Not Another Teen Movie (2001)

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Not Another Teen Movie (2001) is an American teen comedy film, directed by Joel Gallen. Not Another Teen Movie is ALSO a prime reminder that just because a movie is popular does not have to mean it is of quality. This film was a collaboration of the best teen movies from the 90s and 2000s pulverized into a train wreck of a parody. I do not even want to begin explaining the plot as you would be here until next Tuesday reading it.

The movie lacks any robust or complete aesthetic; a combination of amateur acting with a story line that goes in 90 directions at once only has the ability to appeal to viewers that have already seen the movies being parodied for ANYTHING to make a stitch of sense. While the film is hilarious in a “cringey” way, the story was written in hopes of intertwining each hit teen movie from the last two decades. Instead, producers came up with a story that is simply too sloppy with no other aspect to make up for it. The characters are all 100% unoriginal which is typical for a parody movie, but Not Another Teen Movie appeared tasteless with scenes that almost mock the art in the successful teen movies. The movie has relatively no deep meaning or meaning at all.

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The only social/cultural issues that could be resonated are the life of a teenager; the teenage life is messy, confused, and way too sexually active. Actually the theme of this movie might exactly be the life of a teenager. The production value tried its best to imitate the art in the successful movies. Movies such as Cruel Intentions (1999) (a personal favorite of mine), Bring It On (2000), American Pie (1999), and others are parodied upon, but the production value left viewer assuming this film was mocking all of those iconic films.

The debut tagline for this film was “If You Liked Scary Movie, who gives a shit.” Nice.

 

Beatfulness App (2016)

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Beatfulness is a health/fitness/music app created by Benjamin Araque that aids in daily meditation, and is available at the iTunes store. Beatfulness aids consumers in daily meditation through the use of binaural beats combined with visuals to help the listener reach deep states of relaxation. Depending on how focused the listener is on relaxing, binaural beats and isochronic tone builders combined with the proper visuals have the ability to tune your brain to the mood you desire. The theory behind binaural beats is that if you apply slightly different frequency sine waves to each ear, a similar beating effect is imitated in brain waves as well. Eventually, the listeners mind will naturally synchronize with the beat frequency. According to a survey conducted by www.mobbo.com, 29% of Beatfulness users are between the ages of 25-34, 26% are ages 18-24, 22% are ages 35-44, and the last 22% of users are 45 or older. Interestingly enough, the survey results also show 53% of users are female, and 74% of users utilize this app strictly on their mobile device.

I found the style and layout of the app to be tastefully artistic in a minimalist fashion. The small chunky square window for the app presents a sacred geometric mandala design posted 2-dimensionally on a blank white backdrop. The minimalist style is extremely helpful to the user for navigating the app, making every kind of meditation totally laid out for no-fuss finds. Each category has its own custom mandala pattern associated with it, yet again making the app clearly accessible. While the app does offer a simple and direct aesthetic, it is also quite bare regarding personalization of each respective mediation experience. While the minimalism makes it easy to locate different meditation options, personalization does not go beyond the ordering of meditation topics. There does not seem to be a way to customize each categories actual music, though it is assumed the app creators have already picked the ideal music and visual combination for each meditation experience.

Once you open the app, the interface experience begins with a small geometric mandala twirling for a few seconds until the main menu of meditation opens. The categories of meditation are ordered by the amount of Hz the music has, in this respective order:

 

Deep Sleep (432 Hz)

Third Eye Activation (432 Hz)

DNA Healing (432 Hz)

Chakra Healing (432 Hz)

Study (528 Hz)

Chakra Activation (528 Hz)

Healing Sounds (528 Hz)

Pineal Gland Activation (528 Hz)

Learning and Memory (528 Hz)

Concentration (648 Hz)

Focus and Creativity (648 Hz)

Lucid Dreaming (648 Hz)

Kundalini Activation (741 Hz)

Confidence (963 Hz)

Deep Relaxation (963 Hz)

Astral Projection (963 Hz)

 

The experience is navigated based on what kind of meditation experience the listener is preferring. Personally, I am an avid user of this app and I only use the Deep Sleep and Study options, however the app offers a plethora of categories to aid a listener in having the most relevant experience possible.

