Reviews Archive

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The Get Down is on a Frustrating Yet Rewarding Musical Mission:

Hip Hop is one of the weirdest cultural movements once you sit down to think about it. An eclectic mix of funk, spoken word, comic books, political rebellion and martial […]

Hip Hop is one of the weirdest cultural movements once you sit down to think about it. An eclectic mix of funk, spoken word, comic books, political rebellion and martial arts imagery that just downright embodies African American culture. It feels almost impossible and once you know how much of it was fueled by sheer happenstance and randomness (hip hop wouldn’t be what it is today without the ’77 blackout, let’s be honest) it really makes sense why it stands apart from other musical movements.

Hip Hop in its current form is not really like that, of course. As every art form, it has evolved into a different beast entirely, one that is quite hard to pinpoint these days. This isn’t a dig, of course, but simply an observation: current hip hop doesn’t feel as driven by a community so much as individual artists and their vision. You have Kanye trying to create gospel rap and Desiigner taking trap in a more gangsta, flow-heavy form. The Get Down definitely believes in the understanding of Hip Hop being exclusively a product of Harlem and the Bronx as a community that was being oppressed by real estate moguls and the City’s neglect. And it makes a very convincing case for that understanding and that vision in the first six hours and a half of its first season.

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A Moon Shaped Pool convinced me that I was missing something. Or a lot of things.

Confession: Pool is my very first full-on Radiohead experience. I listened to Creep twice before (once, when an angsty ex sent it to me and another time because I decided […]

Confession: Pool is my very first full-on Radiohead experience. I listened to Creep twice before (once, when an angsty ex sent it to me and another time because I decided to go to karaoke and weirdly enough, it’s a bit of a staple) and I used to have Karma Police on my iPod because I saw that music video but that’s about it.

But A Moon Shaped Pool is the rare record that easily converts people into Radiohead fans as easily as Beyonce did for the Queen Bey herself. It’s emotionally resonant, powerfully composed and as experimental as Pink Floyd wished it was on their best days. It’s the rare album that makes the case for albums themselves as a form of art; to create and choose a series of tracks that, combined, convey so much more meaning than they can on their own.

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Off the Grid and Into the Cut: The Impossible Kid

Aesop Rock has probably been one of our best rappers working and churning music out today. And now with both Skelethon and The Impossible Kid, he has become one of […]

Aesop Rock has probably been one of our best rappers working and churning music out today. And now with both Skelethon and The Impossible Kid, he has become one of our best producers working today, introducing heavily industrial sound and outright math-rock-like time signatures to hip hop. Much has been made about his vocabulary, his heavily intricate lyricism and his amazing flow. But his musical compositions are just as delightfully driving and out of the world as his lyrics.

The Impossible Kid is that rare album that manages to break away from an artist’s general style while still being tangibly and uniquely his. Aes’ previous work was often outright cryptic at times. Not unlike Death Grips’ MC Ride, Aesop delighted in dropping hints about his life and articulating his own pain. There were occasions when he was willing to bare it out (One Of Four, which, should be pointed out, is a secret track) but once Skelethon arrived and Aesop was producing his own beats, something clicked and Aes decided to be outright open about his life as a depressed and reclusive rapper.

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American Tragedy

  Most stories based in real life events often revel in finding the inner tragedy or comedy of real life and exposing it. They convert a real life event’s actors […]

 

Most stories based in real life events often revel in finding the inner tragedy or comedy of real life and exposing it. They convert a real life event’s actors into characters, with clear goals, convictions and personalities. Sometimes those are not very true to the people they’re reflecting. But often, they are true to the story and the lives they are reflecting. That’s the genius of American Crime Story; a show that is often willing to speculate on the personal lives of people whose lives were very well documented, but doesn’t use that speculation to demean or insult those people. Instead it tries to empathize and understand them.

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In Season 2 Galavant Comes Into Its Own

  It’s funny how much a series can change in a season. When Galavant first came out, it was a filler show placed in the gap Once Upon A Time […]

 

It’s funny how much a series can change in a season. When Galavant first came out, it was a filler show placed in the gap Once Upon A Time left that month and outside of some golden musical numbers, the show seemed to have been given about that amount of thought. It seemed to be directly paralleling itself to The Princess Bride and Monty Python and The Holy Grail by parodying a story so rote I’m not sure it ever actually existed. Even so, I found myself drawn to it. It was amusing enough and Alan Menken’s score was darn good, especially the opening number (which season 2’s opening song bitter points out did not win an Emmy) and there seemed to be some real gold there. The ending for the first season struck me as particularly bold, daring ABC to give it a second season while also acknowledging the unlikelihood of that.

