Last updateWed, 08 Apr 2020 5pm


Elton John Says Farewell to Philly

Elton JohnLast ‘Saturday Night’ was ‘Alright for Fighting’ because Elton John brought his Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour to Philadelphia on Nov. 9. This was the second time John brought his farewell tour to Philadelphia (he had two consecutive sold out shows on Sept. 11 and 12, 2018) and it attracted back-to-back sellout crowds.

This tour was John’s most technically ambitious one yet. The stage featured a huge screen that went from the ceiling and down to the floor.

In the front was John and his piano, which moved on a pedestal from each side of the stage.

Although John has an arsenal of hits, he wisely mixed the night with both bops and deep cuts. He opened the show with ‘Bennie and the Jets,’ then simmered the crowd down with the lovely ‘All the Young Girls Love Alice;’ a one-two punch from his album, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.

Some of the hits John sung in the first hour-and-a-half included ‘Tiny Dancer,’ ‘Rocket Man,’ and of course, ‘Philadelphia Freedom.’ He sprinkled some gems in too, with tunes like ‘Take Me to the Pilot’ and ‘Indian Sunset.’

The second half kicked off with the best part of the evening: John switched outfits and sung his epic ‘Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding.’ It started with a thick fog that made it look like John was walking on water when he came out. They played the over-ten-minute song in its glorious entirety, which got the crowd moving (even though many struggled to get up the stairs).

John sung some treasures like ‘I Want Love,’ that featured a nice video of the work he’s done through his AIDS foundation, and ‘Sad Songs.’ But John packed all the hits at the end, from ‘Crocodile Rock’ to ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.’

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Last Christmas Lacks Any Heart

Last ChristmasLast Friday I gave cinema my money and the very next two hours, they gave it away. This weekend, to save you from tears, I’ll give you a review on Last Christmas, because you’re someone special.

In Last Christmas we follow  Kate, played by Amelia Clark, who works at a Christmas store and whose life is spiraling down the chimney. She avoids going home, underperforms at work, and doesn’t enjoy Christmas. Oh my!

That is until a mysterious man, Tom, played by Henry Golding, appears in her life and reminds her of all the things she takes for granted.

Yes, it was no surprise that a movie inspired by one of the most overplayed and annoying songs, ‘Last Christmas’ by Wham!, turned out to be just as enjoyable as the song.

One of the reasons why Last Christmas feels like receiving a bag of coal is for its by-the-stockings story.Kate, who has a lot of problems in her life, tries to turn it around. How do you think a Christmas movie like that pans out? It’s like when your parents hint at what you want for Christmas, then you find a sealed copy of Carly Rae Jepsen’s hit new album Dedicated under the tree. Yeah, pretty predictable.

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Hollywood Holograms: Is It Right to Bring Back Talent?

Hollywood HologramsHalloween is over, but there’s still something haunting me. We have lost incredible talents like singer/songwriters, actors, and musicians who we admire and would do anything to see them just one last time. But show business won’t let the dead die.

Last week, it was announced that actor James Dean, who died from drag racing at 24-years-old in 1955, will be making an appearance in a new film about the Vietnam War 64 years after his death. The announcement brought a lot of criticism from fans and even stars like Chris Evans, who tweeted, “‘I’m sure [Dean would] be thrilled. This is awful.”

Although this is not through the same hologram technology that’s being used to create concerts for Prince and other stars, it’s still bringing back a beloved celebrity to appear in front of audiences.

The director of this Vietnam War drama, Anton Ernst, denied the criticism and said that studios think it’s a great idea. The studio may think that if audiences still watch his films like Rebel with a Cause, they might come out for this one. Despite the backlash, the Dean film is slated for next year’s Veteran’s Day.

Assistant Professor of Digital Media Amanda Stojanov, M.F.A., made a point about the idea of this technology reeling in audiences with, “From a capitalist point of view the corporations selling tickets to this event clearly see a market opening there and a way to make a profit.”

