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In Case You Missed It: “The Outpost”

What can I say, I am sort of a sucker for really any show on The CW. So, when I saw that a new series was going to be released, I had to check out The Outpost. I am sorry that I did.

Full disclosure, when I saw the original trailer teasing the show I was sold. It looked promising: fantasy genre, an element of mystery, sword fighting, – what’s not to like?

The premise of the show isn’t a terrible one. It follows the main character, Talon (played by Jessica Green), as she hunts the men responsible for massacring her village. We learn that she is the last remaining “Blackblood” – essentially magical elves who control intra-dimensional gateways. Her pursuit of these killer’s leads her to the Outpost, a fortress on the furthest edge of civilization. But the promise of the show really ends there.

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Go See Your “Uncle Drew”

Growing up a kid in Hoosier Country, we had a phrase we used to use, “basketball is life.” This phrase, simple and elegant, is the premise of the new film starring basketball superstar Kyrie Irving Uncle Drew. The film is based upon the character created in the Pepsi Max ads (if you have no idea what I am talking about, that’s what Youtube is for) following a geriatric basketball player who has no problem putting “young-bloods” in their place. For Drew, basketball is life. The game rules all, because it teaches us how to live together, and work together, and solve any problem.

Uncle Drew follows the title character and blacktop-basketball-legend as he assembles his old team to help Dax win The Rucker streetball tournament in Harlem. After Dax loses his team, Drew agrees to help recruit his old streetball team – despite their falling out – for one last ride to win the tournament. As Drew recruits his team, he teaches Dax about the game (and life) and discovers he hasn’t been as true to his principles as he thought.

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Returning To Your Childhood Neighborhood

I just saw the movie Won’t You Be My Neighbor – and it is the best movie you haven’t seen. The film is a documentary, which explores the life of Fred Rogers, and his iconic children’s television show on PBS Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood. The film is the the embodiment of Martin Luther King Jr. famous words that, “darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that; only love can do that.” A simple, but powerful message.

Roger’s simply cared about people. And his mission was a simple one. He believed that children needed to be treated with respect, told that they were individuals, and reminded that they are loved. Roger’s as man, and his philosophy, is a call back to a simpler time. A time of community. A time when neighborhoods themselves were institutions fundamental in shaping culture, identity, and beliefs. It is a reminder of what was, and what can be again.

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No Point Seeing “Action Point”

Something like ten years ago, a film with Johnny Knoxville preforming his death defying stupid-human-stunts would have dragged every high schooler in America to the movie theater. My, how the times have changed. Knoxville’s latest film, Action Point, is essentially Bad Grandpa meets Jackass, again something that once-upon-a-time would have dragged viewers to a theater. Now imagine that movie, but without any redeeming or entertaining qualities. That is Action Point.

Action Point is more of the same from Knoxville, just, without the laughs. It is a film completely devoid of genuine plot or characterization. It is loosely held together by a story about a father, his backyard-built-budget theme park, and his relationship with his estranged daughter. So, there isn’t much to truly build a film around.

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Avengers: Infinity War – Top 10 Fake Spoilers

In an attempt to release a movie so huge it’ll give each fan his very own heart attack, Disney has crammed every single hero from the Marvel Cinematic Universe into one (okay, two) giant film(s). To prepare for the only film with a call sheet longer than its running time, check out the following fake spoilers for Avengers: Infinity War

10 – Let’s admit it, it’s kind of nice to see a Hemsworth in pain.

9 - Thanos's primary motivation: Conquer the Universe. Secondary motivation?: Bedazzle his Gauntlet.
9 – Thanos’s primary motivation: Conquer the Universe.
Secondary motivation?: Bedazzle his Gauntlet.

8 - Only one of these three actors has a "I'm getting back end box office points" smile on their face. Can you guess who?
8 – Only one of these actors has a “I’m getting box office points” smile on his face. Can you guess which one?

7 - You know the drill, Ruffalo. You get 15 minutes of exposition in the sport coat then it's torn pants and green skin for the rest of the film.
7 – You know the drill, Ruffalo. You get 15 minutes in the sport coat then it’s torn pants and green skin for acts 2 & 3.

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Ready Player One

Ready Player One – Top 10 Fake Spoilers

Do you want to escape to an alternate reality where Steven Spielberg still makes fun movies? Then you’re probably psyched for Ready Player One. As you wait on line next to a guy using R.P.O. as an excuse to dress like M. Bison for the night, browse the following Fake Spoilers…

10 - Tye Sheridan has played Cyclops in one X-Men movie and he's already a victim of typecasting.
10 – Tye Sheridan has played Cyclops in one X-Men movie and he’s already a victim of typecasting.

9 - Steven Spielberg returns to big budget sci-fi form because you can never be too careful with J.J. nipping at your heels.
9 – Steven Spielberg returns to big budget sci-fi form because you can never be too careful with J.J. nipping at your heels.

