Near the beginning of 2019, I watched Life Itself, the 2014 documentary about the life and work of famous film critic Roger Ebert. Consider this quote from Ebert:
“We are all born with a certain package. We are who we are. Where we were born, who we were born as, how we were raised. We are kind of stuck inside that person, and the purpose of civilization and growth is to be able to reach out and empathize a little bit with other people, find out what makes them tick, what they care about. For me, the movies are like a machine that generates empathy. If it’s a great movie, it lets you understand a little bit more about what it’s like to be a different gender, a different race, a different age, a different economic class, a different nationality, a different profession, different hopes, aspirations, dreams and fears. It helps us to identify with the people who are sharing this journey with us. And that, to me, is the most noble thing that good movies can do and it’s a reason to encourage them and to support them and to go to them.”
Movies impact us.
In 2016, I argued that if “movies can impact a moviegoer’s worldview (by stimulating creativity, encouraging empathy, and raising awareness), then moviegoers should thoughtfully consider which movies they choose to watch.” And I stand by that argument.
But now, in 2019, I offer two clarifications: Continue reading
These movies explore a variety of topics, and MPAA ratings vary. Not all movies are suitable for all audiences.
Here are Big B’s top ten movies of 2018:
This article contains mild spoilers.
Noelle Stevenson understands characterization.
Last year, I discovered Nimona, an Eisner-nomated webcomic-turned-novel written by Stevenson about a whimsical, enigmatic shapeshifter who befriends an evil figure with an ultimately good heart. I found Nimona at a secondhand bookstore—the kind of store filled with spine-damaged books sporting dogeared pages—and I was surprised by the pristine condition of the copy I found. As I flipped through the beginning of the graphic novel, I saw a collection of glossy, well-preserved, wrinkle-free images.
Then I flipped to a page that contained a profoundly tense moment between Nimona (the shapeshifter) and Lord Ballister Blackheart (the semi-benevolent villain). A previous owner had filled the white border of the page with cartoon stars and bold exclamation points. It looked like a scrapbook page made by Finn and Jake.
Later, I reached that page again during my first read-through of the novel, and I found genuine heartache and refreshingly nuanced character interactions. I couldn’t help but add a few stars of my own to the margins.
Noelle Stevenson understands characterization, and that storytelling skill is evident in her latest creation, Netflix’s 2018 She-Ra and the Princesses of Power. Continue reading
Links and videos of several indie games are posted below the article.
Consider author Tom Bissell’s experience with The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion as described in his book, Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter:
Oblivion is less a game than a world that best rewards full citizenship, and for a while I lived there and claimed it. At the time I was residing in Rome on a highly coveted literary fellowship, surrounded by interesting and brilliant people, and quite naturally mired in a lagoon of depression more dreadfully lush than any before or since. I would be lying if I said Oblivion did not, in some ways, aggravate my depression, but it also gave me something with which to fill my days other than piranhic self-hatred. It was an extra life; I am grateful to have it.
I read those words years ago while eating subpar noodles in a building that used to be a Blockbuster Video. The dim restaurant lights shielded me well enough from the gaggle of suburban families that surrounded me, so I hunched my back and unashamedly swallowed Bissell’s words. As a post-college, pre-career teacher wannabe, the 200-plus-page book about the artistry of video games perfectly quenched both my thirst for entertainment and my need to be perceived as an intellectual. But, more importantly, Bissell’s novel, including the excerpt above, connected with a part of me that I did not yet acknowledge: my depression and my (sometimes subconscious) attempts to deal with it. Continue reading
If you have ever tried to explain your deep appreciation of a piece of art anywhere on the internet, you likely understand how much amateur criticism and intense posturing exists online.
At best, this negativity is an aggravating byproduct of crowdsourcing artistic validation. At worst, this persistent and indiscriminate criticism is a symptom of a relatively new and alarmingly widespread brand of groupthink. One that is unquestioningly unimpressed—always.
Either way, we seem to be entering a modern era of discontent, and this problem is worth dissecting.
With that in mind, meet a proud part of the problem: Cinema Sins. Continue reading
“What is your favorite superhero film?”
Seemed like a simple question. Easy enough to answer.
Then I began to compile a list of all of the superhero movies I’ve seen. And when that list grew larger than 90 movies (watched over many, many years), I panicked. “Damn. What is my favorite superhero film? Could I even narrow it down to a top ten?” Continue reading
Writer Manohla Dargis is a skilled film critic. Most of her reviews are filled with astute observations and nuanced recommendations.
Her recent review of Justice League, however, is wrong.
Here’s why. Continue reading
Warning: Article contains links to pages that contain profanity and offensive content.
At 7:45 PM on June 15th, Twitch streamer and Twitter user Ashley “ashleeeeean” Leann posted this tweet:
The Twitch mixer was a get-together on Wednesday, June 14th for Twitch streamers at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), a gathering of gamers and game developers in Los Angeles. Around 20 hours had passed since friends, family, and social media followers had heard from Twitch streamer and GEXCon host Tia “LauraLania” Zimmer, so ashleeeeean decided, as she described in a video on Twitter, to use “my platform and my following to be able to get the word out there.”
“I did not expect it to blow up as much as it did,” she added. Continue reading
Like a birthday spent at the dentist’s office, this year’s Teacher Appreciation Week exists amid a surge of legislative halitosis and biting commentary designed to undermine teachers, and I believe, fellow teachers, that it is our right—even our obligation—to reclaim Teacher Appreciation Week by brushing off this orange plaque with a bit of bristly, humility-trumping candor. Continue reading