A Black Tie Affair.

The Art Review: Fashion. Music. Theater. Entertainment.

“You’ll eventually realize that introversion is not a personality that can be “fixed” or “cured,” only understood and accepted.”

—   the-lighted-being (via the-lighted-being)

(Source: the-light-warrior, via confessionsoftheintroverts)

A Black Tie Affair.: In Hopes That Someone, Anyone Can Relate

the-lighted-being:

the-art-review:

For as long as I can remember I’ve been extremely, painfully introverted (Yes, this is one of those posts). Some have labeled it “shy,” others “stuck-up,” but I like to claim introversion. See, the thing is even though I’ve always been this way, I’ve always longed to be the opposite. I wanted to…

In some ways, an introvert can learn to become more extroverted but can NEVER force themselves to become a full-on extrovert. You know why? Because everyone is naturally born with their unique personality (whether it’s extrovert, introvert, or ambivert). Yeah, you can still be social, fake a smile, and withstand a long time of stimulation, but you know truly inside you’ll eventually feel drained. I’m not saying being an introvert is limited on being “social.” Introverts can be social any time, it just depends how much time the energy will be sucked out of them. It’s a great thing that you are being more consciously aware of your introversion and opening up to it. One day, you’ll learn to accept yourself for who you truly are without feeling shamed or people judging you. Love yourself. Always remember that. :)

P.S. » You’ll eventually realize that introversion is not a personality that can be “fixed” or “cured,” only understood and accepted. ^^

Thank you for that =)

(via the-light-warrior)

In Hopes That Someone, Anyone Can Relate

For as long as I can remember I’ve been extremely, painfully introverted (Yes, this is one of those posts). Some have labeled it “shy,” others “stuck-up,” but I like to claim introversion. See, the thing is even though I’ve always been this way, I’ve always longed to be the opposite. I wanted to be that outgoing, friendly person always able to strike up a conversation about anything, everything that everyone always liked (but really secretly disliked). I wanted to be that girl so badly it hurt. Even when I was able to pretend I wasn’t this way and made a real effort to be more extroverted it would backfire on me in some way. 

I’ve realized this especially during college. When I was applying for schools during my senior year of high school I wasn’t thinking about getting into the best school, instead I thought of it as my chance to *finally* get away from the person I had been up to that point. I could leave this shell of a person behind and be someone new, confident, unafraid. So I moved as far away as I could stand to Chicago, ready for a new life, a new me. And for awhile that’s what it was. I remember being so proud of myself, coming to a brand new city where I knew no one and yet I was making friends, having a social life all on my own. I was able to play that role for awhile and I thought I was doing a good job of it. That is, until some of my friends pointed out that I didn’t “talk as much” as they did or that I didn’t go out (my idea of socializing was hanging out in the dorms, eating in the caf—not going to parties). It was true and I couldn’t deny it (although I did try to appease them and go to a few parties, still not my thing), but I didn’t care—the little “social” life I had was fine with me. 

That year I learned a lot about myself, particularly dealing with my introversion. How I couldn’t be around large groups of people without feeling anxious (even though I tried *really* hard to be sociable; you don’t want to be the “stuck-up” girl). How I felt like I could vomit anytime I was with strangers (especially speaking up in classes OMG THAT WAS LIKE THE WORST THING EVER DON’T MISS THAT NO). And how I tried so, so, SO hard not to be that way. Telling myself over and over that I don’t have to be this way, that I can be different. Because all those times where I tried to be that person, I felt so. much. better. I don’t like walking around feeling a hundred pounds of weight on my shoulders because I’ve told myself I have some extreme social anxiety. I hate it. 

So, fast forward to graduating from college. I wish I could tell you I’m a different person now, confidence and all. But I’m not. Those same feelings I felt when I was 5 years old (I have vivid memories of crying, being dragged into my kindergarten class because I was so afraid, okay?) are still there, all the time. It takes a conscious effort not to find a corner and collapse into a ball of anxiety every day. And I don’t know how to fix it. Trust me, I read every introverted/shy kid self-help article I come across to no avail. I guess what has changed is that now I’m honest about it. Before it was something I was so ashamed of that I tried my darndest to cover it up, pretend that I wasn’t that way. But now I feel like I have no choice but to accept it. Maybe that is the first step to finally dealing with it. Or maybe it can never be dealt with and this is just the way I am and I have to deal with it. I don’t know. 

