What to do this week: October 14 – 19

what-to-do-this-week1Tuesday, October 14

Event: Judith Butler: Fallible Recognition: The Politics of Kinship in the Bacchea
Time: 5:30-7p.m.
Location: Martinos Auditorium, Granoff Center

The Roger B. Henkle Memorial Lecture and MCM department bring us Judith Butler, a name you probably recognize. Butler is an influential gender and literary theorist, today discussing the ancient Greek tragedy after a staged reading by students.

Wednesday, October 15

Event: Rivka Galchen: The Accidental Poetry of Medicine
Time: 5:30p.m.
Location: MacMillan 117

Rivka Galchen has had one of those cool life paths that took her from an M.D. from Mount Sinai to a full-time writer/novelist. Her novel, Atmospheric Disturbances, garnered immense critical praise, as did her more recent short-story collection, American Innovations. In 2010, Galchen was chosen as one of  The New Yorker’s 20 under 40. This literary event is hosted by the Med School, and seems like a promising lesson in serendipity.

Event: Providence Mayoral Debate
Time: 7:00 – 8:15 p.m.
Location: Taubman Center

Mayoral candidates Buddy Cianci, Jorge Elorza, and Daniel Harrop will duke it out at this debate, moderated by Ross Cheit, Professor of Public Policy and Political Science. Whether or not you’re registered to vote in RI, this is an excellent way to learn about issues facing our city. Tickets to the event may have sold out by now, but there will be a live simulcast in Salomon 001.

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This week at the Avon: ‘The Skeleton Twins’ with Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader


After premiering at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, The Skeleton Twins is finally showing in theaters and fortunately for us, at the Avon.

Starring Saturday Night Live alums Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader, The Skeleton Twins is about Dean (Hader) and Maggie (Wiig), a pair of twins who had not spoken in ten years before reconvening after they both attempt and contemplate suicide on the same day. Pretty dark for two people who made Studio 8H roar in laughter and applause not too long ago, right?

The Skeleton Twins is not a comedy, but with Wiig and Hader, it reminds us that even in the most depressing parts of our lives we can find people who understand us and maybe make us laugh, or at least share a smile. Their performances are phenomenal and incredibly nuanced.

Maggie is married to an adorably oblivious husband, played by Luke Wilson, who wants to starts a family in the near future. Maggie, on the other hand, keeps her reservations about having children a secret, leading to questionable choices with other men. Dean has been living in Los Angeles, trying to make it as an actor but struggling to make ends meet as a waiter. His relationship with his boyfriend has evaporated, and he has no one to turn to. We finally see the twins together when Maggie comes to pick up Dean at the hospital to bring him to her home in New York after his attempted suicide. Through a series of flashbacks, we see the chemistry they’ve shared since childhood and eventually learn that their father committed suicide in their early teenage years, leading to further familial complications.

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The Netflix Files: Is the Man Who is Tall Happy?


I’ll admit this up front: if your main goal in watching Is the Man Who is Tall Happy? (2013) is to arrive at an answer to the titular question, you’ll be disappointed. Almost none of the film’s meandering 88 minutes, if any at all, are devoted to meditations on correlative assessments of height and happiness.

It is hard, in fact, to say what the 88 minutes are devoted to–the movie covers so much ground while moving so slowly that it’s hard to understand, when it ends, how it’s been less than six hours, much less an hour and a half. Some of this impression may come from the altered mental state in which I watched Is the Man Who is Tall Happy?, but that caveat is not at all beside the point, since I can give the film my wholehearted recommendation only to those planning on ingesting herbal enhancements before viewing. Luckily, its availability on Netflix instant play ensures this is a feasible pre-watching activity.

Indeed, Is the Man Who is Tall Happy? is, while perhaps far from stereotypical stoner cinema, an essential entry into the genre. What it is–and I apologize for taking so long to get to the point–is a 90-minute conversation between the linguist Noam Chomsky (calling him a linguist is like calling Da Vinci a painter) and French filmmaker Michel Gondry (whose filmography includes, among others, cult classic Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, for which he won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay).

The genesis of the film, Gondry explains at the outset, came from his interest in Chomsky’s ideas dating back to his appearance on “some DVDs [Gondry] picked up at the video store a few years ago.” What DVDs those are, or why any profit-maximizing video store would stock them, is another point entirely, but Gondry quickly goes on to describe Chomsky as “the most important thinker alive,” presented as a quote from no one in particular.

