Wednesday, January 31, 2018

#metoo makes its presence known at the Golden Globes

Sydney Luff, Rachel Saxton
Staff Writers

The 2018 Golden Globes took place at The Beverly Hilton in California on Jan. 7. At this year's Globes, almost all of the men and women wore black to make a statement against the epidemic of sexual harassment in the entertainment field. Celebrities such as Opera, Reese Witherspoon, and Natalie Portman celebrated the survivors of sexual abuse and harassment. Several activists such as Saru Jayaraman, Ai-Jen Poo, Tarana Burke, Rosa Clemente, Marai Larasi, Mónica Ramírez, Calina Lawrence and Billie Jean King were brought onto the red carpet by several A-list actors. Each of these women were given a chance to shed light on a subject that has been ignored for decades.
  With the exception of a few, the Golden Globes was painted black, and celebrities like Ava DuVernay tweeted their explanations: “I am wearing black today because balance and inclusion and diversity is not some kind of allowance to be made to accommodate people. No, sir. It is a correction of an error. It is a righting of a wrong. And it is going to be done. Now.”
  The #metoo movement is meant to show the women of Hollywood are coming together to speak out for those who cannot.
  With the help of activists from across America, celebrities have made a legal fund for the women who work in less lucrative workforces. Every time a celebrity says #metoo it makes it easier to believe one more female who is not in the spotlight. The outbreak of women's’ confessions started long ago, Taylor Swift and her symbolic one dollar is an example. After being sexually harassed by a well known DJ, Taylor Swift brought the case to court. When his career was ruined he sued Taylor Swift. Her retaliation was counter-suing for one dollar. Her reasoning, “I'm not going to let you or your client make me feel in any way that this is my fault, she told the lawyer. I'm being blamed for the unfortunate events of his life that are a product of his decisions. Not mine.” Taylor Swift’s bravery encouraged women all around America to take a stand.
  Today, with the help of the #metoo movement she is joined by thousands, making a statement against sexual harassment. 

The Top 5 Movies of 2017

Stephen Prager
Layout Editor

Hollywood was firing on all cylinders in 2017. Not only was there an uncharacteristically consistent amount of quality among the big box-office champions (Marvel, DC, Star Wars), but 2017 also saw a staggering amount of variety in the films that impressed. Among 2017 Oscar contenders are a low-budget horror movie by a novice director, a coming-of-age tale that elegantly skirts the conventions of the young-adult genre, a disorienting war drama by a heavyweight director, and the most acclaimed DC Comics film in years. And on my list of the five best films of the year, that diversity is ever present:

5) Spider-Man: HomecomingThe immediately attractive thing about the latest installment in the Spider-Man canon is that its titular hero once again embodies the youthfulness and energy that best suits the character. Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield each have their own strengths as actors, but the role always suffered a bit under their watch because both actors naturally endow Peter Parker with an overly abundant amount of inborn charisma and competence. It could be a matter of taste, but there’s something much more fun, not to mention riotously funny, about watching Tom Holland portray a dorky 15-year-old Peter Parker learning how to wield immeasurable power he can only begin to comprehend. “With great power comes great responsibility” is the cornerstone line of the Spider-Man franchise, and Homecoming embodies that spirit by focusing on the growing pains of a young, starstruck Spider-Man learning to become truly heroic.

4) Dunkirk
In recent memory, it’s hard to recall a war film as intense and enveloping as Dunkirk, Christopher Nolan’s momentous World War II epic. It drops the viewer in center of pure panic and hysteria and forces them to make sense out of the various struggles that have befallen the British and French armies attempting to evacuate the doomed area. The pacing is lighting quick and the film bounces back and forth between several riveting plot lines that share a stunning unity in their filmography. The film is technically breathtaking to behold, with towering, thunderous explosions that erupt over the film’s grim color scheme of sea-foam green and murky grey. The individual characters are somewhat underdeveloped, with little distinct dialogue or growth, but that actually serves the overarching goals of the film quite nicely, allowing it to take on the miraculous event on the grand scale it deserves.

