ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
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“BETTER DAYS” EXPOSES SCHOOL BULLYING INCIDENTS THAT WE SHOULD CARE ABOUT
By: Andrea Zhang
Nian being bullied by girls behind her during physical education class.
Photo from: Well Go USA entertainment
“Better Days” is a movie that uses great cinematography to paint a dark picture of oppressive society and exposes bullying and pressure youth are facing nowadays.
“Better Days” is a Chinese movie directed by Derek Tsang, starring Dongyu Zhou and Jackson Yee. It’s based on a novel with the same name. The story is about Nian, a senior in high school, who is preparing for the Chinese college entrance exam. She attaches great importance to the exam because she thinks it is the only way to go to Beijing and earn money to pay her mother’s debt. But due to her classmate Xiaodie Hu, who committed suicide after being bullied by a group of students, she becomes the target of relentless bullying after she talks to the police.
She accidentally saves a small-time criminal, Bei, and he starts to protect her from bullying. They start to rely on each other, but one day Bei couldn’t protect her on her way home, and she is bullied again. On the exam day, the police take her to the police station because she was the prime suspect of a murder.
I like this movie because it made me think a lot after watching it. I started to question if I have ever ignored bullying incidents. Would I be the one to put a coat on Xiaodie Hu’s body after her suicide, or would I be one of the people taking pictures to share with others? How does domestic violence relate to school bullying?
The movie shows the reality that some people don’t notice or don’t want to admit. Just like the last sentence Xiaodie Hu says before she commits suicide, “ They are bullying me. Why does no one do anything?” Bullying isn’t just physically hurting someone or using words to hurt someone. Sometimes knowing that someone is being bullied but not doing anything hurts even more. Many people are afraid to fight back or don’t want to get into trouble; they’re not wrong, but they’re actually helping people who are bullying others.
“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars,” is the sentence on Nian’s English textbook. Bei and Nian are some of those who are looking at the stars. Even though they don’t have complete families, don’t have enough education, and are still not grown up, they are the people who would put “to protect the world” at the top of their wish list.
The other reason I like this movie is the great cinematography which brought me into the scenes weeping multiple times. The movie used a lot of scenes that only show the facial expressions of the characters. It makes audiences understand their feelings better and shows the details that audience might not notice. But at the same time, this approach challenges the acting of the actors. Their acting is perfect: they show both the immature and courageous sides of the characters.
Not like other movies which use music to paint the atmosphere, many silent scenes in this movie bring audiences into the depressed and serious atmosphere. No scene is exaggerated and everything is really realistic, so it’s easier to fall into the scenes.
The director made a great choice to film in Chongqing. It’s a city surrounded by mountains that always has humid weather and makes people feel trapped inside and depressed.
I recommend this movie to everyone. It may leave you feeling a bit depressed after watching it, but the great cinematography and story is definitely worth it. It will let you know more about school bullying, which has become a serious problem nowadays that we need to care about taking action to stop.
“THE JOKER”: AN IMMERSIVE FILM THAT LEAVES AUDIENCES CONFLICTED
By: Sage Leverman
The Joker’s poster for the digital release which is now streamable.
Courtesy of Amazon.com
A broken man gets his healthcare taken away, becomes tired of the pandemonium going on in his world, and goes psycho. We all know of this villainous man as Joker, but in the 2019 “The Joker” by Todd Philips, we get a well-crafted film which gets us to sympathize with Joker in his last good days before he becomes the self-created villain he was forced to be. “The Joker” is a confusing movie with quality performances, and has an unbelievable projection of violence.
Joker has a bad life, like some of us, we understand how it feels to get fired from work, get denied healthcare, and get rejected. The movie starts off in Gotham City, following Joker who slowly fails to stay sane, always being put to the test until he eventually snaps. His whole outlook on life changes once he’s exposed to murdering and the satisfaction he gets from revenge sticks with him forever.
But, I feel conflicted about “The Joker.”
