Hello everyone!

I’ve been AWOL from this blog for quite some time now (its first anniversary even came and went without me) but I’m back now and thinking about new content.

Thanks for hanging on!

Goodbye, Old Friend

Depression is all-consuming. It’s so much more than just sadness, so much more even than despair. The best way I can describe it is like this: you wake up in the morning an empty shell, a home without an occupant. You are blank and, in your mind’s eye, you just know without a shadow of a doubt that you mean very, very little. You feel like a displaced spirit, unable to attach to anything or anyone. It’s as though you don’t have any presence, any effect on the world around you or your own life. It’s like being a supporting character in your own life because you feel as though you’re watching the great workings of a dramatist who keeps rewriting the stage directions.

You just feel like you aren’t really there, that you are just a white space that other people occasionally interact with and that occasionally must turn in homework assignments or fill out paperwork.

However, the most interesting and least often mentioned part of depression and its effect on you is this: the people around you, in contrast, are bright and shining beings. In the deepest moments of my own depression, it was like being surrounded by angels. No matter their faults, no matter their shortcomings and personal feelings toward me, other people were just so, so much better than me. They were so much more worthy of life and joy and happiness. Equally important, they were worth protecting. I have been told I have a great sense of humor when I’m around my friends. It’s a defining part of my personality and, when I could muster it, that was what kept a lot of friends from asking questions when I was so depressed I could hardly see the point of sticking around.

And that is exactly how someone like Robin Williams could be dead today as a result of what looks like suicide.

Since the news broke, I’ve heard a lot of folks asking the same question: how could someone so funny, so successful do something like that? What do they have to be sad about?

Depression is a disease that caters to people like Robin Williams. It’s a disease that can easily slot into a sense of humor. Because the prerogative of many of us depressed individuals is to make sure that no one else has to suffer like we do, that no one has to know sadness. When you’ve seen the depth of sadness that depression can produce, that a human mind can muster when it’s not feeling well, you don’t wish it on anyone else. That’s why someone like Robin Williams might have killed himself.

And it raises an important point. If you’re depressed, don’t hide it. I know that there’s a massive stigma surrounding mental illness in American society in particular. I’m angry about it. I have always been angry about it and I have hid my own mental state because of it. We fear our employers discovering that we have been or are depressed and lashing out. We fear our friends and family shunning us. We fear retribution and labels. Those are legitimate fears and it’s time that they are destroyed, crushed beneath angry feet.

If you’re suffering, talk about it with a trusted friend or family member. Tell a complete stranger by calling any of these hotlines. Check out IMAlive chat if you don’t like talking on the phone. Walk into a hospital and let them help you if you’re thinking of suicide. They will help, I promise. Avoid toxic people. Avoid stress as much as possible. Do what makes you happy. Do what makes your heart sing. Remember that, while this world often frankly sucks, it can be beautiful too.

Celebrity deaths usually don’t affect me much, as callous as that sounds. I don’t know these people, regardless of how many of their films I’ve seen. However, this one hurts me and seems to be hurting a lot of people my age deeper than other celebrity deaths.

We grew up fearing drums because of Jumanji. We grew up singing the songs from Aladdin and craving a genie buddy of our own. We grew up laughing at Mrs. Doubtfire and trying to make Flubber. Robin Williams had a huge impact on my generation.


I watched all these movies as a kid and watched Good Morning Vietnam and Awakenings as a teenager. There has always been something deeply, deeply comforting about watching Robin Williams act. It was like being welcomed home by a very old friend.

And so, that’s all I can think to say right now. Goodbye, old friend. Goodbye Mrs. Doubtfire. Goodbye Peter Pan. Goodbye Genie. Goodbye Alan Parrish. Goodbye Popeye. Most importantly, goodbye Robin.

Thank you for everything.

George Orwell would be proud: a Snowpiercer review

Joon-ho Bong’s masterful film Snowpiercer begins with a scene of violence. Immediately, the audience is plunged in a dark world full of greed, inequality and startling displays of intense, often remorseless, violence.

It’s a dark movie and one of the most depressing visions of a post-apocalyptic world I’ve come across since marathon reading The Road. However, it is also filled with moments of beauty, hope and even—as odd as it sounds while viewing it—humor.

This is also one of many, many movies I’m lamenting over because it’s not receiving nearly as much attention as it deserves.

The story is a relatively simple one as far as post-apocalyptic tales go. It’s set in a world where a climate change experiment, CW-7, has failed and left the world a frozen, uninhabitable wasteland. The last of humanity has packed onto a train called the Snowpiercer, which travels the world in a never-ending loop.