3) Darkest Hour
2017 was a great year for World War II epics, and Darkest Hour actually serves as a great companion piece for Dunkirk. While Dunkirk is probably the technically superior film, Darkest Hour is the more fleshed-out narrative, detailing the dilemma of Prime Minister Winston Churchill (portrayed magnificently by Gary Oldman) as a Nazi invasion stares Britain in the face and he is pressured from all sides to engage in negotiations with Adolf Hitler. Darkest Hour’s Churchill is headstrong and a bit of a boor, to the point where it borders on caricature. But what makes the portrayal resonant is that while Churchill’s fellow Tories seem more measured and calculated in their discussions of appeasement, Churchill, through all his bluster, always seems more prescient than his detractors. That, as well as the constantly pervasive sense of impending demise really sells the story as something with immense gravity. Darkest Hour fits nicely alongside the best biopics of other great historical figures like Lincoln and Selma, but also World War II films like The Imitation Game, and the aforementioned Dunkirk.
2) I, Tonya
A film that attempts to exonerate Tonya Harding has no right to be this good. But somehow, the film manages to make the disgraced figure skater not only sympathetic, but a tragic heroine of sorts. Harding is, of course, remembered for the attack carried out by her affiliates against her Olympic opponent Nancy Kerrigan, and known as a national villain. I, Tonya displays Harding, played with stunning authenticity by Margot Robbie (who makes a serious case for best actress here), and her side of the story through the framing device of mockumentary style interviews.  The interviews, reportedly based on real accounts, display the explanations of Harding and her husband Jeff Gillooly, as well as a host of other players in the headline dominating Olympic scandal explaining themselves. Some are ridden with bitterness, some display twinges of regret, and others still don’t seem to grasp where it all went wrong.  The interviews overlay a recounting of Harding’s entire life - a life in which parental and spousal abuse, poverty, and systemic classism on the part of the Olympic judges doomed her from the start. The verity of these accounts is obviously dubious, but the film treats this with a nod and a wink, as if the sensationalism of Harding’s accounts is meant to contain some meta-commentary on the slanted national tabloid coverage of the scandal. I, Tonya is more clever, dark, and achingly tragic than I ever would have expected going in.

1) Get Out
Jordan Peele’s directorial debut Get Out, which takes the number one spot, is a horror film in which the most terrifying feelings come not from the supernatural elements it presents, but from the way those elements are used to dissect something very real and disheartening. The discomfort in Get Out comes from the film’s penetrating, Twilight Zone-esque deconstruction of the subtle racism from those who profess themselves as allies against discrimination, but still benefit from it and contribute to it, perhaps without awareness. The film explores this using its protagonist, Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya), a young black man from New York who travels to meet his white girlfriend Rose Armitage’s parents at their secluded estate in the woods.  When he arrives, the Armitages are uncomfortably cordial, fixating on Chris’s race in a way that is envious, yet overcompensating. As the weekend continues, the Armitages are revealed to have harvested the bodies of countless young, black people as vessels for their own minds - and Chris has no choice but to “get out”. The film is a superb thing to witness on every level. For the viewers who let the social commentary go over their heads, there is a thrilling, disquieting horror story with a solid dose of comedy. But for others, the film’s subtext presents opportunities to contemplate over intrinsic racism and how it can emerge even in the well-intentioned.

