Categories
Scene

‘Aftersun’: Parenthood and grief

“Aftersun” is the most poignant and sensitive portrait of parenthood, depression and grief that I have ever seen.

The movie follows a grown-up Sophie as she recalls her last vacation with her father, Calum. Sophie, for the majority of the movie, is a precocious 11-year-old who is oblivious to the private emotional struggles of her father. Real and imagined memories of the past, spliced with nostalgic home videos and haunting visions of her father, subtly shine a light on how we write and re-write grief and loss into our family histories.

“Aftersun” has been nominated for a smattering of awards, including at the Cannes Film Festival and the BAFTAs, mostly for its excellent director, Charlotte Wells, and leading actor and recent Oscar nominee, Paul Mescal. Mescal works perfectly to the film’s strength — melancholic restraint — as he plays a struggling single father who wants to shield his daughter from his problems. Mescal’s on-screen chemistry with the incredibly talented 13-year-old Frankie Corio is the beating heart of the movie. 

Even though Calum can hide his depression from an 11-year-old Sophie, he can’t hide it from an adult Sophie and, therefore, the audience. Sophie revisits her memories of the vacation and begins to fill in the gaps. An exasperated comment to her dad about “not being able to afford singing lessons” becomes more gutting — and you can see it on Mescal’s face. Even though the memories of the vacation are overwhelmingly positive because Sophie remembers time with her father fondly, we get terrifying (and imagined) flashes of Calum’s despair: him sobbing by himself in their hotel room and jumping into the Mediterranean Sea in the middle of the night.

The film is subtle and understated, guiding you through emotion without forcing you to process anything. Objectively, nothing happens. A father and a daughter spend a wonderful vacation in Turkey together. The daughter remembers it after her father is gone. And yet, I was completely a wreck at the end.

“Aftersun” ends in a scene that will forever change the way I listen to Queen and David Bowie’s hit single, “Under Pressure.” As a young Sophie dances with her dad in Turkey, an older Sophie is searching for a vision of her (frozen-in-time) dad. As the music rises in a crescendo, young Sophie hugs her dad and old Sophie loses him in the crowd. Her memory of him becomes more real than he is.

I was in tears because I was remembering, too. Memories of my mom came flooding back to me: her doing makeup in the master bathroom, her hitting a bullseye with a bow and arrow, her driving me in a cool car after school… Some things I still can’t remember. Some things I never knew about. I saw the film two days before the ten-year anniversary of my mother’s suicide, and it hit like a sucker punch. 

“Aftersun” captured my anxieties about outliving my parents and being left with nobody to lean on. It made me rethink everything I had ever said to my parents. It reminded me to be more gentle with the people who raised me. But most importantly, it reminded me that parents are fallible creatures and that forgiveness is a virtue.

Title: “Aftersun”

Starring: Paul Mescal, Frankie Corio

Director: Charlotte Wells

If you like: “Lady Bird,” “Before Sunrise”

Shamrocks: 5 out of 5

Contact Claire Lyons at clyons3@nd.edu

Categories
Scene

Whatever people said they were, that’s what they’re not: Arctic Monkeys in retrospect

On Jan. 23, popular British rock band Arctic Monkeys celebrated 17 years of their debut LP, “Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not.” This album is one of the most influential rock albums of the 21st century and stands as an early testimony of the power of the Internet in the music industry. With the release of their seventh studio album, “The Car,” and a long list of tour dates spanning multiple countries on almost every continent, it’s important to take a step back and look at how the famed quartet got their start. 

How did they get so popular, and how have they evolved into what they are today?

Arctic Monkeys was formed in 2002 by founding members Alex Turner (lead vocals, guitar), Matt Helders (drums) and Andy Nicholson (bass) in Sheffield, England. They soon brought on Jamie Cook as a second guitarist and began making music, playing their first gig at a Sheffield pub called The Grapes in 2003. 

The band soon garnered a large and loyal following from their live shows and from a fan-made MySpace page promoting the band’s 18-track demo. Their first EP “Five Minutes with Arctic Monkeys” was released in 2005 — featuring tracks such as “Fake Tales of San Francisco” and “From the Ritz to the Rubble” — and they soon signed with Domino. 

