Big Time Rush and Marvel Studios for Inspiration

Hi my name is Joseph Mandarino. I do a radio show once a week and it airs on Tuesday night. I like to play all kinds of music on my show and hope that everyone has a good time listening to my show. I play a lot of songs from bands, especially the band Big Time Rush. Big Time Rush was a band that lasted from 2008-2013, and released 3 albums: Big Time Rush, Elevate, and 24/Seven. My favorite album that is Big Time Rush. I like this album because it has all of their classic songs on there from when they first started the band. They also had a show on Nickelodeon for the time. I really like them as a band and hopefully everyone else does too.

Another version of music I like to play is some of the songs from projects of Marvel Studios. Often times I introduce a song with, “If you’re a fan of Marvel Studios…..” and whatever project the song comes from. Marvel Studios often has a great selection of songs that they put into their soundtracks. I’m a huge fan of Marvel Studios and I anticipate all of their releases.  The one that I’m next excited for is Marvel Studios Spider-Man No Way Home. Marvel Studios would also pick the soundtracks based on the story that they’re trying to tell. For example with Guardians Of The Galaxy, Peter Quill got taken from Earth in 1988 so he was only listening to songs from the 1980s and that’s the type of songs that we would hear on the soundtrack. They do this with a bunch of their movies and I really like most of these songs and how they sound. They sound really cool and hopefully everyone else finds them cool too!

Written by Joseph Mandarino

Hi my name is Joseph Mandarino. I will be hosting the shows that air on Tuesdays at 7pm and those shows are a mix of music from the genres of Pop, Metal, Rock n roll and a little bit of Country. I also really like watching Marvel movies and hanging out with friends too.

Gone Phish-ing

This past summer I took a few days off and went Phish-ing with my son. I consider myself a lifelong ‘angler’, and I have also attended hundreds of concerts, but this would be my very first experience at a show that came with a bit of a reputation.

In my mind, I thought that Phish must now cater to the culture that the Grateful Dead appealed to back in the 60s. I expected a crowd full of dropouts, all driving VW vans, taking LSD and smelling like they hadn’t showered in many a moon. I was wrong.

The shows were to take place at one of my favorite venues – Harvey’s outdoor in South Lake Tahoe, NV. I live in the Chicago-area, while my son is in south Florida, so we began planning the trip many months in advance so that the schedule would work out for both of us. He has seen Phish many times but had never been to the venue at Harvey’s and was looking forward to the pristine air and breathtaking views that come with the territory.

A couple of weeks ahead of the shows we began seeing news stories about the ever-increasing danger from wildfires in Northern California. The Caldor fire in particular was a concern because it was already close to Lake Tahoe and was heading toward town. About a week before the shows the public schools in Reno, NV were closed for a few days due to the extreme poor air quality from the fires. Reno is about 60 miles northeast of Lake Tahoe; if the air quality is that bad that far away, imagine how bad it would be at the lake.

About 10-days out from the dates of the Phish shows it was announced that the other concerts scheduled at Harvey’s for earlier in the same week had been rescheduled for 2022. Well crud, that is NOT what we wanted to hear. Then, shortly thereafter, the news was reporting that all of those who live or work in South Lake Tahoe were under mandatory evacuation. Knowing now that we would not be seeing Phish as planned, the only remaining question was “what is the reschedule? Sometime in 2022?” Turns out, the solution they offered was way better that we could have expected.

The concert promoter did something that I had never heard of, and it was a wonderful compromise; the Phish shows would go on as planned – on the same dates – but at an outdoor venue in Mountain View, CA. Tickets from the original shows would be honored, and all the seating would be general admission. We did some quick research and found out that the Shoreline Amphitheater had about twice the capacity of Harvey’s – but the promoter indicated that they would hold firm to the original number of tickets. That meant plenty of room to stretch out, move around, and really enjoy the show.

We got a hotel room a short distance from the new venue, and I had the thought that we could avoid the cost and hassle of parking if we took an Uber to the show. However, after doing some research, we found out that parking was abundant and free. What? Free parking at a concert?

We arrived at night #1 around 2-hours before the concert was to start and – sure enough – followed the signs to the free parking near the Amphitheater. We stood in what seemed like a very long line to get in and I got my first sense that things were different than I had anticipated. Everyone – I mean every single person – in the line seemed to be in a very happy, positive mood. No foul language, no anger over being in line, no cutting other people off…just folks ‘happy to be there’ and patiently waiting to enter the venue. Proof of COVID-19 vaccine (or negative test result) was asked for and provided (again, I saw no negativity here either) and we entered the Shoreline with ease. People were milling about at a relaxed pace; no running to grab a seat or preferred grassy area on the lawn. Everyone was so damn polite.