Honorable Mentions:
The Post
The Big Sick
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
The Shape of Water

The Greatest Showman is the greatest show

Laura Nagg
Copy Editor

 The holiday season has been big time for new movies to be released. Big motion pictures this year included Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Thor: Ragnarok, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, Pitch Perfect 3, Downsizing, and The Darkest Hour. Another big box office movie this past holiday season was high credited The Greatest Showman, which stars Hugh Jackman, Zac Efron, Zendaya, Michelle Williams, Rebecca Ferguson and making her film debut is Keala Settle. It is a biographical-based story on P.T. Barnum risking it all to start the first circus in the late 1800’s, creating a grand show of unity and joy from a group of social outcasts.
  I’ve had the pleasure of seeing the movie twice over the winter break and once more this past week, falling in love instantly in the first minutes. This movie is a full musical filled with elaborate roof-top dances, ensembles of singers, creative backdrops, fancy periodical costumes, love stories enduring the pressures of life, and a classic happy ending. The story, written by Bill Condon and Jenny Bicks, doesn’t follow Phineas Taylor Barnum’s life completely; it incorporates multiple fictional characters and some embellished details. While most people are familiar with the name Barnum from Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus, the endearing story depicts the beginning creation of the first circus, which would later become the world-traveling three ring circus that sadly shut down in May 2017.
  This movie is one of few movie-musicals released in recent years, with the music written with a modern theme. Another high rated and award winning film was La La Land that came out in Dec. 2016, which in fact shares the same Oscar-winning composers for The Greatest Showman: Benj Pasek and Justin Paul. The soundtrack is one of the most memorable aspects of the movie, which includes original song “This Is Me” receiving a Golden Globe on Jan. 7, 2018 and has been the No. 1 album by Billboard for two consecutive weeks, staying consistently in the Top 10 since the release. The soundtrack, available on iTunes and Spotify, is composed of 11 original songs with superb vocals, upbeat tunes, and creative lyrics.
  As a musical fanatic myself, growing up watching older classic musicals and enjoying the more recent modern ones, I can say assuredly that this is truly a special project. The characters’ individual struggles and joy throughout the movie pull you right into 1800’s New York, creating a desire to be singing and dancing right along with them. Audiences are captured by glamour and poverty, glory and pain, that compliment each other perfectly in a delightful cinematic experience. Despite many peoples’ opinion that musicals are boring or not cool, do not write this one off just yet. This magical show has something for everyone and doesn’t fail to spark your imagination or keep your feet moving!

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Oprah contemplates 2020 run against Trump after speech at Golden Globes

Maggie Pfeifle
Staff Writer

After her acceptance of the Cecil B. DeMille award at the Jan. 7 Golden Globe Awards, a conversation about a possible presidential run for celebrity philanthropist Oprah Winfrey has ignited.
 During his monologue at the beginning of the awards last Sunday night, host Seth Meyers mentioned his joke from a 2011 White House Correspondents Dinner where he said that future   President Donald Trump was not qualified for office.  The Washington Post reports that on Sunday’s show he joked, “Some have said that night convinced him to run. So, if that’s true, I just want to say: Oprah, you will never be president! You do not have what it takes. And Hanks! Where’s Hanks? You will never be vice president. You are too mean and unrelatable. Now we just wait and see.”
 Later in the evening, Winfrey became the first African-American woman to accept the Cecil B. DeMille Award and gave an animated speech highlighting both the TIME’S UP and #MeToo movements, both of which were very much part of this year’s Golden Globes.
  “So,” Winfrey said, as reported by CNN, “I want all the girls watching here, now, to know that a new day is on the horizon! And when that day finally dawns, it will be because a lot of magnificent women and some pretty phenomenal men fighting hard to make sure that they become the leaders who take us to the time when nobody ever has to say “Me too” again.”
 By some, her cry for change was enough to take Meyers’s earlier joke seriously, and the discussion about Winfrey’s presidential prospects begun.
  The Washington Post reported that Brad Anderson, the man who ran Obama’s reelection campaign in Iowa in 2012 said, “I can guarantee county chairs in Iowa would love to have a conversation with her. People could be looking for an outsider who could heal the country, and if that’s the case, I have no doubt that Oprah would be powerful.”
  With President Trump winning in the 2016 election, a celebrity president could not be unlikely; however, that does not mean others are not wary.
  As for Winfrey’s likeliness to run, Gayle King, long-time best friend of Winfrey, told CBS This Morning: “I’m thinking she is not going to be running for president. I do think that she is very intrigued, and I also say, as I’ve heard for many years on the ‘Oprah Winfrey Show,’ you always have the right to change your mind. But that is certainly not something she is considering right now.”