Dean isn’t the only celebrity to be resurrected in Hollywood. In 2015’s Furious 7, Paul Walker made an electronic appearance after his sudden death in a car accident. However, in Walker’s case, fans were happy and emotional to see Walker one last time.

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From The Daily Show Host to Broccoli Lover: A Conversation with Jon Stewart

BroccoliComedian Jon Stewart came to Monmouth University’s Pollak Theatre to moderate a panel after a screening of the documentary The Game Changers last Thursday, Nov. 7. The film follows James Wilks, a defense trainer and retired UFC fighter, who discovered the positive impact of switching to a plant-based diet. Prior to the screening, Stewart spoke with the media on the importance of the film and how he has incorporated a plant-based diet into his lifestyle.

Stewart first spoke with Titus Falodun of New Jersey News Network (NJNN) on how he discovered the film and lifestyle to which he credited his wife, Tracey. “She’s been very involved with the idea of eating better for different reasons whether it be health, animal welfare, or the environment. She ended up doing an immersion with Rip Esselstyn (a dietician in the film)’s Engine 2 Program and that got us into this world where we discovered [Wilks] and the film Game Changers, which is an incredible look into how plant-based eating wasn’t considered as masculine,” Stewart said.

Stewart admitted that although plant-based does not sound like the manliest diet, the film featured tough guys who “could beat all of us up.”

The conversation switched to why Stewart decided to make the big change in his life when he told NJNN, “I don’t know if you see the healthy glow in my skin right now, but it wasn’t always this way. I was ashen, bloated, smoked a lot, [and] did not live properly, but I’ve been turned around by broccoli.”

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Jon Stewart and The Game Changers

Game Changers 1The documentary The Game Changers was screened at Pollak Theatre with a panel moderated by comedian Jon Stewart that was filled with the film’s stars and producers last Thursday, Nov. 7. The panelists consisted of the film’s main star Wilks, writer/producer Joseph Pace, one of the film’s dieticians Rip Esselstyn, the film’s convert on plant-based diet Nick Berman, and cardiologist Robert Ostfeld, Ph.D.

The evening began with the screening of The Game Changers, which follows the journey of defense trainer and retired UFC fighter James Wilks, who searches for a solution to return stronger from a recent knee injury. Through his research, Wilks discovers that adopting a plant-based diet is the best for building long lasting strength and endurance, despite centuries of messages that promote meat as an essential source of protein.

To back up his claims, Wilks showcases top level athletes who use plant-based diets from strongman Patrik Baboumian to ultra-marathoner Scott Jurek and everyone in between like football players, track athletes, and cyclists. Wilks also has the support of scientists who endorse claims on how plant-based eating is beneficial in many ways especially for your health, the environment, the economy, and animals.

The film was insightful by covering all the bases and debunking the myths behind a plant-based diet. It was surprising to find out how dramatically your body can change for the better just by eating stuff out of the ground. Above all, it brushed aside the masculine stereotype behind eating meat.

Following the screening, the panelists came out to discuss the film and take questions from the audience, which mostly consisted of professionals in the medical field, community members, and some students. For an hour, the panel explored a wide range of ideas on the diet and were not afraid to get personal.

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Short and Sweet: Is a 40 Minute Movie Worth Admission?

40 MovieWhile Kanye West is enjoying his latest album Jesus is King reaching the top of Billboard’s 200 chart for the ninth time in his career, he has also had some success with his latest film too. Yes, as a companion with his album, West released a film with the same title in IMAX theaters countrywide. The film is a concert performance of West’s new rap-gospel album at the Roden Crater in Painted Desert, Arizona.

This isn’t a new concept for artists. Beyoncé came out with Lemonade to compliment her hit album with the same name, Melanie Martinez did it with K-12, and even Bruce Springsteen released Western Stars a couple weeks ago in theaters nationwide.

Although West has plenty to praise the Lord for, his film only allotted 38 minutes. A typical IMAX movie can cost around $19.70 at a regular time, which means that audiences had to pay a little over a $1 for every two minutes.

That sounds like a rip-off, right? I mean, who would want to spend that kind of cash for something so short! But believe it or not, West made over $1 million in his big screen debut.

