The Hoya: The Guide: April 19, 2024

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SPOTLIGHT Ethan Hill (SCS ’25) dives into the culture of anonymous posting app Fizz. B2

MUSIC Tanvi Gorripati (CAS ’27) appreciates the melancholy music of "Older." B4

FILM "La Chimera" is an enchanting tale of love and graverobbing, Grace Ko (CAS ’27) said. B7

April 19, 2024

'Pippin' Cast Talks Production, Community

Nomadic Theatre and Mask and Bauble Dramatic Society bring "Pippin" to Poulton Hall. B3

Elizabethe Bogrette Deputy Guide Editor

What is Fizzin’? Examining the Unique Culture Of Anonymous College Forum App Fizz

Moving into their first semester in college, Braedon Troy (CAS ’27) kept hearing about an app called Fizz — especially since a close friend quickly reached the top 20 most-liked posters.

“My roommate got it,” Troy told The Hoya. “And then another friend of mine who is in the top 20 also downloaded it and started talking about it. I’m like, okay, I feel like I’m missing out.”

Put simply, Fizz is an anonymous posting app only accessible to students on specific college campuses. Students can use it as a forum to talk about whatever they want, whether it be bombing their macroeconomics exam or arguing who is winning the rap beef between Drake and Kendrick Lamar.

Troy, who has been a fan of college basketball for as long as they can remember, said that the content other Georgetown

University students were posting immediately hooked them on the app. Around the start of basketball season in Oct., they had an idea: what if they started updating Fizz users on all things Hoya hoops? That’s when they decided to set their handle as “cooley’s army” and post updated basketball scores, standings, recruits and transfers. Today, Troy is ranked seventh all-time on the Georgetown Fizz leaderboard. For a chance to make the coveted leaderboard, users need their posts to get upvotes, each of which earns them an additional karma point. Every upvote boosts your karma score, allowing you to then see where you rank on the karma leaderboard. If you are bold enough, you can also set a handle for yourself to post under. Consistent usernames and the public top-20 leaderboard have created familiarity with those users – and a few new campus microcelebrities.

This newfound fame was on full display between March and April this year, when

one user created a “Fizz Madness” bracket, a March Madness-style tournament pitting prominent users in a popularity contest against each other via polls posted on the app. Some of these polls saw over a thousand students chiming in to share who their favorite Fizz users were.

The most upvoted posts on the app have about 2,000 upvotes — equivalent to onefourth of Georgetown’s undergraduate student body. Despite the top 20 users’ fame on the app, since Fizz is an anonymous app, most students don’t know who these campus celebrities are in real life.

“I think about that all the time,” says Teddy Gerkin (CAS ’26), a top-20 user with the screen name “mr. wisemiller.” “It’s a pretty awesome feeling for me – I’ve always felt like I’ve had a good sense of humor, and I guess to be validated by a quarter of campus is pretty cool.”

Outside of the celebrity of the top 20, the app has a variety of other inside jokes. Take

The app Fizz allows college students to share posts anonymously with others on campus, creating community and inside jokes.

the popular top-20 Fizz user, “Chill Blinton,” for example — “Chill Blinton” takes on the persona of former president Bill Clinton (SFS ’68), making niche references to the Clinton presidency. Ranging from his impeachment to his highly-publicized affair with Monica Lewinsky.

Gerkin said the app is also a prime opportunity for students to lift up others in the Georgetown community — particularly Youssef, a food service worker at Epicurean & Company and Royal Jacket Deli.

“I’m a frequenter at Epi’s and Royal Jacket, where you know Youssef works a lot,” Gerkin said. “I have only had good experiences with him, and I think the fact that it gets recognized – I’m looking at a post right now that has 2,000 upvotes – I think the fact that that gets recognized by the rest of the student body is amazing.”

Outside of the top 20 user jokes, uplifting people in the community and Jack the Bulldog memes, how does Fizz affect campus culture and discourse? Robbie Safran (SFS ‘27) is not convinced the app moves the needle much on campus issues. “Personally I think there is a very clear separation – between my real-life social circles and what happens on fizz,” says Safran. “I don’t think Fizz – influences Georgetown culture, I think Georgetown culture influences Fizz – I think it’s sort of a one-way relationship.” Troy also shared the same sentiment, stating “ I don’t think it has that many real-life effects. – I don’t think that it has a major effect on campus culture.”

