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Showing posts from 2019

Jim Jarmusch's The Dead Don't Die (2019): A Smart Zombie Meta Movie

Strange things are happening in the town of Centerville. A local man named Farmer Frank (wearing a hat that says "Make American White Again") angrily reports that his chickens are missing and that Bob, the local hermit, must be the culprit. The local sheriffs, Chief Cliff Robertson and Officer Ronnie Peterson, are on the case. They don't really think Bob is the guilty party. As the pair investigates the crime, the rest of the town is introduced through various scenes, and everyone has an opinion about what's really going on. As the town come to the realization that the problem is zombies, people choose to hide out, run away, or fight to the death. 
Although that's an accurate description of the plot of this movie, it doesn't quite capture the essence of the film. Don't go in expecting to find your typical zombie movie with heroic characters and "last man standing" scenario. The Dead Don't Die is a zombie film, and at the same time attempts …

Michael Dougherty's Godzilla King of the Monsters (2019) Has Some Amazing Moments

Michael Dougherty's Godzilla King of the Monsters has some amazing moments. Although the film is heavy on family drama, and light on kaiju action, there is enough fodder to merit a trip to the local movie theater.

My first experience in seeing a Godzilla movie, believe it or not, occurred in 2014, when I went to see Gareth Edward's Godzilla. Although I try my best to keep up with current movies, monster movies never really captured my attention. My experience in 2014 was enough to change my mind. I went to see that film several times. The revelation that Godzilla was not the bad guy amazed me. I assumed that these films would play out like a King Kong flick, with everyone basically trying to kill them, with a few dissenters. Nope, the science community and military are glad to receive Godzilla's help when they need it, and then bid him adieu. It didn't take long for me to draw a connection between Godzilla and the Seven Samurai in that way.

This iteration of the radio…

Yes, You Can: Go to the Movies By Yourself

This is part of my Solo Living: Yes You Can series. Click here to find the intro and all the topics.

I almost feel like this post is unnecessary. But there may still be some people out there who can't imagine going out by themselves and buying a ticket in a theater where they will sit alone and finding it enjoyable.

Full truth -- I have been going to movies by myself since high school, and in all honesty, it's probably my preferred way to do it. Sometimes -- ON VERY RARE OCCASIONS -- I go to a theater with a friend. This person must be very special. They can't commit any of the movie theater sins, such as talking, texting, pointing out my emotions, and eating giant handfuls of popcorn, instead of one piece at a time, savoring it.

I recall the first time I experienced the cinema solo. I wanted to see Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, starring Kevin Costner. I also wanted to see another movie, but I can't remember what it was. Maybe it was Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey.…

The Top Scenes from Cobra Kai Season 2

via GIPHY

I have been a fan of the Karate Kid movie franchise since it was released in 1984. The first three films were frequently viewed and quoted by my entire family all through my childhood. And still, to this day, I don't think a family visit goes by without my hearing a Daniel-san or "wax on; was off" reference thrown in for good measure, no matter the context.

The New Karate Kid and the Jackie Chan reboot didn't make much of an impression. Let's face it -- "put on your jacket; take off your jacket" just doesn't have the same ring to it as "wax on; wax off." So when I heard a TV show called Cobra Kai would be released on Youtube, with both Ralph Macchio and William Zabka in the cast, I was tickled but fairly positive it would be stupid. After all, how can you hope to make any successful Karate Kid picture without Pat Morita as Mr. Miyagi?

To my dismay and delight, the show is amazing. It simultaneously pays homage to the original and…

Yes, You Can: Go to a Concert By Yourself

This is part of my Solo Living: Yes You Can series. Click here to find the intro and all the topics.

Who doesn't love a good live music event? There's nothing quite like sitting on a grassy knoll on a blanket or lawn chair enjoying a perfect summer evening while indulging your ears in music that speaks to you. Well, let's face it, although outdoor summer concerts are great under the stars, indoor ones can be just as enjoyable with the right seats.

