April 23, 2014

Rap Album Erupts From Seedy Past

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By Ryan Durning

Staff Writer

Top Dawg Entertainment artist Schoolboy Q’s major label debut, OXYmoron, is his most progressive yet frustratingly ignorant record to date. In interviews he has stated that the theme of the album was documenting all the bad he has done in order to support his daughter.

The former Hoover Crip/college football player/Oxycontin pusher has created an album that lives up to it’s clever title. The album is constantly flip-flopping be- tween honestly brutal introspection and brash celebration of his seedy past which is perfectly summed up by the titular track “Prescription/Oxymoron.”

The first half of the song details his addiction to prescription drugs before the beat flips into a menacing piano loop and stuttering drums that Q uses to brag about selling Oxycontin and whose hook turns into “I just stopped selling crack today.”

The long wait for the album, originally announced after the last TDE album “Good kid, M.a.a.D City,” which dropped Oct. 12, 2013, has only served to highlight some of it’s missteps. The album can be bro- ken down into a repeating pattern of three songs with the middle one usually being the weakest.

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The album starts off with the brash “Gangsta.” Q is at the top of his game, spitting about his past. This segues into the underwhelming “Los Awesome” where the slurring of his voice makes the track for- gettable, before the pace is picked up again by the lead single “Collard Greens” thanks to the pulsating hypnotic production and a funny guest verse from Kendrick Lamar.

This happens two more times on the album, most notably in the sequence of “Hoover Street”, which finds Q talking about his uncle, an addict, which is by all means a gritty tale, followed by “Studio,” ruining the mood with it’s uninspired romance. Finishing up the trio is the thesis of the album, “Prescription/Oxymoron.”

After the titular track, Groovy Q hits his stride and finishes out the album with hard hitting rhymes, especially in “The Purge” and “Break The Bank,” while flowing better and generally avoiding the minor mistakes made in the first half.

As a member of TDE, Q has amassed a following as the gangsta rapper whose infectious flow and chants of “yawk-yawk- yawk” help to liven up his well tread sub- ject matter of women and gangbanging.

Without his charisma, he pales in comparison to the lyricism that fellow TDE members’ Ab-Soul and recently Grammy nominated Kendrick Lamar bring to the table. Ultimately, Schoolboy has shown that he can make an album that can be both disarmingly blunt and maddeningly mindless.

Movie Review: The Wolf of Wall Street

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By: Alex Guzmán

Getting in the ring with Martin Scorsese always hits you with a knockout punch. And “The Wolf of Wall Street” is Scorsese at the top of his game. The film overcomes you like that third rail of pure cocaine. Your eyes widen, your jaw clenches, your knuckles turn white and you’re hooked instantly; you become a fiend.

Although banned and censored in several foreign markets, it’s as if Scorsese’s been preparing for the past two years for his title fight, perhaps over the span of 40 years since he directed “Mean Streets.” Trained and ready to hit the audience with a knockout combination, he succeeds.

With 506 F-bombs, hardcore and kinky sex, 99% pure cocaine, hookers, Lamborghinis, multi-million dollar yachts, country clubs, corruption, greed, embezzlement, federal investigations, dwarf tossing and more full frontal nudity than you see in most soft core pornography, this smörgåsbord of a film will leave you both appalled and enthralled. Lemon 714 Quaaludes lead to easily one of the best on-screen drug scenes in contemporary cinema. If this upsets the natural order of your peaceful tranquil disposition then perhaps “Disney’s Cinderella” is more your pace?

 But behind all of the things is the Wolf — the 20-something year old charismatic penny stock tycoon Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio). At just a little over 3 hours, it can have you feeling overwhelmed by the abundantly disgusting human nature of Belfort, yet you never lose interest as this film. Martin Scorsese, a master craftsman, leaves you feeling completely and utterly unable to check your text messages, avert your eyes or miss even one second — the entire film is just simply too damn good!

Scorsese doesn’t hold back in “Wolf.” Tidal waves of stinging quips at the real Belfort and America’s greedy capitalist culture wash over the audience in the dark cinema leaving the audience in a deep pensive state of bewilderment and hedonistic guilty pleasures. The question I asked myself in those moments were “am I inspired by and jealous of Belfort, or am I wholly repulsed by him?” This question will haunt you for some time after you’ve seen this film.

As we live in a society that plays up the new American Dream to acquire all the bling possible, we tend to overlook the details of our dreams. “Wolf” leaves you aggressively with the bang that can occur if you’ve acquired the bling vis-à-vis climbing the walls of corruption like Madoff and Boesky only to watch your kingdom crumble to the sea. Bang is almost the perfect word to describe this motion picture in summation actually. Bang is what happens when Belfort takes too many drugs. Bang is what happens when he says “the year I turned 26, I made 49 million dollars, which really pissed me off because it was three shy of a million a week.” Bang is what happens when he goes to federal prison for 22 months for fraud.

