PREVIEW: M-agination Film Festival

Come join M-agination student filmmakers for a night of short films at the Michigan Theater this Thursday. As a premier student organization seeking to promote up-and-coming filmmakers, M-agination produces about 16 short films every year, 8 every semester, that are presented at the end of the year at Ann Arbor theaters. This Thursday will be M-agination’s 23rd annual film festival, marking 23 years of incredible achievements in the visual arts. In addition to free admission, there will also be free swag for anyone to pick up while it lasts! This is a great opportunity to see what your peers have been working on all year. 

Where: The Michigan Theater 

When: Thursday, April 20th. Doors open at 6 pm, show starts at 7 pm 

Tickets: free!

REVIEW: RC Review Open Mic + Release Party

What could possibly be better than a super friendly group of artsy students coming together to perform their art? Well – a super friendly group of artsy students coming together to perform their art, with Costco sheet cake. At Monday night’s RC Review open mic and release party, Residential College students enjoyed a sensory and culinary experience that topped off a year of amazing achievements. 

For the University of Michigan campus, the Residential College, located in East Quad, is an artistic hub for all students. Many incoming freshmen are attracted to the RC for its friendly atmosphere, access to arts classes (furniture making, photography, drawing, printmaking, etc.), and RC forums, RC-only “clubs” taken for credit. The RC Review, the RC’s premier literary magazine, is unrivaled in its compilation and publishing of RC student art made by students, for students. Having been part of the RC Review myself this year, I can truly say that it’s one of the best organizations I have been a part of in UM. You can take a break from the stress of frantically trying to meet academic deadlines, and settle down for an hour every Monday to simply collage with your friends. It’s a space to express yourself, laugh with your friends, and take things a little less seriously.

If you want to go the extra mile, you can submit your illustrations, poetry, prose, photography, or any other artistic piece to the magazine, where it will be reviewed and hopefully published. This year’s magazine – titled “Hot Hustler Magic” – is one of the longest and most robust in RC history. Coming in at 153 pages with more than 20 RC contributors, students will have no shortage of amazing art to flip through. Some of the highlights are a gorgeous photo from rural Virginia, a blackout poem focusing on reproductive rights in Michigan, a beautiful short story about family, death, and the passing of time, a colorful marker drawing of East Quad itself, an intricately bound book detailing Roman architecture, and a poem dedicated to a friend who passed away in Covid-19 isolation. The pieces are strikingly personal and lovingly put together in the magazine. 

At the open mic, RC students performed pieces both published in the magazine and not. For many graduating seniors, it was also their last chance to take part in a community that gave them a home in college, whether they were living in East Quad or not. The RC Review is, in my opinion, one of the best clubs on campus. If you’re an RC student who loves to make art, I would highly recommend joining next year.

PREVIEW: RC Review Open Mic + Release Party

The Residential College Review is an RC forum that brings together RC students once a week to collage, make art, write poetry, read prose, and just have a good time. It’s an incredible way to find community in a huge university, and an incredible way to both submit art to a popular magazine and see art made by UM students. Once a year, the RC Review publishes an arts magazine, highlighting RC students’ greatest artistic products of the past year. Come join the club this Monday to pick up a free copy of the magazine, eat scones, and participate in the open mic!

When: Monday, April 17, 7-9 pm 

Where: East Quad Greene Lounge

Tickets: free!

REVIEW: In the Mood for Love

In the Mood for Love will rightly go down as one of the best movies of all time. The premise is extremely simple, but the glittery, rich layers of emotional complexity in the movie make it a true pleasure to watch. In 1960s China, a beautiful woman and handsome man move into the same apartment. They soon discover a terrible secret: both of their spouses are having an affair. There is sadness – romance has sputtered and come to a halt – but there is also a grim resignation. Here is an exploration into the unrelenting march of time, the betrayal of a loved one, and the ultimate failure that will meet too many love stories. It’s achingly sad, devastatingly true. 

Stung by their traitorous spouses, the two main characters start up an awkward romance themselves. Maggie Cheung is gorgeous and mysterious as Mrs. Chan, and Tony Leung is morose and dapper as Chow Mo-wan. Their romance is carried out in the most insignificant of places: in a sparse diner, where they order steaks for each other, taking a walk outside in the rain, over leftover noodles in a bare bedroom. In the Mood for Love could be interpreted as a revenge plot against two cheating spouses, but it doesn’t read like that for a second. It’s a beautifully understated analysis of two sad people making their way through the world. 

You can’t talk about In the Mood for Love without talking about its cinematography. Throughout the movies, the two main characters, who definitely aren’t slouches themselves, are bathed in warm, luscious red and orange and yellow lights. Walking in a dimly lit alley or working in a dilapidated office, there isn’t a second of the film that disappoints. It’s this humid, wavy, lush, luxuriant tone and cinematography that contrasts dramatically with everything the characters lack. They aren’t rich, they aren’t overly charismatic, and they aren’t stable in their lives. While they have beauty in abundance, they lack true love. 

