Last updateFri, 19 Jun 2020 7pm


For the Love of the Landscape: The Art of Gina Torello

Love Landscape 1Adjunct Art Professor Gina Torello, M.F.A., gave a captivating lecture to a packed Bey Hall Auditorium in support of her art exhibition Lightscapes.

Torello’s lecture was well attended by colleagues, friends, family, and students from all walks of life last Friday night, Jan 31. “I hadn’t seen some of those friends in 32 years. It was like being at my living funeral,” quipped Torello.

The title Lightscapes is a play on the word “landscapes,” according to Torello. The “light” comes from how natural light influences her work.

“My eyes see things in nature that seem very simple, but it’s the light that alters the emotions,” said Torello. “Artists follow the light; it’s the light that creates the ambiance. It illuminates the environment.”

Lightscapes is also the name of Torello’s business, which was born out of her Italian heritage and experience earning her M.F.A. from the Dominican University in Florence, Italy, as well as exhibiting work at Villa Schifanoia and Peroni’s Bottega. “I rent a villa for a week. I bring an Italian chef with me, all the art supplies, and eight to ten art students of any skill level,” said Torello.

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Putting Down the Ritz: What's the Future for Art House and Independent Theaters?

RitzOn Jan. 26, Philadelphia lost a landmark. No, I’m not talking about the Liberty Bell, City Hall, or Jim’s Steaks on South Street; but the beloved movie theater Ritz at the Bourse. After 30 years of operations, the Cohen Media Group, who purchased Landmark Cinemas that owns the three Ritz theaters in Philly, decided to close the five-screen multiplex that specialized in showing unique art house, international, and independent movies.

Going to a movie at the Ritz made for plenty of unforgettable experiences. When you purchased your tickets from the outside window and walked into the lobby, you were met with the iconic escalators that went down to the theaters. As you descended to the cinema, a neon glowing sign that read “RITZ AT THE BOURSE” hovered over your head.

On the bottom floor, an employee would rip your ticket and the concession stand filled the air with a sweet buttery scent. When you walked into the theaters, you were met with a giant screen equipped with impressive sound and seat that kicked back, which were perfect for relaxing.

While the amenities made for the truest cinematic experience, the film selection stood out above all. Every week’s film selection was a mixed bag. Usually there were a couple spots reserved for the nationally released dramas or indies, like those you may see nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars. But for the most part, they screened unheard of foreign films from rising directors, documentaries on a range of unthinkable subjects, and ambitious art house movies that flew under the radar.

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Coronavirus Infects the Chinese Box Office: How Do Film Studios Handle Disaster?

Chinese Box OfficeLast week, the Coronavirus was declared an international health emergency. This epidemic is eye-opening and while there are many layers to this story, there’s one aspect that has come to the attention of the Chinese government. The coronavirus isn’t just killing people, but the box-office too.

For the better of the people, the Chinese government has decided to shut down all movie theatres around the country. Representatives thought it was the best idea to close down their theatres because those are areas that are heavily populated, which could prevent a further spreading of the virus.

Normally, the two weekends following the Chinese New Year are lucrative for the box office and serve as a big pay day for both native and worldwide filmmakers. However, those movies that were supposed to be released leave studios with a big decision to make.

 All of the films that have been affected by the outbreak and the short time notice of movie theatres closing were all highly anticipated films or Oscar nominations such as Sony’s Little Women.

Patrick Brzeski and Pamela McClintock of The Hollywood Reporter explained that a well known Chinese production company, Huanxi Media, ended up signing a partnership agreement within 24 hours with the video streaming app TikTok so people can watch their highly anticipated film, Lost in Russia, for free. Huanzi Media acted quickly because many fans were upset that they couldn’t see the movie in theaters. The studio earned its money through the contract, gaining about $90 million.

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Your Guide to The Oscars Commentary, Picks, and Predictions

Guide To OscarsAh, here we go again! Hollywood will be the center of the world for this year’s Oscars ceremony on Sunday, Feb. 9 at 8 p.m. on ABC. There are some great films up for nominations, but what would an Oscars ceremony be without any controversy?

If you recall last year, the Academy Awards did well with inclusion, as many hailed the ceremony’s biggest winner as diversity. Films like BlackKklansman, Black Panther, and  Roma lead with nominations in major categories. While Roma swept the floor with three wins in significant categories (Director, Foreign Language Film, and Cinematography), Green Book left with the grand prize of Best Picture.

It was a divisive choice because some thought Green Book was a white savior movie, while others believed it as a lesson in breaking down barriers. Regardless, I enjoyed it much more than Roma and found it worthy of the award.

