Juan Archive

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Game of Thrones: The Lost Lords mourns the death of innocence.

Death of innocence and loss of hope are not exactly new aspects to the Game of Thrones world. It’s very fair to say that in fact, they’re at the core […]

Death of innocence and loss of hope are not exactly new aspects to the Game of Thrones world. It’s very fair to say that in fact, they’re at the core of the yarn that Martin has been trying to spin for more than two decades. When the Game of Thrones show is at its best (Season 3, for my money), Game of Thrones perfectly portrays that sense of loss and trying to rebuild a world that has long faded away with nothing but dreams and ideals. Sadly, the show has fallen to its own excesses and has lost a lot of what it has to say about people, instead becoming a complicated soap opera that doesn’t seem to go anywhere interesting most of the time.

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Nightcrawler tips his hat to cinematic history while still carving its own place.

At the core of Nightcrawler, its clear to see the forefathers that Dan Gilroy studied for his impressive debut as a director. Its central idea of portraying the inherent power […]

At the core of Nightcrawler, its clear to see the forefathers that Dan Gilroy studied for his impressive debut as a director. Its central idea of portraying the inherent power of film and how it could be abused is easily linked to Network and Peeping Tom, movies that put forth the question of whether our entertainment with murder and suffering has any limits both by questioning the audience itself and pushing the characters over Ethical Street and way past Mental Breakdown lane. Whereas its character-centered structure and main character’s disregard for social rules/narrow focus on transformation are both reminiscent of Taxi Driver. However, much like with Tarantino’s films, Nightcrawler is still joyously unique without being bogged down by its references and ancestry.

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Heavyweight Champions of 2014: Interstellar

Space exploration is probably one of the most fascinating human concerns in our times, since it says so much about the idealized human spirit that we constantly chase as a […]

Space exploration is probably one of the most fascinating human concerns in our times, since it says so much about the idealized human spirit that we constantly chase as a society. We’re Survivors, We’re Craftsmen, We’re Heroes, bound not to this Earth but to this universe, and whose dreams are equal to our reach as well as our thirst for knowledge. Or some other philosophical wax.

I have personally always found it fascinating because it’s easy to link it up to another narrative that involves the re-examination of our collective and individual identities: the immigrant story. Much like in immigrant stories, the travelers are people who are searching for better lives and a place where they can finally let go of the emotional baggage that has haunted them in their previous lives, either due to their culture or due to their mistakes (sometimes and most often, both) It is in space, then, that most sci-fi storytellers decide to test and examine how much we’re bound to these concepts of countries, borders, cultures and “home”. And most importantly, the ones that compel me go a long way towards liberating or stripping these characters of these in order to reach a raw, naked emotional truth.

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Greetings from your New Editor In Chief

I was against writing this post from the start. Nerdstock doesn’t exactly get many eyeballs so the idea of change is not exactly a dangerous one, by any means. And by that very same token, there’s not an actual need for transparency. But more than that, I didn’t want to seem presumptuous for taking charge of the situation, since it was bestowed upon me upon circumstances that I feel don’t prove that I deserve the title. But I suppose that’s that writer self-perception working out against you.

So, I guess an explanation is in order. As of a month ago, Chris decided to make me an admin and to let me take over as Editor In Chief of Nerdstock.com. His reasoning being that I was writing the bigger load for the website and that I was providing quality content for the site.  I was very tempted to say no but I realized, as much as Chris did, that he wasn’t in a position where he could take Nerdstock to the heights we both wanted to take it to.

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On Die Hard, The Best Christmas Movie of All Time

The idea of Die Hard being a Christmas film is not new by any means. After all, it is a subversive joke often told when the inevitable question about “the […]

The idea of Die Hard being a Christmas film is not new by any means. After all, it is a subversive joke often told when the inevitable question about “the best Christmas film” comes up. Usually and to many, the joke means that Die Hard is only peripherally a Christmas film when in reality it’s a purely thrilling action affair with very few concerns outside of being Rambo in a building. Which is a very understandable position since Die Hard’s underlying ideas and humanism are easy to ignore or treat as simple comedic fodder.

