Yemi Alde – Tangerine

Just Because – Enjoy!!!

 

 

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The Skeleton Twins Movie Review by Brett Myers

The pain of sudden family tragedy cuts deep and in Craig Johnson’s The Skeleton Twins the cuts go deep enough to bring two siblings back together after 10 years. Many films have portrayed brother-sister relationships as lovingly dysfunctional, mostly for the purpose of comedy. Skeleton Twins portrays Milo and Maggie, played by Bill Hader and Kristin Wiig respectively, as broken siblings only with happy childhood memories together. And that’s okay.

Openly gay Milo has been living in Los Angeles trying to make his way as an actor and Maggie never left upstate New York, working in a dentist’s office and married to the upbeat but boring Lance (Owen Wilson). On the same day, the twins escape death as they both attempt suicide with Milo ending up in the hospital and Maggie taking him into her home. Despite being apart for an entire decade, both of them still retain what connected them so well as children, while also both slowly and aggressively falling apart. Keeping crumbling emotions bottled up must run in the family as their father committed suicide when they were young and they ponder over this event’s effects throughout the movie.

The film follows them as they try to repair themselves and each other by reconnecting with images of their youth. This subject matter has served as the plot for many clichéd movies, but Nathan Larson’s script presents these clichés as realistic mechanisms for Milo and Maggie’s road to recovery. The most impressive example is their shared sense of humor. Several scenes have little purpose except to show how the two make each other laugh. Their thought-out deadpan characters combined with their natural chemistry and improvisation background, set their relationship apart from other brother-sister movies, during certain scenes where they don’t break into laughter despite sarcastic statements. One scene shows Milo getting angry with Maggie for potentially spoiling the end of Marley and Me which he had almost finished. He throws the book aside and she apologizes, but Milo turns back to her and says, “I know what happens…It’s the book where the dog dies. Everyone knows that.” While their comedic cynicism keeps the two of them connected like only family can, it also leads them farther down the path to destruction.

Like her character in Bridesmaids, Kristin Wiig’s character is the portrait of a perpetually sad woman unwilling to admit she’s falling apart for other people’s happiness. However it’s more damaging here than it is funny and she’s angry with herself more so than with others. She values the feelings of others more so than her feelings in a too matter-of-fact manner. She doesn’t ask how to please them, she just does. No matter how damaging it may be. And little by little, the consequences slip out. She sleeps with her scuba instructor in a moment of weakness, feeling undeniably unsatisfied with her husband who is head over heels in love with her. These snaps in judgment, in all their possible forms, ultimately lead to her destructive actions.

Those most familiar with Bill Hader from SNL will be surprised to see this realistic character from him. His portrayal of Milo captures the bitterness embedded in many members of the LGBT community due to judgment and oppression. His constant criticism of everything around him leaves him unable to live with his own thoughts as his attempt at suicide that begins the movie is implied to come after a breakup. Additionally, his emotions come to a boil each time he gets drunk, a time when anyone’s true thoughts come to the surface. Other than the comedic banter with his sister, the only time he shows excitement is when he sees his ex-lover Rich (Ty Burrell) who was his English teacher when Milo was 15 years old. The thought of reuniting with a past and problematic lover seems to be the only thing keeping him uplifted during his visit home.

This quiet gem of a movie may have initially served as a reel for Wiig and Hader’s talents toward heavy material, but it’s one that shouldn’t be forgotten when award season comes around. While a few of the heavier plot points come from left field for a possible tug at our hearts or a gasp, the actors handle them with grace and vulnerability, blending them in to the story as character development. Very little is resolved at the end of the film. In fact, they may be back where they started with the roles reversed. But in the least cliché way possible, all they need is each other. “Nothing’s gonna stop [them] now.”

TED Talk Tuesday – John Hodgman: Design, explained.

Comedian, Daily Show regular, and all around expert John Hodgman keeps it funny and light in today’s TED Talk. In his brief presentation, Hodgman discusses three iconic designs and their odd place in modern society. His greatest insight comes at the end, as always saving the best for last. Happy April and Enjoy!

 

“It is easy to forget the gasp-inducement that occurred in 2007 when you first touched this thing because it became so quickly pervasive and because of how instantly we adopted these gestures and made it an extension of our life. Unlike the Theme Building, this is not alien technology. Or I should say, what it did was it took technology which, unlike people in this room, to many other people in the world, still feels very alien, and made it immediately and instantly feel familiar and intimate.”

And unlike the juicy salif, it does not threaten to attach itself to your brain, rather, it simply attaches itself to your brain. And you didn’t even notice it happened.”

Thankful Thursday: We Live Unbound

Yes!!! Live Unbound! There are so many people who are just stuck and stubborn and yet complain about how they’re unhappy; but the choice is ours, we can choose to be happy. I love this video, it inspires me to just leap forward with zeal. To live unbound with passion and energy. Living unbound doesn’t have to be jumping off a cliff or falling out of the sky though, it can be small and local. Like trying that new restaurant down the street, checking out that band you’ve never heard of, or finally submitting that article you’ve always wanted to write. The real goal is to be fearless, open, and to explore. Why be afraid when all the world is open to you? What am I grateful for, this video that inspires me to live unbound.