The release of “WPSIA” in 2006 was monumental beyond comparison. This LP remains the fastest-selling debut album in UK history, surpassing the previous holder by nearly 60,000 copies. Sales from the first day were more than those of the top-20 combined, and the numbers from its first week in the U.K. were more than the first year in the U.S. 

Arctic Monkeys became famous nearly overnight throughout the U.K. In response to their sudden popularity, Nicholson became overwhelmed and left the band to work on his own musical projects. The band replaced him with Nick O’Malley, and the lineup has been the same ever since. 

Over the next decade, the band regularly released music — whether it be LPs, EPs or B-sides (of which they have over 40) — and continued to grow in popularity. They have received 104 award nominations and garnered 42 wins, even having the opportunity to perform at the 2012 London Olympic opening ceremony along with Paul McCartney (The Beatles) and Alex Trimble (Two Door Cinema Club).

After a hiatus from their world-renowned album “AM,” the Monkeys began to look at their music with a fresh set of eyes. While their previous music had been characterized by energetic instrumentals and vocals, their new project, “Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino,” changed that. Taking inspiration from a variety of media including Stanley Kubrick films and The Beach Boys’ “Pet Sounds,” they created a concept album about a lunar hotel and casino from the perspective of different patrons and employees around the base. Turner croons about religion, politics, consumerism and culture with a jazzy, space-aged edge that threw off many fans upon first listen. 

Many longtime fans have had a hard time coping with their new sound and further evolution with “The Car,” but have found more authenticity and maturity from the music. While the band has always been lyrically masterful, their recent albums have shown a return to their incisive commentary on society and modern culture as a whole while maintaining their innovative instrumentation. 

As a lover of music, music history and Arctic Monkeys, I was thrilled to be able to write this. Out of the four years I’ve had Spotify, they have been my top artist for three. “WPSIA” is an iconic and incredibly well-made album that remains one of my favorite works of theirs — but “Humbug” will always be in the top spot. Their diverse and extensive discography serves to fit any mood and situation, and they continue to impress as time passes.

Despite the connotations from their debut album title, whatever people have been saying about Arctic Monkeys regarding their pure talent and star-power is exactly what they are and will remain for years to come.

Contact Anna Falk at afalk@nd.edu

Categories
Scene

Will the new Open Gaming License be the death of ‘Dungeons & Dragons?’

As the Scene department’s resident “Dungeons and Dragons” connoisseur, it is my job to know about anything and everything “Dungeons & Dragons.” At the beginning of 2023, a leak of the new draft of the Open Gaming License (OGL) circulated around the internet and caused quite an uproar in the “Dungeons & Dragons” community. So much so that many people have begun to search for new systems to play, going as far as taking a trip back in time to the 1970s and picking up the very first edition of “Dungeons & Dragons.” 

So what is all of this talk about the Open Gaming License controversy? Before I dive into the fuss and give my two cents, I should explain what this actually means. The Open Gaming License is a default gaming license that allows fans of “Dungeons & Dragons” to use portions of “D&D” products without the publisher, Wizards of the Coast (WotC), overlooking them. This license is what made way for what is considered “homebrew,” or creating content that is under the “D&D” mantle but is the creator’s own work. Much of the content that is now created by “D&D” players and dungeon masters has been featured on many Wiki sites and on Wizards of the Coast’s website, DNDBeyond. With the content that is created nowadays, many of the creators will also sell their products for a decent profit. 

In late 2022, rumors began to circulate about Wizards of the Coast reaching out to third-party publishers and having them sign non-disclosure agreements. Many fans were concerned that the OGL was going to go away, thereby threatening the livelihood of homebrew content creators. But WotC came out to say that the OGL was not going away anytime soon. 

