Movie Review – Birds of Passage

Birds of Passage (2018)
Written by Maria Camila Arias & Jacques Toulemonde Vidal, Cristina Gallego, and Ciro Guerra
Directed by Cristina Gallego & Ciro Guerra

Colombia is a Central American country that has sadly come to be associated with the cocaine industry of the 1980s. Lost in the greed and violence that came out of the black market drug trade were diverse and vibrant cultures. Birds of Passage follows a family of Wayuu, an indigenous people, who get caught up in the first sprouts of that brutal blight that came to Colombia because of wealthier countries’ desire for drugs. While this story takes place on the dusty plains and humid jungles, the core of the tale is something that is timeless and has been popping up in literature for centuries. Birds of Passage is in many ways Shakespearean, a tragedy fueled by greed with no foresight.

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Movie Review – Ash is Purest White

Ash is Purest White (2018)
Written & Directed by Zhangke Jia

To have a love that is so devoted, you would give up your freedom for your partner to be free is rare. Qiao has that love for Bin, her boyfriend, and the organized crime boss of rural Datong, a small industrial town in northern China. Qiao takes full advantage of her place of power, thoroughly enjoying the nightlife of Datong and making sure people know who her man is. It becomes clear there is another faction making a move, and Qiao tries to persuade Bin to leave this place and start over somewhere with more opportunity. They don’t get a chance as one night their car is surrounded by motorcyclists out to kill Bin.

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Movie Review – Venom

Venom (2018)
Written by Jeff Pinkner & Scott Rosenberg, and Kelly Marcel
Directed by Ruben Fleischer

Sony ran everything off the rails with The Amazing Spider-Man 2. After handing over partial control of Spider-Man to Marvel, you’d think they would just coast on that and let the money come in. However, they began looking at the other characters they got as part of their licensing deal and settled on making a Venom movie and a Miles Morales animated picture. While the Miles Morales decision made sense to me, I was a little confused about a solo Venom picture. The Venom character exists as an evil version of Spider-Man, a trope that is present all throughout comic books (Superman:: Bizarro, Green Lantern:: Sinestro, Flash:: Professor Zoom). To feature Venom without the character, he’s defined in opposition to doesn’t sound like a formula for success.

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Music Review – Primal Heart|Kimbra

Primal Heart|Kimbra (2018)
Produced by Kimbra & John Congleton

In the realm of popular art, there is a talent: fame ratio, meaning there are artists whose level of fame is inflated when compared to their actual ability. In reverse, as is the case with Kimbra, there are artists whose level of talent is astronomical, but due to the ebb and flow of studio trends, they never reach the level of fame they deserve. This is Kimbra’s third studio album but you probably already know her. It won’t be from her solo work but from her duet with Gotye “Somebody That I Used to Know.” I’ve been listening to her since around 2011 when I stumbled across music videos on Vimeo for her first album, which was only out in New Zealand at the time. Like the other artists I’ve reviewed, Weyes Blood and Toro y Moi, her music is richly nostalgic yet progressive. It takes sounds we know and moves them forward into a new space. Her third album, Primal Heart, was released in 2018 and continues a trend of eclectic tones and themes.

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Movie Review – The House with a Clock in Its Walls

The House with a Clock in its Walls (2018)
Written by Eric Kripke
Directed by Eli Roth

The name Eli Roth is typically associated with, what I consider, mediocre horror films. He made Cabin Fever, the first two Hostel movies, among others. I’ve never clicked with the style and tone Roth goes for in his films, they feel like horror movies intent on undercutting any potential fear or creepiness, almost parodies of horror movies. I was a bit surprised when this was announced, an adaptation of a children’s fantasy novel written by John Bellairs in the 1970s. I feel like Roth hasn’t found his niche in the type of films he makes typically so I thought this could be a chance for him to make something I’d enjoy.

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Comic Book Review – Power Rangers: Shattered Grid

Power Rangers: Shattered Grid
Reprints Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #24-30, 2018 Annual, Free Comic Book Day Special, Go Go Power Rangers #8-12, and Shattered Grid finale
Written by Kyle Higgins and Ryan Parrott (with Anthony Burch, Caleb Goellner, Adam Cesare, Becca Barnes, and Alwyn Dale)
Art by Jonas Scharf, Dan Mora, Marcus To, Dylan Burnett, Patrick Mulholland, Hyeonjin Kim, Simone Di Meo, Daniele Di Nicuolo, and Diego Galindo

Power Rangers has seen twenty-six different versions of the original premise from the first Mighty Morphin variety to the current Ninja Steel just launched Beast Morphers. I came of age just a bit too old to be a fan, but due to younger siblings in the house, I ended up watch much of the first season of the Fox Kids series. I know of the original group of teenagers and the evil of Rita Repulsa. After that era, I go blank. Boom Comics acquired the license to make comics based on Power Rangers a couple of years ago, and this reimagining came from writer Kyle Higgins. The books are a little more involved, fleshing out the families of the Rangers and making the city of Angel Grove feel a little bigger. With Shattered Grid, Higgins does the impossible and brings together the two dozen versions of the Rangers in one epic tale.

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Movie Review – High Life

High Life (2018)
Written by Claire Denis & Jean-Pol Fargeau
Directed by Claire Denis

Monte lives aboard a spaceship, raising a baby girl by himself. How he got here is told in a series of flashbacks that reveal Monte was one of a crew of convicts, taking a deal to participate in a mission to gather data from around a black hole for alternative energy. The secondary purpose is to produce a child via artificial insemination to study the effects of conception and development in space. As the crew gets further from Earth and the realization of their fate sets in they begin to lose their minds and lash out at each other. As we can see from the framing device, Monte will be one of only two who makes it, but what lies ahead for him and this child.

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