Travels at the Music Store by Carike Claassen

I’ve been thinking about where my love of travel started, and it’s impossible to pinpoint. It seems to me that the yen to experience other places and other cultures has just always been there, part of me. That, ultimately, is what travel represents to me: the opportunity to hear a different story to the one I live daily, to connect with fellow human beings.

So, in my heart (and in my dreams) I am a professional globe trotter, collecting stories and impressions as I go – and I have been fortunate enough to have travelled quite a bit (though never enough). In reality, though, my bank account often puts a damper on my very long bucket list of places-to-see-before-I-die.

That’s where the music store comes in. Music provides a glimpse into the soul of different cultures, and my trips to the music store have become a thrilling substitute for trips to the airport. Browsing the World Music section is a mini-adventure in itself: the strange band names, the colourful CD covers, the far-flung locations I’d never be able to point out on a map. The anticipation of discovering a sound; a story that will speak to me – even if I don’t understand the language it’s being told in.

I like to randomly select whichever CD jumps out at me. Pay for it and make a mad dash home, where I eagerly pop the CD into the player, sit back and…discover. Be surprised by sounds that are totally new to me.

So in that spirit of surprise and discovery, I’d like to take you on a trip with me. I want to invite you to discover a little something of my home country, South Africa. This music video is by a local artist named Toya Delazy, whom I love. She’s vibrant and colourful, much like her music, and much like home. I hope you enjoy it.

TED Talk Tuesday – Gustavo Dudamel leads El Sistema’s top youth orchestra

Whenever I begin to feel disappointed in humanity, I simply turn to the arts for inspiration and to feel uplifted.

Here is an amazing, AMAZING youth orchestra from Venezuela. These tremendous young musicians are in high school and their talent is outstanding; I don’t even remember what I was doing in high school and I was certainty not doing anything as significant as these students. Led by renowned conductor Gustavo Dudamel enjoy this slice of musical heaven.

The Sunday Review – Cirque du Soleil: Totem

Awaken your inner child, ignite your passion for creativity, and join the thousands that have witnessed the glory of Cirque du Soleil’s “Totem.” An amazing theatrical production, “Totem” is Cirque du Soleil at its best. Stunning acts, live music, and amazing costuming combine to create something simply unforgettable. “Totem” is an outstanding experience that must be enjoyed several times over. You will fall in love and it will be love at first sight.

Through a series of entertaining acts, “Totem” creatively explores the process of human evolution. It tracks man from amphibian, to ape, and ends with our need for astrological exploration. Along your journey you will encounter young lovers, skilled jugglers, and punk rock Neanderthals. You will be amazed by the skill and capacity of each member of this traveling show.

“Totem” begins with the illuminating spark of creation descending from the heavens. It sends a spark that lands upon the back of a tortoise shell. The shell is an important symbolic element in “Totem” as many indigenous creation stories prominently feature tortoises. Within the shell, the audience witnesses the first sparks of energetic and acrobatic life. This is the opening scene of “Totem;” quick and vibrant, it effectively prepares the audience for the entertainment to come.

A diverse mix of acts with varying degrees of difficulty make “Totem” an all around entertaining experience. The acts are a testament to creativity and the ability of the human body. Agility, coordination, and strength are all key factors in what makes these performers some of the best in the world.

“Foot Juggling (Crystal Ladies)” takes the common act of juggling and turns it into something spectacular; much like what Cirque Du Soleil has done to the traditional circus. Performed by Belarusian twin sisters Marina and Svetlana Tsodikova, “Foot Juggling (Crystal Ladies)” is an amazingly coordinated act executed with tremendous precision. The performance is well coordinated and beautiful to watch as their costumes glisten under the Big Top lights.

Young and shy aerial lovers are seen in the “Fixed Duo Trapeze.” Playful while still technically impressive, Guilhem Cauchois and Sarah Tessier remind the audience of youthful first love. Rapid dance-like movements done midair are as exciting as the lovers themselves.

Massimiliano Medini and Denise Garcia-Sorta exquisitely perform “Roller Skates,” by far the most outstanding act of “Totem.” Edge of your seat exciting, this performance is mesmerizing. Fast, elegant, and beautiful, the speed and accuracy of this act are amazing. Taking the form of a courtship the pair move in complete harmony.

“Totem” is the only show of its kind to feature traditional indigenous performance elements so prominently. The “Hoops Dancer” is a crucial character in the non-linear storyline of the performance. He appears as a lone warrior in the first half of the show but returns with a female counterpart for his second act. It is great to see such creative and cultural diversity represented on a main stage.

The unspoken heroes of “Totem” are the musicians and crew. These unnamed individuals work together to create a supportive environment in which these artists can excel. From outstanding costuming to tremendous live music, these individuals are equally responsible for the great success of “Totem.”

Despite the unintentional black and brown face, “Totem” is a true family affair. It takes the best of science, myth, and magic and creates a compelling story on life, love, and change. Wonderfully mixing different elements of expression, “Totem” is a joy for children and adults. An amazing story of life is illuminated through glorious movement that is sure to please all.

“Totem” is a traveling show. For more information or tickets, call 718-507-6387 or visit www.cirquedusoleil.com.