r VOLUME 15, ISSUE 14
DECEMBER 5, 2013
Emerson String Quartet
Mendelssohn, Beethoven to sold-out Baldwin, pg. 4
A Note on the Novel May it rest in peace, pg. 4
M83 You and the Night album review, pg. 5
ess recess editor’s recess note ss recess r
r recess editors What we’ll miss...
2 | thursDAY, December 5, 2013
here it is, in all of its glory: the last recess issue of 2013. More specifically, here on this page, you are reading the last editor’s note of the calendar year. With the semester wrapping up in a reliably frantic delirium, i wanted to spare myself the aggravation of wracking my already melted headspace for topic ideas. rather than muse on the gendering of campus art spaces, i will indulge in a subject that has come easily to me in conversations with friends over the last few weeks: video games. A video game can be an extremely social form of entertainment. i grew up on Gamecube and PlayStation, developing inside jokes with my older brother as we shrieked about blue shells in Mario Kart: Double Dash!! last semester, Wii in my friend’s Kilgo dorm was an institution—everyone had a preferred stage and character for Brawl. My brother even keeps in touch with his old college roommates through Call of Duty, or halo, or whatever. But here i want to evoke the video games that are played alone, the single-player rPGs that take hours and hours, the Animal Crossing before friend codes made outside interactions possible. (And
Lauren Feilich....................................................................................................jamie Jamie Kessler................................................................................the BABs of recess MC Bousquette..........................................................................................jamie, save Megan Rise........................................................................................................jamie Kathy Zhou.........................................................................................................jamie
Eliza Bray...........................................................................................................jamie Minshu Deng......................................................................................................jamie
NASHER MUSEUM OF ART AT DUKE UNIVERSITY
the single-player games still have that social aspect to them if you want, with all the forums and fan art and spin-off writing associated with online fandom communities.) imagine the type of character development that can take place when you’re clocking in at 50 total hours of solo gameplay. As with novels or television dramas, a video game can, depending on your level of skill and distribution of free time, take weeks to “beat.” There’s the recognizable element of escapism, but no other storytelling medium has the same level of dynamic engagement. During Mental Floss co-founder and Duke alum Will Pearson’s visit to my magazine journalism class, he explained the challenge of providing quick, grabbing content in an increasingly digital field. The website of the magazine is full of shareable oneshot facts. “The age of the 30-minute captive audience is dwindling,” said Pearson. A favorite onion article of mine skewers those who expect anyone to actually watch an entire eight-minute video. last month, i had a window on my laptop open to a 48-minute documentary about the 1996 Boone, n.C. punk scene for a week before i finally made my way through it. Sometimes narratives take our undivided attention, even if it is split over a longer period than the narrator intends. When i waste a few hours online, like when i procrastinated from writing this note, it is a disjointed process, fragmented among many sites. i have 10 tabs open right now, and that feels like a relative norm. even within the confines of one social network, i’m curating a feed that
pulls from dozens of different sources with each refresh. it is a constant process of sifting and scrolling. like/ comment/share that content, lest ye fall behind. So single-player video games fall entirely outside of that. A team of game developers has sole creative control over your entertainment experience. For years, they meticulously craft a game to a vast extent until you come into the picture and make it interactive. You have total agency in an aesthetically thrilling world. You engage with the plot actively, you make choices and customize your experience, you are personally responsible for moving this thing along. You can take your time with the side quests, savoring the complexity of color and texture and design along the way, or you can go as fast as possible through the storyline. People who write off video games as a waste of time are missing out on a medium with unparalleled potential for narrative expression and the construction of alternate worlds. But, as i said, this conversation comes easily with friends. Sometimes i start rambling, and i get ﬂustered and ﬂushed. i begin to realize what i must sound like, and i laugh too hard to get the next point out. The conversation inevitably devolves (or ascends) to a laughter-ridden nostalgia binge with a Wind Waker soundtrack. it is cheesy and dorky and fun, but this is a medium that warrants the same composed dialogue and critical thought as long-form journalism or the Great American novel. —Lauren Feilich
Courses with openings for Spring 2014 AMI 201 – Intro To Film Studies M 4:40 PM-8:30 PM & W 4:40 PM-5:55 PM, Carr 103; Instructor: Elizabeth Landesberg
A thematic approach to the history, technology, art, and theory of cinema. Looking at cinema through various lenses, including its relationships to other disciplines and practices, such as politics, religion, and literature, we will attempt to illuminate what makes it distinct.
