Waiting for Intermission: Review of “Cinderella”

Stories about love, kindness, and life are what compel us all to find our happily ever after.  This story begins with a young girl named Ella, living in a house far away from the kingdom walls. She is a beautiful girl who lives with her parents, and she couldn’t be happier.

However, stories don’t start out with a happily ever after. When the young girl’s mother falls gravely ill, her only wish for her child is for Ella to be kind and to have courage. Ella practices every day, even when her father remarries to a cold-hearted woman with two equally cold-hearted daughters. When Ella’s father passes away, she finds her courage growing weak, but she never loses her kindness. One day, she knows she will find that one tiny piece of happiness. All it takes is for her to lose her shoe.

We all know the fairytale of Cinderella–even if it wasn’t from Disney. For many of us (older) fairy tale fans, we heard the famous tale from the Grimm Brothers, with their slightly violent adaptation. Over the years, popular television shows and favorite cinematic classics retell and resell the famous story of the shoeless girl who turned into a princess.

This version had a Stepmother (Cate Blanchett), a fairy Godmother (Helen Bonham Carter), a cat named Lucifer, and a CGI mouse named Gus-Gus. Yet, unlike the classic animated Disney version, the Prince (Richard Madden) isn’t clueless or even a Prince when he starts his search for the shoeless girl. But overall, the movie repeats the original animated version.

Then there were scenes that I had always questioned as a young girl watching the Disney film until my father tried to break the VCR player. When asked by someone as to why Ella stayed in her house with her evil stepmother and stepsisters, Kenneth Branagh finally gave us an answer. Ella didn’t want to leave the house her parents had cherished. She wanted to protect the last memories of her family and her childhood from her dark reality. I thought this answer was better than my father’s muttering of “Just watch the movie.”

What also struck me was that when the stepmother took the glass slipper away from Ella, Ella yelled at her, “Why are you so cruel?” Why was this woman, as beautiful as she was, so heartless to Cinderella? And the Stepmother responded, “Because you are young and naïve and innocent. That’s why.” This woman has been so spurned in life that she repelled anything that was good. Instead of seeking redemption or new hope, the stepmother had turned herself as cold as the world that scorned her. It wasn’t for the audience to feel empathy for the stepmother, but a way to understand why she had resented Cinderella when the girl just wanted to be kind to her. The stepmother couldn’t be kind towards Cinderella because she had forgotten what kindness was.

With a keen eye for bright color and inspiring music, the fairy tale Cinderella has made another fantastic appearance for many of us to relive the wonderment of childhood.


Shows you should be watching if you like strong female characters

To get us all in the Women’s History Month spirit, here are some shows about women and girls, who are funny, smart, complicated, flawed, interesting, and can occasionally kick demons in the face, that you should be watching.

If you love magic and or are missing the grungy and prosperous 1990s, head over to Netflix and watch “Charmed.” The power of three can set you free if you want to watch an eccentric and dark show about three sisters who discover they are witches with a sacred destiny to protect the innocent from demons. You will laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll despise the Elders (watch the show).


Or if vampires are more your style, check out “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” High school can really suck, but it can be especially bad if your high school happens to be on top of the mouth of Hell. It is for sixteen-year-old vampire slayer Buffy Summers, who, with the help of a few friends, must protect the citizens of Sunnydale from ghosts, monsters, demons, witches, and a variety of other fun and exciting beasts. “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” tackles a variety of issues from divorce to depression to addiction to grief all the way to destiny.


Imagine you’re picking flowers one day and you find yourself thrust 200 years into the past. Claire Beachamp does not have to simply imagine. The feisty, funny, wine-loving, World War II nurse Claire finds herself–after having just survived one war–thrown into eighteenth century Scotland when another war is actively being fought. Our well-educated and opinionated heroine refuses to be silent when she finds herself against all logic, trapped in a time where women are supposed to be seen and not heard. Check out “Outlander” on Starz.


Or if the real world is more your style check out “Gilmore Girls.” This TV series is known for shattering the Bechdel Test. Mother and daughter team Lorelai and Rory Gilmore’s close but unconventional relationship will provide laughter and some great literary recommendations. The Gilmore Girls’ adventures from the quirky small town Stars Hollow to higher education and small business ownership will make you laugh and cry.


