Netflix Releases Chilling Night Stalker Documentary
A Glimpse into One of California’s Most Twisted Cases
by Dan O’Neill ’21 A&E Staff
A recently released documentary on Netflix titled Night Stalker: The Hunt for a Serial Killer has captured the attention of viewers, as it details the race to stop the murder spree of Richard Ramirez. The documentary was released on Jan. 13 and follows detective Gil Carrillo and investigator Frank Salerno as they uncover the brutal crimes of their suspect. The production successfully captures the aura and environment of the era, as serial crimes and murders wreaked havoc in the 1980s.
Richard Ramirez, known as “The Night Stalker,” led police on a long, arduous chase as he murdered at least 13 people. His crimes included breaking and entering, assault, kidnap, rape, and murder. The documentary series follows each crime as they occur in chronological order and successfully displays the evidence as Carrillo and Salerno continue their investigation. The director, Tiller Russell, even adds the gruesome recollections of specific individuals, both family members and survivors, to focus the series on the heinous nature of Ramirez’s crimes.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, when asked about the inspiration for creating the documentary series, Russell said, “Ramirez’s crimes were unprecedented. There weren’t other serial killers that were murdering adults and abducting children and sometimes murdering them.” The uniqueness and individuality of the crime spree are part of the reason for the success of the series, but not all of it. In the same interview, Russell also states, “It was important to us to highlight the stories of his victims carefully because we were dealing with highly sensitive, fragile, and sometimes tragic memories of somebody’s life.”
One of the reasons that this documentary series is so well regarded is because of the human aspect of the film. The main topic of the series is obviously the brutal murders and crimes of Richard Ramirez, but the director also successfully explores the effect that the job has on the detectives. Salerno, according to the documentary, was used to hard-hitting cases like that of the Night Stalker. For detective Carrillo, however, the gruesome nature of the case, and the endless brutality it revealed, started to take a toll on his family life. However, Carrillo ultimately withstood the pressure and successfully tracked down the Night Stalker.
Ultimately, this documentary series is successful in capturing much more than just the catching of a serial killer. The series focuses on the genuine emotions, reactions, and attitudes surrounding the crimes, and even gives a stunning look at Los Angeles in the summer of 1985. The graphic documentary gives a solid view into the time period and the intensity of the circumstances in a city rattled by an indiscriminate killer.
Springsteen Debuts 20th Studio Album Letter to You
The E-Street Band Rejoins the Boss for a Nostalgic Trip to the Past
by Daniel O’Neill ’21 A&E Staff
Bruce Springsteen’s studio album, Letter to You, was released on Oct. 23. This marks the 20th studio album that he has released. The album also marks the 12th time that Bruce Springsteen has topped the charts in the United Kingdom, making him the first solo artist to have a chart-topper in every decade from the 1980s through the 2020s. Springsteen is notable for all-time great rock albums such as Born in the USA and Born to Run. By charting No. 1 in the UK, his most recent work has transformed him into an artist that can transcend and define multiple generations.
Springsteen reunited with his longtime band the E-Street Band to record the album. This is the first time they have recorded together since 2014 for High Hopes. Throughout his career, Springsteen honed his gritty rock persona with the E-Street Band. He returns to similar themes from his past albums in Letter to You, maintaining a nostalgic tone throughout this new album. Known for concerts that last much longer than his peers’, Springsteen attempted to capture the energy of his live performances in the album.
Sprinsteen offers thoughts on the political climate of the United States in Letter to You. On “Rainmaker,” Springsteen alludes to the self-interested, flag-waving rhetoric of President Donald Trump: “Slow moving wagon drawing through a dry town / Painted rainbow, crescent moon, and dark clouds / Brother patriot, come forth and lay it down / Your blood brother for king and crown / For your rainmaker.” Springsteen has been vocal in the past about his political opinions, and has been critical of President Trump. He has also been outspoken leading up to the current election.
Along with the recent major political events in the U.S., Springsteen was inspired by the passing of George Theiss, who co-wrote songs and performed with Springsteen in his early career. Listeners can hear this inspiration in songs such as “Ghosts,” which addresses past friends haunting him in the present.
