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Last updateWed, 20 Sep 2017 1pm

Entertainment

A Monster Calls is a Must See

Watch A Monster Calls Let’s just get right down to it. A Monster Calls, directed by J. A. Bayona, was the most under-looked, under-discussed hidden gem of the year. It is the one of the most beautiful and heart-wrenching films that has been released in the last decade. Yes, this is a fairly heavy statement, but to me, there is nothing about this film that was less than absolutely stunning. From the production, acting, and animation, to the genuine emotions it evokes from audiences all across the nation, A Monster Calls is the film you may never have heard of, but is certainly one that you should watch immediately. Without a doubt in my mind, it is going to hold a prime position in the coming of age genre for years to come.

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Hurricane Diane Wins The Crowd Over

The eccentric new play HurricaneDiane opened Jan. 27 at Two River Theater and I had the pleasure of seeing it performed for the first time. Theater is an immersive experience that awakens an audience and asks them to trust where the director, actors, scenes, and story line take them. This play makes you think past the existential experiences that shape human behavior in the funniest possible way, of course.

Playwright Madeleine George weaves together a satirical, yet enlightening play about the discord between humans and planet Earth. The show draws inspiration from The Bacchae, which is the Greek story of how Dionysus seeks revenge on those that openly defied her power as a god. Diane (Becca Blackwell) is the contemporary version of Dionysus who seeks to bring carnage while she poses as a gardener with experience in permaculture. Diane coaxed her way into the lives of four women living in a quiet cul-de-sac in Red Bank, which makes this play endearingly familiar. The setting is not a complete replica of Red Bank, but the sights and smells of Delfini’s, a restaurant in the area can be envisioned in this play and that is a reminder of the Monmouth County community.

The four women who form this quatrain of something resembling Desperate Housewives is entertaining because they are all best friends that nag each other, yet love each other. They gossip regularly and drink coffee or wine together in their kitchens. Throughout the play this demonstrates how close knit they are as they interact with Diane. Sandy (Mia Barron) is an HGTV enthusiast who is immediately skeptical of Diane’s motives. Meanwhile others like Renee (Nikiya Mathis) and Beth (Kate Wetherhead) are attracted to Diane and see her as this inspiration for creativity. Pam (Danielle Skraastad) is the feisty, Italian-American that does not trust Diane whatsoever, but the string of clichés is what makes her character one of the stand-outs. From her many Italian hand gestures whenever she talks to the offense she takes when Diane admitted that she has never been to Delfini’s. The dialogue is captured intuitively by the actors that play the four women whom Diane ends up recruiting as her followers to take revenge on the way humans are destroying nature. There is a natural banter between the cast and the comedic timing or innuendos synchronizes with the affability of Diane’s personality since she is the source of all this ensuing chaos.

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Hidden Figures is an Excellent Discovery

“Every time we get a chance to get ahead, they move the finish line,” said the fiery Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe) in the recently released Hidden Figures. This quote and more is what makes the film so poignant: even an early 1960s set story is still strikingly relevant today, for better or worse. Hidden Figures is a heartfelt, sometimes corny, but always inspiring story that is finally getting its opportunity to be told.

Directed and written by Theodore Melfi, and based off the book of the same name by Margot Lee Shetterly, the plot follows the little known true story of three brilliant, female, African American mathematicians: shy Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), determined Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer), and outspoken Mary Jackson. The three friends attempt to move up the ranks at NASA, while the contentious Space Race between the United States and Russia barrels on, as does the continuing discrimination against not only African Americans, but women.

Katherine faces doubt at her new post in the almost all white and all male Flight Research Division, Dorothy struggles to be promoted to supervisor while also facing losing her job due to new technology, and Mary must confront the courts while also trying to become the first black engineer at NASA. Melfi, writer and director of the 2014 film starring Bill Murray, St. Vincent, knows how to craft a briskly paced, entertaining film. He has the benefit of three well-written storylines composed of fascinating characters at his disposable, and moves between them gracefully. The film is also shot beautifully, with grand scenes from the NASA campus in Virginia to the woman’s humble homes in suburbia.

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Kevin Chambers Returns to MU

Kevin Chambers Returns to MUn March 13, 2015, the young musician, Kevin Chambers’ life was changed forever.

Scheduled to perform at about 7 p.m. at the annual 24-hour music festival on that day in March, Chambers was preparing in the WMCX studio, the University’s radio station. Just before he was about to go on-air for his solo performance, Chambers became ill and needed medical attention.

“I played my set, everything was normal, he was on top of it,” David Rothschild said in a press release, who is a friend of Chambers and a fellow musician. “He even ripped off this beautiful piano solo when I dropped my harmonica.”

