Category: A+E

October 24, 2016 Jacob Holley-Kline

It’s easy to drive a joke into the ground. “No Filter,” for some reason, makes it a point to do so. Every gag, and there are many, are super hit-and-miss. Truthfully, some of the funniest moments in the movie happen early on. It has the patina of a studio comedy, always flirting with edginess but never getting there. As it goes on, the movie gets weaker, but the charismatic Paz Bascunan picks up the slack that her co-stars leave behind.

Pia (Paz Bascunan, “Alma”) is a middle-aged, down-on-her-luck, marketing firm representative. Her husband ignores her, she isn’t respected at work by her boss or coworkers, and, when she’s not being ignored, she’s constantly inconvenienced by everyone around her. Constant chest pain and a regiment of pills sends her to the doctor where she finds out that all her pent-up rage is bound to kill her and the only cure is to let it all out.

Pia’s not a hard character to wrap your head around. But “No Filter” spends a lot of time with the “down-on-her-luck” part. It’s the Rodney Dangerfield school of comedy. “I don’t get no respect” rings true through most of the movie, but it gets tiring just thirty minutes into the movie. The repetition is jarring, to be certain, but any fans of the James Franco and Seth Rogen school of improv won’t likely be off-put.

When stuff hits the fan, Pia confronts all these people. And while she does get brutal, the movie’s tone is too positive to let her get truly mean. In that way, it lacks the edge that it really needs. But it’s not all bad. There are some hilarious moments, and it’s easy to admire the weird progressive world that director Nicolas Lopez has created.

The true draw of the movie is Paz Bascunan’s performance as Pia. While the movie has the generic sheen of a studio comedy, Bascunan brings honesty to her character’s very real pain. In an especially poignant moment, Pia shares a hug with her ex. She nestles against him as if it’s the first time in years. More than anything, bordered by generic side character, she carries the movie on her own.

With a few gut-busting moments, “No Filter” is just funny enough to not feel like a waste of time. It takes a bit to gather momentum, and when it does, it’s a fun ride. It wouldn’t be as fun, however, without the Paz Bascunan’s presence. It doesn’t have the bite of a great comedy, but it’s got the filtered fun of a worthwhile one.

October 17, 2016 Madison Mcenaney

Many aspects play into the field of photography that makes an image unique and well constructed. Between lighting, environment, subject and the type of camera that is used, any of these variables can make or break an image. All students at UAA that take photography classes learn about these elements that make an image and learn how to alter them to create their own style. The photography department offers classes starting at beginner levels, and progressing forward from there.

In the past, all photography classes at UAA have been primarily film based. Students learned the ropes of producing images through film, while digital imaging classes were saved for more advanced and serious photographers. However, there has recently been a shift in the program, all centering around the idea that digital photography is the primary way to produce images.

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The photo lab, located in the Fine Arts Building, isn't as packed on Friday nights as it used to be. Dedicated lab monitors still check to make sure the chemicals are regularly changed out. Photo credit: Young Kim

Deborah Tharp is the head of the photography department and has been teaching at UAA for 22 years. She has witnessed and been a part of the move from film to digital photography on campus and has had a strong voice in the decision making of where the photography program is heading.

“There was a time when digital cameras were way out of student’s price range. I knew we wouldn’t be able to go digital until the cameras became affordable, so when I saw students coming to class with the digital cameras, I knew the shift could be made,” Tharp said.

The photography program made the decision to go primarily digital within weeks before this fall semester began, and since then the feedback has been mostly all positive. Students now have the funds and capabilities of getting their hands on a digital camera, and the photography department has recognized that and decided to move forward with technology.

In the past, the beginning photography classes centered around film style photography and worked their way up to digital photography, which was a more advanced class. Now, the curriculum will work a little differently. Beginning photography classes will center around iPhone and digital cameras, and film style photography will be a class of its own, designed for students who want to really specialize in that area of photography.

