Review: Netflix’s ‘Fyre’ is a party documentary if there ever was one

An edited version of this review originally appeared on thecriticalcritics.com, and can be viewed here.

The documentary genre experienced a bit of a resurgence in 2018. Capitalizing on that, Netflix is swooping in at the start of the year with another original deep-dive of their own, this one concentrated on the events leading up to, making up and resulting from 2017’s Fyre Festival fiasco.

And like the organizers of the now-infamous, titular luxury music festival in the days leading up to their tropical oblivion, Fyre has a lot of things on its mind.

You’re most likely familiar with the story — a 20-something entrepreneur and Ja Rule collaborate to put on the party of the decade to disastrous ends — and director Chris Smith knows it. Fyre begins with the assurance that if you clicked “Watch Now,” it’s not because you’re unfamiliar with the greatest party that never happened, as reads the film’s tagline (and world’s most concise obituary). It’s because we can’t wait to revel in watching a disaster unfold.

And unfold it does, in what is a story of superlatives, the kind of narrative aesthetic that exists as its own advertising campaign: Sky-high sums of money, the world’s most sought-after models, proclamations of “first time ever” and “never again.” It’s a party documentary if there ever was one, where the fun of watching and the twisted ecstasy of sharing in an increasing sense of disbelief is amplified with friends. Continue reading →

This is what the Oscars playing Russian roulette looks like

As it turns out, even at 91 years old you can still experience growing pains.

That’s the scenario the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences finds itself in Tuesday, following its unveiling of nominations for this year’s Oscars, the culmination of which was a field of eight wildly varied Best Picture nominees which collectively confirm one thing: The Academy is as clueless as the rest of us about its identity in 2019.

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Top 10 movies of 2018

2018 was a gnarly f*cking year.

I think no matter what your political affiliation, how much time you spend on Twitter or whether you stan DC or Marvel films, we can all agree that that is fact now that it’s over.

Thankfully, we still had new cinema to turn to. To provide us solace, to help us make sense of it all, to provide context for changing times and to make us wish that we had a bucket hat-wearing, marmalade sandwich-munching expatriate helping us to get along with each other.

But perhaps even Paddington was too good for this world.

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Review: Young black love battles oppression in Barry Jenkins’s ethereal “If Beale Street Could Talk”

Barry Jenkins’s latest piece of cinematic fantasia begins in sensual fashion, but considering the sensibilities at play, that’s to be expected. We sweep and glide and spy on two young, black lovers strolling through a city park, approaching ever closer without knowing it until the camera is right up alongside them.

“You ready for this?” Alonso asks, to which Tish replies she’s never been more ready for anything.

Perhaps it’s because of modern, continuously evolving ruminations of love and relationships that we’re tempted to overthink what exactly “this” is. Is it marriage, a child or another otherwise drastic change to come that will test the couple? Is he going off to war? Is she leaving town, him unable to follow? Are they somehow aware of what’s to come—that Alonso, or “Fonny” as he’s called, will soon be arrested for an alleged rape he denies he committed? Continue reading →

Visiting the Rio Grande Valley amid President Trump’s first visit

The Rio Grande Valley is a community of communities, located just north of the U.S.-Mexico border and bursting with life. The residents here are primarily Hispanic, Democratic and RGV born-and-bred. Ahead of President Trump’s first visit to the area since he took office, and amid his continued push for $5.7 billion border wall fortifications and an ongoing federal government shutdown, I visited the area to get to know it and its population. Continue reading →

In Hidalgo, Texas, a life of normalcy and defying misconception with the border in their backyards

This story was first published on KENS5.com. View the original post here. 

HIDALGO, Texas – The eyes of a country turned to McAllen, Texas, on Thursday, a borderland city in the heart of the Rio Grande Valley where President Donald Trump arrived for a few hours to visit with local authorities amid hundreds of protesters and supporters. The main topic on the agenda during his brief visit: Border security, and pushing for his divisive wall proposal.

To those who live there and also those reading about the visit from across the country, it is indeed a border community. But if it’s the entry into the United States, Hidalgo is the doormat.

About seven miles south of McAllen, this much smaller community is home to some of the southernmost U.S. residents in Texas. Gas is as low as $1.65 (at least it was on the day after the president’s visit), and you can see the steel bollards and slats driving down most of its main streets. Continue reading →

President’s visit shows divide among Rio Grande Valley residents

This story was first published on KENS5.com. Click here to see the original post.

MCALLEN, Texas — Hidalgo County, encompassing the Rio Grande Valley in southern Texas along the edge of the US-Mexico border, is a primarily blue region, but you wouldn’t know it if you were in McAllen on Thursday.

On the morning that President Donald Trump was expected to arrive in the Rio Grande Valley for the first time since he took office to discuss his divisive border wall propositions, dozens of protesters and supporters convened just across the street to make their voices heard, beginning at around 9:30 a.m.

By 11:00, the dueling rallies soon numbered in the hundreds, potentially thousands, as each corner of Wichita and 10th Street was packed with passionate community members. Continue reading →

GALLERY: Hundreds turn out to welcome, protest Trump in first visit to Rio Grande Valley

In deeply blue Hidalgo County, where home is in southern Texas right across the border from Reynosa, Mexico, hundreds turned out to both support and protest President Donald Trump and his border fortification proposals during his first visit to the Rio Grande Valley since he took office.

Trump was only in town for a few hours on Thursday, January 10, during which time he met with local Border Patrol officials and leaders as a large portion of the community made their voices heard.

 

Even supporters of the president’s policy were surprised at the turnout on their side of the debate. Despite the heated issue at the center, the dueling rallies for the most part remained respectful of one another, despite the occasional verbal sparring matches.

 

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Near US-Mexico border, confusion at Trump’s ‘crisis’ label

This story was first published on KENS5.com. Click here for the original post. 

MCALLEN, Texas — Passing the historic Cine El Rey in the heart of McAllen, Texas on Wednesday, you wouldn’t have noticed the marquee advertising that evening’s live comedy attractions, nor the next movie showings.

Instead, Owner Bert Guerra posted the message: “WELCOME TO MCALLEN, 7TH SAFEST CITY IN AMERICA.”

That welcome isn’t just for tourists. President Donald Trump is expected to make his first visit to the Rio Grande Valley on Thursday to address what he has referred to in recent weeks as a humanitarian crisis unfolding along the border. But talking to Guerra and others who live in McAllen, the surrounding communities, and the regions of northern Mexico that sit just a few miles south, people here in the community say that if there’s indeed a crisis, they haven’t experienced it. Continue reading →

GALLERY: The border communities of the Rio Grande Valley, where Mexico is in their backyards

Across the border from Reynosa, Mexico, resides the Rio Grande Valley, home to some of the southernmost resides in Texas. Several towns and cities – McAllen, Hidalgo, Mission, San Juan just to name a few – make up this community of communities, where immigration of both the legal and illegal variety is a way of life.

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