By Eric Jeffery
The 2015 YouTube Music Awards took place on March 23, taking on a new form of online award show. The inaugural YouTube Music Award show in 2013 was met with mixed reviews, receiving criticism for technical difficulties and leaning on mainstream music for award winners.
This time around, YouTube intended to reinvent the purpose of the award show. In 2015, there was no live ceremony, and viewers were given the opportunity to watch the award show, hosted by Tyler Oakley, at their own pace as a video playlist.
The YouTube Music Award committee named fifty artists winners. The award show performances recognized the biggest emerging YouTube Music Stars, debuting 10 brand new music videos produced by the folks at YouTube. This provided for a genuinely entertaining show filled with new content from fan favorites like Ed Sheeran, Charlie XCX, Action Bronson, and Kygo.
Host Tyler Oakley, was not overbearing, and transitional clips were kept brief. After each video, YouTube provides behind the scenes footage from the music video sets.
The video playlist format for award shows puts the power in the hands of the viewer. If there is one thing Netflix has taught us about human television tendencies, it is that consumer control over content is always favorable. The ability to skip through parts of the show that are not of interest to the viewer keeps the viewer locked on the program in its entirety.
By Ashley Minyard
In the latest biopic melodrama called The Imitation Game, we get a glance at the life of Alan Turing, the mathematical genius who built a machine to crack the German Enigma code, thereby helping the Allies win World War II. Using a crossword puzzle in the newspaper, Turing tracks down a team of quick thinkers and puzzle solvers. Together they toil in Hut 8, working daily to unscramble messages before midnight when the key resets and their work is for naught.
In the film, Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) is portrayed as a shy and socially awkward master of cryptology who stubbornly sticks to his guns to build a machine that will decipher Nazi messages. With the help of the equally brainy Joan Clarke (Keira Knightley), who constantly struggles to rise above the expectations of her gender and prove her worth, and the rest of his code-cracking team, he must beat the clock to save as many lives as possible.
Although the plot of the story is slow moving, director Morten Tyldum kept things rolling through jumps in time. Turing’s inner thoughts and reserved personality are exposed through a flashback to his childhood in 1930, watching his struggles with schoolmates and the boy who kept him going. A jump to Turing’s post-war life in 1952 confirms suspicions of his homosexuality and brings the storyline full circle, with Turing himself divulging his past to an investigator who is suspicious about his confidential military records. These jumps in time fill out Turing’s complicated character and pay him the tribute he deserves by exposing his brilliance, revealing his inner struggle and justifying his series of personal enigmas.
Benedict Cumberbatch, who seems to have a knack for portraying men that are too smart for their own good, wonderfully fulfills the role of Turing. Although Turing is significantly more intelligent than his peers, he is portrayed as a man confused by social interactions that results in life as an outcast. Cumberbatch has a remarkable ability to come off as oblivious to human interaction and social niceties, earlier seen in his role as the harshly unfeeling Sherlock, but manages to hold back the sociopathic tendencies for the part of Turing. Alex Lawther as young Alan also achieves this, mirroring the character Cumberbatch portrayed beautifully. The character is filled with emotional complexities, yet both Lawther and Cumberbatch manage to pull off the full spectrum of Turing’s personality.
Keira Knightly also succeeds in capturing the spotlight, as she adds yet another brilliant and strong young woman to her repertoire. Full of charm, Joan Clarke stuns Turing by beating his crossword puzzle in mere minutes. She rises above the expectations held for her as a woman by putting herself on par with the boys of Hut 8 and assisting in deciphering the code. Unfortunately, her character could have used some more development, as most of her energies were spent on the odd relationship with Turing. However, she and Turing still manage to steal the attention, making the rest of the cast fade in comparison.
Overall, The Imitation Game offers an intriguing tribute to the man who was ultimately brought down by the country he worked to protect. It provides an exciting and dramatic glimpse of history, while exposing Alan Turing’s secret life in a melancholy yet respectful manner. Thanks to Tyldum’s brilliant film, the world can finally know the man behind the machine.
By Eric Jeffery
In a performance reminiscent of that of Heath Ledger as the Joker, Jake Gyllenhaal embodies the eerie and cynical Louis Bloom. Bloom is a struggling Los Angeles resident who turns to filming local accidents and crime scenes as a means to make a living. He quickly learns that more disturbing footage increases the value of his work. His behavior at the scenes he encounters is aggressive enough to make anyone with an education in journalism cringe, as he ignores the rules of journalistic reporting and even legal boundaries to capture gruesome content. His motivation for the “money shot” makes him a danger to society when Bloom stops reporting the news and begins manipulating it.
Written and directed by Dan Gilroy, Nightcrawler is Gilroy’s directional debut, and an impressive one at that. The film holds an average rating of 8.2/10 on Rotten Tomatoes. The thriller is praised for being thought provoking and restless. The success of the film is due in large part to what many claim is a career performance by Jake Gyllenhaal. He maintained a genuinely creepy persona throughout the duration of the film, only offering timely subtle glimpses of character revealing details that keep his character mysterious and the audience unsettled. Gyllenhaal was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for best actor.
Watch Nightcrawler if you desire a well written thriller that will hold your attention and make you think. The film is currently available on cable on demand.
By Desiree Salas
Funnyman Will Ferrell must have had all his comic arsenal out on the day Kanye West dropped by the set to film his cameo with the Anchorman 2 star. He’d need all of them to keep the notoriously temperamental hip-hop artist from veering off the rails during shooting.
In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Ferrell recounts little anecdotes of the rapper’s quirks on set.
“He was like, 'You guys want to listen to some new tracks?' We're like, 'Yeah, sure!' Then he started performing, and it gets to the point where he's screaming. He goes a full 100-miles-an-hour. Then he'd turn off and go, 'Anyway, thanks.' It was hilarious,” revealed the SNL alumni.
He also shared about that incident which almost got them a taste of the musician’s temper.
“He was playing [his new music] through the sound department, on the speakers on set, at the park, as people were setting up for the next shot. Which was great. But then he didn't understand when it had to be turned off, when it was time to actually film. He was like, 'Hey man, what's going on?' We didn't want Kanye to get upset, but at the same time, we kind of had to film,” shared the Blades of Glory star.
Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues director Adam McKay has also his fair share of interesting anecdotes about the Bound 2 singer.
“He had a few movie ideas; he told me one, and I gave him some notes,” McKay noted. “He was really humble, like, 'Can we meet in L.A.?' I was like, Yeah!”
McKay also shared that he “improved a couple of raps” for the award-winning artist. "I'm sure he thought they sucked," he added.
The director also shared that the fashion-forward musician was very interested in the acting process.
“He took private lessons in beginner's improv with a friend of mine in Chicago a few years ago,” McKay noted.
“Kanye was great. He really locked in. He asked me a ton of questions. He's super-interested in process – he's a big fan of comedy.”
According to the Daily Mail, the Anchorman 2 director also shared his thoughts on West’s ladylove, Kim Kardashian, who visited the Yeezus artist on set.
“She seemed like this totally normal, pretty girl – not the most-Googled woman on earth,” the director observed.
West will be appearing as “one of the brawl’s combatants.”
Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, which also stars Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, David Koechner, Christina Applegate, Luke Wilson, Kristen Wiig, and Harrison Ford (in a cameo role), will be released on December 18, 2013 by Paramount Pictures.