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Entertainment

Volume 84 (Fall 2012 - Spring 2013)

A Side-Splitting Comedy by MU Students

The Foreigner, Monmouth University’s play for the fall semester, opened on Friday, November 16. With a book by the deceased Larry Shue and direction by theatre department chair Dr. John Burke, The Foreigner is a side-splitting show that anybody,  can find a lot of laughs in.

“It was fantastic,” said Kevin Long, a junior and music industry major. “Just fantastic.”

The Foreigner takes place at a fishing lodge in Tilghman County, Georgia, in “the recent past” (the time period the set and costumes put in my mind was the mid 1980s). In it, Charlie Baker (Henry O. Siebecker) is a simple science fiction proofreader visiting his British friend, Staff Sargent “Froggy” LeSueur (Bryan Haring). Charlie is upset that his unfaithful wife may be dying in the hospital and tells Froggy that he wishes to speak to nobody because of an anxiety problem. As a result, Froggy decides to tell the owner of the lodge, Betty Meeks (Taylor Bogan), that Charlie is a foreigner from a distant country. Betty, who has never travelled, is eager to have the exotic Charlie, who does not speak a word of English, in her home.

 As a result of his assumed obliviousness, the lodge patrons and their friends discuss all sorts of personal matters in front of Charlie, allowing him to be, for the first act at least, a silent window through which the audience learns the subplots and setting of the play.

We learn that the other people living in the lodge are Catherine Simms (Zoe Bulitt), a wealthy but bored Southern debutante, her younger sister Ellie May Simms (Jamee Shea), who is assumed to be slow, and the shady Reverend David Marshall Lee (Brandon Wiener), who is engaged to Catherine. Often visiting is David’s friend from town, the equally shady Owen Musser (Guy Battaglia), who reveals himself as one of the primary antagonists of the show.

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Racism is the Real Battle in Camp de Thiaroye

This past Monday I had the pleasure of seeing the film Camp de Thiaroye, the first film in this year’s Provost Film Series. It was hosted by Dr. Thomas S. Pearson, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs.

“I believe these films will give us a much deeper appreciation of not only the configuration of Africa and the different states and the different factions, but also we will come to appreciate the traditions and the communal practices and emphases of various African cultures,” said Pearson.

This year’s film series, titled African Journeys: Haunting Legacies, Fragile Futures, is about the tribulations faced by African peoples from Algeria to Rwanda. “We’re doing a lot of initiatives with diversity… as an area, many Americans need to know more [about Africa]. Many people have little exposure to films by Africans about life events there,” said Pearson. He also noted that this series is part of the cultural series of events occurring across campus, including lectures and performing arts series installments centered on African culture.

This is indeed a deep film. This semi-autobiographic film focused on a squad of West African soldiers who fought for the French during World War II. They come back from their tour of duty as heroes but, while waiting to be shipped home, they are first held at a French prison camp. They came out of an international war only to fight a personal one.

Director Ousmane Sembene starts the film off with a celebration, and for pretty much the rest of the film, that’s the happiest the audience will see the soldiers. It is a study in the prejudice black soldiers face even when they risk their lives to save others. The camp is located in the desert. It’s a very barren, dry, and lonely looking place. They have no one to turn to except each other.

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“So You Think You Can Dance” Comes to the MAC

entertainment-SYTYCD-webThe top 12 finalists of FOX’s reality show “So You Think You Can Dance” performed at the MAC on Saturday night, one of the last few stops on a 30-city tour. The tour gave fans a chance to see their favorite dancers perform dance routines from the competition as well as entirely new routines.

“So You Think You Can Dance” is a FOX reality dance competition. The Emmy award-winning show was started in 2005 by Simon Fuller and Nigel Lythgoe, two of the minds behind “American Idol.” In his pre-recorded introduction of the show, Lythgoe called the program “America’s favorite summer series.”

The audience was mostly female. The few men there looked to be bored dads with their seven year olds. The pre-show included commercials for sponsors such as Libman Mops and Just Dance 4. It’s safe to say that this was their expected demographic. Of course, not only little girls went with their parents. Danielle Febus of Hackettstown is 27 and attended the show with her mother. She said she was attracted to the show because she used to dance.  

