All posts filed under: Reviews

“Boyhood” – In Defense of My Dissenting Opinion

I’m very opinionated about what I like and dislike, but I’m also keenly aware that my opinion is simply that – an opinion. Just because I don’t like a film does not mean it’s objectively bad. Art is subjective. Filmmaking is art. There was a point after graduating from film school that I considered becoming a critic. Criticism of any medium creates a platform for individuals to examine and analyze media – a practice that I believe is an essential part of any thriving society. What we create, whether it is music, film, or literature, is a direct reflection of our culture. By examining creative forms of expression within our society, we are better suited to understand who we are as a people. Film criticism not only allows critics to respectfully discuss what they enjoyed or didn’t enjoy about a film or television show, but the practice provides the opportunity for all audience members to engage and critically evaluate media. After graduating from college I was (and still am) willing to give anything a shot, …

Fast Company

I haven’t posted a “Recommended Reading” since this past summer, so I thought it would be a good time to talk about another publication I have recently subscribed to and love: Fast Company. I rarely buy anything placed near the register at a grocery store, but a few months ago I was intrigued by a magazine cover that read “A Billion Fans Can’t Be Wrong: How YouTube is banking on stars like Bethany Mota to recharge Google’s future and fight off Disney and Yahoo.” So I bought it, was hooked, and quickly became a subscriber. Fast Company is a technology, business, and design magazine that was developed in 1995 by previous editors of the Harvard Business Review. The publication focuses on innovation in business and design, featuring articles about up-and-coming companies and old-standbys. Fast Company celebrates creativity, risk-taking, and thinking beyond traditional boundaries. In my first issue I learned about Google’s purchase of YouTube, how YouTube content creators are spilling over into the mainstream entertainment industry, and read about James Cameron’s latest documentary where he completed a record-breaking dive to …

All This Mayhem

Like many 10-year-old boys in the early years following Y2K, skateboarding got into my blood. Halcyon days spent outside sliding on curbs and flying off ramps were what awaited me and my friends after school. We all wanted to be the next Tony Hawk. The dream of two young Australian skateboarders, Tass and Ben Pappas, was to beat ‘Hawk’. All This Mayhem encapsulates the youthful ambitions of the infamous Pappas brothers, whose dreams of becoming the most iconic skateboarders in the world were torn asunder. When competing at the highest level, the brothers became disillusioned, alienated, and eventually exiled due to the corporate sponsored underworld of skateboarding, and a few youthful mistakes sprinkled in for good measure. Consequently, the audience is hurled with great alacrity into the cyclonic lives of the ill-fated brothers. Both invigorated by the possibilities of what the passion of their lives might bring about for them, their love of skateboarding is at first brimming with promise, but ultimately leads them to corners darker than comprehensible. The story descends into an adrenaline and drug-fueled …

Richard Linklater’s ‘Boyhood’

Negative criticism is fun to write. It leaves us with an air of self-satisfaction, and from the safety our position accords, it allows us to poke fun at someone else’s vision; an opportunity we grasp at as critics. But to fall in love with a film is the greatest treasure offered by cinema. It’s the mesmerizing and enchanting feeling that leaves us spellbound and in awe, and is what drives us to continue to watch films. No such negative criticism should be embellished upon Richard Linklater’s coming-of-age drama, for it’s a peerless effort that stands alone. Boyhood follows the story of Mason (Ellar Coltrane) from age five to eighteen, where we live and breathe his experiences from boyhood through adolescence. We see him bicker often with his sister Samantha (Lorelei Linklater), and join him right through his relatable teenage episodes that seem as real as the grooves in the palms of your hands. Filmed over twelve years, and lovingly sutured together, Richard Linklater’s vision transforms into reality. It’s almost as if we are offered snippets of Ellar Coltrane’s life …

Check it Out: Bitch Media

Although the newspaper and magazine industries have taken a hit in recent years, I still find that there is nothing more enjoyable than waking up and reading something palpable with a hot coffee by my side. Magazines have a certain feel to them; their pages are cool and crisp, with easy to grab edges that turn with a swooshing sound that reminds me of my adolescence. When I am reading a magazine I feel as though I’m taking part in something that may no longer exist during the third act of my life. That is a sentiment that I hope is extraordinarily false. Magazines have a very specific formula that allow them to be appealing to the general masses and even more scholarly sorts. They are usually short enough that they can be consumed quickly, but often include long articles that may take time to fully digest. Sometimes, when a writer has created something that is truly an amazing experience to take in, I must read it twice. To me, that’s journalism at it’s finest. It’s entertaining, educational, and has a voice associated with the …