Friday, December 29, 2017

What is New Hope’s Favorite Holiday Song?

Kayla Paul-Koch & Zach Meixler
Staff Writers
With the holiday season of course comes the abundance of festive music to put us in the happy and jolly spirit. Although so many songs to choose from, students at New Hope have voted for their favorite holiday song in a recent poll sent out.
 The more classic songs like "It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas" and "It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" surprisingly received the lowest number of votes which shows how taste in holiday music has evolved.
 The responses indicated that the infamous and iconic song "All I Want for Christmas is You" by Mariah Carey received 26.2% of the votes, winning the poll. In second place, the lesser known cover of "Rudolph, the Red-nosed Reindeer" by DMX won 18% of the votes. And in third place, "Jingle Bell Rock" received 10.8% of the votes.
 Through this poll, it has been shown that people’s favorite holiday tunes have strayed away from the more traditional and jazzy songs and that holiday music today is evolving to become more pop.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi hits theaters

Riley Brennan

Star Wars: The Last Jedi has released on Dec. 15, and following the release weekend, has posted 22.2 million at the international box office.
  The movie has brought in less money than Star Wars: The Force Awakens, though the circumstances are different. When The Force Awakens was released, Dec. 21, 2016, many countries were well into their holiday breaks. However, with The Last Jedi premiering on the 15, majority of countries were not in the midst of break. The Last Jedi is predicted to make up the difference throughout the holiday season.
  The film has received a score of a 92% on Rotten Tomatoes, but has been received differently among critics. On the Rotten Tomatoes website, only 54% of viewers said that they liked the movie. These statistics are very representative of the buzz that has surrounded the movie, which has received mixed reviews. Senior Max Chuma felt very strongly, saying, “I hated it. They talked too much, the dialogue was corny, and not enough lightsabers. It was heartbreaking.” However, Senior Adam Sommers enjoyed the movie saying, “It set up the next movie really well, and while there wasn’t as much action as I thought there’d be, it was still really enjoyable.”
 The movie picks up where The Force Awakens leaves off, featuring both old and new characters. The Last Jedi follows a typical Star Wars movie, with the forces of good and evil at work, with the presence of plenty of spaceships and planets. There are definite twists and turns within the film, plenty of character develop, and as surprising amount of jokes and humor. The late Carrie Fisher, who stars as her iconic character Princess Leia, was given a tribute following the end of the movie, acknowledging the bittersweet experience of seeing her on screen. Fisher was also paid tribute at the premiere screening of The Last Jedi, where director and screenplay writer, Rian Johnson dedicated the night to her.
  Despite the mixed reviews, many fans are hoping for a follow up movie. There is buzz that a Star Wars IX is to come, under the guidance of J.J. Abrams, who is currently believed to serve as director, a screenwriter, and a producer of the film. The movie is predicted to be a released in 2019, as the departure of director Colin Trevorrow set production back slightly. The future of the next film, and anything beyond that, still seems to be very much in the air, but only time will tell.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

New Hope's Top 5 Albums of 2017

Stephen Prager
News Editor

Over the past week, New Hope students have been nominating and voting for their favorite albums of 2017.  We received over 50 votes encompassing over 20 very diverse albums.  Below are the five that got the most votes from New Hope students and a brief introduction to each.

