Posts tagged with "illustrations"

“The Tax Collector”

by Justin Lyons

2020 sure has been an interesting year for movies. We’ve missed our fair share of big releases, but here we are in September with a new film from David Ayer, a director who has seemingly taken nothing but criticism over the past half decade. Maybe some of that has been warranted, maybe some of it hasn’t, but here he stands with a new movie available for rent.

Ayer is re-teaming with Shia LaBeouf, whom he directed in one of the best performances of his career in 2014’s “Fury.” LaBeouf is past the point of only being recognized for the “Transformers” series. He’s truly one of the most gifted actors working right now, and this nice, little roll he’s found himself on since exiting Michael Bay’s billion dollar franchise has solidified him as a top tier talent.

He’s coming off a fantastic 2019 with “Honey Boy” and “The Peanut Butter Falcon,” so it was no surprise seeing him marketed as a co-lead in “The Tax Collector.” It was, however, a shock to see him in a supporting role in the film itself, and that’s the movie’s biggest problem.

It might be better said that the movie’s biggest problem is that none of the characters, aside from LaBeouf’s character, called Creeper, are very interesting. Each and every one is built upon a foundation that we’re familiar with, including those in other David Ayer movies. Their principles and motivations never sincerely stand out.

David, the main character played by Bobby Soto, drives around Los Angeles collecting a percentage of gang profits for his boss, a man called Wizard. He does it to protect and provide for his non-gang-affiliated family, who are in fact good. When Wizard’s ex-rival returns to town, dead set on taking over Los Angeles, David’s allegiances and strength are put to the test.

Again, we’ve seen that before, so viewing it again, in a mostly predictable manner that doesn’t make “The Tax Collector” stand out among memories of other gang movies and stories, doesn’t let it resonate. It never pushes for that emotional connection to the characters or story that I was looking for. Possibly the most unfortunate part is that there’s evidence of potential here. There is potential in these characters and in this world that makes me think there’s a decent movie in here somewhere, but it needed more time to give the characters the life and development they deserved.

The story itself also feels disjointed in an effort to develop the relationships with characters, even though those relationships don’t benefit from the sacrificing of story. Most beats, particularly toward the end of the film, seem to just happen without express purpose. There is a guiding narrative pushing David against the rival gang leader, but most events in the story don’t have the build up that I had hoped for. Things just kind of occur without any rhyme or reason. We have a character whom we’re supposed to immediately latch onto and a character whom we’re supposed to immediately hate, and none of the story beats ever allow the characters to breathe and change.

Each scene is also played at the highest possible level. Subtlety isn’t always a synonym for high quality, but constant high octane sequences never helped David’s character. Despite being a lover of action sequences, I found myself more intrigued by David’s moments with his family. He shows the struggle of balancing his roles as a protector and as a “tax collector,” but it’s never enough to round out the character.

It feels like Ayer is going through the motions, which is disappointing from a director who has obvious talent. He didn’t fall into the screenplay for “Training Day,” and he surely didn’t accidentally direct “Fury” and “End of Watch” with the skill and charisma of those films. That filmmaking talent is in there, but in going back to a story reminiscent of his earlier work, it appears he is recycling his own techniques. Even the visual look of the movie, which Ayer typically excels with, feels bland. He does pull a couple of visual tricks from his repertoire in flashbacks and high-intensity action sequences, but the flashbacks feel played out, and one specific moment of slow motion was enough to pull me out of a movie that appeared to go for gritty reality.

There are positives to take away from “The Tax Collector.” Again, Shia LaBeouf is immensely talented, and that shows in this film. Every single time he’s on-screen, it’s tough to look away. He does take a supporting role in the movie, but he steals the show right out of Bobby Soto’s hands. Some of that is due to the writing as Creeper is a far more compellingly written character than David, but LaBeouf commits so hard to every single word, and he’s an absolute blast to watch.

