The 94th Academy Awards Kick Off: A brief dive into this year’s Oscars nominations.

As another season of film comes to an end, the industry prepares to celebrate and honor recent movies released between March 1 and December 31, 2021. The 94th Academy Awards ceremony (also known as the Oscars) will be taking place at 8:00PM on Sunday, March 22 this year. Among the numerous awards given at the annual ceremony, the most prestigious three are Best Lead Actress, Best Lead Actor and Best Picture. Between these three awards there are 17 different films featured by nominations. 

The films contending for Best Picture this year are: “Belfast,” “Coda,” “Don’t Look Up.” “Drive my Car,” “Dune,” “King Richard,” “Licorice Pizza,” “Nightmare Alley,” “The Power of the Dog” and “West Side Story.” The actors contending for Best Lead Actor are: Javier Bardem (“Being the Ricardos”), Benedict Cumberbatch (“The Power of the Dog”), Andrew Garfield (“tick, tick…BOOM!”), Will Smith (“King Richard”) and Denzel Washington (“The Tragedy of Macbeth”). The actresses contending for Best Lead Actress are: Jessica Chastin (“The Eyes of Tammy Faye”), Olivia Coleman (“The Lost Daughter”), Penelope Cruz (“Parallel Mothers”), Nicole Kidman (“Being the Ricardos”) and Kristen Stewart (“Spencer”). 

The film with the most nominations is “The Power of the Dog” with a whopping 12 nominations: Best Picture, Best Lead Actor, Best Supporting Actor (x2), Best Supporting Actress, Best Cinematography, Best Directing, Best Film Editing, Best Original Score, Best Production Design, Best Sound Design and Best Adapted Screenplay. “Dune” comes in second with their number of nominations reaching 10: Best Picture, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing, Best Makeup and Hairstyling, Best Original Score, Best Production Design, Best Sound Design, Best Visual Effects and Best Adapted Screenplay. 

Composer Hans Zimmer has been given his 12th Academy Awards nomination after composing the original score to “Dune” and producer/director Steven Spielberg has been given his 11th Academy Awards nomination after producing and directing the musical “West Side Story.” Meanwhile, Kristen Stewart makes history as the first openly LGBT+ actress nominated for Best Lead Actress. 

The Oscars are an excellent opportunity to discover new movies that hold merit as good films and to celebrate the continuation of film as art and culture. Though the Oscars are not without controversy. Often the majority of movie-goers don’t have interest in the awards ceremony due to the nomination selections. Regularly, the movies that are popular in most crowds are not even featured at the Oscars. For example, the widely popular movies produced by Marvel have only had 13 out of their 27 movies nominated for the awards ceremony, with “Black Panther” being the only one to win any award. “Black Panther” won Best Original Score and Best Production Design in 2019. However, fans of the comic book-based films will be glad to see that both “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” and “Spider-Man: No Way Home” have been nominated for Best Visual Effects this year! 

For those who enjoy animated films, there are five films nominated for Best Animated Film this year: “Encanto”, “Flee”, “Luca”, “The Mitchells VS. The Machines” and “Raya and the Last Dragon.” And for those who enjoy personable hosts, the 94th Academy Awards will be hosted by Regina Hall, Amy Schumer and Wanda Sykes. The Oscars have not had a host since 2018 but are making up for it by featuring three.

Whether you are someone who enjoys looking at different elements of film or someone who simply enjoys watching movies, the Oscars are the perfect way to either branch out and try a new kind of movie or to find a movie that might fit into what you usually enjoy. The 94th Academy Awards show will air at 8:00PM, March 22, on NBC.

EU Spring Musical : “Still Here”: Previewing Eastern University’s 2022 Spring musical.

This semester, Eastern’s spring musical is going to look a little differently due to COVID restrictions. I interviewed the director, Dr. Ardencie Hall-Karambe, to get some insight into what students should be expecting.

Dr. Ardencie Hall-Karambe is a theatre professor and the owner of a professional theatre company called Kaleidoscope Cultural Arts Collective. She said that ““I love working with college students, so when the opportunity came my way, I was really excited.” Originally, she’d planned to use an already-written script, but because COVID and other unplanned events, she ended up writing the book herself. “It was interesting writing the book for this. I took this on whole-heartedly, but it was a quick turnaround,” Dr. Ardencie Hall-Karambe said. 

