Reel Talk with Annie: Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

By Annie SchwartzScreen Shot 2015-02-21 at 7.22.41 PM

With the always-anticipated Academy Awards coming up on February 22nd, I thought I would review one of my favorite nominees, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu. Also known for films such as Babel (2006) and Biutiful (2010), Iñárritu can truly do no wrong. In this dark comedy, washed-up actor Riggan Thomas (Michael Keaton) tries to reinvent his career by directing a stage adaptation of Raymond Carver’s “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love.” Chaos ensues as the opening night gets closer, and a chain reaction of horrible events threatens Thomas’ career.

This fantastic storyline is supported with an array of fabulous actors from Naomi Watts to a thin, yet still hilarious Zach Galifinakis. I would not be surprised if a cast-member went away with an Oscar this year. Michael Keaton (Best Actor nominee), Edward Norton (Best Supporting Actor nominee), and Emma Stone (Best Supporting Actress nominee) play equally complex characters, very unique from the other contenders.

Echoing the frenetic environment of the Broadway stage is Emmanuel Lubezki’s cinematography. Lubezki’s direction of photography is without a doubt the best I’ve seen all year. The twists and turns of the camera mimic the complex construction of the backstage corridors. Quick whips add another dimension to the witty (and sometimes violent) banter between characters. These movements, achieved with calculated precision, will keep you on the edge of your seat, waiting to see what could possibly happen next in an already doomed creative venture.

While my bet for Best Picture will forever be on Boyhood, Birdman is still a must see (even if you are not keeping up with your Oscar game). This movie is so exhilarating that it is definitely worth a visit to the movie theater and not to your Netflix homepage. If you are in the mood for something quirky, but with plenty of action and violence, Birdman is definitely the film for you.

Movie Review: The ambition of “Interstellar”

A.J. Rose

Staff Writer

Disclaimer: This article will contain no spoilers for “Interstellar.”
Every movie has a goal that it sets out to accomplish, both narratively and as a piece of art. The bigger the movie, the more it usually tries to pull off. With “Interstellar,”director Christopher Nolan has given audiences his most ambitious movie yet (which, after “Memento,” “The Prestige,” “The Dark Knight” trilogy, and “Inception,” is really saying something). The film shows humanity struggling to stay in existence as they slowly run out of food and resources. Matthew McConaughey, still riding the wave of the McConaissance, stars as Joseph Cooper, a farmer who is tasked with saving mankind by traveling through a wormhole and finding a planet capable of sustaining human life. Nolan, as he always does, takes his time letting the movie reach its climax. At two hours and forty-nine minutes, it’s as gargantuan in length as it is in scope. Nolan drives home the vast, infinite blackness of space, and it carries over into the depictions of Earth and the foreign planets the crew travels to; the worlds feel endless.
Unfortunately, the development of Interstellar’s characters can’t keep up with the visuals, nor can it give the considerable acting talent any room to work with. McConaughey is joined by Anne Hathaway, Michael Caine, Jessica Chastain, and an unbilled A-list actor, who gives the movie a refreshing dose of humanity and vulnerability. Wes Bentley (American Beauty, The Hunger Games) and Topher Grace (That 70s Show, Traffic) have bit parts that feel over casted. The theme of family hangs over the entire movie and is the sole source of motivation for the space crew (other than, you know, saving mankind). It grows stale over nearly three hours, even though the acting makes up for the generic themes.
But ultimately, the sheer experience of seeing the movie in the theater was enough to make it worth the price of admission. Seeing Nolan movies at home on a television never does them justice. Seeing the crew in their ship, Endurance, as a tiny dot moving along the rings of Saturn, or traveling through a wormhole (which apparently is depicted accurately, and is one of the highlights of the film) is exhilarating and humbling. Whether or not Nolan believes that humanity will reach the level of desperation he shows in the movie, it’s a scary thought. Almost as scary as being marooned on a planet in another galaxy.
As someone who has a difficult sitting still for long periods of time, I was compelled from start to finish. Watching Nolan attempt to cover so much ground (or dare I say…so much space) is more entertaining than the majority of movies I’ve seen in the theater in recent years, even if he bit off more than he could chew.
Grade: 2.5 out of 5 stars