8 - Ben Mendelsohn: The only actor who insists on a "No Likeability" clause for every movie he makes.
8 – Ben Mendelsohn: The only actor who insists on a “No Likeability” clause in every movie he makes.

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Photo: IMDB

Red Sparrow: A Spy Thriller, Without The Thrills

The film, Red Sparrow, capitalizes on America’s renewed Russo-phobia. Central to the film is the fact that many in the west believe we won the Cold War, while many in Russia believe the Cold War never ended. While I agree with the sentiment completely, I do feel that the film simplifies decades of U.S. -Russian international relations into terms which can easily be digested by those who pre-November 2016, could scarcely find Russia on the map. While simplified it is does introduce to the masses three monumental facts of national security: (1) there are more Russian spies in the United States now than during the height of the Cold War, (2) Russian intelligence collection programs are built around long-term goals, and (3) the Cold War never ended, despite the fact that too many westerns believe it did.

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Photo: IMDB

Annihilation Will Blow You Away

While the rest of your friends continue to be infatuated with Black Panther, seeing it for the third or fourth time with their Movie Pass, consider seeing something a little different. Annihilation can best be described as a cinematic experience, one of those movies made to be seen in a theater. So, if you plan on waiting until the digital release to watch it, think again.

This experience presents itself when the characters enter The Shimmer, an alteration of space-time where the laws of nature are constantly reinventing themselves. The sound design, the powerful and emotional scoring, the color pallet, and the stunning visuals all work in harmony to immerse us in this altered-state bubble. You can’t help but check Google Maps when you leave, to see if a real-life version of The Shimmer is currently swallowing up the American South. It feels real.

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The Shape of Water – Top 5 Fake Spoilers

As yet another film you feel obligated to say is good when your girlfriend is around hurtles toward Oscar gold this year, check out these fake spoilers so you can sound like one of the 80 people who’ve actually seen it…

5 - To capture that "empty theater" look, they filmed on location at a Weinstein Oscar screening.
5 – To capture that “empty theater” look, they filmed on location at a Weinstein Oscar screening.

4 - So that's why he's reading this book.
4 – So that’s why he’s reading this book.

3 - As Julia Roberts, Sandra Bullock, and Marisa Tomei can testify to, doing nothing is one of the best ways to win an Oscar.
3 – As Julia Roberts, Sandra Bullock, and Marisa Tomei can attest to, doing nothing is one of the best ways to win an Oscar.

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New Creative Writing Magazine

We have great news for fiction and narrative nonfiction writers: we are launching a new quarterly literary journal to be published in print and online.

The to-be-named publication will feature emerging authors from our writing programs, but will also be open to submissions from authors and writers of any background. With the goal of cultivating short stories and narrative nonfiction work that wrestles with themes of liberty and freedom, the journal will publish a collection of 7-8 short works each quarter.

Stay tuned for more details, but if you’d like to submit something for consideration, please adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Fiction word count: 5,000-10,000 words
  • Memoir word count: 1,200-5,000 words
  • Essay word count: 500-2,500 words
  • Must grapple with liberty-related themes in some way
  • Email submissions to [email protected]
  • Deadline to submit for the first issue is March 10th

In addition, if you are an illustrator and would like to illustrate for the new magazine, please contact [email protected] with some samples of your work.

 

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A Wrinkle in Time – Top 10 Fake Spoilers

Was anyone else assigned A Wrinkle in Time in middle school but couldn’t remember the plot if your life depended on it? Well fear not because it’s hitting the big screen on March 9th. To get you ready for this trip down faded memory lane, check out these fake spoilers:

10 - Disney introduces kids not only to the fantasy world of Madeleine L'Engle's writing but also their first acid trip.
10 – Disney introduces kids not only to the fantasy world of Madeleine L’Engle’s writing but also their first acid trip.

9 - Greatest suspension of disbelief required for Wrinkle in Time: Buying Chris Pine as an astrophysicist.
9 – Greatest suspension of disbelief required for Wrinkle in Time? Buying Chris Pine as an astrophysicist.

8 - Oprah's newest favorite thing: PLATINUM HAIR WEAVES!
8 – Oprah’s newest favorite thing: PLATINUM HAIR WEAVES!

8 - Every journey to save the universe starts with a spin through Wisteria Lane to check in with the Desperate Housewives from Hell
7 – Every journey to save the universe starts with a spin through Wisteria Lane to check in with the Desperate Housewives from hell.

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Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi

The Last Jedi – Top 8 Fake Spoilers for Episode VIII

Star Wars fever is about to break out into another $2 billion box office rash. Apply these fake spoilers as a preventative salve to stave off your own case of Force-itis.

8 - Whether it's your evil lair or your family room, the remote's always in the last place you look.
8 – Whether it’s your evil lair or your family room, the remote’s always in the last place you look.