Although the acting is great, the movie, which has a well-developed story line, takes a quick turn, because we see a sad man turn into a novice serial killer. It’s shocking because, once the Joker snaps, his dynamic changes and some scenes were a little too close to reality to watch. I would describe it as watching an egg hatch into a poisonous snake. You can’t change the transition, but because you saw the hatching, you only want the best for the egg. Except the egg is the old innocent Joker. Understanding Joker becomes harder and you start to lose all sense of who he was, and see how dark he’s becoming.
“The Joker” is a spectacular movie when it comes to experience just very intense.The visuals are intense, also shocking in a wicked way. The director Todd Philips, creates a clear depiction of what Jokers episodes of schizophrenia are like. I understood how Joker’s reality is opposite compared to others. The storyline with the visuals blended perfectly. The cinematography is brilliant for the intense scenes.
The relevancy “The Joker” has to the real world also stuck with me. When Gotham cuts all funds to public resources, I couldn’t help but think of how often, and many people are denied health care. A movie with a connection to the real world is very “woke.” I appreciated that we, the audience, experience what it feels like to be rejected, in Jokers shoes, because it was a reality check for us, and it shows how not everyone receives the same medical treatment.
The only distasteful attribution about Joker was the length of the movie. As compelled as I was to watch every scene, I was bored. It’s crazy how can we enjoy a movie and still be bored at the same time. I understand why some scenes were extended, for the purpose of dramatic effect, but I would feel just as informed without the simple, long, boring scenes.
“The Joker” is a spectacular movie when it comes to theme and cinematography, and not so well when it comes to length, but if you have the mental strength for this psychological thriller go ahead and watch for yourself. I would rate this film 7.6/10.
JPEGMAFIA’S LATEST ALBUM IS A LANDMARK IN HIP HOP HISTORY
By: Valentin Wanderkauven
Jpegmafia preparing to perform his first song during the Smile You’re On Camera Tour
Photo Credits: flickr
Jpegmafia has outdone himself once again. Just one year after the critically acclaimed “Veteran,” his latest project, “All My Heroes Are Cornballs” sets an even larger tone for what should come from industrial and punk rap albums. The lack of boundaries within the album have actually shown Peggy’s willingness to not only push forward a genre, but to also expand upon the greater scope of how hip hop should sound. Adding aspects of punk rock to accentuate the anger, experimenting with more electronic sounds to induce excitement in, and the ever enthralling multitude of samples and homemade sounds expand the potential of even the simplest beat. That doesn’t mean that hip hop should sound like anything in specific, but the lack of specific sounds is what artists should strive to make it.
Why is this album so special? Simply put, sampling. For those who don’t know, sampling is the use of an already existing sound in your own work to add effect to your beat. Throughout his years as a rising star within the underground hip hop community, Peggy has always had the greatest eye for sampling. Placing samples methodically throughout songs to end off his own bars makes a beat sound even more enthralling and vicious. His sampling is so utterly flawless that it rivals that of a Kanye West or Madlib.
Additionally, the themes carry just as much value as his sampling. Peggy’s motif has always been the internet and the ideas that are represented through it. Just like what happened in “Veteran”, this album shifts its focus towards a different aspect of what the internet has to hold. Instead of embodying the darker alcoves of the internet, Peggy takes the form of two people. The first being himself and his troubles with online presence and the mountains of trolls, critics, and tough talkers that seek out to ruin his life. The second being Barrington Hendricks, himself. He perfectly intertwines their ideologies, arguments, and distastes, relaying his life as an artist and as a person who grew up in Baltimore, showing the listener how he views the world as the artistic personality and the Baltimore native.
All of this ties back to who Peggy is angry at. It’s not the politicians anymore, nor is it the waves of racists that populate every country on earth. This time, the problems Peggy seeks to tackle are those who are “only brave with a board and a mouse”; the abusers of the anonymity that the internet provides. This is where both personalities flawlessly match one another. There’s no fear. Both Jpegmafia and Hendricks are unafraid of any dangers that the world poses. Baltimore has left him without fear.
Lack of fear is what leads to great things occurring. “All My Heroes Are Cornballs” is no different. The ability to push boundaries and defy the norm is what defines greatness in artistry. Peggy has realized that and took advantage of his raw talent to make what is one of the greatest albums of this decade. This is a landmark in hip hop history and will set the tone for innovation in the future of hip hop. “All My Heroes Are Cornballs” is literal perfection.