Muriel Rukeyser said, “The universe is made of stories, not of atoms.” To celebrate Women’s History–or Herstory–Month indulge in some of these stories.

Waiting for Intermission: Review of “Kingsman: The Secret Service”

A secret organization of dashing Englishmen in suits, or (in the eyes of everyone else besides Britain) a secret organization of spies, have taken a personal interest in everyday, super genius street thug Gary “Eggsy” Unwin.

The ever so elegantly spoken Colin Firth, who plays Harry Hart, wants to repay Eggsy’s late father for saving his life by introducing his son to the underground tailor shop, The Kingsman: the Secret Service. What Eggsy faces in the most dangerous job interview he’ll ever have can only be described as the heart pounding action that adrenaline junkies crave.

While on paper the film seems to be a remake of a James Bond film, Samuel L. Jackson as a caring, queasy-to-violence, hipster villain made this film top notch. It is rated with that big red ‘R’ that we were told to stay away from as young, innocent preteens, so “Kingsman” is not for the faint of heart. After watching the film, I couldn’t help but agree that it would make you squirm in your seat, shield your eyes with those makeshift finger guards, and then force you to cross your legs because of that 16-ounce ICEE you bought just to watch what was going to happen next.

When it came down to it, I thought that this comic book based film was able to compliment and offend everyone on the spectrum. From political choices and class status, “Kingsman” made a statement that ‘evil’ and ‘good’ can be anyone. In any classic action film, the ‘bad guys’ would always fall under a stereotype. The villains were German for Bruce Willis or Nazis for Harrison Ford, and Hydra happened to be German with a touch of Swedish for Chris Evans.

However, Kingsman managed to create the villain, Valentine (Jackson), who was extremely likeable and even somewhat more enjoyable that the normal British charm associated with Mark Strong, Colin Firth, and Michael Caine.

Valentine wanted to save the planet from destruction. He didn’t want money, he didn’t want to rule the world, and he didn’t want to watch it burn. Valentine was desperate to save the world. “The world is sick, and humanity is the virus.”

He took care of people, he liked people, but he also wanted people to die. I thought that this was screaming ‘God complex,’ and in a way it was; however, he didn’t have the usual narcissism that accompanied the ‘God complex’ of most super villains.

When he chose someone to protect from his master plan, it was based on how they would help the world and the innocence he thought they would bring to the new age.

I’m not stating that we should all find a mass executioner to install chips in our electronics that would turn us all into evil murderous dogs, but if I could listen to anyone before he killed me off, I would vote for Samuel L. Jackson.


During reception, Chatham’s “The Vagina Monologues” donates proceeds to POWER

On Friday, February 13, in celebration of Valentines Day, Chatham University Drama Club put on its annual performance of Eve Ensler’s 1996 episodic play, “The Vagina Monologues.”

The show–a gritty and unapologetic representation of women and how they feel about themselves–was a big success, filling almost all of Chatham’s Eddy Theatre.

Afterwards, Catherine Giles, the co-director, invited all attendees to a reception, taking place in Café Rachel and the Woodland Art Gallery.

As students slowly made their way from Eddy Theatre to the reception, staff members handed out free drink vouchers, and students set up food tables with cookies, cupcakes, vegetables, and–a student favorite–spinach and artichoke dip.

In addition to people socializing and discussing the show, various student organizations used the reception as an opportunity to get their messages out to the student body.

One such organization–Feminist Activists Creating Equality (FACE)–set up a table at which they sold cookies with vaginas drawn on them in icing.

At the table with FACE was a display about the website “The World Needs More Love Letters,” where they asked students to write letter of encouragement to people going through a hard time.

Photo Credit: Katerina Sarandou

Photo Credit: Katerina Sarandou

In addition to random letters, this website also allows people to nominate family members who are going through a difficult time to receive personalized letters.

Another organization in attendance was the Chatham chapter of the International English Honor Society Sigma Tau Delta, headed by senior Kaitlyn Lacey. In a short speech, Lacey explained that the honor society would be sponsoring a 50/50 raffle to fundraise for a trip to an international convention in the spring where, “students will be presenting their work.”

After her speech, she passed the floor to Natalie Szewczyk, the Vice President of the Drama Club, co-director, and stage manager for the show.

After making a joke about how she was wearing something other than flannel (a rare occurrence for her), Szewczyk expressed her sincere gratitude to everyone who made the show possible, including the cast, the crew, her assistant Diana Cabrera, and Giles, because “without her the show wouldn’t have been as great as it was.”

