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Last updateThu, 14 Mar 2019 12pm

Entertainment

Volume 87 (Fall 2015 - Spring 2016)

To Preorder, or Not to Preorder: Part II

Preorder Not PreorderSometimes it seems like all the good games are right around the corner, but often upon release they turn out more hype than anything else. Last semester, I ran a feature on video game preorders, within which I gave advice on which games to preorder. I advised caution towards Star Wars: Battlefront, and recommended both No Man’s Sky and Fallout 4. Since that time Fallout 4 and Star Wars: Battlefront have been released, and their reception has been mostly in line with what I predicted. In this feature, I plan to describe several upcoming, noteworthy games that I have played pre-release.

Black Desert Online releases on March 3 of this year, and if you like action-based MMORPGs, this one is a must-try. Black Desert has been out in South Korea since 2014, and public demand for it has finally brought it to North America. I’ve only put a modest 20 hours into the beta and am already quite impressed; I wouldn’t be surprised if it became the most popular action MMORPG after its release.

Black Desert’s combat is a step up from that offered in TERA Online, which had been the genre leader. The graphics are frequently compared to those from The Witcher 3, and while I believe The Witcher’s graphics are better, the fact that this is even a discussion reflects positively on Black Desert; MMORPGs are notorious for having poor graphics, and The Witcher 3 is debatably the best looking game of all time. In any case, both environments and characters look beautiful in Black Desert. There is a wide array of graphical options; this allows high-end computers to make the game look better and older models to make it run more efficiently.

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Blue Hawk Records: Number Eight is Great

BHRBlue Hawk Records is Monmouth University’s student run record label. Every semester, the Applied Music Industry class taught by Professor Joseph Rapolla, head of the music department, holds auditions and scouts artists, records and produces a compilation album and hosts a live show at the end of the semester in the Rebecca Stafford Student Center. This semester will be the record label’s eighth compilation album. After the success of Shades of Blue last semester, the label’s seventh compilation album, the student officers at Blue Hawk Records are excited to see what this class has in store for the album this semester.

This past Wednesday night, Feb. 10, the Applied Music Industry class held their auditions in Lauren K. Woods Theatre. A total of 10 acts auditioned to be on the compilation album. Rapolla said, “I was really impressed with all the auditions this semester. It seems like the talent just keeps getting better and better.”

The competition was stiff at this semester’s auditions. Brianna Roberts, a freshman music industry student who is also a member of the music industry class, said, “There was a lot of talent at the audition, which was great to see, but it also made it difficult to choose who would be on the album.”

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Get to Know Twenty One Pilots

21 PilotsTwenty One Pilots, with Tyler Joseph as the lead singer and Joshua Dun on the drums, has gone from a duo that strictly played small venues with a general admission audience to a band that everybody has heard of. After their release of Blurryface in May 2015, the duo gained a wildly vast mainstream presence that is only continuing to grow. “Stressed Out” and “Tear in my Heart” are songs that most people at least recognize or are just completely obsessed with. You can find Twenty One Pilots anywhere from Tumblr, to Spotify, to iTunes, to headlining tours, all the way to various events where they guest perform. Just a few weeks ago, they played at the X Games in Aspen, Colorado. The band is clearly doing something very right.

Blurryface, although released in May of last year, is still on the top album charts, way above many new releases. “Stressed Out” is arguably the most popular song off the album, which is currently number three on the iTunes top songs chart and its music video has over 80 million views on YouTube. Twenty One Pilots has truly made a huge mark with this album, so much so that it has not gone away even after all this time—it has only gained popularity.

The duo’s music style is pretty hard to categorize. While many would argue electropop or indie pop as their overall genre, their music fits into multiple categories. Rap, pop, rock and punk are all other styles the duo tends to dabble in, making their music highly unique and distinctive. Blurryface is especially cool because it is a concept album, which always makes an album have more depth. The character Blurryface is what the entire album is about, and Joseph, the leader singer, describes it to represent what people are insecure about.

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An Interview With Rob Thomas

Rob ThomasQ. When did you realize you wanted to work in television?

