From the concert stage to the movie set, Harry Styles stars in Don’t Worry Darling and the question on my mind is can Harry Styles act? Do fans even care? Well, if you saw Don’t Worry Darling this weekend, you probably have some of those answers. The film is directed by Olivia Wilde and stars Styles, Florence Pugh, Chris Pine and Gemma Chan. With a budget of $35 million, and a press tour mired by rumors of drama between director Olivia Wilde and star Florence Pugh along with wild speculation over photos of Styles potentially spitting on co-star Chris Pine from the Venice Film Festival. Between bad press and average pre-release ratings, the film did well in its first weekend, grossing $19.2 million from Friday to Sunday. Facing Don’t Worry Darling this past weekend was The Woman King which was on its second weekend in theaters, and the re-released highest grossing film in history, James Cameron’s Avatar.
Another film playing in theaters this past weekend was horror movie Barbarian, directed by Zach Cregger. The film stars Georgina Campbell and IT actor Bill Skarsgård. Barbarian is in its third week since its release, on Sept. 9th. Moving towards the gruesome is Netflix’s Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story, released on Sept. 21st . Directed and written by Ryan Murphy, who is also famous for his creation of Glee and American Horror Story, the Dahmer series stars an AHS actor, Evan Peters. Eating while watching this series is not recommended.
Disney fans got a glimpse of The Little Mermaid starring Halle Bailey. Unfortunately, some people were, let’s face it, racist concerning their issues about the casting of Halle Bailey who will play the first black Ariel. Most comments and discourse came from the popular social media app, TikTok, where people voiced how the casting choice was not “biologically accurate” for the fantastical, made-up creature, that we call a mermaid. Also generating controversy over diverse casting, is Amazon Prime’s The Rings of Power show which is placed inside The Lord of the Rings universe. Overall with 25 million people watching the first two episodes upon its release, the series is doing well even though it places women and people of color in the forefront of its narrative.
Wild Rivers is an indie folk band that originated in Ontario, Canada. Its three members are Khalid Yassein (vocals, guitar, keys), Andrew Oliver (lead guitar, synths), and Devan Glover (vocals). In 2016, Wild Rivers self-released their self-titled debut album. Some fan-favorite tracks off this album are “Heart Attack,” “Wandering Child” and “Speak Too Soon.” In February 2022, Wild Rivers released their second studio album, “Sidelines,” under Nettwerk Records. This album debuted in the top ten on Spotify’s Debut Album Chart in the USA. These tracks, which incorporate sounds of folk, alternative, indie, rock and pop, focus on the relatable issues those in their early to mid-twenties face as they try to navigate adulthood and search for a sense of identity, all while reminiscing on younger days. A fan-favorite track off “Sidelines” is “Amsterdam.” Wild Rivers has recently finished their European leg of their “Sidelines” world tour, which was a success with sold-out shows. They are currently touring North America.
Wild Rivers took the time off from their busy tour schedule to answer a few questions. Let’s get to know the band a little better. I hope you enjoy our Q&A session.
Q (JERIANN): Which song off “Sidelines” holds the most personal meaning for each of you?
A (ANDREW): Writing “More or Less” was a very special and memorable moment. We had rented a house in Echo Park together. It was late at night and we were hanging in the living room where we’d set up all our instruments. We had this simple vibey synth note looping, and Khal started playing some piano chords over it. It was an instantly moody and great vibe. We stayed up late into the night and figured out the rest. It felt very inspiring and was one of the more effortless moments in the creation of the album.
A (KHALID): “Bedrock” is a song about a period of time when I struggled with depression. It’s the first time I’ve spoken about it, and it was an important step for me to move forward and get some complicated feelings off of my chest. I think it’s an important conversation in general, as everyone has mental health. Musicians in general with a demanding lifestyle and unstable living situations are susceptible to mental health issues so I’m glad that this has been a bigger conversation over the last few years.
A (DEVAN): I specifically remember the process of making “More or Less.” We were all sitting in our living room in Echo Park, tired from a day of attempting to write a song but not really getting anywhere. Khal started playing these chords on a Wurlitzer and we just started talking about the existential crisis we were all having. We managed to turn that conversation into this song, and it really revealed a lot of the subconscious themes of the album. Writing this one felt very raw and real.