Szewczyk then went on to introduce the Pennsylvania Organization for Women in Early Recovery (POWER), the featured organization at the reception, to which all of the show’s proceeds went.

“This wonderful organization called POWER…really touches my heart,” Szewczyk said, before explaining that the people at POWER, “help women rehabilitate and really change their lives.”

She then asked Karen Clark, volunteer coordinator at POWER, to say a few words about the organization and its mission.

“At POWER, we help women who are recovering from addiction,” Clark began.  “Like the play we just saw, we talk about things that aren’t often talked about.”

She went on to explain that women require a specific approach to recovery and that they often don’t get that because there aren’t many programs that cater to their needs.

It is important to, “look at the whole person,” she explained, going on to say that POWER’s philosophy is to, “empower women.”

“I’m privileged to talk to them on a daily basis,” she continued, before saying, “and I’m so grateful to be part of this production.”

Clark ended by encouraging students to help the non-profit organization in any capacity that they could from simply giving money to volunteering for them.

At that point, the woman sitting at the POWER table with Clark who had, until then, remained quiet, stood to say a few words.

“I don’t often divulge that I’m in recovery,” the POWER mentor said, “but I want to break my anonymity so that you can see the face of someone you’re helping.”

The woman went on to say that she is eight and a half years clean.

“This is what programs like this do,” she continued, “There’s a better life out there. We want women to thrive…we don’t want to give them fish; we want to teach them how to fish.”

“It’s awareness,” she concluded, “but it’s also action.”

The theme of the night was captured quite well in the quote on the cover of “The Vagina Monologues” program, which read, “It means battling the violence happening around us. It requires strength, courage, and fierceness. It means not being silent.”

Whether it is violence from another person, or violence inflicted on oneself in the form of substance abuse, the show and subsequent reception addressed all facets of the issue and encouraged students to take a stand and try to help in whatever capacity possible.


“The Vagina Monologues” returns to Chatham for annual performance

On Friday, February 13, the Chatham University Drama Club staged their annual production of Eve Ensler’s episodic play, “The Vagina Monologues,” based on Ensler’s interviews with 200 women about relationships, sex, violence against women, and—of course—vaginas.

Just after 7:00 p.m., co-director Catherine Giles took the stage at Eddy Theatre to welcome everyone in the nearly full auditorium to the 2015 production.  She noted that the performance would be supporting the organization POWER (Pennsylvania Organization for Women in Early Recovery), which assists women in overcoming drug and alcohol addictions.

As usual, the production ranged in tone from hilarious to tragic.

Probably the most well-received monologue was junior Phoebe Armstrong’s performance of, “The Woman Who Loved to Make Vaginas Happy,” about a sex worker who works exclusively with women. Armstrong’s lively demonstration of a range of the types of moans women let out during sex—including clitoral moans, vaginal moans, bisexual moans, and college moans, to name just a few—had the crowd in stitches.

Also relatively lighthearted and definitely entertaining were performances by seniors Jenny Schollaert and Skyler Wilcha.

Schollaert took the stage as a woman who became acquainted with her vagina in an enlightening vagina workshop.  Her passionate performance clearly communicated the rush that comes with getting to know one’s own body, and her liveliness kept the audience engaged and amused throughout her performance.

Wilcha performed a monologue about the, “not politically correct,” way a woman came to love her vagina. As she communicated via a staged telephone call to the production’s narrator, sophomore Indigo Baloch, Wilcha’s character came to accept herself by seeing her body through the eyes of an adoring man.

Wilcha’s conversational delivery and her descriptions of the entirely average man who helped her appreciate herself garnered much laughter from the crowd. The biggest laugh she received probably came from her line about the character’s first impression of this man: “I didn’t particularly like Bob,” she said.

These scenes were in stark contrast with two of the most heartbreaking in Ensler’s collection of monologues.

The first was, “They Beat the Boy Out of My Girl…Or So They Thought,” about the struggles of living as a transgender woman, performed by first-years Maya Carey and McKenzie Gordon, sophomores Baloch and Maggie McGovney, and junior Kelly Nestman.