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Neil Simon Visits MU

The Center for the Arts at Monmouth University has announced that tickets are now on sale for Neil Si-mon’s Last of the Red Hot Lovers, scheduled for the evening of Feb. 16 as part of the Win-ter/Spring Performing Arts Series of events.

Presented inside Pollak, the 7:30 p.m. show brings the assembled talents of Philadelphia’s Walnut Street Theatre — America’s longest established stage company, founded in 1808 — to the flagship auditorium of the Monmouth campus. It’s a welcome engagement by the troupe that brought Eugene O’Neill’s Moon for the Misbegotten to Manasquan’s Algonquin Theatre last year — and with the Pollak’s newly enlarged performance area, improved sight lines and nearly 700 new seats, the stage is set for a fresh and funny look at a classic comedy from the era of “Mad Men” mores and manners.

The playwright who created Barefoot in the Park and The Odd Couple had entered the prime of his career when Last of the Red Hot Lovers opened on Broadway in 1969, during a time of fast-changing attitudes toward sex, gender roles and monogamy. The so-called ‘sexual revolution’ is very much on the mind of Barney Cashman, the play’s central character and a middle-aged, married man who yearns to get in touch with his long-suppressed “swinger” side.

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Pokémon Sun and Moon: Review and Retrospective

Pokemon Sun Moon ReviewAssuming one knows nothing about Pokémon: Sun and Pokémon: Moon, the most recent additions to the wildly popular Pokémon series, one might first ask, ‘what’s new?’ Well, Pokémon gyms are gone, mega-evolutions were put on the back-burner in favor of z-moves, the map is a collection of islands, the Pokémon professor is a tanned, ‘shirtless-stud’ who lets Pokémon test their attacks on him, and the new bad-guys, Team Skull, are a bunch of pun-cracking, delinquent, good-for-nothing kids who no one takes seriously. Pokémon Sun and Moon are certainly great games, however, I personally feel that this has little to do with any of the aforementioned changes, and more with the fact that they’re Pokémon titles.

Before I go into further detail about Sun and Moon, I’d like to talk a bit about my background with Pokémon. Pokémon Gold was the first video game I ever played, and at the ripe old age of seven, I spent an excess of 300 hours on the game. Since then, I’ve played at least one version of each core title and have always played the extended editions (Pokémon Yellow, Crystal, Emerald, etc.) whenever they released. I’ve played every remake of these core titles and I’ve even played most of the spinoffs with the Pokémon Colosseum and Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness titles being my favorites in the entire series. These two GameCube spinoffs, much like Sun and Moon, ditched traditional Pokémon game format, throwing away both gyms and wild Pokémon battles/captures.

Given that my favorite titles are spinoffs which radically changed series format, I am tolerant of such an approach, perhaps even more likely than most to appreciate it. This in mind, the question becomes, what is it about Pokémon Sun/Moon that makes them less appealing? In my opinion, the changes made by Sun/Moon are jarring enough that it doesn’t feel like a core Pokémon title, yet it bears enough similarities to core titles that it doesn’t feel like a spinoff. Consider the new z-moves, which essentially replace mega-evolutions (one of the previous generation’s standout mechanics), they’re certainly cool, and they actually do a lot to balance out mega-evolution. That said, many feel that they’re a lot less interesting than mega-evolutions. Innovation is all well-and-good, but in this case, even if series patterns were altered, I wouldn’t say that there was true innovation here.

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The CW is Thriving with Superhero Hits

CW ArrowThe CW is ‘super’ great right now, and the man at the center of it all is writer, producer, and creator, Greg Berlanti. The mastermind is behind The CW’s hits, Arrow, Supergirl, The Flash, and Legends of Tomorrow.

In 2012, the birth of The CW’s superhero takeover began. It started with a billionaire, Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell), who was stranded on an island where he learned many different skills, which would turn him into the Arrow. After he realized he couldn’t fight off every villain who entered Star City, he enlisted a team to help him. The team consisted of John Diggle (David Ramsey), Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards), Laurel Lance (Katie Cassidy), Thea Queen (Willa Holland), as well as previous Roy Harper (Colton Haynes). The show originally focused on Queen’s struggle with letting people in, and realizing he can’t control every situation in his life. The show now relies heavily on the other characters and the relationships Queen has built over the years with these people by his side.

After the network got a glimpse of the adoration from Arrow fans, critics and viewers alike, The CW moved forward with The Flash, which starred the adorable, smart, super-nerd, Barry Allen (Grant Gustin). Much like superheroes before him, The Flash has a cover job (hey, even though they’re superheroes, they still have to pay the bills!) working as a CSI (crime scene investigator), where he works with a team of investigators who uncover his secret and help him fight off crime. His speed, willingness to help, and sometimes naïve nature sets him apart from other heroes. He isn’t aggressive or a tortured soul in a way; he’s extremely kind and very ordinary. The Flash protects Central City, and sometimes joins forces to help his friends in Star City as well as National City.

