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Volume 86 (Fall 2014 - Spring 2015)

“Inherent Vice” is a Winning Adaptation

Three things need to be understood before seeing Inherent Vice. 1) The film is not about plot or conventional emotions. 2) The pacing is deliberate. 3) The film is as stoned as its central character.

I don’t mean that the film makes you feel stoned. Inherent Vice is seductive, but despite a lot of the film’s subject, not in the sexual sense. It’s seductive in that the film’s atmosphere, style, humor and liveliness is so enticing that you don’t want it to end.

The film was adapted from the 2009 Thomas Pynchon novel of the same name by Hollywood wunderkind Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights, There Will Be Blood).

People might ask what the film is about. What does it matter? It centers on jaded pot-loving hippie/private detective Larry "Doc" Sportello (Joaquin Phoenix). His ex-girlfriend, Shasta (Katherine Waterson) reappears in his life, asking Doc to prevent a plot by her boyfriend’s wife with the help of her lover to put him in an asylum…

...which leads to a murder, the police framing Doc, another murder, drug smuggling, neo-nazis, more murder, and a paranoia of authority typical of that late 60s daze. Groovy man, but what were we talking about again?

The plot is purposely incomprehensible. That’s the main complaint against it: "If there’s no plot, what’s left?" What is left is a surplus of attitude and personality, which Inherent Vice is all about. The film functions as a mix of the 1946 classic The Big Sleep and the 1973 Robert Altman film The Long Goodbye. The former because of the film’s emphasis on atmospheric, individual scenes over coherence, and the latter for its sprawling nature and subversive world portrait.

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MTV Faces A New 'Challenge'

challengeEveryone knows that getting over an ex is sometimes one of the hardest things to do. But what if instead of getting over them, you had to work with them in order to receive $350,000? Would you do it? This is the concept of MTV’s The Challenge: Battle Of The Exes II.

In the 26th season of this reality game show, alumni from MTV’s The Real World and, for the first time, MTV’s Are You The One? are teamed up with an ex-lover to compete in endurance and mental challenges until there is only one team left standing. While some couples seem to be able to put aside their differences and just think about the grand prize, other duos are having a hard time even communicating with one another.

Though the show is broken off into couples, there are also two sets of groups: Rookies and Veterans. The Rookies are some of the contestants that were on recent episodes of The Real World and Are You The One? While committed fans need time to decide if they like the Rookies or not, on the Veteran side are cast members that fans have fallen in love (or hate) with over the past couple of seasons.

One of the most famous couples on the series is Chris “CT” Tamburello and Diem Brown. With their on-again/off-again relationship that has carried through multiple seasons, fans have grown to love them when they are together as well as when they are apart. Brown had been categorized as a true fighter both on the screen during challenges, but also off the screen when she was battling cancer. In October of 2014, Brown was hospitalized for her third and most brutal battle with cancer. Devastatingly, in November of 2014 at the age of 34, Brown passed away. 

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“Eye Candy” Starts Off Strong

eye candy victoria justice lindy mtvEye Candy is a new show on MTV that revolves around a 21-year-old girl named Lindy (Victoria Justice). The show begins with her having some issues with her younger sister Sara (Jordyn DiNatale). They aren’t close, but you can tell how much Lindy cares for her. As they make a stop for food, Sara decides to get out of the car and use the restroom, but in a sudden turn of events, Lindy is forced to witness her sister’s abduction. 

Three years later with no sign of Sara, Lindy is working towards finding Sara’s killer. Lindy is a tech wiz and that is notorious for her work (even though some of it may be illegal). As of now a new cyber killer is on the rise in Manhattan, and Lindy will put herself in extreme danger to find him. 

Her best friend and roommate Sophia (Kiersey Clemons) convinces her that she needs to use a new online dating service called Flirtual, and gives her the user name “eye candy.” While meeting possible suitors, she discovers that one of them may be the cyber stalker himself. The killer has a strong infatuation towards Lindy and will stop at nothing to get to her, including killing all of her potential suitors. Working with her friends, Lindy decides to solve the murder herself and ultimately find her missing sister Sara.

The series opener shows that the show is not just about solving a mystery. The episode delves into the romantic history Lindy has with Detective Ben Miller (Daniel Lissing). Throughout the episode, Lindy and Ben rekindle their romance and give their relationship another try, but they run into trouble when the cyber killer wants Ben gone for good. This plot is resolved in a shocking twist ending, which turned out to be one of the saddest endings to a season’s priemere that I’ve ever seen. 

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Breaking Down “Take Me to Church”

hozierHozier’s gospel EP “Take Me to Church” made ripples in the music industry for some time before it hit the top charts worldwide. Whether you heard the catchy tune on the radio or watched the music video on YouTube, it probably left a lasting impression. At the root of the lyrics and soul of the song there lays an evident conflict presented by singer-songwriter Andrew Hozier-Byrne. 

For the first time in about a decade (with the exception of Ed Sheeran), an Irishman punctured the Top 40 charts worldwide. Hozier’s music style, not taking the form of Bono or Snow Patrol, is refreshing and a sign of a notable change in the music today. And that style is genuine soul. Hozier’s biggest hit, “Take Me To Church,” originally released in 2013, takes a jab at passion, sex, and religion during modern times and how they often do not mix well together.

