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    ‘Flatliners’ Remake is D.O.A.

    Flatliners spoilers below!

    Recently released Flatliners remakes the 90s film of the same name, giving it a somewhat questionable psychological horror twist. The film follows a group of medical students who experiment with ‘flatlining’ and reviving each other to try and document near-death experiments. The group then finds themselves haunted by a mysterious entity.

    Is Flatliners as bad as most critics make it out to be? Not entirely. The film’s problem is that with all the genres it mixes, it has no strengths in any genre. It’s all around mediocre, by drama standards, science fiction standards, and even horror standards which are already pretty low. Flatliners doesn’t know what type of film it really wants to be, and this is evident on screen.

    Elements of horror permeate the film and give it nominal moments of suspense. Most scenes that attempt to be frightening are lackluster. It’s not for lack of trying; Ellen Page does her best to seem terrified, and the film’s visuals are eerie as her character is chased by the supernatural entity. It’s just not really scary.

    The one exception here is Nina Dobrev’s scenes. Whatever was haunting these students really hated Marlo (Dobrev’s character.) A particularly horrifying moment of the film comes when Marlo is haunted while in the hospital’s morgue, seeing dead bodies and other figures moving in the dark. Other than that, there’s little in Flatliners to make it a memorable horror film.

    There’s not much noteworthy about the film’s sci-fi and psychological aspects either. Despite its efforts to jump around and appeal to as wide an audience as possible, Flatliners is nothing if not predictable. Each of the medical students who flatlined is terrorized by their own experiences with death. Courtney with the death of her sister, Marlo with the death of a patient, Jamie (James Norton) with his child he paid to have aborted, etc. Shockingly, the end comes together with each character needing to forgive themselves and move on. Yawn.

    For a fairly well established cast, Flatliners boasts horror-worthy performances. Drama and tensions starts off high, with Courtney enticing students to join her experiments, but after her death, the film sloughs through the second hour of its runtime bordering between boring and momentarily exciting. The only real excitement, though, is wondering when the med students would learn their lesson and the film would be over.

    Flatliners was barely able to keep viewers’ attention in a theater, where the film had less to compete with. I imagine it would be nearly impossible to not get distracted by something more interesting when the film makes its home release. The original Flatliners was a mixed bag in and of itself, making this remake entirely unnecessary. The fact that the 2017 version did nothing to elevate the story just adds insult to injury.

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    Katie Costello on New ‘Twice The Love’ Album and Inspiration

    Katie Costello is Brooklyn based singer-songwriter who recently released her third studio album Twice the Love on October 6th. The album has ‘80s synth pop influences and fuses them with a modern production. Katie recently talked with us about recording the new album, inspiration behind the tracks, and more. Read the interview below and Listen to Katie Costello here.

    First of all, what was it like working with Justyn Pilbrow (The Neighborhood) and Tim Myers (One Republic)? What is it the most memorable moment you had working with each? 

    It was fun to work with different producers on my new album, Twice the Love, because everyone has different strengths in music. I always learn something new from everyone I collaborate with because I like to cultivate an open attitude when I create music.

    A memorable moment in the studio with Justyn Pilbrow happened when he said something particular to me when we were recording background vocals. We had just cut the chorus vocals to a song, and he turns to me and says, “Okay, now let’s come up with a background vocal part that your best friend sings in the car.”

    It made me laugh so much because of hanging out with theatre and art kids my whole life, I knew exactly what he meant by that. Everyone has a friend that manages to sing the notable harmony… The important part is that it [was] an opportunity to create yet another hook. Sometimes that “other” chorus harmony can be a hook in itself. A light bulb went off when he said that.

    Working with Tim Myers, I found it very memorable that the first song we wrote together was “A Beautiful Mystery.” [track 8 on the new album]  It took about 15 minutes to get it down. Sometimes songs come out very fast, but the recording process is slow. I found it memorable that both the songwriting and the recording process was very fast that day. After a few hours of work, I think we were both pretty blown away by what had come out.

    What was the most random place that you got inspired to write one of your tracks on Twice the Love?

    Great question. I get songwriting inspiration in very random places, at very random times. In fact, almost every song comes about in a totally unique way. I remember getting the melodic and lyric inspiration [for] “New York Graffiti” on the way to the studio in Brooklyn where I walked past different types of graffiti art and murals. Seeing how the art covered the streets, I thought to myself, “I love the irreverent, all out there vibe of the art on these streets. I want my music to be just as widespread and all out there!” Perhaps another contributing factor to coming up with “New York Graffiti” that day was the notoriously slow train I took to the studio. (For those who are familiar with the G Train in New York City, you know what I mean.)

     

    The album has a lot of vivid storytelling. What was the idea behind the album’s name?

    Thank you. The album’s title, Twice the Love, has a number of levels of meaning to it. I’m interested in knowing what other people take from it. With that being said, I can say that the title refers to the intention of the album…I wish for those who listen to it experience Twice the Love they did before! The album is about cultivating a love for life, despite the challenges that confront us everyday. Each song deals with finding an inner happiness in the midst of a complex world.

    The genre of pop is ever changing, and so are pop artists. What will be the one thing that makes you stand out? 

    Among the things that make me unique as a pop artist is the fact that I actually am a songwriter and a musician. My experiences as an independent artist along with my musicality also make me stand out. Plus, I’m not chasing trends. My goal has been to create unique pop music with a classic, timeless sound. To create music that can be revisited over and over again.

    Your music has been played on a variety popular shows like Pretty Little LiarsThe Vampire Diaries90210, among others. Do you think that Twice the Love will have a similar vibe?

    My new album Twice the Love definitely has more upbeat tracks on it than my former releases. This opens up even more opportunities for music supervisors to use my new songs in TV and film. They have an even wider appeal and offer a greater range than my former material.

    Based on your social media aesthetic and living in New York City, do you think that making a fashion statement can be related to music? If so, how? 

