Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

Encore Weekend’s 10+ Is a Roaring Success

Saturday, January 26th, 2013

by Kelsey O’Connor

Imagine laughing and crying until your face is streaming with tears, all in a matter of minutes. JC Svec’s Encore Weekend piece 10+ provided for both.

The collection of 10-minute plays was diverse in its entertainment value. The medley included five comedies: “Day’s Last Appointment,” “The Understudy,” “Have a Holly Jolly,” “Mr. Bloopers,” and “The Bloody Cow;” and two dramas: “The Girls and Mrs. Meyers” and “3:38.”

In the comedy “Have a Holly Jolly,” Santa and Mrs. Claus plot to exterminate the corporation that has taken over the North Pole by faking the deaths of the reindeer. There is tangible comedy in this piece, as well as in others, that left the audience laughing out loud. However, underneath the accents, the jokes, and the ridiculous situations lies a deeper message about what our       society is coming to.

In “The Bloody Cow,” a man tries to order a hamburger, but is thwarted by the inescapable path of technology. He cannot make a purchase without first creating an account, and he has to give his name several times. He cannot order exactly what he wants because he has to order only items that have codes.

These plays are funny because they are truthful; it’s really a dark humor.

The dramas, presented after an intermission, changed the tone of the collection entirely. J.C. both established and resolved a rape-murder story, a story about a girl who indirectly caused her parents’ death, and the story of a man who lost his child in ten minutes. These had some people in tears, but all were in shock at the 180-degree change in tone. (cont’d on p. 2)

Deetjen veterans Sarah Finn, Heather Milke, Sam Cleverley, and Kristina Bylancik, along with Thea Flurry and Matt Skolnick, both making their Deetjen debuts, seamlessly brought these stories to life. The group only had two weeks to put the production together, but you would never have known.

Each actor played two, three, and sometimes more roles, often with very different personalities, but each character had been well explored and wholly personified. The actors employed their vocal talents, including Sarah Finn’s hilarious Mrs. Claus impression, Krissy’s more-than-perky “The (cont’d on p. 3) Bloody Cow” adaptation, and Heather Milke’s nasal New York accent in “Mr. Bloopers,” not to mention Sam Cleverley’s enchanting voice, which will probably be its own accent one day. Perhaps the most poignant characters were Jenna (Sarah Finn) and Paul (Matt Skolnick). Each actor presented his or her character with a clarity that allowed for deep exploration in a short performance time.

Overall, 10+ was incredibly well-put-together. Every weekend should be Encore Weekend!

Movies According to MKA: Students Turn Film Critics to Review the Latest Blockbusters

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

Skyfall is the latest installment of Ian Fleming’s James Bond 007 movies, celebrating fifty years of the Bond franchise. Up to his usual exploits, James Bond (played by Daniel Craig) defeats the villain and saves the world, all while looking fresh in a blue suit. As with all great 007 movies, it is full of plot twists, killer fights, and extended chases. In Skyfall, the British intelligence agency MI6 is under attack. Someone has found the list of all the MI6 secret agents, and is slowly revealing their identities, putting everyone, including M, Bond’s boss, in danger. Break out the popcorn, because Skyfall is a must-see movie. –Madison Rivlin ‘15, Staff Writer

 

Life of Pi is the 3-D movie version of Yann Martel’s book Life of Pi. It is about a boy named Piscine, “Pi” for short, from Pondicherry, India. Sailing from Canada to India with his family and the animals from their zoo, the ship sinks and Pi finds himself on a lifeboat with a hyena, a zebra, an orangutan, and a tiger. Personally, I preferred the book because the plot line and themes were more meaningful and heartfelt, but the cinematography and the musical arrangements in the movie are breathtaking. –Madison Rivlin ‘15, Staff Writer

Silver Linings Playbook is a movie for everyone. There’s a love story, a dysfunctional family, and a dance scene, not to mention Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, oh, and Robert DeNiro. While Cooper and Lawrence are both well-known for their principal roles in past films, The Hangover and The Hunger Games, respectively, both show their depth and range as actors in their portrayals of the slightly insane, but endearing characters of Pat and Tiffany. Tragedy and humor come together, leaving audience members in that familiarly uncomfortable area between laughs and tears, and this movie certainly delivers the best of both worlds. Put this paper down and buy yourself a ticket! –Sarah Finn ‘13, Editor in Chief

 