In an interview with Gigwise, Hozier said, “I wouldn’t consider it an indictment against religion or an indictment against the church but more of an indictment against institutions…that undermine some of the more natural parts of being a person, undermine humanity itself.”

Although Hozier claims to not be directing the song directly at the Church or Catholicism, the lyrics tend to speak for themselves. The chorus intertwines liturgical language and a love song, “Take me to church/ I’ll worship like a dog at the shrine of your lies/ I’ll tell you my sins and you can sharpen your knife/ Offer me that deathless death/ Good God, let me give you my life.”

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“How to Get Away With Murder” Returns With a Vengeance

how get away murderNo one was more hurt than I was when ABC’s How To Get Away With Murder decided to take a break from the end of November until the end of January. I have counted down the days until the mid-season premiere, and I am happy to report that it was worth the wait.

The last time viewers saw Professor Keating (Viola Davis) and her team of students (Alfred Enoch, Jack Falahee, Aja Naomi King, Matt McGorry and Karla Souza) was when it was finally revealed how Sam Keating (Tom Verica) was killed. While it was shocking to have finally found out that Wes Gibbons (Enoch) was the one who physically killed Mr. Keating, the real plot twist came when it was revealed that Professor Keating knew that the students were involved in her husband’s murder. The jaw dropping moment for me was when Professor Keating actually told Gibbons not to be sorry for killing her husband. With a mid-season ending like that, it was hard to imagine what was next for the mid-season premiere. 

The episode opens with Professor Keating speaking with detectives who are trying to help her locate her husband. She recites the events that happened the night her husband had disappeared. While some statements she is making are true, others are meant to cover up what actually happened that night. With each lie Professor Keating tells the detectives, a flashback occurs of what was really going on. With tears in her eyes, it is apparent that Professor Keating knows what she is doing to keep accusations of her killing her own husband out of the minds of everyone around her. 

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Holiday Lights Show Returns to PNC

North Faces, gingerbread lattes and holiday music on 106.7 FM can only mean one thing: it’s the most wonderful time of the year and we should all be getting into the holiday spirit. Everyone loves to drive around and look at holiday lights at least one night out of the season, and there is no better place to do this than The Holiday Light Spectacular at PNC Bank Arts Center.

After four years of cancellation, the lights are back up and are now sponsored by From Nov. 20 to Jan. 4, you can visit PNC Bank Arts Center with your friends and family to see the show of a lifetime. With over 150 light displays and 2.5 miles of holiday scenery, the Holiday Light Spectacular will create a winter wonderland in the heart of NJ. You can also tune into PNC’s radio station, 102.5 FM, for holiday music that goes along with the light displays.

From the minute you pull into the parking lot, holiday lights will surround you. As you drive through this winter wonderland, you will see motion light displays of Santa playing sports, such as golf, paragliding, sledding, and even zip lining. As you continue through, you will drive through a section called “Favorite Tales,” where you will go back into your childhood as you drive past light displays of “Humpty Dumpty,” “Jack and the Beanstalk,” “The Three Little Pigs,” “Little Bo Beep,” “Rapunzel,” “Mother Goose,” and even “Jack and Jill.”

Once you pass the “Favorite Tales,” you will drive through the famous light tunnel and enter the world of “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” where you will pass by light displays of each element from the classic holiday song, including five Gold Rings, four Calling Birds, three French Hens, two Turtle Doves, and, of course, a Partridge in a Pear Tree.

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“Pokemon” Franchise Launches New Game

So you’re probably wondering (as most of the gaming world is), whether Pokémon Omega Ruby Alpha Sapphire (ORAS) is worthy of the Pokémon legacy. To answer your question, Pokémon ORAS is as fun and addicting as last year’s titles, Pokémon X and Y. Not only that, it’s a worthy remake of the original Hoenn-set titles, Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire (and this is coming from someone who considers Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire to be the height of the series’ innovation).

The original Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire saw the introduction of double battles, abilities, underwater exploration, double battles, Pokémon contests, added depth to stats, double battles, immersive environments, complicated berry growing mechanics, double battles, deeper supporting characters, the largest roster of new Pokémon since the original game, and, my personal favorite, have I mentioned double battles?

As a remake, Pokémon ORAS is not intended to eclipse the originals, or make any meaningful additions to the series (that was the job of Pokémon X and Y). In my mind, all Pokémon ORAS had to do was recreate the setting of the original games, with all the depth and production values of the most recent Pokémon titles. In this, Nintendo mostly succeeded. What makes this a great game is that there is considerable innovation, and in a title where none was expected. I found that a number of additional apps and systems had a surprisingly large impact on overall enjoyment and accessibility.

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“Peter Pan Live” Falls Short

As a follow up to NBC’s The Sound of Music Live! which was broadcasted on Dec. 5 of last year, the network released a much anticipated Peter Pan Live! production on Thursday night.

