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Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014 3:07 p.m.

What We’re Watching: ‘Force Majeure’

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Eric Robinson.

“Force Majeure”

★★★★✰

Discomfort is definitely the feeling one experiences when watching director Ruben Östlund’s “Force Majeure,” a Swedish film that follows a family on vacation at a ski resort in the French Alps.

After the father, Tomas (Johannes Kuhnke), has a moment of cowardice, his seemingly perfect life with his wife, Ebba (Lisa Loven Kongsli), and his two kids is completely shaken.

Promotional poster for “Force Majeure.”

What follows is an examination of gender roles, masculinity and parenthood, with Ebba keeping Tomas from moving past the event, and Tomas refusing to openly take responsibility for his actions.

Östlund captures the tension between the two parents with long, uninterrupted shots of their conversations that are completely stationary, forcing the audience to witness every moment of their unease. Each talk is like a ticking time bomb, as one wrong word or facial expression has the potential to turn a civil exchange into a full-blown argument.

Östlund’s strengths are in more than just the conversation scenes: His film contains some fantastically beautiful imagery. In one scene, the characters are caught in a snowstorm and barely visible. Faint shadows serve as the only visual aid, and the audience must use them to follow the characters.

In another scene, a stunning pan of the French Alps at nighttime shows little orange lights dotting the peaks in the distance. Even the opening scene, which consists of a simple shot of the French Alps during the day, is gorgeous in the way the blue of the sky contrasts with the pure white of the snow.

But there are moments of “Force Majeure” that seem a little extraneous, particularly in the final scenes. Kuhnke also flubs a few emotional moments toward the end, which dampens the film’s resolution. But Kuhnke lackluster performance doesn’t hamper the bold way “Force Majeure” challenges the image of the “perfect family” and the roles that mothers and fathers are supposed to play.

In one crucial scene, Ebba argues with a woman over open marriages. Ebba is perplexed by the family’s health because it goes against her preconceived notion of how marriages are supposed to work. Such is the problem with Ebba’s marriage: Both partners have expectations for “how marriages work” that get in the way of a healthy relationship.

“Force Majeure” is ultimately a cry for emotional openness and less judgment between married couples. As a cinematic bonus, it does this with flair and beauty.

Released: Oct. 31
Director: Ruben Östlund (“Involuntary”)
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Cast: Johannes Kuhnke, Lisa Loven Kongsli, Clara Wettergren, Vincent Wettergren, Kristofer Hivju, Fanni Metelius

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Summer may be winding down, but that doesn’t mean you have to follow suit. Keep your week alive with some concerts, comedy and films.

Monday

Ceremony at Rock & Roll Hotel: All the way from California, the punk-rock band Ceremony is coming to the Rock & Roll Hotel. The group has toured with rock bands like AFI, and its pre-hardcore, punk-inspired songs are sure to get you in a rocking mood.

La Bomba! Stand Up Comedy at Little Miss Whiskey’s Golden Dollar: Punk rock not your thing? Head out to this weekly stand-up comedy show instead. Free and 21+.

Tuesday

Us the Duo at 9:30 Club: A love story for the ages: Michael and Carissa Alvarado fell in love and started writing music together before becoming Us the Duo. Their soft pop-folk songs and covers skyrocketed them to internet fame. Their beatbox-infused duets made them stars on Vine, and now you can catch them at the 9:30 Club for $20.

The Clientele at Black Cat: Experience a little more of the pop-rock genre with The Clientele at Black Cat. Catch the British band for just $15.

moonrise-kingdom-international-posterWednesday

“Moonrise Kingdom” at the Bethesda Outdoor Movie Series: Head out to Bethesda to catch this Wes Anderson favorite outside. The movie will start when the sun goes down at about 9 p.m. A limited number of seats are available, but you can bring your own chair or blanket. Maybe it’s time to crack out that GW towel you got at Colonial Inauguration.

Coen Brothers Double Feature at Washington Jewish Community Center: For just $12, you can see “A Serious Man” and “The Big Lebowski” back to back. The first showing is at 6:30 p.m., followed by the second at 8:30 p.m. Don’t want to spend the whole evening watching movies? Your ticket is good for two movies that week, so you can always catch the next one on Thursday, Saturday or Sunday.

