Last updateWed, 21 Apr 2021 3pm


CRJ Gets Sassy In 'Let's Be Friends'

CRJ Gets SassyAh, it’s that time of the year where love is in the air as lovers exchange roses, teddy bears, and chocolate covered strawberries (or raisins if you want to be a little extra romantic). Meanwhile, the Queen of Pop Carly Rae Jepsen is out here cancelling Valentine’s Day with her new single ‘Let’s Be Friends.’

The single’s title may send shivers up your spine, because you know the only time you hear those cringey words are when it’s time to break up. Sometimes being friends might be the most civil solution at the end of the day, but Jepsen smashes those words with a sledge hammer.

Throughout, the Queen points out the telling signs that the end is near, for it’s a, “Black dress occasion/Nobody’s dying/It’s a dinner not a date.” Then when it’s time to ask for the check, Jepsen launches into the chorus with, “Let’s be friends/And never speak again/It’s cool/We can just pretend we’re friends.”

It’s like every line is dripping with sarcasm and a little giggle behind it. Usually people cry or try to make it work when they hear those words, but Jepsen lays the sauce on thick and acknowledges that she ain’t gonna put in a lick of effort. She even adds spice into the backing vocals of the chorus with, “See you never.”

Read more ...

Hayley Williams Releases Para(more) Solo Music

Hayley WilliamsMany artists in bands make the decision to embark on a solo career, and Hayley Williams is not ‘The Only Exception.’ Once again, she’s in the business of misery and taking it from the top—but this time, she’s doing it under a new brand.

On Jan. 22, Williams dropped her debut single called ‘Simmer.’ The gloomy instrumentals, eerie vocals, and emotional lyrics took a few listens to grow on me. I can’t help but drum along to the beat each listen, as they remind me of the drums in ‘Let the Flames Begin’ and ‘Part II’ right from Paramore’s discography. In fact, all of her songs are extremely drum and bass driven.

She has released four more songs since then—‘Cinnamon,’ ‘Leave it Alone,’ ‘Creepin,’ and ‘Sudden Desire.’ They all fall under the first half of her album called Petals for Armor Part I, with the rest of the album to be released on May 8. Each rage-filled song gnaws at her ex-husband, guitarist Chad Gilbert from the band New Found Glory. They also illustrate the very-real themes of guilt, grief, and vulnerability.

For the most part, I found Williams’ music to sound clumsily experimental, with her odd music videos following suit by resembling mini horror movies. Her music strays far from Paramore’s emo, alternative rock sound that pulled in their fans. Her new music can be described as “dark pop,” almost like Paramore meets Billie Eilish.

Hayley has promised fans in the past that she would never go solo, but she seems incredibly proud to slip out of the Paramore mold for a while and experiment with her own individual sound. And I give her props for that.

Read more ...

Parasite Wins Best Picture: What it Means for World Cinema

Parasite WinsIn his acceptance speech for Parasite’s Best Foreign Langauge Film win at this year’s Golden Globes a month ago, director Bong Joon Ho told the Hollywood Foreign Press and Americans watching at home, “Once you overcome the 1-inch-tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films.”

After Parasite’s shockingly historic Best Picture win at the Oscars along with others victories in directing, foreign film, and screenplay, it seems as though we have finally overcome that tiny barrier.

Since its inception 92 years ago, the Oscars has been known for mainly recognizing Hollywood’s most popular films or other domestic releases in their major categories. There have been times when international films squeezed their way into the Best Picture category (Amor in 2012 and last year’s Roma), but none had a shot going up against Hollywood’s most powerful films and people.

Plus, mainstream audiences typically shut out the entire international film genre. Many don’t want to “read a movie” with subtitles, nor do they care for anything without star power or a big production. Despite having all these qualities, Parasite managed to break the glass ceiling.

Read more ...

Robbie Soars In Birds of Prey

Robbie SoarsWe can all agree that Suicide Squad may have been one of the worst superhero movies in recent memory. The choppy editing, lazy script, ugly cinematography, and Jared Leto’s Joker made for two hours we’re still trying to get back. But out of this mess, the character Harley Quinn was born and her own spinoff film, Birds of Prey.

In the film, Quinn, played by Margot Robbie, is dumped by the Joker. Without his protection, all the people who were wronged by Quinn are out for her head (similar to John Wick Chapter 2). When deranged mobster Black Mask, played by Ewan McGregor, captures Quinn, he will let her go if she can get him a diamond. However, that diamond has been swallowed by pickpocket Cassandra and there are many others after it too.

Usually comic book movies are filled with fake CGI action and cheesy lines, but Prey turns the genre upside down. For the first time ever, I finally saw real stunts and hand-to-hand combat in a superhero movie. Throughout, Robbie puts her body on the line for crazy fist fights and she really gives it to the bad guys. Normally I sleep through typical Marvel action, but in this case I was saying, “Oh! Ah! Ouch! Yikes!” People might be annoyed around me, yet it means the action is doing its job.

