"News is the first rough draft of history."

The Voice of the College at Florham

"News is the first rough draft of history." - The Voice of the College at Florham

Review: Blomkamp’s ‘Chappie’ is flawed, but still enjoyable

Entertainment Editor

Neill Blomkamp is one of the more interesting sci-fi directors out there.

Beginning in 2009 with his breakout debut feature, “District 9,” the South African director has become a unique voice among science fiction directors. His films have action, but are usually accompanied by some kind of deeper social meaning. “District 9” was about apartheid with aliens while “Elysium” was about the 99% versus the 1%.

This brings us to Blomkamp’s third feature as a director, “Chappie.” Continue reading

Review: ‘Kingsman’ an absolute blast from start to finish

Entertainment Editor

What do you get when you mix the director of films such as “Kick Ass,” “Layer Cake” and “X-Men: First Class” with the spy action movie genre?
A pretty entertaining film, as it turns out.

“Kingsman: The Secret Service,” based off of the comic book entitled “The Secret Service” by Mark Millar, focuses on young Eggsy (newcomer Taron Edgerton), a delinquent who, after getting into trouble with the law as well as his abusive stepfather, contacts the mysterious Harry Hart (Colin Firth). Continue reading

Review: Cumberbatch a good ‘Imitation’ of Alan Turing

Entertainment Editor

It never ceases to amaze me how good some people are with numbers. I was never great at math or numbers in general (I am a communication studies major after all), so I am always surprised when people use numbers to great effect and are able to solve complicated problems after some time or with relative ease.

Pair the story of one of the greatest mathematicians in the world with a potential Oscar-winning cast and story, and you have a great idea on your hands.

“The Imitation Game” focuses on the life of brilliant mathematician Alan Turing, played by Benedict Cumberbatch. In the midst of World War II, he attempted and (considering this is a true story, this is not a spoiler), eventually succeeded in decrypting and breaking the Nazi Enigma Machine. The machine carried out secret messages from the Nazis that contained military secrets. Continue reading

Review: Formula One movie 'Rush' lands cast and crew in winner's circle

Jon Scott
Film Critic

It’s that time of the year again. The summer movie season of 2013 has officially been put to rest and now it’s time for the more serious, Oscar-potential fall films to take the spotlight. We’ve already seen some of those potentials pass by (such as the recent "Prisoners"). But now it’s Ron Howard’s turn. Howard returns to the big screen with his latest film, "Rush."

The film chronicles the intense rivalry between Formula One racing drivers James Hunt (played by the God of Thunder himself, Chris Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl) that took place in the 1976 racing season. During one of the races, Lauda gets into a horrible accident that leaving his face severely burned. However, six weeks after the accident, Lauda gets back into the driver’s seat and continues to pursue Hunt for the championship. The film shows how intense the rivalry was between the two and how each had entirely different, clashing personalities. While Hunt is a loud, obnoxious, partying driver who believes every day could be your last so you might as well live it up to its fullest, Lauda is the exact opposite. He’s cold, calculating and always strategizing how he will drive the next race. He sees everything as math which he believes makes you the better driver. The film showcases their rivalry as well as their lives off the track.
Continue reading

Review: ‘The Bridge’ surprises with complex characters, stories

News Editor

This July, the channel that produced shows such as “Sons of Anarchy” and “American Horror Story” released its new drama, “The Bridge.” Although the main plot is about law enforcement trying to catch a serial killer, it is not your usual procedural cop show.

For starters it puts two different countries’ police departments together to collaborate on a case involving a body that was placed directly on the border of the bridge separating the U.S. and Mexico.

The show stars Diane Kruger. She plays an unusual, by-the-book detective named Sonya Cross, who has a difficult time relating to others. She normally works alone, as a result of her personality that many of her El Paso PD co-workers find off-putting. It is only her patient and understanding lieutenant who defends her and gives her advice. It is when the body is found that Cross encounters a Mexican detective by the name of Marco Ruiz. Unlike Cross, he is a likeable, married man who shows compassion when dealing with others. This is exemplified right from the start when he allows a woman and her sick husband to cross over the bridge to get to a hospital on the American side. Cross herself had stubbornly told them they couldn’t, as it could disturb the crime scene.
Continue reading

Review: Wecker brings ‘Old New York’ to life with first book

Student Voice Editor

Helene Wecker’s debut novel “The Golem and the Jinni,” takes readers back to a period in New York’s history when “whole nations are packed into the space of a few blocks,” with a supernatural twist.