You see bling on the other hand would be when while being interrogated by the FBI on his multimillion dollar yacht the S.S. Naomi (which happens to have its own helipad), we see Belfort reach into his pocket to reveal a wad of cash that he comically refers to as “fun coupons” which he proceeds to throw at the two Feds investing him as they leave the Naomi, telling them that the money in his hand is a years salary for them.

 Part of what makes this movie so enjoyable, so keenly cool, and so horrifying and disturbing all at once is writer Terrance Winter’s macabre yet at time hilarious and outright cool storyline. It’s part dark fantasy, part guilty pleasure and part hatred of Belfort that thrust it’s audience onto the edge of their seats again and again throughout the film.

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 Jonah Hill and DiCaprio both give the performances of their careers. And the stunning Margot Robbie has just made a name for herself that will carry her very far in her career as an actress. And that name is not just the “Duchess of Bay Ridge” either. Hill is certainly worthy of a best supporting actor nomination at the Academy Awards with his both brilliant — although risky at times performance — I pray he’ll be nominated. And as for DiCaprio, well his tour de force performance has him pushing so many envelopes; transforming himself so well and exposing so much raw and uninhibited emotion that it’s no wonder Scorsese had him cast for the fifth time. He’s remarkable. A real pig most of the time, but nonetheless absolutely remarkable.

 This film is an adrenaline junky and party monster’s wet dream… on anabolic steroids! Belfort: “On a daily basis I consume enough drugs to sedate Manhattan, Long Island and Queens for a month. I take Quaaludes 10-15 times a day for my ‘back pain,’ Adderall to stay focused, Xanax to take the edge off, part to mellow me out, cocaine to wake me back up again, and morphine…well, because it’s awesome.” This movie keeps you teetering on your seat with outrageous lines like this and infamous “The Sopranos” writer Winter’s call for DiCaprio to go from having an internal monologue, to a dialogue with another character while Scorsese’s cinematographer then swings around the camera via Scorsese’s trademark camera action, the “whip pan”, and has DiCaprio look directly into the camera with his piercing blue eyes and corrupt smile and narrate to the audience directly.

 If you think you’re in a mind frame that you can accept this film for what it is — a glutinous hedonist’s paradise that rapidly builds at any cost imaginable — well then, you should definitely go see it.  “Is it good”, people have asked me? “Unequivocally so!” I respond.  In fact, it’s damn near perfect.


 

Is Violence Ever Justified?

By: Joseph M. Gomez  

On a bright, crisp October afternoon in New Jersey, the heated rivalry between the New York Jets and the New England Patriots resumed for the 2013 NFL season.  There was no drama unfolding on the football field. However, an unscheduled event that took place in the MetLife stadium corridors that became the event highlight, one which would generated controversy and spark a heated debate.

In American society, social norms have dictated how men and women are supposed to conduct themselves.  Traditionally, men have been told to never lay a hand on a lady.  However, is it fair for a woman to strike a man first and for that man to hit her in return?

Kurt Paschke, a 38 year old man from Long Island was caught on tape punching 26 year old Jaclyn Nugent, a female, in the face.  Paschke, who was a part of a group of Jets fans got in a heated confrontation with a group of Patriots fans including Nugent.  In the end, four individuals including Paschke and Nugent were charged for their roles in the altercation, they also received lifetime bans from MetLife stadium.

Their argument turned physical while in the corridors of the stadium, where punches were thrown.  On the video tape, Nugent was observed running towards the back of Paschke, she threw some punches which led to Paschke turning around and throwing a punch with his right hand into the face of Nugent.

So then, was Kurt Paschke wrong for hitting a woman in the face?  In an interview with CNN, Paschke’s lawyer, Bruce Barket had this to say, “Even a quick review of the video and just talking to a couple witnesses, you can see Kurt was defending himself and (he) shouldn’t have been charged at all and certainly won’t be convicted.”

According to Paschke’s attorney, his client was justified in hitting Jaclyn Nugent because he did so in self-defense.  Theresa Show, 21, a senior at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice says, “No, biologically men are stronger than women, and I think it’s wrong if men would punch back.  She added, “I believe men tend to be stronger.”

Show’s rationale, which can be disputed, is not necessarily out of the mainstream.  The view that women are physically inferior to men is a view that has been maintained across different cultures, religions and ethnic groups.