The E-Street Band did not disappoint, with Steven Van Zandt backing up and complementing The Boss perfectly. He pearls, once again, the sound that he is known for, with tracks like the self-titled “Letter to You” and “Burnin’ Train” bringing the gritty, joyful chaos for which he is best known.
Since he has solidified himself as one of the greatest musical artists of all time, fans are left wondering what else Springsteen can do. Recently, he narrated a political ad for Democratic presidential candidate and now President-Elect Joe Biden. These diverse projects prove that Springsteen is an artist in more ways than one.
Bruce Springsteen’s latest work can be found on major streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music, as well as on YouTube Music. The album is accompanied by a black-and-white film, which can be found on Apple TV+. The documentary follows Springsteen and the rest of the E-Street Band as they record Letter to You.
21 Savage and Metro Boomin Return with Savage Mode II
Recruit Morgan Freeman for Charting Genre-Fluid Album
by Daniel O’Neill ’21 A&E Staff
21 Savage, in collaboration with the producer Metro Boomin, has officially released his latest album, Savage Mode II. Earlier in the week of Sept. 28, the duo announced the arrival of their album, which officially released on Oct. 2. There are many featured artists on the album, including Young Thug, Drake, and Young Nudy. This is the first album that 21 Savage has released since the Grammy-nominated I Am > I Was released on Dec. 21, 2018.
This album was the first creation by 21 Savage and Metro Boomin as a pair since Savage Mode in 2016 and Without Warning in 2017. The duo also worked together on a highly collaborative project, Not All Heroes Wear Capes. The first track on their new album is a recording of Morgan Freeman speaking. The song then quickly ends and transitions into “Runnin’” which is quickly becoming a stand-out track for fans on the album. The combination of the two artists is proving to have the potential of legendary success. This is the fourth successful collaboration between the hip-hop duo, debuting at No. 1 on the Billboard 200.
In recent years, Metro Boomin has positioned himself to stand out in the music industry, specifically within the rap scene. He is known as one of the top producers for rap music coming out of Atlanta. He came onto the scene at the beginning of the 2010s, quickly making his mark on and impacting the industry as he collaborated with other hip-hop artists from the Atlanta area. Typically, Boomin is praised for his dedication to the specific beat types throughout entire projects. On 21 Savage’s breakout mixtape, Savage Mode, Metro Boomin stuck to similar beat types to keep the mixtape consistent. His beats are known to be haunting and sometimes dark, as the artists who collaborate on his beats frequently delve into deep, ominous, and sometimes traumatic topics. On this most recent album, however, he created beats that dip slightly into other genres. The opening tracks feature the normal intense beats that Metro Boomin is known for. Later on in the album, songs like “Said N Done” reflect sounds and melodies found in R&B tracks.
Critics have come out and noted that the tracks on the album all sound similar. This is because many of the songs are extremely bass heavy. Recently, 21 Savage has decided to create more cohesive albums. This is bound to make the majority of the songs sound similar, whether musically or purely thematically. While the first half of Savage Mode II sounded relatively similar to the duo’s past works together, the second half of the album ends up bringing diversity to the entire sound of the album. By making the decision to create coherent albums, an artist has no choice but to grow in order to make new and interesting music. 21 Savage and Metro Boomin succeeded in this task, as the album shows growth and maturity for the two superstars. Currently, the album is trending upward, with music videos for “Runnin” and “My Dawg” propelling the album forward into the limelight.
The 2020 Venice Film Festival: A New Normal
Female Directors Make History Despite COVID-19
by Daniel O’Neill ’21 A&E Staff
As the first international film festival during the era of COVID-19, the Venice Film Festival ran for 10 days and showcased 18 films. This year, a new record was established as eight films by female directors won top awards in the main competition. Filmmakers and actors alike traveled to Venice from all over the world, showing that going to the movies can be done successfully if COVID-19 guidelines are followed. Due to the impact that the pandemic has had on the United States, many highly anticipated films did not make it to the festival.
As the disease spread rapidly throughout Europe, Asia, and North America, many major film festivals decided to outright cancel their events. The Venice Film Festival organizers eventually decided to go through
with the festival, since Italy managed to slow the rate of infection after a strict lockdown period. At a time when the world is filled with uncertainty, the Venice Film Festival managed to act as a symbol of international solidarity in the arts. The festival allowed both fans and creators to celebrate the expertise, creativity, and dedication of filmmaking during these harrowing times.