We chose seats near the back of the pavilion next to the aisle and my son went and grabbed a beer. I made it a point to enjoy being in the moment and looked around the crowd. Lots of people exchanging hugs and handshakes; clearly this is a crowd that knows one another from one concert venue to the next. Lots of funky clothing including overalls with pink circles on them (I would later find out this is the garb the drummer from Phish wears while performing). People from down the aisle would occasionally come and go from their seat, and every time they passed us each one of them would say “excuse me” and then thank us for letting them go by, sometime with a friendly pat on the shoulder.

Once the show started, the crowed erupted into a unified group of grooving and dancing. You know the saying ‘dance like nobody is watching’? The aisle next to our seats were filled with people of all ages doing just that. I must admit that I really know very little about Phish or their music, but I was clearly in the minority here. These guys are known as a ‘jam band’, meaning some songs can go on and on for what seemed like an eternity. Early in the show their lead singer and guitarist – Trey Anastacio – made mention of the Caldor wildfires and how a portion of the proceeds from the merchandise sales would go to those worthy firefighters. Yet another nod to the feel-good atmosphere of the evening. My son has been to more Phish shows that I can count, and at the end of the night he proclaimed that the show we just saw was the best he’s ever seen. So, what began as a potential (literal) disaster turned into a great experience for this Father and his son. I will not only remember how thrilled my boy was at these shows, but how pleasant, happy, and positive everyone in the crowd acted at these concerts. Do yourself a favor; catch Phish if they ever come around your neighborhood…you won’t be disappointed.

Written by Carsen Star

As a guy born with a face for radio, Carsen is quite possibly older than dirt and has the grey hair and the dusty record collection to prove it. While his musical interests have been influenced by live, in-person performances from artists ranging from Andrea Bocelli to ZZ Ward, he gets his mojo primarily from what was playing on FM radio in the ‘70s and ‘80s. An occasional headbanger, Star may also dip into his collection to share a track or two from his time spent in Alternative radio, Top-40, and Album Oriented Rock.

Internship at Disney

Hello everybody, and welcome to yet another instalment of “Hailey has to write a blog post for the radio website”.  I wasn’t entirely sure what to write about this time.  I’m not overly depressed like a year ago, and I did a hopeful look back last time I did this.  The next logical step would be to talk about my program, and how I’m doing 1000 miles away from home.  The problem is that I’m only a couple months in, I’m not sure it’s enough to talk about.  Still, it’s either try or ramble about nothing so We’re going to try.

I’ve found out I got super lucky with my roommates.  All the girls in my apartment are so sweet.  They don’t leave messes, they’re not loud. We all joke around and like each other.  Honestly, I feel kinda guilty sometimes.  Apparently having great roommates is not the norm down here.  We all have the day off tomorrow so we’re going to Hollywood Studios to celebrate getting our program extensions.  I feel like I’ve made some great friends, and I really hope they stay in touch once the program’s over.

I’ve also been pretty lucky with my assignment.  Sure, customer service is annoying sometimes, but quick service is pretty fun.  I love when I’m put in the position of getting orders together, or making espresso coffees in the morning, or greeting guests as they come in.  It’s fast and I get to talk to people.  And being at the Grand has its own perks.  I get to watch the Magic Kingdom fireworks every night, and the resort is gorgeous.  They’re getting ready to build the huge gingerbread house for the lobby, and by huge, I mean “you can walk inside it’s as big a house” huge.  It smells amazing in the bakery, and I can’t wait to watch it come together.

All in all, I’d say I’m doing pretty well down here.  If nothing else, it gives me something to talk about every week.  The only thing I need now is some more time to sleep.  As a matter of fact, I’m going to go take a nap now.  Hope you enjoyed the read, have a great night!

Written by Hailey Schimpf

Hailey Schimpf is a musical and Disney nerd who somehow managed to convince the radio station into letting her do a show. That show would be Hailey’s Happenings. For the past two years it has showcased songs from musical theater, Disney movies, and more regular music hits from the 80s to today. It’s also a great place to chill out and relax as she talks about whatever’s going on between the music.

