Clam Jam: A Clam Dunk

by The Cowl Editor


On-Campus


Board of Programmers Salvages Fun Times Despite Bad Weather

by Joshua Carone ’22 A&E Staff

CAMERON VILLARUEL ’21/THE COWL

Despite her best efforts, not even Mother Nature could ruin Clam Jam and the fun of the second-to-last Saturday of the school year.

The Board of Programmers (BOP) brought life to an otherwise dreary day with their annual Clam Jam, an event dedicated to bringing the Providence College community together to top off the school year.

The clams were originally supposed to be jammed on Smith Quad, but inclimate weather forced the Social Committee to move the event indoors to the Peterson Recreation Center.

Nevertheless, the rain could not stop the Friars from enjoying the many attractions Clam Jam had to offer, which ranged from inflatable bouncy houses to airbrush tattooing. 

If one were to get tired from jumping up and down on the inflatable obstacle courses or being drawn as a caricature, BOP provided an assortment of food from a variety of caterers to satisfy any craving. The popular choices came in the form of Nettie’s Kettle Corn, Palagi’s Ice Cream Truck, and Haven Brothers. 

And, of course, no Clam Jam is successful without live music. Luckily, the acoustics of Peterson were perfect for the musical stylings of the Cape Cod Slackers, who filled Peterson with covers like “Brown Eyed Girl” and “Dancing In The Moonlight.”

Karl Reidel ’20 helped plan the event with the BOP social committee and was incredibly happy with its outcome: “We would call this event a huge success.  The goal of Clam Jam is to engage the whole campus community in an end-of-the-year celebration, and even with the slight change of location due to the weather, we were still able to draw a large crowd throughout the whole duration of the event.”

There was a huge turnout of Friars for the event, happy to spend the rainy day indoors with friends and enjoy the many attractions the event had to offer.

With finals week on the horizon, the event was a perfect opportunity to blow off some steam and relax as a community before the stress of the last couple weeks begins to take hold. 

Julia Wilson ’22 was one of many freshmen to be entertained at their first Clam Jam. When asked about her experience, Wilson said, “I love how BOP puts on events like Clam Jam. They think of everything we could want to make people want to come, so it’s a great way to bond with my PC community.”

Yet another successful BOP endeavor, Clam Jam was able to blissfully bring PC students the sense of youth and community we all want for with essays to write and tests to study for.

Analyzing the Debut of the Modern Twilight Zone

by The Cowl Editor


Film and Television


by Joshua Carone ’22 A&E Staff

Here is a sentence you never thought you would read: Tracy Morgan using a vape is terrifying.

However, The Twilight Zone was always known for pushing the boundaries of reality, so this seems about right. The hit series from the 1960s was announced to be developing a reboot earlier this fall, and audiences finally got to cross over this past week as CBS debuted the first two episodes. 

Hosted by horror connoisseur Jordan Peele, the show develops a fresh look with the classic eeriness the former installment delivered week after week. It is a tough reputation to uphold, as the Rod Serling version terrified millions of Baby Boomers during the Big Three era of television.

“The Comedian” stars Kumail Nanjiani as Samir, a struggling comic whose political jokes continue to fall on deaf ears and crickets every night. However, he accepts advice from comedy legend J.C. Wheeler (Tracy Morgan), who tells Samir to make his material more personal. The classic Twilight Zone twist is that everyone Samir talks about in his act is erased from the world.

It is a riff on the success versus happiness mantra and the belief that fame ultimately comes at a cost. There is little suspense or terror, but Nanjiani manages to keep audiences tuned in with his portrayal of a character wrestling with what he values most in life. 

The second episode, “Nightmare at 30,000 Feet,” is a reprisal of the William Shatner-led episode, “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet,” in which an anxious Shatner is the only person to see the monster on the side of his plane.

The modern-day take sees Parks and Recreation legend Adam Scott as a journalist with PTSD listening to a podcast describing the disappearance of the flight he is on, because what 21st century remake would be complete without a podcast episode? It is a tale of fate that delivers more of a punch than the first episode and pays homage through a few Easter Eggs to one of the more loved episodes of the old show.

The Peele-produced remake has not captured critics or audiences as of yet; its Rotten Tomatoes score hovers around 75 percent but the audience score is closer to 60 percent. The complaints seem to come from the lack of direction the show seems to take. James Poniewozik of the New York Times notes, “ ‘a Twilight Zone’ without a specific perspective on the nightmares of its time is just a collection of creepy stories, an exercise in nostalgia.”