Many attendees had dance experience. Sue Suozzo of Ocean Township has been following the television series since the beginning. She used to coach gymnastics and cheerleading in addition to choreographing school plays. Suozzo said that she loves the show because, “It gives a great opportunity to young people to share their talent.”

One of those young people is finalist Amelia Lowe, a native of Butler, New Jersey. The 18-year-old has been dancing since she was three. In an interview with FOX.com, she described the rehearsal process as being very intense. “Not only are you doing dances that you’ve done on the show, but you’re doing new ones,” she said.

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Breaking Dawn’s Fantastic Finale

Fans all over have been waiting for the premiere of the epic conclusion to The Twilight Saga’s Breaking Dawn: Part Two. The first part of the fourth movie left fans with the long-awaited turning of Bella into a vampire, complete with the opening of her eyes to reveal their blood-red color.

Part two picks up where the last one left off. Bella is now awake and is looking at her surroundings with her super-enhanced vampiric sight, until her focus rests on Edward. The couple has a tender reunion, only to turn humorous as Bella crushes Edward in a hug with her newborn vampire strength. She is then reunited with the rest of the Cullen family in addition to Jacob Black and Renesmee, her daughter. The rest of the movie follows Bella and the crew as they adjust to their new lives and worry over the fate of the rapidly-growing Renesmee. There is then the threat of the powerful vampire government, the Volturi, who believe that Bella’s daughter could pose a danger to all vampires.

 Fans of both the books and the movies alike will be delighted with this final installment of the saga. The action of the film followed the novel almost perfectly, and paced the action in a way that held the audience’s interest. As in the other movies, the setting was beautifully done, and the cinematography captures the essence of the area in which these characters live. The actors put on a solid performance, making you see past the hype around Stewart and Pattinson’s personal lives and focus entirely on their characters. Not only were the main cast members phenomenal in their performance but so were the supporting cast members, including Mackenzie Foy, the little girl chosen to portray Renesmee.

The young girl did a surprisingly good job at remaining serious in her role, acting wiser beyond her years and fulfilling an image readers all over the world have had in their heads. Expectations like that can be tough on anyone, let alone an eleven year old, but Foy shines in her role.

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Green Day’s Second Strike

entertainment-dosTime sure flies, doesn’t it? It seems like it was less than two months ago that I was reviewing the last album from Green Day. Oh wait, it was less than two months ago.

Back in September, we saw the release of “¡Uno!”, an alleged “return to form” for Green Day that really just amounted to a mostly watered-down, sterilized attempt for the band to reclaim their glory years, with only a few worthwhile moments to be found. Ultimately, Green Day couldn’t live up to the hype.

Now we find ourselves in November, and with the release of “¡Dos!”, the second installment of their “epic” trilogy, we can finally look past the hype and judge the album for what it really is: an almost completely watered down, sterilized attempt for the band to reclaim their glory years, with even less worthwhile moments to be found.

I honestly can’t say that I was surprised by this outcome in the slightest, as “¡Dos!”, along with the soon-to-come “¡Tre!”, were produced during the same sessions that spawned “¡Uno!”, a marathon of sorts by Green Day to write as many sub-par power-pop songs as they possibly can. Unfortunately, this means that “¡Dos!” suffers from nearly all of the same problems found on “¡Uno!”, only now, after just going through this ordeal less than two months ago, it feels like insult to injury, like getting slapped on your already sunburned back.

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Student Spotlight: Mike Burke and Suburban Cliché

The Outlook recently had the opportunity to interview Michael Burke, sophomore music industry major, about his experience as a musician. He plays the guitar in the rock band Suburban Cliché alongside Cole Gallagher (vocals, guitar), Frank Toledano (vocals, bass), and Tom Bell (drums).

The Outlook: How did you first get started in music?

