Columbus: The Film You Never Knew You Were Looking For

Columbus Poster
IMDb

By Miles Shapiro

Independent Cinema has already had an impact in 2017. Movies like “Get Out” and “The Big Sick” have shown remarkable success both financially and critically. Now South Korean writer and director Kogonada’s new film “Columbus” has arrived to continue the streak of pure artistic quality. While not necessarily a massive financial success, “Columbus” has gained a lot of buzz through festival screenings, including one at the Independent Film Festival of Boston where it took home the Special Jury Prize for narrative feature.

In this film Jin (John Cho) reluctantly journeys to Columbus Indiana after his architecture professor father falls ill. While there he meets Casey, played by rising talent Haley Lu Richardson, who is a recent high school graduate obsessed with architecture herself. The two form an unlikely bond as they meander through life in one of this year’s most touching films.

Every frame of this movie drips with visual splendor, and each shot on its own could be a painting. Aside from its aesthetically outstanding cinematography, however, this film boasts layered performances and an emotionally resonant and well-constructed screenplay. Cho and Richardson share a hyper realistic chemistry and wonderfully portray two lost souls searching for purpose. The story is instantly relatable to anybody who has ever felt unsure of what they want to do with their lives and it speaks to virtually all demographics. The direction by Kogonada is immaculate and precise, and manages to make a film mainly consisting of conversations in parks compelling and touching.

It should be made clear that this film is certainly not for everyone. The pacing is slow and deliberate, and information about the characters is revealed through seemingly insignificant lines and subtle nuances in the performances. It is certainly a far cry from most conventional fare, but, for those even mildly interested it is not a particularly inaccessible film and it’s worth seeing. The film also contains a strong supporting cast and subtle, yet impactful, score. Ultimately, what makes this film so wonderfully impactful is how it was able to establish such a vibrant atmosphere and craft a narrative I was utterly invested in even after the credits had rolled. This film is in a limited release and not easy to find but it’s worth seeking out for anyone even vaguely intrigued by films like this.

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The Conundrum of Clever Stupidity: Kingsmen 2 Review.

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IMDb

By Miles Shapiro

Matthew Vaughn returns to direct this follow-up to his surprise action hit “Kingsman: The Secret Service”. In this entry, Eggsy (Taron Egerton), now a certified Kingsman agent, must team up with the U.S-based Statesmen after catastrophe strikes. Egerton is as charming as ever and is joined by a rich supporting cast, including Channing Tatum, Jeff Bridges, Halle Berry, and many others. A surprising standout in this film is Mark Strong, who plays the character of Merlin. Julianne moore also appears, in a splendidly campy turn, as the films central antagonist, alongside Elton John, who appears in an unforgettable cameo.

Where this movie succeeds is in its ridiculously fun action set pieces and delightfully over-the-top style. Vaughn once again shows his intrinsic understanding of the spy movie genre and his ability to exploit its tropes while still not falling complete into parody. Vaughn imbues each of his films with a postmodern flair entertaining enough to make the audience overlook plot holes, of which there are many.

This movie is fully aware that it makes no sense and embraces it with such gusto that one is obliged to just relax and enjoy it. As previously mentioned, the action demonstrates absurd amounts of creativity and kinetic camera work that fully engages the viewer. This inventiveness is on full display in the third act. The third act, however, in where this films flaws begin to reveal themselves. The charismatic performances and engaging action are simply unable to disguise sloppy storytelling and tedious subplots. Many of the dialogue scenes feel as though they are just filler to set up for the next big set piece, and they ultimately lead nowhere from a story perspective. The excessive subplots also serve to make the film feel bloated and disjointed.

Ultimately, this movie is an enjoyable time, and, while it is certainly not on par with the first, it’s not worthy of the slader some critics have given it . It’s dumb, but it knows it and is ridiculous enough to make fans of the first movie leave feeling satisfied.

Bourassa Takes on Jeopardy

By Chloe Jackson and Ellie Crowley

Since childhood, Arlington High School english teacher Justin Bourassa has cherished the lively game show, Jeopardy. Viewing the game show was a ritual in his adolescent home, and he continued the tradition in his own household, where his wife shares his love for the series.