    Definitely. As an artist, I express myself in many ways, not just music… I don’t think fashion equates [to] musical artistry, but I do think that your outfit can reflect your vibe and give people a better sense of your unique personality. I believe fashion can inspire people and can give people a reason to smile.

    If you had to choose any musician living or dead to collaborate who would you choose? Is there a particular song of theirs you’d like to sing with them? 

    I’d love to collaborate with Mick Jagger. It would be difficult to pick just one song to sing with him, but what comes to mind now is “Gimme Shelter.” The duet on that track is legendary. 

    What kind of advice will you give to young children that want to be part of the music industry?

    Listen to your heart and never ever forget that music is about joy and happiness. My other piece of advice is never sign anything without thoroughly understanding the agreement and getting professional help to understand it, too. Sadly, many artists enter contracts that end up crippling them for years to come. It’s a tough industry… but it’s important and essential that the perspective of fun is not lost and the joy of music is never taken out of the equation!

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    Recap: Dancing With The Stars – Season 25, Week Four

    This week on Dancing With The Stars we all cried like we do every season when Most Memorable Year night comes around.

    Frankie Muniz started the night off with a story not many know. Frankie does not have a ‘most memorable year’ because he can’t remember them. His friends and family remind him of memories from his childhood and his acting days, but they are things he can’t recall. He says his only way of life is to live in the moment. Frankie and Witney dance a quickstep to a song that talks about feeling alive, but it did not entertain.

    In 2012, Terrell Owens’ grandmother passed away. Terrell’s grandmother raised him as if he were her own. Terrell and Cheryl Viennese waltzed to “If I Don’t Have You,” and it was such a tearjerker like everyone expected. The judges all praised him for showing emotion throughout the dance.

    Nikki Bella tells about how she went through surgery and her struggle to fight again. Her video package showed her working out with a neck brace on. In 2016, she was finally able to get back in the ring. Nikki and Artem danced a contemporary piece in a wrestling ring with silks. Their performance was very moving, and the judges were impressed with her silk work.

    Nick Lachey shared he and his wife’s love story. He talked about the years he has known her and their journey to marriage. He cannot pick a certain year because all the years with her are memorable. Nick and Peta dance a contemporary piece that leaves his wife in tears, but does not impress the judges.

    Lindsey Stirling talked about the close relationship she and her dad shared. Her father gave up his dream job of being a freelance writer and got a better job to pay for Lindsey’s violin lessons. In 2016, Lindsey’s dad was diagnosed with cancer and later passed away. Lindsey’s partner, Mark, dressed as her father, wearing his actual hat and scarf, performing a very heartwrenching Viennese waltz. Their dance was the first one of the night to make me cry because the story they told was so clear.

    Derek Fisher’s daughter was diagnosed with cancer in her eyes at only 10 months old. When Derek’s football contract was up, he used his millions of dollars to save his daughter’s life, and she is now a happy and healthy girl. Derek and Sharna danced a jazz piece that did not score well with the judges.

    Jordan Fisher’s grandparents took him from birth and cared for him. In 2005, Jordan’s grandparents officially adopted him. Jordan and Lindsay danced an absolutely beautiful contemporary piece. Their dance was hands-down the best dance of the season so far. Jordan looked more like a dancer than a star. Their performance left many in tears — including me. Jordan and Lindsay received the first tens of the season, and they 100% deserved it.

    Sasha Pieterse said her most memorable year was 2016, the year she got engaged. The TV show Sasha was starring on was ending, and she was also gaining weight. She was becoming insecure when the tv show watchers started to comment on her appearance. Getting engaged got her back on her feet and feeling confident again. Although her story is heartwarming, Sasha and Gleb’s foxtrot did not portray her memory well.

    Vanessa Lachey’s family is everything to her, and that’s why her most memorable year was 2017, the year she and Nick completed their family. Their rumba performance was not very entertaining and left them in the middle of the leaderboard.

    Before Property Brothers, Drew Scott struggled with finding a career that suited him. He wanted to be an actor but couldn’t find a job and felt like a failure. In 2007, Drew’s twin brother told him about his idea for Property Brothers, and the rest is history. Drew and Emma performed a jive with his brother as a surprise guest. Their dance was fun and entertaining. Len said it was Drew’s best dance so far.

    As we all know, Victoria Arlen spent many years of her life in a vegetative state. Although we’ve heard the story many times, her video package still pulled at the heartstrings. Victoria and Val danced a foxtrot that perfectly portrayed her story. Victoria even danced in her wheelchair.

    Jordan/Lindsay 29                                                                                                                  Victoria/Val 27                                                                                                                      Lindsey/Mark 26                                                                                                                Frankie/Witney 24                                                                                                              Terrell/Cheryl 24                                                                                                                    Nikki/Artem 24                                                                                                                      Sasha/Gleb 24                                                                                                                    Vanessa/Maks 24                                                                                                                  Drew/Emma 24                                                                                                                    Derek/Sharna 23                                                                                                                        Nick/Peta 22

    I do not agree with Victoria being ahead of Lindsey, although overall, Lindsey is ahead of Victoria. At the end of the night Derek/Sharna and Nick/Peta were in jeopardy and ultimately Derek and Sharna went home. Nick and Peta must be holding on by their votes because they have been toward the bottom of the leaderboard for the past three weeks. They need some serious improvement if they are planning on grabbing that Mirrorball.

     

     

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    Recap: American Horror Story: Cult Season 7, Episode 6 ‘Mid-Western Assassin’

    American Horror Story: Cult is starting to get lost in its own backstory. ‘Mid-Western Assassin’ is another time-shift heavy episode, and the multiple jumps in time are starting to make Cult feel more like a puzzle that’s just not worth putting together.

    This week’s episode opens with a scene of a mass shooting where Kai is shot down, with the gun revealed to be in Ally’s hand. The rest of the episode shifts around in time, explaining how we got here and fleshing out even more characters. The final ‘Aha!’ moment, though, really just feels like a middle finger to the viewer. To be fair though, this is American Horror Story, and nothing seen on screen can ever be trusted, so the surprise really isn’t all that surprising.

