Eat or Be Eaten: The Menu Threatens the USA’s Views of Our Society’s Elite

by Caitlin Ariel '24 on February 22, 2023
A&E Staff

Arts & Entertainment

Hungry for a deliciously dark and twisted comedy? Director Mark Mylod’s The Menu follows

a multifarious group of society’s extreme 1 percent as they venture to an exclusive restaurant on a private island. Along with the once-in-a-lifetime dining experience comes a hefty price tag—$1,250 per person to be exact.

The film opens with The Queen’s Gambit actress Anya Taylor Joy, who plays Margot, accompanying her pretentious and self-proclaimed food connoisseur boyfriend Tyler, played by Nicholas Hoult, as they are about to board the private boat to the prestigious private island where their dining experience will take place. Tyler and Margot are joined by 10 other guests, all of whom are pompous and grandiose in their own special way. The accompanying 10 guests include a washed-up movie star (John Leguizamo) and his assistant (Aimee Carrero), an ostentatious food critic (Janet McTeer) and her editor (Paul Adelstein), affluent regulars (Reed Birney and Judith Light), and, of course, the stereotypical finance bros looking to “ball out” (Arturo Castro, Mark St. Cyr, and Rob Yang). Waiting on the island is the mysterious yet world-renowned Chef Slowik (Ralph Fiennes) and his team of rigid chefs.

As the night continues, we get a peek into why this restaurant is so special, besides the fact that it is located on a private island. Chef Slowik operates his kitchen like a small army, starting every meal with a thunderous clap followed by a booming “Yes Chef!” from the staff. His multi-course dinners escalate quickly from elegant to odd to frightening, leaving the viewer questioning whether this dinner is really what we think it is. When the guests become suspicious, wondering whether they should be terrified or flattered by the extremely personal details, the service remains army-like—suggesting that the staff has been through this ritual before.

Despite the confusion among guests that seems to transcend through the screen, the cinematography of The Menu remains dazzling yet bone chilling. Along with the visual aspects of the film, overlapping conversations throughout the dinner paired with a taunting and energetic score continuously shifts the perspective of the viewers.

Overall, the Mylod film will leave those who watch questioning what they think they know about the glitz and glamor of ultra-capitalism in America, and the inklings of comedy that seep into the cracks of the horror and gore is unlike any other horror film out today. In the end, The Menu takes the phrase “eat the rich” to a whole new level.

Stream The Menu on HBO Max.

Eau de Exclusion in Netflix’s White Hot

by John Downey '23 on May 6, 2022
A&E Co-Editor

Arts & Entertainment

Eau de Exclusion in Netflix’s White Hot

Documentary Exposes Abercrombie & Fitch’s Problematic History

Caitlin Ariel ’24

“A lot of people don’t belong in our clothes, and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely.” This 2006 comment from former Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries summarizes Netflix’s latest exposé, White Hot: The Rise & Fall of Abercrombie & Fitch, quite nicely. For many 90s kids, Jeffries’s words are hardly shocking, but for 2000s babies such as Providence College students, this blunt admission probably comes as a bit of a surprise. 

From the prominent cologne smell that seemed to follow shoppers out of the store to the absurdly loud clubbing music and posters of shirtless men on the walls that made moms antsy as their kids inched towards the entrance, the Abercrombie & Fitch shopping experience was a collective core memory for American youth in the late 90s and early 2000s. A&F clothing was the encapsulation of being “cool.” Customers were not merely buying overpriced pants or button-down shirts, but an image, one that screamed, “Look at me, I’m cool!” 

But while middle schoolers were focused on finding the shirt with the biggest A&F-signature moose logo that they could show off in their school hallways, older teenagers and adults began to notice a startling brand trend: nearly all models and employees were white, blonde, and skinny.

In White Hot, award-winning director Alison Klayman walks viewers through how Abercrombie & Fitch’s exclusionary image of the “all-American teen” led to both its rise and fall before undergoing a major rebranding in the early 2000s. Klayman spoke to journalists as well as former A&F retail staff, corporate employees, and models about their experiences with the company and how being a part of an organization rooted in exclusion impacted them.

