Archive | Arts & Entertainment

“Mockingjay – Part 1″ movie leaves audience hungry for more

Going into the theater last night, I had some doubts about “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1,” mainly because I felt that it wasn’t necessary for the movie to be broken up into two parts. Most readers of the books feel the third installment of Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games is the most boring one, and I feel that way as well.

My thoughts definitely changed as I watched the movie.

Director Francis Lawrence added a few more details and scenes to the movie, which I think helped the story. I am glad he made it into two parts, because the previous two movies took too many important details out.

It starts out with Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), now having survived two Hunger Games, underground where District 13 is, confused and in recovery from the Quarter Quell. She is learning that District 12 is destroyed, and her best friend, Gale (Liam Hemsworth), rescued as many people as he could, including her sister, Prim (Willow Shields), and mother (Paula Malcomson).

I enjoyed how “Mockingjay – Part 1” emphasized the relationship between Katniss and Prim and Katniss and Gale more than the previous films. It showed more of how Katniss is always looking after her little sister, Prim, who she volunteered to replace in the first Hunger Games.

Before seeing this third movie, I was always “Team Peeta” and did not want Katniss to end up with Gale. But these two characters change dramatically in “Mockingjay,” as Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), thinks differently about Katniss and District 13’s revolt against the Capitol.

In the first two films, Gale had very little screen time, so I hadn’t formed much of an opinion about him. But in this movie, he’s always protecting Katniss and her family, comforting Katniss as she is recovering and showing his real feelings and emotions for her that will make you want to become “Team Gale” — and as always, he looks good doing it.

Throughout this dark and intense movie, two characters provide some comic relief: Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson), Peeta and Katniss’ mentor, who is now sober for the first time, and Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks), their escort, who is trying to transition from Capitol life to living underground in District 13 without her makeup, wigs and elaborate costumes. This is a major change from the book as she is only in it for a short time.

Lawrence portrayed Katniss perfectly in this movie, and I think she has improved with playing this character since the first film. She looked terrible and even a little bit scary — but it was great for the movie. You can see her pain and understand how messed up these Games have made her.

If you are planning to see “Mockingjay – Part 1” this weekend, I would recommend re-reading or re-watching the end of “Catching Fire” so you remember exactly what is happening because there is not a refresher in the beginning of the movie.

Also, if you are an avid reader of these books like myself, keep in mind it will not completely match up to the book, so you will also be surprised by some of the scenes.

Lastly, be prepared to have your knees to your chest with a nervous feeling in your stomach the entire movie as Katniss and District 13 attempt to bring down the Capitol and save their loved ones — or maybe that was just me.

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ASID hosts 3rd annual Craft Bazaar

The American Society of Interior Designers at Indiana Wesleyan University is hosting its third annual Craft Bazaar Nov. 22, calling all crafty people both in the community and on campus to sell their wares in the Commons.

The event is the largest fundraiser for the IWU chapter of ASID. Still a young organization at the university, ASID remains a mystery to many students, as does the major behind the bazaar: interior design.

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Hope Wittig crochets a scarf to prepare for her booth at the upcoming bazaar. // Courtesy Photo

Nationally, ASID exists “to inspire and enrich its members by promoting the value of interior design while providing indispensable knowledge and experiences that build relationships,” according to the official ASID website.

But at the local school level, Lauren Johns (jr), interior design major and president of ASID, said the IWU chapter seeks to connect interior design students with one another, with students at other schools and with design professionals in the state and country.

The group meets every other week for activities and learning about upcoming events both nationally and statewide. Events have included a scavenger hunt in Marion, an ASID and interior design information meeting and now they have their largest event coming up: the annual Craft Bazaar.

Unlike other craft bazaars, the event hosted by IWU’s ASID is cheaper per table, which Johns believes helped fuel the popularity of the event during its first two years.

Tables were $20 until Nov. 12 and are now $25 until Nov. 19, and crafters are allowed to keep all of their profits.

The event also attracts crafters from the Marion community who “may not come on campus for any other reason,” Johns said.

Each year the event has grown, and this year ASID has reserved not only the Commons but Century Dining Room for tables as well.

“I know I’ve heard a lot of people on campus saying that they’re excited for it. I think that because it was so big last year that even more people are going to show up this year,” said Erika Reed (so), interior design and business major.

