Television Show Review: The Deuce: Season 1

The Deuce Season 1

The Deuce: Season 1 created by David Simon and George Pelecanos (HBO, Blown Deadline Productions) Starring James Franco, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Gbenga Akinnagbe, Gary Carr, Dominique Fishback, Lawrence Gilliard Jr., Margarita Levieva, Emily Meade, Method Man, Daniel Sauli, Kayla Foster, Don Harvey, Chris Bauer, Chris Coy, Natalie Paul, Michael Rispoli, Anwan Glover, and David Krumholtz. Red, White, and Blue Hot dogs. Hamburgers. Football. Country. Bourbon. Basketball. Levi’s. Budweiser. American as apple pie. When I think about the brand persona of the good ‘ol Red, White, and Blue, these are a few of its favorite things. Yet beneath these cosmetic representations of civic pride, there’s a deeper concept in the American ethos. The entrepreneurial spirit. A natural end to the “bring-me-your-poor” narrative,… Read More →

Television Show Review: Master of None: Season 2

Master of None Season 2

Master of None: Season 2 created by Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang (3 Arts Entertainment, Universal Television, Netflix, Alan Yang Pictures) Starring Aziz Ansari, Eric Wareheim, Lena Waithe, Kelvin Yu, Alessandra Mastronardi, Shoukath Ansari, Bobby Cannavale, and Fatima Ansari. Transcending Form Art seemingly seeks a state of barrierlessness. The best art often works to transcend its form. A basic melody becomes a harmony. A hero to anti-hero. A cave drawing to Impressionism. While we cling to elements of the familiar—atonal music is a bridge too far to cross and a story needs a beginning, middle, and an end—familiarity breeds contempt. Given the orbit of boringness linked to familiarity, the pushing of art may likely link closely to the desire to… 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: Brooklyn

Brooklyn

Brooklyn written by Nick Hornby, directed by John Crowley (Wildgaze Films, BBC Films, Parallel Film Productions, PG-13, 117 min) Starring Saoirse Ronan, Emory Conan, Jim Broadbent, Fiona Glascott, Jane Brennan, and Domhnall Gleeson. A Nation of Immigrants We are a nation of immigrants. The farther we move from our nation’s inception, the hazier this fact becomes. But truthfully, the majority of the American population can trace its roots back to a voyage across the Atlantic. On my father’s side, the dominant story establishes itself with early roots. A Thomas Jefferson Richards braced tempestuous waters in the chilly Atlantic on a “Mayflower.” In my younger years, I wanted to believe TJR represented the first pilgrims. I haven’t done enough digging for… Read More →

Television Show Review: Master of None: Season 1

Master of None Season 1

Master of None: Season 1 created by Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang (3 Arts Entertainment, Netflix, Universal Television) Starring Aziz Ansari, Noël Wells, Lena Waithe, Eric Wareheim, Kelvin Yu, and Todd Barry. Literary Comedy Upon hearing the question, “What is it about?” how often are you able to give a concise summary of a show? The plot, more often than not, drives such a discussion. The chemistry teacher turns to cooking meth. A handful of families wage war against each other to take hold of the iron throne. Comedy, though, tends to abstain from plot-heavy storytelling. Some shows tell stories in long narrative arcs, but many also use a handful of situations to generate comedy. These sitcoms remove character complexity,… Read More →

Television Show Review: The Man in the High Castle: Season 1

The Man in the High Castle

The Man in the High Castle: Season 1 created by Frank Spotnitz (Amazon Studios, Big Light Productions, Electric Shepherd Productions) Starring Alexa Davalos, Rupert Evans, Luke Kleintank, DJ Qualls, Joel de la Fuente, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Rufus Sewell, Arnold Chun, Rick Worthy and Carsten Norgaard. In Praise of Imagination May we always promote and encourage imagination. The young child proclaiming “choo choo” as he pushes his toy train around the house often loses his creativity when the mandates of life require the squashing if the imaginative spirit. For me, the best stories often emerge from an imaginative foundation. The genre of magical realism best encapsulates my preferences. It takes life as we know it and alters it slightly to better explore… Read More →

Film Review: The Immigrant

The Immigrant

The Immigrant written and directed by James Gray (Keep Your Head, Kingsgate Films, Worldview Entertainment, R, 120 min) Starring Marion Cotillard, Joaquin Phoenix, and Jeremy Renner. The American Dream What’s your American Dream? A big house? Five cars? Do you have a plan to get there? For many Millennials, the American Dream is more of an American Expectation. The grand ideals of success represent life as it should be, and every day without achievement feels like failure. But isn’t the American Dream about hope? Unparalleled success by definition can’t be for everyone. Were it received by all, it would no longer be unparalleled. What if the American Dream operates as the carrot dangling in front of the rabbit? Hard work… Read More →

Television Show Review: Boardwalk Empire: Season 5

Boardwalk Empire Season 5

Boardwalk Empire: Season 5 created by Terence Winter (Home Box Office, Leverage Management, Closest to the Hole Productions) Starring Steve Buscemi, Michael Kenneth Williams, Shea Whigham, Stephen Graham, Michael Shannon, Jeffrey Wright, Gretchen Mol, Vincent Piazza, Anatol Yusef, and Kelly Macdonald. *Spoiler Alert for Previous Seasons* Nuclear Daydream What would it take to desensitize your soul? How many times must the dice roll the wrong way before you feel somnambulant, checked out, indifferent to anything? I’ve always felt like there’s a precipitous cliff involved with sporting interests. When your favorite team is really good, you care extensively. As the team gets worse, you care even more, as if your rooting energy and support can somehow will the team into a… Read More →

Book Review: To Rise Again at a Decent Hour

To Rise Again at a Decent Hour by Joshua Ferris

To Rise Again at a Decent Hour: A Novel by Joshua Ferris (New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2014. 352 pp) Joshua Ferris is the author of two previos novels, Then We Came to the End and The Unnamed. His fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, Granta, Tin House, and The Best American Short Stories. Ferris was chosen for The New Yorker’s “20 Under 40” list of fiction writers in 2010. He Lives in New York Modernity Examined The modern world offers an exorbitant amount of preposterousness when considered deeply. We’re an advanced culture that’s been able to push past the limitations of Babel, and yet we don’t want to go beyond “good morning” with our co-workers, people we… Read More →

Book Review: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay: A Novel by Michael Chabon (New York: Random House, 2000.  704 pp) One of the most celebrated writers of his generation according to The Virginia Quarterly Review, Michael Chabon was born in Washington D.C. He earned his B.A. from the University of Pittsburgh and his M.F.A from the University of California, Irvine. Chabon published his first novel, The Mysteries Of Pittsburgh, from his master’s thesis at the age of 25. His third novel, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, won the 2001 Pulitzer Prize. The Yiddish Policemen’s Union won Chabon the Hugo Award and the Nebula Award. He is married to poet Lollie Groth. It’s Magic Magic takes many forms. It’s sleight… Read More →