Every day is a struggle, some are harder than others, but I can at least live with the hope that one day I’ll be okay with it. I may never be the girl who can talk about any and everything that everyone likes but secretly dislikes, but one day I will be okay with it. 

Here’s hoping. 

Final Music Review: Stevie Wonder

Stevie Wonder, “Up-Tight” (Motown Records, 1966); “Innervisions (Motown Records, 1973); “Characters (The Motown Record Company, 1987)

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by Mariah Craddick/Reviewing the Arts honors class

Dubbed a child prodigy, a musical genius, and a living legend, soul and funk mastermind Stevie Wonder possesses a keen awareness of the world around him which has cemented him as one of the greatest visionaries of our time, despite his blindness. While the brilliance of his musicianship and songwriting capabilities is undeniable, his true talent lies in his striking ability to paint vivid scenes of the time, observing all aspects of black American lifesocial injustice, poverty, and every day urban livingsignificantly better than artists who are able to see. In Wonder’s more than 30-year musical career, three cornerstone albums exemplify this dexterity at different points in time: the classic Motown record “Up-Tight” (1966), the remarkable and socially aware “Innervisions” (1973), and the less outstanding “Characters” (1987) album. 

Steveland Morris was introduced to the music world in 1962 as 12-year-old “Little Stevie Wonder.” Discovered by Ronnie White of Motown’s The Miracles and groomed by founder Berry Gordy Jr., Little Stevie was promoted as a squeaky clean, pubescent blind boy with more talent in his fingertips than most of his peers. Not only could he sing, he could play nearly any instrument he was handedfrom the piano to the drums. His sound was definitive of Detroit’s Motown Records which was dominating radio airwaves at the time: light-hearted, melodic pop with some elements of funk. Though Gordy had been given such a unique artist with Wonder, Motown’s Hitsville studios managed to turn him into yet another product off of the assembly line; the same line that had produced hit-making machines such as The Temptations, Diana Ross, The Four Tops, and later on The Jackson Five. With their formulaic approach, his first album “Little Stevie Wonder the 12 Year Old Genius” topped the charts and projected the prodigy onto a path of unparalleled success. Yet, like most great artists with real talenthe only caters to the rules of Motown for so long. 

"Up-Tight" captures a sixteen-year-old Wonder at the beginning of his maturation process, highlighting his transformation from boy to man. He drops the "Little" from his stage name and his Ray Charles shouts adjust to a deeper, more mature singing voice. The 60’s Motown sound defines this recordfrom teeny bop and doo wop to rhythm and funk. “Love A Go Go” opens with a bang, a vibrant burst of bouncy beats and rapid percussion. “Nothing’s Too Good for My Baby” uses that same formula and speeds it up with its fast, dancing beat driving the song. This however becomes annoyingly repetitive by the time you hear the title track. While alone “Uptight” is magnificent with its triumphant horn section and exuberant, head-bopping drums, the Motown sound is so sweetly apparent on this album it makes your head hurt. Wonder’s slower tunes “Hold Me” and “With a Child’s Heart” do provide some variety to an otherwise fluffy record, showcasing his new vocal range and expert control. He’s able to slide from soft and wispy to strong and full with complete ease. Still, “Up-Tight” feels incomplete.

It’s the inclusion of Wonder’s convincing take on Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind” that stands out and makes a mature social commentary about 1960s America. As a country riddled with war abroad and a fight for racial equality at home, Wonder sings with the wisdom of a man nearly twice his age. While Dylan’s acoustic guitar and harmonica-driven version clearly condemns the Vietnam War, Wonder makes it more personal and turns it into a protest anthem for civil rights. His interpretation is somehow optimistic as he questions man’s indifference to such inequalities, singing “How many roads must a man walk down before they call him a man?” and answering, “The answer my friend, is blowin’ in the wind.” 

While the rest of “Up-Tight” tries to remain light-hearted and as non-controversial as possible, the decision to include “Blowin’ in the Wind” speaks volumes as to what kind of artist Wonder was developing into. Even as a teenager, he is able to comprehend that the power of music goes beyond making people dance and feel good. And with that knowledge, he understands his responsibility to speak out and speak for a generation of black Americans who constantly felt invisible and less than. Though “Up-Tight” as a whole does not achieve that, it sets the course for one of the most important musical masterpieces and social analyses of its time: “Innervisions.” 

