Visionary Joan Jonas ’58 stages “Mirror” performance

Visionary Joan Jonas ’58 stages “Mirror” performance

BY EMILY ROLES FOTSO ’21

Video and performance artist and Mount Holyoke College alumna Joan Jonas ’58 returned to campus last Thursday, Jan. 31 to direct and present a one-time-only reconfiguration of her groundbreaking works of performance art, Mirror Piece I and Mirror Piece II.

Subtle and moving: “Shoplifters” steals hearts

Subtle and moving: “Shoplifters” steals hearts

BY SABA FIAZUDDIN ’21

Director Hirokazu Kore-eda (“Like Father, Like Son,” “Nobody Knows” ) paints a poignant picture of a family that survives through theft in his latest film “Shoplifters.” Nobuyo (Sakura Ando), Osamu (Lily Franky), Aki (Mayu Matsuoka), Shota (Jyo Kairi) and Hatsue (Kirin Kiki) all sleep under the same roof in a shabby room, surrounded by other worn out apartment buildings in the sleepy suburbs of Tokyo.

Netflix’s “Sex Education” is a progressive coming of age story

Netflix’s “Sex Education” is a progressive coming of age story

BY CHLOE JENSEN ’20

Who among us does not enjoy a good binge-worthy Netflix show to soothe post-finals stress? I know I certainly do. After re-watching several episodes of “Gilmore Girls” and “Stranger Things” over winter break, I found myself craving a new, exciting, binge-worthy show. On Jan. 11, Netflix released its original series “Sex Education,” a funny, heartwarming and honest British show.

Book Arts Fair celebrates antique books in Northampton

Book Arts Fair celebrates antique books in Northampton

BY ELLA WHITE ’22

Book stores and small businesses from across Western Massachusetts gathered to sell their wares at the fourth annual Northampton Book and Book Arts Fair last weekend, Nov. 30 through Dec. 1. The fair was held at the Smith College Student Center and was free to the public.

A&E's Best of 2018

TV Series

“Wild Wild Country”

CASEY ROEPKE ’21

A series full of archival footage and investigative information, “Wild Wild Country” tackles the documentary genre with amazing care and effort. The series follows the infamous and controversial Bhagwan Rajneesh, a guru from India who amassed a tremendous following with his teachings on meditation, religion, advocacy for sexual liberation and a break from traditional Indian values. The show focuses on Rajneesh, his personal assistant Ma Anand Sheela and other pivotal players in the controversial criminal activity that followed the movement’s relocation to the U.S., including the Rajneesh community’s takeover of Wasco County, Oregon. Throughout the whole, the directors, Maclain and Chapman Way, did their best to keep their own opinions out of the documentary, which leaves the fundamental question — who the bad guys are —unanswered. With a gripping narrative style, detailed historical recreations and incredible interviews, “Wild Wild Country” was popular among true crime fans and historians. It’s worth a watch and a rewatch. (Netflix)

“Dogs”

There is no better premise for a show: lovable, fluffy and heartwarming, the dogs in this six-part documentary series will steal your heart a million times over. From a service animal for a girl with epilepsy to the refugee willing to do anything to get his dog out of Syria, the series features stories illustrating the unbreakable bond between dogs and humans. It’s impossible to enjoy this television series without a box of tissues in hand, but it’s the emotional catharsis the world so desperately needs right now. (Netflix)

Video Games

“Octopath Traveler”

ERIN CARBERRY ’19

Released exclusively for the Nintendo Switch in July, “Octopath Traveler” is an unconventional version of the sprawling adventure and turn-based monster-fighting games that have earned a place in every gamer’s heart. The game was developed by Nintendo and Square Enix, known for the “Final Fantasy” and “Life is Strange” series. Rather than a single protagonist, “Octopath” follows eight different adventurers, each with different personalities, abilities and stories. Players select their main traveler at the beginning of the game and can choose to cross paths with as many of the other seven as they want, gaining allies in battle and another piece of the intertwined narrative world. What makes “Octopath” stand out is its cast of compelling characters and its distinctive aesthetic — 16-bit avatars travel a refined landscape full of glistening oceans, rocky ravines and countless types of monsters. The world is immersive, the graphics beautiful and the storylines engaging.