Fizz is a microcosm of the Georgetown community, with its own inside jokes, celebrities and culture – a place that can give community members a sense of belonging in an otherwise isolating and divided world. As silly as Fizz is, it brings the Georgetown student body together and provides us all with a good laugh, a sense of togetherness and school spirit.


‘Pippin’ Proves to Audiences What a Little Magic, Romance Can Do for a Musical

The Guide sat down with the cast and crew of “Pippin” to discuss their experiences working on their show, embarking upon new and challenging roles and adapting to their circumstances to provide audiences with a glamorous production while still a minimal set.

“Pippin,” first produced in 1972, has taken on many musical forms since its conception on Broadway. From classic musical theater songs such as “Magic to Do” and “No Time at All” to dark plots of patricidal revenge, limitless ambition and 1700s feudalism, this show really has it all. Nomadic Theatre and the Mask and Bauble Dramatic Society have collaborated to put on the cult classic, showing from April 11-14 and April 18-20 in Poulton Hall.

This rendition, however, managed to do more than transport audiences into the world of glitz and glamor — it heavily impacted the lives of the cast and crew who made the production possible.

Daniel Tomas (SFS ’26), who plays King Charlemagne, Pippin’s tyrannical father, said “Pippin”

pushed him to take new approaches to acting. “Usually, I get typecast as villain roles, so being more of a funny character this time was definitely a bit more of a challenge for me,” Tomas told The Hoya. “The directors helped me a lot, usually with the humor part because I was struggling a little bit with comedic timing. I think, in general, in every scene, I was really trying to embrace the character.”

First-year Daisy Thomas (CAS ’27) plays Bertha, Pippin’s grandmother with an indecent side who longs for the way things were while still refusing to truly grow up. Thomas said being part of the production allowed her to find herself within the theater community.

“I didn’t know that much about Pippin, either, actually. I joined because I wanted to spend more time with everybody,” Thomas told The Hoya . “I did it for the community, but I found that throughout the process — especially getting to express a comedic side of myself and to learn how to dance with everybody — it’s so joyful.”

Alongside the actors, a team of directors, stage managers and crew put together the logistical intricacies of the production.

Among them, director Drew Lent (CAS ’25) knew that he wanted to pursue “Pippin” from the beginning.

“I produced my freshman spring and also my sophomore spring, and those experiences really made me want to direct a show,” Lent told The Hoya. “I ultimately chose Pippin as the show to direct because it was one of my very first shows as a kid growing up, since 2013 when I saw it on Broadway.”

Technical Director Molly Kenney (CAS ’25), who designed the show’s sets, said “Pippin” was a collaborative team effort.

“I get to go into that room but still feel like I’m a part of the community, just because everyone is working with the things that we built together,” Kenney told The Hoya . “And also just being able to feel so welcomed in that room was really nice, because it doesn’t always happen.”

According to Lent and Kenney, the production was not always smooth sailing, with the crew often realizing their aspirations did not align with the space available in Poulton Hall. From lighting issues to low ceilings, the space was not able to fit the Moulin

Rouge-inspired set they had dreamed of. Nevertheless, they were able to use that to their advantage, using the theatrics on stage in order to achieve the same effect.

Unlike more lighthearted musicals, “Pippin” also delves into the darker side of theater. Audiences are able to understand the complexities of depression and mania alongside Pippin himself as he attempts to sort through the world of his own creation. As a cast and crew, the team was prepared to face these challenges head on: ensuring that the cast felt both safe and respected while also still confronting these topics in a respectful, yet impactful manner.

Amelia Shotwell (CAS ’25), who plays the romantic lead in the show, Catherine, said the cast felt the theater was always a safe space to explore difficult matters.

“We are choosing to take on heavy topics, but with a lot of care and thought and respect to safety rather than to take away from it at all,” Shotwell told the Hoya . “The fear of going for those darker themes means that sometimes you’re not able to make such beautiful art.”

Caitlin Waugh (CAS ’24) plays Fastrada, Pippin’s stepmother with a devilish streak and a character often cast in a revealing light. Waugh said the production brought in a professional intimacy coordinator to work with cast members during points of physical contact, such as sexual innuendo or battle scenes.

“The room is then a very safe space,” Waugh told The Hoya. “She really gave us and everyone who’s worked with her the tools to talk about anything they were feeling.”

Thomas encouraged students to see the show before it closes on April 20.

