All posts tagged: Critical

Lena Dunham’s Rich White Kids

I haven’t had the time to blog lately, so I wanted to jump back into things with a super short post on Lena Dunham. This is just something I wrote on my notes app one night last week, so my thoughts aren’t fully fleshed out, nor are they particularly well assembled. I was thinking a lot about Lena Dunham after she defended an accused rapist and had one of her Lenny Letter writers quit, citing “hipster racism.” Dunham has been doing and saying problematic things for years, and although I really wanted to be a fan (she’s an outspoken writer/director/producer and I look up to that) her work has consistently rubbed me the wrong way. One of the things that has always made Lena Dunham’s work a bit difficult for me to digest (beginning with Tiny Furniture, even though I enjoyed it overall) is that her very wealthy artist New Yorker background is so much a part of her storytelling. Her film, TV series, and writing is always about white girls, but specifically elitist, posh, rich white girls, which is …

Exploring “Twin Peaks”

In honor of Twin Peaks Day, I’m reposting this video essay I made on the series last spring. Enjoy, and please feel free to share any feedback! For my final project for CTCS 587: Television Theory, a graduate Cinema & Media Studies course at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts, I elected to do a video essay on Twin Peaks. In “Exploring ‘Twin Peaks’” I take a brief look at the production history of the series, as well as the show’s hybridization of genres. Because this was my first attempt at creating a video essay it certainly has its issues – but despite some technical and conceptual roadblocks, I truly enjoyed working on this project. In retrospect, I realize that I underestimated the amount of effort video essays require. From conducting research, to writing a script, recording voiceover, gathering clips, and assembling them into a cohesive format – it’s quite a time-consuming undertaking! All in all, I’d describe making a video essay as a labor-intensive, but immensely fun endeavor. I’m interested in exploring the video essay genre further, so any constructive criticism or feedback is welcomed. Incase you’re interested, here …

I’ll Blog For You, Too!

This summer, I’m looking to spread my freelance wings and fly! If you’re searching for an experienced writer to produce high-quality articles for your blog, contact me so we can discuss your site’s needs! I have experience with formal academic writing, as well as short-form blogging. If you’re interested in reading a writing sample of my scholarly work, please let me know. Otherwise, here’s a taste of what I’ve written for the web, both on my own blog and elsewhere: ‘Boyhood: In Defense of My Dissenting Opinion’ for Catch-all ‘A Response to Michael Eisner’s Comment That Beautiful, Funny Women Are Hard to Come By’ for Catch-all Jobs review for Critics Associated  Fruitvale Station review for Critics Associated Magnolia Character Analysis for Mr. Rumsey’s Film Related Musings Topics I’m especially interested in writing about include, but aren’t limited to: General film and television criticism and analysis Gender and diversity in Hollywood General pop culture criticism and analysis Feminism and women’s issues Veganism and the environment Various social and political movements Lifestyle and self-care Please email me at vanvalkenburgj@gmail.com or fill out a …

Celebrating Stewart – The End of an Era

With Jon Stewart’s reign at The Daily Show coming to an end tonight, it’s time to celebrate the man whose cultural influence knows no bounds. After taking over The Daily Show in 1999 (previously hosted by Craig Kilborn), Stewart went on to create a new type of news series. The Daily Show may be a comedic weeknight show, but above all, it’s critical commentary. In filling the role of Daily Show host – a role seemingly created for Stewart – he made the news entertaining. The result was attainable social and political critique, which has changed the way millions of Americans will consume their news forever. Aside from his obvious comedic and journalistic influence, Stewart has launched the careers of countless comedians including Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert, Ed Helms, and Kristen Schaal, among others. As a result of their popularity on The Daily Show, three of his correspondents went on to host their own shows: Stephen Colbert of The Colbert Report, John Oliver of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, and Larry Wilmore of The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore. Aside from Saturday Night Live, can you think of …

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 …

‘Jobs’ Disappoints, but Kutcher Doesn’t

This week I wrote a review of Jobs for Critics Associated. Read it here, or check out the original. Though unintentional, Jobs provided a number of laugh-out-loud moments. It’s ironic that a film about a well-known perfectionist can be so unbelievably far from perfect. Though against all odds, it seems Ashton Kutcher is not at fault for this week’s box office bomb. His performance as Steve Jobs is good, particularly in his physical recreation of the Apple tycoon, but it’s certainly not great. Problems with Jobs are abundant and obvious, specifically in regards to the writing. Basic conversations are cluttered with “Steve’s,” – each character throwing around the name as though it’s a form of product placement. The film’s dialogue would seem significantly less contrived if the actors only said the name in moments it was naturally necessary. Hearing “Hey Steve,” “Bye Steve,” and “Thanks Steve,” every few minutes or so forces the already poorly written dialogue to appear blatantly artificial. Jobs may leave you wondering: Is this a joke? Ultimately, the issues with Jobs lie in the writing …