Category Archives: Arts + Entertainment

A+E: Joker “Haunts and Amazes” Audiences

by Tim Levine, Executive Editor

Joker, directed by Todd Phillips, is an utterly dark and riveting origin tale of the quintessential Batman villain that will forever change perceptions of what a comic book movie can be.

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Set in 1981 Gotham City, Joker tells the story of Arthur Fleck. A man that works as a clown and wants to be a stand-up comedian. He suffers from mental illness, having to visit a social worker and constantly asking for a bigger prescription. He is not happy, but no one in this grim world he lives in seems to be.

Gotham City shows a gross and decaying society, one with rats infesting the streets and rich seeming to continue to prosper while the others are left behind. The setting seems to parallel the Wall Street society of New York but adding a much darker tone and shade to the landscape. People are getting angrier and it is only a matter of time before the city cracks.

Arthur Fleck feels as if he is one of those people, as though the world steps over him. He is isolated and only has his mother who he cares for in their small apartment, as he gets more and more delusional by the day. The movie depicts his quick and dark descent into madness where the lines of fiction and reality become increasingly blurred.

While not necessarily staying true to any prior origin stories of the clown prince of crime, the story is brilliant in its own right, perfectly encapsulating the spirit of the character, an individual haunted by darkness. Phillips breaks the norms of a comic book movie in a manner that truly lets the viewer look into the mind of not just a villain, but one troubled man.

Joaquin Phoenix does an excellent job of portraying the Joker, showing the transition of the character quickly yet with clear intent throughout the film. The shallow and shy shell that Phoenix portrays early on is juxtaposed with the final rebirth of the character near the end of the film, showing the Joker breaking out of his shell and become the character we all know.

While Phoenix’s acting does the character no faults, certain depictions of his mental state seem to show an oversimplification and exaggeration of insanity. Phillips feels as though he needs to spoon-feed the viewer that Arthur is becoming crazy in some scenes when the subtleties in emotion that Phoenix utilizes are more than enough for us to see this transformation. Outside of Phoenix, no one in the remaining cast really stands out as good or bad, but I think this is better for the film, as with the title, all emphasis should be on Joker.

Definitely the best movie I’ve seen this year, Joker does not hold back, and will leave the viewer with a movie experience that will both amaze and haunt. Look out for this film to be a prominent contender in the upcoming award season.

A+E: “Lend Me A Tenor” Play Preview

by Travien Sears, Assistant Arts and Entertainment Editor

The St. Joseph High School 5 Sisters Theatre Company will be putting out their 2019 Fall play, Ken Ludwig’s Lend Me A Tenor, an intended pun on “Lend me a tenner” (a ten dollar bill), which was the title of Ludwig’s first Broadway production. The play was a nominee for 9 Tony Awards and wound up winning 3 and has since been adapted as a musical.

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“This is one of the most absolute comedic plays that I know of,” said Mr. Van Deventer, the Visual and Performing Arts and Theatre Director at St. Joseph High School.

Mr. Van Deventer, who says that he chose this comedy because the theatre students have been asking him to do a comedy, wanted to put out a play that didn’t have too much of deep meaning. He wanted to put out a play that brought laughter and joy among the crowd as well as among the cast.

“[This play] is extremely hilarious and in the times that we are living in, people especially need a good laugh,” Mr. Van Deventer said.

There is also a few Bosco students on the cast list and one of these students, Parker Deaton, who plays Tito Merelli, a world-famous Italian opera tenor singer who is known as ll Stupendo, had some influence on the selection of this play.

“I didn’t tell [Mr. Van Deventer] that I wanted this you know what, I did talk to [Mr. Van Deventer] at the end of last semester and basically told him that all the shows I’ve ever done with St. Joseph’s have been like really serious, so I told [Mr. Van Deventer] that I wanted to do a really funny comedy,” said Parker.

“The cast in general is pretty excited, but also kinda nervous, which is essentially every show. Overall, we’re just excited to perform it come opening night,” Parker added.

The cast list is a small one consisting of only three St. John Bosco High School students and eight St. Joseph High School students, a total of only eleven performers.

Despite a small cast list, the play is guaranteed to be hilarious and to give the audience a good laugh. A breath of fresh air is one way to describe this play, and you won’t be disappointed with the talents that the students will bring.

Opening Night for the play will be Friday October 11th, 2019; 7:30 PM at St. Joseph High School, in the Multi Purpose Room turned Black Box Theatre.

Other performances include:

Saturday October 12th, 2019, 7:30 PM

Thursday October 17th, 2019, Social Media Night, 7:30PM

Friday October 18th, 2019, 3:30PM and 7:30PM

Saturday October 19th, 2019, 7:30, Closing Night

Be sure to go and watch this hilarious comedy and support your fellow St. John Bosco Braves and St. Joseph Jesters!

A+E: Big Brother’s Twenty-Year Reign Atop the Reality Game Show World

by Aharon Colon, Arts and Entertainment Editor

As season 21 of Big Brother quickly comes to a close, it’s worth looking at the long-standing pop cultural significance of the groundbreaking reality show. 

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If you do not know what Big Brother is, allow me to explain.

Big Brother is a reality game show that is also treated as a social experiment, where producers put at least 16 random people in a house to compete for half a million dollars. Not only do they have to win challenges to gain immunity from being voted out or gain power ups, but they also have to survive mentally and play the social side of the game. What this means is that they have to have good relationships with the people around them in order to not be on the wrong side of the house vote, where one could be “evicted” from the house. The main goal is to be the last one standing.

There is so much thought that is put into this show that it is second to none. From the creativity of the games to how the show is run, no reality game show is like the genre’s godfather.

Contestants are recorded 24/7 by a vast array of live cameras throughout the show’s house, hence the name Big Brother (a nod to the surveillance state in George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984), and cannot have access to the outside world. They do not even see producers or anyone who works on the show, it is only them and the game.

Due to this, the cast is always worn down, images of adults crying like babies, injuries and mental breakdowns are all expected to happen the moment the game starts. No one is safe and no one can be trusted.

The house is also of importance, too. Despite the colorful themes and very nice decor, the house is usually the battlefield for the mental part of the game.

This is where the contestants cook food, get to know each other and share secrets to their trusted allies. Whatever happens in the house always trickles over into the games, where the stakes get higher as the weeks go on.

So, what makes this show important?

First, it is crazy to think that a show like this has been going on for 21 seasons. First airing on July 5, 2000, BB, as it is known for short, has great relationship with CBS. Racking up the ratings is not a problem, and even though this generation might not be into it as much, the show has genuinely good content despite it being a reality game show.

Not only that, but the show has a dedicated fan base. Just like the show The Bachelor, there are super fans and historians on this show documenting its every move and every season. The core of this fan base tends to be in between “45 to 50 years old,” according to an article by the BBC.

This following is mainly fueled by access to 24/7 live feeds via CBS All Access, where views can watch the contestants’ every move and see what they are doing at all times of the day and night. Not only can viewers tune in that way, but voting and “fantasy leagues” all take place as well. Due to this, fans gain more connection to the contestants, thus making them more inclined to watch and see how they do every week.

St. John Bosco religion teacher Mr. Ed Torre has a son, Grant Torre, who actually interned on the show. Due to his contract, some of the information expressed in the interview cannot be published here. However, he did share why he felt the show has had such widespread, consistent success.

“When it boils down to it, Big Brother is a social experiment above all. What happens when you put 16 different people in a house for almost 100 days with no contact with the outside world? How do communities form? How do alliances form? How do targets emerge?” he said.

Coming from a different perspective, Grant explained Big Brother’s psychological aspect perfectly, conveying how these contestants are put in a less than desirable situation and expected to thrive in it.

“Like Lord of the Flies, a book that explores this a long time ago, or a lot of reality shows now, or even the state of American politics, I think Big Brother does a good job of being a microcosm of society,” he said.

Simply put: no show does it like BB.

This season is no different, and the drama and action has continued. The backstabs, fallen allies and all the mental breakdowns that have defined the show to this point are all present in the current season, and it’s almost time to crown a winner. The show has reached episode 39 with only three contestants remaining.

Watch this show from start to finish on Spectrum On Demand or CBS All Access.

Around Bosco: Welcome New Band Director, Mr. Ramon Villanueva!

by Travien Sears, Assistant Arts and Entertainment Editor

The school year has begun and many students have noticed a new face around campus, our newly hired instrumental Music Director Mr. Ramon Villanueva. Coming to Bosco from our brother Salesian school, Don Bosco Technical Institute, he has big goals in mind for our music program as a whole.

IMG_1320.jpegMr. Villanueva, a French Horn player, has had some amazing experiences in his over 20-year musical career, from traveling to China, South Korea (twice), performing in Carnegie Hall, recording music for movies, and performing with pop artists in concerts. He is excited to share, encourage and inspire the next generation of musicians and students to work hard and to aim high.

Not only is he working with our students as an educator, but he’s also currently growing upon his own previous collegiate degrees by pursuing another Masters Degree, this time however, instead of being in Music Performance, this degree is one called Musicology. Musicology, literally meaning, the study of music is a somewhat broad subject, however Mr. Villanueva has a focus and passion in Latin American art music. This is a very different emphasis and study than the Western Art Music that is studied by musicians here in America as well as in Northern Europe. He also found a passion for ethnomusicology, which isn’t a focus of study in Western or Latin American art but pretty much encompasses all music as well as the researching of music so that the musicians are able to break down the music of which they are playing.

“[I want] to allow students to feel that they have a place where they can have another creative outlet aside from everything else offered at the school,” Mr. Villanueva said.

One of Mr. Villanueva’s main goals is to give a way for his students to shine creatively. He wants to add more groups to help with that goal. Currently we have the SJB Braves Marching Band & Color Guard, the Wind Ensemble, Liturgical Band & Choir, Jazz Band, Indoor Winter Drumline, Indoor Winter Guard , Percussion Ensemble as well as the beginning and intermediate band classes.

A new group that Mr. Villanueva is excited to add in the near future is a Pure Digital Music Class. This class would entail producing beats and understanding the concept of the music in what we hear in a lot of the songs on the radio in rap, hip-hop and pop(ular) music. Another very important part of Program Growth is “injecting some new blood [and] getting students excited for what we are going to be adding,” Mr. Villanueva said.

Another way that Mr. Villanueva plans on growing the interest and the numbers of the program is by introducing new music to the Marching Band, as well as maintaining and improving upon the traditional charts and standards that have been kept and played in the past. By changing this aspect, he can improve the program so that students don’t get discouraged from doing another group just because they aren’t interested in doing the marching band.

“[I also] want there to be a greater diversity so that people see that we do more than just one thing here,” Mr. Villanueva said.

So far, the Marching Band has put out a few new tunes at the football games and is currently focusing on the ideals of quality over quantity. They’ve put out some new chart-toppers like: “Turn Me On” by David Guetta and “California Love” by Tupac featuring Dr. Dre.

The future goals and possibilities for the Marching Band and Color Guard, according to Mr. Villanueva, include but are not limited to exploring the competitive aspect in greater depth than the program has in the past few years, including competitive parades and traveling to all the football games. This includes trips like Mililani, Hawaii, which the band will unfortunately not be able to attend due to some major logistical details that were way too tricky to work out at the last minute. This can set up the culture where they are on the forefront and have this presence around campus, and part of that will be supporting the athletic teams in various ways.

 

 

Mr. Villanueva also talked about his plans to sustain and build upon the legacy of Mr. Eugene Fabiero, Bosco’s prior full-time band director who passed away in February of this last school year. Someone who had an enormous impact on the music program here as well as on the school community at large.

“Honoring the music that he incorporated in the Marching Band [because] what ends up happening with a departure, there’s always a shift, and for me, we have to honor what he did, but implement what I do and I have to somehow adopt what he did and make it my own. It’s impossible to step and fill someone’s shoes because every person’s mind is unique. I also plan on working with local middle schools to see how they feed into the school and also helping grow the program that way,” Mr. Villanueva said.

The Assistant Music Director, Mr. Christian Fuentes, someone who works the closest to Mr. Villanueva, has a great impression about our new band director,

“I really appreciate his vision for the music program as an alumnus of the program, as well as someone who has been on staff as Assistant Band Director and Front Ensemble Caption Head for the Indoor Drumline Program going on 8 years now, and him and I work very well together in my opinion,” Mr. Fuentes said. “I believe that he’s a great addition to our music program.”

Around campus, everyone is excited and ready to see what is to come with this new look band, and Mr. Villanueva is excited to deliver.

“This is definitely one of the high points of my musical career getting to direct the program, getting to bring my perspective and my background in music to the school and helping students thrive, not just as musicians, [which is important, but] that’s just one of the bonuses, but ultimately creating great people, kind people, people who care. For me, that’s a number one,” Mr. Villanueva said.

A+E: Music is Film’s Unsung Hero

by Aharon Colon, Arts and Entertainment Editor

Movies would not be anything without music. There would be no box office hits, no social media buzz, and definitely no hits to where you can lie down on your bed late at night having nostalgic feelings about your favorite scenes from your favorite films.

We’ve all been there. However, I do not believe that the music in these iconic movies get the amount of recognition that they deserve.

When I think of an entire album that had a profound effect on a movie, I think of Black Panther (2018) by Kendrick Lamar, featuring a swath of artists like SZA, Schoolboy Q, 2 Chainz, Khalid, Swae Lee, Vince Staples, Anderson .Paak, Travis Scott and many more. This album has defined modern day soundtracks and set a new bar for movies to come.

Not only has it set trends in the film industry, it was widely popular as well, adding to the cultural pervasiveness of the Marvel film’s brand last year. With Black Panther already being acclaimed for casting an almost entirely African American cast, the album did not disappoint as the ensemble for a tremendous cast.

In terms of one-off songs that made their waves in pop culture film classics, Simple Minds’ “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” from The Breakfast Club is arguably the most iconic song ever in movies.

The image of John Bender pumping his fist as the movie closes out is still fresh in the minds of film buffs, who will never forget what that moment meant to them. The very thought of that movie is synonymous with the song, and the people working on the movie chose a perfect tune to capture the moment. The teen-angst of the film mixed with the pop culture at the time, made the song feel nostalgic and give the vibe that nothing will ever be the same.

For soundtracks and background music, there are a plethora of great examples for all kinds of music and movie lovers. Star Wars, Jurassic Park, GoodFellas, The Shining, 8 Mile, JAWS, Pulp Fiction and more, all are still continuing to capture the imaginations of viewers everywhere. The purpose of the music in these films was not just about creating drama or intensity, but creating a multitude of different emotions for the watchers at home that could last a lifetime.

I remember sitting at home watching Star Wars for the first time, hearing the Empire’s theme song “The Imperial March” and having the fear of God struck in me. From then on, I began to pay more and more attention to the background music and the different songs playing as characters came and went. This attention has made my experience as a movie-goer exponentially better.

There is nothing like hearing a song play behind such an important scene in a movie and thinking, “Hey, what is the name of that song?”, then finding it and listening to it all day.

I feel like this feeling is not celebrated nor recognized enough. Movie-goers nowadays, unless they are presented with a pop album like Black Panther, tend to look over the soundtrack and build their opinions solely around the actors or the quality of the cinematography.

Without music, many aspects of a movie are not the same. It seems to me plain wrong to have recognizable scenes like the one from the Breakfast Club not have music backing it, or to not have the dashingly intense background music from Jaws underlying a chase scene. And it is, in fact, the music in these scenes that make them recognizable cultural mainstays in the first place.

A+E: ‘Giving Without Expecting” and the Legacy of Nipsey Hussle

by R.J. Johnson and Kourt Williams

Over the last two weeks, fans of Ermias “Nipsey Hussle” Asghedom celebrated the anniversary of the deceased rapper’s birthday, which was on August 15th, continuing the trend of the rapper’s premature demise having a more positive than negative impact on the L.A. area. 

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Initially, the murder of Nipsey, which was thought to be a gang hit, brought speculation of another “40 Days, 40 Nights,” which is a 40-day span of gang members commiting murder and terrorizing their communities, as well as neighboring ones, in retaliation for gang violence.

This didn’t pan out and after a couple of days of grieving over Nipsey’s passing, his gang “Neighborhood 40 Crip” and the rest of the L.A. area realized that Nipsey’s death was, in fact, internal, as he was slain by fellow “Neighborhood 40 Crip” member Eric Holder.

After the negativity ran its course, all of Los Angeles began making strives to better their communities. A young woman Tiarra Bogard, 17, from the LA area seeked inspiration from Nipsey herself.

“He was personally a role model for me,” Tiarra said. “He was an inspiration for kids growing up in this area that you can actually be somebody one day.”

Nipsey wasn’t a passive leader in his community. With the businesses he owned, he provided jobs to those around him.

“My uncle worked at the [clothing] store he was killed at. It was crazy because my uncle told me since Nipsey got shot, his clothing line’s profit has doubled,” said Tiarra.

“The Marathon Clothing,” Nipsey’s small-business, provided the community jobs with the goal of building generational wealth among locals.

One of Nipsey Hussle’s main goals was to provide inspiration and give a chance to those who weren’t given much opportunity. Tiarra experienced Nipsey being up close and personal with the community herself.

“What I loved the most about Nipsey was that he never forgot where he came from,” said Tiarra. “I remember when I was eleven years old, he came to my block and bought my cousins, friends, and I ice cream. He also gave us some advice and encouragement on the aspects of life.”

Little things like this is what helps keep these historically gang-torn communities as tight knit as possible.

A Bosco senior from the Los Angeles area, senior Aneicko Milligan, felt the impact immediately after Nipsey’s death and saw all the changes that came with it.

“I’ve seen a lot more people watching who they interact with but also lifting each other up,” Aneicko said. “That’s what it’s all about: being there for one another.”

Despite that sentiment, due to him personally enjoying Nipsey’s music prior to the rapper’s death, Aneicko feels that the amount of recent support that’s been given to Nipsey isn’t truly genuine.

“I feel like not many people were out here really listening to his music. Kendrick and YG mainly dominated areas like Compton, South Central, and the rest of L.A. Where was all this support for Hussle when he was trying to make our community better? Nowhere to be found. Everyone was still just gang banging and fighting over pointless things,” said Aneicko

Nipsey didn’t receive the same amount of recognition that his peers did in the music industry, and a lot of his good deeds went unnoticed. Positivity tends to go unnoticed within communities because of how much more of an impact negativity tends to have.

Negativity, such as gang violence, shootings, or any kind of crime committed, headline the news a good majority of the time, leaving less room for the good things being done to breathe.

Whether it’s a cause receiving a donation, youth centers being built, or schools attempting to improve on their curriculum for their students, these kinds of events tend not to receive the same amount of recognition as death and despair in our culture.

“A lot of influencers want the clout behind their good deeds,” said Aneicko. “Nip stayed humble and I respect him for that. He gave the community hope to make it a better place.”

For all ages, Nipsey Hussle’s life and death left a legacy behind that is being honored, with many still living hoping to replicate some of the things that he did for his community for their own.

Giving without expecting anything in return, that is what makes a neighborhood hero.

A+E: Once Upon a Time in Tarantino

by Ryan Tavera

Quentin Tarantino’s ninth film Once Upon a Time in Hollywood lives up to the standards that one of America’s greatest living directors has set for all of his films. 

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Going into this film, this reviewer expected a classic Tarantino affair, with blood-filled scenes and clever dialogue. However, this film is breaking away from trademark aesthetics such as his nonlinear storytelling and speech heavy scenes. Instead, he focuses more on traditional storytelling, making a smooth watching experience and entertaining piece of film.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood takes place in 1969 and pays homage to an era otherwise known as the Golden Age of Hollywood.

