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Literature (and Movie) You Should Know: The Hiding Place

Monday, April 24, was this year’s Yom HaShoah–Holocaust Rememberance Day. There are a great many books on the subject, from The Diary of Anne Frank to MAUS and beyond. But one of my long-time favorites is the story of a family recognized by Yad Vashem as “Righteous among the Nations” for their work in saving Dutch Jews: The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom, with John and Elizabeth Sherrill.

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There is Nothing Not to “Love” About Lana Del Rey’s New Single

Not often do fans of the infamously melancholy Lana Del Rey get to hear a song that is genuinely happy. Yet this is precisely the kind of song that the singer’s new single “Love” is. For the girl known for penning songs like “Sad Girl” and “Pretty When You Cry”, “Love” couldn’t be more pleasantly opposite.

Del Rey, who released the song as a lead single for her upcoming album Lust for Life, has made a notable departure from her typically depressive, sultry style to create something blissful: an unadulterated love song. “Love,” a tribute to young romance, speaks straight from the mouth of enamored youth itself, as the chorus goes: “You get ready, you get all dressed up / to go nowhere in particular/ Back to work or the coffee shop / Doesn’t matter because it’s enough to be young and in love.”

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For the Love of Pete: Why “Crashing” is one of the Best Comedies on TV Right Now

Full disclosure, I fell in love with Pete Holmes the moment I saw him show up on my screen like some gangly white ray of sunshine.  I stumbled onto his show Crashing by accident, scrolling along the homepage of my HBO GO app until I saw a photo of a man sitting on a couch in the middle of the street mock-screaming directly into the camera. “I don’t know who this guy is,” I thought, “but I have a feeling he gets me.” Long story short, it was a show about a comedian, I’ve done stand-up a handful of times, and I’m a regular sucker for guys whose noses are of the Adrian Brody variety. I gave it a go.

My love of comedy about comedians started with Jerry Seinfeld. For me, he was the first comic to use serialized television to tell an audience the ins and outs of being a working comedian. Yes, I realize this dates me as a ’90s child – I’m sorry about it, too.

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“The Outlaw Josey Wales” Movie Review

The Outlaw Josey Wales is arguably one of the best Western films of all times.  The film is a spaghetti Western directed by and starring the face of Westerns, Clint Eastwood.  The Outlaw Josey Wales follows a Josey, played by Clint Eastwood, a Missouri farmer.  The Union Army kills Josey’s family so he joins up with the Confederates to exact revenge.  His unit is a guerilla Confederate group that is coerced into surrendering at the end of the Civil War. 

However, the Union soldiers execute them anyway.  Josey escapes the massacre.  He’s now on the run from the entire Union militia and bounty hunters seeking the $5,000 on his head—no small amount back then. Josey’s travels accumulate his own posse of misfits.  They settle down at a ranch near Santo Rio but the sanctuary doesn’t stay safe long.  The Union finds them.  An all out assault on the ranch ends with Josey and his crew victorious.  More bounty hunters come by the local town but everyone comes to an unspoken agreement that the war is over.  They are done killing.

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Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Star Wars: Top 8 List for Episode VIII

Top 8 Questions after watching the new trailer for Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi

8. Is Disney borrowing from their Marvel well to add wall crawling to Rey's abilities because normal Jedi powers aren't cool enough already?
#8 – Is Disney dipping into its Marvel well to make Rey a wall crawler because normal Jedi powers aren’t cool enough already?

#7 - The first lines heard are "Breath, just breathe." Is Luke reviving the lost Jedi art of Lamaze coaching? Do the words "Captain Phasma is pregnant" excite anyone else?!
#7 – The first lines are “Breath, just breathe.” Is Luke reviving the lost Jedi art of Lamaze coaching? Do the words “Captain Phasma is pregnant” excite anyone else?!

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"Give up your freedom so we can get ours back!"

Bureaucracy and the Beast

(B&B is in the public domain of everyone’s childhood so Boblius refuses to acknowledge plot details as “spoilers.”)

