Movie Review – Booksmart

Booksmart (2019)
Written by Susanna Fogel, Emily Halpern, Sarah Haskins, and Katie Silberman
Directed by Olivia Wilde

Superbad came out twelve years ago. At the time, I knew this was a high school comedy for a generation younger than myself. With Booksmart we’re presented with a high school comedy about a generation graduating nineteen years after my own, so I have begun to feel the growing chasm in my own experiences and the intended audience of this picture. Booksmart is a movie written with my students of years prior in mind, yet it is inspired by so many films that have come before.

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TV Review – Barry Season 2

Barry Season 2 (HBO)
Written by Alec Berg, Bill Hader, Taofik Kolade, Jason Kim, Duffy Boudreau, Emily Heller, and Liz Sarnoff
Directed by Hiro Murai, Minkie Spiro, Liza Johnson, Bill Hader, and Alec Berg

The tagline for Barry is “a hitman tries to make it as an actor,” a premise which sounds like the worst Hollywood pitch of the post-Goodfellas 1990s. Think about pictures like My Blue Heaven or Analyze This, where mob stereotypes are played for laughs. It’s the theme of Barry that keeps us coming back every week, “Can people who have done bad things still be good people?”. Co-creator and star Bill Hader, known for his comedic chops honed on Saturday Night Live, manages to find the perfect middle ground where he can have moments to play things for laughs but then flip things around in an instant to discover the most heart-rending moments of pathos. Barry is a funny tragedy.

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TV Review – Game of Thrones Season 8

Game of Thrones Season 8 (HBO)
Written by Dave Hill, Bryan Cogman, David Benioff & D.B. Weiss
Directed by David Nutter, Miguel Sapochnik, David Benioff & D.B. Weiss

Winter has come, and all the players are aligned for the final battle for Westeros. Daenerys Targaryen has arrived with dragons bringing her armies from the East. An alliance has been formed between the exiled monarch and the people of the North. The Wall has been breached and the Night King marches south to destroy anything in his path. Meanwhile, Queen Cersei Lannister has brokered deals with the Iron Islands and the Golden Company of Essos to serve as her protection against the inevitable battle with Targaryen. Jon Snow learns of his true parentage and how this could affect his relationship with the newly arrived leader. The table is set for a new age to begin in Westeros, but will it be any better than what has come before?

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TV Review – The OA Season 2

The OA Season 2 (Netflix)
Written by Brit Marling, Zal Batmanglij, Damien Ober, Nicki Paluga, Dominic Orlando, Henry Bean, and Claire Kiechel
Directed by Zal Batmanglij, Andrew Haigh, and Anna Rose Holmer

Private Karim Washington is visited at his houseboat by a distraught Vietnamese grandmother. She hands him a photo of her granddaughter Michelle and explains that she is missing. Washington begins searching San Francisco and following leads about a mysterious game that teens are playing and which Michelle was involved with. The threads of this investigation lead our detective to Nina Azarova, a wealthy Russian expatriate with ties to a secretive tech developer. Meanwhile, Prarie, the young woman with a fantastic story from season one finds herself transported to this new dimension and placed in the body of Nina, herself having lived out an entirely different set of circumstances. Prairie is immediately confronted with familiar faces who also found their way across the multiverse to this reality. More is revealed about the nature of Prarie’s powers and the structure of these webs of reality leading her towards another brush with death and a whole new world opening up.

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Music Review – Titanic Rising | Weyes Blood

Titanic Rising/Weyes Blood (2019)
Produced by Natalie Mering & Jonathan Rado|SubPop

Climate collapse is a disturbingly real thing for children through twentysomethings, despite what octagenarian and baby boomer deniers may say. What art emerges out of the anxiety and uncertainty of a future without clean air, rising sea levels, and decimated populations? Would you believe a hearkening back to Karen Carpenter and Harry Nilsson with a dash of primitive Christian music tossed in? Natalie Mering, better known as Weyes Blood, has put out her fourth studio album Titanic Rising this year and it evokes the moods associated with an unclear future so beautifully by mixing modern producing with nostalgic warm sounds.

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Movie Review – Avengers: Endgame

Avengers: Endgame (2019)
Written by Stephen McFeely and Christopher Markus
Directed by Anthony & Joseph Russo

Three weeks have passed since the mad titan Thanos gained the six Infinity Stones and snapped his fingers erasing half of all life in the universe. The Avengers were sent reeling as they watched their friends and loved ones dissolve into dust before their eyes. Having faced the greatest tragedy in human existence, Captain America feels powerless to solve the problem, and this is exacerbated when Tony Stark confronts him. The team manages to locate Thanos on the planet of his refuge but quickly find that only taking down the villain doesn’t solve the more significant existential problem. The greater goal would be to reverse the actions of the Stones, but this will mean they must gather them all. A journey begins that will span the entire scope of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and signals the final battle of many great heroes.

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