Television Show Review: Sharp Objects

Sharp Objects

Sharp Objects created by Marti Noxon (HBO, Crazyrose, Fourth Born, Blumhouse Television) Starring Amy Adams, Patricia Clarkson, Eliza Scanlen, Chris Messina, Matt Craven, and Henry Czerny. Seeing My Parents in Me I often wonder how much of my parents are in me. Stated differently, when I react to certain stimuli, where do I end and where do my parents, grandparents, and beyond begin? Am I determined to repeat the same mistakes? Take the same paths? When I look at my kids, I can see certain tendencies and traits straight out of my playbook. Life almost feels like and endless loop at a photocopier, each reproduction a repetition of the one before it. I share more than a last name with… 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: The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story

American Crime Story The Assassination of Gianni Versace

The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story created by Ryan Murphy (FX, Ryan Murphy Productions, Color Force) Starring Édgar Ramírez, Darren Criss, Ricky Martin, Penélope Cruz, Judith Light, Finn Wittrock, Joanna P. Adler, Jon Jon Briones, Mike Farrell, Cody Fern, and Max Greenfield. Do Not Kill I’m not planning on becoming a serial killer. Seriously, never. But I find the most recent anthologized story on the assassination of Gianni Versace to paint a quasi-sympathetic portrait of a killer. Andrew Cunanan (Darren Criss) was a terrible person, and the Memento-style reverse storytelling technique ensures you see the worst of Andrew first. But Andrew’s back story is somewhat tragic. A product of his circumstances, he can never quite feel like he… Read More →

Television Show Review: Altered Carbon: Season 1

Altered Carbon Season 1

Altered Carbon: Season 1 created by Laeta Kalogridis (Netflix, Mythology Entertainment, Skydance Television) Starring Joel Kinnaman, James Purefoy, Martha Higareda, Chris Conner, Dichen Lachman, Ato Essandoh, Kristin Lehman, Trieu Tran, Hiro Kanagawa, and Waleed Zuaiter. Let’s Begin Some Thought Experiments Every thought experiment in philosophy begins with a hypothetical. What if we all exist as brains in a vat? What if orange doesn’t exist? What if we never die? Fun, right? If we were brains in a vat, might life feel exactly the same, if images still project scene by scene on our consciousness? How can we know for sure? Better yet, would it even matter? Some philosophers suggest if we have no epistemological foundation for denying it, how could… 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 →

Book Review: Pigeon English

Pigeon English by Stephen Kelman

Pigeon English: A Novel by Stephen Kelman (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011. 288 pp) Stephen Kelman was born in Luton in 1976. Pigeon English, his first novel, was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, the Desmond Elliot Prize, and the Guardian First Book Award. He lives in St. Albans. Existential Fears of Parenthood There’s a list of Oscar-nominated films piling up in the queue. The reasons are many. We work; we try to make dinner; scarcely a minute passes without the air molecules punctured from another exhort: “Daddy! Daddy! Daddy! Look at me!” Down the list of reasons for which we tend not to watch movies exists a fear. Put differently, many films place children in perilous circumstances. While such… Read More →

Book Review: Frog Music

Frog Music by Emma Donoghue

Frog Music: A Novel by Emma Donoghue (New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2014. 410 pp) Emma Donoghue was born in Dublin, Ireland to Frances and Denis Donoghue. She attended University College Dublin earning first-class honors in English and French. Later, she received her Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge. In addition to Room, she has written the Sealed Letter, Landing, Touchy Subjects, Life Mask, the Woman who Gave Birth to Rabbits, Slammerkin, Kissing the Witch, Hood, and Stirfry. Donoghue lives in Ontario, Canada with her family. Describing History The preservation of history requires detail. Historians often wax poetically around the systems and institutions of history. The historian asks big questions, such as, what socioeconomic issues constitute causes for the… Read More →

Television Show Review: The Keepers

The Keepers

The Keepers created by Ryan White (Netflix, Film 45, Tripod Media) Starring Gemma Hoskins, Abbie Schaub, Jean Hargadon Wehner, and Teresa Lancaster. Obedience The experiments of Stanley Milgram will go down in history. The mid-century social scientist struck a nerve in society with his groundbreaking study titled, “Obedience.” The study placed its subjects in a stressful situation. The subject received instruction stating he would act as a “teacher.” Milgram walked a “student” to a separate room where the “student” gets hooked to a shock generator. Unbeknownst to the “teacher,” the “student” is an actor and won’t be getting shocked. As the “teacher” returns to the original room, Milgram places the him at an impressive looking instrument that looks like a… Read More →

Book Review: American Appetites

American Appetites by Joyce Carol Oates

American Appetites: A Novel by Joyce Carol Oates (New York: Dutton, 1989. 340 pp) Born in Lockport, New York, Joyce Carol Oates earned her B.A. from Syracuse University and her M.A. from the University of Wisconsin. An author of over 40 novels, Oates has received numerous awards, including the O. Henry Award, the National Book Award, the National Humanities Medal, and the Stone Award for Lifetime Literary Achievement. See You in Court The courtroom drama only has a minuscule amount of end games. Between guilty, not guilty, and possibly a hung jury, a story has little room to shock or surprise. And yet, legal theater draws much interest. Why? I’m no psychologist but if I had to hazard a guess,… 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 →