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 →

Film Review: Paterson

Paterson

Paterson written and directed by Jim Jarmusch (Amazon Studios, K5 International, Inkjet Productions, R, 118 min) Starring Adam Driver, Golshifteh Farahani, Rizwan Manji, Barry Shabaka Henley, Chasten Harmon, and William Jackson Harper. On the Quotidian Collectively, we need to reappraise the quotidian. In our pursuit of the next titillating meme, status update, or app notification, the simple pleasures of life seem to disintegrate like salt upon contact with boiling water. It’s ok to be bored. No. I’ll suggest a stronger statement. BOREDOM IS A VIRTUE. Now, a mind left in idle should never be the only aim. That said, the mundanity of life expands the subconscious atmosphere, opening our minds to creative juices left dormant when we’re always plugged in…. Read More →

Television Show Review: Mr. Robot: Season 3

Mr Robot Season 3

Mr. Robot: Season 3 created by Sam Esmail (USA, Universal Cable Productions, Anonymous Content) Starring Rami Malek, Christian Slater, Portia Doubleday, Martin Wallström, Carly Chaikin, Michael Cristofer, Grace Gummer, Stephanie Corneliussen, BD Wong, Sunita Mani, Azhar Khan, and Omar Metwally. *Spoiler Alert for Previous Seasons* In the End You’re Just Fighting Yourself During a critical hour in a rehabilitated Season 3 of Mr. Robot, a weary protagonist runs down a hallway attempting to thwart a terrorist attack. In pursuit, the antagonist attempts to wrestle our hero to the ground in time for the attacks to commence. In any normal show, this scene unravels with standard tropes, dialogue, and fight-scene choreography. But given the psychological drama of Mr. Robot, protagonist and… Read More →

Book Review: Fresh Complaint

Fresh Complaint by Jeffrey Eugenides

Fresh Complaint: Stories by Jeffrey Eugenides (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2017. 304 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 Knot in Your Stomach A signal of life, outside of biological factors such… Read More →

Television Show Review: BoJack Horseman: Season 4

BoJack Horesman Season 4

BoJack Horseman: Season 4 created by Raphael Bob-Waksberg (Netflix, Tornante Company, ShadowMachine) Starring Will Arnett, Amy Sedaris, Alison Brie, Aaron Paul, and Paul F. Tompkins. Onward to Positive Psychology Have you ever noticed the perspective of self-talk? While a subjective observation, it seems self-talk slides into second person. “You’re not good enough.” “Look what you did this time.” “You’re never going to make it.” As a teenager, my limited training in positive sports psychology argued for a surgical denunciation of this “other.” Often if I used the “I” pronoun and told myself I would succeed or have a good day, I would tend to have a better day. Some Christian traditions suggest the “other” as a demonic accusation of sorts,… Read More →

Film Review: American Honey

American Honey

American Honey written and directed by Andrea Arnold (A24, Parts and Labor, British Film Institute, Film4, R, 163 min) Starring Sasha Lane, Shia LaBeouf, Riley Keough, McCaul Lombardi, Arielle Holmes, Crystal Ice, Veronica Ezell, Chad Cox, Garry Howell, Kenneth Kory Tucker, Raymond Coalson, Isaiah Stone, and Dakota Powers. A Suburbanite’s Dance with Poverty My closest dance with poverty waltzed through my life in my early twenties. Mind you, poverty in the most white, suburbanized approach to the word. Even during my lowest earning periods, parents possessed a knack for encouraging currency toward my empty coffers, let alone the fail-safe of an exhibit-quality room waiting for me were I ever to require lodging again (I did). As such, the suburban white… 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: Vinyl: Season 1

Vinyl Season 1

Vinyl: Season 1 created by Rich Cohen, Mick Jagger, and Martin Scorsese (Paramount Television, Sikelia Productions, Jagged Films) Starring Bobby Cannavale, Paul Ben-Victor, P. J. Byrne, Max Casella, Ato Essandoh, James Jagger, J. C. MacKenzie, Jack Quaid, Olivia Wilde, Juno Temple, and Ray Ramano. Design Failure In my line of work, we like to discuss the weight of organizational identity. In particular, the visual mark of a company cannot carry the entire strategic sensibility of the business. If a logo represents every last detail of the organization, it will crumble under the pressure. The design will fail. For this reason, I think of logos when I consider the effectiveness of HBO’s Vinyl. At its core, Vinyl depicts the shifting music… Read More →

Television Show Review: House of Cards: Season 4

House of Cards Season 4

House of Cards: Season 4 created by Beau Willimon (Media Rights Capital, Panic Pictures, Trigger Street Productions, Netflix) Starring Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright, Michael Kelly, Nathan Darrow, Mahersala Ali, Molly Parker, Jayne Atkinson, and Elizabeth Marvel. All Hail the Death of Political Drama Political drama is dead. We have killed it. Over the previous three seasons of House of Cards, the Achilles’ heel of an addictive show emerged in its suspension of disbelief. The viewer can only go so far before the murder, betrayal, and political scheming becomes absurd. And yet, our current political climate suggests we aren’t going far enough to push the absurdity of our political drama. Granted, none of our current Presidential runners go to the depths… 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 →