Movies

“Black Panther”

ERIN CARBERRY ’19

The single greatest film in the decade-long Marvel Cinematic Universe, “Black Panther” is an outstanding achievement in every way. Following the favorite newcomer from 2016’s “Captain America: Civil War” home to the rich and vibrant kingdom of Wakanda, “Black Panther” tells the story of King T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman, “42”) as he struggles with his newfound royal responsibility and a challenger who threatens to change Wakanda forever. The film’s villain, Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan, “Creed”) shines, thanks to both excellent writing and Jordan’s performance. Killmonger’s depth elevates the film as both T’Challa and the audience are faced with the reality that the world is not always as simple as good guys and bad guys. In a world where Hollywood white washes role after role and puts on a rather pitiful show of ‘diversity’ when it bothers to attempt it, “Black Panther”’s social importance cannot be understated. The movie’s success shows definitively that it is far past time to change that broken system.

Music

“Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino” - Arctic Monkeys

NADIA BABAR ’19

If ever there was a tough act to follow, it was the Arctic Monkeys’ 2013 LP, AM. But Alex Turner proves his boundless potential for musical innovation with “Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino,” a fearless experiment that demonstrates Turner’s lyrical genius. With songs about a taqueria on the moon and subdued notes from Harpsichords and vintage keyboards, the album is a true experiment that definitely disgruntled some hardcore fans of one of Britain’s most popular indie rock bands. Songs such as “Four Stars Out of Five” and “Batphone” make obscure references to consumerism, set to the background of Turner’s suave, velvety vocals. “Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino” is an amalgamation of hubris, a desperate search for meaning and surrealist narrative, but at the same time it bleeds authenticity and creativity. Either way, the experiment pays off.

“Nina Cried Power” - Hozier

SABRYNA COPPOLA ’22

Hozier’s newest album features his signature ethereal ballads, but with underlying themes of activism and hidden strength. The album’s titular song is a bluesy anthem that pays homage to artists of the civil rights movement, including Nina Simone and Billie Holiday. It is the most raw and energetic of his songs so far, celebrating music as a form of protest and the voices of change-makers. The songs on “Nina Cried Power” feel more structured and directed than some of Hozier’s earlier works, while still employing the same heavy rhythms, emphasis on folk-style guitar and cryptic messages of nature, pain, broken love and strength as his 2014 self-titled album. This is my favorite album of 2018 because it empowers protest and the poetry of the planet we live on.

“thank u, next” - Ariana Grande

TESS TUITOEK ’21

Ariana Grande’s new single “thank u, next” was the anthem we needed to end 2018 with a bang. Her music video paid homage to all our favorite rom-coms from the early 2000s like “Mean Girls,” “Legally Blonde,” “Bring It On” and “13 Going on 30.” The video broke a record for YouTube’s most watched video in 24 Hours. We can’t wait to see what Ariana has in store for 2019.

“Beautiful Boy” is only one poignant story of addiction

BY SABA FIAZUDDIN ’21

Felix Van Groeningen’s “Beautiful Boy” is based on the memoirs of journalist David Sheff and his son, Nic. Van Groeningen treats the delicate subject of addiction with sensitivity, fully etching out the predominant emotions of grief, anxiety, terror and helplessness that mark an addict and their home.

“In the Heights” hits close to home at Holyoke Community College

“In the Heights” hits close to home at Holyoke Community College

BY EMMA MARTIN ’20

Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony Award-winning first musical “In the Heights” is about home and family in the vibrant Latinx community of New York City’s Washington Heights neighborhood. This theme is more than just Broadway magic for the Holyoke Community College Theater and Music Department, whose production of the show opened last weekend, Nov. 8-10.

Hasan Minhaj’s “Patriot Act” stretches confines of genre

Hasan Minhaj’s “Patriot Act” stretches confines of genre

BY SAVANNAH HARRIMAN-POTE ’20

“Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj” hit Netflix on Oct. 28. The weekly web television series is the latest contribution to the ever-growing news-satire genre, and yet another win for 33-year-old comedian extraordinaire Hasan Minhaj.

