Catching up with culture

By Benjamin Wright, COMMENTARY
On November 20, 2011

Classes are officially back in session for the fall semester, but USF students don't exactly have to board themselves in the Library just yet.

With Labor Day just around the corner and about a week's worth of syllabuses to read through, Scene & Heard offers some late summer entertainment that is sure to ease you back into what should be a promising semester.

Music

Jay-Z and Kanye West, "Watch the Throne"

The Throne - better known as superstar rappers Jay-Z and Kanye West - has released what may be the most outright enjoyable hip-hop album of the year.

While "Watch the Throne" never earns a spot next to either of its collaborators' classic albums like "The Blueprint" or "Graduation," there is enough style and substance to burn on each of the album's 12 tracks to keep you listening well into next season.

From the raucous Otis Redding-sampling track "Otis" to the soothing sounds of Odd Future member Frank Ocean crooning over the hook of "Made in America," the two rappers have proven that they are certainly sitting atop whatever throne they are so eager to protect.

Film

"Fright Night"

In a summer that has seen original films like "Midnight in Paris" and "Attack the Block" become both critical and commercial successes, it seems a bit inappropriate to show an unneeded remake of an intelligent 1985 horror comedy many love.

The truth is that while the existence of the "Fright Night" remake is entirely unwarranted, the film makes a pretty convincing case for having been created. From a superb script by former "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Mad Men" scribe Marti Noxon, "Lars and the Real Girl" helmer Craig Gillespie infuses this remake with genuine slow burn suspense over in-your-face jump scares.

While a few spots of underwhelming digital effects fall flat, watching the chemistry between leads Anton Yelchin and Imogen Poots - along with the scene-stealing Colin Farrell and David Tennant - make this a film that leaves the original in its place while lending itself to a cult following of its very own.

Books

"Writing Movies for Fun and Profit: How We Made a Billion Dollars at the Box Office and You Can, Too!"

If you've ever watched the Comedy Central police comedy "Reno 911," there's a pretty good chance you know Thomas Lennon as the hot pants-obsessed Deputy Dangle and Robert Ben Garant as the lethargic and mustachioed Deputy Travis Junior. While these two make a hilarious comedic pairing, they are also one of the most sought after screenwriting teams in Hollywood.

Having written hugely successful films like "Night at the Museum" and "The Pacifier," Lennon and Garant offer plenty of advice on how to write for an audience and more importantly have your voice heard. Yet that doesn't mean "Writing Movies for Fun and Profit" is a screenwriting textbook - it's more like a fun romp through the highs and lows of this writing team's career as they try to offer you funny but honest advice.

Now Lennon and Garant aren't trying to teach you how to write the smash independent comedy of Sundance, because even the title of the book is very upfront about what the pair is after. However, with an industry that's more prone to start production on a "Herbie the Love Bug" series reboot before anything original, this book offers you some pretty good tips on how to work towards making the projects you actually like.

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