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The reviews are in!



Students in Digital Newsroom at Delaware Technical Community College were assigned to choose a performance/film/event and write a review with accompanying video. Students could pick either a classic or current event. Political opinion pieces or any other editorial that does not fall into the entertainment category were not permitted. Below is a selection of the students submitted work. Reviews have not been edited.

 

‘Somewhere in Time’

By Melissa Berduo

Where a man’s love is so strong, he is willing to travel back in time to meet her.


“Somewhere in Time” is a romantic fantasy movie about Richard Collier (Christopher Reeve) who becomes obsessed with a picture of late actress Elise Mckenna (Jane Seymour) at the Grand hotel in 1980. He uses self-hypnosis by repeating to himself he is in the year 1912 and dressing like he is from there. He ends up traveling back to the year 1912 to meet and fall in love with Elise.


He is encountered by Elise’s manager William Fawcett Robinson (Christopher Plummer) who tries to put a stop on Richard. In the end, Richard travels back through present time by accident and is heartbroken over Elise that he dies. They both reunite in the afterlife.

This movie brought romance to a new level as Richard tries the impossible for love, time travel. He researched about Elise, about the year 1912, and how to physically travel back through time.


It makes viewers wonder if real love can compare to Richard’s love for this woman. He desperately did everything to meet her and stay by her side. He was willing to give up his future for her.


The soundtrack to “Somewhere in Time” by John Barry is a melody. It helps bring the movie all together, with its instrumental sounds. It helps signify when romance comes onto the screen. Such as the song title “Somewhere in Time” plays when Elise reunites with Richard after his disappearance. Again, it’s played when they reunite in the afterlife, as Elise has been waiting an eternity for Richard.


Every time that song played, I cried. It was emotional and beautiful. The whole movie was emotional. Being ripped apart from the love of his life, Richard had nothing else to live for. It was heartbreaking to watch. As the end credits rolled, I sat there crying, tears streaming down, not knowing what to think, it was all sad.


Love always wins. No matter what, Richard and Elise found each other. Even during the impossible, they still loved each other. Even on the cover of the movie it said ,“Someday in the past he will find her…”which demonstrates that somehow they were bound to fall in love.

Also, the movie shows Elise Mckenna through a soft light, as she was viewed as perfect and beautiful. The whole scenery was shown in a bright, soft light when around her. Even down to the props and the set-up, everything looked as if it was the year 1912. The makeup and outfits all represented that year, except for Richard’s who was conned of getting a suit that was from an earlier time period. The movie was really successful in illustrating that time period.


Overall, everything circles back and connects to each other that really helps the viewers understand the story a bit better. From the beginning we meet Elise Mckenna as an older woman. She gives Richard a pocket watch and tells him “Come back to me”. This helps symbolize that she will be an important character later on in the movie and that by then Richard will know who she is. That same pocket watch demonstrates their time together.


“Somewhere in Time” really demonstrates true love, the fantasy of time travel, and a heartbroken romance.

 

‘Spirited Away’

By Quintin Duckery

This widely popular film by Hayao Miyazaki and Ghibli Studios is a coming of age story for children and adults alike, that explores the curiosity, wonder, and even fear of entering a new world of possibilities


“Spirited Away” is about a young girl named Chihiro and her family who are moving away from their hometown for her fathers work. On the drive to their new home they find themselves lost and come across an odd tunnel, curiosity lures the family to the other side and the parents find an abandoned meal stand filled with fresh made food. As the parents indulge themselves, Chihiro looks in horror as they begin to transform into pigs and shadowy creatures appear to form around her. Not knowing what to do she runs back to find the tunnel only to see that the way is across a wide and deep lake. She remains by the water side huddled in fear and desperation until she is approached by a young boy named Haku, who helps her back to her feet and ushers her into a world of spirits, and witches. As he brings her to safety he leaves her with a warning, if she ever hopes to survive and save her parents, she must find work in the bathhouse of the sorceress Yubaba.


The movie displays a fantastical allegory for the fears and anxieties of a young girl having to uproot the previous life she had without much choice in the matter. Traveling new strange streets and markets they’ve never seen, coming across shadowy unrecognizable figures, and having to serve under mysterious imposing entities, all represent the extremely exaggerated fears a young child might face when having to walk through their new town and into a new school where they feel isolated and must even do work under a authority figure they know nothing about.