AMI 208S – Silent Film
M 1:25 PM-4:25 PM Soc/Psych 128; Instructor: Michael Morton
The founding generation of cinema: 30-40 years in which the art form emerges, matures, and produces many of its enduring masterworks. For many--both practitioners and observers--still the quintessential realization of cinematic art.
AMI 210 – Film Genres
TuTh 03:05 PM-04:20 PM Smith 271; Instructor: Talena Sanders
A historical survey of motion picture genre as a stylistic and narrative device, including comedy, horror, the musical, the western, and science fiction. ABOVE: Iranian (Isfahan), Lunette (detail), 1938-39. Stonepaste: monochrome-glazed, assembled as a mosaic; 11¼ x 22 ¾ x 3½ inches (28.6 x 57.8 x 8.9 cm). © 2011 Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, Honolulu, Hawai‘i. Photo by David Franzen.
Doris Duke’s Shangri La Architecture, LAnDScApe, AnD iSLAmic Art
AMI 215 – Animated Film
MW 10:05 AM-11:20 AM East Duke 108; Instructor: Casey Herbert
Evolution of animation from the philosophical “toys” of the late eighteenth century to the major international entertainment form of today. Special focus on American animation as it evolved from inspired individuals like Emile Cohl and Winsor McCay to a full-blown industrial model allowing for the creation of the animated feature and contemporary special effects.
An intimate look at Doris Duke and her Honolulu estate, Shangri La. The exhibition features selections from the Islamic art collection amassed by this stylish American heiress and philanthropist.
AMI 359S – 3d Cinema: Theory & Practice
Final Weeks! Extended Hours! On view through December 31, 2013
Provides combined opportunity to establish foundation for telling stories with stereoscopic tools and receive basic technical experience using 3D equipment. Beyond an informative introduction to concepts and principles of stereography, students will learn terminology, explore the notion of what makes “good” vs. “bad” 3D, and compare and contrast 2D vs. 3D media and production techniques.
2001 Campus Drive | Durham, NC 27705 | 919-684-5135 | nasher.duke.edu/shangrila
M 01:40 PM-04:40 PM Perkins 2-088; Instructor: Ted Bogosian
ART CHRIS BURDEN: EXTREME MEASURES
New Museum, NY
by Kathy Zhou The ChroniCle
Pinned to the outside of Soho’s new Museum is the 4,000-pound and 30 foot long ‘Ghost Ship,’ a black-hulled modern yacht. The crewless and self-navigating sailboat took a five-day, 330-mile trip around the United Kingdom before taking its current spot as an installation above the museum entrance. And so we are welcomed into new York City’s only exclusively contemporary art museum and into the retrospective of Chris Burden’s career of testing moral, physical and artistic boundaries. “Chris Burden: extreme Measures” is dominated by the monumental, showing off Burden’s distinctive capacity to solidly architect and engineer his works. each of the five stories showcases only a handful of works at most; Burden’s pieces are massive enough, or commanding enough, to merit an entire museum ﬂoor. Burden’s work questions our constraints, whether they are self-imposed or dictated by laws of nature, and stretches or upends them. Such boundary pushing has resulted in Burden’s site-specific “Beam Drop” (1985), in which a construction crane drops dozens of steel beams into a wet concrete pit, orchestrated both by artist and chance. it has also led to “The rant” (2006), a film of a close-up of the artist’s face in goggles in the swimming pool as he delivers a French monologue as an intense, xenophobic preacher. on the top ﬂoor is the documentation of Burden’s prolific performance art, unnerving his audiences as he upsets our ideas of the physical, mental and emotional. The museum presents a documentary film, a BBC interview and a series of books to reﬂect back on Burden, the body artist: there’s the notorious
“Shoot” (1971), in which Burden had his assistant shoot him in the left arm with a riﬂe. There’s “Fire roll” (1971), in which Burden sets fire to a pair of pants and extinguishes the ﬂames with his body. And there’s “Shout Piece” (1973), in which Burden sits on a suspended platform in a room, covered with red paint, and yells at visitors to “get the f*** out”—they almost always left immediately. Burden pushes himself to the extremes of pain and discomfort, and brings his audience along, challenging and broadening the relationship of artist and viewer alike. in the rest of the museum, we see the other aspects of Burden’s work that ﬂourished later in his career: the ones that were meticulously measured out to create impeccable industrial structures. These are Burden’s sculptures and machines, still defiant in nature but embodied in Burden’s enthrallment with modern machinery. With “The Big Wheel” (1979), Burden has put together a kinetic sculpture of a blue motorcycle