And I guarantee you will hate this woman.

And I guarantee you will hate this woman.

The train has descended into a Brave New World style class system. Those who ended up in the back end of the train live as barely fed, lower class citizens who are subject to torture and execution constantly. While, even before the viewer gets to see the rest of the train, it’s apparent that the well-fed, happy people at the front of the train are living as well as could be after the fall of the world.

This class system, and the frustration and behavior, that results from it is the film’s subject on the surface. However, the film is also about something much more elemental: the eternal struggle humans have over how to label one another and how to view one another.

This is a film about how very easy it is to become a dictator, to become a mass murdered and to become a monster. It’s about how easy it is to live off those below you in society and how easy it is to never, ever question this organization. George Orwell and Aldous Huxley would have loved it.

With a multi-cultural, very talented cast composed of people like Chris Evans, John Hurt, Ed Harris, Octavia Spencer, Kang-ho Song and the ever entertaining Tilda Swinton, this movie is hard to hate.

While it’s not the most original film in terms of themes, it makes up for it in sheer beauty. Many films have tackled the topic of human nature in the face of disaster, but perhaps none have done it in such a beautiful fashion. The film follows the attempts of Curtis (Chris Evans) to lead a rebellion and bring the end trainers to the front of the train, thus seizing control of the entire train.

As he makes his way to the front of the train, the audience gets to watch as he sees what the rest of the train looks like for the first time in his life. We are as ignorant as he is and as awed and appalled by what we see. As he moves from the squalor of the end of the train, we see a constant display of riches. Living trees. An aquarium. Fresh food. The wonders get more awe inspiring as he moves. And we move with him.

The cinematography is also simply astounding, especially considering 99 percent of the film takes place within the train. There are some truly beautiful shots in this film, from singular floating snowflakes to blood beading on a dead man’s brow.

With a limited score, it’s also a very simple movie in a lot of ways. It’s a simple story with a simple goal: get to the front of the train. That’s the goal of the characters and, since it’s so easy to get invested in these characters, ultimately our goal as well.

It’s a film I’m sure to watch again and I’m sure I’ll notice something new when I watch it again. It’s just one of those movies.

It’s also nearly impossible to look away from this film. From brutal scenes of violence to beautiful moments, it’s hard to stop watching. Almost like a train wreck.

You Are My Best Friend: Mary and Max

If I had to give a one sentence review of this film, a Claymation feature about the unlikely pen pal friendship between an 8-year-old girl named Mary and a 44-year-old man named Max with Asperger syndrome, it would be this: everyone should watch this film.

That’s it.

This film is without a doubt one of the most honest, kind and knowledgeable portrayals of the world I have ever seen. It does not gloss over how tragic life can be and how unfair. It does not try to justify why things happen, why we as people sometimes lose ourselves or why society seems to treat people who are slightly different with so much contempt.

It is instead a film that is content with simply showing the viewer how the world would be so much better off if we would only treat each other with a bit of unflinching kindness.

The tale, a story that tracks the almost accidental pen pal relationship of a little girl named Mary and an older man named Max over the years, is one that finds beauty and strength in the little things.

The viewer follows the relationship between the two pen pals after eight-year-old Mary picks a random address and writes to it. The man at the address happens to be 44-year-old Max, who lives with Asperger syndrome.

Mary and Max

Mary and Max

We watch as the two begin a tentative pen pal relationship that eventually blossoms into a powerful friendship that affects both of their lives in deep and profound ways.

We watch as the two live their lives away from each other as well. We see Max struggle with his Asperger’s and watch him try to get a grip on his own emotions. We watch Mary struggle with her self-esteem and an alcoholic mother and watch her live life and undergo growing pains.

Any words I could say about this film would be inadequate because it is without a doubt one of the most beautiful films I’ve ever seen, even down to basic details.

With a sparse but fitting score, artistically pleasing Claymation and the acting talents of Toni Collette and the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, it’s a hard movie to dislike.

Told from the point of view of an omniscient narrator, the story never feels forced. It feels natural and really does feel like we are watching lives unfold. We cheer for these characters and cry for them and hope that life gives them a break.

