We Own This City – Limited Series Review

We Own This City

  • Creator: David Simon and George Pelecanos
  • Starring: Jon Bernthal,
  • Six episode limited series. Six episodes watched for review.

Grade: A-

“We own this city” is often a familiar rallying cry in rap songs, used to highlight the downtrodden, the forgotten, and the rejects of the rapper’s home town. But, in the hands of David Simon and George Pelecanos, the phrase “we own this city” becomes something of an ominous threat. Simon, the maestro of The Wire, often cited as one of the greatest TV shows ever made, imbues We Own This City with a lot of similarities of the landmark series, but updates it to reflect Baltimore’s ever-changing landscape.

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Barry: Season 3, Episode 1 – TV Review

“Forgiving Jeff”

  • Creator: Alec Berg and Bill Hader
  • Starring: Bill Hader, Sarah Goldberg, Stephen Root, Henry Winkler, Anthony Carrigan

Grade: A-

It’s been nearly three years to the day since the world was treated to a new episode of HBO’s dark comedy Barry. And in those three years, the world has surely changed significantly, so how much will a new season reflect those changes? The premiere episode, “Forgiving Jeff” is a clear indication that, though the show won’t be addressing the pandemic just yet, the world within the show is very much a different place.

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Dual – Movie Review

Dual

  • Director: Riley Stearns
  • Writers: Riley Stearns
  • Starring: Karen Gillan, Aaron Paul, Beulah Koale, Theo James

Grade: B-

In just a handful of feature films as a writer and director, Riley Stearns has firmly established himself as a connoisseur of dark, deadpan humor. But he uses this style of comedy to effectively explore surprisingly complex themes. 2019’s The Art of Self-Defense used its humor as a way to explore toxic masculinity and the ways it permeates our culture. Dual scratches the surface of bigger ideas, but is less successful in its execution. Stearns is unquestionably a unique voice in the independent film landscape today though, which earns Dual a certain amount of brownie points.

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Japan’s Warrior Filmmaker: The Films of Akira Kurosawa – One Wonderful Sunday

One Wonderful Sunday (Postwar Kurosawa 2)

  • Starring: Isao Numasaki, CHieko Nakakita

Grade: A

One Wonderful Sunday is a contemporary Kurosawa film set against postwar Japan as it was under allied occupation. It follows a young couple having a date on a tight budget of 35 yen between the two of them. Prior to the war, Yuzo (Isao Numasaki) and Masako (Chieko Nakakita) dreamed of opening their own café with affordable drinks and pastries. However, the war changed things. 

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All the Old Knives – Movie Review

All the Old Knives

  • Director: Janus Metz Pederson
  • Writers: Olen Steinhauer
  • Starring: Chris Pine, Thandiwe Newton, Laurence Fishburne, Jonathan Pryce

Grade: C-

Officially speaking, we’re out of the first quarter of the year of our Lord 2022. But All the Old Knives may as well have been released in the first quarter, when studios traditionally dump all their projects in which they have zero faith to make any lasting impact. This effect is exacerbated when a movie premiere on streaming services, when they can be buried amongst the platform’s endless library, which makes it harder for any film that’s barely promoted beyond an obligatory banner ad to make any lasting impact. Not that the film does itself any favors though, as it’s the kind of lazy genre exercise that barely justifies its existence.

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Saga: Chapters Fifty-Six & Fifty-Seven – Comics Review

Saga: Chapters Fifty-Six & Fifty-Seven

  • Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
  • Illustrator: Fiona Staples

Grade: B

Chapters Fifty-Six and Fifty-Seven are plagued by the same issues as the middle installments of any ongoing TV series or comic. That is, they’re slowly paced and narratively stalled. Now that Fifty-Five has set up the second half of the series and introduced some new characters, Fifty-Six’s primary goal is to set up incoming plot threads. Alana’s ship is boarded early on by a mysterious band – in more ways than one – of smugglers. And, of course, they’re all different species, all of which have never been seen before in the series.

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Japan’s Warrior Filmmaker: The Films of Akira Kurosawa – No Regrets for Our Youth

No Regrets for Our Youth (Postwar Kurosawa 1)

  • Starring: Sutsuko Hara, Denjirō Ōkōchi, Susumu Fujita, Haruko Sugimura

Grade: C

Following the end of World War II, while Japan transitioned to being under occupation by Allied forces, Kurosawa began exploring the state of his country and its role in the war. With No Regrets for Our Youth, he examined the sociopolitical climate at home as Japan’s militarism changed and the war raged. He accomplished this by drawing inspiration from the 1933 Takigawa Incident, in which a professor at Kyoto University was fired for perceived Marxist teachings. Yet Kurosawa uses his version of the Takigawa Incident as a jumping off point for a greater story he has to tell. 

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