It’s so unlikely that the first song of the second season seems to be simply bragging about the fact that the show was renewed at all. One of the fascinating things about this second season was how deliberately it broke up the structure of the first season. The hero Galavant (Joshua Sasse) was separated from his squire Sid (Luke Youngblood) and love interest Isabella(Karen David) to be trapped with the former evil king Richard(Timothy Odmundson) on a pirate ship, Sid is stuck attending to evil queen Madalena(Mallory Jansen) and her bodyguard/fellow king Gareth (Vinnie Jones) Isabella is trapped in her home kingdom to be betrothed to a ten-year-old. It’s such a defiance of the previous season that this season almost feels like a reinvention of the show. The new Galavant feels less like a parody of some adventure story that doesn’t exist and more like a low-budget adventure show that happens to be really funny.

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Daredevil is Marvel aiming for the superhero TV throne – and almost winning.

The idea of vigilantes fighting criminals who have taken control of a city so thoroughly and completely that they have turned them into havens for villainy and cruelty is not […]

The idea of vigilantes fighting criminals who have taken control of a city so thoroughly and completely that they have turned them into havens for villainy and cruelty is not really new. In fact, in all honesty, nothing about Daredevil is really new. And yet Daredevil is astounding in every other aspect of its execution. It’s earnest, blunt and it just kicks so much ass. Brilliantly shot and stylized, its aesthetic brethren are not The Avengers or The Guardians of the Galaxy, but rather shows like Breaking Bad and Mad Men, which is unsurprising considering director Phil Abraham’s stunning work on the latter.

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Life Is Strange: Out of Time proves that DONTNOD’s new game is worth your time.

Out of Time starts with Max waking up after a long day of researching her time travel skills, and asking you to basically dwell around her dorm room and prepare […]

Out of Time starts with Max waking up after a long day of researching her time travel skills, and asking you to basically dwell around her dorm room and prepare for shower. That tone never goes away.

One of the most fascinating things about Life is Strange is that it’s so clearly bigger than the sum of its parts. Its dialogue is definitely clunky, its characters can sometimes feel a little bit flat or even like marionettes, whose opinions and actions are based on how they would affect the player. And yet, the fact that it follows such a unique world and story in the world of video games makes it so easily identifiable, relatable and enjoyable. Couple that with a very palpable beating heart that makes the proceedings downright amazing and you’ve got yourself probably one of the best video games of the last five years.

In a very real way, DONTNOD embodies the revolution that I feel Alt-Games have not been able to satisfiably articulate for me. Video games that effectively encapsulate an experience that’s outre from the standards of violence/exploration that are so common to the medium. Life is Strange is more akin to a Sundance drama with all of the implied cliches, flaws and benefits that implies. The game can definitely be Overly Twee, to a fault, but most of the time it’s just reinvigorating to navigate this world of friendship, bizarre time travel and high school politics.

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Superman #39 Loses The Powers But Brings In The Heart

I’d been excited for the collaboration between Geoff Johns and John Romita Jr. since it was announced. While I’ve been routinely impressed with the comic they’ve been putting out thanks […]

I’d been excited for the collaboration between Geoff Johns and John Romita Jr. since it was announced. While I’ve been routinely impressed with the comic they’ve been putting out thanks to both Johns’ understanding of the character as well as JR JR’s gorgeous art, it was what I was expecting. Nothing about it reached a level of character-defining that some of Johns’ superior work has done.

Until Superman #39. This comic is maybe the best Superman story since the New 52 began with only Grant Morrison’s Action Comics #13 standing as its rival. This may sound like damning it with faint praise since this has been a rough few years for Superman. It hasn’t all been terrible. As stated, Grant Morrison’s comic had some spectacular highs and Greg Pak’s run on Action Comics has been a lot of fun. What makes this comic incredible is how it changes up the dynamic of Superman while still enforcing the things that make him such an amazing hero.

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The Order: 1886 has the Potential to Be Something Great

When I first saw the E3 trailer for The Order: 1886, I was absolutely ecstatic. I have a very particular weakness for the aesthetic of Victorian England (though not the […]

When I first saw the E3 trailer for The Order: 1886, I was absolutely ecstatic. I have a very particular weakness for the aesthetic of Victorian England (though not the colonialism and the living conditions), so the lush visuals and smoky skylines of The Order: 1886’s alternate timeline London immediately caught my attention. An additional allure was the idea of fighting werewolves, territory that is surprisingly not very well trod by gaming at this point. (VtM: Bloodlines still has the scariest werewolf fights, let’s be honest). My anticipation grew with videos of gameplay, as running away from scary things while trying to shoot at them is a lifetime hobby of mine. My excitement just continued to increase, especially given how much I loved the design of Isabeau D’Argyll, and my curiosity about the world building the game would provide to explain the technology and mythology of their alternate London’s reality.

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Pawnee In The Rear View Mirror.

It’s easy to get caught up in the moment when evaluating a work of art. Especially when you are naturally passionate about art or the work itself. So you will […]

It’s easy to get caught up in the moment when evaluating a work of art. Especially when you are naturally passionate about art or the work itself. So you will have to forgive the superlatives that will come out of my fingertips and which I will regret later in life as I re-evaluate everything I have ever written. But Parks and Recreation might just be the best comedy of the last 15 years so far. And its ending might just be one of the most powerful hours of Television crafted in the history of the medium.

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