My Favorite Video Games Of My Youth: Part I

Before I do a list of my favorite childhood games, a few things need to be stated. I am a Sony fan boy, therefore PS1 and PS2 titles dominate this list. I did not own an N64 growing up, and because of that some people may not like my selections. However, I did have a Gameboy and a computer, so a few non-Sony games made the list. Also, the order to which I have ranked the games does not necessarily mean one is technically better than the other. Creating this list took an incredible amount of thought, as it is amazingly difficult to rate nostalgia. This list will always be incomplete and full of impossible decisions, so let’s just get to it. These lists/reviews will be broken into three parts, based on ranking: Part I: 15 – 11 Part II: 10 – 6 Part III: 5 – 1 15. Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rage The Spyro franchise thrust Insomniac games directly into the limelight for the PS1. Spyro The Dragon is an amazing game, however I cannot talk …

‘Prisoners’: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

A few weeks ago I saw Denis Villeneuve’s Prisoners starring Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Viola Davis, Terrence Howard and Melissa Leo. The trailer was very well done and I had high hopes for something truly terrifying and thrilling. What I found, instead, was a complete contradiction. On the one hand, Prisoners is particularly well done – shot spectacularly in a starkly beautiful location with a great cast and performances. On the other hand, it’s long. Far too long. And it plays with drama the way a Lifetime or Hallmark movie would. But because I was a production undergrad and understand what it’s like to put your heart and soul into a project, it’s difficult for me to sit down and write a scathing review. The only movie that was bad enough for me to review “meanly” was Joshua Michael Stern’s Jobs starring Ashton Kutcher (read my review here). But after watching Prisoners, I left the theater confused. I expected something so wonderful, but what I discovered fell flat. Because Prisoners redeems itself in some ways, I …

‘Dallas Buyers Club’ – Matthew McConaughey & Jared Leto Deliver Spectacular Performances

Dallas Buyers Club, written by Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack and directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, is based on the true story of Ron Woodroof, a Texan who begins smuggling prescription drugs into the US when he is diagnosed with HIV and finds that the medication he is receiving is not helping. The film stars Matthew McConaughey as Woodroof, Jared Leto as his saucy business partner Rayon, and Jennifer Garner Dr. Eve Saks, his compassionate doctor. It’s 1985. Ron Woodroof is an electrician and bull rider in Dallas, TX. He’s a homophobe, a drug addict, and a man who’s eager to sleep with any woman who’s willing. After living recklessly for quite some time, Woodroof is diagnosed with HIV and told he only has 30 days to live. Soon he becomes aware of his day to day existence – transforming his intense energy into something positive and powerful. When he discovers that AZT, the first HIV medication approved by the FDA, is actually hurting his body rather than helping, Ron establishes the Dallas Buyers Club, selling memberships in …

Thoughts on Alfonso Cuarón’s ‘Gravity’

If you spend any time on the internet (and you obviously do) you’ve probably heard all about Alfonso Cuarón’s visual masterpiece, Gravity. At one point over the weekend ‘Gravity’ was the top trending hashtag on Twitter. It premiered on Friday and earned over 55.5 million in theaters, taking the number one spot at the box office. I opted to see it in XD & 3-D, but if there was an IMAX nearby I would have gone in a heartbeat. After a few days to think about the movie separate from the overwhelmingly positive opinions of others, I’ve determined that Gravity is not a typical film but rather an engrossing visceral experience. Co-written, co-produced, co-edited and directed by Oscar nominee Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity stars Oscar winners Sandra Bullock and George Clooney as Ryan Stone and Matt Kowalski, astronauts who are left drifting in space after a massive accident and must work together in order to survive. In a large, dark, and chilly theater, it’s nearly impossible not to find find yourself completely immersed in the story – free from any ounce …

Spectacular Short Doc About Beauty & Perception: ‘There She Is’

Am I beautiful? It’s a question that each and every woman will ask herself at one point in her life (or more likely, several). Women are constantly being bombarded by images and advertisements that define beauty within the context of American perfectionism. These ads tell us what’s attractive, interesting, or even acceptable – making it nearly impossible to ignore these standards and love ourselves for who we are. What’s particularly disturbing is that the women in these ad campaigns don’t live up to such standards themselves. They must be covered in make-up from head to toe, lit perfectly, and photoshopped before they exemplify the very measures of beauty they were hired to represent. It’s a problem. Filmmakers Emily Sheskin and Veena Rao set out to examine the perception of women’s beauty in their short documentary, There She Is. The film follows best friends Allison Kopach and Jenny Flores as they compete in the 2011 American Beauties Plus Pageant, which is open to women sizes 14 and up. Short documentaries are such fascinating forms of storytelling because they require …