Instead of discussing societal impacts of this application, I believe it to be more relevant to talk about the medical benefits of this app first and foremost. Hypnosis and meditation have proven to be widely accepted practices among those who lead the Holistic medicine world; the amount of options for meditation, on the Beatfulness app specifically, offer natural treatment for psychological impairments such as but not limited to insomnia, anxiety, depression, ADHD/ADD, Alzheimer’s, dementia, and mania disorders. In certain cases, hypnosis and meditation can replace a prescription from a pharmacy in treating a psychological disorder. The Beatfulness app can often times prevent psychological disorders from manifesting physically. Unfortunately, meditation does require intense focus from the listener in order for the binaural beats to be effective. Once the listener can master the art of focusing on relaxing, the benefits from Beatfulness are unmeasurable.

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I found this app to be unique in a way that it offers a wide range of meditation episodes; there is a topic that almost anyone can benefit from. This app is unique due to how it effects the human brain. Television shows, movies, websites, and even other apps in today’s society tend to only effect a viewer for a limited amount of time. This app is different in a way that the benefits from meditation can build on themselves and overflow into other aspects of one’s life. This app also has the ability to treat and cure psychological disorders, through scientifically measured binaural beats, special music, and mellow visuals. The only catalyst in this equation is the listener’s ability to focus, which ultimately determines how effective the app is on an individual level. Perhaps an improvement in science regarding hypnosis tactics can help listeners who are not able to focus initially with ease. One notable thought is the age range that this app appeals to. There are virtually no users under the age of 18, leaving this app with a limited audience as opposed to appealing to all age groups on life.

In conclusion, the Beatfulness app created by Benjamin Araque has a high quality aesthetic appeal. The app has diversity, is easy to navigate, and generates no stress to use. I believe Beatfulness opens new doors for the application world in a way of being medically relevant. This app goes beyond social media, beyond music playlists, and beyond the limited arsenal of video games that we keep on our phones. This app offers benefits, even when the app is not in use. I look forward to seeing more apps adopt this idea of being medically relevant (and expansions in scientific hypnosis) in the near future!

The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016)

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The Autopsy of Jane Doe is an art house/horror film set in modern day suburbia about a father and son team of coroners who were expecting another normal night at the morgue that they operated together. Until, that is, an unidentified female corpse (Jane Doe) is found in the basement of a gruesomely murdered family and is brought into their morgue for autopsy. The body of Jane Doe appeared to be alarmingly preserved after being dug up from the dirt, with no visible harm on the corpse what so ever. The entire film takes place over the course of one night, where the father and son work all night to determine Jane Doe’s official cause of death. As the night drags on, the father and son begin to slowly uncover the disturbing secrets that Jane Doe’s corpse presents. The autopsy revels Jane Doe had no visible damage on the exterior, but her interior displayed a multitude of grisly torture methods such as a detached tongue, torched lungs, a script stuffed down her throat with cryptic writing on it, several scars on the inside of her body, and many other signs of merciless torture. As they piece together the mysteries inside of Jane Doe, disturbing events lead the coroners to believe Jane Doe may not actually be as dead as she appears.

The producers of this movie have tastefully framed the genre of horror in a very artistic way. The aesthetic value centers around making the unbelievable feel genuinely terrifying. The producers set this up in a way of making the entire movie take place in a morgue, a societal structure that literally wreaks of death. The producers of this film have paid heavy attention to detail; in the first act of the film a small detail is mentioned that they tie bells around the toes of the dead bodies to make sure they are actually dead (any horror flick fan would know that detail foreshadows creepy feels to come).

