Toy Story 4 & A Book Review I wrote

Toy Story 4 – This movie is another great addition into the Pixar canon and for whatever reason I doubted it. The third movie seemed like the perfect conclusion to the series. Making a fourth film just seemed like a money grab.

In spite of my fears, this movie completely justifies its existence and hits every beat. The fact that we have seen these characters and this group so many times, definitely takes away from the wonder and excitement of the first few films. Even with that, the movie glides with such confidence and fun, its hard not to feel yourself falling back into the traps of that world.

It also finds ways to play with the conventions of good and evil, allowing for empathy and understanding. It gives time for toys to discover themselves, and what brings them together. This movie never treats its audience as stupid, but still gives ample amount of fun for even the smallest of children.

Calling this a kids movie is selling it short. It is a movie appropriate for kids that can be enjoyed by all. The best Pixar movies are more powerful for adults, and Toy Story 4 is no different. While some of the initial charm from the series is taken away, this movie is still a must-see for any Pixar fan. 9/10

The author does a terrific job of simplifying and defining the dilemma, but the rest of the book misses multiple opportunities to address it.

I have been working as an intern for the Washington Examiner and got to write a book review on Tyler Cowen’s book Big Business. Please check it out! I will be trying to see more movies this summer so I will be coming back with more reviews so stay tuned for those as well.

Ken Burns’s The Vietnam War

Sometimes, I think if we thought we weren’t always the good guys, we might actually get into less wars. – Karl Marlantes

The Vietnam War is an incredibly consequential point in our history, and a period I lacked knowledge in. I had been avoiding watching Ken Burns documentary on the period, because of how much time it would take it. 17 hours of rousing and brilliant storytelling later and I regret not watching it earlier.

The Vietnam War captures the instability, the insanity, and the uproar while finding times for stories of smaller scale. The blending of the general plot with little subplots along the way make it feel so much more emotionally rewarding. From Karl Marlantes to Hal Kushner, to big names like Tim O’Brien and smaller but very important ones like John Musgrave, each talking head comes to life.

To me this is an incredibly important series, one that goes beyond politics and delivers a searing account of an important point in our history. If you have never seen this, it is worth every minute of the 17 hour run time. 10/10



Damian Lillard’s game-winner is beyond words

The NBA Playoffs are always one of my favorite sporting events of the year. The past few years have of playoff basketball have begun to feel less exciting and increasingly predictable. However, this year that has begun to change for the better. These teams are playing with more fire and intensity.

Damian Lillard and the Portland Trailblazers are a big part of this trend. Dame’s game and series winning shot should live on in basketball lore, as its brilliance is hard to overstate. The courage to step back from over 30 feet. The confidence to drill the shot at the most important time. I have watched the video numerous times and it is hard to get over just how insane it is.

These kind of shots are what the NBA Playoffs are all about. Intensity, grit, and determination in its most pure. You  may not be a Portland Trailblazers fan, but it is difficult not to be enthralled by Damian Lillard. I cannot wait to see what he does next.

AEI Conference Reflection & Can You Ever Forgive Me?

The AEI conference was very enlightening, as I got to hear from many fascinating speakers regarding political discourse as well as where much of the best policy research is leaning towards. There was a fascinating dialogue between current AEI President Arthur Brooks and Professor John A. Powell that did a great job of outlining how we can have a political discussion, which is vital for more people to here.

Some panels were better than others but another panel that stood out was a panel on the American World Order and a career panel were both very helpful for young college students. It created for fascinating thought and discussion which I appreciated immensely.

Much of what the conference suffered from was repetition, and in constant mentioning of the ideas that we are “divided” and that we need to find the “humanity” in others. This is not news to people who read this blog and to the people who go these conferences, but I recognize the value of mentioning it and making sure people do not forget it.

Also the timing for this conference could not have been worse. Right in the middle of midterms across the country in Berkeley put unnecessary stress on me and many others, This problem could have been avoided with more conferences or having it earlier in the semester. That aside, it was a great conference and I highly encourage those of you who know nothing about Arthur Brooks or AEI to watch his movie The Pursuit when it comes out on Netflix.

I can’t say that I regret any of my actions. In many ways this has been the best time of my life.

Can You Ever Forgive Me? – Melissa McCarthy has shown a tendency to play one-off comedic characters, which makes her role in this film that much more surprising. She does an amazing job of giving Lee Israel humanity and pain, allowing for us to sympathize with a serial forger. This movie is shockingly melancholic at times, and sometimes that works to its detriment. Regardless, McCarthy is a stand out and this film has a fascinating character for a fascinating story. 8.5/10


Vice Review, Jane, & Inception

This movie often seems to equate clever filmmaking with good historical commentary, and that simply is not the case.