Thursday

Official Flume Afterparty at U Street Music Hall: Couldn’t get tickets to the sold-out Flume show? Tickets to this 18+ event are $10. If you are going to the Flume show, you get in for free with your ticket stub or 9:30 Club stamp.

Hospitality and Ex Hex at Rock & Roll Hotel: Catch these female-fronted rock bands at the Rock & Roll Hotel. Hospitality is touring to promote its latest album, “Trouble,” which earned a 7.5 rating on Pitchfork. Tickets are only $13.

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This post was written by Hatchet reporter Sandra Loyola.

The weekend is winding down, and Monday’s forecast for both weather and places to go out doesn’t look promising. After getting past that hurdle, here’s what to look forward to later in the week.

Tuesday

Sunset Yoga & Pilates at the Georgetown Waterfront Park: Stressed from your internship or job and need a way to relax? The Georgetown Business Improvement District, in partnership with Georgetown yoga and pilates studios, will host free one-hour sunset sessions at the Georgetown Waterfront Park. Come to the park near the intersection of Water Street and Potomac Street any week this summer. Corepower Yoga will run this week’s session at 6 p.m. Space is limited, so make sure you RSVP.

Free Comedy at Vendetta: Catch a free comedy show every Tuesday at 8 p.m. The shows include D.C.’s best stand-up comics along with up-and-coming comedians. Ages 21+.

Wednesday

The Avalon Theater is at 5612 Connecticut Ave. NW. Photo by flickr user Mr.TinDC used under a CC BY-ND 2.0 licence.

The Avalon Theater is at 5612 Connecticut Ave. NW. Photo by flickr user Mr.TinDC used under a CC BY-ND 2.0 licence.

French Cinémathèque at the Avalon Theatre: The Embassy of France and the Avalon Theatre have teamed up to show contemporary French films during the month of July. Don’t worry if your French is rusty – English subtitles are provided. Tickets are $9 for students.

Summer Happy Hour Chocolate Tastings at Cocova: Cocova hosts a themed chocolate tasting every Wednesday from 4 to 7 p.m. This week’s tasting will feature white and milk chocolate bars.

Thursday

Stand-up Comedy at the Topaz Hotel Bar: Don’t feel like repeating another night of bar hopping at Dupont Circle? Topaz Hotel Bar hosts a live stand-up show every Thursday night from 8 to 10 p.m. with veteran comedians as well as “non-coms,” who are invited to get up on stage and try to win a $25 cash prize for the best joke.

Queens of the Stone Age featuring St. Vincent at Merriweather Post Pavilion: With tickets starting at $40, this summer concert will be filled with rock, sprinkled with some indie tunes from St. Vincent.

Friday

Take the orange or blue line to the Smithsonian. Photo by flickr user m01229 under a CC BY 2.0 licence.

Take the orange or blue line to the Smithsonian. Photo by flickr user m01229 under a CC BY 2.0 licence.

A Garden of Wonders at the Smithsonian Castle: Time to party like Alice and enter wonderland in this madcap party that transforms the Smithsonian Castle’s garden into a landscape of magic. With outdoor games, craft activities and a DJ, you don’t want to be late to this party. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door. Ages 21+.

Sasha Lord and Chris Rudy present 80’s Karaoke Performance Art Competition at Comet Ping Pong: Gather a group of friends and head to Comet Ping Pong to enjoy pizza and celebrate the start of weekend by watching an 80’s Karaoke showdown backed by the HariKaraoke Band. Admission is $12, and all ages are welcomed.

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Photo courtesy of Jim Norton's Facebook page.

Photo courtesy of Jim Norton’s Facebook page.

Interview conducted by Hatchet Staff Writer Ana Cvetkovic

Jim Norton, known for his controversial political comedy, can be heard on “The Opie & Anthony Show” on Sirius XM Radio and has his own Netflix special. He will be in the District this Thursday through Saturday for three sold-out improv shows.

The Hatchet talked with the comedian about his early beginnings, politics and the difference between radio and stand-up comedy.

Hatchet: So did you happen to catch the State of the Union last night? Any thoughts?

Norton: I did not. I never watch that stuff.

