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Saturday, January 31, 2015

What I'm Watching: Ravenous

Posted By on Sat, Jan 31, 2015 at 9:01 AM

Robert Carlyle on the hunt for a coherent protagonist in Ravenous - 20TH CENTURY FOX PICTURES
  • 20th Century Fox Pictures
  • Robert Carlyle on the hunt for a coherent protagonist in Ravenous
As a longtime fan of the films of Peter Greenaway, I kind of coincidentally have become a fan of that director’s frequent collaborator, composer Michael Nyman. I love me some beautiful minimalism, I do.

Though I can take or leave the music of Damon Albarn, I suppose it was Nyman’s and Albarn’s collaboration on the soundtrack of the 1999 film Ravenous that inspired me to watch it this past week. I’d heard that the soundtrack was unusual and exceptionally good, and I did enjoy its curious combination of American folk tunes and stark Euro-minimalism. I still prefer Nyman’s scores for Greenaway’s films, but I could certainly see myself listening to the Ravenous soundtrack as a stand-alone work. Certainly, it’s the best thing about the film.

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Friday, January 30, 2015

Movies You Missed: Proxy

Posted By on Fri, Jan 30, 2015 at 3:14 PM

Esther contemplates a changed self. - IFC MIDNIGHT
  • IFC Midnight
  • Esther contemplates a changed self.
This week in movies you missed: Late last year over on the Dissolve, I saw critic Mike D'Angelo mention Proxy among his top 15 films of 2014. I'd never heard of this movie from writer-director Zack Parker (Scalene), but, hey, it was on Netflix Instant. I gave it a try.

Wow.

What You Missed
Two women meet at a support group for grieving mothers. Twentysomething Esther (Alexia Rasmussen), who's not good with people (and that's an understatement), doesn't feel comfortable talking about why she's there. Slick, put-together Melanie (Alexa Havins) readily tells her story.

When Melanie reaches out to Esther, cultivating a friendship with her, that's when things get weird. Because Esther is starting to suspect Melanie is not even close to what she seems. Turns out both of them have a few surprises up their sleeves.

Here's the trailer:

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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Alan Alda Talks Science at UVM

Posted By on Thu, Jan 29, 2015 at 9:02 AM

Alan Alda - COURTESY OF THE UNIVERSITY OF VERMONT
  • Courtesy of the University of Vermont
  • Alan Alda
The talented actor and director Alan Alda, who will give a talk at the University of Vermont on February 2, is probably tired of writers’ constant references to his role as Dr. Benjamin Franklin “Hawkeye” Pierce on the beloved TV series “M*A*S*H.” But that’s not going to stop me from doing it, anyway. Apologies, Alan. I do genuinely admire your other work, too. (I've always thought Sweet Liberty was underrated.)

Upon learning that Alda would be speaking about his work with his eponymous Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University, my mind flashed back to an episode of “M*A*S*H” that has always stuck with me.

In “The Moon Is Not Blue,” an episode from the show’s 11th and final season, Hawkeye and B.J. Hunnicutt administer pills to one Corporal Bannister for the treatment of his diminished self-confidence, and to Corporal Klinger for his inability to cope with a torrid heatwave. In both cases, the “medicine” is just sugar pills, placebos given by sneaky doctors to unwitting patients. Clueless, both Bannister and Klinger report that the pills perform as advertised.

I think that, even though I was only 9 at the time, I remember the episode relatively well because it was the first time I learned of the placebo effect, a concept that astonished me.

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Video Premiere: Madaila, "I Know"

Posted By on Thu, Jan 29, 2015 at 9:02 AM

Mark Daly of Madaila - COURTESY OF MADAILA
  • Courtesy of Madaila
  • Mark Daly of Madaila
When we here in the music offices of Seven Days closed the book on 2014, we suggested that 2015 was off to a good start even before it began. The reason for that optimism was best embodied in the video for "Give Me All Your Love," by local R&B-tinged indie-pop band Madaila.

That song was a sneak peek at the ascendant group's forthcoming debut album, The Dance. With about a month-and-half to go before that record hits our eager ears, Mark Daly and Co. are teasing us yet again with another cut from the record, "I Know." It's an irresistibly catchy song that proves we were right: 2015 is already pretty rad.     

So, as promised in this week's edition of Soundbites, here is the debut of Madaila's new video, "I Know." 

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Saturday, January 24, 2015

Weekend Workshops Transform Combat Uniforms Into Paper Art

Posted By on Sat, Jan 24, 2015 at 11:44 AM

"Deployed" by Drew Matott - COURTESY OF THE HOPKINS CENTER FOR THE ARTS, DARTMOUTH COLLEGE
  • Courtesy of the Hopkins Center for the Arts, Dartmouth College
  • "Deployed" by Drew Matott
The nationally known art initiative Combat Paper Project first launched at the Green Door Studio in Burlington's South End in 2007 and is now based in San Francisco. Cofounder and Iraq War veteran Drew Cameron returns to New England this weekend with a pair of workshops at Dartmouth College. CPP uses traditional paper-making processes to transform military uniforms worn during service into paper art. 