and a castiron ﬂywheel that measures eight feet across. When the motorcycle engine revs, the wheel is set into motion for hours. in “Porsche with Meteorite” (2013), Burden has balanced a restored, bright yellow sports car with a 400-pound meteorite on a long steel structure; visitors can walk around and underneath the steel beam, inspecting the black leather interior of the car and the pockmarked meteorite. Burden also goes from the colossal to the miniature. in “A Tale of Two Cities,” Burden has painstakingly created a gargantuan miniature landscape with sand, toys and more. The piece requires the use of museum-provided binoculars to inspect the details of this so-called “glorified child’s war game.” in “All the Submarines of the United States of America,” Burden suspends 625 cardboard miniature submarines with a list on the wall of their respective names. The arrangement of the submarines is aesthetic, and while it is undoubtedly politically charged, it comes with no accompanying commentary by Burden. And visitors wait in line to see “Tower of Power” (1985) one at a time after reading about the ‘tower of gold.’ i left this piece feeling underwhelmed—the gold looks like wrapped-up chocolate, and the tower was much smaller than i envisioned, with
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little Mix is probably best known for beating out one Direction to win The X Factor in 2012. The show launched their career, but the girl group now lags behind their male counterpart in popularity, at least on this side of the pond. While boy bands are “in” again, girl groups seem to remain definitively uncool ever since The Pussycat Dolls broke up—unless you’re counting hAiM. little Mix, composed of Perrie edwards, Jesy nelson, leigh-Anne Pinnock and Jade Thirlwall, produces an infectious brand of power pop. on their sophomore album “Salute,” little Mix takes a half-step away from their more dance-heavy album “DnA.” little Mix’s sound falls somewhere between The Veronicas and Destiny’s Child. The women of little Mix all have beautiful voices that harmonize with hairraising perfection. Maybe it’s more like if The Spice Girls was made up of four Christina Aguileras. They spit out lightning-
fast lyrics with a light ‘90s house vibe. The title track gives a false impression of what is to come. “Salute” is a shoulderswaggering jaunt that stands to replace Beyonce’s “run the World (Girls)” as my girl power anthem of choice. it seems as if little Mix got out all their fierceness and angst in “Salute” as they shout, “Divas! Queens! We don’t need no man! Salute!” The album is chock-full of kiss-off tunes and string-heavy ballads bemoaning love gone awry that don’t quite hit the mark. nearly every song boasts an empowering ‘control your own life’ hook, yet i struggle to find a single song that isn’t about a boy, including a song called “About the Boy.” With lyrics like “Boys will be boys / i’ve got plenty knocking on my door / But none of them compare / Baby, you’re the one i’m waiting for,” it’s hard to know which message to latch onto. “Salute” leaves you looking for something more. Many of the songs sound like not-quite-as-good versions of songs released over the past decade. “nothing Feels like You” sounds oddly like lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” once it hits the chorus. “See Me now” is a less slinky and sultry version of The Pussycat Dolls’ “Buttons.” The album never quite escapes the realm of cliché love songs (take the lyric “All these tears i can’t erase” from “Towers” as a reference) and fun dance tunes. “Salute” may not be the most sophisticated or nuanced album, but little Mix provides a little spot of earlywinter sunshine courtesy of the UK. They incorporate elements of a cappella in their bubbly pop tunes that make me feel nostalgic and hopeful for a new era of girl groups.
little matchstick men arranged around the circular structure. My friend, though, noticed otherwise. The small, dismissive stack is worth well over $4 million. The sculpture, lacking in technique, was grounded in the security of its gold material, and Burden has encapsulated the triviality of how we value both goods and art. Where “Chris Burden: extreme Measures” lacks in respect to Burden’s earlier work and performance art, it succeeds in highlighting both the
meticulousness and grandiosity by which Burden constructs each of his pieces and installations. i was surprised by the captivation that Burden elicited through low-resolution photographs of his past body art or his extensive structures of metal arches. As we go through these five ﬂoors of the new Museum, we witness the highlights of Burden’s 40 years’ worth of work, navigating from the miniscule to the massive, from the artificial to the emotional and from the practical to the unbearable.
