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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...

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....

The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975

Lluvia Carrisoza, Visual Media Editor

February 26, 2012

Filed under Movie Reviews

  Published: Saturday, February 25, 2012 Updated: Sunday, February 26, 2012 00:02 When the word "mix tape" is used, the first thing that comes to mind are those mix music tapes people use to give each other back in the day. So I thought this documentary would be about music, based on the titled. In actuality the title refers to all the different clips, opinions and voices heard in this film. The visuals of this film were captured by Swedish reporters between 1967-1975. The aim of the Swedish reporters was to show America as it really was. Although the film can't be called an objective look at America as it actually was during those years, their footage gives us insight into a vastly different and invaluable aspect of the American experience from the point of view of the Black activists of the era. The film also comes with audio commentaries from people such as Erykah Badu, Angela Davis, John Forte, and Bobby Seale among many others. I learned a lot from this documentary, specifically more details about the Black Power movement and the importance of all the different rolls individuals such as Angela Davis and Stokely Carmicheal played. Talib Kweli said the footage Swedish reporters shot of Carmichael showed that "he just was a regular dude," showing a different side of him than the stoic pillar of leadership he was normally portrayed as. This documentary has become one of my favorites. The Black Power movement has always fascinated me, and I think there is much to learn from the achievements of that generation. It is also interesting because the footage was filmed by non-Americans and focused on different aspects of Americana as a result. The Swedish reporters showed a fresh vision of the United States and the Black Power Movement. The minorities of the world should look at the Black Power movement for inspiration and ideas, and this documentary can help them gain inspiration....

Review of Tron: Legacy

Ivan Favelevic, Editor In Chief

January 25, 2011

Filed under Movie Reviews

The movie industry has been going through a transformation this past decade. This reform has nothing to do with the new 3D wave or the sudden emphasis on vampires. The fact of the matter is that the movie industry, much like any other entertainment industry at the time, is dominated by geek culture. "The Dark Knight", "Spider-man", "Lord of the Rings" are based on comic books or reside on what was otherwise considered geek culture. With this revolution underway, it would only seem fair that the holy grail of geekdom be tapped before the current generation moves on and a new fad rises. For that reason we now have Disney attempting to create their next megafranchise with "Tron: Legacy" In case you missed the first one, "Tron" is the story of Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges), a video game designer who creates his own virtual world and accidentally gets trapped in it. "Legacy" picks up twenty years later as his son, Sam (Garrett Hedlund), is convinced to go after his father in his virtual world. Once he arrives, he discovers that his dad is being held captive by a computer generated clone. He enlists the help of a computer program named Quorra (Olivia Wilde), and together they try to save Kevin and exit the grid. The story "of Legacy" sticks close to its roots, with the first half being an exploration of the grid while the second is an elongated chase scene. The dialogue is as cheesy as one can expect and the actors all do serviceable jobs (with the exception of a scene-stealing cameo by Michael Sheen). The movie is structured in such a way that you are always treated with some sort of eye candy to distract you from the awfully hammy script and needlessly complex jargon. Nonetheless, where the story lacks in substance, the film more than makes up for it with energetic visuals. The light cycles make a triumphant return in a sequence that more than makes up for the price of admission. Furthermore, the use of 3D is actually a worthwhile investment, with the grid coming to life as every little spark flies at you. The art style is impressive throughout and the soundtrack by Daft Punk compliments it perfectly. It is one of the most atmospheric and pulse pounding scores ever written for a film and if you are a fan of either their previous work or electronic music as a whole you will not be disappointed. The need to revitalize this franchise was present. The curremt market made it a perfect fit, and enough time had passed since the previous film for it to be missed and for the visual bar to be raised. The film delivers where you expect it. The action is fast paced and the look remains original throughout while still resembling the source material. The story may be cheesy and throwaway, but that is really not the reason one goes to see "Tron." So grab those 3D glasses and head to the nearest IMAX, because this is one visual treat that you will not regret seeing....

Review of True Grit

Review of True Grit

January 25, 2011

Remakes are no rare animal in the movie industry. With a vast majority of films released every year being...

Review: The Quiet

Dino Pollard, Sta

September 29, 2006

Filed under Arts & Life, Movie Reviews

Some films are perfect for mass audiences. They're feel-good, they make you laugh, and once the lights come back on, you can leave the theater without a negative thought in your head. But then there are other films that are far more disturbing and leave the audience with a feeling of unease. The Quiet definitely falls into...