Q (JERIANN): What can the audience expect when they come to see you live in concert?
A (WILD RIVERS): A little bit of everything. We try to keep our show as light and fun as possible. Although our music can be a little sombre, we as people love to laugh and goof around so there’s a fair bit of silliness and dumb bits at our shows. We want people to laugh, dance, cry, meet new friends and hug their old ones. The vibe of the show this past tour has been really really awesome, and we’re feeling all of those emotions even more than before.
Q (JERIANN): Growing up, which artists did you listen to that inspired you musically?
A (WILD RIVERS): We all converge on the classic songwriters. Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Fleetwood Mac, The Beatles and Elton John. Then today we have influences across the map, indie, hip hop, R&B, and pop. But even in those genres, most of those artists are referencing another era of music, which we think is really cool. We try to pull a bit from everything.
Q (JERIANN): What advice would you give to aspiring young musicians?
A (WILD RIVERS): Make music that inspires you, more than anyone else. It’s the only compass you can follow. If you think something is cool, it is. Today’s industry is exhausting, where artists are vying for a few seconds of attention. While that can be tiresome, it also means that young artists have more reach than ever before. And at the end of the day, you have to love the music. It’s easy to forget why you do something but for your own happiness, it’s important to remind yourself of that. And a true fan will love a song you make way more than a TikTok.
You can see Wild Rivers live in concert in Philadelphia on Oct. 5 at Union Transfer. The band will also be appearing at other US venues up until Oct. 9. Below is the schedule of Wild Rivers tour dates:
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
“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.
“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.
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.”
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.
“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.
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.
Will Joseph Cook is a famous singer-songwriter from Kent, England. Cook is known for his feel-good and catchy melodies which encompass a genre of alternative rock, pop and indie. Cook rose to fame in 2015 after publishing his first EP titled “You Jump, I Run” on the internet, which received over one million streams and resulted in the creation of a large fan base. He has since gone on to release several successful albums and one of his tracks, “Be Around Me,” has been featured in more than 1.2M Tik-Tok videos and over 400k Instagram Reels. This past May, Cook released his latest album “Every Single Thing” under his indie record label, Bad Hotel. Some of the fan-favorite tracks off this album include “Little Miss,” “Kisses,” “Gummy,” and “BOP.”
Cook is currently on tour in the US. He is touring with American singer-songwriter Tessa Violet on her Rise of the Phoenix Tour. On Sept. 19, the tour will be making a stop in Philadelphia at The Foundry, where you can see Cook give a high-energy live performance. He will also be appearing at other US venues up until Oct. 3. Below is the schedule of Will Joseph Cook tour dates:
Will Joseph Cook took the time off from his busy tour schedule to answer a few questions. Let’s get to know him a little better. I hope you enjoy our Q&A session:
Q (JERIANN): Is this your first tour in America?
A (WILL JOSEPH COOK): It is! My first bus tour too, it’s been quite the experience. I’d spent a lot of time in LA recording but had barely seen the rest of the US before this tour. Our day off in Joshua Tree National Park is a personal highlight so far.
Q (JERIANN) What should fans expect when they see you live?
A (WILL JOSEPH COOK): Currently, I’m touring as a two piece with my good friend and collaborator Eric Radloff (Okudaxij). We both spread across a few different instruments throughout the set, with a drum machine backing us up. We bring a lot of energy when we play, it has been dope to see that mirrored in all of the crowds here!
Q (JERIANN): Do you have a personal favorite song that is on your “Every Single Thing” album?
A (WILL JOSEPH COOK): It changes all the time, but I think at the moment it’s ‘BOP’ as it’s been popping so hard on this tour. It really comes to life in a live show, that was always what I had in my mind when writing it.
Q (JERIANN): Growing up, which artists did you listen to that inspired you musically?
A (WILL JOSEPH COOK): My first big influences were Vampire Weekend, Darwin Deez, Phoenix, Eels and Calvin Harris’s first LPs to name a few.
Q (JERIANN): What advice would you give to aspiring artists?
A (WILL JOSEPH COOK): To not be afraid of sharing your music. I feel like a lot of aspiring artists put a lot of pressure on their first release, but most successful artists have had a long and colorful path to where they’re at now – you just have to start.
