Film Review: Roma

Roma

Roma written and directed by Alfonso Cuarón (Esperanto Films, Participant Media, Netflix, R, 135 min) Starring Yalitza Aparicio, Marina de Tavira, Diego Cortina Autrey, Carlos Peralta, Marco Graf, Daniela Demesa, Nancy García García, Verónica García, and Jorge Antonio Guerrero. The World Spins Madly On In consideration of the deterministic nature of reality, we often note that the world spins madly on. In the face of intense despair and grief. In the moments of bliss and joy. Beneath it all, the world continues its motion, arcing through space consistently plummeting toward the sun in a gravitational pull fast enough to slingshot by year after year. But, from our lowly vantage, the world doesn’t appear to spin, definitely not madly on. It… Read More →

Film Review: Hold the Dark

Hold the Dark

Hold the Dark written by Macon Blair and William Giraldi and directed by Jeremy Saulnier (Addictive Pictures, Film Science, VisionChaos Productions, Netflix, TV-MA, 125 min) Starring Jeffrey Wright, Riley Keough, Alexander Skarsgård, Julian Black Antelope, and James Badge Dale. Raging Against the Dying of the Light I can think of nothing less classically romantic or poetic than the struggle at the end of a life. Because we fail to grasp the true depths of death, our language and expectations around it are so foreign. We block it off. We refuse to give it the detailed consideration that we might give our wedding day. We live in a constant fight against its ends, as Dylan Thomas would suggest, we rage against… Read More →

Film Review: The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs written and directed by Ethan and Joel Coen (Annapurna Pictures, Mike Zoss Productions, Netflix, R, 133 min) Starring Tim Blake Nelson, David Krumholtz, James Franco, Stephen Root, Liam Neeson, Harry Melling, Tom Waits, Sam Dillon, Bill Heck, Zoe Kazan, Brendan Gleeson, and Tyne Daly. The Next Great American Author Ever since Mark Twain, the literary-minded in the United States have been clamoring for the next Great American author. Well, maybe arguing more than clamoring. However, as I explore the many genres of the written word, I’m starting to believe the argument for or against a specific author is fruitless. Instead, I’m coming to believe there’s a Great American genre, the short story. About a year… Read More →

Television Show Review: BoJack Horseman: Season 5

BoJack Horseman Season 5

BoJack Horseman: Season 5 created by Raphael Bob-Waksberg (Tornante Company, ShadowMachine, and Netflix) Starring Will Arnett, Amy Sedaris, Alison Brie, Aaron Paul, and Paul F. Tompkins. A Matter of Change Can we really change? And, if not, what does that mean for society? Almost everything we do in the modern world operates under the assumption of change. We study, and our knowledge base grows; we practice, and our skills refine. If these external indicators point toward a changing state, doesn’t it stand to reason that our inner lives change too? And yet, certain schools of behavioral psychology argue differently. These theories posit that most elements comprising our internal selves are innate, hard-wired and incapable of change. We are who we… Read More →

Television Show Review: Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee

Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee

Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee: Collection 5 created by Jerry Seinfeld (Embassy Row, Sony Pictures Television) Starring Jerry Seinfeld. Self-Made This week on society’s ongoing outrage cycle: Kylie Jenner will soon be a billionaire and Forbes had the gall to call her self-made. Setting aside any criticism about how we all tend to be mad at something almost all of the time, this specific critique holds some merit. Of course, I know nothing of Kylie’s individual talent; but, I can surmise her ability to create her empire to this extent requires a combination of hard work and skill. But, self-made? Please. The systems and institutions of society—as it stands—bar the concept of self-made, the term a leftover from centuries past… 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: Santa Clarita Diet: Season 2

Santa Clarita Diet Season 2

Santa Clarita Diet: Season 2 created by Victor Fresco (Netflix, Garfield Grove Products, KatCo, Kapital Entertainment) Starring Drew Barrymore, Timothy Olyphant, Liv Hewson, Skyler Gisondo, Mary Elizabeth Ellis, Richard T. Jones, Natalie Morales, Ramona Young, and Nathan Fillion. Functional Marriage When considering the decades of data sources from the annals of scripted television, it almost feels like the most difficult relationship to depict is a functioning marriage. For the most part, it seems as if the spousal relationship fits within one of two buckets. In one bucket, the relationship appears antagonistic. Indicative of the sitcom stereotype, husband and wife snipe at each other. The stasis of the genre requires the marriage to last the entire series, but the humor builds… Read More →

Television Show Review: Queer Eye

Queer Eye

Queer Eye: Season 1 created by David Collins (Netflix, Scout Productions, ITV America) Starring Bobby Berk, Karamo Brown, Tan France, Antoni Porowski, and Jonathan Van Ness. The World Needs More Bobbys As men and women, young and old, press forth attempting to accomplish more than their forebears, a drastic shift in productive work marks our culture. What we once could only accomplish with our hands—blood, sweat, and tears—now we proceed through knowledge work. Who needs a pair of hands when you have an idea? Well, that idea still needs a pair of hands to execute on it. And, Bobby brings back that pair of hands. The New Fab Five The hoi polloi will put Bobby at the bottom of its… Read More →

Film Review: The Breadwinner

The Breadwinner

The Breadwinner written by Anita Doron and Deborah Ellis and directed by Nora Twomey (Aircraft Pictures, Cartoon Saloon, Mélusine Productions, PG-13, 94 min) Starring Saara Chaudry, Soma Chhaya, Noorin Gulamgaus, Laara Sadiq, Shaista Latif, Ali Badshah, and Ali Kazmi. A Hypothetical Nightmare Imagine for a second a hypothetical nightmare. You, by your appearance alone, are unable to enter the public sphere. The marketplace, the agora where locals buy and sell goods is off limits. What would you do, especially if the government does little to support the marginalized and the least of these? Would you risk punishment or death to find food? Or would you wither away at home, hoping for charity? Fortunately, many people in America never need to… Read More →