Review of ‘The Arrival’ on Nerd Bastards

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Normally, in the movies, when the aliens arrive, destruction follows. For that reason alone, the latest movie from Canadian director Denis Villeneuve is worth the price of admission. On a week when there’s so much uncertainty, it’s nice to know that when the aliens do come there will be level-headed, optimistic scientists ready to provide the Rosetta stone to inter-species communication. At least that’s what I got from The Arrival

The most surprising thing about The Arrival to me was that while the trailer sold it as this cool, clinical film that involves the eternal clash of intentions between the military and pure science, it’s actually rather sentimental. Sentimentality doesn’t always translate over the long-term, so it will be interesting to see how The Arrival is viewed in the years to come, but a probing, emotional dissection of one of philosophy’s most fundamental questions was something I wasn’t expecting when I walked into the cinema. That’s all I’ll say on the matter lest I spoil something.

You can read my review of The Arrival on Nerd Bastards here.

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Review of ‘Blair Witch’ on Nerd Bastards

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Not to sound like a broken record, but here was another sequel movie that I was really looking forward to but never failed to disappoint. To make matters worse, I was especially excited to see it after getting myself re-jazzed about all things Blair Witch by talking to two of the people involved with the original earlier this summer. Sigh. So much for recapturing the magic of ’99…

In a nutshell, if you saw and liked the first Blair Witch Project back in 1999, then you’ve know everything you need to about Blair Witch. It does everything you expect a horror sequel to do with more more money, more scares and more cameras, but it does absolutely nothing different or challenging with whole Blair Witch concept. What’s all the more disappointing is that this was directed by Adam Winegard, who made some damn interesting films like The Guest and Who’s Next? This is a failure on almost every level, and that’s a shame.

You can read my review of Blair Witch on Nerd Bastards here.

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‘House of Cards’ Review on We Got This Covered

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A technical snafu the other week, the accidental release of the first ten episodes, only served to make eager the appetite for fans of House of Cards to receive season three of the Netflix series. But a lucky (elite?) few got an early at the show legit, specifically the first six episodes, which were offered to journalists to review in advance of Friday’s official release of the new season of House of Cards.

Now I’m not as obsessive about House of Cards as some people. It’s certainly a beautifully shot and designed series with an incredible cast of actors lead by Kevin Spacey, who, as professional politician Frank Underwood, may have found his signature role. If you love a lot of discussion about policy and the difficulties in implementing it, then you’re going to love this season of House of Cards. On the other hand, there’s not as much Underwood super-villainy in the first six episodes, which may turn off fans, and no main characters gets a sudden and grisly death right off the bat.

You can read my review of the first six episodes of House of Cards at We Got This Covered.

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Review of ‘Jupiter Ascending’ on Nerd Bastards

jupiter-ascendingFrom the looks of things, Jupiter Ascending isn’t going to go down in the history books next to The Matrix in either critical appreciation or commercial success. And maybe that’s too bad.

Jupiter Ascending has its problems, but I’ll be damned if it isn’t a fun, entertaining movie with a lot of ideas and a lot heart. It reminds me of The Fifth Element, and that was hardly popular when it came out in 1997. Many people thought it too weird, while being overly pretty but ultimately empty, and a lot of that’s be levelled against Jupiter now, so from my point it’s in good company.

The Wachowskis are interesting filmmakers, and their last film, Cloud Atlas, was based on a movie that everyone said was unfilmable, but they still made something fascinating and compelling out of it. Even their supposed bombs, like parts 2 and 3 of The Matrix trilogy and Speed Racer, are now better thought of in hindsight. It would have been nice if Jupiter could have been a smash hit, especially considering the dearth of original big budgets works in Hollywood, but perhaps cult status is a nice silver medal.

Read my full review of Jupiter Ascending on Nerd Bastards.

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Recapping ‘The Blacklist’ on We Got This Covered

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I don’t care much for the Super Bowl, or NFL football in general, but it’s always nice when the big episode of a TV series post-Super Bowl is one I like, and as luck would have it, this year’s big game nightcap is the James Spader-drama series The Blacklist, which I will now recap weekly on We Got This Covered.

If you don’t know the series, it stars Spader as master criminal Raymond Reddington, who comes to the FBI with a list of bad guys he wants captured in exchange for immunity and to help achieve some nefarious scheme of his own. The show is great if you like watching Spader ham and lob a few zingers at his FBI cohorts, but it’s not so great if you want to watch a script make the police act like idiots in order to accentuate the cleverness of its main criminal genius.

Having said that, the first episode of the second half of season two got off to a very good start with lots of action, some good character moments and an interesting “Blacklister” in the form of Sons of Anarchy star Ron Perlman.

You can read my recap of the Super Bowl episode of The Blacklist here, and continue to follow along every Thursday on We Got This Covered.

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New Radio Show – Open Sources Guelph – on CFRU

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It was a sad development for the end of the year, the announcement that Gang of Four would be no more. It was a reverse Christmas present, something that was being taken away not just from me, but from the hundreds of people that like the show, and like getting a different perspective on politics and current affairs. Change is inevitable, and change is never one thing, which is why while The Gang of Four is no more, Open Sources Guelph now lives.

Starting tomorrow evening on CFRU 93.3 fm, in the usual Gang of Four slot at 5 pm, Open Sources Guelph will begin and aim to fill the void left by the Gang of Four. Myself, and Scotty Hertz will still be there, and we’re looking at bringing you all the stuff you loved about Gang of Four, plus some new stuff that we hope will expand the show’s appeal and get more in-depth about the issues that matter to you.

Amongst the changes Scotty and I are making to the show, aside from the halving of the Gang, is the inclusion of more voices. For instance, Melanie Baker, one of the organizers of Voices Carry, a protest event in Kitchener that is counter programming to Bill Cosby’s appearance at Centre in the Square, will be joining us in the second half hour, adding some colour commentary to the debate from someone living the story on the ground. We will also be doing hour long shows about local issues, have guests in studio for the full-hour, and, of course, we will deliver the same excellent election coverage that people of Guelph have come to expect from the CFRU election team.

You can learn more about Open Sources Guelph at the website.

You can stay connected with the new show via the Beyond the Ballot Box Facebook page. (A name change will happen in the very near future.)

And, of course, you can listen live tomorrow, and every Thursday at 5 pm, on CFRU 93.3 fm or cfru.ca.

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