A few points to be praised in this film include the role of music, sound effects, and color especially. During the first half of the movie, there appears to be no musical value. However, once the autopsy is in motion, the sole radio sitting in the autopsy room begins to glitch, and static consumes the speakers as the music shifts on its own as a result of Jane Doe being scalped open for internal examination. The music switches from light rock to folk music, while the lyrics remain up beat. But additional sound effects over the overly upbeat music implies something, whatever it may be, has arrived. An unseen presence is introduced through shifts in music with sound effects overlaid to create an unsettling aura which appears peaceful, but disturbs even the most stable and realistic viewers. The hue of the film remains dark and ominous, creating that unhinged feeling that something you could never imagine is about to happen and this film surely delivers in that aspect. All of these positive traits in this horror film make the abrupt ending more forgivable, as the first 60 minutes of the film possess this beautifully crafted aesthetic that seems to fall off at the climax. Once the climax is reached, the film loses quite a bit of its aesthetic value robustly. The one aspect that remained constant however was the use of music all the way until the last scene of the movie; the music helps heighten the creepy vibes by keeping it consistent, even though the cinematography kind of drops off at the end abruptly. The lack of diversity especially during the climax almost makes the film somewhat anti-climatic. Throughout the entire film, there are only two main characters and two minor characters. The simplicity of this movie worked, all the way up until the end when the ending shoves way too much information at the viewers. I can see how this kind of ending can be especially stressful in an annoying way to a viewer that does not have any background knowledge of witchcraft or Salem, MA. The ending and final 20 minutes of the film could have been delivered a little more carefully, ensuring a tasteful and effective climax.

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The Autopsy of Jane Doe is structured in a way that the build up of tension pretty much dominates the entire movie but has a seemingly rushed ending. I would have appreciated to see the producers take their time on the ending, as they did a fantastic job creating the kind of tension that made you think “when will this be over already” in an anxiety-provoking way. Personally, I love horror films but found myself turning away multiple times because I couldn’t stomach what was on the screen.

Overall, the film’s artistic way of telling an audience “there is more than meets the eye” is aesthetically uncanny and brilliant. While this was not Emile Hirsch’s best work acting wise, the entire film suggests evil can lurk anywhere and be disguised as anything and you never know when it might run into you.

 

 

 

 

Shut Up and Dance

 

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Black Mirror is a British television anthology series focusing on dark motifs that are recurring in modern day society; specifically regarding rapid technological advancements and the media. Each episode of Black Mirror seems to be particularly designed to present viewers with the “alternate reality”, showing what is eventually prone to happen if one person makes the wrong mistake. A wild hurricane of violence and demented satire helps provide the escapist with an outlet, and the realist with nightmares. This series was crafted in a way to erase the line between fiction and reality, and make viewers question their own preconceptions of society and reality. Black Mirror also highlights the exploration of personal grief, and has a delicate way of transforming on-screen violence into sentimental suffering.

The episode titled “Now Shut Up and Dance”, belonging to season 3, is about a teenage boy named Kenny who is blackmailed and forced to play a disturbing game of “Would You Rather” via text message with an anonymous entity. After being bullied heavily at work, school, and home, Kenny returns to his bedroom that same day to find his laptop hacked by an anonymous source. This source had hacked Kenny’s webcam, and obtained video proof that threatens Kenny’s teenage existence. Kenny immediately begins receiving anonymous text messages encouraging him to obey the commands given to him, for if he does not obey, his personal content would be posted virally and Kenny’s social construct and life would seemingly collapse. Kenny is desperate from the jump to protect himself (from teenage humiliation of course) so naturally he obeys every anonymous command, no matter how inhumane or immoral they became. It is not until the end of the episode that things take a dark and unexpected twist for Kenny, while the floor is ripped from underneath viewers at home simultaneously. Kenny is promised that if he completes the final order, his identity and secrets are safe. The final order instructs Kenny to battle to the death with a stranger for no apparent reason while a drone with a video camera flew overhead and recorded it. As Kenny prepares to kill a stranger, a grown man twice his size, viewers are left desperately wondering “why would a teenage boy caught touching himself on a web camera commit murder?”. It is then revealed to the viewers that Kenny and the stranger are both in fact child molesters; anonymous hackers have filmed Kenny, said stranger, and a plethora of other strangers viewing and engaging in child pornography via internet. After the final deed is complete, Kenny drags himself half beaten to death out of the forest. Even though he is dying, he is content because he was promised his secret was now safe. The last scene of the episode begins with Kenny receiving a phone call from his mother. As soon as Kenny answers, he learns his secret was exposed anyway, to his mother and to the rest of the social media world.

