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‘El Camino’ is the best kind of fan service

(10/16/19 2:14am)

The streaming wars are here, and every week seems to bring a new show of one-upmanship as one company or another proudly announces the revival, follow-up or sequel to a beloved intellectual property. Netflix had its moment of pride with the surprise reveal of “El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie” this summer, a “Breaking Bad” sequel delivered in the format of a movie that had been filmed in secret only one year earlier. 

‘Mr. Robot’ is the television thriller of the 2010s

(10/11/19 6:44pm)

“I’ve hurt so many people,” lead Elliot Anderson (Rami Malek) says in the premiere of Mr. Robot’s last season. “I have to make this right.” After four years, Sam Esmail’s innovative cyberpunk thriller “Mr. Robot” has evolved from a stylish, hacker-themed homage to “Fight Club” into a compelling modern fantasy about morality. The show —  despite its dark themes and unreliable narrator —  has never lacked a moral center. From the excellent pilot opener to its final remaining episodes, Elliot has remained a flawed character trying to do the right thing —   whatever that means. He suffers from depression, social anxiety, drug addiction, and yet he sees the modern world better than any of television's more typical protagonists or antiheroes.

‘Abstract: The Art of Design’ lets artists explain the magic

(10/01/19 2:45am)

The streaming era of television has been a turbulent one for the creative industry, both praised for the freedom it gives artists and simultaneously criticized for oversaturating the media landscape with a scattershot approach to programming. The imaginative content it leads to, however, is a dream for many specific audiences. Lower key projects — like Netflix’s documentary series “Abstract: The Art of Design” — are a testament to the beauty of niche media produced to perfection. The series follows influential artists and designers of the modern world narrating their careers and creative processes, and its second season debuted quietly on the streaming service Wednesday.

Climate conversation on Grounds continues with Ruffin Gallery Display

(09/29/19 2:59am)

“We are not scientists,” explained activist artists Yvonne Love and Gabrielle Russamongo when giving a talk on their latest work, currently on display in Ruffin Gallery. “Our entrance into this work was visual.” The pair of collaborating artists may not be climate scientists, but Russamongo’s photography and Love’s material-based sculptures tell a story of climate change that numbers and data cannot. Their work, titled “A Quick and Tragic Thaw,” was made possible thanks to the research of Environmental Science Professor Howard Epstein. Love and Russamongo have weaven a story through that data and materialized myriad climate maps, data, trends and migration patterns into an intimate and emotional installation.

The Emmys celebrate real talent in antiquated fashion

(09/24/19 1:54pm)

“Television has never been bigger, television has never mattered more and television has never been this damn good,” Bryan Cranston said when introducing the 71st Primetime Emmy Awards airing on FOX Sunday night. If only a similar sentiment could be said about the Awards themselves, a prolonged menagerie of advertisement, occasionally interesting if predictable speeches — shoutout to Michelle Williams calling attention to the still very-real pay gap in the industry — and self-congratulation airing on a medium that loses relevance by the day. The Emmys in 2019 celebrated profoundly innovative television in a remarkably antiquated way — highlighting efforts by unique creators and pioneering streaming companies through the same channels that your grandparents watch their nightly network news.

Israeli espionage thriller ‘The Spy’ sticks to the script — with one notable exception

(09/16/19 1:47am)

Few would be shocked to discover a new espionage miniseries, based off historical events, written and produced by “Homeland” talent Gideon Raff. As premises for new shows go, it is a fairly formulaic recipe for success. What is surprising is that the star — the spy himself — would be none other than Sacha Baron Cohen, perhaps best known for pranking America with his series of parody personas like Borat and Ali G. In “The Spy,” Cohen portrays Eli Cohen, an Egyptian-born spy working for Mossad in the early ‘60s.

‘Legion’ concludes three-season run of superpowered psychic dreams and nightmares

(08/23/19 7:56pm)

Superheroes are not necessarily heroes in “Legion,” Noah Hawley’s bold psychological drama set in an alternate X-Men universe prone to the surreal and strange. The show, which premiered in February 2017, stars Daniel Stevens as David Haller, the psychically-powered and unstable son of Professor X (Harry Lloyd). The third and final season concluded August 12th, and proves that Hawley is not only a gifted stylistic imitator, as seen with his work on the television adaption of “Fargo”, but a talented and risk taking storyteller fed up as anyone else with the stale state of superhero monopoly under Disney’s monolithic-feeling Marvel Cinematic Universe.

A Pokémon virgin’s take on ‘Detective Pikachu’

(05/21/19 1:44pm)

Cinematic universes and long, serialized epics are the norm in modern pop culture. In the past month, the blockbuster Marvel Cinematic Universe reached a milestone of 22 serially plotted movies with “Avengers: Endgame” and HBO’s “Game of Thrones” is currently airing its final season after an eight year run. The big screen and small screen alike seem to require more viewer investment and passion than ever before, banking on mega franchises that have become iconic in fandom and even the mainstream.