North America’s Last Hope?

“Esports is like sports!” is usually something I say when someone asks me what the whole hype around it is about. Watching the best players in their respective video game titles duke it out to be considered the best in their region or the world is something that’s very similar to sports. When someone asks me why I watch esports or why I love it, it’s a mix of the things I mentioned previously but also the storylines that comes out of it is something that caused me to fall in love with it in the first place. 

Three years ago in 2018 my passion for esports sprouted because of the team I now support named Cloud9. Seeing the team have a cinderella run from being dead last in the middle of the summer split in the North American league to miraculously making it to the biggest esports tournament in the world, the League of Legend World Championship, definitely caught my eye. Then seeing that same team of funny misfits become the last hope of North America, somehow making it past the group of death, and going through to the quarterfinals having to duke it out against a Korean team was even more astonishing. It was definitely going to be a very interesting match up considering Korean teams are known to dominate LoL esports, having won the last five world championships in a row. This year was different though, Korea in 2018 was having a terrible year in LoL esports and the last standing Korean team was Afreeca Freecs after their fellow countrymens over at KT Rolster had lost their respective quarterfinal matchup against the Chinese team Invictus Gaming in a closely fought series that went to 5 games. Despite being the last standing Korean team, Afreeca Freecs were heavy favourites coming into the series against Cloud9. 

Oftentimes whenever North American teams had to come up against a Korean or Chinese team in worlds, it never ends well for them. But watching the series was something else, seeing Cloud9 just having fun reminded me of why I enjoy playing video games in the first place, playing for fun and the thrill of competition is what gaming is all about for me. Seeing Cloud9 breaking expectations and playing the way they wanted to play was an absolute joy to watch, as they ended up winning the series over Afreeca Freecs 3-0. While Cloud9 would proceed to lose in the semifinals, I did end up becoming a supporter of the team. Now in 2021, I’m getting that deja vu feeling watching Cloud9 be in a somewhat similar spot, after having a rough summer split and barely clinching a spot at Worlds, they were placed in the group of death. Watching the team clinch that quarterfinal spot and being the last hope for North America again is something that reminds me a lot of 2018, and when this blog post comes out I hope the team will have done it.

Here’s a pretty cool hype video a redditor named u/llewbop made that first caught my attention on the team Cloud9 three years ago. This was a hype video that showed Cloud9’s journey from their struggles in the summer to the leadup to their quarterfinal matchup against Afreeca Freecs at Worlds 2018. Enjoy! 

Written by Brian D.

Having lived most of his life in Barrington, Illinois, Brian is an avid watcher and a fan of League esports. Listening to music is one of his favorite ways of relaxing, doing homework, or playing video games. Check out his show The Dive with Brian D., where he plays some of the music he enjoys.

CMA Awards – An Event of the Past

I remember excitedly jumping onto the couch next to my family as a child, waiting for the Country Music Association Awards (CMA Awards) to begin. It was a tradition in our house: singing along to our favorite music while we ate ice cream and waited anxiously to see who was going to win the next award. As I grew older, however, this tradition slowly began drifting away. Soon the awards were being recorded on our DVR and not too long after they were just…forgotten. This can of course be at least partly explained by our increasingly busy schedules, but we all agreed that the CMA Awards just simply became boring. We lost interest, and the majority of my friends and family also feel the exact same way.

            I was forced to wonder what happened to these days from my childhood after I saw a post about the CMA Awards on my Instagram feed. The CMA Awards are being held on November 10th this year, and I can say with certainty that I will yet again not be tuning in for the live show. Of course, every individual who is invited, nominated, or wins an award should feel beyond proud and their accomplishments should be recognized, but their musical talent cannot hide how the viewing for these shows is continuously decreasing. Especially after the COVID-19 pandemic, it is going to become even more difficult to produce the same energy that large crowds created when the virus did not ravage the world. The cheers and emotions of fans and audience members have often been replaced in live performances throughout the past year by prerecorded audio sounds as a necessary precaution. The ability to host large crowds has drifted away, and so has my interest in award shows. Even though my love for country music will stay strong, my lack of participation in viewing the CMA awards will continue this year on November 10th.

Written by Ashley N

Raised by a country music-loving mother and a father who is an alternative rock enthusiast, Ashley’s taste in music cannot be pinned down to a single category. Cross-country is a music show with a little bit of country, but a whole lot of variety. There is no doubt that you will find your favorite music in her show and you can listen to Cross Country every Monday at 11:00 am! Aside from producing her radio show, you can see Ashley dabbling in her favorite hobbies of drawing, sculpting, practicing yoga, and spending time with family and friends.