One particularly eye-opening portion of the film dove into the store’s “look,” or what was deemed acceptable for salespeople to wear. Dreadlocks and chains were strictly prohibited, and when people of color were employed, they were very rarely allowed to work the floor, relegated to the stock room or closing shift. This blatant discrimination led to a class-action lawsuit against A&F in 2003. 

Notably, the documentary also spotlights the unsettling story of A&F photographer Bruce Weber. As male models interviewed for the documentary explained, Weber took an inappropriate interest in them, resulting in a sexual misconduct lawsuit in the early 2000s.

To Abercrombie & Fitch’s young audience, being cool and popular was worth more than any pair of skinny jeans. However, the brand’s exclusionary vision facilitated classism, racism, homophobia, and fatphobia. This injustice is at the center of White Hot. However, the documentary also recognizes that many of the people who were bluntly excluded from A&F in the early 2000s are those who are making changes in the fashion industry today, with many brands, including A&F, taking steps to be more inclusive. Needless to say, exclusion in fashion is far from a thing of the past. 

“Just Having a Really Good Time”

by John Downey '23 on April 22, 2022
A&E Co-Editor

Arts & Entertainment

“Just Having a Really Good Time”

Olivia Rodrigo: driving home 2 u Celebrates the Artist’s Rise to Fame

By Caitlin Ariel ’24

Olivia Rodrigo’s megahit “drivers license” shattered Spotify records worldwide after its Jan. 11, 2021 release, such as most global streams in a day and most streams in a week. The song, as well as Rodrigo’s full debut album, sour, left fans anticipating what would come next for the singer and wondering how she could possibly top the work she has already put out. While the artist’s new film, Olivia Rodrigo: driving home 2 u, does not provide definitive answers to these questions, it allows viewers to re-immerse themselves in sour and follow Rodrigo as she reminisces about her rise to fame. 

The 77-minute film opens with a young Rodrigo in a home video. She says, “Hi, I’m Olivia Rodrigo,” loudly exhales into her microphone, and clarifies, “from California.” Viewers then see a montage of Rodrigo’s late-night show interviews, music video clips, and live performances, as well a video of the artist hearing “drivers license” on the radio for the first time. All of these moments encapsulate the young star’s seemingly overnight success.

driving home 2 u then follows Rodrigo as she ventures on a wistful yet sentimental trip from Salt Lake City to Los Angeles in her vintage sky-blue Ford Bronco. She explains that the trip from the Utah capital to sunny Los Angeles was one she had taken many times before as a child star, and she wrote most of the songs featured on sour during those trips. 

While driving, Rodrigo stops to perform each of the album’s 11 songs in various locations. Many of these special performances feature rearranged versions of the tracks. For example, Rodrigo sings her head-banging break-up ballad “good 4 u” in a slowed-down, lo-fi style against the majesty of Monument Valley with an entire string section accompanying her.

Between these performances and breath-taking shots of Rodrigo driving through the desert, viewers see fly-on-the-wall footage of the artist in the recording studio with her producer and fellow songwriter, Dan Nigro. In one of the most surprising snippets of their writing and recording process, Rodrigo decides at the last minute that she wants another upbeat song on sour. The talented duo create “brutal” in what seems like less than two minutes: Nigro strums some cords on his guitar and Rodrigo starts singing over it. A song is born—and that song is now the opener on the set list for Rodrigo’s sour tour.

The movie is not necessarily a documentary about the teen star, but can perhaps best be understood as a concert film. In addition to reimagined performances of Rodrigo’s hit songs and behind-the-scenes footage of the album’s creation, the artist offers anecdotes about how the tracks came to be. She talks about the devastation and suffering that comes with heartbreak, coping methods she uses to move on from breakups and other difficult circumstances, and the overwhelming feeling that she was never enough for someone she struggled with for a long time. These moments humanize Rodrigo even more than sour does. Indeed, it is not every day that a celebrity blatantly admits to their insecurities.

