The Circle’s Transparent Approach to Exploring our Relationship with Technology

The Circle’s Transparent Approach to Exploring our Relationship with Technology

The Circle’s Transparent Approach to Exploring our Relationship with Technology

***Minor spoiler warning

Between promises to explore our dangerous relationship with technology and an impressive cast, I had high hopes for The Circle. While it proves to be an enjoyable film, The Circle fails to meet its potential through a lack of balanced or nuanced exploration of our relationship with technology. When Mae (Emma Watson) goes “fully transparent” under the direction of the Circle’s Eamon Bailey (Tom Hanks) and his partner Stenton (Patton Oswalt), we get a complete view of Mae’s life through incredible technology. One of the best parts of the movie is seeing the comments pop up when Mae is “fully transparent” as these comments accurately reflect the comments section of almost any YouTube video or online article. Through this pursuit we see Mae fully embracing and even pushing the lengths at which technology should be used with Bailey and Stenton constantly bolstering these ideals. These characters and their actions are all pro-technology which makes sense for Bailey and Stenton but at a certain point just becomes confusing with Mae due to the negative consequences created by her use of all-consuming use of such technology.

On the other side, Mae’s friend Mercer is anti-technology from the start, and soon cuts off from technology completely. Mae’s parents go transparent along with their daughter but after a breach in their privacy also cut off from technology entirely. The movie struggles to tap into the potential of thoughtfully exploring our relationship with technology because the characters and their actions are too pro-technology or anti-technology with little middle ground in between. Ty (John Boyega) is a missed opportunity in this regard. As the creator of the TruYou software that is integral to the Circle, he works at the company but is morally conflicted about the Circle’s intrusive actions and exposes these intrusions to Mae. Through Ty we could’ve received a more nuanced exploration of the film’s overarching questions. Instead the film ultimately uses Ty as a plot device to impart necessary information and act as a resource to execute the film’s ending.

While disappointing in this sense, The Circle is still an enjoyable film. It kept me fully engaged as there is not a single moment where I felt my attention wander. The overall concept is intriguing and many facets of the story aren’t that far off from our current reality. Going “fully transparent” in many ways is Facebook live or any form of video live streaming taken to the extreme. The company culture of the Circle is rooted in companies like Google and Apple who provide their companies with more and more benefits in order to keep their employees at work, giving them everything they need at the company so they are incentivized to work as much as possible. The film even satirizes our society’s push to be extroverted and our relationship with social media and the meticulously crafted image many construct through their social media presence. The scene where two Circle employees approach Mae about her lack of presence on social media and lack of presence at the Circle’s social events is easily one of the film’s best scenes. As an extension of this, the ratings consumers give to employees of the Circle reminds one of ratings real-world consumers give to employees at companies like Lyft or Seamless, furthering the artificiality of a data-driven and data-defining society. The tension and stakes build swiftly, though the point to which they climax feels like a strange choice considering the events throughout the rest of the film. Ultimately, The Circle could’ve been stronger and more thought-provoking if it found more of a middle ground concerning our relationship with technology and imparting such balance and nuance to more of the characters and their actions. I am interested in reading the book and seeing how it compares to the film and if it perhaps provides a more balanced perspective.

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Why the Star Wars prequels are better than you realized

Why the Star Wars prequels are better than you realized

There is plenty to dislike about the Star Wars prequel trilogy, including but not limited to Jar Jar Binks, podracing, stilted dialogue, and the sort of creepy relationship between Anakin and Padme. However, on this May the Fourth I’d like to throw some love toward the oft-maligned Star Wars prequel trilogy. While these films are inferior to the original Star Wars trilogy and even the newer films, they do contain value and enjoyment that should not go unrecognized.

