Best of 2022: Music

Arts & Entertainment

Anthony Pantalone, Editor

Television is often overlooked in the Arts and Entertainment section, but music is typically ignored almost entirely. In part, this exclusion is because I am far less versed in music than I am in film or television. This article, therefore, is allowing me to analyze and review some of the best (in my opinion) best projects released in 2022. There were a bunch of great projects this year. Frankly too many to discuss in their entirety in this article. So here are some of my personal favorites.

via Top Dawg Entertainment

Kendrick Lamar- Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers

This pick is incredibly biased. While Mr. Morale is objectively one of the best albums to come out this year, my opinion here is very subjective because I am a big Kendrick Lamar fan. After five years, Kendrick finally returned to music for his final album with Top Dawg Entertainment in 2022, and the wait was more or less worth it. After ascending to the top of the rap world over the course of his four prior studio albums, this rapper had nearly no more mountains to climb. Now, Kendrick Lamar instead looks inward and reflects on himself as a person. “Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers” is much more personal and vulnerable than anything this musician has shared before. The album functionally serves as a therapy session for Kendrick who is forcing himself to finally confront his flaws and the generational traumas haunting him. Throughout the course of the album and specific tracks, he explores his sex addiction and infidelities along with his fraught relationship with his father and toxic masculinity. Later, the rapper goes on to confront his own prior homophobia in “Auntie Diaries.” The album crescendos with “Mother I Sober” where Kendrick Lamar attempts to tie together his understanding of his own issues and feelings to break the generational curse of trauma. He needs to figure out why he is the way he is, so he can be a good father and not transfer his own pain and grief onto his children. In confronting traumas of sexual abuse from members of his family, he hopes to “set free” pent-up generational pain and grief in hopes to heal from it in the future. 

via Columbia Records

Beyoncé- RENAISSANCE

Similar to Kendrick Lamar, Beyoncé also returned to music after a long absence in 2022 with “RENAISSANCE,” her first studio album since “Lemonade” in 2016. Everything about this album is incredible. Its celebration of past black music and culture. The flawless transitions between songs. The house music instrumentals. Bey is back, and she is proving yet again why she is the best at what she does. Every song matches a mood or feeling perfectly. “BREAK MY SOUL” channels all the pent-up energy and emotions of people who have persevered through the last few years of the COVID-19 pandemic. “ALIEN SUPERSTAR” is an otherworldly, one-of-a-kind song. “PLASTIC OFF THE SOFA” is—in my opinion—one of the best-written love songs of the 21st century. “SUMMER RENAISSANCE” takes Donna Summer’s classic disco hit “I Feel Love” and reimagines it so that the genre of disco experiences its own renaissance in the modern day. Listening to it feels like joyful escapism, and Bey intended it that way. The idea behind the album was creating something through which people feel like they can “escape, travel, love, and laugh again” after all the tragedy and hardships of the past few years (Beyoncé qtd. in Harpers’ Bazaar).  Every song feels so unique and carefully crafted. I would never expect Beyoncé to let listeners down, but I think I also underestimated her. “RENAISSANCE” is so much more cohesive and fully realized as an artistic vision than any other album I have listened to this year.

via Ninja Tune

Black Country, New Road- Ants From Up There

I had never heard of Black Country, New Road before 2022. By the end of this past year though, songs from this album were among my most listened to music on Spotify. It is incredibly difficult to describe what Black Country, New Road is or what their music sounds like. They’re alternative? Post-punk? Rock but folksy? But also very indie and different from anything out there. It feels silly to say, but there are so many different instruments at play. Much of the lyrics throughout “Ants From Up There” don’t always make sense, and they don’t need to. The lyrics used adequately fit the mood and melody of the music. In some other songs though, the song lyrics deceptively pack an emotional gut punch. For example, “Good Will Hunting” is an amazing exploration of romantic yearning but is humorously undercut by a chorus about how a love interest has “Billie Eilish style.” Also, the vocals in this album feel so vulnerable and cut deep for the listener. Isaac Wood, the lead singer of Black Country, New Road, quit the band only days after the album’s release and before their 2022 tour. While this album was met with widespread critical praise, Wood’s personal mental health struggles caused him to quit making music. The band has stayed together without the lead vocalist, yet it will be interesting to see how exactly they will move forward after both a prolific debut and a major loss.

via Top Dawg Entertainment

SZA- SOS

Like Kendrick and Beyoncé, SZA came back after five long years with her sophomore album “SOS”, a worthy follow-up to her 2017 debut project “CTRL”. While not as fully realized and polished as her first album, “SOS” is still an incredible feat for this musician. The tone of the songs appropriately match the theme of the album cover art and title. SZA feels far alone out at sea figuratively in her life and literally in the cover art. She was obviously dealing with strife in her love life and failed relationships and channeled those emotions in her songwriting. Even though I love this creative output from her, I sincerely hope she is going to some form of counseling or therapy. This album does feel less concise than “CTRL” as it meanders across a 23 song tracklist, but I don’t mind it at all. “Kill Bill” obviously has become very popular and boasts an Uma Thurman film reference. “Gone Girl”—a grandiose track about a tumultuous relationship—is incredibly underrated and also references another great “Good for Her” movie. “Ghost in the Machine” somehow effectively blends the singing styles of both SZA and Phoebe Bridgers. “Used” is amazing with a great Don Toliver feature and a great line where SZA says that she’s focused like Obi-Wan Kenobi. “Open Arms” probably takes the crown as my favorite song off this album, because it showcases SZA playing up to her strengths with a breezy genuine ballad.