The ensemble’s perfectly timed monologue was an emotional roller coaster. It addressed the childhood bullying that those who do not comply with “gender norms” face, the need that the bullied feel to hide their true identities for their own safety, the happiness and hopefulness that comes with finding people who are accepting of your true identity regardless of the one society assigns at birth, and the tragedy when a partner is killed simply because of their association with a transgendered woman.

Photo Credit: Catherine Giles

Photo Credit: Catherine Giles

The second harrowing scene was junior Rachael Owen’s rendition of, “My Vagina was My Village,” a story from the perspective of a victim of rape as a war tactic.  She detailed the emotions that arise from rape and how this violation can be so destructive to a woman’s relationship with herself and her body. The character—who was violated with objects, including the barrel of a gun, and then gang raped—likened this heinous act to the pillaging of a formerly happy village between her legs.

“They invaded it, butchered it, and burned it down,” recited Owens.

After both of these affecting scenes, as well as several others, audible sniffles could be heard from the audience.

Many of the monologues dealt with issues with which much of the audience could either identify or empathize.

The audience reveled in Lyons’s profanity-riddled monologue called, “My Angry Vagina,” in which she bemoaned all of the horrible things vaginas have to put up with, including uncomfortable tampons, unnecessary cleaning supplies, and unpleasant exams.

Senior Bertie Yarroll performed a monologue based on one woman’s story about how her ex-husband forced her to remove her pubic hair, though such hair is natural and purposeful.

First-year Bethany Bookout gave an impassioned performance of a monologue titled, “My Short Skirt,” stating that wearing a short skirt is not an invitation for scrutiny or forced entry; it is an entirely personal experience.

Bookout’s final line encapsulated a sentiment that most contemporary American women have, at one point or another, wanted to scream at the top of their lungs: “My short skirt—and everything under it—is mine.  Mine.  Mine.”

Sophomore Tahmina Tursonzadah ended the show with an earnest and emotional execution, “My Revolution Begins In the Body.”  The revolution of which this monologue speaks is one against patriarchal thinking and all of the barriers that the women depicted in Ensler’s play face.

There are things for which it is worth standing up, like gender equality, the end of violence, and the teaching of self-worth. Chatham University Drama Club’s annual presentation of, “The Vagina Monologues,” serves as a yearly reminder to, indeed, stand up.

Waiting for Intermission: Review of “Jupiter Ascending”

When asked to watch this film, I had my reservations about it. I appreciate a good action film as much as the next woman, but I worried that the film was overly dramatic based on the trailers.

How does a girl feel when she goes from being an illegal Russian immigrant who cleans toilets, to a space princess who is in line to inherit the Earth?

Surprisingly calm for Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis). I appreciated the step into this action sci-fi direction that the sibling directors, Lana and Andy Wachowski, took to bring this mixed universe of “Matrix” and “Star Wars” (as quoted by Douglas Booth, who portrays Titus) to the cinema.

Space princesses, space werewolves, space capitalism (let’s not forget the bees) make interesting characters to begin with, if not confusing as heck to follow the plot as the film reaches its climax.

I understood enough from the film to get the general idea that Jupiter Jones is the reincarnation of a Space Empress who is now in line to own the Earth, yet the three children of her Space Empress self stand in the way and fight to either kill her, befriend her, or marry her so that they may own the Earth.

Then Caine Wise (Channing Tatum) a splice (a genetic experimentation of wolf and human) comes in the save her when she ultimately throws herself back into danger.

The visual effects brought enough life to the film; however, the sound accompanying the visual effects blew over the dialogue of the actors as they were explaining to young Jupiter what was going on and why the three most powerful heirs wanted to kill the incarnation of their mother.

The film features in several mixed (leaning to negative) reviews, featuring in ‘The Riskiest Box Office Bets of 2015’ by screenrant.com.

Overall, I wanted more story from the film. There were amusing scenes to make the film lighthearted and some (truly disturbing) dark scenes, yet I would have liked to see more of the world the Wachowski siblings created.

In this universe your signature and the set of currency are genes. How do they live forever? Recycling genes of other planets. Once a civilization reaches the capacity of the planet, it is ripe for ‘harvesting’, meaning that the House of Abrasax (the ruling companies of the gene trade) collects all the human beings of that planet and strips them down to their genes.

Once the humans are harvested, an individual can bathe in the static waters and become younger. The matriarch of the House of Abrasax was able to send her future self’s inheritance (Jupiter Jones) to the Earth by using the signature of her genes. If you wish to get married, there is no such use of rings; your genes receive a mark that becomes your signature, showing that you are bound to your partner. It was the most exciting idea of the film for me to see.

