Category: Just Out Of Frame

Where Do We Belong?: Redefining The Gamer

I discovered something this week: I am not alone. It began with some minor issues my husband and I were having regarding video games. He used to be the stereotypical gamer: a male in his late teens or early twenties who plays online multiplayers like Halo or Call of Duty into the wee hours of the morning (for the record, he also loves games like Zelda, Mass Effect, Metroid, Portal, FIFA, NBA 2K, etc.). Now, however, he’s approaching 30, married, and a parent of a toddler, and so we’re facing situations our parents, who did not grow up with...

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Re-examining Batman’s Origins in Earth One

Overview: In the first and second volume of this non-continuity bound modernization, Batman: Earth One reimagines the Batman mythos. Bruce Wayne struggles with his identity, his feelings for Jessica Dent, corrupt Mayor Oswald Cobblepot, and the mysterious Riddler who seeks to gain control of Gotham’s criminal underworld. DC Comics; Written by Geoff Johns, Illustrated by Gary Frank. Published in 2012 and 2015. Batman Begins…Yes, Again: “Now are you a madman wearing a mask and parading about for validation of some kind? Or are you a selfless vigilante taking on the burden of protecting Gotham after watching it wallow in...

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The Importance of Amy Schumer

Comedy can serve multiple purposes — besides and in addition to making us laugh, of course. Sometimes life is too ugly, too stressful, too unpleasant, so we seek out humor to make us forget, even if just for the duration of a sketch, a stand-up special or a dumb, raunchy comedy movie. Comedy also can help explain those negative aspects of life — or at least, to bring them to light, to expose their ugliness, their unpleasantness, their flaws and their hypocrisies. Comedy can present us with political truths, societal double-standards, and horrible facets of human nature. Without comedy,...

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The Doorway Closes: Thoughts on the Final Episode of Mad Men

It’s rare that a TV show’s finale is canonized because it feels like a proper ending. A lot of the time, it’s kept in the cultural zeitgeist because it’s vague or inconclusive, like the perpetual unknowing in The Sopranos’ final smash cut to black. Other times, there’s a last-minute twist that changes the meaning of everything that came before it, like the “none of it was real!” rug-pulls of St. Elsewhere and Newhart. Mad Men’s series finale, “Person to Person,” has little that’s clearly intended to be provocative, but it seems to have entered the pantheon of controversial finales regardless. There’s plenty to be said about the episode’s final moments, but reducing it to just those last couple minutes does disservice to an excellent hour of television. There’s a lot of stuff to unpack here, so let’s start at the beginning. The episode opens with Don reenacting his favorite scene from The Master, speeding through a barren California desert in a racecar. These final seven episodes have put major emphasis on Don’s isolation, often dwelling on wide shots of him in an otherwise empty frame. Over the course of this concluding half-season, Don’s identity has been stripped away piece-by-piece. It starts when he loses his second wife, Megan; Megan then takes all the furniture out of his apartment. Not long after, he abandons his job and goes on an...

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The Tragedy of Kurt Cobain: Exploiting an Icon

Brett Morgen’s Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck is a beautiful, impressionistic, cinematic portraiture of one pop culture’s most enduring icons. With the blessing of Cobain’s estate and family, Morgen’s film presents Cobain entirely through his music, art, and home movies, presented alongside some of the most forthright and unguarded interviews about the front man of Nirvana perhaps ever recorded. Like Cobain’s music, Montage of Heck is chaotic and undiluted, the adolescent rage, angst, and despair that serve to define the grunge acts of the 1990s never quite as inchoate and desperate as they were in the hands of the...

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The Lost Man of Late Night

SNL alum, writer and star of the bizarro, action movie farce MacGruber, and co-star to Bruce Dern in the Academy Award nominated feature film Nebraska, Will Forte might be the most versatile comic performer to emerge from Lorne Michaels’ stable at the dawn of the twenty-first century. While SNL has long been a hotbed for genuinely talented, alternative-style performers in the past, Forte might just be the closest thing we’ve seen in terms of tone and nuance to the original retinue of “Not-Ready-For-Prime-Time-Players.” Equally capable of the brash, egocentrism of Chevy Chase and the oddball charm of Dan Akroyd in his...

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Star Wars: Rebels Season 1 Review

Overview: An orphan on the planet Lothal joins a ragtag group of smugglers and studies the ways of the Force. 2014; Disney-ABC Domestic Television; TV-Y7; 16 Episodes. Spark of Attention: After the most recent teaser for Star Wars: The Force Awakens made me bawl my eyes out, I turned my attention to devouring as much Star Wars content as possible. I planned on watching The Clone Wars on Netflix before diving into Star Wars: Rebels, but the gods smiled upon me and presented every episode of Rebels online for free over the past weekend. I have officially caught up with the...