Overall, driving home 2 u gives viewers a look at a mature, self-aware Rodrigo—one who, like them, is looking toward what the artist’s future holds. To this end, and to the excitement of many fans, the singer includes snippets of unreleased music in the film. Whether she fully shares these songs with the world in a month or in a year, it is safe to say that with her talents and tenacity, Rodrigo will only continue to meet with success as she grows as both a person and an artist.

Olivia Rodrigo: driving home 2 u is now streaming on Disney+.

Dearest Readers, Bridgerton Has Returned

by John Downey '23 on April 8, 2022
A&E Co-Editor

Arts & Entertainment

Dearest Readers, Bridgerton Has Returned

A Review of the Hit Period Drama’s Second Season

Caitlin Ariel ’24

After it was announced in April 2021 that the Duke of Hastings (played by Regé-Jean Page) would not be returning for the highly anticipated second season of Netflix’s hit period drama Bridgerton, fans were left puzzled for nearly a year as to how the show would continue without one of its debut season’s main characters. Bridgerton’s sophomore season, which aired on March 25, responded to this confusion by entangling fans in a new love story. With the absence of eldest daughter Daphne (Phoebe Dynevor), now a duchess, the pressure falls upon the family’s eldest son Anthony (Jonathan Bailey), also known as Viscount Bridgerton, to find a wife.

Bridgerton’s second season details many of the same high-society rituals as its debut run, but keeps things fresh with some new faces. For instance, before throwing himself into a flurry of balls and promenades, Anthony meets a mysterious woman (Simone Ashley) while going for a morning horseback ride. The banter they share excites him, but he puts it out of his mind as he prepares for his first ball of the season. 

At the ball, Edwina Sharma (Charithra Chandran) is declared “the diamond” of the season—as Daphne was in season one—and Anthony is determined to make her his wife. However, one roadblock stands in his way: he must win the approval of Edwina’s sister before a courtship can ensue. Unfortunately for Anthony, when he is introduced to Edwina’s sister, he realizes that she is the intriguing stranger from that morning, Kate Sharma, who overhears him remarking to his friends at the ball that he does not want to marry for love, but rather only to find someone to lead his family alongside him and have his children. Kate, who only wants Edwina to marry for love, becomes enraged, and she and Anthony quickly become mortal enemies.

Bridgerton’s second season also features the return of Lady Whistledown, the Gossip Girl-esque author of the series’ infamous gossip pamphlet. The Lady has new energy in the wake of the season one finale, in which viewers discover her identity. For one, she tries to evade the Queen (Golda Rosheuvel) and Eloise Bridgerton (Claudia Jessie) as they become more observant in their hunt to discover who is behind the gossip that has the town buzzing.

The season also includes subplots with the Featheringtons and the other Brigderton brothers, but Anthony’s love story dominates the season. Notably, though, the hypersexual chaos of season one that made viewers avoid watching the show with their families is much more restrained in season two, as viewers experience a satisfying slow burn between Kate and Anthony. The epitome of the popular enemies-to-lovers trope, Kate and Anthony’s constant tension as well as love-struck Edwina’s naiveness make the eight-episode show difficult not to binge, and fans agree: according to Variety, the period piece scored 193 million hours viewed during its premiere weekend and continues to sit comfortably at number one on Netflix’s list of the most popular English-language shows. 

Already renewed for a third and fourth season, the show is set to follow the eight-novel series on which it is based, ensuring many more balls, beautiful dresses, and classical versions of America’s favorite pop songs in fans’ futures.

Season two of Bridgerton is streaming now on Netflix.

Euphoria Season 2 Recap

by John Downey '23 on March 26, 2022
A&E Co-Editor

Arts & Entertainment

Euphoria Season 2 Recap

Zendaya and Company Shock Viewers Once Again

Caitlin Ariel ’24

After the finale of Euphoria’s jaw-dropping first season in 2019, fans had to wait an agonizing two and a half years for its sophomore season, which aired on Jan. 9. Indeed, with the pandemic delaying the filming of season two, it seemed like forever since fans had seen a new episode of the smash-hit series. 