By 1973, Wonder has a slew of issues to give voice to and this record aims to tackle them all. From the psychedelic effects of drugs on “Too High” to the dark realities of city life on “Living for the City” to falsities in religion on “Jesus Children of America,” Wonder narrates a less-polished observation of urban life than his previous worksmoving away from Motown and wholly stepping into his own. Each piece is masterfully executed, from the composition to the instrumental arrangements, and must be appreciated in sequence.”Too High” opens the album with a funky, climbing bass riff, clanging cymbals, and his signature synths as he tells of the dangers of drug use. Though the lyrics serve as a warning, he sings brightly, “I’m too high, I’m so high, I feel like I’m about to die.” Wonder comes down from this high on “Visions,” a simple yet exquisitely executed ballad ending with a chilling guitar break, thatsimilarly to “Blowin’ in the Wind”pegs another question to mankind: Can love, truth, and peace exist in this space and time, or “do we have to take our wings and fly away to the vision in our minds?”

Before we can answer the question, we’re hurled into the seven-minute-long, cinematic tour de force “Living for the City.” Guided by synths, the tune recounts the life of a Mississippi-born black boy living in poverty with his family. Though his conditions are hostile, his parents provide their strength and support to keep him “moving in the right direction.”  Wonder goes on to detail the boy’s struggles with unemployment and racism, his voice sounding more gritty, angry, and frustrated as the song progresses. He yelps and shouts “living just enough for the city!” over and over, rhythmically clapping to the beat. A spoken interlude bridges the intro to the conclusion, with Wonder painting the entire scene as our protagonist arrives in the “land of opportunity” New York City. He incorporates the sounds of the bus to mimicking the different voices. We hear as the central character is tricked into selling drugs and arrested, later sentenced to ten years in jail. The drums pick back up as Wonder growls the hopeful finale: “I hope you hear inside my voice of sorrow, and that it motivates you to make a better tomorrow. This place is cruel, nowhere could be much colder. If we don’t change the world will soon be over.” The track is one of the most vivid and detailed descriptions of urban life ever translated through songand it’s catchy as hell, too. 

"Golden Lady" transports us back to a gentle Wonder singing about love, which is where he does some of his best songwriting. "A touch of rain and sunshine made the flower glow into a lovely smile that’s blooming," he croons over a soft acoustic guitar and electric piano. The tune is quiet yet so loud it’s enough to make you fall in love. "Higher Ground" takes off in a more powerful direction, a luxurious combination of funk-laden sounds with an exuberant, soaring vocal. While the song only touches on religion and the idea of being born again, "Jesus Children of America" delves deeper into the concept of spirituality as a whole. Wonder becomes a preacher of sorts, condemning the hypocrisy of the "holy roller" and the distortion our culture has put on the role of religion. "You’d better tell your story fast," he pleads. "And if you lie, it will come to pass."

"All In Love Is Fair" is back to a love-sick Wonder brooding over the game of love to the sound of his famous piano. "Don’t You Worry ‘Bout A Thing" lifts us back up again, with its fun, Latin-inspired percussion, bongos, and shaker. Wonder is now in a positive, spirited mood, telling his lover, "Don’t you worry ‘bout a thing, mama. ‘Cause I’ll be standing on the side when you check it out." The tune gives "Innervisions" some lightness and danceability near the end of the record, like the light at the end of the tunnel or a breath of fresh air. 

But Wonder doesn’t end on that note. Instead, he uses the closing track, “He’s Misstra Know-It-All,” to remind us that everything is not as peachy-clean as we like to pretend. In the song, he chides the conceited swindler with “a counterfeit dollar in his hand… the coolest one with the biggest mouth”a subtle jab at the newly re-elected President Richard Nixon. Wonder laments his position of power, singing “If we had less of him, don’t you know we’d have a better land?” Sure enough, the Watergate scandal rocks the country to its core shortly after the release of “Innervisions,” a true testament to Wonder’s prophet-like abilities. If “Up-Tight” catches Wonder at the beginning of his creative maturity, “Innervisions” is his height. Nothing he has created before or after has reached that level of social importance or relevance, though he attempts to.  