Another troubling case involving violence between a man and a woman occurred on a winter day in February 2011.  Oscar Fuller, 36, got into a dispute over a parking spot with Lana Rosas, 26.  What would result thereafter would come to surprise not just those involved and their families, but the entire City of New York as well.

Rosas, a woman, was standing in the street holding a parking spot for a friend in the Manhattan neighborhood of Greenwich Village.  Fuller, who was in his car and looking to park tried to take the spot.  When the two met face to face, a war of would break out which then lead to violence.

According to Fuller, when Rosas started hitting him, he threw a punch, hitting her in the face and dropping her to the pavement.  Rosas was knocked into a coma because of the incident and her family maintains that it was the force of Fuller’s punch that was responsible for her comatose state. Fuller denies this claim, saying that it was her head landing on the pavement which caused the severe injury.

Fuller was charged with misdemeanor assault, rather than the more serious charge of felony assault for which he was acquitted of.  However, Fuller was sentenced to a year in jail.

Wai Chen, 21, a senior at John Jay had this to say, “If a girl hit me I would not get mad, I would not have the same anger if a guy hits me.”  Chen argues that he could take the punch of a female and laugh it off but if he were hit by man it’d be a whole other story.

While there are those who believe it is wrong to hit a woman under any circumstance, and who argue that it is either immoral to strike a woman or that a woman cannot sustain a physical assault from a man, there are those who feel otherwise.

Take for instance Ken Leon, 23, a junior at John Jay College.  Asked what he would do if he was attacked by a woman, Leon said, “I don’t think I’ll hit a girl, if it gets to the extent that she keeps hitting me, I’ll lay one on her.”  He went on to elaborate a little more on what he believes is fair, saying “They want to go to war, they want to have the same rights, why shouldn’t they be treated as us.”

A view such as the one Mr. Leon has might come under attack as being a belief that only men might have.  Bianca Almeida, 24, senior at John Jay seems to have some of the same thoughts when it comes to male/female violence.  She said, “This system is made to benefit the woman… unfortunately the whole system is on the woman’s side.”

Almeida, who trained in combined martial arts back in her home of Astoria, Queens when she was a teen recalled occasionally hitting one of the boys in her class.  She joked that the chief reason she bugged him was because he could not hit her back.

In the lobby of John Jay College’s North Hall building, during the school’s community hour as students swarmed in and out of the building sat Professor and Dr.  Olivera Jokic.  Dr. Jokic, a professor of Gender Studies at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, was sipping on a cup of coffee she purchased at the nearby school breakfast stand and had several things to say regarding the issue of man/female violence.

When asked whether a man is ever justified in hitting a woman professor Jokic shot the question right back saying, “What do you think?”  In making her point she said is the use of reciprocal violence ever right.

The professor, who has a PH.D and two master’s degrees, one from the University of Texas and the other from the University of Michigan continued, saying “If a woman gets raped, should she have the right to rape the person that raped her.”  She then began to question and analyze why it is we as a society value and often feel entitled to certain things, “Why do we value football, parking spots and violence?”

She also believes that our society rape culture, Jokic explained it as, “A rape culture is one that blames the victims of violence that happens to them.”  She added, “We distribute blame and talk responsibility that men and women are different, that they have different relations to their bodies.”

Culturally we have rules, some written and many others unwritten that say how it is men and women must conduct themselves.  Maybe the answer to a violent act should not be another violent act in return, maybe we should consider not laying our hands on anyone.

 

Movie Review: 12 Years a Slave

By Alex Guzman

“Days ago I was with my family, in my home. Now you’re telling me all that’s lost? Tell no one who I am, that’s the way to survive? Well, I don’t want to survive. I want to live.” Solomon Northup, “12 Years a Slave”

Only for a portion of 134 minutes is it difficult to sit in a dark cinema and live vicariously the experience of slavery through the interpretation of British indie-director Steve McQueen.

Although, given the loaded content of the film, it is easy to forget you’re simply watching his depiction of Northup on screen. You are thrust into an 1840′s-50′s New Orleans slave plantation.

Chiwetel Ejiofor plays Solomon Northrop in this version of the infamous story. Ejiofor is profoundly gifted in this role, that his face alone told a story.  Throughout the three acts of this film his face takes us from complacency to bewilderment, surrender and finally elation.

Edwin Epps (played by the provocative yet alluring Michael Fassbender) reads from a tiny blue book of scripture that he has in his possession to his newly bought slaves. He reads from a passage with the deliberate intention of letting his newly acquired slaves know the consequence in which they will pay for defiance of any sort.

Epps feels that he has a biblically endorsed prerogative to dehumanize, commodify, rape and kill, if necessary, his slaves.

Epps has a sociopathic love for a female slave Patsey (played by the talented Lupita Nyong’o) deepens his villainy.

