PRESS REWIND: Pop culture from the week - May 1 2018

By Alexa Ash, Press Play Reporter

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Kanye goes cray cray once again

Kanye West, or as he calls himself, Yeezus, has once again made headlines for his crazy stunts and borderline chaotic rants with a new episode: he’s a newfound Trump supporter. Being seen wearing his “Make America Great Again” gear and Twitter-vomiting to the world his political standpoints, Yeezy has certainly made a statement. Celebrity gossip magazine, TMZ, has reported that Kanye, in response to a visit he had previously had with POTUS, saying that “the mob can’t make me not love [Trump].” Whether or not this “mob” he is referring to is all of his buddies in hollywood or the “mob” of the country, he is being his true self by going against the predetermined view of celebrities as democrats. Whether or not this change is the beginning of another one of his meltdowns or a true hope for change, I know the world will be watching for the Twitter convos between POTUS and Yeezy with barely contained anticipation. 

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Amy Schumer rushed to hospital with kidney issues

Resident funny girl, Amy Schumer is rushed to the hospital on account of a kidney infection. After almost completing her press tour for the highly anticipated and Oprah Winfrey certified movie, ‘I Feel Pretty,’ Schumer has spent the last week in the hospital halting her plans of going overseas for the premiere in London. The newly married, Chris Fischer, has been seen as the doting husband from pictures posted to Schumer’s Instagram. She jokingly refers to him as, “my husband, who’s name is, I want to say, Chris?” upholding her funny girl persona as she recovers. With her health being the main focus right now, maybe the Instagram-verse can get a break from the incessant posts about how well her movie is doing. Feel better soon, Amy! We’re all hoping for a “pretty” fast recovery.

‘You Were Never Really Here’ achieves a successful blend of beauty and brutality

  Internet Photo   Joaquin Pheonix turns in a career defining performance as the main character in the psychological thriller ‘You Were Never Really Here.’

Internet Photo

Joaquin Pheonix turns in a career defining performance as the main character in the psychological thriller ‘You Were Never Really Here.’

By Andrew Cripe, Movie Critic

Top to bottom, scene-to-scene, Lynne Ramsay’s psychological revenge thriller ‘You Were Never Really Here’ is astonishing, brutal, heartbreaking, terrifying, and completely unforgettable. It demands more than one viewing not because it is obtuse or elusive, but because it is an emotional trip unlike any other cinematic offering so far this year. 

We meet Joe (a masterful Joaquin Phoenix, who won an award at Cannes for his performance), a man who gets paid to find missing girls and kill their abductors. We learn through nightmarish, blink-and-you’ll-miss flashbacks that Joe is suffering from extreme PTSD, stemming from his service in the military, FBI, and personal experiences with childhood trauma. He still lives with his slowly declining mother (a scene-stealing Judith Roberts) out of guilt for not being able to protect her from his abusive father when he was a child. Joe gets a job to find the daughter of a politician, and from this point he is propelled into one of the darkest, most emotionally stirring narratives in recent memory.

What’s fascinating about the film, and a testament to the powers of both Lynne Ramsay and editor Joe Bini, is how much it achieves in such a short runtime. The film is 89 minutes and conveys everything it needs to and more in that space. A lesser director would try to cram a plethora of unnecessary scenes that explain, to the syllable, what is happening instead of having confidence in what a single, expressive moment can contain.

Ramsay wastes nothing, and several key shots tell entire stories in seconds, these ranking as the film’s most hypnotic moments. Ramsay knows that the best filmmaking should never be typical or regular, so she throws caution to the wind with her direction. There is an intimacy and thrilling discomfort to her shots, the finest ones surgically ripping into the viewer’s hearts with dreamlike artistry. The cinematography by Thomas Townend and the score by Jonny Greenwood work in tandem in creating and sustaining a mood that is oppressively grim yet also languid to unsettling degrees, constantly keeping the viewer feeling as though they’ve wandered into the most disturbing regions of the human condition, where evil and the possibility for chaos lie dormant like vipers, waiting to strike.

‘You Were Never Really Here’ is brutal, but it is also one of the most nakedly emotional films out there. The vulnerability of Phoenix’s performance has the film on eggshells, always on the verge of collapsing into despair. He is an unhinged, wounded hybrid of Travis Bickle from ‘Taxi Driver’ and Ryan Gosling’s unnamed loner in ‘Drive.’ The loneliness and isolation of Joe is tangible, and when he resorts to acts of extreme violence, it seems as though the fabric of his reality is being torched. 

Another strength of the movie is that it does not indulge in mindless violence, instead exploring the ramifications and irreversibility of it. Ramsay depicts cruelty and harm as something that tears the world asunder rather than treating it as a cool visual device. 

