Guest Film Review: The Grey

The Grey directed by Joe Carnahan (Open Road Films, R, 117 minutes) Starring Liam Neeson, Dermont Mulroney, and Frank Grillo “Dealing” with Death Many films in recent time depict the violent collision of man and nature (as if we ever were truly at odds with it in the first place). The Grey, in many ways, rather than simply offering an action packed narrative, tries desperately to use this cold struggle as a discussion on the inevitability of death and the various ways contemporary men deal with it. I say “men” and literally meaning male, because the only death we see of a woman is in such striking contrast to what the males face. This ”dealing” is stretched over two hours… Read More →

Film Review: The Descendants

The Descendants directed by Alexander Payne (Ad Hominem Enterprises, R, 115 minutes) Starring George Clooney, Shailene Woodley, and Amara Miller. In Remembrance of Those Lost Tragedy does silly things to a human being. It can either bring family together, or ruin what little semblance of family remaining. It causes people to find religion, or causes others to dive headfirst into addiction. When a loved one passes, we speak of them glowingly as if our words create a halo around the deceased. Through tragedy we resolve to live better as if life changes could honor the memory of a loved one passed. Yet in death, just as in life, people carry their demons alongside their virtues. In Alexander Payne’s The Descendants, Matt… Read More →

Film Review: Senna

Senna directed by Asif Kapadia (Universal Pictures, Studio Canal, and Working Title Films, PG-13, 106 minutes) Starring Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost, Frank Williams, and Ron Dennis. Motor Sports in the Blood Whenever I feel the need to impress a new acquaintance, I often find myself telling stories of my dad and uncles. You see, my father (before he met my mother) raced hydroplanes. As a child, my dad would take me to the pits during Seafair and while I marveled at the loud engines and sleek boat frames, my dad would socialize with drivers, mechanics, and boat owners. Both of my uncles to this day dabble in motor sports. Whether go-karts or open-wheeled Formula Four vehicles, my uncles have the… Read More →

Book Review: The Tiger’s Wife

The Tiger’s Wife: A Novel by Téa Obreht (New York: Random House, 368 pp) Born in 1985 in the former Yugoslavia, Téa Obreht grew up in Cyprus and Egypt before immigrating to the United States in 1997. Her writing is published in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Harper’s, Zoetrope: All-Story, The New York Times, and The Guardian. Her first novel, The Tiger’s Wife, won the 2011 Orange Prize. She has been named by The New Yorker as one of the twenty best American fiction writers under forty and included in The National Book Foundation’s list of 5 Under 35. Téa Obreht lives in Ithaca, New York. Faith or Reason With the death of famed author and theist critic Christopher Hitchens… Read More →

Book Review: Cities of the Plain

Cities of the Plain by Cormac McCarthy (New York: Knopf Publishers, 1998. 292 pp) Cormac McCarthy was born in Rhode Island in 1933. One of six children, Cormac’s family moved multiple times in his childhood as his father accepted different occupations. In 1951, McCarthy attended the University of Tennessee majoring in Liberal Arts. Midway through his studies, McCarthy served in the Air Force for four years. After his service, McCarthy returned to college, writing his first short stories. In 1959 and 1960, he won the Ingram-Merrill Award for Creative Writing. Mccarthy’s first novel, The Orchard Keeper, was published in 1965. Several years, grants, and fellowships later, McCarthy published Suttree, Blood Meridian, and All the Pretty Horses marking his rise in literary… Read More →

Film Review: Inglourious Basterds

Inglourious Basterds directed by Quentin Tarantino (Universal Pictures, Weinstein Company, A Band Apart, R, 153 minutes) Starring Brad Pitt, Diane Kruger, Eli Roth, Mélanie Laurent, and Christoph Waltz. Dual Duels Set in France during World War II, Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds tells the story of two separately planned attempts to assassinate the leaders of the Nazi party. In one storyline, Colonel Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz) – nicknamed “The Jew Hunter” for his ability to locate Jews in hiding – interrogates a dairy farmer learning that he is harboring a Jewish family under the floorboards. While Landa’s men shoot through the floor, teenage daughter Shosanna Dreyfus escapes the carnage. Three years later, Shosanna hides in plain sight as a cinema owner… Read More →

Book Review: The Year of the Flood

The Year of the Flood: A Novel by Margaret Atwood (New York: Doubleday, 2009. 448 pp) Born in Ottawa in the autumn of 1939, Margaret Atwood grew up in Ontario, Quebec, and Toronto. She attained her B.A. from Victoria College, University of Toronto and her M.A. from Radcliffe College. Atwood has written more than 50 works of poetry, children’s fiction, fiction, and non-fiction. While she is most known for her many novels, her book, Blind Assassin, received highest acclaim winning the prestigious Booker Prize in 2000. Currently, she lives with Graeme Gibson in Toronto. Dystopia Everyone knows Orwell’s 1984. The classic dystopian novel depicts the frightening consequences of an authoritarian state. Without removing much of its well-deserved praise, I wonder if 1984 remains a masterpiece not for its… Read More →

Album Review: Wasting Light

Wasting Light by Foo Fighters (RCA, 2011. 48 minutes) Foo Fighters are an American rock band formed by lead singer and guitarist, Dave Grohl. Established in the wake of Nirvana’s end, the band’s current members are Grohl, Chris Shiflett, Nate Mendel, Taylor Hawkins, and Pat Smear. Of the seven studio albums released, six of them have been nominated for a Grammy Award and three – There Is Nothing Left to Lose, One by One, and Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace – have won Best Rock Album awards. Rock-Star-Ness As a junior high student learning guitar, I enjoyed spinning my portable CD player with headphones enveloping me like ear muffs and imagining that I was playing in a band in front… Read More →

Book Review: All the Pretty Horses

All the Pretty Horses, by Cormac McCarthy (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1992. 302 pp) Cormac McCarthy was born in Rhode Island in 1933. One of six children, Cormac’s family moved multiple times in his childhood as his father accepted different occupations. In 1951, McCarthy attended the University of Tennessee majoring in Liberal Arts. Midway through his studies, McCarthy served in the Air Force for four years. After his service, McCarthy returned to college writing his first short stories. In 1959 and 1960, he won the Ingram-Merrill Award for Creative Writing. Mccarthy’s first novel, The Orchard Keeper, was published in 1965. Several years, grants, and fellowships later, McCarthy published Suttree, Blood Meridian, and All the Pretty Horses marking his rise… Read More →