But I would posit that Die Hard’s approach to almost all of the characters we see in the screen is completely humanizing. Almost every bit player gets to have a personality and the audience’s understanding if not necessarily their sympathy. Very few action movies dedicate to characterization like this. And I would argue that this angle is what turns Die Hard into one of the most compelling Christmas dramas out there.

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Heavyweight Champions of 2014: Life Itself

Biographies are hard. They’re hard to get into and they’re hard to make. And especially, they’re hard to make compelling. It all depends entirely on the material you have, whether the […]

Biographies are hard. They’re hard to get into and they’re hard to make. And especially, they’re hard to make compelling. It all depends entirely on the material you have, whether the person was prominent on their own or not and more importantly, whether the person had any history worth getting into. Filmed biographies are especially complicated due to the talking head format, where you have to select carefully the people you want and the questions you want to ask in order to create the portrait you want to come out. You also always run the risk of subjectivity in your portrait. All portraits are inherently subjective, of course, but you still want to create something that fully conveys the nature of the person you are representing to the spectator.

In Life Itself, Steve James challenges himself to obtain a portrayal that comes close to Roger Ebert’s autobiography. Not only does he succeed, he manages to immortalize Roger in his beloved art form in a way that was probably beyond his wildest dreams. Ebert is probably already one of the most beloved icons of the film industry, an achievement that is made more staggering by the fact that the man himself was almost never involved in the making of movies himself. But Ebert made up for this in sheer passion for what movies were, what they could be and his significant contributions towards bridging the gap between those two places.

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Heavy Weight Champions of 2014: True Detective

The season-anthology format pioneered by American Horror Story is probably one of the most refreshing injections of energy into Television in the last few years. Sadly, while Murphy decided to […]

The season-anthology format pioneered by American Horror Story is probably one of the most refreshing injections of energy into Television in the last few years. Sadly, while Murphy decided to turn AHS into a playground for his extremely unique talent for disjointed storytelling filled with over the top “Oh shit, that happened on a TV show?”-ness not many other options flourished after its immediate announcement. Of course, it could just be because producers everywhere were holding their breath to see if Asylum turned out to be economically unsuccessful. And even if I’m not his biggest fan, I will say, major kudos to Murphy in crafting what is easily the most insane, utterly out of control TV show in recent memory. It’s a shame that that anarchic energy does not translate into entertainment for me, for reasons not worth getting into.

However, what did entertain me during 2014 was seeing how many other shows took the idea of “One season, one story” and ran with it. Especially January’s first big surprise: Nic Pizzolatto’s True Detective. Told as a sequence of flashbacks framed by a police interrogation of two former police detectives, True Detective is the story of Rustin “Rust” Cohle and Martin “Marty” Hart, the detectives in charge of the “King In Yellow” case, as their case is being revised by the Missouri police because they believe they have found a new victim and a new lead.

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Heavy Weight Champions of 2014: Gone Girl

David Fincher is probably Hollywood’s most high-brow mercenary. A new Fincher movie is exciting because regardless of the script-work, we’re always going to get some highly beautiful aesthetic work on […]

David Fincher is probably Hollywood’s most high-brow mercenary. A new Fincher movie is exciting because regardless of the script-work, we’re always going to get some highly beautiful aesthetic work on all fronts. Unfortunately, Fincher’s last two projects before Gone Girl were disappointing because of the material he chose. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and The Social Network are succesful movies, but they felt weak and overeliant on Fincher’s aesthetic work to carry out stories that most of the time felt generic and whenever they veered out of generic territory, they went into outright insulting and bizarre territory. This is especially jarring in the light of the fact that Zodiac proved to be a highlight in Fincher’s career.

