A common question that we all ask ourselves here at Amherst College deals with the purpose of a liberal arts education. Why liberal arts? Why are we here? We come to answer this question from a variety of perspectives as time goes by. Through our daily experience, we regularly redefine what it means to us. We redefine it after a very exciting class that we would have never taken if not for Amherst, after attending a poetry society meeting in the Mead Art Museum, or after cheering for our school during a game.

You’d think that after “Inception” the creative teams in Hollywood would come up with new tricks and twists on the omnipresent themes of dreams, double-identity and exploration of self. That is not the case. Continuing the genre’s legacy of optional innovation, most Hollywood action films remain just like your old computer: changing your desktop picture won’t give you a new machine.

In January, British newspaper The Guardian published an article titled “Rock music’s death knell has yet to toll.” By my own estimation, rock music, if not dead, is at least flat lining in popularity. But I don’t blame people who choose to listen to pop over rock today.

The timeline began exactly half a century ago, when the first volume of Mary Norton’s “The Borrowers” series was published. Followed by five sequels, the children fantasy novel spun a plethora of film and TV adaptations, yet each, in some way or another, failed to revive the crystal-clear innocence that made the series a sensation. Meanwhile Isao Takahata and Hayao Miyazaki, two young Japanese animation artists took notice and decided to render the series their way.

Simin and Nader are married. Simin and Nader want a divorce. There is a simple solution to this problem, yes? Get a divorce. Huzzah, we’re done! Boy, that was a short movie.

“Tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor —
Rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief.”

There is something sinister beneath the superficial innocence of this traditional British counting rhyme. Or perhaps the very fact that I think so speaks to the influence of author John le Carré and his classic 1974 spy thriller, “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.”

A seven-year gap is not long enough for Alexander Payne to erase his penchant for contemporary satire nor alter his signature style. With “The Descendants,” his first directorial feature since the now legendary independent hit “Sideways,” an Academy-Award winning black comedy released in 2004, the Payne formula seems to be working again. The question is: Have we had enough?