As for the reason why the film, originally scheduled to be in theaters on July 18, 2014, was pushed back to February 6, 2015, it was due to the visual effects. The ideas of the project were too complex to be completed in the allotted time used for post-production (Posted by CinemaBlend). The producers and directors needed the extra time to finish the final look of the visual effects of the film. Personally, I am glad they took the extra time for the quality of the effects, the effects didn’t disappoint.


Chatham screens “The Power of One Voice: A 50-Year Perspective on the Life of Rachel Carson”

On Saturday, February 21, students from Chatham University and University of Pittsburgh, as well as members of the community at large, gathered at Chatham’s Eddy Theatre for a screening of the documentary, “The Power of One Voice: A 50-Year Perspective on the Life of Rachel Carson,” hosted by the Falk School of Sustainability.

The brainchild of executive producer and former Director of the Rachel Carson Institute at Chatham University Patricia DeMarco and environmental filmmaker Mark Dixon, the film was a reflection on the fiftieth anniversary celebration of Carson’s book “Silent Spring” that was held at Chatham University and The National Aviary in April of 2012 and featured interviews from academics and Rachel Carson scholars who attended the celebration.

“Rachel Carson is probably this University’s most famous alumna,” Peter Walker, Dean of the Falk School of Sustainability, said in his introduction to the event.

He then took the time to highlight various political activists in the audience, including Sharon Walsh, the editor of the environmental newspaper “Public Source,” who spoke briefly about her organization’s cause, and encouraged people to sign up for their newsletter.

Welker then introduced Dixon, who spoke about the process of making the film.

“Environmental filmmaking is morally easy, but financially not that easy,” he began, thanking everyone in attendance for paying the $15 admittance fee (except for students, whose admission was free), and reminding people that the DVD was for sale in the lobby.

He then spoke about environmentalism and how it involves changing people’s mindsets and convincing them to change their lifestyles, which is not an easy thing to do.

“It’s like asking a civilization to all get into a 747 jet and swap out the engines after taking off,” he said, before continuing, “but we have to get in touch with our moral lens…[Carson’s] work is not done yet.”

Dixon then introduced the film itself, which consisted of an hour’s worth of interviews with DeMarco, professor Louis Guillette, author Scott Weidensaul, U.S. Fish and Wildlife historian Mark Madison, journalist Don Hopey, Rachel Carson expert Linda Lear, and Carson’s adopted son Roger Christie.

The film focused a great deal on the fact that Carson was a trailblazer and that her opinions were unpopular in her time.

It also focused on the fact that Carson literally gave her life to her work, choosing to commit herself to spreading her message even after being diagnosed with breast cancer.

This is particularly important when one considers the point that Madison made towards the end of the film when he said, “Everything that has happened in the past 50 years has proved her right.”

After the film there was a panel discussion about the film and environmental advocacy in general with DeMarco, Crystal Fortwangler–professor in the Falk School of Sustainability–and Lou Martin–professor in the department of History, Political Science, and International Studies.

The panel discussion began with a question about what Carson’s message means for people today, and Martin took the lead, discussing his experience with non-violent direct action advocacy, which is, in his words, “standing in the way of business as usual.”

His main point was that, “we as a society need to get better at critical thinking if we are going to address some of these problem.”

“I do hope that there will be more ‘Silent Springs’ published by this generation,” he continued. “The next ‘Silent Spring’ might not be a book.  It might be a film, a piece of art, a song, a poem,” Martin said, at which point Walker jumped in to say, “Or a social media campaign.”

Fortwangler felt similarly, focusing her response on the merits of film in the fight for the environment, and the importance of getting people interested and engaged in the topic.

DeMarco’s answer drove the point home when she said, “We’ve dealt with the symptoms, its time to deal with the causes…we need to compel others, and take action.”

“We have to change the way we value our environments,” she continued, “and we have to do it quickly.”

Afterwards Walker opened the floor to question from the audience, and people asked about a wide range of topics including fracking, the merits of documentaries versus feature films, and the difficulties of eliminating the mindset that, “saving the environment kills jobs.”

“It’s difficult to get people to move when they can’t see what they’re moving towards,” DeMarco said, but she made it clear that this is what must be done to protect the environment for which Carson fought so hard.