7 - Watch Poe and Finn's desperate struggle not to end up as the Ron Weasley of this trilogy.
7 – Watch Poe and Finn’s desperate struggle not to end up as the Ron Weasley of Star Wars.

6 - Mark Hamill's just relieved now that the last movie he holds a lightsaber in won't be Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back. 6 – Mark Hamill’s just relieved that the last movie he holds a lightsaber in will no longer be Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back. (more…)

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Victoria & Abdul – Top 5 Fake Spoilers

20 years after Mrs. Brown, Dame Judi’s back in Victorian era wardrobe as… Queen Victoria. Audiences have been positively clamoring for Judi to reprise her role as the 19th century’s most famous baby factory so fair warning: FAKE SPOILERS BELOW!

5 - You've heard of actors sleepwalking through a part? Well, watch Judi Dench sleepsit through this one!
5 – You’ve heard of actors sleepwalking through a part? Well, watch Judi Dench sleep-sit through this one!

4 - Ms. Dench forgot to get the okay from the Weinstein Brothers before making a period piece about a British monarch so they sent a dead fish to the set.
4 – Ms. Dench forgot to get the okay from the Weinstein Brothers before making another period piece about a British monarch so they sent a dead fish to the set.

3 - Hungry for action? Just wait for the scene of butlers and maids practicing their bowing to an empty chair!
3 – Worried that a historical drama won’t have enough suspense? Just wait for the scene where the help practices bowing to an empty chair!

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Stephen King’s IT – Top 10 Fake Spoilers

Never has such a short book title filled so many pages. (1,138 to be exact) Remember when flipping past the old TV version would fill your nightmare quota for a month or two? Well, on September 8th you’ll have to drive all the way to a theater to get scared for 14 bucks (plus another 10 for the worst nachos you’ve ever eaten). To better prepare you for a night of thrills and chills, here are the Top Ten Fake Spoilers for IT…


10 - "Hi Ho! Hi Ho! It's off to die we go!"
10 – “Hi Ho! Hi Ho! It’s off to die we go!”

9 - Meet the only Jewish kid in Maine not at a sleep away camp.
9 – Meet the only Jewish kid in Maine not at a sleep away camp.

8 - This "Terrifying Clown Is Here!" arrow was repurposed from a mall map.
8 – This “Terrifying Clown Is Here!” arrow was repurposed from a mall map.

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Twin Peaks: The Return

“I’ll see you again in 25 years,” Laura Palmer promised Special Agent Dale Cooper in the Red Room.  That was 1991, the end of the second season of Twin Peaks.  Since then, there has been a prequel movie, Fire Walk With Me, and multiple books to expand on the mythology of the series.  But this year, creators David Lynch and Mark Frost returned to the small screen with Twin Peaks: The Return on Showtime.

The small screen has gotten bigger in the intervening years.  TV has become more cinematic, with series like Game of Thrones. CRTs have given way to 65-inch flat screens.  Video production technology has made special effects cheap and seamless.  And streaming services have changed the TV business model by trying to attract subscriptions from niche audiences.  So it’s only natural that Lynch and Frost would revive their legendary television show.

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David Swindle’s African Odyssey

Travel DAYS: Sunday, July 2 – Tuesday, July 4

The flight from LA to Dubai went across Greenland and produced memorable views like this one:

The flight on Emirates was among the best I’ve ever had. In addition to tons of new movies, TV shows, and albums, they also had some classics, so I thought it appropriate to rewatch Casablanca given that we’ll be there in a few weeks:

I picked up my first Thomas Pynchon novel on Saturday, Inherent Vice, for the plane rides, primarily because I liked the movie and have been studying the genre (LA Detective mystery ala Raymond Chandler):

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Eric Ford Holevinski Explains How “The Restaurant” is Dishing Out More Than Spaghetti

Scarily relatable, surprisingly humorous, undeniably intriguing, Eric Ford Holevinski’s indie film “The Restaurant” has it all—from moments every food industry worker will understand to startling, jump-out-of-your-seat scares. As his first endeavor in filmmaking, Ford seems to have found subject material that draws from personal and universal experiences, while maintaining both humorous and horrifying themes. “The Restaurant,” a comedy-horror centered around a fast-paced New York City Italian restaurant, leads viewers into a spiral of scares and laughs as the busboy discovers a dark secret the manager is keeping. The secret? A customer-hungry entity in the basement that must be fed for the rave reviews to keep flooding in. Being his first foray into the indie film industry, Ford explained the motivations, developments and experiences of his career in the film industry in a Q&A.