The novel takes place in the fading gaslight world of nineteenth century New York, a period when thousands upon thousands people poured into cities of cramped tenements and sweatshops, all looking to secure the promise that was America. The setting proves to be the backdrop of a sweeping story revolving around the arrival of two supernatural creatures, themselves strangers in a strange land where even for them nothing is what it seems.

The Golem, Chava, which means life in Hebrew, arrives in New York from Danzig after being created by the mystical and devious Yehudah Schaalman by the dark Kabbalistic arts.
Continue reading

Review: Latest ‘Riddick’ film returns to franchise’s roots

Film Critic

The man with the glow in the dark eyes is back. Vin Diesel once again returns to the role of Richard B. Riddick in the latest installment of the Riddick franchise. It is simply titled “Riddick” (I suppose “The Chronicles of Riddick 2: Furyan Boogaloo” was a tad too long).

This time, we find Riddick stranded on a deserted planet, after having been betrayed by the Necromongers from the last movie. While trying to survive, two groups of mercenaries, both extremely different from each other, land on the planet after Riddick sends out a distress call hoping to hitch a ride off of the planet. Both groups are on the hunt for Riddick, with the bounty on his head doubling should he happen to die. Soon, though, they come to discover that there is something far worse out there. Now, both Riddick and the groups of “mercs” must fight to find a way to survive and get off the planet.

I happen to be a fan of the Riddick franchise. “Pitch Black,” the first film in the series, was an extremely well done science fiction film and it looked very impressive, especially considering it was only made on a budget of $23 million. This film was tense, creepy, and atmospheric. Also, Diesel was charismatic and enjoyable to watch as the main character.

The next film, “The Chronicles of Riddick,” was a complete 180 from the last film. While the first movie was a confined, creepy science fiction horror film, “Chronicles” was a grand, sci-fi action adventure with a much bigger scope. Personally, I did not mind “Chronicles of Riddick.”

I thought it was a fun ride and I liked the fact that they expanded on the first movie and actually made what they established into a universe, introducing more planets and races.

That being said, I will admit there are some flaws with the movie, particularly with some of the quick editing (sometimes you could not see what was going on) and that some parts did drag on for a bit too long.

This latest installment appears to be a return to the original roots of the franchise, especially from the trailers, which gave a very “Pitch Black” like feel. So did this latest film do just that? Did it return the franchise to its roots?

For the most part, I felt like it did. I had a fun time with this movie and was very entertained by it. However, there are some issues with the film itself.

Diesel once again completely nails it as Riddick. He brings the character back to basics this time around, making him more of a survivalist. In fact, the first part of the movie, which shows Riddick just trying to survive on the planet after being injured, was the best part of the entire movie. To have these kinds of survival skills, he could survive anywhere. Diesel was the best actor in this whole movie. This is his baby, as he’s been a part of this franchise since 2000 so he knows the character and what makes him tick. The rest of the supporting cast was fine as well. The other standout was Katee Sackhoff as one of the mercenaries. She was a blast to watch. Basically, she took no names, rather, she took down anyone in her way.

Another thing I enjoyed was the story and how they expanded the world even further than last time. I was surprised just how much this film’s story tied into the stories of the last two films, especially with the first one.

However, some may be confused with what’s going on and the references that are made. If you want to see this movie and you have not seen the other two, don’t go yet. It would be much wiser to see the first two Riddick films before going to see this one. Another thing that impressed me was the set design of the film, especially the planet.

It looked like really cool concept art that was fully realized on screen and it was extremely impressive.

The film was also suspenseful and tense at some times. I did appreciate the mood that the film set. It was extremely reminiscent of “Pitch Black.” Director David Twohy, once again returning to the franchise, does a nice job directing some of the more tense moments. However, there were problems with this movie.

I will admit that, at times, the CGI looks a little bit too fake. It’s actually quite noticeable in parts.

Also, part of the film was a bit cheesy. This was seen in the beginning when Riddick gets a companion, which is a dog-like creature. Giving Riddick a companion felt too ... out of place for his character. It didn’t feel right at all.

Overall, “Riddick” was an enjoyable addition to the Riddick franchise. It was a nice, fun, return to its roots with Vin Diesel stealing the show once more though there are some admittable problems. Diesel and the director have said there are plans for two more films and I do hope they get made. I would like to see where the character goes next.