    Following the opening credits, we go back to when we last saw Ally. Meadow comes to her window begging to be saved, warning Ally of the cult and that Ivy is in it. Ally quickly launches a plan to rescue Meadow that involves breaking into their house and helping her escape through the garage. The escape plan interrupts Harrison and Detective Samuel’s sexy time (sidenote: who would ever have thought a sex scene involving Colton Haynes would be so meh?) The two pursue Ally and Meadow, who hide out in Ally’s Butcher Shop.

    Meadow tells Ally everything. She found herself in love with Kai and drawn to his cult because he showed her attention that husband Harrison was busy giving to Detective Samuels. It was the little things — like how he appreciated her drawings, especially those of Elephants and Donkeys (symbolism!)

    Meadow walks in on Kai giving the Elephant/Donkey mask to Ivy and romancing her similarly to the way he did Meadow. This inspires her to leave the cult. Kai, Harrison, and Samuels tie Meadow up and plan her death that was seen earlier in the season. They throw her in the hole, where Ally then rescues her.

    Meanwhile, at a speaking event, Kai tries to rouse up voters and further secure his unprecedented lead. Mare Winningham guest stars as Sally Keffler, an educated and worthy opponent for Kai who quickly turns his fans against him. She throws her name into the race, giving Kai some chilling words of wisdom.

    A young man’s certainty is also his burden. I’m going to relieve you of both.

    Burn! We then take another nauseating time jump to the day after the election when Ivy is freaking out on Winter about the man who sawed off his arm to vote. Winter introduces her to Kai, and she is inducted into the cult, revealing her secrets to Kai with relative ease.

    She shares the true reason for why she has grown to despise Ally. Due to a medical condition, Ivy is unable to safely have a child, which meant that Ally carried their son, Oz, and she never let Ivy forget it. Ivy said she wanted Ally dead, but she didn’t want Oz to go through such a trauma. Kai assures her that all will be taken care of, promising Ivy both custody of her son and his ‘hot’ sister in exchange for her loyalty.

    In the present, Ally takes Meadow to see Dr. Vincent. It was revealed last week that he is Kai’s brother and must certainly be working with the cult. When Ally leaves Meadow in his care so that Meadow can tell all, it’s one of the only suspenseful moments of the episode. We know Vincent is associated with the cult…how will he deal with Ally delivering the traitor right to his office?

    While Meadow talks to Vincent, Ally rushes off to warn Sally about Kai, his cult, and the likelihood that they’ll be coming to kill her soon. How does Sally handle the news? She takes it in stride, believing everything, and rolling up a blunt. The two begin to develop a course of action when Kai’s insane clown posse comes in. Ally makes a quick getaway into the bathroom, leaving Sally surrounded. Not cool, but who could blame poor Ally in this situation?

    You’ve got to hand it to Sally, the bitch is not scared of these clowns at all, pointing her gun at them and daring one to make a move so she can make an example of them. Kai eventually overtakes her and pulls off his mask. Beverly does too, and Sally is quite shocked to see this. While the clowns suppress Sally, Kai logs onto her Facebook account and posts her suicide note.

    Sally: No one’s going to believe any of that!

    Kai: Of course they will. It’s on Facebook.

    He shoots her in the chest, and the clowns go to leave. A cult member in the Donkey/Elephant mask (presumed to be Ivy) does a check of the house and finds Ally in the bathroom but doesn’t let anyone know. If Ivy truly wanted Ally dead, this would’ve been her chance.

    Ally flees back to Dr. Vincent, who tells her that Meadow didn’t say anything about a cult and simply left. On screen, we see that Meadow gets a suspicious call from Kai during the visit, choosing to leave right afterward, presumably to flee the country like she talked about to Ally.

    We then cut to the day of the shooting. Ally is at the speech Kai is giving, walking through the crowd when she spots Meadow and realizes what is about to happen. Meadow makes her way to the front of the crowd and opens fire. American Horror Story jumps the gun with this scene though (no pun intended.)

    It was revealed in the opening scene that, as we now know, Meadow was capable of shooting a main from a distance right in the head. So when she begins to open fire and goes for Kai, why does she only hit him in the leg? The rollercoaster of twists that ensues becomes a kiddie ride with this in mind.

    Ally tries to stop Meadow, but Meadow is persistent, saying “This is the face of true love,” before eating a bullet. The cops then catch Ally with the gun in her hand and arrest her.

    Going back to the night of Meadow’s confrontation of the cult, it is revealed that Kai had a darker, deeper plan for Meadow than actually killing her. He wanted her death to be presumed, but for her to escape and run to Ally. He wants to be assassinated (or rather, to have an attempted assassination.) He proceeds to have sex with Meadow, telling her that when Ally eventually knows the truth and says it, no one will believe her.

    With pretty much any semblance of tension that could lead to an eventual climax (namely, Ally having a partner in defeating the cult) having been orchestrated by Kai the entire time, American Horror Story is starting to run itself a bit thin with its plot. Hopefully the arrest of Ally will be used to get Cult back up and running, because ‘Mid-Western Assassin’ twisted and turned so frequently that it felt more like a dead fish flopping about than a taut thriller.

    The next episode of American Horror Story: Cult, ‘Valerie Solanas Died for Your Sins: Scumbag’ airs October 17th on FX.

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    Recap: Will & Grace, Season 9 Episode 2 – ‘Who’s Your Daddy?’

    It didn’t take the Will & Grace revival long to get back into the swing of things. Last week’s politically charged premiere was good but nothing more. It was a necessary step for the show to take: a lot has happened since the show was last on the air, and confronting those who stand in the way of gay rights is integral to the show’s audience and very nature. With that out of the way, Will & Grace got back to its usual format, and it really felt like the good old days.

    Will and Jack try to score dates with younger men while Karen and Grace find themselves trapped in Karen’s newly redesigned bathroom. ‘Who’s Your Daddy?’ tackles a hilarious stereotype in gay culture: younger men hooking up with older ‘daddy’ figures.

