INSIDEBEAT NOVEMBER 5, 2009 • VOL. 27, NO. 10
THE WEEKLY ENTERTAINMENT MAGAZINE OF THE DAILY TARGUM
HOLLYWOOD GENEALOGY Making it in showbusiness is tough, but for a few lucky families big screen success is in their DNA
November 5, 2009
Page 2 • Inside Beat
The Badder The Better BY ROSANNA VOLIS STAFF WRITER
The iconic image of James Dean in a leather jacket nonchalantly holding a cigarette had girls swooning over him then and now. So why is it that girls always fall for the bad guy? Maybe it’s the notion of being taken away on a motorcycle instead of a white horse and smoking cigarettes instead of sipping wine by candlelight. This is for the girls who don’t fall for the jocks of the world, the girls who would give
up their right arm for a real-live Danny Zuko. There’s a reason why rock stars always have groupies. I fully support the concept that rock ’n’ roll will save your soul. There’s just something about a well-played guitar, a gorgeous lead singer and the boom of the bass that makes you feel alive. The fact that it was once referred to as “the devil’s music” makes it all the more intriguing to figure out that scruffy man behind the microphone. We have all seen him: the guy that walks into a room with a dev-
ilish grin. He knows he’s confident and can have any girl he wants, but he chooses you. That in itself feels like an accomplishment. You walk down the street and people stare; little old ladies shake their head at his tattoos and piercings while you smirk to yourself. Dating a bad boy is a constant struggle of wondering whether he will use his charm on someone else and never being able to figure out what he is thinking, because a true rebel doesn’t show his emotions to anyone. We all want to be the girl that will change him, the one that
will make him settle down — which is easier said than done. Although we would all like to believe in the Hollywood idea that that every motorcycle-riding bad boy has a heart of gold deep down inside, this is hardly ever the case. So when you see that guy at the party with a gaggle of girls around him, watching intently as he entertains them with stories of his life on tour or showing off his tattoos — run. Most of these guys really are what their label depicts them as: bad. They love attention, and if you’re not willing to shower
them with it, they will gladly find someone who will. Do nice guys really finish last? I propose a compromise, one that will leave us rebel worshippers slightly less emotionally scarred: Uncle Jesse, post-twins. For those of you who weren’t one of the little girls who crushed on John Stamos’ Uncle Jesse in Full House, he was the cool and caring father who wore leather, was obsessed with Elvis and had his hair slicked back. Find an Uncle Jesse and you have found the holy grail of bad-boy-dom.
EDITORIAL BOARD M ARGARET D ARIAS EDITOR
TOM WRIGHT-PIERSANTI ASSOCIATE EDITOR
S TACY D OUEK ASSISTANT EDITOR N IDHI S ARAIYA BOOKS EDITOR
A DRIENNE V OGT COPY EDITOR
M ICHAEL M ALVASIO FASHION EDITOR
EMILY SCHACHTMAN FILM EDITOR
JASION STIVES MUSIC EDITOR TOM WRIGHT-PIERSANTI TV EDITOR THIS WEEK’S CONTRIBUTORS TO INSIDE BEAT : Ariba Alvi, Ciara Copell, Sukanya Dutta,Theo Jones, Amanda Litchkowski, Marc Mance, Peter Sperlazzo, Tara L. Young, Becca Zandstein. Cover photo courtesy of justjared.buzznet.com
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Books • Fashion • TV
November 5, 2009
BY BECCA ZANDSTEIN
COURTESY OF ABC
Modern Family ABC, Wednesday 9 p.m. A
55 Raritan Ave, Highland Park| A BY MICHAEL MALVASIO FASHION EDITOR
For a girl, finding the right nail salon means everything. How much will the manicure be? Does the manicurist hold your hand firmly enough during the manicure? Does the salon have the latest issue of Cosmo? The amount of questions seems endless and varies from girl to girl. So, to help lessen the confusion, we asked a typical girl from Rutgers to take a trip with us to the nail salon: Luxi, located in Highland Park. Using her as our subject, we observed and scrutinized every last detail as she received a basic manicure and pedicure. COLORS: While at the salon, we happened to run into a woman named Rebecca Novak, a former brand manager at Revlon in New York City. She gave us some interesting facts to consider when rating the color selections at a salon and said, “Look at the bottles and see if they are old and dried out … [dried out bottles] means they don’t replenish.” Luxi’s selection — both moist and bountiful — was obviously a replenished and up-todate collection. Offering more than 100 color choices, including about 35 choices for French manicures, the salon’s color wall ranges from light pink to dark black. The current colors are also stocked to include the perfect shades for the fall season, including dark gray, navy and purple. PRICING: This is probably the most important, and best, feature about Luxi salon: the pricing is very reasonable. The salon offers student discounts, including $5 off pedicures. With the discount, our subject was able to get a manicure and pedicure for only $30 — she was even offered a five-minute back massage during the drying cycle free of charge. Other base prices include: manicures for $10, French manicures for $15, eyebrow waxing for $8 and finally, Brazilians, which start at $50. The salon also has deals for children under 8 years old, called “Lil Angels,” with prices that range from $6 to $14.
