Category: A+E

December 11, 2016 Jacob Holley-Kline

Finals week crushes even the strongest students. It’s a stressful, grating time where it’s not unheard of to break down every once and a while. With so much on our minds, it’s nice to escape in some mindless entertainment, and it doesn’t get more mindless than “Baskin.” This homage to Italian horror will shut viewers’…

December 4, 2016 Jacob Holley-Kline

The post “Breaking Bad” glut of anti-hero centric crime flicks only had so much to work with. A man, seeking fortune or some means of providing for his loved ones, descends into the criminal underworld and discovers his true self. “Serra Pelada,” save for an abrupt turn at the end, follows these beats exactly. Besides…

December 4, 2016 Madison Mcenaney

The highly anticipated delivery of Childish Gambino’s newest album has finally arrived – and been just as game-changing as we expected it to be. Titled “Awaken, My Love!” Gambino takes you on an 11 track, 50-minute journey through an entirely new genre of music he has never stepped foot in, until now. Childish Gambino’s alter-ego…

November 21, 2016 Jacob Holley-Kline

Movies with a one-track mind can be frustrating. The needlessly titled “When Evening Falls on Bucharest or Metabolism” has just such a mind. Watching it is a frustrating, sometimes maddening experience, but it’s hard to deny its brilliance. Over 90 ponderous minutes, director Corneliu Porumboiu breaks cinema down to its bare essentials. But to what…

November 21, 2016 Madison Mcenaney

With the recent comeback of record players, everyone seems to be dusting off their old turntable and playing their old favorite album, just as it was before music streaming services like iTunes and Spotify were at our disposal. There is something about owning an album on vinyl that feels timeless, and people appear to be…

November 13, 2016 Jacob Holley-Kline

So many documentaries about North Korea focus on Kim Jong-un’s regime. Interviews with the citizens emphasize the horror they live under, but not who they are as people. In Álvaro Longoria’s excellent “The Propaganda Game,” however, those people are the focus. It’s a refreshingly humanist approach, one the opts for honesty over exploitation, and the…

November 6, 2016 Jacob Holley-Kline

It’s tiring sitting through the same horror movie time and again. There are a few diamonds in the rhinestones, but “When Animals Dream” is just another rhinestone. It’s got a diamond’s sheen, but with none of its strength. Sometimes, that sheen raises the atmosphere and tone well; however, the rest of the movie never follows. In fact, “When Animals Dream” is so underwhelming that it’s hard to form an opinion about it. At its deepest, it’s an average horror flick veiled by artistry.

Marie (Sonia Suhl) lives in a lonely fishing village with her father, Thor (Lars Mikkelsen, “The Day Will Come”) and her seemingly catatonic mother, Mor (Sonja Richter, “Gentlemen”). After a strange rash appears on Marie’s chest, she begins to change. Something is amiss in the village, however. It seems that everyone knows what’s happening to her better than she does.

Transformation narratives, broken down, are more about the “before” than the “after.” “Before,” the character is built up, given dimension while the affliction spreads. “After,” the man becomes the monster, and the attributes of both get too mixed up to tell who’s who. The problem with “When Animals Dream” is that the before establishes nothing about Marie, opting instead to build her relationships with other, equally vague people.

So when the after hits, it’s not scary or effective in any way. Things just kind of happen, and they’re left there. Viewers have to take it on faith that, without knowing who she was before, Marie is very different now, so she will do very different things. Horrible things. Look at how monstrous she’s become! But when you only see the monster, is it really monstrous?

Even worse, the movie falls back on the usual thematic territory: the dangers of female sexuality. This doesn’t hurt the movie, it just lumps it in further with most horror out there. It just feels so safe. And in a world with horror like “The Witch,” “The Babadook,” and “It Follows,” “When Animals Dream” just doesn’t cut it.

In the end, this movie is your typical werewolf flick, but it’s got enough of an artistic sheen to feel different. And that’s its biggest trick. Truly, the movie wants to be subversive and interesting. Its fascinating texture is evidence of that. But it just isn’t. It’s too familiar and indistinct to take on a life of its own. For a movie so focused on transformation, it’s ironic that “When Animals Dream” never evolves itself.

October 30, 2016 Madison Mcenaney

Alaska is one of the most beautiful and untouched places our world gets to wonder about, and we are lucky enough to get to call the mountain ranges and aurora night skies our playground. In the world of photography, Alaska is a gold mine, practically bursting at the seams with beautiful scenery begging to get…

October 30, 2016 Jacob Holley-Kline

Title: “7 Años”

Director: Roger Gual

Release date: Oct. 28, 2016

Genre: Crime drama

Country: Spain

Rating: 4 out of 5

Stick five desperate people in a room and bullets are bound to fly. But the tense and compact crime drama “7 Años” nixes the gunplay and focuses solely on character. After the nihilistic glee of Tarantino’s similar, though far less interesting, “The Hateful Eight,” “7 Años” plays like a return to the basics of cinema in the best way possible. There are five characters in one room with one problem. In the end, however, it feels too short. It doesn’t overstay its welcome, but it never really settles in.