The musical is titled “Still Here,” which comes from one of the songs that two of the characters sing together. It’s compiled from songs taken from different Broadway shows that have a similar theme: how people renew as we’re coming out of this COVID state. The musical questions, “How have we changed, having been in this bubble of COVID, and how do people still retain their humaness, especially when it comes to love and loss?” Most of the songs are Steven Sondheim songs or those written by people who were inspired by him, and the scenes were written around the songs. According to Dr. Ardencie Hall-Karambe, several shows in the past few years have done this, by taking favorite songs and tying them together.

“I’m excited to really do my part to help Professor A. and the students build up the musical theatre program here,” Dr. Ardencie Hall-Karambe said. “We learn about being human through theatre.” She discussed how theatre has been a staple of human interaction across time, whether it was called storytelling or something else. She also called theatre “a great learning tool” and emphasized how it can teach us how to live our lives and avoid making the mistakes of the characters. For that reason, she really enjoys helping colleges build up theatre programs.

When asked how COVID has affected the process of creating theatre, Dr. Ardencie Hall-Karambe exclaimed, “Singing with a mask on is not fun! You’re sucking in a lot of cotton.” She also explained how she wrote the script with COVID in mind, so she limited the number of characters on the stage at one time and tried to keep people spread out “so everyone isn’t just breathing on each other.” The script is also written in the world of COVID; the characters talk about being in a pandemic in the world of the play.

The show will also be filmed in the style of Hamilton, with shots both from the audience and on the stage. There may be a possible opportunity for students to view the show in person on campus, but that hasn’t been determined for sure yet. The show opens March 25 and will run until the 27th. Eastern is also participating in Theatre Week, which is a week-long celebration of theatre with professional and university theatre programs across the city. Dr. Ardencie Hall-Karambe is hoping that this will raise awareness for Eastern’s theatre program.

However, through all of the discouraging arrangements made necessary by COVID, Dr. Ardencie Hall-Karambe was ultimately optimistic about the situation. “Theatre has been around since the beginning of man, and it has survived many a plague, so it should survive this one,” she said. Despite the difficult situation caused by the pandemic, theatre can still survive through it. To help support your university’s theatre department, be sure to check out the spring musical, “Still Here,” when it opens!

The Art of Making Pancakes: A student comically explains why making pancakes is an art form.

First things first: the batter. I suppose you could technically make your own, but that honestly sounds exhausting. Why would you put any more effort into this than you have to; we are making cooked batter discs here, not ornate French cuisine. Just pull out the eternal box of Bisquick every house seems to have and you’ll be good. There are probably directions on the box: ignore them. Only the weak use directions. Don’t be that guy that pulls out measuring cups to make freaking pancakes. Just pour an arbitrary amount of milk or water and an arbitrary amount of powder into a bowl until it seems about right. More powder means thicker batter, and thicker batter means thicker pancakes. 

Now comes the best part: cooking the dang things. You could use a regular circular pan, but the best method is to use a square or tabletop rectangular griddle; you can make more pancakes more efficiently on squared cooking surfaces. After buttering the surface, pour circles of batter onto the pan, and let gravity do the spreading. If you try to manually add batter and micro-manage the circles, the browning will come out weird and uneven. As you decide which size of pancakes will be best, remember that the smaller the pancakes, the more you can fit, but the larger the pancakes, the more accomplished you’ll feel when you flip them. Speaking of flipping, the number one thing you need is confidence. Pans can smell your fear and will laugh at any feeble, petty attempts to flip carefully (This is especially true if you’re trying to do the cool air-flip thing, which should only be attempted for singular, large pancakes). Once you learn to slide and flip your spatula with confidence, the number of times you flip a pancake onto its neighbor or clip the edge of the pan will decrease dramatically. Flip the pancakes when bubbles are nearly popping on the surface. The first batch will be weirdly pale and unevenly cooked. Fear not; such is every first batch of pancakes. Save these for yourself to eat after you’ve served batch after batch of beautifully browned pancakes to happy customers; this will remind you that even you, a great pancake master, are not above mistakes. The first batch’s mediocrity was not in vain, however, since now the fat in the pan is evenly distributed and ready to brown the next generation. 