On top of the action, it’s loud, obnoxious, and a lot of fun. Director Cathy Yan’s style is bold, as colors pop off the screen and captions fly in and out of shots. Just by looking at Quinn, it’s clear that all the characters wear funky clothing like their outfits were too obnoxious to get into a disco. There are also moments where Quinn blows up a chemical plant with gorgeous rainbow fireworks and when she uses a paintball canon that’s loaded with confetti bullets. It’s like a Picasso painting threw up on the screen, but it’s strangely beautiful to look at.

Although there are many instances where you could shake your head, the film is just too fun. Usually I rip on comic book movies, but Birds of Prey managed to swoop my heart (and brain) away.

IMAGE TAKEN from Devian Art

Black Like Me: An Exploration of the Word N-

Black Like Me 1When I walked into Pollak Theatre, my generation’s hip-hop and rap songs were playing over the sound system. I sat down and was subtly grooving to the music and mouthing the lyrics, except the “N” word, which was said repeatedly and not censored out. I thought “Ooh this is gonna be good, they have a good playlist to start out with.” Little did I know that people like me, sitting there and singing along to the songs, were the reason the performers chose that playlist.

After the music stopped and the stage went black, a video slideshow of African Americans’ lynchings was presented to the audience. Everyone went silent. You could physically feel the switch in the mood and energy of the room.

Then, a video of Jade Soloman Curtis, a dancer and choreographer and the mind behind Black Like Me, came onto the screen. She was talking to a man who was explaining the pain inflicted on slaves.

He discussed how for their first offense they would be branded on one shoulder, and their ears would be cut. For their second offense, their other shoulder would be branded and their hamstrings would be cut. These dark images stuck with me throughout the rest of the night.

Following the video slideshow, the screen projected grass waving in the wind. Jade laid on a box center-stage, in a beautiful, yet distressed white dress. Oddly, trap music was playing overhead, but it painted the scene that she intended: slavery.

Read more ...

Gretal & Hansel Is Lost in the Woods

redditdotcomFairy tales are usually filled with magic and happy endings. The Ugly Duckling turned into a beautiful swan, Snow White woke up from the Prince’s kiss, and Shrek married Fiona. While Hansel & Gretel was never really the most uplifting tale (ya know, with the witch burning in the oven at the end), director Oz Perkins’ adaptation makes the tale a little bit stranger, a lot more artsy, and adds a feminist angle.

In this version renamed Gretel & Hansel, Gretel, played by Sophia Lillis of It fame, is the big sister who looks over her little brother, Hansel, played by Sammy Leakey. When their single mother can no longer afford to feed her kids, she kicks them out to find a better life. After days of walking in the woods and tripping on some shrooms (like I said, it’s stranger), they eventually stumble upon a witch’s house filled with delicious food. You remember the rest from when you were five.

For something that clocks in at under 90 minutes, the film feels like its lost in the woods. Normally these movies are fast paced, but when it comes to stretching out a story that can be told in 12 minutes, you can take an axe to this movie and still chop off a half hour of wasted time.

Read more ...

Four Year Strong Gives Us 'Brain Pain'

diffuserdotfmMassachusetts melodic hardcore punkers Four Year Strong have released two singles from their new album Brain Pain which is due out Feb. 28 via Pure Noise Records. The singles, ‘Talking Myself in Circles,’ and the title track ‘Brain Pain,’ are the first new songs to be released by the band since their 2015 self-titled release.

In the interim, the band released a 10 year anniversary edition of their iconic 2007 release, Rise or Die Trying, as well as 2017’s Some of You Will Like This, Some of You Won’t, which featured a selection of songs from the band’s catalogue rearranged acoustically.

‘Brain Pain’ starts with a downtuned guitar chugging along to a polyrhythmic beat, courtesy of drummer Jake Massucco. I’ve yet to hear polyrhythms in Four Year Strong’s style until now; I’m hoping the rest of the record will have moments similar to this. The song kicks into high-gear with a downbeat-laden verse, before guitarists and vocalists Alan Day and Dan O’Connor soar into the chorus with relatable lyrics about anxiety. With a title like ‘Brain Pain,’ I wouldn’t be surprised if mental health was a central theme within the lyrics of this record.

The fast-punk stylings give way to a quiet verse, with clean-toned reverberating guitars painting the track with a fantastical splash of noise. “I want to glow in the shadow; I want to shimmer enough to fade away,” sing Day and O’Connor as the swelling noise gives way to what Four Year Strong does best: low, slow riffage against scathing harmonies. ‘Brain Pain’ is a song that will be electrifying mosh pits during the band’s 2020 touring schedule.

Read more ...

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.

Read more ...

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.

Read more ...

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.

Read more ...

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.

Read more ...

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