I was seven years old the first time I was face-to-face with a bear. Dusk, Leetonia Road, Tioga County. My father and I were walking on a dirt road towards our car when we noticed a dark black figure moving ahead of us. Being a child, I was paralyzed by fear. I had never seen a bear before and standing a couple hundred feet away from one felt surreal. My father had always told me how black bears were much more scared of humans than the reverse. I knew not to run away — which would trigger a predatory instinct in this animal to chase me down. Instead, the bear would take three steps, and we would take three steps. This pattern would continue until it passed my father’s truck and into the woods. I was fine, but I would never forget the feeling of being so close to this wild animal that could tear me apart so easily. Jordan Peele’s “Nope”perfectly encapsulates that same feeling by exploring the experiences of dealing with a territorial predatory animal — in this case, a UFO.
Writing “Nope” during the pandemic — a time where people could not watch films in theaters — Peele intended for this movie to be seen on a large screen to be truly appreciated. It was filmed using IMAX cameras and carries the hallmarks of a classic summer blockbuster. The movie may be a visual spectacle, yet the concept of spectacle also thematically drives the film. The act of capturing a spectacle for the world to see — whether it be through a wind-up camera or space-themed live show — motivates each character for better or worse. Ricky “Jupe” Jupiter (Steven Yeun) attempts to commodify the presence of a UFO by showing it off to theme park guests and ultimately meets his end doing so. The protagonists — Emerald (Keke Palmer) and OJ (Daniel Kaluuya) put their lives on the line to get the perfect “Oprah” shot of the alien and reverse their financial woes. Cinematographer Anders Holst (Michael Wincott) knowingly sacrifices his life to get a close-up shot of this creature. The inclusion of a reporter from TMZ who only cares about rumors of this phenomenon also holds incredible importance pertaining to “spectacle.” TMZ is known for distastefully chasing attention-grabbing news and images by any means — consider its handling of Kobe Bryant’s death for example.
Living Through a “Bad Miracle”
One central question that Peele offers is “What do you call a bad miracle?” It sounds simple, but there is no simple answer. This film intends to answer it by examining how one is forced to process a “bad miracle.” The characters of the film are faced with unspeakable horrors, and the trauma of that experience profoundly affects them. A coin spit out by the alien-being pierces Otis Haywood Sr.’s (Keith David) eye, killing him in front of OJ. This cloud of grief then hangs over the protagonists throughout the film and places them in a financial position where they need to profit off a video of the UFO. Also, Jupe witnessed the “Gordy’s Home” massacre in 1998 and is shown still experiencing trauma through flashbacks. This horrifying ordeal even causes him to include mementos of that day in his own private museum. The only means by which this character can live with his trauma is by turning it into a form of spectacle. Thus, using the UFO as a focal point of a theme park live show is the only way he can face this new “bad miracle.”
I had the chance to attend an IMAX screening of this film which included a live conversation between Peele and Palmer, and this filmmaker specifically cited Spielberg as one of the major influences for “Nope.” While comparisons to “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” and “Jaws” are obvious, examining the possible influence of “War of the Worlds” allows one to better understand what Peele achieves with “Nope.” An interesting parallel could compare Spielberg’s exploration of post-9/11 trauma in his 2005 adaptation of “War of the Worlds” with Peele’s examination of pandemic trauma in “Nope.” Both movies attempt to examine inconceivable horror and grief through the concept of aliens violently coming down to Earth. Spielberg in “War of the Worlds” encapsulates 9/11 trauma by conveying the sheer panic and terror people felt in response to their own helplessness. Peele capitalizes on the experiences of living through the COVID-19 pandemic—as he said in an interview with GQ—by writing about a “newfound fear from this trauma:” going outside.
“Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness” is a worldwide famous singer-songwriter and pianist. McMahon has had success in the industry since the late nineties when he co-founded the pop-punk band “Something Corporate” with a high school friend. This band has released three studio albums. Their most successful song, “If You C Jordan,” was released off their first studio album. However, “Something Corporate” is also well-known for the songs “Space” and “Pop Punk Princess.”