Honorable Mentions:

Ethel Cain- Preacher’s Daughter

Steve Lacy- Gemini Rights

Charli XCX- CRASH

Denzel Curry- Melt My Eyes See Your Whole Future

Orville Peck- Bronco

J.I.D.- The Forever Story

Best of 2022: Television

Arts & Entertainment

Anthony Pantalone, Editor

While the Arts and Entertainment column ideally should encompass every form of media pertaining to “arts and entertainment,” it does not always meet that standard. In this section of The Collegian, film is quite often the star of the show. The end of a year and the beginning of a new one allows for a person to reflect on that fact and adequately give credit where credit is due to other forms of art and entertainment—particularly television shows. Here are some of the objectively best—in my biased opinion—shows that deserved a bigger spotlight in The Collegian in 2022.

via HBO

Barry Season 3

“Barry” is one of the most underrated shows on television. This program follows a hitman who wishes to give up his lethal profession in favor of acting. The first two seasons are a near perfect dark comedy, and this third season heightens the intensity much further. At this point, Barry feels simply dark instead of darkly comedic. Pretty much everyone in the cast—Bill Hader, Sarah Goldberg, Henry Winkler, and Anthony Carrigan—turns in career work this season. I love Henry Winkler, and I never knew he had a performance of this caliber in him. Also, NoHo Hank has been my favorite character on television for years. The morale of the story is that no matter what he does or how hard he tries, Barry always falls backwards into a life of violence with horrific consequences for everyone around him. For a show that has balanced comedy amidst a story this violent and tense, this third season takes a turn towards tragedy. NoHo Hank—easily the show’s best and most whimsical character—has a storyline involving torture, kidnapping and the “bury your gays” trope. The episode “710N” in particular features an incredibly long take of a motorcycle chase on a congested highway. Each episode of the second half of this season instills an alarming sense of dread for the audience as something horrible can happen at a moment’s notice. The ending of the episode “candy asses” for example forces the viewer to simply sit there afterwards and process the deep dark spiral of these characters. 

via FX

The Bear Season 1

Debuting in the summer, “The Bear” was one of the best new shows to grace television screens this year. Following Carmy who inherits his deceased brother’s restaurant, this show is essentially about the grief of losing a loved one and the ensuing struggles in running their business. Jeremy Allen White recently won a Golden Globe for his performance as the main character, and this honor was genuinely warranted. White brings a quiet intensity to a character who is desperately trying to keep afloat amidst his own grief and the significant financial hardships his brother left him. The seventh episode “Review” is filmed as one long take as everything goes wrong in the restaurant in a matter of twenty minutes. Even if you have not worked in a restaurant or food service, you will likely have to take a deep breath after this one.

via FX

Atlanta Seasons 3 and 4

“Atlanta” returned in 2022 with a third season set in Europe and a final season set back in the show’s titular city. I love this show and was really sad to see it end. It is always amazing to see a show that experiments with the medium of television and has so much fun while doing it, and “Atlanta” has always been that type of TV show. About half of the third season does not even feature the main characters or overarching plot of the prior seasons, and these standalone entries were some of the best episodes of “Atlanta” ever aired. In the final season, some great storylines are wrapped up. There is an amazing parody of Tyler Perry in which Donald Glover is covered in make-up and prosthetics—akin to the season two “Teddy Perkins” episode. Also, in one of the final episodes, this show makes an incredible fake documentary about the making of  “A Goofy Movie.” In classic “Atlanta” fashion, when people expect a crazy subversion of expectations for the series finale, Glover and director Hiro Murai choose the funniest “It was all a dream” ending.

via Disney+

Andor Season 1

This opinion could be debated, but “Andor” is the best Star Wars show or movie with anything truly nuanced to say about politics since George Lucas in the 1970s wrote about resisting imperialist oppressors. The creative team behind the show could have settled for the same tired creative beats that almost every Star Wars property has taken on since being acquired by Disney. Some type of cameo. Using the crutch of being part of “a shared universe” instead of actually effectively plotting a story over a season. Instead, it offers intelligent commentary on the matters of revolutionary suicide and the carceral slavery that props up imperial systems of power. It also talks about how fascism and authoritarian philosophies often preys upon and seduces young men with low self-esteem that feel entitled and directionless. In “Andor,” the viewer is rewarded with manifestos and arguments about the morality of violence against fascist occupiers instead of a caravan of “Glup Shittos.”

via HBO

The White Lotus Season 2

Whereas the first season of “The White Lotus” worked really well as a class satire, the second season of this HBO show delved more into sexism and power dynamics within relationships. There are three generations of men that express harmful masculinity toward women. The grandfather openly sexually harasses women. The father—played by Michael Imperioli of “The Sopranos” fame—treats women better than his own father yet still objectifies them in private as sexual objects. The son appears to be the least harmful—appearing like a “soft boy”—yet still holds concerning views about women. Then the storyline featuring Aubrey Plaza of two couples vacationing together is so incredibly messy but written in such a compelling way. Jennifer Coolidge shines yet again this season—earning her a Golden Globe Award two weeks ago. Mike White is a genuinely great writer and I hope he makes