Joe Savageau works at UAA’s photography film labs and is a film expert. He monitors these labs on Friday nights, but has been doing this job and other things in the photography department for nearly four years now. He responded positively to the change, stating that it will benefit the program.

“The labs used to be a lot more packed every night because the only way students could finish their photo projects was at the labs. Now, Photoshop exists on computers, and they can pretty much do everything from home. I get one or two students that come to the open labs on Fridays, but never many more. I think making the classes digitally based is a good idea for the program,” Savageau said.

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The photography classrooms have already begun putting more computers and printers in their labs to provide the necessities that are required when shooting images on a digital camera. Beginning photographers will learn about online editing programs like Photoshop, Bridge and Lightroom in-class, and there will be less of a focus on developing film. Professors will also now discuss the details of printing images, not developing them.

“I knew it was time to make a change when my students began to care more about digital photography than film. There will always be the ones that choose to pursue film photography, which is why we don’t want to get rid of the option completely. The dark room will still be around for those who want to utilize it, but it will no longer be a primary focus,” Tharp said.

The field of photography is growing and changing constantly, like so many other programs at UAA. It is important for these programs to recognize when times and technology are progressing, and match the curriculum to that as well. Professors are working hard to produce classes that students want to take, and hope to only spark the interest of more potential photographers out there with the change from film to digital imaging.

October 17, 2016 Taylor Curry

Green Day is back, after the odd but unique triple album (yes, triple) in 2012s “Uno,” “Dos,” and “Tre” albums, they are now releasing their 12th studio album in “Revolution Radio.” The album starts out a bit unexpectedly with the track “Somewhere Now,” with a soft guitar and vocals by singer/guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong, but…

October 17, 2016 Adrian Colding Ii

Solange is known for pushing the limits when it comes to music, so I knew I needed to prepare myself for her newest release, “A Seat at the Table.” I had to listen to the album three times before I even tried to formulate my emotions. Solange has such a pure attribute to her voice;…

October 17, 2016 Michael Thomas

In a land far away, where the halls are lined with student and faculty work, where your imagination is brought to life, lies the Kimura Art Gallery. Located on the second floor of the art building, most students outside of the art department have never heard of the internationally renowned gallery lying just on the…

October 17, 2016 Jacob Holley-Kline

Watching “The Second Woman” is a bizarre experience. To begin with, it’s bad with some good sprinkled on. The good is that it’s very self-aware and strangely allegorical. The protagonist, Hui Bao, represents director Miu-suet Lai, while her twin, Hui Xiang, represents the audience watching the movie. The bad is how Lai goes about putting…

October 9, 2016 Lee Piltz

If conspiracy theories, crazy people and kooky ideas about what’s really going on behind the scenes are your thing, Lizard People is the podcast for you.

October 9, 2016 Jacob Holley-Kline

A movie like “Dukhtar” has an inherent power to it. That power can be unlocked by a good director, but director Afia Nathaniel isn’t quite there. The setting makes for some haunting vistas, and truly powerful character moments are few and far between, but the movie is decent in its attempts. Like “JeruZalem,” “Dukhtar” aims…

October 7, 2016 Cheyenne Mathews

The Student Union gallery is now showing an exhibition by the Camera Club called Through Our Eyes. The reception was Wednesday Sept. 28 and the show will continue to run through Oct. 19. Cody Swanson is the former President of the Camera Club and he says any Camera Club member has the opportunity to submit…

October 7, 2016 Jay Guzman

You may have heard of Mick Jenkins this year with features on Noname’s album Telefone and Chance the Rapper’s discarded Coloring Book song ‘Grown Ass Kid,’ but if you’re not familiar with Mick Jenkins here is a rundown.

Mick Jenkins is a 25 year-old Chicago based rapper. Despite popping up in 2012, he’s had a prolific career with a project at least once a year, his most popular being 2014’s The Water[s] and his 2015 follow-up Wave[s]. He is known for his heavy wordplay and verses interwoven with metaphors, and he manages to deliver raps with his unique style without it being too much of an earful. Usually rapping over a Jazz Era or Chicago Blues style beat, Jenkins produces more vibe songs than bangers.