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The 74th Golden Globe Award Show Was A Success

74th Golden Globe AwardsThe Golden Globe Award Show first made its debut in January, 1944 and has been an annual success ever since. There are always new films and television shows that sweep the audience’s attention globally, and this year’s 74th Golden Globe Award Show was no exception.

One film that certainly stole the show was film director Damien Chazelle’s La La Land. The film successfully won a total of seven Golden Globe awards, which were: Best Actor in a Motion Picture Musical or Comedy, Best Actress in a Motion Picture  Musical or Comedy, Best Motion Picture of a Musical or Comedy, Best Director of a Motion Picture, Best Original Score, Best Original Song, and Best Screenplay of a Motion Picture. This was a big deal for the film, as it now holds the new record of winning seven nominations. The last picture to hold the title was One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975) and Midnight Express (1978), both of which had the record of winning six nominations.

 La La Land is about a struggling actress, Mia (Emma Stone) and struggling Jazz musician Sebastian (Ryan Gosling), who come together and try to pursue their big Hollywood dreams. If you’re a fan of musicals, you will most likely enjoy this film. Or, if you’re a fan of seeing Gosling dressed up in an old-Hollywood fashion (like me), you’ll enjoy this film too.

Thanks to the film’s songwriters, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, the soundtrack has a beautiful Jazz theme to it. There are certain songs that are repeated various times, though it is done purposefully as a way to show nostalgic memories of certain characters. This holds particularly true with the song on the soundtrack, “City of Stars,” which is also my personal favorite.

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Refn Masters The Neon Demon

Refn Masters The Neon DemonThe Neon Demon, directed by Nicolas Winding Refn, is not a film with an agenda that is set to please the masses. It is a film where the director knew his vision and wanted to put it screen. He embodied his directorial style to create a story that only he could tell. He purposefully did this regardless of the anticipated reactions it would get from audiences.

I love that. Create art that you are proud of and if others enjoy it as well, that’s a bonus. All that being said, The Neon Demon is a fantastic film that is executed brilliantly, throwing the audience into the competitive world of Los Angeles modeling through the eyes of the gorgeous new girl in town (Elle Fanning) and her extremely envious competition.   

The Neon Demon is many things, but conventional is not one of them. Refn takes a fairly simple premise on the surface and transforms it into a psychedelic, visual masterpiece where his style is able to tell a greater tale of obsession and frankly, survival of the fittest in the modeling world. The film creates this very ‘still’ feeling, moving from scene to scene with little outside noise other than dialogue, making the audience hang onto every word the characters spoke.

From beginning to end it is unnerving and disquieting, which makes it difficult to turn away. Many of us are unfamiliar with the modeling industry at its core. As a result, Refn takes it upon himself to paint us a picture and create his own interpretation of this world. He presents us with this specific dimension of this unknown world to all of us and doesn’t stray away from that world or try to humanize the characters into being multidimensional. He kept them all pretty flat, in a good way, which made the characters seem more animalistic, feeling the same things and instinctually acting as a group. Various scenes present these girls not as humans, but as exotic beings or ‘animals.’ In that, making the characters flat and not giving them distinguishing traits to make them unique works well in this film.

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9 Lives Spotlight: Govel and Flores

Govel and Flores 1Every semester, Monmouth’s student run record label, Blue Hawk Records, creates and records a compilation album featuring various artists on campus. The Applied Music Industry class runs the whole production by making and producing this album. This process has many steps, starting by holding auditions in Lauren K. Woods theatre to releasing and promoting the album. This semester the class is working on their ninth compilation album, 9 Lives, which will be released Dec. 7, with a show of the album held in the Rebecca Stafford Student Center. The album features six artists from varying genres. This week, I met up with the two female singer/song writers on the album to talk about their tracks and experiences as up-and-coming musicians.

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Troye Sivan’s “Suburbia” Is a Success

Troye Sivan Suburbia 2Less than year ago, Troye Sivan announced he was going on tour once again and even though I had already previously seen him live, I purchased tickets without a second thought. Sivan didn’t disappoint.

Before the show even started, there was a charity campaign to raise money for homeless LGBTQ+ youth, which set the tone for the show. Troye Sivan has always showed his support and passion for the LGBTQ+ community and always wants his fans to feel that his shows are a safe space and tonight was no different.

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Contact Information

CAMPUS LOCATION
The Outlook
Jules L. Plangere Jr. Center for Communication 
and Instructional Technology (CCIT) Room 260, 2nd floor

MAILING ADDRESS
The Outlook
Monmouth University
400 Cedar Ave, West Long Branch, New Jersey 07764

Phone:(732) 571-3481 | Fax: (732) 263-5151
Email: outlook@monmouth.edu