‘You Were Never Really Here’ has potential to stay with the viewer for a long time after they’ve seen it. It defies dismissal by constantly conjuring up feelings of exhilaration from the sheer daring of it all. It takes plot threads that are not original and wraps them around a visual style and artistic control that subverts them into being special and unique again. Find a theater that is showing this and hold on for dear life.

FAST FORWARD: Things to do till our next issue - May 1 2018

By Christina Matthias, Press Play Reporter
Follow her @sleepiestpisces

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File Photo

Hayley Kiyoko Expectations Tour

In promotion of her first full-length album, pop princess Hayley Kiyoko will be performing at House of Blues with opener, Allie X. Kiyoko has accumulated singles and fans over the years whilst transitioning from projects for Disney Channel and Cartoon Network to more mature and honest music. Tracks such as ‘Girls Like Girls’ and ‘Curious’ have proved the singer’s mainstream success, and Kiyoko has continued to write about her unique perspective as a gay WOC in her new album, Expectations. 

May 3, House of Blues, 5:30 p.m., $47+

 

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Internet Photo

Elmhurst’s 22nd Annual Art in Wilder Park

Presented by Brewpoint Coffee, the Elmhurst Park District, and RGL Marketing for the Arts, 130 artists from all over the Midwest will be selling their works across the street from campus at the Annual Art in Wilder Park. There will also be plenty of food vendors, live entertainment, a kid’s court, and this event will probably be a prime spot to pet all of the Elmhurst locals’ dogs being walked, if you’re into that sort of thing. 

May 5 - 6, Wilder Park, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.

 

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Friday Fresh Market at Roosevelt Collection Shops

Mark your calendars for every first Friday of the summer months, because from May-August Irv and Shelly’s Fresh Picks will be hosting a fresh market at the Roosevelt Collection Shops. Support local farmers while browsing a variety of healthy and organic ingredients from grass-fed meat to produce. Admission is free and strolling around the market can serve as part of a fun summer night out in the city.

Beginning May 4, Roosevelt Collection Shops, 4 p.m. - 7 p.m.

 

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Internet Photo

Cinco De Mayo

With finals approaching, why not crack open a cold one to relieve some stress? The holiday Cinco De Mayo, commemorating the Mexican Army’s 1862 Battle of Puebla victory, has given an excuse for partying, Mexican food, and alcoholic beverages for generations, and there are many ways to celebrate in Chicagoland. If you’re staying by EC, check out Mexican restaurants like Guac N Tacos, Cilantro Taco Grill, and Los Fernadez Rosticeria for a meal in spirit of the 5th. 

LEADER REVIEW: Despite strong cast and director, ‘Isle of Dogs’ fails to live up to Wes Anderson’s past successes

  Internet Photo Young protagonist Atari (voiced by Koyu Rankin) finds himself on an island where all dogs have been banished to in ‘Isle of Dogs.’

Internet PhotoYoung protagonist Atari (voiced by Koyu Rankin) finds himself on an island where all dogs have been banished to in ‘Isle of Dogs.’

By Andrew Cripe, Movie Critic

Of all the films this critic has had to report on that don’t live up to expectations, Wes Anderson’s latest is the most grueling. It is a spectacular feat in animation, music, and voice acting, but the story as a whole is distracted and hollow. 

In its quest to be sprawling, the most interesting parts about it never get a chance to reach their full potential. Just when the viewer thinks they’ll get to spend some time with a beautifully realized plot thread, Anderson tears their attention away to scenes that are so achingly pointless, unfunny, and criminally uninteresting that they sabotage the film. 

This stop-motion animated film is set in Japan, where there has been an outbreak of dog-flu so severe that all four-legged-friends are quarantined to a trash-polluted island. 

Not wanting to be separated from his beloved dog Spots (voiced by Liev Schreiber), 12-year-old Atari (Koyu Rankin) steals a plane and flies to the island to rescue him. He gets injured, so a pack of alpha dogs, led by Chief (Bryan Cranston), make it their duty to guide the little pilot back to his dog. 

Now, if the story were just about this adventure, the film would be a monumental success. The scenes between Atari and the dogs are just wonderful. Cranston, along with the other voice actors for the main pack (Edward Norton, Bob Balaban, Bill Murray, and Jeff Goldblum), are hilarious and moving in their dedication. 

The direction of line-readings in this film shows Anderson at his finest, as he won’t allow anyone to phone-in or drone through a single sentence. Everyone’s voice is invested, and everything that is said by the animals has gravity. 

Liev Schreiber’s performance as Spots steals the movie in a scene where we see how he met Atari. It is tear-jerkingly beautiful and amongst the best scenes Anderson has ever crafted.

But the movie distracts itself and the viewers instead of focusing on what it does well. There is a subplot involving a group of student activists, led by American foreign exchange student Tracy Walker (Greta Gerwig), trying to uncover a conspiracy about Mayor Kobayashi (Kunichi Nomura), the man who set the quarantine in motion. 