“It’s really weird, but you can find yourself in unexpected places,” Thomas said. “One of my favorite parts of doing this show was staring at the audience members and interacting. It’s so fun. So come, let us wave and point at you!”

COURTESY OF MIRANDA XIONG Michael Scime (left) and Tommy Reichard (right) interact in “Pippin,” a collaboration between Nomadic Theatre and the Mask and Bauble Dramatic Society.


Lizzy McAlpine’s Timeless ‘Older’ Juxtaposes Fast-Paced Music with Melancholic Lyricism

Tanvi Gorripati

Hoya Staff Writer

Get ready to dive into a world of melancholic introspection with Lizzy McAlpine’s new album, “Older,” a captivating indie-folk musical journey.

Lizzy McAlpine released her third studio album, “Older,” April 5 following the release of the single of the same name Feb. 13. With predominantly indie and folk influences, similar to her earlier albums, McAlpine showcases her mastery of lyricism on “Older,” as her soft voice paired with melancholic instrumentals serve as a melodic lullaby.

“The Elevator” is a great introduction to the album. It starts out slow, but quickly builds momentum following a beat drop. The track ends soon after, mimicking the movement of an elevator and drawing the listener into the album. “The Elevator” perfectly transitions into the next track, “Come Down Soon,” making it hard to distinguish between the end of one song and the start of the other and speak-

ing to the overall cohesion of the album.

In the second track, “Come Down Soon,” McAlpine juxtaposes upbeat music and lamenting lyrics. McAlpine warns herself that her current relationship, no matter how good it is, will end eventually, claiming that “nothing this good ever lasts this long.” This theme of a relationship ending continues throughout the album.

“All Falls Down” is the standout of the album, setting itself apart from the other tracks within both “Older” and the genre. McAlpine makes great use of the trumpet, an underrated and underused instrument in indie folk. The song is a reflection of the feelings that the end of a school year brings, the yearning for time to stand still as the future rushes forward.

Next, “Staying” is about how hard it is for McAlpine to leave a relationship even though it is bleeding her dry. McAlpine continues her rumination of whether she should stay or go with her

next track, “Drunk, Running,” which illustrates how it feels to be in a relationship with an addict.

The song “Broken Glass” carries an almost eerie feeling, akin to a murder mystery, which aptly fits with the extended metaphor of shattered glass symbolizing a fractured relationship. It evokes imagery reminiscent of a cinematic experience, with its gradual rise and impassioned bridge resembling the climactic moment in a film where the culprit is finally unmasked. The song concludes with a minor melody bringing to mind a protagonist’s mysterious gaze, leaving the listener eager for more.

The same eerie aura continues in “You Forced Me To” as McAlpine sings about feeling as though she is not good enough to be with her current partner, who she believes is a better lover than her. “Broken Glass” and “You Forced Me To” seem like a pair, both having similar minor chord progressions.

“Better Than This” is a self-reflection paired with a soft strumming guitar. McAlpine compares how

American singer-songwriter


she sees herself to how her partner sees her. Once again, McAlpine worries that her partner is not seeing the true her, but rather an idealized version, and that in reality, she is a terrible partner.

In “March,” McAlpine grieves for her father. She describes how she sees him in everything, even her own mirror, and how difficult it has been for her to move on. Though grieving a parent is always a Sisyphean task, “March” is a reminder that no one is alone in that struggle and that a loved one will always remain within memories and, in McAlpine’s case, music.

Despite many of the songs in the album containing similar themes, as they are written about the same relationship, McAlpine does a phenomenal job making each track unique from the others, whether by changing the pacing or the harmonic sequences. Nevertheless, the exceptional cohesion of the album can make it sound a bit repetitive, especially for new listeners of McAlpine or the genre. Many of the songs are brief, some barely reaching two minutes; however, McAlpine succeeds in making a mark on her listeners even within this short time.

With “Older,” McAlpine produces tracks that induce dancing around your room and others that might prompt face-planting onto your bed, capturing all of the feelings involved in a longterm relationship. “Older” creates the perfect soundtrack for spring, a recommended listen on a rainy day, a lonely night or simply during a productive study session.

@LIZZYMCALPINE/INSTAGRAM McAlpine dropped her third album, the indiefolk “Older,” April 5.

