Luscious Lucius

We are FINALLY posting about IFC’s last event of the year, the Lucius concert! We can’t believe how great of a turnout it was, and the crowd’s outstanding energy made this one of the best IFC events of the year. Taylor definitely surpassed Lucius’ expectations of Upland, Indiana. They were both amazed and confused at how excited, welcoming, and lively we were. Thanks to everyone who came to the show, and make sure to come to the IFC concerts next year! 

Photos taken by Sean Maynor. 

Top 10 Films of 2013

by IFC member, Ben Dulavitch 

Listen – it’s 2014 and has been for a while. I’m late. I realize that. Oh my gosh. Anyway, I just thought I’d offer my very humble, very experienced, very well-researched, and very passionate opinion about the year of 2013 in film, which proved to be a decent one. I apologize because I say a lot of things and don’t back them up too thoroughly. But that’s why it’s called a list. Okay? So, here’s what I have to say:

10. The Wolf of Wall Street (Martin Scorsese)

The Wolf of Wall Street is an excess of excess. There is too much of everything – money, sex, drugs, alcohol, midgets – and it works perfectly this way. In this film, Leo has departed (get it?) from his usual “I’m so beautiful and serious” roles to play an obnoxious and, oddly, very human Jordan Belfort. This is a story about what actually happens when one can do whatever he pleases.

9. 12 Years a Slave (Steve McQueen)

Did this deserve Best Picture? Sure.Of all films this past year, 12 Years a Slave seems to have the best combination of everything. Ejiofor, Fassbender, Nyong’o, and Paulson all give great performances. John Ridley’s script is fantastic. Hans Zimmer’s decision to finally not make his score super loud and epic pays off. And with Hunger and Shame already behind him, Steve McQueen reestablishes his credibility.

8. The Great Beauty (Paolo Sorrentino)

This Italian movie is definitely muy bien. Sorrentino’s La Grande Bellezza won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. As the title suggests, it is a gorgeous film. Like my fellow IFC member Kinsley Koons, this movie is both visually stunning and intelligent. It’s about searching for fulfillment, understanding what is important, and appreciating life as a whole rather than the dissatisfying sum of its parts.

7. Short Term 12 (Destin Daniel Cretton)

It is very difficult not to like Short Term 12. If you don’t like it, then don’t tell me because I’m going to assume that you have absolutely no sympathy for anyone who struggles with anything. Oh my gosh. Totally kidding. But really. The movie’s tone effectively mirrors the many emotions of its characters. Also, Brie Larson offers one of the most admirable performances of the year.

6. Her (Spike Jonze)

Many people this year loved Her including me. It benefits mostly from Spike Jonze’s screenplay, which is the second best of the year. Joaquin Phoenix’s underappreciated performance and Arcade Fire’s unique score also contribute to Her’s ingenuity and sincerity. The film succeeds by asking some very challenging questions – What is human? Why do people change? – and refusing to answer them.

*IFC will be screening Her on Tuesday, April 29. Be there!

5. Nebraska (Alexander Payne)

There is a distinctive and totally hilarious mentality associated with living in a tiny, rural town. No one knows this better than I. (Have you heard of Clar– I mean, Pittsburgh?) Nebraska embodies this type of mentality perfectly. Bob Nelson’s screenplay is hysterical and the casting is just so wonderfully accurate. Bruce Dern’s performance is my favorite male performance of the year.

4. Blue Is the Warmest Color (Abdellatif Kechiche)

Listen – it is what it is. It’s long, and it’s French, and it’s rough. But so is life. And everything about Blue Is the Warmest Color seems very real, which is what makes it so great. Adèle Exarchopoulos’s performance (that is, her acting performance) is the year’s very best – she plays an insecure 15-year-old as gracefully and convincingly as she does a 21-year-old. Also, you should totally watch this one with your parents.

3. Spring Breakers (Harmony Korine)

With Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens in starring roles and music by Skrillex, Spring Breakers has got everything it needs to be the worst movie in the universe. Here’s the thing, though – it’s actually really not the worst movie in the universe. You could write a decent paper about this movie. It leaves you with questions, but its surrealist nature enhances a very unexpected and dark social commentary.