MUSIC LITTLE MIX Salute Columbia Records
by Megan Rise The ChroniCle
Duke They’re your dining points.
Give them extra f lavor.
4-diamond dining, golf-view terrace, saturday & sunday brunch
bountiful breakfast buffet monday–saturday 7-10:30 am sunday 7-10:00 am
lively atmosphere delicious menu all your favorite beverages
light fare & beverages overlooking the course golfers & non-golfers welcome
3 Students always welcome • Dining Plan Points accepted • Reservations recommended for Fairview • Follow us on Facebook and Twitter
Publication: Chronicle Size: 6.625” x 5.125” Job Number: 864-3029 Run Date: October 3, 2013 Dana Communications 609.466.9187
4 | thursDAY, december 5, 2013
On the tragic death of the novel . . . and the triumph of its modern revival November has come to an end, which means I have just concluded the most sedentary marathon I have yet to undertake: National Novel Writing Month. NaNoWriMo, as it is more commonly known, is an online initiative to bring together a community of creative (read: masochistic) people to write 50,000 words within a month. Throughout the many caffeinated stupors in which I wrote, it often felt like a Sisyphean task where self-satisfaction hardly seemed a reasonable reward for the amount of blood, sweat, tears and coffee invested. After all, it seems to be a near universal truth that the novel’s death is imminent. What is the cause of its demise? The novel has lost its sense of, well, novelty. Novel itself means new, original and striking, but as of late, the way in which we discuss, read and reward novels has ignored this quality. Author Philip Roth has said that within a few decades the novel will be as irrelevant as Latin poetry, speaking to the seemingly inevitable irrelevance and perceived pretension of the novel. His sentiment has been echoed by Ronald Sukenick, Tom Wolfe and even David Foster Wallace, among others. If we hope to resuscitate the novel, we must be willing to ask ourselves the difficult, albeit obvious, questions: who reads novels, who writes novels and why do they even bother to read and write novels? Who reads novels? Well, those who can read. If you can read this article, you are more fortunate than the 3 billion people who cannot read it at all. I, and all of us at Duke, have the privilege of being able to read. However, literacy alone is hardly the only component determining who reads novels. Even within countries that boast high literacy rates, like the United States, there are many who could read novels, but choose not to. According to a report titled “To Read or Not To Read” by the National Endowment for the Arts, only 57 percent of adults in America read at least one book not required for work or school in the past year. Compare that to the average
five hours a day of television watched in an American household and the average seven and a half hours millennials spend online a day, and it is apparent that the screen has superseded the page. Reading novels has become bourgeois again, almost like the days before the printing press. Your level of income and education are better determinants of whether you will read a book than your age. Reading has not become uncool; reading has become a privilege. Who writes novels? Of course, as NaNoWriMo advertises, anyone can write a novel, but who does write novels? (I’ll give you a hint, it’s not just overly-caffeinated Duke students like myself.) I am going to shamelessly take a note from Virginia Woolf and say that those with a room of their own are able to write. It is important to note that a room of one’s own is not just about a physical space to write, but about a literary space for marginalized populations to have a voice. Who has rooms of their own? Those who are most socioeconomically privileged in society, meaning that writers and publishers of novels are generally from overrepresented identities. Consider this: since 2002, the Duke Summer Reading Program has hosted 12 different authors, but there have only been two female authors (Jodi Picoult and Ann Patchett) and two authors of color (Junot Díaz and Khaled Hosseini) during the entirety of the program. In fact, not a single class year currently at Duke has read an author who is not caucasian for their summer reading, and only one class has read a female author. True, the Duke Summer Reading Program is not the best way to measure who is writing novels, but it reveals popular conceptions of who writes novels. In fact, in 2011, journalist Roxane Gay discovered that 88 percent of books reviewed by “The New York Times” were written by white authors. And Francine Prose’s 1998 piece about sexism in the literary world, “Scent of a Woman’s Ink,” is still unfortunately relevant today. Notable authors, like Salman Rushdie and Zadie Smith, stand as leaders in incorporating diverse perspectives into the world of the novel, but they are exceptions, not the rule. After the realization of how limited the scope of readers and writers of novels is, it may seem discouraging to ask why we bother to read and write novels. Yet, the why can provide the solution to this very problem. Stories transcend time and space, allowing us to inhabit someone other than ourselves. Stories offer a remedy to what is unknown, making the unfamiliar feel familiar. As David Foster Wallace once said, “Fiction’s about what it is to be a f***ing human being.” The first time I read “Song of Solomon” by Toni