Mick Jenkin’s debut album “The Healing Component” released on September 23, 2016. The album features an army of collaborators including THEMpeople, Sango, BADBADNOTGOOD, Kaytranada, and others alongside performers including theMIND, Noname, and several others. The album art depicts a human heart, muscles, veins and ventricles all present meant to depict a more accurate version of love. The acronym of The Healing Component spells out THC. Before you jump to conclusions, know that this album is more about love and Jesus than it is about cannabis. Jenkins makes the analogy of marijuana’s healing components to that the healing components of love.

The project starts off with a dialogue between Jenkins and a woman discussing the vagueness of our understanding of love. The conversation carries on throughout the project to guide the listener on the concepts and different types of love. While these dialogues are reminiscent to that of the 1998 album “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill,” overall it fails to leave a big impact.

The first track starts off strong with Jenkins wasting no time. As soon as the first verse ends, the hook starts with loud horns and a chant from Jenkins, akin to a church choir. The next song on the track list is the crux of the project titled ‘Spread Love,’ dominated by a lengthy chorus spaced with two short but great verses by Jenkins over a moody beat. Quite simply, this song is butter, so give it a listen.

‘Drowning,’ featuring BBNG (BADBADNOTGOOD), is one of the strongest tracks on the project. It starts with an eerie, hypnotizing metronome eventually followed up by echoey vocals that linger in your ear. Throughout the track, the instruments from BBNG begin to break loose until finally forming together to make a bittersweet short free jazz track near the four minute mark. The words “I can’t breathe” pops up through most of the song as a reference to Eric Garner and to his 2014 mixtape The Water[s]. What seems like an epilog track, Jenkins is drowning in the water or the truth that he always references.

Around this point in the album, Jenkins starts experimenting with newer sounds on instrumentals with songs like ‘As Seen in Bethsaida’ and ‘Communicate,’ a song that vibes like a neo-soul and house mash up with rap in between.

Although I enjoyed ‘Communicate’ and ‘Plugged,’ at this point in the album I began to disconnect a little from the album. The instrumentals and content weren’t leaving much of an impression. The next couple of songs seem to lose the vibrancy and dynamics of the first half of the album. Most of these songs play on the lower end of the frequency and blend a little too much with Jenkins’ deep vocals. It was difficult for me to distinguish a difference and I eventually began to zone out.

The album wraps up with ‘Angles,’ featuring Noname and Xavier Omar discussing the multiple perspectives of oneself. The last track on the album, titled ‘Fucked Up Outro’ speaks on his journey up to this point in his career. This leaves us in the same position from when we started the album; love is still a vague concept.

Maybe I had hoped to have been hit with some profound revelation or perspective on love, but Jenkins didn’t really introduce anything new to the conversation. I appreciate the positivity and the message of the album, but overall it just fell short on the expectations the first half of the project set up for me. While there was a handful of tracks that I loved, there was about an equal amount that I didn’t care for. Despite the passes, the couple of hits still make the album worth some rotation.


Favorite Tracks: The Healing Component, Spread Love, Drowning, Communicate, Angles

Least Favorite Tracks: 1000 Xans, Prosperity

October 2, 2016 Brenda Craig

Having fun on a budget can be difficult, especially for a college student. After paying for school supplies, books and parking permits, paying one dollar for anything sounds unreal. With Halloween around the corner, this is the perfect time for the Wendy Williamson Auditorium to host one-dollar movie nights every Tuesday starting this October through…

October 2, 2016 Jacob Holley-Kline

Reviewing two zombie movies in a row seems excessive, but hear me out. “JeruZalem” is another in a long line of Israeli genre flicks to come out in the past few years. This one, especially, has gotten a moderate amount of buzz, so why not watch it? Well, because it’s terrible. Even the good parts…