Playing the title role was 26-year-old Allison Williams, an actress who is more commonly known for playing Marnie Michaels in HBO’s Girls. Thanks to an old English law which forbid those who were less than 14 years of age to work past 9 pm, Pan was often played by a female. Staying true to the play’s roots, director Rob Ashford, along with producer Donna Suchan Smeland, decided to cast the Yale graduate for the lead. Williams now joins the likes of Cathy Rigby, Mary Martin, and Sandy Duncan, all of whom played Peter Pan.

Much like her predecessors, Williams provided quite the singing voice and performed with a very believable British accent.

Despite this performance, the play’s production was surrounded by nasty comments on social media sites. The tweets of disappointment began about 15 minutes into the production, when Peter and Wendy go to find the house maid who is in a small closet allegedly sleeping. Comedian Zach Braff even got in on the action as he tweeted, “The top hat kid killed the maid.”

It became rather obvious throughout the production that there were four main issues within the play. They can be broken down as follows:

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A Culture Clash is Coming to “Shameless” Season Five

Showtime’s Shameless has perhaps the most sincere title on television. The simple adjective says it all about the outrageous lengths people (well, poor people) will go to get by. Some of these jaw-droppers include but are not limited to intentionally breaking a leg for booze money or taking other students’ SATs for payment. Even doing adult web videos for side cash or wrongly accusing an uncle of molestation to save the family home are not off limits. These are just a few of a long list of “shameless” moments in the dramedy, which is coming up on its fifth season in January. Now, this poor culture will come head to head with an influx of city newbies: yuppies.

If you haven’t seen it, Shameless centers around the Gallaghers: a white, low class family living in South Side Chicago. In rare TV fashion, Shameless actually features a poor family for once.

The show focuses on the struggle of the oldest sibling of six, Fiona (Emmy Rossum), to run the house, barely living paycheck to paycheck. She has taken it amongst herself to provide for her five siblings, Lip (Jeremy Allen White), Ian (Cameron Monaghan), Carl (Ethan Cutkosky), Debs (Emma Kenney) and Liam. Their manic-depressive, bipolar mother Monica (Chloe Webb) dipped out years ago. The unbelievably selfish Frank (William H. Macy) is their alcoholic father. When he’s not out conning someone for beer or whatever he can get his hands on, he only makes their lives more problematic. This is with the exception of occasional help from next-door neighbors, Kev and V, or the obsessive-compulsive loner, Sheila.

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The Games Are Over in “Mockingjay: Part 1”

The victors who return for the third installment of The Hunger Games are up against more than just Tributes and Gamemakers in Mockingjay Part 1.

The Quarter Quell has ended and Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) now finds herself far from the Capitol but far from home as well. The intense stress of the games has left Katniss suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, and the audience sees her grappling with her emotions, guilt, and loss of Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), who is in President Snow’s clutches back at the Capitol.

Katniss, her mother (Paula Malcomson), Prim (Willow Shields), and Gale (Liam Hemsworth), as well as a whole community of people are living deep underground within the protection of District 13. Years ago, 13’s defiance to the Capitol resulted in their entire district being bombed off the face of the earth. They survived underneath the radiation-soaked soil, biding their time for when they can defeat the Capitol once and for all.

The previous Head Gamemaker, Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour-Hoffman) has renounced his ties to the Capitol and is now working closely with District 13’s President Coin (Julianne Moore) against the city. To rally the other districts against the tyranny of the Capitol, Plutarch and President Coin plan to use propaganda posters and videos to bring people to their cause. Katniss is sought out as the emblem of revolution, and agrees to be the Mockingjay as long as President Coin vows to rescue Peeta and the other victors from the Capitol.

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Starz Launches mysterious New Mini-Series, "The Missing”

Every parent’s worst nightmare is losing his or her child due to a kidnapping. This nightmare becomes reality in Starz’s new eight-episode mini-series, The Missing, which gets inside the mind of a father who witnesses the kidnapping of his five-year-old son.

The series premiere opens with the Hughes family on vacation in France. In 2006, Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt), his wife, Emily (Frances O’Connor), and their son, Oliver (Oliver Hunt) were driving to their vacation spot in France when their car suddenly breaks down. They are forced to find a hotel room while their car is in the shop. Oliver and his father decide to watch the World Cup Finals in a crowded pub when suddenly Tony can’t find his son. He starts yelling Oliver’s name and searching the pub up and down, but soon realizes that his son is gone.

After eight years of cop investigations, Tony pushes to have the case reopened when he finds a new clue that he thinks will lead them to Oliver. Tony uncovers a photograph of a young boy who is roughly Oliver’s age, wearing the same scarf that Oliver owned. We soon learn that within these eight years, Tony has driven everyone around him crazy, and has even broken apart his marriage.

After Tony finds the photograph, he contacts the police and his ex-wife immediately. The local cops try to get Tony to calm down, but he is convinced that this photograph will lead them to find Oliver.

Julien Baptiste (Tcheky Karyo) was the lead investigator for Oliver’s missing persons case back in 2006. He is now retired, but Tony convinces Baptiste to come back into the search for his son. Together, they find a critical clue that leaves the viewers on the edge of their seats wanting more.

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Contact Information

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

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

Phone: (732) 571-3481 | Fax: (732) 263-5151