Haku represents the familiar in this new land, the things she does know or recognize but can’t quite place her finger on, like an old friend, or the memories of a long forgotten family trip. Although this familiarity isn’t enough to dissuade all of her fears, it leads her down the path of discovery. As she is in search of work she is helped along by a number of figures who initially come off as monstrous or disturbing, such as the six-armed man Kamaji who despite his off-putting appearance opens the door for Chihiro to receive a job at the bathhouse, cleaning and drawing hot water for the guests.


As her perspective shifts from one of an outsider, she begins to stop fearing the new and strange characters. She makes friends with multiple strange creatures including a tree spirit that had been submerged in mud and dirt, who gives her the medicine after she has helped clean them of the sludge that appeared to me trapping it.


As time passes Chihiro begins to realize that working and surviving is not enough if she wants to return to safety with her parents and Chihiro realizes that she must confront Yubaba. With the help of Haku she is able to convince the sorceress to allow her and her family to escape with their lives and human forms intact. Bringing a conclusion to the story, as Chihiro moves past the fears she once had of this new land.


The story shows that the fear of new surroundings is not insurmountable, as each of the creatures may appear scary or imposing at first but ultimately boil down to being just people with their own interests and wants, just as capable of friendship and understanding as anyone else.


 

‘The Stuff’

By Tristan G.

Imagine if you will, a world in which corporations are king, and brand names force the public to endlessly consume, even if it kills them. Enter the world of “The Stuff,” an obscure 1985 horror comedy by Larry Cohen. This film takes a new and inventive approach to the genre, placing the antagonist in every grocery store in America, the antagonist being “The Stuff.” It’s a brand new dessert product sweeping the nation; delicious, addictive, low in calories, but with a dark secret.


We follow industrial saboteur David “Mo” Rutherford, as he’s paid handsomely by a group of morally dubious businessmen to discover the secret to The Stuff, so they can rebrand its success. However, he quickly discovers a number of disappearances related to the product, and ultimately finds the film’s horror twist.


The Stuff is alive, growing inside the public and controlling the masses, until ultimately it kills its host. The film then becomes a race against time to assemble a team who can warn America and stop it, before everyone becomes its victim.


This film has a lot to say about consumer culture, particularly in the 80’s, a time oversaturated with brand awareness. The film tackles the subject in some less than subtle ways, cynically plastering commercials of The Stuff with scantily clad women, bright colors, and catchy jingles on every channel in their world. Nearly every business man is portrayed as corrupt, or willing to go to dangerous extremes for their goals. Even as people become aware of the danger The Stuff poses, businesses would rather sell and those addicted would rather consume.


These themes are well woven into the fabric of the film’s writing, with even our heroes often being extremely morally questionable and full-blown parody at times. This ambiguity and a colorful cast of characters makes the film come alive, crafting an intelligently written and well fleshed out world, with some incredibly likable and memorable moments.


What we see on screen isn’t a traditional hero vs. villain narrative, instead the horror killer genre is twisted into a parodic conspiracy thriller, where each twist and turn is sillier than the last, but expertly raises the stakes.


Now it’s worth noting that this being a film in the 80’s not all of the effects have aged incredibly well, in fact some green screen moments are particularly noticeable. However, the practical effects still look wonderful, with some genuinely shocking moments. The film succeeds at making The Stuff truly feel alive.


In terms of visual aesthetic too, everything perfectly encapsulates the time in which it was made, particularly the commercials, which feel so much like a real commercial one could see on any television at the time. Visually the spirit and essence of the film is effectively translated.


Overall, The Stuff is an ambitious film, one which wants to be smart, witty, scary, and memorable. While not all the time, largely it succeeds. It is by no means a perfect film, it is extremely schlocky, but that is a built-in feature that adds to its charm. It’s a very enjoyable casual watch with popcorn and a soda, especially for those searching for a good nostalgic horror experience.


However, when you scratch that casual surface, you find a film with a cynical tongue in cheek narrative, that’s frustrated with the way the world works, but hopeful that society can set things right by working together. That message, and its universality, is what makes the film hold up so well, unlike countless horror flicks lost to time. The Stuff is not for everyone, but if you’re just looking for a fun evening and some heavy-handed commentary, this might be the film for you.

 

The Wonder Years

By Kylie King

The Wonder Years, a pop-punk band, broke the barrier for punk music with their 2015 album, “No Closer to Heaven”. Guilt, loss, and understanding come together to build a harrowing concept album of this generation.


“No Closer to Heaven” is an album made for those who can relate to the feeling of guilt after a loved one’s death, as well as the trials of making up for their mistakes by owning up to what they have done.


