Television Show Review: Flint Town

Flint Town

Flint Town created by Zackary Canepari, Drea Cooper, and Jessica Dimmock (Netflix, ZC/DC, Anonymous Content) It’s a Big World After All It can be so easy to label that which is different as other. The vagaries of life require our focus. Work, family, play. It can be easy to see the world only as large as the number of Facebook friends. But, we live in a big world. And the people in that world work and recreate. But they are also different, distant. So, by distance and by tradition these people become separate, not like us. A Window into the Life of Another Flint Town is a fascinating documentary because it shines a light on two subsets easy to define… Read More →

Television Show Review: Barry: Season 1

Barry Season 1

Barry: Season 1 created by Alec Berg and Bill Hader (HBO) Starring Bill Hader, Stephen Root, Sarah Goldberg, Glenn Fleshler, Anthony Carrigan, Henry Winkler, and Paula Newsome. Hi-Ho It’s Off to Work We Go Hollywood’s depiction of work always seems off. People lounge around for breakfast, and then work all day. And they seem to like it. Newsflash: most people are not happy with their work and want some sort of outlet to channel frustrations and passions. Now, some people truly love what they do. And when that happens, they still must account for the stress of a competitive marketplace. Most people don’t relax on their weekdays. Somebody out there is working hard to steal that job, that client, that… Read More →

Television Show Review: Mosaic

Mosaic

Mosaic: Limited Series created by Steven Soderbergh (HBO) Starring Sharon Stone, Devin Ratray, Garrett Hedlund, Frederick Weller, James Ransone, Jennifer Ferrin, Zandy Hartig, Jeremy Bobb, Paul Reubens, Maya Kazan, and Beau Bridges. Puzzling Were I to posit a guess about why people cling to the murder mystery genre, I would begin my thesis with a statement about the unifying human desire to complete a puzzle. While some might not have the patience for the 1,000-piece behemoth, everyone finds satisfaction in connecting one piece to another and contributing to the bigger picture. And who doesn’t like the feeling when the last piece situates in its God-given home? The murder mystery exemplifies our fixation on assembling the puzzle. It visualizes each piece… Read More →

Television Show Review: Mindhunter: Season 1

Mindhunter Season 1

Mindhunter: Season 1 created by Joe Penhall (Netflix, Denver and Delilah Productions, Panic Pictures) Starring Jonathan Groff, Holt McCallany, Hannah Gross, Anna Torv, and Cameron Britton. Considering Firsts Who was the first person to make a sandwich? Why did he or she bother with creating all those layers and when did the realization dawn on here that she had discovered something monumental? Honestly, cheers to all the people who tried the poisonous combinations that lead us to our culinary masterpieces. It doesn’t happen often, but those eureka moments are special. You can send thoughts in orbit around your head as you try to arrange the puzzle pieces the right way. Time and time again the pieces don’t seem to fit;… Read More →

Television Show Review: Fargo: Season 3

Fargo Season 3

Fargo: Season 3 created by Noah Hawley (FX, MGM Television) Starring Ewan McGregor, Carrie Coon, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, David Thewlis, Michael Stuhlbarg, Goran Bogdan, Shea Whigham, Andy Yu, Ray Wise, and Olivia Sandoval. The Problem of Success Success often creates new problems. The lottery winner quickly encounters a relational shift with family and friends. When money enters the equation, relationships transform from intrinsic to instrumental quickly. Success in television also causes problematic tension. Does the show lean on the elements that launched it into the stratosphere? Or, does the show use its acclaim to expand its creativity? Season 3 of Fargo, aims for the latter. The Fargo Template In truth, Fargo holds an air-tight template. As an homage to the… Read More →

Television Show Review: The Night Of

The Night Of

The Night Of created by Richard Price and Steven Zallian (BBC Worldwide Productions, HBO, Film Rites) Starring Riz Ahmed, Peyman Moaadi, Poorna Jagannathan, John Turturro, Jeannie Berlin, Paul Sparks, Amara Karan, Bill Camp, and Michael Kenneth Williams. Put the Kettle On Surprise! The systems around which you operate influence you. Example: I work with a British expatriate. My lexicon now skews toward sayings like “Put the kettle on” instead of “Boil water” and “Two weeks’ time” instead of “Two weeks from now.” It’s a small example but it goes to show how external influences alter who we are, how we act, and what we believe. When it comes to murder mysteries, most narrative arcs focus on the “whodunnit” aspect of… Read More →

Television Show Review: American Crime Story: The People v. O. J. Simpson

American Crime Story: The People v. O. J. Simpson

American Crime Story: The People v. O. J. Simpson created by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski (20th Century Fox Productions, Ryan Murphy Productions, Color Force) Starring Sterling K. Brown, Kenneth Choi, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Christian Clemenson, Bruce Greenwood, Nathan Lane, Sarah Paulson, David Schwimmer, John Travolta, and Courtney B. Vance. But a Quarter We are but a quarter into 2016 and I would suggest the current cultural milieu continues to ask questions about the meaning of justice and diversity in our modern age. Perhaps in part to the demagogues running for president, society asks questions about non-white perspectives on the world. What does life mean for those without privilege? Culture wants this question answered. Ta-Nehisi Coates publishes a critically acclaimed… Read More →

Television Show Review: Making a Murderer

Making a Murderer

Making a Murderer created by Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos (Synthesis Films, Netflix) Starring Steven Avery. Behind Bars I haven’t spent much of my waking tine daydreaming about what it would be like to live my life behind bars. Prison remains an ethereal concept. I know “bad” people are there; I realize a disproportionate number of inmates emerge from low socio-economic status. In truth, I don’t proceed on a daily basis with any level of fear about breaking the law and the corresponding need to do time. Aside from a riveting story of true crime, Making a Murderer renders me apart because of the way it portrays systemic issues in the judicial system that can lead to broken outcomes seeped… Read More →

Book Review: The Mystery of the Lost Cézanne

The Mystery of the Lost Cezanne by M.L Longworth

The Mystery of the Lost Cézanne: A Verlaque and Bonnet Mystery by M. L. Longworth (New York: Penguin Books, 2015. 320 pp) M. L. Longworth is the author of the Verlaque and Bonnet mystery series set in Southern France. She has lived in France for over seventeen years and splits her time between Aix-en-Provence, where she writes, and Paris, where she teaches writing at New York University’s Paris campus. Starting from the Middle Now We’re Here My favorite television critic, Todd VanDerWerff, often bangs the drum of starting a television series at any point. If you hear a show gets going in the third season, don’t waste time with the preliminary seasons just to get to the good stuff. You’ll… Read More →

Television Show Review: The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst

The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst

The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst directed by Andrew Jarecki (Home Box Office, Blumhouse Productions) Starring Robert Durst. Must-See TV In the age of ubiquitous Internet, there’s nothing much left that constitutes must-see television. The bigwigs of scripted television measure more than just standard Nielsen ratings. People, you see, have altered their viewing habits. Many have cut cords, focusing on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, et al. Others keep cable but stash shows on DVR so they can live their lives well. The only thing left that demands live viewing seems to be sports. Sure, you can DVR a game as well, but it seems as if sport has developed the tyranny of the now. Fans watch to… Read More →