The aforementioned leak of the OGL 1.1 added the idea that those who create homebrew content would have to pay a royalty to WotC, and there would be a requirement of revenue reporting for all content creators. To say that there was a massive uproar in the “D&D” community would be a major understatement. Many people flocked to DNDBeyond and canceled their subscriptions as a way to send a message to Wizards that they messed up badly. Wizards claimed that “D&D” would be more open, which could not have been further from the truth. Many third-party publishers came out to say that they would create their own system, such as Kobold Press. 

From my perspective, I can wholeheartedly say that this new OGL is one of the most restrictive parts of “D&D” that I have ever come across. I will go on to say that “D&D” is definitely a part of my life that I will never give up. I love being able to tell an absolutely fantastical story where I get a group of people together and just play for over three hours a day. I make my own content that has my name attached to it, but I never publish any of the content. I am very concerned that with the OGL restricting this content, I now have to rely on officially published material and possibly have to pay an astronomical amount of money for being able to have access to the content that I have personally created. So, will I ever cancel my DNDBeyond subscription? Honestly, no. Even with all the controversy going on about the OGL, I always have a backup place for keeping the content that I have personally created, but there is always the fear that WotC is watching over me. 

So hopefully, Wizards of the Coast can make an ethical decision that can be in favor of all parties involved in “Dungeons & Dragons.” 

Contact Nicole at nbilyak01@saintmarys.edu.

Categories
Scene

‘Pokémon Violet:’ A dream still working out the details

Few franchises have a better pitch than “Pokémon”: tame and trained magical animals battle each other, save the world with a team of them and ultimately become “the very best, like no one ever was.” 

Whether each game brings the player into this dream is a different question. The previous main series games, 2019’s “Pokémon Sword” and “Pokémon Shield,” are infamous for their failure to do so. Additional content for these games, however, quickly got back on track, and “Pokémon Legends: Arceus,” released in early 2022, truly makes magic. “Pokémon Scarlet” and “Pokémon Violet” aim to continue this upward trajectory, and in this reviewer’s experience of “Violet,” the game is a success, and it’s easy to see how the series can shine even brighter.

Catching, raising and battling Pokémon is as enchanting as it has ever been. The new battling mechanics introduced in this game are creative and allow for exciting possibilities, which this review will not spoil. The greatest issue with the system is the lack of a difficulty setting. This is a game for all ages, which means the adventure must be accessible, but there is no button to give opponents stronger Pokémon or more complicated strategies. Instead, one must create self-imposed rules to add to the game’s challenge, and even so, one cannot create new opponents. This is an easily remediable problem for the next “Pokémon” games, though.

“Pokémon Violet” is the first fully open-world game in the series and is a great first step into this new system of world design, with compelling prizes for exploration and a surprising degree of freedom in movement. There is a simple and powerful joy in climbing a mountain that seemed impossible to summit and finding a rare item or special event at the peak. There is still substantial room for growth for future games in this department, however, as the environments are mostly unmemorable (with one magnificent exception) and the human settlements are uninteresting. These cities lack distinct cultures, interesting populations or exclusive activities. There is also very limited interaction between Pokémon and humans in the cities, which is a shame, as bringing Pokémon into everyday city life could make these places attractions. Imagine a mountain city where flying Pokémon carry people between buildings, or a city with a parade in which Pokémon use their abilities to create a light show.

Most frustrating of all the game’s best elements, however, is a lacking technical presentation of this world. The game simply runs poorly, and its visuals are at a low quality.  Older “Pokémon” games with pixilated, two-dimensional overworlds and Pokémon battles used the power of suggestion to their advantage, letting players imagine the world in greater detail and conceiving something far beyond the technical capacity of any video game. As a three-dimensional adventure in an open world where one can travel anywhere, this game must depict its world as accurately as possible to satisfy players.  Rather than inviting players to join the game in fully constructing this world, “Pokémon Violet,” at its worst, invites players to imagine a better piece of software.

