Film Review: Icarus

Icarus

Icarus written by Bryan Fogel and Jon Bertain and directed by Bryan Fogel (Netflix, Alex Productions, Chicago Media Project, Diamond Docs, TV-MA, 121 min) Starring Bryan Fogel and Grigory Rodchenkov. Let the Story Lead You An old adage in writing is to let the story takes you where it takes you. When you write “hot” as Ray Bradbury famously states, the story leads you, not the other way around. Such an approach makes the creative process exceedingly messy. Work operates in a non-linear fashion, one idea here, another idea there. Some ideas wither, a fragment unconnected like a comet hurtling through space. Other ideas come out of nowhere, hijack the outline of what was to come, making the story something… Read More →

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: Evil Genius

Evil Genius

Evil Genius: The True Story of America’s Most Diabolical Bank Heist created by Barbara Schroeder (Netflix, Duplass Brothers Productions) Starring Trey Borzillieri. On True Crime Formatting The success of true crime rests in creating doubt in the viewer’s mind. Typically, the format must follow two paths. One, is someone innocent and the system has failed them? Or second, a successful format outlines the abuse of power. Here, someone is clearly guilty, but wealth and status keep him or her from just desserts. Evil Genius operates as flawed yet still interesting programming between these two formats. The criminals in the story committed the crime. We don’t have any doubt there. Likewise, these people aren’t a part of a ruling class where… Read More →

Television Show Review: Nathan for You: Season 4

Nathan for You Season 4

Nathan for You: Season 4 created by Nathan Fielder and Michael Koman (Comedy Central, Abso Lutely Productions, Blow Out Productions) Starring Nathan Fielder. The Dreams of a Lonely Man A lonely man shoulders the burdens of what is lost. A spare apartment, notable more for the material possessions it lacks rather than the collection of goods signifying a life experienced. This man, adorned in off-the-rack clothes, emits a simmering desperation, a need for connection. 78 years old, the man represents a life on the verge of completion rather than the unfulfilled dreams of youth. And those dreams echo the dreams of generations after him. They mirror the dreams of those who came before him. This man wanted to see his… 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: O.J.: Made in America

OJ Made in America

O.J.: Made in America directed by Ezra Edelman (ESPN Films, Laylow Films, 464 minutes) Starring O.J. Simpson, A.C. Cowlings, Ron Shipp, Marcia Clarke, Gil Garcetti, F. Lee Bailey, Carl E. Douglas, Barry Scheck, Mark Fuhrman, and Tom Lange. Back to the 90s 2016 is the O.J. renaissance. Stylistically, our fashion trends begin to mimic those of our counterparts two decades ago. Our music pushes toward that synthetic sheen or the grunge discord depending on your tastes. Trends aside, the 1990s represent the last moments before computer and internet ubiquity. Consider the large monitor sitting on Judge Ito’s desk during the trial. Today, the computer would be in the judge’s pocket. Even more, today’s omnipresent cell phone society manufactures clearer cases… Read More →

Television Show Review: Chef’s Table

Chef's Table

Chef’s Table created by David Gelb (Boardwalk Pictures, City Room Creative) Starring Dan Barber, Massimo Bottura, Francis Mallman, Niki Nkayama, Magnus Nilsson, and Ben Shewry. Getting Philosophical Upon entry to my preferred academic institution, my parents provided ample pressure to study business. I understand the position. What is college if not a place to earn a degree to set yourself up for consistent success? Unfortunately, my passions—at the time—orbited separate academic pursuits. Even though I have a passion for business, my reasoning for avoiding its study remains consistent. The study of business, at its core, is a normative practice. It tells you what to do and what not to do; if you can master the complicated functions, you have the… 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 →