PHOTO COURTESY OF ROLLING STONE

It is easy to compare the show to its predecessor, but that seems like an impossible act to follow considering the success of the previous installment and the completely different social climate Peele’s version is airing in.

The Cold War and America’s countercultural revolution are no longer trending topics in the United States, so the 2019 Twilight Zone has the difficulty of capturing the essence of the first series with modern-day substance. 

However, audiences know it can be done. Shows like Black Mirror and The X-Files have successfully proved creepy anthologies still have a place in entertainment. It is just a matter of if the modern-day adaptation can develop a distinctive voice that crosses over a whole new generation into The Twilight Zone.

Not Exactly Twinning

by The Cowl Editor


Film and Television


Viewers and Critics Battle Over Peele’s Us

by Joshua Carone ’22 A&E Staff

Anyone who doubted Jordan Peele’s staying power was proved wrong this weekend as his sophomore film Us made a colossal $70 million upon its release.

Peele’s genre-bending thriller broke several box office records including biggest opening for an original R-rated movie and biggest opening for an original horror movie, a record previously held by A Quiet Place.

Us comes at the heels of Peele’s critically-acclaimed directorial debut, Get Out, which he received an Academy Award for. That, along with the incredible marketing for Us, built up an insurmountable amount of hype for the March 22 release. 

PHOTO COURTESY OF WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Critically, the movie has been incredibly successful, hitting a 94 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and a 81 percent on Metacritic. However, the film has been polarizing for viewers; it currently sits with a 7.4/10 on IMDB, largely due to people either giving the film a 10 or a 2.

The large discrepancy between critic and audience reviews is a result of several different factors, one being the originality of the film. Almost every critical review of Us points to how different it is from the stereotypical slasher through its use of metaphors and intricate themes to not only provide scares, but a message as well.

As a result, viewers are not met with the spoon-fed narrative most horror movies supply, leading to the lack of “fright” in the film being a major complaint by audiences. Ann Hornaday of The Washington Post provides a reason for the distaste by noting how “the audience’s enjoyment of Us is far more dependent on their love of scary movies than on pointed satire, which Get Out blended with such elegant finesse.”

Peele is known for being a true cinephile when it comes to the horror genre, paying homage to works of Stanley Kubrick and Alfred Hitchcock in his own movies. A consequence of this could be his desire to push the boundaries of the genre and what true “horror” really is, losing fans who paid to be frightened by people popping up from behind doors and other horror movie tropes.

The film community saw this last year in A24’s Hereditary, another thriller that split audiences because of its departure from the stereotypes of the brand. It is a repercussion of a genre polluted with Annabelle sequels and Halloween remakes, plot-driven films with little to say in terms of cultural relevance. However, these movies are comforting to audiences because in a time when ticket prices rise by the second, it is nice to know what you are paying for.

Nevertheless, whether one enjoyed the movie or not, Us reassured that in a platform permeated with superhero flicks and remakes of past films, originality in film still exists at the hands of budding directors like Peele.

Netflix’s Abducted in Plain Sight Elicits Fear, Paranoia

by The Cowl Editor


Film and Television


by Joshua Carone ’22 A&E Staff

   Currently, Netflix has a near monopoly on  producing true crime documentaries. From Making a Murderer to The Ted Bundy Tapes, the streaming service has significantly enabled the country’s addiction to the horrific and disturbed.

  Abducted In Plain Sight takes the addiction a step further. The documentary follows the harrowing story of Jan Broberg and her disappearance at the hands of family friend Robert Berchtold.

PHOTO COURTESY OF NETFLIX

   Abducted In Plain Sight ticks off all of the boxes of a traditional true crime documentary with a young, innocent victim, a sick, perverted villain, and a family steeped in grief and sorrow. 

   Directed by Skye Borgman, Abducted In Plain Sight is a tight 90 minutes that has the potential to be a four-part docuseries at its current pace of ratings and audience approval. There are certainly enough subplots and background context to be further explored, and viewers are still questioning the parenting decisions days after finishing the doc.

  Without spoiling too much, the man referred to in the documentary as “B” groomed the Idaho- residing Broberg family through exploitation and blackmail, maintaining a ruse that led to two kidnappings and a lifetime of torment.

  His methods, combined with specific parenting decisions, have audiences punching walls and taking to Twitter to vent frustration. Even Netflix communicated the anxiety felt while watching its own film, tweeting, “weird how every time I try to write a tweet about Abducted In Plain Sight it just comes out as ‘WTF???’”