Now is the time to separate the amateurs from the less-skilled amateurs! Get creative, make fun shapes. Remember, confidence! You are the best in the world at making pancakes, and don’t let naysayers or any evidence to the contrary convince you otherwise. If people eat your pancakes and say, “rest the batter to make them less tough” or “Zack please we’ve had nothing but pancakes to eat for three days”, pray for their ungrateful hearts and tell them to wake up earlier next time if they really want to try their hand as the next great pancake maker.

Movie Spotlight: “Shane”: Exploring “Shane,” a 1953 Western starring Alan Ladd.

The other night I watched the 1953 movie, “Shane.” “Shaneis a western set in—well, the same time that all the 1950s westerns are set in. The main character is a gunslinger named (hold your breath for it) Shane. 

The general plot centers around Shane’s attempts to leave his former life behind and start over again with a family of homesteaders. After watching the movie, my overall opinions of the movie are mixed. Some of the filming is slow and plodding. The location of the film is the Jackson Hole valley, and filming on site adds quite a lot of natural beauty to the film as well as adding a fitting backdrop to the movie’s more serious tone. One of the shots that has stayed in my mind is the town’s saloon and general store dwarfed by a giant mountain range. 

While it is a western, it is much more of a slow brooding drama. Further, it is a surprisingly silent film because silence is Shane’s main characteristic. All the colors used are dull tones, mostly greens, blues, and browns. The movie seems to build steadily on this rather serious mood. Most of the movie is from Joey’s perspective; what he sees in the adults, and what he admires in Shane. Some of the best editing in the film was the way the director cuts back and forth between Shane, and the little boy Joey, to stress the boy’s sense of awe. The movie continues to build slowly through typical western elements, until its climax. 

Unfortunately, I am going to have to spoil the movie’s ending, so if you ever plan on watching it, which I can’t imagine many people do, don’t read any further. In its ending scene, all the emotion and drama that had been slowly boiling under the surface comes to a crescendo. After a typical western shootout scene, Shane gives Joey a few words of encouragement, before riding off into the night. Joey looks after Shane and shouts his name, and the movie ends right there. This moment made me wonder if Shane’s character represents Joey’s boyhood ideals of being a man, and how perhaps those ideals are impossible or unrealistic, or maybe even result in someone being harmed since Shane has just killed three people in a shootout. All throughout the movie, Joey is mesmerized by violence. In the opening scene, he is pretending to shoot a deer, and throughout the movie, he is often playing very loudly with his toy pistol. He begs Shane to teach him to shoot and watches the fistfight and the shootout in the saloon, with a raptured child’s gaze. 

I would not say Shane is a great masterpiece, but I would argue it is a good movie. More importantly, it is an example of how to make a good movie in a traditionally not respected genre. The western genre at that time was known for making cheap films for audience enjoyment. Pick up and watch most 50’s westerns, and you will find a goofy movie, with some mildly interesting action. We have many of these types of movies in modern cinema, and yet “Shane” seems to be proof that it is not the genre that should blame, but the artists themselves. One genre is not superior to another. Each is filled with movies that are garbage. Yet, there are the occasional films that make a name for themselves. They become more than just another western movie or another horror movie. This is what cinema is about, and it is these occasional films that make up cinema.

Album Review: An appreciation of Ólafur Arnald’s album, “Island Songs.”

In 2016, Icelandic musical artist, Ólafur Arnald, undertook a seven-week journey across his home country. Arnald stayed in seven different locations all around the island of Iceland, composing a personal and emotional song tied to the history and culture of each location. Additionally, in each location, Arnald collaborated with another Icelandic artist to give a unique sound to each song.