A gloomy, bewitching cello score follows the two characters wherever they go, reminding viewers that this is, ultimately, a sad movie. While we may be hypnotized by the film’s lush visuals, we can’t be distracted from its subdued message. Notably, the two lovebirds remain platonic throughout the movie, despite their obvious chemistry. Although this may be frustrating for the viewers, it reflects a central truth to the movie: relationships aren’t always neatly packed up, perfectly ready for the big screen. They’re messy, ambiguous. The two aren’t taking revenge. They’re just trying to survive.

REVIEW: Vail/MichMinnies Art Fair

For many on the University of Michigan campus, cooperative housing can be a great solution to a competitive, complicated, expensive housing process. With the prices of high-rise apartments soaring, and with houses often managed by negligent landlords or just completely falling apart, many students are turning to co-ops. Jointly operated by its members and coordinated by the Inter-Cooperative Council at Ann Arbor, co-ops offer affordable off-campus housing with the benefits of an established community. Residents share chores, cook meals together, throw parties, and form lasting friendships. 

And they have art fairs! Last Sunday’s art fair at Vail and MichMinnies, two popular co-ops on campus, was a showcase in handmade, creative artistic styles. There was pottery, cyanotypes, prints, sketches, second-hand clothes, collages, and so much more. Personally, I had my eye set on a laminated collage of a couple of meerkats set against a backdrop of a field of flowers. I also picked up a laser-thin wood-pressed print, which the artist had sketched over in black pen.  They were both incredible works of art that I got at a significantly lower price than I would have at a regular store. Plus, much of the profit will be donated to local charities. 

Walking through the different booths, you really felt the full effect of what it means for something to be “student run.” Everyone at the University of Michigan has the chance to go to many student run events – ranging from improv to comedy to performances to art galleries – but it’s especially exciting when those student run events bleed into the outside world. There has been a major political push in the past few years to absolve apartment residents of the burden negligent or even criminal landlords can place on them. Cooperative housing members own a share of the actual organization that owns the property, meaning that every single resident owns a part of that house. It’s an elegant solution to a housing market in crisis. 

I highly recommend checking out the next co-op art fair. It’s a great chance to pick up some local art, support your fellow peers, and take a look at some alternative housing options. 

REVIEW: L’immensità

L’immensità translates to “the immensity” in Italian. This film is certainly immense – immense in the scope of its themes, in its emotional depth, and in its luscious score and cinematography. Thankfully, though, it is not immense in its runtime. I don’t know if I could have taken one more minute of heartbreak. 

The film is devastating from the get-go. We are introduced to a normal, Italian family. Penélope Cruz is dazzling in her role as Clara, mother to three beautiful children in 1970s Rome. The kids are doing what kids do: sneaking down into the sewers, playing games under the table at Christmas, and generally going where they’re not supposed to. The oldest, Adriana, played by Luana Giuliani, is especially poignant as a young girl coming of age. In the background is their father Felice, played by Vincenzo Amato, who looks fittingly swanky in tailored Italian suits and a flashy car. The furniture is mid-century modern, the coffee is strong, and the outdoors is lush. 

It’s the perfect nuclear family – until it’s not. We learn that Felice is an abusive husband, beating and raping his battered wife both under the cover of their bedroom and in front of their kids. Clara is a good mother, but she is buckling under the weight of her husband’s temper. Throughout the movie, she regresses into a child-like state, until Adriana takes on more of the parent role than her own mother. The three children struggle to survive as their two parents, their protectors, betray, neglect, and soon abandon them. To top it off, Adriana is struggling with gender dysphoria, but being transgender in a patriarchal, gender-segregated society is not an ok thing to be. The family’s dysfunction soon becomes the focal point of the movie. 

It’s a dark underbelly to a glitzy surface. A fight for survival, not a coming-of-age movie. Adri does what all kids do when faced with adversity in the home – get out of the house. He races through the reeds into the “bad side of town,” where he soon befriends a Romany girl named Sarah. Two outsiders, their friendship quickly turns romantic. They are at once two kids playing, two young adults exploring their sexuality, and two aliens looking for companionship in a dangerous world. 

We stay long enough to form an attachment to the characters, but we leave too soon to see their conclusion. It’s hard to envision anything but a downward spiral. Nobody is going to come to Clara’s rescue, nobody is going to tell Adri it’s ok to be themselves. This ultimately pessimistic message clouded the rich visuals of the movie, forcing me to even cover my eyes at certain scenes. It’s hard to watch such overt gender-based violence, especially when you know that despite the strides we have made since the 1970s, it is still pervasive. 

L’immensità is a beautiful movie. Just don’t ask me to watch it again.