The film that came out on top at the conclusion of the festival was Nomadland from the United States. Frances McDormand stars in the film, which takes place during the 2008 global financial collapse. The director of this film, Chloé Zhao, attended the festival virtually with Frances McDormand. They won the Golden Lion, the top award at the festival. The previous year, the Golden Lion was awarded to Todd Phillips who directed the film Joker. Zhao is the first female director since Sofia Coppola in 2010 to win the Golden Lion.
The film resonated with many critics, with the storyline following McDormand as a struggling nomad after the global financial crisis in 2008. Many see the plot to be symbolically representative of the decline of the United States in recent times.
While the world struggles to recover from the pandemic, the organizers of the Venice Film Festival showed that it is still possible to appreciate the arts through strict social distancing rules and guidelines. Even though the presence of Hollywood talent was much lower this year compared to previous years due to travel restrictions from the United States to Europe, the United States was represented well by directors and actors. The jury for the festival consisted of President Cate Blanchett, along with Joanna Hogg, Christian Petzold, and Ludivine Sagnier.
The Venice Film Festival can set a precedent for how other festivals may proceed with the correct social distancing requirements. The winner of the Golden Lion, Nomadland, will be released in United States theaters on Dec. 4.
Warner Bros. Tease The Batman in New Trailer
Matt Reeves to Take Viewers back to Batman’s Dark Beginning
by Daniel O’Neill ’21 A&E Staff
In one of the most anticipated films of next year, Robert Pattinson will star in The Batman, DC Comics’ latest movie. The film is directed by Matt Reeves, and the main antagonist will be played by Colin Farrell in the role of “The Penguin.” According to the trailer, the film takes place approximately two years into Bruce Wayne’s career as Batman in a crime-ridden Gotham City. In the trailer, it is clear that this Batman is more of a homegrown vigilante than the hero he later becomes.
The other notable characters are Jeffrey Wright as Commissioner Gordon, and Zoë Kravitz as Catwoman. According to The Verge regarding the director’s take on characters, “Reeves stressed that many of these characters are coming into themselves” to set the scene for the true early days of Batman. As for The Penguin, it is apparent that Colin Farrell is almost unrecognizable. In this way, Reeves is building the antagonist from the ground up. This take on The Penguin is the first to happen in live-action since Danny DeVito’s role in 1992.
Many fans have also jumped to the conclusion that this film will be a traditional origin story. This is not the case, however, as the film is a dark and gothic return to Bruce Wayne and Batman’s roots. The trailer shows a murder mystery that Batman and Gordon have to solve, with a note inviting Batman to “play a game” with the committer of the crime. The trailer is set to the dark and twisted Nirvana track “Something in the Way” to add to the eerie mood that the trailer gives off.
This movie could help Warner Bros. continue their success with building on lucrative franchises. The Batman franchise, according to CNN’s Frank Pallotta, has “brought in more than $5 billion at the global box office going back to 1989’s Batman.” Warner Bros. has also already capitalized on the “Joker” character in their R-rated take on the clown villain. The stories delve into deeper detail of the characters mental state and health while focusing on darker issues, rather than just basic crime-fighting stories.
The COVID-19 pandemic has definitely impacted the production of the film, as it was originally set to premiere in theaters on June 25, 2021. Now, the release date is set for October 1, 2021. With the dark mood portrayed in the trailer, it seems that The Batman will be released just in time for Halloween. Finding ways to properly socially distance will impact profit from the film after its release, but the trailer has accumulated over seven million views in the first 24 hours after its initial release. This preliminary interest might motivate people to see the movie despite the risks associated with COVID-19.
Details on images from Batman’s suit and the Batmobile can be found online. The new Batmobile looks like a sleek yet classic car, built for the “roots” theme of the new film. The design brings post-apocalyptic imagery to the vehicle and echoes the original Batmobile.
The change in direction to a more dark and twisted part of the Batman story, coupled with brilliant casting, sets this film up for success. At the end of this, perhaps Robert Pattinson will be compared to other legends who played the character.