The aesthetic qualities of this show are at an all time high in my opinion; the show began in 2011 allowing producers to utilize more advanced editing software and technology. The production of this episode in particular appears to be the most grounded or realistic situation regarding what is happening in the world right now. The production value for this series is extremely high. Objects are perfectly arranged in each frame, almost as if they stack on top of one another to create an aesthetically pleasing motion picture. Images are processed in what appears to be an ominous pale blue, alluding to the fact that the end of the episode surely would take a dark cold turn. Many isolated and abrupt noises contribute to the on-edge feeling the viewers have for Kenny, watching a seemingly innocent teenager being held at anonymous mercy. The dialogue of the episode is definitely lacking, but for a brilliant reason. The use of long pauses and silence allows the viewers to speculate and reflect on the events happening to Kenny. I think the purpose of the lack of dialogue in this episode is to allow the viewer to form their own feelings for Kenny and his situation.

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The episode is structured in a way to allow viewers to form a bridge between reality and fiction in the show, and aggregately reality and fiction in real life. Kenny’s character is first presented in a way that evokes pity and sympathy from most viewers, as we watch this poor kid who gets bullied get dragged by a metaphorical upper hand. Many people in society can directly relate to that statement alone. The viewer spends majority of the episode forming a deep, almost personal, sympathy for Kenny and wishes they could do something to save Kenny from all forms of torment that he is being served. Until the last few scenes, at least. Once the audience finds out Kenny is a child molester, the viewer feels an automatic instant wave of shock and guilt. The guilt can be alluded to the viewer realizing they have been sympathizing for a child molester this whole time, heightened by a very misleading plot. Conflict is almost presented silently; the silence allows viewers to fill in the blanks in their head with tweaked interpretations. While it is a demented twist to the plot for sure, I found the most disturbing aspect of this episode and Black Mirror overall to be the presentation of violence. First, the violence is deemed as necessary to protect the greater good in nearly every episode. However, no violence or atrocious deed is ACTUALLY filmed or included in any frame on camera. The violence is, in my opinion, purposely excluded but not because it is considered obscene. If we can hear the violence, we want to SEE it. Audio representation of the violence is provided, but never any visuals. The dangerously curious nature of humans can directly parallel to social media construct and how everyone is interested in everyones business; the producers made that grim connection themselves between violence and social media. This curiosity about violence is a showcase display of raw human nature. All of these motifs create dramatic tension that is nearly always hard to swallow.

The one value supported in this episode is perseverance, which is generally assumed to be a positive value… except when a child molester is the one with the perseverance. And especially when that perseverance led Kenny to commit murder. The integrity of Kenny shows to be undermined by the fact that watching child pornography is what he enjoys doing. All decency flushes out during the last 10 minutes of the episode. Accountability is placed into Kenny’s hands when the anonymous upper hand “lied”, and exposed the truth to Kenny’s mother and the rest of the world. It is at this time that Kenny is left with the social responsibility of being a disgraceful excuse of a human being. He is also left with the responsibility of committing murder, all to protect himself. The consequences child predators face in todays society are unforgiving; butthe first 50 minutes of the episode were crafted in a way to make Kenny appear (to the viewing audience) just as humane as you or I.

This episode in particular really displays the black mirror facing Kenny’s life and our own life as well. The TV series tends to blur the line between right and wrong in a brilliant light through use of long pauses and silence, with the most prominent aspect of the episode being the unknown….But do we even really want to know? I can’t help but feel like social media just might enhance  pure human evil. This series is an 11/10 in my opinion.