Morrison, I was in eighth grade and needlessly trying to prove superior literacy to myself. The second time I read “Song of Solomon,” I was riding the Bull City Connector and got so caught up in the story that I sat in a corner of the bus for two loops throughout Durham until I finished the book. Similarly, when we speak of novels, it can feel a bit like my middle school self trying to prove something. I wanted to establish myself within an arbitrary hierarchy of “good” readers and “bad” readers, implicitly supporting cultural inequities. But, when we embrace novels as glances through a keyhole to infinite landscapes of humanity, we reveal the power of good fiction to immerse us into someone other than ourselves, so much so that we forget that we’re on a continuous loop on the Bull City Connector. This is true across all mediums, whether it’s a video game or a TV show, a film or a YouTube video. Good fiction concerns stories about what it means to be a human being and can open up perspectives previously unknown. So we must ask ourselves, how are human beings of all identities telling their own stories? At Duke, it is largely through Tweets, Facebook statuses, Instagram pictures, Tumblr posts, text messages, emails and in conversation. So long as new novels continue to adopt archaic formats that do not account for this type of storytelling, they will continue to be irrelevant to contemporary readers who no longer tell their own stories in pristine prose and elongated timelines. Just as modernity changed what the novel could be through landmark works like James Joyce’s “Ulysses,” so can this current moment of rapid technological advancement and interconnectedness change what the novel can become. Today, we see stories that are not quite like the novels we know but not quite like anything else done before, such as Device 6 or The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. They capture the spirit of originality and newness that the novel ought to inspire. So perhaps, it is necessary to concede that the novel as we know it is dead, but the novel as we will come to know it is being reborn and we are writing it. Novels must stop merely indulging nostalgia and be willing to adapt and grow into accessible multimedia formats that better showcase diverse perspectives, or else risk their demise. Luckily, I think contemporary storytellers and the stories they have yet to tell are up to the task of breathing life into the novel again. To quote novelist Richard Price, “No more talk about the death of the novel; the novel will be at your funeral.”
Chamber quartet brings new dynamic to Baldwin by Sid Gopinath The Chronicle
On Sat., December 7, the renowned Emerson String Quartet will perform for a sold-out audience in Baldwin Auditorium. The quartet, named after American poet Ralph Waldo Emerson, was formed in 1976 by violinists Eugene Drucker and Philip Setzer, violist Lawrence Dutton and cellist David Finckel. “The Emerson String Quartet is probably the most important American string quartet of the last quarter century,” Aaron Greenwald, Director of Duke Performances, said. “In that period of time, they’ve defined what an American string quartet sounds like.” The quartet rode in on the wave of chamber groups and string quartets that emerged in the 1970s. These groups, which include the Tokyo, the American and the Emerson String Quartets, revitalized the chamber music scene and made it popular once more. This rise in chamber music was also complemented by the emergence of digital recording and the invention of the CD. “Now, everybody wants to play in a quartet,” Setzer said. “Suddenly, there was this tremendous opportunity to make a lot of recordings. We were there
during all of that.” “They’re one of the preeminent string quartets in the country,” Jonathan Bagg, Professor of the Practice of Music and violist for the Ciompi Quartet, said. “Anybody who follows string quartets has heard them or at least certainly heard about them.” This season, for the first time in over 30 years, the Emerson’s lineup has changed, with Paul Watkins replacing Finckel as the group’s cellist. While there was concern about the result of this development, the reactions to Watkins have been very positive thus far. “A lot of quartets, when a member leaves or a couple of members decide to leave, they just shut down the quartet,” Greenwald said. “So it’s really interesting that they’ve decided to carry on with this new musician. My hope is that it adds a kind of new energy to the ensemble.” The quartet has been very pleased with the results of the transition so far, though. “It was all very friendly, and we understood,” Setzer said of Finckel leaving the group. “Very fortunately, the timing was right to get our first choice, which was Paul Watkins.” Watkins, a renowned cellist of his own accord, has managed to fit in with the quartet very well.
