Laura Barrett


MOVIE REVIEW: ‘A Quiet Place’

This review contains major plot spoilers for the film “A Quiet Place.”

Photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures

“A Quiet Place” is a 2018 American science-fiction horror film that was written and directed by one of the main stars of the film, John Krasinski. Krasinski stars in the movie alongside his real-life wife, Emily Blunt. The plot of this 90-minute film consists of a family of four and their fight for survival against intensely terrifying creatures that hunt through sound. They must carry out their day-to-day activities in complete silence or run the risk of being hunted and killed. Bryan Woods and Scott Beck started working on the story for the film back in 2014. Paramount Pictures later bought their script in 2017. After that, Krasinksi joined the team as a director and wrote the final draft of the script.

Here is the breakdown of the plot:

The film is based in the future, 2020. By this time, most of Earth’s human population has been killed by blind creatures that use their hypersensitive hearing abilities for hunting. Not only do they use their hearing to their advantage but they also use their indestructible shells to protect them from anyone or anything brave enough to fight back. What is even more interesting about the plot is that husband, Lee Abbott, and the wife, Evelyn Abbott, have a congenitally deaf daughter named Regan. Regan is played by the 16-year-old actress, Millicent Simmonds, who is actually deaf in real life. There are also the two
younger sons Marcus and Beau. The family uses American Sign Language to communicate on a daily basis.

At the beginning of the movie, four-year-old Beau is attached to a battery operated toy that makes noise. His father takes it away from him, but Regan gives the toy back to Beau without her father knowing. One day when the family was walking through the woods, Beau was playing with the toy and activated the sound function and immediately became a target. Sadly, there was a creature nearby and Beau was killed.

A year after the incident, Regan still blames herself for her brother’s death and struggles with guilt because of it. Lee continuously tries to contact the outside world through his radio. Evelyn gets herself into an almost fatal situation when she goes into labor while alone in the house. Her water breaks and so she begins to make her way to the soundproof basement that they built in their house. She steps on a nail and accidentally drops a glass picture frame which catches the attention of a nearby creature. Evelyn knows she is in danger so she flips a light switch that changes the exterior lights of the house to red to alert others of danger.

Lee sees the lights while traveling back with his kids and tells Marcus to set off fireworks as a distraction. Lee finds his wife in the basement holding their newborn son. The baby begins to cry and that brings around another creature. Lee leaves to find the children and Evelyn eventually manages to fall asleep. Soon, she wakes up to find that the basement has been flooded due to a burst pipeline and a creature is in close range and knows exactly where she is.

While this is happening, Regan and Marcus are trying to give a signal to show their father where they are so they light a fire on top of a grain silo. A door somehow opens up and Marcus falls into the silo. He falls into the corn and looks like he is about to drown in the corn until Regan jumps in to save him. All of the noise has attracted another creature. But the two manage to survive a potential attack by hiding under the fallen hatch door. With perfect timing, Regan’s cochlear implant in her ear has some sort of reaction and gives off a super high pitched sound that scares off the creature. Thankfully, the two kids make it back to their father.

Towards the end of the movie, the creature that almost attacked Regan and Marcus returns and Lee tries to attack it with an ax. Regan and Marcus hide in a nearby truck. Marcus lets out a yell when he
sees his father getting hurt and the creature heads towards the truck. Lee then communicates to his children in sign language that he loves them right before shouting to the creature and thus sacrificing himself so that his kids can survive.

Regan and Marcus make it back to the house where they find their mother and new baby brother. Regan makes her way to the basement where she finds her dad’s research and notes on the creatures and his experiments with different hearing implants. The creature that killed Lee returns to the house and tries to get into the basement. Regan takes her implant and puts it up against a microphone to amplify the high pitched noise that worked before. The sound effectively throws the creature off guard, causing it to reveal its weakest point, the flesh under its armored head. Evelyn takes the opportunity to shoot the creature in that exact spot. They notice on their security camera that more creatures are heading towards their home. But now that they know what it takes to defeat the creatures they are at an advantage.

Now that I gave the entire film away, I bet you are wondering what is next! Yes, it has been confirmed that a sequel to the film is in progress. I mean, we need to know what happens to this family as they have just discovered the creature’s ultimate vulnerability. Critics claim this film to be a “smart, wickedly frightening good time.” This film has been given a 95% by Rotten Tomatoes, an 8/10 by IMDb, and a 4/5 by Common Sense Media. This film has successfully satisfied the public and hopefully, the sequel will follow well in its footsteps.

Mint Museum: Free Wednesday Evenings

Photo courtesy of The Mint Museum

The Mint Museum is the largest visual arts institution in Charlotte, North Carolina. There are two locations, Mint Museum Randolph and Mint Museum Uptown. Mint Museum Randolph is the
original building that opened up in 1936 in Charlotte’s historic Eastover neighborhood as the
first art museum in North Carolina. Mint Museum Uptown opened up in October 2010. If you
combine both of these locations together they hold more than 4,500 years of international human history.

