Film Review: The Last Station

The Last Station directed by Michael Hoffman (Egoli Tossell Film and Zephyr Films, R for strong sexual content, 112 minutes) Starring Helen Mirren, James McAvoy, and Christopher Plummer. The Last Station documents the final years of Leo Tolstoy (Christopher Plummer) and his wife, Sofya Tolstoy (Helen Mirren). The plot centers on Tolstoy’s later-life philosophies such as nonviolent resistance and social justice. Most of Tolstoy’s closest advisors are pressuring the old author to redraft his will in order to give his publications to public domain. Sofya, however, becomes paranoid concerning these idealistic philosophies and worries that losing copyrights to her husband’s work would equal a return to poverty. Tolstoy’s closest confidant, Vladimir Chertkov (Paul Giamatti) hires a Tolstoyan – one who… Read More →

Book Review: The Namesake

The Namesake: A Novel by Jhumpa Lahiri (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2003. 304 pp) Born in London to Bengali immigrants, Jhumpa Lahiri moved to the United States at the young age of 3. Her first published work, Interpreter of Maladies, won the Pulitzer Prize in 2000. In 2007, Hollywood adapted The Namesake into a feature film.  A recipient of the Guggenheim Fellowship, Lahiri is a member of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two children. Home for the Holidays? Thanksgiving introduces an exciting portion of the year. I love sleeping in, wearing pajamas into the living room, and seeing a football game on the television. The turkey is already cooking… Read More →

Book Review: Flickering Pixels

Flickering Pixels: How Technology Shapes Your Faith By Shane Hipps (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2009. 208 pp) Before committing to professional vocational ministry, Shane Hipps held a position with Porsche Cars North America working on communications strategy. After a stint in the corporate world, he received a master of divinity from Fuller Theological Seminary. Hipps pastored Trinity Mennonite Church in Phoenix, Arizona, before he became teaching pastor of Mars Hill Grand Rapids in 2010. Little Dots Comprise the Image Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines a pixel as any of the small discrete elements that together constitute an image. The pixel is a building block, a portion of the larger whole. Without pixels, no image exists. Similarly, people are the building blocks of culture… Read More →

Book Review: Kitchen Confidential

Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly by Anthony Bourdain (New York: Harper Perennial, 2007. Updated Edition 312 pp) Anthony Bourdain, born in 1956, attended Vassar College and graduated from the Culinary Institute of America. He has worked as a cook and chef in many institutions strewn across the New York City map. Bourdain contributes articles to the Times, New York Times, Observer, the Face, Scotland on Sunday, and Food Arts Magazine. An addition to Kitchen Confidential, he has written two crime novels – Gone Bamboo and Bone in the Throat. Bourdain was the executive chef at Brassiere Les Halles and is currently the host of the Travel Channel program: Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations. Bourdain resides in New York City…. Read More →

Television Show Review: The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead produced by Frank Darabont, Gale Anne Hurd, David Alpert, Robert Kirkman, and Charles H. Eglee (Circle of Confusion and Valhalla Motion Pictures, airs Sunday nights on AMC) Starring Andrew Lincoln, Jon Bernthal, Sarah Wayne Callies, Laurie Holden, Jeffrey DeMunn, Steven Yeun, and Chandler Riggs. In an effort to proclaim full disclosure, I must admit that I am not much of a zombie fan. This sub-genre of horror has always seemed low budget, poorly written, and weakly acted. Zombie films typically depict the survival instinct at a basic level. Although this theme is entertaining on a “what if” level, the zombie theme is incapable of constructing the dramatic subtleties that differentiate fantastic movies from standard run-of-the-mill productions. Where… Read More →

Thoughts on Women and Literature

A couple weeks ago, I happened upon this article at the Huffington Post. In summary, the author of the article interviewed two popular novelists – Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Weiner­ – about literary fiction and the critically praised novel, Freedom, by Jonathan Franzen. Both Picoult and Weiner criticize publishers and reviewers alike for exalting a novel about a broken family while avoiding similarly-themed novels by female authors. Simply put, when men write about family, their books are considered literary fiction; when women write about family, their books are labeled romance. Looking at my library, it is extremely male dominant. My library coupled with Picoult and Weiner’s revelation makes me particularly troubled. I want to read well-written books no matter the… Read More →

Book Review: Salvation City

Salvation City: A Novel by Sigrid Nunez (New York: Riverhead Books, 2010. 288 pp) Living in New York City, Sigrid Nunez has published six novels in her career. She is the winner of the Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Foundation Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Whiting Writer’s Award, a fellowship from the New York Foundation for the Arts, and a residency from the Lannan Foundation. She has also received the Rome Prize Fellow in Literature in the American Academy in Rome, a Literature Fellow to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Berlin Prize Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin. Previously, Nunez taught at Amherst College, Smith College, Columbia University, as well as… Read More →

Film Review: The Town

The Town directed by Ben Affleck (Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures, R, 125 minutes) Starring Ben Affleck, Rebecca Hall, John Hamm, and Jeremy Renner. Based in Charlestown, a neighborhood of Boston, the Town tells the story of a washed-up hockey player turned bank robber caught in the vicious cycle of crime. After a successful robbery, the main character – Doug MacRay (Ben Affleck) – volunteers to intimidate a hostage (Claire played by Rebecca Hall) after discovering that she lives four blocks away from the thieves’ home base. While being observed in a Laundromat, the hostage approaches Doug asking for some change. After some basic dialogue, Doug asks Claire out on a date, setting in motion a story of love, crime,… Read More →

Book Review: The Last Town on Earth

The Last Town on Earth: A Novel by Thomas Mullen (New York: Random House Trade Paperbacks, 2006. 432 pp) Born in Rhode Island, Thomas Mullen graduated from Oberlin College. His first novel, The Last Town on Earth received the James Fenimore Cooper Prize for excellence in historical fiction, Best Debut Novel of 2006 by USA Today, and the Chicago Tribune best book of the year. Mullen currently resides in Atlanta with his wife and two sons. Having thoroughly enjoyed The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers, I decided to take a stab at Mullen’s debut novel, The Last Town on Earth. Set in the dense forests of the Pacific Northwest, a small town named Commonwealth quarantines itself in an attempt… Read More →

Book Review: The Omnivore’s Dilemma

The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals By Michael Pollan. (New York: Penguin Books, 2006. 450 pp) Michael Pollan is a contributing writer for New York Times Magazine and the Knight Professor of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley. He has written seven books and countless articles on current agrarian issues. In 2010 alone, Pollan added the Social Justice Champion Award from the California Center for Public Health to his many recognitions as well as being named to the Time 100, the magazine’s annual list of the 100 most influential people. He lives with his wife and son in the San Francisco Bay Area. When I was young, I vividly remember receiving harsher punishments when I lied… Read More →