Hey guys! I’ve recently finished up another semester of school, and with that all over and done with, I figured I might share a little something extra on this site. During the last semester I took a Poetry class, but we didn’t just write iambic pentameter! In fact throughout the semester I got to take pleasure in writing some 100 word reviews. Yes, 100 words exactly.
These reviews have been some of the most editing intensive pieces I’ve worked on– And this is coming from someone who actually tries to finish his short stories! I spent hours cutting words out of these things, and while I can’t say I always enjoyed the process (Or got good results for that matter), it was a great critical exercise. My posts tend to run at about 1,200 words long at their shortest, so condensing what could have easily been long essays into a few sentences was quite the challenge.
Overall, I’m proud of the work I did, and I think it’s really helped me better understand myself as a critic. I wrote four reviews, each of focused in a different medium, and while one of them is not very good, the other three are pretty great in my opinion! Of course it also helps that I had some good material to review (Except the crappy review. That one is, ironically, is the most negative out of the bunch). Anyways, I hope you enjoy the post!
Critical Review #1:
Give Up (10th Anniversary Edition)
The Postal Service
Let’s take a trip back to 2003 as The Postal Service’s only album re-enters shelves, featuring the original album along with some new songs. Listening to lead vocalist Ben Gibbard sing about apocalypses and lucid dreams creates unique imagery, backed up tonally by Jim Tamborello’s synthy beats. Occasionally these strengths turn south, like in “Nothing Better,” where Gibbard ends up sounding like a whiny breakup manchild. Overall, there’s strong emotion behind every track, making the casio ramblings of Owl City look like a poor imitation. It’s a confident work of electronica and lyricism that any Indiepop fan will likely enjoy.
Critical Review #2
The Bell Jar
Written by Sylvia Plath and published in 1963, The Bell Jar chronicles the instability of Esther Greenwood. The biggest issue I have with this book is Esther herself. She was incredibly judgemental, showcasing an air of superiority that was neither funny nor endearing. This didn’t help me sympathize with her, and it ruined many good moments. That being said, Plath’s prose flows gracefully and the description is beautiful. However, the pacing is messy, with scenes featuring little connective tissue. In conclusion, The Bell Jar fails due to its unlikable lead and disjointed structure. Basically, only read this if it’s required.
Critical Review #3:
Danny Boyle & Aaron Sorkin
Directed by Danny Boyle and written by Aaron Sorkin, Steve Jobs depicts several moments throughout the life of Apple’s most famous CEO. Like Sorkin’s The Social Network, Steve Jobs is a brutal examination of its subject’s character. Structuring the story around Job’s press conferences was a smart move, creating a fragmented, arthouse experience; even if Boyle can go overboard with the visual effects. Michael Fassbender’s performance is also amazing, portraying Jobs’ as a flawed but fascinating person. Basically, Steve Jobs is great. Not only is the production superb, but the lack of sugarcoating of Jobs’ personality is powerful and effective.
Critical Review #4:
ACMA Theatre Company
Proof, the latest production from ACMA’s Theatre Company, tells the story of Catherine, who wrote a brilliant proof everyone believes her Father created. My favorite thing about Proof is how it uses naturalistic dialogue and a smaller cast to create a deep sense of immersion. It also helps that all four cast members killed it! From Emma Younger’s intense Catherine, to Truman Fritz’s dynamic Hal, it was impossible to choose a standout performance. Basically, Proof floored me. The ending was abrupt, but like Whisper of the Heart it felt indicative of Catherine’s first steps forward. I highly recommend it.