Film Review: Beasts of the Southern Wild

Beasts of the Southern Wild directed by Benh Zeitlin, written by Lucy Alibar and Benh Zeitlin (Journeyman Pictures, Cinereach, Court 13 Pictures, and Fox Searchlight Pictures, PG-13, 93 minutes) Starring Quvenzhané Wallis and Dwight Henry. Tunnel Vision Sometimes, pain provides tunnel vision. Nothing else matters, whatever the circumstances. Like a burrowing mole, a sufferer wants nothing more than solitude. When trauma occurs, how do you face it? Do you ignore it? Do you subconsciously let it dictate your life, leading you to avoid facing pain face-on? Exceedingly metaphorical, Beasts of the Southern Wild provides a wildly stylistic account of suffering. Hushpuppy and Wink Beasts of the Southern Wild portrays a fantastical story of a daughter, Hushpuppy (impressively played by then… Read More →

Film Review: Django Unchained

Django Unchained directed and written by Quentin Tarantino (The Weinstein Company, Columbia Pictures, and Brown 26 Productions, R, 165 minutes) Starring Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington, and Samuel L. Jackson. Revisionist History Don’t we all have the desire to rewrite history? To take back something said? Something done? Something that hurt others? What steps would you tack to right the wrongs either personally or globally? With Django Unchained, Quentin Tarantino certainly enjoys using the medium of film to fulfill these grand retribution schemes, but I contend that his stylistic tendencies will keep this film from winning Best Picture. Bounty Hunting The film’s eponymous character, Django (Jamie Foxx,) is a bounty hunter. He earned his freedom working with… Read More →

Book Review: Come in and Cover me

Come in and Cover Me: A Novel by Gin Phillips (New York: Riverhead Books, 2012. 352 pp) Gin Phillips is the author of the Barnes & Noble Discover Award-winning novel The Well and the Mine. She lives in Birmingham, Alabama. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Little, Brown and Company. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”. There’s Honor in the Attempt I gave it a shot and I didn’t get very far. Gin Phillips’ Come in and Cover Me just… Read More →

Book Review: Sacré Bleu

Sacré Bleu: A Comedy d’Art by Christopher Moore (New York: William Morrow, 2012. 432 pp) Christopher Moore is the author of eleven novels, including Lamb, A Dirty Job, and You Suck. He grew up in Ohio and attended Ohio State University and Brooks Institute of Photography. He divides his time between San Francisco and Hawaii. What If? What if the historical narrative surrounding Vincent van Gogh is incorrect? What if he hadn’t committed suicide? Is it typical for a suicidal person to shoot himself in the chest and then walk a mile to receive medical attention? What if color killed van Gogh? Or, more specifically, van Gogh’s colorman? With this question, Christopher Moore’s hilarious work, Sacré Bleu, unfolds. Parisian Painters… Read More →

Film Review: Zero Dark Thirty

Zero Dark Thirty directed by Kathryn Bigelow and written by Mark Boal (Annapurna Pictures, Columbia Pictures, Alliance Films, R, 157 minutes) Starring Jessica Chastain, Jason Clarke, Joel Edgerton, and Chris Pratt. The Plateau Have you ever experienced that plateau? The moment after a long-awaited goal is accomplished. You feel relief. Excitement. Even joy as you look back on the hard work it took for you to achieve this step in life. Sometimes during these moments, the next step seems ever the more daunting. Sometimes, an accomplishment equals disappointment because it means there’s no more work, no more opportunity within the specific sphere of focus. Interestingly, Zero Dark Thirty uses the manhunt of Osama bin Laden to represent themes of dedication… Read More →

Album Review: Lonesome Dreams

Lonesome Dreams by Lord Huron (Iamsound Records, 2012. 45 minutes) Lord Huron is an American indie folk group from Los Angeles. They are signed to Iamsound Records and released their debut album in 2012. To Innovate or to Perfect: That is the Question? What’s better: the innovator or the perfector? We are often wowed when an artist appears, utilizing a new technique. Ernest Hemingway popularized short, staccato sentences where the content left out is as important and meaningful as what remains. However, since his time, many authors have used this technique, some perhaps to better effect. Likewise, consider Jimi Hendrix. His use of heavy distortion and lightning riffs revolutionized the sound of guitar. But is he the best guitarist ever?… Read More →

Film Review: Bernie

Bernie written and directed by Richard Linklater (Castle Rock Entertainment, Collins House Productions, Deep Freeze Productions, PG-13, 104 min) Starring Jack Black, Shirley MacLaine, and Matthew McConaughey. Justice and Utility If an action resulted in the happiness of an entire community, you would support it, right? Stated as an ethical position, this idea is utilitarianism. Utilitarianism suggests the greatest amount of good for the greatest amount of people. If someone commits a crime, they have negatively affected others. Thus, the greatest good is to punish them for the benefit of others. But what if everyone likes the person who did the wrong? Should justice be distributed by order of how much we like the defendant? Most often, people don’t need… Read More →

Book Review: Me and the Devil

Me and the Devil: A Novel by Nick Tosches (New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2012. 400 pp) An American journalist, novelist, and poet, Nick Tosches lives in New York City and is uniquely acquainted with the half-lit world in which Me and the Devil is set. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Little, Brown and Company. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”. That Uniquely Human Trait Addiction—a uniquely human trait. It arrives in many forms; it burrows deeply into… Read More →

Book Review: Telegraph Avenue

Telegraph Avenue: A Novel by Michael Chabon (New York: Harper, 2012. 480 pp) One of the most celebrated writers of his generation according to The Virginia Quarterly Review, Michael Chabon was born in Washington D.C. He earned his B.A. from the University of Pittsburgh and his M.F.A from the University of California, Irvine. Chabon published his first novel, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, from his master’s thesis at the age of 25. His third novel, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, won the 2001 Pulitzer Prize. The Yiddish Policemen’s Union won Chabon the Hugo Award and the Nebula Award. He is married to poet Lollie Groth. Escaping to the Mountainside “After this Jesus went away to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias. And a large crowd… Read More →

Album Review: Shut Down the Streets

Shut Down the Streets by A.C. Newman (Matador Records, 2012. 40 minutes) A.C. Newman is a Canadian singer-songwriter. After contributing as a band member of Superconductor and Zumpano, Newman currently leads The New Pornographers. He launched his solo career in 2004. Dreaming Solo When I was in a band, a solo project always sat in the back of my mind. Going solo offers unique creative opportunities compared to a collaborative band setting. Compositional and lyrics choices are yours alone. Truthfully, most solo projects should never find the light of day because collaborative band settings function as an editing process. Most band members keep each other from making major musical mistakes. But, a rare few hold the talent to do it… Read More →