“Paul is so quick and so sensitive to what is going on around him that it hasn’t been a struggle,” Setzer said. “If anything, it’s been an inspiration to the other three of us.” Duke has been fortunate enough to have hosted the Emerson String Quartet many times over the past few decades. Now, in a renovated Baldwin Auditorium, there is even more incentive to see the new version of this quartet. “Emerson first played at Duke in 1983. This is, if you’re familiar with the group, a chance to see what they sound like with this new musician in their ranks,” Greenwald said. The Chamber Arts Society at Duke has been instrumental in getting the group to perform at Duke time and time again. “It’s actually one of the healthiest chamber societies in the country. It’s usually the case that the concerts sell out. We’re in a group of five or six places in the country that are really strong,” Bagg explained. Baldwin Auditorium, which has become one of the premiere concert venues in the Triangle Area, provides a perfect venue for the Durham and Duke community to see this world-famous quartet play their captivating program.
The performance will open with the Mendelssohn’s last completed work, a beautiful eulogy which Setzer described as “full of despair.” The Mendelssohn piece will be followed by Shostakovich’s final quartet and, after intermission, Beethoven’s “String Quartet No. 7 in F Major,” which provides a sharp contrast to the agony of the opening piece. Setzer summed up the program: “You go as dark as you can go, and the second half pulls you back.” Ultimately, this unique performance will provide an opportunity for the audience to see a string quartet at the peak of their career, with a new cello player and a new dynamic. “We just want to share what we feel about this great music and this great art,” Setzer said of the quartet’s goal of sharing humanity’s artistic creations. “There are so many horrible things on this earth, and the one thing you can say that counterbalances that is all of the incredible things we have been inspired to create.” The Emerson String Quartet will be performing in Baldwin Auditorium on December 7, 2013. More tickets may be released to the public this week. For more information, visit http://dukeperformances.duke.edu/ calendar/emerson-string-quartet.
FILM THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE Color Force Directed By Francis Lawrence
by Sid Gopinath The ChroniCle
A few prominent series of young adult books have received film adaptions lately. obviously, the “harry Potter” and “Twilight” series are the ones that come to mind. one struggled to find its feet at first but quickly became one of the best film series ever. The other stumbled, staggered and broke several bones as it came crashing down in a mess of cinematic failure. Two movies into “The hunger Games,” and this series could really go either way. So, will it finish strong like harry Potter and his wizarding friends? or will it get caught up in the long, sultry looks and ridiculous romance of “Twilight”? “The hunger Games: Catching Fire” was fun. i was glued to the screen for the entire movie. Whereas the first movie struggled to find its footing a little bit, the second sucked viewers right into an established universe. The visuals were gorgeous and the cinematography jumped between the action sequences and intimate conversations with ease. But let’s talk about those intimate conversations, shall we? i just have one question: what?! how can such a wellcrafted movie in nearly every other sense get away with such horrendous dialogue? For example, there is a scene where Peeta (Josh hutcherson) approached Katniss (Jennifer lawrence) to talk to her after an argument between them. This is how the scene went down. Katniss: i’m sorry. Peeta: no, you don’t have to apologize to anyone… Dramatic pause. Peeta: …including me. Come on, “Catching Fire.” is this
really the best you can do? in another scene, Katniss wakes up from a terrible dream screaming. Peeta dramatically runs in to check on her. Scared, Katniss asks for Peeta to stay with her that night. Katniss: Will you stay with me? Peeta: Yes… Dramatic pause as Katniss drifts off to sleep in Peeta’s arms. Peeta: …always. honestly, this problem wouldn’t have been such a big deal if it weren’t so persistent. every other scene was peppered with cringe-worthy dialogue. let me stress, though, that dialogue was only one of many parts of this film. So, maybe, this is forgivable. But putting Jennifer lawrence into this kind of script is something i can’t forgive. As evidenced by her work in “Silver linings Playbook,” she is a fantastic actress. even here, she lends a subtlety to the character of Katniss that is very befitting. i could not bear to have her spout this ridiculous dialogue as she threw her patented “smolder” at the two tormented love interests. i’m sure J-law understands that there is a difference between subtle and deadpan. But unfortunately, i found many of the conversation scenes leaning more towards deadpan. The good news is that this film really didn’t skimp on the supporting cast. While Peeta, Gale and Katniss are fairly straightforward and unexciting, the rest of the cast surges forward to carry this to the level of a great film. Stanley Tucci is absolutely vibrant as talk show host Caesar Flickerman. Complementing Tucci is elizabeth Banks, who plays the wonderful, equally superﬂuous effie Trinket. And newcomer Sam Clafin is sure to capture any hearts that Peeta and Gale have left behind as the devilish Finnick odair. This isn’t even mentioning Woody harrelson, Phillip Seymour hoffman, lenny Kravitz and Donald Sutherland, who lend true depth to what could have been very one-dimensional characters. i won’t lie. i feel conﬂicted about “Catching Fire.” every time i started to fall in love with the film, something stupid was said onscreen or the all-toodramatic romances were played up even more. With luck, this series won’t choose the wrong path in the future because it has the potential to be better than that.