Sight and Sound Top 100 Greatest Films of All Time

Arts & Entertainment

Anthony Pantalone, Editor

With the release of Sight and Sound’s decennial Top 100 Greatest Films of All Time list—compiled every ten years by the British Film Institute—much debate has ensued over the definitive ranking of the best movies ever made. This year, Chantal Akerman’s “Jeanne Dielman” reigned supreme according to film critics after dethroning Alfred Hitchcock’s “Vertigo”—the 2012 winner. With the inclusion of more diversity among critics, directors, and the cinematic taste of viewers, the 2022 list included more films directed or written by women than in the past. “Jeanne Dielman”’s acquisition of the number one spot serves as a prime example of this point as it is the first ever film directed by a woman to sit atop the list. 

Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles

Here’s the official critics’ Top 10 list:

1.Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (Chantal Akerman, 1975)

2. Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958)

3. Citizen Kane (Orson Welles, 1941)

4. Tokyo Story (Yasujirō Ozu, 1953)

5. In the Mood for Love (Wong Kar Wai, 2000)

6. 2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick, 1968)

7. Beau travail (Claire Denis, 1998)

8. Mulholland Dr. (David Lynch, 2001)

9. Man with a Movie Camera (Dziga Vertov, 1929)

10. Singin’ in the Rain (Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen, 1951)

2001: A Space Odyssey

And here’s the official directors’ Top 10 list: 

1. 2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick, 1968)

2. Citizen Kane (Orson Welles, 1941)

3. The Godfather (Francis Ford Coppola, 1972)

=4. Tokyo Story (Yasujirō Ozu, 1953)

=4. Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (Chantal Akerman, 1975)

=6. Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958)

=6. 8 ½ (Federico Fellini, 1963)

8. Mirror (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1975)

=9. Persona (Ingmar Bergman, 1966)

=9. In the Mood for Love (Wong Kar Wai, 2000)

=9. Close-Up (Abbas Kiarostami, 1989)

Sight and Sound unfortunately must have lost my ballot in the mail, but I am more than happy to share my ten picks for the greatest films of all time here. This is not my list of my favorites of all time which would be a very different lineup. I am only including what feels objectively the best to me—which thus means the list will be incredibly subjective to my own experiences. It also obviously includes only movies I have seen, and I still have not seen many movies—including this year’s Sight and Sound winner. I’m having fun with this list and playing things fairly fast and loose, so please no hate. In no particular order, here are my picks:

Children of Men

Children of Men (Alfonso Cuarón, 2006)

Malcolm X (Spike Lee, 1992)

Jaws (Steven Spielberg, 1975)

The fact that Spielberg somehow made this film at 27 makes me weep knowing I could never even conceive of making anything as exceptional and culturally significant at such a young age.

Lost in Translation

Lost in Translation (Sofia Coppola, 2003)

Capturing feelings of melancholia and isolation in such crowded city landscapes seems like a Herculean effort, but Coppola does so with ease. This director transcends the status of a “nepotism baby” in Hollywood and firmly asserts herself as one of the most talented auteurs working in American cinema in the past thirty years with “Lost in Translation.”

Memories of Murder

Memories of Murder (Bong Joon-ho, 2003)

Chungking Express (Wong Kar Wai, 1994)

This movie changed everything I’ve ever felt about neon lights, pineapples, cleaning your house, and The Mama & the Papas’ “California Dreamin’.” A perfect final scene that I couldn’t forget even if I tried.

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (Jacques Demy, 1964)

No movie I’ve seen since has felt as teeming with life and cinematic magic as The Umbrellas of Cherbourg does.

Nowhere (Gregg Araki, 1997)

Boogie Nights

Boogie Nights (Paul Thomas Anderson, 1997)

No scene in a film has ever created such a visceral and tense reaction out of me like the drug deal sequence with Alfred Molina. Again, this movie is one of the first efforts by a young auteur in their 20s with a clear vision. Imagine being 26 and creating something so unique and energetic that people are comparing your work to Robert Altman. That was a reality for Paul Thomas Anderson.

Mommy (Xavier Dolan, 2014)

Honorable Mentions:

GoodFellas (Martin Scorsese, 1990)

It’s Scorsese’s opus. The perfect mix between style and substance. 

Full Metal Jacket

Full Metal Jacket (Stanley Kubrick, 1987)

People always prefer the boot camp portions of the film in contrast to the second half set in Vietnam. I believe the second half is criminally underrated and is just as incredible. Private Joker to me is one of the most interesting and compelling protagonists ever put to film.

Before Sunset (Richard Linklater, 2004)

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (Pedro Almodóvar, 1988)

Apocalypse Now

Apocalypse Now (Francis Ford Coppola, 1979)

A slow grueling spiral into the heart of darkness. Also, a production so cursed it would almost kill its director, Coppola, and its star, Martin Sheen.