Since the film is ultimately trying to tell the story of all the dogs being saved, it makes sense that Anderson would write an angle where the main villain is challenged, but it steals way too much of the screen time away from the real stars of the show: Atari and his dog-friends. 

Even worse, the political-intrigue scenes are offensive and disrespectful; Walker, an American, is courageous and daring while the other activists, all Japanese, are cowardly and eager to surrender.

 She is the only one determined enough to take down the oppressive, chaotic government officials, while the rest of the citizens are afraid of their own shadow. See the issue? That this film about a boy and his dog turns into a crass white-savior narrative is more than just a flaw: it is a destructive problem. 

Also troubling is the film’s dependence on action and violence. This is not a movie that should have action sequences, and yet it does, and they do not work at all. There are points when the story grinds to a halt so the dogs can fight something. 

When the film does this it looks visually bad, as the stop-motion, which in subdued moments is amongst the best ever crafted, cannot keep up with all the commotion.

The only thing that is consistently successful about the flow of the film is Alexandre Desplat’s score. The music he has gifted to this film is hair-raising. The last time he worked with Anderson was on ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel,’ and for that he won a much deserved Oscar. His work here is arguably even better.  

‘Isle of Dogs’ doesn’t diminish Wes Anderson’s status as one of America’s most unique filmmakers, but it is still a disappointment. It is visually unlike anything else out there, but it echoes his two biggest flops, ‘The Darjeeling Limited’ (2007) and ‘The Life Aquatic’ (2004), in its tone-deafness, meandering story, and lazy wrap-up. If you are a viewer who is devoted to Anderson’s oeuvre, ‘Isle of Dogs’ will likely be another gem for you, but this critic implores you to ask yourself after walking out: was this really the best he could do?

PRESS REWIND: Pop culture from the week - April 17 2018

By Alexa Ash, Press Play Reporter

Tristan Thompson caught stepping out on his baby momma

 

Tristan Thompson: basketball player for the Cleveland Cavaliers and 21st century Casanova wannabe. Other than his celebrity status as a basketball player, Thompson entered the vicious, tell-all world of pop culture when verifying his relationship status with everyone’s favorite Kardashian, Khloe. Their “love” went viral when it was released that Kardashian was pregnant from now baby-daddy, Thompson. Now, at the last few weeks of her pregnancy, videos and pictures were released of Thompson, back in October 2017, cheating on his pregnant girlfriend. Now the only thing that is going viral is STD’s he’s probably contracted along the way.  Not only is he caught entering and leaving a hotel with a woman who is not a Kardashian, though she kind of looks like one, but there is a very detailed and uncomfortable video displaying him “getting it on” with not one but two different women in a hookah lounge in Washington D.C. Whether this is the cause of the Plight of Kris Jenner and her need to keep her children relevant, or a truly heartbreaking act of betrayal, hearts are hurting for Khloe Kardashian all around the nation. 

 
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Mason Ramsey yodels his way into America’s heart

 

For the last few weeks, the Twitter-verse has been completely obsessed with the Walmart Yodeling Kid, 11-year-old Mason Ramsey from Golconda, Illinois. He posted a video of himself displaying his unique vocal skills as he performed in what seems to be the checkout line at a small-town Walmart in Harrisburg, IL. He sky-rocketed to fame and has even appeared on Ellen Degeneres’ day-time talk show ‘Ellen,’ in addition to making Hank Williams’ song ‘Lovesick Blues,’ the song in which we are first introduced to the talents of young Ramsey, back at the top of the charts. Whether you hate to love him or you love to hate on him, someone in the production of Coachella, one of the biggest music festivals in California, has seen the waves Ramsey is making in the social media sphere and has just released a memo stating that Ramsey will be performing alongside none other than singer/rapper Post Malone. So you’re telling me, some kid from small-town America put on some cowboy boots, found a walmart, just started yodelling, and now is performing with Post “Posty” Malone at coachella? BRB while I go buy some boots and checkout a ‘Yodelling for Dummies’ book from the library. YEE-HAW!

 

FAST FORWARD: Things to do til next issue- April 3 2018

Compiled by Christina Matthias, Press Play Reporter
Follow her @sleepiestpisces

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Internet Photo

Lo Moon and Kraus

This past February saw Lo Moon’s self-titled debut containing nine new shoegaze indie songs, with production credits going to Death Cab For Cutie guitarist, Chris Walla. Their 2016 single, ‘Loveless,’ put the band on alternative charts with an unedited version of the hauntingly gorgeous crescendo clocking in at seven minutes. Along with New Zealand musician, Kraus, Lo Moon will be making a midtour stop in Chicago in promotion of their first (and certainly not last) album.