So, when Gone Girl was released, I was apprehensive. On the one hand, this was another adaptation, not unlike Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, and I had serious issues with the book in terms of its characterization of its two main leads, which by the end of the book felt less like people and more like plot devices in constant contradiction. On the other hand, Gillian Flynn’s structure really fit the flights of narrative fancy that distinguished Fight Club and Se7en from the pack. And it’s important to remember that Fight Club was also a barely-above average book before Fincher turned it into a turn-of-the-millenium grenade of a cult film.

And then we had the final product. Gone Girl is probably the strongest Fincher release in a career filled with modern thriller classics and it’s all due to the fact that when it comes to Gillian Flynn’s script, Fincher understands that while her characters could be strong and compelling in the page, they do not come across as humans unless someone imbues them with life. Cue Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike, taking both roles and turning them from simulacra into living, breathing individuals. Pike, in particular, is a complete stand-out as Amy Dunne, switching from kind and sweet to conniving and menacing in the blink of an eye, she’s the ultimate femme fatale, taking her cue from the Lauren Bacalls and Veronica Lakes of old Hollywood and then ultimately giving them the chance to redeem themselves outside of the narcissist and misogynist narratives that defined them and blossom as the forces of nature they were meant to be.

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On Run The Jewels, The Greatest Hip Hop Act of 2014

2014 has been a mediocre year for hip hop. 2014 has mostly been home to expectations, such as Doomtree’s or Kendrick’s spectacular singles. Both of these announced new albums for […]

2014 has been a mediocre year for hip hop. 2014 has mostly been home to expectations, such as Doomtree’s or Kendrick’s spectacular singles. Both of these announced new albums for 2015. But, sadly, hip hop’s luminaries went in hiding for 2014. The average Jewel Runner would tell you that it was because a certain Jaime “El-P” Meline and a certain Michael “Killer Mike” Render announced Run The Jewels 2, the sequel to their critically acclaimed mixtape for 2013.

Yet, for me it wasn’t just the album release in 2014, a dry year for hip hop in general, what finally converted me to El-P and Killer Mike’s virtues as artists. It was their complete dedication to the idea of what their joint act could be. Run The Jewels 2 is the best album of 2014 and El-P and Killer Mike crafted the best musical act of 2014, but make no mistake, if they were faced with the Kanyes and Kendricks of the world, they’d still win.

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Whiplash: Greatness, At Any Cost

Whiplash starts the only way a movie about jazz drumming can; with a drum-only fanfare. It accelerates, it goes from a slow, foreboding rhythm to a disorienting heart-pounding drum solo. […]

Whiplash starts the only way a movie about jazz drumming can; with a drum-only fanfare. It accelerates, it goes from a slow, foreboding rhythm to a disorienting heart-pounding drum solo. From the moment Whiplash unleashes that fanfare to the very last frame, it doesn’t let up. Every single scene explodes, and if it doesn’t explode, it seems primed to explode in a way very reminiscent of Hitchcockian suspense. It’s as brutal as it gets, and like a hungry beast, it’s only out for one thing: your throat.

The movie follows the journey of one Andrew Neyman (Miles Teller), a 19 year old jazz drummer at a fictional musical academy that somehow manages to wow Terrence Fletcher (JK Simmons) into accepting Neyman into his jazz band, known to many as the first step towards a jazz career. Of course, then it follows that Fletcher and Neyman would build a close relationship where Fletcher molds Neyman into the next Buddy Rich.

But there’s a twist, of course; and it’s that Fletcher is an abusive mentor. Someone who takes his students and tries them by fire. Not the fire of practice, but the fire of fear. Through physical and emotional abuse, he hopes to inspire the next Charlie Parker (who, as the myth often goes, became “Bird” when his band leader threw a cymbal at his face. So he decided to go home and practice until he became a true legend) the question the movie then offers is the idea of whether Fletcher is even close to reasonable or justifiable if he succeeds once.

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