Time Springs Forward, Heights Rewinds 'Heights' editors and staffers go back in time to discuss cinematic and sonic success of decades passed.

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ach March, people all around the world do something peculiar: We collectively enter into a pact to lose an hour of sleep (a pact that is quite troubling for college students who are recovering from spring break vacation). We essentially alter time, reset clocks to be an hour forward, and usher in the looming sunshine-saturated summer days, even when it’s still snowing in Boston.

But what if we could collectively enter into an agreement to go back in time? Time travel has historically acted as a seemingly impossible scientific moonshot and an ever-present pop culture phenomenon (think Back to the Future, Donnie Darko, or even “Year 3000” by the Jonas Brothers). The opportunity to travel back in time is an exciting prospect for many who feel that they had missed out on a musical era or cinematic moment that was made just for them. In honor of daylight saving time, The Heights decided to take matters into its own hands and send readers back in time by recounting the sonic and cinematic success of years long passed.

‘Rumors’ – Fleetwood Mac, 1977

Emily Himes, Assoc. Arts Editor

Warner Bros. Records

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umours is quite possibly one of the most timeless records ever released. The album, replete with a cohesive air of mystique that ties each song to the next, still features an impressively dynamic collection of music. The heavy bassline sounds of “The Chain” are dramatically different from the light and airy picking heard throughout “Never Going Back Again,” but both are easily recognizable pieces of Rumours.

Ultimately, Rumours is held together by two key aspects: John McVie on the bass and Mick Fleetwood on the drums. The two carry a significantly strong and steady rhythm that marches through much of the record, from “Don’t Stop” to “The Chain” to “Gold Dust Woman.” The duo gives the album a sense of stability, despite its otherwise chaotic undertones and overall theme.

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ny sort of commentary on Rumours wouldn’t be complete without noting its incredibly desperate lyrical theme: broken hearts and betrayal. It’s the poster child for the ultimate breakup album—it’s the Tapestry and Blood on the Tracks that still proves as resonant and popular today as it was in 1977. It continues to inspire and console us over 40 years later—we probably trust the album far too much when it comes to providing reassuring comfort. But Fleetwood Mac should know a thing or two about heartbreak—at the time of Rumoursrelease, the band was in the throes of ultimate drama. When the album was written, Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham, longtime couple and both integral parts of the band, had just broken up. On top of it, Christine and John McVie had just gotten divorced, and Fleetwood began having an affair with Nicks the same year. It’s pretty impressive the album was written at all.

Rumours doubles as one of rock music’s timeless releases and a collection of songs that provides solace to people (and horses) of all ages going through countless different trials and tribulations. The album itself is a messy, complicated, cathartic release that somehow got tied together with a bow. The album has persisted in popularity for decades and likely will for many more. As long as life is complicated and people keep cheating on each other, Rumours will have a place on our playlists (and in our hearts!).

‘The Last Waltz’ – The Band, 1978

Jacob Schick, A1 Editor

Capitol Records

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hat better way to kick back and relax than with a four-hour live concert album? After 16 years on the road—as The Hawks, as Bob Dylan’s backing band, and finally as itself—The Band decided to go out with a bang. Its last concert appearance as the true iteration of the band, performed at the Winterland Ballroom, was recorded on vinyl as The Last Waltz.

As one of the most influential folk rock bands to have ever existed, The Band is always worth listening to. Music from Big Pink, The Band, Stage Fright, and other albums are all standout records. But what differentiates The Last Waltz from the band’s other work is its list of featured artists.

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little background is necessary. For their last concert appearance, the members of The Band invited all of their friends. But they didn’t just give them seats to watch—and they certainly weren’t ordinary friends. The friends of The Band got to perform onstage with them at the farewell concert. Artists like Neil Young, Muddy Waters, Eric Clapton, Dr. John, Ringo Starr, Van Morrison, and Dylan are all present on various tracks. It’s like they got some of the best folk-rock (Americana if you like) artists together for one big concert. But this doesn’t shift the focus away from The Band and its members. You can still clearly hear Rick Danko, Richard Manuel, Robbie Robertson, and Levon Helm as clearly as always. (Fun fact: The concert was also recorded on film and turned into an incredible documentary by Martin Scorsese. So watch that too.)