He interrogates the frightened young woman, who escapes the atrocities of her everyday life by regressing and creating tiny dolls out of corn husks while daydreaming of the day she gains freedom through death. When Epps notices she keeps disappearing he is furious and threatens her.

Northup jumps to the aid of Patsey and as a consequence is almost stabbed by Epps, so Patsey places herself between the two men, her back to Northup, she looks into Epps’ ferocious eyes and puts her hand on his cheek and with tears in her eyes admits to where she was.

Edwin Epps’ wife walks out among the confusion in her perfectly tailored white dress, with her hands held daintily in front of her waist and looks upon the quarreling pseudo lovers.

Patsey states that she was in fact at the home of another master, but only to beg and barter for a minuscule sundry which her mistress Mary Epps (played by Sarah Paulson), denied her as punishment for winning her husbands affection.

She puts out her free fist and unwraps her fingers to reveal a tiny portion of what used to be a bar of soap. Mary Epps thinks of Patsey one of the pigs that cinematographer Sean Bobbitt had focused in the foreground, as Patsey approached the pen from behind. Mistress Epps orders Patsey to be whipped for insubordination.

It’s as if the audience was looking at Medusa. For wanting to be human enough to bathe, Patsey is stripped and whipped.  Edwin Epps cannot bring himself to whip her so delegates this task to Northup, who apprehensively takes the thick leather whip in his large hand. Patsey begs him to lash her instead of Epps, and so he does. Mary Epps screams to hit her harder, her eyes ablaze with sickening psychotic delight.

Edwin not wanting anyone else to touch his prized property yanks the whip from Northup’s quivering hand and beats the poor young girl until she nearly passes out.

McQueen and his team push the viewer’s to their breaking point and then draw them back in. It’s as if he’s forcing his foot onto the audience’s necks until they begin to feel faint, and then hastily removing it so that they can catch a huge gulp of air. He’s brilliant at provoking the emotion he wants to evoke, but not oversaturate his audience with just one emotion.

He’s quite talented at being able to arouse a plethora of emotions, yet not in an overbearing way. For instance he’ll utilize cinematic devices such as shooting silhouettes and shadows instead of what’s actually occurring onscreen so that the scene is still graphic, but not provocative. Often, such scenes are quite beautiful actually.

What McQueen is really good is the utilization of one very specific film device which he, his sound department and editor Joe Walker had worked on together. Making the audience uncomfortable through the use of sound.

Upon waking up on the cold, heard ground after being drugged by two men who kidnapped him in order to sell him into bondage, all that can be heard are the chains around his wrists and feet clanking, while Northup wriggles to free himself and tries to recall how he got there in the first place. His guards attempt to inculcate through beating him with a wooden paddle until it breaks over his back that he is no longer a freeman.

All that can be heard is the paddle smacking against Northup’s flesh, his crying and the chains clanking away. McQueen also uses the cinematic device mentioned earlier of shooting Northup in a shadowy abyss created brilliantly. From this scene on, the viewers are drawn in like a Pavlovian dog hearing a bell ring.  They yearn for more.  Not the mental and physical torture, but rather the hope that Northup will be free once again.

McQueen really drives home the empirical insight into what it means to be a slave.

For the entirety of the time on Epps’ plantation the viewer experiences by proxy McQueen’s illustration of the day to day livese of slaves. Property with which you can do with whatever you’d like to by constitutional law. Despite the blatant human on human cruelty throughout the picture, there is beauty if you look hard enough.

“12 Years a Slave” is a gut-wrenching, tour de force that is both wrenching and heart warming. It’s as beautiful as it is dark and depressing. It’s an account of 12 years of hell on earth based on a true story. It’s a microcosm of and a glimpse into the 400 years in which slavery occurred.

This film is a must see for anyone who has ever asked the perilous question: “How did I get here?”  It serves to answer this by putting on display what happens when we decide to mistreat one another.

Video Game Review: Batman Arkham Origins

By Ruben Etienne

Oct. 25 saw the release of “Batman: Arkham Origins”, the prequel to Rocksteady’s critically acclaimed “Batman: Arkham Asylum” and “Batman: Arkham City” worldwide.

The video game was developed by Warner Bros. Montreal and was written by Corey May and Dooma Wendschuch, who between them have written games like “Assasin’s Creed” and “Prince of Persia”. “Arkham Origins” strays away from the action based game style Rocksteady introduced and placed Batman in an open world, story driven video game similar to “Assasin’s Creed”. While it seem initially enticing, “Arkham Origins” does not live up to the expectations set by the two previous games.