Faculty Dance Show in Kendall showcases Five College talent

Faculty Dance Show in Kendall showcases Five College talent

BY EMMA CHAFFEE ’22

Five female choreographers, 39 dance students and two sold out shows: from Nov. 8-10, Mount Holyoke’s Kendall Sports and Dance Complex hosted this year’s Fall Faculty Dance Concert. “I am really happy about the way it came out and I am so proud of each and every one of those dancers,” said Shakia Johnson, a visiting Artist in Dance and one of the faculty choreographers. “Their commitment and dedication was through the roof.”

Cobb’s “American Moor”: Playing Othello in the 21st century

Cobb’s “American Moor”: Playing Othello in the 21st century

BY MIRANDA WHEELER ’19

Award-winning actor and playwright Keith Hamilton Cobb has accumulated a variety of impressive credits over the course of his screen and stage career, but none quite like “American Moor.” The self-written and largely self-performed play explores Cobb’s relationship as a black man in America to Shakespeare’s tragic protagonist Othello.

“We have nothing to say and we’re saying it.” An introduction to underground artist Genesis Breyer P-Orridge

Photo courtesy of Flickr

Photo courtesy of Flickr

BY SARAH CHAIT ’21

The artist’s quotes were written in accordance with P-Orridge’s own idiosyncratic usage of spelling and grammar, replacing “the” with “thee”, and “of” with “ov”. This is intended to, in h/er words, “challenge the thought of established reading laws.”

68-year-old Genesis Breyer P-Orridge is an English musician, performance and video artist, author, occultist, philosopher and influencer. Identifying as a third gender (using s/he, h/er, and h/ers pronouns and recently referring to h/ erself in the plural), P-Orridge is also an important name within the LGBTQ+ community. S/he may be one of the most significant people you’ve never heard of. S/he is best known for h/er musical work, especially with the groups “Throbbing Gristle” and “Psychic TV.”

Before these musical endeavors, P-Orridge belonged to the artistic collective COUM Transmissions, which staged a series of ‘happenings’ — public art performances popular in the 1960s and ’70s — and avant-garde musical and sound explorations. With the help of h/er friend William S. Burroughs (“Naked Lunch”), P-Orridge received government funding for these projects until s/he was nationally denounced as a degenerate for h/er public performances. P-Orridge still insists these performances were not meant to inflame the general public, but that they were in fact motivated by h/er being, “terribly bored, really.”

When s/he was seventeen, P-Orridge was in a band called “Worm,” that released one album titled “Early Worm.” On the back of the record, the inscription “We have nothing to say and we’re saying it,” is a mantra the artist uses to this day. The best description of h/er band “Throbbing Gristle,” which s/he is best known for, comes from POrridge h/erself in the documentary “Thee Ballad ov Genesis and Lady Jaye.” P-Orridge said, “One ov thee reasons TG was so successful is because it took thee magical formula ov William S. Burrough’s cut-ups and inserted it into rock and roll.” “Throbbing Gristles”’s unique composition style involved homemade synthesizers and reordering of original tracks. Because of this, the group’s music ranges from complex synthetic beats overlaid with P-Orridge’s mumbling to absolute sensory chaos. While both “Throbbing Gristle” and “Psychic TV” are relatively accessible, s/he has produced so many albums that it may be intimidating deciding where to start. I recommend the album “A Taste of TG (A Beginner’s Guide to Throbbing Gristle),” available on Spotify.

What I personally find most intriguing about P-Orridge is h/er Pandrogeny Project, an experiment taken on by the artist and h/er late wife, Lady Jaye. Pandrogeny is, according to P-Orridge h/erself, “a means of evolution and survival, the future of the human race,” or an exploration of a future without gender or gender-based identities. The project involved both Genesis and Lady Jaye undergoing multiple plastic surgery sessions and hormone therapy to, in a sense, become one another, and form one individual unit of a person. Described as a declaration of universal, undying love, P-Orridge continued this project after the death of h/er wife in 2007. This is why s/he now exclusively refers to h/erself as ‘we.’ According to P-Orridge, s/he has become one with Lady Jaye and by still living, continues her legacy and memory.