SERVICE: Entering a nail salon for the first time can be slightly daunting, and that’s why quality service is important when considering customer comfort. Luxi was on point when it came to accommodating clients. From the lady who was helpful in guaranteeing our reservation (we requested the best manicurist) to the gentlemen that actually performed the manicure, the service could not have been better. At one point, the manicurist accidentally got a tiny smudge of nail polish on our subject’s skin. He then meticulously proceeded to take out a tiny, damp piece of cloth to remove the mistake. During the entire process, the manicurist took his time, stopping several times to see if she liked the shape, color and amount of coats. EXTRA TOUCHES: From the hardwood floors to the multiple flat screen TVs, the salon has just the right amount of extras without seeming ridiculous. Extra ingredients used in the water bowl for softening nails include limes, minerals and something that looks like olives which are meant to add nutrients to the soaking nails. Second, toward the end of the pedicure, warm stones are heated and rubbed along the calves and bottom of the feet, creating an interesting yet relaxing sensation. During the manicure, there were several pauses for hand massages in between filing. Finally, during drying, customers are treated to free magazines (yes, all are up to date) and candy, including those amazing strawberry candies that have the fruit-filled center (the same ones you get at Chinese restaurants; so good!). Besides manicures and pedicures, Luxi services include bodywork massages, facials, four types of spa treatments and — for those of you with feet issues — they even offer callas eliminator options. Considering all of these categories, our girl said she would definitely recommend Luxi as a salon. Located on Raritan Avenue in Highland Park, it’s in a great location for grabbing a bite to eat with friends afterward.
Modern Family is laugh-outloud funny and gives a great updated perspective of the constantly-evolving American family. It follows a father and his two kids, each of whom is in charge of their own unique family. Its mockumentar y style gives an inside look at the daily occurrences that happen within the confines of their lives. The patriarch of the family is Jay, played by Ed O’Neill. He is newly married to his second wife, who is half his age, and tries to keep his entire family together in a straightfor ward way, ver y reminiscent of his character Al Bundy from Married with Children. Jay’s wife, Gloria (Sofía Vergara, Madea Goes to Jail and Dir ty Sexy Money) has an accent that is as thick and smooth as honey, is a complete MILF, and will do anything to suppor t her son in his endeavors. Gloria’s son Manny is a 10year-old who dresses like a re-
Inside Beat • Page 3 tired accountant and speaks with his stepdad’s daughter as if he were her psychologist. His knowledge and vocabular y level place him above most of his older relatives despite the age dif ference. Jay’s daughter Claire, played by Julie Bowen (Boston Legal and Weeds), is a protective stayat-home mom who always has a freshly-baked item ready for the kids to devour. Her husband, Phil (Ty Burrell, The Incredible Hulk), is a dad who tries way too hard to fit in to the new hip generation of his oldest daughter but fails miserably. Phil is an awkward guy who shows his obvious attraction towards ever y drop dead gorgeous woman he encounters. Phil and Claire have three kids: Haley, the oldest girl, who only cares about image and boys; Alex, the middle child, who plays cello and lacrosse and is already thinking about college even though she is only a young teenager; and Luke, who is way too curious, experimental and has probably
hit his head way too many times for his own good. Jay’s son Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson, The Class) is married to Cameron (Eric Stonestreet, CSI) and they have just adopted a girl from Vietnam. Cameron is a flamboyant, outgoing guy who loves to eat, dance and photograph his daughter as gay musical icons. Mitchell is an uptight dad who is scared of doing anything wrong and is willing to go the distance just to have peace and love. Modern Family came out at just the right time. In this recession, we don’t need shows like Gossip Girl where teenagers sip Merlot at classy bars while wearing Diane Von Furstenberg. We need a sitcom that is serious yet comical and shows the importance of family, which is exactly what Modern Family manages to accomplish. This show is definitely a must-watch; the heavy accent paired with the ludicrous personable family dynamics make it quite hard to peel away from.