ALL PHOTOS SPECIAL TO THE CHRONICLE
You And The Night Mute
by Kathy Zhou The ChroniCle
Anthony Gonzalez of M83 has mastered the electronic soundscape, which we’ve encountered in his most popular album, “hurry Up We’re Dreaming,” and in his first original soundtrack for the film, “oblivion.” Yet his latest work, a soundtrack for his brother’s debut film, “You and the night” (in French: “les rencontres d’après minuit”), lacks direction and ultimately falls short of its high expectations. The album is dark—fitting, for the film’s title. The opening track, ‘l’inconnu (Unknown),’ starts us off with whirlwind ambient noise before Gonzalez jerks us through a discordant soundscape. A haunting female voice blends into a high-pitched chime, and after throwing in a couple of mufﬂed, but alarming, slamming
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MUSIC BRITNEY SPEARS Britney Jean RCA Records
by Andrew Karim The ChroniCle
i’ll spare you the detailed chronicle of Britney Spears’s impact on the past two decades of pop music. Brit Brit needs no introduction because we’ve already grown up with her, from sugary Mouseketeer to barefoot at a gas station. The pop star has released a considerable amount of radio hits since her 2007 hiatus, but her current sound has yet to near its original glory (see: ‘...Baby one More Time,’ ‘lucky,’ ‘oops!... i Did it Again’ or ‘Toxic’). Britney tweeted in July that her latest album would be her most personal, so i streamed “Britney Jean” with hopes of taking in a new chapter of Britney history. i had planned on skirting politics to focus on the music, but let’s face it: ‘Work B*tch’ is the soundtrack to Fordism’s wet dream. This said, the song that prescribes working your way to your next party in France also has some redeeming qualities, especially for a dancier breed of Britney fan. Pulsating electric percussion and guitar build up into the cut’s first drop. Because it’s first and foremost a dance song, the track that doesn’t follow a noticeable verse-chorusbridge song structure. instead, it cycles through beat-heavy electro drops in between short-lived vocal snippets where Britney asks listeners if they desire the luxurious gifts only hard work can buy (“You want a hot body? You want a Bugatti? You want a Maserati?”). Assuming the answer is yes, Britney reminds us that we’d better work (b*tch!) before segueing into each drop. i’m more bothered by the lyrics’ laziness than their
sounds, the two-minute song ends abruptly. Gonzalez, who has a penchant for vibrant bursts throughout even the eeriest of his works, has stripped “You and the night” of any gimmicks or distractions. The result is chilling. As Gonzalez moves onto the rest of the album, he introduces us to the contrasting but still integral aspects of the film and its soundtrack. his next tracks are harmonious. ‘nous (Us)’ is romantic, capturing frenzied passion; it moves quickly, but gently. he maintains the female vocalization throughout the primary electronic layers: one holds a solid chord; the other quickly ﬂitters through melodies. he’s offering a hasty glimpse into the unthinking thrills of youthful passion. ‘Vision’ is much slower. it takes us beyond the romantic and into the intimate. it’s the kind of track that simmers as, note by note, Gonzalez expands the sound. The vocals are fully blended into the synth until, at the very end, they become clear again. They sound pure, yet each note will subtly fall into a timbre that clashes, unsettling the listener. The album falls short not because of Gonzalez’s composition ability, but because it fails to stand on its own. M83’s specialty resides in its deliberate sense of movement, and of continuously going even in the barest of their songs and the most eclectic of their albums. “You and the night” brieﬂy heads into multiple directions before it stops and changes pace. And rather than creating something exciting in its unpredictability, Gonzalez has left us with 15 individual tracks; some blend into one another, and the majority of the pieces sound unfinished. Granted that this is a film score and that each track might not be