The Last Waltz is a very emotional album, if you know the history of The Band. For example, the last song in the main set of the concert is “I Shall Be Released.” For this performance, The Band is joined by Ringo Starr and Dylan. Dylan’s appearance is heartwarming—The Band got part of its start touring with him, and he wrote the lyrics to this song (which it included on its very first album, Music from Big Pink). So to send off its concert with such an early song, singing alongside the original lyricist and friend of the group is a very sentimental aspect of the album. And with lyrics like “I see the light come shining / From the west down to the east / Any day now, any day now / I shall be released,” there’s no better way to end a show like this.

‘Heathers’ – Michael Lehmann, 1989

Jillian Ran, Asst. Arts Editor

New World Pictures

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mong the sunnier, more earnest high school movies that reigned supreme during the ’80s, Heathers stands apart as a cynical satire of teenage dynamics. Provocative even for its time, there’s no doubt that anything like it could be produced today.

The film follows a clever teenage girl, Veronica Sawyer (Winona Ryder), who is dissatisfied with her superficial friendships with the three most popular girls in school, the titular Heathers. She falls in love with bad boy outsider J.D. (Christian Slater), and the couple proceeds to wreak havoc in the school, staging a series of murders disguised as suicides in order to get revenge on their tormentors.

Heathers is merciless in the way that it exposes the hypocrisy of high school life. In one of its most ironic twists, the shallow, cruel characters who are murdered become even more popular after their deaths, and their classmates’ memory of them transforms them into more complex personalities than they ever were. “I love my dead, gay son!” proclaims a football player’s father at his funeral, mistakenly believing that the stereotypical dumb jock was some sort of tragic martyr. When a lonely, frequent target of bullying attempts suicide, she is criticized as just another follower trying to be like the popular kids.

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odern-day viewers will recognize familiar hallmarks of high school movies in Heathers—there are varsity jacket-clad jocks, hazy-eyed stoners, and a trio of mean girls. Yet there’s also an absurd element in the movie that creates a strange, almost dreamy atmosphere. The characters use a fictitious lingo instead of real teen slang, listen to a fake band whose smash hit is called “Teenage Suicide (Don’t Do It),” and spend an inordinate amount of their free time playing croquet.

Heathers, Slater’s breakout film, cemented his rebellious heartthrob image. In a post-Columbine world, viewers will likely view J.D.’s psychopathic musings and ever-present overcoat with more than a little skepticism, but removed from this context, there’s an undeniable charm to his character. Like the rest of the students populating Westerberg High, he’s an easily recognizable archetype: the motorcycle-riding rebel who’s above it all. Slater brings his own unique traits to the character with his raspy voice, Nicholson-esque eyebrows and wild, jerky hand gestures. Ryder, too, imbues Veronica with plenty of pathos, although Heathers certainly isn’t her best work.

For fans of ’80s movies who are tired of rewatching The Breakfast Club, Heathers offers something with a little more bite. While at times more than a little on the nose, Heathers wicked sense of humor is still just as sharp 30 years later.

‘Paul’s Boutique’ – Beastie Boys, 1989

Danny Flynn, Copy Chief

Def Jam Recordings

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ith the release of their 1986 Licensed to Ill, the Beastie Boys of New York City had their music dismissed by the greater hip-hop community and music critics as frat-hop fodder. They weren’t wrong to do so—the album was a commercial success but its simple beats and puerile lyrics did little for their mission to be recognized as giants in the hot genre. Still to this day, that album carries the charm of three geeks from Brooklyn laying down their cheeky adventures on an easygoing track, but the trio clearly wanted to set themselves apart in the genre.

Enter 1989’s Paul’s Boutique, a trailblazing masterpiece laden with cultural references on steroids and a number of samples only legally feasible before Grand Upright Music, Ltd. v. Warner Bros. Records Inc.

In creating Paul’s Boutique, the Beastie Boys and the Dust Brothers revolutionized the art of production, particularly in multi-layered sampling—apart from the Beastie Boys’ rapping, nearly every sound on the album is sampled, drawing from 105 different songs for a 15-track album.  The album’s end bookmark “B-Boy Bouillabaisse” boasts 24 samples alone.

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he popular “Shake Your Rump” weaves 17 samples into the three-minute tune and shifts moods with each different clip—from a funk feel in an exclamation by Funky Four Plus One (“It’s the Joint!”) to the mellow sound of a rip from the group’s bong, affectionately identified by MCA as the Big Blue Bong. The sound of a shotgun blast plays immediately after.

