This Is a Test

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I "bought in" on The Leftovers even before the first episode aired. The pilot met all my expectations while the second episode left me feeling a bit disappointed. However, last night's episode, "Two Boats and a Helicopter," set a benchmark for the young series, taking it in a different narrative direction (focusing on only one character) that I hope subsequent episodes will follow. … [Read more...]

Inter-Species Peacekeeping

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I was just as surprised as everyone else by the success of 2011's Rise of the Planet of the Apes. The latest installment of the franchise, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, had more to live up to and, thankfully, hits every note with perfect special effects, a smart script, and a thought-provoking narrative. … [Read more...]

The Mystery Continues

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A few weeks ago, I praised the first installment of Jeff Vandermeer's The Southern Reach Trilogy, Annihilation. Thankfully, I didn't have to wait long for the second book, Authority, which is equally haunting and confusing and every bit as brilliant. … [Read more...]

Long Train Runnin’

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I thought I had seen the best action-adventure sci-fi film of the summer in Edge of Tomorrow. It's good, but not as wildly imaginative as Bong Joon-Ho's first English-language film, Snowpiercer, which plays like Metropolis on rails with humor and better action sequences. … [Read more...]

The Leftovers: Cynics, Fools, and Prophetic Hyperbole

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Yesterday morning at church, we discussed Jacques Lacan's notions of the cynic and the fool and their application to the Jesus narrative. In some circles, this would be about as offensive as last night's HBO premier of The Leftovers, Damon Lindelof and Tom Perrotta's new post-rapture series based on the latter's book. Only a few minutes into the pilot episode, I found myself comparing the series (or at least its potential) to our discussions in church earlier that day. … [Read more...]

The Sixties Were Groovy — But So Is Today

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Last week, my parents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. This was a beautiful moment for my family as we gathered with friends in our adopted home in Northern Kentucky. By “adopted” I mean our extended family mostly lives in and around the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia, where my mom grew up and my parents met. I’m the only member of my immediate family that was born in the Bluegrass State. My parents are transplanted Southerners in a border state.The fun part for me as a student of cu … [Read more...]

If At First You Don’t Succeed…

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It's hard to believe that Edge of Tomorrow didn't fare better at the box office over the weekend. I know The Fault in Our Stars was a big draw, but Edge is one of the best blockbuster action films of the summer. I'm anticipating, unlike Godzilla, that it will benefit from strong word of mouth in upcoming weeks. … [Read more...]

Victim and Violator

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If an origin story is done well, it often gives us the opportunity to consider a familiar tale in a new light. The risk, however, is in the possibility of "corrupting" that story for legions of its most die-hard fans. Not surprisingly, this was never a danger for me with Disney's Maleficent, an origin story of the Sleeping Beauty villain that I found simultaneously boring and intriguing. … [Read more...]


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