace.

Says Aaron Shrensel, “It was like every problem in my life disintegrated when a new song came on.” Lauren Martin echoes that sentiment with, “The Avicii concert was like pure bliss. It was the most perpetual and widespread sense of euphoria that I can ever imagine existing. For six hours, thousands of people were connected by the same incredible beating heart that was Avicii.”

It was a good time.

Devon Geyelin ‘12 Editor in Chief

Childish Gambino Takes the Stage

Saturday, January 21st, 2012

As is visible from lines like, “Took the G out your waffle, all you got left is your ego” and “made the beat then murdered it, Casey Anthony,” Childish Gambino is not your ordinary rapper who simply raps about drugs, cars and women. Donald Glover, the man behind Childish Gambino, is a huge talent from writing for 30 Rock and Saturday Night Live to doing his own stand-up comedy; the fact that he can sing and rap is an added bonus. Donald Glover writes his own lyrics and produces his own beats while writing for 30 Rock and starring in the hit NBC TV show Community. The fact that he can sell out a NYC show in a matter of minutes really makes his line, “A lotta rappers saying that they’re better than me, I’m doing three other jobs, you better be,” seem extremely false.
I was lucky enough to be able to attend his NYC show at Terminal 5 on November 3rd, 2011. Terminal 5 was a amazing venue with three stories overlooking the huge stage, and I was able to be two or three rows in from the stage. His opener was a tiny, small girl. At first, looking at her, I thought I was in for another long, annoying opener while I was just waiting for Childish Gambino, but she was amazing. She was a D.J. who knew how to keep the crowd going by playing various Childish Gambino songs and mixing them with soft calming music. It was a real experience.
When Donald Glover came out, the crowd obviously went wild. He came out with a bang by playing his most famous song called “Freaks and Greeks.” With images and anything and everything in the background, I was mesmerized. What surprised me the most about Donald Glover was that he could actually sing. He sang a cover of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” that made me realize how talented he really is. Another great part of the concert is that when he was promoting his new album Camp by playing songs off on it, he had lyric videos plastered in the background so we could sing along. I was so fortunate to see him and it will be a concert that I will never forget.

Rebecca Strickland ‘12 Issue Contributor

Review: War Horse

Saturday, January 21st, 2012

Due in theaters on Christmas Day, War Horse is a touching adaptation of the play currently in New York. Sad, heartfelt, funny, and frequently sappy, War Horse is a family flick. The story follows the adventures of a spunky young colt named Joey through his training, and eventually follows him to the war (WWI). His owner, a boy named Albert, trains him to work their farm, a task that no one thought they could achieve. Throughout their training Albert and Joey form a strong bond that many don’t understand, and Albert is heartbroken when Joey is sold to the military. Joey finds himself with several different, diverse owners as he travels with the army, each with a unique personality. Among his owners is a French girl who tries to teach him to jump, a compassionate army general, and a shy, but nevertheless courageous, military horse master.

Based on the novel by Michael Morpurgo, War Horse explores the extraordinary relationships between men and between horses. As a horse person, I can attest to the fact that the relationships were believable and accurate, despite a fairly saccharine performance by the humans.

Although it was difficult to see David Thewlis (beloved Professor Lupin) as an antagonist, the film was well cast. Jeremy Irvine plays Albert in a first-rate debut film performance. He shows potential for a lasting career, which is already shaping up: Irvine is due to play Pip in Great Expectations next year. One of my favorite characters is the grandfather (Niels Arestrup). His character is crucial to the story’s message and he is instrumental in keeping Joey, the horse, safe.

Overall, the film did a great job of showing an unbreakable bond between man and horse. The war scenes were fantastic and one of my favorite parts of the movie, and the writers even managed to throw in some humor along the way. World-acclaimed producer Steven Spielberg (Saving Private Ryan, Jaws, ET) has brought another touching war story to the screen for the whole family.

MKA Graffiti Artist Tells His Story

Friday, January 20th, 2012

I don’t really know how the whole thing started. I remember in middle school Mr. Ruff showed me some photos that really got my mind going in places it had never been to before. I tried to get into writing graffiti on my own, but it was tough to learn the basics while trying to stay under the radar. Then three years ago I started talking to a guy, Jim, at a hockey game. We started talk- ing, and when we walked outside I mentioned a huge graffiti piece we passed behind the building. “Yeah,” he said. “I did it.”

