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 →

Television Show Review: The Americans: Season 6

The Americans Season 6

The Americans: Season 6 created by Joseph Weisberg (FX Networks, Amblin Television, DreamWorks Television) Starring Keri Russell, Matthew Rhys, Keidrich Sellati, Holly Taylor, Noah Emmerich, Costa Ronin, Lev Gorn, Brandon J. Dirden, and Margo Martindale. The Typical Script The anti-hero drama follows a tried-and-true script. Main character breaks bad, for certain clearly defined reasons. The viewer can sympathize with the anti-hero’s position. If written well, the anti-hero possesses rock-solid motivations and even though a viewer might cringe at the challenging elements of the character (you know, murder et al), the viewer roots for the anti-hero even if this person is “bad.” Given this script, the conclusion of such narrative must include just desserts. If the anti-hero doesn’t pay for his… Read More →

Book Review: The Italian Teacher

The Italian Teacher by Tom Rachman

The Italian Teacher: A Novel by Tom Rachman (New York: Viking, 2018. 352 pp) Tom Rachman was born in London in 1974 and raised in Vancouver. He attended the University of Toronto and Columbia Journalism School, then worked as a journalist for the Associated Press in New York and Rome for the International Herald Tribune in Paris. His first novel, The Imperfectionists, was an international bestseller, translated into twenty-five languages. He lives in London. Art of Personality What holds artistic value? And what doesn’t? Where is the line between genuine beauty worthy of cultural esteem and something that is meaningless? Do we make art for art’s sake, or must it perform some economic function? And even more, does it take… Read More →

Book Review: Freedom

Freedom by Jonathan Franzen

Freedom: A Novel by Jonathan Franzen (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2010. 576 pp) Jonathan Franzen is an American author. He graduated from Swarthmore College with a degree in German. Franzen has received widespread acclaim for his book, The Corrections. He has won the National Book Award and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize. He lives in New York City and Santa Cruz, California. Realism Nut Crackers Realism is a tough nut to crack. Especially in literary fiction where the growth of the character is largely internal, too many convenient turns in a plot illustrate sloppiness and remove the suspension of disbelief. How often have you noticed a convenient plot detail in a television series where said event doesn’t… Read More →

Television Show Review: The Last Man on Earth: Season 2

The Last Man on Earth Season 2

The Last Man on Earth: Season 2 created by Will Forte (Si Fi Company, Lord Miller, 20th Century Fox Television) Starring Will Forte, Kristen Schaal, January Jones, Mel Rodriguez, Cleopatra Coleman, Mary Steenburgen, Jason Sudeikis, and Boris Kodjoe. *SPOILER ALERT FOR PREVIOUS SEASONS* Can the End of the World Last? The extermination of humanity shouldn’t be funny. Yet, Season 1 of The Last Man on Earth took a high-concept premise about a future dystopia in the wake of a global pandemic and weaves a humorous story about self-centeredness and the need for other people. While much of its success emerges from its premise, the longevity of the series was my lasting question mark. Is it even possible to tell a… Read More →

Book Review: The Making of the Zombie Wars

The Making of the Zombie Wars by Aleksandar Hemon

The Making of the Zombie Wars: A Novel by Aleksandar Hemon (New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2015. 320 pp) Aleksandar Hemon is the author of The Lazarus Project, which was a finalist for the National Book Award; The Book of My Lives, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; and three other works of fiction, including Nowhere Man, which was also a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. He is a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and a “Genius Grant” from the MacArthur Foundation. He lives in Chicago. Enough Already The world has no need for more zombie stories. Luckily, Aleksandar Hemon’s latest novel, despite its title, is not about zombies. The Making… Read More →

Film Review: Gone Girl

Gone Girl

Gone Girl written by Gillian Flynn, directed by David Fincher (20th Century Fox, Regency Enterprises, TSG Entertainment, R, 149 min) Starring Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Carrie Coon, Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry, and Kim Dickens. Celebrity Murder Perhaps the most famous non-athlete from my alma mater in recent years is Amanda Knox. While studying abroad during her time at the University of Washington, her roommate met a tragic demise. As a prime suspect, the case against Amanda was never a slam dunk. The odd twists and turns and the multiple verdicts pushed the case further and further into the general consciousness of the public. Funny how one case, among the multitudes drifting in anonymity, rises to general discourse. Ask anyone… Read More →

Film Review: Her

Her by Spike Jonze

Her written and directed by Spike Jonze (Annapurna Pictures, Warner Bros., R, 126 min) Starring Joaquin Phoenix, Scarlett Johansson, Amy Adams, Rooney Mara, and Olivia Wilde. Newspaper Trains There’s a photo that’s been making the social media rounds. It shows a black-and-white image of a commuter train with passengers reading newspapers. The inference of the image being: times haven’t changed human nature much. The only difference between then and now is the medium of information. Now our eyes are glued to the iPhone. This image struck me because it made me think deeper about the relationship between technology and human interaction. No matter what innovations occur, we all have the same desire and anger, the same hopes and fears. If… Read More →

Book Review: Stag’s Leap

Stag's Leap by Sharon Olds

Stag’s Leap: Poems by Sharon Olds (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2012.  112 pp) Born in San Francisco, Sharon Olds graduated from Stanford University and earned a Ph.D. in English from Columbia University. Olds teaches creative writing at New York University. Her work has received many awards including a Pulitzer Prize in Poetry, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the San Francisco Poetry Center Award. 16 Stories There’s a story about how people meet. I met my wife in the union building at the University of Washington. My parents met at a Halloween party. Some relationships are an obvious result of a connection—school, church, or work. A friendship emerges; first impressions become lasting relationships. Other relationships are serendipitous. Aziz… Read More →

Album Review: Mosquito

Mosquito by Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Mosquito by Yeah Yeah Yeahs (Dress Up, Interscope, 2013. 47 minutes) Yeah Yeah Yeahs is an indie rock band from New York City consisting of Karen O, Nick Zinner, and Brian Chase. The band has released 4 studio albums, 3 of which have been nominated for Grammys. Mosquito Metaphors Have you ever felt like your significant other is a parasite? Have you experienced those days where you continue to give and he continues to take? Is it frustrating trying to balance the ship? Is it even worth continuing? Whether you’ve been married for 30 years or have only been dating for a couple months, relationships ebb and flow. Thus, it can be easy to liken relationships to warfare. Someone lives… Read More →