Hatchet: Oh really? Your stuff is very political.

Norton: It’s just such nonsense, I don’t believe any of it.

Hatchet: D.C. is a very politically focused city. You comment a lot on race, terrorism and current events in your comedy. Do you believe there’s any value in being politically correct in comedy?

Norton: No. Political correctness I think is based in a desire to cover things up. I’m not going to tell you what I think, I’m gonna tell you what I think you want to hear. Maybe the intent of it originally was to be nicer, to be gentler, but no, I don’t think there’s any advantage. I think it just teaches people to be dishonest and not speak their minds.

Hatchet: Your 2012 special was called “Please Be Offended” and you’ve said in interviews that you believe in freedom of speech. Is there anything that is off-limits in your comedy?

Norton: No. Not at all. There’s nothing off limits for actors or musicians, so I don’t see that there would be for comedians either.

Hatchet: Is there a message behind your comedy?

Norton: No, I just give my opinion. I tell the truth. I hope people laugh. When I say the truth, I don’t mean that I’m always right. I mean I’m just honest with my opinion. I think that’s a comedian’s obligation, to be funny and to be honest. You know, sometimes you’re right, sometimes you’re wrong.

Hatchet: You’ve worked in many different media – radio, TV, film, books. What works best for comedy and why?

Norton: Well, stand up of course. But I love radio. Radio is such a fun gig. I love doing radio. It’s really free and there’s no rush to get to any point. You can really take your time, so I love radio. And I like writing too. I love all of it.

Hatchet: Can you get away with more because you’re on XM Radio?

Norton: God yeah, much more, sure.

Hatchet: Why is that?

Norton: Because there’s no language restrictions. It’s a subscription service, so no one can “stumble” onto something. That’s also kind of what made satellite popular…. There’s self-imposed limits [on radio], you know, there are certain things you don’t want to go on there and do. You’re allowed to do almost anything [on satellite radio].

Hatchet: Do you have any advice for young people trying to break into comedy?

Norton: Write all your own material and perform as much as you can and listen to the sets after you’ve performed. It’s really easy to be lazy in stand up, but you have to do the work if you want to get good at it. So don’t be lazy, because there’s nothing more annoying than how lazy people can be.

Hatchet: How did you get started with comedy?

Norton: I wanted to do it since I was 12, so I went on in a bar and I was awful, but I started when I was 21. It was something I had always wanted to do.

Hatchet: What were some of your worst jokes?

Norton: I don’t even remember. I remember the first joke I told. It was like comparing Oprah’s vagina to a black hole in space. It was some awful joke, but it’s the first one I can remember telling.

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Sunday, April 22, 2012 11:16 a.m.

Comedy tour pokes fun at college life

Jordan Carlos, MTV, I just want my pants back

Jordan Carlos, currently acting in MTV's "I Just Want My Pants Back," performed Saturday night as a part of the Post-College Confusion Tour presented by BroBible at the Sixth & I Historic Synagogue. Ashley Lucas | Hatchet Staff Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Rachel Milkovich.

Life in college can be new, awkward but is often entertaining.

Chuckles were heard Saturday in Chinatown as local and New York-based comedians from BroBible’s Post-College Confusion Tour took the stage at the Sixth & I Historic Synagogue to poke fun at the humor-tinged challenges of post-collegiate life in the city.

“Okay, so you guys are still trying to get your drinking under control, right?” comedian Carson Gross quipped, trying to relate to the young adult audience as he began the show.

The tour, hosted by Gross, covered all the familiar aspects of soon-to-be adult life, such as giving blood, going off parents’ cell phone plan and, of course, finding a job.

“I actually had an interview at the Red Lobster,” joked comedian Michael Quinn, a Georgetown graduate. “They asked me where I saw myself in 10 years.”

Other comics included Jared Logan, Michael Che, Jared Freid, Kate Hendricks, Anthony P. DeVito, Greg Stone and Jordan Carlos.

Quoting popular Bar Mitzvah and graduation songs, Carlos excitedly shared with the audience his favorite playlist on Pandora – “This is How We Do It” by Montell Jordan, claiming “If you don’t know it you’re probably dead inside.”

