Review: Terrence Malick’s To the Wonder
By Rumur Dowling ’14
Since the WWII film The Thin Red Line (1998), all of Terrence Malick’s movies have opened with voice-overs that play on some form of the mythic invocation. The war film and The New World (2005) begin with appeals to a higher power, the former interrogating the mysterious relationship between being and (human) nature. The Tree of Life (2011) begins, after a quotation from the Book of Job, with Jack addressing the family members he will remember and reconstitute throughout the rest of the movie. The first lines of The New World follow the exhortative model of the classical invocation most explicitly: “Come, Spirit,” Pocahontas says. “Help us sing the story of our land. You are our mother, we your field of corn. We rise from out of the soul of you.”In each of these cases, the voice-over, though spoken by a character anchored in the present of the narrative proper, calls forth a power or presence from beyond the temporal or spatial bounds of the plot.
Now You See Him: Richard Linklater’s Boyhood
By Yen Pham, ’15
Image courtesy of http://www.complex.comImagine that you have a superpower for accelerating time at whim, for making decades pass in the span of hours. Imagine now that your superpower is actually just extreme diligence, and that you are the director Richard Linklater. The product of this is Boyhood, a languorous dip into the formative years of a young boy in suburban Texas and a feat of filmmaking stamina. Its innovation was to film the same cast for a few days out of every year for twelve years, and for a time after seeing it I wondered whether its power rests solely in its gimmick. After all, The Boston Globe had gone so far as to declare that it “may be why the movies were invented.” And yet, what it has to say about boyhood, or parenthood, or generalized personhood, resides squarely in the banal.
Translation and Robert Musil
By Kevin Stone ’13
The translator’s preface is a curious genre. I learned this as I studied it this fall for a translation project of my own, a translation of Austrian modernist Robert Musil’s novella Die Vollendung der Liebe. Although the translator’s preface is not as well-recognized as the sonnet or the sestina, it has a fixed form. First, the translator introduces the life of the author, often writing paeans to the author’s brilliance—which in reality justifies the translator’s present work. With this bit of sorcery, the translation borrows the radiance of the original work, like a moon reflecting a sun without producing any light of its own, and the translator’s preface can avoid the real question: what necessitates the translation itself, as an original work? The next part of the preface shows how the translator tried her best to polish the translation into a perfect mirror reflecting back all the light of the original; but because of the laws of optics, some of the light incident upon that mirror, inevitably, was lost.
House of the Mountain Goats
By Natasha Sarna '18
If you listen to their tracks on Spotify, lyrics aside, the Mountain Goats (historically) sound almost exactly like a mixture of those names on the “related artists” list; Neutral Milk Hotel, The Thermals, The Magnetic Fields, Okkervil River, etc. Their sound is cohesive, the music comforting in a way NMH or Beirut are, and not to get personal but they were all I listened to freshman year during my first big depressive episode. The band is, to put it simply, relatable and easy to enjoy- even if and maybe because sometimes it’s all blended together in a folk-jazz-indie kombucha mix. But their tour's House of Blues gig last Monday night (led by front man Darnielle and opened by Mothers) absolutely shattered any expectations I had- and only, somehow, in ways that had me wondering why I don’t listen more.
Jenny O. and The Solars
By Natasha Sarna '18
I’m gonna preface this write-up with a clarification, of sorts; something I’ve been taking for granted but never bothered to articulate (before now). Unless I say otherwise – and it’d take a productive imagination to think up any relevant scenario(s) – these bits are reviewing specific gigs; not the group, band, whatever you want to call it, that’s performing outside of how they present at the gig and how that jives with prior exposure. Before any of the reviews, if I haven’t already, I listen to relevant discographies, but unless I wanna take a God-like stance on “getting” the dynamics of a group from one measly gig (let me assure you I do not, don’t think my rabbi would be down w that anyway) these reviews are just reviews of the gigs they purport to cover. EOM. Having prefaced this then, I have to say that Monday night was not a great gig.
Taking a Dive with Coast Modern and SHAED
By Jason Thong
The night began with The Star-Spangled Banner and a man in a black Morphsuit. The anthem, sung by concertgoer Kayla M. Salmon, was the highlight of an impromptu talent show hosted by Coast Modern, Tuesday night’s headliner in The Sinclair. This goofy, no-stakes “talent show” was the perfect icebreaker that seemed to forewarn the audience, “Don’t take anything you are about to see or hear too seriously.” And there’s nothing serious about Coast Modern. From Los Angeles, Coast Modern is an indie pop band that sounds like they are from Los Angeles. Their music is an amorphous mixture of mischievous energy and dog-day lethargy. To hear this contradiction, listen to a track from their eponymous debut album released last year. The band consists of lead singer Coleman Trapp and guitarist Luke Atlas - who, by the way, was presumably the man in black spandex.
By Natasha Sarna '18
When I got there, late last Thursday night, the Sinclair had an unusually low-key energy. It kind of felt like the Powers That Be had pushed back Twain's stage time (they were opening for Darlingside) to do a late-night sound check, or like the venue had been delaying things with a recorded set list but the speakers had conked out. Even with the low audience hum, it was that quiet, and there was that little energy. And having listened to Twain’s label debut with Keeled Scales (Rare Feeling (2017), more info here) a few times through now, the reality of their live performance was awkward; I had been expecting the coherent, and (occasionally) profoundly listenable sound that defines tracks like "Solar Pilgrim" and "Freed from Doubt," and instead found myself struggling to follow along. I'm sympathetic, though; all it takes is a coffee house experience or two to know that it's really, profoundly hard for acoustic groups to command attention, when that attention isn’t already there.