Book Review: Nocturnes

Nocturnes by Kazuo Ishiguro

Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall by Kazuo Ishiguro (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2009. 240 pp) Born in 1954 in Nagasaki, Japan, Kazuo Ishiguro moved with his family to England in 1960. Ishiguro attended the University of Kent receiving a bachelor’s degree in 1978 and continued his education at the University of East Anglia obtaining a master’s degree in creative writing in 1980. A celebrated novelist, Ishiguro has been nominated four times for the Man Booker Prize, winning it in 1989 for his work, The Remains of the Day. Ishiguro’s novel, Never Let Me Go, was adapted to a full-length film featuring Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley, and Andrew Garfield. In 2017, Ishiguro won the Nobel Prize in Literature…. Read More →

Film Review: A Star Is Born

A Star Is Born

A Star Is Born written by Eric Roth and Bradley Cooper and directed by Bradley Cooper (Warner Bros. Pictures, Live Nation Productions, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, R, 136 min) Starring Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga, Sam Elliott, Andrew Dice Clay, Rafi Gavron, Anthony Ramos, and Dave Chappelle. Chasing the Profound What makes something profound? What conditions of elements must mix together to create a compelling mélange? Surely, surprise must operate as a key element. That which is typical tends not to point toward profundity. We’ve seen it before. It also seems as if relatability acts as a key pillar. If an artwork doesn’t feel human, it likely doesn’t pull at the emotional depths of what makes us who we are. But, it feels like… Read More →

Film Review: Coco

Coco

Coco written by Lee Unkrich and Jason Katz, directed by Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina (Walt Disney Pictures, Pixar Animation Studios, PG, 105 min) Starring Anthony Gonzalez, Gael García Bernal, Benjamin Bratt, Alanna Ubach, Renee Victor, Jaime Camil, Herbert Siguenza. Life Transportation My favorite thing about reading fiction? The ability to transport into the life of another human being. There’s something special about a novel’s internalized point of view that builds empathy for people too often labeled as “other.” Visual storytelling is a little more difficult. Humans inherently read their unconscious biases into what they see. No matter how pious, virtuous, or philanthropical someone might be, too often a viewer can’t move beyond a skin tone. This sad reality, from… 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 →

Film Review: La La Land

La La Land

La La Land written and directed by Damien Chazelle (Black Label Media, Gilbert Films, Impostor Pictures, PG-13, 128 min) Starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. Make Hollywood Great Again We live in an era of nostalgia. The largest television phenomenon of 2016 focused on 1980s synths, hairstyles, and sci-fi horror. Beyond cultural nostalgia, we saw an election where a clear motivation at the polls focused on policies pushing America toward the past, toward a time where the nation was considered “great,” at least for a certain kind of American. Trends ebb and flow. Beliefs move in and out of season as if they are fashion chic. While many rightly criticize much of the policies bringing fear to certain groups of… Read More →

Film Review: Green Room

Green Room

Green Room written and directed by Jeremy Saulnier (A24, Broad Green Pictures, Film Science, R, 95 min) Starring Anton Yelchin, Joe Cole, Alia Shawkat, Callum Turner, David W. Thompson, Eric Edelstein, Macon Blair, Imogen Poots, and Patrick Stewart. A Tough Genre to Master When it comes to uncomfortable viewing, the horror/suspense genre takes the cake. The viewer knows most of the characters aren’t going to make it; the question becomes the “why” and the “how” of the demise. The difficulty of the genre lies in replicating realism. Most days, killers aren’t stalking groups of friends a la I Know What You Did Last Summer. The writer and director must think carefully about the best possible way to conjure a scenario… 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 →

Book Review: Pictures from Brueghel and Other Poems

Pictures from Brueghel by William Carlos Williams

Pictures from Brueghel and Other Poems: Collected Poems 1950-1962 by William Carlos Williams (New York: New Directions, 1962. 184 pp) Born in Rutherford, New Jersey, William Carlos Williams studied medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. While his primary occupation was a family doctor, William Carlos Williams had a successful secondary career as a poet. Williams won the first National Book Award for Poetry and was posthumously awarded the Pulitzer Prize. He died in 1963. All that Jazz Even though I’ve critically consumed copious amounts of music over the years, I don’t know what to do with Jazz. The very thing I enjoy about critical reflection surrounds the narrative and structure of any given piece. Jazz, by definition, represents the very… Read More →

Film Review: Whiplash

Whiplash

Whiplash written and directed by Damien Chazelle (Bold Films, Blumhouse Productions, Right of Way Films, R, 107 min) Starring Miles Teller, J.K. Simmons, and Paul Reiser. LEAD What does it take to be an effective leader? Let’s get the obvious out of the way. You’ll need followers. If you’re leading thin air, I feel bad for you son. But supposing you are in a position of leadership, no matter how large or small, there’s an opportunity to mold the people underneath you, to encourage them and maximize their potential. Some leaders offer the quiet calm in a storm. Others are fiery and charismatic. Some micro-manage; others break the chains and let their people run free. Truthfully, much of your leadership… Read More →