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Food for Thought

(11/04/12 1:35pm)

It’s time. Officially. I know I recently said the day after Halloween meant it was Christmas season. Which, in the commercial sense, it is. But now that we’re here… come on. Why the need to downplay Thanksgiving? Or, not necessarily Thanksgiving itself, but the inevitability of stuffing our faces with more food than is conceivable. You see, I love food. I really, really do. Looking back on what I wrote a few weeks ago, I don’t know exactly how I was deluding myself. Sure, Christmas has food too, I guess, but what can compare to Thanksgiving? These thoughts were brought up last night, when I was sitting around a fire with a gaggle of friends, absorbing the warmth and just talking about comfort in general. The subject meandered into Thanksgiving, and we started listing things we were looking forward to… stuffing, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie, pecan pie, cherry pie, rhubarb pie… At that point, I had to abruptly leave the room because my stomach was growling loudly enough to be embarrassing. But the thought hasn’t left me. I don’t know if my relationship with food is entirely unique, but I think my food path has been a bit odd. I grew up with two very caring, loving parents who couldn’t care less about food. My dinners mostly were of the frozen- TV- dinner type, though with the occasional sit down meal of Ragu thrown in there if we were feeling fancy. The food situation changed upon entering college, where I was mostly too lazy to eat anything except Easy Mac and whatever I could pilfer from the laundry room vending machines. But then, at the end of last spring, something changed. Maybe it was just as a result of getting older, or absorbing some foodie- enthusiasm from my brother or boyfriend, but I started cooking with them, and with my friends. And loving it. Late- night cans of soup turned into crockpot strew creations. Pop Tarts were traded for steak dinners. Time once spent doing productive things, such as reading and watching Netflix, now found me hunkering down in the kitchen, prowling around the spice cabinet. After this initially spark, I then was lucky enough to spend the summer in Italy, doing almost nothing except eating, eating, eating, absorbing culture through food. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that I actually learned anything food- wise there, but I certainly tried some bizarre things (egg and pear pizza?). Coming back to the States, the inspiration kept flowing. We signed up for a cooking class, where I ate my first shrimp (ewww) and learned techniques that I’m sure will come in handy at some point. Plans have been made for dinner parties and the like throughout the year. And this year my group of friends from around the fire decided we are going to have a Thanksgiving dessert gathering in the upcoming weeks. Which brings me back to the fire! As much as I loved sitting there and sharing food memories with friends, that conversation, which spurred so many thoughts about how I eat way too much, really made me realize something. It’s not the food alone that I love (though, I mean, who could argue with a homemade pasta sauce, or one of my brother’s famous cheesecakes?). It’s everything that goes along with it. It’s the friends you make food with. It’s the smells in the kitchen that drag people down the stairs to see what you’re making. It’s the innovation that arises- both good ideas and the terrible ones. It’s the ability to show off your creations or tell stories about the disasters. It’s the culture you absorb through the food and are able to mix into your own. More than anything, it’s the memories of everyone eating together, and it’s the knowledge that you still have a lifetime to laugh over the dinner table.

Silver Linings Playbook

(11/04/12 2:43am)

Bradley Cooper is no stranger to the finer things in life: he’s fluent in French, has an honors degree in English from Georgetown under his belt, and has been relishing in the fact that he’s everyone’s favorite brand of eye candy. Then again, he’s been in accolade-accruing comedy films like The Hangover and Wedding Crashers, which exhibit his fun-loving side. When Silver Lining Playbook showcases him chucking a library copy of an Ernest Hemingway novel out his parents’ attic window, it could be concluded that this film combines both aspects of the A-lister’s multifaceted acting repertoire.