  1. Palpatine’s manipulations:
  • One of the best parts of the prequel trilogy is witnessing how Palpatine became the all-powerful Emperor we first met in Return of the Jedi. His transition from senator of Naboo to Supreme Chancellor of the Republic to Emperor of the Galactic Empire is impressive, but what’s most fascinating is how he manipulated the galaxy in order to make his ambitions a reality. For example, the Naboo-Trade Federation conflict which is basically the plot of The Phantom Menace is entirely engineered by Palpatine in order to become Supreme Chancellor. Many pan The Phantom Menace and there are valid reasons to do so. The narrative seems too tied down by specifics of trade routes and trade law. But that’s sort of the point. When sent to negotiate with the Trade Federation, Qui-Gon Jinn remarks that “I sense an unusual amount of fear for something as trivial as this trade dispute.” The conflict is supposed to be complicated in confusing and even tedious ways as that’s part of Palpatine’s plan, tricking the galaxy into focusing on these details and falling prey to his schemes while failing to see the bigger picture. Qui-Gon senses this idea but not the specifics.
  • If you re-watch The Phantom Menace seeking to understand every facet of Palpatine’s plan surrounding the Naboo-Trade Federation conflict and how it’ll allow him to become Supreme Chancellor, the movie becomes infinitely more intriguing and complex. Not only does Palpatine manipulate both sides of the conflict but he also has to readjust his plan several times due to unexpected resilience and success from Queen Padme Amidala, her allies, and their retaliation against the Trade Federation’s invasion of Naboo. This does not negate the less favorable aspects of the movie such as podracing and Jar Jar Binks. Yet, watching The Phantom Menace through the lens of understanding every step of Palpatine’s manipulations does make the movie better than you realized. The same holds true for Attack of the Clones. Engineering the Naboo-Trade Federation conflict catapulted Palpatine into the position of Supreme Chancellor. In Attack of the Clones he engineers the Clone Wars and manipulates the Jedi Order, Republic, and the Separatists. Such manipulations provide payoff and consequences for the major events in the prequel trilogy’s best film Revenge of the Sith such as Order 66, the emergence of the Galactic Empire ruled by Palpatine as an all-powerful Emperor, and the rise of Darth Vader.
  1. Fresh elements that enhance the rest of the Star Wars universe:
  • Despite the faults of the prequel trilogy, one can’t deny the imagination and freshness it brought to the Star Wars universe. These films showcase the Jedi Order at the height of their power, a critical piece of the Star Wars universe that no longer exists by the time of the original trilogy and the newer films. Seeing numerous Jedi running around with lightsabers and engaging in epic lightsaber battles is awesome to behold. Beyond lightsabers, calmer scenes like Yoda teaching the younglings in Attack of the Clones provide unique insight into the philosophies of the Jedi Order and how they were put into action. The same holds true for Jedi council meetings and conversations between individual Jedi. Scenes such as these help us better understand Obi-Wan and Yoda and their interactions with Luke in the original trilogy. 
  • In addition, the prequel trilogy introduces planets like Coruscant, Kamino, and Mustafar, all beautiful to behold and unlike any Star Wars planets we’ve seen before or since. All play a critical role not only in the prequel films but in other pieces of the Star Wars universe. For example, one of the most exciting connections in Rogue One is seeing Darth Vader’s castle on Mustafar, a thrilling connection only made possible by the events of the prequel trilogy. 
  • As creepy as the Anakin-Padme relationship is at times, it is a fresh and actually very literary approach to romance in the Star Wars universe and serves as a key foundation of Anakin becoming Darth Vader. Check out this blog post to better understand the thinking behind the Anakin-Padme relationship and why it actually works better than you thought:
  • The lightsaber duel and final meeting between Darth Vader and Obi-Wan Kenobi in A New Hope is already incredible but the prequel trilogy provides further insight and understanding that makes the scene even more powerful (largely thanks to Ewan McGregor’s incredible performance as a younger Obi-Wan). This is yet another disappointment of The Phantom Menace that it barely provides any development between Obi-Wan and Anakin. The development of their relationship only occurs in Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith.
  • The prequel trilogy explains many of the original trilogy’s unanswered questions including but not limited to how Anakin Skywalker became Darth Vader, how the Galactic Empire formed and Emperor Palpatine came to power, the relationship between Anakin and Obi-Wan Kenobi before Anakin became Darth Vader, how the Jedi Order went from prominent galaxy-wide guardians of peace and justice to only Obi-Wan and Yoda in exile, the story behind the mother of Luke and Leia (Padme) and her relationship with Anakin. Part of the problem is that most of the answers don’t come until Revenge of the Sith, easily the most exciting and emotional of the prequel trilogy films. Fascinating as Palpatine’s manipulations are, it’s still a bit much of a slow-burn development in the prequel trilogy’s first two films. Yet you need the events of The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones and every step of Palpatine’s manipulations in order for the consequences and answers in Revenge of the Sith to make sense.