Although last year looked like a step in the right direction for inclusion at the Oscars, the Academy has taken a thousand steps back. Across all the major categories of acting and directing, the Academy has only chosen two people who are not white. This includes Cynthia Erivo of Harriet for Best Actress and Bong Joon-ho of Parasite for Best Director.

On top of this, films driven by white male stories have dominated Best Picture and other important categories. Those flicks are 1917, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, The Irishman, Ford v Ferrari, Jojo Rabbit, and Joker, which leads with 11 nominations. This move by the Academy comes as such a shock, where there were plenty of films that could’ve been included to diversify the field.

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Goliath vs. Goliath: Theaters Battle Against Netflix at the Oscars

Goliath 1This means war. No, I’m not talking about the Best Picture nominee 1917 (it’s overrated by the way), but the ongoing battle between theater chains and streaming services.

The battleground is set at this year’s Oscars. The side with a great deal of fire power is Netflix, which has taken control of 24 nominations, including Best Picture for The Irishman and Marriage Story.

Meanwhile, the theaters have strength on their side. The other six Best Picture nominations have been screened in cinemas and will stick around until the big showdown in February.

Leading up to the ceremony, AMC Theaters hosts a Best Picture showcase, which spans two days and shows all the Best Picture nominees. But this year, AMC has a sneak attack up their sleeve. In an effort to boycott Netflix’s growing dominance, AMC is not screening The Irishman and Marriage Story.

You may look at the Academy’s ratio and go, “Hey, that’s not too bad! The theaters have seven nominations compared to Netflix’s two, so they’re in the lead.” While it may seem like this on the surface, theaters like AMC are shaking in their trench boots.

Last year, Netflix only had one nomination for Best Picture: Roma. Although the Alfonso Cuarón directed film was a big success with ten nominations and three wins, cinemas still had seven of the eight nominations playing in their theaters. Plus, they screened the Best Picture winner, Green Book.

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Rollin' the Dice: How Artists Game Their Music to the Top Spots

Rollin Dice 1When Justin Bieber’s ‘Yummy’ was released on Jan. 3, fans and critics formed differing opinions on the song. Since this was Bieber’s first solo single in three years, he aimed to get the song to the number 1 spot on streaming charts.

It’s no secret that dedicated fans take over social media when their favorite artists release new material. They aim to stream songs on repeat and buy songs multiple times in order to push the tracks higher up on charts. Yet, it is rare to see the artists encouraging this type of behavior.

Not only did Bieber encourage his fans to listen on repeat, but he reposted Instagram stories that one of his fan pages made that read, “Create a playlist with ‘Yummy’ on repeat and stream it.”

“Don’t Mute it, Play at a Low Volume, Let it Play While You Sleep,” “Buy the Song on iTunes,” “Buy the Song Multiple Times on Justin’s Website.” The question we all must ask: Is this fair for artists to do?

When thinking about the situation, it doesn’t seem wrong for artists to legally promote their own material. However, when you dive deeper and look at the facts, it can be difficult to believe it’s morally right.

Bieber’s case is not the first incident of this kind to occur in the music industry, as numerous artists have done similar things. DJ Khaled was guilty of bundling, a common practice of providing album downloads with purchases of merch or other sales. DJ Khaled was providing a digital download of his album Father of Ashad with the purchase of the energy drink Awake Energy Shot. Billboard disqualified sales of his album, preventing it from reaching the number one spot.

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Still Rock 'N Rolling: Hollywood's Love for Rocumentaries

RockumentariesSince the beginning of rock and roll, the music has always shaped the culture around it. From the 1950s to now, rock and roll has evolved into a way of life for many. With bands like The Rolling Stones to Buddy Holly, their music has touched the hearts and lives of their listeners.

Mainstream society has a way of turning events into movies so that the people who didn’t get to experience the events in real time can have a chance to live vicariously through the ones who did. Rockumentaries are a prime example of this.

A rockumentary is a dramatic biopic or documentary about rock music and musicians. Some famous rockumentaries include: Pink Floyd: Live at Pompeii (1972), Woodstock (1970), Monterey Pop (1968), and Keith Richards: Under the Influence (2015).

Some more rockumentaries that hit the big screens in recent years include: Bohemian Rhapsody (on Queen from 2018), Rocketman (on Elton John), and Judy (on Judy Garland from 2019). These movies delve into the lives of these artists, describing their accomplishments and hardships and everything in between.

The question we all must ask is what makes rock and roll so special that it receives its own category of documentaries? Rock music does have the power to unite groups that normally wouldn’t.

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Taking Out the Trash: The Ten Worst Films of the Year

Worst Films 2Yeah I know this issue hits stands on Dec. 4, but the jury has been out on this year since January: 2019 was one of the worst years for film in recent memory.