The story here, unlike many Pokémon games, is not a formulaic tale about an evil organization chasing a god Pokémon to realize its ambitions. Instead, the player’s character is simply a schoolkid in the Pokémon universe, whose friends bring them into the main adventures of the game. While these will not hold an adult’s attention throughout their duration, they are excellent stories for younger players about empathy. The three main supporting characters — Nemona, Arven and Penny — all have problematic aspects to their personalities and difficulties that define them. Nevertheless, the player finds the good and brings out the best in them. Our friends aren’t perfect, the game argues, but that shouldn’t be our expectation. Being human is about connecting with other humans in our brokenness, as our relationships can build us to be better. That is an invaluable lesson for players of all ages.

“Pokémon” is still working out the details of its dream, but “Pokémon Violet” is a wonderful blueprint for adventures to come, and a very good game in its own right. While its world needs more splendor and its adventure more flexibility, “Pokémon Violet” still has magic. It may not convert older players to following the franchise, but hopefully this is building up to the show that will sweep the world away, the long-awaited realization of the dream. But as it stands, it’s still worth letting “Pokémon Violet” cast its spell, even if the seams of the fantasy are visible.

Contact Ayden at akowals2@nd.edu.

Categories
Scene

I’ve seen ‘Puss in Boots: The Last Wish’ three times and counting

“Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” was recently announced as a nominee for the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Film. It’s a sequel to the 2011 “Puss in Boots” film, which was so culturally impactful that I couldn’t remember anything about it even after I looked up the plot synopsis, despite the fact that I saw it in theaters when it came out. Some may ask: Why wait 11 years to release a sequel to a film almost no one remembers? Why produce a new addition to the “Shrek” franchise years after its time in the sun? Why make “The Last Wish” at all?

I have answers to none of these questions. All I can say is that I’m glad they did.

I’ve paid to see “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” in theaters three separate times. Frankly, I’d pay to see it again. It’s unreasonably good. The animation has received a major cosmetic overhaul since the 2011 prequel. It’s vibrant and stylized, reminiscent of a storybook in the vein of the critically acclaimed comic-book style of “Into the Spider-Verse.” The voice casting is phenomenal. Antonio Banderas reprises his role as the titular favorite fearless hero alongside Salma Hayek Pinault as Kitty Softpaws and their performances are brilliantly supported by a chipper Harvey Guillen, an unrecognizable Florence Pugh and a pitch-perfect John Mulaney as the film’s campy and irredeemable ultimate villain. The score and soundtrack are incredible (I’ve been bumping “Por Que te Vas” all week). The film respects the intelligence of its viewers, keeping the tone light for kids but exploring more serious themes of death, fear, family and abandonment.

Cameos, callbacks and continued storylines reward those who are familiar with the “Shrek” and “Puss in Boots” movies, but “The Last Wish” stands alone as a film. You don’t need to know anything about the franchise to enjoy the movie, except perhaps a basic knowledge of childhood fairy tales and nursery rhymes. The basic plot follows Puss in Boots, Kitty Softpaws and their enthusiastic companion Perrito as they attempt to find the titular Last Wish. Puss in Boots is down to the last of his nine lives, and he needs the Wish so he can continue to be the fearless and heroic legend he’s known as. Also after the Wish are Goldilocks (Pugh) and the Three Bears (Olivia Colman, Ray Winstone and Samson Kayo) — a crime family who attempt to hire both Puss and Kitty to aid them — and Big Jack Horner (Mulaney), who desires the Wish to claim all of the world’s magic for himself alone. Let’s also not forget about the Wolf (Wagner Moura), an undefeatable bounty hunter tracking down Puss in Boots as he and his companions conquer the Dark Forest to reach the Wish.

It’s a classic action-adventure format, deepened by the intricate relationships between the characters. Why does Goldilocks want the Wish so badly? What’s the story behind why Puss and Kitty have split between the 2011 prequel and “The Last Wish”? How is the Wolf able to follow Puss through the Dark Forest? The film, brilliantly paced, gives exactly the right amount of weight to each character as it answers these questions, resulting in an animation masterpiece greater than the sum of its parts.

The “Puss in Boots” films have followed the trend of their “Shrek” predecessors, with the second film far surpassing the first in story and character. “The Last Wish” has cemented DreamWorks as a major player back in the animation game and fully revitalized the “Shrek” franchise in a new decade and for a new generation. In short: It more than deserves the Oscar nomination.