April 5, 8 p.m., $10

 

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CHIRP Record Fair and Other Delights

It’s the CHIRP Record Fair’s sweet 16, which means the CHIRP station will be pulling out all the stops for their annual event. Live sets from Chicago native DJs and musicians will be performing while attendees can shop through hundreds of vinyl tables, along with plenty of posters, CDs, DVDs, books, cassettes, and memorabilia available for sale too. If there’s an item you’re dying to get, be sure to register for early admission to increase the luck of your findings.

April 14, 8 a.m. - 6 p.m., General Admission $8 Early Admission $25

 

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Blockers

Looking for a no-good-teens vs overbearing parents storyline packed with physical comedy stunts? Blockers is a Kay Cannon (writer of the Pitch Perfect series) directed film about a group of girls making a pact to lose their virginities on prom night to bring them closer as friends. Their parents discover the pact and go to extreme lengths to prevent it; featuring WWE star, John Cena, leading the intervention on the parents’ daughters. The movie has already accumulated some hype, earning an 89 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.

April 6

 

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Dragon Lights Chinese Lantern Festival

From now until May 6, the south parking lot of Soldier Field will illuminate the night with world-renowned lantern displays. Enjoy handmade light exhibits up to two stories tall from traveling Chinese artists, authentic Asian food and handicrafts, and daily live performances embracing Chinese culture. And the best part? The festival’s college nights provide a $5 ticket discount on every Thursday of the Dragon Lights’ run!

Till May 6, 5:30 p.m. - 11 p.m. (Sundays 5:30 a.m. - 10 p.m.), $20 for Adults

PRESS REWIND: Pop culture from the week - April 3 2018

Compiled by Alexa Ash, Press Play Reporter

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Bounty-hunt on for actress who bit Bey

During this time of tumultuous questions of gun reform, Facebook security, and the Russian nerve-agent crisis, there is one question that has the U.S. truly rattled: Who bit Beyonce? Actress, Tiffany Haddish, in an interview for magazine GQ, divulged the secrets of what is now hilariously dubbed as “Bite-gate.” 

An undisclosed actress, that has not and will not be named, is the credited suspect in this heinous attack on Queen Bey at a party last December. Naturally, there are conspiracy theories and finger-pointing in the light of this act calling out names of other party attendees and possible biters, such as actresses Sara Foster and Sanaa Lathan, and none other than Rihanna. We may never truly know who bit Bey, but this goose-chase has surely brought some seriousness to this other non-influential time.

 

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President Trump rigs Roseanne resurrection

Nick-@-Nite(rs) rejoice! The comeback of the hit sitcom, Roseanne, aired on March 27, 2018. With ratings that were quite literally through-the-roof, the show has made its impact on both the returning watchers and the Roseanne newbies. But the most avid watcher, you may ask, was none other than our president, Donald Trump.

 After confirming his call to actress, Roseanne Barr, Trump took to the phone to personally congratulate her on her 18 million viewer debut, rather than his most famous and most beloved form of communication, a tweet. During this phone call, however, we learn that the sole reason for the success of Roseanne was not the great writing or the resurrection of a beloved American classic, but his own role in the show and his supporters. Who knew our president was a jack of all trades? From being accused of fixing an election to taking credit for fixing a TV premiere, I don’t know how he gets any legislating done!

‘Red Sparrow’ falls short of thrilling as Jennifer Lawrence fails to carry the show

  Internet  Photo   Jennifer Lawrence plays a former ballet dancer turned Russian agent in “Red Sparrow.”

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Jennifer Lawrence plays a former ballet dancer turned Russian agent in “Red Sparrow.”

By Andrew Cripe, Movie Critic

‘Red Sparrow’ is an interesting cinematic failure. It should be admired for trying to show audiences the dark, soulless, gruesome side of espionage, but it shoots itself in the foot by being a star-vehicle for a shockingly disinterested Jennifer Lawrence. 

Her performance is disappointingly blank and lifeless, dragging what’s good about the rest of the film into crippling mediocrity. The failure of her performance hurts the film in ways it never recovers from, but it undeniably has moments of intensity that rescue it from being totally forgettable.

It is about a ballet dancer in Russia, Dominika (Lawrence), who shatters her leg during a show and can no longer financially support her ill mother. 

Having no other choice, she accepts an offer she can’t refuse from her politically powerful uncle, played by an empty Matthias Schoenaerts (usually a genius in films like ‘Bullhead’ and ‘Rust and Bone’) that ends up embroiling her in a silent war between Russian Intelligence and the CIA. She is trained to become a ‘Sparrow,’ a codename for women who have been trained to use their bodies to seduce enemies of the state and extract sensitive information from them. 

Director Francis Lawrence, who previously collaborated with J-Law on three ‘Hunger Games’ films, depends on her to carry this dense, incredibly lengthy thriller (140 minutes), but for reasons we may never understand, she is completely tuned out. 

The most effort she puts into becoming Dominika is delivering a quiet Russian accent; after that, she’s in Blank City. 

