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Tag Archives: revolution

11 reasons to see “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire”

21 Nov

The Hunger Games will likely be one of the movie series that defines this generation. It will be talked about for months and referenced for years. In lieu of this, we here at Sherman Ave feel it is of the utmost importance that everyone goes to see it. If, however, the threat of isolation from all of your closest friends and loved ones isn’t enough to convince you, we have 11 more reasons why you should see Catching Fire:

1. Jennifer Lawrence

Untitled

An actress reaching the peak of her career and continuously improving her already-impressive craft, Jennifer Lawrence’s performance in Catching Fire has already wowed critics and fans alike, and is something you should not miss – even if you’re not a huge fan of the series.

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9 Reasons Going to the Movies Alone is Actually Super Rad

15 Apr
You're basically the MLK Jr. of film-goers.

You’re basically the MLK Jr. of film-goers.

While I fully appreciate the convenience of Netflix, Hulu, and Comcast On Demand, I usually prefer to see movies in the theater. A trip to the theater is an event. Movie theaters provide a change in scenery, access to the grossest foods you could dream of, and a much-needed break from my nonexistent life at Northwestern.

Luckily, here at Northwestern, there are literally thousands of nerds to choose from when it comes to finding a movie buddy.  There was no shortage of people to accompany me to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I, The Lion King in 3D, and Wreck-it Ralph. I even managed to find a person with whom I could watch trees, cosmic swirls, and a stern-looking Brad Pitt on a loop for 139 minutes in The Tree of Life.

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How to react to your first episode of Gossip Girl

16 Oct

Hands down the hottest 20-something to play a high schooler in years.

It all started with Monte Carlo[1].

Well, that’s inaccurate, it all started with an accelerated math course in elementary school but to follow the threads back that long would just be boring[2] so we’re going with the abbreviated version and it all started with Monte Carlo.

I used to watch a new movie every day which is relatively easy to do between Netflix and OnDemand and, you know, the internet. One of the last movies in this multi-year habit was Monte Carlo, starring Selena Gomez, Leighton Meester and a blonde woman who seemed very replaceable the entire time. The movie is an intense look into the differences between people as stipulated by classes and also there is a scene where they play polo and also Selena Gomez meets up with her true love while casually working at a Romanian charter school. Also Cory Monteith is in the movie and he doesn’t sing[3] so that’s a plus I guess.

Regardless, I watched the entire movie trying to figure out where I had seen Leighton Meester before. My first guess was Episodes, best known as the show that earned Matt LeBlanc a Golden Globe for playing Matt LeBlanc. However, a quick trip down Wikipedia lane proved that incorrect[4]. I also that it might be Elizabeth Moss but it turns out that Leighton Meester and Elizabeth Moss are two seperate people and only one of them has kissed pre-skinny Jonah Hill.

Then I forgot about it.

Just kidding, then I watched Monte Carlo again because it was on HBO before Real Sex[5] and I like having very confused junk. The second time around I discovered that the film was a clever commentary on a gendered society done through a gender-inverted version of the classic parable, the prince and the pauper and also the replaceable blonde woman is a waitress right in that douchey French guys face and also they could have made a very shocking sequel in which Riley, the carefree Australian goes all Wolf Creek[6] on Leighton Meester.

After this viewing I forgot about it entirely.

Several months later I was at a neighborhood joint I frequent often[7] when Gossip Girl came on. My only knowledge of Leighton Meester up until this point was as the wounded Meg Kelly. A woman driven by academic ambition who learns to accept levity into her life, by way of a very attractive Australian.

In Gossip Girl she plays Blair Waldorf, who is a huge bitch.

Blair is manipulative and just a meanie-pants in general. In specific, in the three episodes of Gossip Girl I saw she blackmailed two people and was really mean to another one and then kissed all the boys and I believe I’ve discovered the perfect analogy to what watching Gossip Girl was like.

Watching Gossip Girl was like the first time I went to visit my brother[8] in college and we got into a huge street fight with some other guys and then went downtown to a suite and sat around in the hallway passing around bottles of André and then me and this other guy got hungry so we went downstairs and ate Popeye’s. Gossip Girl is that chicken. I enjoyed the show a lot at the time, but later when I try to access it again it has turned into shit via entirely normal physical processes.