Shortly after the death of Lady Jaye, P-Orridge retired from formal music making. H/er current work takes the form of performance art and film media, focusing on h/er rejection and disdain for the after-effects of the industrial revolution. In an interview with Annie Armstrong of ARTnews earlier this year, P-Orridge said, in response to a question about Donald Trump, that, “If everyone were to smash their phones, then maybe something might really happen.” If you want more information on P-Orridge or h/er work, feel free to do your own digging — watch “Thee Ballad ov Genesis and Lady Jaye,” available on Amazon, or dive headfirst into h/er music for yourself on Spotify and most streaming services. Who knows, you might just even like it.

Bohemian Rhapsody biopic lacks substance

Bohemian Rhapsody biopic lacks substance

BY SABA FIAZUDDIN ’21

“Bohemian Rhapsody,” directed by Bryan Singer (“X-Men”) is a biopic about Freddie Mercury, iconic frontman of the band Queen. The movie begins with Queen’s famous Live Aid charity concert of 1985, which catapulted the group into stardom and cemented their place in rock and roll history.

Keith Hamilton Cobb visiting campus

Keith Hamilton Cobb visiting campus

BY EMILY ROLES-FOTSO ’21

Actor and playwright Keith Hamilton Cobb sat down with artist Curlee Raven Holton last Friday, Nov. 3 to talk about Shakespeare’s “Othello” and their experiences as Black male artists. The event, moderated by English Professor Amy Rodgers, is part of Cobb’s nine-day residence at Mount Holyoke College which began on Nov. 3 and will last until Nov. 11.

     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          
           
              Photo courtesy of Flickr   Ryan Gosling is Neil Armstrong in “First Man” biopic  
           
          

         
      
       
    

  


     BY SABA FIAZUDDIN ’21  As the first biopic about Neil Armstrong, Damien Chazelle’s (“La La Land”) “First Man” is visually stimulating but fails to capture the context of the important social movements surrounding and impacting the first moon landing. The film, starring Ryan Gosling (“The Notebook”) as Armstrong, is based heavily on the almost 800-page biography written by James R. Hansen, “First Man.” The book chronicles the adult life of Neil Armstrong as he navigates harrowing personal struggles — from the tragic death of his daughter to his difficult marriage — all while trying to become the first man to walk on the moon.  Chazelle packs the film with electrifying space sequences, immediately evoking comparisons to films like “Apollo 13” and “The Right Stuff.” What sets this latest addition apart from the rest of the genre, however, is the intimate personal experience it offers of flying into space with Gosling. Through unstable camera work and special effects, the film gives the audience the eerie sensation of being shot into orbit in a rocket, exposing the terrifying reality of space missions. “First Man” doesn’t depict its astronauts as just adrenaline junkies getting high on neardeath experiences; Chazelle also captures the pain, torment and sheer lunacy of the job these astronauts have signed up for. They don’t sit in their rockets admiring the great beauty of the earth. Instead, they are constantly handling information fed to them by mission controls and expending great mental energy to keep themselves afloat, completely aware that their mission is only one small mistake away from a nightmare. Chazelle also delves into Armstrong’s personal history; at the time of the mission he had just lost his young daughter and signed up to distract himself from turmoil at home. Gosling plays the laconic character with deftness and flair, alongside Claire Foy (“The Crown”) who steals the show with quiet fury in her role as Armstrong’s wife, Janet Shearen. Sometimes through just one twitch of the eye or a slight movement of her face, Foy is able to capture the emotional center of her character. By developing Janet’s character, Chazelle is able to comment on the unimaginable emotional terror the families of astronauts were subjected to. While Armstrong could launch himself into a rocket to escape his demons, Janet was still on Earth pacing the floors, worrying about him every second.  When the movie was first shown at the Venice Film Festival, it attracted a fair bit of controversy for not featuring the famous moment when the American flag was planted on the moon. However, Chazelle finds other ways to satisfy the American ego. Twice during the film, the American flag is shown staked on the moon. There are rockets with “United States” boldly printed on them. The astronauts use plenty of derogatory terms to refer to their rivals in the Soviet Union, and America is unsurprisingly depicted as the winner of the Space Race by the end of the movie. Chazelle knows what he is doing through these sequences: creating a sanitized version of history where Americans always win and everyone else loses.   The narrow-mindedness of Chazelle’s definition of Americans is obvious in “First Man.” White men like Armstrong (and Chazelle) are given space and celebrated while Americans fighting against Jim Crow laws and the brutality of the Vietnam War are almost erased. Chazelle does not show the political upheaval surrounding the war in favor of exploring Armstrong’s inner turmoil.  While the first space mission to the moon was being launched, Vietnam War and Civil Rights protesters were crowding the streets asking for their pain to be understood and addressed. Chazelle fails to capture this tension and its connection to the mission at all in “First Man.” Instead, if one were to watch this movie without any sense of history, it would seem like the astronauts, instead of activists, were the true heroes of the era. Their story has no place in “First Man,” the same way it didn’t in Chazelle’s last film “La La Land,” which lacked diverse perspectives (and featured Gosling playing a jazz musician). These omissions in “First Man” are glaring and tell a story which seems to be solely concerned with American patriotism and the sacrifices of white men.

