Redeemer Bands Raise Funds for Syrian Family

Elise Arsenault | Reporter

On Saturday, January 16th, Redeemer held a Concert Fundraiser to help make Hamilton home to a Syrian refugee family. The evening featured Casual Fridays and To Our Divide, groups made up of Redeemer students and alumni. Originally scheduled to play at the annual Battle of the Bands competition, they kindly agreed to play their sets at the benefit concert instead when the contest was cancelled due to lack of student entires this year.

Brooke Piper and Stephen St. Pierre made up Casual Fridays, an endearing duo with power in their simplicity. Their setlist included covers of Twenty One Pilots, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Elton John, and Ingrid Michaelson, with Piper on lead vocals and the ukulele and St. Pierre on back-up vocals and electric guitar. Piper’s voice was velvety in tone, and St. Pierre’s rhythmic melodies added a hearty depth to every song.

Next up were the winners of last year’s Battle of the Bands’ People’s Choice Award: To Our Divide. Timon Moolman fronted the band on electric guitar, and sang alongside Tristan Persaud, whose electric licks brought style to every number. Tristan Kaarid tore it up on the bass, and Dan Jumaquio was the band’s steady and skillful pulse. They played original songs, old and new, and had the performance filmed for some upcoming promotional footage. This past year, Timon and Dan spent time refining their artistry at a school in Nashville. Their training certainly bore fruit that evening, as made evident by their musical mastery throughout the show.

While the Battle of the Bands cancellation was unfortunate, the concert was still a very meaningful one, and raised over $200 in entry donations alone. All featured photographs were taken by Matt Linzel, and will hopefully give you a taste of the vibes that night — close-knit, brightly lit, and thick with sound.

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But First, Let Me Use a #Hashtag

A History of the Social Media Symbol that has Taken our Culture by Storm

Nicolle Katz | Crown Staff

It’s trending. It’s community. It’s real-time information. It’s business and it’s pleasure. It is the hashtag.

Fast Facts:

  • Did you know that this pesky little symbol has been used as an attention grabber on technology mediums for over 40 years?
  • In the 1970s, computer programmers called it the “hash” and used it to draw attention to specific articles in the codes they were writing.
  • Phone operators in the 1980s named it the “pound” symbol and used it to separate strings of numbers when dealing with automated customer service systems.
  • Then, an early internet community called the Internet Relay Chat picked up the use of the symbol to label the channels and topics that connected users, and they dubbed it “the hashtag.”
  • Since being adopted by Twitter users across the globe, the hashtag has revolutionized the way businesses and individuals are able to unite through social media. Who knew that connecting four lines would one day have the power to connect millions of users?

But recently the number sign has become increasingly number sensitive. While a complete lack of hashtags can hamper your reach, too many tags can be #annoying. So, how many hashtags is best?

Here’s what you need to know to optimize your social media posts and mesmerize your captive audience. 

Twitter: Use a maximum of two hashtags in a given tweet. Tweets with 1-2 hashtags are 21% more effective and get two times more engagement than naked tweets.  Trending topics, articles, and newsworthy content are great sources of hashtag content. But, with a 140 character limit, make these hashtags count by keeping them short and sweet.

Facebook: When Facebook adopted hashtags, users were hesitant to open their arms (and Facebook walls) to hashtag highlighting. But, as time progresses, hashtags on Facebook are picking up speed. Posts with one or two hashtags are optimal, with a reported median viral reach of nearly 600 interactions.

Instagram: Instagram is hashtag heaven. In fact, posts with 11 or more hashtags have the highest interaction rate of all. Translation: go nuts! Hashtag your feelings, mindmaps, and try something new. With images doing all the talking, users don’t seem to mind the look of the hashtag paragraphs below them, so let the hashtags flow.

Feeling inspired? Good. You’re on your way to maximizing your engagements and becoming a hashtag guru.

Movie Review: Oscar Nominated Film Selma

Ryan Van Til | Crown Staff

“Selma” is an effective movie. David Oyelowo gives a pretty good performance as Martin Luther King Jr. If you’re into social justice, interested in American history, or love the Civil Rights movement, I highly recommend the movie. You’re almost guaranteed to like it.

What kind of review is that, you ask? Well, “Selma” isn’t the great movie that critics are claiming – in fact, it’s pretty bad.

