Northeastern Illinois University's student-run newspaper

The Independent

All The Captain’s Men

All The Captain’s Men

April 15, 2014

  4.0 out of 5.0 Stars Out of all of the Avengers to star in their own franchise, Ol' Cap...

A Scary Bad Movie

A Scary Bad Movie

April 23, 2013

  0.5 out of 5 Stars Holy flying monkey poop, Batman! Unfortunately, that is the nicest way to describe the latest installme...

Review: Olympus Has Fallen Dies Hard

Review: Olympus Has Fallen Dies Hard

April 11, 2013

3 stars Let’s have a round of applause and welcome back, from his abominable stint in the world of horrendous romantic comedies, Gerard Butler. And not a m...

Oz, Not so Powerful, Not so Great

Oz, Not so Powerful, Not so Great

March 26, 2013

  3.5 out of 5 Stars James Franco’s performance as the con-magician Oscar (Oz) was neither great nor powerful. The movie starts off in Kansas with Oz working as a carnival magi...

Exorcism of Hollywood

Syed Ahad Hussain, Senior Staff Writer

September 19, 2012

Filed under Movie Reviews

  With the recent release of The Possession, a new take on the Exorcism sub-genre of horror, the 1973 horror masterpiece The Exorcism comes to mind. While The Exorcist is a horror masterpiece with some genuine scares and spine tingling moments, the film spawned a franchise which lasted from 1973 to 2005 with five films. The franchise has its share of really scary movies and some laughably bad ones. William Friedkin’s The Exorcist was based on the novel by William Peter Blatty, who also wrote the screenplay of the film. The film redefined the whole horror genre by giving it a new sub-genre ‘exorcism horror’, a simple premise about a 12-year-old girl (Regan MacNeil) who is believed to be possessed by the devil. Father Merrin (Max von Sydow) is assisted by Jason Miller’s Father Damien Karras to perform an exorcism. It’s then we witnessed some of the most memorable scary scenes of the motion picture history. Critics lamented on the film’s reliance on psycho-sexual overtones, a greater amount of special effects, lesser character development and a lesser psychological thrill elements which made the original a true classic. Others praised the film for its visual imagery and fast pacing, an element necessary for any horror thriller. Exorcist II didn’t have any “nail biting on the edge of your seat” sequences. It has its moments but they are very few and far between in the film’s 118 minutes. The Exorcist III(1990) was the third film of the Exorcist series written and directed by William Peter Blatty. The movie, based on Blatty’s novel Legion, was more of a serial killer film with supernatural thriller elements and strong religious undertones. Although this film is better then its predecessor, The Exorcist II, in so many ways; people remained divided in their opinions about a serial killer being possessed instead of a helpless woman which was being the case of earlier films. The film can also be seen as a dark comedy because of its rather cheesy description of the killer and some sequences including one in which a Jesus statue opens its eyes. Exorcist III didn’t work much as a sequel to Exorcist II or as a follow-up to the 1973 film, but it is an effective murder mystery and crime thriller. The next in the series is Exorcist: The Beginning (2004). Intended as a prequel to the 1973 film, it was directed by Renny Harlin. The film suffered the same fate as Exorcist II and has been lamented by both audience and critics ever since its release. The film gives audiences the back story of the first film’s Father Lankester Merrin (Stellan Skarsgard), his World War II experiences, his journey of self discovery, his redemption in Africa and his first encounter with the demonic Pazuzu. This entry in the Exorcist series is the most painful to watch and hysterical due its heavy emphasis on special effects and a seemingly impersonated scene from ‘The Matrix’. While Exorcist II grossed out viewers, it still made them cringe. Exorcist III made viewers laugh or turn it off halfway through. The reason for this was simple: commercialization which slays creativity and originality. Exorcism: The Beginning will always be regarded more as an idiotic B-rated horror movie which mocks the sensitivity of issues like rape, racism, the Holocaust, child abuse, and imperialism for the sake of cheap scares which aren’t even scary, the result is an utter mess of a film. The last of the Exorcism series is Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist (2005), another prequel. Dominion is definitely the second best of the franchise after the 1973 original, with scarier and exorcism scenes. It depicts Father Lankester Merrin’s tormented mind mirroring the demons he encountered, portraying him as a more sympatric and disturbed individual. The Exorcism franchise will remain as one of the most talked about and impactful horror film franchise ever to come out of Hollywood....

