The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

    Reflector Staff Picks: The Best of 2008

    Vampire Weekend
    Vampire Weekend


    The Dark Knight // Christopher

    Opinion Editor
    Tim Burton’s “Batman” was my favorite movie as a child in large part because Jack Nicholson’s portrayal of Joker freaked me out. Heath Ledger put my initial doubts concerning his acting ability to portray the Joker to rest when I viewed a small amount of his magic in the movie’s trailers. The movie was action-packed and a little creepy, just the way I wanted to see it.
    With Christopher Nolan as director and Ledger as actor, the Nicholson sociopathic and morbidly funny Joker was resurrected. Ledger is overwhelmingly the highlight of the film I have yet to understand why the clean-cut, elegant Bruce Wayne, to whom Bale does give justice, has an increasingly bad case of laryngitis with every movie in the “Batman” series.
    The movie has a well-written script, even for “Batman,” but Bale doesn’t meet the mark and certainly gets outshined by Ledger.

    The Curious Case of Benjamin Button // David Fincher

    Photo Editor
    Two hours and 46 minutes seems like a long time for a movie, but “The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button” makes it worth every second. Starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett, this movie is loosely based on the F. Scott Fitzgerald short story of the same name.
    Button is born looking like a man of 86 years old. As he grows older his body grows younger. Early in his life he meets his soulmate Daisy, played by Blanchett. Naturally he can’t act on his feelings because of his appearance, somehow though he seems to know it is only a matter of time before it will be right.
    A movie with this kind base will obviously need strong visual effects to even seem remotely realistic, and it does. From easily making Pitt appear to be a wrinkly 70 year old to Pitt looking like a fresh faced 17 year old, the art department deserves every award this year.

    Iron Man // Jon Favreau

    Managing Editor
    In America there is an admiration for the self-made man or as this summer 2008 superhero flick shows, an admiration for the self-made flying metal armored man.
    “Iron Man’s” May release flew past an impending super-hero blockbuster juggernaut that would be “The Dark Knight.” But in contrast to Hong Kong skyscrapers, acid-burned faces and the dark maniacal laughter of the late Heath Ledger’s Joker, “Iron Man” attempts to tug at the heartstrings of America by way of its celebration of capitalism and explosions.
    Robert Downey Jr., an actor familiar with debauchery, portrays the casual debauchery of Tony Stark’s playboy lifestyle. Instead of tormenting himself with self-doubt and loathe as Bruce Wayne of “The Dark Knight” would do, Stark creates a terrorist-fighting plan using his genius manufacturing skills of mechanics and weapons.
    With “Iron Man,” audiences willingly gave Downey another chance to be one of Hollywood’s elite.


    Vampire Weekend // Vampire Weekend

    Managing Editor
    Ivy-League newcomers Vampire Weekend put their high-dollar educations on display with their first and eponymous album. The lessons learned by the New England foursome seem to have come from listening to a copy of Paul Simon’s Graceland rather than studying to be future barons of industry. The group’s blend of African beats and rhythm along with an obvious knack for light pop tunes creates an album which is both celebratory and refreshing, especially in times when phrases like gas prices, failing banks and war are constantly ringing in our ears. Vampire Weekend paints the pastoral images of students lounging on “the quad” and with only two songs clocking in over four minutes the time is similarly fleeting. Even in a relatively slow music year, Vampire Weekend has shown a knack for catchy tunes and a creative bending blending of genres that will hopefully be a sign of things to come.

    Only By The Night // Kings of Leon

    Editor in Chief
    Although it’s not the band’s best work, there’s no doubt that the Kings’ soulful fourth album is one of 2008’s best.
    Only By the Night has captured three Grammy nominations for the foursome, made up of the Tennessee-bred Followill brothers plus one cousin.
    Frontman Caleb Followill’s soulful vocals pull together the album’s 11 songs in which emotion is extremely apparent.
    From Only By the Night’s hormone-driven first single “Sex on Fire” to the desperately lonely “Use Somebody” and pleasantly upbeat “Manhattan,” it’s clear what Caleb Followill was feeling while writing each song.
    While at times it seems the band is in a rut of making the music sound original song to song, one song is more different than the next lyrically, providing an interesting and satisfying listening experience.