Experiencing a concert with one of your music soulmates, whether friend, shallow acquaintance, or romantic partner can be sweet. But what if you desperately want to grab tickets for an upcoming concert and you can't find a music buddy? For folks in a romantic relationship, more than likely, your special boo will go just to please you. As I have grown older, and my musical tastes have changed again, I find myself interested in seeing performers none of my friends are familiar with. Some of the things I have tried to avoid goi…

What the movie Emilio Estevez's The Public (2018) got right about libraries

The Public, a new independent film directed by, written by, and starring Emilio Estevez, came out in select theaters in early April 2019. The film takes place in a public library in Cincinnati where many itinerant city dwellers spend their days making use of the facilities. On a particularly cold night, Cincinnati residents without homes decide to stage a peaceful protest by choosing not to leave the library at closing time, leaving city officials at a loss as to what to do.

Excited at the prospect of seeing a film set in a public library, I attended a screening of the film. Although the film contained some groan-worthy elements and perpetuated some librarian stereotypes, here's a list of things the movie The Public got right.

Crowds waiting for the doors to open. Although it didn't happen every day, many times I would look out the window before opening time and see a crowd of eager faces, ready to access all the library has to offer. It sometimes struck me as funny, seeing w…

Yes, You Can: Buy a House by Yourself, Part 1

This is part of my Solo Living: Yes You Can series. Click here to find the intro and all the topics.

My journey to buying my first house alone is a long meandering one, but it's worth telling and makes me proud that I was finally able to take the jump. Buying a house is one of those things that can seem daunting and impossible. The first step you have to overcome is just overcoming the negative thought in your mind that it's impossible. Once that bridge is crossed, it's really just a matter of putting the pieces into place. Often to reach this place, you have to reach a pain point where your current situation is so heinous and unbearable that the pain and struggle of buying a house seems the lesser of the two evils. You might think of this as the tipping point, or the point of no return. It's the point where going back is harder than moving forward.

When I became an adult, I moved to North Carolina alone with no previous connections to teach at a private school. I was…

Yes, You Can: Buy a House by Yourself, Part 2

This is part of my Solo Living: Yes You Can series. Click here to find the intro and all the topics.

Continued from part 1. Although I was nervous to think about buying a home alone, the thought of continuing on my present track was unbearable. My thought track went something like this: I am turning 40 years old. I'm a working professional. I can't keep living like this. I had managed to pay off all of my school loans, and I knew plenty of other people who were now home owners and somehow managed, even though they made less money than me. But much of my block was mental. I always thought of buying a home as something you do when you are married and ready to settle down. I had heard you should not even think of buying a house if you weren't prepared to stay in it at least 5 years. I had never lived anywhere longer than 2 1/2 years.

At this point, a friend of mine gave me the name of a realtor. I called him and started asking questions, and the impossible began to seem possi…

After She's Gone by Camilla Grebe: A Scandinavian thriller makes for a chilling read

Whether you call it Nordic Noir or a Scandinavian thriller, After She's Gone by Camilla Grebe does the job of creating that icy, chilly, somber mood that fans of this region's fiction love.

Ever since Stieg Larsson's iconic Millenium series came onto the scene, I have been fascinated with Scandinavian thrillers and books by non-Scandinavian authors that provide the same experience. After reading all of the Millenium books, I next read Tom Smith's brilliant novel, The Farm, where an adult son has to figure out which of his parents is lying to him about the other's intentions. It's a riveting novel that continues to linger in my mind as one of my most memorable reads.

Although I enjoy American thrillers such as Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn and British thrillers like The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins and anything by Clare Mackintosh, there's something about thrillers set in Sweden. Maybe it's the setting itself,…

Yes, You Can: Take a Vacation by Yourself

This is part of my Solo Living: Yes You Can series. Click here to find the intro and all the topics. Solo vacationing can be one of the most freeing and relaxing ways to travel. I'm sure you can think of at least one time when you took a trip only to have your getaway ruined by your companion.