    While both Will and Jack have different experiences, the show’s message is consistent. Jack deals with aging, trying to appear younger in order to appeal to his hot date. Like last week, much of Jack’s screen time is spent with slapstick, but that’s where Sean Hayes excels. Jack’s hilarious efforts to recapture his youth leave him nearly crippled in a contraption made of compression garments and magnets.

    Will aged better and lands a date with ease. When the two try to connect though, the problem arises. Will’s date is more interested in hooking up with a ‘daddy,’ and Will quickly learns the two have very little chemistry.

    Rather than leaving it at that, Will & Grace does its duty in educating younger viewers. Will’s young date knows little of gay history. His coming out was a breeze. This is great news, and Will realizes it, but he takes his time to give his date a lesson in gay history.

    You can never forget the struggle that came before you. The people that loved, and fought, and died.

    Meanwhile, Karen and Grace find themselves trapped in Karen’s newly remodeled shower. Megan Mullally is back in top form as Karen, and her zingers and one-liners are as hilarious as ever. This episode really harkened back to the old days when people would frequently wonder if it was really Will & Grace or if a more apt title would be Karen & Jack.

    As Karen and Grace find themselves in deeper and deeper water thanks to Karen’s voice automated shower locking them inside and plugging the drain, we learn more about both characters (although it’s unlikely old fans will have learned much.) Interesting though is that Trump supporter Karen finds Hillary Clinton to be a turn on, and ‘Grace Adler’ is her safe word. Ouch!

    While Karen and Grace were mostly just comedic relief in this episode, there’s one line by Karen that’s already comedic gold and some of the show’s best. Karen asks Grace for a raise, to which Grace replies that Karen is already rich and does very little work, pointing out her wealth and penchant for booze. With gusto, Karen replies:

    It’s not my fault that people can’t marry money and hold their liquor!

    Ah, classic Karen. This new episode of Will & Grace gives much hope for the rest of the revival season and makes the fact that it was already renewed for another even sweeter.

    Will & Grace airs Thursdays on NBC.

     

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    Recap: American Horror Story: Cult Season 7, Episode 5 – ‘Holes’

    American Horror Story is taking its Cult to hyperreal levels with its most recent episode, ‘Holes,’ and the result walks the line between being genuinely disturbing and gratuitously so. The political overtones and general heavy-handed message have run the course of this season so far, and ‘Holes’ doesn’t let up on the violence.

    With last week’s episode ’11/9′ shedding some light on the backstory of this season’s characters, we jump back to the present this week, continuing to learn about cult members and their leader, Kai. Their plan to rise to power through intimidation is progressing slowly, and Kai finds himself disappointed that Beverly’s news channel did not air the footage of Serena’s murder. What better way to get revenge than killing anchor Bob Thompson, recording it, and airing it themselves?

    We learn that Ally’s wife, Ivy, is a part of Kai’s cult, and the relationship she has with Winter has been blossoming since before the election. There’s some still unrevealed reason for Ivy to have turned on Ally, but their marriage has been falling apart for a while now and it would appear that the cult is working on a solution.

    Meanwhile, Ally continues to border between being lucid and in a terrified state of reality. Her therapist is of virtually no help (because, we later learn, he is Kai’s brother and heavily influencing the cult himself.) Looking back on past episodes, little pieces are coming together that make the shows opening episodes all the more eerie. (Remember when Ally was attacked by clowns in the grocery store? The Trump supporter from last episode worked at the store, is in the cult, and likely is the one who told police there were no clowns on the store’s security footage.)

    The death of Bob Thompson is used to unite the cult and weed out the weak. Ivy is certainly looking vulnerable; she flees before Thompson is killed and quivers later at a cult member’s death. The strongest members of the cult are undoubtedly Kai (obviously,) and Beverly. As the two talk later in the episode, Beverly even gets Kai to break down. One thing’s for certain: Beverly is a master manipulator. Could this be the ultimate inside reporting? It certainly wouldn’t be surprising.

    Shockingly enough, we learn that Harrison’s wife, Meadow, is involved in the cult and still alive, despite her perceived death in past episodes. Ally watches as she escapes a pit in the Wilton’s backyard, and Meadow races over to get help from Ally before someone comes up and puts a white bag over her head. Meadow reveals to Ally about the cult and the fact that Ivy is in it. This will certainly play out in episodes to come, and it definitely makes Ally a high target in the cult’s crosshairs.

    Beverly and Kai deem her cameraman, RJ (James Morosini) to be a weak link in the cult, and both agree that he must be dealt with. Kai chooses to test everyone’s loyalty on the spot, starting with skittish Ivy. In the end, everyone takes turns shooting RJ in the head with a nail gun, with Kai finishing him off. This is honestly one of the most disturbing things to watch, partly because of the scene’s graphic nature and also because of the character’s faces. Without saying a word, you can learn the true nature of each character.

    Ivy is nearly in tears when she has to put a nail in RJ’s head. Beverly looks triumphant. Kai mocks RJ before putting him out of his misery.

    After that intense moment, the show does its best to humanize the awful Kai and set Beverly up as being his puppet master as she coaxes him into sharing his darkest secrets with her. We learn about the death of Kai’s parents, with his father being an abusive, disabled jerk that drove his mother to commit murder-suicide.

    It’s revealed that Dr. Rudy Vincent is actually Kai and Winter’s brother, and he convinces Kai to hide the bodies in the house to scam the government and continue receiving their father’s disability checks. Sadly, this isn’t as disturbing as the fact that Kai still visits his parents’ decaying bodies, chiding his father and holding his mother’s gross, skeletal hand. That’s almost as nasty as his greasy hair. (Seriously, how much product do they have to put in Evan Peters’ hair to make it look like he hasn’t bathed in months? Amazing job, stylists.)

    American Horror Story is continuing to line its cult members up and knock them down, revealing backstories and setting up the cards for Ally to return to the forefront of the narrative. The series is doing a good job giving its characters depth (even if it does so with unnecessary violence.)