Between Us

(11/04/12 2:30am)

Between Us combines dramatic realism and dark comedy to create a film experience which at times will make you cringe, laugh, and occasionally sit in open-mouthed disbelief. Adapted for the screen from a play, Between Us is not a feel-good film but it does subtly deliver some poignant life lessons. While it does not draw to a neat and tidy conclusion, it does provide excellent fodder for discussion for those open to confronting tough questions about the realization or sacrifice of dreams and ambitions in the real world. Between Us is the story of two couples who have been friends since their college days and although they initially have many of the same hopes and dreams, they take very divergent career paths and their financial, social, and romantic lives reflect these choices more intensely as they grow older. The film’s plot unfolds through two evenings that the couples share, one a flash back and the other in the present. In the first sequence, an evening dinner party at the opulent home of Joel and Cheryl, we see how Joel has been beaten down by a job that gives him an excellent paycheck but makes him feel like a sell-out and Cheryl has turned to adultery as a result of her boredom with being a Midwestern housewife as opposed to the chic city girl she used be. The other couple, Carlo and Grace, appear to be blissfully in love and are enjoying their lives as he pursues his dream of a career in artistic photography and she plans on continuing her education to be a social worker. The evening is a complete and total disaster as Joel and Cheryl reveal they’re getting a divorce and proceed to have a drunken shouting match. Fast forward a few years however, and the tables have turned. Joel has come to terms with his career choices as he reaps the rewards of a lucrative business and Cheryl has found a meaningful sense of joy in being a mother, while Carlo and Grace are drowning in student loans and a lack of income from his “art”. The financial hardships, the stress of living in new York City, and the challenges of parenthood are tearing their relationship apart. Essentially, the moral of the story is that your choices define you. Even when people begin in similar places, there are many different paths to choose from and each one has its own unique challenges and rewards. At the end of the day you are the one who has to live with the choices you make, for better or for worse. 3/5 –Colleen Garrott

Rust and Bone

(11/03/12 11:54pm)

In what was apparently the US premiere of French film Rust and Bone, the Virginia Film Festival brought in a strong crowd. In a role that has a good shot to lead to an Oscar nomination for Marion Cotillard (Inception, The Dark Knight Rises, Contagion), Stephanie suffers a major accident working with killer whales that leaves her without her legs and without much will to live. At the same time, Ali (Matthias Schoenaerts) is fighting to support himself and his five-year-old son Sam after he and Sam’s mother break up. Both in very difficult moments in their lives, Stephanie and Ali work symbiotically off of each other to move along and find purpose. Jacques Audiard made an amazing film that truly takes the time to study the characters, their environment, and their lives. He allows his leads to pull through not just for the sake of the audience but because they actually find a way. He takes Stephanie from having control to being naked on the ground, and he portrays Ali as the continually faulty father, brother, and friend. I would highly recommend this movie, as it takes this gray and depressing world of the characters and works their stories into hope. 5/5 stars. – Annie Wilmer

Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry

(11/03/12 8:05pm)

Oftentimes art is portrayed as an entity of itself, isolated from the reality of human life and society, an exploration and reflection of the intimate self. However, in Alison Klayman’s documentary Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry , the bond between artist and society is vividly manifested. When asked how he thinks of himself as an artist, I was expecting a deep or humble statement of the simplicity of his art as would suit the common Chinese etiquette when faced with such an inquiry. To my surprise, Ai answered, “I am a chess player…I make a move when they do…Now I am waiting for my opponent to make the next move.” This statement changed my perspective of the film as a whole and became the underlying driving force of his art and actions throughout the movie. Ai’s work relies greatly on the reality of the present realities of the Chinese government; his inspiration and motivation stems directly from the political and social environment he lives in.

Hello I Must Be Going

(11/03/12 4:16am)

The performances of lead actors Melanie Lynskey and Christopher Abbott pull together the very tragically subtle story of Amy’s recent divorce and how she finds understanding through her relationship with nineteen-year-old Jeremy. The story in itself, while definitely offering a distinct look at both love and knowledge of the self, would not hold the strength that it does without the two leads, who bring humor in the most uncomfortably realistic of places. The film focuses especially on Amy, who had basically moved back in with her parents after her ex-husband cheated on her and then asked for a divorce. Her parents, however, were trying to find success in the rough economy by gaining the business of Jeremy’s stepfather, so when the two start to fall for each other, Amy finally finds herself in her mid-thirties and forced to learn to actually grow up. The story has strong, witty moments that contrast to the sad reality that is Amy’s life. I would recommend Hello, I Must Be Going because it has a voice of its own. 4/5 stars. – Annie Wilmer

All The Presidents Men

(11/03/12 2:43am)

Everyone knew the movie was going to be good. Two of the greatest actors of the century, four Academy awards and a multitude of other accolades; All the Presidents Men has already been deemed a bonafide classic. I could sense, however, that the most anticipated segment of the show was the discussion afterward with Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, the very men who inspired the film, broke the Watergate scandal and cemented their status as genuine journalistic royalty.