But if it’s bad, what did “Selma” do effectively? It did a good job of telling the story of the march from Selma to Montgomery; it did a good job at emphasizing just how important it was to the Civil Rights movement. MLKJ’s speeches are pretty inspiring and the movie focused on them really well, even ending on one — though the speeches are rewritten due to copyright issues and might be distracting if you know them. There’s also a rap song during the credits, which is really good. The marketing team released a great poster for the movie. And that’s it.

Its effectiveness was reminiscent of the movie “Precious”, which was also a poorly made movie but had one great performance and a powerful final scene. “Selma” has the same three glaring problems as “Precious.” The script is unfocussed, the directing is unprofessional and the leading performance is vastly overrated.

“Selma” felt like two scripts mashed together — like the producers weren’t sure if they wanted to do a historical re-enactment or a biopic. This lack of focus was most apparent when the movie pasted text on the screen, written from the FBI to the president. At first it seemed as though it was some sort of attempt to make this relevant to the NSA today, but the text just recounted exactly what had happened or what was about to happen. The movie also jarringly cuts between scenes of characters organizing the march and MLKJ’s home life without any attempt to connect anything or establish tone or pacing.

It turns out that the script was originally about the Selma march from then President Johnson’s perspective – how he balanced his moral convictions while trying to get Southern officials to support his “Great Society” project. The movie was meant to be a historical retelling. But when director Ava DuVernay got the script she rewrote it to make it more of a biopic about King. The re-write is painfully obvious.

In case you think this is nitpicking, a script that people claimed was snubbed for an Oscar nom shouldn’t confuse people who know what makes a good script.

Did you see the movie “The Butler”? It had a predictable colour scheme of gold and burgundy for good character scenes and bleak colours for bad character scenes. Selma is the exact same. And no effort was made to do anything clever with these predictably coloured locations; people just sit and talk or stand and talk – usually in someone’s living room.

(In case you don’t know what I mean, there’s a scene in this year’s “Gone Girl” where the main character and his lawyer are prepping to do a talk show. They’re lounging in the studio’s lounge. The lawyer is trying to get his client to act naturally and throws food from the buffet table at him when he tenses up. It’s a little detail, but it’s fun to watch a mundane location add a dynamic to the scene that makes it fresh and interesting. Good directing makes otherwise boring scenes engaging; sometimes it can be so subtle you don’t even notice it. It means the director thought about the scene more than not at all.)

Selma also boasts some of the worst extras I’ve ever seen in a movie; everyone looks so serious that it’s like someone told them they were part of a movie. Background characters always have a stern, pensive face. The (mis)use of slow-motion is both baffling and distracting. And almost every shot of this cheese is a flat angle at eye level.

While some might consider this nitpicking, directing that people thought was snubbed for an Oscar nom shouldn’t punish the viewer for knowing about good directing.

Finally, there’s the main performance. The AV Club’s A.A. Dowd put it perfectly, saying “Oyelowo can’t match the oratorical fervor of the famous leader he’s playing . . . he fares better when illuminating the less public side of King.” Oyeloyo is great in the quiet scenes and has a face built for conveying emotions. But on the podium he misses the almost musical pitch to King’s voice, he misses the exaggerated hand gestures and, most importantly, he misses the passion in the delivery. Can a performance really be called good if the actor misses the most iconic and defining features of his character?

A historical performance that people thought was snubbed for an Oscar nom shouldn’t punish the viewer who knows how a historical figure spoke.

So can a historical movie be good if it fails at being historical and a movie? As I write, “Selma” has 98% on Rotten Tomatoes, so apparently this review is wrong. But perhaps the London Evening Standard’s David Sexton has it right when he says Selma is “difficult to review as a film. In some ways it’s beyond criticism as the first-ever major movie about [Dr. King].”

Sexton is certainly right when he says the over-moralizing of the movie “doesn’t make for great cinema.”

“Selma” didn’t connect with me on an emotional level; I assume that its message more than its artistry has resonated with those giving the movie rave reviews. After all, “Precious” also opened to critical acclaim.

But just as Al Gore probably wouldn’t call “Birdemic: Shock and Terror” a good movie because it had an environmental message, everyone draws the line somewhere when calling a movie bad – despite “agreeing” with it. The “line” of this review is just a bit further out than most. Do I like MLKJ’s teachings and movement? Absolutely. Would that stop me from calling a movie about him terrible? No way.