    Isn’t that kind of the point of American Horror Story? The show has never shied away from unsettling imagery, although past seasons like Coven and Freakshow get a pass for being somewhat supernatural. Cult is at its most terrifying simply because it could actually happen. One look at recent headlines shows just how closely Cult is holding a mirror to society. That’s the true horror here.

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    Recap: Dancing With The Stars – Season 25, Week Three

    Guilty Pleasures week is gave us a closer look into our stars everyday lives. The opening dance portrayed some of the guilty pleasures many of us watching probably have. Aired a day after the Las Vegas shooting, Tom started the night assuring the audience that Dancing With The Stars is not trying to be inconsiderate by continuing on with the shows and shares their condolences with all impacted.

    Drew Scott started the competition by dancing a crime show-esque Argentine tango to portray his guilty pleasure.

    Derek Fishers shared his guilty pleasure of watching Fresh Prince of Bel Air, cha-cha-ing to the show’s theme song. Although the dance was very “bootylicious,” Carrie Ann commented that it seemed like Derek was finally getting into the competition.

    Victoria Arlen was in a wheelchair while in high school, so for this week she decided to relive her school days through dance. Val challenged her to quick step, and the judges praised them for the performance.

    Vanessa Lachey shared that her guilty pleasure was simply hanging with her girlfriends. With Maks out for the week because of personal issues, Vanessa and Alan dance a jazz routine to “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” and Vanessa held her own dancing with a group of professionals.

    Nikki Bella’s guilty pleasure was reading romance novels like Fifty Shades of Grey. Her and Artem performed a sexy Viennese waltz featuring a risque elevator scene. Nikki’s fiance, John Cena, joined them on stage during scoring to show his support of his fiancé’s hidden fantasy.

    Frankie Muniz reluctantly admitted his guilty pleasure is boy bands. Frankie sambaed his way into his dream come true when he did a little cameo with the Dancing With The Stars version of NSYNC, lip syncing “It’s Gotta Be Me.” Although he played the boyband part very well, the judges said he had some trouble moving his hips.

    Lindsey Stirling’s guilty pleasure was an all day pajama party. She talked about going through a breakup just a week ago and using her heartbreak to gear her through the week, saying she wants her life partner to be someone she can have a pajama party with. She and her partner do a fun and energetic jive that went over very well with the judges. Len called it “the dance of the season.”

    Sasha Pieterse said her guilty pleasure is baking. She and Gleb perform a jazzy baking skit for the judges. It was definitely more of a skit than a dance, but the judges said they know she has the ability to perform a good dance.

    Nick Lachey’s guilty pleasure was romantic comedies. Nick and Peta performed a jazz routine with jazzercize. Carrie Ann shared her love for Nick’s leotard.

    Terrell and Cheryl performed a breakdance salsa in accordance with T.O.’s guilty pleasure. Although Cheryl shared her concerns about Terrell’s breakdancing abilities, she still let him show off some of his skills, which turned out in their favor as they received their highest scores of the seasons.

    Jordan Fisher’s guilty pleasure was reading comics, so he and Lindsay dressed up as superheroes and kicked butt with their Charleston dance moves. It was a hit with Carrie Ann and Bruno, but Len complained about the lack of the Charleston.

    At the end of the night the leader-board looked like

    Lindsey/Mark 27                                                                                                            Jordan/Lindsay 25                                                                                                                Drew/Emma 23                                                                                                                  Vanessa/Alan 23                                                                                                                    Victorial/Val 22                                                                                                                    Derek/Sharna 21                                                                                                              Frankie/Witney 21                                                                                                                  Nikki/Artem 21                                                                                                                    Terrell/Cheryl 20                                                                                                                    Sasha/Gleb 19                                                                                                                        Nick/Peta 17

    Nick and Peta were in jeopardy last week, and if they don’t get enough votes this week they could both be leaving their spouses and heading home. Lindsey Stirling has definitely been proving that she is in this competition to win it, and we have yet to see her slip up. Next week is Most Memorable Year, so be sure to bring your tissues because it’s always an emotional night!

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    Kris Angelis talks about new song ‘Bright Side’

    Kris Angelis has a new song ‘Bright Side,’ a fun pop number that’s sonically different from the Heartbreak is Contagious singer’s past work. Kris talks with us about the new song, where she’s going with her sound, and what her fan’s support means to her. Listen to ‘Bright Side’ below.

    Angelis will be giving half the proceeds from the pre-sale and this week to the fund for the victims of the Las Vegas shooting. Lovely! Purchase the track here.

    ‘Bright Side’ is pretty different from the usual folk/acoustic sound your music has. What inspired this change? 

    I wanted to try something more upbeat and empowering and step out of my comfort zone. It’s not that I wanted to totally change my sound. I’ll still be making folk/acoustic music; I just think it’s good to try new things and explore creatively, and now I have more of a range of feeling and sound.

    The song may sound different, but it’s certainly got that optimism that can be found in a lot of your music. How do you stay positive, even when times get tough? 

    I am incredibly lucky to have a wonderful family and group of friends who are extremely supportive and fun. Even when things are hard, I have people who comfort me, help with the situation, talk it out, and make me laugh.

    What was it like working with Adrianne Gonzalez on this song?

    I was excited to get to work with Adrianne because she is a member of one of my favorite bands (The Rescues) who have influenced my music. So when our mutual friend shared my music with her, and she contacted me saying she loved it, I was pretty stoked.

    It’s an awesome feeling to create with people who have enthusiasm for each other’s work. She is fun and chill and encourages risk taking. If I remember correctly, we wrote the whole song in a few hours and then had another session to record it, and she did a great job with the production.

    We actually started with the percussion which is a main feature of the track. I’d never done that before. When we were writing the “Oh Oh” post-chorus, we had a bunch of options for the pattern and melody, and we couldn’t decide, so we did them all, which made for a challenging and funny recording session.