During this wait, however, watchers’ patience was rewarded with two special episodes: one dedicated to Rue (Zendaya), and another to Jules (Hunter Schafer), with both installments following each character as they cope with their dramatic breakup with one another. 

These specials only heightened fans’ anticipation for the show’s second season: its premiere raked in 19 million viewers, officially making Euphoria the second-most popular HBO show behind Game of Thrones. Even as credits rolled during the finale, fans were still begging for more. 

Director Sam Levinson seems to broaden the scope of the show’s storyline in this season much to the benefit of two characters who suffered from a want of development in season one: Lexi (Maude Apatow) and Fezco (Angus Cloud). Lexi, who was relegated to a supporting role in season one, recognizes her passivity in Euphoria’s story and begins to control her own narrative in the most obvious way possible: writing and performing a play about her life for the entire school. Fezco’s story similarly comes to prominence early on in the new season, with its first episode offering viewers a flashback to his childhood. 

Sydney Sweeney’s character, Cassie, continuously sneaks off with her best friend Maddie’s (Alexa Demie) abusive ex-boyfriend Nate (Jacob Elordi). As Nate and his father Cal (Eric Dane) further entrench themselves in their messy and problematic dynamic established in season one, viewers see a new, troubling side to Cassie. Last season, the character came across as an overthinking, quiet girl, but under Nate’s dangerous influence, she spirals into an explosive and commanding figure. 

Of course, Zendaya dominates this season, proving that she truly deserved her 2020 Emmy win. Rue’s season two storyline picks up right where viewers left her at the end of season one, not shying away from the uncomfortable, tragic realities of her drug relapse that emerged during the season’s finale. 

Unlike last season, however, Rue is accompanied by newcomer Elliot. Elliot is played by Dominic Fike, who is well known for his song “3 Nights,” which currently has 680 million streams on Spotify. Elliot almost seems to be taking Jules’ place this season, as he and Rue grow close, but he, like Jules in season one, is unsure of how to handle Rue’s destructive actions. Rue’s behavior causes Elliot and viewers alike to feel a strange mix of sympathy and anger as they watch her turn on those she loves. Zendaya’s pre-season warnings about season two being “difficult,” specifically for her character, certainly ring true.

Overall, the flashiness of Euphoria’s first season is substituted with rawness in its sophomore run, a dramatic shift reflected in how Levinson switched from digital to film when filming the second season. The bold purples and blues that fans have come to associate with Euphoria are exchanged for darker and neutral colors, making the show feel more emotional and grounded. Levinson and the actors dig deep to find new dimensions to the characters viewers thought they knew, and as the season progresses, those at home cannot help but become connected to their drama. It is this powerful connection that kept viewers coming back every Sunday night as the season aired and will keep them anxiously awaiting the series’ third season, which is slated for a 2024 release.

Season two of Euphoria is now streaming on HBO Max.

Hit Movie Warns What Happens If We Don’t Look Up

by John Downey '23 on March 3, 2022
A&E Co-Editor

Arts & Entertainment

Hit Movie Warns What Happens If We Don’t Look Up 

The Shocking, Star-Studded Dark Comedy Taking the Internet by Storm

Caitlin Ariel ’24 

On Christmas Day, as the suspense of gift-giving and stuffing one’s face with cookies winds down and exhaustion sinks in, it is a typical family tradition to end the day with a movie perfect for all ages. When clicking through those movie options this past Christmas—and in the months since—it was difficult for people to skip past the newly-released, star-studded film Don’t Look Up. Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Meryl Streep, Ariana Grande, and other household names, it seems perfect for a movie night. However, despite the film being labeled as a comedy, the laughs it provokes in audiences in its early scenes are ultimately stifled by shocking turns of events that have led many to reevaluate their lifestyles. 