His 1987 “Characters” album tries to ignite the same passion he yielded with “Innervisions” to tap into the social conscience of America, but as a whole misses the markthough it does have its crowning moments. By the late 80s, music begins to shift to a more urban, hip hop sound and Wonder tries to capitalize on it in his own way: more synths, more harmonica, more funk, more groove. But it becomes so much that the instrumentation often dwarfs the vocals over saturating the record with cheesy, 80s electronica. “Dark ‘N Lovely” is one standout track, but not for its sound. Wonder sings an ode to the beauty of black South Africans at a time when apartheid has crippled the country with acts of civil disobedience, protests, and outside pressure from the world to end their segregationist laws. Again, Wonder uses his platform as an artist to speak to important social issues of the timeeven if by this point the overused electronic piano almost makes you take it less seriously. 

"With Each Beat of My Heart" is another classic Wonder love song, and like always he excels. A series of exhaling puffs of breath and steady snaps guide the track as he sings in beautiful harmony, "You are my first breath, my first smile, and my morning cup of tea," and you can’t help but grin. Wonder gets gritty on "Skeletons," an upbeat dance track with dark undertones about deceit and hidden truths. The meeting of two musical messiahs on his duet with pop superstar Michael Jackson, "Get It," shoots expectation through the roof but never quite makes it there. Sure, their vocals are unparalleled and cooly glide through the track, but it’s definitely not the hit that should have been guaranteed. In fact, that’s what most of "Characters" is: high expectation, disappointing delivery. And it’s the same issue every mega artist has once they release what critics and the public hail as their "definitive" record. For Wonder, "Innervisions" placed him atop the music world; "Characters" sent him tumbling down. Deservedly? Not quite. 

Whether the message Wonder was trying to portray with “Characters” was not conveyed as clearly as “Innervisions,” or if his audience had been less receptive of the message by this point in time are the true questions. Black America in the 1980s still faced some of the same problems they dealt with the decade before. But with the introduction of crack, HIV and AIDS, and gratuitous gun and gang violencemaybe they didn’t want to hear Wonder’s message anymore. Instead, many turned to hip hop which glorified the perils of the street instead of condemning it. And even if an album as marvelous as “Innervisions” were to be released then, it would not have had the same impact it had in 1973. Wonder knew this, just like he knew he had to deliver “Talking Book” (1972), “Innervisions,”  and “Fulfillingess’ First Finale” (1974)praised as the holy trinityat the times that he did. 

The albums “Up-Tight,” “Innervisions,” and “Characters,” each speak to black America at starkly contrasting moments in time, which explains their vastly different sounds. Ever since his break from Motown’s well-oiled music-making machine, Wonder has excelled at telling the stories and giving perspective to the voices often ignored. His musical capabilitiesand the fact that he plays nearly every instrument heard on his recordsonly assist in delivering these prophecies. And ultimately, Wonder proves that what was supposed to be a handicap has instead aided him in seeing the world around him crystal clear. 

"Scandal"(Season 2, episode 2: "The Other Woman," ABC)

By Mariah Craddick/ Reviewing the Arts honors class

During a time when the public has become more disenchanted with politics than ever before comes a political soap opera from the mind of Shonda Rhimes (“Grey’s Anatomy,” “Private Practice”) amplifying all of the grit of the game to paramount proportions. “Scandal” promises and delivers all of the drama of Pennsylvania Ave.the cheating, the lies, the sex scandals, and the cover-upsthrough a series of interweaving story lines that force the viewer to keep up and pay attention. This is not the show to watch before cuddling into bed for the night; it’s a thriller. 

The second season picks up strong where the first left off. We vaguely learn the answer to the question of the first season: Who is Quinn Perkins? We learn her name is really Lindsay Dwyer (Katie Lowes) and Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington), our heroine in white and central focus of the show, has some special tie to her, hence the reason why she took her in and got her off scott-free for murders she supposedly committed. 