It’s A Wonderful Life (Frank Capra, 1946)

The Virgin Suicides (Sofia Coppola, 1999)

Singin’ in the Rain (Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen, 1951)

Reviews: “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” “Pearl” “The Banshees of Inisherin” 

Arts & Entertainment

Anthony Pantalone, Editor

*Spoiler-free*

One of the finest perks of being an AMC Stubs Premiere member is that I can see up to three movies each week for only $20 a month. When I’m in a theater there and the lights begin to dim, I just have this indescribable feeling that I am about to go somewhere I’ve never been before. Somewhere our heroes feel like the best parts of all of us. A place where somehow heartbreak feels almost good. As an AMC Stubs member, I had the chance to see a number of stories that felt perfect and powerful—just because they were seen in an AMC theater. Without further ado, here are my reviews of “Pearl,” “The Banshees of Inisherin,” and “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.”

“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”

The long-awaited sequel to Marvel’s 2018 megahit classic “Black Panther” finally arrived in theaters last week and offered a heartfelt tribute to the late Chadwick Boseman. This film had been building up hype and anticipation for months as many wanted to see how director Ryan Coogler and Kevin Feige would handle Boseman’s untimely passing and follow up this prior Best Picture nominee. “Wakanda Forever’s” hype is well-deserved. The movie is really long, but all its elements and each plot feel necessary. The movie serves as a touching tribute to its late lead actor yet still tells a story with interesting themes and messages. It effectively explores the effects of grief on an individual while also offering interesting commentaries on the exploitation of the global South and the in-fighting between exploited nations. Angela Bassett’s Queen Ramonda is one stand-out of the film as she delivers a great performance. Also, Tenoch Huerta’s Namor might be one of the MCU’s best-written characters in years and transcends many complaints about Marvel antagonists.  As someone who was a longtime Marvel fan, I had been feeling a lot of fatigue with these movies lately, but “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” felt like a breath of fresh air.

“Pearl”

Ti West follows up on this year’s “X” with a prequel-sequel that offers the origin of Pearl, the killer and villain of the first film. This director also teams up again with Mia Goth who had played both this titular protagonist and the character of Maxine. Speaking of Mia Goth, she puts on a clinic in this film and offers a fantastic performance of a completely unhinged character. There is an incredible monologue late in the film that lasts what feels like almost ten minutes, and Goth easily delivers it, showing off her skill and acting prowess. The performance should likely be in the conversation for a Best Lead Actress Oscar, but nevertheless it comes from a genre almost always overlooked by the Academy. The opening score is remarkable and reminds one of the grand scores of old Hollywood from that bygone era of cinema. Also, the end credits are truly unsettling, but I will not say anymore in the interest of not disclosing spoilers.

“The Banshees of Inisherin”

Martin McDonagh’s newest film features an “In Bruges” reunion with Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson and depicts the story of two friends on the fictional Irish island of Inisherin in 2022. This story shows the end of their friendship as Gleeson’s character Colm wishes to no longer speak to or spend time with Farrell’s character Pádraic. This sudden falling out is only one-sided and  motivated by Colm’s despair and existential depression due to his mortality. Knowing that he will one day die, Colm cannot bother to spend any more of his precious time with dim-witted Padraic. This predicament soon grows dire for the two of them as the stakes of their fight continue to intensify. McDonagh’s screenplay stands out as a major achievement for this film as it carefully blends dry humor, existential angst and tragedy all together. The script does all this while also making you feel like you are watching a dark Irish folk tale. Coming off his prior cinematic success with “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” McDonagh has captured lightning in a bottle again and will likely receive award buzz for this film. One final note: Barry Keoghan gives one of my favorite performances of this year in this movie. Every time he was on screen, I could not personally stop laughing at his line delivery. I dearly hope he gets a Best Supporting Actor nomination for this role. He is going to be huge in Hollywood in the next few years. 

Review: “Decision to Leave”

Arts & Entertainment

Anthony Pantalone, Editor

*Spoiler-free Review*

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend a Philadelphia Film Festival screening of legendary director Park Chan-wook’s new film “Decision to Leave.” This new entry into Park’s filmography tells the story of a detective attempting to solve the murder of a businessperson and his widow that draws forth both his suspicion and affection. As the detective slowly falls in love with this suspect, her connections to the potential crime only deepen. This film draws upon various elements of Park’s stylized filmmaking such as fast paced hyper-violent action as well as complex interesting characters. In other aspects though, Park is attempting to tell a slow sensual story in which details are slowly revealed to the viewer—one in which the audience is rewarded for continuing to watch. Before delving into my review, I would be remiss to forget to mention that Park Chan-wook won the Best Director award at this year’s Cannes Film Festival for “Decision to Leave” and that the film will be South Korea’s entry for Best International Film at this year’s Academy Awards.

“Shattered”

“Decision to Leave” offers viewers a spell-binding romance that should not feel as compelling as it is. The viewer is masterfully drawn in by Park and made to feel “shattered” along with its characters as the story slowly unravels. The relationship that blossoms between this married detective and the widowed suspect fundamentally is set up for failure and will breed toxicity, yet the viewer is nevertheless enthralled by the development of their relationship in the first half of the movie. The midpoint of this screenplay then provides an important twist after which both characters find themselves spiraling because of their toxic relationship. This spiral then offers the viewer Hitchcockian suspense—that also feels somehow romantic—before resulting in a climax and finale that leaves you pondering for hours afterwards. This story of love, infatuation and longing thus leaves both main characters and the audience completely “shattered” by the end of its 138-minute runtime.