This is from my latest Michigan Review article, a movie review (I can see how shocked you are) of the movie Vice. If I had to give a score out of 10 it would be a 3. No I was not a fan, and much of that is due to its aimlessness and lack of clear ideas. My review is essentially a hybrid of Brian Tallerico’s review and Kyle Smith’s review. Kyle Smith also does a fact-checking article which for those of you looking for a conservative perspective may want this take.

I also watched a few other movies, Janethe terrific documentary on Jane Goodall, and Inceptionthe trippy and brilliant Christopher Nolan genre-blender. One thing I loved about these films was there differences in scale and approach but both do a marvelous job of bringing out their subjects. While Jane Goodall is real and the people in Inception are not, what makes both films exceptional is there sincerity towards finding out their characters motivations. Each of these films could have become distracted but neither did.

Perhaps why I am saying this is to address my problem with Vice. It never gets an argument and it never takes time to truly develop the characters, which makes the film dull and lackluster. It is disappointing, especially with such a great cast and crew. Regardless, Vice did not impress me as the other two I mentioned did. I would give a 9/10 to both Jane and Inception.


Film Blast!!

I have watched too many movies over the past few days and still have other things I want to write for this website and the Michigan Review. I still have other movies I want to see before I make my final list! So brace yourselves, here as your amateur film critic I will try my best to complete these tasks! Here are the three films I have seen in the past four days.

Annihilation – I saw this on the plane and yet I still was gnawing at my hands as the tension unfolded in the shimmer. This movie is a feat, a technical and storytelling marvel, one that seems to ask more questions than it answers. It is deeply dark and disturbing, and yet it is nearly perfect. It can be confusing, and my only negative is that my experience was clouded in plenty of “oh my god” and “what the ****” than I would have liked, but this is one of the most impactful films I have seen. There are scenes I simply cannot let go of, and now the song “Helplessly Hoping” has a whole new meaning. Simply put, watch this movie if you can stomach it. 9.3/10

Roma – While I commend Netflix for financing this incredible film, there strategy for releasing it simultaneously in theaters and on their service seems designed to lose money. Regardless this film is incredible, a small story told on an epic scale, that makes it perhaps the most remarkable thing to come out in recent memory. Alfonso Cuarón paints this film and this story with beautiful black and white, as well as unbelievable cinematography. The story, deals with not only the maid Cleo but also the men in her and her family’s lives and their impacts on them. If you can see it in theaters, you absolutely should, but regardless, this is a film that simply needs to be watched. One of the year’s best. 9.5/10

The Lobster This was a film I had read about and I had extremely high expectations for once I saw it on Netflix. Unfortunately, it did not live up to those lofty expectations, and perhaps that is part of my criticism. This film, about a society where single people have to go to a hotel and find a mate in 45 days, or otherwise they will be turned into an animal, is clever and absurd. It raises fascinating questions about the value of polygamy and monogamy, as well as what happens when society has an active say in what happens. My biggest problem with this film is its tonal register is confusing, and it simply just did not impress me as much as I would have liked. That being said, this is an experience that many will enjoy, and one I think for the right audience can be considered a masterpiece. 7.5/10

Bill Maher & Hilarious Bundesliga Animations

I have had an ambivalent view of Bill Maher. He seems to enjoy controversy and prefers creating it in ways that I am not sure I entirely agree with. However, he is actually an incredibly honest pundit, and does a great job of bringing incredibly difficult conversations to the forefront. For every moment I want to thank him, he gives me a moment of pause. His latest blog post is a moment of pause, as he completely goes after Stan Lee almost immediately after his death. It was pointless, and he would go onto trash comic books as a medium and claim that people need to grow up.

To me, every medium has the capability of great storytelling, and for him to blame comic books of all things is absurd. For every mind numbing comic book there are stories like Watchmen and Maus that use the medium to tell something beautiful and impactful. Many look down upon video games, and yet The Last of Us has affected me more than any movie ever will. All genres have the ability of being great, and while it is we should be critical of art that we do not like, to desecrate Stan Lee like this just a few days after his death.

To be fair Stan Lee’s empire definitely took away some of the beauty behind its art in order to make money, as did Star Wars and Harry Potter. However, all three of these works of fiction have expanded the imaginations of many and given many courage and strength to go on. The idea that comic books are somehow uniquely bad as a form of literature, is a dishonest suggestion. All forms of art have the capability of being bad or good, but to blame the art form and somehow tie that into a Donald Trump world makes absolutely no sense.

