Mar 22, 2018

TV Retrospective: "American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace"

Darren Criss
To an extent, the latest season of American Crime Story, titled The Assassination of Giani Versace, worked as a hat trick. Unlike last season's exploration of the familiar O.J. Simpson trial, the second season chose to work backwards after introducing the titular murder in the opening scene. It's brief, staggering, and seems predictable for those not familiar with Andrew Cunanan's actual story. It's going to be a trial that explores every gritty detail, right? Well, not exactly. While the story does go into Versace's own declining health, he isn't really an entity in this story. Cunanan is front and center, and creator Ryan Murphy is more obsessed with something else: not the how, but the why. Why did Andrew Cunanan think to murder Versace? The answer, which gets answered by the season's end, is far more psychological and less convenient than the first season. In that way, the series proved its strength to not simply follow conventions. In fact, it proved that Murphy once again is here to reinvent the miniseries, and that's perfectly fine.

Why "Fantastic Mr. Fox" is Wes Anderson's Best Film

This Friday marks the release of director Wes Anderson's latest animated movie Isle of Dogs. Composed entirely of stop motion animation, it follows an island of dogs as they journey through a literal wasteland. For many, it's easy to be excited for a new Anderson film following the unprecedented breakthrough of the Oscar-winning The Grand Budapest Hotel. However, there is a bigger reason to be excited: it's the director's first foray into stop motion in nine years, which already makes it feel more special than his usual films where each detail is intricately placed into beautiful symmetry. However, it's also because the last time that Anderson made an animated film, it was Fantastic Mr. Fox - his undoubted greatest work in a career full of impressive and iconic films. It just so happens to have more "cussing" than your average family movie.

Mar 15, 2018

Review: Jennifer Lawrence's Edgy Performance Gives "Red Sparrow" a Small Redemption to a Mediocre Story

Scene from Red Sparrow
In spite of an ongoing role in the X-Men franchise, the past few years have marked the start of a new phase in Jennifer Lawrence's career. It started with mother!, which saw her take on challenging material with a performance that was emotionally and physically draining. What could've been an anomaly for her career has blossomed further into a niche darkness with director Francis Lawrence's Red Sparrow: a film that sees her pushing herself further than ever before. While the Lawrences may best be known for The Hunger Games franchise, their take on Russian spies veers more towards an adult tone in which sexuality is used as currency, and the violence is sure to make some cringe. Jennifer Lawrence is officially in her edgy period, of which is meant to deconstruct her good girl image in favor of something more bold and abrasive (something rare for a four-time Oscar nominee). In a sense, it's the reason that Red Sparrow works, if just as a study of where she'll go for a role. Unfortunately, the same can't be said for the rest of the film.

Mar 13, 2018

TV Review: "Jessica Jones" - Season 2

Jessica Jones
The time between Jessica Jones season one and two has been a bit rough for the Netflix division of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Even with critical praise, the superhero detective series has had to compete with The Defenders and the critically inferior series like Luke CageIron Fist, and The Punisher. To summarize, she is seen as the saving grace to a mediocre franchise, and there's good reason. It becomes clear almost immediately in season two that she isn't just a character who punches people. No, she has more of a deeper emotional core that this time explores a toxic family dynamic that causes her to mature in unassuming ways. This isn't just a show where the villain is being sought after. No, this is a journey against the demons in Jessica Jones' (Krysten Ritter) soul. In that regards, the show remains the smartest, most engaging of The Defenders series, and there's no close competition.

Trailing Off: "Fantastic Beasts:: The Crimes of Grindelwald" (2018)

Scene from Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald
Welcome to the sporadic column Trailing Off in which I take a look at a trailer from the past week and analyze its potential. This will be done using an obnoxious amount of analyzing and personal thoughts on the cast and crew as well as expectations. I will attempt to highlight films ranging from new blockbusters to lesser known indies and give them their due. Partially to spread awareness, I do believe that there is an art to the sell and will do my best to highlight why these trailers matter or don't with approval (trove) or disapproval (trash). So please stop by, recommend some trailers, and I will see you next time.