It sounds crazy, but there was actually an audience out for this. And even crazier? This might pave a new way we go to the cinema.

In an interview with Variety, Megan Colligan, President of IMAX Entertainment, said, “We saw an opportunity to create a cultural moment with a visionary artist in a way that expands the IMAX brand, while surprising audiences and experimenting with what we can bring to our platform beyond blockbusters.”

When you think about going to the movies, you think of getting popcorn and soda, chilling in a (now reclining) chair for a couple hours, and getting excited to see what comes next for the next two hours or so. It’s a great escape for killing a few hours or an excuse for taking a fat nap. But in West’s case, you probably wouldn’t make it through half of your popcorn by the time the film ends.

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William Close & The Earth Harp Collective Pull All the Right Strings

William EarthGoing into last Saturday night’s William Close and the Earth Harp Collective’s show at Pollak Theatre, I was skeptical of what to expect. But immediately when I walked in, I realized that it wasn’t your grandma’s harp concert.

Close’s Earth Harp is an instrument he designed himself, where the strings tower over the crowd and stretch across the ceiling. The artist has a place to stand in the middle of the harp with 12 strings on each side.

At the start of the show, Close walked in right at the center and started plucking away for a solo. Then after a few songs, a full band came together consisting of a guitarist, vocalist, and drummer.

After the first handful of songs, Close discussed how he created the harp and his passion for creating new instruments. Close mentioned that his harp is actually a record breaker because he managed to stretch the strings 1,000 feet toward the top of a skyscraper in Singapore. During the show, Close performed songs on a drum cloud, which was a collection of 20 drums circled around a gong, and even a drum jacket, where he pounded his belly, arms, and chest, and still gave an incredible solo.

Close’s innovation with musical instruments is out of the ordinary and that was the vibe throughout most of the show. The band played a little bit of everything. In the first half, there were some weird songs like ‘Lord’s Prayer,’ which was sung in an ancient language called Aramic, along with other tunes that involved chanting or long “wooooos.”

However, the show picked up in the second half when they played familiar titles like ‘Amazing Grace,’ ‘With or Without You,’ ‘Hallelujah,’ and even the Game of Thrones theme. The band even sprinkled in a couple original songs, which weren’t too shabby.

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The Sims 4 Head to School

Sims SchoolEveryone’s favorite simulation game, The Sims 4, is launching its eighth expansion pack of the series. Titled The Sims 4: Discover University, the long-awaited expansion pack is officially coming to PC and Mac on Nov. 15, and on console on Dec. 17, at the expected price of $40.

Simmers (like me) have been awaiting this pack for months, if not years. The Sims creators did a great job at dragging out the release of this fan-favorite, being a little over five years after the base game was released in September of 2014.

The expansion pack will feature two universities for your sims to enroll in, new activities like playing juice pong and soccer, participating in school organizations, hanging out with roommates, and studying majors such as biology, computer science, art history, and even villainy (you know, just like your average university).

The pack is also introducing bicycles to the game, but I’m not quite sure how this would work without an open world like The Sims 3 had. The disappointing loading screens that pop up every time a sim leaves their current lot will make this pack much less exciting, especially since we all want free will when it comes to fully exploring our sims’ college campus.

I’m expecting the pack to be just like The Sims 3 University, but with less content. The Sims 4 expansion packs have never failed to fall short of both content and gameplay compared to its Sims 3 counterparts. It’s also quite a ridiculous concept in many downloadable content (DLC) to charge such a high amount for an additional part of the game on top of the expensive launch price. Like with every Sims 4 expansion pack, I will be waiting for a half-off sale before adding the game to my Sims collection.

IMAGE TAKEN from HiClipart

The Irishman: What it Means for DeNiro and Pacino's Legacies

IrishmanRobert DeNiro and Al Pacino: two names synonymous with acting excellence. Both have given incredible performances in some of the greatest films ever made.

For DeNiro, 76, he’s given legendary performances in films like GoodFellas, Taxi Driver, Casino, The Deer Hunter, and Raging Bull. Then there’s Pacino, 79, known for standout performances in classics like The Godfather, Scarface, Dog Day Afternoon, Carlito’s Way, and Serpico.