The scenes in which David and Creeper drive around Los Angeles, spewing mostly throwaway dialogue, are easily the most fun in the film. Creeper is the muscle of the duo, but I enjoyed his humanity. I have to credit LaBeouf because when Creeper is thinking, it’s easy to watch the wheels in his brain spin. He has these survival instincts, and he’s skilled with weapons and intimidation tactics, but he’s not a robot. He diets, meditates and wants to be included in David’s personal life.

“The Tax Collector” isn’t memorably bad. It’s just not memorable at all, and that is the most frustrating thing about the film. There is potential in the story, the characters and the story world, but it’s so easy to think of scenes that should have been cut in favor of scenes that should have been added. There’s also so much inspiration behind Creeper, but he’s not the focus of the film, which I think would have made the movie much more engaging.

There comes a certain point in the film where nothing is left to care about, and the story revisits a relationship that doesn’t feel earned. Had it spent more time developing that relationship, I might have been invested in the final act, but one short sequence and one small show of good faith wasn’t enough to make me believe that some of these characters would show the support they’re asked to show. Nevertheless, I’m happy to discuss Shia LaBeouf in a positive way. Maybe with that tattoo on his chest forever he’d be better suited in a similar role as a lead performer.

“The Tax Collector” is streaming now on Amazon.

Rita Azar Illustrates a Basketball Article for 360 MAGAZINE

Jaylen Brown x George Floyd Bill

by Justin Lyons

Jaylen Brown, Boston Celtics wing, in a press conference Sunday said he would like to see the city of Boston pass the George Floyd bill.

Brown, who has been one of the more active players in social justice conversations throughout the NBA, was asked about the Celtics’ commitment to spend $25 million over the next ten years to fight social injustice.

He said it was a great step, and that change happens over a period of time, but he thinks there are things that can be catalysts for change right now.

“One thing I would like to see in Boston is the George Floyd bill enacted,” Brown said, adding that conversations need to be had about police and qualified immunity. “Some things just need to be held accountable, and hopefully Boston can be a place where a tone is set that can be transpired in other cities.”

Brown went on to say that he thinks Boston is moving in the right direction, but he would still like to see more companies and organizations be diversified as well as more opportunities for people of color.

“I’m proud to be a part of the Celtics organization. I’m proud to have an ownership group, or a leadership group, that’s willing to take these steps because they recognize that we need to live in a better, more forward progressing world.”

The George Floyd bill, or H.R.7120, aims to achieve a few goals.

First, it would lower the criminal intent standard to convict an officer of law enforcement. The standard currently requires that officers act willfully, while H.R.7120 would only necessitate that officers act knowingly or recklessly.

Second, it would limit qualified immunity, which grants officers immunity in lawsuits regarding violations of constitutional rights of civilians.

Third, it would allow the Department of Justice to issue authorizations to investigate departments demonstrating patterns of discriminatory practices.

It would also create a national registry of police misconduct, lay the bricks for prohibition of racial profiling and implement new standards for training regarding racial profiling and use of body cameras.

It passed in the House of Representatives by a vote of 236-181, and it will move to the Senate.

Brown’s comments come just weeks after NBA players boycotted games on behalf of Jacob Blake, whom was shot seven times by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and victims of police brutality everywhere.

A reporter asked Brown if he thought the boycott’s message was still effective even as players returned to the court.

“These issues have been here for a very, very long time, and they’re still going to be here regardless of if we protest or not or boycott or not. I think sports plays a huge role in society, and I’m very aware of that, so using our platform is something I’m always going to support,” Brown answered.

While he said the cure for racism might not come from the NBA, the players can always use their platform to let the world know that these issues are important.

Brown, who wears the word “Liberation” on the back of his jersey, scored 21 points and picked up eight rebounds to help the Celtics defeat the Toronto Raptors Friday by a score of 92-87. They advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals where they will meet up with the Miami Heat, who are playing on six days of rest after eliminating the Milwaukee Bucks in just five games.

The first game of the series begins Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. EST with the Celtics favored by a point and a half.