   The film is based on the book written by Mary Ann Broberg, titled Stolen Innocence: The Jan Broberg Story, a tell-all in which Broberg’s mother describes her experience with the man called “B.”

   Borgman recently conducted an interview with Vanity Fair, recounting her own journey with the Broberg family while making the film. She shared a similar reaction while directing the documentary as audiences did while watching it, commenting, “We spent so much time with them [the Brobergs] on the computer, going through what they had said, and [editing] things together. There were times when the family was just so frustrating to me.”

Abducted In Plain Sight continues to gain approval and attention, leading Americans further down a path that feeds into their obsession with real monsters.

Highlights From the Oscars: Peter Farrelly ’79 Wins Big

by The Cowl Editor


Film and Television


by Joshua Carone ’22 A&E Staff

People already missing football finally had something to watch last Sunday night, as a controversial awards season finally came to a close with the 91st Academy Awards. The buildup to this year’s Oscars could have been a movie itself, a host excommunicating himself from the show, several contentious Best Picture nominees, and more importantly, people wondering if Bradley Cooper would in fact channel Jackson Maine for his duet with Lady Gaga.

With all this in mind, here is a recap of some of the most memorable moments of Sunday’s festivities:

Spike Lee Finally Wins an Oscar: Although it was not for a major category, the Academy finally gave the celebrated director his first win in the Adapted Screenplay category for BlacKkKlansman. With the Knicks having an abysmal season, at least Lee will have something to cheer about for the rest of the winter.

A King and Queen Claim Royal Victories: Regina King delivered a heartfelt speech following her win for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her depiction of a grieving mother in Barry Jenkins’ If Beale Street Could Talk, dedicating the win to her own mother.

Olivia Colman picked up her first Oscar with her first nomination for Best Actress as the hilarious Queen Anne in The Favourite.

Smiling with His Own Teeth: Mr. Robot star and possible actual robot Rami Malek won Best Actor as Freddie Mercury in the highly disputed biopic Bohemian Rhapsody. Although the film itself has split critics and audiences, Malek’s imitation of the musical legend was undeniably amazing, fake teeth and all.

He also managed to steal audience’s hearts with a romantic speech gushing over his on-screen and real-life girlfriend, Lucy Boynton.

Roma Cleans Up: Representing the hated-by-Hollywood streaming service industry, Netflix’s Roma took home three Academy Awards, including Best Foreign Film and Best Director win for Alfonso Cuarón.

A film that received potential Best Picture buzz, the beautifully shot black and white picture seems to lead the frontier of streaming service movies, leaving many to wonder if theaters and cinemas are becoming a thing of the past.

Green Book Drives Away with Best Picture: In a highly-debated category with no clear winner, Providence College alum Peter Farrelly’s ’79 Green Book ended the contention with the Best Picture win. Leading up to Sunday night, the role-reversed version of Driving Miss Daisy had faced backlash due to the troubling pasts of both Farrelly and writer Nick Vallelonga, the pair issuing apologies prior to Sunday night.

PHOTO COURTESY OF PROVIDENCE COLLEGE ON INSTAGRAM

However, it seems the chemistry between the film’s stars, Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali, was enough to walk away with the gold figurine.

Super Bowl LIII: Recapping Movie Trailers

by The Cowl Editor


Film and Television


by Joshua Carone ’22 A&E Staff

PHOTO COURTESY OF EW.COM

The audience for Sunday’s game, between the Patriots and the Rams, had little to cheer for in a night filled with more punts than points. However, the surplus of advertisements showcasing the most anticipated movies of 2019 kept viewers engaged throughout, including a couple of fresh spots from Marvel, and a big night for fans of Jordan Peele. Here’s a recap of some of the prominent trailers from Sunday:

Captain Marvel (March 8): Fans of the Marvel movies received another sneak peek at the newest character to enter Stan Lee’s comic-book universe, Captain Marvel.

The trailer opens with Brie Larson’s superheroine walking alongside another Air Force Pilot, giving off Top Gun vibes while also providing more insight into the history of one of Marvel’s most powerful heroes. The ad switches to a more high-speed pace through a montage of clips from the film alongside the repeated phrase, “higher, faster, further.”

While comic-book enthusiasts are excited for the origin story of Carol Danvers, fans are also intrigued to learn how Captain Marvel’s storyline will play into the Avengers arch.

