The Oberlin Review

Successful King Adaptation “It” Combines Horror, Heart

Christian Bolles, Editor-in-Chief

September 15, 2017

Filed under ARTS, Theater & Film

It’s the great cinematic whodunit of the past few years: who killed mainstream horror? Despite critical darlings from breakout directors like David Eggers (The Witch), Jennifer Kent (The Babadook), and David Robert Mitchell (It Follows) — all independent films that scored modest, unimpressive box office returns — the world of big-budget filmmaking has lately seen few horror movies worth their salt. Most of what has been on offer, such as Lights Out, Ouija, and Unfriended, rely on gimmicky premises designed to lure audiences into theaters without much caring if they enjoy the ensuing bloodbath. Gone are the Halloweens and Nightmare on Elm Streets of the world. The best recent mainstream horror has played with t...

Off the Cuff: Carmen Ambar, President of Oberlin College

Off the Cuff: Carmen Ambar, President of Oberlin College

September 1, 2017

Today, Carmen Ambar became the 15th President of Oberlin College. With a bachelor’s degree in Foreign Service from Georgetown University, a master’s degree in Public Affairs from Princeton University, and a law degree from Columbia University, Ambar was previously the 13th President of Cedar Crest College. Yesterday, President Ambar sat down with the Review to discuss her connection to Oberlin, thoughts on the College’s financial situation, and hopes for the future. This interview has bee...

Black and White “Fury Road” Re-Release Highlights Action, Scenery

Christian Bolles, Columnist

May 5, 2017

Filed under ARTS, Theater & Film

When beloved director George Miller first released the much-awaited follow-up to his cult classic Mad Max series, he teased that he had watched the new film in black and white and found it a superior experience. Now, after much fan buzz, the “Black and Chrome” edition of Mad Max: Fury Road has hit the big screen for a single day, as part of an ad campaign for its inclusion in the movie’s Blu-ray set. After all of the hype Miller generated around the remaster, one might question whether the film could possibly be that much better with a change as seemingly minimal as a rebalanced colour palette. Yet, when rendered in such contrast, the aesthetic brilliance of Miller’s mayhem-ridden masterpiece shines all the ...

Chan-Wook’s “Handmaiden” Unpacks Sexual Power Dynamics

Christian Bolles, Columnist

April 21, 2017

Filed under ARTS, Theater & Film

“Of all the things I’ve washed and dressed, have any been so pretty?” This is the first question Korean handmaiden Sookee asks herself upon meeting her new mistress, a soft-spoken Japanese noblewoman named Lady Hideko. Sookee’s immediate attraction to Hideko is objectifying — even clinical — mirroring the aesthetic fascination that revered Korean director Park Chan-Wook maintains for the decadent imagery that defines his most recent work, The Handmaiden. The film is clearly about sex, but it’s also about the broader philosophical implications of the myriad power dynamics inherent in a sexual relationship. The film takes place during Japan’s annexation of Korea in the early 20th century and at its most...

“Raw” Offers Potent Commentary on Sexuality, Sisterhood

Christian Bolles, Columnist

April 14, 2017

Filed under ARTS, Theater & Film

Editor’s Note: This review contains spoilers and mentions of violence, sexual assault, nausea and trauma inflicted on both humans and animals. When French writer-director Julia Ducournau’s feature-length debut Raw made rounds at film festivals worldwide, paramedics became an occasional fixture of the proceedings as audience members either fainted or left the theater — some without returning, others to empty their stomachs in the nearest bathroom. Despite being produced on a tight budget and given limited theatrical distribution, these incidents have brought the film a grotesquely alluring reputation since its release a few weeks ago. Historically, other films have garnered similar reactions — The Exorcist is...

Peele’s Triumphant Debut Get Out Interrogates Liberal Racism

Christian Bolles, Columnist

March 31, 2017

Filed under ARTS, Theater & Film

Directorial debuts are often fragile. The vast majority of them display a promising but flawed proof of behind-the-camera skill, so for any new director, finding success in their first effort is difficult. When it comes to non-white directors, however, Hollywood’s prevailing whiteness and racism elevates that difficulty to nearly complete impenetrability. After years of building up his reputation via the famed sketch comedy show Key & Peele and contributing to the script for last year’s warmly received comedy Keanu, Jordan Peele finally took the chance to flex his directorial muscles, breaking into the Hollywood mainstream with the explosive, laser-focused Get Out. The film blows past the stigma that often...