Title: “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish”

Starring: Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek Pinault, Harvey Guillen

Director: Joel Crawford

If you like: the “Shrek” franchise, “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”

Shamrocks: 5 out of 5

Contact Natalie Allton at nallton@nd.edu.

Categories
Scene

The mutated adaptation of HBO’s ‘The Last of Us’

When HBO announced that they were adapting my favorite game, “The Last of Us,” as a nine-episode TV show, I was terrified. After just two episodes, I now realize something truly special is unfolding. My goal for this article, though, is not to review the show, or to even praise the accuracy of its adaptation.

I want to talk about what adapting a video game actually entails.

It is almost impossible to convince a fan to watch a story they previously had control over. Watching video games is boring. A night of watching my friend playing “God of War” after I had beat the game was proof enough. Kratos’ ax swings didn’t hit, the enemies weren’t scary and Atreus wasn’t my endearing companion — because he was too busy obeying my friend’s button mashing instead. Book adaptations are one thing, but translating a playable experience to screen is a different beast entirely. One with a health bar no film studio can truly conquer.

Fortunately, you are never in control in “The Last of Us.” Every encounter acts as a pitstop on a rigid, linear path. The gamer has no wiggle room to experiment. It’s a movie that they play. Some may call that a shortcoming, but it gives the perfect blueprint for television.

That’s right. Television. This project is not a shortened, feature-length rendition of the video game’s best moments. It’s a miniseries with a 90-minute premiere. A commitment of this scale has to stretch beyond the game’s original script. New scenes buttress the theme and tone, while familiar scenes intercut between new and old dialogue for deeper character interactions. Television structures mean disconnected cold opens, freer camera perspectives and more characters in tighter, condensed set pieces. A television show needs a television cast, meaning the camera doesn’t follow Joel (Pedro Pascal) exclusively. Characters get original, independent scenes outside of his world, clueing us into a bigger conflict that he cannot control. It’s a bigger experience that doubles down on the character’s vulnerability.

Prestige television doesn’t run the same rhythm as a gun-toting horror game. Tutorial controls and chase sequences are cut out completely, freeing up runtime for longer character interactions. Tess (Anna Torv) and Joel’s relationship is far more important than the smuggling tunnels in Boston, so one is dropped while the other is doubled. These shifting interests pale in comparison to producer Craig Mazin’s alterations to the story world. The fungus spreads through the ground, not spores, and its legions of infected are far more terrifying. Ellie (Bella Ramsey) is a younger, more naive interpretation, foreshadowing a darker angle for future events. The biggest change, though, is Joel. He is no longer the one-man-army you command. He is a frustrated old man teetering on the edge of a bottomless pit of rage. He is just as fragile as he is dangerous — a bomb I cannot wait to see explode. For an adaptation of this scale and passion, change is good. It keeps me excited for next week’s episode rather than dreading a rerun of a story I’ve already seen.

HBO is the perfect ecosystem for high-profile adaptations. Not only is their brand founded on massive productions and top actors, but its platform vocalizes the intentions of every show’s creators. I don’t have to worry about why game elements are left out when Neil Druckman, the writer for both the game and show, tells me why in the after credits interviews. The communication is clear. He understands exactly what challenge he faces because he created the audience. These beloved characters are in good hands, and I, a fan and critic, cannot wait to see what happens next.

Contact J.P. at jspoonmo@nd.edu

Categories
Scene

‘Emily In Paris’ season 3 is a dazzling showcase of character assassination

This review contains spoilers.

The cultural train crash known as “Emily in Paris” has finally (and unfortunately) arrived in its third season after a long road of controversies and drama. Starring Lily Collins as the titular Emily Cooper, the show tells the story of a young American marketing executive who moves to Paris. While at first, that seems like an inoffensive sitcom premise, Emily in Paris quickly became known for its very offensive portrayal of French culture and awful writing.