Money Plane: A Review

Comically awful films are the equivalent of junk food for cinephiles across the globe. You know the ingredients are unhealthy and consuming it is inadvisable, but the combination proves too tempting and delicious. The most famous film of this nature is The Room, an amalgamation of abominations at every turn. As if under a spell though, the audience embraces the ever expanding list of horrible filmmaking — instead choosing to laugh, perhaps even at its expense.

 I recently viewed a film not as glorious as The Room, but one that approached a similar level of infamy for me. The picture in question is Money Plane, released in July of 2020 to grace televisions through on-demand streaming, and is currently available on Hulu. 

Money Plane suffers most from its clearly low budget. This limit harshly constrains the extravagant idea the film sets out to accomplish, that being an Ocean’s Eleven-esque casino heist on an internationally hidden aircraft. With this large scale concept in mind, the film’s many pieces — the set, camera work, writing, acting, and production — all fall far short of its aspirations. 

The fabled, lavish Money Plane interior.

So, the movie is confirmed bad. The lines cause cringe, shots are tight to hide the low budget sets, the story makes little sense, and the acting is cheesy at best. Even with all these apparent reasons one should NOT want to watch this film, I can wholeheartedly recommend Money Plane, albeit with an asterisk. 

The self-subjection of watching this film must be contained within the context that the film is not good, and the viewing is for purposes other than witnessing a fine piece of cinema. Instead, the viewing is an exploration of the symptoms caused by filmmakers with big dreams and low means. 

Money Plane achieves hilarity seemingly on accident; a comedy whose intention was high octane heist drama. That being said, the film never takes itself too seriously, often feeling somewhat self aware of its shortcomings. The main villain, played by Kelsey Grammar of Frasier fame, exudes this concept of tightrope-walking the line between hamming it up and playing it serious. 

Grammar gives life to comically rich and powerful Darius Emmanuel Grouch III, also known as “The Rumble.” This is almost a direct quote and introduction Darius Grouch gives the protagonist, a person that given the story’s context Grouch already has history with and has no reason to introduce himself. Grammar seems to enjoy playing the walking cliché that is The Rumble, and absolutely gives the best performance. 

A high octane card came onboard Money Plane

A characteristic I noticed Money Plane has in common with other hilariously poor films is its rewatchability. Even on my third viewing of Money Plane I still discovered tiny awkward and hysterical moments I missed on my previous watches. This phenomenon occurs because there are always multiple things going wrong in each scene, and your brain can only recognize so much, leaving plenty more to laugh at the next time you watch it. 

One humorous piece pointed out to me during my second viewing was the music, which sounds like it is public domain and just slapped on wherever. At one point, I was convinced I heard a guitar riff that accompanies the end of awkward scenes from Full House

In fact, Money Plane shares a lot of the same D.N.A. as television shows, the music being only one particular gene. Almost all shots feel simply functional like a television show’s shots may feel, lacking in any cinematic style entirely. Conversations flow boringly from one profile shot to another following along with the horrendous exposition crammed dialogue. 

This film is the epitome of “tell don’t show,” the opposite of screenwriting dogma. After all this garbage, the film comes out like fertilizer. It may smell and look like crap, but it has plenty of value if you need it to. I’d recommend Money Plane to anyone who can enjoy bad things for being bad.

Written by Damon Rios

Damon is an amateur writer and professional media consumption artist. Movies, music, games, and books are all on the table. He is working towards a bachelor’s in communications and hopes to go professional in any writing capacity. As stated, Damon’s habits rotate from music consumption, to movie consumption, and everything in between.

Smile – Hailey Schimpf

A blog post, an open look at me.

It’s difficult to smile sometimes.

I like to put on a bold front; I try to talk about the positives on my show. I try to look for a good thing every day. I try to make it look like everything is normal with me. Most of the time, it works. Most of the time I can plaster on a forced smile, laugh and joke about everything going on with me, and try to ignore everything in my head. Anything that doesn’t fit the picture can be explained away as a bad day
at work, or a headache.

It’s never that simple though.