He set out to interview Chomsky–twice, it turns out–and supplement the audio of the interviews with animation because “animation is clearly the interpretation of the author… it’s up to [the audience] to decide if they’re convinced or not.”

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BlogDH’s epic summer movie preview bonanza

Disclaimer: At over 5,700 words, this may well be the longest post BlogDH has ever featured. Certainly it’s the longest post I’ve ever done. Prepare yourselves. Below are 100 movies from the coming summer, with accompanying trailers and descriptions. Every major release is included, but I should note that I was slightly selective with the smaller movies. Still, just about everything you might even consider seeing this summer should be here.  Think of it as one long, long, long study break. Let’s just jump right in.

May 2

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

This newest Spider-Man has, of course, come out already, and by most accounts is nothing to write home about. Still, it’s probably fun enough to sit through, and BlogDH always gives the benefit of the doubt to (500) Days of Summer director Marc Webb.

Walk of Shame

Elizabeth Banks hasn’t really had the career she deserves. Starring in a formulaic rom-com opposite James Marsden probably isn’t the way to kick-start her stalled fortunes, though. We’ll take a pass. So will the rest of the country.


One of those “inspired by a true story” summer indie types, Belle certainly looks like it has its heart in the right place. Reviews so far have been generally positive, and while it probably doesn’t reinvent the wheel, Belle could be a strong choice for fans of historical fiction with moral fiber.


This Polish movie is one of the summer’s many film festival alumni, having roared off the circuit with superb reviews. Probably slow, probably heavy, and definitely not in English, Ida will take some work but may be worth it for more serious film buffs.

May 9


Neighbors came out a while ago in the UK and also screened at IFF a couple weeks ago. BlogDH was there and can vouch for its funniness — the most salient comparison is to Seth Rogen’s last movie, the similarly amusing This is the End. See it if you’re into that kind of thing.

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A Cool Thing You Shouldn’t Miss: Ivy Film Festival 2014

Ivy Film Festival, Brown’s annual student-run film festival, is right around the corner! From Monday, April 14 through Saturday, April 20, IFF has arranged an amazing schedule of events to descend upon College Hill. The Festival’s appeal is not solely in its exclusive screenings and guest speakers, but also in the opportunity it gives Brown’s own filmmaking community to showcase its incredible talents. BlogDailyHerald is proud to announce the Festival’s full lineup here, but make sure to check back on IFF’s Facebook page for additional event details, updates, and more information. Don’t miss this valuable opportunity to get a taste of some of the film industry’s latest accomplishments from both on the Hill and off.

Monday, April 14:

Event: Free Screening: Darren Aronofsky’s Noah
Location: The Avon Theater
Time: 6:15-8:30 p.m.

For the festival’s opening night, come see Aronofsky’s latest film, Noah. This movie recounts a story of “courage, sacrifice, and hope,” inspired by the famous Biblical tale in which a man is chosen by God to lead a rescue mission before an apocalyptic flood destroys the world.

Starring: Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Anthony Hopkins, and Emma Watson

Tuesday, April 15:

Event: Advance Screening: Locke
Location: List 120
Time: 7:30-9 p.m.

Starring Tom Hardy as lead Ivan Locke, director Steven Knight presents a suspenseful film of action and emotional turmoil that all takes place over the course of a single car ride. Locke is “an exploration of how one decision can lead to the complete collapse of a life.”

Starring: Tom Hardy, Ruth Wilson, and Andrew Scott

Wednesday, April 16:

Event: Free Screening: Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel
Location: The Avon Theater
Time: 6:15-8 p.m.

The Grand Budapest Hotel, Anderson’s most recent critically acclaimed venture, follows the mischievous adventures of Gustave H., the legendary concierge at a famous European hotel, and Zero Moustafa, the hotel’s lobby boy and Gustave’s most trusted companion.

Starring: Ralph Fiennes, Tony Revolori, Adrien Brody, Mathieu Almaric, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Jude Law, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, and Tilda Swinton

Event: Skype Q&A with director Wes Anderson
Location: Metcalf Auditorium
Time: 8:30-9:30 p.m.