The first season was heavily criticized for how it portrayed French characters, relying on outdated stereotypes (which is ironic considering the show presents itself as a love letter to France, its culture and its people). Equally problematic is the character of Emily herself, who the writers desperately try to present as being an uber-competent, ambitious and driven young woman. Emily, however, is insufferable, arrogant, cocky, constantly disregards the feelings of those around her and most infuriatingly, refuses to learn French despite working at a firm filled with French people. Finally, Emily’s detestability culminates when she sleeps with her friend’s boyfriend in season 1.

Much of season 2 is dedicated to desperately course-correcting Emily’s unlikability to little effect, and season 3 instead seems intent on making Emily seem better by demonizing other characters around her, particularly her friend Camille (Camille Razat).

Camille is essentially the only French woman in the series who is not presented as an evil hag as she quickly befriends Emily and helps her adapt to Paris, becoming my, and many others’, favorite character. Emily in turn rewards Camille by banging her boyfriend, Gabriel (Lucas Bravo), at the end of season 1, and much of season 2 deals with Camille getting back together with Gabriel and forgiving Emily. Pretty noble, right?

Well, not if it makes Emily look bad, apparently.

Season 3 promptly starts with Camille cheating on Gabriel the man who she was supposedly madly in love with — for literally no reason. Later, she discovers she’s pregnant and runs back to Gabriel, whom she then immediately asks to marry. However, when the wedding comes, Camille goes on a deranged rant, proclaiming that Gabriel and Emily are still in love (despite him agreeing to marry her), and blaming Emily for her woes and affair. Not satisfied, she implies that Emily is only dating her current boyfriend, Alfie (Lucien Laviscount) as a rebound mechanism, and promptly breaks them up.

While Emily certainly deserves to be put in her place, Camille’s deranged and irrational behavior overshadows anything Emily has done to this point, effectively turning her into the villain of the series through the worst and most blatant example of character assassination I have ever seen (and I am a Star Wars fan).

And believe it or not, this is still the show’s best season, the racism and Francophobia are less obvious, Emily is admittedly much less arrogant and tries to learn French, and other more interesting characters like Emily’s boss Sylvie are given focus.

But other than that, Emily in Paris continues being painfully unfunny even by sitcom standards. Most of the humor comes from bad writing, like the treatment of Camille’s character. The show’s “plot” is paper thin because it constantly tries to set up problems and story arcs which are resolved almost immediately by Emily’s uber-competence and inhuman luck (because this show is allergic to stakes and consequences). As a result, any professional or personal problem Emily is faced with seems cheap, as we know that it will barely affect the “plot” or characters.

On top of that, season 3 feels like a glorified advertisement for luxury brands like McLaren, Channel and Mcdonald’s (very classy), as the characters that work in the marketing firm go on and on and on about how great these mega-corporations (who are definitely not paying Netflix for product placement) are. This might as well be why Netflix, a company known for canceling series for little reason, keeps supporting a show that up to this point has been nothing more than a PR and critical disaster.

While the third season of Emily in Paris is an improvement on the previous two, it is merely an elevation from offensive and harmful trash television to simply trash television, perfectly encapsulating
everything that is bad and wrong about modern TV shows; I hate it and don’t want to talk about it anymore.

Show: “Emily in Paris”

Starring: Lily Collins, Camille Razat, Lucas Bravo, Lucien Laviscount, Ashley Park

Favorite episodes: The “wedding” one because it’s hilariously bad and no, I refuse to look up the title.

If you like: Getting a headache

Where to watch: Netflix (please don’t)

Shamrocks: 1 out of 5

Contact Matheus at mherndl@nd.edu.

Categories
Scene

‘Break Point’ is good, but doesn’t win any grand slams

Riding on the success of its documentary series “Formula 1: Drive to Survive”, Netflix has greenlit a slew of new sports documentary series to come out on its platform over the next two years. The first of these new documentaries to come out is “Break Point” — a series that ostensibly gives viewers a behind-the-scenes look into the goings-on of a tennis player’s life while they are on tour.

Since it is produced by Box to Box Films, the same company behind “Drive to Survive”, the premise of “Break Point” will be familiar to anyone who has watched the former show. Episodes of “Break Point” follow certain players around on different tournaments of the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) and Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) tours. The first half of the show was released on January 13 and the second half of the show is being released in June.