This sets us up for “The Other Woman,” in which Olivia and her team of fixers (Columbus Short, Guillermo Diaz, Darby Stanchfield) are given the task of covering up an affair of “America’s Pastor” Marvin Drake. The team finds Drake dead in a hotel bed on top of his mistress of 15 years. Everything takes off from there. We’re thrust into a world where everybody talks on fast forward and mysteries are solved in less than thirty minutes. 

The impossibly fast dialogue, dramatic camera cuts and quick scene changes may leave heads spinning but it makes for great television. And the soundtrackfrom the O’Jays to Nina Simone to Kool and the Gangplays up each scene to perfection. 

While Olivia Pope and Associates “fix” a new problem every week, the more tantalizing story lies within Olivia’s affair with the head of state, President Fitzgerald (Tony Goldwyn). Olivia, the former White House Communications Director, is given credit for getting him elected to office and somewhere along the way a married President Fitz falls madly in love.  Props must be given to both Goldwyn and Washington who nearly fog up the camera every time they appear on screen together. The tension is palpable and gives some softness to the Olivia character who would otherwise appear cold, controlling, and boring. In this alternate Rhimes universe, the biggest issue is Olivia and Fitz’s affairnot the economy or healthcare.

That’s why “Scandal” proves more to be a soap opera than a drama as it advertises. Each scene finds itself trying to top the one before it and exaggeration is often an understatement. But it works. The viewer doesn’t have to be adept in politics or even pay attention to the news to become entranced. And really, with real-world scandals like the Clinton/Monica Lewinsky fiasco or the Petraeus love triangle, isn’t the truth stranger than fiction?

Hebru Brantley at The Silver Room, 1442 N. Milwaukee Ave.

By Mariah Craddick/ Reviewing the Arts honors class

South Side Chicago-based artist Hebru Brantley brings the urban, African-American experience to life in exquisite and vivid detail through a series of comic book-like, fantastical characters in his new exhibit “Gravity is Too Expensive - Part II.” Drawing obvious inspiration from pop art great Andy Warhol and graffiti genius Jean Michel-Basquiat, Brantley playfully depicts what culture critic Mark Dery called “Afro Futurism”—a fusion of fantasy, science fiction, pop culture, historical references, and Afrocentricity.

Brantley touches on a number of political and social themes in the exhibit—from the objectification of the black female body, referencing the “Hottentot Venus” (the black woman exhibited as a freak show in the 19th century for her large backside), to the idea of the black hero with his trademark aviator goggle-wearing “Fly Boy” (Brantley’s homage to the Tuskegee airmen of World War II). Unfortunately, Brantley’s visual narrative isn’t put together cohesively and instead feels like a gathering of leftovers from his previous exhibits: “Afro Futurism: (Impossible View),” “Brothers of Robbing Hood,” and most recently “Yesterday’s Losers.” Nevertheless, his observations are thought-provoking and aesthetically captivating. 

Brantley’s graffiti work is composed and thoughtful—words seemingly antonymous from the art form. A series of graphite drawings are exhibited as well, though they take a definite backseat to his mixed-media graffiti illustrations. In one of the standout pieces titled “Odd Times,” Brantley paints the profile of a black woman with blue and black hair, prominent lips and pink breast cancer ribbons in her ear as earrings. A dark-skinned man with pink lips dressed in a chef’s outfit stands in her hair, a chaos of colors filling the background. Brantley paints a little black boy with cherubic cheeks in a Captain America costume in his “A Boy in a Costume” portrait. And his series of “Fly Boy” paintings—referencing the action of Japanese animation—captures the wonderment, longing and disappointment of youth.

Brantley’s take on his own culture is refreshing, especially with so few black visual artists out there to do it. His examinations and critiques of the community aren’t self-righteous and he chooses to not point the finger; he simply points it out to the viewer hoping they’ll notice something they didn’t notice before. A more linear approach would help with Brantley’s storytelling, but his street-meets-the-intellect method at least leaves you feeling more aware of the world around you. 

"Almost Famous" (Directed by Cameron Crowe, 2000)

By Mariah Craddick/ Reviewing the Arts honors class

From the same director who brought us teenage cult classics such as “Fast Times at Ridgemont High”and “Say Anything” comes an exhilarating account of the rock ‘n’ roll scene of the early 1970s. Cameron Crowe’s “Almost Famous” thrusts the viewer into the middle of this era from the perspective of 15-year-old rock journalist William Miller (Patrick Fugit)Crowe’s semi-autobiographical self. While the film aims to capture the brilliance, exuberance and shadiness of rock ‘n’ roll culture at the time, it falls short instead delivering a distilled version fit for Hollywood movie screens.