Review of “Chipping Smooth” at Future Tenant

In the final event for the Future Tenant January series, Pinnacle Production performed “Chipping Smooth” starring Point Park students Julia Maxwell and John McGovern. “Chipping Smooth” is a multimedia performance written by Mary Ehrlicher, who traveled via Grayhound from over ten hours away to attend the event.

The play followed the relationship between two young adults. The performance used a mixture of YouTube videos of slam poets, Shakespearean language, and live music to follow the story. As a skeptic of anything that uses such a wide variety of artistic avenues to explore a topic, I was unsure of what to expect. The cast pulled off what could have been something very confusing as something that was truly beautiful, and it accomplished its goal of presenting relationships for what they are: confusing.

The production began with the use of a projection screen and a live performance by the main actors. The performers acted out the scene in the present, while the projection of prerecorded moments served as the memory of the individuals. They went so far as to replay the same meet-up scene through different perspectives–in the ideal perspective, where the two of them were reciting beautifully written Shakespearean lines; and in the real one, in which they spoke in awkward giggles and half sentences.

Throughout the back and forth between scenes, there was music woven into the piece. The music served to enhance the traits of the character played by McGovern, as well as the feel of the overall piece. In addition to the music, the piece also brought in the philosophical question of how much hormones, or biology, run a relationship versus choice.

The use of water imagery that could be found sprinkled through the production was also extremely effective. Primarily it was used because water has a variety of different states and abilities, like slowly wearing down a rock face. It is this metaphor that led to the title.

After the performance, Maxwell, McGovern, Ehrlicher, and director Marian Scaturro spoke of all the hours it took to put this stunning production together.

“There were a lot of sleepless nights,” admitted McGovern, “but it was all worth it.”

Pinnacle Productions is the largest student-run theatre group at Point Park University. Ehrlicher said she was proud to have her alma mater choose to perform this show.

Waiting for Intermission: Top four on Netflix

It’s not all uncommon to hear the word ‘Netflix’ in a conversation at Chatham. It’s generally assumed that we, as college students in the year 2015, would find time to relax and/or procrastinate on writing that intensive paper by streaming films online. I’ve always considered it to be almost like a red beacon, beckoning me away from my studies for just a couple of minutes. As a result, I researched IMDb’s top 4 highest rated films on Netflix to watch.

4.The Pianist (2002)

Director: Roman Polonski

Starring: Adrien Brody, Thomas Kretschmann, Frank Finky

There’s a saying that seems very common for anyone who is studying music, or for any of the arts for that matter: ‘Starving Artist.’ Most of us in college dread it whenever someone brings up how difficult the job hunt is. However, for beautiful musician Wladyslaw Szpilman, he starves not because no one will listen to his music, but because he is Jewish. In the era of World War II, a time considered one of the greatest human catastrophes in history, music seems to be the only reason Wladyslaw strives to live. He has to run and hide to be able to survive, and he has to one day be able to play his music.

If there are any words I could use to describe this film, it would be beautifully haunting. Any films that are set during WWII are struck in such hard color and abrasive emotions, because it  is all true. The audience doesn’t relate to the film because of their own set of devastation; they connect purely to the raw emotion behind it. This film (and many other films like it) values the ability for a human being to empathize and be able to appreciate and respect those who we have lost.

3. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

Director: James Cameron

Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Edward Furlong

Taking a step back in time to the good ole days of the 1990s, Netflix selects “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” as its third highest rated film to watch. It is the second time that Arnold Schwarzenegger assumes his role as the terrifying Terminator: Robot Assassin, and it is the second time Sarah Connor races against the clock to survive. Yet, instead of what most audiences believed from the first Terminator movie, James Cameron didn’t want to try to kill Sarah Connor again. The Terminator takes charge on screen as the protector of Sarah Connor’s son, John. John, assuming his role as the smart aleck kid, one day defends the rest of humanity and leads all to a brighter future.

I always considered this movie as a classic Sci-Fi film growing up (until I really knew what the word ‘classic’ meant).  Even though it was really well thought of in its time, I didn’t like it as much as the first one. I appreciated John’s character; I also appreciated a woman action hero who knew how to use a gun without whining that she’d get dirty, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to see the film again. In my opinion, this film would probably be behind “Reservoir Dogs” as the 6th movie to watch.