Mint Museum Uptown is the home of the internationally known museum of Craft + Design, which holds
collections of American, Modern + Contemporary and European art pieces. Mint Museum Randolph is the home of galleries consisting of art from the ancient Americas, ceramics and decorative arts, fashion and European, African and Asian art. Mint Museum Uptown currently has four current exhibitions, one upcoming exhibition and three permanent collections. You can purchase an admission ticket to these exhibitions online at their website. You can also visit the website to find out when the upcoming events will be. The Mint Museum at both locations provides the public with 12-month memberships that come with great benefits. There are different membership levels for all types of guests, such as students, teachers, out of town visitors and family memberships. The benefits that come along with membership include unlimited visits to both locations, invitations to member-only exhibits, discounts at museum shops and free yoga classes every Wednesday evening at the Uptown location.

Of course, it is not required that you become a member. You can volunteer with the Mint Museum,
donate to their funding or purchase a one-time ticket to an exhibit or event of your choice. Fortunately for those who aren’t ready to make a year commitment yet or spend money on a ticket, the Mint Museum offers “Free Wednesday Evenings” to the public every Wednesday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. That means free entry to all exhibits; you just have to pay for parking. They do accept donations from those who are generous enough to offer. Donations are what allow the museum the ability to offer these free evenings every week. The front desk associates will kindly take any donation possible. I only had three dollars when I went to the Mint Museum Uptown location and they were very appreciative.

The exhibits are located on the third and fourth floor of the building. The third floor contains the Craft + Design exhibits, while the fourth floor contains the Modern + Contemporary art pieces. I thought that the exhibits were very moving. I could see the emotion captured in each photograph and painting. Some pieces left me a little puzzled but art has a lot to do with perspective and everyone is going to look at these pieces differently. Going through the exhibit felt like I was walking through a time machine. I thought it was very interesting to see pieces of art that were hundreds of years old. I liked that at every exhibit and piece of art there was a sheet of paper with information about that piece of work. I would recommend attending the “Free Wednesday Evening” events at the Mint Museum to anyone, whether they are interested in art and history or if they are looking for something fun to do on Wednesday.

ALBUM REVIEW: ‘Beerbongs and Bentleys’

Album Artwork Courtesy of Republic Records

Just one week after J. Cole released his album “K.O.D.” Post Malone immediately stole the
spotlight from him with the debut of his “Beerbongs and Bentleys” album. The album was originally
supposed to release five months earlier but Malone kept postponing the date because he was not
yet satisfied with the material and wanted to spend more time on it. This 18-track album includes the previously released track “Psycho” featuring Ty Dolla $ign, “Candy Paint” and last year’s hit “Rockstar,” a collaboration with 21 Savage. This album also includes features from Nicki Minaj, Rae Sremmurd’s Swae Lee, G-Eazy and YG. This is Malone’s second album and his first #1 album on the Billboard 200.

Malone has been hinting about this project since Dec. 29, 2016, when he changed his
Twitter alias to “Beerbongs & Bentleys.” Fans immediately began to anticipate a new song. Later, he clarified that “Beerbongs & Bentleys” was indeed the name of his next album. Malone announced the official release of the album during his Bud Light Dive Bar show in Tennesee.

During an interview, Malone spoke about how this album is better than his first album,
“Stoney.” Malone’s hot single from 2017, “Rockstar,” is said to set the tone for the entirety of
the album, with its impassive descriptions of womanizing, pill-popping and property
destruction. You can also expect some deep tracks about a past lover as well. Malone has
always had a rock feel to his music style but this latest album rocks harder than any of his
previous songs. Some would describe this album as a rap-rock genre.

Fans have been going crazy over this album since its release date. The album accrued a record
of 47,930,039 US track streams on Spotify in its first day, blowing J.Cole’s record of
36,656,086 out of the water. “Billboard is projecting this album will surpass Drake’s record for
most streams in a week (384.8 million for last years More Life) and log the biggest week for an
album since Taylor Swift debuted Reputation,” said Chris DeVille.

Angels and Demon

Photo by Daniel Coston.

The Wind Ensemble at UNC Charlotte is proudly named the most advanced organization for winds and percussion. They perform two concerts per semester on campus, both are open to all students, faculty and anyone else interested in attending. They also perform multiple concerts throughout North Carolina. All members of the Wind Ensemble must audition at the beginning of each semester during the first week of class by performing a short extract from a popular piece of music. There is a list that is provided on the University’s website. The classes are held each semester on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 12:30 p.m. to 1:45 p.m.

The members of the Wind Ensemble at UNC Charlotte perform a wide variety of music ranging from traditional to contemporary. They aim to broaden their artistic level and interest in music while performing both new music and music of historical relevance. These performances include instruments from the woodwind variety, brass and percussion families of instruments, along with the double bass or bass guitar. On rare occasions, additional non-traditional instruments may be added to such ensembles such as piano, harp, synthesizer or electric guitar.