But when the film focuses on scenes involving the other, much more interesting characters, like the heartless, chilling Sparrow teacher played by Charlotte Rampling, or the CIA agent Nate Nash played by Joel Edgerton (an actor you couldn’t pay to give a bad performance), Francis Lawrence’s directorial skill shines. 

He creates a truly sinister atmosphere, supported by Jo Willems’ bleak cinematography, draping the film in a suffocating, depressing grey color. At its best, the film’s layers of paranoia and backstabbing break the viewer down, leaving them vulnerable for the film’s extreme scenes of bloodshed.

The most striking thing about ‘Red Sparrow’ is its violence. This is one of the bloodiest big-budget films in years. It has what is easily the nastiest knife-fight since David Cronenberg’s ‘Eastern Promises’ (2006), and there are other set-pieces that would make Quentin Tarantino shudder. 

It is sadistic, but it is ironically during these scenes of death that the film has the most life. While difficult to watch, director Lawrence finds an interesting line between showing too much gore and implying the worst of it. 

He focuses on characters fighting for their very existence rather than trying to just gross the audience out. 

All this said, the movie orbits around a leading performance that is broken. Any avid film goer knows Jennifer Lawrence’s power. 

She gained major attention in 2010 for her breakout performance in Debra Granik’s ‘Winter’s Bone,’ earning herself an Oscar nomination at just 19. She quickly became a household name and won an Oscar two years later for ‘Silver Linings Playbook.’ 

Today, she is beloved by millions and respected by many critics, and deservedly so. Her previous performance in Darren Aronofsky’s ‘Mother!’ was one of the most underappreciated of last year. That role demanded everything of her, and she gave it her all. ‘Red Sparrow’ is the farthest of cries from that sort of effort. 

‘Red Sparrow,’ as a whole, had the potential to be excellent, and at points the viewer can see flashes of brilliance. The atmosphere is thick and involving, and the violence is sure to leave many viewers shaken. 

It attempts to take an intimate, frightening look at what espionage and state-sanctioned violence does to the human soul, like a cross between the TV series ‘The Americans’ and Alan Pakula’s ‘The Parallax View’ (1974), but it put too much of its trust in an actress that didn’t care enough to help the film become an instant classic. 

As it stands, this is a ‘Curiosity-Watch,’ which is code for rental. 

FAST FORWARD: Things to do til our next issue- 3/13

Compiled by Christina Matthias, Press Play Reporter
Follow her @sleepiestpisces

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Family Day: Scavenger Hunt

Enjoy a spring break Saturday at the Elmhurst Art Museum, whether your actual family is present or just your campus one. The museum is planning a scavenger hunt that will be navigated through transformed art pieces and hidden messages within different exhibits. Upon finishing the quest, participants will also have the opportunity to create their own art by assembling various salvaged materials.

March, 1 - 4 p.m., Elmhurst Art Museum, free with museum admission

 

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St. Patrick’s Day Parade/River Dyeing

Patty’s Day isn’t complete without watching the Chicago River change from dark turquoise to bright green. Start the day downtown to witness the over 50-year-old tradition with thousands of the holiday’s enthusiasts, and stay for the lively parade of bagpipers, step dancers, and stunning floats.

March 17, 9 a.m. - 3:30 p.m., Columbus Dr. from Balbo St. to Monroe St., free

 

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Wild N’ On Campus

While it’s unfortunate Wild N’ Out isn’t performing on Elmhurst College’s campus (yet), that doesn’t mean we can’t experience their college appearances for an hour road trip over break. Cast members B Daht, Darren Brand, Nate Jackson, and RIP Michaels will be leading the MTV show’s improvisational games and acclaimed WildStyle rap battles with Northern Illinois University students.

March 22, 7 p.m., NIU Convocation Center, $20

 

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Internet Photo

John Mulaney: Kid Gorgeous

Emmy award-winning writer and comedian, John Mulaney, returns to his home turf of Chicagoland on the Ides of March for the third leg of his Kid Gorgeous tour. For those who missed his standup at The Chicago Theatre in February, this is the perfect opportunity for a night of hilarity that may not be seen again until released as a Netflix special.

March 15, 8 p.m., Genesee Theatre, $39-$49

Press Rewind: March 13 2018

Compiled by Alexa Ash, Press Play Reporter

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This year’s bachaelor pisses off the world

Another season of ‘The Bachelor’ has ended and another trail of broken hearts have been left behind. This year’s bachelor, Arie Luyendyk Jr., has reached new maximums of making this show that much more repulsive. After choosing his new fiance, Becca Kufrin, at the final rose ceremony, which aired on March 5, Arie then proceeded to dump her just weeks after initially proposing. Now, people break up all the time, what is the big deal about this? Other than being a 36-year-old man who needs a reality TV show to find a wife, Arie’s justification for ending the engagement was in reaction to his fear on missing out on a chance of a life with the other final contestant, Lauren Burnam. Let’s get a round of applause for (not) our friend Arie for now becoming the most hated ‘The Bachelor’ member ever, and wish him and Becca, I mean Lauren, a wonderful life together.