5. Ed Sheeran - Divide (4 Votes): Ed Sheeran is best described as “perfectly pleasant”.  He’s almost wholly inoffensive and, under the right circumstances, offers easy-listening tracks that are exceptionally warm and comforting.  But since the inception of his role as an arena-filling torch-bearer for the Coldplays and Snow Patrols of yesteryear, his act has become rather stale.  His most recent album, Divide, reroutes his career somewhat by questioning and re-evaluating his notions of fame and success.  Its opener, “Eraser”, offers an uncharacteristically grave meta-commentary on the emptiness of stardom and gives way to several attempts by Sheeran to reinvent his tired standard sound.  For example, instead of a lead single like the sweet, but ultimately weightless “Thinking Out Loud”, Sheeran gives us “Shape of You”, a beat-heavy ode to a mysterious woman with an enthralling figure.  The album still dips into Sheeran’s seemingly bottomless well of airy acoustic tracks, which makes it hard to embrace as a full 180 degree turn.  But Rome wasn’t built in a day, and the Divide tracks that diverge from the beaten path are enough to make Sheeran an act worth following up on.

4. Pink Guy - Pink Season (5 Votes): One’s enjoyment of “Pink Guy’s” sophomore release is truly a matter of taste.  The brainchild of Youtube comedian Filthy Frank, this mixtape is packed to the brim with complete, unadulterated absurdity.  The album is purely humorous, with most of the material being derivative of the strange, puerile comedy found on Frank’s Youtube channel.  While the overtly raunchy material is largely hit or miss, the best tracks on the nearly 80-minute-long album are the ones with twisted concepts that come clean out of left field: the most notable of these are “Dog Festival Directions” and “Goofy’s Trial”.  The former is a cheery-sounding ukulele track with lyrics that provide nothing but detailed directions to a Chinese festival dedicated to the consumption of dogs.  The latter is a skit depicting Goofy, the lovable Disney character, taking the stand in court after perpetrating a mass homicide - a skit made absolutely hilarious by the deadpan seriousness of the prosecution and defense attorneys countered by Goofy nervously and insanely uttering “garsh!” and “hyuck!”.  It’s not humor that will work for everyone, and the album is assuredly not for the faint of heart, but it has some riotously funny material for fans of black comedy.

3. Harry Styles - Harry Styles (6 Votes): The eponymous debut album for the newly minted solo artist Harry Styles is impressive for a number of reasons.  For one thing, it manages to successfully shed the specter of One Direction in a way that’s believable, avoiding the trap of artificial edginess that some of his former bandmates fell into upon their first solo releases.  But it is also comfortably more mature than his One Direction outputs as well.  The album manages to survive on its own merits because, while everything fits into the box of accessible pop songs that won’t alienate the rabid 1D fandom, there is enough variety to keep the album engaging. 

2. Kendrick Lamar - DAMN (8 Votes): If nothing else DAMN. is proof that Kendrick Lamar is capable of producing more subdued tracks with roaring success.  It may not pack the raw intensity or thematic unity of its successor To Pimp a Butterfly, but DAMN. arguably has just as many high points.  Lamar is as venerable a writer as ever, as shown on dense narrative tracks like “XXX” and “DUCKWORTH”, which explore death and fate with remarkable deftness.  But on DAMN, Lamar also displays a breezier, more effortless appearance than he has in the past, and it results in anthemic tracks like “YAH” and “PRIDE” that rival the best of his career.

1. Khalid - American Teen (11 Votes): There is no better messenger to explain human connection in the information age than a person born into it.  American Teen’s creator, Khalid Robinson, is only nineteen years old, but is responsible for what might be the most insightful, relevant album of 2017.  On American Teen, Khalid explores the trials of love and loss in a way that is simultaneously original and immediately understandable in the modern age of communication.  The intimate communications he describes are complicated by a distance that is unique to the modern age - this is illustrated beautifully in the album’s breakout hit, “Location”, where he finds himself pleading with his online love interest for the barriers that are intrinsic to their internet relationship be torn down.  American Teen is a unique window into the world of the modern teenager.

Honorable Mentions:
Imagine Dragons - Evolve (4 Votes)
Lorde - Melodrama (3 Votes)
Tyler the Creator - Flower Boy (2 Votes)
Grace VanderWaal - Just the Beginning (2 Votes)
Halsey - Hopeless Fountain Kingdom (2 Votes)