Abroad Profile: Update from County Cork

Andrew Krupa


Before I came to Ireland, whenever I pictured it, I would imagine misty rolling hills, medieval battles, and traditional Irish music. This same image is what many Americans call to mind when picturing Hibernia. If Carl Jung is correct, then our collective memory is about three hundred years old. Ireland has changed immensely since the time when that image was accurate.
For starters, Ireland is its own country. Or rather, three quarters is. Things used to be very bad in Northern Ireland. Today, we refer to the widespread killing in County Ulster, which is still part of the United Kingdom. While things in Northern Ireland have clamed down in recent years, my Irish friends have been telling me that tensions might rise again 2016 when the Republic of Ireland celebrates one hundred years of independence.
Today, Ireland uses the Euro, and the Emerald Isle was the first place in Europe to ban smoking in the pubs. They also consume more wine than France. Religiosity is falling. The sexual abuse scandals, which racked my hometown of Boston, were mirrored in Ireland over the past several decades. I had the privilege of meeting the Apostolic Nuncio to Ireland, a very kind man by the name of Father Charles Brown. His office is diplomatic, though he entered the Church as an abuse investigator. He worked closely with the current Pope, and was hand picked for this position because of his experience, which denotes serious change in how abuse is considered by the Church that has become characteristic of the new Pope. Needless to say, the times they are a-changing.
Some things remain the same though. Not to say that is good. Ireland’s economic boom, called the Celtic Tiger, perished with the rest of the world economy in 2008. Put simply, both the private sector and the Irish state did not save as they perhaps should have, and now money for the publicized schools and universities is lean. Things are now back to the way they were before the Tiger. But even sadder is that for so long, everyone could make a real living in Ireland. People were always leaving to make their fortunes in other lands, which left its mark on the people who stayed behind. Then with the Tiger, suddenly Ireland was a place of wealth for the first time. There were eighteen years of feast, and famine (though recovering) since 2008.
Ireland is also in the midst of resurrecting its native language—Irish Gaelic. There are Irish immersion schools now, and signage always lists Irish first. There are still some places in Ireland that speak Irish natively. One such people are the natives of Inis Óirr, Inis Meaín, and Inis Mór—the three Aran Islands, three green rocks off the coast of Galway, which have captured my heart forever. Bury my soul on banks of Inis Meaín.
In spite of everything, the Irish people remain the same: kind, frank, and honest. I have met amazing people during my time here, and they are as sad to see me go, as I am to leave. Now, whenever I come back, to this city nestled on the banks of the River Lee, I will feel like I am coming home.
Erin go Brah,
Andrew Krupa,
Cork City, County Cork

SEA Whiteboard Week: Defining Goucher

Sarah Callander

Features Co-Editor

On the week of November 10-14, the Student Empowerment Association (SEA) led the Goucher community through the tumultuous waves of attempting to identify who we are. The Student Empowerment Association presented “Whiteboard Week” as a publicity campaign for the new organization and primarily to help get students thinking about how they define the Goucher community.
SEA is a brand new organization this semester and they are a part of the also newly realized Goucher Student Government. “Our branch is supposed to be fostering school spirit, school culture and raising money for the classes,” said Erin Snyder, Captain of the Community Building Division. “But before building something up, we wanted to reach out to ask the student body what are the strengths and weaknesses of Goucher.”
During each day of Whiteboard Week, students were asked to describe Goucher in a different medium. The different days were one word, doodle, haiku, dance move (or video of it), and a song that reminds you of Goucher. Students wrote their ideas on post-it notes on a whiteboard and were displayed for other students to see in the Athenaeum. At the end of the week, the a cappella groups Red Hot Blues and Reverend’s Rebels sang some of the songs that reminded students of Goucher. A Goucher songs playlist was also created on Spotify and was played in line at “Stimsgiving.”
“Through different mediums, we could see what Goucher’s community was defined by and it was interesting because there were positive and negative aspects of the community and we can’t neglect those,” recalled Snyder about the week. She mentioned how some students wrote that Goucher is defined by words that may be perceived as negative like “expensive,” “cigarettes,” and “alcohol.” The purpose of this for SEA was to get people thinking and talking about their community. SEA also was trying to get an accurate assessment of opinions of Goucher’s culture and then figure out what can be deduced from Whiteboard Week to influence our goals for next semester.
Snyder explains that next semester, SEA will most likely focus on two to three large goals such as student retention, a community calendar, housing, or bridging the gap between athletes and non-athletes. Snyder says that students should be their own catalyst for change. The SEA wants to encourage what clubs and organizations are already doing on campus and give them a larger platform and a bigger voice. Snyder reflects, “Maybe the SEA hasn’t done too many tangible things yet but I’m really excited for things going into next semester.”