Ultimately what prevents the prequel trilogy from standing alongside the original trilogy or even the newer Star Wars films is that they fail to capture the motif of the unordinary individual becoming extraordinary. The journey of unlikely heroes is critical to the heart of Star Wars. The original trilogy gave us a whiny farmboy who became a Jedi Knight integral to defeating the Empire and bringing balance to the Force, and a self-centered smuggler who became a general and hero of the Rebellion. The Force Awakens gave us a lonely scavenger and desperate ex-Stormtrooper who dared to stand against the First Order. Rogue One gave us a reprogrammed Imperial droid with a sarcastic sense of humor and a blind man clinging to belief in the Force despite the overwhelming oppression throughout the galaxy and near-extinction of the Jedi. Both individuals, along with several others, sacrificed themselves and everything they had to get the Death Star plans to the Rebellion. Such journeys from unordinary to extraordinary resonate with audiences, most of whom leave mostly unordinary lives.

In the prequel trilogy the main characters are already extraordinary when we meet them. Obi-Wan is already an accomplished, wise, and powerful Jedi. Padme already rules a planet through a nature both fierce and graceful. Even as a young boy Anakin is already extraordinary through his unparalleled connection with the Force, already making him a masterful pilot and mechanic.

The chemistry-fueled humor is also lacking in the prequel trilogy. Despite heavy drama, the original trilogy and newer films contain humor that feels very human and is driven by the incredible chemistry between the characters. The Phantom Menace doesn’t really have any of this as the humor revolves around the annoying Jar Jar Binks. Attack of the Clones just really doesn’t have any humor, the worst part being that watching Yoda duel Count Dooku is probably the most humorous part of the movie. Revenge of the Sith finally provides the chemistry-fueled humor with the dynamics between Anakin and Obi-Wan during the Battle of Coruscant, helping to start the best of the prequel trilogy on a high note.

I definitely like the original trilogy and the newer films more than the prequel trilogy. However, I truly believe that the prequel trilogy does contain a lot of value, enjoyment, and serves a critical role in Star Wars canon. 

May the fourth be with you. Always.


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Star Wars: The Last Jedi Trailer and Celebration Panel thoughts

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Trailer and Celebration Panel thoughts

It started out as a great day because I had no work and could sleep in. It became an incredible day as I watched the Star Wars: The Last Jedi panel at Star Wars Celebration in Orlando. Through the livestream we learned of many fascinating tidbits from the movie, witnessed the movie’s stunning promotional poster, and most importantly GOT TO SEE THE FIRST FREAKING TRAILER FOR THE LAST JEDI GAHHHHYESSSS! I may be a tad bit excited. Check out the trailer and poster and then check out my thoughts below.

File:Star wars the last jedi poster.jpg

My favorite element of all these thrilling reveals is confirmation of Luke Skywalker’s prominent role in The Last Jedi. This is by no means a surprise but the confirmation is still so satisfying, particularly hearing the character’s first dialogue in film since Return of the Jedi in 1983. And with that dialogue came the most meaningful part of the new trailer where Luke says “I only know one truth. It’s time for the Jedi to end.” This is mind-blowing and filled with so much potential, but also makes me really happy because it largely confirms my thoughts when the title was first unveiled in January (refresh your memory by reading that blog post:

Arguably more important is that today not only confirmed Luke’s prominence but also teases the complexity of his character. Daisy Ridley hinted during the panel that meeting Luke and the beginning of their relationship is akin to meeting one of your heroes with high expectations and struggling to reconcile those expectations with reality. We see Luke training Rey (the visual representation of this training in the trailer is beautiful and further augmented by the music of John Williams) but as teased, it’s largely not going to be what Rey expects. Will Luke be initially resistant because of what happened when he trained the new generation of Jedi? Or will he immediately agree to train her, but only as a Force-wielder that is something different than Jedi which will be hard for Rey to reconcile? In The Force Awakens When Finn tells Rey that BB-8 is carrying a map to Luke Skywalker, Rey says “Luke Skywalker? I thought he was a myth.” The myth continues to grow for her throughout the movie as everyone seems to believe finding Luke is the answer to stopping the First Order and the terror they’re spreading throughout the galaxy. If Luke is unwilling to jump into galaxy-saving mode, that alone could be enough to cause Rey to struggle with reconciling her expectations with reality as she sees that the man behind this heroic myth may not be the benevolent, all-mighty savior she imagined.