 

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Wade Davis drops knowledge on homophobia in the NFL

Former NFL player, Wade Davis, is making headlines this week as talks of opening an anti-homophobia clinic dominates the media. As an openly gay man, Davis has contacted the NFL in reaction to hearing of the interrogation of prospect, Derrius Guice. In this “mock” interrogation, Guice was asked a series of questions deemed “uncomfortable” to be better prepared for the press. The question, which sparked this long-overdue movement, was if he does or does not “like men.” As a very personal, and non-football related question, there was much criticism from gay rights advocates and, you know, people with a basic understanding of human nature and morals. Davis, as the director of Professional Sports Outreach for the You Can Play Project, has personally offered his services to be a sounding board for gay athletes and provide guidance to both coaches and administrative staff of the NFL to combat homophobia. Congrats to the NFL for finally entering the rest of 2018 progressive America, we’ve been waiting for you. 

Press Rewind: February 27 2018

Press Rewind: Pop culture from the week 

By Alexa Ash, Press Play Reporter

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Recap of New York and London Fashion Week

It’s the tail end of New York Fashion Week (NYFW) and London Fashion Week (LFW) and the Queen of fashion herself, Anna Wintour, is back at it again with the indoor-sunglasses and killer heels. As the editor-in-chief, Wintour has seen her fair share of exotic fashion trends from shoulderpads to fishnets, but nothing was more exotic than the company she kept at this year’s most anticipated shows. At the Richard Quinn show during LFW, Wintour was seated front row with none other than HRH Queen Elizabeth II. As the first Queen of England to ever attend a London Fashion Week show, this momentous occasion was overshadowed by talk of Anna Wintour’s previous front row buddy, rapper and Queen of her own world, Cardi B. At Alexander Wang’s final show, the two unlikely fashion icons were brought together under their common love of couture (Wintour) and publicity (Ms. B). NYFW and LFW was the epitome of “too many queens in the kingdom” and honestly, we couldn’t be more thrilled.

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Fergie drops the ball on the national anthem performance


At this year’s NBA All Star Game, the crowd was assaulted with a not so ‘Glamorous’ rendition of the National Anthem from former Black Eyed Pea, Fergie. After being ridiculed for her off-key vocals, Fergie took to social media to publicly apologize for her performance. Upon getting in touch with celebrity gossip platform TMZ, the ‘Fergalicious’ singer states that, “I love this country and honestly tried my best." It’s okay Fergie-Ferg, we still love you. If Mariah Carey can bounce back from her New Year's Eve debacle, I’m sure everyone will forget about this, you know, in about five years or so. Keep doing your thing Fergie, and remember, even in the darkest of times, Big Girls Don’t Cry.

LEADER REVIEW: Logic shows flashes of greatness once more with new single ‘44 More'

 Maryland rapper Logic performs on stage for his Under Pressure Tour.  Internet Photo

Maryland rapper Logic performs on stage for his Under Pressure Tour. Internet Photo

By Kenneth Edison, Editor-in-Chief

Follow him at @krazo1

Since his debut, Maryland rapper Logic has always shown a remarkable level of potential that he sometimes struggles to live up to. But songs like his newest release ‘44 More’ prove he is still capable of greatness.  

‘44 More’ basically came out of nowhere with a sudden Instagram post on Thursday Feb. 22 signifying the tracks release at midnight that very same night.

Though Logic’s last full length album “Everybody” received widespread commercial success, it was unquestionably his least inspiring project yet.

The entire album has turned Logic into a bit of a meme as it made him seem like a one trick pony that only has interest in talking about the fact that he is biracial, so many were were wondering if Logic would successfully rebound from the first critical mistep of his career.

And rebound he certainly did.

‘44 More’ highlights the side of Logic that his supporters point to as a sign of his excellence when the more cynical crowd in hip hop label him as corny. It is the side of him that is braggadocious, free from worry and technically solid.

And is Logic corny at times? Sure, and it’s okay to admit that. Even on this track Logic resorts to corny onomatopoeia like imitating his phone ringing over and over again eliciting an eye roll from those of us who just want hear him spitting bars, because when he is, he sounds pretty damn great.

Nonetheless, this track just oozes confidence. Logic drops several quotable bars here about his recent successes both financially and in the music world.

The line towards the track’s conclusion where Logic says, “Sold more albums my first week than Harry Styles and Katy Perry. If that ain't a sign of the times then I don't know what is, man this shit is scary,” stands out as one of his funniest and most memorable in a long time.

It may be too soon to expect a new project from Logic considering his last album only just dropped last year. But if he is set on revisiting any particular sound for his next album or mixtape, it should be one that resembles the style on “44 More.”