A look at NEW BOOKS in November BY NIDHI SARAIYA BOOKS EDITOR
November is destined to be an exciting month for readers, as many of the industry’s best are returning to bookstores with new literature. Barbara Kingsolver, John Grisham and Philip Roth started the month off strong with their Nov. 3 releases, The Lacuna, Ford Country and The Humbling. Stephen King’s latest novel, Under the Dome (Nov. 10), promises to be as engrossing as his previous 1,000-page epic, The Stand. But hiding behind the press of these famous authors are the stories of a former politician (no, not Sarah Palin), two famous men writing from the grave, and an award-winning short story writer that might just sneak up on us and become this month’s bestsellers. OUR CHOICE BY AL GORE – NOV. 3 It is surprising that this book has not received more attention. After the success of An Inconvenient Truth (the book, the documentary and the album) led to a Nobel Peace Prize, an Academic Award, and a Grammy Award, expectations are high for this environmental activism follow-up. Gore was never one to skirt around the issue. Although the American government often tries to disregard its role in combating global warming, in An Inconvenient Truth, Gore laid out the evidence to prove that this glacier-melting threat is one we cannot ignore. After giving us three years to discuss it, Gore has decided that it is time to act. Our Choice encourages readers to band together, bypass political reluctance, and use the best of our world’s green artillery to counter the climate crisis. PIRATE LATITUDES BY MICHAEL CRICHTON – NOV. 24 With Crichton’s sudden passing only a year ago, it is bittersweet to see his name gracing the cover of this posthumous novel. Pirate Latitudes takes us to Port Royal, Jamaica, a wealthy city infamous for privateering (government-sponsored piracy) by 16th century European rulers. Not much the plot has been revealed, but it appears that the story centers around characters involved in England and Spain’s political battle for control of Jamaica. The book is a departure from the science fiction, medical, and technology-based thrillers that Crichton is known for, but initial reviews for the book have been positive. In fact, if all goes well, we shall soon see Crichton’s name on the silver screen. DreamWorks Studios has already brought the film rights to Pirate Latitudes and Steven Spielberg and David Koepp, the duo that brought us the first two Jurassic Park movies, will be teaming up again to create the film adaptation. THE ORIGINAL OF LAURA BY VLADMIR NABOKOV – NOV. 17 Readers who pick up a copy of The Original of Laura can know one thing for certain: Nabokov never wanted anyone to read his last work. The Lolita author, who died in 1977, had left explicit instructions for his wife to destroy the note-cards that contained the rough draft of the story. But the note-cards were left intact and Nabokov’s son, Dmitri, ultimately decided to release this final and unfinished novel. It is hard to say whether Dmitri was right in defying his father’s final wishes (Nabokov was a perfectionist and supposedly tried to burn drafts of Lolita as well), but The Original of Laura will undoubtedly give us a glimpse into this Russian genius’ writing process and final thoughts. TOO MUCH HAPPINESS BY ALICE MUNRO – NOV. 17 Munro, who is this year’s Man Booker International Prize winner, reminds us why she is Canada’s premier short story writer with Too Much Happiness. The collection contains ten stories that take readers from Canada to Europe and deal with topics ranging from love, marriage and childhood. These subjects may sound like happy ones, but in Munro’s hands, they are anything but. She infuses a dark undercurrent of despair into all stories and creates a mood of nonchalance that is intoxicating. It is as if her characters watch their actions from an outsider’s perspective, talking about their lives exactly as they perceive them and without control over their destined paths. Readers cannot help but join her characters for the ride.