It’s not difficult to imagine the difficult state of mind Luke is in following everything that has happened and the inner conflicts he is surely struggling to work through. Even when Luke asks Rey about her understanding of the Force in the trailer he responds by addressing that it’s much more complex than she realizes. The poster further represents the complexity of the Luke Skywalker we will be reacquainted with. He may be training Rey now and attempting to navigate the path that will bring balance to the Force and the galaxy even if that ends the Jedi for good. Yet, he is still somewhat responsible for Ben Solo’s fall to the Dark Side and the subsequent destruction of the new generation of Jedi and the rise of the First Order (much to learn we still have concerning these matters).

The excitement revolves heavily around Luke Skywalker right now, but that is not all we gleaned today. I loved learning that Kelly Marie Tran is playing Rose, a maintenance worker in the Resistance. We’ve known for a while that Benicio Del Toro, Laura Dern, and Kelly Marie Tran would play new characters in The Last Jedi. It’s gratifying to learn who Kelly Marie Tran is playing, to hear about the character not only from the actress herself but also from director Rian Johnson and to see the first official picture of the character. While the premise of the character may initially sound a bit underwhelming, Tran’s infectious enthusiasm immediately makes you excited for the character. Johnson furthered this excitement by talking about how he remembered watching the Star Wars movies as a kid and experiencing Luke’s journey from an unordinary farm boy to this extraordinary hero. He went on to explain that Rose embodies that as a character who goes from a somewhat unordinary role to becoming an unlikely but extraordinary hero. That is one of the most important motifs in Star Wars, a key facet of what made so many love the original trilogy (how Luke and Han went from being so unordinary and unimportant to being so extraordinary and important) and why The Force Awakens resonated with many as well (Rey and Finn undergo similar journeys in this sense). Through a character like Rose, Star Wars continues to deliver one of its strongest elements through the journey of unordinary to extraordinary. I’m also excited about Rose because her character will add more depth and understanding to the Resistance. Even after The Force Awakens and novels like Star Wars: Bloodline which explained the initial creation of the Resistance, there is still a great deal we don’t know about the organization. Getting to know a character like Rose who isn’t in charge like Leia or their best pilot like Poe Dameron will be fascinating to see and help us better understand the more common individual associated with the Resistance. Check out our first look at Rose:

Kelly Marie Tran as Rose.

Other tidbits we learned today and thoughts about the trailer and poster:

  • While the trailer largely focuses on Luke and Rey, I’m glad the trailer also briefly reacquaints us with the core characters introduced in The Force Awakens (Kylo Ren, Finn, Poe, BB-8) without giving much away. It’s the perfect kind of tease that shows the characters we’ve loved for a while and characters we’ve only recently started to love in new situations without revealing too much of what those situations are.
  • I’m glad we saw a glimpse of Kylo Ren and his volatile red lightsaber but were denied a glimpse of his whole face in both the trailer and poster. I don’t want to see the full extent of the damage Rey inflicted on him physically until the movie is released. That his mask is destroyed also speaks volumes about his character development from the beginning of The Force Awakens until now.
  • I wish we’d seen more of Leia in this trailer (we only get a shot of the back of her head). I know Luke is the original trilogy character the movie will focus on the most, but I hope she will still play a very prominent role and she should as she still leads the Resistance. With Carrie Fisher’s passing and the beautiful but heartbreaking tribute video released at Star Wars Celebration yesterday, I wanted to see more of her. I also would’ve liked to see Chewbacca and C-3PO in the trailer. I’m worried about Chewie coping with the loss of Han.
  • When it comes to the First Order, I’m not only glad Kylo Ren was featured in the trailer but that Captain Phasma was featured as well. I hope she plays a much more significant and menacing role in this film compared to The Force Awakens. Also, I feel it was a good call to not show Snoke in the trailer. While I expect to see more of his character in this movie than The Force Awakens and to learn more about him, it’s important to maintain that sense of powerful mystery cloaking his character. For now, let the First Order’s terror manifest itself through the likes of Kylo Ren, Captain Phasma and, General Hux. It should gradually build toward the ultimate terror of Snoke, similar to how we experienced the likes of Darth Vader and Grand Moff Tarkin terrorizing the galaxy far more before Emperor Palpatine in the original trilogy. Rian Johnson also teased that while the loss of Starkiller Base is huge for the First Order, they still had a major victory with wiping out the power of the New Republic and that we will see them taking advantage of that chaos right off the bat. I’m definitely looking forward to that and seeing the baddies perform evil deeds without relying on a planet-killing machine like the first or second Death Star or Starkiller Base.
  • The inclusion of the new ships kicking up red dust is also great as it shows something new, exciting and important added to the more familiar elements and characters of Star Wars. It’s important for Star Wars to retain the classic elements that define the franchise while continuing to incorporate fresh elements. Those ships are a great example of this and the uncertain future of the Jedi and the Force teased in this trailer is another fresh, meaningful direction the franchise is taking.
  • The gorgeous, haunting poster clearly represents the darker tone of this film and hints at the complex struggles Luke, Kylo Ren, and Rey are all struggling with. Finn, Poe, Leia and other characters will still be super important, but this movie really belongs to these three characters, and their struggles which heavily revolves around the Force.
  • It was a huge day for Star Wars! What are your reactions and thoughts to today’s numerous reveals? Share your thoughts in the comments below or on social media!
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Should Maz Kanata be in the Han Solo movie?