Miller Arts Scholars showcase creative expression in myriad ways

(05/03/19 1:32am)

The University is often not recognized as a vibrant environment for the arts. However, for the past six years the Miller Arts Scholars Program has cultivated small, selected groups of artistically-gifted students — with the intent of increasing participants’ access to arts resources — and showcased their various projects at the end of the academic year. 

Art and science unite to promote a greener conversation

(04/25/19 2:01am)

Climate change has long been framed in national and local media as a political matter, with occasional surges of passionate interest that have never amounted to substantial legislative action. At the University, environmental science Prof. Deborah Lawrence and her students have been working to change that, using scientific evidence and activism through writing to spur green conversation and a sustainability mindset on Grounds.

‘Barry’ returns with a denied cliffhanger and new status quo

(04/03/19 3:00am)

HBO’s comedy-meets-drama series “Barry” was a delightfully innovative subversion of traditional television genres in its first season. In following the exploits of a hardened killer who develops a passion for a theatre class in Los Angeles, the show was able to explore a world of vibrant stereotypes and tropes and parody them in a refreshing new way. At its best, the first season of “Barry” was a commentary on violence, the human desire for connection and expression and people’s frequent failures at both.

WTJU trades student convenience for more ambitious, connected future

(04/02/19 6:52pm)

The American college experience is iconically defined in popular culture by several universal markers — lively Greek life, hip campus coffee shops and of course, the cultural force of a student-run radio station. WTJU — and its companion, entirely student-run sister station WXTJ — have served as the University’s broadcasters for over 60 years since its founding in 1957. 

Fralin program showcases films on the arts

(03/27/19 3:14am)

The Fralin Museum of Art continued its Downtown Film Series Wednesday at the Violet Crown. The series — a collaboration with the theater that occurs throughout the year —  intends to showcase “thought-provoking films that focus on artists and the arts.” For this showing, students treated to free tickets saw “Salvador Dalí: In Search of Immortality,” directed by David Pujol. The documentary ran only one hour and 45 minutes, but a series of questionable presentation decisions led to a bloated feature that failed to live up to the extraordinary footage and information about the famed surrealist painter on display.

Animated sci-fi anthology ‘Love, Death & Robots’ is missing a prime directive

(03/19/19 12:46am)

An animated anthology series of loosely-adapted science fiction short stories produced by Tim Miller ("Deadpool") and David Fincher ("The Social Network," "Mindhunter" and "House of Cards") sounds at first glance like a recipe that could only emerge out of a fever dream. This initial glance proves true throughout the over three hours worth of diverse, beautifully animated and genre-spanning storytelling in the duo's "Love, Death & Robots,” which was released on Mar. 15.

Historic portraits of black families from Charlottesville tell truths in plain sight

(03/11/19 4:35am)

Personal family photographs can serve as a powerful counter-narrative to established visual media, like Confederate monuments, that share a limited and often misconstrued version of history. The dignity of the individuals in these pictures hints at the resilience and boldness of black Americans in Charlottesville in spite of the extremely unequal and reinforced conditions of the Jim Crow era.

Titus Kaphar repaints history through torture and complexity

(03/01/19 3:48am)

“This needs to be a conversation, otherwise it isn’t going to work,” New Haven-based artist Titus Kaphar said as he began speaking to the lecture hall of the Special Collections Library during a University-sponsored event Tuesday. Questions and audience participation were more than welcome during Kaphar’s presentation, which made a large and relatively public space feel like an intimate setting.

Upcoming documentary screening continues the refugee conversation on Grounds

(02/21/19 4:27am)

In a turbulent and ever-changing news cycle, it is important not to lose track of systemic humanitarian issues like the global refugee crisis. Beyond government shutdowns, national political turmoil and other foreign developments, refugees from Syria, Venezuela, Somalia and many other nations still need accommodations and a platform on which to build their lives.

Rozana Montiel’s architecture tells stories and blurs boundaries

(02/01/19 5:07am)

For many, the term architecture brings to mind images of sleek, abstract buildings and elaborate schematics that serve as part engineering demonstrations, part aesthetic showcases. But for young design professionals like Rozana Montiel, lecturing this year for the A-School’s annual Michael Owen Jones Lectureship, architecture is not just a technical craft. It is fundamentally about human narrative. She strongly believes that “a project comes from a story.” Arts and Entertainment sat down with Montiel to explore her studio’s work and design principles.

‘In The Mindset of Martin’ embraces inclusivity through design

(01/23/19 3:15pm)

In celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.’s 90th birthday, the University’s School of Architecture is hosting “In the Mindset of Martin,” an exhibition in Campbell Hall showcasing the work of both graduate and undergraduate teams tasked with designing and building community spaces in the inclusive spirit of King. Before the exhibition opened, Arts and Entertainment sat down with Arthur Brown, fourth-year Architecture student and the president of the University’s National Organization of Minority Architecture Students chapter.