October 2, 2016 Lee Piltz

Grieves is coming to the Williwaw on Oct. 8, and his show is being opened by a local rapper, Ben Swann the MastaDon. Swann is 27 years old and was born and raised in Anchorage. Swann has been rapping since his middle school days, and while he is not a student of UAA, he is…

September 26, 2016 Madison Mcenaney

With so many talented artists and musicians in Anchorage, it can be hard at times to be able to get one’s art or music shown, which is exactly why First Friday exists. Essentially, this event occurs on the first Friday of every month in participating local businesses across Anchorage. Each business features an artist and…

September 26, 2016 Jacob Holley-Kline

Zombies have been done time again and again. “Maggie” and “World War Z,” while not great, managed to inject some originality into the genre. “Train to Busan” combines the emotional core of “Maggie” with the third act intensity of “World War Z,” and builds on them. It’s more action than horror, but the action sequences…

September 18, 2016 Jacob Holley-Kline

With so many grim movies being released, a crowd-pleaser feels taboo. Even superhero flicks like “Captain America: Civil War” and “Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice” felt dark. The latter more so than the former. Too much of that, however, is alienating. That’s why it’s nice, every once and a while, to find a movie…

September 12, 2016 Jacob Holley-Kline

Icelandic humor has got to be the darkest kind of humor out there. Looking at the country’s history, it makes sense: in around 1260, deforestation, volcanic eruptions, and infertile soil ravaged the land. In the 15th century, the Black Plague hit twice, wiping out entire generations of settlers. One third of those bloodlines who survived would be killed by small pox three hundred years later.

It’s no wonder, then, that “Rams” is barely a comedy by American standards. To call it “bleak” would be an understatement. Director Grimur Hakonarson makes Iceland’s empty interior as much a character as the assiduous Gummi (Sigurour Sigurjonsson, “Brave Men’s Blood”) and his estranged, hard-drinking brother, Kiddi (Theodor Juliusson, “The Deep”).


The two of them are farmers. For 40 years, they haven’t spoken a word to each other despite being neighbors. The only thing they have in common is their undying love for their sheep. When scrapie, an incurable nervous system disease, sweeps through their herds, the brothers find that they can’t deal with the plague alone.

There’s a great deal of unexpressed love between Gummi and Kiddi. But “Rams” makes a point of intertwining love and death. One does not, and cannot, exist without the other. In the opening scene, Gummi goes from nuzzling his prize ram to finding that one of his brother’s sheep has died. By the time Kiddi is introduced, the metaphor is clear. The title “Rams” is not about the rams at all, it’s about the brothers.

In 90 percent of their interactions, they butt heads, just like the animals they shepherd. It’s an on-the-nose metaphor, and one that’s done well. But Gummi and Kiddi’s relationship feels oversimplified because of it. Since their past is explored only vaguely, their arcs don’t have the cathartic quality that director Hákonarson attributes to them.

Of course, this all sounds very dark. And it is, but it’s also funny. It’s a desert-dry kind of humor, one that sneaks up on you. That stealthy quality makes the “gags” all the more hilarious. One of the darkest moments in the movie, how Gummi deals with his infected flock, for example, is immediately undercut by one of the funniest moments in the movie.

In the end, “Rams” is a movie for a particular mindset. It’s about as bleak as tragicomedies gets. From the barren setting of rural Iceland to the long, dialogue-free stretches that punctuate it, the movie lifts its desolation up. After all, if you gaze long into the abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you, so why not laugh at it?

September 12, 2016 Jacob Holley-Kline

The Blockbuster on Northern Lights is closing. That means that there are four Blockbusters left in the state. While that number is higher than the rest of the nation, it is inevitably dwindling. From 1997, the time my family moved to Alaska, until just last week, I went to either the Northern Lights or Debarr…

August 23, 2016 Jacob Holley-Kline

As I see it, there are two stages to watching a great movie: recognition and surrender. Recognition is simply knowing you’re watching something great, but surrender is giving yourself over to it. “The Wailing” is recognizably great from the jump, but surrender comes during a climactic scene 40 minutes in. In this sequence, the movie…