Album REVIEW: As Nina Cried Power, We Cried Too

Christina Matthias
Multimedia Editor

  Irish singer Hozier releases new album “Nina Cried Power”. Image from Glitter Magazine

Irish singer Hozier releases new album “Nina Cried Power”. Image from Glitter Magazine

Four years after platinum success with the somber “Take Me To Church”, Hozier has sprung out of the woods and back to the charts. The “Nina Cried Power” EP was freed on September 6 after anxious fans got hints of new music through the musican’s Twitter.

The Irishman may only have one full length album to his name, but his past work has charted in his home country and beyond waters. He is planning to take his 2018 release on the road this fall, leading up to his sophomore album debut concluding his North American tour.

Chicago-born gospel diva, Mavis Staples, lends her echoing talents to the title track of the EP, which along with referencing Nina Simone namedrops some of Hozier’s other music heros such as James Brown, Patti Labelle, and Billie Holiday. The song encompasses overwhelming inspiration and hope found through art of many mediums and also contains undertones of social and political activism behind the chilling lyric “Power has been cried by those stronger than me, straight into the face that tells you to rattle your chains”.

Juxtaposing “Nina Cried Power”, “NFWMB” takes a softer yet darker tone that demonstrates Hoizer’s folky falsetto, very reminiscent of the verses in “Work Song” from 2014. The bassline looms threateningly as the phrase “Nothing fucks with my baby” is crooned out continuously, haunting whoever could think about hurting the subject of the song.


“Moment’s Silence (Common Tongue)” again cleanses the palate of the EP, previewing all possibilities for the upcoming album. The main highlights are a steady rhythmic guitar riff and percussion that fills the ears with campfire memories. While the most upbeat song off the EP and implicating the meaning to be about a physical connection with a partner, “Moment’s Silence (Common Tongue)” has the most religious allusions by mentions of God, sins, and rosaries. Definitely food for thought.

The final song is “Shrike”—a bittersweet melody about a lost love that remains even after being reborn. Hozier’s more soulful vocals are on display, similar to the title track, however conveying a much quieter and lullabye-esque disposition. It serves as a nice finale to wind the EP down, and it leaves listeners wondering what’s to come.

Hozier’s beloved scenic imagery remains in this EP, with lyrics remarking a bird’s singing and blackthorn trees for audiences to feel closer to nature. The vibes from his work have been compared to the dreamy compositions of Fleetwood Mac and Florence + The Machine, which will hopefully continue to shine through his full second album towards the end of 2018. For now, “Nina Cried Power” has surpassed expectations for Hozier’s highly anticipated resurface.



Remembering Aretha

Najera Milijevic
Staff Reporter

  Illustration by Ian Stong

Illustration by Ian Stong

Aretha Franklin breathed jazz.

The legendary Queen of Soul ignited every stage with her radiating mezzo-soprano voice and youthful energy, so when news of the 76-year-old's death broke on August 16, many people felt an integral piece of history had vanished.

It did not matter if she was singing gospel music at church or performing with a jazz ensemble at Chicago’s Ravinia Festival, Franklin always embodied soul.

She explained her philosophy simply: “If a song’s about something I’ve experienced or that could’ve happened to me, it’s good. But if it’s alien to me, I couldn’t lend anything to it. Because that’s what soul is all about.”

But Franklin wasn’t just a singer—she was a poet. Her music moved people to love, to laugh, and to feel the light of God.

“Franklin had the ability to elevate pretty much anything she sang,” said senior English major Emily Freville.

Whether she was singing an original piece or covering another artist’s music, Franklin brought it to life by pouring soul into it.

She performed at the White House, on church stages and in colossal music venues and was the first woman to be inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame. But despite record success and international popularity, Franklin never lost sight of her simple love for music.

“I’ve always loved the movement of Aretha’s voice,” said EC senior Sandy Sanchez. She remembers listening to Franklin’s classic tracks in elementary music classes. “Jazz was never my favorite style of music, but something about her presentation was really unique and timeless.”

Franklin’s enduring legacy influenced decades of collegiate music ensembles. The Elmhurst College Jazz Band was formed in 1968 at the height of Franklin’s fame and a deeply experimental time when rock ‘n’ roll, blues, and folk music gained prominence in mainstream culture.

Although EC’s jazz ensemble doesn’t focus exclusively on Franklin’s music, her contribution to the field is widely recognized.

Brandon De Jesus, news director at WRSE Elmhurst College Radio, feels a deep reverence for the legendary songstress.

“One of the first songs I ever heard in my life was R-E-S-P-E-C-T. I'm definitely going to miss her,” De Jesus said. “Her voice will be heard for generations to come.”




WEEKEND PLANS: Things to do till our next issue - September 11, 2018

Christina Matthias
Multimedia Editor

What Is My Birthstone?