Apollo Masters Fire Destroys Priceless Vinyls
Tragedy Upsets the Vinyl Industry Worldwide
by Daniel O’Neill ’21 A&E Staff
On Thursday, February 6, one of the two lacquer vinyl manufacturing plants in the world, Apollo Masters, was destroyed by a catastrophic fire. The plant is located in Banning, CA and acted as a storage facility for the products. While there were no employees injured or killed in the fire, the damage done to the vinyl industry may be irreparable.
The Apollo Masters’ website has a note on the front page explaining their current position after the disaster. The note reads, “The best news is all of our employees are safe. We are uncertain of our future at this point and are evaluating options as we try to work through this difficult time.”
This is indeed a difficult time for the vinyl industry, as Apollo Masters was the leading producer of lacquer vinyl discs in the world. According to the Los Angeles Times, the only other mass producer of this vinyl product is MDC, located in Japan. The trouble is that MDC is operating at full capacity, and the vinyl community may have trouble recovering.
Apollo Masters became the leading producer of lacquer vinyl discs by perfecting the production process over the years. The company did well when it was owned by Capitol Records in the 1960s and 1970s and managed to survive the rise of CDs and streaming services in the past decades. The company, along with the entire vinyl community, has been extremely resilient in the complicated and ever-changing music industry. The fire, however, has the potential to bring this section of the industry to a standstill.
According to Pitchfork, Ben Blackwell of Third Man Records said, “From my understanding, this fire will present a problem for the vinyl industry worldwide… I imagine this will affect everyone, not just Third Man Pressing and Third Man Mastering, but to what extent remains to be seen.” There are those who believe that the destruction can be partially fixed through GoFundMe, as the community is tight knit and passionate. Apollo held the majority of the industry, however, so a comeback and rebuild from the vinyl producer seems more unlikely as time passes.
The likelihood of Apollo Masters returning has diminished even further with news of the need for hazardous waste removal and inspection from Fernando Herrera, the Riverside County Fire Department public information officer. The strict environmental regulations of the state of California puts the company’s rebuilding hopes in jeopardy.
Apollo had such a strong position in the vinyl industry that this tragedy directly disrupts the global supply chain for vinyl. For streaming services, it is easy to upload music files to share with the public. With vinyl, however, there are many techniques and strict steps that must be taken to produce the record itself. Those who produce in the industry are craftsmen who are professionally trained. Every product must be absolutely perfect; there is little room if any for mistakes in the production process.
Many of the workers in the manufacturing plant in Banning were laid off. Their high skill levels and distinct knowledge of production processes are what the industry needs for Apollo Masters to return.
An Update on 21 Savage’s Immigration Hearing
Atlanta Shows Its Support while Rapper Remains Waiting
by Daniel O’Neill ’21 A&E Staff
February 3, 2020 marked the one-year anniversary of the arrest of popular rapper 21 Savage by the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The charges against the Atlanta rapper accused him of overstaying his visa, and alleged that he is originally a United Kingdom national without United States citizenship, making him illegally present in the country. His trial has yet to begin, and he is waiting somewhere on a long list of backlogged immigration cases.
The punishment facing 21 Savage, born Shéyaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, includes potential deportation as well as a total 10-year ban from entering the United States. Since he is currently awaiting trial, he cannot leave the United States. That has not stopped him from moving forward with his already illustrious career in the music industry, however.
Just last May, 21 Savage announced a tour across North America with rapper DaBaby opening for him. This kept 21 Savage on the road for the majority of the summer. Since then, he has been going about his life like he normally would. On Jan. 26, 21 Savage and J. Cole won Best Rap Song at the Grammy’s for their song “A Lot” off of his most recent album, I Am > I Was.
While the charges state that 21 Savage is a citizen of the United Kingdom and not the United States, many of his supporters argue that his time in Atlanta has solidified him as one of the community’s main figures.
Last year, 21 Savage partnered with Georgia Congressman Hank Johnson to expand the “Bank Account” program for youth in Atlanta. The program is essentially a way to increase the financial literacy of the youth population in the area. According to Rolling Stone, the duo partnered with nonprofits like Get Schooled to implement the financial literacy program.