Rita Azar illustrates adult beverages and popsicles in 360 Magazine

Drake’s Organic Spiked Ice Pops

Drake’s Organic Spirits announced today that its Drake’s Organic Spiked Ice freeze-and-eat adult pops are outselling established national vodka and tequila brands in California, according to sales numbers from Southern Glazer Wine & Spirits, the largest wine and spirits distributor in the United States.

Drake’s Organic Spiked Ice are handheld ice pops that feature 15% ABV and only 80 calories each. Spiked Ice is available in four flavors: Mango Rum Punch, Vodka Lemonade, Watermelon Martini and Classic Mojito. Award-winning all-organic, ultra-premium vodka and white rum makes up Drake’s Organic Spirits. As a result, they contain no artificial colors or flavors and freeze with twice the ABV as other brands.

“We know consumers care about the ingredients that go into the products they’re eating and drinking.”  No state is as committed to organic products and sustainability than California. In California, 90% of households buy organic on a regular basis. Drake’s Organic Spirits commits to producing spirits made with the highest quality organic, non-GMO ingredients. These are better for the body and planet,” said Drake’s Founder and CEO Mark Anderson.

Drake’s Organic Spirits is the first and only spirit line in the world to be certified USDA organic, non-GMO Project Verified, gluten-free, vegan and kosher. As a result, the five certifications ensure a cleaner drinking option that comes only from the highest quality organic ingredients.

Drake’s Organic Premium Vodka was awarded Double Gold and Drake’s Organic White Rum received Gold at the most recent Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA) Convention & Exposition in Orlando, FL. The judges are industry experts who blind taste-test each spirit. Therefore, the most prestigious in the industry recognizes and respects Drake’s Organic White Rum.

Drake’s Organic Spiked Ice, Organic Vodka, Organic White Rum, Organic Spiced Rum and Organic Mixes are available at hundreds of locations throughout California including select Ralphs, Save Mart, Lucky, FoodMaxx, Albertsons, Vons and Target stores. However, if you would like a complete list of locations offering Drake’s products, click HERE.

About Drake’s Organic Spirits

In 2017 Minneapolis-based Drake’s Organic Spirits launched.  Drake’s sources the highest quality USDA organic and non-GMO Project Verified ingredients to create a line of ultra-premium spirits and mixers. The Drake’s spirit line currently consists of Drake’s Organic Vodka, Drake’s Organic White Rum and Drake’s Organic Spiced Rum. Organic cane sugar, rather than grain, which produces a smooth, clean aftertaste, makes up Drake’s Organic Spirits.  Drake’s Spirits are all 12-times distilled, creating an ultra-premium hand-crafted spirit at a price that beats the leading premium brands.  Drake’s recently began producing bulk sanitizer to meet the need for cleaner, safer environments.

Follow Drake’s Organic Sprits

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Mulan illustration by Maria Soloman for 360 Magazine.

Mulan Boycott

by Justin Lyons

A new movement is taking over social media as pro-democracy activists try to spread a boycott of the new Disney film Mulan.

Disney’s live-action remake of the 1998 original film hit Disney’s streaming service Disney+ this weekend. On top of the monthly subscription fee, those wanting to see Mulan would have to pay $29.99 to unlock it.

Social media users in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Thailand called for movie fans and Disney lovers to avoid the new film because of comments from Liu Yifei, who plays the titular Mulan.

In Aug. 2019, Liu expressed via Weibo, a Chinese social media site, that she supported Hong Kong police. The comments came amid pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.

Liu was met with instant backlash, but now that her movie is available to stream, the widespread boycott seems to have intensified.

Joshua Wong, a Hong Kong activist, has been particularly outspoken regarding the situation. He asked everyone who believes in human rights to boycott the film.

He also retweeted multiple tweets from other activists. One of which was from Twitter user Gwyneth Kwai-lam Ho, who linked a story about the boycott from The Guardian.

