‘Isle of Dogs’ is an endearing and well-made film

The movie features both stunning visuals and off-beat humor. Photo courtesy to IMDB.

Director Wes Anderson’s most recent movie, “Isle of Dogs,” is a success similar to his previous films, which include “Fantastic Mr. Fox” and “Moonrise Kingdom.”

The plot of the movie is set in the future, where a rampant “canine flu” in Japan forces all dogs of the nation to be quarantined on an island. A young boy named Atari ventures to this place in hopes of finding his beloved pet, Spots. As he searches for his furry friend and evades authorities, he’s assisted by five other anthropomorphic dogs: Chief, Rex, Boss, Duke and King.

“Isle of Dogs” carries the distinctive style that all of Anderson’s past films have: meticulously symmetrical compositions, distinct color palettes and an awesome soundtrack. As usual, it’s made with extreme technical proficiency, featuring creative and frequently stunning animation.

The dry and darkly humorous dialogue regularly seen in Anderson’s work is also featured. However, I found “Isle of Dogs” to be considerably funnier than his other films.

Maybe this is because of the story’s focus on dogs or just the talent of the actors themselves, but the innocently awkward conversations and endearingly naive nature of characters made the film far more comedic and pleasant to watch.  

I will admit that Anderson’s films can be a bit jarring at times. His casual and apathetic handling of dreary subjects can be easily misinterpreted as insensitive, rather than an attempt at humor. “Isle of Dogs” focuses on subjects that are less dark than those featured in Anderson’s previous films, such as death, suicide and parental neglect. It is a much more light-hearted and pleasant film.

As funny and beautifully animated as “Isle of Dogs” is, it does have some flaws. The main one being is that the storyline is unpredictable, and not always in a good way. Subplots become more crucial than expected, plot twists have surprisingly little impact and impractical solutions are used to solve serious problems.

It’s not a movie to see if you’re really focused on the plot. This sounds a bit strange, as most movies are watched for their story, specifically. But Anderson’s films are intentionally made to be more than that; instead having numerous little details that eventually make a wonderful final product.

So if you enjoy lovable characters, amusingly eccentric dialogue and exquisite visuals, then this is definitely a movie for you.

Choir performance inspired by Vivaldi

On Feb. 1, choir and band joined together to skillfully perform Antonio Vivaldi’s hymn “Gloria.”

“Every year we perform a ‘Major Work,’” choir teacher Jeff Morton said. “The ‘Gloria’ is over a half of an hour long and has 12 movements, some soft and beautiful, others loud and powerful.”

I found the performance to be wonderful. I’m not classically trained in singing and have little knowledge on the expectations required for “Gloria,” so my opinion isn’t that of an expert. But as an observer, the choir sounded lovely and the orchestra was amazing.

I did not notice any off-key singers or poorly tuned instruments throughout the entire show. The violinists showed particular skill, mastering their parts and consistently being on point.

The composer behind this famous piece is Antonio Vivaldi, an 18th century composer who is well known as one of the most renowned figures in European classical music.

Despite Vivaldi’s interest in music, he sought religious training and was ordained a priest in 1703. However, Vivaldi may have joined priesthood not out of religious devotion, but because of the free schooling and access to music it provided.

“[During the Baroque period] almost all music was somehow financially made possible because of the Catholic church,” Morton said.

According to biography.com, by the age of 25, Vivaldi became master of violin at Ospedale della Pietà (Devout Hospital of Mercy) in Venice.

According to baroquemusic.com, the Ospedale housed the love children of noblemen and their various mistresses. As a result, it received large donations from “anonymous” fathers.

I don’t recall if the Gloria was sung by the orphanage youth. The orphanage was all girls, so at least some other forces would be needed to sing the male parts,” Morton said.

Like many of Vivaldi’s other pieces, the “Gloria” is a religious text.

The first line ‘Glory to God in the Highest’ set the tone as a praise and thanks giving song,” Morton said. “Other lines include prayer for peace on earth and lifting out our sins and trials to that which is greater than us.”

Seniors, listen up!

Seniors have only one more high school semester to deal with. College applications are finished and students are spending time with friends and family before they leave. In just a few months, they will be walking across the stage with their diplomas in hand, ready to take on college and adulthood.