Grade: B

Review: ‘Gypsy’ musical makes anticipated opening

News Editor

Friday’s performance of the musical “Gypsy” showed the talent and professionalism of Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Visual and Performing Arts Department.

It is said to be one of the most quintessential and beloved musicals of the 20th century and is the ultimate story of the aggressive stage mother, Mama Rose (Carole Healey), and her quest to get her daughters into show business, something she wishes she had done when she was younger.

Rose, Baby June (Zoe Considine) and Young Louise (Montana Byrne) travel throughout the United States in the 1920s when vaudeville is dying and burlesque is booming.
For this production, directors Stephen Hollis and Allen Cohen decided to bring in children from the community, as well as a professional actress to assist in the enhancement of the musical.

Mama Rose is such a major part of the show and so demanding, the two thought it would be “unfair and unrealistic to expect a student to carry off the emotional and technical skills the role requires,” according to the playbill.

Healey has acted and directed in many major regional theaters throughout the United States, including The Oregon Shakespeare Company, Missouri Repertory Company and Two Rivers Theater Company.

She has also been on television shows like “Law and Order” and “Guiding Light.”

Healey made Mama Rose a loathed character, which was the point. There were many times where I wanted to go on the stage and yell at her; this is how you know she did her job well.

Arguably, Healey is not the only actress with impressive credits to her name. Considine could be considered a professional actress as well. Most recently, she was on Nickelodeon’s Kids Promo Awards with Will Smith and Cameron Diaz and “Saturday Night Live,” where she played HPV girl with Kristen Wiig.

Byrne has sung alongside Elmo, Rosita and Baby Bear on “Sesame Street” and with talented recording artists like Kenny Rogers.
The musical went off without a hitch, initially.

Yet no more than ten minutes into the show, the adorable Baby June ran off the stage during her song. The others in the scene with her kept going, making the audience think that it was part of the show.

Yet everyone quickly learned that she fell ill.

Luckily, it was at the point of the show where Baby June was no longer a baby anymore so June (Julie Dwoskin) was able to take over the role.
Friday’s performance included some beautiful songs and great acting.

A favorite of mine was “If Mama was Married,” which showcased Louise (Megan Barrios) and June’s voices perfectly. The harmonies in that song were enough to leave me with chills.

“Everything’s Coming Up Roses,” a song that many people have probably heard before, was another hit. Healey sang the song with intense passion.

Furthermore, some of the most memorable acting came from Mama Rose’s love interest, Herbie (Reuben Natan), and quick-witted secretary, Miss Cratchitt (Ashley La Selva), whose simple walk to answer the telephone got audiences laughing every time.

Overall, the play was entertaining. If you have not yet seen “Gypsy,” there are still some performances left: April 13 and 14 at 8 p.m. and April 15 at 2:30 p.m.

Review: Drew University's 'Vagina Monologues'

News Editor

It starts with a “c” and rhymes with “bunt.” Don’t worry, you don’t have to say it out loud.

But, if you were at the Drew University Center on Sunday night at around 8 p.m. chances are that you would have not been the only one screaming this at the top of your lungs.

Sunday was the final night of the two-day performance of the renowned “Vagina Monologues.” You either are extremely familiar with this play, or might be thinking to yourself, “What the heck?”

Either way, just know that it was all in celebration of the vagina in honor of the last week of Women’s History Month.

“The Vagina Monologues” is an award-winning play written and first performed by Eve Ensler in 1996. The production has since been performed by both high school and college students, as well as professional actors in theater and television.

Ensler also began V-Day in 1998, a global movement that has raised more than $70 million in an effort to end violence against women and girls through benefit productions of the play.

The monologues are updated every year with the addition of a monologue tackling a current issue affecting women around the globe.

The 2011 addition to “The Vagina Monologues” focused on the women of Haiti that were affected by the 2010 earthquake.

The two-hour event, run by Drew University students, was held in a room half the size of the Dreyfuss Theater. Despite its size, almost all of the approximately 140 seats were filled with either FDU or Drew students, professors, friends or relatives. And, yes, there were even men in the audience.

The white walls were decorated with pink, red and purple construction paper cut outs, each with a different word or phrase written across it that served as slang term replacements for “vagina.”

The stage, which was of adequate size for the eight performers - Alex Brown, Emily Miller, Rachel Schachter, Miranda Poett, Taylor Poruks, Edith Braggiotti-Painting, Lenora Jackson and Kate Thomas - was canvassed with a large, handprint-filled banner that read “These Hands Will Never Hurt Women.”