The title is misleading; the video game isn’t an origin story that takes players into the story of Bruce Wayne becoming Batman; the game begins when Batman’s presence is an unproven rumor prior to the events of “Arkham Origins”. The video game attempts to highlight the story, but it is riddled with so many plot holes that it can disappoint players when completing the video game.

The game centers around Black Mask hiring eight assassins to eliminate Batman, so logic would dictate that the completion of the game would be defeating all eight assassins and then dealing with Black Mask. If lucky, you’ll be able to encounter six of the eight assassins before completing the game, which is deceptively short for such a seemingly complex storyline.

The game begins to feel like “Assasin’s Creed” with the added gadgets throughout the game, enemies that require different strategies to defeat, and Roger Craig Smith voicing both Bruce Wayne, Batman and Ezio Auditore from the “Assasin’s Creed” franchise. The open world and the fast travel stations throughout the open world also devalues the game and strays away from the action driven video game “Arkham Asylum” and “Arkham City” masterfully intertwines with its story.

When playing “Arkham Origins” the distinction between side quests and main storyline quests are painfully obvious, while “Arkham City” kept players engaged throughout. The side quests boil down to arriving at a specific place to beat up certain criminals each and every time.

“Arkham Origins” does bring new dynamics to the game that appear to make the game compelling. The detective mode used to analyzing crime scenes argues in favor of Batman’s moniker as “the world’s greatest detective.” The introductions of new villains to the game like Anarky and Electrocutioner, as well as bringing back Batman classic villains like Bane, Deadshot, Deathstroke and the Joker mesh well together; the game gives each villain its due diligence without making the game seem like it threw villains in the game for the sake of throwing them in.

This game has many flaws that make the game painful at times to play. The bridge that connects the northern half of Gotham with the southern half of Gotham is excruciating to cross, and is necessary to cross for certain missions which leads to 10­15 minutes of gliding across the bridge just to reach a point. The fighting system the previous games perfected is devalued with the abundance of gadgets that makes fights less about strategy and more about button mashing.

The game sets itself to be completed by anyone with little to no effort. Completing the video game only completes about 20­30% of the video game itself. The online mode of the game plays similarly to a 3rd person shooter version of “Call of Duty” which is underwhelming considering the games that came before it.On its own, “Batman: Arkham Origins” is not necessarily a bad video game, but when compared to “Batman: Arkham Asylum” and “Batman: Arkham City” this game is obviously underwhelming.

The fighting system is the same, but the action is few and far in between, and is replaced by an incomplete storyline that ultimately disappoints and it’s vast open world map that is excessive. Despite its new additions of characters and gadgets, the game unfortunately does not live up to the expectations “Arkham City” sets.

First Red Carpet Halloween Contest at John Jay

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On Oct.31 Student Transition Programs partnered with the Office of Student Life to bring John Jay their first ever Halloween Costume Contest where students strutted for three main prizes and titles.

Everyone gathered in front of the JJ Café to watch friends and colleagues walk and in some cases crawl across the red carpet.

Once everyone had their chance at fame, the judges announced the winners for the most scariest, creative and extravagant costumes.

The winners are :

 Most Scariest : Jason

Student: Albert Andrews  

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Most Creative: Sexi Kitten

Student: Enyer Jimenez

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Most Extravagant:  Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke

Students: Jesse Baez and Illiana Cervantes

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A Truly Good Album

By Din Gjidija

Staff Writer

Swedish-born D.J. Avicii, otherwise known as Tim Bergling, has always been known for his synth-sounding, electronic dance tracks.  His latest album “TRUE released through PRMD/Island Def Jam, is the 24 year old’s first studio album. It moves away from Electronic Dance Music and more toward a newly found folk and dance style.

Right before his big set at the 15th Annual Ultra Music Festival, Avicii told Billboard “’TRUE’ is about me being true to my sound but also to my own influences and musical preferences.”

During his set at Ultra there was a lot of criticism because fans didn’t like that he went from his trademark Electronic Dance to Bluegrass. They didn’t like that he did so at such a huge festival. Ultra is not a place where you experiment new things; it’s where you show off your big guns.

Avicii reached mainstream success with his 2011 title “Levels.” Since then, he has never put out his own studio album. He has headlined some of the biggest festivals in the world and has had hit after hit.

It’s hard to tell if it’s the Mumford and Sons-styled banjos or if it’s the 70’s disco-esque that keeps listeners. His choice of sound is different; it’s something no other big name D.J. has done before. A crossover between folk, funk, and dance is unheard of in the dance genre. Teens go to festivals to see D.J.’s perform dance hits, not bluegrass.