A Brief Cinematic Inquiry Into Online Relationships: Film in the Digital Age

A viral tweet in recent weeks had pointed out how many modern films do not utilize social media or cell phones in storytelling effectively, and many people in response highlighted “Decision to Leave” as a good example of a movie that does. Technology holds a pivotal role in this screenplay as the story continuously progresses forward through the use of smartphones. Within this modern romance-noir film, it is necessary for a smartphone to track a person’s steps all day. Also, voice recordings, another attribute of cell phones, are pivotal to Park’s newest film as—without spoiling any important plot point—recordings of conversations on the phone affect the crux of this movie. The viewer is also able to see different dimensions of these characters and their relationship as they can share text messages and continue to communicate while not exactly together in the same location. Not many movies can effectively convey how computers and technology have changed the nature of love and relationships between people, but “Decision to Leave” effectively highlights its profound modern-day impact.

Live and Die by the Edit

Editing holds a profound effect on the success and coherence of a movie, as film editing is an art form inherently connected to cinema and motion pictures. It can elevate a viewing experience and how one understands the moving pictures to new dizzying heights. At the same time, a lazy or messy edit of a film can single-handedly ruin that movie and make a film unviewable. Therefore, it is so important to discuss the editing of “Decision to Leave,” because it is simply so exciting and captivating. This film has likely the best editing I have had the pleasure of seeing this year—even beating out the wonderfully fast-paced and chaotic editing in “Everything Everywhere All at Once.” One scene depicting a police chase across rooftops was edited so perfectly to affect the viewer that I audibly gasped in the theater—which I usually do not do. While the Academy will likely only recognize American films in Best Editing category, one could only hope some recognition is given to Kim Sang-bum whose work is incredible in this film.

Reviews: “Halloween Ends” “Black Adam” “Bros” and “Werewolf By Night”

Arts & Entertainment

Anthony Pantalone, Editor

In the month of October, a batch of new films hit theaters and streaming services worldwide. Some great, some alright, some weird. Also, with this month came the frights and ghouls of the Halloween season as moviegoers were treated to various new frights and thrills. Here are a couple of quick reviews of new films I had the treat of watching in the past few weeks. Spoilers ahead…

Halloween Ends

“Halloween Ends” is a weird movie. It’s advertised as the final film in the Halloween franchise, yet it barely features Michael Myers. Also, the people in this also barely act like human beings. I’m not sure if that is a purposeful creative choice or the script is just weird and bad. I was expecting this movie to be about Laurie Strode and Michael Myers facing off for the final time. I wasn’t entirely wrong about that, but the movie is mostly just about some random guy. I’m not even kidding. Like, just some guy that accidentally killed someone years ago and later turns into a serial killer. An hour and twenty minutes in, there had been little to no horror, and I was just incredibly confused. I can’t be too critical of this movie though and am actually biased to even like it. I saw it with my mom and her review of the film dictates that “it was good.” Therefore, I am also inclined to say “Halloween Ends” was good.

Black Adam

Black Adam is so cool. Look at him. He’s changing the hierarchy of power in the DC Universe. He’s so strong and powerful. This review is officially sponsored by “Black Adam” starring Dwayne Johnson only in theaters now. #ad

Just kidding. Here are some quick thoughts. This movie was okay. Pierce Brosnan was cool. You could cut at least 45 minutes from this two-hour movie by getting rid of the slow motion.  I am confused by the politics of this film though. Is it anti-imperialist? Is The Rock taking a hard stance on the West using Middle Eastern strife for profit? The movie itself doesn’t even really understand what’s at hand politically. This is one of those movies I would love to ask Noam Chomsky or Slavoj Žižek about. Also, important to note, the last thing that the Paul Pelosi attacker wrote before the recent assassination attempt was a review of “Black Adam.” We’ve now found our generation’s Mark David Chapman and “Catcher in the Rye.” 

Bros

I had fun watching “Bros” and genuinely do think that the box office numbers were unfair to this film. The first hour and a half are great, but I do think the film could have benefitted from editing the final half hour better. I do understand the criticisms about Billy Eichner as a lead. I think he is a funny person who did fit this role, yet it irks me that he definitely wrote himself into his own script as the lead. I don’t know. It feels like wish fulfillment to a certain degree. It’s so self-indulgent when a writer puts themselves in their own story and purposefully makes them come off as incredibly interesting, successful and always right. Woody Allen did this a lot, and it always was unbearable. Noah Baumbach would do the same yet at least always had Ben Stiller or Adam Driver play the self-insert character. If you’re going to write a character into your script, at least don’t play that character. I could see several other middle-aged gay actors who could play this role perfectly. Andrew Scott is right there. Same with Lee Pace.

