Movie Review – Brooklyn

Brooklyn (2015)
Written by Nick Hornby
Directed by John Crowley

The immigrant experience is familiar fodder for filmmakers, and New York City is often the setting for many period pieces about new arrivals to our shores. Brooklyn is the story of Eilish, an Irish woman who crosses the Atlantic to start a new life in America. She’s set up in a boarding house with a job at a large department store by her Catholic priest sponsor. Eilish struggles with homesickness but eventually works past it, helped by a burgeoning relationship with Tony, a young Italian man. Tragedy strikes back home in Ireland, and Eilish is forced to return with plans to go back to NYC. However, she finds new horizons available to her in Ireland that may change her plans.

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Movie Review – Girlhood

Girlhood (2015)
Written & Directed by Céline Sciamma

Marieme is a sixteen-year-old black teenager living on the outskirts of Paris. She learns that her school’s guidance counselor is pushing for her to follow a vocational track as her academics don’t appear to be high enough for an academic one. Marieme knows the expectations of her mother, who works as a custodian, are that she eventually go to university. In this moment of frustration, the young woman finds friendship with a trio of girls. These young women are known for getting into brawls with other women in their neighborhood, and through them, Marieme feels like she has power in an otherwise powerless position in the world. Over the course of this year, she will move from being a child into a young adult and have to face the obstacles and struggles that come along with that territory.

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Movie Review – The Revenant

The Revenant (2015)
Written by Mark L. Smith and Alejandro G. Iñárritu
Directed by Alejandro G. Iñárritu

If you could combine the pantheistic mysticism of Terence Malick with the primal brutality of Cormac McCarthy, you would have The Revenant. Set in the year pre-American Westward Expansion, The Revenant follows Hugh Glass, a white scout guiding a fur trapping crew into the dangerous Shawnee territory. Glass mostly keeps to himself and fraternizes only with his half-Native son Hawk. It doesn’t take long for the trapping operations to come under attack and those men who survive the assault head down river to find a route back to the safety of Fort Kiowa. The full brute force of nature is on display as the planned escape doesn’t go, and Glass finds himself coming to the borders of life and death.

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Movie Review – steve jobs

steve jobs (2015)
Written by Aaron Sorkin
Directed by Danny Boyle

Heroes can often be rotten people behind the scenes. Steve Jobs, while often canonized as a saint of American industry and technology, was not a very nice person, especially to the daughter he denied for decades. When making a film about the creator of the revolutionary Macintosh computer, it would be easy to go the usual biopic route that displays all sorts of corny and cliched foreshadowing that can make the audience think themselves clever. Instead, writer Aaron Sorkin structures this film like a three-act stage play with each act being the minutes before one of Jobs famous unveilings. 1984’s Macintosh reveal, 1988’s embarrassing NeXT launch, and 1998’s glorious return to glory iMac announcement. There are repetitious refrains, almost like a piece of music, characters as themes returning in variation. All of this adds up to a brutally honest portrayal of Steve Jobs that doesn’t seek to frame him as a “great man” but a flawed man with some great ideas.

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Movie Review – Carol

Carol (2015)
Written by Phyllis Nagy
Directed by Todd Haynes

As a gay person, Todd Haynes is always looking back to those times when his sexuality was not given a space to exist in the light much less even acknowledged as legitimate. He’s gone back to the turning point of the 1970s with the glam rock scene of Velvet Goldmine, explored the horrors across time of discovering one’s sexuality in Poison and with Carol he seems to have found a place where joy can be found yet still constrained by the mores of the period. Carol is an exploration of two women’s love affair yet should connect with all members of the audience who have found themselves caught up in their passions and were a complex mix of happiness and anxiety. This is a film about the effervescence of love, the frustrating intangibility of connecting with another.

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Movie Review – Wiener-Dog

Wiener-Dog (2016)
Written & Directed by Todd Solondz

I can’t say I’ve ever enjoyed a Todd Solondz film, but I have been continually fascinated by them. He is such a profoundly misanthropic filmmaker with an aesthetic that clashes with the darkness of his material. Wiener-Dog is his most recent film, and it won’t toss anything new at familiar audiences. The film hits on the same gripes Solondz has always ranted about: the soullessness of the middle class, the lack of art in cinema, the inevitability of our deaths. All of this is told in a bright, warm pastel palette complete with a soundtrack that creates a dissonance with the themes of the picture.

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Movie Review – Joy

Joy (2015)
Written by Annie Mumolo & David O. Russell
Directed by David O. Russell

In 1990, Joy Mangano found that her life has not gone how she wished. As a little girl, she invented things and had such a creative mind. As a result of her parents’ divorce, her marriage ending, and an overwhelming tide of financial hardship Joy is at a turning point. A trip on her father’s girlfriend’s boat leads her to a serendipitous moment, the invention of a new self-wringing mop, with a mop head of 300 continuous feet of cotton with the ability to be detached and run through the washing machine. To make her invention a success it will take many risks and Joy ends up putting her neck on the line for a spot on QVC. However, she is a determined woman who will do whatever it takes to raise herself from a fate of mediocrity.

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TV Tryouts – Mr. Robot

Mr. Robot
Season 1, Episode 1 – “eps.1.0_hellofriend.mov”

Written by Sam Esmail
Directed by Niels Arden Oplev

There is so much television I hear I should watch and with 24/7 streaming services abounding it can quickly become overwhelming. To finally get a taste of all these great shows I will start doing TV Tryouts. Each month I will watch a couple of pilot episodes of series I have been hearing rave reviews about and see if that first episode can hook me to keep watching. Now, an argument you might make is that you have to view the first six or entire first season before a show “gets good.” To that, I say, “I just don’t have the time.” A television series should be well written enough that it’s characters, dialogue and plot naturally compel me to keep watching. If it doesn’t then that’s ok, plenty of shows for everyone.

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Ride Review – Fast & Furious: Supercharged

Fast & Furious: Supercharged (2015)

During the summer of 2017, I subjected myself to the current eight films in the Fast & Furious film franchise. By the end of July, my brain had become as mushy as the dialogue that flows from Vin Diesel’s pie dough mouth. I witnessed the bizarre transformation of the movie series from small and stupid undercover cop movie to a mad dash across the Arctic while a nuclear submarine breaks through the ice. Quite a transformation. However, even after watching the eight films, plus the unofficial tie-in Better Luck Tomorrow, I felt a void. Something was missing. There was a piece to the puzzle I’d somehow left out. Then I realized it: Fast & Furious: Supercharged at Universal Studios. I had to get to Florida, which I did this November. Here is what happened:

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Comic Book Review – Hail Hydra! and Avengers: Rage of Ultron

Hail Hydra! (2015)
Written by Rick Remender
Art by Roland Boschi

Avengers: Rage of Ultron (2015)
Written by Rick Remender
Art by Jerome Opena

The Marvel Universe has collapsed at the hands of Doctor Doom and been reconstructed as Battleworld. This mosaic planet features alternate pasts, presents, and futures. One such region is Manhattan if Hydra and the Nazis had won World War II. Captain America is a symbol of fascism, and Arnim Zola rules over all in his most expansive consciousness to date. The presumed dead Nomad finds himself alive in this bizarre reality thanks to SHIELD’s Infinite Elevator. He’s faced with his duplicate in this world as well as a Steve Rogers who never raised him. Once Secret Wars is resolved, a new Avengers team is formed and find themselves reliving the sins of Hank Pym’s past. Ultron returns from deep space and wants to punish his “father” in profound and horrific ways. The conclusion of this story will change the lives of Pym and Ultron forever.

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