Should Maz Kanata be in the Han Solo movie?

Should Maz Kanata be in the Han Solo movie?

In Star Wars: The Force Awakens we are introduced to Maz Kanata, an individual that is knowledgeable about the Force and influential among smugglers and pirates. Han Solo brings Rey, Finn, and BB-8 to Maz in order to help them reach Leia and the Resistance. However, Maz’s greater purpose lies in her ability to push Han, Rey and Finn towards the paths they need to take in addition to providing the storied lightsaber of Anakin Skywalker and Luke Skywalker. While Maz’s connection to the Force, how she acquired the legendary lightsaber and other mysteries will unfold in Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Star Wars: Episode IX, there may be another opportunity to learn more about her in the Han Solo film slated for December 2018.

Why Maz Kanata SHOULD be in the Han Solo movie: Han decides to take Rey, Finn and BB-8 to Maz because she is an “old friend” who can safely help them reach Leia and the Resistance. But we still don’t have any concrete backstory of how Maz is an “old friend” of Han and Chewbacca. It’s not difficult to imagine Han and Chewbacca frequenting Maz’s “watering hole” during their smuggling days. It’s a similar scene to the Mos Eisley cantina where we first met Han and Chewbacca in Star Wars: A New Hope. The Han Solo movie could provide insight into this backstory and more importantly, explain why this “old friend” could be trusted. There is no issue with the timeline either as Han tells Rey and Finn that “She’s run this watering hole for a thousand years.” She may also have connections with Lando Calrissian not only because of his history as a smuggler and pirate, but also because of Luke’s lightsaber. I suspect Maz’s acquisition of the lightsaber may connect with Lando as the lightsaber was last seen when Darth Vader sliced off Luke’s hand in Cloud City on Bespin. Remember, Bespin is the world where Lando ran his operation and where we met him in the first place. Lando is also going to play a significant role in the Han Solo movie and could provide a meaningful connection to Maz.

As discussed in my initial blog post about the Han Solo movie ( his character development and story arc from A New Hope to The Force Awakens feels pretty damn complete which is why I’m a bit skeptical about the standalone movie. But one element of his story that remains incomplete is the history he and Chewbacca have with Maz prior to The Force Awakens. In a universe where all stories are connected in a cohesive canon, incorporating Maz Kanata can provide further continuity and a rich connection between the standalone and Skywalker Saga films.

Why Maz Kanata SHOULD NOT be in the Han Solo movie: Maz has deep connections and knowledge of the Force. However, in A New Hope, despite everything he’s seen in the galaxy, Han rejects the existence of the Force. While Maz surely doesn’t espouse her knowledge of the Force to all her patrons as she did to Han, Rey, and Finn in The Force Awakens, it is difficult to reconcile that someone so connected to the Force would closely associate with someone who rejects its existence entirely. Then again, in a time period where Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader seek to eliminate anyone Force-sensitive, Maz has reason to keep an extra low profile. Her actions in The Force Awakens largely stem from realizing that Rey is Force-sensitive and that Rey, Finn, and Han are critical to resisting the latest manifestation of the Dark Side: The First Order. Regardless, in order for Han’s lack of belief in the Force in A New Hope to still make sense, it may be most logical to steer clear of Maz Kanata in this story.