Just as iconic as the samples are the lyrics that could star in a Genius.com contributor’s wet dream. Nearly every stanza features a quip referencing pop culture—modern or dated, obvious or subtle. In “Shadrach,” the group makes an obvious reference to Kentucky Fried Chicken (“Got the girlies in the Coupe like the Colonel’s got the chickens”) and, in the same song, cements their unusual place in the hip-hop game in their lyric “Music for all, not just one people / And now we’re gonna bust with the Putney Swope sequel.” The Robert Downey Sr.-directed 1969 satirical flick follows a black executive who removes all but one white member from his advertising firm. A trio of MCs of Jewish heritage rightfully draws surprise from the hip-hop community, but the Beastie Boys assure that, like that one white guy in Putney Swope, they remain and will continue to do their thing for a reason.

‘Is This It’ – The Strokes, 2001

Kaylie Ramirez, Arts Editor

RCA Records

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he year is 2001. Your hair is greasy from all the sweat that accumulated at a packed show at CBGB last nite (oh, baby, I feel so down), and your Converse have acquired yet another layer of sticky, cheap beer. The liquor laws in New York City are but a mere suggestion because NYC cops, they ain’t too smart. Your cigarette dangles in between your dirty fingers, threatening to fall as you stumble in the garbage-lined streets of Manhattan. And this is it.

The Strokes anthologized their precious, anything-goes New York with the short and oh so sweet three words “is this it” just in time for that vision to fade in the space of a New York minute. Is This It really is it—the last rock ’n’ roll album. Never again would a band with such sharp lyrics and such vicious riffs find a time and place so perfect to sink their teeth into.

 

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ugged recording made for a sound that Julian Casablancas likened to “your favorite blue jeans—not totally destroyed, but worn-in, comfortable” when describing his vision to the album’s producer, Gordon Raphael. From the purposefully imperfect recording style to Casablancas’ almost conversational lyrical delivery, the album sounds as if it’s being frantically relayed from the other end of a cell phone call with a longtime friend. Throughout the whole call, there’s an air of familiarity, an immediate understanding of the other person on the line—even when Casablancas’ slurred words are obscured by Fabrizio Moretti’s raucous background noise.

With the same don’t-give-a-f—k attitude of The Ramones on “Alone, Together” and the instant classic kick of “American Girl” on “Last Nite” (Casablancas admitted that Albert Hammond Jr.’s guitar riff was in fact stolen from Tom Petty in an interview with Rolling Stone.), Is This It immediately stood apart from its contemporaries. Oscillating between Nirvana-level discontent (“Is This It”) and chaotic complacency (“Barely Legal”), The Strokes took a cocktail of competing drugs and mixed it into one healthy dose of garage rock rebellion for an otherwise unresponsive rock scene. Try it once and you’ll like it, try to hide it—say, we’ve been doing this for 18 years.

‘The Room’ – Tommy Wiseau, 2003

Stephanie Liu, Copy Editor

Tommy Wiseau

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hat is the best legacy a movie can leave? A 100 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes? All the Oscars? No. What really makes a movie spectacular is its cultural impact, even 16 years after its release. The masterpiece The Room—written, directed, and acted by triple threat Tommy Wiseau—left its mark in the history of Western cinema as the ultimate movie that is so bad that it ironically becomes a work of genius.

Beyond the dialogue that would barely make it past the third-grade level, the random side plots that never get resolved (How is Lisa’s mother doing with the cancer? THE AUDIENCE DESERVES TO KNOW!), and random football playing, the real star of the movie is Wiseau as Johnny, a man who loves nothing more than his fiancé Lisa (Juliette Danielle). Wiseau’s performance is at once emotionless and hilarious, as his robotic, dubbed over voice (as Wiseau could not remember the short, choppy lines that he himself wrote) delivers beautiful lines, like “Chicken, Peter, you’re just a little chicken. Cheep, cheep, cheep, cheep, cheep!” His ghastly pale countenance and disheveled long hair is a stark contrast from the more naturally skin-toned cast, and his suit constantly seems two sizes too big for him, adding to the unintentional comedic tone.

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eyond the main plot, nothing else makes coherent sense in the movie. Character relationships are blurred and confusing—Denny (Philip Haldiman), a youngish boy, seems at times like a son to Lisa and Johnny, but later confesses to Johnny that he is also in love with Lisa. People wander in and out of the room that gives name to the movie randomly and bring up random plots that are only mentioned once, with no context and no further explanation. The entire movie leaves audiences wondering whether the movie is actually a drama or in fact an ingenious work of dark comedy.