2. Gravity (Alfonso Cuarón)

Everyone likes it, so it must be bad, right? I apologize for Gravity’s not being scientifically accurate in all regards, but if this is your basis for calling it a poor film, then I am so over you. Like. I’m done. With you. What I like the most about Gravity is that it works well as a piece of literature: it presents a theme – live a meaningful life – and then all aspects of the film contribute to its execution. Cool, huh?

1. Before Midnight (Richard Linklater)

The best film of 2013 is Richard Linklater’s Before Midnight, the third in his Before trilogy. Love is the most prominent theme in all of storytelling. Some stories romanticize it, while others depict it in a more skeptical and supposedly realistic light. Linklater’s script is the year’s best and wavers between these two attitudes. Viewers can decide for themselves how to interpret Jesse and Celine’s relationship.

Runners-Up: Blue Jasmine, Inside Llewyn Davis, Dallas Buyers Club, The Great Gatsby, Frances Ha

Women in the Church

by IFC member, Savanna Sweeting

“Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as saith the law.” (New King James Version, 1 Cor. 14:34).

This verse is one of many stirring up strife within the Christian community. When Paul was giving divine instruction to the seven churches, he gave the church of Corinth a harsh decree about the roles of women in the church. However, notice that he only gave this decree to the church of Corinth.

1 Timothy 2:12, explains that women are not permitted “to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence”. However, if we look back a few verses, there are also instructions to have men “pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath or doubting” (1 Tim 2:8). Even further, women are given instructions on their appearance: “to “adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold pearls or costly clothing.” (1 Tim 2:9). While churches still apply rules to women, such as no speaking positions in the church, it is a wonder as to why we don’t frequently see men “lifting up holy hands to pray”. Or why we don’t think twice when women are not entering the church with braided hair and gold earrings.

Going back to the question of validity in 1 Corinthians, we have to look at the culture of the church of Corinth at that point in time. While well known for their thriving art, philosophy, and business spectrums, Paul initially wrote to the church of Corinth for their brazen immoral, pagan culture with the intention to redeem it. This includes everyone, men and women, who had strayed away from the Christian faith and had broken God’s commands. To begin to reconcile the church, Paul had given orders, which provoke a few questions: did Paul shun women from speaking and obtaining authoritative roles in the church of Corinth only? Did men receive any limitations in the church because of their behavior? If most churches strongly believe that this is a call of God, why is it mentioned so little in the Bible? The Bible has given clear instructions for God’s people on how to work on becoming a fruitful, genuine disciple of Christ. All to often, I think that the focus starts to shift towards a question of, “how can I become a better biblical woman or man?” rather than, “how can I, as a human, grow in my faith?”

When this argument is arisen in my presence, however, I am all for women having authority in the church. While it can be argued that this command comes from the New Testament and should therefore be followed, the rebuttal is that this culture is a new day and age from that of Corinth. The cultural norm of inferiority towards women was demolished with Jesus’s restoration of God’s plan. In the book of Acts, Philip has three daughters, all of which were preachers. Also, mentioned by Paul, in Romans, are two people- Adronicus and Junia. Junia is a woman, and the two are Paul’s “fellow apostles,” (Rom. 16:7). Being an apostle at the time was a highly esteemed role for anyone in Christian leadership. Also, there exists verses such as Galatians 3:28, “for there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Even further, Acts 2:18 states, “and on My menservants and on maidservants, I will pour out My Spirit in those days; and they shall prophesy,” and ironically, the verse just previous to the few about women, “for God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints,” (1 Cor. 14:33), which clarifies that God did not intend for His people to be in tension with one another over who can do what in the sanctity of a church.

This prevailing issue does not seem to be coming to a close, and I surely do not have all the answers, but I think that given the culture we live in today, it is imperative to start asking the important questions. 

“Hey Guys, Listen to Angel Olsen”

by IFC member, Kinsley J. Koons

Last year I received a text messaged from a trusted friend that read:


Because of the extremely abrasive caps-lock-text, I grabbed my computer immediately and started listening. The first song on her 2012 full-length album entitled Half-Way Home is called “Acrobat.” The song quickly grabbed my attention as Angel’s haunting and desperate voice crept in over the soft guitar, and I was led into a trance, fully embracing that fact that I was, perhaps, getting a spell cast upon me.

I know this sounds over dramatic, but it is honestly what happened.