What do you think? Should Maz Kanata appear in the Han Solo movie? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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How To Get Away With Murder season 3 review

How To Get Away With Murder season 3 review

How to Get Away With Murder season 3 review

***Spoiler warning!

+ “Who is under the sheet” mystery: This creative premise hooked audiences into season 3 and provided a concrete reason to return each week up to the mid-season finale. The stakes were higher than ever with the life of an unknown core character on the line, keeping audiences guessing and frantically trying to put the pieces together.

Ultimately Wes was an excellent choice for the mystery’s reveal. Audiences were more emotionally invested in Wes than many of the main characters and all the surviving characters had strong, complicated emotional ties to Wes as well. This kept audiences hooked after the mid-season finale. I’m not sure any other characters would’ve provided the same emotional investment from both the audience and characters within the story. And no one had as complicated and emotional a relationship with Wes as Annalise, so his death opened up even more intriguing routes for her character development as the central figure of the story.

Wes was furthermore an excellent choice because his character development felt very complete up to this point. The only other character with as much development and backstory at this point was Annalise. We’d seen Wes as the naïve and innocent “puppy,” a hardworking and independent law student, a manipulator, the one manipulated, the one who takes a strong moral stand, as someone who acts desperately, as the victim and even as a murderer. Through these experiences we saw Wes pushed to his furthest limits. His story and character development felt very complete while many of the other characters still have a great deal of untapped potential. The choice to kill Wes was shocking, bold, and also deceptive due to the show manipulating the timeline behind the reveals of who survived the night of the fire. Above all it was a fitting choice that behooved the show.

– Too many unanswered questions about the night of the fire: While HTGAWM tends to leave cliffhangers, the show also has a tendency to leave with the questions surrounding the season’s primary mystery to be answered. Season 1 ended with the cliffhanger of why Frank killed Lila for Sam, but all questions about the night of Lila’s murder were answered. This season failed to do that as we are left with way too many unanswered questions about the night of the fire. Why did Annalise call the Keating 5 to the house? Who did Wes call in the taxi when he referred to himself as Cristophe? Did Wes go straight to the house after riding in the taxi and placing that mysterious phone call? Who was the anonymous source who helped frame Annalise? Hopefully all these questions will be answered. The problem is some of these questions feel more like plot holes than cliffhangers.

The reveal of who killed Wes: I have mixed feelings about the reveal that Laurel’s father was the engineer behind the death of Wes. I like the reveal because of the tantalizing prospects it creates for season 4. There is finally payoff for the frequent mentions of Laurel’s father, what a dangerous man he is, and his meeting with Laurel earlier in season 3. Also, the reveal was shocking to me. My main suspects were Nate and Bonnie. I never even considered Laurel’s father. There’s something satisfying about experiencing genuine shock about a work of fiction.

Yet, the shock is also one of the reasons I dislike the reveal. Despite frequent mentions Laurel’s father has barely been in the show. Thus, Laurel’s father being the engineer behind the death of Wes feels a little bit too much out of left field to the point that it’s the kind of shock that doesn’t totally make sense. The reveal felt more real when juxtaposed with Annalise’s palpable grief and raw honesty in the final scene of the season.

What to look forward to in season 4:

  • Discovering why Laurel’s father wanted Wes killed
  • How and when will Laurel discover that her father engineered the death of Wes? How will she react?
  • The same questions but regarding Annalise . . . And what is Annalise going to do with her life now?
  • What is Denver’s connection with Dominic and Laurel’s father?
  • Does Laurel’s father have any ties to the Mahoney family? What role if any does the Mahoney family still have to play?
  • Connor is one of the only core characters we don’t have much backstory for yet. It was hinted at in the season 3 finale, but will we finally receive more of Connor’s backstory?
  • The future of the Oliver-Connor and Michaela-Asher relationships

What did you think about season 3 of HTGAWM? What are you looking forward to most in season 4? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

Super Sad True Love Story book review

Super Sad True Love Story book review

If I’d read Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart a few years ago, I would’ve found the depiction of the United States fascinating, thought-provoking, and disturbing. I wouldn’t have thought it felt familiar.