I love a good vacation. There's nothing better than taking a few days off to decompress and get away from the stress of life. In my family, even when we didn't have a lot of money, it was considered important to have these little weekends. Sometimes we stayed with a family member. Sometimes, we would drive an hour away to the closest big city and spend a night in the Holiday Inn Holidome (remember those?). We thought that was big stuff. There was an indoor pool and a video game arcade. Sometimes Mom and Dad would go out for dinner, and we three girls would get to order pizza and watch TV ALONE.

It wasn't always easy sharing a hotel room with 5 people, 4 of them being female. We …

Solo Living, Yes You Can

I was once interviewed on a podcast and given a list of question I should think about to prepare. One of those questions was: What is something you think you do better than most? At the time, I struggled to think of an answer. I could think of a bunch of skills I have, but something I do better than most means I can offer expertise to others that is sound. I finally came up with my answer: I can do life alone better than most.

I am 42 years old, have never been married, and have no kids. This isn't entirely by choice, although I've made choices along the way that contributed to my single status. I truly wish I had a marriage partner, but for me, it hasn't happened yet. One of the things that makes it bearable is my ability to do things alone and not allow my solo state to hold me back from living the life I desire. I have decided to start a series of posts about solo living.

The reason this seems worthwhile is that I purposefully didn't do things for many years becaus…

Movie Review: Jordan Peele's Us (2019)

Although Jordan Peele's Us makes use of tried-and-true horror tropes, he repackages them with some very powerful imagery, an intriguing scenario, and a mostly black cast to paint a creepy tale with an interesting blend of gore and suspense.

I am very fond of Stephen King's novel It, and the cold open gave me that feel with the 1985 carnival, where we meet young Adelaide and her parents. As she walks off alone and towards the beach, I half expected to see Pennywise with a balloon. The whole first scenario with her foray into the "Find Yourself" fun house and the cut to the wall of rabbit cages with the opening track from the soundtrack, Anthem, playing was pure gold. 
The well-know Us trailer showed everyone that a family of four gathering for a cozy coastal vacation is surprised to be invaded by a group in red jumpsuits, who just happen to look exactly like the family. But it doesn't show much more than that. I went into the film unsure of what to expect. I enjo…

Movie Review: Robin Bissell's The Best of Enemies (2019)

Politically, America is more divided than ever, with seemingly no room for compromise. The Best of Enemies is a true story that shows what can happen when very different people from different worlds come together and work for a common cause. The story is set in Durham, NC, 1971. Durham happens to be my current home, and residents of Durham are proud as can to call Ann Atwater a "favorite son" of Bull City.

Ann Atwater is an African American female who knows how to get things done. She appears to be the appointed mouth of her people. She is shown advocating for families who are being treated unfairly in the housing market. She attends town council meetings where a landlord might be called to task for treating families of color unfairly. When Ann is treated dismissively, she's not opposed to slapping someone on the head with a telephone receiver.

C.P. Ellis is also a natural leader and admired by many. He just happens to be the local leader of the Durham Klu Klux Klan. Na…

Justin Baldoni's Five Feet Apart (2019): A Sick Lit Love Story With Heart and Some Schmaltz

In 2014, The Fault in our Stars, a teen novel by John Green, was released on screen, receiving mostly positive reviews. Yes, it was a love story about two teens with cancer, but it was told with such an honest and quirky voice that it rose above the average "sick lit" tale. Here was a teen to which readers/viewers could relate. In 2017, Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon, received the same treatment. This time, however, the story received less than stellar praise. Folks from the disabled community who were eager for representation in this movie were dismayed that the main character ended up not truly being sick (instead she's a victim of Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy), adding to the many narratives featuring characters with disabilities or illnesses who are far from empowering.

Now in 2019, the newest "sick lit" story has come to the screen. In this case, however, the movie screenplay was written before the book. Five Feet Apart features Cole Sprouse as Will …

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…

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…

Alfonso Cuarón's Roma (2018) 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 pregn…

Movie Review: Barry Jenkins's 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 …

M. Night Shyamalan's Glass Movie Review (2019) 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…