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What I'm Watching: "The Life and Death of 9413: A Hollywood Extra"

Posted By on Sat, Jan 24, 2015 at 9:00 AM

It ain't easy being an extra: "The Life and Death of 9413: A Hollywood Extra" - LIBRARY OF CONGRESS
  • Library of Congress
  • It ain't easy being an extra: "The Life and Death of 9413: A Hollywood Extra"
Supposedly, something like half of the films made before 1950 are lost forever, the victims of quick-decaying nitrate film or indifference to their artistic and historical value. That's a lot of lost films, and it causes me no end of sadness that they're done. But my tears dry up when I marvel at the fact that among the survivors are some pretty unlikely films.

One film that is, thankfully, in no danger of disappearing from the earth is "The Life and Death of 9413: A Hollywood Extra," directed in 1928 by Robert Florey and Slavko Vorkapich. That's a small miracle, as this odd and inventive short film was allegedly made for less than $100, mostly for the purpose of amusing the filmmakers' friends. It's essentially a low-budget home movie with an avant-garde streak.

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Friday, January 23, 2015

Hordes of Ants Invade the Montshire Museum

Posted By on Fri, Jan 23, 2015 at 4:52 PM

If this ant were human-size, this would have been the photographer's final shot. - MARK W. MOFFETT | COURTESY OF SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION TRAVELING EXHIBITION SERVICE
  • Mark W. Moffett | Courtesy of Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service
  • If this ant were human-size, this would have been the photographer's final shot.
We may not give much thought to the millions upon millions of ants that occupy nearly every ecosystem on Earth — but perhaps we should. After all, ants and human beings are a lot alike. Both are social species with complex kinship systems, they’re the only two species known to practice agriculture, and the only ones to wage full-bore war on creatures of the same species. In many ways, the study of ants is akin to anthropology.

The fundamental similarity of ants and Homo sapiens is one of the chief lessons of the Montshire Museum of Science’s
new exhibit “Farmers Warriors Builders: The Hidden Life of Ants,” which opens at the Norwich museum on Saturday, January 24. The exhibit, curated by the Smithsonian Institution, puts front and center 39 enormous, extraordinary photographs of ants taken by renowned explorer, scientist and author Mark W. Moffett. His macro-lens shots of these tiny, fascinating creatures are works of art as much as scientific studies.

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Movies You Missed: Four Lions

Posted By on Fri, Jan 23, 2015 at 3:00 PM

click image Barry expresses his jihadist fervor. - MAGNET
  • Magnet
  • Barry expresses his jihadist fervor.
This week in movies you missed: In the past weeks, we've seen many impassioned responses to the massacre at Charlie Hebdo. The French film company Wild Bunch took an unusual approach. As Variety reported on January 13, users of the company's digital platform can now stream the British comedy Four Lions (2010) for free. 

Why? According to Wild Bunch's website, "What This Is Spinal Tap did for heavy metal and did [sic] Dr Strangelove for the Cold War, Four Lions does for the modern face of terrorism."

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Thursday, January 22, 2015

On Screen This Week: Cold, Cold and More Cold

Posted By on Thu, Jan 22, 2015 at 4:41 PM

Forbidden Planet - MGM PICTURES
  • MGM Pictures
  • Forbidden Planet
If experiencing subfreezing temperatures is insufficient proof that Vermont is in the dead of winter, several upcoming film screenings should seal the deal.

Friday, January 23

The first of two polar screenings at the Hopkins Center for the Arts in Hanover, N.H., is a fascinating reinterpretation of a legendary classic.

Robert Flaherty's 1922 film Nanook of the North is one of the most important texts in the history of documentary — and one of its most controversial. Even as he established storytelling and stylistic standards for documentary that persist to this day, Flaherty also used questionably ethical practices in directing it. He famously used reenactments in numerous scenes (something most documentaries do), and the film has long been tainted — rightly or wrongly — with a whiff of imperialist exploitation.

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Now Tweet This: Vermont's the Smartest State!

Posted By on Thu, Jan 22, 2015 at 2:58 PM

Smartest and dumbest states, according to tweets - COURTESY OF MOVOTO
  • Courtesy of Movoto
  • Smartest and dumbest states, according to tweets
There’s good reason why much of the country suffers from Vermont Envy. Lots of reasons, actually. The Green Mountain State isn't just another pretty place. It’s got brains to match.

Do I make this claim because Vermont has the country’s highest number of universities per capita (1 for every 36,000 residents)? I do not. Or because the state ranks first in the nation for writers per capita? Nope. Not even because, as Vermont State Librarian Martha Reid reports, “We have more public libraries per capita than any other state (183). “In FY13,” she adds, “Vermont libraries reported 3.6 million visits!”

But we’re getting warmer. I can say with certainty that we’re not just smarter than the average bear. We’re smarter than all the bears. At least all the bears on Twitter!

That’s right. According to a study just published by the California-based online real estate giant Movoto, Vermont isn’t merely among the smartest states, it is the smartest state. And how did it arrive at that conclusion? It read our tweets.

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