This stupid pandemic started a domino train of a horrible year for me. My school was thrown into disarray. My job at the time was getting more and more demanding and soul sucking, both from management and the customers I had to deal with. The worst thing happened. My dream internship, the one I had been applying to for three years, the one I had finally been accepted to, was ripped away. I felt completely alone. Miserable. Heartbroken.

I know I’m not the only one who felt like this, who feels like this. I don’t know how to make things better, I just have to believe that things will get better. They have to. I don’t know how to end this off, I’ve been trying to write this out for weeks and I’m still turning it in late because I couldn’t figure it out. I wanted to talk about dealing with this situation, but the truth is I’m just trying to hold on right now. I’m
holding on the fact that this is going to get better. I don’t know how it’ll get better, it just will.

Everything is going to be better. We’re almost though this mess. Things will be better.

It makes it a bit easier to smile.

Written by Hailey Schimpf

Hailey Schimpf is a musical and Disney nerd who somehow managed to convince the radio station into letting her do a show. That show would be Hailey’s Happenings. For the past two years it has showcased songs from musical theater, Disney movies, and more regular music hits from the 80s to today. It’s also a great place to chill out and relax as she talks about whatever’s going on between the music. Once people are allowed back on campus again, she’ll once again broadcasting live in the studio every Wednesday at 5pm.

Photo: Basile Morin, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Zack Snyder’s Justice League Speculation

On Thursday, March 18th the world finally gets to experience Zack Snyder’s Justice League. In 2017, Justice League was originally released into theaters worldwide. Before it was completed, Zack Snyder left the production for personal reasons, and the studio decided to reshoot many scenes after critics said Batman V Superman was too dark. The result was a joke. I enjoyed Batman V Superman, so I was pretty disappointed that they tried to make Justice League a lighter film.

After years of waiting to get our voices heard, HBO Max announced that we would be getting the true version of Justice League in 2021. They would be finishing all Zack Snyder’s VFX shots and adding additional scenes and characters. Everyone knows the main league in this film is Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Cyborg, and Aquaman. The film will also feature The Joker, Deathstroke, Lex Luthor, Darkseid, and Martian Manhunter, making this movie the ultimate DC film for the biggest superfans. Something exciting about Zack Snyder’s Justice League is its runtime, which is just over 4 hours. The 2017 version at 2 hours lacked character development. Hopefully, this 4-hour cut will have plenty of time to develop the characters.

This Thursday, 3/18, Zack Snyder’s Justice League premieres on HBO Max and based on the trailers, the film looks way better than the original!

Written by Josh Greenberg

My name is Josh Greenberg. I’m a huge fan of movies, wrestling and Eminem. My weekly show will combine all three of my interests. Talking about new and upcoming films, discussing everything WWE and listening to Eminem’s entire catalog of music! From Godzilla vs Kong to Wrestlemania 37. From in theater releases to streaming. I will talk about it all!!

Outside the Wire: A Review of the Netflix Film

A not so recent trope that has plagued the film industry is a lack of originality. Of course, plenty of great films exist that are based on novels or short stories, but the rehashing that occurs today is of a different breed and seems to be on the rise. These sequels, spin-offs, and reboots continue on and there never appears to be a lack of material to work off of. 

When not directly related, some films cash in on trends or recycle concepts from previous blockbusters. One such film is a January Netflix release: Outside the Wire. The film falls somewhere in between the good and the bad; it’s not stand-out enough to leave an impression, yet not so bad as to be comically valued. In fact, Outside the Wire feels like a Frankenstein’s monster of a film with gimmicks, concepts, and themes pieced together from other popular films. 

Harp (Damson Idris) alongside a Gump.

Unfortunately, even with all the inspiration in the world, the film lacks a clear sense of self and comes off bland. It’s not simple to pin down where exactly the film goes wrong, but I’ll sterilize, pull on some gloves, and start the autopsy.

    The film fails because it attempts to do so much all at once, and in this task it swings for the fences and gloriously misses. The defining culprit is the film’s writing; the plotline, story structure, and dialogue. Under normal circumstances I neglect to share story details, but out of sympathy for those who already suffered through the film I’ve made an exception for this review. 

The story consists of an American made robot supersoldier named Leo heavily inspired by Terminator “tasked” with overseeing our protagonist Harp, a task which serves as Harp’s punishment after he breaks chain of command. 

The robot pseudo-human supersoldier is played by Anthony Mackie, known well for his MCU fame as The Falcon (although if you know him like I do he will always be, “Clarence, whose parents have a real good marriage” from 8-Mile). Harp is played by Damson Idris, a British actor of relative fame mixed with a scent of obscurity. 

