Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam, 2013
Pablo Picasso once pointed out that “the chief enemy of creativity is good sense.” In the last ten years, if there’s been anyone who has superficially lacked “good sense,” especially in the media spotlight, it’s been Kanye West. His restless creativity, willingness to change direction and overall failure to play by the rules are entirely antithetical to the conventional wisdom of the entertainment industry, which very clearly states “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.” Kanye’s latest, Yeezus, represents one of those off kilter, hyper modern phenomenon where a work of art is preceded by such an incredible torrent of hype, mythologizing, analysis and information obscuration that its actual arrival, never mind the content it delivers, seems almost beside the point. I imagine in some circles it’s been hard to think about anything else. For me, most album releases are unceremonious affairs but when I heard about the leak while eating dinner before an off Broadway show it was the first time in my life when I wished I had an iPhone. When I finally did get to listen to the album a few hours later, it delivered in all the ways that its two “singles” and the wealth of live footage from this year’s Governor’s Ball suggested. When it comes down to it, between the quantifiers “Yeezus is a great album” and “Yeezus is a great Kanye West album” the latter better conveys the significance of this unexpected mid-year masterpiece.
Written by Baz Luhrmann & Craig Pearce
Directed by Baz Luhrmann
Based on The Great Gatsby (1925) by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Of all the many things that can and should be considered when thinking about movies, one that I find often gets overlooked is timing. Not the sequencing of events within the film or the use of editing to establish a sense of rhythm but the actual timing of a release. What are the circumstance that drove producers to feel that particular films, especially films rooted in American history, ought to be made now rather than, say, 10 years ago. I found myself preoccupied with this question while taking in Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, a film at first content to dazzle then later, as if in recognition that the shadow of death is upon it, struggling and ultimately failing to say something meaningful to absolve itself of a wasted life.
Directed by David Nutter
Written by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss
Originally aired June 2, 2013
Depending on your personality type, the ethics of survival in Game of Thrones might be your favorite element or the reason for a spiritual cleanse with the ABC Family show of your choice after every episode. Or both. Season three has been dominated by against-the-odds survival (see: Jaime Lannister & Brienne, Sir Davos, Tyrion, and Jon Snow, just to name a few) that occasionally rings a little false. I’m not trying to suggest that if Jon Snow had fallen off The Wall during “The Climb” or if Davos had been blown to bits during the Battle of the Blackwater that the series would have been any better. When it comes to the survival of characters over the course of a multi-season drama, liberties have to be given to certain scenarios for the sake of drama and continuity. Additionally, these vaguely improbable survivals lend each character a sense of immortality that can be proven distressingly insubstantial in a matter of moments. Allowing them to live or even thrive in such a disastrously dangerous environment, where one writer (at least) has theorized that all characters are merely set dressings to the “game” itself, cannot help but encourage an emotional connection that transcends love and hate. Their mere survival fosters an assumptive attitude about their presence on the show. Much like a young child who loses her father too soon, we only truly appreciate and understand the gravity of these characters after they’re gone. They leave in their wake a shifted and unbalanced board, the opportunity for growth or destruction, and the merciless nausea of the void.