Werewolf By Night

I loved this after going in with absolutely no expectations. Discourse about the Marvel Cinematic Universe to me usually is perennially exhausting and really has no point. Though after the past year or so, I had been growing somewhat weary of Marvel after just watching so much. “Werewolf by Night” felt like the sole breath of creative fresh air I’ve seen Kevin Feige and the folks at Marvel Studios give audiences in a while. This Halloween special clocks in at a little under an hour and is directed by famed composer Michael Giachinno. The special also differs from other Marvel projects as it focuses on simply telling an interesting story and leans in on the horror elements. Giachinno swaps out the heavy use of CGI in favor of mostly practical effects—a choice that profoundly benefits “Werewolf By Night.” It also wonderfully plays as a homage to classic horror B-movies in Old Hollywood. The black-and-white film looks grainy with splotches appearing every so often. Even at one point, the creative choice is made to have a shot repeat while the audio continues out of sync. After seeing so much creativity stifled in the massive media conglomerate that is Marvel, it is truly refreshing to see someone be allowed to compose a scene with aesthetically pleasing cinematography. While Marvel has lacked creativity in some recent projects, Giachinno ensures that “Werewolf By Night” lacks neither style nor substance.

Review: “Review: ‘Review: The Rehearsal Season One’ by Anthony Pantalone” by Ethan McGlone” by Anthony Pantalone

Satire

Anthony Pantalone, Editor 

via IMDb

Ethan McGlone is an intelligent man, but he gives me way too much credit. I think he should actually give himself more credit. I am truly flattered, but I am way too braindead to be rewarded by his kind words.

Ethan compliments my opening, where I state that anxiety is a prison, and says that he had never considered it in connection to this show. What Ethan doesn’t know is that I am throwing things at the wall in these articles and praying to God that something sticks. I was trying to grasp what the show could possibly be trying to convey and mean below the surface, but honestly, the key takeaway of The Rehearsal could just in fact be “Haha, Nathan guy funny. Good show.” I am taking myself way too seriously talking about a show that includes the statement “Whoa, it’s door city over here.” Also, I have never enrolled in “Love, Marriage, and Parenting,” but I wish I could engage in such courses. My understanding of Mr. Fielder and his idiosyncrasies leave a lot to be desired without the knowledge Mr. McGlone might have gained from these classes.

This review of my review also mentions my mention of Charlie Kaufman and Synecdoche, New York. Ethan is not entirely alone on his point. I don’t really know exactly what Synecdoche means. I remember learning it in high school, but too much time has passed since and I’ve forgotten its meaning and asking now would just be embarrassing. I’m not entirely sure why I included Kaufman. It seemed right? I don’t know. It also makes me feel like I’m coming off as pretentious and snobby. I’ll outsource this one to my therapist.

I agree with him about The Fielder Method.” It’s perfect. It gets so invasive, but you can’t stop watching. You can’t take your eyes off it like watching a train crash in real time. Instead of a train, it’s a tall socially awkward man, and, instead of going off the rails, this train is breaking into an actor’s home and living as him.

In summation, I am at most a pseudo-intellectual and not a competent human.

Review of his review of my review: 4 stars out of 5.

Fall 2022 Movie Preview

Arts & Entertainment

Anthony Pantalone, Editor

With the summer movie season now over, attention now shifts to the movies coming to theaters and streaming services this upcoming autumn. The arrival of October means that Halloween soon approaches, and both scary and non-scary blockbusters will consequently be gracing the big screen. In November and December, crowd-pleasers and critical darlings alike will hit the box office as 2022 draws to a close. Without further ado, let’s break down what’s coming out in the next few months.

October

At the beginning of October, this year’s Cannes Film Festival Palme d’Or winner and class satire “Triangle of Sadness” from Ruben Ostlund will be released in some theaters on Oct. 7 before a wide release at the end of the month. The Halloween horror franchise finally ends with “Halloween Ends” on Oct. 14 as Jaime Lee Curtis and Michael Myers hopefully settle their beef once and for all. That same week, filmmaking legend Park Chan-wook returns with “Decision to Leave”—a crime thriller that spirals into romance. Three major films arrive in theaters the next Friday on Oct. 21 with “Black Adam”—The Rock’s DC superhero flick— “Ticket to Paradise,” and “The Banshees of Insherin.” “Ticket to Paradise” features George Clooney and Julia Roberts as divorced partners in this romantic comedy while “The Banshees of Insherin”—Martin McDonagh’s first film since “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”—has already received widespread critical acclaim at festivals.

Warner Bros. Pictures

November

November stands as a big month for movies with releases of legacy sequels, arthouse films, and Marvel blockbusters. On the 11th, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” the sequel to the 2018 Best Picture nominee and mega-smash hit, releases. This film comes in the wake of star Chadwick Boseman’s sudden death in 2020 and looks to honor this late actor. That same week sees the release of James Gray’s “Armageddon Time” starring Anne Hathaway and Jeremy Strong. Alejandro Iñárritu is back for the first time since 2016’s “The Revenant” with “Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths” on Netflix on Nov. 18, which has so far received mixed reviews. Also, “She Said”—a film about the bombshell article that revealed allegations against Harvey Weinstein and that sparked the MeToo movement—releases and will garner some momentum for awards season. The week of Thanksgiving will be a huge week for theaters—as four films will be battling it out on Nov. 23 at the box office. First, Disney’s animated sci-fi adventure film “Strange World” and the WWII fighter pilot movie “Devotion” starring Jonathan Majors both release. This day also sees the opening of “The Fabelmans” from Steven Spielberg as this famed director tells a semi-autobiographical story about growing up and the power of moviemaking. Finally, this day sees the release of “Bones and All,” the newest film from Luca Guadagnino—director of “Call Me By Your Name” and “We Are Who We Are”—starring Timothee Chalamet and Taylor Russell. This film follows a young couple who are cannibals in 80s Reagan-era America—a premise that sounds incredibly gruesome and dark amid widespread festival acclaim of its emotional impact. Finally, for fans of the original, the “Enchanted” sequel “Disenchanted” arrives to Disney+ on Nov. 30.