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Rage of Ultron

Overview: Years ago, The Avengers defeated a version of Ultron and trapped him in a rocket headed for space. Now, years later, a new team of Avengers must contend with a planet-sized Ultron with the ability to wipe out all life in the universe. 2015; Marvel Comics; 112pgs. Written by Rick Remender; Illustrated by Jerome Opena, Pepe Larraz, and Mark Morales. Despite All My Rage: “The savage monkeys are rage-filled and claustrophobic. Climbing over another to nowhere. Confused by logic, they dismiss it. Choosing instead to bend their knees to the convenient fantasy of custom-built gods.” And so begins...

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The Importance of Marvel Television

At the end of Iron Man, Nick Fury said to Tony Stark and audience members, “You’ve become part of a bigger universe. You just don’t know it yet.” Twelve films later (by the end of this summer), and 10 more on the docket, I think Marvel has made good on that promise. But Marvel’s “bigger universe” isn’t entirely dependent on big screen box office blowouts. A lot of the legwork for this cinematic universe and its increasing fandom is being put in by Marvel Television, and I don’t mean that just in terms of setting up story elements and...

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Daredevil’s First Season

Overview: Blinded as a child and gifted with extraordinary senses, lawyer Matt Murdock defends Hell’s Kitchen from Wilson Fisk and his criminal empire who have their own plans for the city. 2015; ABC Studios/Marvel Television; TV-MA; 13 Episodes. Without Fear: Daredevil knows exactly what it wants to be. While most shows take a couple episodes (at least) to find their footing in terms of tone, look, and character motivation, Daredevil has it down from the first episode. While it fits nicely into the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (easter eggs and references to larger events are scattered throughout)...

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One Direction of Bill Maher and His Failure of Satire

Don’t be an asshole. Life should be that simple. And if you’re going to be an asshole, be an asshole with good taste. Earlier this week, Bill Maher pulled out a snide comment from his rectum (as he is wont to do) about former One Direction member Zayn Malik and compared his appearance to that of the Boston Marathon Bomber. To that I say, “What the ever living fuck did you do that for?” Hosts like John Oliver and John Stewart tackle topics by interlacing them with minor side gags, but none of them are this unnecessarily offensive. I’ve...

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Rita’s Monster-matic: Notes on Power Rangers and its Filmic Antecedents

In Power Rangers canon, the evil empress Rita Repulsa molds her monsters out of clay. Episode 1, “Day of the Dumpster,” establishes the monster-making premise when Rita launches her first attack on the unsuspecting teenagers. Perched in her moon lair, watching the pretty Americans through a giant telescope, Rita blinks once and recoils from the eyepiece. She furrows her brow and curls her bottom lip, an expression the makeup artists exaggerate through liberal application of lipstick and eye shadow. Her horned headdress and spiky neck piece aid the overall effect. “So, you think you can stop me, do you?” Rita...

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Welcome to Harmontown

Dan Harmon’s Harmontown is the eponymous title lent to the podcast recorded in front of a live studio audience at Meltdown Comics in Los Angeles, CA, a feature length documentary detailing the exploits of taking that very show on the road, as well as the epitome of Harmon’s life and work on American television, detailing his exploits over the past twenty plus years as a comedy writer. Most notably, the documentary, written and directed by Neil Berkley, focuses on the unexpected success of his NBC-turned-VOD situation comedy Community, which just this past Wednesday had its sixth season premier online...

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It’s Time for a New National Anthem!

March 3rd marks the 84th anniversary of the adoption of “The Star-Spangled Banner” as the national anthem of the United States. I know what you’re thinking: “Really, only 84 years?” Yup! America actually didn’t have a national anthem until 1931, which is when Herbert Hoover was like, “Y’know, they already sing this song at baseball games and Independence Day, so we might as well.” In any case, I think it’s safe to say that the song is outdated. No song that repeatedly uses the word “o’er” can possibly reflect American culture in 2015. We can pronounce the word “over,”...

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The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst, (1 of 2)

Lately, the retelling of true crime is rising rapidly in popularity within the entertainment sphere, largely thanks to Serial, which spread like wildfire through the internet sphere. HBO’s newest documentary miniseries, The Jinx, is perfectly primed to use this platform to reach viewers who need their next dose of mystery, and the story of Robert Durst and the loud of speculation and questions that surround him is ripe for the picking. The suspicious deaths that follow Durst span over thirty years, each one more grisly and violent than the next. Three chapters in, we’ve arrived the midway point in the series, so...

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