Avengers: Endgame (April 26): It was only fitting that the biggest movie of the year premiere an ad during the biggest game of the year.

Chills set in during the 30-second ad interspliced with clips of the remaining Avengers, as Ant-Man (Paul Rudd), Iron-Man (Robert Downey Jr.), and Captain America (Chris Evans) flew across the screen.

“Where do we go, now that they’re gone?” reads a sign in this spot causing viewers to ask themselves the same question after the realization that there are two months left until the world could witness the end to the highest-grossing franchise of all time.

Toy Story 4 (June 21): Pixar delivered a sucker punch of nostalgia with the first look at yet another conclusion to a beloved franchise with a 30-second ad for Toy Story 4.

Keeping it light with a brief scene in which Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) is bullied by a pair of stuffed carnival prizes, audiences ranging from nine to 99 years old are finally reunited with the toys that shaped so many childhoods.

While the trailer itself was playful, Tom Hanks, the voice of Woody, was recently quoted on BBC’s The Chris Evan’s Morning Show as saying Toy Story 4 was the most emotional film out of the franchise, and that he “couldn’t even get through the last scene.” 

Us (March 22): Jordan Peele was the arguable MVP of 2019’s Super Bowl as he voiced one of the characters in the trailer for Toy Story 4 and was centerstage in the ad for The Twilight Zone remake. However, Peele received the most attention for the ad for his newest nightmare, Us.

The Get Out director’s latest horror film terrified audiences on Christmas Day with the drop of the first trailer that gave viewers a preview of the Wilson family and their battle against the murderous versions of themselves.

Lupita Nyong’o plays the mother in Peele’s sophomore feature film, earning significant screen time in the minute-long Super Bowl ad as horror fans are once again introduced to her character’s family and their dangerous doppelgangers.

The film’s slick tagline “Watch Yourself” is a double-entendre that will echo in audience’s minds as they stray away from mirrors and anticipation grows for the March release of the horror blockbuster.

These upcoming movies and their trailers featured something for all ages to enjoy. 

The Serial Killer You Would Swipe Right For

by The Cowl Editor


Film and Television


America’s Disturbing Obsession with Ted Bundy

by Joshua Carone ’22 A&E Staff

PHOTO COURTESY OF USA TODAY

Netflix has recently been in the headlines recently for the controversial release of its newest documentary, Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes. The problems do not stem from the documentary itself, but more from the responses of audiences, specifically the people idolizing Bundy because of his apparent attractiveness. However, this is not a generational issue; viewers who lived during the actual case remember that Bundy’s alluring pull was an issue then, too.

The masses lusting over America’s most famed serial killer through social media forced Netflix to remind its audience that the subject of the documentary brutally killed dozens of women. The streaming service tweeted last Monday, “I’ve seen a lot of talk about Ted Bundy’s alleged hotness and would like to gently remind everyone that there are literally THOUSANDS of hot men on the service—almost all of whom are not convicted serial murderers.”.

America’s fascination with the serial killer has only grown since Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile, the feature film surrounding the home-life of Bundy, debuted at Sundance last week, directed by none other than Joe Berlinger, the director of the Netflix documentary. Berlinger added fuel to the Bundy obsession by casting Zac Efron as the renowned killer.

The feature chronicles the crimes of Bundy through the eyes of his longtime girlfriend, Elizabeth Kloepfer, portrayed by Lily Collins. Kloepfer’s story provides an interesting perspective, as she, like many close to Bundy, refused to believe he was the serial-killer sociopath the media painted him as.

While most agreed that Efron dominated the role, the film received backlash due to its apparent glorification of Bundy, as many critics argue that Berlinger’s direction portrays the killer almost as an anti-hero and romanticizes his evasion of law enforcement in a Thelma and Louise-esque way. The obvious discrepancy in the comparison is that Thelma and Louise fled the police after killing a rapist, while Bundy himself was a convicted rapist and murderer.

However, another group of viewers state that the movie was right in its representation of Bundy, noting the killer was the charismatic figure depicted on the silver screen in real life. Berlinger responded to the controversy by telling Bustle, “If you actually watch the movie, the last thing we’re doing is glorifying him. He gets his due at the end, but we’re portraying the experience of how one becomes a victim to that kind of psychopathic seduction.”

The film currently sits with an audience-voted 8.0/10 on IMDB, an unusually high score for a movie so polarizing for critics. Nevertheless, the audience score is a perfect delineation of America’s fixation with taboo and the art of making entertainment out of human tragedy.