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Volume 87 (Fall 2015 - Spring 2016)

The Spectacle of “Spectre”

Spectre SpectacleBy beginning Spectre with four simple words—“the dead are alive”—the latest edition of the Bond franchise immediately foreshadows the forces that James Bond is up against and the ghosts from his past who will inevitably haunt him. Filling the scene with a Day of the Dead celebration in Mexico City, massive, ornate skeleton heads pervade the sky as people in costume crowd the streets among the shimmering streamers and decorations of a variety of colors. The rustic and delicate features of the buildings of Mexico City provide a stunning image to viewers, especially when combined with the illuminating pops of orange and red mixed with the black and white of the skeleton attire.

The film continues with the startling landscapes of different countries throughout the world, traveling to Rome and the mountains of Austria. Incorporating places of such elegant, beautiful scenery juxtaposed by the constant firing of bullets and explosions following Bond everywhere he goes, the film does a great job of creating powerful, attention-grabbing action scenes.

However, it was not only the scenery that intensified the array of action scenes, but the fact that the creators of Spectre opted to do all of the stunts, explosions, and car chases in real life. Without any computer-generated action scenes, it appears more real and thrilling for the viewers. The pounding echoes of helicopters and the screeching of tires that invade your eardrums is sure to give any person an adrenaline rush.

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Justin Bieber is Back With “Purpose”

Justin Bieber ArtworkThe highly-anticipated fourth studio album by the world-renowned Justin Bieber was just released on Friday, Nov. 13. Entitled Purpose, the pop album has been long awaited by fans that call themselves “Beliebers.” Bieber’s previous full-length album was released in 2012, and this three-year gap between records was beginning to drive his fans mad. Bieber began the hype for his album with a 30-day countdown for his first single this summer, finally releasing “What Do You Mean?” on Aug. 28. The next single, “Sorry,” was released on Oct. 16, and both songs did extremely well on the Billboard charts, which exhibited just how successful this album was going to be. Everyone’s predetermined thoughts and considerations were right: Purpose is absolutely everywhere.

With the singles he began releasing, you could tell Purpose was going to be different than any other album he had ever put out. Bieber is not a 15-year-old YouTube star anymore; he is a 21-year-old musician that has matured and he is expressing his change through his music. Many of the songs featured on Purpose are rather upbeat and really make you want to get up and dance. “Where Are U Now,” a song he produced earlier this year with Diplo and Skrillex, was featured on this album and was the first song that really had this upbeat, dance style to it. Other songs on the album, like “No Pressure,” are more mature and feature more of an R&B style.

Many people seem to really enjoy Bieber entering this genre more and more. He started to dabble in this style in his 2013 release Journals, but it has not yet been featured on a studio album until now. Bieber, already one of the most powerful stars in the public eye, is reaching an even larger audience now, which is crazy to think was even possible. Bieber’s new style has gotten him compared to artists like Drake and The Weeknd, which shows how mature his music really is becoming.

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Netflix Releases “Master of None”

Master Of NoneWhile it’s best known for fulfilling all of our bingeing needs, Netflix’s foray into original content has made it more than just a streaming service. With series like Orange is the New Black and House of Cards achieving fan and critical praise despite never actually airing on television, Netflix has ushered in a new age of entertainment in which stories are no longer bound by the confines of cable.

Most recently, Netflix has presented us with Master of None, a quirky slice-of-life style show that takes some refreshing stylistic and tonal risks. The mastermind behind Master is Aziz Ansari of Parks and Recreation fame, who produced, wrote, and stars in the show as Dev, an Indian-American actor navigating life and relationships in New York City. All 10 episodes of the first season were released online on Friday, Nov. 6.

Master of None is old-fashioned in the way it is structured, rolling the credits at the beginning of the episode and using minimalist settings throughout. The comedic timing relies on awkward beats and snappy writing that is funny when you think about it but doesn’t necessarily click right away. It features an odd ball cast of characters and weirdly disjointed plots—three episodes in and I’m not exactly sure where the season is going overall.

