Television Show Review: Westworld: Season 2

Westworld Season 2

Westworld: Season 2 created by Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy (HBO, Bad Robot, Jerry Weintraub Productions, Kilter Films) Starring Evan Rachel Wood, Thandie Newton, Jeffrey Wright, James Marsden, Ed Harris, Anthony Hopkins, Angela Sarafyan, Tessa Thompson, Luke Hemsworth, Simon Quarterman, Shannon Woodward, Talulah Riley, Rodrigo Santoro, Ingrid Bolso Berdal, Ben Barnes, and Jimmi Simpson. It’s All Greek to Me When I was working on my undergraduate degree, I made the mistake of minoring in Greek. Scratch that. Having completed the degree, I don’t consider it a mistake. During my studies, however, it was definitely a mistake. Ancient Greek is a tricky subject. Unlike English where verb tense gives the reader context between past, present, and future—and the placement of the… 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 →

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: Fortitude: Season 2

Fortitude Season 2

Fortitude: Season 2 created by Simon Donald (Fifty Fathoms Products, Sky Atlantic, Tiger Aspect Productions) Starring Richard Dormer, Björn Haraldsson, Sofie Gråbøl, Sienna Guillory, Mia Jexen, Luke Treadaway, Alexandra Moen, Darren Boyd, Ramon Tikaram, Ken Stott, Edvin Endre, Michelle Fairley, Dennis Quaid, Robert Sheehan, and Parminder Nagra. Best Let the Mystery Be The Christmas present, gloriously wrapped and glistening, takes on the weight of anticipation for Christmas morning. A rectangle, decorated in shiny green and maroon hues, holds a gesture of love. Someone in your family thought about you, considered your needs, remembered a passing reference to an item desired. With painstaking detail and multiple attempts at wrapping the thing, the gift transcends an object; it means relationship, love, and… Read More →

Book Review: Pattern Recognition

Patter Recognition by William Gibson

Pattern Recognition: A Novel by William Gibson (New York: Putnam, 2003. 362 pp) William Gibson is an American-Canadian science fiction novelist. A pioneer in the genre of “cyberpunk,” Gibson has earned numerous awards including the Nebula Award, the Hugo Award, the Philip K. Dick Award, the Ditmar Award, the Seiun Award, and the Prix Aurora Award. Form and the Unreliable Narrator Sometimes I take minor joy in the serendipitous connections between my reading and television consumption habits. Currently, I’m diving into Mr. Robot, the critically acclaimed hacker drama. Taking a chapter out of the cult classic, Fight Club, Mr. Robot uses an unreliable narrator to question toxic masculinity and the expectations of the dominant culture. With visual cues corresponding to… 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 →

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: Fortitude: Season 1

Fortitude Season 1

Fortitude: Season 1 created by Simon Donald (Fifty Fathoms Productions, Sky Atlantic, Tiger Aspect Productions) Starring Sofie Gråbøl, Mia Jexen, Luke Treadaway, Richard Dormer, Verónica Echegui, Björn Hlynur Haraldsson, Nicholas Pinnock, Elizabeth Dormer-Philips, Darren Boyd, Sienna Guillory, Johnny Harris, Jessica Raine, Michael Gambon, Jessica Gunning, Stanley Tucci, and Darwin Brokenrbo. In Search of Isolation I’m often caught in two minds. One side of me wants to live at the heart of it all. City life means an unending conveyor belt of restaurants, concerts, and can’t-miss events. Every block offers a new city park and the concentration of human habitat allows for many friendships and communities to prosper. But, on the other hand, there’s a draw toward solitude. The bustle of… 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 →