“Not while the true Mulans are suffering in the darkness of a Chinese jail,” the tweet said.

Mulan currently sits at 78% on Rotten Tomatoes among critics but 55% among audience members. It had a production budget of $200 million.

Kamala Harris illustration done by Mina Tocalini of 360 MAGAZINE.

Win With Black Women

Back in 2016, while campaigning for the office of President of the United States, Donald Trump asked black voters, “What do you have to lose?”

He asked in reference to generations of oppression, violence and inequality, saying, “You’re living in poverty. Your schools are no good. You have no jobs. 58% of your youth is unemployed.”

The obvious implication is that things couldn’t possibly get worse for black voters, and Trump thought he had a chance to be the solution to the problem.

Well, in Sept. 2020, it seems that President Trump has his answer, and it comes in the form of a letter penned by Win With Black Women and co-signed by over 1,000 black female leaders.

The letter opens with a direct response to the question posed by Trump.

“Our answer, evidenced by increasingly poor economic outcomes, high racial tensions and hate incidents, the coronavirus, and an overall lack of dignity and respect in the White House, is a lot. And for Black women in particular, it’s too much,” the letter said.

It went on to discuss “sycophantic rhetoric” at the RNC that would lead watchers to believe that black life in America is in a healthier place now than it was prior to Trump’s election. Furthermore, the letter said that rhetoric insisted that anyone challenging that notion was brainwashed.

To refute the points set forth at the RNC, the letter cited the State of Black America, saying black households bring in 41% less than white households, and 60% of the black population lives below the poverty line. The letter also said that black unemployment is double the percentage of white unemployment.

The letter covered the cause of the recent protests throughout the country, saying, “Our lives are in constant threat under your Administration. If you are Black in America, you are three times more likely to be shot by the police,” going on to name Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and Jacob Blake as evidence that justice has gone unserved.

It also mentioned that black people are dying disproportionally from COVID-19 while black women, specifically, “lag behind in life expectancy, and maternal and infant mortality.”

Win With Black Women finished by saying that they will fight against attacks on Kamala Harris and proposed a call to action.

“We call on voters, no matter their background, to join us in setting the record straight and to reject your distracting antics, lies and attacks. We call on you and the GOP to focus on the crises afflicting the American people and not to insult every American with petty diversions, outright lies, and by sweeping problems under the rug.  We call on voters to stand in solidarity with Black women and reject your derogatory sexist, racist rhetoric aimed at undermining our credibility, our character, and our achievements,” the letter said.

Before closing the letter, Win With Black Women said they “vow to continue to uplift the issues most important to our families and our communities, keep our eyes and ears open, and to work to restore what is true, just, and decent to this election and to this monumental time in history.”

Win With Black Women has published the letter on Change.org, asking signees of the petition to stand with them in unity. To sign the letter and to see a complete list of co-signing leaders, you can click right here.

Rita Azar illustrates a design article for 360 MAGAZINE

G-SHOCK

Casio announced the release of the G-SHOCK GMWB5000TCF-2 on Thursday, the newest addition to the Full Metal GMWB5000 collection.

The new design is composed of a lightweight titanium case and band, DLC coating to prevent scratching and a blue camouflage design.

This new watch offers premium G-SHOCK features like Two-Way Time Sync technology which combines Bluetooth and Multi-Band 6 to show the correct time anywhere in the world. The model also offers a STN digital display to improve readability for the wearer.

It also self-charges with solar technology, aiming to combine practicality and functionality with style.

The GMWB5000TCF-2 retails for $1,700 and can be found online with G-SHOCK, in retail stores and at G-SHOCK’s Soho location.

Community illustrated by Mina Tocalini for 360 MAGAZINE.

Alt-Right Billboard Petition

The internet has given everyone a voice, and Change.org has become one of the most popular platforms for using that voice.

One of the site’s petitions that seems to be picking up steam, almost reaching 100,000 signatures, is a petition to remove a billboard advertising WhitePrideRadio.com and AltRightTV.com.

