Film Review: The Five-Year Engagement

The Five-Year Engagement directed by Nicholas Stoller (Apatow Productions, R, 124 minutes) Starring Jason Segel, Emily Blunt, Chris Pratt, and Alison Brie. What Makes Something Good? Is a hot wing tasty if it is sufficiently spicy? Is a murder mystery novel good so long as the murder is mysterious? Is a comedy good if it’s funny? My inability to answer this last question perfectly summarizes my thoughts on The Five-Year Engagement. Billed as a comedy, the movie executes; it is extremely funny. But is it good? I wish I knew. Another Romantic Comedy As a story, The Five-Year Engagementarises from the romantic comedy cookie-cutter-plotline: Couple meets. Couple experiences good times. Couple hits a rough patch. Couple works everything out. In… Read More →

Book Review: Cain

Cain: A Novel by José Saramago; translated by Margaret Jull Costa (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011. 176 pp) José Saramago was a Nobel Prize-winning author from Portugal. He passed away at the age of 87 on June 18, 2010. Although Saramago did not receive widespread recognition until he was 60 years old, he has been highly prolific in the years since. Blindness, one of Saramago’s most highly regarded books was made into a major motion picture in 2008. He is survived by his wife Pilar Del Rio and a daughter from a previous marriage. Margaret Jull Costa translates Portuguese and Spanish fiction and poetry. For her work she has won the Portuguese Translation Prize, the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award,… Read More →

Album Review: The Lion’s Roar

The Lion’s Roar by First Aid Kit (Wichita Recordings, 2012. 43 minutes) Formed in 2007, First Aid Kit is Johanna and Klara Söderberg from Enskede, Sweden. A 2008 viral YouTube cover of the band, Fleet Foxes, gained the duo wide notoriety. First Aid Kit signed to Wichita Records in 2008 and released their debut record, The Big Black & the Blue, in 2010. A Starbucks on Every Corner of the Globe The world is shrinking. 100 years ago, an inter-continental trip was tedious and dangerous. Today, a jetliner connects us anywhere in the world within a day. This ease of travel, while presenting the modern world with the ability to engage in a myriad of culture, offers a melting pot… Read More →

Book Review: The Vanishers

The Vanishers: A Novel by Heidi Julavits (New York: Doubleday, 2012. 304 pp) Born and raised in Portland, Maine, Heidi Julavits attended Dartmouth College and earned an M.F.A from Columbia University. Julavits co-edits The Believer magazine. She has authored four novels: The Mineral Palace, The Effect of Living Backwards, The Uses of Enchantment, and The Vanishers. Julavits lives in Manhattan with her husband, writer Ben Marcus, and their children. Hell is Other People Jean-Paul Sartre famously said, “Hell is other people.” To him, a relationship with others creates, sustains, and empowers dissidence. To a certain extent, then, isolation emerges as a virtue. But do we actually enjoy existence in the prison of our thoughts? With The Vanishers, Heidi Julavits suggests… Read More →

Book Review: The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine

The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine: A Novel by Alina Bronsky; translated by Tim Mohr (New York: Europa Editions, 2011. 304 pp) Alina Bronsky was born in Yekaterinburg, an industrial town at the foot of the Ural Mountains in central Russia. She moved to Germany when she was thirteen. Her debut novel, Broken Glass Park, was nominated for one of Europe’s most important literary awards, the Ingeborg Bachmann Prize. Tim Mohr is a New York-based translator, author, and editor. His translation of Guantanamo by Dorothea Dieckmann earned him the Three Percent award for best translation. Mohr also collaborated with Duff McKagan on It’s So Easy (And Other Lies). Head in the Clouds I tend to be oblivious of my… Read More →

Album Review: Ashes & Fire

Ashes & Fire by Ryan Adams (Capitol Records/Pax Americana Record Company, 2011. 43 minutes) Ryan Adams is a singer-songwriter renowned for his contributions to the alt-country genre. Originally a member of the band Whiskeytown, Adams began his solo career with Heartbreaker in 2000. A prolific songwriter with 13 albums released since 2000, Adams garnered the most commercial success with Gold. In addition to music, Adams has published Infinity Blues and Hello Sunshine, books of poetry. Adams married Mandy Moore in 2009 and took an extended hiatus—for him, at least—from music. In 2010, Adams founded a record label, PAX AM and has released has latest two releases on the label. The Rubric of Great Art There are times when music pauses… Read More →

Film Review: My Week with Marilyn

My Week with Marilyn directed by Simon Curtis (The Weinstein Company, BBC Films, and Lipsync Productions, R, 99 minutes) Starring Michelle Williams, Eddie Redmayne, Kenneth Branagh, Zoё Wanamaker, Emma Watson, and Julia Ormond. I Wanted to Be Famous; Now I Want to Take It Back Have you ever had dreams of fame and fortune? As a kid, did you imagine walks on the red carpet with flashbulbs blinding your entrance? Did you desire constant adoration and the corresponding riches? While such glory seems intoxicating, My Week with Marilyn proposes a dark undercurrent to worldwide fame. My Week with Marilyn is a slow-burning, character-driven film adapted from a memoir by Colin Clark, on his relationship with Marilyn Monroe during the shooting… Read More →

Book Review: The Elements of Content Strategy

The Elements of Content Strategy by Erin Kissane (New York: A Book Apart, 2011. 86 pp) Erin Kissane is a content strategist and editor based in New York City and Portland, Oregon. She was an editor at A List Apart magazine for nearly ten years, and has also been a freelance book editor and the editorial director of Happy Cog Studios. In 2011, she joined content strategy consultancy Brain Traffic, where she leads content projects and eats cake. Now More than Ever, College Is the Best Time in Life  Have you seen the job statistics lately? More to the point, have you seen the employment rates for recent college graduates? What about liberal arts majors in particular? A study of… Read More →

Book Review: A Clash of Kings

A Clash of Kings: Book Two of a Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin (New York: Bantam Books, 1999. 768 pp) George R. R. Martin is an American author and screenwriter of fantasy, horror, and science fiction. Born in New Jersey, Martin earned a B.S. and M.S. in Journalism from Northwestern University. He began writing fiction in the early 1970s with his first works earning him a Hugo and Nebula award. In the 1980s, he began writing in Hollywood for the Twilight Zone and Beauty and the Beast. Martin is best known for his critically acclaimed epic fantasy series, A Song of Ice and Fire, which was developed into Game of Thrones, an HBO television series…. Read More →

Television Show Review: The Pitch

The Pitch directed by Philip Lott (Studio Lambert. Premiers Monday, April 30 on AMC.) Mad Men as Reality TV Even though I savor the subtle intricacies of character development in AMC’s Mad Men, I can understand how one could be drawn to the business of advertising depicted in the show. With storyboards and persuasive language, the employees of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce seek to persuade by creativity. With this aspect acting as the foundation of AMC’s most famous show, there is no wonder AMC developed The Pitch, a documentary-style reality television series highlighting two rival ad agencies competing for a client. Competition: The Core of Capitalism  In the sneak peak episode, ad agencies McKinney and WDCW fight over the next… Read More →