Evan Soltas
Jul 6, 2012

Three Short Reviews

Moonrise Kingdom (2012) is the new film of director Wes Anderson about a pair of twelve-year old mavericks -- Sam Shakusky, a misfit "khaki scout," and Suzy Bishop, a moody girl who dresses as the raven for her church's summer play -- who fall in love on an island off the New England coast one summer in the 1960s and elope into the wilderness, spawning a massive and malfunctioning search effort hours before a hurricane will strike the shore. I thought the film was amazing -- the opening scene, which explores the Bishop house, is a stunning work of cinematography, and it is the first of many; the storyline unfolds with a mysterious, almost ethereal grace, like the onset of fog in the forest before the hurricane. A quirky masterpiece.

The Newsroom is screenwriter Aaron Sorkin's new HBO drama, in which middle-of-the-road, uncontroversial cable TV news anchor Will McEvoy loses his poise in a tirade response to a question from an undergraduate during a Q-and-A session at Northwestern University, as to "why the United States is the greatest country on Earth." After the incident, McEvoy takes a vacation, and returning to New York to resume his news program, "News Night," he finds his staff replaced and his show remade by his ex-girlfriend MacKenzie McHale into a vastly different program -- one which is to be driven by information and honest presentation of national issues, rather than ratings and vapid political talking points. I don't really like it and do not intend to watch more episodes than those I've already seen -- I didn't find the narrative compelling, in that News Night's reporting is often more opinionated and poorly-sourced than the media Sorkin aims to criticize, and -- out of all potential criticisms of a Sorkin work -- I was not impressed by the acting, character development, or the script, all which seemed lacking, unengaging, and at their worst, contrived.

Edward Glaeser's Triumph of the City is a masterpiece exploring the economics of cities, weaving together a strong historical analysis with the scholarly work of Glaeser and others in a way which, for its high educational value, is a remarkably enjoyable read. I will be referring to this book in many future posts for its data points and explanation; Glaeser's presentation of the development of Silicon Valley and other urban centers, incidentally, parallels mine here.