Take a peek at your horoscope and then stop by Lizzadro! Whether you love looking to the cosmos for purpose, retweeting astrology memes, or just think jewels are neat, this is the event for you. Gemeologist, Sakina Bharani, will be breaking down what your birthstone means cross culturally, and in terms of traits you may have based on what month you were born in. Edu-tainment at it’s finest, and it’s free for EC students!

September 22, Lizzadro Museum, Regular Museum Admission


The House with a Clock in Its Walls

Pre-Halloween month is in full swing, and one of the few non-horror spooky films of 2018 is being released right on time. “The House with a Clock in Its Walls” boasts Jack Black and Cate Blanchett as leads, telling the tale of an orphan who discovers his magical family line and a clock that has the ability to end the world. Based on the 1973 John Bellairs novel, this movie seems satisfying for creepy yet non-jumpscaring entertainment... Looking at you, “The Nun”.

September 21


Riot Fest

Although headliner Blink-182 recently stepped out of the lineup due to Travis Barker’s health, these highly anticipated three days of rock are still on. Weezer, Run the Jewels, and Taking Back Sunday will be playing in Blink’s place for Riot Fest, along with already announced bands such as The Front Bottoms, Beck, Bleachers, Alkaline Trio, and Blondie to name a few. Spend a weekend screaming and crowd surfing with 40,000 of your closest friends.

September 14-16, Douglas Park, $130+


World Music Festival Chicago

If Riot Fest is a bit out of budget, have no fear! The 20th Annual World Music Festival has already begun and continues for a couple more weeks. Artists from all over the globe will be performing in the Windy City, so even if you don’t recognize many acts you can plan which days to go based on country or genre that is associated with each performer. Plus, music echoing alongside the Cultural Center’s winding stairwells and Tiffany domes is reason enough to go.

September 7-23, Chicago Cultural Center, Free


PRESS REWIND: Pop culture news from the week - September 11 2018

Ariana Grande at Aretha Franklin’s Funeral

Out of a star-studded list of performers who musically eulogized the Queen of Soul, Ariana Grande got the most buzz for a couple different reasons. Her cover of “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” at Aretha Franklin’s funeral would’ve made the singer proud since Franklin was actually a big fan of Grande’s. However, tabloids and internet trolls could hardly focus on the performance because of Grande’s outfit. Was the dress too short for church? Or, as long as it was black, was it appropriate to mourn in? Regardless, Grande’s outfit choice was taken into consideration (though it didn’t have to be) when the funeral’s pastor inappropriately groped the side of her breast while at the podium. Grande’s visibly panicked reaction resonated with many women who had been in similar situations, and even though the pastor apologized, he is still in hot water with Franklin’s family after he made insensitive remarks toward Black Lives Matter during the service. Someone needs to learn a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T.


Noah Cyrus and Lil Xan Breakup

Britney Spears and Jason Alexander's 55 hour marriage along with countless other flops have paved the way for short lived celebrity couples, and a face-tatted SoundCloud rapper’s love for Hannah Montana’s little sister has carried on the torch. On August 20, Noah Cyrus and Lil Xan made their red carpet couple debut at the MTV Video Music Awards in New York, and through PDA they assured paps that they were together. The two originally met through Instagram DMs and collaborated on songs for both of their musical endeavors. But right when the world was getting used to Noah and Xan, it was over, ending on Instagram where the pair hit it off. Xan had seen a photo of Noah too close for comfort to another guy and accused her of cheating, then Noah posted screenshots of a Charlie Puth nude meme she sent Xan saying that was why he was worried about her cheating. The split turned into he-said-she-said and dragged everyone from Columbia Records to the Cyrus family down with it. Oh well, onto the next inevitable betrayal.


RIP Mac Miller

Last Friday, thousands were heartbroken over the death of rapper Mac Miller due to a fatal drug overdose. A friend found him unresponsive at his Studio City house, and by the time emergency services arrived, he had passed. Miller expressed a day prior that he was looking forward to touring his fifth studio album, “Swimming”, which was released a month before his death. Many musicians who had met Miller tweeted out condolences: Shawn Mendes, Soulja Boy, Solange Knowles, J Cole, Alessia Cara, and Khalid were amongst a sea of “RIP”s. Chance the Rapper wrote “...beyond helping me launch my career he was one of the sweetest guys I ever knew. Great man. I loved him for real. Im completely broken.” Le’Veon Bell of Miller’s hometown Pittsburgh Steelers devastatingly commented “NOOO! I do not wanna believe my brother is dead!” Even though he had much more life to live at the age of 26, Mac Miller had his share of milestones in the industry. At the time of his debut, “Blue Slide Park”, it was the first independently distributed album to reach No. 1 in 16 years, and his mixtapes before that release created an unswerving fanbase that has followed him since 2007.


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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Internet Photo

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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Internet Photo

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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Internet Photo

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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Internet Photo

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.