Among the seven creative songs found on the album “Island Songs,” two stand out as stellar compositions. Arnald’s second week took him to the Northwestern peninsula of Iceland, to a small village called Flateyri. In 1995, an unexpected avalanche struck the village, killing many people. A memorial stone sits next to the village church with the names of the villagers who passed away in the tragedy nearly three decades ago. Arnalds partnered with Dagny, a music teacher from the village, to compose the piece 1995 that remembers this tragedy and seeks to honor the lives lost. The story of this piece alone makes it stand out, however, the composition itself features numerous unique instruments and tones that bring out melancholy and remembrance on a scale that has never been achieved before. The second piece in “Island Songs” takes listeners to Arnald’s sixth week where he traveled to the Southwestern end of Iceland, to the community of Garour. For this piece, Particles, Arnald is joined by the lead singer of Of Monsters and Men, Nanna Hilmarsdóttir, a local of the community. The two artists perform in a small lighthouse on the coast and create the only song in the album with English words featured. While other compositions in “Island Songs” stand out with stronger sound, Particles benefits from the extraordinary voice of Nanna and hits each heartstring throughout the piece.

Fascinatingly, even though all of the pieces in “Island Songs” have stories and history behind them that can be found on Olafur Arnald’s website, one of the most interesting parts of this project is the finale. Arnald traveled to seven different locations, but there are eight songs in the album. The album concludes with “Study for Piano Player (II)”; this piece was wholly composed by Arnalds after his seven-week journey, and exhibits the artist’s remarkable talent and passion on the piano. While this album isn’t one full of excitement, many words, or great study beats, it is truly one of the most beautiful works of art created through the medium of music. Ólafur Arnald is most well-known for composing the music for the widely popular BBC drama, “Broadchurch,” but the majority of his work is independent, classically-trained art. I would recommend this beautiful collection of music and stories to those looking for more peaceful or melancholy music, or those who simply need background music while reading. However, for those truly interested in Arnald’s journey, there is a music video for each song in the album that is simply a visual recording of the artists performing the songs. The tone of the music fits perfectly into the visually inciting background that Iceland provides.

Why Spider-Man Matters: An examination of the critical and box office success of “No Way Home”

Rounding out 2021, Marvel Studios and Sony granted their fans another great superhero movie. On Friday, December 17, “Spider-Man: No Way Home was released, with the Marvel community delighted to witness multiple trailers and cast reveals, the anticipation this movie had was electric as fans got to see the continuation of 2019’s “Spider-Man: Far From Home” and culmination of Tom Holland’s first MCU Spider-Man trilogy. “Spider-Man: No Way Homehas been breaking records and is still going strong over a month into its theatrical run..

“No Way Home” picks up right where the previous film in the series, Far From Home, ends where Tom Holland’s Peter Parker is framed by Jake Gyllenhaal’s Mysterio for attacks in London using Stark technology for murder. Spider-Man’s identity is revealed, leaving Peter Parker’s life and everyone around him a mess. He then goes to Dr. Strange to clear his identity. However, Parker doesn’t want those closest to him to forget his identity, disrupting the spell and opening the multiverse to villains who know Spider-Man. The story is very interesting and brings nostalgia to fans of the series, but revealing any more will spoil some of the best surprises. 

“No Way Home” has everything from great performances to big action set pieces. The movie became the first pandemic-era movie to cross $1 billion dollars and is catching up to the domestic haul of “Avengers: Infinity War” (cinemablend.com). At the box office, No Way Home” made an impressive $670 million domestically, only $8 million behind “Infinity War.” If the legs of “No Way Home” continue, the movie will be in the top five all-time of highest-grossing movies domestically (cinemablend.com). Right now, “No Way Home” is in the top fourth highest-grossing film domestically in the entire MCU (Box Office Mojo). 

To me, No Way Homeimproved much of Tom Holland’s Spider-Man. In previous films, he was missing one important quality that both of the previous live-action Spider-Men, Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield, had. This film really captured that and if you’ve watched the movie and the other Spider-Man movies you can see what I’m talking about. 

Personally, this was one of the best movies I’ve watched in a while. Everyone who is a fan of Marvel movies could tell you this was the movie we needed right now. The experience is what made it special. I watched “No Way Home” the night it came out and everyone was going wild. After the movie, I spent hours talking to friends, seeing Twitter reactions, Instagram stories, etc. The fan reactions were amazing. I haven’t seen this type of reaction sinceAvengers: Endgame” or Joaquin Phoenix’s “Joker” in 2019.

