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Last updateWed, 04 Dec 2019 3pm

Entertainment

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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Where Do We Begin? The Top 10 Films of the Decade

Top 10 Films 1In the 80-something articles I’ve written for The Outlook over the course of three years, not one article has given me quite a headache like this one. It’s hard to say what the best ones are.

While I’ve enjoyed so many movies, I wanted to include those that have changed the way I look at cinema. I’m sure I’ve forgotten some, but these are the movies that I think about frequently and watch over and over again.

When it comes to watching other films, I compare them to these:

  1.  Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again! (2018)

Hear me out first. I loved this movie so much I saw it four times in the theaters and each person I brought with me adored it too. My father, the stern critic he is, was tapping his feet in ‘Dancing Queen.’ This is the ultimate feel-good movie that’s full of fun and excellent musical numbers. If you don’t like this movie, you simply don’t have a heart.

  1.  Ida (2013)

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Songwriters and Singin' On a Winter's Night

Winters NightBeing a professional singer is a gift on its own, yet being able to write songs is even more impressive. On a Winter’s Night featured five singer-songwriters, each having solo careers as well as their collaborations with each other that have occurred for over a decade last Saturday, Nov. 16 at Pollak Theatre.

Christine Lavin, John Gorka, Patty Larkin, Cliff Eberhardt, and Cheryl Wheeler are among some of the best songwriters in the game. Each of the performers sang three songs of their choosing back-to-back, and then joined the stage altogether.

The night started with Lavin taking center stage, guitar in hand. She began her set with her original song, ‘Sometimes Mother Really Does Know Best.’ Before starting, she asked an audience member (who was the mother of a teenager daughter) for their names to insert into her lyrics. She was very interactive with the audience during her whole performance, which made for a fun night.

Following her was Eberhardt, who had me cracking up the whole time. Not only was he an incredible singer and guitar player, but he was so funny and entertaining. His unique voice in addition to his raspy tone suited his style of writing. He performed a song he wrote for a play he worked on over the summer.

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The Prado Museum On Screen at Monmouth

Prado MuseumThe Prado Museum: A Collection of Wonders, narrated by Jeremy Irons, was screened last Monday, Nov. 18 at Pollak Theatre. The film explored the paintings and other art pieces from the world famous Prado Museum.

The artwork, paintings, sculptures and others tell the story of Spain throughout history. Some of the most notable pieces of art featured were Francisco Goya’s The Third of May, Diego Velazquez’s Nobleman with his Hand on his Chest, and  Rogier van der Weyden’s The Descent from the Cross.

In the film, Irons explained how Maria Isabella of Braganza began this museum because of her love for different types of art and how people have added to it, along with telling the story of Spain’s rich history over time.

Although Irons said he wasn’t an expert in art, most of the audience wasn’t either. Like us, Irons can see and appreciate the beauty of the art and how much we can learn from it.

It was interesting to see art pieces that can tell a story throughout history. Sometimes it’s hard sitting in a history class to connect to the people and places that seem so far removed from where we are today, but seeing art or other artifacts that tell the story of all of the kings, queens, wars and even emotions of the people during different periods in history gives a whole new perspective on what we read from a textbook.

Since a lot of us may never get the chance to go to Spain to see this museum or these paintings in person, this was a great opportunity to experience the beautiful works of people who lived so long ago and help us to see, understand and connect with their stories and journeys.

IMAGE TAKEN from Wikipedia

Company Steals the Show At Woods Theatre

Company Steals Shows 1With immense style and musicality, Stephen Sondheim And George Furth’s Company visits Woods Theatre this season on Nov. 20-24, 2019, with past dates of Nov. 15-17.

Presented by the Monmouth University Department of Music and Theatre, Company’s direction comes from Sheri Anderson, musical direction from Michael Gilch, and choreography from Bob Boross. The comedy’s music and lyrics were crafted by Sondheim, with a book by Furth.

Famed theatrical producer Harold Prince, known as the “Prince of Broadway,” originally produced and directed Company on Broadway, with its first performance on April 26, 1970.

Company revolves around the experiences of Robert, played by Joe Marano, a charming and ever-giving bachelor and his ten closest friends: five married couples. They always need him, and he is consistently there to provide support in every way. That said, Robert has never been married and starts to question his reasonings as more people inquire.

Stemming from the 35th birthday surprise party held by the couples for Robert (or “Bobby,” “Bob,” “Bobby baby,” “Bobby bubby,” etc.), Company is comprised of vignettes about the man, his friends, and his three, very different girlfriends. Love, sex, marriage, divorce, and friendship are the hot topics of the show, conveyed humorously but with a great heart.

Known to be one of the first Broadway musicals to highlight the dark and light sides of real adult relationships, Company was a groundbreaking work. The Sondheim-Furth show was nominated for fourteen Tony Awards in its original run, taking home six of those awards.

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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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