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'The Florida Project' juxtaposes the thrills of childhood with the perils of poverty

(11/08/17 5:02am)

Summers in Kissimmee, Fla. — a city just south of Orlando and the setting of Sean Baker’s “The Florida Project” — are hot. Anything that comes into contact with the sun melts or glistens or burns under its unrelenting rays. Ice cream, though sweeter in the thick heat, has to be eaten quickly before it drips and splats onto the blistering pavement. The whirring hum of fans fills every indoor space and the dark tint of sweat stains are unavoidable. But for Moonee (played by Brooklynn Prince), the precocious six-year-old around whom “The Florida Project” centers, none of those caveats really matter. Summer means that school’s out and unsupervised adventure awaits, and she’s determined to create as much magic and mischief in her corner of the universe as she can.

Heatwave and the dismaying tradition of campus concerts

(08/30/17 4:01am)

When Duke University Union announced last week that rapper Sage the Gemini would headline this year’s Heatwave concert, I was miffed. The annoyance arose partly because I had no idea who he was before a cursory Spotify search revealed that Gemini was the mastermind behind such songs as “Gas Pedal” and “Red Nose.” Mostly, though, I was frustrated that Duke’s long-standing tradition of bringing has-been, one-hit wonders to campus for a raucous concert on West Campus would remain intact.

Orientation week blues

(08/30/17 4:00am)

I don’t remember much from orientation week except that it was devastatingly hot. I was familiar with North Carolina’s stifling humidity—being a Raleigh native, I had to be—but the steamy, uncomfortable climate was a bit too representative of my mood for my liking. Just as the heat seemed bound and determined to smother me, so did my forthcoming freshman year at Duke.

Vignettes of a fat girl’s life

(08/09/17 4:00am)

The paper that adorns the examination room’s bench crinkles and bunches as I hoist myself onto its surface. I kick my legs absentmindedly and gaze at the medical posters on the wall, silently willing my heart to stop beating so painfully fast. I emit a nervous, uncomfortable sigh. A nurse has just weighed me. By now, I’ve learned to dart my eyes away from the menacing scale, glancing anywhere but at the digital screen that will assign a very precise number to my self-hatred. Except this time, I catch the nurse’s scribble on my medical chart, and my heart plummets to the ground. Is that really how much I weigh?

Sofia Coppola’s ‘The Beguiled’ suffers from a lack of substance

(07/12/17 4:00am)

The career of actress, screenwriter and director Sofia Coppola has often been mired by accusations of nepotism and privilege, largely due to the dynastic filmmaking family from whence she was born. Most of Coppola’s relatives are also Hollywood multihyphenates—her father is director Francis Ford Coppola, her aunt is actress Talia Shire and her sprawling list of cousins includes actors Jason Schwartzman and Nicolas Cage. (Yes, Nicolas Cage was formerly Nicolas Coppola.) Needless to say, immense pressure has been placed on Sofia Coppola to create a filmography that is discernibly her own. And while her latest film “The Beguiled” is a clear refinement of her style, it’s evident that Coppola hasn’t quite achieved a caliber of filmmaking that could rival her father’s.

An ode to 35mm film

(06/14/17 4:00am)

My friends roll their eyes in mock disdain whenever I ask them if they’d like to watch a “film” with me. They plead with me—just call them “movies” for once, you pretentious nightmare—but I’m unyielding. Films earned their moniker from the very 35mm film stock that breathed life into moving image, and it’s only proper to recognize the much-fought-for medium with its appropriate name. As the millennium inches forward and we gravitate away from conventional modes of filmmaking, film cinematography’s form is quickly vanishing, threatening to become obsolete with the click of every new digital camera’s shutter. As I see it, films should be just that—film. So, here I sing the praises of 35mm film and plead its case for continued longevity.

Art of Cool Festival 2017 brings jazz and soul to the Bull City

(06/05/17 4:10am)

If you live in a city that hosts an annual music festival, you’re probably used to the obtrusive changes often wrought by a festival’s sprawl: blocked-off roads, flocks of visitors and unremitting noise. Basically, they stick out like a sore thumb on a city’s landscape, both visually and culturally—music festivals are rarely well-integrated with the communities whose spaces they occupy, often creating a visible disconnect between the guest and its host.

Shaky Knees 2017: Indie music finds its home

(06/05/17 4:13am)

In case you haven’t noticed, music festivals as of late have become more centered around music that radiates from synthesizers and laptops than guitars or drums—for proof, look no further than Bonnaroo, which recently created a stage dedicated solely to dance and EDM music. Similarly, Coachella’s most recent festival run heavily featured electronic artists and DJs among its smaller acts. It’s a move that will probably prove to be both profitable and favorable—electronic music’s popularity has been growing steadily as it permeates mainstream channels, and arguably no other genre has more universal crowd appeal (it’s called dance music for a reason, after all).

Moogfest 2017: A dubious union of wealth and protest in Durham

(06/05/17 4:13am)

When the organizers of Moogfest announced in February that the music, art and technology festival would feature a “Protest Stage” dedicated to resisting the current wave of inequality in both North Carolina and the United States (specifically HB2 and President Trump’s travel ban), many were delighted. Moogfest, which attracts hordes of affluent individuals such as entrepreneurs and engineers, has clout: both international and national music acts grace its stages year after year, featuring the likes of Grimes, M.I.A. and Kraftwerk. The head-nod toward social justice and activism seemed noble, especially given the festival had just moved to Durham a year prior, a city with its own rich history of protests for equality.