After “Something Corporate” went on hiatus in the early 2000s, McMahon found success with the rock band “Jack’s Mannequin,” which he formed. “Jack’s Mannequin” released three studio albums, two of which entered the top 10 on the Billboard 200 chart. This rock band is best known for the hit songs “Dark Blue,” “The Mixed Tape” and “Swim.”
In 2014, McMahon found success as a solo artist under the moniker “Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness.” His self-titled debut album made it to the top 5 of the Billboard’s Alternative Albums chart. Its lead single, “Cecilia and the Satellite,” became a widely successful radio hit.
McMahon has since gone on tour with big names, such as “Weezer” and “Panic! At the Disco” as part of a 2016 summer tour. This past summer, McMahon has co-headlined a tour with rock band “Dashboard Confessional,” as well as opened for a few Billy Joel concerts.
McMahon has made numerous television appearances. He has performed on the late shows such as “Jimmy Kimmel Live!,” “Last Call with Carson Daly” and “The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson.” His music videos were played on “VH1’s Top 20 Countdown,” with one of his videos, “The Mixed Tape,” coming in at the number one spot in 2006. Also, McMahon appeared in an episode of “One Tree Hill.” He has also been nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics for the NBC musical drama “Smash.”
Adding to his many contributions, McMahon is also a published author. In 2021, McMahon released a memoir titled “Three Pianos: A Memoir,” which details the challenges and successes in his career and personal life.
McMahon has also been working on new music that he cannot wait to share with his fans. This past August, he premiered his new single “Stars” via Nettwerk. The meaningful lyrics reflect the beauty and pain that come with loving someone.
I had the opportunity to ask Andrew McMahon several questions. I hope you enjoy our Q&A session:
Q (JERIANN): What can fans expect from your upcoming music?
A (ANDREW): We recorded all of these songs over three months and were able to spend so many hours living inside these arrangements. I think this is one of the most sonically exciting records I’ve made. Having so much time between this album and my last also made it possible to curate a batch of songs that I feel are very rich in subject matter. I haven’t been this excited to release music in a long time.
Q (JERIANN): Growing up, which artists did you listen to that inspired you musically?
A (ANDREW): I am the youngest of five kids in the 80’s and 90’s, so my older siblings’ music became my early inspiration. Artists like Tom Petty, R.E.M., U2, Neil Young, James Taylor, Madonna and Michael Jackson. As a piano player, I was all about Billy Joel and one of my earliest personal discoveries that steered a lot of my writing was Counting Crows.
Q (JERIANN): What advice would you give to aspiring young musicians?
A (ANDREW): Make music because you love it, play and write constantly. Success can appear glamorous from the outside, but success in this business requires an insane amount of hard work and if you don’t love the work it’s a thankless road.
Spoiler free review of the most divisive film of the spring
Jakob Eiseman, Editor-in-Chief
Header Image: Marvel Studios Shot on Disney’s Volume studio, the visuals of “Multiverse of Madness” are really the key.
I have gone through a bit of a “hater phase” when it comes to Marvel Studios and their constant month-after-month output. Starting as a fan in my youth, naturally I followed the series of what is now well over 30 projects, including their recent forays into television through Disney+, and as time went on I was less and less impressed, chalking it up to me just losing my younger days and accepting that these movies really are mostly for children.
Most of their recent projects have disappointed me to such a degree that I regret going to the movie theater to see them or following them week to week on Disney+, and going to the theater or relaxing for TV nights are some of my favorite pastimes. I enjoyed “Spider-Man No Way Home” for the nostalgia, but other than that, I’ve been pretty bummed on Marvel for a long time.
“Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” is a sequel to 2016’s “Doctor Strange,” which follows the titular Dr. Stephen Strange, played by Benedict Cumberbatch (“The Imitation Game,” “Sherlock,”) with a terrible, terrible American accent, a master of sorcery and magic who frequently pops up in these Marvel movies as a helper or savior character due to his wide set of abilities. While I loved “Doctor Strange,” due to its witty dialogue and stunning CG visuals, his appearance in other films left a bad taste in my mouth and I was not in any desperate need of a sequel.