We also, importantly, learn from them. This film deals with the idea of emotional disorders and mental disorders in a way I never thought I’d see. It’s honest and unflinching and overwhelmingly kind. It talks about triggers and why they can force some people with mental disorders into a bad state. It talks about the emotional state of a person with Asperger’s and tries (successfully, I feel) to put the viewer in Max’s shoes. We understand, just for a moment, what his life is like. We also have a way into the story through Mary’s experiences. She lives with an alcoholic mother who steals from the grocery store and an emotionally unattached father. She’s a lonely child with a pretty bad childhood. She later goes through depression and loses everything in her life.

I can relate and I think a lot of other people can too.

However, perhaps one of my favorite aspects of the film is that it actively works against the notion that people with mental or emotional disorders are victims, are living half a life.


As Max writes to Mary at one point:

I have trouble expressing my emotions. Dr Bernard Hazelhof says my brain is defective but one day there will be a cure for my disability. I do not like it when he says this. I do not feel disabled, defective or like I need to be cured. I like being an Aspie. It would be like trying to change the colour of my eyes.

The film treats people with disorders as people instead of a disease to be cured and that is so rare both in culture and in film that it shocked me. It also embraces the idea that happiness can’t come from outside of us. We’ve got to learn to love ourselves before we can see the world as it should be seen. We’ve got to learn to love ourselves instead of relying on how others see us for our self-esteem. It’s a powerful message for a Claymation movie.

Beyond the fact that it is a film about people who fight through difficult lives, it is at its heart a film about friendship and love. It is a film about the best of what humans are capable of and about how it is possible for us to hold an infinite amount of love for one another while still getting some things wrong. It’s about hurt and loss and the main idea that we should fight on and keep beating against the tides trying to wash us away. It is a film filled with hope.

It’s essential viewing and my hope is that it will serve as a learning experience for many.

It’s available on Netflix. Go watch it.

I began to realize how important it was to be an enthusiast in life. If you are interested in something, no matter what it is, go at it full speed ahead. Embrace it with both arms, hug it, love it and above all become passionate about it. Lukewarm is no good.”

Roald Dahl

Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Marvel Soldiers On

I’ll come right out and admit to you all that I almost didn’t write this review, not because I had nothing to say about the movie, but because I am terribly biased. You see, there is very little in the realm of current pop culture that I love more than the Marvel cinematic universe. One of my three bookshelves is filled to the brim with comic books (and graphic novels) as well as Loki, Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America figurines.

I love Marvel, damnit. I’m convinced it will take an Attack of the Killer Tomatoes level of movie badness to make me not go see a Marvel movie at least three times in theaters and then watch it obsessively once it’s out on DVD.

That being said, it can probably be agreed on that Captain America (as played by Chris Evans) has long been regarded as the risky card in Marvel’s movie deck. What could modern audiences find in the patriotic story of a good man turned soldier? How would a post-9/11, NSA wary America possibly connect with Steve Rogers?

In my internet travels, I’ve heard a lot of discussion about how Steve Rogers is the character everyone loves to mock. To many, he’s too patriotic. He’s a goody two shoes. He’s oblivious. He’s probably the most divisive character in Marvel’s cinematic universe right now.

Plus, the new uniform is pretty badass.

Plus, the new uniform is pretty badass.

However, I’ve also seen many, many eloquent defenders of the character. Many of them explain in far more brilliant ways than I can how Steve Rogers is exactly the kind of character we need right now.

I’ve often thought that my generation is a generation of pessimism. I know that the people around me that are my age certainly are and rightly so. We’re a generation faced with massive unemployment, a world that didn’t grow up on the internet like we did and a world that’s rapidly changing. It’s confusing and it’s made for a lot of bitter young people, many of whom really don’t believe in the idea of a hero anymore.

The media exposes all and nobody is really safe from scrutiny. Thus, people are just people and it’s hard to believe in a person anymore.

That being said, I believe in Steve Rogers and—judging by what I’ve heard from other fans online—so do a lot of other people.

The latest Marvel installment, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, goes a long way toward fleshing his character out. While he’s definitely still the ass-kicking, patriotic Captain America we saw in Captain America and The Avengers, he’s grown and the movie makes an effort to show that.

This Steve Rogers is slowly finding a place to stand in the modern world and is slowly trying to figure out what it means to be a legend in his own lifetime.

One of the many brilliant aspects of the way in which Marvel Studios has handled the production of its movies is that they have the ability to make characters grow from film to film. They can and do take the time to let the characters change and to show the viewer different aspects of them.

Confronted with betrayal on two fronts and the intrusion of an old friend (now enemy) into his life, this film shows Cap’s struggle to bring together both sides of his personality: Captain America and Steve Rogers. It shows his struggle and growth toward reconciling the fact that he is a hero and the fact that he’s lost everything and is, after all, only human.