Thanks to the Trump administration, Rubenstein’s America doesn’t feel as alien as it should. Shteyngart creates an isolationist America that breeds fear through censorship and maligning individuals associated with particular countries and nationalities. The distinction between the government factions and corporate giants in power blur until there’s hardly any distinction at all.

Like its finest dystopian predecessors, Super Sad True Love Story makes chillingly accurate predictions about the future not only concerning politics, but with the direction of technology and human psychology. The äppäräts, everyone’s dependency on them and the rankings/data they provide act as a mirror to our Smartphone and social media-addicted culture. So much energy and time are dedicated to creating a self-image that leave us feeling unfulfilled and insubstantial. The live streaming is a spot-on manifestation of what Facebook Live and other real-world live streaming videos are designed to be.

Among the heavy and foreboding themes, the main characters Lenny and Eunice intricately develop  within their touching, humorous, highly problematic relationship. They ground the story and make it personal amidst the political upheaval. While Lenny’s diary entries contain more of a literary feel and thus seem like they carry more merit, DO NOT rush through Eunice’s GlobalTeens messages. In many ways they are more insightful and genuine than Lenny’s diary entries. It’s refreshing to experience Eunice without the romanticized smog smearing Lenny’s chapters. In a clever way the story emphasizes this sentiment, however both perspectives are critical to the brilliance of this book.

Overall, Super Sad True Love Story excels as a profoundly hysterical, disturbing and above all self-aware story.

Do you think this book mirrors modern day America? Why or why not? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!


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Han Solo anthology film initial thoughts

Many already want to bash the Han Solo anthology film. Nobody should play Han Solo except Harrison Ford! We don’t need an origin story for Han Solo! Alden Ehrenreich doesn’t even look like Harrison Ford!

I hear the criticism and I get it. All three of these thoughts have crossed my mind. Here’s where I stand: I don’t think this is the Star Wars story we “need” but I think it could end up being really good.

Why we don’t “need” this Star Wars story: Han Solo is not a character I feel like I don’t know well or as though there are key pieces missing from his story. His character development and story arc from A New Hope to The Force Awakens feels pretty damn complete and satisfying to me.

These Star Wars anthology films should not revolve so much around characters we know well. Like Rogue One they should primarily revolve around new characters like Jyn, Cassian, Chirrut, K-2SO, Director Krennic, etc. while incorporating characters we know well (like Darth Vader and Grand Moff Tarkin) in supporting rather than leading roles. Star Wars features an incredible galaxy teeming with countless planets and characters. Let’s hear more of their stories instead of revealing every little tidbit there is to know about characters we already know so well.

Why it could end up being really good: And yet, I salivate at the prospect of learning about the beginning of the friendship between Han and Lando, and what the Han-Chewbacca dynamic was like in the days before their fateful meeting with Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalker in the Mos Eisley cantina. I can’t help wondering about the “weird, strange stuff” Han mentions to Luke he’s seen when traveling from one end of the galaxy to another. Might we witness the legendary Kessel Run or the infamous sabacc game where Han won the Millenium Falcon from Lando?

Furthermore, Lucasfilm has been rocking it the last couple years. Rogue One was a masterpiece (see my review here: and The Force Awakens revitalized the Skywalker Saga. Other recent materials in the canon like the TV show Star Wars Rebels, the novel Star Wars: Bloodline, and the comic book Star Wars Volume 1: Skywalker Strikes are original while also being significantly consequential and connected to essential Star Wars canon. The point is that if Lucasfilm has been rocking it so far, why are they suddenly going to drop the ball here? Also, Lawrence Kasdan co-wrote the script for the Han Solo movie. He worked on a few other little-known scripts such as The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, and The Force Awakens. I have faith he will deliver another fantastic script.

I also can’t help but get excited about actresses from two of my favorite TV shows being in this movie (Emilia Clarke who plays Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones and Thandie Newton who plays Maeve in Westworld).

What do you think? Is the Han Solo anthology film a good or bad idea? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!


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