ANS WN WAY A H S D N IVORY A EENAN K , N O L MAR
SOFIA AND FRANCIS FORD COPPOLA
ALL IN THE
(HOLLYWOOD) BY EMILY SCHACHTMAN • FILM EDITOR JOEL AND ETHAN COEN
With the limited release of Joel and Ethan Coen’s A Serious Man in early October, audiences are once again reminded of famous and successful families in Hollywood. Francis Ford Coppola’s latest work, Tetro, came out earlier this summer, and his daughter Sofia’s Somewhere is slated to debut in 2010. The Scott brothers both have at least two films in the works for next year, including Robin Hood, an untitled Alien prequel (Ridley), and The Warriors and Unstoppable (Tony). Both Afflecks have moved from acting to directing in films. Jennifer Lynch, daughter of famously innovative director David Lynch, is releasing her film, Hisss, next year. Families are pervasive in Hollywood, and a continual point of interest for either their repeated collaborations together or lack thereof. Here’s a rundown of a few successful filmmaking families:
WILL AND JADEN SMITH
BROTHERS No sibling rivalry here! The brothers who stick together succeed together. Marlon, Shawn and Keenan Ivory Wayans are a great example, co-writing and directing 2000’s Scary Movie, which earned $42 million in its opening weekend. This movie spurred multiple sequels. Though they have done separate projects, like Marlon’s roles in Requiem for a Dream and G.I. Joe: Rise of the Cobra, or fourth brother Damon’s role in Major Payne, the brothers make a formidable comedy writing team. White Chicks and Little Man are other samplings from the three Wayans, and they’re planning on following up the White Chicks 2 in 2011. The Coen brothers are another prime example of filmmaking brothers who are practically inseparable. Their works include Arizona Rising, Fargo, The Big Lebowski, O Brother Where Art Thou?, No Country for Old Men, Burn After Reading, and the latest, A Serious Man; they have been working together as long as they’ve been making films. They have received four Academy Awards and roped in another 68 awards and 68 nominations. A newer addition to the sibling filmmaker club is the Affleck brothers. Ben made his feature film debut in 2007 with Gone Baby Gone, a detective story based in Boston, which Casey starred in. He’s following up with 2010’s The Town, about a bank heist. Though Casey hasn’t released a film yet, he is credited on IMDB as directing the Untitled Joaquin Phoenix Documentary (which will hopefully answer some of the questions that arose with Phoenix’s erratic behavior while promoting Two Lovers on Letterman last year). Of course, there are the brothers who don’t direct together, like the Scotts. Though they work together through Scott Free Productions, they have extremely dif ferent styles. Tony has made various wildly fun action films like Top Gun, True Romance, Man on Fire, Domino and The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3. Ridley seems to be drawn to more epic stories like those of Alien, Blade Runner, Gladiator, and American Gangster. Both have had flops and successes, and both seem eternally poised to move on to the next huge hit. DAUGHTERS It’s not just the sons who carry on the family business. One of the most well-known cases of successful daughters of famous directors is Sophia Coppola. After appearing in several of father Francis Ford’s movies (Godfather III, The Outsiders, Rumble Fish) and a blink-and-you’llmiss-it part in Star Wars: Episode I-The Phantom Menace, Coppola turned her attention to directing. She made a couple of shorts in the mid-’90s before earning respect for 1999’s The Virgin Suicides, and then won the Best Writing Oscar for 2003’s Lost in Translation. In 2006, she directed Marie Antoinette, another critically lauded film. Somewhere, her newest film about a “hard-living Hollywood actor” who “reexamines his life after his 11-year-old daughter surprises him with a visit” will be out next year. Jennifer Lynch is another Hollywood daughter. The girl whose birth is believed to be part of the inspiration for David Lynch’s Eraserhead has become a filmmaker in her own right. After making Boxing Helena in 1993, she took a long break from directing, but returned last year with the eerie Rashomonesque crime thriller, Surveillance. Hisss, the story of a venomous snake woman, is coming out later this year.