“HARRIET” TELLS A RIVETING STORY ABOUT THE LIFE OF A SLAVE
By: Yuqing Qiu
Harriet leads slaves to freedom
Photo Courtesy of: New York Times
“Harriet.” The name is plain, but this title meets Harriet Tubman’s image: simple, yet powerful and determined. Even though “Harriet” received both large amounts of backlash and praise on the internet, I found it to be a fascinating movie about courage and survival.
“Harriet” starts off with Minty (Cynthia Erivo) having a flashback about her family being torn apart by slave owners, followed by a heart-wrenching farewell to her sisters as they are sold away from their plantation in Maryland. After a series of events, Minty decides to run away to the north to escape being sold south. She rejects the help her husband John (Zackary Momoh) offers, not wanting him to lose his freedom by helping her.
While she is escaping, Minty is caught by Gideon (Joe Alwyn), the plantation owner, on a bridge. Gideon tries to convince Minty to come back to the plantation, saying he’ll treat her well, but Minty says to him, “ I’m going to be free or die.” and jumps off the bridge. Minty miraculously survives the jump and succeeds in making her way to Philadelphia. There, she meets William Still, a member of the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society. He helps Minty pick her new name, Harriet. He also introduces Harriet to Marie, a free African-American, who becomes Harriet’s landlady and close friend.
The movie skips to a year later, when Harriet makes her first journey back to Maryland to help her brothers. They safely make it to Philadelphia, and William introduces Harriet as a Railroad conductor to other conductors of the railroad.
She makes countless successful trips after this, earning her nickname, “Moses.” Around the same time, the Fugitive Slave Act was enacted, and Harriet escaped to Canada. After escaping to Canada, Harriet decides to make one last trip to Maryland to rescue her parents and niece.
She comes across Gideon, and they have their final standoff. Instead of killing him, as she could have, Harriet shoots his hand and tells him she “won’t kill him, because God never intended for humans to kill or own other humans.” The movie concludes with Harriet leading a squadron in the Civil War to free many other slaves, and her going back home as a free African-American and a hero.
I found this to be a fascinating movie because it told a compelling story with great cinematics. There were quite a few scenes with close up shots on Erivo’s face, and she portrayed the expressions of anguish and grief extremely well. There were no narrations, but through the actors’ facial expressions, it was very clear what emotions they were feeling, and this made the movie much more enjoyable.
Another aspect I liked about this movie was how it told the story of Harriet Tubman. The actor portrayed her determined personality and her resilience against people that supported slavery very well. I also liked how the director cleverly wove some other historical elements into the story. These elements included slave hunting, and how sometimes free African-Americans would also take part in order to earn money. The movie also showed detailed methods slaves used to escape to the north, such as by boat, dressing as a free African-American with forged personal documents, and on foot along the underground railroad.
I think this movie is definitely worth watching for multiple reasons. It’s entertaining and has numerous scenes that are very emotional. It’s also very educational, because, although the movie is not one hundred percent historically-accurate, it contains elements that are valuable parts of history. The main actors also help make the movie more enjoyable through their acting. Lastly, the songs sung in the movie have extremely beautiful melodies. All these elements combine to make “Harriet” a wonderful depiction about how the dark and difficult life of a slave still holds light and hope.
ALHS DRAMA KILLED IT IN THEIR PRODUCTION OF “HAMLET”
By: Gordon Liang
Lincoln drama actors worked strenuous hours to throw a masterful production of “Hamlet”
Photo Courtesy of: ALHS Drama Department
Abraham Lincoln’s drama department typically does a Shakespeare play once every four years to allow every student to get a chance at living the wonders of William Shakespeare. However, the drama department called an audible this year and decided to put a production of “Hamlet” only three years after they produced “As You Like It.” By emphasizing comical facets, seating audience members on the stage and creatively using fog and projection to cast an image of a ghost, one might argue that ALHS Drama did more killing than King Claudius himself… or herself in this case as he was played by Chloe Wong.