You can argue the prestige of The Room all you want, but what other movie on this list has achieved a level of greatness to have an Oscar-nominated movie, The Disaster Artist, made about it? The movie that graced the world with such memes as “You’re tearing me apart, Lisa!” and “Oh, hi Mark!” has definitely left a resounding impact on our cultural legacy.

‘The Devil Wears Prada’ – David Frankel, 2006

Grace Mayer, Heights Staff

20th Century Fox

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he Devil Wears Prada tells the story of Andy Sachs (Anne Hathaway), an aspiring journalist swept into the fashion world after she is hired as Miranda Presley’s (Meryl Streep) assistant, the editor-in-chief of Runway. It’s the film’s Vogue equivalent, the fashion magazine worshipped by millions of girls—but Andy isn’t one of them.  

This movie’s portrayal of women within the fashion industry, depictions masterfully played by Hathaway, Streep and Emily Blunt, are not soft-spoken, gentle female presences—they’re brazen, driven, career-oriented, relentless, and effortlessly strutting in their Jimmy Choo heels.  But it’s the devil herself, Miranda, who enhances the film as she is simultaneously feared and admired. Streep’s choice to speak with a soft inflection compels characters to lean in, forever forcing others to bend to her will, villainizing her character. Behind the strength of this female army, the sinister side of the industry is interwoven within the very couture they revere.  

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he film’s portrayal of the industry is polarizing, and characters flaunt its exclusivity by ostracizing people like Andy who don’t fit their fashion standards. Andy is body-shamed for her weight, and work-friend Nigel (Stanley Tucci) nicknames her “Six,” a jabbing reminder of Andy’s dress-size.  But the characters’ discussions around weight and physical appearance have stayed in the 2000s: Today, cries of body positivity and self-love are mantras splashed across every media platform.

In spite of its sardonic commentary on body image, the film is remarkable in its costume choices. It’s a film that epitomizes the early 2000s fashion in all its gaudy glory: Chunky belts, bootcut pants, newsboy caps, and large plastic sunglasses decorate Andy’s frame and face as she grows in her fashion transformation.  As Andy climbs higher in Miranda’s favor, she is confronted with choices that turn her over to “the Darkside” of fashion, to the point where Miranda starts to recognize herself in Andy.

‘Back to Black’- Amy Winehouse, 2006

Gio Lavoile, Heights Staff

Universal Music Group

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n his 2015 documentary, Amy, director Asif Kapadia provides us with an image of Amy Winehouse that many did not see: Through candid photography and the aid of her close friends and loved ones, the audience is able to see Winehouse as a genuine artist, infatuated with her work but trapped in the complex and dangerous minefield of popularity. Fame is a wild thing, one that can improve or hurt one’s life drastically, as we’ve seen through Winehouse and her fellow member of the 27 club—the group of artists and other public figures who died at the age of 27—Kurt Cobain.

Winehouse was constantly lambasted by the media, portrayed as a fool and a lower class singer who could not handle the fame, and a horrible alcoholic. She was never able to achieve the peace that she sought, and, like many of her contemporaries who left us too soon, the question of what she could have been, and what music she could have gone on to make, will always linger. But, even before she passed, Winehouse left us with a masterpiece in Back to Black, her second and final studio album, released in 2006.

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ack to Black is an immaculate work of R&B, an ode to the pop and soul of the ’50s and ’60s and Motown sound, brought together with the aid of producer Mark Ronson. Through her lyrics, Winehouse provides listeners with a candid look into her life, detailing the ups and downs of addiction, love, and fame. Album opener “Rehab,” one of her most significant songs, is an upbeat tale of Winehouse fighting her demons, coming to terms with addiction, and, sadly, concluding in strong self-assuredness that she’ll be alright. The album is riddled with personal tales, detailing her tumultuous love life, as she expresses bitterness and cynicism toward love on the wonderfully moving tracks “Back to Black,” “You Know I’m No Good,” and “Love is a Losing Game.”

