Film Review: Super 8

Super 8 directed by J.J. Abrams (Amblin Entertainment, Bad Robot, and Paramount Pictures, PG-13. 112 minutes) Starring Joel Courtney, Kyle Chandler, Elle Fanning, and Riley Griffiths. Mystery Shrouded in mystery, the trailer for Super 8 reveals very little plot. From it, we get a clear picture that J.J. Abrams is interested in telling a story through concealment. Much like Ernest Hemingway’s writing style, this form of narration builds suspense as the human mind fills in the blank spaces. Super 8 is a science fiction film that depicts a small town’s encounter with a dangerous unknown being. The protagonists of the film are a group of children who are filming a Super 8 zombie movie. While filming a scene at the… Read More →

Book Review: Slaughterhouse-Five

Slaughterhouse-Five, or the Children’s Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death by Kurt Vonnegut (New York: Dell Publishing, 1969. 216 pp) Kurt Vonnegut was a fourth-generation German-American who lived in easy circumstances on Cape Cod (while smoking too much), who, as an American infantry scout hors de combat, as a prisoner of war, witnessed the fire-bombing of Dresden, Germany, “the Florence of the Elbe,” a long time ago, and survived to tell the tale. Slaughterhouse-Five is a novel somewhat in the telegraphic schizophrenic manner of tales of the planet Tralfamadore, where the flying saucers come from. Peace. The Muzzle of a Gun Despite the glorification of war on the silver screen, the principle of war is not only brutish and disheartening but… Read More →

Film Review: Blue Valentine

Blue Valentine directed by Derek Cianfrance (Hunting Lane Films and Silverwood Films, rated R. 112 minutes) Starring Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams. The Anti-Reality of the Hollywood Divorce What kills a relationship? Hollywood typically answers this question in extremes. Too often, a marriage falls apart as a husband is unfaithful or a wife completely changes her personality. In real life, many relationships end with the passing of time. When people jump into commitments early, the warts and ugly spots of each person creep out and many marriages lose during the test of time. Sure, some relationships end over the big things so often depicted in Hollywood, but sometimes a marriage dissolves after many small-yet-irksome qualities emerge. With the film, Blue… Read More →

Album Review: Codes and Keys

Codes and Keys by Death Cab for Cutie (Atlantic Records and Barsuk Records, 2011. 45 minutes) Formed in Bellingham, Washington under the shadow of Western Washington University, Death Cab for Cutie is Ben Gibbard (vocals, guitar, piano), Chris Walla (guitars, production, keyboards), Nick Harmer (bass), and Jason McGerr (drums). The band signed to Barsuk Records off the strength of an early demo written primarily by Ben Gibbard. On Barsuk, Death Cab released four albums to much local and critical acclaim. Transatlanticism – perhaps the most famous release from their time on the Barsuk label – launched Death Cab as an international act. In 2004, Death Cab signed a worldwide deal with Atlantic Records and soon after released Plans, an album… Read More →

Book Review: The World is a Ball

The World Is a Ball: The Joy, Madness, and Meaning of Soccer by John Doyle (New York: Rodale, 2010. 352 pp) Born in Ireland, John Doyle currently works as the television critic for Toronto’s The Globe and Mail. Holding a B.A. in English Literature and an M.A. in Anglo-English Studies from University College, Dublin, Doyle moved to Canada in order to pursue a Ph.D. at York University. Doyle writes about soccer for many publications and has worked on location at multiple World Cups and European Championships. In addition to The World Is a Ball, Doyle published A Great Feast of Light in 2005. Doyle has won two internal Globe and Mail awards for his writing. Culture Soup I’ve always thought it… Read More →

Television Show Review: The Killing

The Killing: Season 1 developed by Veena Sud (Fox Television Studios, KMF Films, and Fuse Entertainment) Starring Mireille Enos, Joel Kinnaman, Billy Campbell, Michelle Forbes, and Brent Sexton. To Speak Frankly Veena Sud, developer of The Killing, a U.S.-based version of the Danish series Forbrydelsen, needs to go away. In an article penned by Tim Appelo for the Hollywood Reporter, Sud responded to the significant critical and popular backlash to her show with the notion that the public does not understand her greatness. Relating her show to The Sopranos, Sud proclaimed, “The fact that people love us or hate us is a beautiful thing. I don’t want to be kinda liked.” What is this backlash? Well, for most viewers, it… Read More →

Album Review: Strange Negotiations

Strange Negotiations by David Bazan (Barsuk Records, 2011. 41 minutes) A prolific songwriter, David Bazan began his career as the front man of Pedro the Lion and continued playing in the band The Headphones. Located in Seattle, Washington, Bazan currently works as a solo artist. Known best during his Pedro the Lion days for his theologically rich lyrics, Bazan’s time in The Headphones and as a solo artist depict a philosophical shift as his lyrics combat his problems with alcohol and Evangelical Christianity. Curse Your Branches – considered by many, including myself, to be a masterpiece, is Bazan’s first full-length record as a solo artist. Bazan lives in Edmonds with his wife and daughter. A Complicated Relationship I have a… Read More →

Book Review: The Spirit of Food

The Spirit of Food: 34 Writers on Feasting and Fasting toward God edited by Leslie Leyland Fields (Eugene: Cascade Books, 2010. 284 pp.) Residing on Kodiak Island Alaska, Leslie Leyland Fields and her family operate a commercial salmon fishing business. On top of the family business, Fields teaches Creative Nonfiction in the Master of Fine Arts program at Seattle Pacific University. She has written seven books and numerous essays. Our “Thing” When I was dating my wife, I would often hear the question, “What do you two have in common?” While we enjoy similar bands, movies, and comedians, we do not have a “thing” that defines us. Some couples’ “thing” is theater, for others, it is season tickets for a… Read More →

Album Review: Helplessness Blues

Helplessness Blues by Fleet Foxes (Sub Pop, 2011. 50 minutes) Based in Seattle, Washington, Fleet Foxes is a folk rock band lead by vocalist Robin Pecknold. In addition to Pecknold, Skye Skjelset, Josh Tillman, Casey Wescott, Christian Wargo, and Morgan Henderson comprise the full band lineup. Fleet Foxes released their self-titled, full-length first album in 2008 to much acclaim. Helplessness Blues is the band’s sophomore effort. Hate the Art, Not the Artist During my undergraduate years, I enrolled in a philosophy of art class. With a foundational principle based in the ad hominem fallacy, my time in this class reinforced the idea that one should never evaluate the merit of art through the life of the artist. In other words,… Read More →

Book Review: A Visit from the Goon Squad

A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2010. 352 pp.) Born in Chicago, Jennifer Egan spent her formative years in San Francisco. She majored in English literature at the University of Pennsylvania. Then, she accepted a fellowship at St. John’s College, Cambridge. Egan has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Fiction, and a Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Fellowship at the New York Public Library. Her first novel, The Invisible Circus, became a feature film starring Cameron Diaz. Her latest book, A Visit from the Goon Squad, won the 2011 National Book Critics Award for Fiction, a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, and the LA Times Book Prize… Read More →