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“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” the latest film from writer and director Quentin Tarantino, premiered in July. The movie follows Rick Dalton (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) as he navigates the ups and downs of a Hollywood career in 1969, as well as the looming presence of the Manson Family cult in Los Angeles. Editor Nina Wilder and Campus Arts Editor Kerry Rork chatted about their thoughts on Tarantino’s new film and the events that inspired it. Warning: spoilers below.
Here at Recess, we understand that life can throw us curveballs, from break-ups to workplace dramas and everything in between. Sometimes, life's most gnawing questions aren't easily posed to friends or family — which is where Tea Time with Alice comes in. Alice is here to answer your inquiries, ease your woes and provide you with the insight only a Duke student could. And, because this is the arts and culture section of The Chronicle, she'll use the unique approach of hashing out your issues from the perspective of a pop culture lover. As the saying goes: What would Elle Woods do?
I find myself in solitude most days. Not alone, but turned inward rather than outward, not seeking conversation or companionship, just existing by myself. Part of it is a reaction to the summer-induced diaspora that has driven my friends and family miles away from me; part of it is the desire to preserve some energy to make the day-to-day demands of living independently less exhausting.
After a long break, we're back with the newest episode of “Reel to Reel,” Recess’s pop culture podcast. For the next few weeks, Recess editor Nina Wilder and managing editor Will Atkinson will discuss a different theme, with Nina bringing picks from cinema and Will bringing picks from the music world.
I’m fat. When I was younger, I preferred to use descriptors that minimized my body like chubby or curvy or plus-sized, but now I’m 20 years old, five-foot-ten and weigh over 250 pounds. My fatness is undeniable.
Much discussion has erupted in recent weeks regarding the (purportedly) fading necessity of reviews. In an age of discontinued Netflix-star-ratings, Amazon top customer reviewers and enraged YouTubers, the long-form reviews of movies, books or music that once dominated newspapers are increasingly seen as antiquated or downright ignorant. Ahead of the Oscars on Sunday, staff writer Joel Kohen, culture editor Will Atkinson and design editor Nina Wilder chimed in with their opinions as to why thorough media criticism still deserves a place at the table of today’s journalism.
In her 1964 piece titled “Notes on ‘Camp,’” Susan Sontag outlines a genre of art (but here, I’ll focus on films) referred to as “camp.” These films, which often have a following that is cult-like and niche, exhibit a “love of the unnatural: of artifice and exaggeration.” For most, this means hyper-stylized visuals, over-the-top dialogue, outlandish premises and cartoonish characters. Sontag finishes her piece by stating that camp “is good because it’s awful” — that camp lacks self-awareness, and it is precisely its attempt at seriousness (and failure to succeed) that marks a truly campy film.
In the 1970s, a recent Duke graduate named George Holt — who is now director of performing arts and film programs at the NC Museum of Art — organized one of North Carolina’s first folk festivals on Duke’s campus. With the help of Holger Nygard, a former Duke professor of folklore and medieval literature who passed away in 2015, Holt expanded his scope and formed a folk festival that would eventually become the Festival for the Eno, which still takes place annually at the Eno River State Park.
This spring, the Chicago-based collective Manual Cinema is bringing an art form to campus that tends to be overlooked with regard to live performance: puppetry.
In the spring of 2015, Sonny Kelly — an actor, performer, Ph.D. student at UNC-Chapel Hill and, perhaps most importantly, a black man — was driving his seven-year-old son Sterling to school. He tuned the radio to NPR, as he did most mornings, a routine that allowed him to open up a dialogue with his son about the world’s current events and happenings. But that day, the radio station was reporting on the riots in Baltimore that followed the death of Freddie Gray, a black man who died from injuries sustained while in police custody. All of a sudden, Kelly was saddled with explaining police brutality to his child — a lesson that distressingly “hit really close to home.”
As the Recess section’s resident film lover, the responsibility to decree the year’s best movies often falls upon my shoulders. It’s not an enviable position — how can I responsibly compile a listicle of the year’s crème de la crème when there are many 2018 releases I have yet to see? (If you’re wondering: “Roma,” “If Beale Street Could Talk” and “Destroyer,” among others.) So, instead, here is a list of movies released in 2018 that I want you to add to your watchlist immediately. All of these films stuck with me long after I watched them, and they each bring something new and exciting to their respective genres — something much needed in a franchise-laden industry:
Everything about the small town of Wind Gap, Missouri — the fictional setting of the book-turned-miniseries “Sharp Objects” — looks like it’s been lifted out of a Flannery O’Connor story: antebellum homes as white as cotton that rest on carefully manicured lawns, industrial pig farms that reek of generational wealth, a bucolic downtown dotted with mom-and-pop stores and friendly faces. Missouri is solidly Midwestern in its geography, yes, but its history is mired in Southern tradition and pride, relics of the state’s patronage to the Confederacy. And, like its southern counterparts, Wind Gap is quietly eerie, abandoned both physically and spiritually, a haunting reminder of the past and all its skeletons.
The simple thought of my middle-school self is enough to pull a grimace across my face and send a shudder down my spine. I see snippets of a round-bodied 12-year-old wearing Bermuda shorts and a too-tight t-shirt, her long red hair parted directly down the middle of her scalp (a look, she’ll later learn, only Kim Kardashian can pull off), with an enthusiastic smile that boldly displays buck teeth and crinkled eyes. My butterball physique made me hopelessly insecure, and I was consistently the heaviest person in any given space, a seemingly irrelevant detail that I obsessively catalogued. I never considered myself pretty, and I assumed that no else did, either.
“I’m heavily interested in the arts (especially film) so I think the Recess section would be a good fit.”
I haven’t been to therapy since last September. After six months of weekly appointments with my therapist Sam, she told me that I didn’t need to come back — she was confident in the progress I’d made and felt that I didn’t need to see her anymore. It was a gentle but firm push into the world of self-sufficiency and autonomy, a relieved wipe of the brow that seemed to say: Our work here is done.
It’s been a long time coming, but Recess is finally dipping its feet (again) into the proverbial waters of podcasting. Our new pop culture podcast, Reel to Reel, launches today with Episode 1, “Tastemakers,” now available on Soundcloud and iTunes.
“You can’t be friends with me until you’ve watched Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Kill Bill.’”
The common room in which I stood was tightly packed with crowds of wide-eyed freshmen, which made any attempt at mingling without awkwardly elbowing past someone nearly impossible. Great, I thought. Isn’t socializing comfortably with others supposed to be the point of all this? I’d realize soon afterward, on the bus back to East Campus, that my assumption was woefully naïve — rush, as it turns out, predicates itself far more on social performance than comfortable mingling.
Although I make this claim nearly every year, 2017 has been a spectacular year for film. From a wave of new additions to the American “neo-neo realist” canon, which encompasses films focused on class struggles and disenfranchisement, to films that wholly embrace the escapist qualities that cinema has to offer, most of the much-anticipated movies released this year have not disappointed. Though I have yet to see many of 2017’s cinematic darlings — such as “Call Me By Your Name” and “Phantom Thread” — because of their limited releases, here are my picks (in no specific order) for the year’s must-see films:
I’m sitting in the middle of my room, my legs tucked underneath me, and all I want to do is cry. The vibrant and colorful posters that used to adorn my walls now lay flat on the floor next to me, carefully stacked according to size, the tape pulled cautiously off their backsides. I spent the better part of my middle and high school years meticulously acquiring and arranging these posters, curating a spectacular display that I lovingly described as “what it would look like if I threw up my personality all over my walls.”