Tarantino makes you feel as if it’s a cool summer night, and you’re swerving in and out of streets through the hills of Hollywood. The imagery of classic cars and music really bring to life the 60s atmosphere, with the inclusion of locations such as drive-in movies, poshy theaters, and bright lights throughout the streets.

Disregarding the fun and laid back atmosphere Tarantino creates in his films, the movie revolves around a much more sinister story. As the title of this movie suggests, this film is a fairytale settled in reality.

If you know anything about 60s Hollywood or cults in general, you might have heard about Charles Manson, a prominent cultist leader who referred to his group as his “family”, as well as Sharon Tate, a famous actress of the period associated with Manson. On August 19th, 1969, Tate, who was pregnant at the time, was staying at her house located in the Hollywood hills with a group of friends when cult leader Charles Manson and his group brutally murdered her and her friends.

Tarantino takes this tragic story and twists the ending of the brutal killings. In Tarantino’s tale, he changes the outcome significantly. Instead of the Manson family being punished, Tarantino’s trademark features kick in towards the end, and his signature over the top violence makes this story his own.  Even though the movie eventually all builds up towards Sharon Tate and the Manson family’s big ending, don’t think of this film solely as that.

Instead, the movie focuses on Tate’s neighbor, Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) who is grasping on to his fame and his stunt double Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt). Both are struggling to find their place in an ever-changing Hollywood.

Rick Dalton, once a figure of prominence of Hollywood, starred in a popular western television show “Bounty Law.” However, when the show ended, so did Rick’s place in the spotlight.

As a character, he is uneasy and dramatic, either drinking his pain away or smoking a cigar while on the verge of tears. Cliff, his stunt double, is found frequently comforting Rick, running errands for him and driving Rick around in his 1966 Cadillac.

Cliff Booth, on the other hand, is a war veteran who lives in a trailer with his pitbull named Brandy and is a sharp man who is bold but wary. He seems to always have every situation under his control.

It is also rumored that he murdered his wife, which Tarantino briefly shines a light on, but it is never revealed if he did or didn’t, leaving the audience to have their own speculations.

The stand out in this film, however: DiCaprio and Pitts’ staggering performances.

Every time they’re on the big screen, they’re the center of attention. DiCaprio has delivered again with his phenomenal acting that every cinema lover has come to know over decades of excellence. He brings Rick Dalton to life, and his expressions make his character seem always on edge and agitated.

But Pitt really steals the show. It seems as if the role was written specifically for him, as he plays a likable protagonist who is a straightforward yet a rugged man, always the predominant force in the room.

Each segment of the film is made almost like a short story, where the scenes can range from 10-50 minutes long, and in between each short story are usually visually stunning shots of L.A., with vibrant lights everywhere and music in the background to really create an aesthetic environment.

In particular, my personal favorite scene was when Cliff Booth visits an old ranch where he once shot westerns, but didn’t know it was being used as the hideout of Charles Manson’s cult.

Your eyes are simply glued to Brad Pitt’s character as he walks on the seemingly deserted ranch. As the music begins to play in the background, he slowly approaches the house sitting on the hill, people seemingly pop out of nowhere in between abandoned trucks and run downed buildings, which makes for an extremely suspenseful bit of film. The eerie and mysterious vibe of the scene makes you want Cliff to turn back and get out of there, but at the same time, you really want to figure out what’s going on in the house.

At its center Once Upon a Time in Hollywood isn’t about suspense, nor is it about the tragedies that happened in 1969. It is a buddy-buddy film featuring DiCaprio and Pitt whos acting converges excellently. When they appear on screen together, it makes for an easy-going and entertaining scene.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is a slow-burning stick of dynamite. The fuse is the first two hours of the film, filled with nods to 60s L.A and great character development, while the explosion is the last 40 minutes, and trust me the ending is certainly worth the wait.

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