Analyzing the Value, Impact of Artificial Intelligence in Movies

Not long ago, the SAG-AFTRA and WGA strikes took Hollywood and television by storm, lasting roughly four and five months, respectively, and costing the industry nearly $5 billion due to delays and cancellations. The writers and actors finally reached deals, and one key part was protection for artists and writers from artificial intelligence (AI) technology.

There is a fear in Hollywood that AI may eventually replace the roles of scriptwriters, visual effects artists, composers and other crucial crew members needed to create movies. An already underpaid group risks getting kicked out of the movie-making process altogether. If true, this could mean that thousands of jobs are at risk. The legitimacy of these concerns warrants close examination. How can the future of AI help the film industry while maintaining the stability of the workers it threatens to replace?

Given the rapid advancements in generative AI and its potential to disrupt established

creative workflows in the industry, this is a valid and understandable concern. While there still is a consensus that AI can’t produce original TV shows and movies that are close to what human writers can do, some believe that date is not far away. The meteoric rise of ChatGPT, which shocked the industry when it debuted in late 2022, exemplifies the rate of progress.

Figures like former “Family Ties” star Justine Bateman, who has a background in computer science, believe AI poses an “existential threat” to the entertainment industry as we know it. Bateman warns that AI can create “a convincing simulation of a human actor” and questions why anyone would need to pay real actors when the technology is advancing so quickly. The unions’ picket signs, which decry AI as a usurper of human creativity, “not true art,” echo this sentiment.

However, some provide a more nuanced perspective. Many industry experts see AI as a powerful tool that can enhance and complement the work of creatives, rather than replace them entirely. Some, like Monica Landers of StoryFit, a technology company, argue that current AI technology is “so empty” and lacks the pacing, character development and emotional resonance that come from human writers and directors.

Renowned filmmakers like James Cameron



Filmfest D.C. will grace theaters around the District with over 60 different international films spanning 36 countries beginning April 18. For the next 11 days, the festival will feature a varied lineup of genres: comedies, dramas, thrillers and more. There truly is something for everyone, so be sure to get tickets, which are discounted for those under 25, for your new favorite film before the festival ends April 28.

echo this sentiment, with Cameron stating that “AI cannot reflect on art and understand it the same way a creative human artist can.” He suggests that a more productive strategy is to figure out where AI technology is most useful while ensuring that individual creators’ copyrights and performers’ name, image and likeness rights are protected.

Some forward-thinking filmmakers are already experimenting with AI to streamline production workflows and unlock new creative possibilities, like using AI for tasks such as deaging actors and dubbing scenes into other languages. Nvidia — a multinational tech company —CEO Jensen Huang even goes so far as to say that “generative AI is the new killer app,” democratizing the creative process and empowering anyone to harness its power. And in some ways, this is certainly true. What used to take hours and hundreds of thousands of dollars can now be done by AI at a fraction of the cost. No longer is it necessary to beg for a big check to get a movie made.

AI cannot altogether replace all steps in the movie-making process, but it can massively improve and speed them up. In scriptwriting and storytelling, AI plays a pivotal role, as machine learning algorithms analyze extensive databases of successful scripts to identify patterns and


Whether you are a U.S. history buff or a musical enthusiast, this showing of “Little Shop of Horrors” at Ford’s Theatre has a wide-ranging appeal. The horror-comedy-love story has become a cult classic in theater since its original off-off-Broadway premiere in 1982. Now, it has come to our very own D.C. theater scene until May 18 and has already received rave reviews from The Washington Post. Tickets start at $36 to attend a show you won’t forget.

trends that resonate with audiences, providing valuable creative inspiration for writers. AIdriven tools enable filmmakers to plan their shots precisely, generating virtual storyboards that optimize resources and time for more efficient and cost-effective production processes. This allows for more movies to be made by more people, and also allows much more creativity in the filming process, as lower budgets mean less pressure to create a sure blockbuster hit.

Ultimately, the future of the movie industry lies in finding the right balance and integration between human artistry and technological capabilities. While the unions’ concerns about job displacement are valid, with the right approach, AI can become a collaborative partner in bringing cinematic visions to life, rather than a disruptive force. The path forward may involve some “kicking the can down the road” on specific AI-related issues, but the industry must also address the fundamental questions around name, image and likeness and intellectual property rights, as well as the responsible use of AI in the creative process. By doing so, the movie industry can embrace the opportunities AI presents while ensuring the human talents and skills that have defined the medium for generations are protected and empowered.