 

LEADER REVIEW: ‘Black Panther’ lives up to the hype with one of the MCU’s best entries yet

 Chadwick Boseman plays T’Challa, the newly anointed young king of the fictional nation of Wakanda in “‘Black Panther."  Internet Photo

Chadwick Boseman plays T’Challa, the newly anointed young king of the fictional nation of Wakanda in “‘Black Panther." Internet Photo

By Andrew Cripe, Movie Critic

Savor this moment. This is not a Marvel film advertising other Marvel films. This is not a superhero film cluttered with an abundance of other superheros. This is not a generically performed, relentlessly computer-animated, nauseously filmed blockbuster. This is the real deal. “Black Panther” is the film you should be watching right now.

Ryan Coogler, director of the powerful ‘Fruitvale Station’ (2013) and the phenomenal ‘Creed’ (2015), brings ‘Black Panther’ to the big screen with endless excitement, gorgeous cinematography, and triumphant power. Instead of depending on other Avengers, ‘Black Panther’ assembles its own group of badass, thrilling heroes, moving so far away from the Marvel Cinematic Universe that it stands as refreshingly, wonderfully independent.

Chadwick Boseman, who got his breakout role in ‘42’ (2013) playing baseball legend Jackie Robinson, brings exceptional control and might to King T’Challa, ruler of Wakanda, a fictional, futuristic land hidden away in Africa. Wakanda is joyously, intricately brought to life by Rachel Morrison’s cinematography, who recently made history by becoming the first woman to be nominated for the Best Cinematography Oscar for ‘Mudbound’ (2017).

Simply watching Wakanda exist is to indulge in an almost therapeutic visual poetry. Never before has a Marvel film cared so much about an environment. But when Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan), a figure from the previous King’s shameful past, reappears looking for retribution, Wakanda is thrown into disarray.

You won’t realize until you start watching ‘Black Panther’ how starved you have been for a superhero movie that isn’t counting on you to have watched a dozen other superhero movies. Right from jump street ‘Black Panther’ goes its own way, carving out a story riddled with intrigue, heartbreak, tradition, culture, and probably the best action scenes Marvel Studios have yet produced.

Uniformly, every performance is unique and original. Boseman first appeared as Black Panther in 2016’s ‘Captain America: Civil War,’ and his second outing doesn’t disappoint, bringing a much desired vulnerability and compassion to the MCU’s roster of usually stern, naive heroes who just want to punch stuff until it explodes.

As his little sister, Princess Shuri, Letitia Wright supplies the film with genuinely funny moments and exposition into how Wakanda functions as such a clandestine megapower in technology.

Everyone else is also at the top of their game, as Lupita Nyong’o, Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett, Andy Serkis, and Martin Freeman all nail their roles. But possibly the standout of the film is Michael B. Jordan, who proved in Coogler’s last two films that he is one of the most promising young actors currently in Hollywood, and here only cements that as an undeniable fact. Killmonger is, unquestionably, the most sympathetic and deftly developed villain in the MCU. He is mind-blowingly good, and dominates the film whenever he’s on screen.

Of all the Marvel films this critic has seen, “Black Panther” is the only one that seems to have an uninterrupted directorial vision. Coogler’s artistry has a flow that isn’t disturbed by studios constantly reminding him to advertise the next cycle of films. Everything about this film is bursting with creative, emotional, and purely cinematic freedom.

This is the first movie since 1998’s “Blade” to have a black superhero as its main character, and one of the first Blockbusters to have a principally black cast, period. That is has taken so long for audiences to get a film like this is shameful, and the exhilarating success of Coogler’s film is bound to remind Hollywood how much talent and potential they have been smothering for decades. “Black Panther” is a freight-train reminder that Hollywood’s devotion to the old-way of filmmaking won’t cut it any longer. Audiences want diversity. They want to see the talent that, for so many generations, has been neglected by a studio system which desperately clings to the belief that only familiar white faces will sell tickets.

“Black Panther” is the sort of sledgehammer success that has potential to change Hollywood as we know it. It isn’t just recommended, it is necessary.

Do your partner dirty this Valentine’s Day: The Leader explores the sexier side of gift giving

 Victoria Weinell explains harnesses and the future of "pegging" at Studio 21 ltd in Addison.

Victoria Weinell explains harnesses and the future of "pegging" at Studio 21 ltd in Addison.

By Roxanne Timan, Managing Editor

Follow her at @Roxlobster

Valentine’s day- a day for sweethearts, hot dates, but most importantly, gifts. Roses, chocolates, and cards galore are the top of the list for most typical college couples. However, you could win over your lover with a six-inch rod or a vibrating tube of lipstick, too.

“These are probably the best for students, they are discreet, rechargeable, and budget-friendly,” says Victoria Weinell, clerk at a local sex shop, holding a tiny colorful box with a bunny-eared toy. At $22.99 in store, they are also available online for those who entertain the idea of dildo-to-door shipping.