JERRY AND BEN STILLER
SONS Ben Stiller, son of actor Jerry Stiller (Seinfeld, King of Queens), has recently gotten in on the directing game as well. Debuting in 1994 with Reality Bites and then 1996’s The Cable Guy, Ben’s best known films are probably Zoolander (2001) and last year’s Tropic Thunder. The Trail of Chicago 7, about the 1968 Vietnam protests, is in pre-production, and he’s announced he will be directing Help Me Spread Goodness, a 2011 film about a “Chicago banker who gets swindled in a Nigerian Internet scam.” Though plenty of Hollywood fathers go the Will Smith route and feature their children looking cute in their films, not many do what Melvin Van Peebles did in 1971’s Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song, where he featured his son Mario Van Peebles as young lothario Sweetback. Melvin made Confessionsofa Ex-Doofus-Itchy Footed Mutha in 2008, “a semi-autobiographical stor y about an adventurer whose journeys take him from Harlem to the high seas and back again.” Mario, meanwhile, has been directing and acting throughout the ’90s, including directing an episode of Sons of Anarchy and Bring Your ‘A’ Game. ALL PHOTOS COURTESY OF GETTY IMAGES
Page 6 • Inside Beat
November 5, 2009
Heathers COURTESY OF ALLMOVIEPHOTO.COM
Kevin Greutert | D BY AMANDA LITCHKOWSKI STAFF WRITER
The sixth installment of the Saw series delivers nothing beyond what is expected. Saw, proving to be the horror film franchise of Generation Y, is the modern-day version of Halloween. Characterized by a seemingly infinite number of sequels, Saw is not even stopped by the on-screen death of its psychotic killer. The Jigsaw murderer, who died from cancer in Saw III, continues his torturous antics into Saw VI. John Kramer’s (Tobin Bell) legacy lives on as his next-in-line apprentice terrorizes his victims, all of whom do not suf ficiently appreciate their healthy lives. Mark Hof fman (Costas Mandylor, Beowulf), a detective assigned to the case in Saw III, has been designated to carr y out Kramer’s desires. A plethora of flashbacks throughout the film reveals the relationship between the murderer’s victims. Twists in the interweaving of characters happen to be the sole aspect of this movie that somewhat resembles a plot line. Otherwise, watching the film conjures up memories for horror gurus of Michael Myers rising
from the dead and continuing on his mission to kill, kill and kill some more. Advertised as the horror movie of the season (since it is continually released as close to Oct. 31 as possible), Saw VI lacks any fright factor. The bone-chilling, terrifying original Saw of 2004 has transformed into a stomach-turning cheap thrill in 2009. Thanks to the overused techniques of isolated characters, silenced music and the suspense of turning a corner and not knowing what you’re going to find, viewers can nonchalantly predict the few scary scenes of Saw VI. But slightly less predictable are Jigsaw’s new devices of torture. Audiences are shocked and sickened by traps that demand flesh harvesting, yet are disappointed to find even here a few repeated ideas. If anything, moviegoers flock to Saw for the same reason Final Destination recently released a fourth installment: to witness the creative ways in which people die. In this way, Saw VI is a mediocre attempt to satisfy its fragmented group of loyal viewers. Its typical fright tactics and overworked storyline leaves audiences more sick to their stomachs than scared out of their wits.
BY TARA L. YOUNG STAFF WRITER
When thinking of “classic” films, Michael Lehmann’s Heathers (1988) is not necessarily the first to spring to mind. The word “classic” can be defined in several ways: serving as a standard, model, or guide; of enduring interest; definitive. All of these apply to Heathers. Not only does the stor y still ring true after twenty years, it still ser ves as a model for teenage social hierarchy, especially within female cliques. Mean Girls owes a lot to Heathers. While in Mean Girls the protagonist only fantasizes about physical harm done to her bully, Heathers takes it a step further by showing what happens when fantasy becomes reality. The movie opens with the Heathers, the most popular group of girls in school, playing croquet in a backyard. Their nickname is obvious: their group consists of Heather Duke, Heather McNamara and queen bee Heather Chandler. The fourth in their group, Veronica Sawyer (Winona Ryder), is still being initiated. Veronica is pretty, popular, extremely intelligent and possesses only one flaw — a conscience, which Heather C. is attempting to assassinate on a daily basis. She achieves this by forbidding Veronica to speak to her former (read: unpopular) friends and by coercing Veronica to do things such as forging a love note from jock Kurt Kelly in order to humili-
ate the school’s overweight loner, Martha “Dumptruck” Dunnstock. Already discontent with her new social responsibilities, the tension builds when Veronica meets the school’s new student, bad boy J.D. (Christian Slater), whom Heather C. deems as socially unacceptable. On his first day, J.D. witnesses Veronica’s reluctance to assist humiliating Martha, and he immediately questions her and makes her feel guilty. J.D. then becomes the victim of lunchtime bullying from jocks Kurt and Ram. They only intend to intimidate J.D., but when his smart mouth riles them, he responds by pulling a gun on the pair. Although the tension breaks when viewers realize it is only loaded with blanks, the attitude of clique warfare sets the tone for the rest of the movie. This hostility leads Veronica to partner up with J.D. and fight back against her own social oppressors. Dark comedy does not justly describe Daniel Water’s acerbically witty script. Upon multiple viewings, the biting dialogue and themes still hold up, and it remains extremely quotable. Some stand-outs are: “What is your damage, Heather?” “Lick it up, baby. Lick. It. Up.” and “I love my dead gay son!” In the interest of not ruining the plot for those who have not seen Heathers, this vastly entertaining film will never tire out. It helped create a sub-genre of the teen flick by using intelligence and sarcasm, showing that teen angst can be entertaining for all. Here’s to an innovative classic.