Under pressure from the IRS, four friends are facing jail time for mishandling funds in their software firm. Here’s the catch: with a simple money transaction, only one of them needs to take the fall. So Marcel (Alex Brendemuhl, “Longing for a Kiss”), the CEO, Veronica (Juana Acosta, “Vientos de la Habana”), the CFO, Luis (Paco León, “Kiki, Love to Love”), and Carlos (Juan Pablo Raba, “Shot Caller”) hire a mediator, Jose (Manuel Moron, “Cerca de tu casa”), to figure out who that one person will be.

The movie’s short running time forces the characters to be direct. The dialogue is blunt but never boring. Viewers can be sure that what narrative layers it peels back only leave room for more. As the characters are stripped to their core, the dialogue only gets more terse. Honestly, while no grand battles take place, “7 Años” is violent in its language. Marcel and Veronica share the most brutal exchanges, and Carlos and Luis the most heartbreaking.

The characters start out vague, however. Carlos and Luis’ introduction is fairly bland. It tells us a little bit about them both. Marcel and Veronica’s opening scenes aren’t any better. As it goes on, however, the characters’ dynamic deepens and, frankly, gets pretty sad. When they come to blows, it’s not fun to watch. They just cut so deep with everything they say.

Director Roger Gual is careful in setting up these climaxes. He’s not one for visual flourishes. More than anything, his style serves the characters. It lacks the freneticism of Fabian Bielinsky’s similarly character-driven Argentinian crime opus “Nine Queens,” but has David Mamet’s command of dialogue ala “American Buffalo.”

It’s a damn good movie. It never tries to be anything other than what it is: an exploration of four characters during the tensest moment of their lives. Even with a light plot, “7 Años” feels too short. The conclusion certainly would have hit harder if viewers knew these characters more intimately. Director Gual’s barebones style helps move it along at a steady click. When the credits roll, no one is spared. Not even the viewer.

October 24, 2016 Madison Mcenaney

The Alaska Humanities Forum is a nonprofit organization in Anchorage that focuses on connecting Alaskans through stories and ideas, and this year they have decided to host their second annual art showcase, called UPSTART. This showcase is set to feature both visual and literary artists, but have honed in the focus on young Alaskans between…

October 24, 2016 Madison Mcenaney

While successful musicians are often widely known for one specific instrument they excel in, or genre they play to, they likely dip their toes into other aspects of music as well. Alberto Alcala is one of those individuals. Most people in Anchorage know him as the vocalist for local hardcore band Old Hounds, but few…

October 24, 2016 Jacob Holley-Kline

It’s easy to drive a joke into the ground. “No Filter,” for some reason, makes it a point to do so. Every gag, and there are many, are super hit-and-miss. Truthfully, some of the funniest moments in the movie happen early on. It has the patina of a studio comedy, always flirting with edginess but never getting there. As it goes on, the movie gets weaker, but the charismatic Paz Bascunan picks up the slack that her co-stars leave behind.

Pia (Paz Bascunan, “Alma”) is a middle-aged, down-on-her-luck, marketing firm representative. Her husband ignores her, she isn’t respected at work by her boss or coworkers, and, when she’s not being ignored, she’s constantly inconvenienced by everyone around her. Constant chest pain and a regiment of pills sends her to the doctor where she finds out that all her pent-up rage is bound to kill her and the only cure is to let it all out.

Pia’s not a hard character to wrap your head around. But “No Filter” spends a lot of time with the “down-on-her-luck” part. It’s the Rodney Dangerfield school of comedy. “I don’t get no respect” rings true through most of the movie, but it gets tiring just thirty minutes into the movie. The repetition is jarring, to be certain, but any fans of the James Franco and Seth Rogen school of improv won’t likely be off-put.

When stuff hits the fan, Pia confronts all these people. And while she does get brutal, the movie’s tone is too positive to let her get truly mean. In that way, it lacks the edge that it really needs. But it’s not all bad. There are some hilarious moments, and it’s easy to admire the weird progressive world that director Nicolas Lopez has created.

The true draw of the movie is Paz Bascunan’s performance as Pia. While the movie has the generic sheen of a studio comedy, Bascunan brings honesty to her character’s very real pain. In an especially poignant moment, Pia shares a hug with her ex. She nestles against him as if it’s the first time in years. More than anything, bordered by generic side character, she carries the movie on her own.

With a few gut-busting moments, “No Filter” is just funny enough to not feel like a waste of time. It takes a bit to gather momentum, and when it does, it’s a fun ride. It wouldn’t be as fun, however, without the Paz Bascunan’s presence. It doesn’t have the bite of a great comedy, but it’s got the filtered fun of a worthwhile one.