The Flying Swords of Dragon Gate

Linda Monacelli, Staff Writer

September 6, 2012

Filed under Movie Reviews

  Jet Li stars in the latest film by Director Tsui Hark The Flying Swords of Dragon Gate. The film, a 3-D remake of King Hu’s 1967 Dragon Inn and Raymond Lee’s 1992 New Dragon Inn, is considered a wuxia film. The genre wuxia, literally “martial hero,” and films of this genre center on the adventures of martial artists/warriors. Typically, the heroes in Chinese wuxia fiction do not serve a lord, wield military power or belong to the aristocratic class. They are often from the lower social classes of ancient Chinese society and are usually bound by a code of chivalry that requires them to right wrongs, especially when the helpless or the poor are oppressed. The wuxia hero fights for righteousness and seeks to remove an oppressor, redress wrongs, or attain retribution for past misdeeds. This type of character compares with the samurai of Japan, chivalrous knights of medieval Europe and cowboys of the American West. The film takes place during China's Ming Dynasty, and the nation is divided into two governing bodies, the West and East Bureaus, who answer to the Emperor. Flying Swords opens with a cool 3-D panning over a shipyard leading to a fortress where we meet the corrupt leader of the West Bureau Wan Yulou (Gordon Liu). Jet Li soon enters the picture as Zhao Huai'an, the leader of a small guerrilla group that monitors and acts against the corrupt activity of the West and East bureaus. East Bureau leader Yu Huatian (Chen Kun) plots to find and kill outlaw warrior Zhao Huai'an after an incident in the opening scene. However, this does not prove easy since another outlaw is running around posing as Zhao Huai'an. We soon discover who the doppelganger is. The doppelganger first appeared while rescuing a concubine from the emperor. The two are now on the run from Yu Huatian and his army and soon end up hiding at Dragon Gate Inn where the majority of the story and action takes place. Dragon Gate Inn is known as a “black inn” where many brawls take place and sometimes human flesh is served. A great sandstorm is approaching, and the innkeeper tries to close down the place and move to a safer location, but a group of Yu Huatian's men arrive and insist on staying in order to track down the concubine. Also staying at the inn are tough Princess Buludu (Guey Lun-Mei) and her Mongol gang, and female warrior Gu Shaotang (Li Yuchun) soon arrives with her crew of bandits, which includes Wind Blade (Chen Kun), who bears a striking resemblance to Yu Huatian. A sub-plot soon surfaces wherein we learn that the approaching sandstorm only occurs once every 60 years, and when it hits, it will unveil the ruins of an ancient city. Princess Buludu and Gu Shaotang's respective crews are actually plunderers who anticipate raiding the palace for treasure. Meanwhile, the real Zhao Huai'an (Jet Li) shows up. Plots and characters mingle and swords soon start flying—people start flying, too! With a gripping storyline, mesmerizing acrobatics, surreal sword-fighting, strong acting, and, of course, 3D effects, this film is definitely one to check out, especially for enthusiasts of wuxia, martial arts, and/or Eastern culture....