Winehouse narrates the album with the kind of frank and eye-opening lyricism that caused so many fans to fall in love with her music. The album is riddled with that same strong defiance and belief that, through it all, she’ll emerge okay, which only adds a tragic element to the music in retrospect. Back to Black is a wonderful album, drenched in soul and pop, as well as a brutally candid tale of a woman trying to find happiness in life. It is not just a beautiful listen, but a tragic example of a complex, once-in-a-generation artist, victimized by the invasive society we live in, passing before the world could see what else she had in store.

‘Casino Royale’ – Martin Campbell, 2006

Cassandra Perez, Heights Staff

Sony Pictures

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alling Casino Royale the best James Bond movie is sure to provoke some of the franchise’s die-hard fans, but a convincing case for the 2006 reboot can be made when one considers how it treats its iconic lead.

A gritty retelling of Ian Fleming’s very first Bond novel, Casino Royale serves as Agent 007’s origin story. Having just earned his license to kill, Bond is assigned by M16 to bankrupt Le Chiffre, a financer of terrorist organizations, in a game of poker at the Casino Royale. Over the course of the mission, Bond falls helplessly in love with Vesper Lynd, a British treasury agent present to oversee the government’s $10 million buy-in.

Daniel Craig’s first steps into the spotlight were not unmarked by controversy. Immediately upon being cast, he was deemed too blonde and too old, an unconventional choice for a character  who was most notable for his dark hair and youthful good looks. So strong was the hate for the Craig that a group of Bond purists even created DanielCraigIsNotBond.com. But Craig’s Bond served two purposes: It separated Casino Royale from its bloated predecessors (I’m looking at you, Pierce Brosnan) and revitalized the entire franchise. Craig proved the perfect blend of steely and intelligent while displaying a level of vulnerability that brought the classic character into the 21st century.

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ut Craig’s Bond is only complemented by his supporting cast. Eva Green plays Vesper Lynd with all the elegance and poise that makes her worthy of the “Bond Girl” title but with an added element of complexity that sets her character apart from her predecessors. Mads Mikkelsen owns the role of the film’s sole villain, gracing the silver screen with chilling indifference, as his arrogance ultimately gives way to self-destruction.

With Bond 25 set to start shooting next month for a box office release in 2020, it is unclear who will replace Daniel Craig and take up the mantle in future films. But whatever happens to Bond next, Casino Royale will always serve as a towering achievement for the 007 agent, and a reminder that a complete change in direction might be just what it takes to rejuvenate a dying franchise.

‘For Colored Girls’ – Tyler Perry, 2010

Tonie Chase, Heights Staff

Tyler Perry

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ommemorate women’s history month with For Colored Girls. At first mention of Tyler Perry, most might think “Madea”—assertive woman with very traditional family values. They also might think of comedy and predictable plots that are intended to highlight issues within the black community.

While the premise of this film does not stray far from his line of work, For Colored Girls is a beautifully-executed rendition of a play by Ntozake Shange, For Colored Girls Who Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf. The film stars some of Hollywood’s most famous actors and actresses, including Phylicia Rashad, Kerry Washington, and Whoopi Goldberg.

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or Colored Girls adapts and follows the stories of eight women from the original collection of 20 poems. Though they seem to have distinct narratives, all the women’s stories cross paths in the evidently small world of New York City. Nyla (Tessa Thompson) and her elder sister, Orange (Thandie Newton), explore their sexualities at the expense of Nyla’s physical distress and Oranges’ psychological well-being. Overall, each of the eight women battle different issues, spanning from domestic violence to infertility. In addition to explicitly illustrating struggles women in general endure, For Colored Girls aptly brings awareness to issues that specifically affect black women, including colorism and inadequate access to medical care. It only falls short in giving LGBTQ+ people a spotlight, though they face some of the same issues.

Each of the issues that the women deal with are unique, but the poetic monologues weaved throughout the movie connect their stories well. Each of the women undergo periods of enlightenment, relayed to the audience through poetry. Sometimes, their individual battles are connected through the recital of one poem comprised of separate scenes cut together. In theory, this can seem messy but translated well during production with fading transitions and background classical music. Even in the opening scenes of the film where Yasmine (Anika Noni Rose) dances gracefully in her studio, the project creates a long-lasting somber mood with a slow, recurrent violin melody. The lighting of the movie is often grim, but is compensated by the actresses’ ability to embody their characters passionately. In order to fully laud women for their achievements, like record-breaking representation in Congress in 2019, empathizing with some of their struggles is also crucial.

Featured Image by RCA Records

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