    Your latest EP, Heartbreak is Contagious, is a really beautiful and thoughtful look at love. Did you learn anything about yourself when working on the EP?

    Oh that’s a good question, and I’m sure I did…I definitely feel like I’ve grown a lot since the time when I was writing those songs. I’ve learned more about what I want and need and how to stand up for it in relationships and music/career.

    ‘Bright Side’ reminds me a lot of one of my favorite artists – Gwen Stefani. She experiments with genres a lot. Are there any other genres you’d like to work with?

    I have been doing a lot of cowriting and working with different producers who have different strengths, so you’ll be hearing a variety that hopefully still has a cohesiveness because I cowrote and sang the songs. I have a song coming out in November that I cowrote with Chase Bell that’s sweeping and cinematic with lots of live strings, and I’m also the featured artist on a track by Hotwork (Chase Rossner) that sounds more like Alessia Cara or Selena Gomez. That’s not necessarily my style as an artist, but it was really fun to work on, and I enjoy listening and dancing to that type of music.

    I have always loved the Americana sound, and I’d like to get more into that and do more stripped down tracks where it’s all about the song: melody and lyrics. I recently became obsessed with the song “Wine and Whiskey” by Jeff Hahn. I also want to write songs and tracks that you can stomp your feet to like [indie folk band] The Head and the Heart. They blend a pop/contemporary feel with folk/Americana ,and that’s what I’d love to do more of. 

    Who are your biggest musical influences?

    There are so many, and I’ve mentioned some of them already, but the ones that I would say are the main catalysts that made me jump into making music are Hanson (yup, the mmmbop boys. They’ve been writing and releasing music since then and haven’t stopped – check it out!) and Brandi Carlile.

    I discovered Hanson and was so impressed by how young they were and the fact that they played their own music, and I learned how to harmonize with my twin sister to their songs. I felt like if they could do it, then that was something that was possible for me too.

    Then, coincidentally, I saw Brandi Carlile opening for Hanson and her music and voice was so raw and emotional, and I connected with it. I felt like her lyrics were what I would write,  and I went home after that concert, picked up a guitar and notepad and started writing songs. I had written some little stuff when I was very young, but that was the moment I really became a singer/songwriter. Both of those bands are also huge influences in the way they are as people and their activism. They use their success to help other people, and that is something I look up to and strive for as well.

    You’ll be performing at a benefit for victims of Hurricane Harvey in October. What’s one thing concert-goers can expect when they see you perform live?

    One thing other than me singing and playing acoustic guitar (usually the stripped down versions of my songs, but if I can get my sister to sing harmonies or am lucky enough to have the fantastic musicians who play with me be available, it will be a fun, organic sound) people can expect to hear me tell little backstories of the songs and make commentary about whatever I’m thinking about. I like to connect with the audience on that level. I like to see who the person is when I go to a show and laugh and it makes me feel less nervous as a performer when I feel like the people watching are with me.

    You have a Patreon where fans can help you create songs and videos. Websites like Patreon have been really helpful to a lot of up-and-coming artists. How has Patreon helped you, and what does the support from fans on the site mean to you?

    Patreon has been so helpful because it’s a way for me to make some income from my music so that I can keep making [songs] and pay for the things that will help it go further like publicity, great producers, and music videos. In the current climate of the music industry, it can be hard for an indie artist to make enough just from music sales, so Patreon is a place to build a community of people who are such fans that they are willing to pay for whatever you are making in an ongoing way. That fact alone, that there are people out there who support what I’m doing that much, is deeply encouraging! It helps me know that I should keep going and perseverance is one of the biggest factors to success. 

    When you’re not working on your music career, what do you like to do for fun?

    I feel like I’m constantly working on it and thinking about it, but when I’m not actively working on the career aspect, I love to go see music. Outside of the music realm, I enjoy being in nature – hiking, picnics, camping – and playing games. I get together with friends and play Settlers of Catan, Pandemic, (we got the crazy long form version that’s still in progress!) Secret Hitler…

    I’ve never actually played D&D but have started working on my character, and I’m excited to get in on a campaign. We also play Running Charades which is a fast paced, super competitive version of charades, and we do movie marathon days with a certain director or theme. That has recently gotten upgraded to giant outdoor screenings which combines a few of my favorite things: Friends, movies, outside, picnic, blankets…we did that for the season premier of Game of Thrones and we dressed up. I had a sword. (Editor’s note: Amazing.)

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    ‘Friend Request’ Denied: Horror Flick Fizzles Despite Interesting Lore

    Does plot matter in a horror film? For classic horror movies, undoubtedly so. Over time, the genre has become watered down to 90 minute films that rely heavily on jump scares and have little, if any, thought put into them. Such is the case with Friend Request, a film about a college student’s desire to find out why a mysterious student killed herself after the two quickly became friends on social media.

    One thing Friend Request has going for it is its attention to detail when it comes to the film’s back story. The student who committed suicide, Marina (Liesl Ahlers) is involved in witchcraft, and the film does a decent job of modernizing this concept and pairing it with society’s obsession with computers. The Black Mirrors that old witches would use is replaced by the students’ devices, which are a black reflective screen when turned off. Sounds interesting, but as the plot plays out, the novelty quickly wears off.

    Like most horror films, Friend Request does not boast a star-studded cast. These actors are fresh faces for a reason; all performances are mediocre and unconvincing through and through. How did William Moseley, of The Chronicles of Narnia fame come to this? He plays Tyler, the boyfriend of the film’s protagonist.

    While no one’s going to be winning any awards for Best Performance, it wouldn’t surprise me if Connor Paolo picked up a Razzie for his role of Kobe. As the film begins to heighten its sloughish pace, desperately trying to reach climax, a twist comes out of left field that Kobe isn’t afraid to kill both protagonist Laura (Alycia Carey) or her boyfriend Tyler in order to save himself from Marina’s spells. Talk about contrived.