When asking friends about their opinions on “No Way Home,” they say it is their favorite movie beating out other Marvel movies. Even on Twitter, fans were saying it was better than both previous Spider-Man and other popular Marvel movies. That shouldn’t be a surprise as it provides characters from older Spider-Man movies, constant action, and great character development for Holland. 

If you haven’t watched “No Way Home,” I highly recommend that you find time in your busy schedules and experience this masterpiece. 

Sources: Box Office Mojo, CinemaBlend

Photo: Sony Pictures

Spider-Man (Tom Holland) in “Spider-Man: No Way Home.”

The Life of a Hollywood Reporter.

Jeff Sneider is an experienced film reporter who has worked for the likes of TheWrap, Mashable, Collider and is now an Editor at Below The Line.

Do you remember the first time I reached out to you a couple of years ago?

I do. I was impressed that you reached out. I think people are afraid sometimes to themselves out there, and they don’t speak up about what they want, and to me, closed mouths don’t get fed. You have got to speak up about what you want to pursue in this life. When I was younger, I don’t know that I had the best mentors or even a mentor. Everyone had mindsets like “You have got to figure this out for yourself,” and “Keep your eyes on your own paper.” And I guess I’m self-taught in that sense, but I wish I had someone to bounce stuff off of and you’re welcome to continue to.

Could you share your story?

I’ve been obsessed with movies since I was a kid. And when I was 12, I saw “Scream,” and that made me want to be a writer. I got into Tisch at NYU and was in the screenwriting department. While I was at NYU, I was writing for the student paper, Washington Square News, and I had a friend, Janelle Wohltmann, who worked at the NYU radio station as a DJ. She would get invites to press screenings but she knew I love movies and I took an invite to one of the “Matrix” sequels. I went to see that and decided to write a review and then I sent it to Ain’t It Cool News, and they ran it. This is when I began a cordial relationship with Harry Knowles, and I would send whatever I couldn’t get into NYU’s paper to them. From there, I was rushing off to New York’s finest hotels to do roundtable interviews with the world’s biggest stars in between classes.

When I graduated from NYU, I ended up getting an internship at Blumhouse, which was unpaid, and I needed to make some money. I saw that Variety was hiring paid interns, so that’s really how I fell into the trade game. I eventually made my way to The Wrap where Sharon Waxman taught me how to be a reporter. I returned to Variety, before going to The Wrap, then Mashable, The Tracking Board, and Collider before finally landing at Below the Line.

A lot of outlets seem to be going towards digital content, am I wrong in saying that?

That’s a good question. I definitely sense the move towards interviews, I just feel like that is what publicity departments seem to value. But it’s still “hot take culture,” right? That’s the stuff that ends up going viral. I would say that news is less valued, unfortunately. It’s always going to be valued because you can’t have takes without the news, and there’s always going to be a premium on exclusives and breaking news, but you’re right. You used to see places trumpeting their exclusives. And it was all about being first. And I do feel that it has moved away from that a little bit. With Below The Line, I am trying to publish an interview a day and to give a voice to these artisans.

You spoke about everyone rushing to be first, do you think about the way the embargoes are set up for big-budget movies is a part of that issue? For example, I saw “No Way Home” at one of the first press screenings and then the embargo goes up at like 2:00 AM the next morning.

​​Yeah, but that’s a choice that you’re making, Andrew. What happens if you don’t publish the review in six hours? Nothing happens. It’s the studio. Embargoes are good because I think that they level the playing field, but I don’t know why everyone rushes to meet them, unless it makes sense for their readership and their audience. I did it for “Scream” (2022), the embargo was 3:00 AM Eastern, and I stayed up until 4:30 to finish. Now, why didn’t I just go to bed and finish in the morning? Or post on Friday? I guess it’s because yeah, I wanted to be part of that first wave of reviews that gets shared and passed around, but you’re right that it’s never helpful to write under that kind of deadline and. It takes a certain kind of critic to that, one who is not in a rush to hit those embargoes. A lot of people just go and don’t even write reviews, just look at the people in the Critics’ Choice Awards. Are you a critic because you go on YouTube and talk about your feelings on a movie? Is a critic just someone who sees a movie and has an opinion?

This interview was edited for clarity and is part one of a two-part interview to be continued in the next issue.