Michael Burke: I remember first getting started in music around 6th grade. Like in a lot of elementary schools, everyone got to play their little recorders and learn jingle bells during Christmas, but nothing really more than that. It was a small school and we didn’t have a ton of funding for the art programs. I remember wanting to do a little more than play a few notes on a squeaky plastic toy, so I took private saxophone lessons through a program after school. I couldn’t stand the saxophone; I only stuck with it long enough to play one school concert and quit after that. A little while passed, and I remember my dad casually telling me to mess around on a guitar, just to pick it up and get a feel even if I didn’t know how to play. I remember sitting in my den strumming the guitar, open string and awful sounding, just getting the beat to some Bruce songs. From there on, it just progressed a little more each time until I was actually playing some notes and chords.

The Outlook: What instrument do you play?

MB: Guitar is my most comfortable instrument. I’ve been playing it for about 6 years now. I also play bass, drums, and piano.

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Taylor Swift Shows Many Colors on “Red”

Taylor Swift is perplexingly amazing. Her lyrics aren’t phenomenal, her melodies are predictable and her voice is only average. Yet, somehow, she still always manages to churn out an album that I will listen to on repeat for weeks. She continues this trend with her latest effort, “Red.”

The Pennsylvania native’s fourth studio album is titled “Red” because the moments in her life that she writes about are all moments that she sees in the color.  In her album booklet, Swift has a prologue where she explains the moments that inspired the album: “These are moments of newfound hope, extreme joy, intense passion, wishful thinking, and in some cases, the unthinkable letdown. And in my mind, every one of these memories looks the same to me. I see all of these moments in bright, burning, red.”

The country singer hasn’t just been influenced by pop music; she has started writing with some of the best names in pop. Swedish producers Max Martin and Shellback co-wrote three songs with Swift: “I Knew You Were Trouble.”, “22”, and “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”. Martin and Shellback have collaborated with Pink, Adam Lambert and Britney Spears.

Taylor Swift, while she sells to the same demographic, isn’t really the same type of pop star. She has typically strayed away from synthesizer driven, overproduced tracks. Those three tracks are all very heavy on the electronic elements, and they don’t sound like typical Taylor Swift songs.

The Max Martin songs are irritatingly high pitched and repetitive. Yet, they have helped her sell records. “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” was the first and only single released before the album dropped and Swift sold 1.2 million records in her first sales week alone. It was the largest sales week for an individual album in a decade, according to Billboard.

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A 17th Century Play with Timeless Value

No matter when you were born, whether you like or don’t like theater, you probably know the name ‘William Shakespeare’. He is arguably the greatest playwright of all time, and his works are very well known, but are his works are still relevant?

The University’s honor school recently sponsored a trip to see Shakespeare’s Henry V at the Two River Theater Company. Honor students, especially those in the first year clusters, were allowed to attend free of charge.

Kevin Dooley, Dean of the Honors School, felt this was a very important experience for the students, especially in today’s political climate. “Political dramas always have the same themes of intrigue, revenge and justice, whether we’re talking about Henry V or Julius Caesar,” Dooley said. “Good literature has many layers. Shakespeare wrote for the comman man and expressed very human themes.”

The play is about King Henry the Fifth’s fight to become the rightful heir of France. Though he is already the King of England, he can lay claim to the French throne since some of his ancestors had been French nobles. He’s also coerced to go to war by the Catholic Church, who would make a large financial contribution to support the war if Henry pursues the French throne, but that is only because they want to distract him from passing a new law that requires the church to give up much of its money and land to the crown.

Jeffrey Jackson, assistant professor of English, particularly enjoys the timelessness of this play. “With Henry V, you also have a play about the role war plays in our overall perception of a leader, an issue that remains timely and controversial. During World War II, the play was celebrated for its patriotism in the face of Nazism’s threat. We’re a little more ambivalent about war now, especially when it’s seen as bolstering a ruler’s power or popularity, so the play continues to hit a nerve. Henry V is the story of the young, wastrel son who is forced to grow up when he inherits the throne and does so through war: I wouldn’t be surprised if somewhere down the road we get an adaptation set in the Bush-Cheney White House!” said Jackson.

