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Entertainment

Volume 86 (Fall 2014 - Spring 2015)

Bioware Launches “Dragon Age: Inquisition”

dragon ageDragon Age: Inquisition, the latest title in Bioware’s Dragon Age series, is an outstanding game, every bit deserving of the numerous “Game of the Year” rewards it has received. I’ve completed both prior Dragon Age titles, and loved both almost without reservation, even the extremely divisive Dragon Age 2. However, while Dragon Age: Inquisition may very well be the most well-designed title yet, I find myself partially dissatisfied, despite having played it all the way through and enjoyed it thoroughly.

 Dragon Age: Inquisition is high-fantasy with a dark political edge, comparable to Game of Thrones. The game features action/strategy gameplay, elements of social-simulation, and political decisions with profound narrative consequences. The player can design a character from an impressive amount of options: race, gender, appearance, and combat class are all customizable.

Early in the game, players are put in charge of an organization called the Inquisition, loosely associated with a religion,  referred to as “The Chantry.” Dragon Age: Inquisition is set in the fantasy world of Thedas, specifically in the nations of Ferelden and Orlais, which are based off of medieval England and France, respectively. 

Over the course of the approximately 100 hour game, players will deal with a variety of conflicts, with two in particular taking the center stage. The first is a conflict between Mages and Templars. In the Dragon Age universe, Mages are beings that are given great power, but are uniquely vulnerable to demonic possession, and demons can do a lot of damage (a demon-possessed Mage is basically a walking bomb). Because of this, they are tightly controlled/oppressed, living in tower’s called “circles” and guarded by the sometimes fair, sometimes corrupt Templars. At the start of Dragon Age: Inquisition, their strained relationship has devolved into war, and the player has to choose who to support.

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Jon Stewart Announces Retirement from "The Daily Show"

The Daily ShowIt’s the end of an era not only at The Daily Show, but also for satire news in general. After 15 years of skewering politics, the media, and more, Jon Stewart announced his retirement from The Daily Show on Feb. 10. 

This announcement is not completely surprising. Stewart’s contract with the program was set to expire sometime this year, and he also took three months off last summer in order to direct his first film, Rosewater. But despite these factors, his impending departure still hits hard. This news also comes just two months shy of the end of The Colbert Report, a similar satire news program hosted by The Daily Show alum, Stephen Colbert. Stewart paved the way for “fake news,” as he referred to it, and introduced new audiences to what was going on when “real news” could not. 

“He’s drawn a younger audience into watching news,” said Lauren Payne, an adjunct professor of communication. “He starts a conversation.” Bringing in more and more young viewers and introducing them to new discussions has always been one of Stewart’s strengths. Regular news is too time consuming and dull for the social media generation, but Stewart was a unique voice that could break through the barriers. A Time magazine poll showed that the public ranked him as one of America’s most trusted newsmen. His ability to bring absurdities to light with a comedic edge and sincere touch has made him easy to follow and trust. 

“Colbert and Stewart leaving together is a beautiful tragedy,” said Casey Schellinger, a freshman. “They will be missed.” 

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“Red Bank River Read” Features Monmouth Professor

IMG 2223Valentine’s Day is known for chocolate, candlelit dinners, Hallmark cards, flowers, and lovers exchanging gifts. This year, the holiday was also marked by the February installment of the Red Bank River Read series, which included Suzanne Parker and Monmouth’s own Melissa Febos, assistant professor of English. The Manhattan Bagel was packed to near capacity as people of all ages joined together to hear the writers read.

Parker is a winner of the Kinereth Gensler Book Award from Alice James Books for her poetry collection Viral, written in response to Tyler Clementi’s suicide, which was also a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award and was on the National Library Association’s Over the Rainbow List of recommended books for 2014. Her poetry has appeared in Barrow Street, Cimarron Review, Hunger Mountain, Drunken Boat, and numerous other journals and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize.

Febos is the author of Whip Smart. Her work has been widely anthologized and appears in publications including The Kenyon Review, Prairie Schooner, Glamour, Post Road, Salon, New York Times, Portland Review, Dissent, The Brooklyn Rail, and Hunger Mountain. Her essays have won prizes from Prairie Schooner and Story Quarterly, and she is the recipient of a 2012 Bread Loaf nonfiction fellowship, a 2013 Barbara Deming Memorial Fund artist grant, a 2014 Virginia Center for Creative Arts fellowship, a 2015 Vermont Studio Center fellowship, a 2015 Lower Manhattan Cultural Council “Process Space” fellowship, and MacDowell Colony fellowships in 2010, 2011, and 2014. 

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Hidden Gems of Netflix: Valentine’s Day Edition

It is no false claim to say that many college students spend a lot of free time streaming movies and television shows on Netflix. The service provides a great alternative to venturing to the movie theater and spending almost $30 by the time the tickets and concessions are paid for. With Valentine’s Day approaching, couples all over the country will be planning some variation of the classic "dinner and a movie" outing. Instead of spending a fortune on seeing a movie in a theater, here are some great selections available on Netflix for couples to enjoy a more intimate and cost-effective night in.