Although being criticized by fans and D.J.’s everywhere for his set at Ultra Music Festival, today Avicii is battling Jay-Z and Katy Perry for the number one spot on the charts. His Single “Wake Me Up” has already showed success around the world as it was #1 in ten countries and peaked at #4 on Billboards Hot 100. The track features vocals from artist Aloe Blacc, who is an American Soul singer.

“You Make Me” is the second track off the album and features Salem Al Fakir, known for his vocals on “Silhouettes.” It has a fun vibe to it; from the start you hear a piano with an upbeat tempo, which then leads into Fakir’s vocals “I’ve been waiting for someone like you.” By now you’re so hooked, you can’t help but to finish it.

“Lay Me Down” combines Disco and Funk with Electronic Dance Music. It’s a real catchy tune and features vocals from artist Adam Lambert and guitarist Nile Rodgers. It gives off the same vibe that Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” gave off. “Heart Upon My Sleeve” featuring Imagine Dragons front man Dan Reynolds and starts off with a chilling solo of Reynolds playing acoustic guitar, then kicks into Avicii’s signature synths. “TRUE” does not include the vocal edit; this is found on Avicii’s SoundCloud page.

“Dear Boy” headlining Audra Mae, features some of Avicii’s old trademark sounds, so anyone who’s a fan of his old work will enjoy this track. It has “chart topper” written all over it.

Avicii’s biggest strength in this album is how well he combines the folk, funk, and dance.  If “TRUE” is any indication of what’s to come, we may be in for a real treat.

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RUSH Movie Review: Racecar Film Falters on the Way to the Finish Line.

Rush

Courtesy of AMC Studios

 

By Stephen Amato

Contributing Writer

When I first heard that Ron Howard was directing a race car film like “Rush,” I was curious. Wow. Ron Howard I thought. He has been directing good, solid films for years. But then I tried to think of one great film from his resume. Sure, he directed “Cocoon,” “A Beautiful Mind,” and “The Grinch that Stole Christmas.”

Wait a second. Did I really enjoy “The Grinch?” So then I gave it some extra thought. Besides “Ransom” and “Cinderella Man,” would I watch any of his films ? “Apollo 13?” Nope, probably not. And I can honestly say you will never find Parenthood in my Blu-ray collection. But I had a feeling about “Rush.” This was the one film that would push Ron Howard into Scorsese territory. So was I right? Not exactly.

Rush tells the real life story of rival racers James Hunt and Niki Lauda. Chris Hemsworth plays the carefree playboy or as the characters like to call him, “the superstar.” I will say this; after this film, people will cease to know him only as Thor. He is more than just muscles and action scenes.

Rush

Courtesy of AMC Studios

The man can act. Forget “Red Dawn.” That movie should be deleted from the IMDB record books. He almost steals the movie. Almost. But it is Daniel Bruhl who runs away with the picture. He is a natural, as the more technical of the two opponents. He analyzes the car. He studies the stats. He lives to race. After seeing the film, I had to “Google” the man. I remember him from “Inglorious Bastards,” but here he truly shines.

Now what about those car scenes? Here lies one of the film’s problems; they’re too short. There are so many of them, yet not one stands out. It is almost as if Howard wasn’t sure how to film a truly spectacular car scene. In his career, Ransom is the closest thing to an action film he has ever done. It shows. I was dying to see more.

Say what you want to say about the 1990 Tom Cruise flick “Days of Thunder,” but that film had some great car crashes.

Another problem with doing a film based on real people is when directors feel the need to enter “epic” territory. Yes, this rivalry was special. And yes, Formula 1 racing is far from boring. But neither of these characters is truly likable. Michael Corleone was not likable yet we found ourselves rooting for him.

Everything about “Rush” screams epic. The music is grand. The sets are amazing. The acting is top notch. But something is missing. The narration is distracting and the movie runs fifteen minutes too long. By the time the final race approaches, the audience has stopped caring who wins.

AMC Studios

AMC Studios

So Ron Howard has another “not bad” movie under his belt. It started as great, then falters, and will probably fall into overrated category, as did “A Beautiful Mind” after it left the theater. I still give Howard a lot of credit. He has been around since “Happy Days” and still makes a decent product.

He just needs to stop aiming for epic status.

Compared to other racing flicks such as “Driven” and “Le Mans” (with the great Steve McQueen), it wins easily. But I’ll take the cheesy “Thunder” any day of the week. That is one movie you will definitely find in my Blu-ray collection.

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World Wrestling Fan Base at a Crossroads

BY ALBERT ALBANESE

April 7, 2013 marks World Wrestling Entertainment’s (WWE) biggest event of the year, Wrestlemania 29. To be held in Metlife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ, fans from around the world will descend upon the home of the New York Giants and New York Jets for the hard-hitting, fast-paced, exciting action the WWE is known to deliver.

