The Cambridge Footlights
If you’ve yet to experience The Cambridge Footlights, get thee hence to McConomy Auditorium for a universally acclaimed hour of British sketch comedy, presented by Scotch’n’Soda. The Footlights are the nurturing environment out of which many of the greatest modern comedians have risen, including John Cleese, Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie, Julian Fellowes, and Douglas Adams. The troupe never fails to deliver a brilliant blend of comedy styles ranging from Python to Kaufman.
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After an endless, deliberately vague marketing campaign that offered enough for even the most tepid fanboy to squeal, Prometheus arrived to general satisfaction in June, proving that it was indeed a prequel to the Alien franchise. Despite the film’s messy plot structure, it is impossible to deny that Ridley Scott delivers a series of shimmering designs captured with his usual cinematic chutzpah.
Noomi Rapace establishes herself as a capable multilingual actress in her first major English performance, playing Elizabeth Shaw, a strong woman of devout faith. Charlize Theron is Meredith Vickers, a suspicious suit. And, of course, Michael Fassbender turns in a moving, nuanced portrait of David, an android more human than many of the other characters.
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The granddaddy of all sci-fi horror — or perhaps the grandmama? — Alien still stands as the greatest triumph of Ridley Scott’s career. It demonstrates an impeccable control of suspense absent in Blade Runner and a patient, multilayered visual language that had disappeared by the arrival of Gladiator in 2000.
Alien tells the simple tale of a space-exploration crew trying to return to Earth. Sigourney Weaver’s Ellen Ripley has become an enduring icon in both cinematic history and feminist fiction, and the film boasts some of the boldest art design in recent memory, created by the twisted, genitalia-obsessed H.R. Giger. The final 15 minutes are a model of suspenseful editing and a triumph of visual effects. Alien is one of the best films of 1979 and is required viewing for any fan of sci-fi or horror.