BY THEO JONES STAFF WRITER
Ten years ago, The Blair Witch Project set a precedent that has never been equaled. The low-budget hand-held camera horror film created true suspense with seemingly “real” people and the supernatural beings that lure audiences into theaters every Halloween. Paranormal Activity not only reaches Blair Witch’s heights, it surpasses them. A young couple suspects a presence haunting them while they sleep, leading curious boyfriend Micah to buy a camera and document their nights. Most of the film’s scare tactics are built through sound and subtle movements while he and girlfriend Katie lay unaware in bed. What starts as a simple door movement unleashes a relentless assault on the senses, building up more and more to the finale. The fact that the movie is made with a simple HD camera shows how simple suspense, without gore or violence, can equal or outshine a “valid” horror movie. The current trend of the Saw and Hostel films, having the most dis-
gusting and gory thoughts imaginable put onto film, finally feels dated. Instead, first-time director and writer Oren Peli has tapped into an important resource in horror films: sound. If you’re sitting in a theater surrounded by a captive audience, there’s a dull hum and beating sound that occurs whenever the couple is sleeping at night. It builds anticipation in your mind — you can never really tell when the scare is going to occur. This beat slowly fills the theater and gets louder and louder, as if this demon haunting the couple is getting closer. With the right audience, simple things like a cover moving off Katie or a door closing make people scream and clutch their seats, and you’re equally gripped. Paranormal Activity is a theatrical experience that will never be replicated, though many horror films will try. It’s the only movie I’ve ever seen that is worth every penny spent at the theater. Don’t download it. Don’t wait for the DVD. If you don’t see Paranormal Activity in theaters, you’re missing out on the best horror experience of the decade.
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l a m r o n a r Pa Activity Oren Peli | A
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BY SUKANYA DUTTA STAFF WRITER
Precious is guaranteed to be a commercial success not only due to Oprah’s endorsement, but also for its compelling story. Precious Jones (Gabourey Sidibe) is a morbidly obese, nearly illiterate 16-year-old girl from Harlem who is still in the seventh grade. In case all of that wasn’t enough, she has been impregnated twice by her father. Her mother (Mo’Nique) eats, watches TV, sleeps all day and has no maternal instincts whatsoever—she beats Precious daily and berates her mercilessly. To escape her horrible reality, Precious daydreams of being a glamorous celebrity, highlighting society’s impact upon her self-esteem. Never does Precious fantasize about being a scholar — happiness is only superficial fame. School is less of a nightmare, but it is nonetheless a grueling ordeal. The principal, alarmed by Precious’ second pregnancy and inability to read, relocates her to a specialized school. You are right to expect a dedicated teacher at this school who changes her students’ lives. Yet Ms. Rain (played by gor-
geous Paula Patton) is not a cliché. She is standoffish, and her cold calmness contradicts the genuine hope she has for these girls. Precious admires her for being unlike her mother. Her social worker, Ms. Weiss, is another confidante and role model for Precious. Like Ms. Rain, Ms. Weiss (an unrecognizable Mariah Carey) does not indulge in self-pitying and is intolerant of Precious’ evasive lying about her home situation. Weiss does soften when Precious reveals the horrors of her upbringing, but Carey carefully avoids any melodramatics. The most memorable element of Precious is Mo’Nique. She worked with Daniels once before in Shadowboxer, and is probably best known for The Mo’Nique Show. She has also starred in the first all-black cast of The Vagina Monologues. As a seething, bitter mother, Mo’Nique demands the audience’s fearful attention. Yet it is hard to completely hate her — the saddest scene in Precious is when she tearfully explains to Weiss why she is so terrible to Precious. Mo’Nique will definitely sweep every Best Supporting Actress award for her nuanced rendition of the worst mother ever.
Precious Lee Daniels B+
There are feminist overtones in Precious. The heroes are working, independent women whom Precious strives to emulate. Precious is mostly a sweet and quiet girl, but twice punches other students who have provoked her. What is frustrating is that if Precious had shown this same fierceness at home, her life might be exponentially better. Maybe I had really low expectations or maybe it really was good, but I enjoyed Precious. Its director, Lee Daniels, deftly orchestrated something dif ferent from the usual Lifetime fare. Given Daniel’s résumé, this isn’t surprising; he produced the Academy Awardwinning film Monster’s Ball, along with films Shadowboxer and The Woodsman, which were also critically acclaimed. That Precious would be optimistic at the film’s end, with two small children and no secure home, is improbable. In defense of the movie’s accuracy though, Precious does not start reading Dostoevsky, though she does take some small steps. Precious is a haunting harbinger of what happens when someone is unloved for too long.