The Post-College Confusion Tour is sponsored by BroBible.com, where participating comedian Jared Freid is a writer. BroBible is a website dedicated to “the glory of being a Bro” in their own virtual “Brommunity,” according to the website.

BroBible acknowledged, however, that post-college confusion is not exclusive to men, welcoming comedian Hendricks, who recently performed at the Laughing Skulls Festival in Atlanta.

“My mom recently told me I have an unkind resting face,” joked Hendricks, before going on to describe her recent romantic encounters in provocative detail.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2012 1:33 p.m.

What We’re Watching

Hatchet reporter Arich Morales shares his latest movie experience.

American Reunion” (2012)

Photo used under the Creative Commons License

After two sequels and several spin-offs that went straight to DVD, I did not have high expectations for the latest “American Pie” release. But almost nine years after the last installment, the latest film is definitely worth the time.

Directed by Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg, “American Reunion” returns to East Great Falls, Mich., where the gang assembles once again for a high school reunion. But fans will find a lot has changed for these five close friends.

Jim (Jason Biggs) and Michelle (Alyson Hannigan) are married with a child, but the new addition to their family seems to be putting a damper on the couple’s sex life. Oz (Chris Klein) works as a sportscaster in Los Angeles and has a supermodel girlfriend but has grown tired of his shallow lifestyle. Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) brings an assortment stories back to East Great Falls after being missing-in-action for years. Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas), true to character, is happily married and works at home as an architect. Steve Stifler (Seann William Scott) is still the same immature womanizer, except he works a temporary job at an investment firm.

The film features the same lovable characters and the same grotesque humor that fans love, but aged characters add a new level of intrigue to a familiar setting. “American Reunion” adds a touch of drama as old feelings of love are rekindled and the group reverts to its childish ways despite newfound maturity.

From start to finish, there is not a dull moment. Jim and Michelle’s marriage is put to the test when an 18-year-old girl Jim once babysat tempts him with an intense crush. His father, who became a widower three years earlier, falls for Stifler’s mom, making for a hilariously uncomfortable storyline.

As for the film’s supporting cast, the actors manage to show that some things never change. Stifler sports his maniacal smile each time he is about to do or say something absurd. Oz shows he is still the same sensitive sucker for love as he longs to get back together with his ex-girlfriend Heather (Mena Suvari). Jim’s dad continues to give outrageously sexual advice – both laugh-out-loud funny and cringe-worthy at the same time.

The film’s added dramatic elements set it apart from its predecessors while creating a sense of nostalgia through various references to the first “American Pie.”

Overall, the sequel deserves its spot in the series. Whether you’re a fan of the films or a first-time viewer, “American Reunion” is a must-see that maintains the familiarity of the characters and plot but also adds some distinctive story elements.

Genre: Comedy
Director: Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg
Cast: Jason Biggs, Alyson Hannigan, Seann William Scott, Chris Klein, Thomas Ian Nicholas, Eddie Kaye Thomas
Release Date: April 6

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Thursday, March 22, 2012 4:29 p.m.

Weekend Outlook

Enjoy the first weekend back from break with these events throughout the city:

Lisner Auditorium. Photo used under the Creative Commons License

Thursday:

Check out the DCist Exposed second opening night party at Long View Gallery from 6 to 10 p.m. The sixth annual DCist Exposed Photography Show features the work of 40 selected photographers. Tickets cost $10 in advance, with limited $15 tickets at the door.

Friday:

See stand-up comedian Ralphie May perform at Lisner Auditorium at 8 p.m. GW students pay $26.

Saturday:

The Japan Spring Opening Day Celebration will take place from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the National Mall. Enjoy bento boxes, tea, the dramatic art of kabuki and more.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2012 3:39 p.m.

What We’re Watching

Photo used under the Creative Commons License

Hatchet reporter Julie Alderman shares her latest movie experience.

Friends With Kids” (2012)

We’ve all seen that movie, the romantic comedy with attractive leads who are funny, can afford a two-bedroom apartment on the Upper West Side, and yet somehow are still alone. The protagonists are platonic friends who attempt to beat the system by having casual sex or living together with no romantic entanglements.

“Friends With Kids” is the same thing, except this time they have a kid.