 

Movie Spotlight: “The French Dispatch”: What “started as a holiday” has now become a Wes Anderson hit.

Film directors have their styles, just as actors have their signature moves. For Wes Anderson, symmetrical shots, vintage color schemes and full-circle stories are the keys of his style. “The French Dispatch,” Anderson’s 2021 film, is another example of the most blatantly Wes Anderson-esque movie.

“The French Dispatch” is both the title of this movie and the special last edition of the newspaper, the fictional “Liberty, Kansas Evening Sun.” It is centered around four articles and their writers that contribute to the foreign bureau in the fictional French city of Ennui-sur-Blasé. 

I want to acknowledge that my favorite thing about this movie was not nerding out over Wes Anderson. (Of his films, I have only seen one other than “The French Dispatch.”) Yes, Wes Anderson is a film genius, and he checked off all the boxes he usually attempts in his films (in a good way). My favorite thing about “The French Dispatch” is how relatable it was to my actual life.

As a writer and the Editor in Chief of a newspaper (this one), I was drawn in with the central theme of highlighting journalism’s quirks and idiosyncrasies, from its lengthy feature stories to its archetype editor character. I also caught myself laughing at how the movie poked fun at the aspects of journalism as well. It reminded me not to take myself too seriously and to have fun with the profession I hope to get into.

One of these aspects that Anderson and the film poke fun at is when editor Arthur Howitzer Jr. (Bill Murray) gives advice to his writers. His only piece of advice is “Just try to make it sound like you wrote it that way on purpose.”

The introduction to the film is ironically the end. It’s the obituary of the magazine’s editor, Arthur Howitzer Jr., who dies and causes the magazine to cease publishing. I found this setup of the plot entertaining and touching. We are introduced to the editor of the magazine, told that he is dead, and see his process of editing the final issue of the magazine through the rest of the movie.

The movie then outlines the final issue of the magazine with five segments: the Obituary, The Cycling Reporter, The Concrete Masterpiece, Revisions to a Manifesto and The Private Dining Room of the Police Commissioner. The movie ends with the writers and other staff coming together to write the obituary that was introduced at the beginning.

This storytelling is characteristic of Wes Anderson. His style of filmmaking and directing presents the plot of the movie as an authentic story, with elements reminiscent of a novel or play, that often comes full circle, as with this film. Wes Anderson is phenomenal at storytelling, which makes him one of the best stylistic cinema directors.

Another aspect of Anderson’s style is that of his blocking, use of color and symmetry. His color schemes are always especially vintage with pale and quite rustic undertones. But in “The French Dispatch,” Anderson’s use of color with black and white in certain scenes made parts of his film stand out. For example, Moses Rosenthaler’s musings were revealed to us in color, when the rest of the visualization of the feature story was in black and white.

Along with other stylistic and casting choices (for example, Timothee Chalamet as an angsty college student), I suppose this was his purpose: to make sense of a fictional city and fictional magazine while taking certain aspects seriously, or at least to be noteworthy.

The Art of “Chicken Run”: A student explains his love for this stop-motion farm film.

I am only an amateur movie critic. Now that I think about it, movie critic and my name should not be allowed in the same sentence. All my strong opinions, critical thoughts, and even praise for movies come from my own untrained eyes. I honestly know nothing about movies except for my own presumptuous, and certainly uneducated opinions. Because of this, I don’t feel qualified to make any bold artistic claims. I can’t weigh in on whether “Vertigo” or “Citizen Kane” should be at the top of the next sight and sound greatest film poll. I can’t make an argument for or against method acting. I don’t have the credentials to talk about the massive impact the movie production code had on Hollywood’s studio system. And so, because of my lack of knowledge and expertise in the subject, I will only make a very humble claim. “Chicken Run” is the greatest movie ever made! 

I recently spoke to an unnamed individual who had never seen this movie. Having never seen
“Chicken Run” is like never reading Shakespeare. That is like not knowing what the Mona Lisa or the Eiffel Tower looked like. But sadly, this is not an uncommon occurrence for me. All too often I run into these individuals.