Because of 21 Savage’s massive impact on the Atlanta metropolitan area, many of his supporters are claiming that removing the rapper from the United States would hurt the communities he has helped. Their argument is that removing him from the country would cancel any future plans he had to improve and unite the communities within the city of Atlanta. The fact that he is still touring and moving on with his career shows that he believes he belongs in the United States. With his trial still waiting in the Federal Immigration backlog, there does not seem to be a clear ending in sight for the rapper’s case.
The most unique part about 21 Savage’s case is that it is proof for the entire country that fame does not always protect against difficult circumstances. Other artists, such as Jay-Z, Offset, and Cardi B, have all expressed their support and opinions on the matter. Even with the help of some relatively powerful friends, the Atlanta rapper’s case got moved into a backlog even though it was classified as an expedited case to get an earlier hearing. It seems that the issue is that ICE may not be giving the rapper a fair trial and may be using him as a precedent for their future prosecutions. For now, however, all 21 Savage can do is await his trial.
Music Festivals Unveil 2020 Lineups
Firefly, Bunbury, Osheaga Compete with Big Names
by Daniel O’Neill ’21 A&E Staff
Since 2020 is in full swing, promoters are beginning to release the lineups and dates of the world’s largest music festivals for the coming year. On Tuesday, January 28, Firefly Festival announced that Rage Against the Machine, Billie Eilish, and Halsey are headlining June 18 through June 21.
Firefly Music Festival is the East Coast’s most popular music festival by far. The festival takes place in Dover, DE. The reason for this is due to the fact that many audience members can stay overnight at their own camp sites. Other major artists attending the festival besides the headliners include Khalid, Blink-182, Cage the Elephant, Illenium, Diplo, and Tove Lo, among others. There will be six stages this year, and tickets went on sale Monday, February 3.
Besides Firefly Festival, Bunbury also announced its lineup for 2020. Bunbury is not necessarily as popular as Firefly but still attracts big names. The festival is located in Sawyer Point Park and Yeatman’s Cove in Cincinnati, OH running from June 5 to June 7. This is the ninth year of the festival, which began in 2012. Headlining this year is Twenty-One Pilots. The co-headliners are Marshmello and the folk band The Avett Brothers. The rest of the lineup has a few popular names as well, including Ski Mask the Slump God, Neon Trees, and Blackbear.
Last year, Bunbury was headlined by Fall Out Boy, Greta Van Fleet, and The 1975, so they are looking to cater this year’s festival to more current popular mainstream artists like Marshmello. Adding Twenty-One Pilots and The Avett Brothers rounds out a diverse festival lineup that will help the festival grow in the coming years.
Along with these two festivals, Osheaga announced a powerful headlining crew on Jan. 27. The festival is going to take place from July 31 to Aug. 2 in Parc Jean-Drapeau, Montreal and marks the festival’s 15th anniversary. The headliners for Osheaga this year are Foo Fighters, Lizzo, and Kendrick Lamar.
The opening night will be run by Dave Grohl and the Foo Fighters on the main stage. The opening night just so happens to also be a celebration of the band’s 25th year together. The second night will be Lizzo’s first time performing in Montreal. Lizzo is looking to get back on tour after taking home three Grammy Awards this year. Kendrick Lamar returns on the final day for the third time in his career. He first attended the festival and performed in 2013. In 2015, he performed for Osheaga’s 10th anniversary celebration.
The rest of the festival’s lineup has since been announced. Big names like Vampire Weekend, Lewis Capaldi, Bon Iver, Brockhampton, Third Eye Blind, and French Montana, along with many others, will play supporting roles in the festivities.
All tickets can be found on the websites of the specific music festivals, with ticket types ranging from day passes to VIP passes. This year’s festivals seem to be competing more with each other with the lineups they are releasing, and it should make for an extremely interesting year of live music.
Remembering Legendary Drummer Neil Peart
How the Rush Drummer Defined Rock and Roll Percussion
by Daniel O’Neill ’21 A&E Staff
On Tuesday, January 7, Rush drummer and main lyricist Neil Peart passed away in Malibu, California. He was 67 years old and was battling a form of brain cancer called glioblastoma.
In 2015, Rush toured for the final time of their illustrious career. Peart decided to stop touring for good, as many years of methodically intense drumming finally took a toll on his body. He was privately battling cancer at that point in his life as well. It was time for him to throw in the towel.