    The Second Gleam // The Avett Brothers

    The Avett Brothers have released a huge amount of music leading up to this album, but they shifted their musical direction on The Second Gleam.
    Maybe it comes with aging or maybe they’re getting tired, but whatever the reason, they have traded in their banjo beating, kick drum stomping and mountain man screaming for soft guitar picking, slow piano melodies and the characteristic vocal harmonies the Avetts have always been known for.
    This simple, bare necessities approach to their songs put more of an emphasis on the actual lyrics and meaning of each song. It is an album full of love, clarity, optimism and a fresh sense of rest.
    These songs are about being honest and free. It’s as simple as that.

    Best TV show

    “The Office” // NBC

    News Editor
    Now in its fifth season, “The Office” is still one of the most consistently funny shows on air and remains appointment television for college students.
    The NBC show starring a group of average, everyday paper supply sellers whose ultimate goal is to survive to 5 o’clock continues to surprise viewers with its knack for off-the-wall humor and genuine heart.
    Memorable episodes of 2008 included the “Dinner Party” in which Michael and estranged girlfriend Jan begin to fight, resulting in the shattering of Michael’s $200 flat screen television.
    The “Weight Loss” episode featured the entire cast working together to shed their pounds in a company-wide competition that becomes obsessive yet hilarious.
    What is great about “The Office” is its entire cast is made of characters with whom anyone can identify.
    Whether it’s the overly paranoid Dwight or the ultra-prude Angela, “The Office” delivers top-notch comedy with a great ensemble to match. In 2009, look for sure-fire laughs with two inter-office weddings and Dwight wanting to ruin one set of the nuptials.

    “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” // FX

    Entertainment Editor
    For TV watchers like myself who turn to the tube for inappropriate and sometimes borderline raunchy humor, FX presents “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.” As a general rule, when the main writer(s) are the main characters in the series, the show is hilarious. This rule definitely applies to this series.
    “Always Sunny” follows around a group of friends, aka “The Gang,” in Philadelphia, Pa. throughout their bar owning experiences and everyday mishaps. In 2008’s fourth season, “The Gang” participates in hunting people, two familiar characters, Charlie and Dee, “die” and someone poops in the bed nightly. These events barely cover the essence of this show’s humor. As any well-written and ad libbed show does the season finale of the fourth season was a live production, “The Night Man Cometh” from the mind of Charlie, one of the main characters.
    “Always Sunny” is a show that fans of inappropriate humor can watch numerous times and laugh harder with each re-run.

    “True Blood” // HBO

    Photo Editor
    There is nothing better than cracking open a warm bottle of A-positive and settling in to watch an episode of “True Blood.” The series, based on the Southern vampire novels by Charlaine Harris, follows Sookie Stackhouse, a telepathic waitress, and her vampire boyfriend Bill Compton.
    The first season is set two years after vampires “came out of the coffin,” and the residents of Bon Temps, La., are trying to come to terms with their new vampire neighbors.
    The show successfully avoids most vampire clichés while mixing in some voodoo, and even some shape shifters.

    Best video game

    “Fallout 3” // Bethseda

    Copy Editor
    After hearing the hype associated with Fallout 3, I decided to blow my fat Reflector dime on the game. As a former football video game exclusive I was not disappointed.
    The post-nuclear bombed holocaust world of Washington, D.C., is lushly presented in all its glory. The main character searches through the nation’s rubble searching for his father, voiced by Liam Neeson.
    The game’s large map and various quests provide gamers many hours of enjoyment.
    With the karma system, players can choose their own specific path through the wastes.
    Some choose to be post-apocalyptic saints. I, of course, am known to loot and pillage any and every town I come upon for much needed ammunition and medical supplies.
    What can I say? It’s a rough world out there.
    Fallout 3 has helped me stop worrying and love the bomb.

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    Reflector Staff Picks: The Best of 2008