2. Memento (2002)

Director: Christopher Nolan

Starring: Guy Pearce, Carrie-Anne Moss, Joe Pantoliane

It doesn’t sound so terrible to go to sleep and wake up to a brand new life. If you didn’t like what you did that day, you could wake up to a new mindset. Yet, when most of us feel that way, we don’t actually want to experience it every day. For Leonard Shelby, he wakes up with no recollection of what he did yesterday. Head trauma made him lose his ability to create new memories, and the only memory he really remembers, apart from who he is, is the death of his wife. With new tattoos every morning, he forces his future self to remember parts of what his past self has discovered about the man who murdered his wife and left him for dead. However, he can’t believe anything he has found out. A tale of psychological warfare with friends, family, and himself, Leonard has to race his own mind before he forgets how to take his vengeance.

1. Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)

Director: Sergio Leone

Starring: Henry Fonda, Charles Bronson, Claudia Cardinale

As the highest rated film on Netflix, I was happy that they had chosen this classic Spaghetti Western. Full of drama, intense close ups, and intimate exposures on the Wild West, “Once Upon a Time in the West” doesn’t disappoint. This film is all you would want for a western film to have: a hero with a vengeful backstory, the criminal who caused the pain, an oppressed town with fearful townspeople, and the female love interest that can be as fearsome as a man of her era.

There’s nothing I love more that watching a classic after watching so many painstaking tries for new films to be as original as possible. It isn’t because they don’t do their job and every filmmaker deserves their credits for providing entertainment with the right message; but classic films are the films from which filmmakers get their inspiration. With the classic looks and the breakthrough cinematic landmarks, all the big stars of their time have set the bars for filmmakers to jump higher and higher. They all help us remember on how far film magic has come from that first shot of the moving train. Imagination and creativity are what drive filmmakers to break that final barrier of what is real and what can be shown as magical.

University of Pittsburgh improv group makes a “Ruckus” at Future Tenant

University of Pittsburgh’s improve group “Ruckus” was excited to be invited to perform at the downtown studio Future Tenant. While the event was not as well attended as they hoped, the performers decided that the show must go on!

The performance space was formed in 2002 in a collaborative effort between Carnegie Mellon University’s College of Fine Arts and Master of Arts Management program and the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. Their mission is to help performers and artists to explore their creativity.

The studio was small, and there were only two rows of chairs set up on high risers.

Future Tenant offered attendees complimentary beer, cider, and soda. The space itself made it very easy to hear everything that was said. Due to the small audience size, the show began with each performer introducing him or herself, after which the group’s president Jamie Bergey asked everyone in the audience to introduce themselves.

The group quickly launched into the first part of the performance they named “Freeze.” Two performers started the game and after a few minutes another member would shout “freeze,” freezing the actors in their positions of that moment. The person who had shouted would then run up, tap one of the performing actors on the stage, and assume the position.

The real treat was the second half of the performance known as, “Long Form.” There were several skits that took place interchangeably.

While all of the sketches were entertaining, only one really struck a chord with the audience. It began with Shane Jordan, Ben Mills, and Isaac Minkoff pretending to stand in line for the release of a new power tool at Home Depot. Jordan then pretended to purchase an extra drill for his wife (played by Elisa Ogot in another scene) from Meghan Ferraro, the monotoned cashier.

The sketch was broken up by the other scenes, but the storyline continued on in a way that really drew the audience in. The storyline managed to tie in two of the other sketches involving a failed attempt at organizing the Olympic Games to be hosted in Louisiana and another dealing with two “mean girls” played by Meghan Ferraro and Lizzie Kanieski.

Photo Credit: Kristen Gigliotti

Photo Credit: Kristen Gigliotti

Ruckus is made up of a variety of students. “The group is by audition only, and we have about two dozen performers in our group. We have both undergraduate and graduate students,” said Bergey. “We do shows twice a week so having more people helps.”

Also, very few of their members are actual theater majors. “We have a little bit of everything,” Jordan explained, “We have a few theater majors but we have everything from mathematics to English.”

The variety does in fact add to the performance. The group as a whole played off of one another well. The vibe from the group was one of familiarity.

Ruckus performs every week alternating between the Studio Theatre and the Henry Heymann theatre. Both spaces are located on the University of Pittsburgh’s Campus in Oakland.