We All Slept on The Circle Because It Was a Year Early

We All Slept on The Circle Because It Was a Year Early

The Circle didn’t do particularly well when it came out last year. Having recently caught up with it on Amazon Prime I can see there are certainly some issues, particularly with the story’s pacing, jerking around suddenly from one idea or plot point to the next, often with little context or transition. It’s not hard to imagine there’s a 3.5 hour version of the movie that works a bit better because some story elements are explored more deeply and given more time to breathe.

In the story, Emma Watson plays Mae, a young woman who thanks to her friend (a misused Karen Gillan) lands an interview – and then a job – at The Circle, a tech giant that’s basically what we all fear when Google, Facebook and Amazon collide. She starts at the same low level many do but rises quickly when she gets the attention of the heads of the company, becoming a sort of in-house influencer. That success helps blind her to some of the problems that already exist within the company, which often resembles a cult that’s suspicious of any tendency to not participate in every available activity and use any non-company resource. Indeed, the celebrity she achieves leads to her creating new problems in the name of furthering the company’s mission.

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A FUTILE AND STUPID GESTURE and How Narrative Constructs Help Biopics

A FUTILE AND STUPID GESTURE and How Narrative Constructs Help Biopics

A Futile and Stupid Gesture, now streaming on Netflix, ostensibly tells the story of Doug Kenney (Will Forte), the guy who along with his friend and former Harvard classmate Henry Beard (Domhnall Gleeson) co-founded The National Lampoon and essentially created the comedy world we live in to this day. If not “created” then he certainly dropped a rock in a pond whose ripples are still apparent and felt.

As I said when I wrote about the campaign Netflix launched to promote it, the subject matter makes it something I was absolutely inclined to enjoy. I never read more than a handful of issues of Lampoon but certainly knew of its existence and reveled in the world Kenney created directly (Animal House, Caddyshack), indirectly (“Saturday Night Live,” which poached many of the writers and actors from Lampoon and its radio show) and as an influence (literally 90% of comedy since 1980). That being said, I didn’t know much about Kenney as a person or what motivated him.

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Get Out – After the Campaign Review

Get Out – After the Campaign Review

You could be forgiven if you went into watching Get Out expecting something more or less like many other horror films. Assuming you hadn’t given in to the urge to check out spoilers or change your assumptions based on the extensive press coverage it’s received since its release almost a year ago, you might think it was simply a horror film with racial overtones. That’s essentially what was sold through the film’s marketing campaign, but it’s not at all what’s delivered.

The story focuses on Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya), a black man who’s leaving for a weekend in the suburbs with his girlfriend Rose Armitage (Allison Williams) to meet her parents Dean and Missy (Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener). While they’re presented as enlightened liberals, a series of incidents involving them and the two black servants they have around the house begin to put Chris on edge. That only gets worse when an entire party of rich white people happens and Chris begins to put a more definite finger on what’s bothering him. Still, he had no idea what’s actually happening and his problems only become more severe.

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After the Campaign: Star Wars: The Last Jedi

After the Campaign: Star Wars: The Last Jedi

“Look closer,” Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) says to Finn (John Boyega) in Star Wars: The Last Jedi as the two of them are in the middle of a rogue mission that could help save the floundering Resistance from the threat of the First Order.

That same advice could be handed to those who have felt the film, written and directed by Rian Johnson, fell short of being worthy to stand as the eighth episode in the Star Wars saga.

The movie picks up seemingly within a day of the end of 2015’s The Force Awakens, with the Resistance having destroyed the First Order’s Starkiller Base but far from victorious against the enemy. Without going into spoiler territory we then follow the continued adventures of Rey (Daisy Ridley) as she works to convince Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) to show her the ways of the Jedi and what her place in the universe is. Meanwhile Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) and General Leia Organa (the late Carrie Fisher) keep the Resistance fighting as best they can with the help of Vice-Admiral Holdo (Laura Dern), an effort Rose and Finn are ultimately instrumental in. On the other side of the battle, Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) continue vying for the affection of Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis).

Most all of that was presented in the massive, albeit time-compressed, marketing campaign mounted by Disney over the last seven or eight months of 2017. That campaign presented a dark chapter in the saga, one that was fraught with the potential for danger. Would Rey succumb to the Dark Side of the Force? Would the Resistance and all its heroes be snuffed out for good?

None of that prepared me for what might be the most thoughtful and thought-provoking entry in the entire Star Wars saga.

MILD SPOILERS BELOW. DON’T CLICK IF YOU’RE STILL WAITING TO BE SURPRISED.

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