“Multiverse” also serves as a direct sequel to Disney+’s 2021 series “WandaVision,” starring Elizabeth Olsen (“Wind River,” “Godzilla,”) as another magical weirdo, Wanda Maximoff. “WandaVision” is a series that started amazingly, dealing with horror, genre and form breaking, concepts of grief and loss, parenting and other very thought-provoking themes, but eventually descended into poorly choreographed, low-budget “pew pew” CG magic fights for far too long, boring me, and receiving a begrudgingly “good” rating from the Collegian.
I still held some, likely overly-elevated, expectations for their most recent project, and shoved off to the theater on opening night like a Stockholm victim in order to review it for the Collegian, and I am happy to report that this movie was not what I expected, was not what I wanted, but is still getting a glowing review, and I’m happy to have seen it when I did.
So, judging from the fact that this is a Marvel movie review, you can probably assume that I’m not as much of a cinephile or film snob (a term of endearment, I promise) as some of the other members of the Arts and Entertainment staff. I like watching movies for the spectacle, and while I love to dive into plot criticism, learn and feel a connection to characters and feel that I have built up a deep knowledge of filmmaking and filmic language to genuinely debate visual texts, when I go to the theater or commit to a Blu Ray purchase, usually I just want to come out knowing I spent my money on an experience I won’t forget above all else, and that I will want to watch again.
The main crux of “Multiverse” is that it deals with Strange traveling through parallel dimensions to quell a multi-world threat, propping him up again as a hero of his own story, while also resolving the character arc of Maximoff set up in “WandaVision,” and while I can say that this high-concept sci-fi, bizarro world setup seems “too zany,” they handle it well by leaning into the ridiculousness of it, and make it a spectacle of both visuals and rapid-fire storytelling.
While I don’t think the plot is necessarily great, it won’t be winning any screenplay awards, and the writing is cheesy as all hell, that actually added to its appeal for me. This is a popcorn movie, it is a point at the screen and laugh or scream at a cheap jumpscare movie. It’s funny, it’s genuinely scary in moments, it’s over-the-top and all of it is tied together with visuals coming from pouring millions upon millions of dollars into some of the industries best graphic production studios.
The score is also a highlight for me, accentuating memorable themes from previous Marvel projects while also adding in humorous twangs and frightening chords at the right moment. Musician Danny Elfman (“Men in Black,” “Edward ScissorHands,”) composed “Multiverse’s,” score, and as a big Elfman fan, I can earnestly say that while it does not top the harpsichord, mysterious score from the first “Doctor Strange,” it perfectly sets the tone for what this film is, and is consistently good throughout.
But, going back to its Marvel-isms, one of the best parts about “Multiverse” is that after it settles into its second act, it drops the formulaic superhero nonsense, and becomes its own directorial vision that is just so fresh, and proves to me that these movies don’t all have to just be recycled material aimed at making kids cheer. They can be for different audiences, and luckily this one was for me.
I’ll be the first to admit that this movie might have the worst acting I have ever seen from big name actors like Cumberbatch and Olsen, as well as a few cameo actors that won’t be named. Somehow Cumberbatch’s American accent sounds even more over-the-top than normal, and Olsen is totally phoning it in for the first half of the movie. The writing for these characters, as well as the newly introduced super-character America Chavez, played by Xochitl Gomez (“Gentefied,” “The Baby-Sitters Club,”) did them no favors. Chavez particularly got the short end of the stick, with a majority of her lines being so surface level that they aren’t memorable or so deeply emotional, but not earned because of the previous dialogue. I liked Gomez as Chavez and am excited to see more of her in the future, but in this film she did not have a good chance to flex her acting skills.
Once the pace is upped and it becomes more of a horror movie with a breakneck length between scenes, this goofy dialogue adds to its charm, but it takes about 40 minutes of listening to people act like robots to get there in what are supposed to be serious or humorous scenes that just feel like words being read from a sheet.
Honestly, the whole first act of “Multiverse” made me want to leave the theater. It’s the same exact flow as the beginning of any other big budget sci-fi movie, and made every character annoying and every plot point seem inconsequential.
Also, I mentioned that the visuals are the key to “Multiverse’s” success, because for a large part, they are very good, and while not believable, are still a visual feast for those interested in CG technology. A criticism I do have, though, is that this film was almost entirely shot on Disney’s new studio The Volume, which uses giant LED panels to create what was previously a greenscreen background, giving actors something to naturally react to and also helping cinematographers more properly place cameras and light shots. It works, but it is definitely new.