Jim, who was twenty-four at the time, told me about an ex-graffiti artist who goes by CRISPO. To this day, I still don’t know CRISPO’s real name, and I’ve only met him once: picture a sketchy guy with a long, scraggly beard liv-ing in a bad neighborhood. Jim introduced me to him, and we said we wanted to start putting the name CRISPO back out there for him—at forty-one, he is already too old to do it himself. Graffiti is a young man’s game. Now CRISPO serves as a sort of mentor. We take pictures of our work and leave them in his mailbox, and occasionally he will leave us a note telling us how he doesn’t like our color choices, or some piece is perfect.

I love it when people say graffiti is nothing but a foolish crime. I just laugh. You can’t understand graffiti unless you get to know it, understand it—feel it. Only writers know that feeling. I remember in the beginning I was so scared of getting caught that I couldn’t even finish a piece because I was looking over my shoulder so often. But that went away once I learned the ins and outs – putting magnets on the bottoms of cans so that the steel balls don’t make noise while I run, always wearing gloves, never looking like a hoodlum teenager about to go graffiti something. You know, the basics.

About 7 or 8 months ago Jim and I went out on a Saturday night to do a piece. That was our first mistake, Saturday nights are no-no’s – too many people, and more people
means more cops. We drove to a pretty secluded area and he parked his car in a nice out-of-the-way spot, with only a short one- or two-mile walk separating us from the infinite canvases most would call dismissed freight train cars.

We arrived, and unsurprisingly we saw a few other writers going at it on other cars. Needless to say we didn’t make any contact. We had to climb a barbed- wire fence to get into the so-called “junkyard” we had to climb a fence, but there were some areas with openings. See where this is going? I didn’t notice I sliced my knee open on the wire until my feet hit the ground. Still, we had a job to do, and no amount of blood was going to stop us.

With cans in both hands, Jim and I quickly threw the piece up onto the car, marveled for a few seconds, snapped a poorly lit photo, and hauled ass out of there. On the way out we ran into an MTA officer on a night-shift. The second he saw the black silhouettes of Jim and I, we sprinted faster than ever before. Every step I ran, more and more blood squirted out of the gash in my knee, but the last place I wanted to end this night was in a local jail cell with some Jersey crack-head. Although I was the one bleeding profusely, Jim fared much worse. Jim is not a very agile or speedy man, and this MTA offi- cer didn’t have to work too hard to get to him. I kept running until I reached Jim’s car around ten minutes later, only to realize he wasn’t with me. Leaving be- hind hundreds of dollars of paint and a captured friend, I went home to tell my mother that my bloody wound was from falling on a rock.

Jim got released the next morning and paid a $6,000 fine. We still do graffiti together on good Tuesday nights.

Yes, It’s Completely Hollywood!

Monday, November 21st, 2011

“I will never think of movies the same again!” cried my younger brother between laughs as we exited the theater. He summed up my feelings perfectly. The new fall show, Completely Hollywood, is brilliant and hysterical, and it surprises the audience at every possible moment. It takes everything you know and love about the movie industry, and breaks it down in a masterful and charming way. You’re hooked fast and proceed to go on a roller coaster filled with every movie reference known to man. Some of the jokes may fly over your head, but the show barrels ahead and keeps throwing the references your way. Sometimes you catch them, sometimes you don’t, but you find yourself not caring and just hoping you can catch the next. As you watch the show, you find yourself smiling without even realizing it. Witty and brilliantly written, the show is incredibly entertaining and comical, thanks to the perfect timing of every actor in the production.

Each actor pulls his own weight and adds a unique and fresh turn to the show. The cast consists of 6 actors, 2 boys and 4 girls. The interesting thing about this show is that there are no definite characters. All the actors play various roles that require different skills, proving how talented this cast truly is. They don’t just play one part well, but play multiple parts perfectly. Also, none of the actors appeared fazed by the close proximity of the audience, something that is shocking considering that only one member of the cast is a veteran to Deetjen Theater.

That veteran is senior Ed Rosini, who is returning to the black box theater for his final time. He, as per the usual, lights up the stage with energy. And although the audience is given very little information about his character, he is still incredibly relatable. Ed has become known throughout the entire school as a talented actor that Detjeen has been very lucky to have, and when he leaves for college next year the school’s theater department will suffer a terrible

But the stage will be in good hands after the departure of Mr. Rosini, thanks to the 5 talented new actors of this fall show. They each bring their own fresh twist and are all comfortable in their own skin, which reads on stage. The cast is separated into two groups, the people who explain the outrageous rules of movies, and the people who act them out. In the first act all the rules are laid out, and in the second a show is put on using all of them.