But at the same time, it’s also completely revolutionary. Master of None is a platform for stories never told on television. It approaches parenthood (or lack thereof) from a fresh perspective, as the first episode chronicles Dev’s misadventures in babysitting and his anxiety over whether or not he wants children. The following episode examines the life of American-born children and their relationship to their immigrant parents. Cutting between flashbacks and present day, we see how much Dev’s parents sacrificed to get their family to America, while in the next scene, we watch Dev forego fixing his dad’s iPad to go see a movie with friends. Master starts to find its footing here, easily pulling on the heartstrings of any viewer that hasn’t called home in a while. The emotional beats are made even more poignant given that Ansari cast his real life parents to act as Dev’s family in the show.

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“Steve Jobs” Brings Apple to Life

Steve Jobs 2When most people hear the name “Apple,” they associate it with Steve Jobs. However, there is much more to this global company than just one man, as seen in Danny Boyle’s Steve Jobs, released on Oct. 23.

According to IMDb, “Steve Jobs takes us behind the scenes of the digital revolution, to paint a portrait of the man at its epicenter. The story unfolds backstage at three iconic product launches, ending in 1998 with the unveiling of the iMac.”

The opening scene is set in 1984, where Steve Jobs (Michael Fassbender) is about to present his first Macintosh launch to the world. Jobs’ right hand “man,” Joanne Hoffman (Kate Winslet), is trying to prepare him for this big moment. Hoffman is the Head of Marketing at Macintosh at the time, and basically tells him what he should or shouldn’t do and makes sure that everything is aligned correctly.

While Jobs is having trouble with the Macintosh right before the launch, he faces one of his biggest personal problems in the form of his ex-lover, Chrisann Brennan (Katherine Waterston), and her daughter, Lisa, (Makenzie Moss). Lisa is said to be more than 90 percent likely his daughter, but he will not admit to this. Instead, Jobs wires Chrisann money as she begs for it and denies that Lisa is his responsibility. In this opening scene, Lisa is merely 5-years-old, and Jobs is very cold towards her. He only lightens up once he sees that Lisa has used the Paint application to draw her own “abstract” picture.

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Bradley Cooper’s “Burnt” Sizzles and Fizzles

Bradley CooperI have mixed feelings for the movie Burnt—while there were some aspects that I liked, others fell flat. One of the things I enjoyed was the overall message about a chef who had it all but struggled with his own demons and had to make a name for himself again. However, this message was often lost as some of the scenes felt unnecessary and pointless. Even better, the film could have utilized flashbacks to establish a better connection with the characters instead of aimless conversations. There were so many characters that it got confusing to keep track of their past and relationship to Chef Adam Jones, because character development wasn’t present in this film.

The movie stars Bradley Cooper as Jones, who has been a chef since he was 19-years-old. At one point, Jones was considered the top chef and worked for a restaurant in Paris for a man named John Luke. Eventually, Jones lost everything he had to drugs and alcohol, and he is now a washed up chef working in New Orleans cleaning clams. Early in the movie, he leaves his job and heads back to Europe, this time to London. He is searching for Tony (Daniel Bruhl), a good friend of his from Paris who once worked with him in the kitchen. At first, Tony does not want anything to do with Jones and blames him for losing John Luke’s restaurant. Ultimately, Tony softens, and allows Jones to run his restaurant’s kitchen.

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“Homeland” Heats Up

HomelandThe recent episode of Season Five’s Homeland entitled “Better Call Saul” has finally started to pick up the pace after four episodes. This season, former CIA intelligence officer Carrie Matheson (Claire Danes) is the target of an assassination attempt and faces numerous dangerous enemies coming out of the woodwork as a result of stolen classified CIA documents. Who could be behind the assassination attempt on Carrie’s life? How many more people will die because of those stolen documents? These are some of the questions that are slowly being unraveled in the latest episode of the Showtime drama.