For the most part, the backgrounds appear at least as believable as they were on greenscreen, if not more. But, I believe that production crews at Disney are still getting used to The Volume, and many of the fully CG-background shots were lit terribly, and looked so unnatural and off putting that I laughed out loud in the theater, probably to the chagrin of the packed opening-night crowd.
My final general criticism is that despite being called “Multiverse of Madness” there were only a few universes shown, and there really wasn’t that much madness. The first “Doctor Strange” film has about a 10-minute segment that was nominated for a visual effects Academy Award that takes Strange through so many unique, horrifying, perplexing and visually mesmerizing worlds, all while employing filmmaking techniques to make the audience feel as though they are experiencing it, and immersing them in a fully unbelievable and fantastical world.
In those 10 minutes, I feel like I went on way more of a trip through a realm of ‘madness’ than I did at any point in “Multiverse,” and I also feel like I expected to see dozens of unique and fascinating backgrounds and visually unique landscapes in the sequel, but we only saw about 10 total, and only three different settings were used as tentpole locations for the plot.
And the Raimi
One of my favorite spectacle-first franchises is “Evil Dead,” and any adjacent campy horror-action b movies, and to my surprise, that’s exactly what “Multiverse of Madness” is, albeit with a much, much higher budget. Both “Evil Dead” and “Multiverse” are directed by Sam Raimi (“Army of Darkness,” “Spider-Man (2002),”) and Disney, much to my surprise, did not hold him back from doing what he does best: making a movie that you won’t forget, with editing, story beats, a visual style and overall unity that just make you go “okay, go off Raimi, I see what you’re going for here and I can’t believe someone paid you to do it.”
Raimi is known for his “horror” movies, but I am even hesitant to call them that. Because, while Raimi toys with some frightening concepts and source material, he usually stretches the scares so far that they are mostly a joke, causing me to jump at a loud noise, but immediately start laughing instead of walking home with my head on a swivel. There are jumpscares in “Multiverse,” and there are moments that made me sick to my stomach in terms of body horror (with the PG-13 rating actually making it a bit scarier, because what isn’t shown is sometimes more grotesque than what is) but I would never in conversation call this a horror movie.
By the end, every scene can’t overstay its welcome because the story and set pieces just fly by so fast that you just have to let Raimi pick you up and take you on his wild ride. There are so many made up words, unbelievable mystical elements that break reality and any defined rules within the fiction and moments of violence or spectacle that are so insanely cheesy and riddled with self-referential humor or excitement, that eventually I just let my critical guard down and became a brain-dead audience piece pointing at the screen and cheering for an actor covered from head to toe in prosthetics doing some of the weirdest things I’ve ever seen on a movie screen, and I loved it.
Raimi is not without criticism though, I think most people agree. He has a vision, he commits to it and not a single concession is made by him to not reach it, no matter if it makes the film seem like an 80s b movie as a result. The most egregious example of this over-commitment to the Raimi style is in the editing. Like I mentioned earlier, many scenes are so fast that they aren’t even needed, but beyond this, the transitions and nature of the film being presented could not be more bizarre.
There is a circle wipe in this movie during a serious, important scene (yet another moment of me cracking up in a quiet theater), there are faces dissolving into scenes, the screen is stretched and pulled, there are extreme close-ups on nothing and most of all, there are so many times where we cut from one plane of action to another in asynchronous presentation, but are given no frame of reference for what point in time we are.
Also, again, Rami and his screenplay team are terrible writers of dialogue, and while this adds to the cheeseball movie experience, it does ruin some of the moments that are meant to be heartfelt, serious or grow the Marvel universe for sequels and spin-offs. Additionally, the treatment of some older fan-favorite characters, including Strange himself and Maximoff in many cases is repetitive, and shoves its message of self-discovery and forgiveness down your throat to the point where I want to un-discover myself by the end and never forgive Raimi for how he handled the story in this film.
Should you see it?