On Monday, April 30, The UNC Charlotte Wind Ensemble presented “Angels and Demons,” at 7:30 p.m. This performance took place at Belk Theater in Robinson Hall. The concert included a special guest performance by the North Lincoln High School Wind Ensemble. This concert was directed by Dr. Shawn Smith and led by Kevin Still, a UNC Charlotte alumnus. The pieces of music that were performed by North Lincoln High School Wind Ensemble were “Ampartio Rocca,” “The Wizard of Oz” and “Ignition.” The pieces of music that were performed by the UNC Charlotte Wind Ensemble were “Xerxes: A Concert March,” “Lonely Beach,” “Angels in the Architecture” and “Rolling Thunder.” Some of these pieces of music that were performed date back to the early 1940’s.

Smith is the Director of Bands and Associate Professor of Conducting. Smith holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in instrumental conducting from Arizona State University, a Master’s degree of Music from Louisiana State University and a Bachelor’s degree of Music Education from Boise State University. Before his time at UNC Charlotte, Smith spent eight years as Director of Bands at Texas A&M University.

Kevin Still serves at the Director of Bands at North Lincoln High School in Lincolnton, North Carolina. He teaches Wind Ensemble, Symphonic band, “Band of Knights” Marching Band, Jazz Band and Pit Orchestras. The North Lincolnton band program consists of over 160 students and is supported by parents and booster clubs. Still holds a Bachelor in Music in Music Education from UNC Charlotte. He is currently pursuing his Master’s in Music Education at Texas Tech University.

The UNC Charlotte Band program is on its third year on campus and consists of over 200 students. The bands have been invited to perform at many places around Charlotte, including for the Carolina Panthers. The members hope to continue sharing their love for the performing arts around Charlotte and beyond.

The Wiz: A New Kind of Oz

Photo by Daniel Coston.

On Monday, April 23, the doors of the Belk Theater in Robinson Hall opened up to the public for the production of “The Wiz.” This performance was presented by the Department of Theatre at UNC Charlotte. “The Wiz” is a modern twist on the classic 1900’s children’s novel, “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.” This version incorporates a contemporary urban feel with a combination of gospel, rap and soul music genres. This was the third and final sold out performance of “The Wiz” at UNC Charlotte. “The Wiz” was directed by James Vesce and included a cast of about 33 students. Some students played multiple roles throughout this play.

In the original book, “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” it begins with a young farm girl named Dorothy getting swept away from her home in Kansas by a terrible storm. This is still the case in “The Wiz.” One difference is that the modern Dorothy is from Brooklyn. In the original story, Dorothy’s house gets swept up and taken to the magical Land of Oz. Dorothy’s house lands on top of and kills the Wicked Witch of the East. The Good Witch of the North comes to greet Dorothy and gives her the magic slippers that used to belong to the Wicked Witch. All of this is still generally the same in “The Wiz,” except the house doesn’t fall on the Wicked Witch; it is Dorothy’s refrigerator that lands on the Witch.

The Good Witch tells Dorothy that the only way she can return home is if she travels to Emerald City to speak with the Wizard of Oz. Dorothy sets out on her journey and comes across a few friends on the way. Just like in the original story, “The Wiz” has the Scarecrow, Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion join Dorothy on her journey to Emerald City. Each character is looking for something missing in their life and they plan to find that missing element when they meet Oz. Oz said that the only way he will help them is if they kill the Wicked Witch of the West. Determined to get home, Dorothy along with her new friends, set out to take care of the Wicked Witch of the West.

After a battle between the Wicked Witch and her personal slaves against Dorothy and her friends, Dorothy heroically throws water at the Wicked Witch, not knowing that water is the only thing that could defeat the Witch. The Witch falls to the ground and her slaves rejoice with freedom.

The group traveled back to see Oz and tell him that the Wicked Witch has been defeated once and for all. There, they find that Oz is a fake and not a magical wizard at all. He is a man that just wanted power, prestige and money. So one day he went up in an air balloon and happened to land in the Munchkin Country. The people of the country were so amazed and thought he was a God sent from above so they immediately made him their leader.

Dorothy and her friends said that they would be his friend and help him become a better person. In return, Oz gave each character what they were searching for. The Scarecrow got some brains. The Tin Man got a heart. The Cowardly Lion got some courage. And all Dorothy had to do to get home was tap her heels three times; Dorothy returns home and has a new found appreciation for her family and home.

There were many noticeable differences in this modern play compared to the original book and movie. The songs had a strong gospel feel to them. There were a couple scenes where a screen was showing bits and pieces of President Trump on the news, celebrities on the red carpet and other controversial footage. There were also other scenes that included masks of past presidents including Barack Obama and George Bush. Glinda, a character in the play was dressed in a way that ironically resembled Hilary Clinton.

In the program book that was handed out before guests took their seats to watch the performance, there is a section in the program notes that gives some background information on this play. There were many theories that the original story was a parable on Populism. Critics suggested that the tornado in the story represented the Populist movement taking over the state. The Wicked Witch of the East symbolized evil East Coast financiers. The Munchkins were the “little people” enslaved by them. The fight over the silver slippers that Dorothy was wearing represented the demand over the gold standard and use of silver coin.

“Oz” has been studied over and over again and new perspectives and theories have surfaced. I think that the cast of “The Wiz” did a great job at capturing and imitating current topics in the world. The way the characters acted and presented themselves was crafted in a way that today’s generation could relate and even find comical aspects. This play has received seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical and Best Score.