Peart is considered to this day to be one of the greatest drummers in rock and roll music history. He was extremely detailed in how he revolutionized the art of drumming. Peart constantly pushed boundaries with his massive drum sets on stage. In 1974, he joined the band Rush alongside lead singer and bassist Geddy Lee and guitarist Alex Lifeson. The band had already released a self-titled album at the time, so his arrival to the group was the missing piece that the band needed. Rush saw incredible success, especially in their home country of Canada.
Many fans feel that a part of Canada is lost with the death of Peart. He defined rock drumming since he came to fame. He was known as a virtuoso in the rock world, not only because of his drumming skills, but also for his lyricism and its heavy literary influence. Early on, Peart used different science fiction novels as inspiration, and sometimes even political commentaries. Towards the end, however, the lyrics he wrote would be more focused on his emotions and personal stories. His drums quickly set the band apart from everyone else, due to his ability to create fills and solos that were their own masterpieces.
The most famous example of this is “Tom Sawyer” off of their most successful album Moving Pictures because of Neil Peart’s dramatic drum solo following Lifeson’s guitar solo. It is coined as one of the greatest drum solos in rock and roll history. Peart left a mark on the industry by adding a bit of complication and chaos to drumming. He trained with multiple instructors to help hone his techniques in the later years of his career, most notably with Freddie Gruber, a legendary jazz drummer.
Not many rock drummers look for a teacher while they are in their career. Peart stepped out of the box to solidify his position as one of the most sophisticated and crafty musicians of all time. He incorporated his impressive and incredible skill as a drummer with his ability to tell real stories that caused real feelings in other people. He did not try to stoop to the level of other mainstream rock bands. He wrote about things that connected Rush and regular people. Peart lived his life to the fullest, and his legacy will never die because of this. Rush will live on in the hearts of rock and roll fans forever.
The Irishman: Another Epic Scorsese Mafia Film
by Daniel O’Neill ’21 A&E Staff
On Nov. 27, The Irishman was finally released for streaming on Netflix. Martin Scorsese’s latest mob installment continues his creation of long films, as The Irishman has a total run time of three hours and thirty minutes. This run time is unprecedented by other directors, and the film’s length has left such an intense impact on the audience that now there are questions of whether the film itself could have potentially been a mini-series on Netflix instead.
The idea that the film could have potentially done better as a series grabbed Scorsese’s attention. Recently, Scorsese addressed these questions about the idea of a series rather than a film. According to Vice, when asked about the possibility of The Irishman being a series, Scorsese said, “Absolutely, no. I’ve never even thought of it. …It’s an accumulated cumulative effect by the end of the movie.” The director believes that a story like The Irishman’s is best left to the big screen, and that says quite a bit about Scorsese’s stories. From a classic such as Goodfellas all the way to Casino, Scorsese maintains powerful stories that can only be told by a film because of the intensity of his characters and willingness to add as much detail as possible.
The Irishman features a loaded cast, with many mafia classics on the list. The main character is played by Robert DeNiro, with legends Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, and Harvey Keitel in supporting roles. Other notable supporting actors include Ray Romano, Anna Paquin, Steven Van Zandt, Sebastian Maniscalco, and Jesse Plemons. The films cast is what many consider to be loaded, and the pure talent in that group is evident in the film. For many of these actors and actresses, this film continues their consistent activity in Hollywood. For others such as Pesci, however, this film is his most recent in a long drought.
Pesci seemed to step away from the film industry for a number of years, seemingly to take a break and transition slowly into retirement. Apparently, The Irishman was special enough for him to come out of his hiatus and continue his illustrious career as an actor. Pesci plays the character of one Russell Bufalino, who is extremely different to the most well-known of Pesci’s previous roles. He is extremely calm and straight to the point, not one of his old, psychotic, homicidal characters that would get angry at anything in their path.
Scorsese’s film highlights the talents of the makeup and technology crew teams as well. Their ability to make the main characters, DeNiro, Pacino, and Pesci, look younger by de-aging them cost the film quite a bit of money. Some fans think that it was not necessary. It would be hard to disagree, however, that the younger faces give the film a certain type of aura that is comparable to Scorsese’s old films like Goodfellas and Mean Streets. That is what makes this film special: Scorsese’s willingness to include the most critical details, from run time all the way to de-aging effects on the main characters.