Vagrant Journalism

Published pieces from the past, the present and of the potential future.

Archive for March, 2009

29 September 2008: Peter Through the Ages

Posted by Christina on March 23, 2009

peter-the-anteaterFeatures pieces are always fun to write because they’re less strictly newsy and allow more leeway on artistic writing. It was fun delving into the history of our school’s very notorious mascot, especially the nervous page flipping on New U archives from the late 1960s. Each of those nearly Bible paper-thin pages had coverage on the mascot elections and everything. It was all very fascinating.

New University Newspaper: Peter Through the Ages

Peter Through the Ages
by Christina Nersesian
Volume 42, Issue 2 | Sep 29 2008

So you found out you’re an Anteater. You probably haven’t started practicing chants of “Rip ‘Em ’Eaters” for sideline cheers just yet, and you may have to ignore the snickers for a while when you tell your friends back home your sporting event war cry is a ferocious, “Zot!”

And how about explaining to them that accompanying hand gesture? Haven’t heard of it yet? Try bringing together your thumb, middle and ring fingers to make hind legs and a tail. Have your index and pinky fingers stand tall to make arms ready for a bear hug defense. Your hand may cramp now, but it’ll become second nature by Winter Quarter. It’s your Anteater, and it’s reared and ready to attack.

Prompted to cheer by an enthusiastic and enlarged plush anteater, it’s what UCI fans in the stands motion and call out at games. With this symbol at the helm, being an ’Eater is a source of pride.

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2 September 2008: A Bit of Spanish Flair in ‘Barcelona’

Posted by Christina on March 20, 2009

vicky_cristina_barcelonaThis was a rather welcome little surprise from what I thought I would expect. The story was intriguing, the filmmaking was great and well, I couldn’t get the theme out of my head for weeks. Regardless, it was an excellent film and doubtless proof of what Woody Allen can do to and for his supporting actresses.

New University Newspaper: A Bit of Spanish Flair in ‘Barcelona’

A Bit of Spanish Flair in ‘Barcelona’
by Christina Nersesian
Volume 41, Issue 35 | Sep 02 2008

There’s a reason why Woody Allen’s latest film’s title is a sole statement of the film’s lead characters and location. For a director who has made his life’s work an explicit form of storytelling, we should expect nothing less. “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” is no exception to this established mode of filmmaking.

The complexities of each character’s storyline cross paths by means of some philosophical rant about the meaning of this or that. All the while, the story arc remains intact, divergent through no tangent. Still, new elements are introduced, making things increasingly interesting as the story of two best friends spending their summer in Spain plays out.

The characters in “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” struggle with problems and philosophical life-altering issues on their own separate planes of existence. The character of Vicky, played by UK-native Rebecca Hall, is the neurotic New Yorker and every bit as one-track minded and talkative as our lead male in “Annie Hall,” except that Hall executes the part extraordinarily well.

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12 June 2008: Animated Actions Speak Louder than Static Words

Posted by Christina on March 20, 2009

tiger-01I was so in love with the film when I first saw it in theaters that I jumped to the first chance I got to work with it in some form through my Film & Media Studies classes. All majors are required to take a writing class and I happened to select the one that focused on writing about the transfer of a text from comic book to film. It was absolutely perfect and I had never had such a great time writing a final until this assignment, especially since I did exceptionally well on the paper.

Animated Actions Speak Louder than Static Words: Media Formats Effect the Presentation of the Plight of an Expatriate Youth

The translation of Persepolis from graphic novel to film is one of the more unique examples of artistic endeavors that have transcended varying forms of media. Many comic book adaptations have made their way through popular culture with the perennial summer blockbuster hit the likes of Spiderman, Batman and X-Men releases, especially with their subsequent sequels. Persepolis, however, has managed a different place for itself within this genre of adaptation. As it has maintained a sense of originality in its presentation, it has procured the belief that comic books and graphic novels can be considered to be high art in graphic novels, filmic and literary forms. The release of Persepolis also amplifies the poignant effect such simplistic visualizations representing a landmark moment in the political history of a nation can have on those who consume the media. Further, Persepolis as a film also comments on the differing cultures of those who consume graphic novels and those who take part in film culture and how the availability and power of each media form, combined with the narrative content in author Marjane Satrapi’s work, effects the reception of the text as a whole.

Coupled with the graphic notions of content are the literary and artistic qualities of Persepolis productions that create an overall oeuvre d’art[1]. Thematically, a story that accounts the development of a youth over their integral periods of their life is considered a bildungsroman. This literary genre follows the processes of an individual’s maturity and the tears and wears along the way. As the very first panel presents a first person introduction of the character at 10-years-old, we can expect the rest to be a qualifiable account of the author’s life throughout the remainder of the text. We follow the author as she experiences the most trying times of her life and end with her leaving this world that has reared her behind. Also, taking into consideration Persepolis is somewhat of a memoir, we know exactly what has become of our protagonist as her media projects are being consumed.

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2 June 2008: Crossed Paths Thrill in ‘Roman’

Posted by Christina on March 20, 2009

roman_de_gareThis really was a very excellent film. For me, it was fun because it was in French but other than that, it was a thrilling, suspenseful and mysterious film that kept me guessing until the very end.