I have fond memories of watching Gossip Girl, but I’m not sure if that’s because I liked the show or because I was watching it with good company and I was in a great mood. That said, watching the show reminded me of something once said by noted cultural critic and current expatriate John Edwin Foster regarding the inevitable proletariat revolution.

J.E. and I were watching It’s Complicated[9], a movie where there are literally zero considerations for things like money and whatnot, and J.E. told me that when the proletariat revolts it will be because of It’s Complicated. They will rise up banners of fire and counter-oppression and as we look down from the diamond balcony we will have very little soul in our argument and they will justly rend us limb from limb.

Gossip Girl works in substititution for It’s Complicated[10].

The entire show could be summed up as #firstworldproblems. In the episode I watched, a character was removed from all his money, a problem he solved not through any great effort. He just fucked a cougar. Then he got called out on it and the explanation “I fucked a cougar because I needed the guapamole” was perfectly sufficent.

Similarly, someone’s mom was running a fashion show and the cool kids had to show up in order to make sure it was covered by the press. The cool kids did show up but the models didn’t so they had to be the models!

At this point, someone reading this should have bridled as the unfairly one-sided portrayal of Gossip Girl by someone who has admittedly seen a very small amount of the show. “What gives him the right,” you may be asking, “to decry such a show? It’s not like they’re trying to make a really deep show or anything.”

Touche.

Some people don’t know this about me[11], but I’ve seen every episode of Sex and the City and both movies. While the second movie is not really worth mentioning[12], I love the show. My mother suggested the reason why she likes Sex and the City and not shows like Desperate Housewives or Cougartown is because the show, on a very elementary level, is about friendship. That’s what seemed to be missing while I watched Gossip Girl. Blair and Serena have moments of comradery but their relationship is built on mutual antagonism.

The men in Sex and the City are mostly[13] one-dimensional coitus puppets. But the show uses them as plot devices to advance the women. If Berger hadn’t broken up with Carrie via post-it-note then we would have never realized how he, an intellectual foil to her, represented all her insecurities in a relationship and her constant desire to find easy happiness over lasting contentment.

When Chuck hits Blair it’s shocking, but it’s shocking in a way that American Psycho[14] is shocking. There’s no emotional fear, just a physical revulsion to the act. Patrick Bateman was created as a satire of east-coast elite, and so his violence is somewhat representative of the arrogance and incosiderateness of an entire class. When Chuck hits Blair it becomes apparent that you are watching either very deeply layered cultural criticism or a soap opera.

This begs a further question: what is wrong with a soap opera?

There is a prevailing theory that stating a genre informs the experience of the viewer on a fundamental level[15]. If you watch Gossip Girl through the lens that the production value would suggest, then ultimately you will be disappointed. The show is not as glitzy as the location scouting would suggest, it is base, and that is not an insult though it may sound like one. It is less than it claims to be, sure, but if we learned anything from the Nolan Batman trilogy[16] it was it’s not what you say, but what you do that makes you who you are. Despite Gossip Girl‘s vehement claims to the contrary, it is just a tabloid you peruse while waiting to check out at the grocery store. You might enjoy it, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but you should stay conscious of its deliberate sensationalism which fundamentally undermines any sensationalist aspirations it may have.

A final note:

Metafilmic influence is a crazy thing.

Remember Monte Carlo[17]? That was where I saw Leighton Meester for this first time. Usuaully, when an actor has a definitive role[18] it informs how the audience views them in subsequent roles (or previous roles viewed subsequently). This can also be true for the first role you see an actor in.

Imagine watching Gossip Girl through the lens formed by Monte Carlo. Blair Waldorf becomes an act to appear tough, a protection against something. But what?

Does Riley leave Meg after Monte Carlo ends? Is Blair just a girl who opened up her heart, only to have it Temple of Doom‘d, forcing her to act as heartless as possible to avoid being hurt again? Maybe all of her politicking is intentionally self-destructive, as she has seen how the only thing she needed for happiness was an oft-shirtless Australian.

Do you think that Blair ever finds herself sitting by a window in winter? She looks out onto the snow and sees not a blanket but a smothering force. She remembers the beach in Morocco where he told her that the key was not to worry and so she doesn’t. She laments. She ponders the consistency of words when their speaker has been proven to be so inconsistent. She might run a finger over her lips, but only if she is sure no one is watching.