The main event of Wrestlemania has started to cause some controversy with fans. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson will defend his title against number one contender and WWE’s biggest draw, John Cena. While this seems like the biggest marquee match-up in the WWE right now, fans are upset about the main event. The match is a re-match from last year’s Wrestlemania 28, and some fans are upset about seeing it again after it was promoted last year as a “Once in a Lifetime” match. Robert Williams, a life-long wrestling fan said, “If it wasn’t a rematch main event or that predictable as to who’s going to win I would be more excited.”

There is a general feeling that since The Rock is a part-time WWE superstar, John Cena is a lock to leave Wrestlemania 29 with the WWE Championship. This near certainty has other fans upset that they have tickets for WWE’s flagship show, Monday Night Raw, the next night. Nick Finocchio, 20, said, “If Cena wins, I will resent myself for physically going to the Izod center to see RAW.” However, avid Cena supporters are excited at the possibility of seeing him as WWE champion after not having the championship for well over a year.

Other members of the WWE universe feel that the WWE has let down its biggest fans when they created the matches for this year’s Wrestlemania. Avid wrestling fan and writer of the Cosblog, an on-line blog that discusses music, movies and wrestling, Marcos Cosme said “If [WWE] had created a great card with fresh matches then I might be thinking differently. But I feel that they are simply catering to their WrestleMania audience and not the wrestling fan base that they have the other 365 days.”

The Rock, known for his wrestling career and more notable film career, starring in such movies as GI Joe- Retaliation, Fast 5 and The Other Guys, returned to wrestling last year at Wrestlemania 28 to face John Cena in his second match since his return. The Rock was one of the biggest stars in the WWE from 1998-2003. He then became a part-time wrestler as he pursued his film career. He returned to the WWE as the host of Wrestlemania 27 in 2011, starting a yearlong rivalry with John Cena that culminated with the Rock defeating Cena at Wrestlemania 28.

John Cena has become the WWE’s main draw since his first WWE Championship victory at Wrestlemania 21 in 2005. Since then, Cena has become one of the most controversial superstars in WWE history. Due to his character being generally unchanged in 8 years, the WWE universe is often split when seeing Cena as he receives a reaction heavily mixed with cheers and jeers when he appears in front of the audience. Many people are upset that Cena will be in the main-event of Wrestlemania for the fifth time in the past eight years.

Despite the negativity, Cena’s merchandise sells more than any other WWE Superstar. He was also voted by the WWE universe as the 2012 Superstar of the Year, even though he had his worst year since his inaugural title run and former WWE champion CM Punk held the WWE Championship the entire calendar year. Also, Cena’s actions outside the wrestling ring, most notably granting over 200 wishes for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the most in the foundation’s history, keep him a focal point of the WWE’s programming.

While many fans seem as if that they are uninterested in the main-event of Wrestlemania 29, other fans aren’t letting one match dictate their future of watching WWE programming. Rob Cossentino, a wrestling fan since 2000, said “If Cena wins, I’ll quit watching WWE… say so many people, but the next night on Raw all is forgotten and we tune in to the next new angles.” While The Rock and John Cena are the main attraction of Wrestlemania, the WWE has other stars like The Undertaker, former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar, CM Punk, Triple H and Alberto Del Rio that attract other members of the WWE Universe to its programming.

While there are some detractors, many fans are looking forward to attending Wrestlemania 29 and seeing the future of the WWE after the big event. While some fans feel that in order to keep a fresh product, the WWE needs to turn John Cena against his legions of fans and into a “bad guy” or heel, others believe that by having great, entertaining matches and interesting storylines, the WWE will always do great business.

Despite some hardcore wrestling fans being upset about The Rock and John Cena’s spot in the main event of the biggest wrestling event of the year, the past has shown that with one blockbuster storyline, those fans can be drawn right back in. Jesse James Jobin, who at 27 is a life-long wrestling fan that has become increasingly frustrated by the direction of the WWE as of late, said “Cena as champ again would bother me. For the last 15 years we’ve had the same 5 or 6 guys trading the belt. Enough is enough.”

Wrestlemania 25

Wrestlemania 25 (Photo credit: eschipul)

The only question now is what will the WWE have in store for its fans to keep them coming back for more? Looking at its past, the WWE always seems to come up with something.

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Teaching Us How They Dress

By Sharlene Joesph

Have you ever mistaken your professor for a student on the first day of class? Fashion is not John Jay’s number one priority, academics and education are. But, without enforcing a set dress code, does this mean that professors can dress as casual as they want?