Adam Scott and Jennifer Westfeldt star as Jason and Julie, two best friends of almost 20 years who realize they want children but haven’t found the right person.

The true star of the film turns out to be Westfeldt, who wrote and directed the film in addition to starring as Julie. Westfeldt shines in her role. She is charming and delightful, but maintains a realistic portrayal of her character.

Westfeldt’s writing and directing seem smart and honest, but the rest of the film’s talent leaves much to be desired.

Scott works through one of his first leading roles in a major film – an effort which could have gone better. Though he is supposed to be playing a ladies’ man, his performance is uncomfortable to watch. His sexual relationship with Mary Jane, played by Megan Fox – who always looks like she smelled something terrible – is far from realistic. It also doesn’t help that Scott’s haircut makes him look like he should be living in his parents’ basement.

The supporting cast is strong on paper but weak in practice. Jon Hamm, Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Chris O’Dowd and Edward Burns round out the cast, making for a star-studded display. But given the material they had to work with, none of the actors manage to make their characters likable.

“Friends With Kids” has some funny moments, but the quality of the acting puts a damper on the overall experience. The film is entertaining enough to be worthy of buying a ticket, but it may leave many viewers wanting more.

Genre: Comedy
Director: Jennifer Westfeldt
Cast: Jennifer Westfeldt, Adam Scott, Jon Hamm, Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Chris O’Dowd, Edward Burns
Release date: March 9

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Thursday, March 8, 2012 11:12 a.m.

Weekend Outlook

Whether you’re staying in D.C. for spring break or just hanging around a few extra days, here are a few ways to keep yourself occupied this weekend:

Thursday:

See University of Maryland and Howard University face off at the D.C. Regional Final Showcase of the National College Comedy Competition. The show begins at 8 p.m. at the Riot Act Comedy Theater. Tickets cost $10.

D.C. United vs. Real Madrid. Photo courtesy of Flickr user dbking under the Creative Commons License

Friday:

Rachel Ann Cross will perform at the Atlas Performing Arts Center at 9:30 p.m. Students pay $12.

Saturday:

Check out D.C. United’s home opener against Sporting Kansas City, starting at 7:30 p.m. at RFK Stadium. Tickets range from $26 to $60.

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Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2012 8:08 p.m.

What We’re Watching

Hatchet reporter Chelsea Huang shares her latest movie experience.

Wanderlust” (2012)

Photo used under the Creative Commons License.

“Wanderlust” follows the story of a New York City couple, who find themselves in a rural hippy commune after unemployment forces them out of their West Village micro-loft. George (Paul Rudd) and Linda (Jennifer Aniston) embark for George’s crass older brother’s house in Atlanta after he offers them a temporary place to stay and work.

On the drive down, they stumble upon a bed and breakfast in the clothing-optional, free love community Elysium. Exhausted by their uptight urban lifestyle and fed up with George’s arrogant and insufferable older brother (co-writer Ken Marino), the couple decides to stay for two weeks as they consider the alternative, freewheeling community as a viable permanent home.

The contrast between the lifestyles of George’s older brother and those in the commune is transparent. Elysium’s community of hippies teaches George and Linda the importance of truth, trust and love, while George’s brother, successful from his porta-potty rental business, shows them the vices of material wealth.

The characters are caricatured and stereotypical – the hippies portrayed with hallucinogenic tea and truth circles, and George’s brother with a shiny black escalade and a superiority complex.

The jokes are at times tired and gimmicky, but the talented cast makes up for this with a variety of smart improvisations. The result is fresh, absurd and absolutely hysterical. Paul Rudd, who coincidentally played a naïve hippy in this summer’s “Our Idiot Brother,” puts his comedic background to good use throughout the film. In arguably the most memorable, albeit uncomfortably prolonged scene, Rudd prepares for a sexual encounter by practicing his dirty talk in a bathroom mirror.

The total experience can be summed up as overheard from a fellow appreciative moviegoer: “What was that?” It is absolutely ridiculous and out of this world, yet grounded in the reality of finding your way through life. The result is a hilarious, easily digested film.

Genre: Comedy
Director: David Wein
Cast: Paul Rudd, Jennifer Aniston, Justin Theroux, Malin Akerman, Ken Marino
Release Date: Feb. 24

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