Her phone vibrates. Serena wants to get drunk because she can taste Conneticut in her mouth and she wants to drown it out anyway possible.

When they are having sex with their boyfriends, they’ll think of each other.

It will not be a sexual thought. It will be the absolute misery that comes from realizing that in all of existence there is only one other person who understands your position, and that’s because she is also on her back, legs up in the air and over-priced liquor in her stomach too.

Later that night Blair will turn her head to the side as if to vomit, but nothing will come up. Her stomach has become too fortified against all the poison she ingests.[19]


[1]   I was trying to come up with the name Monte Carlo once and said Montenegro. Very different films, I recommend neither.

[2]   A lot of the time in grades 6-8 would be spent at Yu-Gi-Oh tournaments, a notoriously difficult game to report on.

[3]   I feel very bad for a lot of the actors in Glee because how can any other work be fulfilling after that?

[4]   In my more vain moments I like to imagine that there is a conspiratorial council dictating rapid-fire changes to Wikipedia just to foil the discovery of pleasant coincidinces in my life. Also I was banned from editing Wikipedia so I’m still a little sore about the whole thing.

[5]   There’s a really good drinking game where you drink and watch Real Sex and wonder what went wrong to lead you to this point.

[6]   This is a movie I recommend. If more people see it, then they’ll get what I mean when I drunkenly threaten to Wolf Creek their ass.

[7]   It’s called the Kitten Shack and three Zeta’s live there because only the best can wear the crown.

[9]   I liked It’s Complicated but then I really like Roxanne so maybe I’m just a Steve Martin fan

[10] So does Catcher in the Rye, sorry.

[11] All of you who don’t know me shouldn’t know this, but some people who do know me also don’t know this.

[12] Think Godfather III

[13] Except Aidan. Carrie and Aidan forever.

[14] I only own three DVD’s: American Psycho, Silence of the Lambs, and Remember the Titans.

[15] This is why Rian Johnson never told the cast of Brick that they were making a noire film. Genre conventions, etc.

[16] Those movies are worth watching a few times, which is independent of how good/enjoyable they are.

[17] You didn’t think I was never going to come back to it?

[18] So for John Lithgow, clearly it’s The World According to Garp

[19] The necessary accusation is that in order to write fan-fiction one must, on some level, be a fan.

Your Monthly HorrorScopes

22 Jan

Photo courtesy of Ross Packingham and Ginger LeatherDream

Congratulations! Everyone’s having a pretty good month! Except for Pisces, that’s what you get for being an attention whore who steals my paper thesis and claims it as your own! (How do you live with yourself!?)

Aquarius (Jan 20-Feb 18)
This month, take some time to focus on you. Take a bath, watch a movie, finally get around to burying that body. LOL JK! But there is a fresh dirt path in the park on Grove, approximately 10 feet, from the SW corner, and shovels are on sale this week at Ace Hardware. Pro tip: If you wear a fluorescent orange vest people will assume it’s community service! Happy “planting!”

Things to avoid saying: “I confess”

Pisces (Feb 19-Mar 20)
You may or may not die in a horrible, horrible terrorist attack on the El. You probably deserve it.

Your lucky day: Not Wednesday

Aries (Mar 21-Apr 19)
When Jupiter moves into the apex of Croatia’s left nut, expect good fortune at your feet. That’s right, your new plaid Sperry’s Top Siders finally arrived in the mail! Your fraternity brethren will be drooling with envy, but they will have the last laugh when the snow disintegrates them by the weekend. But, of course, you will be too drunk to notice.

Things to avoid: KKD, DDD, DZ…you know what you’ve done

Taurus (Apr 20-May 20)
You’re at the crossroads of what is sure to be a long journey. Question is, do you watch the video of the panda sneezing set to dubstep, or the new “Shit Adorable Kittens Say After Their Baths?” You also have a midterm paper worth 40% of your grade due tomorrow, but we all know that’s not happening. Pop another caffeine pill and watch them both. Six times.

Your lucky time of day: 7:34 pm (Brian will smile at you in Norbucks!!!)

