From the Earth to ‘Elysium’

Review of Elysium, Directed by Neill Blomkamp“Blessed are the poor in spirit, […] for they shall inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:3-5)What if the Earth weren’t worth inheriting? Elysium (2013) is director Neill Blomkamp’s second feature outing after the critically lauded District 9 (2009). Like District 9’s thinly veiled exploration of apartheid, Elysium explores a caste system of sorts: The 21st century wreaked even more havoc on the Earth’s environment with pollution and overpopulation. T … [Read more...]

“World War Z”: The Undead with a Dash of Humanity

Review of World War Z, Directed by Marc ForsterWorld War Z almost didn’t see the light of day. The movie suffered from budget woes and missed its original Winter 2012 release date due to fears over an incoherent story. There were whispers of a Waterworld-type fiasco. According to the Vanity Fair article about the saga, the studio called in Damon Lindelof, one of the creators of Lost, to sprinkle some of his humane sci-fi writer's magic on the increasingly bloated project. The result is a th … [Read more...]

“Oblivion” and Earth’s Horatius

Oblivion, directed by Joseph KosinskiThen out spake brave Horatius,The Captain of the Gate:"To every man upon this earthDeath cometh soon or late.And how can man die betterThan facing fearful odds,For the ashes of his fathers,And the temples of his gods?-From Thomas Babington Macaulay's Lays of Ancient RomeOblivion tells the story of Jack Harper (played with action hero aplomb by Tom Cruise), a "drone technician" two weeks from retirement in March 2077. An extended v … [Read more...]

House of Cards’ Lady Macbeth

Review of House of Cards (Season 1), Directed by David Finch“Come you spiritsThat tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here;And fill me, from the crown to the toe, top-fullOf direst cruelty! make thick my blood,Stop up th’access and passage to remorse,That no compunctious visitings of natureShake my fell purpose, nor keep peace betweenTh’effect and it!”  (Lady Macbeth, Macbeth, Act I, Scene V)In the beginning of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Lady Macbeth pleads with the powe … [Read more...]

‘Admission’ Is Worth the Price

Review of Admission, Directed by Paul WeitzCollege admissions: the final test of the helicopter parent. While it was no Deerfield or Andover, my college prep school career began with a meeting about college preparation the first month of freshman year and ended with a wall of paper stars announcing mine and my classmates' acceptances to elite universities, mostly on the East Coast. My parents were helpful but mercifully not overbearing compared to many of my peers’. While some parents called … [Read more...]

The Battle for America’s Soul in American Gods

Review of American Gods by Neil GaimanBy JULIA POLESENeil Gaiman’s American Gods hit all the right buttons. Gaiman himself described it as an “American phantasmagoria,” an extraordinarily apt descriptor (See the interview with Gaiman in the 10th anniversary edition). It’s a fantasy novel with deep philosophical underpinnings, a healthy dollop of whimsy, and a satisfying amount of Americana. The book follows Shadow, an ex-con who is let out of prison early for good behavior upon the ev … [Read more...]

The Serpent in Eden in Crossing to Safety

Review of Crossing to Safety by Wallace StegnerBy JULIA POLESECrossing to Safety is Pulitzer Prize-winning author Wallace Stegner’s final novel.  It is a story of two couples coping with the loss of Eden. Told from the perspective of Larry Morgan, the novel begins with he and his wife, Sally, as a young couple living in a basement apartment in Madison, Wisconsin, during the Great Depression. Larry, a self-made man from a lower class family in New Mexico and a freshly minted PhD in English fro … [Read more...]