The play is divided by separate monologues.

Each is based on a true story that Ensler was told by women she interviewed throughout the country, and even the world.

Some of the monologues were humorous, asking questions like: “If your vagina wore clothes, what would it wear?” or “If your vagina could talk, what would it say in two words?” The answers varied from, “A hat!” to “Where’s Bob?”

There were monologues that were much more somber dealing with issues like the cruelties of female genital mutilation or how rape in some countries is used a systematic tactic of war.

Each monologue either left the crowd catching their breath in between bursts of laughter or holding it in due to the shock of the realities that some girls as young as 15 years old had to face. Other monologues simply left the audience with no other option but to applaud vigorously.

The monologue, “Teenage Girl’s Guide to Surviving Sexual Slavery,” had the audience hushed in silence and disbelief.

“Rule number one. Get over that ‘girl thing’ that ‘this could never happen to me,’” began Poett, who later finished with the last rule: “Rule number eight. No one can take anything from you, if you do not give it to them.” The crowd then roared with applause as she walked off the stage.

At the remainder of the event, director Valerie Dohrer, stage manager Chelsea Hunt and the cast welcomed questions from the audience.

Some spectators were alarmed when they were told that each monologue was based on a true story, with the exception of two monologues written by Drew University students.

Others were fascinated to find out that the event had been planned since November, but casting, auditions and rehearsals were only done in the past two weeks.

The trip from FDU to Drew was organized by Professor Sarah Crabtree of the history department, as well as resident assistants from the College at Florham.

The performance was produced by the Drew University Feminist Union. All proceeds from the show went towards bettering the situation of women in Haiti.

Review: Antlers album makes you 'burst apart'

Staff Writer

Chances are that in your 20-something years of experience (and by no means am I alienating the youngsters), you have felt heartbreak.

The little fingers of it grab at your heart and make it hard for you to breathe. These fingers could be rooted in the passing of a relative, of a pet, a friend; a less than amicable break-up. You’re human. You’ve felt pain.

In this way, you already know about The Antlers before listening to them. Frontman Peter Silberman’s songwriting and high-pitched vocals, Darby Cicci’s funereal keyboards, and Michael Lerner’s heart-beating drums turn your mourning into the weeping sounds of electrical waves and guitar riffs.

The Antlers’ 2009 break-out album “Hospice” occupied itself with reeling out your pain and helping you overcome it, its final message: learn to live with the ghosts that haunt you, and you will overcome them.

The critics proclaimed “Hospice” as “heartbreaking”— a description the Antlers have been trying to shy away from over the years.

After all, no one wants to be typecast as a funeral director.

Two years after “Hospice” was released, I had the pleasure of watching The Antlers perform their new album, “Burst Apart,” live at the SXSW Music Festival, courtesy of NPR’s First Listen series. The performance lasted about an hour.

Another hour passed as I sat in my office (a.k.a, a makeshift desk in the laundry room) and I sat there unable to continue living my life. I was ready to burst apart in my chair.

The title of the Antlers’ fourth album is perfect.

A band that was more likely to be heard at a wake (not literally) is now more prone to dance halls.

Their new wave of sound is led by songs such as “French Exit,” “Parentheses” and “Every Night My Teeth Are Falling Out,” to which you are more likely to bounce in joy than employ the assistance of a Kleenex.

Silberman’s harmonies are so light-hearted and Cicci’s keyboards complement them perfectly.

But let me make this clear: “Burst Apart” is not the Antlers’ would-be pop album.

Silberman’s songwriting still embraces its trademark moments of reflection. Songs like “No Widows” and the closer “Putting the Dog to Sleep” embody that sense of loss and hope that has earned this band so much love from fans and critics alike.

The peak of the album’s aforementioned sound wave is “Rolled Together,” which employs less of Silberman’s beautiful story-tale lyrics and tons of his harmonic shrieking. It bears a resemblance to famous Pink Floyd songs such as “The Great Gig in the Sky.”

This is the point where you’re taken by the music, and don’t land for a couple of hours. The sound reverberating in the room makes you feel like you’re dispersing into particles.

Silberman’s musical genius may have found a way to help us transcend our physical form.

Take Uncle Johnny’s advice: visit NPR’s First Listen series online and listen to the Antlers’ SXSW performance. You have nothing to lose but your mind for a few seconds (seek medical assistance if longer than four hours).

“Burst Apart” hits stores on May 10.