While the main purpose of the event may be a fundraiser, the craft bazaar also serves as a way to connect with the community, as well as students, who may not otherwise know about ASID or the interior design program.

Any students interested in the organization, the major or hosting a table at the bazaar may visit ASID’s Facebook page: facebook.com/ASIDIWU; or email them: iwuasid@gmail.com.

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“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” Review

The Indiana Wesleyan University Theatre Guild will be having its first performance of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” 7:30 this evening, Nov. 13. With IWU’s unique approach to this play, these Grecian lovers, bumbling laborers and mischievous fairies bring Shakespeare’s comedy to life in the school’s own own Phillippe Performing Arts Center.

The play begins outside the Black Box Theatre. In an ideal performance, the cast would perform this first part of the play in the main lobby of the PPAC, but on nights when the auditorium is being used, as on the evening I saw it, the beginning takes place in the hallway right outside the Black Box.

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Braden Hunt (sr) plays King Oberon and Sharla Ball (sr) plays Queen Titania.

With the audience standing, the bright lighting, the whirring of the drinking fountain and the green “Exit” signs and metal doors, it was difficult to suspend our belief and transport ourselves into Athens, Greece, when everything around us screamed “we are in a hallway.” The awkwardness of the unusual surroundings seemed to reflect in the actors as well, as they seemed slightly uncomfortable in the hallway setting. I can only hope that when it gets to be performed in their intended place of the main lobby that things come off a little bit better.

Right away, even in this awkward beginning part, Gloria Billingsley (fr) stood out in her character of Hermia. She was so delightfully animated that not even the glaring lighting or hum of the drinking fountain could upset her performance.

And boy did it put a smile on my face to see the next group of actors: Peter Quince and his band of “rude mechanicals,” as Puck refers to them. In the script, where some of the mechanicals with lesser lines seem to not be very distinct from one another, each of these characters had their own quirky mannerisms and personalities, which made them just so fun to watch.

Chelsea Haskett (so) especially stood out among them as Flute. With her knee-buckled walk and her tucked-in chin, she was the most amusing to watch. For such few lines, especially in the beginning, she really grabbed the audience’s attention.

Braden Hunt (sr), too, demanded our attention amidst the group of rude mechanicals, though his part was quite a bit more overt than Flute’s. As Bottom, Hunt was hilarious, boisterous and outrageous. With his wide movements and exaggerations of character, he also was a delight to see perform.

After about the first 30 minutes spent in the hallway, we moved to take our seats in the Black Box, or the “enchanted forest.” I was a little disappointed in the set, however, as it didn’t really look like an “enchanted forest” to me at all. There were no trees or plants to be seen. While the appearance wasn’t ideal, the actual design of the set was very unique and intricate.

The design of the set possessed some very cool features that allowed for fun, surprising touches, and very interesting and creative entrances, exits and interactions on stage. So while they used the design of the set very well and very creatively, it simply didn’t come off as an enchanted forest.

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Morgan Hause (fr) plays Puck.

The music didn’t help with that either, however, as it sounded more like African tribal music, more appropriate for “The Lion King” than an enchanted forest in Greece.

The actors portraying the fairies of this enchanted forest wore masks throughout the play, which was a great way to give them a more magical-like appearance and set their world apart from the humans’.

While I’m not sure about the use of masks in theatrical performances as a whole, since they cover up half of the face, which is a major tool for actors and a way in which the audience connects with them and sees their acting, the masks were well-done and the actors used them very well.

Puck, one of these masked beings, didn’t come off quite as I was expecting him to, seeming more like King Oberon’s creepy servant than the freewheeling, mischievous sprite that I thought him to be.

There was a 10-minute intermission before the last half hour of this two and a half hour long play. This last thirty minutes, which consisted of the play-within-a-play put on by the rude mechanicals, while fun, dragged on quite slowly.

The Theatre Guild did some really interesting, unique things with this play. As with any performance of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” it requires complex and intricate settings, costumes and carefully-crafted character interactions. And as with any Shakespearean play, it is no small feat to put on. The Theatre Guild and everyone who was involved in the play did a great job and really made it their own, a unique artistic creation to IWU that I recommend everyone see.