The audience follows this pair through an Eastern European civil war in 2036; a war depicted similarly to established war film convention, although this one is sparsely populated with duller, dispensable robot soldiers called Gumps (think ED-209 from Robocop). 

As the story plods along the audience learns of lies told about character motivations, nuclear warheads threaten to wipe out America, and the plot twists and turns itself into a tizzy. On the surface this film’s premise sounds normal: it’s a future war story inspired by Terminator. The problem is that the way the story unfolds confounds the audience at every turn (not to mention clunky dialogue being tossed around scene after scene). 

This dialogue is the kind of military mumbo jumbo heard throughout war films, plenty of “tango in the LZ we need to charlie circle into a lower latitude with less action,” on top of technology mumbo jumbo attempting to explain the pseudo- AI super robot soldier. 

Anthony Mackie as the pseudo-AI super robot soldier.

All of this would be fine if the film embraced its cheesy nature and did not take itself so seriously. Instead, Outside the Wire is stuffed with forced, high-concept themes that never see fruition. 

For example, the audience is first made to feel like human error is wrong, but the plot is then quickly followed by human soldiers bullying a Gump, claiming a trash-can can’t do a soldier’s job. Then, those bullying soldiers are scolded by Leo to introduce some discrimation theme between humans and technological advances. Counter to this, later in the film the audience finds out that human error is necessary and robots cannot be trusted. As if all this was not enough, the film starts preaching about American foreign policy missteps and moral ambiguity. 

Eventually we learn that for certain artificial intelligence cannot be trusted, human error is a problem but required (contradicting earlier themes in the film), and the previously lambasted American foreign policy wins anyway. It all adds up to a long winded film that can’t get itself to focus; two hours that truly feels longer. The film constantly starts a train of thought and then jumps ship – scenes later – onto another theme and thus always interrupting itself. 

    There are only so many ways I can reword how the film’s writing falls flat on its face, but it’s important to get this idea across. The writing is such a large problem because it undermines the rest of the film’s possible silver linings, its themes especially. Themes of how America benefits from its foreign war interventions, of discerning a moral compass in a warzone, and of “robophobia”, inherent human distrust of the automated and programed, are all interesting. The film trips and falls on its own sword. 

What compounds this film beyond just the unfocused or forced writing is the general production of the film. While attempting to access answers to complex questions, the film suffers from only standard production. It seems almost formulated, rarely using attention-grabbing camera work and littered with rapid editing. 

The sets and costume design all function fine, mostly grey desolate buildings and streets filled with soldiers and gunfire. Leo’s overall robot design was interesting however, with a strange system to heal himself, essentially super band-aids in context. 

An example of the grey gunfire-filled streets of 2030’s Eastern Europe.

The acting was functional as well, although Mackie did feel like he was channeling Will Smith at times, adding a “fresh prince” humor, undermining the heavier subjects with ill timed one-liners. Idris’ acting as Harp was not always something to write home about either, functional once again. That is not to say he did not have some good moments during intense story beats and I will note his American accent fooled me the entire film.

When I think of Outside the Wire, the saying that comes to mind is “run of the mill.” I can commend the film for attempting higher thought theming, but truly the filmmakers ran long before they could walk. The film’s attempts may be its downfall; this potential of what could have been haunts one’s perception of it. 

Outside the Wire is so influenced by other films it becomes difficult to conceptualize without comparisons. It feels like a general cheesy summer blockbuster – much like Battleship, Battle for Los Angeles, Live Die Repeat, or any other envisioning of semi-future warfare one can think of. Outside the Wire then inherently comes off as repetitive, perhaps only valuable in a case study, one that explores the pitfalls of having too many ideas not reach maturity.

Written by Damon Rios

Damon is an amateur writer and professional media consumption artist. Movies, music, games, and books are all on the table. He is working towards a bachelor’s in communications and hopes to go professional in any writing capacity. As stated, Damon’s habits rotate from music consumption, to movie consumption, and everything in between.