Before he’s THE BEAST, Beast is a tax-and-spend Prince. He vacuums income from the subjects of his French village to throw lavish parties where he prances around like Agador from The Birdcage (but somehow isn’t the gay character people are up in arms about?). The villagers are happy to RSVP in the affirmative for pre-Beast’s parties as long as he doesn’t mock them.

That's more like it.
That’s more like it.

When a disheveled and smelly (one assumes) crone stumbles into pre-Beast’s latest party offering a single rose in exchange for shelter during a horrific storm, he laughs her offer away. Only pre-Beast gives out the roses in this edition of Bizarro Bachelor. For his haughtiness, the crone reveals herself to be an Enchantress (we wouldn’t want to call her a witch in a movie starring Hermione) then transforms pre-Beast into THE (CGI) BEAST. Finally. Now he looks like the Beast from our childhood. Whew. (more…)

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“The Incredibles” Movie Review

The Incredibles is a wonderful film full of metaphor and visual splendor. Brought to the world by the brilliant storytellers at Pixar, marking their last in a brilliant string of classic films cut short by the stale Cars two years later. The Incredibles is about a family of superheroes who are no longer “legally” allowed to use their powers.  The government hides and subsidizes them to not use their powers. Bob’s family has issues not terribly different from those without superpower but they are content with this life. Bob, however, is increasingly dissatisfied with his role as a spineless bureaucrat. He spends his nights listening to a police scanner, breaking the law, and saving lives. He is offered a secret job stress testing a weapon on a remote island.

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Confessions of a Cubs Fan: Ode to Opening Day

I do not care what any of the pessimists say, in my mind, 2016 will always be a great year. Despite the unprecedented celebrity deaths or the political divisiveness, what could possibly be better than the Cubs finally winning the World Series?

I remember last November – packed like sardines inside a Cubs bar, as far as you could possibly be within the continental United States from Chicago – watching Kris Bryant smile as he made the final out of the World Series. My eye’s welled with tears. I passionately embraced random strangers. I cheered and hollered and sang “Go, Cubs, Go” with my new friends loud enough to wake the dead. The improbably had finally happened, the impossible had finally happened, the Cubs won. The Curse of the Billy-Goat was finally broke. In that moment, I couldn’t help but share the sentiment of the final lines of the movie Moneyball (2011).

“How can you not be romantic about baseball?”

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It’s Morphin’ Time!

Jason David Frank – or maybe you better remember him as Tommy Oliver – has to be credited as one of the driving forces behind the new Power Rangers movie. After the internet hyped some really great Power Ranger shorts, JDF approached series creator Haim Saban about the possibility of a mature Power Ranger movie following the Green Ranger (which would have been awesome to watch). Instead of limiting the film to just the Green Ranger, we get a full cinematic reboot of the series in the new film Power Rangers (2017).

These Rangers are very different from the ones we remember. While in the series Zordon instructs Alpha to recruit “teenagers with attitude,” the original Power Rangers severely lack the attitude. They are essentially “squeaky-clean” kids with martial arts skills. These new Power Rangers – screw ups, trouble makers, and even bullies – are edgier, bringing a certain amount of depth and realism to the characters. While the purists might see this as tainting the beloved heroes, to true intention is to sever the “campiness” which defined the series in favor of something more “realistic”.

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"This isn't the casual weekend I agreed to."

Get Out… Before You Meet the GF’s Parents

(Get Out of this page if you don’t want any spoilers.)

Yes, the Armitage family is cool. So hip! Rose (Allison Williams) is a knockout AND willing to stick up for her black boyfriend, Chris (Daniel Kaluuya), when a white cop gives him a hard time. They arrive at her parents’ estate where her parents don’t disappoint. They have created an environment where their kids are comfortable swearing in front of them. And talking about sex! Hell, Dean (Bradley Whitford) and Missy (Catherine Keener) even let them stay in the same bedroom. So chill! Despite Dean’s clumsy (but genuine) praise of Obama as opening conversation with a black man, their coolness is still intact by nightfall. Should we be worried yet?