For the kids in drama club, putting on a Shakespeare production was the surprise of the year. For the remaining Lincoln community, the surprise was that we would be seated onstage during the show. This change was new and actually may have been a detriment financially for the Drama Department as there are fewer seats from the new setting than in the Little Theatre. However, the change proved to be well worth it as it provided the audience with an experience that was unlike any other production that the Drama Club has put on. I felt more connected to the plot than I did in previous productions.
The play itself started with a bang. The beginning sequence implemented intense color changes, music and movement to catch the audience’s attention. It was the choice of the year. The ALHS original opening scene was the drama’s masterpiece and got everyone in the theatre hooked.Throughout the play, the choices actors made, especially Jackson Laymon’s choice to give Polonius a sassy attitude to lighten the mood, actually made the play hilarious at times and gave a good break from the tense dark setting that Shakespeare set.
The play was an emotional rollercoaster. The audience went from empathizing with Hamlet’s pain at the advent of the play, to laughing in scene two when Ophelia converses with Laertes, to being shocked when Polonius dies, to empathizing with Laertes when he dies trying to avenge his father’s death.
Although many knew the fate of Hamlet, they were still emotional when the prince’s fatal flaw caught up to him. Tyler Aguallo, who played Hamlet, hid no emotion throughout the play and gave the audience a character that everyone could connect to.
With the success that “Hamlet” turned out to be, one can’t help but look forward to what production the drama department decides to put on next semester.
TARAVEL RESTAURANT REVIEW
By: Gordon Liang
Photos By: Gordon Liang
One special facet of Lincoln High School is its open-campus lunch policy. Although new restrictions were implemented, Lincoln made sure that the typical, well-known restaurants were still made available to Lincoln students.
Sushi Zen is primarily known for their Chicken Katsu Bowl that’s priced at $4.50. Although most of us recall when it was a mere $4 two years ago, the current price still ranks low amongst other restaurants on Taraval Street. The katsu sauce may taste pretty good, but it’s the chicken that really steals the show. The only downfall is that the meal leaves a dry taste in your mouth; ironic compared to the sauce. For its price however, Sushi Zen definitely provides a great value option for those traversing Taraval. It is located between 20th and 21st avenue.
While Deli King doesn’t have a price as low as $4.50, their taste definitely makes them a worthy choice. I usually get their Carnivore Sandwich for $8. The owners give a $1 discount and exempt taxes for Lincoln students. Their sandwiches are succulent and give the customer a barrage of flavors from the meat, sauce, and bread all at once. Their main goal is to satisfy their customers, and with scrumptious sandwiches and cordial service, Deli King proves to be a favorite amongst Lincoln students.
If you’re looking for drinks to quench your thirst, Quickly’s is a top value restaurant and a top quality restaurant. For a price of around $3.50, Quickly’s milk tea is not only a good value option, but also a good quality option for Lincoln students. Their milk tea is quite basic yet still smooth like most milk tea in San Francisco but the main difference is how their price consistently falls below $4 which is uncommon nowadays.
Just go to Quickly’s.
If you don’t want to make the trip to Taraval, Uncle Joe’s is your only option. Their food isn’t exactly value but they provide satisfaction that’ll set you up for a good fourth period. Their Lincoln High Sandwich leaves a taste in your mouth that’ll make you want to return to pay another $10 until you’re broke. The main difference between Deli King and Uncle Joe’s is that Uncle Joe’s is closer and provides more options but Deli King provides Lincoln-specific discounts that makes you feel more financially-special as a customer.
No one can deny that KFC has decent food. And when price and restaurant quality come into play, KFC no longer seems like a good option on Taraval. One doesn’t need an official inspection to tell that the kitchen is flagrantly unsanitary. Proportion-wise, KFC’s prices may be the highest of the restaurants in the vicinity of Lincoln. One can also make the argument that not much attention is paid to KFC as it is a franchised fast food restaurant and the one on Taraval is merely one of many across the country.
SEEN AND HEARD
“You’re the kind of person I would throw off a cliff and then jump after to save.” --questionable “friend” to another friend.
“THERE’S A LITTLE MERMAID SERIES!? F school. I’m going to drop out and become a Disney fanatic.” --senior with questionable goals
“Pizza Hut keeps sending me text messages!” --connected student
“You don’t understand how board games work!” --senior on the art of conversation while playing Jenga