Citizen Kane: A Review of the Classic Film

Orson Welles gave his best performance and was astounding in his directorial film debut of Citizen Kane, now considered one of the best movies of all time.  Why is the storyline so significant?  When a child suffers trauma this can set the stage for a lifetime of loneliness and disillusionment.  We find such a story in Citizen Kane, whereby a man who found great wealth, power, and prestige was but a shell of a man.  How coincidental that what transpired on the Hollywood screen decades ago seems to have made its way into our lives today via television, the internet, and social media.  The same power plays and thirst for control are apparent in the political arena and business world we are subjected to on a daily basis.  This type of man is charismatic and knows how to appeal to the crowds.  We want to eat up his story, his words, and his emotion.  But what he wants in return is far greater.  He needs fuel to keep the fire burning.  Who knows what attributes to a person’s constant need for attention and sensationalism, but we can guess that the root of this begins when a person has lost their morality and learns to survive in whatever way will amount to success, even though underlying heartbreak or despair is hidden in the folds of the soul and is tucked away from the prying eyes of the world.

            Considering the political turmoil, big money being thrown around, and secrets being disclosed for the nation to uncover at the present time as well as over the last few years, it is no wonder that such a movie as Citizen Kane hits home with its scandals and messages for the audience to decipher.  Orson Welles was brilliant to have onboard Gregg Toland, a rare cinematography genius who was noted for his unique style of filming and helped Welles to propel this visionary tale of a young boy who was torn from his family at a young age, raised among the elite, achieved insurmountable wealth, acquired a publishing empire, and lost almost everything due to corruption, power control, and the need to find love that had been lost and resulted in a lonely existence.

Charles Foster Kane (Orson Welles) atop the fruits of his empire.

            What makes Citizen Kane such a monumental film is that Welles did not hold back with his ideas and creativity.  This enabled him to continue experimenting since he had free reign over the filmmaking process.  Working with Toland, the lighting and shadows created an integral part of the film since it set the tone during the entire movie.  The lenses used to create the deep focus aspects of the film were imaginative.  An example of this in Citizen Kane is when Kane is walking through his home, and the audience sees his reflection going from one mirror, to another mirror, to another mirror at the same time.  Kane was in the foreground, and each mirror behind one another was farther from the viewer to the extreme distance.  However, what was incredible is that all of it was in focus.  The scenes in the beginning of the film faded in and out; and the scenes also changed by moving vertically, horizontally, and also had distorted lines in the movie to look like film from a newsreel.  The positioning of the cameras and subsequent filming were ahead of its time, especially the overhead shots of Kane on stage at the political convention and the camera moving forward from the back of the audience to finally focusing on Kane, the overhead shots of Suzie on stage at the opera house as she accepts her bouquets amid the applause of the audience, and the filming angle from floor level as the camera moves slowly from the character’s feet looking upwards.  Toland’s filming of Suzie’s sweat beading on her face as she is ill in bed had much detail and had extremely sharp focus.  The shadowing in each room with the rays of light coming through the windows with dust mites in the lighting was filmed perfectly.  The shadows on the actors’ faces as well as arm movements showing shadows behind them while remaining in focus were remarkable.  Particular scenes really stood out in the cinematography in regard to reflections.  In one scene, an actor was sitting at a desk; and his reflection on the glass top of the desk was filmed in sync and in focus the entire time.  Also, during one of the party scenes, the reflection of the guests in the windows was brought to the audience’s attention.  Splitting frames was also integral in Citizen Kane, such as when Kane returned from Europe and enters the newspaper room.  He is shown in the upper, left corner frame while the focus of the scene is on Leland and all.  None of the frame was out of focus.  Another split frame was when Kane was typing the conclusion to Leland’s derogatory art review of the operatic performance of Kane’s wife on the left side of the frame while Leland is on the right side of the frame as he awoke from a drunken stupor and is surprised that his review is missing from his typewriter.  Buildings, desks, tables, art frames, etc. were filmed so that the angles were prominent in the scenes.  The main, purposely filmed, out-of-focus scene appeared to be when the reporter went to the retirement home to talk to Leland.  The actors in the background are out of focus, which made the focus on Leland so critical.  All in all, Toland was a wizard with the camera and used his experience to bolster the great storyline and directing.  Toland had been recognized previously for his work behind the camera in Wuthering Heights (1939) which predated Citizen Kane.

Using mirrors to reflect many copies of Kane.