Barbarella: Not Your Average Movie Experience

Juan Manuel Gonzalez

September 6, 2012

Filed under Movie Reviews

  Old movies are still worth checking out. For example, Barbarella was first introduced into the world in 1962 as a small comic strip in a French magazine. As its popularity and notoriety increased, the artist of the comic, Jean-Claude Forest, decided that Barbarella should become a full-time outlaw. On Oct. 10, 1968, Dino De Laurentiis, Roger Vadim, and Jean-Claude Forest, released Barbarella worldwide and the world did not agree with Forests’ decision to allow Barbarella to become a movie adaptation. According to the movie’s IMDB page, the film made an estimated total of $613,285, when it cost a roughly estimated $9 million dollars to make. After the film’s release Barbarella has grossed more than $5 million on rentals after the film came out. The film quickly became a cult classic, and several decades after its release it had a surge of sales. With its monetary intake aside, lets delve into the film itself. When first looking at the cover of the movie, and its off-handed description, one would mistake this for a poorly done adult film, but beneath that , Barbarella, is really not that bad at all. The film opens with a woman (later revealed to be the title character) floating in zero gravity in what resembles the fur of a bear, stripping. The scene, especially in zero gravity is quite riveting, because of how well the special effects appear on screen despite the fact that at that time they didn’t have half of the technological advances we have today. After doing some searching one will find that they used a sheet of plexiglass, and shot the scene from above so that it mimicked the effects of being in zero gravity. After being told of an evil scientist aptly named Durand Durand, (The last d is silent) she begins an unplanned journey to the planet of Tau Ceti and ends up crashing on an icy plain where she is held captive by harmless looking children with demonic and cannibalistic dolls which feed on the unsuspecting visitors who land in their domain. After she is saved, she rewards her savior with adult relations, after which she is dropped off at her crashed spaceship beginning her journey to the city of Sogo. If one analyzes the name of Sogo, one’s mind might think of Sodom and Gammorah. Barbarelladoes a great job ,for the most part, at remaining blind to the intentions of every pervert she encounters until she willingly provides Pygar, the last living ornithanthropes, with some “motivation” to get him to fly. After he regains his motivation to fly, they set off to the city of Sogo where she gets captured,again, and Pygar is bestowed the honor of becoming the great tyrant’s plaything. After some horrible dialogue and very uncomfortable scenes, the Mathmos, the essence of evil which powers the city, is released trapping Barbarella and the great tyrant. Apparently, Barbarella’s “innocence” forms a bubble around Barbarella and the Great Tyrant and they fall to saftey upon a floating rock where they find a passed out Pygar, Seran wrapped by his innocence. The film ends with them flying off into the sunset; and cue the tears. Despite it’s cheesiness, and its in-your-face sexuality, the film is not that bad and will be watched again....

2016: Obama’s America—A Hypothetical Future with Doubtful Legitimacy

Patrick McIntyre, Staff Writer

September 6, 2012

Filed under Movie Reviews

    The era of “That’s your fact, here’s mine,” is among us, snidely waving goodbye to the archaic days of opinions based on agreed-upon facts. In the documentary 2016: Obama’s America, director Dinesh D’Souza weaves and bobs while taking potshots at President Barack Obama’s “questionable” past, his motivations and who has inspired them. In doing so, assumptions become the driving force in this agenda-laced documentary aiming to evict Obama from the White House and witness his one-term. The electorate does not need this. No informed voter benefits from falsified generalizations to steer politics. The audience receives nothing more from this film than D’Souza’s hypocrisy rampantly masquerading itself as factual and credible conspiracy theories. The crux of the film lies in exposing Obama’s true past and his resonating ambitions to torpedo America into third-world-country status as a result of his ravaging anti-colonialism, supposedly instilled by his father’s absence in his life as well as left-wing mentors. D’Souza’s primary curb while writing and producing this film, which is based on his previously published books, clearly depends on a lack of factual evidence to support claims—Obama’s policies are intermittently discussed. Instead of factual information, the audience receives black-and-white representations of wildly complex, multi-faceted decisions and pursuits. Discussions involving Obama’s middle-ground policies, policies far from the left, are abandoned by the narrative. Fortunately for D’Souza, utilization of fact omission and double-standards flies right over less-discerning audiences’ heads and pulls them in. D’Souza claims America isn’t racist or sexist, that people of color and women, compared to their white, male counterparts, have complete equal opportunities at success. We are encouraged to take D’Souza’s words as gospel because of his Indian background. D’Souza’s self-loathing, ignorant theories comply with our new racism of denying racism. While holding his hand up next to a black man’s hand, he claims, “You can’t tell the difference.” He attempts to permeate American society with the idea that racism no longer exists, in an effort to eradicate from our minds that racism still exists and permeates our society so he can use himself as proof of the endurance of the fabled “American Dream.” Inadvertently, the most intriguing aspect of the film becomes D’Souza himself. Who is funding this man’s work to be the token Indian guy, propping himself up as proof anybody can win in America? His tactics are clearly deceitful, regardless of his likely conscious complicity. His actions and ideas directly contradict the ideas of freedom that he claims to be championing. Intolerant tones saturate the narrative despite, once again, the use of himself as an example of an outsider. For example, he fails to achieve validity in the demonization of the Muslim faith and its followers. This is the most heinous form of D’Souza’s insipidly exposed anti-multiculturalism. An image depicting the “United States of Islam” in the Middle East closes the film, solely blaming Obama for this hypothetical and prejudiced scenario. Obama’s sympathy for other cultures, not murderers, does not represent a complicity in terrorist sects banding together. Distrust of other cultures and religions because of stereotypes and generalizations tend to promote that path, D’Souza. While facts have been overtly distorted on the campaign trail, 2016 is appropriate in complementing this tone and is, unfortunately, discovering a following of like-minded, xenophobic fans willing to ignore vast amounts of information—these peons and inchworms long for D’Souza’s skewed narrative to align with their own insulated and ignorant lives. While sifting through the drivel, an appropriate argument emerges when D’Souza’s tactics are scrutinized, thus forcing an (ideally) informed electorate to analyze the detrimental affects of well-funded, agenda-driven propaganda documentaries. D’Souza’s Prop-Doc is just one of many, from all sides, with vast exclusions. Our body of voters must be efficient at identifying these desertions of accuracy....