Despite the end seeming near, it is still important to stay focused on school in order to avoid dreaded “senioritis.” Since freshman year, students have been cautioned about this apathetic mentality and the negative consequences it can produce. Though such warnings may interfere with plans for relaxing and rest, they should not be ignored.

“Senioritis is a big issue second semester,” physics teacher Kathleen Shreve said. “I think it’s part excitement, part relief for students, as they hear back from colleges. But that often translates into apathy because they feel like they’ve reached their goals.”

As secure as being admitted into a university may seem, second semester grades can still impact your future.

“If you get a D, you’re likely to get your acceptance rescinded,” College and Career Center adviser Mary Lund said. “So we highly stress to do well. The elite colleges don’t like to see even a C.”

Furthermore, it is easy to forget that university requirements are not the only thing you need to fulfill. HHS has set demands regarding your grades and failure to satisfy them can have disastrous results.

“Second semester has a huge impact on getting in and staying in college,” AVID and math teacher Matthew Guevara said. “Because one of the prerequisites for getting into college is a high school diploma. So you need to make sure that you take care of all of your classes in order to get the high school diploma.”

If the possibility of losing either their admission into a university or their high school diploma does not scare them into staying productive, hopefully seniors will recognize that being an efficient student is still imperative even after graduation. Shreve said there are benefits to staying a dedicated senior.

“It makes the transition easier,” Shreve said. “If you keep your momentum going through the end of high school, it’s easier to jump right into college.”

Guevara also said that rather than viewing your last semester as a period filled with unnecessary work, treat it as a time to refine and develop both your study skills and your independency.

“If you’ve already taken care of your graduation requirements, and you only have a couple classes, use that free time effectively building other life skills,” Guevara said.

Guevara and Shreve recommend adopting or practicing basic activities required for adulthood, such as cooking, apartment hunting, doing laundry, budgeting, driving and developing time-management skills.

Guevara, Lund and Shreve believe becoming more organized and independent is a crucial task for seniors. They feel the same way about making the most of your last few months of high school.

“Seniors should spend their final semester milking it for every experience they can, both academic and social,” Shreve said. ”You will never be in this time of life again, or be able to see these people every day again. Enjoy these moments, because you only regret the things you didn’t do.”

Lund and Guevara both stress the idea of trying new things. Exploring different options not only keeps you busy at high school, but can also directly help you in the long term.

“In college, you get to develop your own new identity, be more friendly or just be more of the person you wanted to be,” Lund said. “This is a good time to figure out what you want to become before you leave, so by the time you’re at college you’ve got that new image set.”

One Acts highlights

School plays, particularly when left to the hands of inexperienced students, are prone to disaster. The theater department’s annual One Acts, a compilation of single sketches that are each directed by a different student, could very easily fall into this humiliating trap. Fortunately, this years didn’t.  

The collection of performances viewed on Jan. 13 were all organized, successful productions absent of any noticeable disasters. From this pleasant assortment of shows were some noticeable standouts, such as “We Only Care about the Babies,” directed and written by Senior Ron Barzilay, and “The Variations on the Death of Trotsky,” directed by Senior Michael Wallerius.

Of the six productions directed for this year’s One Acts, Barzilay was the only student to write his. Both creating and directing a play is a daunting task; one that would assumedly have the forgivable mistakes of a novice. Yet Barzilay’s show has the caliber, character and wit of one made by a professional playwright. When watching it, I honestly forgot that it was a simple high school production.

A genuinely educational story on the practices and lives of Orthodox Jews, it’s elevated by mature humor, an endearingly light-hearted outlook and sensitive handling of turbulent issues. This already impressive creation is further improved by its four actors, who play their well-casted roles with sincerity and good comedic timing.

Similarly to Barzilay, Wallerius’ play “The Variations on the Death of Trotsky” focuses on a group of people with ties to world history and foreign cultures. But instead of centering on an intensely traditional Jewish family, it focuses on the famous Soviet politician, Leon Trotsky, his wife and the multiple deaths he sustains.