Initially weary from female singer/songwriters, I was surprised that Angel grabbed my attention. The raspy tone in Olsen’s voice and the variation in instrumentation separates her from her other female contemporaries like Lana, St. Vincent, and Laura Marling, and this distinction is only made clearer with the release of her second full-length album.

In February, her second full-length album, “Burn Your Fire For No Witnesses,” dropped and was immediately awarded the most coveted (sort of/maybe/whatever) “best new music” from well-renown and pretentious music website With a little more electric guitar than her last album, Olsen re-introduces herself with a fuller and more exciting sound, while still lulling you into a deep and creepy sleep with her moving and strained vocals. In the song Hi-five she sings, “Are you lonely too? Hi-five! So am I!” Some how making the feeling of being lonely not so bad if you are accompanied by Angel Olsen and some surprisingly twangy guitar. Don’t be fooled however, the next track on the album, White Fire, slows your heartbeat back to a slow and steady beat as Olsen laments about the difficulty of moving on from something heartbreaking. (But don’t worry, if you are too sad after that song- the next track High &Wild picks it back up with some cute piano.) 

Watch the music video for “Hi-Five” here.


The Planting Of A Cherry Orchard: Behind the Scenes

By IFC member, Morgan Turner

This piece takes us behind the scenes of The Cherry Orchard to give a glimpse of the true experience of the performer. 

On March 21st Taylor Theatre opened with Anton Chekov’s classic, The Cherry Orchard. Audience buzzing, music playing from the Anna Karenina soundtrack, and actors taking their places backstage; opening night is here and we are ready to present Chekov to anyone who will listen. But the world that we invite you into, as the audience, has not always existed as richly as it does when the curtain goes up, so to speak. The process we as the actors took to create this suspension of disbelief was intentional and, at times, asked much of us, as storytellers. If you will allow me to use the extended metaphor, I found that through table work, rehearsals, and character development we were, with great courage, planting seeds in hopes that by the end the “tree” that is our play, would flourish and stand on its own.

One of the first steps for any show is called tablework. It looks different for every show, but for The Cherry Orchard it involved a lot of conversation about Chekov’s intentions, research on the time period and location, and bringing in Dr. Beulah Baker, one of the English Professors, to tell us of all her adventures in Russia. It was important that we knew what it would be like to live in Russia during 1904; what opinions our characters would have about the freeing of slaves, how the upper-class perceived, and so on. As a cast we also went back and forth about whether or not The Cherry Orchard was a comedy or a tragedy. The way I see it is that it has aspects of both, but because of the playwright’s original intentions and the character’s ridiculous behavior, it leans more on the comedy side for me. Tablework would take place at the beginning of every rehearsal before we jumped into the actual script.

Now that some seeds were planted, we moved into the rehearsal process. Each rehearsal required all of our energy, both mentally and physically. We had to come into the theatre with all of our mess from the day left at the door. It was a place where we expected to be embarrassed and expected to mess up, but also knew that great work would be done. The more you are willing to risk, the higher the reward. And let me tell you, the act of risk-taking is an exhausting business. As the weeks went on, we perfected, reworked, and locked in the show. The seeds were slowly and carefully being watered and grown.

As we drew our work on The Cherry Orchard to a close, we found that we were successful in gradually building our character’s inner life. We knew our psychological traits, moral values and their influences, our physical traits, life goals, and relationships with other actors. The final nourishment for our work was the load-in process that happened before every performance. The director would lead us in the load-in for our characters each night. We would walk around the space as our characters, exploring our full range of motion. We would reconnect with our character’s “center”, which is where all their main flow of energy is found. Then we would stand in a circle and spontaneously answer questions such as, “when I wake up in the morning I… “, or “what I miss most about my childhood is…”. And then we are ready for our performance. We essentially have tapped into our character’s world and our character’s energy, and we are then ready to enter into the world of the play.

After the initial planting and continual nourishing of the seeds, our work is complete. Every night requires great courage and vulnerability for us to enter into that world in hopes that what we have worked on for months can stand on its own.

Robert Benedetti wraps up this whole process by saying that the “sensations of a play are the result of careful preparation. Behind them lie careful study of the play script and complex interpretive decisions by the actor and his director; all of which can only happen when the actor has successfully translated them into meaningfully patterned sensations communicable to an audience.”  

That is what we as actors put all our money on: that we can somehow translate to you, the audience, how meaningful this sliver of life reflected in the play really is. 

They’re Just Kids

A book review on Patti Smith’s lyrical memoir, Just Kids.

By IFC President, Lizzy Rand

Patti Smith, “the Godmother of Punk,” and Robert Mapplethorpe, a controversial taboo-busting photographer, were both born in 1946 at a time when “the last of the horse-drawn wagons” could be seen on the city streets. Patti describes this in her tenderly powerful memoir, Just Kids, which documents her extraordinary relationship with Robert and the end of Manhattan’s last great bohemian age.

As children, both Patti and Robert were dreamers, curiously yearning to expand their world and eagerly enthralled with their transcendent experiences. They soon betrothed themselves to art, Robert enrolling at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, and Patti giving up her baby at age 19 to head to New York for a fresh start and a chance at a creative revolution. It was the summer of 1967, the summer Coltrane died, the summer of Elvira Madigan, and the summer of commotion and love, when Patti encountered Robert for the first time: he was an angelic young hippie shepherd sleeping in the back bedroom of her friend’s former apartment. Their meeting was brief, but thus fate introduced these young, perfectly bohemian, unknown kids, who would become roommates, friends, lovers, muses, and soul mates.

Robert and Patti lived in romantic poverty. They went to museums and only bought one ticket. They went to Coney Island, only able to afford one hot dog. They lived off day-old bread, Nescafe, and cigarettes. But what they devoted themselves to most was art. Patti and Robert would gather their pencils and sheets of paper and draw and write poetry like feral children into the night while listening to Tim Hardin’s delicate love songs and picturing the works of Warhol. The couple eventually gained tenancy in the Chelsea Hotel, a historic hotel that hosted Patti’s idol, Bob Dylan, and was a home for philosophical and artistic exchange. Patti and Robert slowly penetrated higher society, interacting with esteemed artists and musicians including Janis Joplin, the Allman Brothers, Grace Slick, and Salvador Dali and frequenting Max’s Kansas City and CBGB. Robert and Patti were inseparable lovers and partners until Robert shamefully came out of the closet as a hustling homosexual and confessed his acquirement of an STD. Nevertheless, the two kept their vow never to separate and remained artistic companions, social confidantes, and dear friends.

Smith dedicated herself to performance poetry, and her first reading with guitar accompaniment from Lenny Kaye introduced her as an up-and coming New York artist. Robert took an interest in photography and become known for his highly stylized black-and-white snapshots and controversial sadomasochistic images. As they grew to become legendary artists, the once youthful couple that could be seen wandering Washington Square Park slowly drifted apart as Patti traveled with her band, married, and moved to Detroit. They still remained kindred spirits and deeply held on to their youthful memories especially when Robert began experiencing complications due to AIDS. Robert and Patti had their last conversation in March of 1989 before Robert passed away. As she looked into the eyes of this youth cloaked in light, he expressed one last favor: she has to write their story. And so, she has.

Just Kids begins as a love story between two strangers and ends as an elegy. It celebrates New York City during the late sixties and seventies and its poor and starving, rich and prosperous, its artists and producers, and hustlers and rogues. Smith transports readers to the halcyon days for artists in New York City through her tales of interactions with Jimi Hendrix and Television, of life at the Hotel Chelsea, and of the denizens of Max’s Kansas City and Strand Bookstores. And she does this with vivid self-awareness and uncommon vulnerability. Her difficult journey to artistic fame is treacherous but ecstatic, and Just Kids is a beautiful book written on becoming an artist. But it is not simply the stories of funky-but-chic New York in the sixties and seventies that captures readers. The story of Robert and Patti, two feral-looking strangers bound in innocence and enthusiasm, is tender, beautiful, and extraordinary. They shared the sacred mystery of what it meant to be an artist, the struggle of poverty and homelessness, the affection of true companionship, and the loyalty of honest soul mates. Patti Smith is a phenomenal wordsmith, and she writes with a tone that is hilarious, delicate, and evocative.

So, go ahead and put on some Lou Reed or Television and get lost in the exuberant bohemian culture of New York City and the mystifying relationship between two of the country’s most momentous artists: Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe. And don’t be concerned by the fact that they are such remarkable artists because after all, they’re just kids.