Review: Blue Like Jazz- An Odd Tale of Self Discovery

Syed Ahad Hussain and Desiree Dylong

April 28, 2012

Filed under Book Reviews, Movie Reviews

    Blue Like Jazzis a 2012 adaptation of the celebrated Christian author Donald Miller’s semi-autobiographical book of the same name, directed by Steve Taylor, Miller co-wrote the screenplay with Ben Pearson and Taylor. Both the novel and film Blue Like Jazz follow author Donald Miller as he struggles with his growing and sometimes turbulent faith in God. Although the novel is less plot-driven than the film, both work to show how Donald’s resolution towards his Christian faith is not only due to his own self-reflection, but also due to the stories and experiences of those around him. Both works help to portray how seeing the passion and experience of others can impact the way we see ourselves. The film is reminiscent of the Coen Brother’s 2008 dark comedy A Serious Man in many ways. Just like Larry Gopnik, A Serious Man’s protagonist, Don (played by Marshall Allman, based on Miller) questions God’s existence, religion’s implications, limitations and reflections on his miserable life. After being unable to find eternal solace and peace in his life, Don leaves his hometown when his promiscuous, separated parents refused to accept his religious beliefs, and he ends up in Reed College, a liberal arts college in Portland, Oregon. According to some of Donald’s fellow Christians, Reed is known as a godless and heathen school. In the novel, Donald has no shame in telling fellow students about his Christianity. The film takes a different approach and showcases Donald hiding his faith out of fear of being judged by his fellow classmates. Don soon finds his place though when he develops a crush on a classmate named Penny (played by Claire Holt), a rebellious, free-spirited and sympathetic girl who hated the corporate culture and their apparent corruption. The college’s current ‘Pope’ (played by a humorous Justin Welborn) also acts as Don’s guardian angel. The Pope’s own ambiguity towards religion, overshadowed by his molestation by a priest as a child, makes Don even more stubborn and assertive in assisting the Pope with his random mockeries of the local church The on-off relationship of Don and Penny comes to a serious halt when she finds out about his mother’s pregnancy by the church’s married bishop, a sad truth that left Don bitter and at odds with God. Blue Like Jazz is a courageous, honest, comic, yet tragic account of a young man with religious upbringings discovering himself and his relationship to God. The theme of both loving and resenting something bigger than yourself is part of what makes the book and film relatable to a larger demographic other than those of the Christian faith. The emotions that come with being passionate about a way of life is something anyone can relate to.  ...