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Essential Authors #1: Andrew Klavan

Two years ago, I joined Liberty Island Media, a start-up book publishing company focusing on genre fiction, as their West Coast Editor and began acquiring and editing novels. I also started writing my own novels and helping other writers develop their stories. Now, in this ongoing series at Smash Cut Culture I’m going to start highlighting the authors who I’ve returned to most often in working with writers. As I’ve studied and met both fiction and non-fiction writers over the years these are the ones with the most depth, originality, and humanity. Reading their books and understanding the ideas that matter to them has helped change my life for the better and I hope it can do the same for you.

Andrew Klavan has worn many writer’s hats over the years: hard-boiled thriller novelist, Hollywood screenwriter, essayist for The Wall Street Journal and contributing editor for City Journal, longtime new media innovator in blogging, hilarious YouTube videos, podcasting at the Daily Wire, and now celebrated memoirist with The Great Good Thing: A Secular Jew Comes to Faith in Christ.

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Wonder Woman: Everything We Could Hope For… And More

I don’t know about you, but I have been anxiously awaiting a “Wonder Woman” feature film since rumors circulated in the late ’90s of one starring Sandra Bullock. For me, the films near twenty-years in pre-production hell was well worth the wait.

For starters, “Wonder Woman” is the film that we needed to finally prove the Exec’s wrong. The belief that female superhero films cannot be successful is farce! You may remember leaked emails from 2015 revealing their suspicions that female characters were not a draw in the box-office. The failure of female comic book movies – or any comic book movies for that matter – has nothing to do with the sex, gender, or ability of the character. No instead, as fans have always maintained, the failure of comic book films is the result of shoddy film making at the hands of filmmakers who do not understand the properties they are working with. “Wonder Woman” is a film seeming created by those who seem to understand, and love, the character. And what a difference it makes.

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Who am I? – Genetic Testing and Identity Part 1

Have you seen this commercial for Ancestry.com, one of the genetic testing companies?

 

Kyle’s self-identification, based upon how he was raised and his family’s perception, was German-American but after genetic testing in the service of researching family history, he discovered his ancestors were primarily Scottish.

Cognitive dissonance!

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NO SAFE SPACES: New Documentary by Adam Corolla and Dennis Prager

Adam Carolla and Dennis Prager are teaming up to make a new documentary about the “safe space” phenomenon that is plaguing college campuses across America. The pair has been filming for the past few months, but now they’ve launched an Indiegogo campaign for $500,000 to help them continue production on “No Safe Spaces.”

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Calliope Authors Workshop: Deadline Extended!

Writing tends to be a lonely pursuit. Hours spent writing characters and imagining storylines doesn’t exactly count as social interaction. Plus, how is a writer to know if their manuscript is even working? The answer can be found in a strong writerly community. But if you are a writer that cares about liberty, free markets and the founding principles of America, you’ll find that your options for community are quite limited. Last year, I stumbled upon a little saving grace: the Calliope Authors Workshop, a program dedicated to fiction and nonfiction authors who share an interest in liberty-oriented themes.

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Forming, Storming, and Norming – A(nother) Guardians of the Galaxy 2 Review

I like to laugh. I like action. I like smart-ass characters and clever dialogue. Needless to say, I loved the “Guardians of the Galaxy 1” Like so many others, I waited with joyful anticipation for “Guardians of the Galaxy 2.”

I’ve read other reviews that weren’t very positive and all I have to say is, It’s based on a comic-book and it’s only a 2-hour 18-minute movie. It’s longer than the average movie but there is only so much character development you are going to be able to cram into 138 minutes, but for what it is, the writers did a hell of a job. The story reveals more well-rounded characters and yes, I felt the attraction between Quill and Gamora even though it was just one of many character relationships forming. As far as pacing, there is a lot of story going on in this movie. The writers are trying to tell an important back-story about Quill and his origin, bring us to the major conflict in this film and set up for the next movie all the while giving us more character development than you would expect in a movie based on a comic-book starring a variety of alien creatures.

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You May Have Missed: “Whisper of the Heart”

You may have missed this Studio Ghibli film since it is approaching its twenty second anniversary in July, but you still have time to seek it out, and it is well worth the search.

The first film produced by Ghibli that was not directed by either Hayao Miyazaki or Isao Takahata, it is much quieter than some of the studio’s better known films. The story focuses on fourteen year old Shizuku dealing with two big coming-of-age moments: realizing her passion/dream to write, and navigating her first love.

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Top Five Questions about the Blade Runner 2049 Trailer

The top five questions you’ll have after watching the Blade Runner 2049 trailer…

#5 - Uh, oh. Did Harrison Ford insist on doing his own stunt flying again?
#5 – Oh no! Did Harrison Ford insist on doing his own flying again?

#4 - Given the chance to direct a sequel to either Alien or Blade Runner, Sir Ridley chose chest-bursters over wall-bursters?
#4 – Given the chance to direct a sequel to either Alien or Blade Runner, why did Sir Ridley choose chest-bursters over wall-bursters?

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