Film Review: Margin Call

Margin Call directed by J.C Chandor (Before The Door Pictures, Benaroya Pictures, Washington Square Films, R, 107 minutes) Starring Kevin Spacey, Paul Bettany, Jeremy Irons, Zachary Quito, Penn Badgley, Simon Baker, Aasif Mandvi, Mary McDonnell, Demi Moore, and Stanley Tucci A Financial Crisis Margin Call catalogues a thirty-six hour period of the events that took place at a prestigious investment firm, which looks similar to the notorious firm Lehman Brothers. Through the lens of the firm, the audience gets to see the financial crisis of 2007-2008, and how investment bankers handled the crisis. The film also had what I considered to be a particularly stellar cast, including Kevin Spacey, Stanley Tucci, and Jeremy Irons. I was excited to see this… Read More →

Andrew’s Top Albums of 2011

For 2011, it felt like I listened to a lot of music. But in retrospect, I didn’t listen to that much. As a result, instead of listing my top forty albums as I did last year (on Facebook, here’s my list from 2010), I have limited this list to twenty-five artists who I feel span a vast array of genres, representing what I feel is the best of the year. 25. Cold War Kids – Mine Is Yours  Though I hadn’t previously heard much of Cold War Kids, I really thought Mine Is Yours was super catchy, singable, and really fun to listen to; it’s a good album for a road trip. 24. The Decemberists – The King Is Dead With their sixth album,… Read More →

Donovan’s Top Albums of 2011

For me, 2011 represented a transition year in my musical taste. Where music previously defined a large portion of my life, now, my relation to music, and by default, my musical consumption, diminished greatly this year. While I used to listen to everything under the sun hoping to find new artists, diamonds in the rough, and great music from bands I had previously written off, I spent most of 2011 listening to artists I have previously enjoyed. Even though my list contains some new artists, I must admit that I am less convinced about this list representing the best of 2011’s music. Nevertheless, I hereby submit my top 25 albums of 2011. 25. Foo Fighters – Wasting Light Wasting Light… Read More →

Andrew and Donovan’s Top Books of 2011

You Win! Not these Trophies Though… Photo by Snap Before we dive into our lists for the best books we have read in 2011, a brief explanation is in order. Unlike our musical tastes, the books we read span generations. Thus it makes little sense to only create a “best of list” around books published in 2011. In fact as you will see, Donovan has only read 10 books published this year. Therefore, we have separated our “best of” list into four specific lists. First, Donovan will present “Top Ten Books Published in 2011” list which will include all ten books he has read published this year. Second, he will share his ten favorite novels read this year that have… Read More →

Christmas Albums 2011: #3 – A Very She & Him Christmas

A Very She & Him Christmas by She & Him (Merge Records, 2011. 32 minutes) She & Him is comprised of Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward, and was originally formed in the city of Portland, Oregon. A Very She & Him Christmas marks the band’s third release, following their previous albums Volume One(2008), and Volume Two (2010). My Exception  I must confess that I love Zooey Deschanel. Ever since she appeared in the movie Elf, I have found her sarcastic wit and beautiful, sultry voice to be absolutely breathtaking. Especially in this highly produced and vocally auto-tuned age, I find her voice refreshing. Having stated my confession, I bought A Very She & Him Christmas, as well as She &… Read More →

Book Review: Boxer, Beetle

Boxer, Beetle: A Novel by Ned Beauman (New York: Bloomsbury, 2011. 256 pp) Ned Beauman was born in London in 1985 and studied philosophy at the University of Cambridge. His writing appears in Dazed & Confused, Another, The Guardian, and The FinancialTimes. His first novel, Boxer, Beetle, was shortlisted for the 2011 DesmondElliott Prize and the 2010 Guardian First Book Award. Review copy provided by Library Thing. What Pawn Stars Can Tell Us about Nazis A couple weeks ago, I watched an episode of Pawn Stars. Setting aside its obvious staged events and scripted dialogue, the show carries an appeal for those interested in the artifacts of history. In fact, I venture a guess that most hope to see someone… Read More →

Book Review: Age of Greed

Age of Greed: The Triumph of Finance and the Decline of America, 1970 to the Present by Jeff Madrick (New York: Knopf, 2011. 480 pp) Jeff Madrick is a regular contributor to The New York Review of Books, and former economics columnist for The New York Times. He is an adjunct professor of humanities at The Cooper Union, and senior fellow at the Roosevelt Institute and at the Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis, The New School. He lives in New York City. The Meltdown  In any situation, time, or place, an individual’s story is of utmost importance. On person can change the lives of a family, a community, and a country. We can learn more about ourselves and our… Read More →

Film Review: Red State

Red State directed by Kevin Smith (The Harvey Boys and NVSH Productions, R, 88 minutes) Starring Michael Parks, Melissa Leo, and John Goodman. Disorientation Honestly, I love complex narratives. When a storyteller leads me down a path and then pulls the rug from under my feet, I take a certain amount of perverse joy in the deception. So then, Kevin Smith’s Red State, with no discernible protagonist and antagonist, ought to be a film that suits my interests. Sadly, not so. A fine line exists between an artistic shredding of stereotypical plot lines and lazily writing a complex mess. Red State is a complex mess. Horny Teenagers Meet Fundamentalist Zealots The movie begins with our first faux-protagonist, Travis (Michael Angarano) being… Read More →

Concert Review: The National, Local Natives, and Wye Oak

Tour Poster The National, Local Natives, and Wye Oak (Concert at The Neptune Theatre, Seattle. December 1, 2001)  Wye Oak  Wye Oak is an indie folk band, comprised of only two members. Andy Stack plays drums, keyboards, and sings backup vocals, while Jenn Wasner sings lead vocals and plays guitar. Formed in 2006 in Maryland, the band has already found wide acclaim and been featured in the television show The Walking Dead. Photo by Renee Barrera When a drummer and a vocalist/guitarist walk on stage you rarely expect something extraordinary. However, that word summarizes Wye Oak nicely. For starters, Andy Stack played the drums and the keyboard simultaneously. At first, his keyboard playing was simple bass lines, but soon it… Read More →

Book Review: God, Freedom, and Evil

God, Freedom, and Evil by Alvin Plantinga (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1977. 121 pp) A well-known American philosopher, Alvin Plantinga is the emeritus John A. O’Brien Professor of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame. Born in 1932, Plantinga earned his B.A. from Calvin College and his Ph.D. from Yale University. Known for defending orthodox Christian beliefs by analytical philosophy, Plantinga has published numerous books including God and Other Minds, The Nature of Necessity, and Warranted Christian Belief. During his distinguished career, Plantinga received multiple honorary degrees and fellowships. In 1980, magazine named Plantinga “America’s leading orthodox Protestant philosopher of God.“ The Problem of Evil Suppose that God, as most Christians believe, is wholly good, all-knowing, all-powerful, and… Read More →