THIS WEEK’S THEME: Something for Everyone


If you have an interest in Formula 1, be sure to watch the Red Bull Showrun make its debut this weekend on Pennsylvania Avenue. The Formula 1 Fan Fest at Union Market will boast a variety of motorsports-related activities, including a question and answer session with the Oracle Red Bull Racing team, April 14. However, the main event occurs at 4 p.m. April 20, when fans can watch a Red Bull racecar drive through the heart of D.C. If that wasn’t enough, this event is 100% free and open to the public.


“Women to Watch” has officially returned to the National Museum of Women in the Arts. This year it showcases global perspectives of 28 different women in the largest installation yet, entitled “New Worlds.” This new exhibition will focus on alternative realities, both past and future, through paintings, sculpture, photography and other mediums. The museum is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., so stop by if you are looking for a stroke of inspiration.


A24’s Unsettling New Film ‘Civil War,’ Set in DC’s Heart, Illuminates America’s Divide Through Sharp Cinematography

Set in a dystopian future where regional blocs have rebelled against the authoritarian federal government, A24’s “Civil War” serves as a blunt commentary on the political polarization plaguing the United States. With notable casting and a tense script, the film immerses viewers in the harsh realities of U.S. politics as it follows renowned photojournalist Lee Smith (Kirsten Dunst) and her companions’ journey across a war zone to interview the dictatorial president (Nick Offerman) before Washington, D.C., falls to rebel forces.

The film is replete with classic A24 gore and startling scenes, evoking memories of previous horror pieces like “Hereditary” and “Midsommar.” What sets “Civil War” apart is its lack of supernatural elements, grounding the true horrors depicted in the film in the harsh reality of societal trends toward political militant violence.

Dunst delivers an amazing performance as the leading woman, perfectly embody-


ing the role of a veteran war photographer who has been emotionally hardened by the horrors of her work. This role truly played to her strengths as an actress. The duality between her character and the young Jessie Cullen (Cailee Spaeny), whose versatility as an actress shone through in the drastic departure from her recent appearance as the lead in A24’s “Priscilla,” illustrates the evolution from girlhood to womanhood in a mentally grueling field.

Beyond Dunst’s performance, I would be remiss not to emphasize the cinematography of “Civil War” as a standout aspect of the film. It serves to enhance its thematic depth and emotional resonance. A24 usually does justice by its productions with masterful camerawork and visual composition, and this was no exception. The film captures the gritty realism of its subject matter, immersing viewers in the tumultuous world of political polarization and societal unrest. Sweeping wide shots convey the scale of protests and conflicts. Take, for example, the opening scene that utilized a

first person viewpoint of police brutality to shock viewers into an attentive state.

The intimate close-ups that revealed the raw emotions of the actors added even more depth to every frame and were meticulously crafted to evoke a sense of immediacy and intensity. Especially during the multitude of scenes depicting the sudden deaths that characterize war, the close-ups of bodies and those around them really made you feel as if you were experiencing the loss of life firsthand. The use of lighting and color further enhanced the mood and atmosphere, with stark contrasts and muted tones reflecting the bleakness of the film’s narrative. Overall, the cinematography truly elevated the storytelling, creating a visually stunning and thematically rich cinematic experience.

While the plot may be somewhat less inventive than other A24 productions, the sharpness of the rising actions and climax alleviates the predictability to a certain extent. If I were to describe this film in one phrase, it would be this: comedic yet disturbing, with a tasteful amount of tragedy.

Despite my frustration with the ending, “Civil War” left a lasting impression on me, a testament to its success.

Moreover, the experience of attending the movie during the press release profoundly influenced the surrounding emotions. As I sat in a room full of journalists, the irony of watching a film about journalists in a city where journalism is a prevalent industry was palpable. The sounds of pens scratching on paper after every intense scene underscored the film’s message about societal desensitization and the disconnect between interpersonal relationships, which is particularly evident in the chaos of political systems.

“Civil War” provides an eye-opening experience that transcends the screen, prompting viewers to reevaluate their perspectives on the world around them. While it may be docked slightly for predictability, its strengths in cinematography, casting and relevance warrant a relatively high rating. As a young college student in the District, I highly encourage everyone to see this film and subsequently see our society for what it is becoming.

Coffeehouses Have Drawn Nonconformists From Medieval England to Modern New York. Can They Do the Same in DC?