Yes, I really think “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” is worth a watch… in just a few specific cases. If you love Raimi’s other work like I do (We don’t talk about “Spider-Man,”) you can’t be disappointed by this, even with its slow opening, because you don’t need character and you don’t need story to enjoy it for that, you just need to sit in awe at the fact that he made millions to make people hit each other with CG magic. If you are a Marvel fan, I also can’t say you shouldn’t watch this. Sure, you’ll probably hate the story and then go whine about it on every forum known to man, but there’s still a lot to love, Raimi-isms withstanding, and I think it’s a satisfying continuation of Strange and Maximoff’s stories.
If you’re neither of those things, which is admittedly an ever shrinking portion of the pop culture audience, do not see this movie. It isn’t for you and you will hate it, I actually promise. You will either not understand the plot or the visual language or both, and will likely feel like you wasted your time and money watching a British man fail to be American while jumping around a technicolor, sometimes poorly lit background for two hours. Might I suggest you watch “Evil Dead,” instead?
For me, personally, as a perfect cross-section of my childhood love for Marvel and my modern love for Raimi, “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” is great, I can’t wait to see it again, and I’m giving it a shockingly high 7/10 for my final score.
Editor’s Note: The only reason I chose to review “Multiverse” is because my first article written for the Collegian was a review of another Marvel film, “Captain Marvel,” and I wanted to see how I’ve grown as a writer and editor since. Thank you to everyone who has read my media reviews during my years with the Collegian. I look forward to writing many more, even after I graduate.
Welcome to the wonderful world of entertainment. The following news includes highlights of celebrities, television, movies and music this week.
Kanye West is being sued by Texas pastor for sampling sermon
A Texas pastor, Bishop David Paul Moten, is suing rapper Kanye West for sampling his sermon without permission. In the lawsuit, the Texas pastor claims that “more than a minute” of his sermon can be heard on West’s track, “Come to Life,” which is off his recent Grammy-nominated “Donda” album. Moten is also suing the rapper’s record label. According to Moten’s attorneys, the sample is used as a loop in the pre-chorus and chorus. The attorneys also state that West has a pattern of sampling other people’s work without permission.
“Ozark” is top trending on Netflix
The Netflix series, “Ozark,” has become the top trending television show on the streaming platform after releasing the second part of its fourth and final season. Starring Jason Bateman, Laura Linney and Julia Garner, this hit crime drama series follows the obstacles faced by the Byrde family after they join forces with a drug cartel. When things seem as if they cannot get more complicated for this fractured family, season four part two demonstrates otherwise. According to social media users, the series finale has left fans divided and torn.
The first official trailer for “Hustle” is released
The first official trailer for the upcoming Netflix film, “Hustle,” starring Adam Sandler has recently been released by the streaming platform on YouTube. Taking place in Philadelphia, this drama and sports film follows Stanley Sugarman, a basketball scout for the 76ers who has been traveling the world searching for the right player. The weary scout is close to giving up before he comes across an extremely talented streetball player in Spain named Bo Cruz. Despite the obstacles both men face during the process, Sugarman won’t give up; he coaches Cruz tirelessly with the goal of proving that underdogs can be successful. Produced by Adam Sandler and NBA star LeBron James, “Hustle” is rated R and will be released worldwide on June 10. Key shots for “Hustle” were filmed on La Salle University’s campus, including basketball training scenes shot in Tom Gola Arena.
Number one on the Billboard charts: week of May 12, 2022
According to “The Hot 100” on the charts, the number one song in the U.S. is “WAIT FOR U” by Future featuring Drake and Tems. This is the first week the R&B and hip-hop song is on the charts. According to the “Billboard 200,” the number one album in the U.S. is “I Never Liked You” by Future. This is the first week the hip-hop and rap album is on the charts.
Editor’s Note: I want to thank all of the readers who have been reading my “What’s Trending” articles each week. Several years ago, I started the “What’s Trending” column where, each week, I updated readers on the top circulating events in Hollywood. While reading my articles, I hope you have come across your favorite celebrities, musicians, shows and movies at least once. I am also the author of another original column, “A&E Trivia.” In this column, I would ask four trivia questions—one movie, television, music and celebrity-related. Sometimes, the questions either shared the same theme, other times they tested the reader’s knowledge on what was trending that week. As the school year comes to a close, I wanted to let everyone know that I have greatly enjoyed being an editor for the Arts and Entertainment section of the Collegian and hope to continue bringing you entertainment content in the future.
