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On March 25, experimental & documentary arts MFA student Emily MacDiarmid premiered her thesis film, “Approved for Release.” The 20-minute documentary is a visual journey based on a government transcript of an astral projection study. In 1984, the United States Defense Intelligence Agency conducted a psychological experiment in which the participant attempted to explore a distant place and time — the planet Mars in 1 million B.C. — without physically traveling. When MacDiarmid found the transcript, she found an opportunity to combine her seemingly contradictory interests: science fiction and documentaries.
When new genres enter the musical canon, they’re often thought of in terms of preexisting genres and artists: hip-hop started by sampling disco tracks, country has its roots in gospel and folk songs and pop-punk and rap-rock are conveniently named after these combinations. Unlike these seemingly arithmetic fusions, though, the musical product is often greater than the sum of their parts. And no artist represents this better than the late Durham-born funk icon Betty Davis.
There is no greater reminder of my intellectual devolution than my high school annotations. As I flip through the pile of neon Post-it Notes decorating my three-year-old copy of “Frankenstein,” I am confronted by the words that were once frequent guests in my writing: “polysemy,” “duplicity,” “sycophant” and my personal favorite, “quotidian.” They were summer camp words — words you take on every adventure and grow attached to for a few weeks, before inevitably falling apart sooner than you expect. And each time you’re reminded of the time spent with these words, you recognize how you’ve grown while grieving over the loss of your youthful potential.
When COVID first hit almost two years ago, Stephen Atkinson and I compiled a list of albums that gave us comfort throughout quarantine. One of the albums that instantly came to mind was Alanis Morissette’s 1995 hit "Jagged Little Pill," which I then appreciated for how the artist “unapologetically confronts issues that make us uncomfortable, including our fear of silence and the constant need to be distracted. This fearlessness, though — her attempt to understand herself without trying to please others — reminds us of the universality of fear and pain.”
CW: Eating disorders
When I think about high school, I often think about the anxiety that came with it: the feeling of mindlessly roaming around a crowded hallway at seven in the morning, the discomfort of eating in front of classmates and the dependence on schoolwork to distract myself from loneliness. It’s hard to realize that you’re not the only person experiencing this without feeling as if you’re burdening others with your thoughts. For high school senior Evan Hansen, this anxiety consumes his teenage years.
On May 30, comedian Bo Burnham released his Netflix special “Inside,” a one-man performance written, filmed and edited entirely by himself. Created throughout the pandemic, Burnham addressed the boredom and loneliness of quarantine routines, such as facetiming your mom every day or feeling as if you spent the whole day in a cycle of standing and sitting and crying.
Most fans of online quizzes are familiar with the Pooh Pathology Test: each character of the classic Disney franchise embodies a different psychiatric diagnosis, and users can answer a series of questions to see which character they relate to the most. I was never a huge fan of the Hundred Acre crew, but I was still fascinated by the use of children’s cartoon characters to describe mental health conditions. Recently, I realized that this trend was not exclusive to Pooh and his friends — it could also be attributed to the characters in my favorite Pixar movie: “Finding Nemo.”
Mainstream teen pop culture of the 2000s was ruled by blonde, skinny white girls taking center stage in hot pink like Regina George, Elle Woods, Cher Horowitz, Sharpay Evans and Hannah Montana, to name a few. It has been 15 years since the latter show premiered, and Miley Cyrus posted a letter to Hannah that made me reflect on my Disney Channel-obsessed childhood. Like many elementary-age girls of the time, I was fixated: I watched every episode, belted every song and saw Miley in concert in 2009. As a kid, teenagers are the epitome of coolness: they ditch school and go out with their friends, they wear and say what they want and in many movies and shows, they spontaneously break into song. So, as a girl growing up in the 2000s, I idolized the sassy teen queens on every screen.
Wake up. Shower. Make coffee. Go to work. Take out the trash moments before the garbage truck arrives. It’s a monotony we know all too well, and one that often calls for an escape. In his recent film “Nobody,” Bob Odenkirk shows how breaking free from a routine life may involve violence, bus fights and a break-in.
I have always enjoyed films about women doing and taking what is rightfully theirs. Be it work, a title or respect, it is empowering to see female characters unafraid to take a stand. Many of these films, however, are dependent on the expectation that women need to put other women down: “Mean Girls,” for example, villianizes typically feminine traits, and even Sharpay of “High School Musical” felt like she couldn’t succeed in her theatre career without sabotaging Gabriella. Yet, in Colin Higgins’ “9 to 5,” the women in the film stand by and with each other, not out of convenience or pleasantries, but necessity.
Close your eyes and tell me about your dream from last night. Don’t think about it yet — just picture it. What do you see? How do you feel?
Duke’s Coffeehouse is a place that strikes a balance between relaxation and excitement, a place to unwind throughout the week, learn what hypnagogic pop means and dance through the weekend.
CW: Sexual violence
He went into digital marketing. She’s getting her master’s in psych. Could I make it any more obvious? Like many young couples, Sol and Jen must navigate the dynamics of being recently engaged, switching careers and living together. Unlike most couples, however, they have a limited amount of time to do so.
Meet 17-year-old Millie, Blissfield High’s school mascot and, consequently, a victim of bullying. Her soft blond curls insinuate a kind introversion, further underscored by her floral wallpaper and Panic! At the Disco poster. Her best friends, flamboyant Josh and artsy Nyla, have always encouraged her to be herself.
Contrary to popular opinion, traveling is not that great. Airports are slow and crowded; hotels are stiff and plastic; museums, even for a history nerd, tend to be boring; souvenirs are overpriced and easily lost; and the pictures never turn out quite how you expect.
I find myself preaching about empathy until it comes to celebrities. I’ve always accepted the screen as a barrier that protects stars from the public’s criticisms, and in turn, protects the public from any guilt.
This time last year, I entered my freshman dorm and met the initially intimidating group of girls living on my hall. I felt like everyone was smarter and more accomplished than me, richer than me and definitely prettier than me. I went from the familiar solitude of my house to being in a hall of smart, accomplished, rich and pretty girls. Duke girls.
On June 19, Blumhouse Productions and writer-director David Koepp released their latest psychological thriller, “You Should Have Left.” Based on German author Daniel Kehlmann’s 2017 novella of the same name, the film explores how duplicity and paranoia can destroy a family. The story revolves around an infamous banker, Theo Conroy (Kevin Bacon), his young actress wife Susanna (Amanda Seyfriend) and their six year-old bubbly and intuitive daughter Ella (Avery Essex). The family vacations in the Welsh countryside in a house that warps time, space and reality. In an attempt to escape the distorting house, Theo is forced to confront his dark past. As part of a virtual roundtable with Bacon, The Chronicle had the opportunity to interview the actor about his latest movie.