Duke Independent Film Festival showcases student talent across campus

(04/26/17 4:07am)

Andrew Method, Pratt ’16, has been passionate about film for as long as he can remember. Reared in Park City, Utah—the city where Sundance Film Festival takes place annually—Method was raised in an environment that adored and celebrated film. His surroundings indelibly rubbed off on him. Method began to attend Sundance regularly in high school, and because Park City has become something of a “film town,” his high school even hosted its own film festival that exhibited student talent.

Full Frame 2017 marked 20 years of programming for the film festival

(04/19/17 4:04am)

Two weeks ago, more than 10,000 people poured into Durham during a four-day stretch to partake in Full Frame Documentary Film Festival’s 20th annual celebration of documentary filmmaking. The thought alone of that many individuals crammed into such a small area of the city was probably overwhelming to most Durham-dwellers—how would their daily commute be affected? Would their favorite lunch spot be packed beyond capacity? But the hordes of people flocking into the downtown area every year isn’t something that should be met with reproach. In fact, for a film festival with an attendance that barely surpassed a few hundred patrons in its first fledgling years, the sizable turnout was proof of Full Frame’s blossoming presence in the documentary filmmaking community.

Full Frame 2017: Interview with the cast and crew of ‘Quest’

(04/12/17 4:01am)

Filmed over the span of 10 years, “Quest” is an intimate portrait of the Rainey family as they deal with both the trivialities and tribulations that their life in North Philadelphia has to offer. The emotionally gripping documentary was shown Saturday at Full Frame Documentary Film Festival and won the festival’s Grand Jury award. The Chronicle sat down with director Jonathan Olshefski, producer Sabrina Schmidt Gordon, editor Lindsay Utz and stars Christopher “Quest” Rainey, Christine “Ma” Rainey and P.J. Rainey to discuss the film. The following interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Full Frame 2017: ‘Step’ is an uplifting story of community and female empowerment

(04/12/17 4:00am)

Their feet stomp the ground in rhythmic rhapsody, the clomp of each girl’s boot-clad foot sharpened in mesmerizing unison. Their hands clap, slap and twist about their bodies in a fine-tuned pattern — sometimes the motions mirror the movements of their feet and sometimes their hands work alone. Their bodies whirl and jump across the stage in precise and authoritative choreography that demands undivided attention. Suddenly, their fists punch the air and their voices call out in harmony: “Who are we? L.L.O.B.”

Student-run Brickside Music Festival creates a space for experimental music at Duke

(04/05/17 4:02am)

By any measure, the Duke Coffeehouse isn’t one of the more popular spots for students on campus. Tucked away in the farther reaches of Duke’s East Campus (it’s located in the back of Crowell), the Coffeehouse has a reputation for “doing things differently,” perhaps a bit more eccentrically. If you’re looking to stop in for a quick latte or find a study space in between classes, you should probably head to Trinity Café or Vondy—the Coffeehouse, which opens at 6 p.m., is all at once a venue for live music, a space for Duke students and Durham residents alike and a spot to intimately experience art. Rarely do Coffeehouse-goers actually drink coffee or stress over work.

What’s the deal with Duke’s social culture?

(03/29/17 4:00am)

I made the realization as sweat beaded across the back of my neck and flimsy baby hairs stuck to my temples, an unfortunate byproduct of North Carolina’s beloved humidity and the swelling summer heat. It was orientation week, of course—no one could forget the way the sun beat down so angrily on us last August—and I was at a frat party with my roommate, who I had luckily known prior to my arrival at Duke. I made the realization again as I stood in the common room of an SLG, chatting with a stranger self-consciously about my hometown, my prospective major and my sparse extracurriculars, my end-goal to stand out and impress. And again as I hovered on the fringes of a house party, the tight-knit group of people both mesmerizing and alienating.

‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’ takes risks with some restraint in its newest season

(03/22/17 4:00am)

For a television show in its 12th season, “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” has made a particularly concerted effort to walk the balancing beam between innovation and authenticity. Perhaps it’s due to a desire to fight the banality that plagues long-running TV shows or the understanding that reinvention is crucial to successful comedies. Regardless, there’s been a clear attempt at taking risks in the newest season of “It’s Always Sunny,” but there’s a semblance of restraint present, too–as if the show’s creators aren’t quite comfortable with breaking the confines of its established structure just yet.

‘Get Out’ combines comedy and horror to confront racism

(03/08/17 5:00am)

Dusk has fallen over an affluent neighborhood and the manicured lawns and pristine architecture are barely visible in the dim illumination of a few street lights. A young black man walks along the suburban sidewalk in supposed solitude, mumbling house numbers and street names in an attempt to discern his surroundings. Nimble camerawork and the innate tension of such a scene alert us that the figure is not truly alone, and our fears are quickly confirmed as a suspicious car slinks alongside the man like a predator deftly hunting its prey.

The Oscars were a predictable ceremony with a few shining moments

(03/01/17 5:00am)

The 89th annual Academy Awards were held last Sunday and, in typical award show fashion, it was an indulgent and lackluster Hollywood affair that prompted more eye-rolls than elated outbursts–excluding, of course, the Best Picture fiasco, which was both wildly entertaining and mortifying. And while the ceremony ushered in many positive changes following the #OscarsSoWhite vilification over the last two years, the Academy irrevocably proved that it has ways to go in terms of championing genuine diversity and its perceived liberal ideals.