According to the post on Change.org, Harrison Sign Co., a sign company based out of Harrison, Arkansas, has posted several racist billboards over the past few years.

“The billboards have done tremendous damage to our community by giving the impression that our citizens support their messages and don’t object to their presence,” the post said.

The post also said that the community has worked to remove previous billboards found to be equally offensive, but this one still stands.

Commenters and residents have also taken to Change.org to express their discontent with the billboard.

One commenter by the name of Amber Harris said, “This sign is an embarrassment to our community and a stain on our town. Our community deserves better. Our minorities deserve better.”

Another commenter, John Henderson, said, “This does not represent the view of the people of Harrison. It is bad for the reputation and economy of the town.”

The petition has a goal of 150,000 signatures. If you’d like to help by adding your signature, you can click right here.

Rita Azar illustrates an article about the American dream for 360 MAGAZINE

What is the American Dream in 2020?

We spend our whole lives working and earning money to support ourselves and our families. The term “American Dream” was coined in 1931 by James Truslow Adams, and it represented an idea of a land where there were loads of opportunities for people in accordance with their achievements or abilities.

According to him, this was not a mere idea of high wages and motor cars, but rather it was an idea of a social order in which every man and every woman would be able to attain the full stature they are capable of. This would be provided to them regardless of class, color, creed and socio-economic status.

With the advancement in technology, everything has changed, for the better or worse. The million-dollar question is: What is the U.S. Dream in 2020? Has it changed somehow, or is it still the same after all this time?

Let’s take a look!

The New U.S. Dream

The idea of the U.S. dream is a theme around the globe and across the globe. Every U.S. citizen has her or his own idea and version of it. The U.S. Dream of today hasn’t strayed very far from the vision that was set forth by the founding fathers.

Our founding fathers wanted to inculcate basic societal values in us, such as the creation of a meaningful life, as essential parts of society and community. In the new version of the idea, spending time with friends and family is becoming dominant.

With the advancement in technology, more opportunities have been created for the people. It is no longer about feeding the family every day. It is about creating a sense of peace and stability in the whole community.

Everyone needs to contribute to ensure that we all live in the best way possible. With all the hard work that American citizens put in, the result is going to be a nation that is happy, content and at peace.

American Dream and U.S. Presidents

After the Great Recession in 2008, the income inequality among different classes became even more pronounced. It seemed as if this idea was coming to an end for many people. However, in reality, only the materialistic part of the idea was nearing an end.

Around the turn of the century, a lot of U.S. presidents were in favor of homeownership as an important part of the U.S. dream. The presidential campaign plan of Hillary Clinton included homeownership, retirements and health insurance.

Furthermore, Obama passed the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as “ObamaCare,” which provided the right to healthcare for all U.S. citizens.

Important parts of the U.S. Dream

After decades of hard work, our founding fathers created a safe space for everyone, where the rights of everyone were respected, and the opportunities were abundant.

There are various factors that make this idea possible, such as:

·         Efficient Governance

·         Helpful and Friendly Neighbors

·         The abundance of Natural Resources

However, with the threat of climate change looming over our heads, the natural resources have started becoming scarce. Several papers about American Dream suggest that rising sea levels, food inflation as well as the health crises are already straining the funds of the U.S. government.

The founding fathers didn’t envision that even the right to have clean water, air and natural resources would become scarce. Therefore, there is a need for a new version of this idea that would help the citizens, even this time of economic crisis.

Every American citizen dreams of retiring in peace after working hard for years. The government, as well as the private organizations, are working hard to ensure that the idea of a Utopian lifestyle remains afloat.

How can we live the U.S. Dream today?

The entire U.S. population is united by a common political system, language, and shared values. The diversity in cultures and traditions adds to the overall strength of America. This gives various companies an opportunity to innovate so that every single person can benefit from their products.