The beginning of the film focuses in on William’s older sister Anita (Zooey Deschanel) who flees from their conservative, college professor mother (Frances McDormand) and her “house of lies” to become a stewardess. She leaves behind a crate of albums for her brother, telling him the music “will set you free.” It does, and inspires Williamwho’s already unknowingly been skipped two grades by his motherto pursue a career in rock journalism. He seeks out mentorship in the great rock journalist of the time and editor of Creem magazine, Lester Bangs (Philip Seymour Hoffman) who gives him an assignment to review a Black Sabbath concert. 

William shows up at the concert, to which he’s been driven to by his mother, as dorky and fresh-faced as ever with notepad and pen in hand only to be turned around by the door guy. He then comes face-to-face with Penny Lane (Kate Hudson), a groupie who refuses to call herself a “groupie” but instead a “Band-aid” because the philosophies are so much different (“…just blow jobs,” she says). Black Sabbath’s opening band Stillwater comes through and after kissing up a little, William gets his in and a bit more than he ever bargained for.

Crowe tries to sum up the period of the time: the music, the people, and the ideals, but it comes off so much less grittier than the truth. Somehow, rock ‘n’ roll becomes warm and fuzzy as William grows close with the up-and-coming Stillwater band and tags along with them on tour for a Rolling Stone magazine assignment. He becomes especially good friends with lead guitarist Russell Hammond (Billy Crudup) and forms a special bond with Penny Lane who he falls in love with, but she’s in love with Russell, and Russell has a wife at home. William instead loses his virginity to a gaggle of other Band-aids, who reverse roles and push their “services” upon him. And that’s as far into sex Crowe goes in the movie, which is puzzling because isn’t that what makes up the rock ‘n’ roll scene? Sex and drugs?

Drugs hardly get a mentionexcept in one titillating scene in which Russell takes acid at a random house party and starts tripping, screaming “I am a golden god!” before diving fully-clothed into a pool from the roof. The moment makes you laugh, but it also tugs at your heart strings a littlemuch like Crowe’s dialogue, which is often witty yet purposeful. 

The music used throughout the film is where Crowe does his best work. After William confesses his love to Penny Lane as she’s doped up on quaaludes (the one other drug mention), Stevie Wonder’s “My Cherie Amour” fills the scene as she gets her stomach pumped. And after a huge fight between the bandmates, a “Tiny Dancer” bus sing-a-long seems to make all right in the world, much like real rock ‘n’ roll always does. But that’s the only time things feel real in the movie, as the more trying issuesdrug addiction, misogyny, abuseare simply swept under the rug. 

Lianne La Havas, “Is Your Love Big Enough” (Warner Music UK Limited, 2012)

by Mariah Craddick/Reviewing the Arts Honors class

With accolades from music greats Prince and Stevie Wonder already under her belt, British songbird Lianne La Havas had a lot to live up to in her debut album “Is Your Love Big Enough?” Fortunately for her, the record holds its own, offering a refreshingly bright take on the neo-soul genre by incorporating elements of pop, jazz, and even folk music. Her emotionally intricate lyrics reek of heartbreak and self-doubt to love and all its complexities, yet the sound is often light and airyher vocals soaring above anything else.  

La Havas has the striking ability to emotionally connect through the stretching of a word or a simple quiver of her voice. When she’s singing, “You broke me and taught me to truly hate myself,” in “Lost & Found” your heart aches with hers. When she’s crooning on about loving a man old enough to be her grandfather in “Age,” it doesn’t feel perverted, it begs of your sympathy instead. And when she’s lilting about two lovers filming a movie (not in a dirty way) in “Au Cinema,” you feel the warmth of that summery afternoon on the Brooklyn bridge; her voice transports you there. La Havas’ vocal acrobatics on the title track provide a pure burst of energy, upbeat handclaps littered throughout. Her rich, layered vocals on “Forget” push you out of your seat and onto the dance floor. Pop soul at its best.

