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January 2020 digest

Features
The State of the Blog 2020
Most Anticipated Films of 2020
Even More Anticipated Films of 2020
My Favorite Anti-War Films
Short Film Showcase 2020 #1

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TV Review – Star Trek: Picard Season One, Episode Five

Star Trek: Picard (CBS All Access)
Season One, Episode Five – “Stardust City Rag”
Written by Kirsten Beyer
Directed by Jonathan Frakes

Now, this is an episode I enjoyed. After setting the pieces up on the board for the first month of the series, Picard finally has our characters getting into dangerous situations and dealing with both interpersonal and external conflict. I wonder how someone utterly unfamiliar with Voyager would understand Seven of Nine’s part in this story. I think you need at least a rudimentary understanding of who she is and what happened to her on that series. Of all the episodes we’ve gotten thus far, I think this one does the best in blending contemporary elements with the world of the Federation.

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Movie Review – We Need To Talk About Kevin

We Need To Talk About Kevin (2011)
Written by Lynne Ramsay & Rory Stewart Kinnear
Directed by Lynne Ramsay

Who do we blame when something terrible happens? It’s becoming fairly common in the United States for there to multiple school shootings every year. When this happens, there is a strong innate human need to place the blame on someone. Parents are typically the focus of the public’s ire. In the case of Sandy Hook Elementary, the mother of the shooter literally gave him the gun thinking it could be a hobby to help with his mental illness. I’m sure if you are reading this outside of the United States, you are thinking, “Why would you give someone with mental illness a high powered killing machine?” and you are right to question it.

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Movie Review – The Color of Paradise

The Color of Paradise (2000)
Written & Directed by Majid Majidi

One thing I came into this film series was wondering what influence the Islamic religion would have on these films. Iran is a type of presidential democracy with a co-equal (or maybe more powerful) theocratic branch. The revolution in 1979 had a significant influence on pushing Islam to the forefront of every aspect of Iranian life. As a Westerner, my perspective on Islam has been shaped by a strong Judeo-Christian bias in my youth. Now that I’m an adult, I can see with much greater clarity and have a better understanding of religion and dogma.

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Movie Review – Some Like It Hot

Some Like It Hot (1959)
Written by Billy Wilder & I. A. L. Diamond
Directed by Billy Wilder

Billy Wilder, as previously established, authored or at least refined many of the comedic subgenres in mainstream American cinema. Some Like It Hot takes classic tropes from authors like Shakespeare with the protagonist in disguise as another gender who is in love with another character and modernized them. Some Like It Hot is set in the 1920s, but its story is a classical one seen through the 1960s’ eyes while reflecting back across literature. There are definitely some problematic issues when viewed through the context of our modern gender progressive era. Additionally, it is a genuinely entertaining and influential piece of film.

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Media Moment (02/22/20)

One of my favorite novels of the last few years has been A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay. It’s told with such a deft touch, never careening into camp and walking that sort of ambiguous line that reminds me of The Exorcist. The finale is particularly chilling as it manages to recontextualize the unreliable narrator who has been telling us their story. Since 2018 there has been lots of movement in pre-production on a film adaptation, and this week we finally got a leading actress cast.

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Movie Review – The Seven Year Itch

The Seven Year Itch (1955)
Written by Billy Wilder and George Axelrod
Directed by Billy Wilder

Watching these later works by Billy Wilder feels like if David Fincher went from doing dark thriller movies to working exclusively in light comedies. They aren’t bad, but they are definitely not as strong as the earlier work. The Seven Year Itch is another film based on a stage play, and it feels like through the first half. It’s slow, and the main character thinks aloud constantly, which gives away the stagey-ness of the production. Throughout the film, I kept thinking of Mad Men and how this picture was pretty dated with its portrayal of marriage.

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Comic Book Review – Wonder Woman by George Perez Volume 4

Wonder Woman by George Perez Volume 4
Reprints Wonder Woman V2 #36-45, Annual #2
Written by George Perez & Mindy Newell
Art by Chris Marrinan, Jill Thompson Steve Montano, Colleen Doran, Jan Duursema, & more

George Perez’s reboot of Wonder Woman in the late 1980s is just so unlike anything else that came before or after. Wonder Woman was always a strange comic when compared to others, being a female-led title when such a thing wasn’t trendy. The world of Wonder Woman was so unique pre-Crisis and continued to be different when it came to the tone. In the early days, there was more of an effort to incorporate Princess Diana’s stories with the DC Universe proper. We saw that in previous volumes with Millennium and Invasion tie-ins. This period of Perez’s run felt like it was drifting away from the larger universe, become more insular with Diana’s supporting cast.

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