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Strong Characters Dominate Red Dawn

Movies with as many explosions as Red Dawn are not supposed to make me want to cry. Yet that’s what happened with this movie. This is an action flick with a lot of heart and it exceeded my expectations.

The film depicts a small town in Washington that has just been invaded by North Korea. A group of young adults escape capture and form a retaliation team known as the Wolverines. The Wolverines don’t blow everything up simply for fun (though they have a lot of awesome explosions). These teenagers are fighting for their lives and their country.

They follow Jed Eckert (Chris Hemsworth), a marine on leave from Iraq. Jed teaches his brother Matt (Josh Peck) and his friends how to be soldiers. Hemsworth is fantastic as a jaded marine. He immediately goes into soldier mode when their town is attacked, and he keeps his emotional brother Matt in check. Matt thinks more with his heart than his head, and, as high school quarterback, he isn’t used to having someone else call the shots.

As Matt, Peck has a lot of dramatic material to work with. It’s easy to have doubts about casting him in a dramatic role, since he’s most known for his roles in Nickelodeon comedies such as “Drake and Josh”. As it turns out, Peck can bring on the tears just as well as the laughter. He is really the character that has the more emotional role in this film. While Jed puts up a cold, stoic front due to his training, Matt reacts with sorrow and anger to the ones he loves being killed or captured, much like anyone would.

However, Peck is kind of shoved in the corner of the movie poster. He really carries the movie just as much as Hemsworth, but it seems like advertisers thought that the newfound fame and success of Thor’s Chris Hemsworth and The Hunger Games’ Josh Hutcherson would bring in more viewers. It’ll be very disappointing for any teenage girls on Team Peeta who discover that Hutcherson’s part as Robert is rather minor.

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Award Winning Writer Inspires Hawks

entertainment-meena-alexanderMeena Alexander, internationally renowned poet and scholar, spoke at the University on Tuesday, October 16 as part of the Visiting Writers series. A huge crowd filled the Wilson Auditorium with students, faculty and members of the surrounding community.

Alexander, who was raised in India and Sudan, currently lives and works in New York City, though she taught at several universities in India prior to that.

She earned her PhD in romantic literature from Nottingham University at the age of 22. She is currently a distinguished professor involved with the Masters of Fine Arts degree in creative writing program at Hunter College and the English PhD program at the City University of New York graduate center. 

According to her website, “She is the author of six volumes of poetry including Illiterate Heart (winner of the PEN Open Book Award), Raw Silk and Quickly Changing River. She is the editor of The Everyman Library’s Indian Love Poems. She has written the acclaimed autobiography Fault Lines (picked by Publishers Weekly as one of the best books of the year) as well as two novels, one of which is Nampally Road (A VLS Editor’s choice).”

She has also been given the 2009 Distinguished Achievement Award in Literature from the South Asian Literary Association.

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American Horror Story: Asylum Delivers Tricks & Treats

entertainment-american-horror-storyIf you’re in need of a good scare, blood or kinky sex, you’ll be happy to know that American Horror Story returned to FX last week. The thriller has adapted an anthology format, meaning each season will be one self-contained story. A different season means different characters, places and stories (but expect some of the same actors). This season, aptly subtitled Asylum, focuses on Briarcliff Manor, a mental institution in the 1960s.

The show opens with present day newlyweds Leo (Adam Levine) and Teresa (Jenna Dewan Tatum) entering the abandoned asylum on the last stop of their honeymoon. The trip included visiting the 12 most haunted places in America and having sex in each.

After they realize that Briarcliff is legitimately haunted, the show flashes back to 1964. Kit Walker (Evan Peters) is committed after supposedly killing and skinning numerous people, including his wife. However, he can’t remember murdering anyone; he only remembers aliens probing him.

AsAmerican Horror Storydid with their first season, they have tons of subplots that are incredibly interesting but hard to track. The subplot involving a reporter investigating the asylum but quickly getting herself committed was predictable.

However, other plotlines are much more mysterious. What lives in the woods and needs to be fed every night? What is Dr. Arthur Arden (James Cromwell) doing to patients without family that causes them to die suddenly? Every character has a storyline, each one more enigmatic than the last.

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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