Following the screening of his latest film, the IFF committee has arranged a Skype Q&A with director Wes Anderson himself! Don’t miss this opportunity to hear Anderson speak about his directorial experiences and much more.

NOTE: Ticketing for both The Grand Budapest Hotel and the Skype Q&A will be released online to the public this Wednesday, April 9 at 6 p.m. If you’d like to attend both events, you will have to get two separate tickets.

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A Misanthrope’s Guide To The Movies: Bad Words, Divergent, and The Grand Budapest Hotel

Spring break is over, but its memories will last forever. Or at least that’s what half a dozen Facebook album names and airport location check-ins tell me. But I can’t say I disagree. This break I travelled from Napa Valley to Minnesota, to Western Europe, and even back to my hometown of Chicago. Chicago in a future dystopia, that is. While some people may have been counting shots or blackouts (no judgment) this break, I was counting movies, and I’m proud to say that in 9 days I watched 9. Of course within movie viewing experiences, there is a hierarchy and as much as I love Netflix, truthfully nothing short of cold hard cash excites more than seeing movies in theaters–the trailers, the popcorn, the people, the glitz, the glamour. Here are some thoughts on a few of the movies that hit theaters this break:

Bad Words


It truly pains me to speak ill of Jason Bateman. I have stuck with him through Horrible BossesThe Changeup, and even Identity Theft. “He’s just trying to find himself in a post-Arrested Development world,” I would explain to myself and some inanimate objects. But Bad Words is one of the worst movies I’ve seen recently [Ed–Hey, I kind of liked it…] and I am no longer able to convince myself that he’s simply in it for the paycheck as Jason not only starred in, but directed this film. The plot centers around a 40 year old man who insists on competing in children’s spelling bees much to the bewilderment and chagrin of parents and the bee’s coordinators, as a result of a loophole in the rules allowing anyone to compete who has not graduated the 8th grade. The problems with this movie start with the racism (Bateman’s character continually refers to a 10-year old Indian child as “slumdog”), continues with the sexism, and culminates in a very thin and abrupt plot. The movie seemed to start too late in Bateman’s journey to properly introduce his character to the audience and ended far too early to justify any of his extremely inappropriate behavior. The saving grace of the film is Rohan Chand who is adorable and the only likable personality on screen. I won’t lie and say I didn’t laugh at all, but when I did it was usually strained and against my better judgment. Something like when you see a small child slip on ice. For an hour and a half.



My sister and mother insist that this was a popular book, but I have no memory of them or anyone else I know reading it. This lack of expectation or any conception of the coming plot was the perfect way to go into this movie, and I was genuinely entertained. Set in a dystopian Chicago where society is divided into factions based on defining personality trait, Divergent follows the Hunger Games trend of teaching children about murder and the evils of human nature under the guise of being an age-appropriate young adult novel. Shailene Woodley led the cast and is already getting hailed as the new Jennifer Lawrence both in coming fame and quirky likability. But if Jennifer Lawrence’s quirky move is asking for french fries on red carpets, Shailene’s is bringing her own herbs to interviews.

Sure, she’s a fairly stiff actress, and I’m not sure why people are so willing to forget that she started on Secret Life of the American Teenager, but she does seem like an interesting person and she was good for this role. Fans of Downton Abbey will recognize Theo James from his infamous appearance as the lover of one of the British women on the show (I don’t know, I don’t watch it). Humans born on earth in the last 100 years will recognize Kate Winslet from life.

The Grand Budapest Hotel


As much as I enjoyed DivergentThe Grand Budapest Hotel was by far the best movie I saw in theaters this break. Fans of Wes Anderson will love his signature style and stunning cinematography, but even non-fans will enjoy the film’s persistent dry humor. Anderson usuals like Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, and Edward Norton are back, but this time only for brief cameos, leaving room for Ralph Fiennes and the young Tony Revolori. The plot is elaborate and relies on Anderson’s characteristic voiceover narration to keep the audience straight on what’s going on, but The Grand Budapest Hotel in essence tells the story of the title hotel and its employees after its concierge is framed for murder. Overall the movie is both serious, suspenseful and laugh-out-loud funny.

If you can only see one movie in theaters because for some reason you only have 24 hours left to live, make it The Grand Budapest Hotel. And if you only have 24 hours left to live, what’s the point of seeing Divergent? You’ll never know what happens in the sequel.

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