October 17, 2016 Madison Mcenaney

Many aspects play into the field of photography that makes an image unique and well constructed. Between lighting, environment, subject and the type of camera that is used, any of these variables can make or break an image. All students at UAA that take photography classes learn about these elements that make an image and learn how to alter them to create their own style. The photography department offers classes starting at beginner levels, and progressing forward from there.

In the past, all photography classes at UAA have been primarily film based. Students learned the ropes of producing images through film, while digital imaging classes were saved for more advanced and serious photographers. However, there has recently been a shift in the program, all centering around the idea that digital photography is the primary way to produce images.

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The photo lab, located in the Fine Arts Building, isn't as packed on Friday nights as it used to be. Dedicated lab monitors still check to make sure the chemicals are regularly changed out. Photo credit: Young Kim

Deborah Tharp is the head of the photography department and has been teaching at UAA for 22 years. She has witnessed and been a part of the move from film to digital photography on campus and has had a strong voice in the decision making of where the photography program is heading.

“There was a time when digital cameras were way out of student’s price range. I knew we wouldn’t be able to go digital until the cameras became affordable, so when I saw students coming to class with the digital cameras, I knew the shift could be made,” Tharp said.

The photography program made the decision to go primarily digital within weeks before this fall semester began, and since then the feedback has been mostly all positive. Students now have the funds and capabilities of getting their hands on a digital camera, and the photography department has recognized that and decided to move forward with technology.

In the past, the beginning photography classes centered around film style photography and worked their way up to digital photography, which was a more advanced class. Now, the curriculum will work a little differently. Beginning photography classes will center around iPhone and digital cameras, and film style photography will be a class of its own, designed for students who want to really specialize in that area of photography.

Joe Savageau works at UAA’s photography film labs and is a film expert. He monitors these labs on Friday nights, but has been doing this job and other things in the photography department for nearly four years now. He responded positively to the change, stating that it will benefit the program.

“The labs used to be a lot more packed every night because the only way students could finish their photo projects was at the labs. Now, Photoshop exists on computers, and they can pretty much do everything from home. I get one or two students that come to the open labs on Fridays, but never many more. I think making the classes digitally based is a good idea for the program,” Savageau said.

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The photography classrooms have already begun putting more computers and printers in their labs to provide the necessities that are required when shooting images on a digital camera. Beginning photographers will learn about online editing programs like Photoshop, Bridge and Lightroom in-class, and there will be less of a focus on developing film. Professors will also now discuss the details of printing images, not developing them.

“I knew it was time to make a change when my students began to care more about digital photography than film. There will always be the ones that choose to pursue film photography, which is why we don’t want to get rid of the option completely. The dark room will still be around for those who want to utilize it, but it will no longer be a primary focus,” Tharp said.

The field of photography is growing and changing constantly, like so many other programs at UAA. It is important for these programs to recognize when times and technology are progressing, and match the curriculum to that as well. Professors are working hard to produce classes that students want to take, and hope to only spark the interest of more potential photographers out there with the change from film to digital imaging.

October 17, 2016 Taylor Curry

Green Day is back, after the odd but unique triple album (yes, triple) in 2012s “Uno,” “Dos,” and “Tre” albums, they are now releasing their 12th studio album in “Revolution Radio.” The album starts out a bit unexpectedly with the track “Somewhere Now,” with a soft guitar and vocals by singer/guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong, but…

October 17, 2016 Adrian Colding Ii

Solange is known for pushing the limits when it comes to music, so I knew I needed to prepare myself for her newest release, “A Seat at the Table.” I had to listen to the album three times before I even tried to formulate my emotions. Solange has such a pure attribute to her voice;…

October 17, 2016 Michael Thomas

In a land far away, where the halls are lined with student and faculty work, where your imagination is brought to life, lies the Kimura Art Gallery. Located on the second floor of the art building, most students outside of the art department have never heard of the internationally renowned gallery lying just on the…

October 17, 2016 Jacob Holley-Kline

Watching “The Second Woman” is a bizarre experience. To begin with, it’s bad with some good sprinkled on. The good is that it’s very self-aware and strangely allegorical. The protagonist, Hui Bao, represents director Miu-suet Lai, while her twin, Hui Xiang, represents the audience watching the movie. The bad is how Lai goes about putting…

October 9, 2016 Lee Piltz

If conspiracy theories, crazy people and kooky ideas about what’s really going on behind the scenes are your thing, Lizard People is the podcast for you.

October 9, 2016 Jacob Holley-Kline

A movie like “Dukhtar” has an inherent power to it. That power can be unlocked by a good director, but director Afia Nathaniel isn’t quite there. The setting makes for some haunting vistas, and truly powerful character moments are few and far between, but the movie is decent in its attempts. Like “JeruZalem,” “Dukhtar” aims…

October 7, 2016 Cheyenne Mathews

The Student Union gallery is now showing an exhibition by the Camera Club called Through Our Eyes. The reception was Wednesday Sept. 28 and the show will continue to run through Oct. 19. Cody Swanson is the former President of the Camera Club and he says any Camera Club member has the opportunity to submit…