1. Chasing Amy (1997)

From the same creative mind that rocked the independent film industry with Clerks in 1994 comes another film socially ahead of its time. Kevin Smith’s Chasing Amy is a movie set in the same fictional version of Monmouth County, NJ as Clerks and a number of Smith’s other releases. Not only does it take place in the same general area as Monmouth University, but some local places are visible in the film itself, such as Jack’s Music Shoppe in Red Bank.

Chasing Amy

stars Ben Affleck as Holden McNeil, a comic book artist who falls in love with a young woman named Alyssa Jones, who turns out to be a lesbian. Holden originally agrees to hang out with Alyssa as friends, but soon finds he cannot contain his love for her. This starts him on a long, humorous, and heartbreaking quest that examines relationship dynamics and the power of romantic love in a unique way that has not been replicated in media since. The scene featuring Smith’s iconic characters Jay and Silent Bob (Silent Bob played by Smith himself) presents one of the most humorous and insightful rants in film. For a unique Valentine’s Day viewing experience, make sure Chasing Amy remains at the top of the list.

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And the Grammy Goes To...

grammys Artists from around the world gathered at The Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA, for the 57th Annual Grammy Awards on Sunday, Feb. 8. Airing live on CBS at 8 pm, the show opened with two AC/DC songs that got the crowd ready to go.

No one turns down an invitation to the biggest night in music history. The Staples Center was filled with artists from John Legend to Gwen Stefani to Paul McCartney. Before they could even enter the venue, each star had to walk the red carpet for the second most important part of the night: their outfits. Ariana Grande ditched her mini-skirts and crop tops, and went with an elegant white dress. Miley Cyrus was more covered than usual with a long black dress that had slits on each side. Taylor Swift added a pop of color to the carpet with a teal-ish gown and magenta shoes. Almost all the men on the carpet were dressed in their tuxedos, but Pharrell took a new approach to his look—instead of a traditional tux, he went with a suit and tie paired with shorts.

Some of the worst dressed females on the carpet this year included Rihanna and Ciara. Both went with the poufy look, which was the wrong way to go. Rihanna’s pink strapless gown took up a lot of room for no reason. Ciara stuck with the classic black, but still had a little too much fluff.

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“Still Alice” is a Memorable Masterpiece

I can see why Julianne Moore is nominated for Best Actress for her role in Still Alice. Moore plays Alice with perfection and the natural realistic traits of someone with early onset Alzheimer’s that it seems as if Moore and Alice are one. Moore’s performance, if I had to sum it up in three words, made the film thoughtful, touching, and inspirational.

The main focus of the movie is Alice Howland; she is a linguistics professor at the University of Columbia and is known by her colleagues and students as one of the best. She lives in a beautiful house with her loving husband and has three grown children. She is about to be a grandparent to a set of twins, and life seems to be going her way until she is diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s.

Alice notices something is wrong when she forgets the simplest things that came easily to her before. The horrifying turning point in the film is when she is going for a run on campus and all of a sudden she stops for a breath, and when she looks up everything in the background is fuzzy and she can’t remember where she is. Later that night while she and her husband John (Alec Baldwin) go to bed, she wakes him up because she is very disturbed and can’t sleep. She admits to John that she has been seeing a neurologist and he told her she might have early onset Alzheimer’s. Not wanting to believe this, John gets upset and tells Alice that it’s too early in the stages and it’s normal to forget things here and there.

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L.A. Theatre Works Performs “In the Heat of the Night” at Pollak

L.A. Theatre Works performed In the Heat of the Night at Monmouth University’s Pollak Theatre on Thursday, Feb. 5.

The play tells the story of a colored detective named Virgil Tibbs from Pasadena, CA, working on a murder case in Montgomery, AL, with the Chief of police and his officers.

In the 1960’s, those of color were not respected or viewed as an educated race, and as the audience we were able to witness this throughout the series of events. Although Mr. Tibbs is a man of intelligence, he is constantly overlooked because of his color and is angered by the idea that authority figures of equivalent government position were belittling him. Towards the middle of the play, the Chief and the officers of Montgomery form an exceptional partnership with Mr. Tibbs, and although it was not accepted by their people, they respected him for his character.

With hopes of delivering a strong message to the audience about individual rights and discrimination, the play ends with a scene parallel to the opening of the show. In the beginning of the play, Mr. Tibbs holds out his hand to Chief Gillespie, hoping he would return the gesture and shake hands, but the Chief refuses and proceedes with his lecture. In the last scene, Tibbs is waiting for his train to return home and hopes to shake hands with Chief Gillespie. Once again, the Chief refuses and walks away, leaving Tibbs with his last goodbye.

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It’s Worth a Trip to “The Grand Budapest Hotel”

 In a sea of dramas and biopics this Oscar season, one film stands out so obviously that it cannot be missed. The Grand Budapest Hotel, directed by Wes Anderson and starring Ralph Fiennes, Tony Revolori, Saoirse Ronan, Adrien Brody, and many more, is truly a comedy, drama, mystery, and thriller wrapped in one package. But despite what sounds like a wild tone, The Grand Budapest Hotel is completely entertaining and incredibly fun to watch.

