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Dark series on Netflix Provides Mind-bending, Time Slip Experience

This is a spoiler-free review.
After the juggernaut that is Stranger Things season 2 Netflix dropped in October of 2017, everyone binge-watched it within 24 hours, looked around in a daze, and wondered out-loud, what do I watch next?

One of the recommendations I heard repeated multiple times is the German language thriller, Dark. All I knew is that there were missing children, kids on bikes, monolithic power plants, and creepy vibes. I began to watch the show, muddled my way through it at first, but fell into the storytelling deeply. I am currently re-watching the first season, as season 2 is scheduled to drop in June 2019.

Here's a snapshot. Our story takes place in a fictional small town of Winden, somewhere in Germany. The town is in a tizzy because there is a teenage boy missing, Erik Obendorf. The police have been unable to solve the crime, and so everyone is understandably upset and on high-alert. We also learn that another boy went missing under similar circumstances back i…
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Panos Cosmatos, Mandy, and Beyond the Black Rainbow

Under the crimson primordial sky, 
the wretched warlock reached into the dark embrace
His fist closed around the serpent’s eye, strange and eternal.


My most loved movie of 2018 was Mandy, written and directed by Panos Cosmatos, and starring the ever-divisive Nicolas Cage. Red and Mandy live a peaceful life in the woods until a crazed cult leader decides he has to have Mandy. After his gang and some otherworldly creatures attack the couple, Mandy ends up being killed. Red spends the rest of the film getting revenge.

Cosmatos has directed only one other film, a trippy dreamy picture called Beyond the Black Rainbow (2010). Beyond the Black Rainbow takes place in a scientific institute where plants are grown that can supposedly make people feel enlightened and happy. But inside the institute, a young girl who is telepathic is kept captive. We see her plight, and then she escapes. Although Beyond is clearly an inferior film to Mandy, it has all the clear markings of its director’s paintbrus…

Roma (2018) Movie Review: A Window into the Life of a Working Class Woman

For every person who keeps their hands clean and smooth from doing heavy duty manual labor, there are people who work thanklessly in the background, making life comfortable for those few. This is the subject of Roma, a film set in Mexico City with original screenplay written in Spanish. Roma takes one of those hardworking people and brings her front and center.

Cleo is the housekeeper of a middle-class family in the 1970s. She cleans the house, cleans the dog poo off the house entrance, brings the family tea, and serves them at mealtime. Cleo comes across as diligent, hardworking, sweet, shy, non-demanding, and loving. The children seem to adore her. She is a constant in their lives, and they treat her as one would expect a person who demands or expects nothing in return. At times, she’s like wallpaper. Other times, they are affectionate with her and desire her attention.

There isn’t much plot to this movie. Cleo does have some romantic adventures and deals with an unexpected pregna…

Movie Review: If Beale Street Could Talk (2018)

From the moment the trailer was released, I have anxiously been awaiting If Beale Street Could Talk. Due to my new job and my relocation to Durham, NC, I have become aware of my ignorance about the lives of others who don't share my background of being a white middle-class female in America. While I have always enjoyed seeing a wide variety of films, my interest has grown in seeing movies featuring characters of color.

In 2017, Theon Hill, an assistant professor at Wheaton College spoke at the ECPA Art of Writing conference, quoted James Baldwin and spoke highly of his writing. In 2018, the keynote speaker at the Joint Librarians of Color Conference, Benjamin Alire Saenz, also speak of James Baldwin and the impact he had on his writing career. And not too soon after, my father asked me if I'd ever heard of James Baldwin due to a pupil of his researching some of the author's work.

I have not read the book the movie was based upon by James Baldwin but is highly regarded in …

Glass Movie Review and Thoughts on Unbreakable and Split

** This reviews contains spoilers from Unbreakable and Split but not of Glass. **

Glass (2019) gives fans of M. Night Shyamalan's Unbreakable (2000) and Split (2016) the chance to see what happens when David, Elijah, and Kevin and his many personalities come together in one hospital and one one screen. It's hard to believe that it's been almost 20 years since Unbreakable captured my attention and heart on screen. I remember vividly watching the first film and being captivated with its storyline. The trailer gave almost nothing away. Yes, there was a time when trailers didn't show all the exciting scenes. All viewers knew is that David Dunn (Bruce Willis) was the sole survivor of a train crash. If you have time, go watch the trailer and see what I mean.

Instead of a survivor story though, Unbreakable takes viewers on a journey that includes love, loss, trauma, and man that has been "getting by" for quite some time now because of a moment of significance. He…

The Tradition of the Annual Debbie Macomber Christmas Book

My tradition of reading the annual Debbie Macomber Christmas romance novel started like any tradition does -- by my doing something one time, enjoying, and repeating the experience each year. Before you know it, the repeated action becomes a tradition, and you can't imagine life without it. I don't read any other Macomber novels, but I do read her Christmas books. I normally finish them on the 90 minute flight home.

If you aren't familiar with Macomber's line of Christmas books, let's just say they are similar to a Hallmark movie experience. There is always a smart, savvy female who is stubborn and a rugged curmudgeonly man, often the type that would reside in isolation, in Alaska, for instance. He is normally wealthy, and she normally has a career and feels torn by her feelings. The two fight their attraction but, by the end, they just can't help themselves and fall in love. 
I believe my first Debbie Macomber Christmas book was her 2003 The Snow Bride. Just …

Scythe by Neal Shusterman Book Review

As humans, we understand our time on this Earth is limited. We therefore strive to live in a certain way. We create patterns and ways of living that set us for success in the way we define it.

Scythe by Neal Shusterman, book 1 of the Arc of a Scythe duology asks us to imagine a world where no one dies. What if life could go on forever? There is no sickness, no poverty. Everyone has what they need because the Thunderhead, a futuristic imagining of an evolved Siri or Alexa, has solved all of the world's problems that people could not. Freed from the corruption humans carry in themselves, the Thunderhead has made it so that people now live forever.

But of course a new problem exists -- overcrowding and limited resources. Hence the scythedom was created. In this system, men and women are ordained as scythes who must glean around 5 times a week. A gleaning is a legalized killing. Free of malice or motive, scythes must fill a quota of kills, that are statistically backed up. No preferen…