    Friend Request is visually as cheap as its plot, with little artistry put into even simple things like framing or color tonality. One interesting scene involves Laura discovering a mirror that frequently popped up in Marina’s social media posts. The mirror itself and the execution of how it appears in the apartment is well done, as is all of the artwork that Marina posted on social media.

    In a film where a suspected witch commits suicide so as to haunt college students, are you supposed to find the villain likable? Laura and her friends were all so insufferable and obsessed with their presence on social media that it was hard not to root for Marina to give them what they had coming. Ahlers has very little screen time, but of the entire cast, her dedication to portraying Marina as an obsessive cyber-stalker is at least well done.

    As Marina begins to haunt Laura and her friends via social media, the film wades between making prescient thoughts about our addiction to our devices and just being plain cringeworthy. The typical blonde, Olivia (Brit Morgan) delivers the groan-worthy: “Unfriend that dead bitch!” The fact that her haunting would take place later while she was leaving the shower wrapped only in a towel furthers the fact that Friend Request sticks to bad horror shtik even though its lore was promising. Even putting a modern spin on it had potential, but was executed in a way that just feels trite and cliché.

    When Laura begins to become consumed with stopping Marina, boyfriend Tyler makes a good point:

    It’s called cyber-stalking for a reason. They can’t stalk you if you’re not online.

    It’s a point that shoots the entire movie down the drain. Would any of the events in the film taken place if the college students weren’t addicted to their life as it appears online? Or…more importantly…would any of this had happened if the Facebook-esque social media site in the film had actually just removed the profiles Marina (and later, Laura) had up that were distributing videos of student’s deaths?

    All death scenes in Friend Request focused on suicide, with it being assumed that Marina was driving each of them mad enough to kill themselves in order to get revenge on Laura for not being her friend. (Yes…really.) This just ends up completely contradicting the film’s backstory, though. If Marina was a witch all along, one who ended up torturing young boys who bullied her, why would she go to such extremes to enact revenge on Laura, when Laura really just blew her off a couple times?

    The film’s ending further gives the rest of its plot a middle finger, when it’s revealed Laura succumbs to Marina and takes her place, going back to college and looking for fresh prey. Was this Marina’s goal from the get go? Was she freeing her own soul by finding another to take her place? These are interesting things to ponder, but it’s unlikely the film gives a shit, considering how all these elements were just slapped together in the end as a way to conclude things. When it seems like the filmmaker’s can’t even be bothered to care, why should the audience?

    Overall, Friend Request lacks any scares (any tense moment in the film is predicated on the film’s score providing a jump scare.) The potential that its backstory had fizzled and was abandoned by even the writers. The film does have a good message about the problems of being addicted to the internet. It’s just a shame that the poor execution means this message will be left on read.

     

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    Recap: Dancing With The Stars – Season 25, Week Two

    Two weeks into Dancing With The Stars and things are already heating up! The dancers had to learn not one but two dances in one week…and go through two eliminations!

    Ballroom Night is always a scary time because it is all about technique, but the dancers have time throughout the competition to improve their ballroom skills. If you remember from last week, Terrell/Cheryl and Barbara/Keo ended at the bottom of the leaderboard, so they will need to dance their hearts out to stay in the game. With premiere night jitters out of the way, it’s time for everyone to shine.

    At the end of Ballroom Night, the leader-board looked like

    Victoria/Val 24                                                                                                                  Jordan/Lindsay 24
    Vanessa/Maks 24
    Frankie/Witney 23
    Sasha/Gleb 23
    Nikki/Artem 21
    Lindsey/Mark 21
    Debbie/Alan 20
    Terrell/Cheryl 20
    Drew/Emma 20
    Derek/Sharna 19
    Nick/Peta 19
    Barbara/Keo 17

    Victoria and Val must have sprinkled some fairy dust in their ballroom shoes because they flew from a 19 on Premiere Night to a 24 on Ballroom Night. Vanessa and Maks also climbed to the top of the leaderboard from third place on premiere night.

    Terrell definitely realized what he needed to do to keep himself safe, going from a 15 to a 20. However, Barbara didn’t get the memo and remains at the bottom. Although Terrell improved, he and Barbara still end up in jeopardy. After the first elimination of the season, we must part ways with Barbara Corcoran and Keo. On to Latin Night!

    America’s favorite night has come and gone, and I’m sure we’re all still starstruck. Latin Night never fails to entertain. This year we had football firefighters (Terrell) and “cougar[s] from Cuba” (Debbie)! Latin Night is the night where our stars either give it their all or die trying, and the leader-board definitely shows that.

    Frankie/Witney 25                                                                                                                Lindsey/Mark 24                                                                                                                      Jordan/Lindsay 24                                                                                                                   Vanessa/Maks 23                                                                                                                Sasha/Gleb 22                                                                                                                      Debbie/Alan 21                                                                                                                        Drew/Emma 21                                                                                                                            Victoria/Val 20                                                                                                                            Nick/Peta 19                                                                                                                      Derek/Sharna 19                                                                                                                Terrell/Cheryl 19                                                                                                                    Nikki/Artem 18

    These scores were surprising and very different than what we’ve seen these past two performances. Frankie and Witney surprised everyone with their cha-cha where Frankie showed just how cool he can be. Our stars Lindsey and Jordan did not surprise us at all and remain at the top of the leaderboard where they seem to be having their own competition with each other.

    Victoria and Val were a couple that didn’t get the fiesta invitation and ended dropping in scores — not a very nice birthday present for Victoria. The biggest surprise in scoring though was Nikki Bella. As a female WWE star, you would think she was very in touch with her sexy side, but instead she voiced her concerns about dancing with a man that wasn’t her fiancé.

    At the end of the night, Nick/Peta and Debbie/Alan were in jeopardy. Debbie Gibson had to say her farewells.

    Next up is Guilty Pleasures, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store! Check back for a re-cap after the episode airs.

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    Kingsman: The Golden Circle A Must See For Fans

    Warning: This review contains spoilers for Kingsman: The Golden Circle!