The film follows a myriad of characters and timelines, but our main protagonist is Zero Moustafa (Tony Revolori), the new lobby boy at the extravagant Grand Budapest Hotel. As he learns the ropes, he forms a bond with his eccentric mentor and famed concierge of the hotel, Gustave H (Ralph Fiennes). When wealthy guest Madame D (Tilda Swinton) is murdered, not only is Gustave accused of the crime, but he also has to face the wrath of Madame D’s greedy family after she bequeaths her fortune to him.

The entire plot of The Grand Budapest Hotel can be seen as a typical caper, but the many twists and turns make it seem fresh and original. And make no mistake, despite a seemingly simple story, the film is undeniably strange, almost to the point of fantasy, much like many of Anderson’s previous films like Moonrise Kingdom and Fantastic Mr. Fox. Anderson’s quirky nature is what makes a movie like this stand out without becoming cheesy or silly. The director’s typical fast paced action and dialogue also keep the film from becoming boring.

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Look Out For “The Boy Next Door”

It’s a familiar storyline: a one-night stand becomes a dangerous obsession. The most prominent film to feature this plot is Fatal Attraction, the 1987 film starring Michael Douglas about a man that gives into a one-night stand with a woman (Glenn Close) who "will not be ignored." Hollywood has since then attempted to create successful copycats with a twist. For example, Obsessed in 2009 starred Beyoncé as a cheating wife, but the affair wasn’t actually real—it was a figment of the imagination of Idris Elba’s temp secretary played by Ali Larter. Obsessed did not see the same success as Fatal Attraction, but, then, the characters were not as believable, the acting was not at the same level, and the story was predictable. That hasn’t stopped Hollywood from repeating this story.

The Boy Next Door is another stalker film with a one-night stand that turns into a psychotic obsession. The film, in fact, is Fatal Attraction with reversed roles. Jennifer Lopez plays Claire Peterson, a high school teacher who is separated from her cheating husband, Garrett (John Corbett). Claire, as we learn in the opening scene, kicked her husband out almost a year ago, but is still holding out hope that they can work things out as she refuses to sign the divorce papers.

Claire and her teenage son, Kevin, live in a small suburban neighborhood and are trying to make life as normal as possible, even though a repentant Garrett is only invited in on special occasions, such as Kevin’s birthday.

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"Whiplash" Doesn’t Miss a Beat

Whiplash"There are no two words in the English language more harmful than ‘good job,’" Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons) declares in the feverish indie flick Whiplash, about the toxic relationship between a tyrannical jazz band conductor and his collegiate drummer. Helmed by up-and-coming director Damien Chazelle, Whiplash enlists an electrifying soundtrack and gripping performances to give a new meaning to the phrase ‘blood, sweat, and tears.’

The film opens during the fall semester at Shaffer Conservatory of Music, where Andrew Neimann (Miles Teller) seems to be below average—he’s the back-up drummer in the school’s back-up band and spends his weekends at the movies with his dad. His world suddenly cracks open when he’s noticed by Fletcher, the institution’s mysterious Studio Band conductor.

Fittingly, Fletcher makes his debut in the film by literally emerging from a shadowy corridor to watch Andrew practice a drum solo. When he recruits Andrew for Studio Band a few days later, Fletcher plays the role of supportive coach, encouraging his new drummer to just have fun—something that’s hard to do when your conductor’s idea of "fun" is launching a chair at your head.

Andrew’s induction into this elite team of jazz musicians becomes a nightmarish assault of threats and mind games. Fletcher reveals himself as a master manipulator that mines personal information and insecurities to use as weapons later. He berates Andrew for being worthless and screams at him to keep up with an impossible tempo.

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What Happens in the Woods Should Stay Off the Screen

Fellow moviegoers and theatre geeks alike, if you want to endure two hours and four minutes of utter disappointment, go see Into the Woods.

For an Oscar-nominated film, Into the Woods is extremely unfulfilling. While the movie did stay true to its musical theatre roots by having a vivacious cast and beautiful atmosphere, it seems as though a certain "wow" factor is missing.

The cast ably performed all of their roles, but nothing appears to be exciting or new about Stephen Sondheim’s Broadway musical-turned-movie. Much like when Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street was brought to the big screen, it was clear that Sondheim wanted very little to change in its Hollywood debut.

Having participated in a production of Into the Woods in earlier years and having seen the original stage production on film, it was hard sitting through this film. Purists, like myself, will have a hard time getting over the cutting of some musical numbers that add value to the show. For example, "I Guess This is Goodbye/Maybe They’re Really Magic" was completely scrapped from the film. For those of you who may be confused, this is the song Jack sings to his cow Milky White as he sells her to the Baker and his wife and is directly followed with a musical argument between the couple. That whole number is full of so much emotion that the film so desperately needed.

Anna Kendrick is by far the most depressed-looking Cinderella that Hollywood has ever seen. She barely smiled throughout the film and it was hard to get that chipper, princess personality that Cinderella is supposed to possess. Her prince, played by Chris Pine, had twice the personality she did, and it made for the most enjoyable scene in the entire movie.

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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