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Reviews

NAPOLEON DYNAMITE [US 2004]  TINA MAJORINO, JON HEDER           Date: 2004

Awkwardness and a Theology of the Cross

This review of This is Awkward, by Sammy Rhodes, comes to us from Brian Mesimer.

“It’s been said that a friend is a gift that you give yourself. Maybe it’s better to say that friendship is giving someone the gift of yourself. You in all your ruined glory, waiting to be opened and enjoyed.”  – This is Awkward

Martin Luther’s dichotomy between the theology of the cross and the theology of glory is a well worn theological concept. Like a good sweater on a cold day, it’s a way of viewing life that you want to keep putting on when the time calls…

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Mikhail Bulgakov’s Apartment:  A Tragifarce in Two Acts

Mikhail Bulgakov’s Apartment: A Tragifarce in Two Acts

This review comes from Gilbert Colon.

Mikhail Bulgakov, grandson of two Russian Orthodox priests, is experiencing a minor resurgence. The Soviet-era author’s short story collection, A Young Doctor’s Notebook, finished a two-season run in 2014 as an Ovation cable series starring Mad Men’s Jon Hamm and Harry Potter’s Daniel Radcliffe. Russian television turned his novel The Master and Margarita, about Satan coming to Stalin’s Moscow, into a 2005 miniseries. And finally this year saw, thanks to Manhattan’s The Storm Theatre (at St. Mary’s Church, 440 Grand Street), the American premiere of the Bulgakov bioplay Collaborators, first staged at London’s National Theatre in 2011…

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Rock Meets Bottom: When Love Finds Deadpool

Rock Meets Bottom: When Love Finds Deadpool

This post comes to us from our friend RJ Grunewald.

After an experimental treatment turns Wade Wilson into a mutant with healing powers–while simultaneously retaining his wit and a crude sense of humor–Wade Wilson becomes Deadpool and gives himself to hunting down and destroying the man who left him disfigured and ruined.

Spoiler Alert: If you don’t want to have the story ruined for you, you should probably stop reading this.

Wade Wilson, before becoming Deadpool, is a sarcastic, profane, and funny vigilante. He’s a bad guy who deals with worse guys. Wade uses his wit and looks to get with whatever women…

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No More Parties with Kanye: A Review of Kanye West’s “Life of Pablo”

No More Parties with Kanye: A Review of Kanye West’s “Life of Pablo”

“Name one genius that ain’t crazy.”
–Kanye West, “Feedback,” The Life of Pablo

No one who is actually crazy calls himself “crazy.” A healthy person admits her illness. A truly mentally ill person never admits his mental illness. A borderline class of person exists who calls himself “crazy” not in earnestness but in flippancy, as an in an unconscious admission of decadence and denial, as an unapologetic announcement.

The “artist as madman” meme is like many shibboleths and stereotypes—rooted in a grain of truth, but abused and degraded with popularization, used to justify rather than challenge, like the current fad of practicing mindfulness…

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Another Regeneration Cycle: RNDM by Mega Ran

Another Regeneration Cycle: RNDM by Mega Ran

My favorite scene in Doctor Who is when the Eleventh Doctor, facing regeneration into the Twelfth Doctor, tells his grieving companion (Clara),

We all change, when you think about it. We’re all different people all through our lives. And that’s okay, that’s good, you’ve got to keep moving, so long as you remember all the people that you used to be.

Like the Doctor, rapper Raheem Jarbo has shifted identities in public. He started his career with The Call, an astonishing indie rap album, under the name Random, but he shifted his focus to what he terms “chip-hop” in his the concept albums Mega Ran…

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Mockingbird at the Movies: Charlie Kaufman’s Anomalisa

Mockingbird at the Movies: Charlie Kaufman’s Anomalisa

Charlie Kaufman’s newest film, Anomalisa, is not for everyone. I don’t mean that in an exclusive, some “get” it and others don’t, kind of way. I mean that the the film is a very real (ironic considering it consists entirely of stop-motion animation) depiction of the dislocation and alienation that pervades modern existence, and I predict that even the most optimistic among us will leave the the theater with his 32 oz. cup of Cherry Coke half empty. But wait! Kaufman’s bleak and banal picture of reality may be difficult to watch, but for those willing to endure the dark…