Noah Hawley’s “Legion” Explores Mutant Minds

Christian Bolles, Columnist

March 3, 2017

Filed under ARTS, Theater & Film

In the second episode of Legion, Fargo creator Noah Hawley’s first attempt at a Marvel television series, the protagonist, David, tells his lover — whom he is forbidden to touch — that they are engaged in “a romance of the mind.” This is as much of a mission statement as the show’s mind-boggling, brilliant and often elusive script is willing to provide. Hawley’s fascination with the human mind is the entry point for the series, which tells David’s story and follows his path from disempowerment to untold amounts of power. David quickly learns that the symptoms of schizophrenia that placed him in a psychiatric institution, where the show’s pilot is set, might not be the caused by mental illness at all. H...

Henson Delivers Memorable Performance in Hidden Figures

Christian Bolles, Columnist

February 17, 2017

Filed under ARTS, Theater & Film

An oft-ignored ingredient of successful filmmaking is the importance of managing expectations. It’s the coating on the cinematic pill, and it distinguishes movies that appeal to a wide audience over those that find a smaller niche. There are many successful films that subvert their premises, yet divide viewers in doing so; La La Land, which begins as a glitzy musical and transitions to a relationship drama halfway through, is one recent example that garnered critical praise but widespread criticism from general audiences. Somewhere on the other end of the spectrum rests writer/director Theodore Melfi’s Hidden Figures. Hidden Figures is a vehicle for a story and quite a good one: Three Black women working at NASA ...

Jenkins’ Accessible “Moonlight” Showcases Stellar Performances

Christian Bolles, Columnist

February 10, 2017

Filed under ARTS, Theater & Film

If you haven’t seen Moonlight on the grounds of its tough subject matter, you may not be alone, but you certainly should reconsider. Writer/director Barry Jenkins’ sophomore feature takes a Boyhood-esque trip straight to the heart of human pathos, spinning its tale of a man named Chiron through intimate close-ups that reflect the personal sting of his unfortunate circumstances. Moonlight has been — and will continue to be — hailed by the industry and viewers as “important” due to the sheer rarity of the subject in the medium of film: a gay Black man. But historically, “important” is a reductive and alienating label that pushes works of social significance into a dusty altar in the corner while safer, m...

On the Record with Matthew Rarey, African Art Scholar

On the Record with Matthew Rarey, African Art Scholar

December 9, 2016

Assistant Professor of the Arts of Africa of the black Atlantic Matthew Rarey joined Oberlin’s art history department in fall 2015 and has since made strides toward building a comprehensive African art history curriculum for students. The first professor in his position at Oberlin, his background ranges from the study of Andean archaeology to the study of the ways in which African art developed during and after crossing the Atlantic with an emphasis on its presence in Brazil. His work has been pu...

Miranda’s Score Elevates Moana to Excellence

Miranda’s Score Elevates Moana to Excellence

December 2, 2016

Decades ago, Walt Disney Animation Studios perfected the art of fantasy. The studio has always endeavored to craft worlds that the viewer aches to live in; the timeless, dreamlike quality of its tales of princesses and castles has given them the power to endure. Looking back, though, it’s hard to reconcile the glimmering surface of Disney’s animated worlds with the fundamental whiteness and rigid patriarchy that comprise their conceptual frameworks. Even Frozen, for all that it eschews standard ...

On the Record with Sage Lewis, Composer

On the Record with Sage Lewis, Composer

December 2, 2016

A multimedia composer from Minneapolis specializing in film, Sage Lewis, OC ’04, graduated with a BA in Music Composition before completing his studies at California Institute of the Arts with an MFA. Though based in Los Angeles, his work has been screened at festivals diverse as Cannes, the Havana Film Festival, SXSW and others. The Sundance Film Composer Fellow’s recent compositions have included the scores for Logan Kibens’ film Operator, starring Martin Starr and Mae Whitman, and Flaher...

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