Washington, D.C., ranked among the most diverse regions in the entire country in 2021. A city rich in cultural and ethnic fabric, D.C. illustrates how diversity facilitates the exchange of new and differing ideas, often generating social and political change. Indeed, as the nation’s capital, the District has been at the center of some of the most influential political movements of the last half-century, including the Civil Rights Movement, Women’s Liberation Movement and the anti-war movement of the late 1960s and early ’70s. But other movements have gotten their start in a more unassuming location: the coffeehouse.

Due to its low cost, getting coffee has long been an accessible activity for individuals of all social and political backgrounds. Cafes have also been considered a perfect meeting place for the exchange of free thought among ordinary people for a long time, as noted by the presence of the world’s first coffeehouse in 1555 in Constantinople.

From there, coffeehouses spread throughout the Islamic world, finally arriving in Western Europe in the 17th century. By 1675, there were more than 3,000 coffeehouses in England where patrons would gather to exchange ideas. That same year,

King Charles II issued “A Proclamation For The Suppression of Coffee Houses” in an effort to stifle criticism of his rule, which failed spectacularly when the law was abolished after less than two weeks following widespread public outcry.

In the United States, the Green Dragon coffee house served as the primary meeting place for organizers of the 1773 Boston Tea Party. Almost two centuries later, members of the Beat Generation, an experimental literary subculture, frequented coffeehouses in New York City’s Greenwich Village and in San Francisco’s North Beach, fueling the counterculture movements of the 1960s.

Caffe Trieste, once a staple of San Francisco’s Beatnik scene, is still frequented by locals who gather there to discuss politics, poetry and prose. Opened in 1956, it sits just up the street from the famous City Lights Bookstore, where beatnik writers Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsburgh spent much of their heyday. The space is small but airy and resembles a typical European cafe, featuring a huge glass case full of Italian pastries and, of course, a shiny espresso machine.

With 68 years of history, Caffe Trieste lives out its legacy as a counterculture establishment by giving voice to fringe movements through live music events and art showcases.

However, even during the mass social upheaval of the 1960s, D.C.’s cafes seemed to lack a prominent role within the city’s social and political landscape. In Georgetown, the District’s oldest neighborhood, most coffee shops are chain outlets such as Compass Coffee, Coffee Republic and Blank Street Coffee. These more corporate shops, to me, lack the intimate and relaxing atmosphere unique to family-owned businesses. The prominence of chain stores also means that The District does not appear to harbor the casual and edgy social scenes of counterculture movements in cities like San Francisco.

Luckily, among all the chain stores on Wisconsin Avenue, several unique cafes are still open for business. For instance, take Café Con Bagel, a family-owned cafe serving bagels, empanadas and Bolivian coffee at 1332 Wisconsin Ave. NW. Since its opening in May 2023, brothers Pablo and Marcelo Salazar have worked together with their parents to run the business with care and attention.

Step into shops like Café Con Bagel and it’s hard not to feel like something is missing from corporate coffee chains. Upon walking into the cafe, customers may encounter friendly baristas “talking coffee,” then choose whether to sit on the ground

floor overlooking Wisconsin Avenue in the large downstairs area or outside on the back patio. The space as a whole has a unique character and is filled with the sounds of conversation as people sip flavorful coffee. Although hard to find as Georgetown grows more and more gentrified, several other independent bakeries and cafes across the area, such as Boulangerie Christophe and Janti Café, mirror this atmosphere.

Preserving small coffee shops is crucial for maintaining community roots. Unlike their corporate counterparts, businesses that are owned by D.C. locals may be more in tune with the community’s needs and thus attract a more local crowd.

After all, Georgetown is not just a tourist attraction, but a neighborhood where people live and work. Neighborhood establishments from Caffe Trieste to Café Con Bagel offer familiarity. People are much more likely to converse with one another if they know they are neighbors. Moreover, a simple conversation between neighbors could lead to friendship, weekly coffee chats and exchange of the kind that starts a social movement.

D.C. may not be known for its coffeehouse culture, but it’s family-run cafes that create space for diversity, conversation and perhaps even novel change.

FILM 


Carol Duarte plays Italia, an endearing young woman who is the main love interest in “La Chimera.”

Alice Rohrwacher’s Intimate, Romantic Drama ‘La Chimera’ Presents an Enchanting Folktale of Archaeology, Love

“La Chimera,” the latest film from Italian director Alice Rohrwacher, paints a gorgeous, quiet fantasy from its story of a young, wearied tomb robber. This movie relishes in the beauty of nature and the history buried secretly beneath its surface, creating a distinct modern wonderland that I couldn’t help but be pulled into.