November 5, 2009
Inside Beat • Page 7
Film • TV • Music
COURTESY OF WEEZER.COM
Raditude | C+
BY JASON STIVES MUSIC EDITOR
With six previous albums under their belts, alt-rock par ty favorites Weezer have never tried to replicate the success of their 1995 debut, the aptly titled Blue Album. Instead they opt for substituting social pop culture commentar y with each new release that is never given enough shelf time before the group hastily begins to write about the next trends and fads for a new release. With that in mind, the band hasn’t given their highly experimental June 2008 release, The Red Album, time to sizzle on the char ts. Instead, they have released Raditude, an album of mainstream culture spliced up into 10 neatly packaged songs
for the iGeneration to inhale and forget immediately. L yrically, frontman Rivers Cuomo is tr ying to address his smarmy views on the current trend in music that the band shrugs off for their catchy, simple and — at times — repetitive song writing style. His deadpan desire to drink with the “playas” (“Can’t Stop Par tying”) and longing for the girl no one took to the prom (“The Girl Got Hot”) once again show Cuomo’s “keeping it simple” writing skills. But in the end, Weezer is doing what Weezer does best as a collective unit — producing catchy numbers with straightfor ward, relatable lyrics. The album’s lead single “(If You’re Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To” is the classic pop rock single Cuomo and company are known for, harkening back to the days of “Buddy Holly” and “Hash Pipe.”
Other album tracks like “Put Me Back Together” feel right at home on a Weezer album, but are more akin to acts like the All-American Rejects — ironic in the fact that the track was cowritten by AAR frontman Tyson Ritter. A marginal and flat-out cleverly written stand out is dr ummer Patrick Wilson’s penned pop culture Nir vana track “In the Mall,” showing the versatile nature of the band’s other impor tant and longstanding members. With this highly catchy yet ef for tless record, no real progression is made in camp Weezer, except for the band’s status as a pop culture filter and a musical landmark in late 20th centur y/early 21st centur y music. In the end, Raditude falls into the usual Weezer critique: No new album is bad, but no new album will be like the Blue Album or Pinker ton.
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This Is It Kenny Ortega | B+
BY CIARA COPELL STAFF WRITER
This Is It is an excellent tribute to the late “King of Pop,” Michael Jackson. Directed by Kenny Ortega (High School Musical), the documentar y shows Jackson in his final few months rehearsing for his sold-out concerts in London. The footage contains interviews with dancers, musicians and other crew members. Jackson was set to per form fan favorites such as “Thriller,” “Billie Jean,” “Beat It” and “Man in the Mirror,” among other hits. This Is It does an excellent job of showing what a spectacular concer t this would have been. His per formance was going to take the best elements
of all his most popular songs and music videos. The film includes graphics, such as new videos for “Smooth Criminal” and “Thriller,” which add to the ef fect that the concer t would certainly have had. All of Jackson’s signature dance moves are included here. The man was still an untouchable dancer, even weeks before his death. The film also incorporates different aspects of the planning process, including auditions that Jackson attended. It is interesting to see all the behind-the-scenes work that goes into creating a concert. This Is It shows the hands-on role Jackson played in this work by taking the lead in ever y aspect, directing the singers, dancers and musicians.
The movie’s editing is also excellent, bringing the concert to life with only rehearsal footage. Along with new effects, editors managed to insert backgrounds and performance elements that were otherwise missing. The inter views show the excitement of everyone involved in the tour. Each person interviewed tells of their love for Jackson and expresses their high expectations for the show. This Is It gives an inside look to the myster y behind Michael Jackson. It shows the legend in his final days, working hard to put on a perfect show. Though the world will never be able to see the final product, one thing is for sure — we missed out on an amazing exhibition.