Mirror Mirror: Remixing Snow White

Desiree Dylong, Staff Writer

April 17, 2012

Filed under Movie Reviews

  What will you get when America’s red-headed sweetheart plays an evil queen, a prince gets tied to a tree by dwarfs, and a princess carries a dagger? You get Mirror Mirror, the newest adaptation on the tale of Snow White. Most of us are familiar with Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs from 1937. We know the scenario of Snow White biting the poison apple and succumbing to the evil queen’s wicked trick. The ending of the tale, when the handsome prince kisses Snow White and rescues her from a deep sleep, has become embedded in the pop culture stratosphere. Mirror Mirror, which is directed by Tarsem Singh, retains aspects that are reminiscent of the conventional Snow White tale. For instance, there’s the handsome prince, the evil queen, and Snow’s seven companions. However, Mirror Mirror spins a new twist on the ending of the classic tale, which will be left unspoiled. Once the evil queen, played by Julia Roberts, wishes Snow, played by Lily Collins, to be dead so she can become the most beautiful of all in the world, the princess has no choice but to leave her life at the palace and learn to survive in the woods. Snow then meets the seven dwarves, and with their help she learns to fight, and becomes much bolder than the Snow White that we are all acquainted with. Towards the end of the film, the queen terrorizes the woods in an effort to find Snow. The Prince and the dwarfs attempt to protect the princess, but she objects. Instead she explains how she has read many stories where the end results in the prince saving the princess, but Snow wants to change the ending. With her dagger in tow, she leaves the prince in order to battle the queen and gains the control of her ideal ending. Along with Mirror Mirror, this summer’s upcoming Snow White and the Huntsman, directed by Rupert Sanders, will offer the audience another perspective on the Snow White tale. However, while the PG rated Mirror Mirror has its comedic moments, and is targeted for younger demographics, Snow White and the Huntsman presents an adaptation geared for adults. The trailer for Snow White and the Huntsman presents a darker take on the tale. Since it will reach an older demographic, it has the potential to take the classic tale to a completely different level than Mirror Mirror. For instance, although Julia Robert played a queen who was wicked and was consumed by vanity, the character also had her comedic moments such as trying to fit into a corset. Those humorous moments of the queen give viewers a break from her villainous ways. In the trailer for Snow White and the Huntsman, the evil queen, played by Charlize Theron isn’t comedic and appears downright menacing as a clip shows her in a snow covered forest before her black cloak morphs into sinister black crows. The two films also differ in their approach to Snow White. While Mirror Mirror gives a portrayal of a Snow who is brave enough to save herself, as the film’s younger demographic do not want her behavior to be too audacious or violent; however, the upcoming film with Kristen Stewart presents a more fierce portrayal of Snow White. In preview, Stewart who plays Snow, is dressed similar to a knight as she dons a silver shield and armor. In another instance, Stewart’s character is huddled among an army as they all hold their shields. This version of Snow goes into battle, and faces perilous violence. Snow White and the Huntsman offers a more ferocious side to Snow White that a PG rated film can’t get away with. While these films may differ in their approaches, they both work to deconstruct the traditional version of the well-known tale. These new versions of Snow White portray strong willed young women who fight and rescue themselves. With these two films, the notion of the helpless female is erased and new perspectives take place. Mirror Mirror and Snow White and the Huntsman’s appeal to different demographics will create the opportunity for both children and adults to view films that present different perspectives on conventional norms....