    The latest installment of the Kingsman film franchise offers captivating action scenes and hilarious comedic relief, but it wasn’t all perfect with its misguided drug agenda and tendency to gratuitously kill off main characters.

    When the The Golden Circle begins, we find out the Gary ‘Eggsy’ Unwin (Taron Egerton) has been in a relationship with Princess Tilde (Hanna Alström). (You may remember Tilde as the girl Eggsy rescued…and then did the nasty with at the end of the last film.) He’s assumed the role of Gallahad in the organization following Harry’s demise, and things are going well until an old friend pays him a visit.

    Kingsman reject Charlie Hesketh (Edward Holcroft) returns with a pretty cheesy cyborg enhancement. He and other unnamed foes fight with Eggsy who eventually gets the upper hand and escapes, leaving only Charlie’s cyborg arm left. That was a mistake, though. Charlie’s cyborg arm has a mind of it’s own and hacks into the Kingsman database, exposing all agents to this currently not-introduced organization.

    Flash to a different location, and we meet the major antagonist of the sequel. Julianne Moore plays Poppy Adams, the leader of a drug cartel known as the Golden Circle. Despite her old-fashioned and sweet demeanor, she’s just as much of a psycho as Valentine in the last movie. She tests her recruits’ loyalty, and even makes them eat a human meat burger to prove themselves. Sick, right?

    Poppy sells a ton of different drugs and has been introducing a lethal chemical into them over time. Her goal is to hold the world hostage by offering the antidote only if the President of the United States decriminalizes her product. The president, after being confronted on the epidemic, seems inclined to let all ‘junkies’ die. It’s a win-win for him apparently, despite the fact that millions will die.

    Little side note, but the movie also groups marijuana with the likes of crystal meth, heroin and opiates. The president doesn’t seem to care about the distinction, and it’s unclear if the writers of the film believe that marijuana is just as bad as those other drugs, either. Did Poppy include marijuana in her list of drugs to reach a wider audience to spread her virus? Either way, you heard it here folks, marijuana isn’t quite as lethal as heroin. Spread the word.

    Kingsman: The Golden Circle also seems to be very trigger-happy with a lot of their characters. In the very beginning, Poppy sends missiles to take down Kingsman targets, killing nearly every member of the organization, including Roxy from the first movie and even JB (The super sweet pug Eggsy refused to kill in the first one. Sad!) That’s just in the first twenty minutes of the film, too. Merlin, who we’ve grown to love, ends up sacrificing himself on a land mine to save Eggsy and to start the strike back against Poppy.

    Even though The Golden Circle loves to kill great members of the cast, the film actually manages to bring one back to life and add some new characters into the mix. After most of Kingsman are taken out, Eggsy and Merlin find a clue leading them to Kentucky, where they meet their American counterparts called the Statesman.

    The Statesman have far more resources at their disposal and offer to help The Kingsman. They meet a few interesting people, like Ginger (Halle Berry) who is basically the ‘Merlin’ of the Stateman. They meet Tequila (Channing Tatum), who plays a Statesman that gets infected by Poppy’s viral drugs.

    The most interesting part of The Golden Circle is when Harry (Colin Firth) is found to be alive. If you don’t remember Harry, he was the Galahad who trained Eggsy before being shot in the head by Valentine in the last movie. Most of the movie focuses on Harry regaining his memories and becoming part of the team again.

    Oh, and not to spoil it, but you have to see Elton John in this movie, playing himself. Poppy’s holding John captive and making him sing for her at her request, and he isn’t a fan of it. John’s role in the film is hilarious, and he’s honestly one of the breakthrough stars, given his limited screen time.

    Kingsman: The Golden Circle is a wild ride, filled with tons of drama and spy action scenes that you won’t want to miss. Be sure to check it out in theaters and see how the Kingsman deal with Poppy and her scheme of mass legalization.

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    Recap: Dancing with the Stars – Season 25, Week One

    Fall is here and that means so is Dancing With The Stars! Kicking off its 25th season, DWTS has 13 new celebrities fighting for the Mirrorball and millions of people salsa dancing in their living rooms.

    This year’s celebrities come from many different professions and decades – from young breakout stars to older, more seasoned celebrities. Speaking of older women, Barbara Corcoran (Shark Tank) and Debbie Gibson (Out of the Blue) are the two leading ladies in age, this season.

    Sasha Pieterse (Pretty Little Liars), Frankie Muniz (Malcom in the Middle, Agent Cody Banks, Big Fat Liar), and Drew Scott (Property Brothers) are our televison celebrities this season.

    The frequent Mirrorball snatchers A.K.A the athletes this year are Nikki Bella (WWE), Derek Fisher (NBA), and Terrell Owens (NFL). I’m definitely keeping my eyes on them.

    The remaining 4 celebrities are ones you can’t really squish into a category because they are so unique to the show. Nick Lachey (90 Degrees) and Vanessa Lachey (TV Host) are only the second married couple to compete on DWTS. They’re definitely putting some heat on the phrase “a little friendly competition.”

    Broadway star Jordan Fisher (Hamilton and Grease: Live) will definitely be a force to be reckoned with this year. Lindsey Stirling, a touring violinist and dancer known for her choreographed violin performances made famous from YouTube, is also competing. Finally, and probably most interestingly, Victoria Arlen will be competing, after having spent 4 years in a vegetative state caused by two rare conditions. After an unpredictable recovery, Arlen competed in the 2012 Paralympics, winning 1 gold medal and 3 silver.

    This season’s diverse cast gave some pretty amazing performances on their first night. After a night of dancing, the leader-board gave us a sneak peek of the weeks to come. At the top of week one is Lindsey/Mark and Jordan/Lindsay both with an impressive score of 22 out of 30. Sadly, at the bottom is Barbara/Keo with 14 out of 30 and Terrell/Cheryl with a 15 out of 30.

    Next week is one of America’s favorites…LATIN NIGHT. Let’s see if our stars will continue to light up the sky or if they will fall from the galaxy!

     

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