The first group in the cast consists of three people. In addition to Ed, there is freshman Sam Cleverly. He impressively holds his own with the his two older partners. His British accent also fits perfectly with the various roles he needs to play, such as a mad scientist or a director. The final actor in the trio is junior Sarah Finn. Sarah has been an amazing actor for sometime now, but has not been able to audition for the fall play because of cross country. Thankfully, however, she decided to perform in the play this year. She is charming and just as relatable as Ed, and not afraid to take chances. The various conversations that take place between the two of them are rapid fire and impressive. Hopefully, Sarah will continue to act in Deetjen’s shows from now on.

The second group in the cast consists of three girls. They work well together and play off of each other perfectly, exhibiting how comfortable this cast seems to be with each other. There is one sophomore, Maggie Dancy. Maggie shines in her roles. She plays many different ones and shows how versatile she is, from pulling off a Russian accent that would make Dr. Kan proud to being a space alien. The second member of this group is freshman Krissy Bylancik. Krissy is just as versatile as Maggie, and brings her own spin to the show. Almost all of the different parts she plays seem genuine and effortless. The final member of the group is freshman Heather Milke. Heather is adorable and compelling, and perhaps takes the biggest risks of all of the members of the cast. From rolling across the floor as a tumbleweed to playing one of “Darcy’s Angels” (Pride and Prejudice and Charlie’s Angels, get it?), she gives each part all of her energy. All of the members of the cast do, and that is what makes this show so special.

One of the unique parts of this show was the impressive work of the sound and lighting crew. Some of the show’s most memorable parts could not have worked if the special effects were not in place. For example, during a parody of The Matrix, the strobe lights and soundtrack were what made the joke so hilarious. This can be credited to the skillful work of all of the crew.

Completely Hollywood is a show that is rapid and charming. Though you may not know what is going on at some points, you still enjoy yourself. Jam-packed with puns and crossovers that you would not have thought possible (When Harry Met Sally and aliens!), this show does not stop surprising you. This is not only because of the amazing writing and directing, but also heavily thanks to the talented and promising cast.

Madeleine Colbert ‘14 Staff Writer

An In-Depth Analysis of the Enigma That Is Kevin Jonas

Monday, November 21st, 2011

(Disclaimer: I do not mean to offend any Jonas Brothers fan. I am as much of a fan as you are, if not a bigger one.)

They’ve changed the face of music with their skinny jeans and high-pitched voices. You know them, you’ve heard of them, and you sing their lyrics subconsciously. They are the Jonas Brothers, small town boys who pursued their dreams of becoming Disney Channel stars. When one thinks of the Jonas Brothers, two names come to mind: Nick and Joe.

But there IS another Jonas Brother.

An MKA survey asked the question, “Can you name the Jonas Brothers for me?” Kevin Jonas was often the last name mentioned, or even worse: FORGOTTEN. How would you like it if your siblings made a band together and all the credit, fame, and ladies just went to them? Think about how hard it is for Kevin to wake up in the morning and squeeze himself into those tight, tight pants only to stand in the shadow of Nick and Joe.

This needs to change.

Kevin is, arguably, the best Jonas Brother and the most mysterious. First is the obvious mystery of his age. Some claim that he is 23, but he just seems much older than that. In a teen magazine, Kevin neglected to write down the year of his birth in an interview. Why, you might ask? BECAUSE HE HAS EXISTED SINCE THE DAWN OF TIME. I believe Kevin rode the dinosaurs, invented the wheel and even lived through the ice age. Kevin will live forever, and that’s pretty awesome, so what I don’t understand is why Nick and Joe are the more “likeable” ones.

Kevin has so much potential to be a brilliant talent, but Nick and Joe just stick him to the side of the stage with a guitar. WHY? Wouldn’t you want the immortal brother front and center stage?! They never let him sing (and I’ve heard he has a beautiful voice) and sometimes I am sure they tell him to fake play the guitar, so they can steal the spotlight with their flips and cute bouncy hair. Kevin should be in that spotlight. Kevin needs the recognition he deserves, and you can help. By simply mentioning Kevin Jonas’s name, you’re doing something. Together we can make a difference.

Rebecca Strickland ‘12 Issue Contributor