So, in light of that I’ll repeat what I said at the beginning of the review: if you like history or social justice, see this movie. But if you want to see the movie people claimed “Selma” was. If you want to see a movie that is among the best examples of the year’s films, if you want to see something fresh, bold and artistic, something challenging emotionally and intellectually (y’know, the type of movie the Oscars are supposed to honour), then skip “Selma” — see “Birdman” instead.

The Wilderness Guide to Identifying a Man's Major by His Facial Hair

Sarah Brooks

Illustrations by Rachel Debruyn

THEOLOGY: A robust beard of no less than 4.5 inches. This beard was predestined for greatness. (see below)

PHILOSOPHY: Neckbeard.

INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT/RELATIONS: Aggressive scruff – the scruff of cynicism and despair. He gave up hope on shaving long ago. Shaving is for idealistic first years.

YOUTH MINISTRY:  Soul Patch. (see below)

POLITICAL SCIENCE: Extremely clean-shaven. The public perception must be maintained. (see below)

MATH/SCIENCE: Patchy. He's been the the lab for too long. (see below)

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THEATRE: Handlebar mustache. (see below)

HISTORY: Muttonchops.

ART/MUSIC: Light stubble to let you know that he's sensitive, but just a bit edgy. Or maybe he lost his shaving kit.

ENGLISH: The French Forked beard, in homage to Chaucer.

PSYCHOLOGY: Short and proper beard, well maintained. Good for stroking thoughtfully while he asks you to tell him about your childhood.

SOCIOLOGY: Who even knows what this major does? He probably has an evil goatee. Good for stroking evilly while plotting world domination.

Top 5 Oscar Nom-Noms: The Crown's Nominations for Top Snacks For Oscar Night

Crown Staff

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With the 2015 Academy Awards quickly approaching in less than a month, we thought we would give you a little help in the snack department for your festive Oscar parties. We’ve put together for you a list of the Top 5 (pun-induced) snacks to enjoy whilst you and your loved ones indulge in the festivities.

Meryl Streepard Pie

Indulge in a bed of marinated roast beef topped with creamy mashed potatoes and oven-roasted vegetables to serve up to your hungry guests for dinner before 7 o’clock strikes. No need to search far and wide — Into the Woods and out – to find a better dinner dish. Your guests will be shouting, “Mamma Mia!”

Mark Ruffalo Wings

If conversation dies and you need to spice it back up before dinner, try these flaming hot wings brushed with chipotle and honey ‘Ruffalo’ sauce. These wings will suit the taste buds of anyone in your friend group — from the firefighters and hunters to the Foxcatcher, these wings will surely not go forgotten. They’re Just Like Heaven.

American Snapper with Garnish from the Grand Lemon Zest Hotel

If you’re a fan of fish with a zing, this is a scrumptious first course for your higher-class guests. With a tangy lemon marinade, this dynamic pair will be up for grabs for the Best Picture by your guests.

Reese With-Her-Spoon Sundae

Friends will go Wild for this dessert, perfect for a half-time break. With decadent Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups in, you’ll have to ask your guests to Walk the Line to see if they’re sober from their sugar high. Your friends will be asking for milk like Water for Elephants with all the decadence they’ll experience. Your spoon will ‘Bend and Snap’ from the high Reese’s pieces concentration. 

Eggs Benedict with No Imitation Bacon

With fresh eggs laid by hens that graze in the Cucumber path, we’ve Sure-Locked down this flavour with Wats-on this dish. You’ll want some More-of-yer-tea due to spice overload. It’s one of a kind! This ain’t no Imitation Game. Surely, this fan favourite has a Smaug-asburg of flavour.

    

Film in Review: Interstellar

Ryan Van Til

Several weeks ago, after re-watching 2001: A Space Odyssey with some friends, I wondered “would people enjoy this if it were released today?” In case you’re unfamiliar with 2001 (you might at least know it from parodies in South Park or The Simpsons), the film is a high-concept sci-fi movie from the 1960s; 2001 has cemented itself as a classic for both its unique visual effects and its mind-bendingly ambiguous story. The story has little to no character development or plot, satisfied instead with long, uncut shots of space with classical music caterwauling in the background. In short, it’s the opposite of the flashy, action-packed blockbusters of the 21st century, which prompted my question.

Why is 2001 relevant to this year’s Interstellar? Interstellar answered my question in spectacular fashion: people still will pay to see a movie like 2001 (as box office results have shown) and enjoy it (as reviews and reactions show).