New University Newspaper: Crossed Paths Thrill in ‘Roman’

Crossed Paths Thrill in ‘Roman’
by Christina Nersesian
Volume 41, Issue 31 | Jun 02 2008

With immense talent to share with a world of film patrons across the globe, French film director, writer, cinematographer and producer Claude Lelouch has been steadily creating masterful works since the early 1960s. Spearheading the success of his future projects was the extremely well-received “Un Homme Et Une Femme” for which Lelouch took home several major awards, including the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and Original Screenplay.

Lelouch remains relentless and returns with another originally- crafted work with “Roman de Gare.” From beginning to end, the audience is left guessing as the turbulent life of each character unfolds throughout the expository demeanor of the film. Lelouch makes the film an amalgam of varying forms of art and places them together seamlessly.

“Roman de Gare” explores layers of reflexivity as stories and scenarios surrounding the main protagonist, Pierre Laclos (Dominique Pinon) turn out to be the subject of an explosive novel by a revered author. Whether he is a ghostwriter, a pedophilic murderer or a husband abandoning a stabilized life of security, Laclos is obviously the key that ties everyone together. Just how and by what means is uncertain and having that question answered is what leaves the audience gaping in suspense until the very end.

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26 May 2008: ‘Badlands’

Posted by Christina on March 20, 2009

badlandsThe review for this film, ‘Badlands,’ never came out on the day it was supposed to. It actually never came out at all. I didn’t find it in the paper come Monday morning and when I asked, apparently there was breaking news they had to cover and cut the least important piece. ‘Badlands’ was an old film – one of the films in the American Cinema series for the FVC – and the editor said he wasn’t there Sunday when they were putting it all together so it was out of his hands. Convenient. Regardless, here it is, all unedited and without a headline. It really was such a great film.

‘Badlands’

The Film and Video Center at UCI kicked off their last film series for the school year, New Hollywood Cinema, with Terrence Malick’s directorial debut of a feature film, “Badlands.” This 1973 film, starring the budding star, Charlie Sheen as Kit Carruthers and a daisy-fresh Sissy Spacek as Holly Sargis, broke genre boundaries in the already established and highly-revered Hollywood cinema scheme.

Thanks to a rise in young and independently thinking filmmakers fresh out of film school and highly influenced by French New Wave, films like “Badlands” brought new modes of cinematography, character development and narrative traditions like nothing the industry had seen before. Also referred to as the American New Wave, studios were releasing films the likes of “Easy Rider,” “The Graduate” and “Bonnie and Clyde” that spoke to the irreverent, counterculture youth of the 1960s.

Addressing a young audience in a film about young people, Malick’s premiere opus to the filmmaking world established his signature marks of naturalistic cinematography and the psyche of youth as prominent themes. Within New Hollywood Cinema, “Badlands” shined as critics marveled at Malick’s successful directorial and script writing accomplishment.

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19 May 2008: Jean-Luc Godard

Posted by Christina on March 20, 2009

breathlessThe FVC was just relentlessly amazing that quarter, especially for me when so much French New Wave swept through Thursdays nights in Humanities Instructional Building. They had a week of Jean-Luc Godard films and another writer reviewed “Bande à Part” while I reviewed “Breathless.”

New University Newspaper: Jean-Luc Godard

Jean-Luc Godard
by Abe Ahn and Christina Nersesian
Volume 41, Issue 29 | May 19 2008

“Breathless”

by Christina Nersesian

The Film and Video Center at UC Irvine has been steadily bringing some of the finest cinematic achievements to Orange County’s only weekly cinematheque for the past 10 years. Since the beginning of this past winter quarter, with film and media studies professor Lauren Steimer at the helm as FVC director, we’ve seen such marvels as Alfred Hitchcock’s 1946 film, “Notorious” in its original 35mm print. They’ve also taken part in the Latin American Film Festival at UCI, showcasing a full gamut of talent across the board of Latin American filmmakers through the FVC.

The beginning of May marked the start of one of its series, showcasing French Cinema in the ’60s. The series premiered with director Jacques Demy’s 1964 film, “Umbrellas of Cherbourg,” the way it should be seen—in restored 35mm with a screaming color palette. The series closed with two films by influential French film director Jean-Luc Godard who, along with the workings of other French filmmakers of the ’50s and ’60s, unknowingly pioneered the French New Wave of filmmaking.

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12 May 2008: Dance Undergrads Tag ‘Physical Graffiti’

Posted by Christina on March 20, 2009

dance_visions_4webThere’s interpretive dancing and then there’s Physical Graffiti. UCI’s dance seniors put this on every year and it really is a sight to see.

New University Newspaper: Dance Undergrads Tag ‘Physical Graffiti’

Dance Undergrads Tag ‘Physical Graffiti’
by Christina Nersesian
Volume 41, Issue 28 | May 12 2008

A talented group of 15 dancers and choreographers from the UC Irvine Department of Dance showcased this year’s production of “Physical Graffiti.” Under the artistic direction of Assistant Professor Loretta Livingston, this year’s show includes an array of ballet, tap and contemporary pieces choreographed and performed entirely by undergraduates.