Bourassa was encouraged by his wife to attempt an online audition, in which he performed extremely well, but thought nothing of it. However, his skillful results prompted a callback and a chance to display his trivia abilities at a regional competition in New York City. Along with twenty other candidates, he participated in a stimulation of the real show and endured yet another test, determining his future on the show. Eight months later, Bourassa arrived home to a message on his answering machine informing him that he was invited to participate in the real show.  

A month after his invitation to film in Los Angeles, and after hundreds of hours studying intently with his wife, Bourassa flew across the country to tape an entire season in two days, September 5th and 6th. The filming days also happened to land on the first two days of school at Arlington High School, inciting a chaotic situation.

Prior to taping, Bourassa prepared as though he were taking the SATs. With the assistance of his wife, and a database (J Archive) containing all past seasons game boards, Bourassa gained a plethora of knowledge. During the plane ride to California, Bourassa continued to expand his knowledge, scouring atlases and books about composers in order to sufficiently prep for his big moment.

Directly after two incredibly intense and grueling days of filming, he flew back to Massachusetts, prepared to embark on a fresh school year with new students. Despite his absence on the first few days of school, Bourassa eased into another school year at AHS. Be sure to catch Mr. Bourassa on Jeopardy on December 20th!

Diverse Businesses and Organizations Meet Musical Talent on Town Day

 

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Junior Julian Carpenter Conducting AHS Jazz Band ~Courtesy of Olivia Carpenter

 

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Lulu Eddy (right) and Hamish Swanson (left) supporting AHS Girls Volleyball ~Courtesy of Isabella Scopetski

 

By: Michael Graham-Green

Saturday, September 16 was Town Day, an event that signals the end of summer and brings the many families of Arlington to the town center. With more than 200 businesses, organizations, churches, and schools from Arlington and surrounding towns, each represented by stalls along Mass Ave, this occasion, (the 41st annual Town Day), offered members of the community a chance to support familiar Arlington institutions while discovering new ones that pique their interest.

Set on a stage at the steps of Town Hall, the performances by local musicians are, for many, the main event of the day. Arlington High’s own Jazz Band and Madrigal Singers gave a stunning performance, playing pieces from a variety of genres. The two groups teamed up for performances of “Sweet Home Chicago” by Robert Johnson and “Crazy in Love” by Beyonceˊ. As part of the Jazz Band’s performance, the ensemble played “Cave Canem”, a piece composed and conducted by AHS junior Julian Carpenter, percussionist for band. When asked about the creative process that went into composing his piece and the work the band did to be performance-ready so soon after the start of the school year, Carpenter noted “jazz is about improvisation, but more importantly, listening to each other”. In the mere two weeks before the performance, Julian was impressed by how the they had “grown tighter as a band than [they] even were at last year’s town day”. He added,”I am very excited for this upcoming year with my peers.”

Venice Mountain-Zona, also a junior at AHS, offered her perspective on the performances as a member of the Madrigal Singers. “There’s something very special about performing at Town Day,” she said, “because it is an audience of our biggest supporters. Everyone’s so energetic and having such a good time and it just makes the experience that much more unforgettable.”

With participants from the Arlington PD to the Arlington-Belmont Crew to the restaurant Bistro Duet, and stunning musical talent, the 41st Town Day was a resounding success. It will be another year of evolution for a bustling town before the 42nd Town Day rolls around.

 

Spanish Students Exchange Lives With American Students

 

 

By: Miles Shapiro

Recently Arlington High school participated in the Spanish exchange, a program where students from Barcelona, Spain attend school in Arlington, Massachusetts for two weeks. During this time, Spanish students live with an Arlington High School student and their family. The exchange students attend classes along with the child from their surrogate family. Participants of the exchange all know some level of English, however, adeptness ranges from limited, to extensive understanding. Even within the brief amount of time this program lasts, American students report to have developed deep connection and friendship with their exchange students resulting from near constant proximity.