No.

(Note: Boblius is rarely invited to studios’ critic screenings therefore at Get Out he found himself seated near an older couple with a 4 year old girl. Yes, these grandparents brought their granddaughter to Get Out. More on this later.)
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The city of Peoria, Ariz., and the Peoria Sports Complex played host to Air Force Week during a 2007 spring training baseball game between the San Diego Padres and the Milwaukee Brewers March 21. Airmen were invited to attend and the Luke Air Force Base Honor Guard posted the colors. The Wings of Blue parachute demonstration team jumped in the game ball. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Brian Ferguson)

Making Baseball Great Again

Baseball, our national pastime. For a while there, it seemed like baseball, the sport built on tradition, was not going to stand the test of time. With spring training coming to a close, it seems like baseball fans everywhere should optimistically look forward to a great season.

So why has baseball struggled?

For the early part of the new millennium, baseball has had an issue of branding. After the steroid era, the sport was in a real funk. Having to rebuild a brand, and rethink a sport which had celebrated offensive power for at least a decade. Baseball also needed to regain trust. Trust of the many players who were seemingly thrown under the bus during the steroid witch hunts, and trust of the fans who felt they had been cheated and deceived by the league. Almost a decade removed from the congressional hearings and Department of Justice investigations, the sport seems to be leaving the past in the past and a new baseball is emerging.

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Mad Max: Fury Road Movie Review

“Mad Max: Fury Road” is a story about a group people who, quite literally, break the chains of their bondage and rise up against authoritarianism.

In the film, Tom Hardy’s character (Max) is captured and enslaved, his only purpose in life to provide clean blood to the ruling class’s warriors. Meanwhile, Immortan Joe, the land’s ruler, maintains power with an iron fist forged by military might and the flow of resources. Joe keeps his people in line, keeps his subjects suppressed, by restricting their access to water – then preaching his necessity and humility when he allows a few drops to fall on the masses.

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$10K Film Grant Available: Now Accepting Liberty Lab for Film Applications!

FIRST TIME APPLICATION FORM | ALUMNI APPLICATION FORM

Are you a liberty-minded director, writer, or producer? Bring your perspective to the Liberty Lab for Film (LLF) to fine tune your craft as a filmmaker and storyteller while making a great, professional quality short film or web series.

LLF is an advanced program from Taliesin Nexus, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization, for those who have filmmaking, screenwriting, or producing experience eager to work alongside like-minded creatives with the guidance of seasoned professionals such as Daniel Knauf, (executive producer, NBC’s The BlacklistAdam Simon, (creator of the FOX series Salem) screenwriters Bill Marsilii (Deja Vu, Cold), Paul Guay (Liar Liar), David H. Steinberg (American Pie 2) and Erica Beeney (The Battle for Shaker Heights and “Project Greenlight” winner)  in making your film.

If selected, you will receive $10,000 to make your short film and embark on a 100 day development and writing phase, before moving into production and post.  You and your team will work together from script development until your film or web series premieres at our gala SmashCut screening in Los Angeles and/or selected cities across the country.

LLF participants will also take part in CineShots, intimate discussions focusing on screenwriting, producing, directing, and post-production lead by industry veterans. Participants will also receive a free copy of Final Draft 10 (valued at $249), the industry’s leading screenwriting software.

The LLF is not for the faint of heart. You will undergo a compressed studio experience including script development, pre-production, production, post-production, and editing before finally seeing your film on the big screen!

(Taliesin Nexus is the owner and operator of the SmashCut Culture blog.)

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“Girls” Season 6 Episode 6 Recap: Full Disclosure

Despite the surprising maturity that Hannah found in the first half of “Girls’” final season, episode six proves trying in familiar ways. Hannah gets a ridiculous idea in her head: that she has no obligation to tell Paul-Louie she is bearing his child.