We see the addition of a new friend and ally (Sam Wilson as played by Anthony Mackie) and we see the development of The Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Captain America’s friendship.

The movie is simultaneously entertaining and stressful. It’s a tense film at times, to be sure. However, it also pits Captain America against both his future and his past and enemies old and new.

Most importantly, it breaks down quite a few of the stereotypes both fans and detractors have put onto this character. We see a Steve who is trying to fit into the new world rather successfully, who is ready and willing to question the government and SHIELD and who is most certainly not just a soldier following orders. This character, on film at least, has never just been a patriotic dunce and this movie makes that abundantly clear to anyone who hadn’t realized that in the first place.

Words Are Life: A Book Thief review

Sitting on my nightstand right now is a used copy of Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief. Even as I write this review, it seems to be judging me. I know books can’t judge people, but it definitely feels like it.

You see, I try to not watch a movie that’s based on a book if I haven’t first read that book. I am at heart a judgmental snob (this very blog is proof of that) and I like to be able to trash a movie while being able to back up my trashing via book quotes. I’m just picky like that.

That being said, I broke my cardinal rule the other night. I watched the movie adaptation of The Book Thief. I initially felt guilty but that feeling was quickly swept away.

While I obviously can’t compare this film to the book, I’d say that as a casual viewer I found it to be enthralling. There is a quiet beauty to this film. Without being overly flashy or sentimental it gets its point across and packs a punch to your emotions.


Narrated by none other than Death himself, the book and the movie tells the story of a German girl named Liesel Meminger, who is growing up in Nazi Germany as World War II begins and ramps up. She and her foster parents end up taking a risk that puts them on the wrong side of German law and, in the process, Liesel learns the importance of the written word and the power that words can have.

As one of the characters puts it, it’s a story about the simple fact that “words are life.” It charts many aspects of Liesel’s life, including learning to read, finding friendship in odd places and growing close to her foster parents. It’s a story about choices and platonic love in the face of astronomical danger.

It’s a good story and a worthwhile film. It both kept me entertained and touched me. It made me feel. It made me think.

Set in Germany as it is, it definitely puts a spin on the idea of a World War II film. So many movies about that era are from the perspective of an American that I sometimes feel like I know very little about how the rest of the world felt. This film gives a view of war through the perspective of a child.


Liesel doesn’t really understand what caused the war or whose side she should be on. She sings along with Nazi anthems even as she begins to question what’s happening around her. It’s a valuable reminder that the “enemies” in a war are people, that these are human beings we’re dealing with.

It’s also a beautifully shot and acted film, with brilliant performances from both newcomers and veteran actors alike. I’m inclined to like anything with Geoffrey Rush in it.

It’s a story about love and growing up, a timeless theme to be sure. It’s worth a watch and it’s bound to entertain

Indescribable Terror: A Guide to Alarming Characters

I am not, and never have been, easily scared by fiction. As a child, I watched Halloween and ended up giggling. My mother, the eternal Stephen King fan, allowed me to read his books at what could possibly be considered too young of an age. She used the fact that I had reached a 12th grade reading level by the 3rd grade as an excuse and I’m glad of that fact. Horror movies usually leave me yawning or just vaguely grossed out. I tend to roll my eyes when somebody says I should go see the latest “best horror movie ever.” That being said, there were certain characters or creatures in films that I saw as a child that scarred me for life. The vast majority of them were not even conventionally scary. They just freaked me out. There is something hideously wrong in my psyche that mandates I shouldn’t be freaked out by Jason Voorhees or Linda Blair but should instead be scared by weird, weird things. Here are a few of the not so understandable characters that freaked me out as a kid and, if I’m being honest, still do creep me right the hell out.

5. The Beast from The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms

Eating policemen one step at a time.

Eating policemen one step at a time.

I will warn you now that this is not the first time the work of Ray Harryhausen appears on this list. That man created more childhood nightmares in my puny kid brain than just about anyone and I hope he somehow realized he was freaking kids out. Based on a Ray Bradbury short story and painstakingly stop motion animated by Harryhausen, this is the simple story of a dinosaur who is unfrozen from Arctic ice by nuclear testing. He then responds by rampaging through a city and eating innocent policemen, as monsters are wont to do. There is a family legend surrounding this movie and my response to it. As a toddler, my mother used movies to control my mood. To get me to be quiet, she’d stick The Jungle Book in. However, to get me to go to sleep immediately she’d stick this movie in. I’d pass out cold every time out of sheer terror. There’s still something deeply unsettling about all of Harryhausen’s creatures and this one still gives me the jitters, just based on it’s weird reptilian eyes and herky jerky movements. Thanks, Ray.