Abroad Profile: Thanksgiving at Oxford

Jordan Javelet

Contributing Editor

At the beginning of November, I was walking through Oxford with some friends when I noticed that Christmas decorations were already hanging from nearly every building. I pointed out the shining white lights to a British friend and said, “I can’t believe there are already Christmas decorations up! It isn’t even Thanksgiving yet!” My friend looked at me for a moment, a confused look on his face, and then said, “Jordan, Thanksgiving isn’t really a holiday here.”
It took a moment of thinking over the traditional Thanksgiving story that every American grows up hearing before I realized that of course Thanksgiving isn’t celebrated outside of America (although Canada does have its own version, which is celebrated in October). When I realized that there would be no celebration here, I grew a little worried. After all, last year, I stayed on Goucher’s campus and ate Kraft macaroni and cheese for Thanksgiving—which was delicious, of course, but it was still a little bit depressing to be alone for a holiday traditionally meant for celebrating time with family while eating as much turkey as possible and watching football and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
I talked to some of the other visiting American students at Oxford, and they told me that the college hosts a small dinner for the visiting students, but we were all a little bit skeptical. Still, we all booked a seat at the dinner, and on the evening of Thanksgiving, we dressed up in our “smart casual” attire and marched into the college dining hall like we owned the place—after all, it was our holiday.
A few British students managed to book the dinner or to get invited, and for many of them, it was their first Thanksgiving. I even saw one of my tutors, and when I asked him if he had ever celebrated the holiday before, he said “No, but it’s quite lovely.” I will admit that it felt genuinely baffling to hear that a 30-something man had never celebrated Thanksgiving before.
Still, I think that it was actually quite nice that many of the British people at my table had never celebrated Thanksgiving before. They were all so excited, and as the Americans regaled them with the tale of the Native Americans who taught the colonists to bury fish with their corn seeds to make the corn grow, there was a sense of wonder and awe that doesn’t really exist in America, where everyone has already been celebrating Thanksgiving for years. One of my Dutch friends made a particularly interesting comment when he realized there was a ten-year-old boy in attendance, a guest of one of the tutors: “It’s so cool that he gets to be here and celebrate this at such a young age!” All of a sudden, Thanksgiving didn’t feel like something that I’ve done twenty times—it felt like a really special occasion, an American tradition that I got to share with my new European friends who knew nothing about the holiday meant for celebrating connections between people and for being thankful for all the good things in life.
At Mansfield College, there is a phrase that is said before every meal: “No good thing is worth having unless it is shared with others.” I find that it is a fitting phrase for many occasions, but I think that it particularly applied to this Thanksgiving. My twentieth Thanksgiving was the first Thanksgiving for many of my friends, and I didn’t spend it in America, but it was still the happiest Thanksgiving that I’ve celebrated, and that’s because I shared it—and a little piece of American culture—with a host of new friends.

Alumna Reflection: from Goucher to the West to Lyon

Kathryn Walker


In one of Paul Gauguin’s paintings, he ponders the future of mankind: “Who are we? Where do we come from? Where are we going?”
Six months ago, I graduated from Goucher. I walked across a stage and gave Sandy a hug that was forever immortalized, and then paparazzi-printed out everywhere, by my dad. Three days later, with my diploma in hand, I hopped in a plane to Salt Lake City with a sprained foot to work for an active travel company. Flew around Utah, Arizona, Wyoming, California, Chicago, Baltimore, DC, Philly, Alaska, Canada, Washington, Oregon, Idaho.
I spent a lot of this summer falling asleep under the stars and looking up at the world around me and thinking that anything was possible. Sitting on the edge of the Grand Canyon with friends and looking out at everything touched and shadowed by the moon. Climbing to the top of mountains and looking out over valleys and canyons and feeling connected to something larger than myself.
Now, I am perched here in my house-on-a-hill in Lyon, France, working as an English teaching assistant, dipping some bread into coffee, and thinking about tomorrow and the day after that and the hill I have to walk down and the applications I have to fill out. I’ve spent a lot of time here sitting on the banks of the Rhone pondering the all-too-human thoughts of, “Who am I? Where do I come from? Where am I going?”
I guess that explains, somewhat, the bags under my eyes or the pimples that have magically appeared on my face or the two inches of split-ends trailing along at the end of my ponytail.
This real life, or whatever a life this is, can throw so many things at you. It’s life on crack, life on a speedometer going 500 revolutions per minute, life that flashes by. In our post-grad lives, sometimes my friends and I freak ourselves out by thinking about the many-splendored and spangled future, lie on sofas and console ourselves with pints of ice cream,drink one too many cocktails, force unpleasant thoughts to the back of our minds. Six months later, this life, this post-grad real adult freshman-year-of-life life, is still just as bewildering as ever. I haven’t figured out how to cure cancer or resolve climate change or master five other languages. Or how to navigate French bureaucracy or get rid of mice in an apartment or understand how to convey the English language to a group of French high schoolers.
But having a life of my own creation, a job, a place to live, friends, acquaintances, it feels richer almost, more real. It’s not forced or a facsimile. This life, this crazy, awesome, tiring, exhilarating, strange life, is something that I have crafted, more or less, on my own. While a part of me can very easily imagine moving back to my Dulaney apartment to drink some tea and watch New Girl with my roommates, my life and my future here, whatever they may be, seem limitless, expansive, awe-inducing.
So where do I see myself in five years? Good question. But recently my grandma sent me a quote from Dr. Seuss:
But on you will go
though the weather be foul.
On you will go
though your enemies prowl.
On you will go
though the Hakken-Kraks howl.
Onward up many
a frightening creek,
though your arms may get sore
and your sneakers may leak.
On and on you will hike,
And I know you’ll hike far
and face up to your problems
whatever they are.
So as someone once told me, “Be in the moment. And keep moving!” -John Caslin

