Mission Impossible

Ethan Hunt is back in another absolute knockout film in Mission: Impossible – Fallout. This movie seems to capture the elusive balance so many action films lack, knowing when to be serious, funny, or downright insane. The set pieces in this film are some of the best I have ever watched, at times reminding me of Nathan Drake somehow avoiding fate. Tom Cruise is terrific along with a standout performance from Henry Cavill, all help bring together the best action movie I have seen in a long time. While I understand that there may be some cynicism about another Mission Impossible movie, this one is simply too good to miss. 8.8/10

Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures

Giacometti

In the Guggenheim Museum’s most recent exhibit, famous Swiss Sculptor and Painter Giacometti is shown at his most fascinating, bizarre, and melancholy. Giacometti never gave away his answers, and much of his work had to do with how bodies interact in certain spaces. What I loved learning about was how the Second World War Changed his perspective on his art, and caused him to use his fascination of people in spaces towards an affect of isolation.

His art began to make me think about how art can change in so many ways. Many paintings and art seem to want to tell you everything and give you a definite sense of meaning and purpose. Other pieces of art are more of a personal experience. While you can guess what Giacometti meant, at times it is simply hard to know what he is referring to or what he is trying to get the viewer to see. This in a sense makes his work more fascinating, as so much of his work is contingent on how the viewers look at the art themselves. It is a fascinating exhibit that is absolutely worth checking out.

Lance Armstrong Interview

In the latest episode of Freakonomics Radiohost Stephen Dubner interviews infamous cyclist Lance Armstrong about his thoughts on his fallout and the current landscape of Cycling. Lance comes off as remorseful, and provides interesting insights into how cycling is run and why much of this cheating still runs rampant throughout the sport. Absolutely worth listening and I am looking forward to more content from the Dubner Productions in the next phase of Freakonomics Radio. 

Game of Thrones Quote #1

*Spoilers from the Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire*

I am currently reading A Storm of Swords and just recently finished A Clash of Kings, the second book in the A Song of Ice and Fire book series, more commonly known as Game of Thrones. As I am reading I will try to leave behind some of my favorite quotes and attempt to discuss some of my favorite moments and what they mean.

This quote is from a scene where Cersei addresses Sansa regarding her desire and belief in love:

‘Love is poison. A sweet poison yes, but it will kill you all the same’ (761).

It is so easy to approach love with so much cynicism, and for Cersei, one of the easiest characters to hate in this series, it becomes clear how much pain she has experienced in relationships. She loved her twin, and she was forced to watch him win relics as she was dispersed to the sidelines to marry someone she did not love. Choosing to love someone else is tough, and at times we can seem to be giving our vulnerabilities for nothing in return. Why should we love others when so often we stand to be more hurt in the end? I have often told myself that the beauty in those moments is worth any pain that may come after, but for so many people it is not. She recognizes that for every moment of beauty, pain can follow, and in her experience the pain is always worse.

What makes this series exceptional is not just the political intrigue and grand scale, but the individuals that populate these conflicts. Portraying Cersei as an evil queen is easy enough, but allowing her moments to show her scars is truly breathtaking storytelling.

“The Long, Knotty, World-Spanning Story of String”

Ferris Jabr wrote a fantastic story on the history of string and its importance for our civilization.

“In a fiberless world, the age of naval exploration would never have happened; early light bulbs would have lacked suitable filaments; the pendulum would never have inspired advances in physics and timekeeping; and there would be no Golden Gate Bridge, no tennis shoes, no Beethoven’s fifth symphony.”

This article does a terrific job of taking something we so often take for granted, and show just how impactful its invention and usage is on our everyday lives. This is a great example of not only a fascinating subject, but also terrific writing as well. This is an absolute must read for anyone who breathes oxygen.

Via Tyler Cowen

Leave No Trace

Debra Granik’s stunning film Leave No Trace is a site to behold. The story of a father with PTSD and his daughter trying to find a home is both beautiful and painful in the best way. The bond between a father and a daughter feels so palpably real you will have to remind yourself that you are not watching a documentary.

Where most directors opt for dialogue to move the film, Granik uses scene setting and pure emotion from her co-stars to make her film come alive. Ben Foster and Thomsin McKenzie both turn in incredible performances, treating each scene with patience and purpose. It is a must-see, one that will stay with you after the credits roll. 9.5/10

A great review from RogerEbert.com

This American Life Does it Again

In This American Life’s latest episode “ICE Capades,” reporters Naida Reiman, Jeremy Raff, and Miki Meek break down the U.S. Immigrations and Custom Enforcement Agency and some of its most fascinating tales and stories. Act two of the episode, titled “The Iceman,” is particularly striking as it describes an investigation in which ICE and undocumented immigrants united in an investigation to stop Patria Zuniga, who posed as an immigration attorney in order to extort money from undocumented immigrants.

This story helps bring to light the agency that has been a subject of political ire as of late. It also helps show its importance as an investigative agency, which is often overlooked in favor of the separation of families. I am by no means condoning the separation of families, however this is not the necessarily the agency’s most important function. Eliminating the agency could hurt serious investigation’s all across the country, and should be thought about seriously before just supporting its elimination.