The back of the graduate and professional fair flyer defines business casual attire as “Slightly more casual than professional, interview-worthy clothing but not as casual as what you wear regularly to class. Business casual is crisp, neat, and should look appropriate even for a chance meeting with a CEO. It should not look like a cocktail or party or picnic attire…Business casual is classic rather than trendy.”

“Professors dressing casual make it easier for the students to relate to them,” said transfer student Jayme Gooberdhan. “When a professor dresses too professionally they automatically demand respect from students to know that they are the authoritative figure,” Gooberdhan said.

Communication and Theater Arts professor Margit Edwards, dresses in a very casual manner to create less of an authoritarian classroom for students to be more comfortable when participating in drama activities.  “This makes her more approachable,” said Axel Rodriguez, a junior. Edwards dresses comfortably enough to be able to move around swiftly to interact with students in the Black Box theater room,Kevin Nesbitt, the Director of Faculty Services, does not think there is a specific dress code for students and faculty. “I do imagine we expect faculty to wear comfortable clothing that allows them to teach their best and that fits with their pedagogical style,” said Nesbitt. “If you are a super energetic faculty member that rushes from side to side and front to back in a classroom and never sits during a course no matter what the activity, I envision wearing shoes with some athletic support would be recommended attire but, again not required,” he said.

India Sanders, a John Jay sophomore, explains that students can feel intimidated, or accepted, depending on the professors outfit on the first day. She recalled on her first day 3 out of her 5 professors dressed professionally. She prefers her professors to dress casual but not too casual in order to stand out from the students. “Professors that dress in business attire show respect to the academic field and the students,” Sanders said.

When it comes to a professors attire, John Jay senior Leon Moore said, “It depends on what course they’re teaching.” Moore aspires to be a lawyer. His major requires many law classes, and he said, “It would be nice to see professors dress a certain type of way to create an inspiring image to their students that are trying to follow in the same path as them.” Not to say that his professors don’t dress professional, he finds that it’s usually, “the Math and English departments that dress down because they don’t really have an image to create to their students.”

There is absolutely no correlation with a professor’s attire and their experience in the field, explains Nesbitt. “I do think some academic departments have a culture that tends to dress more casually, while others dress more corporate, but again I think that’s more of a function of the discipline or professions connected to that department and the complex lives our faculty live on campus and outside of it.”

“Professors are well respected people in the John Jay community,” says peer ambassador Dev Sharma. Sharma sets his standards high because “when professors present themselves clean and sharp, you acknowledge that they took the time to dress their part.”

Professor Greg Donaldson, whose style varies depending on his mood in the morning, said, “You look good, you get treated well,” He prefers a contrast between outfits each day, having a decent amount of Gucci or Armani button down shirts and a blazer in his room still in their dry cleaner’s plastic hanging from behind his door.

Unlike forensic science lab professor, Professor A. Vrobeyev, who admitted one day during a ‘Hairs and Fibers’ lab that he prefers to wear a solid white cotton short-sleeved button-down each day, to remain neutral and unidentifiable.

According to Nesbitt, “there are certain college-wide and institutional events that come up fairly regularly where it makes sense-if even simply to fit in with colleagues- to have a certain affect based on attire, I imagine most faculty or staff keep a jacket and tie or a suit or dress or some accessories behind their door.”

Regarding the formally attired professors, Asif Sakoor, a senior at John Jay, said “it’s usually the older professors who dress professionally depending on their department,” that stand out from the others which make them easier to pin point around campus. “But vice-versa, you can also confuse students that are dressed professional as professors,” Sakoor said. “Just like casual dressed professors can easily get confused with students,” Sakoor’s friend Nadine Persaud, a John Jay junior, added.

Tiffany Roca, a John Jay freshman, said, “I respect a casual dressed professor.” Roca has a Math professor who often wears sneakers to class. Although she appreciates when a professor dresses professional too, “a well-dressed professor is just as effective and easier to approach, but if professors want to play the part as authority, they must dress the part first.”

Some students don’t care.  Mirah Carter, a junior, is one of those students.

“As long as I’m being educated and you teaching me something valuable, how you dress is all good,” said Carter.

Students like Kendra Hall, a junior, want their professors to look the part. “Dress decent and appropriate if your title is professor, especially those that want to be referred to as Dr. so and so and such,” said Hall. “Not like you just ran out of some hole in the wall.”

Whatever the status quo may be, one has to be careful not to stereotype people based on their clothing. An exceptionally well dressed law professor, Esquire Laura Gilbert, suggests, “Appearance is just one characteristic to go about judging someone. But the fact is image matters.”

For Professor Donaldson, it’s personality that overlooks fashion in the academic world, and at the end of the day, “It’s the quality of teaching that really matters.”