I think it might be appropriate to pause and say I am not entirely serious in the claim I am making. But; it is true that I am crazy about the movie. First of all, I would argue it is the most magnificent piece of stop motion I have watched. Actually, this movie is one of the animated movies that was responsible for the Oscars creating a Best Animated Feature award. Colors, textures, movements, all of it are so good I would almost call it beautiful. The attention to detail is wonderful. Every scene is filled with intricate miniature props.

The story is also very solid for it being an animated movie. In case you are one of the sad people who have never seen it, it’s a parody of the 1963 movie, “The Great Escape,” a film about a bunch of British prisoners of war trying to escape from a Nazi camp. Nick Park and Peter Lord, the directors of “Chicken Run,” took this story and changed it to be about British chickens trying to escape a farm. If you have seen both movies you will notice parallel shots and references throughout. Notably, the opening sequence with the tunnel, and Ginger bouncing the ball off the wall in the exact same way Steve McQueen does. Mel Gibson plays the lead chicken, which I have always found hilarious.  And of course, I would be neglecting my duty if I didn’t mention the infamous chicken kiss.

While it certainly is a stretch for me to say this is the greatest movie of all time, I would say it is an animated masterpiece. It was made at the height of stop motion animation, just before computer animation took over, and is in my mind the finest bit of claymation to ever appear on film. This movie is in its own small way an artistic masterpiece and worth every minute of your time.

Sources: Daily Hindi News, Screenrant

Photo: The Verge

A clip from the entertaining, animated escape film, “Chicken Run.”

Podcast of the Month: A student recommends one of his favorite podcasts, “Proverbial.”

Every episode of Joshua Gibbs’ podcast, “Proverbial,” begins with: “Modern men hate proverbs, but I’m not a modern man.” So begins the introduction to Joshua Gibb’s podcast, “Proverbial.” Each episode, he looks at one proverb, “one bit of ancient wisdom which describes how the world tends to work.” From Solomon to Socrates, Boethius to Burke, Tennyson to Tolstoy, he cites proverbs from some of the wisest scholars and authors of the last three millennia.

Despite the emphasis on authors, poets and playwrights, “Proverbial” is not another dry, academic podcast. It is a podcast for the common man and woman. Gibbs himself says, “Proverbs address what is common, what’s average, what’s predictable, natural.” They aren’t concerned with edge cases and coincidences, but with our typical, daily lives. “Proverbial” is about applying the “wisdom of the ages” to our modern selves.

Joshua Gibbs, the host of “Proverbial,” is a classical school teacher in Virginia. He’s the author of a few books, including “How to Be Unlucky” and “Something They Will Not Forget: A Handbook for Classical Teachers,” and a frequent writer for the Circe Institute. “Proverbial” is a collection of his reflections, stories, and lectures, condensed into 20-minute episodes revolving around a single proverb.

With episodes on virtue, money, family, time, and everything in-between, “Proverbial” is filled with lessons and stories for those immersed in the Christian tradition. In discussing the proverbs, Gibbs is certainly not afraid to say what he believes. At times comforting and funny, and at others convincing, his advice is both good and necessary–exactly what you needed to hear. He calls his podcast “part hermeneutics lesson, part personal narrative, part sermon,” and Proverbial is just that. The proverbs are engaged through scripture, esteemed authors, and sometimes even hilarious stories from his teaching experience.

In the first episode, Gibbs discusses a proverb from the Roman poet Horace: “you may drive out nature with a pitchfork, but she keeps coming back.” First, though, he says that Proverbial is “for people who are content to be common, who are content to be average, and at the same time are striving for moral excellence and piety.” “Proverbial” is for common people, but that doesn’t mean boring people. It is for those who see, as Horace says, that nature “keeps coming back”–that our natural tendencies as humans make us the subject of proverbs. Gibbs tells us that proverbs are not universally true, but they are usually true, and the common man thinks of himself not as an exception to proverbs, but as the intended audience.

To the sort of person interested in learning from the wisdom of the ancients through the lens of a modern speaker, “Proverbial” is an essential addition to the weekly podcast list. It is a podcast not for academics and podcast enthusiasts, but for Christians who wish to pursue virtue and shun vice–for those who see the beauty in listening to the wisdom of their elders.

Photo: Acast

The cover art for the wisdom-filled podcast, “Proverbial” with Joshua Gibbs.