Kudos to the even-handedness of the writers for including characters that think this is an extremely unfair and unreasonable decision on Hannah’s part. Thankfully, towards the end of the episode, she starts to come around and she even tries to contact him. Hopefully she follows through.

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“Enemy of the State” Movie Review

This film is about a lawyer who gets trapped up in a government conspiracy. The director of the NSA is involved in killing a man and he was caught on camera. The man who filmed it is found out through NSA spying and runs the video over to his friend who is a lawyer before jumping into traffic. The lawyer now is on the run from the NSA hit-man and cleverly gets the mob involved to “kill two birds with one stone.”

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New Kickstarter Campaign for “Arts and Minds” Promotes Liberty Through Art

A new liberty-oriented project in Portland, OR recently launched a campaign on Kickstarter to raise money for a summer project that will use “creative energy to spotlight Oregon’s criminal justice system and activate change.”

Arts and Minds (a project of the non-profit Spark Freedom) plans to host a block party where members of the community come together for a day to paint a collaborative mural that tells the story of the criminal justice system in Oregon. United by a passion for freedom and criminal justice reform, attendees will engage in a city-wide “experiment in grassroots artistic activism.”

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Logan’s Travels with Charley (and Wolver-tween): Yes, No, Maybe

(Spoilers? Just some mild ones, bub.)

Yes, it’s good to see Wolverine in action again. Pairing him with a mini-me (or mini-him… er, actually a female mini-him) smelled like a big fat gimmick upon first glance (or whiff) but Wolver-tween is interesting, entertaining… and jarring. Seeing her decapitate an enemy was oddly refreshing. Why?

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“Girls” Season 6 Episodes 4 & 5 Recap: On Hannah’s Pregnancy

So much happened in episodes 4 and 5 that it’s hard to know where to start. I resort to a list:

  • Hannah interviews a female writer that tells her “childlessness in the natural state of the female author.”
  • Hannah finds out (via an embarrassing encounter with a previous love interest/doctor) that she is pregnant from her rendezvous with the surf camp instructor in episode one.
  • Hannah decides to keep the baby even though she has a mounting list of reasons why she probably isn’t ready.
  • Jessa and Adam decide to make a movie together about their past with Hannah. Jessa doesn’t like Adam’s representation of his previous relationship.
  • Marnie is still seeing Desi, but in therapy. And her narcissism is at peak Marnie. She declares that she has bruises all over her body from the two-hour massages that she needs in order to deal with the stress of Desi’s addiction.
  • Ray realizes that Marnie is cheating on him and he eventually breaks up with her.
  • Ray’s friend Hermie dies suddenly, leaving Ray to reevaluate his own life.
  • Elijah does not take the news of Hannah’s pregnancy very well because he’s feeling particularly left behind compared to the life achievements of his friends. He tells Hannah that she’ll be a terrible mother.
  • Hannah’s mother, Loraine, also doesn’t like the news of the pregnancy and she tells Hannah, “Every time I look at your baby, I’m going to see my own death.”

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“Contact” Movie Review

In the film “Contact” an astronomer (Ellie), considered fringe by many of her colleagues, discovers a radio signal transmitted deep in space, in essence, discovering alien life.
As the film opens, is clear to see that Ellie is pursuing her life’s dream: contacting intelligent life in space. However, soon after arriving to a large antenna in Central America, her project is shut down by the National Science Foundation (a federally funded program) who sees her work as frivolous. Steadfast, she lobbies for private funding and finds it with an eccentric billionaire who believes in her passion. It’s after this that she makes a breakthrough. On the verge of the government once again “icing them out”, she discovers a mysterious transmission flying through space, hurdling toward Earth.

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The LEGO Batman Movie: Death of a Police Commissioner, Birth of a Batgirl

(Spoilers below? Oh yeah.)

A few years back there was a Lego movie. It’s name escapes me right now. Anyway, the Lego movie was thought to promote collectivism and criticize capitalism. The makers of the Lego movie (whatever it was called) denied an anti-business agenda BUT… the bad guy in the film was named “Lord Business.”