Dan Campall, lead singer, contemplates the trials and tribulations of substance abuse in many of the songs, like “Cigarettes and Saints” and “The Bluest Things on Earth.” Both tracks go through the motions of anger that lead into self pity and climb their way back up to forgiveness.


Differing from previous The Wonder Years albums, Campbell was in an unfortunate state of writer’s block before the writing of “No Closer to Heaven” took place. In an interview with Alternative Press in 2016, Campbell stated, “I thought I failed the band… then I spoke with friends from other bands and that spark returned.”


Having the newfound sense for writing is what helped fuel Campell in his process of making an album that was mature, in ways that many can relate.


The loss of Campbell’s close friend, Mike Pellone, guided the band to the making of No Closer to Heaven. Campbell, living with the regret of failing a friend, wanted to embrace his own guilt and learn to forgive himself; this is where the album begins.


Starting with “Brothers &,” the opening song, leads listeners into the mindset that Campbell had when his friend passed. The feeling of sadness overtakes the audience and paves into the notion that a friend was left behind, with thoughts that the friend could have been saved.

As the album continues, the fast-pace lyrics of angst and desire to put oneself down for something they could not control is thrown around.


The deep cuts from the vocals and harrowing feeling of remorse downpours on Campbell, which he wants known by embracing his own mistakes and describing the triumphs he went through in order to come to a place of forgiveness.


“A Song for Ernest Hemingway” shows the upbringing of Campbell and his slow, but steady, rise to forgiving himself. The song touches on the fact that you are not always able to save everyone, so you should not put yourself down for it.


Diving deeper into this point is “Stained Glass Ceilings”, where Campbell comes to the realization that his guilt needs to be forgiven in order for him to move on and grow.

Closer to the end of the album, the band slows down the process of self-redemption by adding a love song into the mix. “You in January” details Campbell’s beginning relationship with his now wife.


The contrast of “You in January” compared to the rest of the album is what makes the listeners gravitate towards a sense of hope. In the interview with Alternative Press, Campbell explained how he felt it was necessary to include a happy time during his guilt with the passing of his close friend.


“To show some happiness during a time of loss and hardships is important in a story. I wanted to convey that even in times of sadness, there is always a light.” Campbell said.

This light is what Campbell used to ignite the conclusion of his guilt, and the album.


The final song and name sharer off the album, “No Closer to Heaven” is the end-all to grief.

“I'm digging up the bones of the failures I've buried. I’m pulling out my white flags in varying stages, of sunbleached and gray; gonna sew them all together. Gonna fashion their bones into a frame, tie the flags on a string; stretched across until they're wings.”


These lyrics explain that even though Campbell gave up a few times, he is using these memories of his friend’s passing and the guilt he carries to become stronger and better himself, for the long run.


The growth of the band and their fifth studio album, No Closer to Heaven, is a Magnum Opus and a successor for the group. The album is filled with a dedication to getting better and is deserving of any achievement it will harness as years go on.


Having the strength to own up to one’s mistakes, swallow it like a pill, and standing back up with a strong understanding that you are allowed to move on from loss is what makes this album powerful and worth the listen.


This album takes the cake for the tough concepts that some do not want to go into. The band created a piece of art that will only continue to open doors for other musicians wanting to use loss as a creative outlet. I for one rate this album highly and hope for more pieces like this to come.


Growing into a level of maturity that forces you to accept forgiveness is difficult, and that is what The Wonder Years wanted to show with their album, No Closer to Heaven.


 

‘The Circle’

By Ethan Minshall

“The Circle” is a reality television show that premiered on January 1, 2020. The goal is for each contestant to choose whether or not they want to enter “The Circle” as themselves or be a catfish. Each person is set up in their own room and are never face to face with any of the other contestants until the end of the season. Each contestant sets up their profile by posting pictures and sharing information, again they can choose to be themselves or pretend to be someone else. With this, the goal is to have conversations with the other contestants through a chat and get them to like you. At the end of each episode everyone ranks the other contestants. The top two most voted for players become “influencers” where they will decide who is eliminated. The Circle currently has three seasons with a fourth currently in the making, having new contestants each season.


This show was really unique because it allows people to connect with each other without knowing who they are. The saying “don't judge a book by its cover also really came to play in this show. Some people go into the show as a catfish for personal reasons like worrying about how others will feel about their personality or because they do not like their appearance.


Throughout the show people become friends and when they find out they are not who they say they are, their friends are disappointed and wish they had just gone into the show as themselves. As an audience member this could be emotional sometimes because you can relate to or feel where these people are coming from with their real life struggles. While this is all just a game, everyone on the show is a person even if they are on as a catfish.


As the show progresses you really start to like and root for certain players and can also end up disliking some people. As a viewer you can see people's true colors and intentions on the show as opposed to the people in “The Circle” who have no idea who the people are on the other side of the screen. Someone can be a catfish and act like someone's best friend, but as a viewer you can see they are lying and just using them to boost their status in the rankings. Each player has their own technique which one is obviously going in as themselves or a catfish. Another tactic used is how players want to start the game. At the start some may find it risky to be at the top of the rankings because people may then start to find you as a threat which could result in the others targeting them.

“The Circle” is an entertaining show that will grab your attention from the start and have you hooked throughout the entirety of the show.

 

‘My Best Friend Anne Frank’

By Candace Ramsey

Having Anne Frank as your childhood best friend is a film that talks about the perspective of a young girl growing up with Anne Frank in Amsterdam during The Holocaust.


“My Best Friend Anne Frank'' is Hannah Goslar’s perspective on growing up best friends with Anne Frank between 1942 and 1944. I found the film touching because the two young girls stick together until the end. The families were placed into Bergen-Belsen concentration camps. Anne and Hannah were placed apart from each other.


Hannah talks about how Anne became into mature activities. Which led to Hannah becoming more of an outcast in Anne’s new group of friends. Hannah got irritated with Anne because of Anne’s new interests. Anne was getting into the wrong crowd of people which started to push Hannah away from her. Hannah was a loyal best friend and did not turn her back on Anne during the rough patch of their friendship.


The movie shows Hannah and her unconditional love for Anne because Hannah discovers her best friend is next door to her camp starving to death. Instead of Hannah worrying about herself, and her family. Hannah risks her life to sneak Anne food twice. Hannah is a loyal friend because she is willing to do anything to help her friend survive. She tries to be there for her friend no matter what the situation is.


The film relies on the use of subtitles to make the film more accessible. The original language of the movie is in German. The subtitles explain the plot and explain life before the Holocaust. The movie goes back to different times throughout the Holocaust. The colors were bright and vibrant before the Holocaust took place. The colors became dark after the Holocaust took place.


The movie teaches the audience about being thankful for what they have because it shows the characters supporting one another during the bad times. It also teaches the audience about being a loyal friend. Hannah was a loving, loyal, determined friend. The events in the movie are unfortunate. I did enjoy the message, and the perspective of growing up with Anne Frank. The set of the movie was realistic. The acting was awkward, but realistic for two young girls.


Some of the actors from the film are Aiko Beemsterboer, Josephine Arendsen, and Lottie Hellingman.

 

‘It’s Complicated’

By Jacoba Sampson

Jane (Meryl Streep), a successful restaurateur, has been divorced from Jake(Alec Baldwin) for many years, although they remain friends. When an innocent meal together turns into an affair.


"It's Complicated" is the not so complicated story of Jane, a divorced mother of three growing kids and owner of a successful Santa Barbara bakery just beginning to contemplate the empty nest syndrome as the last of her kids heads off to -college and she's left to her own devices.


When a trip to her oldest son's graduation leads to a chance encounter with her ex, Jake, what begins as an irreproachable dinner leads to an evening of lots and lots of drinking.

Jake, a successful attorney who left Jane for a younger lady, with whom he now dwells in a rather unsatisfying marriage. Jake still pines for Jane; Jane can't seem to make up her mind what she wants and just sort of goes along with it all. So, she struggles and tries to decide who she wants in her life.


Jane meets Adam (Steve Martin), who's the architect assigned to help her remodel her home and who is, himself, struggling to get over a challenging divorce.


"It's Complicated" can best be described as the perfect film for displaying a nice blend of lighthearted, adult humor with a satisfying amount of emotional gravitas that makes us truly invested in Jane as she weaves her way through the Jake/Adam relationship dilemma.


On the bright side, Streep and Baldwin are very good in their roles. There are some very well written scenes and Streep is such a master that she makes every one of her scenes a bit better than it otherwise would be.


The sets were designed in a way that accomplished the movies’ purpose. Most scenes take place in the protagonist's home and interior courtyard, and as such the details were fastidiously worked out, but the rooms were kept bare to reflect the character's functional tastes and limited budget. There are relatively few decorations, just a bunch of thrift-store things haphazardly thrown together. The building itself is a traditional 1920s Spanish-ranch-style adobe-mud house which epitomized the Santa Barbara area.


This light-hearted movie teaches how life sometimes gets weird and how we can easily go with the flow or stop and look at things from another perspective and do the right thing.

 

‘The Great Wall’

By John Schrock

“The Great Wall” directed by Zhang Yimou is a mythological/science fiction depiction of the reasoning behind the construction of the Great Wall of China.


This movie starts off with mercenaries William (Matt Damon) and his Spanish companion Tovar (Pedro Pascal) traveling East in search of black powder to aid them in the crusades. On their journey William and Tovar are ambushed by bandits and are forced to seek refuge. While hiding overnight, William and Tovar encounter and battle a strange beast inside of a cave, this beast is later known as Tao Tei.


Continuing their quest East William and Tovar happen upon the Great Wall and the Silent Order which protects it. William and Tovar are quickly arrested by the Silent Order and are accused of being spies. Thankfully, Ballard (William Dafoe), a western culturist who was working for the Silent Order, arranged their release in exchange for their knowledge of the Tao Tei.


The Silent Order is led by commander Lin Mae (Tian Jing) and is divided into color groups depicting each area of expertise. The five special units are: (Black) the melee-specialist hand-to-hand combat troop, (Blue) the all-female acrobatic-specialists troop, (Red) the archer-specialist troop, (Yellow) the siege engine-specialists who use trebuchets and catapults, (Purple) the horse-mounted expeditious troops. The Silent Order has been battling the alien creatures called the Tao Tei for centuries.


The Tao Tei are green-skinned, carnivorous creatures that run on all fours closely resembling the movement of wolves and other large carnivorous mammals. They have membranous head frills which vibrate, allowing them to communicate with each other and their queen over long distances.


After the arrival of William to the area of the Great Wall and his encounter with the Tao Tei, the aliens seem to become increasingly agitated. The Tao Tei launched a full-scale attack on the wall; an attack which had been in the making for 60 years with only mild skirmishes previously. Commander Lin Mae and her troops put up a valiant fight but face decimation and possible full annihilation because the alien horde had grown significantly in size.


Our hero William changes the direction of the battle and the overall outcome with his trusty bow, tactical intellect and magnets. This film is fun for all ages with a combination of mild person to person violence, heavy alien decimation, sci-fi action and Chinese culture. Watch it today on platforms such as YouTube, Amazon Prime and other pay sites.


 

‘Little Shop of Horrors’

By Frank Valenti

The 80s classic “Little Shop of Horrors” underperformed at the box office with only taking home $30 million worldwide, yet it still managed to get a cult following to making this film a classic.


With a budget of $25 million it kept some of the creative team and actors of the 1982 Broadway show to stay faithful to the original source material.


“Little Shop of Horrors” is set in a small town called Skid Row. The film is about a man eating a plant that wants to take over the world.


Director Frank Oz got together the talented cast of Rick Morians as Seymor and Ellen Greene as Audrey. She originated the role on Broadway.


The actors had amazing chemistry throughout the movie. You can tell they have become the characters they were portraying.


The thing that makes “Little Shop of Horrors” shine is the songs. The songs created by Alan Menken we’re well written and gave the characters emotion and helped push the story along. Skid Row is the second song in the movie, and it captures the poor and sad people who live in the town. This song sets up the story and it introduces us to all the characters.


One of the stands outs of the film was the amazing Audrey 2 puppet. This puppet was so life-like on set it even scared the actors when they saw it for the first time. The character was voiced by Levi Stubbs. His talented voice brings the man-eating plant to life.


Frank Oz brought on Kyle Conway to help design the puppet. Helping him puppeteer is the wonderful Anthony Asbury and Brain Henson. Those two really made this puppet come to life. By the end of the film, they used a total of 50 puppeteers to bring this man-eating plant to the big screen.


Another thing this film does right is the scenery. The film keeps the setting to just the shop. Frank Oz only puts them outside the shop when he thinks they will go outside. It's the little details that make a movie great.


One thing this film is known for is for having two completely different endings. Director Frank Oz wanted to make this as faithful to the show as possible. When the film was shown to test audiences they found the true ending to be too sad and too terrifying.


This made Frank Oz had to change the whole ending completely for the theatrical release. The original ending cost them $5 million to create. Frank Oz had this to say, “when one is having a character on-stage killed, that character comes back for bow. In a movie, the Character does not come back for a bow.” (Frank Oz 2017)


The Original ending of the film ended up getting released in the “Little Shop of Horrors Director's Cut on Blu Ray”.


In the end this film has been through a lot of ups and downs. However, this film captures the magic of the Broadway show and puts it on the big screen in a very big way. “Little Shop of Horrors” combines horror, comedy and romance into one exciting action packed musical that will have you begging for more.









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