Despite other acts having plots set in more modern times, rather than in the 1940s, “The Variations on the Death of Trotsky” is still a relatable, humorous and surprisingly poignant story. It’s unexpectedly surreal setting where a man can learn about his own demise the day after it happens is established through the creative use of sound, lighting and a fortune-telling encyclopedia.

Furthermore, the acting in this play is well-done too. Both leads nail their Russian accents, all while skillfully switching between the darkly comedic and genuinely mournful tones of the plot.

Overall, this year’s One Acts were a pleasant watch. The other plays, directed by Rylee Anderson and Allison Russell,  had clever or humorous plots of their own, such as “The Last Man on Earth,” directed by Lavender Payne, which features a desperate dweeb pursuing his crush in apocalyptic times, or the melodramatic high-school sweethearts depicted in “Oh Chad,” directed by Karen Rivera.

“Professor Marston and the Wonder Woman”: a total lie

“Professor Marston and the Wonder Woman,” released on Oct. 13, arrives only five months after the box-office success of  “Wonder Woman.”

“Professor Marston and the Wonder Woman” gets rave reviews despite glaring issues

Rather than being about the superwoman though, this movie focuses on the inspiration and personal lives of her creators: Professor William Marston, Elizabeth Marston and Olive Bryne.

According to the movie, Bryne is not only a student of Mr. and Mrs. Marston’s psychology class, but eventually an addition to their three-way relationship. The story follows the trio as they hide their unconventional liaison from the public, develop the lie detector (an invention not many would connect to a comic book author) and formulate their beloved Marvel character, Wonder Woman.

This film has many flaws, including a momentous, glaring issue that discredits the entire story. It’s one positive characteristic is its veteran actors, who give passionate performances. Other than that, it fails in everything else.

“Professor Marston and the Wonder Woman” spreads itself too thin, taking on the topics of a three-way relationship of the characters, feminism and Wonder Woman. It fails to have a proper insight or compelling depiction of any of these subjects, but acts as if these characters and their melodramatic conversations provide a wealth of wisdom on the issues.

Despite being centered on a relationship amongst the characters, their interactions feel ham-fisted and rushed. One minute, they’re irritated and baffled by each other. The next, they’re feverishly confessing their love.

Of the three, Bryne is the most annoying. She’s a bland, shallow character, who we’re expected to believe has any chemistry with the loud, brazen and analytical Marstons. Even more baffling is the flippancy of her character. She switches from a quiet, shy girl to a ridiculously impulsive seductress. Her naivety and quiet nature was clearly intended to make her seem innocent and sweet. Instead, she’s just irrelevant.

For a movie supposedly focused on Wonder Woman’s origins, she is barely mentioned. The story instead deciding that melodramatic conversations and awkward sex scenes take precedence over our iconic Marvel character.

However, none of these things compare in terribleness to the actual main issue of “Professor Marston and the Wonder Woman,” which is the total lack of historical accuracy.

The film begins with a black screen and large words saying “A true story.” This is a total lie. It is not true in the slightest.

Angela Robinson, the director of “Professor Marston and the Wonder Woman,” made zero effort to keep any realism, choosing not to contact the family and instead label her own “interpretation” as fact.

“Yeah. I didn’t actually talk to … It was a conscious choice because I really just wanted to have my own interpretation of the story,” Robinson said.

Making such assumptions didn’t go unnoticed by the Marston family. Christian Marston, granddaughter of the Marstons and close friend of Bryne, has been vocal about her rejection of the movie.

“This film has no relationship to Wonder Woman, other than using the name to sell to the public. They are riding the coattails of the very successful Wonder Woman movie — even to the point of copying the promo posters,” Marston said in an interview with Big Fanboy.

The main inaccuracies of this movie often connect to Bryne. Unsurprising really, as she’s the most unbelievable and thinnest of the characters. Robinson not only decided to make a movie about a relationship she knew nothing about, but also focused specifically on the fabricated romance of Elizabeth and Bryne. However, there is no evidence that the two women shared any attraction at all.