A. I remember trying to make television happen when I was 30. I’d written my first couple of young adult novels for Simon & Schuster. My book money wasn’t quite enough to live on, and I was a TV fan. I ended up writing a letter to the president of CBS television, introducing myself, and including the bound galleys of my first novel and letting him know I wanted to write for television. In some sort of miracle that will never be repeated, he read the novel, passed it along to the producers of Dawson’s Creek and asked me to develop a romantic comedy for television. That project became Cupid. I went from barely scraping together a living in Texas as a young adult author to having my own show on ABC in about 18 months. I’m not sure I realized at the time that I’d hit the lottery. I think I realized it after the business slapped me around for a few years after that initial success.

Q. What advice do you have for college students who are looking to pursue the television industry?

A. Even though this was not the path I followed, it’s the path that the vast majority of television writers I know followed. If you want to write for television, move to Los Angeles. It’s where the work is. Then do whatever you can to get a job on a television series, ideally one that you’d watch or want to write for. Do whatever you have to in order to get your foot in the door.

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Raving Over “The Revenant”

The RevenantEvery once in a while, a great actor that has been around for a long time gives a high caliber performance that reminds you of why they are so good at their craft. In a nutshell, they solidify why they are masterful at transforming into characters. We’ve seen this with Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino, and Daniel Day-Lewis. This year, the actor that joins the ranks of those brilliant performers is Leonardo DiCaprio.

On the surface, The Revenant looks like a typical, two-hour long movie about a man seeking revenge for his family, but it is much more a story about a man who wants to be at peace spiritually and physically. DiCaprio plays Hugh Glass, a 19th Century frontiersman who gets mauled by a grizzly bear while on an expedition with his son and fellow frontiersmen. He barely survives the bear attack, but his tenacity is the remarkable thing about this scene (other than the bear, who was just as much a character in this movie). The bear attack was twenty-minutes of intense agony with DiCaprio being tossed like a Frisbee and stomped on repeatedly, but somehow this character survives. When you think that things couldn’t get any worse, Fitzgerald, a devious and menacing fur trader/mercenary played by Tom Hardy, is left behind to monitor Glass’s condition. Fitzgerald tries to kill Glass instead, but only reaches as far as to bury him alive in an unmarked grave.

This movie echoes with Native American spiritual proverbs that interweaves with the journey that Glass finds himself on. His journey is about death and rebirth as well as revenge. Here is a man that should be dead and is figuratively dead inside because he lost everything that he holds dear, but he crawls out of this unmarked grave, iron-willed and hell bent on hunting down Fitzgerald. DiCaprio’s character has minimal dialogue in the movie aside from the interactions he had with his Native American son. This made DiCaprio’s performance that much more beautiful and haunting. Not only did DiCaprio physically transform himself into a man who is desperate to live for payback, but he goes through numerous challenges like facing freezing degree temperatures and wildly cascading down a rapid, icy river while escaping from enemies, as well as eating raw bison liver in the middle of the frozen wilderness. One of the most harrowing scenes in The Revenant was an intense horse racing scene where Glass is evading an Indian ambush and rides head first off a cliff.

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Monmouth vs. The Academy

Students Weigh in on the Contenders for Best Picture

MU Vs AcademyThere are some things we all know to be true: the sky is blue, a pizza party is the best kind of party, Bey Hall is always unnecessarily hot, and you can’t make everyone happy.

For all aspects of life, the last rings absolutely true. The Academy, though, knows this all too well. Each year, when the Academy Award nominations are announced, there is the always-inevitable backlash: great movies get overlooked, some get too much praise, and some egregious decisions just cannot be ignored. This year is no different, with possibly more anger than ever before.

But what does the average person think or, more specifically, your fellow Monmouth students? The Revenant, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Big Short, Brooklyn, Bridge of Spies, Spotlight, The Martian, and Room are all in the running for the biggest prize of the night: Best Picture. Are these the right choices, and did other films get ignored for no good reason?

“Like Viola Davis said at the Emmy’s, there isn’t much opportunity for black people in Hollywood,” said sophomore Jessica French. “Straight Outta Compton had an almost all black cast and should have been nominated for more, not only because of its success at the box office, but also because the acting was amazing.” 

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FOX Jives with “Grease Live”

Grease LiveOn Jan. 31, millions of Americans tuned in to FOX to watch what was going to be either a hit or a miss. Grease Live, which aired Sunday and starred Aaron Tveit and Julianne Hough as Danny and Sandy respectively, was just the push America needed to get their dancing shoes on.

The show, which was recorded live as a stage production in front of a studio audience, had its ups and downs. What stole the show, or should I say who, was not the leads themselves but the charming and cunning Betty Rizzo, played by Vanessa Hudgens of High School Musical fame. Hudgens, who is best known for her role as Gabriella Montez in the Disney Channel movies, does a total 180 here as Grease’s antagonist. Promiscuous and sultry are only two of the many words to describe her character and Hudgens did the role justice—especially under the pressing circumstances.

The news broke the morning of Grease Live that Hudgens’ father had passed away after a battle with cancer. All eyes were on Hudgens as America watched if she would crack under the pressure. Pressure, however, is not a word in either Hudgens’ or Rizzo’s vocabulary, and the 27-year-old performed the role without any hint of sadness. She shined in her heart-wrenching number, “There Are Worse Things I Could Do,” and made the crowd laugh in the earlier number, “Look at Me, I’m Sandra Dee.” Hudgens swept everyone away.

Other members of Rizzo’s crew included Frenchy, Marty, and Jan, played by Carly Rae Jepsen, Keke Palmer, and newbie Kether Donohue, respectively. All of the Pink Ladies were accurately portrayed and were cast by FOX with the intention of giving the original characters a modern spin. Palmer as Marty was just the progressive twist Grease Live was going for, and with her sass and quick wit, Marty was a force to be reckoned with.

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Sia Releases “This Is Acting”

Sia This Is Acting40-year-old Australian singer-songwriter Sia released her seventh album, This Is Acting, on Jan. 29. Sia is known for her compelling voice and her outstanding abilities as a songwriter, and is most recognized for her hits “Chandelier” and “Elastic Heart” from her sixth album, 1000 Forms of Fear.

The songs on This Is Acting were originally written by Sia for other artists such as Adele, Katy Perry, Kanye West and Rihanna, but unfortunately, the tracks never made it into production. Sia appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show on Feb. 2 to talk about the songs on the album which Sia jokingly referred to as rejects. Although they might be “rejects,” there are some incredible songs on this album. On iTunes, the album received 4.5 out of 5 stars after 1,486 ratings.

The first song on the album is called “Bird Set Free.” I enjoy this song because it is about doing what you want and doing what makes you happy regardless of what people think: “And I don’t care if I sing off key, I find myself in my melodies. I sing for love, I sing for me, I shout it out like a bird set free.”

My favorite song off the album is the second track, “Alive.” It is very catchy and Sia’s vocals are absolutely incredible. When I listen to music, I always pay more attention to the lyrics, and I love the lyrics to this song. “I had a one-way ticket to a place where all the demons go, where the wind don’t change and nothing in the ground can ever grow. No hope, just lies, and you’re taught to cry in your pillow, but I’ll survive.” Everyone has their own interpretation of songs, but I interpret this song as getting through rough patches. In life, you come across both good and bad people who may not always be honest with you, but that’s life, and you have to be strong and you’ll survive.

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Don’t Overlook “The Hateful Eight”

The Hateful EightWith the Oscars coming up very soon, I couldn’t help but notice that one of my favorite movies of the year went completely under the radar—and not only to the Academy, but also to the entire public. Grabbing only a mere three Oscar nominations, Quentin Tarantino’s new film, The Hateful Eight, contained everything one can hope for in a Tarantino film: malicious characters, excessive blood and gore, an intense climax, and dialogue so funny and natural sounding that any actor can have a ball with it. This new “who-done-it” murder mystery takes place in a snowed in haberdashery in Wyoming during post-Civil War America, where eight unlikely visitors are forced to spend a whole night with each other. Questions about race, capital punishment, war, and loyalty to one’s family brings these characters to violent ends, and the story culminates in a third act that kept me on the edge of my seat and guessing the whole way.

Some people were skeptical of Tarantino making another Western right on the heels of his last huge hit Django Unchained, the controversial film about a former slave turned bounty hunter. But this film has a completely different vibe and pace to it, and a much bigger emphasis on the characters and story arc. In fact, the whole movie feels as though you are watching a stage play, which is exactly how Tarantino wanted the movie to feel to the audience. Tarantino discovered that this was meant to become a stage play after a live reading at Los Angeles County Museum of Art (ACMA), and plans to adapt the movie for the stage after he ends his film career.

It also should be noted how great this movie is considering the controversy surrounding its release and the fact that it almost wasn’t made at all. In December of 2013, a first draft of the script was leaked onto the internet. Tarantino reacted to this by nearly pulling the plug on the film altogether. The studio also had to fight it out with Tarantino because he shot the film in 70mm and caused the studios and theaters to pay large fees for upgrades. Not to mention the fact that Tarantino brought the film on a classic road show, as if it were an epic film like Ben-Hur or Spartacus. Tarantino also dug up legendary Western composer Ennio Morricone to score the film, the first time he has done so for a Western in 40 years.

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Blue Hawk Records Has Its “Heart in the Game”

Men Basketball Justin RobinsonThe University’s men’s basketball team has captured the attention of mainstream media, and now the squad has its own theme song written by Monmouth students. Andrew Boxman and Guy Battaglia, who both recently graduated from the music industry program at the University, were approached by Chair of the Music Department, Joseph Rapolla, to write a song for the team. The two took on the challenge and had the rap-rock anthem called “Heart in the Game” written and produced within two weeks. At the home game against the Marist Red Foxes on Jan. 24, Boxman and Battaglia, along with other Blue Hawk Records representatives, handed out free downloads of the song to every fan in the stadium.

 As quoted in the Asbury Park Press, Ken Taylor, associate athletic director for marketing and development at the University, said, “It’s great that the students are getting behind the team and that they are putting their talents together to do this.” Taylor continued to explain that they will play the song during the team’s warm-ups right before the game for every home game. Boxman stated, “It’s great to hear the song at every home game playing for all the fans. That’s the most rewarding part of the whole experience.” 

The song has a really strong feel once you hear it playing in the Multipurpose Activity Center (MAC). “Heart in the Game” is the last song that plays right before the tip off. It’s that point when the players and crowd have so much energy and they’re ready to play. The chorus really sums up the whole atmosphere and gets the whole crowd going: “We go hard in the paint, put my heart in the game. Got players on the court and they’re making it rain. We go hard in the paint, put my heart in the game. Got players on the bench and they’re going insane.” Some of the lyrics make reference to the crazy shenanigans of the Monmouth “bench mob,” as seen all over the internet.

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Fall in Love with Todd Haynes’ “Carol”

Todd Haynes CarolThe dinner scene is the bane of all screenwriters and filmmakers, and if it is not, it should be. Yet, there is such a scene near the beginning of Carol, the new film by the extraordinarily talented Todd Haynes, and it is wonderful. Elegant and refined housewife Carol (Cate Blanchett) is sharing a meal late at night in a secluded restaurant with department store worker and aspiring photographer Therese (Rooney Mara). In this scene, Carol asks Therese if she lives alone. Therese smiles for a second and says “No.” Then her smile fades a little, and she looks away as she begins her sentence: “Well, there’s Richard…”

Richard is her boyfriend who, like many young men in movies, wants to rush things. As such, she only cares for him in a conventional sense, and not because she truly loves him. Carol, at this part of the film, is in the middle of a divorce and fighting for custody of her daughter. Her husband still loves her, but she does not love him, and her “activities,” shall we say, are in direct contrast to the current flow of societal norms in the 1950s, where the film takes place.

Both women are trying to find themselves by the time they meet each other. Therese has hit a roadblock and doesn’t know how to deal with her lack of enthusiasm for, well, anything. Carol wants everything and does not know how to compromise. Given the time period, it is especially impossible to get everything she wants. At this point I must say that it is pointless to summarize the plot of the film, and your attention must be redirected to the scene I discussed earlier. A smile, a muted but no less enthusiastic “no,” a look away as she catches herself. Stripped down to only its necessities, the emotion left after that exchange is the absolute thrill of what she has just suggested.

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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