Homeland is easily one of the best shows on TV right now because it manages to integrate real life issues going on in the world today. The war on terrorism is something that has received a lot of focus in the first four seasons of this series, and now Season Five is dealing with a whole new ballgame of characters in a setting like Germany that has long history of violence. After leaving the CIA to raise her daughter, Carrie is forced to confront her old life again headfirst. She must interact with people that she was not on good terms with after leaving the agency, such as her former mentor, Saul Berenson (Mandy Patinkin). She also faces Peter Quinn (Rupert Friend), the assassin and potential love interest whom she is currently in hiding with trying to figure out who wants to kill her. One of the most game-changing moments this season is a shootout in the middle of a crowded square with children having just been let out of school. An injured Quinn barely escapes with his life as he and Carrie must flee the scene.

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John Stamos Shines in “Grandfathered”

GrandfatheredIf you enjoyed the show Full House, then have mercy, you’ll enjoy FOX’s new sitcom with John Stamos called Grandfathered. The two main characters are Jimmy Martino (Stamos) and Gerald, Jimmy’s son, who is played by Josh Peck from Nickelodeon’s Drake and Josh.

Grandfathered was created by Daniel Chun and first premiered on FOX on Sept. 29. The show, which was recently renewed for a second season, received reviews of 7.5/10 on IGN and 62% on Metacritic. USA Today stated that, “Stamos is best in scenes where he babysits his young granddaughter so Gerald can go on a date. Jimmy might play like he’s as edgy as Jesse Katsoplois but inside he’s a total softie” and, “Grandfathered definitely has room to grow, and a strong foundation to do so.” Similarly, New York Times said, “Grandfathered is as winningly cast as The Grinder- Mr. Stamos manages to be smarmy and charming at the same time.”

In the pilot we are introduced to Jimmy, who thinks of himself as the ultimate bachelor and owns a restaurant that he named after himself. His manager, Annelise (Kelly Jenrette), and his head chef, Ravi (Ravi Patel), know Jimmy better than he knows himself, and the three of them are very close. Their world of restaurant business and celebrities is suddenly altered when Jimmy, already 50, just learns that he is not only a father, but a grandfather. He spoke too soon when he said he loves his life and would give it all up for a family.

Grandfathered has aired five episodes so far. In the first episode, Jimmy is approached by Gerald, who he thinks is just a customer. He completely blows him off until he hears, “I’m your son.” Jimmy is a deer in headlights as Gerald then goes around the corner to grab the baby stroller and introduce Jimmy to his granddaughter, Edie.

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“Quantico” is the Best Drama of the Fall

QuanticoWhen new fall shows are released, the reviews for the cable series are usually negative. Typically, the general public picks one show and runs with it, or at least it a full season to catch their attention. In 2013 it was the musical drama Nashville, in 2014 it was the adorable and charming Jane the Virgin, and this year it was the Joshua Safran FBI trainee drama, Quantico.

 There are a number of reasons as to why this show not only works, but soars as a new series. One of those reasons is that it has taken a different route from the typical spy/ FBI drama. It doesn’t resemble the brilliant J.J. Abrams’ Alias, nor is it an exact replica of the comedy-infused secret agent style that Chuck mastered. Quantico is its own show, and what a show it is. The characters are not one-dimensional, and nothing is as it seems. So far, five episodes in, we’ve rooted for and against just about every character. We’ve judged and accused every character of wrong doing. It’s refreshing for there to not be one character that is constantly getting our sympathy and vote, but rather every week we have a new favorite. 

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Halsey Rocks New York City

Halsey NYCThe fictitious town of Badlands came to life on Halsey’s headlining national tour for her album of the same name. The sold-out tour was filled with roaring crowds, outrageous lines, and special effects, making each show something unique. Halsey’s voice sounded even better live than it does recorded. On Friday, Oct. 23, Halsey did a hometown show at Webster Hall in New York City that was astoundingly iconic.