Shadow Dancer

(11/03/12 1:40am)

To truly enjoy Shadow Dancer you may want to take ten minutes and read a Wikipedia page or two and brush up on your modern British/Irish history. The plot of this emotional, subtly powerful film centers around the conflict between the British government and the IRA (Irish Republican Army). The plot is primarily character driven and Andrea Riseborough deftly portrays the protagonist, Colette McVeigh who is caught in a web of divided loyalties, violence, guilt, and deception. In a post 9-11 world it’s shockingly easy to make the mental association between “terrorists” and men with beards and AK-47s. However, Shadow Dancer forces viewers to adjust their mental schema for terrorisst to include Colette McVeigh, a pretty, young Irish mother, committing terrorist acts in the morning and picking her son up from grade school in the afternoon. While The Troubles (the political troubles of Northern Ireland in the latter half of the twentieth century) offer plenty of opportunities for filmmakers to take advantage of tear jerking drama and shocking acts of violence, Shadow Dancer conveys the seriousness of the situation and the way the Irish people live in a constant state of tension and barely suppressed violence without slipping into melodrama. In a way, Shadow Dancer is at its core is a story about the importance of family and the terrible sacrifices ordinary people will make to protect the people they love. Colette and her brothers are drawn into the atmosphere of violence as children, when their youngest brother is killed by a stray bullet while walking down the sidewalk. In a cruel, cyclical fashion, violence begets violence and as adults, these siblings become the agents of the violence that they loathed and feared as children. Colette’s struggle to remain loyal to her brothers, protect herself and her son, and eventually escape the destructive, violent atmosphere of 1990’s Belfast comprises the fabric of this richly woven historical narrative. 4/5 -Colleen Garrott

The Man with the Iron Fist

(11/02/12 6:34am)

The Man With The Iron Fists seems to unite a great deal of prominent cultural forces with large and furiously devout masses of fans: RZA (of the rap posse Wu-Tang Clan) writing, directing and starring. The Kung-Fu aesthetic (in itself a force to be reckoned with) comprising the setting and plot. Even Tarantino (whose presence can be felt strongly here) puts his stamp on the production. Instead of trying to describe this indescribably weird film in any typical fashion, I will instead construct this review in the form of two easy to understand categories


(11/02/12 5:25am)

Bill and Turner Ross are the type of filmmaking duo that emerged from a childhood obsession with the power of the camera to capture a singular worldview, to put an audience into ones shoes and show them the things you see just as you see them. Though the brothers have grown significantly since their boyhood, their film Tchoupitoulas possesses that distinct touch of naiveté, seeking not to recount a narrative or voice some socio-political commentary, but to impress upon the audience a vision of New Orleans from the perspective of the overlooked many that make the city run.

I Am Not A Hipster

(11/02/12 4:03am)

I have been dressed for this occasion for two days straight: ironic muted flannel, jeans skinnier than Nicole Richie, blister-inducing Chuck Taylor kicks, a trapper hat straight out of Northern Michigan, and of course, imitation Ray Bans. But don’t worry, unlike like most people afraid to be stamped a “hipster,” they have lenses to accommodate my 20-80 excuse for vision.

Style: Take it Personally

(10/23/12 10:11pm)

I came to UVA from a relatively small all-girls private school. There were ninety-something girls in my graduating class and a quarter of us were 7-year-survivors who’d been there since the 6th grade. As a result of being surrounded by the same people every day, I got to know everyone pretty well. Even with someone who wasn’t my best friend, I could tell you who they were dating, their signature Starbucks drink and how many pairs of sweatpants they had—this last one was the easiest to figure out.