A Land Ethic For Our Time – The Green Fire Still Burns

Jacklyn Nowotnik, Arts & Life Editor

April 17, 2012

Filed under Movie Reviews

  The film Green Fire, is about Aldo Leopold’s life and the way he influenced ideas of ecology, forestry and the environment, was shown at NEIU almost 6 months ago, on Nov. 14, 2011. Although Leopold passed away in 1948, the film communicates a sincere understanding of who Aldo Leopold was and how his work affected his family, biographer, and countless regular people who read and were moved by his books. The land ethic is a philosophy that Leopold introduces in his book “A Sand Country Almanac” that serves as a guide for the ethical use and protection of land, outlining both the beauty of wild natural places and usage guidelines that are still culturally relevant and important today. Leopold’s experiences as a child in the wilderness of his hometown in Iowa that prompted him to become who we know him as today, as well as his accomplishments, however what seemed to really shape this idea of a land ethic and Leopold as a whole was his moment of “green fire,” occurring when he witnessed the “green fire” leave the eyes of a wolf as she died. According to the film, a “green fire” moment is when a profound experience alters and changes one’s perception and relationship with the environment and nature. In honor of Earth Day, the NEIU Independent revisits the events surrounding the showing of Green Fire, in the hopes that it helps everyone at NEIU experience their one “green fire” moment. Upon entering the auditorium on Nov. 14, 2011, audience members were given a green flamed shaped piece of paper and were asked to write down their own “green fire” moment, if they’d ever had one. By investing the audience members in the “green fire” exercise, they were more likely to be intrigued by the Green Fire documentary. The question beckoned people by engaging them in sharing a personal experience that fundamentally changed how they viewed nature, but for some, including me, it was not easily answered. What was my green fire moment? I wasn’t sure if I’d even had a green fire moment. Interactions with nature can be subtle, and at first I had a little trouble trying to remember my first green fire moment. But then it hit me – my awareness of nature had flared up when I started watching a show on Animal Planet called “Sea Shepherds.” One of the first and most striking things I saw in the beginning of the show was the harpooning of a whale in the Antarctic. The creature fought valiantly for its life, but eventually its lifeless body was pulled up onto a factory ship’s slip way and then dragged onto the deck where Japanese fishermen butchered the whale’s body for “research.” The experience of watching an intelligent gentle giant die made me more conscious of the consequences of humanity’s actions when it comes to nature, the environment, the land, the sea, wildlife and our natural resources. The consequences of years of careless abuse to our environment are fast becoming more visible with every passing day, but seeing that destructive act really opened my eyes to the “green fire,” as Leopold put it. Now in honor of Earth Day I’d like to ask the students of NEIU to send their “green fire” moments of 200 words or less to [email protected], along with their full names and major. The Independent Newspaper staff will pick several of the best ones to be published as part of next issue and those students selected will win a gift certificate to Beck’s Bookstore!  ...

Real Women Have Curves, and Brains to Boot

Lakeesha J. Harris, Senior Staff Writer

March 5, 2012

Filed under Movie Reviews

The opening scene of Real Women Have Curves depicts a diligent young Ana Garcia, played by actress America Ferrero, hard at work before school, washing her windows. We get views of Latino laborers loading trucks to leave for work and many of the Latinas doing the same while caring for young children. There is movement, there is vida (life,) and there is Ana working hard to navigate her existence as a brilliant young Latina seeking to break the shackles of an overbearing mother, Carmen. From the opening scene, the audience gets the notion that Ana's oppressors are intimate and all around her as Ana's entire family gathers in the cramped confines of Mrs. Garcia's room. Though the men act as subliminal oppressors throughout this movie, the women gossip, belittle, and guilt one another into stagnation. Throughout the movie, Mrs. Garcia tries her best to trap Ana into working at her sister's factory and stays immobile within the household and within her community. We even view Ana's sister, Estelle, still residing in the home after she has created her own business. Estelle dotes over her mother and lingers on her every word, while Ana tries to resist her confinement with the hopes of pursuing higher education. What I find most interesting about the movie is the caring manner in which the men are depicted. For instance Mr. Guzman, Ana's English teacher, played by actor George Lopez, is very supportive of Ana going off to college. Even when Ana doesn't recognize her chances of getting into a good university, it's Mr. Guzman who recognizes her brightness and aptitude, seeing the gem of a woman she can become. Even Ana's father and grandfather bear witness to her educational abilities and they both encourage her to find the gold in her life. I enjoyed watching this movie. There was something classic in the struggle among the women, yet liberating in the power and strength of the main character. One could look at the title and be fooled into believing that this movie is merely about one young woman growing to love her voluptuous figure, thus finding power in her physical form. However, I believe that the real story is the testament of triumph over adversity and accepting the responsibility to achieve greatness, no matter what curve balls life may throw your way. Real women have many oppressors, intimate and societal, during their journey through womanhood. The highway of life is full of curves and bumps in the road, but it is up to us as women to find our own path and direction in the world....