MGM Studios Inc.

December

The holiday season opens in December as Autumn turns to Winter. This month begins with “Violent Night” on Dec. 2 with David Harbour starring as Santa Claus in a gritty graphic action movie. The next Friday, the 9th, sees the release of Sam Mendes’ “Empire of Light” in theaters and Guillermo del Toro’s “Pinocchio” on Netflix. “Avatar: The Way of Water” finally graces the big screen the very next week on Dec. 16 after James Cameron has promised (or threatened, based on your opinion) “Avatar” sequels for over a decade. The next weekend is Christmas—which means a sizable number of movies will be coming out. Dec. 21 will have the release of the Whitney Houston biopic “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” and the Shrek spin-off sequel “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish.” That Friday, the 23rd, Netflix releases the long-awaited sequel to the murder-mystery “Knives Out” with “Glass Onion.” On Christmas Day itself, Damien Chazelle’s “Babylon” releases and promises a film of epic proportions about early Hollywood. Sarah Polley’s “Women Talking” comes out on the same day and explores the aftermath of sexual abuse. On Nov. 30, “White Noise” from Noah Baumbach streams on Netflix and stars Adam Driver, Greta Gerwig, and Don Cheadle.

Review: “The Rehearsal” Season One

Arts & Entertainment

Anthony Pantalone, Editor

*Spoilers Ahead*

Anxiety can be a prison. One that feels impossible to escape. No matter what someone does, their fears paralyze them. The possibility of doing something wrong or making a mistake seems so inevitable and terrifying that one often never even takes any action. Some people even let this fear dictate their lives and well-being. They’ll take medication to minimize its effects and work tirelessly to live with their anxiety. “The Rehearsal” offers an absurd and comedic alternative.

Rehearsing Life

Nathan Fielder’s “The Rehearsal” shows this awkward neurotic comedian back in top form as he attempts to help others and himself overcome strenuous anxieties through various rehearsals of real-life experiences. Well-known for his prior television show “Nathan For You,” Fielder in this program constructs elaborate sets and productions to rehearse and simulate both social interactions and mundane events. In the process, this comedian looks to help others alleviate their own social and existential anxieties while somehow healing his own personal neuroses. From allowing a man to confess to a friend about his academic career to helping a woman simulate parenthood, Fielder looks to explore and understand almost every aspect of life by rehearsing it. This undertaking creates strange absurdly comedic situations making for great television. Fielder channels the energy and existential anxiety of the works of Charlie Kaufman—a la “Synecdoche, New York”—only with far less manic-depression.

HBO Max

“The Fielder Method”

This show produces what-may-be the most head spinning half-hour of television this year with its fourth episode, “The Fielder Method.” The installment’s title refers to Nathan’s signature school of acting where his actors attempt to truly embody the roles they play. He wants them to truly somehow get into the mind of the people they are playing in these rehearsals. This desire even causes him to arrange for each actor to work in the profession of their specific role. When one actor, Ryan, shows early apprehension to this method, Fielder is sent into a spiral trying to understand the perspective and feelings of this student. Simple communication with this actor isn’t enough for Nathan, and he sets up an entire rehearsal of his own acting class where he now plays the role of Ryan. Another actor even plays Nathan Fielder who teaches the class in this rehearsal. This comedian slowly descends further and further into absurdism over this simple debacle—even eventually leading Nathan to secretly move into this student’s apartment and live there while playing as Ryan. “The Fielder Method” is incredibly hilarious even while making the viewer feel constantly uncomfortable. I have not audibly gasped as much at an episode of television in years.

HBO Max

Stranger than Fiction

One would think the most off-putting and badly-adjusted person involved in this show would be Nathan Fielder—the man using a huge budget to pull off insane rehearsals of real life. He somehow isn’t. Fielder is one of the most well-adjusted people in comparison to the actions of others around him in these productions. There’s Angela—a fiercely antisemitic Christian woman for whom Nathan arranges a rehearsal to see if she would like to be a parent. Another example is Robin, Angela’s brief simulated spouse who constantly refers to numerology and the fact that he crashed his Scion TC at over 100 miles per hour. Nathan—who is Jewish himself—combats Angela’s antisemitism with the help of a local Jewish tutor. Then, after Angela leaves this rehearsal, this same tutor reveals herself to be a fierce Zionist and attempts to force her own beliefs onto Nathan’s simulated son. The rehearsed events would appear to be the strangest aspect of this show, but the real people that participate appear even stranger through their own actions and statements.