The dark comedy follows Kate Diabiasky (Lawrence), an astronomy graduate student at Michigan State University, and her anxious professor Dr. Randall Mindy (DiCaprio) as they make a seemingly revolutionary discovery: a comet orbiting the solar system. However, this excitement immediately gives way to fear and panic as these two fairly low-level astronomers discover that the comet is on a direct collision course with Earth and set to hit the planet in about six months. Kate and Randall, accompanied by NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination head (Rob Morgan), begin to try to warn mankind of the approaching comet, but an unexpected obstacle arises: no one seems to care. They are quickly dismissed by the approval-rating-obsessed President Orlean (Meryl Streep) and her subservient son and Chief of Staff, Jason (Jonah Hill). They then appear on The Daily Rip, a cheerful morning show hosted by Brie (Cate Blanchett) and Jack (Tyler Perry), and watchers waste no time minimizing, mocking, and blatantly ignoring the astronomers’ findings, dismissing their warnings as the latest of many exaggerated doomsday proclamations. 

Despite these challenges posed by 24-hour media, a president anxiety-stricken by midterm elections, and her obnoxious high-ranking son, Kate and Randall’s true enemy arises in the form of a tech billionaire (Mark Rylance). A scarily avoidant man and presidential donor, he decides to make it his mission to allow for the comet to hit Earth, stating that the minerals in the life-ending rock would improve the job market and, most importantly, put money in his pocket. He claims he will use his revolutionary technology to shrink the comet while still in orbit, so life will remain, and the economy will boom. With America now torn between safety and money, lines are drawn in the sand, and Kate and Randall’s job grows more difficult.  

A science-fiction political satire that clearly mocks today’s climate crisis and dissects how our modern capitalist society and tech and media addiction could be humanity’s downfall, Don’t Look Up makes viewers take a step back and reflect on how they perceive their media as well as how humanity is failing to adequately respond to the climate crisis. From its star-filled cast, obvious references to modern life, and an Ariana Grande musical number, it is clear why the film has been watched for 152.29 million hours across the world thus far, smashed Netflix’s record most-viewed film in one week and been nominated for Best Picture at this year’s Oscars. 

For those who have yet to see Don’t Look Up, the film is now streaming on Netflix.

Congress Updates

by awakelin on January 10, 2022

Congress Updates

Nov. 2, 2021 Update: 

On Nov. 2, Student Congress invited Peter Palumbo, Director of Academic Advising, to speak and answer questions. The first question asked was about whether 7:00 A.M. and 7:30 A.M. classes were a component of COVID-19, and if those classes will continue to start that early. Palumbo explained that classes began that early during the pandemic due to limited classroom space and class sizes, and the transition back to “normal schedules” is happening now. 

Another member asked how students will have one-on-one meetings with advisors given the new transition with advising. Palumbo highlighted that meetings with academic advisors will become more meaningful.

Next, a member suggested that advising information should be more accessible to the student body.  

Another member said they have never met their advisor, and they were curious about how that could be changed. Palumbo said that moving away from the current system, they are looking at ways to change the advising process to make it less transactional.  

A member then asked if there were ways to see future class offerings. Palumbo answered that there is not a way yet to view something like that. He recommended that the student could try to use and reference the degree audit for guidance.  

Another member asked if Palumbo foresees any old aspects of CyberFriar coming back. Palumbo answered that nothing from the old system will be brought back. He highlighted that it will take time, learning, and training with the new system, and he is open to feedback.  

Finally, a member asked if Palumbo had any tips for registration day. Palumbo recommended that students save their favorite schedule, make sure they have a good WiFi connection, and that they have several backup schedules and courses.  

Student Congress thanks Peter Palumbo for his time and looks forward to having him again in the future! 

There was no new legislation presented. 

Nov. 9 Update: 

On Nov. 9, Student Congress watched the #PCBreakTheSilence Film on YouTube. After watching the short film, a discussion took place where members shared their thoughts.  

Student Congress thanks Catalina Betancur Velez ’23 and the entire AEC committee for sharing this film with us and encourages the Providence College student body to watch the short film for themselves, reflect, and act.  

Following our discussion of the film, one new piece of legislation was introduced. The new piece of legislation proposed the establishment of a PrePA society at Providence College.