While I have not heard from him yet I assume he will respond as he usually does, saying that he is not the problem but in fact the “snowflakes” who cannot handle him are. He is entitled to his opinion, but at some point he should take some responsibility for his endless provocations and maybe try to change. Knowing Bill he will not change his ways, and part of what makes him great is his willingness to disagree and go in directions no one else will. I just wish he would think twice before saying certain things.

In better news, if you are in a need of something to make you laugh, this video of Bundesliga commentary reimagined as daily life animations is hilarious.

My top 5 podcasts right now

I haven’t been as good about podcasts this school year, but I did a little podcast binging and these are my top 5.

1. Waking Up with Sam Harris- Of the intellectual dark web members, Sam is the most honest, reasonable and fascinating. He finds ways to engage a myriad of subjects on issues ranging from politics to philosophy and AI. It is always fascinating and sam is incredibly engaging with all of his subjects. The conversations can be longer but they are always worth a listen.

2. Conversations with Tyler – Tyler Cowan is one of the biggest reasons why I started this blog, someone who finds ways to make everything fascinating. His Podcast brings fascinating subjects such as Malcolm Gladwell and Paul Krugman, and asks questions that are incredibly poignant and insightful. It brings about a fascinating conversation, and a highly intellectual one as well.

3. 99% Invisible – I am not an engineer, an architect, or anything in between. However, host Roman Mars always finds a way to make design and architecture absolutely fascinating. From Sears catalog homes, to be the Toronto Raptors NBA jerseys, there is no subject not touched. Unique insights and a terrific voice guide you into some utterly terrific territory. Definitely a listen for all of the beautiful nerds.

4. Colin’s Last Stand: Fireside Chats – Colin Moriarty seemed to have hit rock bottom when he was left his own company Kind Funny. He could have given up, but instead he created his own company, and boy am I happy. A conservative in games media, he has found a way to incorporate politics, and anything else he finds fascinating into a series of great conversations.From small town mayors, to shelter volunteers and political pundits; he seems to always keep his show varied and interesting. If you want a great perspective from those on the conservative side of the aisle and just a fascinating human in general, give this show a listen.

5. This American Life – What else? Ira Glass could read the phone book and I’d want to hear every fax number. Not to mention terrific reporting and content. Zoe Chase and others make this program the staple it is. If you are breathing and haven’t listened to this program, you’re doing something wrong.

The Pain of a Migraine & Wayne Rooney

Migraines are painful I regret to inform you, and I found out in rather brutal fashion on Wednesday night. I was hosting an event for the AEI Executive Council with Reihan Salam (awesome guy by the way), when I noticed a large blurry spot in my vision. I could not make out a word on my phone screen and an hour later my hand hurt in some kind of way.

After arriving at the Urgent Care center in Ann Arbor, they treated me and dealt with me being I am sure less than pleasant. I was annoyed and in pain, and they reacted with stellar poise. If you have a migraine, get medication as soon as you can and do not let it sit for too long. Otherwise a flash can turn into a nightmare.

Also there was a brilliant profile on Wayne Rooney I highly encourage you to read. If there is any 30 for 30 material in the MLS, this run from DC United might very well be it. I think it just might be the best sports story we have seen in awhile.


A Star is Born, USWNT, & Another Michigan Review Article!

It is as good as you have heard. A Star is Born is incredibly moving, something I never could have expected from a film this year. Bradley Cooper acts and directs and is brilliant, using his body to act the pain and torture he goes through. Lady Gaga is absolutely incredible in this movie as well, her singing and acting are a force throughout. While I have never seen the other iterations of this movie, this movie does an absolutely terrific job of being moving while also understanding the current moment and living up to it. The second half is not as good as the first, and it does slow down at points. Regardless, this is a movie that must be seen in theaters, and may very well win award after award and it will be well deserved. 9/10

In other news, the US Women’s National Team qualified for the world cup, and I along with the rest of the soccer fans in this country could not be prouder. I will never take for granted the difficulty of qualifying for a world cup ever again. The women have qualified in dominating fashion, destroying nearly ever opponent in their wake. I wish them luck next summer and hope that they can bring another one home.

When recruits are scored based on questions regarding their trendiness or looks, it is pretty obvious that “sisterhood” is not the main calculation. National sorority bodies want girls who can market their image for them, and many do.

I have also written another article for The Michigan Review which I highly recommend you check out about Greek life at Michigan. With that happy Tuesday and enjoy the rest of Fall Break.