The movie centers around Arthur (Josh O’Connor), a young British man who returns to a small town within Italy’s countryside after being bailed out of jail. Although initially hesitant to do so, he quickly rejoins his old crew in finding and robbing ancient tombs — not just because ancient artifacts fascinate him, but also because he needs money. However, the death of Arthur’s girlfriend, seen only in a series of flashbacks, haunts him, and he attempts to move on from his grief as he slowly begins to find love with Italia (Carol Duarte), a young Italian caretaker who works for his late girlfriend’s mother.

The gorgeous cinematography plays a huge role in creating the movie’s atmosphere. Throughout the movie, many grainy and bit-

tersweet shots feel as if they are from personal camera footage, and are particularly used for presenting memories of Arthur’s late girlfriend, creating an air of intimacy and nostalgia. Cinematographer Hélène Louvart captures the gorgeous landscape of the countryside in patient shots that give the film a quiet beauty and add to the film’s distinct energy. In addition to these beautiful stills, the camera work also captures some of the more mysterious elements of the story, particularly Arthur’s almost supernatural ability to find gravesites, by inverting the camera whenever his senses pick up one of these buried tombs.

However, the storyline of “La Chimera” itself often feels like a loose flow rather than a driving force. With a slower pace, the narrative serves as a guide to exploring the movie’s environment, which is a style of storytelling that can often be divisive. Personally, I thought this simple narrative thread allowed for flexibility in crossing between the realistic and the fantastical. In addition, the overall narrative is still able to deliver quite the emotional punch, albeit in a more subdued way that leaves a quiet ache or longing.

Furthermore, the lively cast of characters within the movie adds a strong presence against the more peaceful landscape. A particular standout is the team of grave robbers that Arthur works with, which consists of fascinating characters such as the brash Pirro (Vincenzo Nemolato) and the airy, charming Mélodie (Lou Roy-Lecollinet), who tags along. It’s this group that drives the comedic beats of the narrative.

As with much of “La Chimera”, the comedy also comes with a certain sweetness. For example, the tomb-digging excursions of Arthur and his friends have a charming playfulness, detailed with sped-up footage as they scurry from one tomb to another, nimbly running and hiding from the occasional police that chase after them as a bard’s song about their adventures plays on top of their excursions.

The performances further elevate the already-enchanting energy of the story. O’Connor is a particular standout, emitting a certain soft charm as Arthur. He deftly navigates between Arthur’s quiet exuberance in the illegal archaeological escapades

and his longing and grief, a constant remnant of the devastating loss he faced. Furthermore, O’Connor’s chemistry with Duarte gives a needed sweetness and pull to the romance between Arthur and Italia.

Alongside O’Connor, Duarte shines in her role as Italia, a grounding presence in the narrative, whose awkward charm creates an endearing atmosphere in every scene she is in. Beyond these more romantic moments, Duarte excels at the dramatic beats, especially in confronting Arthur over his tomb-raiding activities. There is a certain boldness to Duarte’s Italia that stands in contrast to Arthur’s reservedness, pulling the audience out of the mystical side of Arthur’s adventures and bringing them back to sore reality as he opens and steals from what are meant to be places of final, eternal rest.

With its combination of gorgeous imagery and enchanting performances, “La Chimera” presents an enrapturing tale of love and loss between its characters as they teeter between the past and present, creating a spellbinding experience that will certainly leave you with a bittersweet longing.

FILM 

Reflecting on the Iconic Claymation World of Aardman Animations

Ginger and Rocky of “Chicken Run” fame and the eponymous Shaun the Sheep and Wallace and Gromit represent the pinnacle of claymation achievement. All created from scratch by British animation studio Aardman Animations, these characters have populated the imaginations of diehard fans and mainstream audiences alike since the studio was founded in 1972. To this day, Aardman’s creative independence, exquisite craftsmanship and original storytelling set the studio apart from others who have tried to replicate their success. Their achievements in popularizing animation as a genre and creating a wholesome universe of characters — one which multiple generations love — cannot be understated.

Aardman’s original founders, Peter Lord and David Sproxton, envisioned producing a formidable slate of animated features and shorts that no independent animation studio had been able to produce before. However, they had to overcome humble beginnings to realize their

ambitious vision.