Gram (Elizabeth Marston) and Dots (Olive) were as sisters. This, by the way, is not from a child’s point of view; I was very close to Gram as an adult. My grandfather died before I was born, so I only know him through family stories. No love triangle ever even hinted at —-and Gram was very broad-minded and very open, so if it existed, she had no reason to hide it — especially from me … we discussed all aspects of life and human psychology,” Marston said to Big Fanboy.

During the movie, there’s a dramatic breakup that occurs between the Marstons and Bryne , who’s sent away with the children she’s had with the professor. Despite this being the climax of the story, this also never actually occurred.

“Hollywood drama. At that point in time there were four children, and Dots (Olive) sure as hell did not take off and abandon them!” Marston said to Big Fanboy.

According to The Verge, various other plot points that moved things along also never happened. The film shows Professor Marston making a lie-detector machine that is regularly used throughout the story. In reality, the machine he created never actually work, but inspired the basic idea of a polygraph. The entire story is told through flashbacks as Professor Marston tries to defend his comic book to the Child Study Association of America (CSAA). In actuality, Wonder Woman was far too popular for any of its critics to have much power or influence. There was no hysterical burning of Wonder Woman comics and there was no involvement from the CSAA.  

“Professor Marston and the Wonder Woman” is a deceptive movie that twists the stories of real people into melodramatic events for its own benefit. Yet such lies couldn’t save the film from it’s own bland dialogue and cliche story.


Genre: Drama
Rating: R
Release Date: October 13, 2017
Director: Angela Robinson
Stars: Luke Evans, Rebecca Hall

Behind the scenes of “The Servant of Two Masters”

T

he Drama department performs many plays each year, and their next one is right around the corner.

Written by Carlo Goldoni in 1746, “The Servant of two Masters” is a classic comedy that recounts the events of a particularly hungry servant, Truffaldino. The servant finds himself in an awkward predicament as he becomes the servant of, you guessed it, two masters!

The plot thickens though as it is revealed that his masters both hate each other. Truffaldino struggles through the play to try and fulfill both of their needs as well as satiate his own lust for food.

Of course a good play is nothing without a good cast. Luckily, HHS has an experienced Drama class that is just right for the job. The head of drama and teacher of stagecraft, Leslie Lloyd, even chose the play based on some of the talent that they knew were going to be in the play.

When asked about the main style of the play, Lloyd revealed using a creative choice considering the time period the original work was set in,

Lloyd said “Our style is steampunk. We’re texturing stuff. We’re building stuff. We’ll be hanging things from the ceiling. It’s going to be really great.”

The stage is already taking on a steampunk theme, with rusty cogs positioned in the front, covered in splattered paint to create its aging texture.

Lloyd showed no fear over her cast or her stagecraft crew being unable to meet the demands of theatre production, even complimenting her talented carpenters in 5th period.

“I have this one kid whose uncle was an incredible carpenter in Mexico. He apprenticed him. So now he’s beyond anything I would ever hope for even as an adult because his skills are so good.” said Lloyd.

She also mentioned Jackson Leuenberger, a gifted electrician in his sophomore year of high school.

Despite their talented cast, there are some difficulties of managing stagecraft that they can’t ease. The most prominent one being the dilemma of organizing two separate classes that work at different speeds to create one final scenery for the play.

At the start of every stagecraft class, all students are given an opportunity to try everything through a survey that allows them to volunteer their specific skills. After a testing period busied with basic painting and building, the class is split into various crews that include lights, building, painting, props and costume.

With these separate crews are also specific roles of the class, such as Cianna Bruce’s job as stage manager, helping with organization and administration. Sounds and lighting managers deal with the sound effects, music, spotlights and more.

Lloyd’s own role is one of the most hectic ones. Not only does she supervise, she also does some of the labor herself. She personally enjoys to help out in painting and sawing, while finding cleaning to be the hardest thing to do for stagecraft.

“It’s a lot of work because you have to get ready, and then clean up everyday. Everyday. And sometimes, the clean up is a lot harder than others,” Lloyd said.

Both Bruce and Lloyd agree that stagecraft is hard work, requiring lots of time, dedication and focus. However, both are passionate about their jobs, considering the benefits of it to outweigh the cons.

“My favorite thing about stagecraft is the number of kids that are affected by it … and learn a skill that’s something that is apart of a vocation,” Lloyd said.