Last updateWed, 21 Apr 2021 3pm


The World Cinema Series Presents: "Mustangs"

default article imageBefore Monmouth University closed because of COVID-19, The World Cinema Series (WCS) planned to screen two films for the remainder of the semester, one of which was “Mustangs” in March. Even though the screening was unfortunately cancelled, you can still screen the film for $2.99 on YouTube here. And to make the streaming feel a little more like watching a film at Pollak Theatre WCS Host Professor of History Thomas Pearson, Ph.D., shared his commentary for “Mustangs.”

Pearson thought “Mustangs” tied closely to this year’s theme: "Women: Power and Identity” because it deals with a group of girls going against traditional norms and oppressive societies. Moreover, considering the main characters are cut off from society, Pearson related to the film to what we’re all going through today in this COVID-19 world. “In the case of "Mustang" it is because five young girls are confined to their uncle's home because of a belief that their innocent encounter with some boys on the beach on the last day of school violated the norms of modesty and appropriate contact between the sexes,” he said.

Now picture yourself taking a seat in Pollak Theatre. The lights are dim, the large screen is touching the bottom of the stage, and out comes Pearson with a microphone facing the packed crowd ready to watch “Mustangs.” Pearson asks, “Is this thing on?” Then gives us his commentary:

“"Mustang" (2015) is the Turkish-French feature film debut of Deniz Gamze Erguven. Her film is set in the remote coastal village of Inebolu (about 600 km from Istanbul) and the beach scene and its impact is based on Erguven's personal life,” he says.

After giving the rundown, Pearson shares what you should look for in the film. “I think what viewers of this film should focus on is the strategies of the five adolescent sisters, who band together, to defy the extreme repression and home confinement imposed by their relatives, with varying results.”

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The World Cinema Series Presents: "Persepolis"

default article imageBefore Monmouth University closed because of COVID-19, The World Cinema Series (WCS) planned to screen two films for the remainder of the semester, one of which was “Persepilis” in April. Even though the screening was unfortunately cancelled, you can still screen the film for only $3.99 through YouTube here. And to make the streaming feel a little more like watching a film at Pollak Theatre WCS Host Professor of History Thomas Pearson, Ph.D., shared his commentary for “Persepolis.”

“Persepolis” tied closely to this year’s theme: "Women: Power and Identity.” Pearson thought the film was the perfect fit because it, “Focuses on the rebellion of a young girl against patriarchal traditions and oppressive societies and governments.” he said.

Pearson also thought our current circumstances relate closely to the film’s material too. “In the case of "Persepolis" it is because the Iranian Revolution of 1979, with the coming to power of Islamic fundamentalists, cut off the teenage Marjane from secular society and modern culture as Iran underwent a fundamental transformation in its politics and social and cultural norms,” he stated.

So let’s imagine here for a moment. You’re sitting in a packed Pollak Theatre with students, professors, and community members ready to watch a great international film. The lights go down a little, the screen is dropped to the bottom of the stage, and Pearson walks to the front with a microphone in his hands. “Good evening,” he says. “Welcome to the World Cinema Series, thanks for joining us.”

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World Cinema Series Host Professor Gac-Artigas Shares Her International Film Picks

default article imageEven though events were cancelled at Monmouth University for the remainder of the semester, the World Cinema Series (WCS) is still turning at home. Outside of the two films “Persepolis” and “Mustangs” that were supposed to be screened this semester, WCS Co-Host Professor of Spanish and Latin American Literature Priscilla Gac-Artigas, Ph.D. shared her favorite international films everyone should catch at home.

The first being 2017’s “A Fantastic Woman” from Chile, which won Best Foreign Film at the 2018 Oscars. You can stream it here. Gac-Artigas shared her insight on the film, “It is the story of a transgender woman, Marina, a waitress during the day, nightclub singer during the night, and the discrimination she has to endure when her older lover with whom she recently moved in, Orlando, dies of an aneurism and she is the prime suspect of his death.”

Gac-Artigas continued, “You can see the reaction of a homophobic society who denies Marina the basic human right of bearing farewell to the man she has loved for three years when his family forbids her to attend the funeral and how Marina manages to fulfill her goal of being with him one last time.”

Another excellent film to watch while at home is 2017’s “Niñas araña” or “Spider Thieves” from Chile. You can check it out here. Gac-Artigas gave her opinions on the film with, “If as many other people in the world you were surprised by the social explosion in Chile at the end of 2019 you may find some answers in this film based on real-life events from 2005. The film tells the story of three thirteen-year-old girls living in a slum on the outskirts of Santiago, capital of Chile. They long to escape poverty, and to do it they climb up balconies of empty rich neighborhood buildings to enjoy amenities, food, and clothing far from their miserable real-life conditions, sometimes stealing some valuable items as well.”

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The Clubhouse Streams Along

default article imageAfter COVID-19 put a temporary end to their live events, an up-and-coming Toms River music venue has moved their operations completely to social media, in cooperation with Governor Phil Murphy’s social distancing executive order. Jimmy Mura, Director of The Clubhouse of Toms River, has gone to great lengths to produce online content for the community during a time where live music events pose a public health concern.

“We had a couple sessions from our YouTube series “The Clubhouse Hangouts” saved up. These are high quality live sessions and interviews we do with bands,” said Mura. “People seem to respond well to those.” The latest installment of The Clubhouse Hangouts, featuring Asbury Park-based alternative punk outfit America Part Two, is now available to stream on The Clubhouse’s YouTube account. According to Mura, there have also been talks of launching a podcast bands can be interviewed remotely.

The venue has also been holding numerous “Instagram Takeovers,” where a band is provided with The Clubhouse’s login credentials and is permitted to post whatever content they see fit.

“We are having a different band take over the account every day,” said Clubhouse board member and doorman Matthew Christopher. “They host Q&A’s, perform live sessions, and talk about how they are handling the quarantine.” The Clubhouse is secure with alternative content for the time being, but like all organizations and establishments, COVID-19 has posed a financial threat. Fortunately, the Clubhouse team is keeping a level head.

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Keeping the Concert Dream Alive-Stream

default article imageFor many, nothing compares with the experience of going to a concert. The first time I went to a concert was when I saw The Smithereens, a New Jersey band, while they toured their Beatles cover album “Meet The Smithereens.” My family and I were in the second row, and I happened to fall asleep. It was not that The Smithereens’ music had a sedative effect on me, I was just a nine-year-old with a bad habit of falling asleep in public places. Since then, music has become a healthy obsession of mine, often accompanied by the compulsion to frequently check the tour dates of my favorite bands and artists.

With COVID-19 forcing tours on hiatus and venues to shut their doors, many music fans are left without the concert experience for months. That concert experience, as Monmouth University Music and Theater Arts Adjunct Professor Marc Muller described, can be euphoric. Muller is a studio and touring musician, who instructs a class entitled “Rock and Roll in American Culture” at Monmouth University. With conventional live performances temporarily derailed, it is likely that fans are currently burning through their favorite artists’ discographies. However, studio albums might not always satisfy the pining to hear your favorite song played live. Professor Muller relates the difference between studio recorded and live music to that of “reading the book and seeing the movie. You sit with the book by yourself, [and] dive in. It takes you places, creates pictures in your mind.” Much like a book, there’s a certain ineffable weight about listening to albums by yourself. Which leaves the question, what is going to happen to the other half of this analogy now that concerts have been postponed?

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Coronavirus Commecials: The New Normal

default article imageIn quarantine, our only outlets of escape are through our TVs and laptops. Whether it’s shows, movies, or browsing the web, both can serve as good time killers or something to distract you from the terrible news every day. But we can’t even escape the depressing news through our only outlets.

Friday night I was watching Discovery Channel’s Gold Rush: Dave Turin’s Lost Mine to obviously be entertained and keep my mind off of what’s going on, yet the commercials felt like watching CNN.

Most of the companies that advertised have changed their campaigns to address our current climate. Companies like Burger King, State Farm, Hyundai, Verizon, T-Mobile, and even Buick had messages catered towards the worried at home. Each commercial had a similar tone of, “In these uncertain times, one thing is certain: that we are always here for YOU.”

For Burger King, they took a serious tone and said their employees would run the food out to your car if you purchased through their app. Meanwhile, State Farm took a lighter tone with gospel music playing in the background and informed how their agents are still accessible digitally for any client needs. Then, to take the cake, Hyundai vowed to freeze any car payments to those who have lost their job to COVID-19.

The impactful ads didn’t stop at the companies because Discovery Channel had their own COVID-19 campaign. In one commercial, they had all of the channel’s biggest stars (who?) sending out a message that we can all get through this. Then in another ad, Mitch Blaschke, a mechanic on their hit show Gold Rush, filled viewers in on how he’s handling quarantine at home.

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Drive, Kid Keeps Their Foot on the Gas: The Virus's Impact on Small Bands

default article imageIt doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that the dastardly COVID-19 virus has impacted countless lives and businesses all over the world. The music industry is no exception; musical artists big and small have been forced to cancel shows, postpone tours, or even reschedule studio time. If you’re in a band, chances are the novel coronavirus has brought whatever activities you’ve had planned to a screeching halt, regardless if you’re packing arenas or struggling to fill basements.

My band Drive, Kid has been no exception. If there’s anything we hate doing, it’s cancelling shows. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened. We were booked to open for Pennsylvania melodic hardcore band Carousel Kings in Toms River on April 3rd; it was shaping up to be one of the biggest shows we’ve played in some time, and we’ve got our fingers crossed it’ll be rescheduled for a time when the world returns to some degree of normalcy.

Drive, Kid’s drummer, Connor Hastings, felt a strong double-whammy effect as the virus impacted the plans of his other band, Asbury Park-based hardcore outfit P.R.O.G.R.A.M. “COVID-19 completely postponed our tour,” said Hastings. P.R.O.G.R.A.M. was set to tour the northeast during the week of spring break in support of their new album, Wired to Kill. “The shows fell out like dominoes. We’re all very disappointed and hoping we can reschedule another one for June.”

However, P.R.O.G.R.A.M. was still determined to deliver a chaotic live performance of their new songs to disappointed fans, in spite of the show cancellations. “The only ‘show’ we played was a livestream from our band Instagram account,” said Hastings. “To be honest, being out and about is scary, especially since I’m working during this. But, it was really nice to shred out some tunes and be able to forget this mess, even if it was only 15 minutes.”

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Tale of the Tape: Going Back to Physical Media

default article imageAh, the great indoors; isn’t it just lovely in here? Similar to a sprawling park or giant city, it seems like I discover something new about my house every day. For example, when I moved my couch to pick up a popcorn kernel that fell under, I was surprised to find a slew of dust bunnies, pretzels, and pennies: a treasure trove for my dust buster. Wow, there’s just so much to discover!

But beyond what lies beneath the dark shadows under my couch, I’ve realized how much physical media I have lying around the house. In recent years, I’ve been so used to streaming practically any movie I want at the highest quality at my fingertips, yet it turns out I have a vast library sitting on my shelves that isn’t too far either.

Over the past couple weeks, I’ve found myself going less on Hulu and more on my DVD, VHS, and even LaserDisc players. Granted, I’ve still been sinking my teeth into Angel through streaming, but for the most part I’ve been playing catch-up on movies I meant to watch years ago.

For instance, I’ve been building up a LaserDisc film library for quite some time, but I’ve never actually watched about a third of the films on my shelf. For those of you who don’t know, LaserDiscs were made before the DVD and were a competitor to the VHS. They are 12-inch-long discs that have two sides, similar to a record. So after 45 minutes or so, you have to get up and flip the disc. Sometimes if the film is long, there are two discs.

The other day, you could say I got up quite a lot during The Godfather Part II, which is three-and-a-half hours. I saw it years ago, but with all this time on my hands, I finally got to refresh my mind on how much of a rat Fredo was. Additionally, I got to see the other classics in my LaserDisc collection like Nobody’s Fool, The Third Man, and My Fair Lady.

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Gemini: A wild family party in Woods Theatre

default article imageWhen pulling a folding chair up to Gemini’s packed dinner table, audiences get a plate piled high with zesty comedy, rich conflict, and a heaping scoop of love. With direction from Jack Burke, Ph.D., and Assistant Director Katherine Fernandez, the Monmouth University Department of Music and Theatre Arts presented Albert Innaurato’s Gemini (1976) with flair.

A snapshot of a blue-collar South Philadelphia summer circa 1973, Gemini takes place around the 21st birthday of Francis Geminiani (Anthony DeFilippo), a Harvard student back on his home turf.

The morning before the ‘big 2-1’, Francis wakes to a “SURPRISE!” from his two Ivy-league pals, siblings Judith (London Jones) and Randy Hastings (Riley Anderson), through his window. Having hitch-hiked from Boston to South Philly, the Hastings pitch a tent outside of Francis’ brick home, to his mild protest.

Almost immediately, Francis’ laborer father, Fran Geminiani (Joe Marano), and Fran’s widowed girlfriend, Lucille Pompi (Samantha Ventola & Dominique Lengyel), welcome the Hastings with Italian-American gusto, regardless of the siblings’ WASP upbringing.

The kooky next-door neighbors come into play with the confident and crass Bunny Weinberger (Emily Woods) and her asthmatic, train-obsessed son, Herschel (Nick Sewell). Both Bunny and Herschel take a liking to the young, wealthy newcomers... Randy, in particular.

With his posh friends crashing the party, Francis has to manage his family’s antics, his own romantic and sexual drama, and the impending arrival of his adulthood. In a whirlwind of drama and hilarity, each character in Gemini learns valuable lessons about life that positively change them.

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The Last Days of the Cinema

default article imageIn the week leading up to AMC and other theater chains closing their cinemas on March 16 to protect patrons from the coronavirus, the writing was on the wall. From Sunday March 8 to Saturday March 14, I saw firsthand—through four separate trips—how theaters struggled to bring people in.

You may ask, “Why put yourself at risk?” Frankly, I used the cinema as a form of escapism and a last ditch effort to enjoy going out before being locked in my house for the coming weeks.

In a world where there is grim news everywhere we go, a little (or a lot in my case) of an escape is desired. Anytime I turn on the news, it’s all about carnage ripping across the globe. I can’t listen to my favorite sports talk radio stations because there aren’t any sports to talk about anymore. When hanging out with friends, the virus is all we talk about. Facebook is a place where soccer moms ask for the best stores to buy toilet paper in the area, so social media is a wash. Plus looking at investments? Oh, that’s funny.

So, to be in a place for two hours in a brief moment of distraction was a nice break. When there’s bad news everywhere, the cinema is where it’s not permitted through the theater door. But in this case, it eventually shuttered the doors for six to 12 weeks, or the unforeseeable future.

Before I detail what it was like to be at the cinema in its final days, I can assure you that I practiced social distancing and played it as safe as possible. However, as much as people were upset at theaters staying open, social distancing was in full swing because it was practically empty anyway.

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Local Band Spotlight: About a Year Ago

Local Band SpotlightNewly-formed Ocean Country melodic hardcore band About a Year Ago independently released their debut EP Borrowed Time on Feb. 4. Rising from the ashes of the now-defunct Toms River-based easycore band Sick on Sunday, About a Year Ago pushes into the new decade with a sound that embodies the raw D.I.Y. essence of the New Jersey local music scene.

Borrowed Time is an emotional, three-track release which thematically revolves around relationships, both romantic and platonic. “The album deals a lot with heartbreak,” said bassist Alex Fischer. “Whether it’s with friends or relationships that have ended; it’s a coping mechanism for us.”

Borrowed Time comes out of the gate with the catchy tune ‘Rewind.’ The introductory lead guitar, courtesy of guitarist Mike Vecchio, is reminiscent of something that wouldn’t sound too out of place on Neck Deep’s Life’s Not Out to Get You. ‘Rewind’ has an infectious call-and-response chorus, as well as a pounding beatdown that allows drummer Doug Miller to let his double-bass chops shine.

‘Rewind’ is followed up with ‘Chain of Memories,’ which opens with a pounding drum beat and vocalist John D’Antona shouting a powerful refrain. ‘Chain of Memories’ offers some great classic easycore riffage courtesy of Vecchio and rhythm guitarist Robbie Gaffney. The bouncing chorus indicates that ‘Chain of Memories’ is unfiltered, fun, mosh pit material.

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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