HBO Max

In summation, “The Rehearsal” is likely one of the most stressful and neurotic television shows I have ever seen. It is the unequivocal vision of a person who doesn’t understand the people around him yet desperately wants to. I loved every minute of it. Also, I really hope Nathan Fielder goes to therapy.

2022 Summer Movie Review Round-up

Arts & Entertainment

Anthony Pantalone, Editor

As the summer movie season draws to a close, it’s important to look back and reflect on the films that graced theaters and streaming services in the past months. Between Nicole Kidman ads, fighter jets, and weird European accents, the cinema was back in full force this summer! General audiences came out and showed that they still enjoy going out to a theater and watching a movie up on a huge screen. Therefore, let’s assess what came out from the good to the bad to the Elvis.

Great

“Nope”

Nothing else to say about this one outside of my earlier review. I love the score and love Keke Palmer’s performance.

“Cha Cha Real Smooth”

Cooper Raiff’s sophomore feature is a somewhat corny but very sincere coming-of-age movie about trying to exist and figure out life after college in your twenties. Every character is compassionate and really cares about the other people in their lives. It was genuinely refreshing to watch a movie that does not stray far away from that premise.

Apple TV+

“Bodies Bodies Bodies”

Ever the source of online discourse, “Bodies Bodies Bodies’ ‘ was a fun satire. Lee Pace is great. Rachel Sennott is going to be one of the most talented actors working in the next decade. Any movie that knows how to effectively use Connor O’Malley and Azealia Banks’ “212” is a win in my book.

“Hustle”

It’s so fun seeing a movie set in Philly, let alone also filmed on La Salle’s campus! Adam Sandler is great. Anthony Edwards is surprisingly a good comedic actor. Seeing a training montage in Philadelphia use the hills of Manayunk/Roxborough instead of the Art Museum steps was a fun creative choice and use of the city. Before I move on, I must mention how funny it was that the airport scenes were so obviously shot in the Wells Fargo Center.

Netflix

“Fire Island”

This movie is a good, funny, heartfelt “Pride and Prejudice” adaptation. What’s not to love? It has a great soundtrack and feels like a movie about LGBTQ+ people that was actually made and written by LGBTQ+ creatives. This film is an easy summer comfort watch.

Good

“Bullet Train”

“Bullet Train” was alright! It underutilized a lot of actors like Zazie Beetz and Logan Lerman. The action and humor are pretty good. I must say though, I would love to see Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Brian Tyree Henry star opposite each other in a romcom.

Sony Pictures

“Thor: Love and Thunder”

Taika Waititi returns to the Marvel Cinematic Universe for another Thor movie after winning a screenplay Oscar for “Jojo Rabbit” in 2019 and delivers another solid entry into this franchise. This movie knows what it is: a perfectly unserious space rock opera. While offering up an unsurprisingly great Christian Bale performance, I somewhat wish Waititi had also given the script a few more passes. It’s not bad per se, but the magic and charm of “Thor: Ragnarok” does not feel replicated here.

“Top Gun: Maverick”

“Top Gun: Maverick” was a lot of fun to watch on a huge screen and a great start to the summer movie season on Memorial Day Weekend. It felt like a classic summer blockbuster made to please big crowds and it did exactly that. I personally am not a Tom Cruise fan, but he is undeniably likely the last bonafide action movie star in Hollywood. It’s a Top Gun movie, so it might as well be a two-hour ad for the American military. Suffice to say, Cruise and Scientology received a huge payday this summer with this movie, so the real winner of the Top Gun sequel was L. Ron Hubbard.

Paramount Pictures

“Lightyear”

It was alright. I don’t have any strong feelings about this movie. The time travel plot was confusing for me personally. I’m just happy that these types of movies make money so that Pixar can keep making things like “Soul” and “Luca.”

Meh

“Elvis”

Look, I’ll be honest. I’m pretty indifferent at best regarding Elvis. I like some of his songs, but I do not like him as a person at all. I had a fine time seeing this on opening day in a Dolby Cinema theater. I am pretty sure I was the only person in my theater under the age of 40. The old women in my row looked like they had a great time though, so I love that for them. This movie is sooooo long, almost unforgivably long. Baz Luhrmann’s directing is inventive and stylized and therefore made this movie very watchable. Austin Butler’s performance is good. Tom Hanks’ performance opposite him though is absolutely abysmal—quite possibly the worst performance of his career. I finally understand now where Chet gets it. Also, this movie romanticizes a 24-year-old Elvis grooming and marrying a 14-year-old child—incredibly disgusting and reprehensible.

“The Gray Man”

“The Gray Man” is Joe and Anthony Russo’s first summer action blockbuster since “Avengers: Endgame” in 2019, but this movie honestly looks way too dull to have had $200 million spent on making it. I also wish they would stop using drone tracking shots. They look like GoPro YouTube videos. Much love to all involved.

Netflix

“Jurassic World Dominion”

I can’t give a fair review for this movie. I saw it in a 4D theater and was thrown around for almost the entire two- and half-hour runtime. I remember something about locusts? I thought it was supposed to be about dinosaurs.

Bad

“Men”

This movie was simply not good. Not even in the way that a bad movie could be fun to watch. This is my formal recommendation to not watch it.