“{Vibrator parts} come in all shapes and sizes, they do rabbit, dolphin, butterfly, it’s all primarily the kind of stimulation that you get with the clit. If you’re new to the game, we usually suggest starting with the rabbit ears, you want to figure out what you like first”, Weinell explains at Studio 21, a sex shop in Addison.

 Victoria Weinell, clerk at Studio 21, shows off the functions of a toy offering clitoral suction. Photo by Abby Robb

Victoria Weinell, clerk at Studio 21, shows off the functions of a toy offering clitoral suction. Photo by Abby Robb

The store offers sex toys and accessories for all sexualities and fantasy play. Dildos and vibrators line the store in a spectrum of skin tones and neon colors to catch anyone’s eye. The different types of toys are vast- including some of the latest technology.

“They have so much technology poured into them, whether its from the multitude of vibration settings, some of them have that nice “come hither” movement in penetration, some of them have apps.” Weinell lists while showing off towering glass cases of luxurious tech-savvy sex toys.

Women aren’t the only ones who can be spoiled with some titillating toys this Valentine’s day, Studio 21 carries a variety of male masturbators and enhancement equipment for men of all sexualities. A large shelf completely dedicated to strap on harnesses and dildos indicates the constant growth in the culture of “pegging.”

“Pegging in particular has become much more popular as the population becomes more aware of the fluidity of sexuality,” Weinell says, sliding a silicone dildo out of a box to show the skinlike texture of the toy.

Even if you have never experienced a sex shop or feel intimidated by the lifelike toys, the sex toy industry has blossomed to accommodate. From a playful tube of lipstick to a male stroker disguised like a sleek speaker, sex toys are becoming easier to hide and more accessible, especially for the frustrated, embarassed college student.

LEADER REVIEW: “50 Shades Freed” at long last frees audiences from ever having to watch this series again

  Internet photo   Dakota Johnson reprises her role as the newly wed Anastasia Grey in the third film in the “Fifty Shades” series.

Internet photo

Dakota Johnson reprises her role as the newly wed Anastasia Grey in the third film in the “Fifty Shades” series.

By Andrew Cripe, Movie Critic

Altogether, the “Fifty Shades” film trilogy is 348 minutes of insufferable people getting everything they want. 

It’s impossible to understand why these films are so successful. Is it because of the sex? It can’t possibly be, as readers of the novels probably conjured up more exciting imagery in their heads than any of these films cinematically did. 

Could the appeal, then, be the chemistry between leads Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan? That’s even less likely, as the two of them have chemistry so stilted and a connection so distant that you’d feel more comfortable watching two scarecrows make friction. 

Of all the films, “Fifty Shades Freed” gives the fewest shits about personality, consistency, and anything resembling a plot. 

The film starts with Christian (Dornan) and Ana (Johnson) finally getting married, and the viewer quickly finds out that this was the only notable thing the film had up its sleeve. 

Most movies are driven by suspense, tension, and complex motivations that leave the viewer anxiously wondering what will happen next. But “Fifty Shades Freed” isn’t most movies. 

“Freed” will instead entice you with scenes of characters parallel parking spotless, expensive cars, buying clothes, and travelling. Not your thing? Don’t worry, you also get scenes where they drive over the speed limit (for all you action junkies out there). 

 The most agonizing thing about “Fifty Shades Freed” is that it won’t devote itself to a conflict. It has multiple subplots to choose from that had potential to spice up the non-humping scenes: Christian’s dark past, Anastasia’s rocky adjustment to married life with a sadist, the creepy boss from the last movie who’s out for revenge. 

The film picks none of these to make any kind of big deal out of. Midway through this film, a genuinely interesting development arrives, one that could threaten the union between the Greys. It shows up gift-wrapped and begging director James Foley to make something of it, but neither he nor screenwriter Niall Leonard acknowledge the opportunity.

Instead, the film is more concerned with showing you endless scenes of the bottomlessly rich frollicking and serenading each other. Christian can pretty much buy the planet if he wanted to, so much of the film’s runtime is him giving Ana gifts, taking her on vacations, and coercing her into having the most pathetic, cringe-inducing, milktoast sex ever put on film. 

A disturbing but compelling movie exists somewhere in this lifeless trilogy. The film could have told the story of the real Christian Grey: a twisted, rich sadist who can only perform sex after spending millions of dollars. 

A man who, unless he spends five minutes tying up and spanking a woman whom he demands call him “master” will be pushing rope till doomsday. 

That isn’t a pleasant movie, but it isn’t “Freed,” which tries to make you believe Christian is a nice, desirable, ideal husband and eventual father. The film is so thick-skulled and inattentive it doesn’t seem to realize how disgusting the messages it conveys about love and relationships are. “Fifty Shades Freed” shouldn’t exist.