Nothing could go right this year. The old franchises with histories of success (Men in Black, Godzilla, Terminator, X-Men, the list goes on) bombed because of how bad and irrelevant they were. Even the films that boasted great casts and crews couldn’t escape the curse of 2019.

I would love to write a piece on the greatest films of the year, but there simply weren’t enough. Granted, there were a handful of excellent films like The Irishman, Pavorotti, and Parasite, but unfortunately, the bad heavily outweighed the good.

So folks, pour out a glass of Diet Coke, relax, and look back on some of the year’s biggest pieces of garbage with me.

10. Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood

Yes, this is quite a hot take that will get the office stirring, but Lord did I hate this movie. At two-and-a-half hours, this hunk of junk went absolutely nowhere. The hype behind this film was overwhelming, with an incredible cast of Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, and Margo Robbie, along with direction by the great Quentin Tarantino who was inspired by an intriguing story of the Manson murders. However, everyone seemed to be in a fog, like the stoned hippies in the movie. I chose this film to highlight the wrath of 2019: how it took something with all of the perfect elements of acting, directing, setting, and story, but wasted it all.

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The Best of the Best: The Greatest Albums of the Year

Greatest Albums 22019 saw a ton of great new music. We had some stunning debuts, welcomed returns, and ambitious side projects.

The following list was hard to compile; this was actually the 9th draft. At one point, I had 73 albums on a sheet of paper and crossed them off one-by-one. I couldn’t rank this list in a countdown, so I listed the best from ten genres.

Honorable Mentions:

Some artsists who albums that I loved but slightly missed the mark: Lana Del Rey, Gatecreeper, Tropidelic, King Gizzard and the Wizard Lizard, Rival Sons, Tyler, The Creator, Stick Figure, Maggie Rogers, Khalid, Baroness, and Brittany Howard.

Soul: Black Pumas (self-titled)

After hearing their single “Black Moon Rising” in 2018, I was excited to hear more from them. Their self-titled debut is a refreshing revival of Motown with a modern flare. You can hear influences of Otis Redding, Curtis Mayfield, The Temptations, and more all over this album.

Blues: Gary Clark Jr., This Land

Gary Clark Jr. is one of the biggest names in blues at the moment. His blend of emotive blues solos with hard-rock riffs on his third album are excellent. This album is personal, with a few statement songs, such as “Pearl Cadillac” and “This Land.”

Hip-hop: Anderson .Paak, Ventura

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Coldplay's Cause: Can Touring Become Eco-Friendly?

Coldplay EcoA couple of weeks ago, Coldplay announced that they will not be touring their most recent album, Everyday Life, because touring is not considered eco-friendly.

The lead singer, Chris Martin, told BBC News, “We’re taking time over the next year or two, to work out how our tour can not only be sustainable [but] how can it be actively beneficial.” Until touring becomes environmentally beneficial, you won’t be seeing Coldplay in your ‘Paradise’ any time soon.

There’s a bullet pointed list full of specifics that go into creating a successful tour that includes fan satisfaction, food and merchandise production, and electricity; all of these things play a big part into touring, and that’s only a few bullets off the list.

There are so many aspects that go into touring, but can traveling the world as a band become environmentally friendly? Only time can truly tell us the real answer, but there are many things to think about when posing this question.

It’s interesting to put the word sustainable or even eco-friendly next to touring. Depending on the size of the buildings that bands and singers hold their shows in, thousands of people attend.

Our carbon footprint on Earth has a huge influence on sustainability. When fans attend shows, there are not only thousands of people in the same area, but their cars are too. Many people get to the shows by cars or even planes so there are a lot of ways they are affecting the concert experience.

Associate Professor of Ecology and Biology Pedram P. Daneshgar said, “Flying increases our carbon footprint greatly as does taking buses around the country.”

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Beyond Subtitles: What Makes a Foreign Film?

Foreign FilmHate reading subtitles in movies? Well, the Academy wants more.

We’re approaching Oscar season, and countries are sending their entries to the Academy in hopes to receive nominations for Best International Feature Film. However, the Academy recently rejected two highly praised submissions distributed by Netflix because there was too much English dialogue.

Nigeria’s Lionheart was rejected for too much English, even though their country’s dominant language is English, as per Piya Sinha-Roy of The Hollywood Reporter. The same goes for Austria’s Joy, but the country’s main language is German, according to Scott Feinberg of The Hollywood Reporter.

Considering the requirement for consideration must feature predominantly non-English dialogue, this means that the films will have no other choice but to compete for a Best Picture nomination.

And since there’s much bigger competition in that category with more influential Hollywood films, the “foreign movies” don’t have much of a chance to be recognized.

The Academy’s move presents a dilemma for cinema: what makes an international film? Is it defined just by the amount of how much a foreign language is used or is it about the cultures represented on screen?

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The Outlook
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