In such a short amount of time, Halsey has gained notable recognition in the media. The singer, who recently turned 21, has only been writing music since she was 17. She began professionally recording in 2014 and has since experienced a drastic increase in popularity. In this past year, she went from a small artist with a modest fan base to being one of the most talked about and prevalent artists in the media: she hit one million followers on Instagram, has launched an impressive debut album, and sold out an entire headlining tour.

Prior to this show, Halsey announced that she added a grand finale date to her tour next August at Madison Square Garden. She talked about this joyfully to her audience, and overall did a wonderful job of communicating with the crowd by thanking them for what they do for her and her career during the show. A cool thing about Halsey is that she is not an artist who got her career handed to her, so she still is a very down-to-earth person. You could tell she was sensible solely by the way she connected with the crowd.

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To Preorder, or Not to Preorder

No Man SkyFor any readers unfamiliar with the term “preorder,” it refers to buying and/or reserving a video game prior to its release. Most people who consider themselves “gamers” have probably preordered a video game before, and many do so regularly. When a consumer preorders a game, they’re typically taking a risk: reviews of the game have yet to be released, and most of the information on the game was provided by the game’s developer and/or publisher (who are clearly not disinterested parties). Often one will preorder a game, expecting great things, and receive a title that disappoints, be it slightly or severely. So, one might wonder, why do people preorder at all, if it would be safer to purchase a game after release? Mainly because video game publisher’s and retailers love preorders (they’re guaranteed full-price purchases) and incentivize them.

These incentives can take many forms. Under Bethesda, for example, an Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim preorder came with a physical map of the game’s world. Such an incentive is not coercive, just a small bonus for those who are certain they want the game. With Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt, CD Project: Red actually offered a discount for preorders; this is generally considered to be among the most ethical of incentives. One of the more controversial (and more frequent) methods of incentivizing preorders is the usage of downloadable digital content (DLC) giving players something in-game for preordering said game (this could be cosmetic items, weapons, playable characters, story content, or much more depending on the game).

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“Crimson Peak” Misses the Mark

Crimson PeakCrimson Peak, the new film by visionary director Guillermo Del Toro, is a beautiful, disappointing mess. It is structured and paced like a B movie but is told like an A movie, only to be reduced back to B movie status in its ending revelations.

However, “beautiful” extends beyond the visuals in this film, which is what saves it from itself. Though the aesthetic make up a good 85 percent of the film’s success, it contributes to the heart of the film, which is about the aura of romance in haunted houses, the secrets of obsessive relationships and skeletons in the proverbial closet. Though the story is passionate and intensely felt, much of it is unconvincing, which is Crimson Peak’s main downfall.

The film foreshadows the threat to come when the ghost of Edith’s (Mia Wasikowska) dead mother tells her to “beware of Crimson Peak.” Then, the film flashes forward 14 years, where Edith has grown up to become a writer, albeit a rejected one. Her father, played by Jim Beaver, is a well-groomed, rough-handed industrialist who perhaps tends to his beard a bit too carefully.

Edith doesn’t want to write love stories and isn’t interested in falling in love. Of course, there’s a suitor, Dr. Alan McMichael (Charlie Hunman), who is intelligent, successful and, ultimately, emphatically bland. He is the sensible pick in these types of stories, and she does care for him, unlike us. Then, there’s the mysterious, lanky and sensitive Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston). Edith’s father dislikes him intensely, but Edith forms a mysterious attraction to him—at first by the pity of his plight, and then by what can only be explained as his Hiddleston-ness. He brings his sister, Lucille (Jessica Chastain), in search of fortune to build his machine. Edith’s father rejects his request for funding, and goes a step further in blackmailing him when Edith and Tom begin to fall in love. He sends Tom and Lucille away.

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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