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Bruddah Iz, the Rainbow, and the Rainbow Warriors: Looking Back at Facing Future

Bruddah Iz, the Rainbow, and the Rainbow Warriors: Looking Back at Facing Future

Israel Kamakawiwo’ole (“Iz”) unwittingly provided future listeners a clue to something deeper at the beginning of his signature song, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World.” Soon after he arrived at the studio–at 4 a.m., possibly high–he sat on a steel chair and said “This one’s for Gabby” before strumming and gifting future generations with his sweet, somewhat haunting “Oooo” intonations.

Gabby here refers to Gabby Pahinui, a childhood friend of Iz and one of the fathers (both as a solo artist and as a founding member of the Sons of Hawai’i) of the Hawaiian Renaissance. The latter movement was most…

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Finding Faith: Top Ten Albums of 2015

Finding Faith: Top Ten Albums of 2015

It’s that time of the year again, time for another top ten albums list. The more of these I write, the more I realize how futile it is to attempt to pick ten albums to represent the year in music. This year the task was made even harder by the launch of Impossible to Say, Blake Collier’s and my music podcast. Thanks to the podcast, I listened to probably twice the amount of new music I listened to last year, which made winnowing down this year’s list an arduous task. So, without further ado, here are the albums that have…

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American Horror Story Taught Me That the Will Is Bound

American Horror Story Taught Me That the Will Is Bound

Thesis 3. Although the works of man always seem attractive and good, they are nevertheless likely to be mortal sins. – Luther

I think it’s safe to assume that most of American Horror Story’s viewership is not, strictly speaking, Christian, and I wouldn’t make a motion to change that. The show features a ton of sex, drugs, and victims skinned alive, but, by what would seem to be the mark of my kind, I cannot practice what I preach and am currently up to my neck in season five. (So the first piece of evidence supporting the theory of the “bound…

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Another Week Ends: Little Richard, Brand Luther, Star Wars, Marilynne Robinson’s Soul, and Identifying As…?

Another Week Ends: Little Richard, Brand Luther, Star Wars, Marilynne Robinson’s Soul, and Identifying As…?

Click here to listen to the accompanying episode of The Mockingcast.

1) On the heels of “identity” being Dictionary.com’s word of 2015, Spiked editor Brendan O’Neill discusses a theme that we have spoken about quite a bit ourselves this year, namely, the increasingly fluid cultural understanding of identity politics. O’Neill takes on the phrase “I identify as…” as a telling move from what we used to say about ourselves: “I am…” And with this new movement of self-identification comes the emphasis on subjectivity, the need for one’s identity to be transient, temporal—rather than objective, fixed, given.

O’Neill describes that this rampant interest…

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The Hero’s Conflict is Himself: Reviewing Adao’s Dance

The Hero’s Conflict is Himself: Reviewing Adao’s Dance

One of the many powers of fantasy fiction is that it helps the reader walk a balance between cognitive rest and restlessness: while graciously pausing the pressure of the ‘real world,’ fantasy fiction also tends to question conventional modes of thinking. This is certainly the case for our friend Russ Masterson’s book, Adao’s Dance, which chronicles the story of sixteen-year-old Adao who, after receiving a cryptic dream one night, undertakes the task of climbing a deadly, near-impassible mountain called The Dragon. What follows is a series of adventures that challenge his friendships, his worldview, and ultimately his life.

Adao includes plenty…

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We Are the Chosen, And We Are Not Spared: Making Sense of Season Two of The Leftovers

We Are the Chosen, And We Are Not Spared: Making Sense of Season Two of The Leftovers

In an effort to keep his show alive, Damon Lindelof and company are doing a lot of interviews after the finale of their mindblowing second season. This is a good thing, because nearly everyone I have talked to who’s been (ravenously) watching The Leftovers is desperate for more details. (That doesn’t mean the show is doing all that well, ratings-wise. In fact, no one is watching it.) The show has kept a lot of boxes buried in the woods, if you know what I mean. It has kept a lot of reasons carefully undefined.

This is frustrating for viewers, but it…

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