5.04.2015

Eden 2.0: A Review of "Ex Machina" (Major Spoilers)

The title of Alex Garland's film "Ex Machina" is a truncated form of the Latin phrase "deus ex machina."  The translation is "god from the machine."  The phrase conjures similar imagery to the idea of the "ghost in the machine" from Cartesian dualism, especially in the context of a film like "Ex Machina" which deals with an artificial intelligence.  The meaning is much more literal, however.  Deus ex machina refers to a device from Greek drama in which a crane (a machine) would suddenly lower an actor playing a god onto the stage, whose appearance typically provided a convenient solution to a seemingly unsolvable dilemma and wrapped everything up in a nice little package.

Most likely "Ex Machina" as the title of this film, however, was meant to carry dual meaning.  Yes, hardware or machinery is the means by which a superior being enters the stage, but there are also undeniable overtones of what it means to play god, and what happens when your creation deviates from your plans for it.

4.06.2015

"Wolf Hall" Episode 1 Review (No Spoilers, Except for Historical Facts...)

Image credit: notjustanothertvsite.com
In January of this year, BBC Two released a television adaptation of Hilary Mantel's novels Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, based on the Tudor period of history.  They are told from the point of view of Thomas Cromwell, who in his lifetime rose from obscurity to adviser and close confidante to the King of England.

It has felt like a very long wait for "Wolf Hall" to begin airing in the US, but it is finally here.  Episode one aired on PBS's Masterpiece segment on April 5th, and will continue to air Sunday evenings at 10/9c.

11.20.2014

More Home Decor Straight from Middle-Earth

"...though there was still some store of weapons in the Shire, these were used mostly as trophies, hanging above hearths or on walls, or gathered into the museum at Michel Delving.  The Mathom-house it was called; for anything that Hobbits had no immediate use for, but were unwilling to throw away, they caled a mathom."
--Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

I have found many things worth hanging above the hearth and on walls at the Mithril and Mathoms Etsy shop (formerly known as the tiedyejedi Etsy shop).  You might remember Mithril and Mathom's colorful, ironic, and, as always, exquisite Middle-Earth themed accoutrements from this post in April last year.

Well, the owner of Mithril and Mathoms is at it again with a completely redrawn Elvish Map of Middle-Earth.  If you are looking to impress your fellow mathom-collectors out there, you might need to have this particular map, since all the place names have been drawn in Tengwar - the Elvish script.  The best part is you can request that the owner of the shop alter the colors of the text, geographical landmarks, and/or background.  Eeek!

Elvish Map of Middle-Earth; image source: mithrilandmathoms.com

Check out mithrilandmathoms.com for other "mathoms" worth having such as necklaces based on the Elvish mapadorable posters for your kitchen detailing a Hobbit's love for food, and a Gollum parody of the familiar Precious Moments collectibles!


11.07.2014

"Interstellar": The Most Realistic Film about Space Travel You Have Ever Seen

Image source: showbizcafe.com
The typical space odyssey throws mankind into the arena either with a much more intelligent and evolved species whose involvement is meant to guide us, or with any number of extraterrestrial adversaries, truly "alien" in both their appearances and their ways.  The Enterprise took us on a tour of colorful worlds full of humanoid beings who could teach us more about ourselves and more about peace.  The Obelisk showed up to nudge us toward technological advancement and progress, for worse or for better.  Then the Xenomorph burst onto the scene (forgive the pun), but unfortunately, "In space, no one can hear you scream."  Then we borrowed the tall, blue-skinned physical forms of the Na'vi with which to have all manner of adventures among the gorgeous phosphorescent plant life.

6.06.2014

"Maleficent" and the Disney Renaissance (Mild Plot Spoilers)

 With both irony and triumph, clever storytelling and genuine feeling, Disney is bringing us a new kind of fairy tale.

As much love, fondness, and respect as I have for Disney, the company's name is still the one we most commonly associate with the age-old misconception that a princess is usually in need of rescuing.  In the traditional story of Sleeping Beauty, this "heroine" sleeps through the majority of her own fairy tale.  Almost a literal demonstration of the concept in critical theory of the female as the object of the male gaze - the princess lies unconscious, her person-hood negated, while the admiring prince looks on and, eventually, is the catalyst to her awakening.

3.29.2014

Movie Review: "Noah" (Mild Spoilers)

If nothing else, Darren Aronofsky's "Noah" is a film of beauty, albeit cold and disturbing beauty.  The cinematography, the visual effects, and the score by Clint Mansell are all very stirring and epic.  The stark Icelandic landscape in which "Noah" was filmed is a believable backdrop for a world in which - as Aronofsky's tale goes - man is an eco-terrorist and has spoiled and consumed nearly all of God's creation.  God communicates to Noah through dreams and hallucinations that all people save for him and his family will be destroyed by water as judgement for their wickedness.  The loneliness of Noah as he prepares for the flooding of the earth is felt acutely by the audience, since there is often nothing but his tiny family in the vast expanse of the uncivilized land.

3.17.2014

Sparking the Imagination: A Look into Flint Books

A Flint Book: Artwork by Kevin Meier (Check out the Kickstarter page here!)
When I was in fourth grade, my whole class participated in a writing program in which we could write original stories on lined pages, adorn them with illustrations, and then have them laminated and bound with real spines by our teacher.  Yes, the illustrations were in crayon, and the writing was very much at a fourth-grade level, but that program changed my life.  From that school year up until this day, I have always believed I was meant to tell stories and to write.  I find great fulfillment in doing so.

Allowing young minds to do the storytelling is the specialty of Flint Books.  They are called Flint Books because, as creator Kevin Meier says: "...kids are amazing storytellers, but sometimes they just need a little spark."  The books are designed to give kids just enough visual inspiration to get them started on their own completely original tale.  There is even a space for them to dedicate the book and write a little "About the Author!"  The eye-catching and detailed illustrations by artist Kevin Meier are each followed by several lined, blank pages for the author to tell the story of what they imagine to be happening in the picture.  The series will most likely be released in a subscription format.  Kids will periodically receive a new book - each one containing a fresh adventure.

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