Showings are 7:30 p.m. Nov. 13-15 and Nov. 20-22 and 2 p.m. Nov. 15 and 22 in the Black Box Theatre in the PPAC. Admission is $7 for students, $10 for IWU employees and senior citizens and $12 for adults.

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FNL Review: A recipe for laughter

How do you make an auditorium full of Indiana Wesleyan University students laugh? Affectionately bash our most beloved neighbor, Taylor University. Seriously, do it a lot. They will laugh every time; it never gets old.

Paul Hooker (sr) and Josh Davis (sr) host this semester's FNL. // Photo by Wendy Brown

Paul Hooker (sr) and Josh Davis (sr) host this semester’s FNL. // Photo by Wendy Brown

Friday Night Live, the student-run comedy show on campus, has this golden rule of IWU humor down to a science. True to what is quickly becoming an FNL tradition, Taylor was made fun of repeatedly, and it was really funny.

As a sophomore with only two other FNLs under my belt, I can say this comedy show has never failed to provide me a delightful night of entertainment. As a matter of fact, I find myself desperately gasping for breath quite often. This semester was no exception.

This semester’s FNL was a switch from the past ones I have experienced. This year, the videos were generally not as funny as in the past, and the skits were considerably better.

I used to space out through a lot of the skits, just waiting for that moment when the videos were played. Instant classics like “I Got Points” and “Things Not to Say at an Interview” (another example of effective Taylor bashing) are the ones that really stand out in my mind from past shows. The only one that really met the standards of videos in the past was “The Purity of the Rings,” which had this “Lord of the Rings” fan practically rolling on the ground with laughter.

The skits really raised the bar this year. In contrast to past shows where the skits were either to die for or incredibly awkward for everyone involved, the skits this semester were consistently amusing. This means fewer amazing ones, but fewer really bad ones.

The change in FNL cast may account for less ridiculously hilarious moments. The classic Facebook and Twitter segments were lost along with their protagonist, Kyle Davidson (alumnus ‘14), this semester.

In past years, Davidson would read what were already hilarious Facebook posts in ridiculous voices. The Twitter segment was similar to this, except Davidson would sing the posts to the audience while playing a quirky tune on the piano. I spoke to more than one veteran FNL attendee who seemed to be mourning the loss of what was once the highlight of the night.

The beauty of being in college is, however, that as old talent graduates, new talent comes in. Stephanie Charles (fr) particularly stood out.

As a freshman, Charles was not center stage very often, but I can’t think of a single time when she was up there that I and those around me were not laughing. Of all of these, the one that stands out the most is her being dragged off the stage kicking and screaming as Miss New Jersey in the Miss America skit.

Paul Hooker (sr) and Josh Davis (sr) were excellent hosts to the show. Hooker especially stood out in his role as a man giving birth to a football, in a painfully awkward yet somehow amusing skit “Chi Bear Prep.”

The first skit of the night, “Faculty Jeopardy,” was definitely one of my favorites, taking advantage of the comedic opportunities LearningStudio has offered. Dr. Jim “Umfundisi” Lo, Dr. Wilbur Williams and Dr. Chris Bounds were played to perfection by Derek Anthes (so), Nic Kursions (fr) and Hooker, setting the mood for the entire night.

The traditional FNL news segment fell a little flat this year compared to past years. Though there were a few good moments, like a reference to the fountain’s grave and Yik Yak, much of the “news” was met with awkward grumbling from the crowd.

There were several weaker moments throughout the night (though a lot less then I had ever seen before). The only skit that really fell under par was Pi day. By the end, there was a collective “awwww” of pity from the audience, instead of the desired roars of laughter. It almost felt mean to laugh at the ending “punch line,” which made me feel sorry for the person at whose expense I was supposed to laugh.

A definite improvement from past years was the opening dance of the FNL crew. What was once a clumsy yet somewhat amusing dance number is now a hilarious yet well-thought-out and masterfully delivered choreography.

The house band, which is always one of my favorite parts of the FNL experience, was stellar. I especially enjoyed the vocals this year. It is rare to come across a show that can make the time in between skits almost as enjoyable as the main attraction of the night, but FNL managed to do just that.

As usual, FNL was worth every penny of the three dollars out of my broke college student pockets and continues to be one of the things I look forward to the most every semester.

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