4. Large Marge from Pee Wee’s Big Adventure



It has only occurred to me relatively recently that Tim Burton may have actually shaped my childhood. Pee Wee’s Big Adventure is a movie that I quote more than necessary. I have the Tequila dance down pat. However, Large Marge, a ghostly truck driver who picks Pee Wee up when he’s hitchhiking, still haunts my childhood memories. TELL ‘EM LARGE MARGE SENT YA is something I’ve yelled at both friends and random strangers alike only to be met with confusion and sometimes fear. Large Marge should be a legendary character, if only because she scared the bejesus out of me.

3. Switchblade Sam (the bum) from Dennis the Menace


For the record, I think there are only two good things about the live action adaptation of Dennis the Menace: Walter Matthau and the scene where Dennis replaces some of Mr. Wilson’s false teeth with Chiclets because dammit that’s hilarious. Christopher Lloyd has always left me vaguely unsettled. Something about him freaks me out. Maybe it’s the hair. Whatever the case, his turn as Switchblade Sam made me never want to leave my house again. I would walk to my friend’s house down the street and look behind every fence to make sure some bum wasn’t stalking me, ready to kidnap me. I could only hope Walter Matthau would also come rescue me. I should also note that his role in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?  was also deeply traumatizing. Good job, Mr. Lloyd.

2. Rasputin from Anastasia

I'm on to you, Lloyd

I’m on to you, Lloyd

Beyond making me become deeply and confusingly attracted to John Cusack, this movie was also one of my favorite films as a kid. I still remember all the words to ” Once Upon a December” and I have a Bartok plushie somewhere. While it’s completely bullshit from a historical perspective, I still think it’s one of the best animated features of my childhood. That being said, HERE YOU ARE AGAIN CHRISTOPHER LLOYD. Lloyd provided the voice of one of history and the film’s greatest villains, Rasputin. Needless to say, he terrified me.  I’m starting to become convinced that Christopher Lloyd just lives to terrify children.

1. Medusa from The Clash of the Titans



When I say I’m scared of Medusa, I’m not talking about the stupid remake of the film with all the CGI and airbrushed bods. I’m talking about the original film and the stop motion terror that was Ray Harryhausen’s vision of Medusa. There is something so horribly off-putting about the way Medusa moves that I can’t even begin to describe the horror that filled me as a kid watching this movie. The stop motion animation granted her a snake-like movement that not only befitted the character but also scared the crap out of little me. She was an alien creature bent on freaking me out and I don’t think I’m yet over the terror that Medusa inspired in me.

Bonus: Two Things Everyone Should be Scared Of

1. The Demon from Fantasia


I have never met a person my age who wasn’t utterly terrified of the demon in the Night on Bald Mountain sequence of Disney’s Fantasia. The animation still holds up to this day as both beautiful and horrifying. That thing was trying to eat our souls and we knew it.

2. The Crypt keeper from Tales from the Crypt


My parents used to watch this show and, every time they did, I’d make sure I wasn’t in the room because this little puppet was bound to haunt me for the rest of the week. Nothing terrified me more than the part in the show’s opening credits where it pops out of a coffin, cackling. JUST LOOK AT IT. Excuse me while I go hyperventilate.

Scrubbed Raw: A 12 Years a Slave review

One of my favorite things to do involves, of course, movies. Every few weeks, my movie-loving friend Ethan and I take over a couch or two in one of our houses and watch one or two movies. Of course, since we’re both massive nerds we also talk about them and overanalyze them after we watch them.

Lately, we’ve been on a recent Oscar winner kick. This weekend, we decided to follow up our recent viewing of Gravity with a viewing of this year’s Best Picture winner, 12 Years a Slave.


I am very, very aware of the fact that I really can’t be quiet for a long period of time unless it involves a classroom. While watching a movie at home, I will talk and rant and occasionally bring up random historical facts that only sometimes relate to the movie we happen to be watching. I’ve never been told to shut up so it’s just something I keep doing. I crack jokes and wander off for food and ramble about something I saw on tumblr.

