Robin Williams Was a Unique Man With a Sadly Familiar Story; This is Mine

Miramax Films, 1997

Miramax Films, 1997

I was 17 years old when my best friend committed suicide. Having grown up with him for close to a decade, one night – seemingly out of the blue – he lay down on the train tracks, and suddenly he was gone. This week, Robin Williams also took his own life. Though his public profile, energetic comedy and dramatic performances were legendary and inimitable, sadly there is nothing unique about his actions. In 2011 (the most recent year of which statistics are available) 39,518 people in the United States ended their own lives. While Robin Williams has left behind an incredible legacy, each and every one of these other victims leave their own profound impact on their family and friends. Many others will write far more eloquently on the loss of Mr. Williams, so I will simply talk about my experience with the subject. Inside of the statistics, this is a story about just one of these losses. (more…)

The Messianic Dialogues

jesusloan

The prequel to this story is here.

The following is based on a document buried near the site of present day Jerusalem. At a first glance it appears to be a rustic account of a loan application interview. At a second glance, it retains that appearance.

The clock slowly ticked on the wall of the Galilee Savings and Loan. Jesus sat nervously in the bank, shuffling a binder of papers in his hand. He watched as one of the consultants finished with his client who stood up and walked away with a sad look on his face. The consultant looked at Jesus blankly and then opened his mouth and… closed it again. He then leaned back in his chair and looked at the ticking clock, raising one eyebrow. After three minutes he pulled open his drawer and retrieved a pen; he placed the pen neatly on the table and spent a few moments arranging it to be perfectly parallel between his computer screen and a Manila folder lying on the desk in front of him. He got it in perfect alignment and then reopened the draw and placed the pen back inside. Again he looked at Jesus. (more…)

Untimely Reviews: The Matrix Sequels

Warner Brothers

Warner Bros. 2003

In early 1999 news of the imminent Star Wars prequel dominated the news. People eagerly awaited a badly-needed revitalisation of the stunted sci-fi genre and it seemed like The Phantom Menace was poised to deliver just that. However, at the same time, there was another phantom film teasing its arrival. Short trailers showed bizarre glimpses of people bouncing off of walls, dodging bullets and moving at superhuman speeds; all of this was proceeded by the enticingly enigmatic question: What is the Matrix? It turns out The Matrix was a film that would touch off a revolution in visual effects and how action movies are made, all while telling a compelling story with an eerily plausible premise. The movie drew upon many influences and while the idea of false reality is nothing new, its unique blend of Western-inspired duels, Asian martial arts and blend of Eastern and Western philosophies together with a compelling premise, a likeable band of heroes and a hypnotically captivating antagonist led it to become a box office smash and one of the most beloved sci-fi movies of all time. Then its sequels happened. So what went wrong?

(more…)

Untimely Review: United 93

Universal Pictures / StudioCanal

Universal Pictures / StudioCanal

When discussing any film based on a real-life tragedy – particularly one in living memory – critique needs to be approached from two distinct and yet related angles. Firstly, does the work succeed as a film and secondly, does the work succeed in its portrayal of the events in an honest and respectful fashion? As much as one may try to evaluate these issues separately, they are inextricably linked, at a certain level. It is through realism that a film may successfully engage the audience and provide them with insight. This analysis will attempt to consider both aspects as well as the points at which they intersect. (more…)

Jackie Holds On

emergency-room-sign

“Miss, please,” one of the nurses said, “you have to let the staff do their work.”

“I need to stay!” Jackie screamed. Tears welling up in her eyes as she clamoured to kneel next to the gurney. She took her husband’s hand. “Come on, Johnny. You can make it, baby, I believe in you!”

Medical personnel whooshed around her, the beeping of monitors and respirators in the background providing a metronome ominously ticking away each endless second. The emergency room was packed with poor sons-of-bitches suffering all manner of injuries; broken legs, alcohol poisoning, you name it. (more…)

Untimely Reviews: Interactivity and Art, Reflections on The Last of Us

last_of_us_ps411

Naughty Dog, 2013.

Are video games art? To so much as utter the question is to summon a legion of fanboys and liberal arts grad students to war. The modern gaming world is full of big budget productions with beautiful aesthetics and astoundingly vast worlds. One can argue back and forward about whether aesthetic beauty in the design of these games is sufficient to qualify them as art, however I am interested in a more limited question: Can video games deliver a narrative experience with enough power or clarity to qualify as art on par with more classic forms of story-telling?

(more…)

Untimely Reviews: The Greatest Moment in Twin Peaks

vlcsnap-2014-06-29-08h41m47s63

In 1990 something happened to television. Thirty-odd years after the surrealist wave of cinema peaked, some-what fringe director David Lynch was given a green light to do a network show, Twin Peaks, which instantly exploded into a pop culture phenomenon, with coffee and cherry pie sales sky rocketing according to statistics I just made up. The at times quirky, at times horrifying glimpse into small-town America – which really can only be described as Lynchian – won over the public with its cast of bizarre characters and nightmarish imagery revolving around the irresistible mystery hook of a seemingly innocent homecoming queen, washed up on a shore, wrapped in plastic. Through the first season and the early second, the writers became expertly adept at using the mystery as a backdrop upon which to hang a rich tapestry of intricately linked and equally compelling story-lines. Every week there seemed to be another shocking connection exposed between denizens of the town as its seedy underbelly was teased out. The star that burns brightest really does shine shortest however and after a mere two seasons the show was cancelled. Nonetheless, the show itself inspired the tone of countless programs to come. But for that brief period in the early 90’s there was only one question on everyone’s mind – Who Killed Laura Palmer?

(more…)