They’ve even appeared together in The Godfather Part II 45 years ago (not in scenes together), Heat nearly 25 years ago, and let’s forget about Righteous Kill from over 10 years ago (yikes).

And out now, the two are together for the fourth time in director Martin Scorcese’s The Irishman. DeNiro plays Frank Sheeran, a mob hitman, while Pacino plays Jimmy Hoffa, the notorious Teamster boss. It sounds like a pairing for the ages: one of film’s greatest directors with two of its greatest actors. Or, depending on how you look at their last names, a fancy Italian hoagie.

Despite their storied careers and list of excellent films, both actors need The Irishman to remind audiences of their greatness.

You may ask, “But why? The actors are already accomplished with enough awards, money, and characters to cement their standings among the greatest actors to ever live.” But in recent years, their great movies feel like ages ago with a recent string of bombs.

Granted, every actor has their fair share of bad performances. Sometimes actors just do easy roles to make a quick buck and who can blame them when you see their paycheck?

There’s also times where the roles may not pan out as well as they look. Hey, I get it, we’re all human. Nobody’s perfect, yet DeNiro and Pacino’s recent choices in films have been abysmal.

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From Backlash to Oscar Winners: The Normalization of Netflix

Normalization NetflixWhen you think of Netflix, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? I bet it’s not “a production company that makes multimillion dollar movies with critically-acclaimed actors and directors.” But that might be the direction the company is moving in.

This journey from streaming service to producers of serious films only started a few years ago. The first major Netflix original film shown at a film festival before the streaming service, was Okja. When shown at the Cannes Film Festival, it received boos from the crowd as soon as the Netflix logo appeared.

Only two years after the Okja incident, Netflix original movies being shown at film festivals and in theaters has become normalized, especially with the release and acclaim for director Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma.

Earlier this year, the film received a total of 48 awards, including Oscars, BAFTAs, and Golden Globes. After this release, there was no denying that Netflix could produce reputable films.

With this newfound credibility, Netflix has been making bigger budget films with more noticeable cast and crews. Big names in Hollywood have hopped on board to work with the production company.

Some standout titles include The Irishman (starring Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci and directed by Martin Scorsese), El Camino (starring Aaron Paul and other Breaking Bad heavyweights), The Laundromat (starring Meryl Streep, Gary Oldman, and directed by Steven Soderbergh), Marriage Story (starring Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson), Dolemite is My Name (starring Eddie Murphy and Wesley Snipes), and The King (starring Timothée Chalamet, Joel Edgerton, and Robert Patinson).

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The Lighthouse: Two Opinions Oceans Apart

LighthouseEstablishing shot: fog, thick.  A foghorn cautions from somewhere. The fog recedes and shows open ocean. It lightens a little more, and a steamer ship on the horizon motors towards us. On the bow, we have two men, staring into the fog of oblivion.  In the distance, an island with a beacon, and nothing else. There, the keepers will be alone for four weeks until relief.

Director Robert Eggers wastes no time setting the tone for The Lighthouse. No dialogue for almost ten minutes. Wide shots with long durations. The sounds of the whipping winds and the restless ocean.

Shot in stark black and white, this movie looks like an Ingmar Bergman classic or The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.  And it’s just as enchanting as the mermaids in it.

This is Eggers’ second film following the cult success of 2015’s The Witch, a horror piece set in the outskirts of 1630 New England. The Lighthouse, written by Max and Robert Eggers, is similar to The Witch for two reasons.

First, both heavily rely on the jargon of their period to create more realistic dialogue.

The Eggers brothers used Herman Melville’s writings and diaries of sailors to craft their masterful dialogue. Secondly, its setting is specific and acts as a character.

Ephraim Winslow, played by Robert Pattinson, is a foreman, and Thomas Wake, played by Willem Dafoe, is his captain.  Winslow is tasked with all of the hard labor; shoveling coal, painting the tower, hauling barrels of oil to the top of the tower.

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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