By: Jackson Dino, Editor-In-Chief
"They fly now!"
"They fly now?"
"They flow now!"
Following the recent release of Star Wars, Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker, it is now safe to say that the Star Wars franchise is officially on life support - kept afloat only through the brilliance of Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni and Baby Yoda memes.
The riveting dialogue highlighted above is a mere example of the poor writing exhibited by this mess of a film.
I’ve seen The Rise of Skywalker 3 times now (all in the span of 5 days). Every time I have watched it, I have increasingly noticed a plethora of canon-breaking plot holes. Director J.J. Abrams, much like the preceding Director of Star Wars, Episode VIII: The Last Jedi, elected to ignore basic Star Wars lore in his film. The aforementioned plot holes and narrative inconsistencies are far too numerous to count, although I will try my best to list some of the most glaring.
Finn, Poe and Chewie on Ajan Kloss in The Rise of Skywalker
From a technical standpoint, the film isn’t particularly impressive as a Star Wars movie. The visual style is largely bland, particularly in the Exogol scenes, where dark lighting obscures too much of the scene. The visual effects are decent - but then again, anything beneath “decent” would not pass as a film in this franchise. The editing and pacing, however, are atrocious, particularly during the movie’s first act. Too much happens too quickly for the audience to adequately digest what is happening in the film.
I should note, however, that John William’s score is as brilliant as always, and he certainly deserves an Oscar nomination (though I am partial to the award going to Hildur Guðnadóttir’s score for Joker).
Likewise, the film’s acting is sufficient at best. The film is carried by Adam Driver and his attempt at a layered performance of Kylo Ren (though the script, unfortunately, works against him). John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Ian McDiarmid and Oscar Isaac are solid in their respective sequences, though nobody stands out.
Perhaps the most compelling aspect of the film from an acting perspective, however, is the portrayal of General Leia through deleted footage of the late Carrie Fisher. Leia’s scenes, unfortunately, are rather awkward, and clearly written around the dialogue from Fisher that they had available. The scenes are heavily manipulated and edited, but they still leave a stiff impression on the audience. I understand that the filmmakers had limited options and wanted to play adequate tribute to Fisher, but the scenes are poor irregardless. (Disclaimer: I am not attacking Fisher’s acting, just the portrayal of the character in Episode IX).
All told, Star Wars, Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker is a disappointing, convoluted, confused and surprisingly poor end to the Star Wars saga. This Sequel Trilogy clearly lacked the vision of George Lucas’ prequels, and will academically be used as an example of poor management by Disney and Kathleen Kennedy in the future. We can only hope that Star Wars continues in the path of The Mandalorian, and not The Rise of Skywalker.
Parker Gray and Austin Keller
Rolling Stone magazine came out in 2004 with their highly-scrutinized list of the 100 greatest musical artists ever, ranked by the industry’s biggest names in songwriting and production. For instance, Dave Grohl, drummer for Nirvana and frontman of Foo Fighters, writes the review on Led Zeppelin, who was ranked 14th. “Heavy metal would not exist without Led Zeppelin, and if it did, it would suck. Led Zeppelin were more than just a band — they were the perfect combination of the most intense elements: passion and mystery and expertise.” wrote all-time-great drummer Grohl, in admiration for his favorite band, whose--according to him--rise to fame wouldn't have been possible without the legendary John Bonham behind the kit.
Beautiful, Dave. Just beautiful. But Zeppelin at 14? Has to be some kind of joke. Nirvana at only 30? The Clash beneath Aerosmith and The Who beneath Springsteen? I can’t make sense of it. And neither could Parker.
We had to consult some experts. Johnny Rae, (‘21) has played as much guitar as any other sixteen-year-old prodigy. Andrew Vega, (‘20), hereby referred to by his stage name, “Teenage Dirtbag” has spent as much time locked away in his room experiencing music as any other angsty high schooler passionate about music. And his voice shows.
On our first episode, we read through Rolling Stone’s rankings and weigh in. We have some disagreements, considering our four tastes are very different. Andrew, one on hand, indulges more in new age raucousness; Alice in Chains, The Killers, sometimes Mudhoney. Johnny’s roots sound more like the soundtrack to Pulp Fiction; if you see him with airpods in walking through the hallway, there’s a good chance it’s one of Rock’s pioneers: Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly and on a good day, Cream or Elvis. Parker’s taste is all over the place: the Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Beatles, The Grateful Dead and Nirvana. Mine is exclusively british: The Who, The Clash, Radiohead.