BY SABA FIAZUDDIN ’21

As the first biopic about Neil Armstrong, Damien Chazelle’s (“La La Land”) “First Man” is visually stimulating but fails to capture the context of the important social movements surrounding and impacting the first moon landing. The film, starring Ryan Gosling (“The Notebook”) as Armstrong, is based heavily on the almost 800-page biography written by James R. Hansen, “First Man.” The book chronicles the adult life of Neil Armstrong as he navigates harrowing personal struggles — from the tragic death of his daughter to his difficult marriage — all while trying to become the first man to walk on the moon.

Yue Opera performers at MHC

Photo courtesy of Mount Holyoke College

Chinese Yue Opera stars Qi Tao (L) and Jun’An Wang (R) performed scenes at Mount Holyoke last week.

BY RENN ELKINS ’20 AND HEALY MILLER ’19

Mount Holyoke’s Rooke Theatre hosted a performance of Chinese Yue Opera scenes featuring award-winning actors Jun’an Wang and Qi Tao on Friday, Oct. 26. Wang and Tao flew in from China specially for this event and performed three scenes from the classic operas “Liu Yi Delivers a Letter for the Dragon King’s Daughter,” and “Searching for and Probing the Wife,” featuring full costume, makeup and choreography.

Natalie Portman: Behind the director’s chair

Natalie Portman: Behind the director’s chair

BY MIRANDA WHEELER ’19

General audiences may feel they know Natalie Portman from her years as a Hollywood star, but she is hardly done evolving. Portman is a prolific, critically acclaimed and award-winning actress, already an enduring A-list household name at 37 and showing no signs of slowing down. Instead she’s speeding up and expanding her repertoire to include a turn in the director’s chair.

Harassment allegations silence All India Bakchod

Harassment allegations silence All India Bakchod

BY SHLOKA GIDWANI ’22

The Indian YouTube channel All India Bakchod (AIB) recently faced controversy after a freelance comedian who worked with the channel, Utsav Chakraborty, was accused of sexual harassment. Writer and comedian Mahima Kukreja shared a Twitter thread on Oct. 4 accusing Chakraborty of sending her unsolicited pictures of his genitals. She also spoke on behalf of other women, some minors, who were either harassed by Chakraborty or felt unsafe in his presence.

Glaspell’s Trifles at Rooke Theatre

Glaspell’s Trifles at Rooke Theatre

BY MIRANDA WHEELER ’19

“Well, women are used to worrying over trifles,” said Mr. Hale, played by Kylie Levy ’21 in last week’s production of Susan Glaspell’s 1916 one-act play “Trifles,” directed by Brianna Sloane. With set design by technical director Shawn Hill, lighting design by Lara Dubin, costume design by Elizabeth Lowe ’19 and dramaturgy from Heidi Holder, the one-act play opened Rooke Theatre’s Fall 2018 season.

Student-led zine creates “[S]PACE” at reception

Student-led zine creates “[S]PACE” at reception

BY EMMA MARTIN ’20

This Sunday, Oct. 13, Sarah Cavar ’20 held a reception for the publication of their collaborative zine, “[S]PACE,” featuring student work from self-identified members of the disabled community. The event was meant to elicit new creation; Cavar shared prompts for those gathered to write and create with during the event.