When asked about the societal disparity between the U.S. and Spain, student hosts report that Spain has a considerably more welcoming culture than may be expected. “[The exchange students] are much more accepting to people of different sexualities, different races, and political ideas” reports one AHS student. The ample contrast between Spanish and American daily life also serves as a vessel for students to gain a level of cultural awareness that they would not traditionally have access to.

The trip was equally a physical and social exchange as students explored each others differentiating opinions and ideas. As Spanish students admitted they were surprised by the vast amounts of homework given to American students, Arlington High goers, in turn, were astonished to learn of the the megar homework load their exchange students recieved by comparison.

Visiting Spanish students also seemed to display an adoration of U.S. public transportation, particularly in respect to how much faster and more efficient it is than in Spain.

Participating in any of the diverse assortment of exchange programs is a rewarding experience that allows students to make international connections while providing them with a taste of the world outside their own limiting social bubble.

Town’s Spirit Shines In Relay For Life

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Members of Team “Alvin 2.0” – (from left, rear) Abby Mooney, Karenna Ng, Alexandra Tse, Maya Pockrose, Emina Hamzic, Juliette Stokes, Jackie Smith, Sowmya Yelleswarapu, (front) Grace Biondi

By: Michael Graham-Green and Patrick Gallagher

Dozens of Arlington residents circled the high school track accompanied by family and friends on Saturday, June 10, in a show of defiance against a deadly disease that has taken so many held so dear.

Arlington’s Relay For Life, one of the thousands of Relay For Life events held annually across the globe,  raises funds for the American Cancer Society. The American Cancer Society uses the donations collected through these events to fund cancer research and support for those diagnosed with any of the multiple types the disease.

This year, 57 teams participated in Arlington’s Relay For Life, raising a total of $114,806.46. Leading the pack, with a donation total of $28,537.48, was “Keepin’ Up With The Joneses” . Team members Clara Tully and Cade Johnston explained why the team was participating. “We’re walking for Courtney Jones, who passed away in January,” Tully said.  Johnston added, “Courtney never wanted anybody else to suffer, so we wanted to carry that on and make sure no one else has to be in pain like she was.” “Last year I walked [the Relay] with Courtney,” Tully explained, “so this year I’m walking in honor of her.”

Julia Hazen, a member of team “Up All Night for the fight!”, also told of a personal connection with the effects of cancer. “I’m participating because last year my mom had breast cancer,” she said, “and it’s just really important for me to raise money for this cause because if she didn’t have the supports and the research done by this foundation, she might not be here today.”

Members of team “Alvin 2.0” jumped at the chance to explain why they were taking part. “We are relaying to raise money for cancer research because we care about this very important cause,” said team member Maya Pockrose. Several other members of the team explained that they were participating because they had lost relatives to cancer.

Lasting from 6 p.m. Saturday until 6 a.m. Sunday, Arlington’s Relay For Life touched participants with both the sorrow of loss and the joy of survival. It brought a town together in an effort to do the incredible: stop cancer.

Car wreck warns drivers

On the week of May 21, a red, totaled vehicle was placed on the front lawn of the high school. The car had two dummies that were victims of the crash, both portrayed as fatally injured as a result of not wearing their seat belts.

The Director of the Massachusetts Highway Safety Division, Jeff Larason said that, “Massachusetts has one of the worst seat belt use rates in the country.  We are #45.   We want people to recognize the importance of wearing their seat belts, to understand the very real dangers of driving unbelted, and to put their belts on every time they are in the car whether they are a driver or a passenger”.

The car was displayed on the front lawn of the high school because teens have a much lower rate of wearing their seat belts than adults. From this position in the front of the school,  the wrecked car is visible to anyone who passes by on Massachusetts Avenue.

Larason says, “We chose to focus on seat belt use because it’s the one thing you can do to protect yourself from other drivers.”  Larason conducted a unscientific study at the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and Pleasant Street in which “23% of the drivers… were not wearing their seat belts”. Larason hopes that having the mock car crash on the front lawn will help to diminish this large number.