Well, a few years have passed and now we have The Lego Batman Movie on our hands. Perhaps to bring a Ra’s al Ghul-ish balance to the cinematic Lego-verse, this film asserts a strong critique of police policies largely revealed through the Barbara Gordon character. Her shedding of the commissioner’s uniform (Don’t get excited, it’s a PG film) in favor of her Batgirl costume formalizes her abandonment of supposedly enlightened law enforcement policies.

In the first reel Police Commissioner Jim Gordon finds himself in a crisis: The Joker has assembled a huge bomb to blow the literal floor out from under Gotham City. Gordon does what the G.C.P.D. does best: Call BATMAN!

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Don’t Switch Consoles Yet

On March 3rd, Nintendo released their newest gaming console — the Switch — and it looks like it is on track to be another failure. Do not get me wrong here, I have nothing but love for Nintendo, but sometimes Nintendo irks me more than a crying baby in a movie theater.

The first problem is: March…? Seriously, why on earth would they release a gaming system in March? Especially since the Switch will be hitting shelves with only nine games available. Instead of releasing the system immediately, why doesn’t Nintendo wait until November 2017, when most gamers are in the market for new systems, and the number of games accompanying the system break double digits? The news first broke about the Switch in October, 2016, and this would offer Nintendo an additional nine months to promote and manufacture hype.

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“A Scanner Darkly” Movie Review

Richard Linklater directs an all-star cast in the film “A Scanner Darkly”, the tale of an undercover cop in a futuristic, dystopian world, fighting on the front lines of the drug war, becoming a victim himself.

In the world the movie creates, we are only a few years down the road, in an America plagued by a dangerous new drug – Substance D. With the number of users growing and growing, the government instills a high-tech, rather invasive, security network, tracking phone calls, interpersonal interactions, and even recording you inside your home. Beyond this, they have developed a sophisticated informant network with undercover police officers, Keanu Reeves being one of them. It’s this element the action of the film revolves around – Reeves walking the line between cop and addict, the later taking over his world.

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“Girls” Season 6 Episode 3 Recap: American B***h

Continuing the “bottle episode” theme, this segment shows only Hannah in the apartment of a literary idol, Chuck Palmer (Matthew Rhys). Hannah wrote a piece for a feminist blog about Chuck’s alleged probably-not-consensual sexual encounters with college-age girls on his book tour. Seeing the article, he invites her over to his apartment so he can prove her wrong.

Where “Girls” characters sometimes amount to cartoonish impressions instead of believable humans, this episode defies expectation. We expect Chuck to be portrayed as some obviously bad person that forced himself on an innocent girl. But we quickly see, through Rhys’ charming performance, all the difficult intricacies that surround issues of consent. He is portrayed more wholistically than we might expect: a man with a deep fatherly love for his daughter, a complicated history, and what seems like the capacity for vested interest and affection in women he likes.

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Lego My Batman

If you are anything like me, “skepticism” best described your thoughts when learning of The Lego Batman Movie. Yes, I love Lego’s. And yes, I love Batman. But “The Caped Crusader” in an animated film depicted by the world’s favorite plastic block construction toys? Sounded like too much of a good thing to me, perversely so in fact. I just did not think that Lego Batman could do the character justice. I did not think it could tell a Batman tale that anyone over 11 years old could get behind. I am glad to say: I was wrong.

Spoilers throughout.

The premise for the film is a rather simple one—what if Batman believed himself to be the bad ass that we believe he is? That’s Lego Batman, a narcissistic, frat-boy superhero who always saves the day, and always knows the he will. Lego Batman sacrifices friendship and relations out of his commitment to the superhero craft and out of his fear of losing others in the same way he lost his parents. Lego Batman’s narcissism is so profound, that even the Joker is disillusioned by it. In fact, we find that the Jokers criminal behavior is largely attention seeking. He just wants validation from Lego Batman, and to be accepted as the plastic hero’s arch nemesis.

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