Gemini (May 21-Jun 21)
Your month begins with a surprise, as the long lost twin sister you never knew you had shows up at your door! (All Geminis are twins, right? That’s how this works?) Even better news: She’s smokin’ hot! As a dude, you know it’s your right, nay, your responsibility to nail her. As a lady, it’s still your job to nail her and film it. Make it black and white, add come captions in a language you made up, and there’s a good chance you can get it into Sundance. If not, at least into the hearts of a few boys in AEPi. Oh, and all of this is definitely not weird at all.

Things to avoid: Taking your sister on a date to see “Shame”

Cancer (Jun 22- Jul 22)
Financial woes have been weighing heavily on your mind, but due to Saturn coming out of the closet, your problems suddenly vanish! Don’t question your roommates newfound money flow, just politely volunteer to peddle his “product” for him. And those little bags of white powder he’s been leaving around the house? I’ve seen enough episodes of Breaking Bad to know that is definitely NOT meth or weed, so stop worrying that you’re a “drug dealer” and start thinking of yourself as a “businessman!” Kellogg, Shmellogg.

Your lucky street name: Chet Haze

Leo (Jul 23-Aug 22)
Looks like it’s a good time for love! Just not for you, but I’m sure your best friend and girlfriend, whoops, EX-girlfriend, will be very happy together. It’ll all be okay! Turn off the Adele, stop licking cookie crumbs from the bag, and GROW A DICK. Maybe then you could keep a girl around long enough for her to see it, too.

Things to avoid: Admitting that you watch Say Yes to the Dress

Virgo (Aug 23-Sep 22)
Everyone agrees you are the best, so why can’t your TA see it too? Did she really expect you to turn in that silly little 10-page paper about the Russian Revolution through the eyes of Tina Fey when you were busy catching up on Mad Men? And your theatre professor didn’t take too kindly to your idea of “sleeping as performance art,” but don’t fret! There’s still time to bring your grades up before Mommy and Daddy take away your new Lexus. Take one for the team, and bang that nerdy, silent girl from down the hall. She’s got a 4.0 average, and you’ll have 4.0 less things to worry about.

Your lucky charm: No bookworm girl can resist a man in thick-framed glasses!

Libra (Sep 23-Oct 23)
Zeus is pissed at Snooki, which parallels your current relationship with your roommate. She’ll hit her breaking point near the end of the month, after you “borrowed-my-favorite-scarf-again-I’ll-kill-you-you-bitch-don’t-even!” You could take the high road (don’t ask ME how to get there, though) and apologize, perhaps buying her dinner to make up for it. But my real advice? Hit the road, girl, and ask for a room transfer. That’s what you get for living in drama-heavy Elder. Pick a nice, quiet, place like ISRC, where you can almost guarantee no one will ever talk back to you. You will be their queen! Enjoy your newfound power!

Things to avoid: Doing the dirty on your roomie’s bed

Scorpio (Oct 24-Nov 21)
Let’s play good news/bad news. Good news! The Tsar has been overthrown! The revolution is over! Huzzah! I’ll tell the people of 1917 you’re very happy for them. Bad news: meanwhile, in 2012, your family dog gets hit by a truck. Good news: He wasn’t really your dog! Bad news: I’m joking. (Too soon?) Good news: He didn’t have cancer! Bad news: You do.

Your lucky charms: will taste bitter after you learn the news

Sagittarius (Nov 22-Dec 21)
The B-list stars are aligning, which means that this month is a good time to expand your talents. Take a pottery class, pick up the harmonica, try swallowing fire while juggling swords and riding a unicycle. Naked. Trust me, I watch Grey’s Anatomy which basically means I’m a doctor. And if these new escapades don’t work out, don’t be discouraged! Just get right back out there and try, try again once you’re released from the hospital!

Things to avoid: Nothing! Stare death in the face while flipping him off!

Capricorn (Dec 22-Jan 19)
The smell of a blooming romance is in the air! At least that’s what you think. Turns out to be the rotten Joy Yee’s leftovers on the bottom shelf of your fridge. But hey! At least you (probably) won’t die alone, your cat happens to love the smell of Chinese food!

People to avoid: That boy in your poetry class that caught you sniffing his hair in last week’s discussion section

Have a good month! And remember, things will never be as bad for you as they are for George Lopez’s fan club!

Ali Parr