Under this idea, everyone has an equal right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Happiness or lifestyle isn’t defined under the Declaration of Independence. Rather, U.S citizens are free to pursue their own vision of this idea. The new U.S. Dream promotes a free-market economy in which everything from the service to the price is controlled by the market and not the government. This gives everyone an equal opportunity for the creation of wealth and happiness.

With the advancement in economic growth, the idea of happiness and peace for the citizens of the United States has also changed. Every organization and enterprise is trying to give the best of their services to ensure that we become a satisfied population.

Education for all is also an important part of the American idea of happiness. If we send our descendants to colleges and universities, it is going to increase the standard of living, and thereby create a sense of fulfillment and contentment in the community due to economic opportunities.

Conclusion

This idea is not something that is set in stone. With changing times, the idea has also changed. Along with the collective idea about happiness, there is an individual idea of eternal peace as well, which helps us achieve our goals and targets in ways that suit us perfectly.

Here’s to the founding fathers of the U.S. who helped pave the way for freedom, happiness, and individuality for every American citizen!

Rita Azar illustrates a candy article for 360 MAGAZINE

Sugarfina Care Packages

Going back to school this year is different from every other year. Instead of loading up on pencils, notebooks, markers and erasers, students are logging into computers every morning to attend virtual versions of their classes. Teachers are also preparing in a way they’ve never had to. Online lesson plans and zero face-to-face contact are making it more difficult for teachers to engage with students.

Sugarfina, a luxury candy store specializing in candy for grown-ups, recognizes that struggle. Accordingly, they have put together care packages for anyone in need of a little bit of sweetness during this time.

The care package includes Sugarfina specialties like Peach Bellini gummies, Birthday Cake Caramels, Rainbow Bears, Pink Sparkle Pops, Cold Brew Bears, Peanut Butter Milkshake malt balls, Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramels and Ice Cream Cone gummies.

Sugarfina is also giving away one of these care packages every day from August 17 to August 31. They’re encouraging Instagram users to nominate someone deserving of a special treat by posting a video with #TreatItForward.

Scott LaPorta, the CEO of Sugarfina, said Sugarfina was inspired by people sending each other candy during the quarantine period.

“Whether you’re treating a classmate, hard-working teacher, first responder, or fellow homeschool parent, this set is the perfect gift to put a smile on their face,” LaPorta said.

Sugarfina will also take entries into the “Thinking of You Sweepstakes” between August 20 and August 31. Anyone looking to share a $2,500 care package with a loved one can enter right here.

The standard care packages are $24 by themselves or $28 with a hand-written note and are available online or in Sugarfina boutiques.

Allison Christensen illustrates a sports article for 360 MAGAZINE

Orlando Sports & Entertainment Smart District

Downtown Orlando is about to get a major overhaul.

The hotspot will undergo a $500 million renovation in the form of the ambitious Orlando Sports & Entertainment Smart District.

Situated right across from the Amway Center, which houses the Magic and the Solar Bears, it will include a 300-room hotel, over 400,000 square feet of offices, 80,000 square feet of event space, more than 100,000 square feet of retail and an open-air plaza.

SISCO, who will provide the technology for the project, agreed to terms with the project owners, Cityzenith, and will use Cityzenith’s SmartWorldPro2™ Digital Twin platform. The platform integrates all software and services for large scale projects such as the Orlando Sports & Entertainment Smart District.

Michael Jansen, CEO of Cityzenith, said he is delighted to work with SISCO, and called the project “the most-advanced and feature-rich 3D Digital Twin model of a city in the United States.”

Jansen also said he aims to boost Cityzenith’s “Clean Cities – Clean Future” mission.

“Currently, 10,000 cities produce 70% of global greenhouse emissions and just 100 – megalopolises like New York, Tokyo, London and Paris – produce 25% of that total. It must change, and SmartWorldPro2™’s ability to create digitally-twinned cities to inventory GHG emissions and streamline sustainable urban redevelopment initiatives makes it the platform of choice for executing energy transition projects on any scale, whether a district, a campus, a city, or an entire country.”