Debate erupts, because, frankly, some of our heroes should’ve been placed higher.
Agree? Disagree? Love the episode? Think it’s the worst thing you’ve ever seen and you’re genuinely offended that we would post something so awful? Let us know in the comments.
Our first article of the week: “Pablo Honey” by Radiohead. 1994, “the year that never happened” as Parker put it, spawned a remarkable amount of genre, generational-defining sounds like 1969. But nothing else sounds like this one. Thom Yorke’s snarling vocals and Johnny O’brien’s fiery guitar make this one of my favorite records ever.
SEE FOR YOURSELF:
The list, in its full, unabridged, glorious entirety:
Our own top tens…
By: PrideTime Editor, Kam Bryan
When it comes to music, there are two main types of people who listen. First, you have the ones who are interested in the beat; how different elements of sound are combined to make the perfect track. On the flip side, there are those who are more interested in the meaning behind the lyrics of the song they’re listening to. These are the people who will hear a song and search for a story within the lines and rhymes, and that is what we’ll be talking about today.
Jayquan Burden had a few words when asked his opinion on listening to music for the beat or the lyrics: “I don’t really care too much for the beat in a song. I wanna be able to feel what I’m listening to, relate to the artist who’s singing the song. I feel like songs with dramatic beats are meant for hype and parties. But when I’m in my room, I just like to vibe.” Jay and I think alike in more ways than one, including when it comes to music. I love a song with a good beat, but lyrics add a compositional change. I also feel like a song isn’t as good when the lyrics being sung or rapped don’t tell a story.
Contrary to my earlier statement, a fellow student here at BMHS had this to say: “I listen for the beat but then again a beat can have its own story.” This student isn’t the only one to think so. According to Genuis.com, “Lyrics, both interlinked are components of a good song, but they can live separately.” A well crafted beat can speak volumes, perhaps more than a person can at times.
I know I fought with reason a song needs solid lyrics, but at the end of the day, you don’t need words in order to tell a good story. When it comes to deciding whether I’d rather listen to an instrumental by itself or an instrumental with lyrics on top of it, I guess you could say I’d be in treble, cause I enjoy both about the same.
“What happens when you cross a mental ill loner and a society that abandons him and treats him like crap? I’ll tell you what you get… you get what you [f***ing] deserve!”
Joker is not the film we deserved, but the movie that we needed.
Films that garner mainstream critical and audience praise are difficult to come by, and it’s rare that a so-called “comic-book movie” is among them. Just take a look at the number of films in this genre nominated for Academy Awards in non-technical categories over the last decade or so.
Yeah, not many.
Something is different about Joker, however. Todd Phillips, director of The Hangover, and lead actor Joaquin Phoenix have elevated this film into the upper echelons of comic-book movie lore. That is nothing against most Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) films, by the way; I’ve reviewed multiple of the recent ones and (barring Captain Marvel) enjoy them as much as anybody. But it is undeniable that Joker is a step above them in terms of cinematic quality.
Joker follows Arthur Fleck (Phoenix), a mentally ill and struggling party clown who attempts to moonlight as a stand-up comedian. Living in perpetual poverty with his mother, Fleck is often isolated from and ignored by the other residents of a dangerous and unsanitary Gotham City (modeled after early 1980s New York) due to a condition that causes him to randomly burst into spasms of uncontrollable laughter.
Gradually, changing circumstances force Fleck to violently lash out, first at three drunken Wall Street yuppies (in an ironic twist on New Yorker Bernhard Goetz’s “subway vigilantism” in 1981), and later, the few members of his social circle, and finally, his idol, late-night stand-up comedian Murray Franklin (Robert De Niro). Arthur, once innocent and unfortunate, transforms into the iconic comic-book villain the Joker, as the poor of Gotham rally behind him, sparking massive civil unrest and anarchy that leads to severe consequences for wealthy Gotham mayoral candidate Thomas Wayne (Brett Cullen).
The brilliance of this film begins in Phoenix's brilliant performance. Twisting, turning and dancing, Phoenix convincingly portrays Arthur’s grapple with his uncontrollable condition and eventual descent into madness. You feel for Fleck; you know what he has experienced, and why he is lashing out, but you are terrified of the gruesome acts he commits. His portrayal of Arthur’s cathartic movement and dancing in the bathroom, and later, on the stairs, serves to be both fascinating yet disturbing in the context of what makes him happy. Phoenix brings his A-game to Joker, and he should unquestionably receive at least a nod for Best Actor at the Academy Awards next February.
