Sebastian Wurzrainer


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"Game of Thrones" fails to "break the wheel" in its final season

At this point, it’s no secret that the eighth and final season of “Game of Thrones” was extremely polarizing. The mileage of fans and critics varied, but the general consensus seems to be that the final three episodes torched what has quite possibly become the most popular TV series of all time. Showrunners David Benioff ’92 and D.B. Weiss resolved the show’s two major plot threads by essentially splitting these last six episodes into two mini-seasons; whereas episodes one through three feature the long-awaited confrontation with the White Walkers, episodes four through six cover the subsequent power struggle over the Iron Throne, the seat of power in the story’s fictional Seven Kingdoms. While the first arc was generally well received, it’s the baffling storytelling in the second that will haunt “Game of Thrones” forever. 


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Review: ‘Pokémon Detective Pikachu’ is not quite surreal enough

“Pokémon Detective Pikachu” is without a doubt one of the most bizarre ideas for a mainstream, Hollywood family film that I’ve encountered in recent memory. To be clear, I’m not referring to the basic notion of adapting the hugely popular Japanese multi-media franchise into a live-action American film. “Pokémon” is so ubiquitous at this point that even if you’ve never really experienced it –— as is the case with me — you’ve almost certainly at least heard about it through cultural osmosis.



Arts

Review: ‘Avengers: Endgame’ delivers a satisfying conclusion

Avengers: Endgame” is one of those odd films that everyone wants to talk about, but, in a sense, no one does. Fans fear that critics will spoil the experience for them, and critics fear the wrath of these fans, resulting in a cycle that does its very best to curtail any actual conversation about the film or its content. Thus, while I will certainly strive to avoid spoilers throughout this review, I always want to talk about some of the thematic and narrative implications of the film. To paraphrase video essayist Dan Olson, if you don’t want spoilers for “Avengers: Endgame,” don’t go see “Avengers: Endgame” because it is wall to wall with spoilers for “Avengers: Endgame.”


Arts

Film thoughts: everyone has a guilty pleasure film, and it's okay

Everyone loves bad films. We may pretend not to or try to justify this preference, but at the end of the day, we all have at least one guilty pleasure film. Of course, the very notion of a “bad film” is contentious because no method of film criticism has the capacity to be purely objective. That being said, I still contend that everyone has the tendency to love films that we personally deem to be “bad” but elicit a distinct sense of enjoyment in us nonetheless.   


Arts

Review: ‘Dumbo’ is an aimless live-action remake of a classic

In his essay “What is Digital Cinema?” media theorist Lev Manovich notes that cinema ultimately began with animation. Magic lanterns, phenakistoscopes, zootropes. They all relied, in a sense, on a form of hand-drawn animation. Whereas many of his fellow theorists posit that cinema is the “art of the index,” defined by its ability to record reality, Manovich contends that its very origins position cinema as “the art of motion.” Thus, for Manovich, the dominance of computer-generated imagery animation in “live-action” films in recent years is not some existential threat to the very essence of film but rather the medium returning to its roots. 


Arts

HBO series ‘Game of Thrones’ has left a monumental legacy

As “Game of Thrones” begins its eighth and final season this Sunday, a retrospective examining of the show’s legacy feels inevitable. After all, “Game of Thrones” was never just a popular TV show; its astonishing critical and commercial success has only been matched by the countless think pieces about the show’s impact on the television industry, its approach to adapting George R. R. Martin’s nigh-unadaptable “A Song of Ice and Fire” series and its many, many controversies. Indeed, considering the immense cultural ripple effect of “Game of Thrones,” it’s not shocking that both the show and its legacy are a bundle of interwoven contradictions and paradoxes. Just as the show has been praised for its nuanced female characters, critique of fascist despotism and perceived allegory about the dangers of climate change, it has also rightfully received vociferous criticism, particularly for its often-reckless depiction of sexual violence.


Arts

Review: ‘Captain Marvel’ is a blockbuster with an indie touch

At this point, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has garnered a reputation for tenacity when it comes to selecting unique directors whose prior work doesn’t always make them obvious candidates for mega-budget superhero extravaganzas. This strategy is noteworthy because it has paid off time and time again; the fact that Taika Waititi and Ryan Coogler have recently managed to reinvigorate the franchise with “Thor: Ragnarok” and “Black Panther,” respectively, suggests that this strategy is extremely viable. 


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‘Black Panther’ should have won Best Picture at the Oscars

You may have heard that the 91st Academy Awards ceremony took place a little over a week ago, and you may have also heard that the results were … controversial. But as much as I disapprove of “Green Book” as the Best Picture winner, I don’t really have the desire to explore that any further in this article. Instead, I’d like to discuss “Black Panther,” another Best Picture nominee and one whose failure to win the top prize reflects a series of ongoing problems with the Academy Awards.


Arts

A Cinematic Review of 2018: Ten great films and five flops

The Oscars may have come and gone, but I’m still not quite ready to embrace the new cinematic year. So, as a final send-off, it seems fitting to reflect on the best and worst films that 2018 had to offer. A couple of caveats before I begin, though: 1) Rather than organizing these films into a meaningless ranking, I’ve arranged them alphabetically. However, I have bolded the titles of the best film and the worst film of 2018 (in my humble opinion). 2) There are plenty of films from 2018 that I would have loved to see but haven’t gotten a chance to, largely due to accessibility issues. If you don’t see one of your favorite films from last year on this list, assume that I wanted to see it, didn’t get the chance to and would have included it on this list if I had. That last part is total wishful thinking, but it will keep everyone marginally happy. As a disclaimer, I did see all the Best Picture nominees.