Often in political discourse today, there is no thought of having a nuanced discussion. Instead many prefer to just force their own opinion on others and condemn those who do not subscribe to their beliefs. I hope that before more pieces of legislation are introduced about this topic, people have a serious discussion about whether or not eliminating the agency will actually have positive benefits in the long run.

Fascinating Article on the Straw Ban

A fascinating article by Alice Wong discusses the ban on plastic straws.

“People have told me online that I still have access to biodegradable straws at Starbucks, despite my reasons for using plastic ones. People have told me to bring my own reusable straws without thinking about the extra work that entails. Why would a disabled customer have to bring something in order to drink while non-disabled people have the convenience and ability to use what is provided for free? This is neither just, equitable, nor hospitable.”

I have never even thought about this argument in terms of eliminating plastic straws. This argument of inclusiveness is used generally used by those who lean more liberal, however many of those same people would probably support the same ban on plastic straws. Extremely thought provoking and definitely worth a read for people of all political persuasions.

via Tyler Cowen

My Favorite Movies of the Summer So Far

I am by no means a movie aficionado, however I still thought it would be fun to discuss my favorite films of the Summer so far.

1. Won’t You Be My Neighbor? – Morgan Neville’s riveting documentary about equally riveting subject Fred Rogers is a fascinating portrait of a man who seeks to make the world around him better through television. Fred Rogers is a unique figure in that he treated children as serious people, capable of engaging in challenging discussions and expressing deep emotional connection. Morgan Neville does a terrific job of enlightening who he is and connecting his importance to today’s world and how we treat and think of our youth. This is a fantastic documentary and one that is absolutely worth the price of admission for all ages.  9.5/10


2. Eighth Grade – Bo Burnham further cements himself as one of today’s best artists with his outstanding directorial debut Eighth Grade. Burnham perfectly captures what eighth grade feels like today, from teachers trying too hard to relate to the influence of social media and how kids see themselves as a result. However, where many would want to preach and judge, Burnham treats all of the concerns of Elsie Fisher’s Kayla with great care and understanding. Elsie Fisher absolutely shines in this stunningly well done film, full of great dialogue and gut wrenching moments. This movie is everything Boyhood should have been and so much more.  9/10

3. Blindspotting – Unless you have been living under a cave for the past few years, you probably have either seen Daveed Diggs or danced to him singing as Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson in the international sensation Hamilton on your way to work. If you are not familiar with any of his previous work, this film is still a must-see. Diggs along with co-writer and co-star Rafael Casal tackle everything from gentrification to police brutality all whilst treating the audience as people able to come to their own conclusions about the issues at hand. It is also funny while never straying away from the seriousness of its subject. This movie has many highlights including Diggs and Casal freestyle rapping, who are both absolute treats. See this movie if you want to watch Daveed Diggs raps and cover some of our most pressing social issues, is there anything else I need to say?  8.8/10


4. Three Identical Strangers – Keeping with the documentary theme, Tim Wardle’s Three Identical Strangers starts with the reunification of three identical triplets and deals with the aftermath. It starts as a seemingly feel good story but quickly turns into something darker. This movie is full of fascinating social science concepts and terrific ethical questions important for our time. It can feel almost invasive at points, but its dark tone and scintillating story make for a jaw-dropping experience that will stick with you after the credits roll. 8.5/10


5. Solo: A Star Wars Story – In 1977 Harrison Ford’s Han Solo first graced are screens and endeared us with his charm and his ultimate shift from smuggler to hero. 41 years and a massive following later Han Solo has become one of the most iconic characters ever to grace the silver screen. While many Star Wars fanatics were afraid this would “ruin” the famed character for them, this film Alden Ehrenhich holds his own as the iconic character. Donald Glover is the highlight in this one as Lando Calrissian, capturing the eccentricity and humor in a way only Donald could. This is a movie that is much better than the reviews would suggest, and is worth the time for anyone who calls themselves a Star Wars fan. 8/10

6. Avengers: Infinity War – I must confess that I have not kept up on much of the Marvel Cinematic Universe or the comics as I should have and so that affects how I see the film in its aftermath. This movie is doing five things at once, and becomes muddled and at times chaotic throughout. However, the fact that this movie does not entirely break is a feat in itself. My biggest problem in this movie is with the villain Thanos and his “Children of Thanos”, both of which are underdeveloped and uninteresting. However, the ending is one for the ages, and redeems much of this film’s poorer qualities. How the MCU will shape up after this film is a mystery, but I will enjoy the shock value of the ending while I still have it. 7/10

7. Sorry to Bother You – Activist and Rapper Boots Riley has a directorial debut that will most certainly shock. It is full of thought provoking moments, but ultimately crushes under the weight of its own ambition. It feels ridiculous and absurd, and at times seems more interested in over-exaggerating its political points rather than having an honest discussion. Where Blindspotting takes care in addressing the audience, this movie goes off the rails in its own political commentary. This movie is a darling of many critics, however the more I look back to it the more I cannot stand it. If you agree with the political opinions that fuel this film you will enjoy it, however if you believe in capitalism and are still deciding how you feel about many issues of the day this film will bother you to no end. 6.5/10


Movies that I am still hoping to see: First Reformed and Leave No Trace

Edit: My reviews for Leave No Trace and Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol are here.