In Argo, the year is 1979 and the U.S. is in the midst of the Iranian hostage crisis.  As militants storm the American Embassy in retaliation for sheltering Iran’s former Shah, several workers from the Embassy escape. The C.I.A. must figure out how to save the trapped citizens (led by actress and MKA alumna Kerry Bishé) from the grips of an unstable revolution. Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) is compelling throughout as a C.I.A. specialist who takes a team (notable members played by John Goodman and Alan Arkin) to Iran as they use a movie shoot as a front to rescue the Americans before they are captured. Argo will have you on the edge of your seat throughout and is definitely a must-see. –Aaron Stagoff-Belfort ‘14, Sports Editor

 

“Four score and seven years ago,” are the famous beginning words to Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation that ended slavery and brought our country into a new modern era. The movie Lincoln attempts to demonstrate the many struggles our great president encountered while trying to the pass the 13th Amendment. Though the movie is slow and a bit lifeless, it has its perks. The film is filled with interesting facts, remarkable history, and even a few surprises. Daniel Day Lewis’ performance as Lincoln is spectacular, along with those of Tommy Lee Jones, Sally Field, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Lincoln is perfect for all teachers and history buffs. –Gen Hughes ‘14, Staff Writer

Titus Andronicus Get Down to Business

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

by Anna Sheinaus

Oh, how to summarize the new Titus Andronicus album in 500 words or less? The Jersey rockers themselves do it best. Kicking off their new tour in support of their third album, Local Business, Titus bluntly and proudly announced through their Twitter, “PUNK IS BACK.” And oh yes, let it ring through the hills, it is.

After listening to Titus’s second album The Monitor, a Civil War concept album full of grandiose rock epics with layered bagpipe solos, this may seem hard to believe. After all, the band tends to avoid the standard punk formula of two-minute songs with straightforward lyrics.

Instead, they favor sprawling compositions that often approach 10 minutes and are embedded with literary references – without any hint of pretension whatsoever – which can be pretty hard to do when you’re named after an obscure Shakespearean tragedy.

But what they lack in punk credentials in terms of song structure, they make up for with their raw, unfiltered energy, especially on this new record. It keeps all the grit and grime of earlier albums, but is arguably the band’s tightest and most cohesive release.

Local Business bears some resemblance to the band’s earlier attempts, complete with exultant guitars, rhythms you can feel pounding throughout your body, and frontman Patrick Stickle’s trademark atonal and abrasive vocals. A self-professed nihilist, Stickles wails on the album’s opening song “Ecce Homo,” “I think by now we’ve established that everything is inherently worthless and there is nothing in the universe with any kind of objective purpose.”

So Titus isn’t exactly taking a break from the bleak outlook of The Monitor or 2008’s The Airing of Grievances, but nevertheless the band doesn’t want its listeners to whine and lay at home all day, mourning the futility of life.

No, Stickles has mused that the band chose to title the album Local Business to encourage listeners to celebrate punk, DIY, and local scenes. And it’s worth mentioning that the local businesses, the ones to which Titus is playing tribute, exist all around us—the band hails from Glen Rock.

So get out, put on your headphones and blast Titus Andronicus’ new album, explore your local scene, and maybe you’ll find that everything isn’t inherently worthless.

The Colbert Report

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

by Ariana Puzzo

As a lifer at MKA, and as an avid reader and writer, the Book Fair has always been an exciting time of year for me. I often reflect on past Book Fairs with nostalgia as I remember how excited I used to get looking through all of the new books, picking which ones I would purchase, and meeting some of my favorite authors. As I have gotten older, while I still look forward to browsing through new books, I have come to await with greater anticipation the announcement of the name of the visiting author. This year’s author, much to the excitement of the student body and faculty, was none other than Stephen Colbert.

 

Over the years, many of us have either met or seen Mr. Colbert around campus, as he is the father of three MKA students, including two Upper Schoolers, Madeleine and Peter. But still, as he walked onto the stage to the speaker’s podium, the auditorium bustled with cheers and enthusiasm. I could see, as he stood there surveying the audience, that those around me were already captivated by his presence. As he spoke to us, casually switching back between his character’s persona and his own, MKA students were able to see Mr. Colbert in a completely raw and unique light.

 

Mr. Colbert’s preview of his new book, America Again: Re-becoming the Greatness We Never Weren’t, was not only hilariously witty, but also intriguing to many students. It is without hesitation that I can say that I, and the entire Upper School community, immensely enjoyed Mr. Colbert’s visit to our school, and as always, experienced another wildly successful Book Fair at MKA.

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

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.

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
loss.

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