Like 2001, Interstellar tells the story of a space expedition exploring an anomaly. In the case of Interstellar, the anomaly has the potential to save humanity from a deteriorating earth. The widowed father Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), an ex-NASA pilot forced to become a farmer due to a resource shortage on earth, is given the choice between following his old love (space exploration) to find a new habitable planet or his new love (what’s left of his family).

Many critics have accused Interstellar’s director Christopher Nolan (Inception, The Dark Knight) of being a cerebral storyteller. And while Nolan’s Interstellar still focuses on the intellectual rather than the emotional, this time his style works. For Interstellar, he has a reason for his method; in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, he said that the film was about the overall “experience” of watching. And an experience it is.

Despite being stuffed with expository scientific dialogue, the film works. Nolan takes full advantage of the “otherworldly” in creating a new galaxy, showing the viewer unique planets – such as a water-based planet or a black hole – without getting silly or over-imaginative. Unlike Inception, which had literally limitless potential for visual creativity go to waste, the science-heavy Interstellar benefits from Nolan’s realistic and intellectual style.

The cast, mostly a ragtag bunch of now-Nolan-regulars (Michael Caine, Anne Hathaway) as well as some newcomers (McConaughey, Jessica Chastain) do fine work, though all are light years away from grabbing Oscar nods for their performances.

 Nolan also draws influence from the Breaking Bad style of POV camera work, which works well for the movie; at times the film seems like footage stolen from a NASA probe. Hans Zimmer’s organ-based soundtrack is also excellent, though at times it blares so loudly that it overpowers the dialogue.

The film’s one major flaw is its transitions. Late in the movie, the story cuts back and forth between Cooper in space and his daughter on earth; the mundane earth scenes seem like a chore to get through compared to the excitement of watching a space voyage. It’s jarring and takes away from the “experience” that Nolan’s representation of space gives the viewer.

Interstellar isn’t a movie for everyone. If you enjoy a faster, easily understood plot, then this probably isn’t the Friday night popcorn fun you crave. But for those who enjoy a well-made and ambitious movie, for those who crave a film “experience” (like 2001: A Space Odyssey), it’s definitely worth the time and ticket price.

Jennifer Lawrence Scandal or Crime?

Inside Tabloid Corruption 

Laura Heming | Crown Staff

The odds have not favoured the side of humanity and common decency these past few weeks for Hunger Games starlet, Jennifer Lawrence. Lawrence broke the silence in Vanity Fair regarding the outbreak of stolen nude photos that polluted online websites.

 "It's my body, and it should be my choice, and the fact that it is not my choice is absolutely disgusting. I can’t believe that we even live in that kind of world,” She was reported as saying by the CBC.

 Always slow to speak and quick to portray herself with dignity, Miss Lawrence has rendered a deep wound that was caused by this sex crime (or, as the media refers to it, this “scandal”).

 The question that we should be asking after hearing something like this is “what is happening to our world when a mass portion of humanity starts consuming someone else’s body like a product?”

 Tabloids and celebrity gossip sites alike have long had the power and ability to destroy the dignity of people in the spotlight, and it has become normalized. The sad thing is that we indulge in it. We allow ourselves to delight in the misfortunes of celebrities because they become to us “the untouchables.” The Hollywood mentality has become that which says, “They are already famous, so why does it matter if they are getting attention through it anyway?”

 The fact that there are people whose careers are propelled by the ups and downs of someone else’s life is quite a tragedy. Regardless of whether what a celebrity does is morally right or morally wrong, it is no one’s right to breach privacy rights, as well as distribute the findings publically. There is a deep corruption in finding pleasure, gaining money, or finding life purpose in spreading gossip and taking away the dignity of another human being.

 The world is not a place that has everything together — that is known more clearly now than ever. It has become a place where a young woman’s privacy can be completely violated, and she can still be blamed for it. She can be responsible for sex crimes against herself because she was “dressing too scandalously”, or had “risqué photos unlocked on her computer.”

 The real “scandal” is the fact that it has become accepted in society that we can, for our entertainment, read about the heartbreaks and misfortunes of people in Hollywood before we pay for the groceries to feed our families. It is unfortunate that there are people who are real, vulnerable and fragile, and their fame is taken advantage of. Sexual exploitation is not just sex trafficking. It has become easier to excuse sexual exploitation when it is in the media because we feel entitled to see into the lives and bodies of celebrities. We, however, have some sort of power: a power to look away at the grocery store checkout line, to educate ourselves on real news, not news that embarrasses and humiliates.