negligence of labor theory, but ‘Work B*tch’ remains a worthy—albeit mindless—dance song. Britney co-wrote ‘Perfume,’ a welcome deviation and the first track living up to Britney’s promise of a very personal album. The song recounts a love affair from the other woman’s perspective. it’s reminiscent of tender moments in Britney’s previous albums—think ‘everytime’—but the subject matter’s a little riskier: Britney’s already done the deed, and she hopes her lover’s wife catches her scent on him. ‘Perfume’ certainly isn’t the most subversive pop song ever written, but it’s at least a few notches naughtier than its high school cognate (Avril’s ‘Girlfriend,’ maybe?). ‘Body Ache’ interrupts the slowness for another installment of intense dance beats, this time with more developed and easier to follow verses leading into an uninspired chorus (“i wanna dance ‘til my body ache” on repeat). This song is the boring cousin of ‘Work B*tch’ from the suburbs: it relies on the same dance club tropes without attempting to dilute its genericism with interesting lyrics or song structure. ‘Brightest Morning Star’ exhibits Britney’s enduring capacity for emotional pop ballads. The song could’ve easily been on ‘…Baby one More Time,’ evoking a ‘90s-esque mood that renders lyrics like “You’re my light when it gets dark…You’re always in my heart” pleasantly sappy. it’s easier to bracket the cheesiness here because this strain of pop sincerity is too novel to dismiss. it’s also refreshing to hear lyrics that don’t explicitly address a romantic interest; they’re emotionally heavy for a pop song but versatile enough to reference a close friend or family member. “Britney Jean” isn’t particularly innovative, but it shouldn’t have to be. Britney has given us a handful of pop gems throughout her 15year music career, and i’m all right with taking the latter half of it with a grain of salt. i much prefer this to a desperate, carelessly executed attempt at rebranding. She’s better than that. And by “that,” i mean lady Gaga.
meant to stand alone, the music simply sounds disjoint. Despite its most delicate (‘First light,’ ‘A la lumière Des Diamants i & ii’) and its most reverberating moments (‘Ali & Matthias,’ ‘holograms’), we still wonder where all this is bringing us. overall, however, “You and the night” encapsulates the essential, though perhaps initially overlooked, moments of “les rencontres d’après minuit.” With its mix of the minimal and the resounding, it has certainly achieved exactly what the Gonzalez brothers—the musician, along with the director—had hoped. The score is sometimes uncertain, sometimes frenzied, sometimes spine-chilling and sometimes glorious. The final and longest track of the album, ‘Un nouveau Soleil (A new Sun),’ captures all of these and the brilliance that we hoped for. The track sounds like it could have been a single on any M83 record, and it stands separately, straying from the rest of the sometimes pure, sometimes unnerving film score. it moves away from the 1970s, French soundtrack-inspired melodies and into the electronic. it crescendos and decrescendos, and we’re back to hearing that synth, unyielding as it plays the same three notes in a continuous chord progression. The strings build before bursting into a bellowing, magnificent fullness. it’s the first time a track has a distinguishable climax, outfitted with more layers, sharp snare percussions, and bolder and more urgent vocals. We are finally submerged into the fantastical, utterly unknown world of this film. And at the end, it’s just as Anthony Gonzalez promised: “This score is really for lovers and ghosts.”
6 | thursDAY, December 5, 2013
2013 DukeEngage Leadership in Civic Engagement Award Recipients David Schaad The DukeEngage Program Director Leadership Award recognizes exemplary leadership, including direction in advancing studentsâ€™ civic learning, fostering reciprocal community partnerships, and building institutional commitments to civic engagement and student development.
Lysa Mackean The DukeEngage Excellence in Mentoring Award is presented to a faculty or staff mentor who demonstrates exceptional mentorship to DukeEngage independent project participants, and exemplary leadership and vision in promoting civic engagement within higher education.
Dane Emmerling The DukeEngage Site Coordinator Leadership Award is presented to a site coordinator who demonstrates extraordinary mentorship, leadership, and vision in advancing studentsâ€™ civic learning and development. The recipient also provides exemplary vision in promoting the principles of collaboration, reciprocity and common purpose.
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