Book Review: American Appetites

American Appetites by Joyce Carol Oates

American Appetites: A Novel by Joyce Carol Oates (New York: Dutton, 1989. 340 pp) Born in Lockport, New York, Joyce Carol Oates earned her B.A. from Syracuse University and her M.A. from the University of Wisconsin. An author of over 40 novels, Oates has received numerous awards, including the O. Henry Award, the National Book Award, the National Humanities Medal, and the Stone Award for Lifetime Literary Achievement. See You in Court The courtroom drama only has a minuscule amount of end games. Between guilty, not guilty, and possibly a hung jury, a story has little room to shock or surprise. And yet, legal theater draws much interest. Why? I’m no psychologist but if I had to hazard a guess,… Read More →

Film Review: Beware the Slenderman

Beware the Slenderman

Beware the Slenderman written and directed by Irene Taylor Brodsky (HBO Documentary Films, Vermilion Films, TV-14, 114 min) Starring Morgan Geyser, Anissa Weier, Angie Geyser, and Bill Weier. It Happened on Today For a season, my family’s morning routine included the headlines from the Today show. I recognize this program is about as middle-middle one can find in the mainstream and it certainly wasn’t consumed in a hard-hitting manner. Instead, the 7 a.m. headlines offered a general barometer about the events of the world before we all commenced our daily activities. Most days, these headlines go in one ear and out the other. Someone shot someone else. This politician messed up. Weather gonna weather. Yet when I rethink that Today… Read More →

Film Review: Casting JonBenét

Casting JonBenet

Casting JonBenét written and directed by Kitty Green (Netflix, Forensic Films, Symbolic Exchange, Meridian Entertainment) Starring lots of people. Life in the Shoes of Someone Else Empathy, I would argue, represents a key characteristic of the human condition. Outside of the rare sociopath in the bunch—stop being sociopaths people—we seek to understand the people around us. Granted, some have more empathy than others. But overall, I contend it isn’t too difficult to consider what life might be like in someone else’s shoes. In fact, this consideration represents a core element of acting. What is acting but the full embodiment of another human being? In Casting JonBenét, Kitty Green sets aside the normal narrative beats of a docudrama for something completely… Read More →

Film Review: The Lobster

The Lobster

The Lobster written and directed by Yorgos Lanthimos (A24, Film4, Irish Film Board, Eurimages, R, 119 min) Starring Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, Jessica Barden, Olivia Coleman, Ashley Jensen, Ariane Labed, Angeliki Papoulia, John C. Reilly, Léa Seydoux, Michael Smiley, and Ben Whishaw. Seeing the World through Black Mirror Having recently finished the utterly creepy anthologized series, Black Mirror, I’ve begun to see the world through its nihilistic lens. Facebook is not a platform by which people can remain connected worldwide, but rather a data collection agency hellbent on swaying opinion to the highest bidder. A smart phone does not provide ubiquitous access to every possible thing someone might need on any given day, but rather a slot machine engineered to… Read More →

Book Review: Ready Player One

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Ready Player One: A Novel by Ernest Cline (New York: Broadway Books, 2011. 376 pp) Ernest Cline is a screenwriter, spoken-word artist, and full-time geek. He lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife, their daughter, and a large collection of classic video games. Ready Player One is his first novel. To Buy and Buy Again Unfettered consumerism is probably going to kill us all. Someday, our insatiable appetites will catch up to us. Tracing the roots of consumerism often point us to the birth of advertising and marketing. The strategic impulses encouraging us to buy more than we need to account for our production surpluses. Of course, once consumption becomes normal, the next phase is to consume based on cultural… Read More →