To start, the studio focused on providing animation services to British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) shows. Through several years of this arrangement, Lord and Sproxton were able to build a strong enough relationship with their BBC collaborators to the point where the BBC afforded them the creative freedom to pursue independent projects under the Aardman label.

Some of their earliest works during this period include “Animated Conversations: Down and Out,” a 1979 release about a homeless elderly man who tries to figure out the workings of a social security office, and “Confessions of a Foyer Girl,” a 1978 release about a foyer girl who reflects on her life experiences.

As the studio gained more traction, it also started creating the characters for which it would become most famous later on. In 1989, Aardman completed “A Grand Day Out” under the direction of Nick Park, who had been a new addition to the team just a few years earlier. The short introduced Wallace, an inventive but absent-minded tinkerer, and his companion Gromit, an intelligent and resourceful dog. Well-received, especially by animation critics, it would be Aardman’s first of many nominations at the Academy Awards.

The same year, the studio also released “Creature Comforts,” a comedic mockumentary


that featured recordings from real people talking about their homes synced up with claymation zoo animals. This was also nominated for Best Animated Short Film at the Academy Awards, with “Creature Comforts” eventually winning over “A Grand Day Out.”

In between these two hits and the next “Wallace & Gromit” film, Aardman churned out a number of other hidden gems. Though they never received as much fanfare as some of their fellow productions, three of their films — “Rex the Runt: How Dinosaurs Became Extinct,” a 1991 stop-motion television show about an irritable but humorous plasticine dog; “Adam,” a 1992 parody of the original Biblical creation story; and “Not Without My Handbag,” a 1993 animated short about a recently deceased elderly woman who forgot to bring a proper handbag to hell — certainly deserve at least a watch.

“Wallace & Gromit: The Wrong Trousers” in 1993 and “Wallace & Gromit: A Close Shave” in 1995 represented the studio’s triumphant return to the affable characters. Both shorts netted Academy Awards, elevating Aardman to a whole new level of success. Audiences appreciated Aardman’s commitment to telling simple but heartfelt, thoughtful stories — and loved the films.

By the turn of the century, the studio had amassed an extremely impressive filmography,

with critics and audiences around the world coming to revere it. However, their best was yet to come. “Chicken Run” in 2000 made animation history, becoming the highest-grossing stopmotion feature film of all time. The jailbreak story of hens stuck on a farm is action-packed and whimsical, grabbing audience members’ attention. That its 2023 sequel “Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget” still garnered audience fanfare when Aardman released it over two decades later is a testament to how timeless the studio’s stories have become.

The feature film treatment of Wallace and Gromit — “Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit” — followed in 2005. More recently, the studio has begun to mix its traditional claymation techniques with new technologies such as CGI animation. Aardman’s most recent franchise, “Shaun the Sheep,” brings a minor but lovable “Wallace & Gromit” character to the forefront in a series of 20-minute shorts. Expanding the franchise with “Shaun the Sheep: The Movie” in 2015 and “A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon” in 2020 represents Aardman’s constant work to balance incorporating the old but also embracing the new. No matter where Aardman may head in the future, this much is true: It has a timeless foundation to build off of and the potential to win over a new generation of fans.

This Week’s Theme: Next Week’s Forecast


1. Optometric scan meets TSA


6. The first letter of this musical style mimics the shape your mouth makes when you sing it

7. Single hockey stick, say

8. Unit of pressure

9. Negatively charged ion

11. ____ D: world’s worst orange juice


1. Coke and Pepsi, for two

2. Another word for record

3. “It’s best to let sl_____g dogs lie”

4. A crime of Promethean proportion

5. Just another day in Seattle

10. Thirteenth letter of the Greek alphabet



1. Trying to get a townhouse is a ___ errand

6. Logo for Restoration Hardware

7. Double it and you get arguably the place with the best late night sandwich

8. Oops, _ ___-ended her minivan

10. Type of caramel corn with chocolate drizzles

11. Nada, Nothing,...


1. Humidity + hair = ___

2. What you might say when surprised by a famous outdoor store?

3. A circle

4. Movement on your hands and knees, backwards

5. Snook, best known for her work in Succession

9. Estimate blood loss, or the middle of “nosebleed”

issue’s solutions 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 1 F 2 O 3 O 4 L 5 S 6 R H 7 W A 8 I R E A R 10 Z E B R A 11 Z I L C H

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