12 Years a Slave left both Ethan and I silent.  Very few films are capable of that.

What talking did occur during the film was hushed and quiet and slightly stunned. I told Ethan about the professor I had in college who told us about how appalled she was when she handled a printed guide from the height of slavery to building a sugar plantation and saw the many, many fingerprints left on its well used pages.

We talked about Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson and their strange, bothersome relationship. I silently wandered about my family and the chilling thought that the slave owners we were watching in this film could easily have belonged to my genetic stock.

But mostly, for the first time in the history of our movie days, we were silent. We just watched.

It’s a massive cliché when it comes to movie reviews, but if any movie deserves the adjective it’s this one: this film is haunting.

I’m a big fan of the work of director Steve McQueen. I went and saw Shame in theaters, rebelling against every Puritan instinct to do so, and it was worth it. I watched Hunger in a dark dorm room, on the eve of my Irish Literature final, and understood at least in part what it was that motivated Bobby Sands.

Each one of those films were haunting in their own way. McQueen’s films have a way of worming into your brain. They aren’t films you watch and leave in the confines of your television or computer. You take these films with you. You remember them. You dwell on them later that night as you lie in bed.

They haunt you, these movies, and their ghost isn’t exorcised easily.

This is exactly why, when I heard that McQueen would be doing a film on slavery, I knew it would be a game changer. It most certainly is exactly that.

It is the tale of Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), adapted from his written account of the events. It’s the tale of a free black man who is tricked and sold into slavery for 12 years. During his time as a slave, he is owned by both a relatively beneficent owner (Benedict Cumberbatch) and then later owned by a brutal caricature of a human being (Michael Fassbender).  This is a story of Solomon’s time in slavery and his eventual rescue and it is nothing short of heart wrenching.

McQueen is a careful, conscious director. Every choice he makes means something and you can be damned sure that every shot was carefully planned out in advance.

This movie makes perfect use of that careful style and will likely stand as one of the best representations of slavery ever put to film.  Every actor delivers perfectly, including Lupita Nyong’o, who received a well-deserved best supporting actress Oscar for her turn as a woman under the thumb of tyrannical owner Edwin Epps (Fassbender). Chiwetel Ejiofor is a wonderfully talented actor and shines. This film was undoubtedly hard to film and an emotional experience and it shows in the performances.

I have never been more terrified of Michael Fassbender.

I have never been more terrified of Michael Fassbender.

The movie also scores on the visual front. It’s a beautiful, brutal film and the lush beauty of the plantation houses in the film and the lands surrounding them only serves to put the brutality of the institution the plantation owners try so hard to exploit or justify into a clearer light.

Each character in this film, as McQueen’s films are so good at accomplishing, has a motive. They have a reason for what they do, whether it’s horrifying or not. They are people, not symbols. This is largely in part due to John Ridley’s fantastic screenplay, of course.

However, perhaps the most striking aspect of the film is something that all of McQueen’s films share: the unrelenting focus with which McQueen’s camera documents every event in the film.  McQueen’s camera sees all. The viewer is permitted no break. While another filmmaker might cut away after a few seconds during a particularly brutal or dark scene, McQueen never does. We watch every second of every brutality, from whippings to hangings, and are not permitted to look away. It’s uncomfortable. It’s hard to watch. But it is very much necessary and even more so in this film than any other McQueen film.

The score for this film also bears mentioning as it is magnificent and never intrudes on an emotional moment. It just serves to heighten emotion and focus your senses, as a good score should.

There is much that could be said of this film, to be sure. It deserved every Oscar win. It deserves all the praise that has been heaped on it. It deserves to be watched many, many times and by a variety of people. It will undoubtedly serve as an amazing teaching tool and a reminder of why it’s so important to recognize people as people and to recognize that racism is still very much alive in American society.

McQueen’s works always expose the ugly truth about something, whether it’s Ireland’s struggles in the 20th century, sex addiction and the nature of mental illness or the horrors of slavery. McQueen’s work always teaches and never, never makes concessions for the sake of the viewer. His films don’t sugarcoat. They expose.

At the end of the film, Ethan and I sat back. We had already decided to watch Frozen after finishing the movie but we both needed a moment to talk and to process.

“I don’t know how to describe how that movie makes me feel,” said Ethan.

“Raw,” I replied. “I feel raw.”

Watching this movie is like being scrubbed raw. It’s rough. It’s hard to watch at times. But it is fantastic and it is important. It is soul-shaking. It is one of the best films I’ve ever had the privilege to watch.

Go watch it. Learn a little. Be aware. The world needs more films like this one.