The Artist (2011) Movie Review

Disclosure #1: I watched The Artist for the first time in the middle of a 14-hour trans-Pacific flight. I didn’t even have an aisle seat. Not the best conditions for enjoying quality film, but do not be mistaken–The Artist is certainly a quality film.

Of course, the Oscars have come and gone, and The Artist won basically everything. Naturally, the usual backlash against the film occurred before the ceremonies were even over.

Disclosure #2: I wasn’t rooting for The Artist. My personal favorites were Midnight in Paris and Tree of Life, but the French tribute to silent film was a shoo-in. Now having seen the film (finally!), it’s clear to me why it won. Not that I have anything against horses or baseball.

Much has been said about the sound–or lack thereof–in The Artist. As a silent film about silent film, the choice of background music and sound effects shines through each chiaroscuro scene.

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Winter’s Bone (2010) Movie Review

I’m tempted to call Winter’s Bone a film without romance, but that wouldn’t quite be accurate. It is true that the film’s plot has little to do with relationships. There is no whimsy, little joy. The world of Winter’s Bone is stark, cold, and bleak. There is love, though–the deep love of family ties.

10 Reasons Journalism Makes You a Better Writer

Inspired by this lovely post, I reflected on one of institutions that has most influenced my writing for the better.

I am speaking, of course, of journalism.

While I wouldn’t quite call myself a journalist by profession, I must admit my education and career would seem to point in that direction. I created my first mock newspaper in an elementary school program, joined the newspaper class in middle school, was on staff at my high school’s newspaper, and reported for my university’s newspaper, news television station, and news radio. Along the way, I engaged in freelance reporting and criticism, leaning more and more to the latter as time went on.

Eventually, I found my niche in arts and entertainment criticism. However, the lessons I have learned from different facets of journalism have deeply affected my writing.

1. K.I.S.S. (Keep it simple, stupid.)

2. Answer the W’s first.

3. Deadlines are deadly.

4. Opinions are not facts.  The diff b/t subjectivity and objectivity.

5. Always dig deeper.

6. The right word can make a difference. (But if you’re stuck, any word will do.)

7. Know your audience. [Or, think outside the box?]

8. Details make the story.

Whether its a brief finance report or a lengthy human interest feature, every piece you write depends on details.

9. Never be afraid to ask for help.

10. Don’t be afraid to voice unpopular opinions.

“A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court” by Mark Twain Book Review

Mark Twain was one of the first authors I ever claimed as my favorite. I fell in love with his humor by reading a collection of short stories left over from my mother’s college days. As I grew older, I read the requisite famous Twain works. I pored over The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn like every good English major should.

For some reason, I had never before read A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court until this year. I must have been under the mistaken assumption that the novel would deal with courtly matters in medieval England, not my favorite genre.

In fact, the novel is set primarily in medieval England, but the story is told through the eyes of a time-traveler from Twain’s present. Hence, the title.

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La Grande Bouffe (1973) Movie Review

Do not watch this movie. Watch The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie instead.

Both films critique bourgeoisie excess and the decline of French (and to some extent, Western) civilization. The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie manages to do all of the above while keeping the tone light and stimulating, while La Grande Bouffe (The Great Feast) takes forever and a day to set up the story, makes an obvious argument, and then beats a dead horse for another hour and a half of repetitive orgiastic nonsense. Continue reading

Beautiful Lies (De Vrais Mensoges) Mini Review

Ah, love. There’s nothing else the French are more known for, especially in cinema. De Vrais Mensoges (Beautiful Lies for North America) is a cute romantic comedy, starring Audrey Tautou and Sami Bouajila.

The movie itself isn’t particularly clever or insightful, but romantic comedies don’t need to be. Tatou plays Émilie, a streetwise salon owner, who receives a note from a secret admirer. Unbeknownst to Émilie, that admirer is none other than the salon’s janitor, Jean (Bouajila), who also has a few surprises up his sleeve. Continue reading

Internet Finds: Jersey Shore “Gone Wilde”

Personally, I adore when high brown and low brow meet to form a culturally relevant, but intelligent unibrow.

Well, not so much the unibrow, but you get the point.

In that vein (in that brow?) here’s a lovely clip, for those of you who haven’t seen it yet:

I think Wilde would approve of the Jersey Shore cast’s hedonism, but definitely not their sense (or lack thereof) of style.