But it’s the more stripped down, acoustic ballads that lift the album to another level. In “No Room for Doubt” she partners with folk singer Willy Mason for a skillfully soft duet, the two echoing “Please sleep softly, leave me no room for doubt.” “Gone” showcases La Havas’ strong vocal talents, pulling away on the production and leaving her with only a piano. She sings with conviction in every note. La Havas’ cover of Scott Matthews’ “Elusive” comes at the climax of the record, with her effortlessly charismatic vocals doing things Matthews could never do. 

The album unfortunately closes on a mild note with the tune “They Could Be Wrong.” It’s too sweet and fluffy for an album that delved so much further, but it sounds pretty. 

Amidst obvious comparisons to other British obsessions Adele, Amy Winehouse and Corinne Bailey RaeLa Havas makes a determined effort to stand a part from the rest. The bad news, “Is Your Love Big Enough?” is nothing distinctly new or different from anything the others have done. The good news, La Havas stands in great company. 

"The September Issue" (Directed by R.J. Cutler, 2009)

by Mariah Craddick/Reviewing the Arts Honors class

Anna Wintourthe editor and chief of American Vogueis single-handedly the most influential woman in the $300 billion fashion industry. She’s also the most elusive. R.J. Cutler’s “The September Issue” promises an inside, exclusive look at the woman behind the signature blunt bob and dark sunglasses yet fails to deliver anything truly special. The 88-minute long documentary chronicles the so-called “Ice Woman” and the making of the September 2007 issue of Vogue through a series of behind-the-scenes shots and one-on-ones with Wintour and staff.

Yet instead of diving into the inner workings of the magazine, fashion or even Wintour herself, Cutler just grazes the surface. The only thing learned about Wintour 45 minutes into the film is how terrified people are of her. Staffers quiver in her wake, turning into bumbling saps when she walks into the room. In one scene, a frustrated editor shouts out “I want to kill myself!” after a meeting in which every idea he suggests to her is shot down. 

The only one brave enough to stand up to Wintour is former model now creative director Grace Coddington, who turns out to be the film’s real star. Unlike Wintour, Coddington is open and approachable as she tells the story of how a tragic car accident ended her budding modeling career. She later reveals that she started working at Vogue the same day Wintour began.

"I think we understand each other," she says. "I know when to stop pushing her. She doesn’t know when to stop pushing me."

Cutler doesn’t delve very much into Wintour’s personal life. There are a few scenes of her at home with her daughter who describes fashion as a “really weird industry.” Though her mother wants her to become an editor at the magazine one day, she plans to go to law school instead. In fact, the most revealing thing learned in the film is how even though Wintour is hailed as one of the most powerful people in the world, her own family isn’t much impressed.

"I think they’re very amused by what I do," she says with a tight smirk on her face. "Amused," she repeats, nodding her head.

Amused as they may be, the film no doubt shows Wintour’s strength in the industry. Whether she’s on the front row at every fashion show during New York Fashion Week or in the showrooms of designers like Oscar de la Renta and Jean Paul Gaultier, her force is one to be reckoned with. Like the glossed-over pages of the magazine, the real issues in fashion are blankly ignored throughout the movie. There’s no discussion of weight issues or diversity with models, the overuse of photoshopping, or the merciless slaughtering of animals for their fur. Instead the film plays like one outstanding piece of marketing for Wintour and her team at Vogue. Being the control-freak that she is, Wintour probably edited the film herselfor that’s the way it seems. 

The one achievement Cutler makes in the film is the way he highlights Wintour’s dry, sarcastic humorwhich oddly enough makes you like her. After a fashion show a reporter asks her how to wear fur that season. 

"There’s always a way to wear fur," she tells them, dark shades covering her eyes. "Personally, I have it on my back."

As the credits roll, someone off camera asks Wintour a series of questions. Her strength? Decisiveness. Her weakness? Her children. The one gift she’d like to receive? “A better backside,” she says and then begins to laugh. More is revealed about Wintour in that one outtake than the entire documentary and if you didn’t stick around for the credits, you missed it. For lovers of fashion and “The Devil Wears Prada,” “The September Issue” proves to be an entertaining look at what goes into the making of the magazineeven if it only goes skin deep. 

Solange, “Losing You” (Terrible Records, 2012)