This is the first year that the Massachusetts Highway Safety Division has displayed a vehicle. The Division has participated in the Click It or Ticket program for almost 20 years according to Larason.

This program is targeted towards teens or young adults, aiming to increase seat belt use. May is when the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conducts their national Click It or Ticket campaign. The car was towed to the front lawn by AAA New England and provided by the junkyard “Car Heaven” in Berlin, Massachusetts.

 

Ayla Rose pursues singing career

IMG_4629By: Chloe Jackson

Seventeen -year- old Ayla Rose, a junior at Arlington High School, is tackling her musical goals professionally. Ayla records her music, typically categorized in the blues genre, at various studios, combining her vocals and skills on guitar.

  Her ambition and talent has been recognized by the magazine Pop Matters, which features an article on up and coming soloist  “Ayla Rose”.

   This past year, two of her singles were released, including “Give Me One Reason”, available on Spotify and Apple Music.

At a young age, Ayla found herself musically inclined, partially due to the musical aspirations of her father, who is also adept in the music field. Although she does not participate in school related activities pertaining to singing, such as drama, chorus, and other groups, Ayla continues to devote her time to pursuing her music.

   Singing as a career is not Ayla’s end goal, but “as a hobby” she will continue to work on it. A preferred genre of Ayla’s is R & B, although she plays and sings a variety of music.

       At the moment, Ayla is a soloist, releasing her own music within the past few months. However, she has been in a band and is open to the possibility of forming one again.  

Ayla enjoys “doing what [she] loves and hopes other people will enjoy it”. She inspires other teenage artists with her individual success at such a young age.

 

Manion Sells Slime

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By: Jessie Cali

Videos of people playing with “slime,” a Silly Putty-esque toy, have taken over the internet. Inspired by the videos, Arlington High School sophomore Isabel Manion has started making and selling her own slime to AHS students.

Manion was shocked by the high prices of slime on the internet, so she began looking into how she could make it herself. “It wasn’t something that people at school were really making, so I decided I would give it a shot,” said Manion.

Manion started off by posting on her Instagram to gauge interest for the products, and her followers were excited about the idea. Manion began selling her slime through Instagram, but she says that “now people will approach me in school with slime requests”.

She has started experimenting with adding glitter, foam balls, and other goodies to her slime.

Manion’s homemade slime typically sells for about $3.

Students Rebuild New Orleans

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Abandoned lot in the Lower 9th Ward. [Courtesy of Henry Walters]
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Slavery memorial (and Katrina). [Courtesy of Henry Walters]
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Abandoned hospital (it would cost the city more to take it down, so they leave it)               [Courtesy of Henry Walters]

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Courtesy of Lulu Eddy
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Courtesy of Lulu Eddy
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Courtesy of Lulu Eddy

By: Claire Kitzmiller

In 2005, devastation surrounded hundreds of people in New Orleans, Louisiana, when hurricane Katrina struck. After twelve years, the city has not been fully rebuilt.

During this past April vacation, a group of students from the Follen Unitarian Church in Lexington went to New Orleans to perform a variety of services. The students rebuilt houses, gardened, mulched, and  participated in dialogues about racism.

They worked with service groups, NOLA Tree Project and Edible School Yard.

Several of the student who went on the trip are from Arlington High. Sophomores, Isabella Scopetski, Lulu Eddy, and Henry Walters are part of FUUY, Follen Unitarian Universalist Youth.

 Outside groups have done the majority of the rebuilding of New Orleans, because of the government’s insufficient funding.

The trip is important to Scopetski because she “learned a lot to take back to Arlington to better the community”.

Walters enjoys the work because he knows he is making a difference and helping people. Walters said, “You take a lot from it by giving.”

The theme of the trip was “Intent versus Impact”. Students learned the importance of asking what is needed instead of assuming.

Even though the people in New Orleans have experienced so much devastation, Lulu Eddy says, “It fills me with happiness to see how friendly and happy everyone living there is.”

The New Orleans community is grateful and welcoming to all those who offer their services and help.