Film Review: Sin Nombre

Sin Nombre directed by Cary Fukunaga (Scion Films, Canana Films, and Creando Films, R, 96 min) Starring Paulina Gaitan, Edgar Flores, and Kristian Ferrer. 35,000 Feet between Cultures An airplane flies overhead as the characters look up in awe, dreaming of the day that they too can board a passenger plane. This scene is a brief but defining moment in Sin Nombre. It expresses the distance between the life of the viewer and the life depicted on screen. Shot in Mexico and with dialogue in Spanish, Sin Nombre depicts the intertwining lives of two characters, Sayra (Paulina Gaitan) and Willy “El Casper” (Edgar Flores), as they escape the poverty and gang culture of Honduras. Strikingly Different People, Strikingly Similar Pursuits… Read More →

Film Review: Exit Through The Gift Shop

Exit Through the Gift Shop directed by Banksy (Paranoid Pictures, Revolver Entertainment, R, 87 minutes) Starring: Thierry Guetta, Banksy, Shepherd Fairey, Invader Graffiti as Art  You’re walking down the street and suddenly you see something—graffiti. If you live in any major city, you’ve seen it, and they are not that pretty. They are normally some gang insignias or autographs marking territory; they are something you ignore. Perhaps they are something you hate to see, or something that is vulgar and repulsive. What would happen if the graffiti were beautiful? You would stop and look at it in awe, and hopefully it would make you think. This is the beginning of the street art phenomena. The documentary, Exit Through the Gift Shop,… Read More →

Book Review: The Fates Will Find Their Way

The Fates Will Find Their Way: A Novel by Hannah Pittard (New York: Ecco Publishing, 2011. 256 pp) Hannah Pittard’s fiction has appeared in McSweeney’s, the Oxford American, the Mississippi Review, BOMB, Nimrod, and StoryQuarterly, and was included in 2008 Best American Short Stories’ 100 Distinguished Stories. She is the recipient of the 2006 Amanda Davis Highwire Fiction Award and has taught fiction at the University of DePaul and the University of Virginia, where she was also a Henry Hoyns Fellow. Telephone! It begins as early as preschool with children congregating in a circle. The teacher kneels and whispers information to a girl urging her to motion it onward to her neighbor’s ear. As the children intake, comprehend, and transfer information, the… Read More →

Book Review: The Rook

The Rook: A Novel: A Novel by Daniel O’Malley (New York: Little Brown and Company, 2012. 482pp.) Daniel O’Malley is a first-time author. He works for the Australian government, managing media relations for the agency that investigates transportation accidents. He also holds a master’s degree in medieval history from Ohio State University. Ghostbusters! Though I sometimes hate to admit it, one of my favorite movies has been, and most likely always will be, Ghostbusters!. I know it’s cheesy; I know the acting isn’t super amazing, but Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd made that movie both hilarious and exciting. So, for me, reading a book that contained equal parts Ghostbusters, James Bond, and Memento really enthralled me. The Rook is a… Read More →

Book Review: The Marriage Plot

The Marriage Plot: A Novel by Jeffrey Eugenides (New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2011. 416 pp) Born in Detroit, Michigan on March 8, 1960, Jeffrey Eugenides is a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist and short story writer. As an undergraduate, he attended Brown University and later earned an M.A. in Creative Writing from Stanford University. Eugenides received the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Fellowship for a short story he wrote in 1986. In 2002, his novel, Middlesex, won the Pulitzer Prize and the Ambassador Book Award. Eugenides works on faculty at Princeton University’s Program in Creative writing and lives in New Jersey with his wife and daughter. The Bachelor/ette-ization of America As a seemingly perpetual joke, The Bachelor/ette television… Read More →

Book Review: Kraken

Kraken by China Miéville (New York: Del Rey, 2010. 509 pp) China Miéville is the author of several notable novels, including King Rat, Perdido Street Station, The Scar, Iron Council, and Un Lun Dun. He describes his own work as “weird fiction.” He teaches creative writing at Warwick University, and is active in the Socialist Workers Party in his home country of England. Lost in a Book  Getting lost in a novel can be rare. I still remember as a child reading one of the first books I chose to read on my own, though I wish I remembered what book it was. The characters seemed to burst off the page, and I became an avid reader from that point… Read More →

Book Review: Second Treatise of Government

Second Treatise of Government by John Locke, edited by C.B. Macpherson (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 1980; originally published in 1690. 124 pp) Widely known as the Father of Liberalism, John Locke’s work in epistemology and political philosophy has influenced countless nations. Born in 1632 in England, Locke attended Westminster School in London earning a bachelor’s and master’s degree. Having fled to the Netherlands to escape suspicion of an assassination plot, Locke began publishing his writing upon his return to England. With his writing gaining widespread influence, Locke died in 1704. He never married nor fathered children. C.B. Macpherson was born in Toronto, Canada in 1911. From 1935 to his death in 1987, he taught primarily at the University of Toronto… Read More →

Book Review: Pulphead

Pulphead: Essays by John Jeremiah Sullivan (New York: Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, 2011. 365pp) John Jeremiah Sullivan is a contributing writer to The New York Times Magazine, a contributing editor of Harper’s Magazine, and editor of The Paris Review. He is the author of two books: Blood Horses: Notes of a Sportswriter’s Son and Pulphead. “Greatest Hits” I recently picked up a couple books containing essays by reputable journalists. The first being Distrust that Particular Flavor by William Gibson, and the second being Pulphead by John Jeremiah Sullivan. What I’ve found difficult about these books is that both are rather like listening to a compilation album, or better yet, a “greatest hits” album by an artist you love. On such… Read More →

Book Group: The Old Man and the Sea

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway Donovan’s Version: (New York: Simon & Schuster, Inc., 1955. 127 pp) Andrew’s Version: (New York: Scribner, 1980. 93 pp) Since both of the contributors are actively involved in a book group, we thought it might be interesting to review the books we read for this group in a “book discussion” style. What follows is less a critical reflection on the literary themes in a particular work and more a discussion about the novel. What we liked; what we didn’t like; what we thought the author intended to say; whether or not we thought the author succeeded in communicating those thoughts. Who knows how it will end up but here we go! Donovan:… Read More →

Film Review: Waiting for “Superman”

Waiting for “Superman” directed by Davis Guggenheim (Electric Kinney Films, Participant Media, Walden Media, PG, 111 minutes) Starring: Geoffrey Canada, Michelle Rhee, and Bill Strickland A Good Teacher Is Hard to Find I’m a teacher and I consider myself a decent one. I care about my students, work hard, and push myself constantly so that I can stay ahead of the curve. One would think that this mindset would be the norm for education professionals, but it isn’t. Reality suggests that good teachers are few and far between; this state should not exist. Geoffrey Canada says it this way in Waiting for “Superman”, “No matter where we live, or what we believe in, when we believe in our school systems,… Read More →