COURTESY OF USA NETWORKS
USA, Friday 10 p.m. | A BY ARIBA ALVI STAFF WRITER
Forget Prison Break — Neal Caffrey, of the new USA Network show White Collar, proves that breaking out of prison is easier than Michael Scofield made it seem. With the lineage of To Catch a Thief and brilliant actors with an easy repertoire, this show is bound to do well. It’s witty, fresh, and Matt Bomer (Caffrey) is more than easy on the eyes. There are plenty of shows about the feds, but none of them have really shown the good and the bad working together — save for Dexter (in its own twisted manner). The premise of the show is that con artist Caffrey and FBI agent Peter Burke team up after playing cat and mouse for years. Four years into his sentence in a maximum-security prison, Caffrey escapes three months before his release to reunite with the love of his life before she leaves him. Caught by the one man who can nab him, Caffrey strikes a deal with Burke, offering to help
him capture another elusive con man in return for eventual amnesty. Outfitted with an ankle bracelet, he uses his wit and charm to get a room at a posh residence, and utilizes his contacts to help catch the thief. Caffrey is one of the smartest, wittiest and hottest con artists you’ll ever see. He not only knows the difference between a Goya and a forgery painting, but he also knows the difference between Dior and Marc Jacobs. Burke is the typical job-obsessed genius FBI agent, aloof to the simple things like figuring out what his wife wants for their anniversary. But he does show that some FBI agents are first-class, while a few of their Harvard-grad counterparts can be outsmarted by everyday con artists. The easygoing chemistry between White Collar’s stars, Bomer and Tim DeKay, adds to the overall dynamics of the show. With only the pilot under their belt to date, White Collar has a lot of promise and looks to be a classic.
Page 8 • Inside Beat
November 5, 2009
COURTESY OF SAYANYTHINGMUSIC.COM
Say Anything | A+ BY MARC MANCE COURTESY OF VICTORY RECORDS
Between the Buried and Me The Great Misdirect | A
BY PETER SPERLAZZO STAFF WRITER
Metalcore is a style of music that has often been plagued with generic-sounding bands and a lack of creativity. In a genre that has long suffered from too much conformity, Between the Buried and Me is a breath of fresh air. Their latest album, The Great Misdirect, is a perfect example of the band’s ever-changing style and constant innovation. The Great Misdirect is an abnormal album, even for fans of Between
the Buried and Me’s previous work. The album is highly progressive — some songs last more than 10 minutes and feature some of the band’s most intricate songwriting yet. The songs are all very different from each other and are constantly going in new directions that will keep the listener guessing. The track “Fossil Genera - A Feed from Cloud Mountain” starts off with a jazzy piano line and clean vocals that sound as if they would be more fitting in a Ben Folds song rather than one written by a progressive metalcore band. However, another track, “Obfuscation,” begins with an exciting and fast-paced riff that seems more reminiscent of the band’s older material. The variety of different styles that
can be found in The Great Misdirect is astounding, and attempting to integrate all them together in one album is an incredibly ambitious move. Thankfully, this move works. The Great Misdirect is an album that moves seamlessly from frantic metal to slow-paced ballads. New listeners to Between the Buried and Me might find the album slightly intimidating and less accessible than their older material, but The Great Misdirect is definitely worth the effort. Its hardcore, ambitious and refined sound makes this one of Between the Buried and Me’s best albums to date and one of the best albums in the entire genre.
Even after pumping out two discs worth of music for their 2007 release, In Defense of the Genre, Say Anything’s brainchild Max Bemis still has some fresh and ingenious ideas for the band’s new self-titled release. This album is Bemis’ most innovative, experimental and lyrically scatterbrained work to date. Not only that, but he knows what the fans want to hear, and Say Anything lives up to their fans’ high expectations. Whereas In Defense was meant to be listened to as a whole concept rather than each track individually, this album is the opposite. It churns out 13 refreshingly unique tracks, each standing out from the others. Bemis experiments with some different musical elements, like a piano outro, strings, horns and ’50s style intros.
The experimenting pays off surprisingly well and meshes well with Bemis’ singing. The real highlight of the band’s work on the album is the lyrics. The whole album has a love focus, but in Bemis’ own sick way. In “Crush’d” he sings, “You’re no witch, you’re no wench / you’re like Bjork with better fashion sense.” The hook to this song is as simple as “I have a total crush on you baby,” but he somehow made it so catchy and genuine. “Less Cute” screams jealousy in lines like “He’s like a less cute version of you / but he’ll have to do,” and would give any song from their highly acclaimed ...Is A Real Boy a run for its money. In “Cemetery” Bemis asks, “Can I lie with you in your grave?” leaving a haunting impression on the listener. Every song on this album has a special flair to it, both musically and lyrically. Bemis’ creative output this time around is his best ever, and it will please the oldest fan as well as anyone first discovering his insanity.