            Another interesting point to note is the use of nonlinear narrative. The story is told out of chronological order but is key in having the audience understand certain events and how they affected the main character, Charles Foster Kane.  Newscasters begin the film with their newsreels, but it is mainly narrated by Jerry Thompson, a reporter covering Kane’s life and trying to determine the meaning behind Kane’s last, dying words.  This use of nonlinear narrative was also crucial in the way that Wuthering Heights (narrated by Nelly Dean, a lifelong servant) was told.  Decades later, The English Patient (narrated by multiple narrators, not in chronological order, gave their viewpoints on what happened to the main characters), and Cloud Atlas (the main character from each segment explains his/her view in reverse chronological order while making the viewer understand how each person and moment in the film sets everything in motion from his moment in time and how this affects the future) used nonlinear narrative as a continuation of the success of Citizen Kane setting the standard for the use of nonlinear narrative.

            The makeup effects were astounding on all the main characters but particularly on Orson Welles as he changes back and forth throughout the film as a young adult, forward in time to his death scene, back to his middle-aged years, and so forth.  Welles was actually a young man when he directed Citizen Kane, and the transformations on him were realistic and appropriate for the film.  Joseph Cotton’s (Jedediah Leland) extreme aging from his younger years as Kane’s friend and reporter to his ending shots in the retirement home really helped the viewer to see how his relationship with Kane during the years had greatly affected him even though he seemed nonchalant about it when talking with the reporter.

            The use of sound to garner attention was another aspect of Citizen Kane.  Songs were written for different scenes instead of a long film score or background score being used for the entire film.  The attention on Kane and his revelry of a marching band, majorettes, and all with singing accolades about Kane were reminiscent of Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street made over seventy years later.  Apparently, Scorsese realized the importance of Citizen Kane’s use of musical, comical relief while the main character gathers the source of attention (Orson Welles’ Charles Foster Kane versus Leonardo DiCaprio’s Jordan Belfort).  Kane’s voice in a cavernous room in his palace had its echo being very pronounced; and his quiet, dying words were caught so convincingly that the viewer could imagine being in the same room as Kane’s life departed.

            It is important to note that Kane’s life followed the politics and course of history during his existence, and the concentration of history depicted was during the Spanish-American War, the construction and debate of the Panama Canal, and especially the Great Depression of 1929 and the after effects which collapsed the economy.  His role as a powerful tycoon whose publishing conglomerate reigned over competitors due to the push for risqué and sensational stories propelled him to the top.  Along the way, his thirst for control, interest in politics, obsession over his paramour, building a palatial expanse–complete with elephants, other animals, and flora–to compensate for his constant fixation on buying artwork, antiquities, and other lavish pieces led to his downfall.

            Welles also played with fire for not always following the provisions of Hollywood’s Production Code, also known as the Hays Code.  While not actually defying the Code, he was able to work around certain aspects of it.  For example, Kane was not afraid to have articles published which attacked the U.S. president.  In the toothache scene when Kane followed Suzie up to her home so that she could offer hot water to him in order to clean his muddied clothing, there was much innuendo involved because the audience could perceive this invitation as being something less than respectable.  Even though it was entirely innocent, Kane also sits on the same bed as Suzie, which might have been another suggestive move on Welles’ part.  Finally, Kane’s final declaration about his intentions of staying at Suzie’s home when his wife and political opponent appear most likely lost him some credibility points according to The Production Code because of the ideas of a mistress and the scandal involved.  Welles’ determination in creating a matchless film upon which other films would be based was very risky, yet it showed his resolve was much like his Kane character in that he wanted to push forward with his ideas.

            Finally, the overall theme of the story is something the audience can sympathize with and appreciate since Kane wanted to appeal to the average, working-class people.  Modern-day viewers can see the similarities between a young Charles Foster Kane being torn away from the love of his mother as compared to Anakin Skywalker also having to leave his mother at a young age in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace.  No matter the grandeur and opulence of Kane’s possessions, the people in his life, and his need for power and control, his Xanadu palace reflected the loneliness in his soul.  Skywalker’s and Kane’s loneliness were also portrayed in the way in which they had to deal with life, their persistent need for power and control, and their lifetime of disillusionment being reflected in everything.  The love lost as a child was never recovered, and this loneliness lasted until the end.  The audience feels this loss and understands the meaning behind the snow globe and the sled.

Jacqui Mak

Jacqui Mak has been working towards her associate degree while attending Harper College in Palatine, Illinois on her way towards a degree in education.  She and her eighteen-year-old daughter, husband, and canine companion also live in Palatine.  Jacqui’s hobbies include all forms of dance, and she loves to play and coach softball.  A big shout out goes to Professor Brian Shelton for encouraging Jacqui with her film reviews.

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