While the show was not able to feature interviews with some of the sport’s biggest names (Rafael Nadal, for instance). The show shines in its interviews with the players that did give the cameras behind-the-scenes access. Box to Box Films is masterful at building storylines that endear viewers to the subject of that episode — a skill they utilize well on “Break Point.” Throughout the course of the show, I felt myself beginning to support the players that I had seen before but never really learned much about, such as Paula Badosa and Ons Jabeur.

There were some points of the show that were less than stellar, however, and they are mostly found in the things that they did not include. Some of the omissions simply boil down to the fact that the show cannot include too much about players who they are not following. For instance, one of the most exciting games of the French Open was the quarter-final game between Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. It is understandable that the show does not include this game because neither Nadal nor Djokovic were an official part of the show.

It does not make sense, however, that the show does not include information that is necessary for the viewers’ full understanding of a given situation. For instance, in the episode “California Dreaming”, the show makes a big deal out of the fact that the episode’s main player Taylor Fritz decides to play against Nadal with an injured foot. What the show leaves out is that Nadal was also injured with a fractured rib. This omission gives viewers the impression that an injured Fritz was able to beat a 100 percent healthy Nadal, something that the show has already stated is extremely hard to achieve. A casual viewer is then could be misled about how good of a player Fritz is after watching the show.

While the show is an interesting watch, it lacks the draw to non-fans of the sport that its predecessor “Drive to Survive” is so amazing at doing (and its poor explanation of how a tennis game works certainly does not help in the endeavor.) But if you or anyone you know ever wanted to learn about what the life of a tennis player is like, then I definitely recommend this show to you.

Title: “Break Point”

Starring: Nick Kyrgios, Matteo Berrettini, Ajla Tomljanović, Taylor Fritz, Maria Sakkari, Paula Badosa, Ons Jabeur, Félix Auger-Aliassime, and Casper Rudd

Favorite episodes: “Great Expectations” and “King of Clay”

If you like: Tennis and “Formula 1: Drive to Survive”

Where to watch: Netflix

Shamrocks: 3.5 out of 5

Contact Claire at cmkenn4@nd.edu.

Categories
Scene

Black Mirror’s vision of ChatGPT

I’ve been on a “Black Mirror” phase since winter break and there’s a special episode, titled “Be Right Back,” which we must reflect on due to Black Mirror’s trademark “predicting the future” abilities. 

It’s a tragedy, at least in how it felt. A woman makes love to her real-life husband, who, she learns in the next scene, passes away suddenly and unexpectedly while becoming a father in the next scene, which is set in a bathroom with a positive pregnancy test in focus.  

Hopeless, the young widow hesitantly turns to a futuristic, husband-like intelligent bot which gives her the taste of speaking with her late loved one. It sounds ridiculous, but who are we to judge? She found relief in the bot, something we are all vulnerable to.

Eventually, she gets frustrated with the bot, which eventually takes on a physical form, though no more alive than before. The bot used public images and social media posts of the woman’s husband to source its personality, and indeed was at first charming to the widow. That was all, however, and in the episode, the woman can’t bond any further than simple flirtation with the bot-husband. 

It is clear she misses the real life man, and the issue only gets more heart-wrenching as the new mother must co-parent with this robo-Dad.

You should watch the episode, but also keep in mind one of the most important developments for Notre Dame students this spring semester: the rise of ChatGPT.

ChatGPT, like the Black Mirror robo-husband, is programmed to have a very specific personality. For as intense as artificial intelligence is, this is essential to keep in mind.

The new software is made to be helpful, to avoid being rude and to maintain ethical conduct with all its outputs; so is the robo-husband, who over the course of “Be Right Back” struggles to act as a human would in emotionally-charged situations. Because artificial intelligence is programmed, it has limits specifically due to its perfection. 

And to be fair, ChatGPT is honest about these limits, providing examples of its weaknesses on the program’s opening page or if you ask it to do so.

The robo-husband is convincing but too impartial for real life. There is an eerie scene in “Be Right Back” in which the woman slaps the robo-husband, but gets more upset when he, in a programmed manner, says he wouldn’t reciprocate any anger because it wouldn’t be right.

The woman cries that her real husband would’ve been mad at her, and she clearly misses him even though his clone is standing right in front of her.

Though it is more productive than humans are, generating far more efficient outputs of calculation than we can, there are real limits which keep humans slightly and barely unreplaceable during the ever-growing state of technology. To be human is to be imperfect. It’s how we fall in love, display creativity, earn trust with one another and express ourselves.

Though ChatGPT is clearly a wonderful statement of technology’s power, for now we don’t need to fret about humanity being replaced; only beware of this development’s limitations.

And that is exactly what Black Mirror’s writers have so ingeniously portrayed: Artificial intelligence may be more dangerous due to its limitations than its power. As we encounter our new reality of the growing role of artificial intelligence, many will be forced to adapt, as with any revolutionary technology. Some jobs will be lost, others may flourish and still others may be left untouched.

But life, clearly, cannot be reduced to a program. ChatGPT may replace your profession, or maybe even help you at your job, but it won’t replace your life. It may be able to mimic your widow, if given ample information to source from, but the program will soon become stale for your emotional needs, as it has nothing new to express.

Contact Liam Price at lprice3@nd.edu.

Categories
Scene

‘The Menu’: When your passion becomes a burden

The release of Mark Mylod’s “The Menu” came during a time where I was struggling with my passion for art. Where the fun was no longer there, not the carefree emotions I used to have, now being replaced with the burden of finishing work and moving on to the next piece. It was an emotionally draining time, one where I wondered constantly if I would be able to handle this lifestyle I’ve chosen for years to come. Then during winter break, I realized “The Menu” was on HBO Max and decided to give it a watch. What I expected to be a horror thriller about a psycho chef, turned out to be a beautiful dark comedy with themes on losing passion for something you once adored.

The film is centered mainly around “Food expert” Tyler Ledford (Nicholas Hoult) and his date Margot Mills (Anya Taylor-Joy) who travel by boat to Hawthorn, a Michelin-starred restaurant run by Julian Slowik (Ralph Fiennes) on a private island. Other guests such as food critics, washed-up celebrities and business partners also join the party. With all of these one-percenters paying over $1,000 to see and eat Slowik’s food, also comes with a lecture on the deep meaning behind each dish, with each course getting more bizarre as the film goes on.

I fell in love with the wackiness of each dish being presented, as I as well as others out there have at least once made fun of a renowned chef explaining their course and the meaning behind it. There’s no shame in having meaning behind a meal, but there comes a point where you wonder to yourself, “Why are you going so deep with this, it’s just food,” and Mylods represents that perfectly with Slowik’s meals. Warning, spoiler alert: One of the meals is literally a bread plate… with no bread. It is hilarious and entertaining to watch the food critics talk about the deep complexities of the dish, while our main character Margot calls the chef out immediately for how absurd this is. 

What I adore the most, however, is how they portray Slowik as a man who has forgotten the true purpose behind his profession. He tries his best to turn his food into art that he no longer enjoys cooking anymore. It is something I relate to. Art for me, used to be pure joy, where I can paint or draw whatever I want. I didn’t care if it looked bad or amazing, it was something I enjoyed doing. Now, I have a deadline to meet to finish pieces. I have to look for the deeper meaning behind my piece,with no room to truly experiment without the risk of making it look bad. It was and continues to be draining. Draining the passion I once had for something I love that is now just a burden.

I wish I could get more into the film without spoiling it, but “The Menu” is a fun time. The twists are executed well, and the chemistry between the characters is amazing. You can tell they all had a great time making this film. While it is not particularly scary, the suspense will keep you locked in and wondering about the fate of our cast, while also having a few laughs and learned lessons along the way.

Title: “The Menu”

Director: Mark Mylod

Starring: Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Fiennes

Where to watch: HBO Max

Shamrocks: 4.5 out of 5

Contact Gabriel Zarazua at gzarazua@nd.edu.