Nearly 20 years ago, the students of the UCI dance department brainstormed a name for their spring-quarter dance production. Under the guidance of Professor Janice Plastino and amidst hordes of ideas, a consensus fell on “Physical Graffiti.” Dance department lore tells us it references the title of Led Zeppelin’s sixth studio release, but its origin is unclear.

The implied meaning of this theme, however, reigns to this day. Red curtains were drawn over the stage and a paint-splashed silhouette of a dancer caught in motion moved slightly with the swaying curtain, living up to the idea of physical graffiti.

Livingston worked as the faculty member shepherding the event, providing informative support to whoever needed it.

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28 April 2008: Flight of the Conchords

Posted by Christina on March 19, 2009

fotc-albumThis was such a great CD to review. Flight of the Conchords had been brought to my attention some time ago and I was playing clips on YouTube from their comedy acts on my radio show at KUCI. Of course when – all that time later – they came out with their first CD, not only did KUCI have it immediately, but it was on heavy rotation by the personal accord of each DJ! Having to listen to this hundreds of time for the review was no problem at all.

New University Newspaper: Flight of the Conchords

Flight of the Conchords
by Christina Nersesian
Volume 41, Issue 26 | Apr 28 2008

Until about Christmas 2001, the coolest thing to come out of New Zealand was Peter Jackson and his band of actors along with the cinematic phenomenon that is the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. Since then, we haven’t really heard much else from our kiwi pals.

Even before the inception of Elijah Wood as a hobbit and Liv Tyler as a mystical elf, Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement were creating what would become a marriage of music, comedy and wit. Flight of the Conchords was smalltime in the late-’90s and by 2002, the guys were playing at small, local festivals.

It wasn’t until 2006 that BBC Radio 2 picked up the pair’s comedy act as a radio program. Mostly improvised, the show was based on a novelty band’s search for commercial success in London. When the band was picked up by HBO to do its own series, they based its contents off their radio show and moved everything to New York City.

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14 April 2008: Nick Cave, Seeds ‘Dig’ Deep

Posted by Christina on March 19, 2009

dig-lazarus1This was one of the more interesting reviews I took it upon myself to write. I did learn a lot about the notorious mysteriousness of the wondrous Nick Cave and well, it really as all very interesting.

New University Newspaper: Nick Cave, Seeds ‘Dig’ Deep

Nick Cave, Seeds ‘Dig’ Deep
by Christina Nersesian
Volume 41, Issue 24 | Apr 14 2008

The same brooding yet steady half-speaking, half-singing voice of Nick Cave brings us the absurd and mostly depressed human condition again with “Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!” In the 14th studio release by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, we hear stories inspired by Biblical tales, epic mythologies and utopian science-fiction literature at the turn of the 20th century mixed with a dash of his personal childhood heroes.

In particular, the album realizes a distinct combination of Cave’s psyche traumatized as a young boy by the idea of Lazarus being revived from the dead. This notion is then combined with the reverence he felt toward Harry Houdini – an illusionist only second to the scale of the escape artistry exhibited by the great Lazarus, in his opinion.

Taking these themes into account, we might be familiar with albums centered on characters of mythology, theology and popular sociology of epic proportions. Fans were left with the taste of an orphic myth concentration after the double-disc release of “Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus” in 2004. We are brought to a realization of a different place in time and all the musicianship inspired by it.

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31 March 2008: Pimpin’ Made Easy in ‘Palm’

Posted by Christina on March 19, 2009

Affiche IRINAThis was a rather interesting movie. Very well made with a heartbreakingly beautiful plotline.

New University Newspaper: Pimpin’ Made Easy in ‘Palm’

Pimpin’ Made Easy in ‘Palm’
by Christina Nersesian
Volume 41, Issue 22 | Mar 31 2008

The rural areas of the greater United Kingdom never had secrets so dark. In director Sam Garbarski’s forthcoming film, “Irina Palm,” the small-time village folk have not only their families, bridge games and up-turned nosey smugness to worry about, but their secrets as well.

Maggie is a middle-aged woman whose family life is in the pit of despair as her only grandson suffers from an unexplained and unnamed illness. Bed-ridden, pale and sickly, her grandson’s only hope lies in new medical treatments a good 8,000 miles away in Australia. In a family already struggling for basics like bread, Maggie’s son and daughter-in-law scour banks and loan offices for money, to no avail.

In “Irina Palm,” we learn a hostess is not a delicious pastry nor is it a restaurant server. Desperate circumstances lead to desperate measures, and Maggie finds herself taking on the job of a euphemized hostess in the downtrodden muck of a sex club in London’s Soho. Men come in to dives for their five to six minutes in a glory hole and it turns out Maggie’s stage persona, Irina Palm, is the best in the business.

Having no skills but those which Mother Nature intended, Maggie throws herself into the world of making big bucks by feeding into one’s most basic and animalistic needs. In the process, she shows us what motherly love really is as she puts herself through hell for the payoff of what could possibly give her grandson a new lease at life.

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