Director Phillips should receive a lot of credit as well. The production design of Gotham City - evoking the aesthetic of early 1980s New York, with graffiti-coated subway cars and overflowing trash bags lining the sidewalks - serves as a grounded and believable canvas for Arthur’s character arc to occur. This setting serves in stark contrast to the Wayne Estate, with the latter set in a secluded, tree-lined and peaceful suburb of Gotham - the perfect setting for Fleck to stalk Thomas’ son, Bruce (Dante Pereira-Olson). Hildur Ingveldar Guðnadóttir’s score is also brilliant, meshing soundly (pun intended) with Arthur’s transformation into the Joker. Take, for example, the now iconic “staircase scene,” in which Arthur expressively dances to both a dramatic melody composed by Guðnadóttir and Gary Glitter’s “Rock and Roll Part 2.”
The performances of the supporting cast is also commendable. Notable standouts include Zazie Beetz as Sophie, Arthur’s apparent love interest; De Niro, who is solid as always; Cullen, who portrays an elitist Thomas Wayne, somehow serving as an amalgamation of 2016 real-life presidential rivals Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, and finally, most surprisingly: Frances Conroy’s Penny Fleck, who provides a disconcerting performance in a critical role.
Joker is a work of art, and high art at that. It is a shame, therefore, that the media portrayed a narrative that Joker would inspire violence on opening night. This film does not praise the violence in depicts, or even display it in a positive light. Rather, Phillips ensures that Fleck’s murders are gory, brutal and cruel, displaying how Arthur’s violence is largely uncalled for. Joker, however, shows us why Arthur Fleck was compelled to commit the atrocities that he did. It is because of the ignorant, unsympathetic and antagonistic attitude of society towards the mentally ill and unfortunate.
Ironically, the response of the mainstream media towards Joker has proven the film’s point, with the media ignorantly suggesting that the movie would spark waves of violence or civil unrest - when the only ones responsible for any violence that could have occurred being the media themselves, for portraying the incorrect narrative that the lonely or the mentally ill would be inspired to lash out at society.
The inspiration that one should take from this film is to be more sympathetic, kind and understanding towards those befallen by mental illness and ignored by our larger society. Too many lives have been lost because of our collective ignorance to those left behind. Debates on the political action required to sufficiently address the root causes of poverty, gun violence and social isolation (themes in Joker) are important, yes; but so much more can be done, in this cruel age of social media, if people were simply nicer to each other.
Joker is a culture shock for the masses. It is intrinsically produced to make us uncomfortable whilst revealing the hard truths of our society. As with many movies, it will likely take time for most people to begin to understand the artistic and thematic value of this film. Until then, however, we must collectively offer more compassion to the “Arthur Flecks” of our world.
Photo Credits: DC Films
“All American” is a television show which is shown on the CW Network, and the first season was released on national television on October 10, 2018. “All American” is a show about a talented football player and a straight-A student, who is giving the opportunity of a lifetime. The first episode delivered 884,000 viewers and last year's first debut was at 685,000 viewers, according to The Hollywood Reporter, and that goes to show how much the show has impacted people's lives and give viewers something to relate to and enjoy to watch.
This show is very popular because it gives high school students something to relate to. Spencer James, the main character in the show, is a wonderful football player who lives with his mother and little brother Dylan because his father left when he was eight years old, which is something a lot of athletes and even students in McMahon can relate too, because a great number of students, grow up with only one parent. “All American” shows that regardless of a parent not being in your life, there are still people there that want the best for you and you can still achieve your dreams. This show gives kids the hope of becoming something important, even if they grew up in a negative environment, and don't have both parents.
Football player Christian Renie stated,“ I am an African American playing football, facing all the odds and stereotypes.” Renie relates to Spencer James because with all the odds going against them both, they manage to make it through them and continue to be a great football player that they are. In today’s society, if you were born in a lower-class area you aren't expected to make it out, and even with those stereotypes, Renie has shown that those are just stereotypes, just like Spencer did. “Two of my goals are to play for Clemson University and then eventually playing for the Pittsburgh Steelers,” Renie said. This is another reason Renie relates to Spencer because Spencers went to Beverly Hills High School to get into a good football college and of course going to the National Football League.
“All American” relates to students all over the world and gives hope to students who are growing up without a parent and our living in a lower-class area. “All American” is available on the CW app and Netflix to stream.