Thank you for reading this week’s “What’s Trending.” If you have enjoyed this article, be sure to watch La Salle TV’s “Backstage Pass” for more celebrity and entertainment news and content. Check out the student-produced show on its YouTube channel, LaSalleTV Philly. You can also watch “Backstage Pass” twice a day on Comcast channel 56. The times are as follows:
In the spirit of the school year ending, it felt appropriate to look backwards instead of getting on my soapbox and talking about any new movies. These thoughts simply reflect the impact these films had on me within the last two semesters. Without further ado, let’s jump into it.
1. The “Before” trilogy
Back in the fall, I set out to show my roommates Richard Linklater’s “Before” trilogy for the first time. There is simply nothing like the experience of watching these movies for the first time, and the shared experience of watching them with another person is incredible. “Before Sunrise” is romantic escapism. “Before Sunset” is a perfect fairytale. “Before Midnight” is the reality of life. All three movies in the trilogy when watched together feel simultaneously entrancing, euphoric and devastating. No movie can quite examine and comment on experiences of love, hope, regret, heartbreak and aging using the progression of time like these films do.
2. “Everything Everywhere All at Once” / “The Worst Person in the World”
I had written about these two movies already, but they deserve some type of mention again. I saw “The Worst Person in the World” in February and “Everything Everywhere All at Once” in April, and both have stayed with me long after watching them. It’s an incredible feeling to watch a film and instantaneously know that you are watching something made with so much talent and love. I’ve sung their praises so much in prior reviews, so there isn’t much more to add.
3. “Spider-Man: No Way Home”
All autumn, we counted down the days to “No Way Home.” Rumors had been swirling for months about Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield. The excitement of my friends was palpable even though the movie’s release date coincided with finals week. For me personally, “Spider-Man: No Way Home”was the perfect catharsis after a week of exams and a semester of anxiety. Much of my childhood was spent watching the Sam Raimi “Spider-Man” movies with my sister, and getting to see these characters on the big screen again with her sitting next to me was amazing. The reason that Spider-Man resonates with so many people is that everyone can see themselves in Peter Parker. A normal person with a good heart who simply wishes to do better than before and help others. Therefore, a movie that essentially functions as a massive celebration of Spider-Man is bound to hold a special place in the hearts of so many, including myself.
4. “Portrait of a Lady on Fire”
I had been intending to watch Celine Sciamma’s “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” for the past few years but never got around to it. In early January, I finally dedicated an entire evening to watching this movie, and I was lucky to have such foresight. I couldn’t do anything afterwards. My eyes stared at the TV for at least ten minutes as I simply tried to process what I watched and how I felt. It is everything that a romantic slow burn should be with meditative pacing that eventually quietly explodes. It’s a movie that isn’t loud at all but somehow still produces the profound effect of a loud, in-your-face movie on the viewer. During the final scene and shot, my chest even felt tight, and my breathing became noticeable. Either Sciamma is a true master of her craft, or I was experiencing a minor heart attack.
In October, on a whim with friends I saw “Dune” on opening night in IMAX and have thus decided not to watch it again. Not because I didn’t like the movie. No, no, I adored it. Just, there is no way I would be able to ever come near that particular viewing experience of this Frank Herbert adaptation ever again. “Dune” is the type of film that someone needs to watch on the biggest screen they can find. It cleaned up at the Oscars in the technical categories and for good reason. My only complaint would be that my theater was also 4D, so sand kept getting in my slushie.
Welcome back to the fun segment “A&E Trivia.” This week, we have a special “names” edition. We will play a little quizzo with a total of four questions — one question from each category. You will be given three answer choices. The categories are movies, television, music and celebrities. Let’s go!
I hope you all enjoyed this week’s “A&E Trivia” and hopefully got a question or two right. Email firstname.lastname@example.org any questions you would like to see asked in the next edition. Be sure to watch La Salle TV’s “Backstage Pass,” where you can see these questions asked in a video format, in addition to celebrity and entertainment news. Check out the student-produced show on its YouTube channel, LaSalleTV Philly. You can also watch “Backstage Pass” twice a day on Comcast channel 56. The times are as follows: