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Entertainment

A Dark Fairytale Disappoints

Do you ever wonder what happens to fairy tale characters after the endings of their stories? “And they all lived happily ever after, the end” is a sweet little wrap-up for small children, but as I have grown older, I have become dissatisfied with this unrealistic sentence. I find myself wondering if Cinderella divorced her Prince Charming after finding him cheating with another, fairer princess, taking half of his money and shacking up with another prince half her age. The perfect world of fairy tales and children’s stories never appealed to me because they do not reflect what the world really is: imperfect and, sometimes, not so happy

So when I saw a preview for Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, a dark and violent extension on the classic Grimm children’s story, I felt compelled by curiosity to see it. Finally, a real-world (well, besides the witches) sequel to a classic fairy tale! There are no breadcrumbs leading the two little German children home to their perfect families and a happy-ever-after in this film.

Hansel (Jeremy Renner) and Gretel (Gemma Arterton) are abandoned in the woods by their parents, only to wander into the candy-crafted home of a hungry witch hell-bent on devouring the two children. After stuffing Hansel full of enough candy to give him diabetes (literally, his “sugar sickness” is a recurring character flaw throughout the film), the witch is stabbed and burned to death by an angry Gretel. The two children never see their family again, and spend their lives hunting down and killing every witch they can find, due to their mysterious immunity to black magic.

I was excited to see the movie for a number of reasons. First, I love profanity, violence and disturbing plot twists in films. What that says about my psyche, I don’t know, but I cannot turn down watching a nice bloodbath on the silver screen. As for disturbing plot, two innocent little kids who get lost in the woods spend the rest of their lives on a cold-blooded killing spree, using futuristic weapons like tasers and automatic pistols to brutally murder practitioners of the occult? I’m sold.

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Snow Means New Shows: Midseason Television Brings Hits and Flops

newshowsMidseason television is, for lack of better term, a crapshoot. Sometimes viewers get fantastic, long running cult favorites (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer”) and other times viewers scratch their heads wondering how certain shows get the green light (these shall remain forgotten). This season is no different.

Plenty of actors will be getting six degrees closer to Kevin Bacon on “The Following” (FOX, Mondays at 9 pm). This is probably the most buzzed about show this winter, but is it actually good? The pilot was actually really fantastic. Bacon stars as a former FBI agent who is called back to duty after a serial killer he originally caught has broken out of jail. The killer is concise and organized, planning every kill to relate to Edgar Allen Poe’s works. He isn’t working alone anymore though. He has developed a cult-like following on the internet. The thriller pushes boundaries for blood on network television. Be prepared to cringe. The acting is fantastic as is the writing. Kevin Williamson proved his knack for writing mystery with “The Vampire Diaries” and he brings that talent to “The Following.” It’s fast paced and creepy. It’s definitely worth watching.

“The Carrie Diaries” (The CW, Mondays at 9 pm) also has a lot of buzz but is not really worth the hype. The teen drama is a spinoff of the HBO hit “Sex and the City.” Viewers get to know Carrie (AnnaSophia Robb) in 1980s Connecticut as she deals with her mother’s death and gets an internship in New York City at a law firm. The book series by Candace Bushnell are bestsellers, but the show falls flat. It’s missing the wit and snark of the original series, which is surprising since Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage (“The O.C.” and “Gossip Girl”) are executive producing. Also, there is a slight issue where the original series stated that Carrie’s father abandoned her and her mother when she was four, and the prequel series portrays him as a supportive single parent. The acting is better than usual for a CW show, but unless they figure out how to pick up the pace of both the plot and the dialogue, this spinoff will sink fast.

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Beating the Odds with Jon Kilik

jonkilikShortly before the winter commencement on January 18, 2013, I had the pleasure of meeting and speaking with Jon Kilik, the producer of The Hunger Games as well as 40 other major motion pictures, including The Limits of Control, Babel, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, and Miracle at St. Anna.

Kilik is known for producing films that focus on giving voice to groups or people that otherwise have none. As such, his work tends to have passionate social or political themes. He had come to campus to deliver the Winter Commencement address as well as to receive an honorary Doctorate in Fine Arts.

When asked what inspired him to produce The Hunger Games, Kilik said that one of his friends, the director Gary Ross, had children who read the books. Ross recommended Kilik read them, and Kilik found them to be very enjoyable. Ross was looking to direct another film, and since he’d worked with Kilik on Pleasantville, they decided to team up once again. 

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The Best of Both Worlds

bestofbothworldsWhen a popular piece of media gets remade, there’s a fine line that all design teams must be wary of. The makers of the reimagining have to create something that captures the spirit and entertaining qualities of the original, but still make it different enough that it doesn’t seem like an exact replica.

A lot of people didn’t think Ninja Theory would succeed in their reboot of Devil May Cry, but many were surprised when the new game hit shelves and blew them away- myself included.

The remade version of the original hack-and-slash game features a new Dante, the son of Sparda, a demon knight who saved humanity from his own kind. The son of the demonic general and twin to his katana-wielding twin brother, Vergil, Dante is now also the son of the angel, Eva. This is a huge difference, considering that the original Dante’s mother was human.

With his parents gone, Dante must team up with his brother to free the human race from the clutches of Mundus, the demon king.

For those of you who haven’t seen the trailers for this game, DmC takes place in the fictional location of Limbo City, the home of Mundus. The original Devil May Cry games typically took place in gothic castles or cities that had been corrupted by the ‘demon-world’.

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Country Star Shines at the MAC

entertainment-martina-mcbrideAs the holidays inch closer and closer, I’ve been in my room grinching away with my pup. In a desperate attempt to cheer myself up, I went to the Martina McBride “Joy of Christmas” Tour (which involves 16 charity performances) this past Sunday night. Did her cheerful and upbeat collection of Christmas beats make my heart grow three times its size? Realistically, no, as that would lead to a boatload of medical problems.

McBride has been awarded “Top Female Vocalist” by the Academy of Country Music three times and received “Female Vocalist of the Year” from the Country Music Association four times. She is a Grammy-winning artist who has sold more than 18 million albums throughout her career.

Emotionally, I’d say it got me feeling considerably better. I was very happy to hear that the concert donated five dollars for every ticket sold to the New Jersey Hometown Heroes, a group dedicated to helping those devastated by Hurricane Sandy. They were founded in 2008 to support families facing sudden crises, and they’ve been a major presence in the past few weeks, though they also help the elderly, the disabled and victims of domestic abuse regardless of natural disasters.

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Peter’s Top 10 Albums of the Year

As finals week approaches and winter break comes within arm’s reach, it’s clear that 2012, and potentially the world as we know it, is coming to a close. With the end of the year approaching, I’d like to reflect on some of my favorite music releases from the past year.

While there have been many albums this past year that I obsessed over and played to exhaustion, I narrowed it down to 10 albums that really left a strong impression on me. Give these albums a chance if you’ve missed any of them this year.

1. Cloud Nothings, “Attack on Memory”: In what is easily my favorite album of 2012, the Cleveland rock band Cloud Nothings add some serious muscle and grit to their previously scrappy sound, resulting in a hefty album of raucous yet surprisingly catchy post-hardcore. From the moody opener “No Future/No Past,” to the harrowing epic “Wasted Days,” to the infectious pop punk of “Stay Useless,” Cloud Nothings manage to put together equal amounts of angst, passion, and hooks to create a masterpiece, in all of its loud, soar-throated glory.

 2. Mount Eerie, “Clear Moon / Ocean Roar”: Though a “singer-songwriter” by nature, Phil Elverum, who records atmospheric folk music  as Mount Eerie, uses his songwriting abilities to try and capture the majestic yet powerful essence of nature, while simultaneously searching for his place among it. His two back-to-back releases this year, in this sense, act as something of a yin and yang: The soothing, graceful beauty of “Clear Moon” both matches and contradicts the feral brutality of “Ocean Roar.” Though they are separate releases, it’s hard to imagine the two without one another.

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Student Spotlight: Guy Battaglia and 99 Regrets

entertainment-99-regretsFreshman Guy Battaglia has spent a lot of time on stage this semester. He played antagonistic redneck Owen Musser in “The Foreigner” at Woods Theatre, and he will take the stage in Anacon Hall on Friday night as the lead singer and guitarist of the band 99 Regrets.

The Park Ridge native has been playing music for nearly half of his life. Battaglia said that he grew up with many musicians in his family, so it wasn’t surprising when he developed an interest in music. “I began playing alto saxophone when I was in fifth grade, but then realized that I could not play the music that I enjoyed listening to on it. So, when I was 11 years old, I picked up the electric guitar and took lessons from my uncle,” Battaglia said.

 The type of music Battaglia enjoyed listening to was rock, and 99 Regrets is an alternative rock band. When asked to describe their sound, Battaglia said, “99 Regrets has the alternative sound similar to that of Green Day, Weezer, Foo Fighters, and even blink-182. To this sound, we have powerful guitar solos that make the songs unique in the genre.”

99 Regrets was formed two years ago while Battaglia was still attending Park Ridge High School. “Going through various lineups since my freshman year of high school, I finally discovered Samir Tawalare (drums) at the beginning of my sophomore year of high school.  Then junior year I asked fellow theatre/marching band friends Kevin Leone (bass) and Bryan Zeug (guitar) to join.” The band has been going strong ever since.

The four boys have played at many different local venues including The Stone Pony. Battaglia is particularly fond of that experience. “Playing The Stone Pony for the final round of the Break Contest (to play the Bamboozle Festival) was like a dream come true.  The sound system was incredible and it was definitely a performance we will never forget,” said Battaglia.

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Holiday Concert Brings Joy to All

The University’s Department of Music & Theatre presented its 14th annual salute to the holiday season with this year’s production of “Holiday Joy,” a performance of seasonal favorites featuring student, faculty, and special solo talents on Thursday, December 6 at 7:30 pm. In the splendor of Wilson Hall, family, friends, and students gathered to enjoy the holiday music.

Wilson Hall was lit up in holiday spirit with numerous beautifully decorated Christmas trees, garland wrapped up the rails on the main staircase, and twinkling lights hung throughout. Performers were dressed to impress, from evening gowns for the opera singers to simple black dresses for the glee club.

Attendees paid $15 to sit on the first level and watch members of the University perform. President Paul Gaffney was also in attendance. Student admission was free as the concert sold out and had standing room only. Students stood on the second and third level, watching below and waiting for the show to begin.

Megan Roberts, freshman English and theater major said, “I’m here to see my friends. I’m excited because I love holiday music and I know my friends will be great.”

Among the performers were the University Chamber Singers and Concert Chorus, under the direction of Professor David Tripold, performing the classic “In the Bleak Midwinter” and “A Hanukkah Remembrance.”

The Chamber Orchestra, under the direction of Professor Michael Gillette, assisted by Professor Bryan Jenner, performed “Christmas Festival” and Ralph Vaugn Williams’ “English Folk Song Suite.” Returning from last year’s debut is the “Harmonic Joules,” the glee club, under the direction of senior Jasmine Walker, performing “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on An Open Fire)” and “This Christmas.”

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Hubbell Makes it Easy to Understand Dyslexia

entertainment-albert-einsteinThis past Monday, December 3, I saw a very exciting and involving documentary called Dyslexia: The Movie, directed by Harvey Hubbell V.

This was part of this year’s On Screen, In Person film series, once again moderated by University specialist professor Andrew Demirjian, who chose this film, along with a committee of people, “Because I think it operates on lots of different levels, it’s really smart, it’s really funny, and it has an important message and it really makes you reconsider how you view other people and how you think about disabilities.” Did I think it operated on different levels, was smart, was really funny and carried an important message? Read on and find out.

In this film, Hubbell, a dyslexic himself, seeks to inform and educate the audience through his own life experiences as well as by discussing the topic with people who are researching dyslexia.

It also involved other dyslexic individuals who came forward about their lives and how they deal with the condition. Many of them were celebrities such as Billy Bob Thornton, Sarah Joy Brown, and Steven J. Cannell, the creator of television shows such as 21 Jump Street.

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Full Ice House for Senior Art Majors

Dozens of students, faculty and supportive loved ones gathered at the Ice House Gallery for the December Senior Show reception on November 30. This event celebrates the work done by those majoring in art with a concentration in photography. It lasted from 7 pm to 9 pm. Refreshments were served.

Walking in the door, viewers were greeted by three different photography series. Samantha Suchavski shot the “Amplified Tendrils” series, Nicole Armitt was behind the “Longing” collection and Rebecca Lennon took the “Torsi” sequence. All are art majors with concentrations in photography.

Suchavski’s work showed nature at its most raw level; by photographing a variety of branches, she was able to use contrasting colors- or the lack thereof- and different degrees of depth to engross the audience.

“It’s about entanglement, about getting down to our roots,” Suchavski noted. “It’s simple, yet at the same time, so complex.”

Armitt’s photos featured old radios, which most might not look twice at, sitting in fields or other wild settings. The shock of seeing that one item sitting alone in the middle of nowhere was great at evoking the feeling for which the images were named: longing. Headphones rested below most frames, allowing the viewer to put them on and listen to a broken tune that would likely be playing from such a discarded device.

“Longing is about broken relationships and the symbolism involved,” Armitt commented, adding that the songs playing could be seen like a couple’s song after the couple broke up- sad, even mournful, with no one left to listen.

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Wii U Launch Fails to Reach New Heights

Nintendo and I have been going to counseling lately. I want to see new people because Nintendo just isn’t delivering what they promised me. I told them that the Wii U was their last chance to win me back. Did they succeed? Uh… let’s just say I filed for separation.

The Wii U is supposed to be our first glimpse at the next generation of gaming. As far as first impressions go, this was a very lackluster experience.

Let’s start by taking a look at the Wii U hardware. We’ve got a new controller that has a touch screen and, in some cases, shows the game on the screen as well as the TV, kind of like the Nintendo DS. This is actually a really cool controller; props to Nintendo for their creativity here.

It’s a neat idea, it works pretty well and it’d probably be a great new controller for the Wii- wait, this isn’t a new controller, it’s a new console that costs 300 bucks. That’s ok, I just happened to have 300 dollars that I was going to flush down a toilet.

Well, if a DS controller isn’t your cup of tea, you can use the Pro Gamepad. What is this? It’s an Xbox 360 controller. Yes, it’s literally an Xbox 360 controller with Nintendo’s logo slapped on it.

I know this is the default controller most gamers use and it’s perfectly fine to use, but this is Nintendo- they pioneer in developing new and unusual things, then making them work. I wanted Nintendo to try something new and take risks like it usually does.

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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