 Humiliation is not entertainment. Exploitation is something to fight, not to indulge in. What will it take for us to learn?

Gone Girl: Three Weeks Gone

A Review of the Box-Office Hit Starring Ben Affleck

Ryan Van Til | Crown Staff

David Fincher’s Gone Girl is not Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl.

Yes, nearly three weeks have passed since the film’s release, but that has hardly affected its place at the box office – 2nd this past weekend. David Fincher’s thriller is still pulling in crowds and shows no sign of stopping.

 In case you’re unfamiliar with the name, director David Fincher has a track record of elevating schlocky, pulpy novels (Fight Club, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), adding humanization, perfecting tone and, most importantly, injecting the story with his slow, dark style. “Mediocre” books became “good” movies.

 What was different about Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl was that it was already a “good” book, acclaimed by both critics and audiences. The book tells the story of a wife, Amy, who goes missing on her fifth anniversary; a question looms ominously over the story: is her husband, Nick, responsible? Crammed with thought-provoking and relevant themes – such as the ugly side of marriage, commitment, and knowing another person – and reliant on journal entries to tell the story, it seemed an impossible book to film well. Furthermore, like a Fincher movie, the book was dark, full of twists and stylish in its own way.

 Somehow, though, Fincher copied his success, once again elevating the source material. How? The explanation follows a three-act structure eerily close to that of the book.

 Author Loses Story:

 An almost instant bestseller, Gone Girl immediately caught the attention of film production houses. This is the step in which the author loses his or her story, or as some hardcore book fans might put it “sell their book to the devil”. After all, it is almost a cliché by now that the book “was better than the movie.”

 Author Gillian Flynn sold rights to the movie for 1.5 million dollars, and that could have been the end of her involvement.

Filmmaker Meets Story:

Those who have read Gone Girl will find a bit of humour in the fact that David Fincher’s wife was the one who, upon reading it, recommended that he adapt it into a film.

 David Fincher adapting a novel can either be an author’s dream come true or a nightmare. He’s the guy who said that Star Wars was actually about the robot “slaves” C3P0 and R2D2 trying to make sense of the over-complicated world at war around them, which scared Disney’s producers from asking him to direct the upcoming Star Wars sequels.

 Fincher has a mind of his own when he takes on a project; he can miss the point of his source material and make his own movie (Alien 3) or bring out the best in the source material (the Social Network). Fortunately for Gillian Flynn, Fincher’s wife recommended he keep Flynn on as the screenwriter, foiling Fincher’s initial plans to make the characters less likable and re-write the third act.

 Author Gets Story Back (or vice versa):

 This is the part of the story that tells how the book became better. Gillian Flynn got her story back, but with an asterisk tacked on. This story had to be under 150 minutes – which posed a problem for a near 20 hour audiobook – and fit into Fincher’s darker, more serious mind. One of the book’s problems is that it is gluttonous in its overindulgence in long journal entries, laborious explanations of feminism, far too many characters, and an ending that overstays its welcome by spanning nearly the last quarter of the book.

 This is where the world of Hollywood came to the rescue. At the end of the day, a film production company cares about the profitability of a film. So, market research – finding out what people want to see – and rewrites to cut down the movie and streamline it are necessary. It may seem heartless and inartistic, but it was just the medicine an oversized book like Gone Girl needed.

 The film boasts a more consistent tone and atmosphere. This is something generally kept better in films than in books, but it’s very noticeable in this instance. The book often cut from horrifying events to awkward comedy, and from shocking revelations to humdrum scene setting. Fincher kept the film consistent, and somehow wrings fantastic performances out of the miscast Tyler Perry and Neil Patrick Harris. The film’s unsettling soundtrack also fits perfectly with the story, sounding so foreign it seemed that only hell could produce such instruments.

 The film also carries a sense of immediacy. While the book meandered over details, setting scenes, and establishing characters, the film movies along steadily and with purpose.

 In fact, Gillian Flynn’s own clunky-at-times dialogue (“I’m the guy who wants to take you away from all this awesomeness,” Nick tells Amy after they first meet; the line doesn’t make sense in context, either) is the weakest point in the film.

 Almost paradoxically, it is the money-centered Hollywood process that made a “good” story “great”. Gone Girl didn’t improve in spite of the Hollywood system; it improved because of the system