Goucher Eats: Christmas lists

Jessica Gude

Features Co-Editor

Sitting on the windowsill in my kitchen at home is an unassuming wooden box. Inside are recipes divided into categories by haphazardly labeled index cards. Between the dividers is a combination of recipes cut out of magazines, handwritten recipes, and recipes typed out by an old-fashioned typewriter, both on yellowing index cards. Those written in curly neat script or typed come from my maternal grandmother. Those printed on cards that are less yellow or clipped from magazines belong to my mother. My grandmother’s recipes have names like “Oatmeal cookies (for Saturdays)” and “Christmas Candy for Children to Make.” These are recipes of imprecise measurements like “flour to thicken- perhaps 6-7 cups” for the yeast rolls that adorn our table at Christmas and Easter. “Lep Kuchen” is typed on a past-yellow-and-verging-on-brown card. We make this each year at Christmas. Apparently “Lep Kuchen” means “cookie” in German (or so I was told growing up), but these are something between a brownie and a spice cake dotted with walnuts and rolled in powdered sugar. They’re my Uncle John’s favorite, and we mail him a tin full every Christmas.
These are sent along with the fudge and banana bread, which are both traditions my mother started. Both of the recipes are pretty standard, but also an integral part of my memories of Christmas. We have pictures of a six year old Jessica standing on a kitchen chair, her apron tied twice, stirring fudge in a make shift double boiler with a wooden spoon the size of her arm. We prepare for the banana bread all year round, saving the overly ripe, past-yellow-verging–on-brown bananas in Tupperware containers in the freezer.
Cutter cookies used to be made four times a year: Valentines Day, Easter, Halloween, and Christmas, but as I’ve grown up and the number of school sponsored holiday parties dwindled, these have been relegated to only Christmas (and the occasional Easter). These are simple sugar cookies, but the cutters we use are the same as those used by my grandmother (with a few new ones- like all four of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles). Making these cookies is usually a three-day process, with the dough made on day one, the cookies cut and baked on day two, and frosted on day three. Frosting the cookies has always been the best part. My brother Eric, who is now a chef at a five-hundred seat restaurant in Orlando, would make the most intricately decorated cookies, which took about four times longer than the icing smeared creations my mother and I produced. In recent years, the simple sugar cookies have are now accompanied by my meticulously cut gingerbread men; the first tradition that I have contributed to the family.
Every December, my mother’s routine becomes a never ending cycle of making these treats, wrapping them up with ribbon, and delivering them to her ever growing catalogue of friends and family, including everyone from her four brothers to our veterinarian and mail man.
Our holiday season resembles a list of traditions that must be mixed, chilled, left to rise, rolled out and baked. As I close my grandma’s recipe box and place it back on the windowsill during the last few hours of Thanksgiving break, I can’t help but smile. I know it and that list of obligatory desserts will be waiting for me when I return in just a few short weeks. It’s a list that has been built over three generations; it’s a list that I can already see forming as December unfolds. It is a list that I look forward to every year and one that I can see growing indefinitely.