Best Books & Fabulous Films

Reviews and More

Star Wars – The Rise of Skywalker (2019)

By Kai-Arne Zimny

[Author’s note: This review is spoiler free.]

A year has passed since the events of The Last Jedi (2017). Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) is Supreme Leader of the evil galactic regime called The First Order and still strangely drawn and connected to his enemy, the last Jedi and resistance fighter Rey (Daisy Ridley). But not everything is as it seems, and we soon realize who’s been pulling the strings all along.

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Blue Valentine : Endings, Beginnings, and Nothing in Between

By Kai-Arne Zimny

Blue Valentine: A Love Story (2011). That’s what it says on the movie poster. But is this what the movie is really about? A romantic, sustained, and profound lifelong bond between two people? Well, maybe it isn’t.

The present: Dean (Ryan Gosling) is an overall likeable, easygoing slacker. His job, painting houses, allows him the ‘luxury’ of drinking beer in the morning. He’s not a radiant source of bliss but being married to Cindy (Michelle Williams) and getting goofy with their little daughter Frankie (Faith Wladyka) is what he calls “his dream.” However, Cindy, a nurse, has higher aspirations. To her, Dean’s “dream” is nothing but an endlessly depressing nightmare.

The past: Charming high school dropout Dean works as a furniture mover and meets med student Cindy. To him, it’s love at first sight. To her, it’s so-so. He makes jokes, she laughs; he sings and plays the ukulele, she tap dances to the tunes. Her father hates him, but that’s not an issue because love conquers all – right?

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The Ultimate Christmas Movie Playlist

By Daria Radler

Ah, Christmas! The holidays are around the corner, and this means a combination of an incredible amount of delicious food (don’t we all love Grandma’s cooking?!) as well as presents and some quality time with our families that we’ve either looked forward to or have secretly dreaded for months. Either way, I’m sure that by now you have probably established a little family tradition of your own when it comes to deciding on your ultimate Christmas movie selection. So let’s look at a few movies that should definitely make your list.

 

  1. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)


George Bailey has spent his entire life devoting himself to the people of Bedford Falls. Broken and suicidal on Christmas Eve, he decides that his family and friends would be better off without him. What he doesn’t know is that they have prayed for him to get through these hard times, and that their prayers have been heard: His guardian angel Clarence falls to earth to show him how different the lives of his loved ones would have been if it wasn’t for him. Heartwarmingly beautiful and deeply moving, It’s a Wonderful Life teaches us how much it means to look after one another – a message that makes this movie worth watching over and over again.

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ASB 2019 Contest Winner in the Category “Best Books & Fabulous Films”

By Lauren Solomon

On behalf of the American Studies Blog, we would like to extend our sincerest congratulations to Lauren Solomon whose winning entry in the category “Best Books & Fabulous Films” can be read below.

Mindhunter: Harnessing the Minds of Monsters

Nothing captivates an audience like the inhuman and horrific acts of a serial killer. After Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes aired on Netflix in January 2019, followed in May by the release of the biographical crime thriller, Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, also based on the Ted Bundy story, the U.S. has become mesmerized by stories of serial killing. With that rising fascination, people can’t seem to stop talking about the second season of Mindhunter.

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The American Dream Reconsidered: The Outsiders (1967)

By Kai-Arne Zimny

Image credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/theeerin/3319626950

14-year-old orphan Ponyboy Curtis lives with his older brothers Darry and Sodapop in a city somewhere in America. They are part of a greaser gang which means they smoke, they fight, they swear. The author was only 16 when her novel The Outsiders hit the bookshelves and disturbed America’s sense of decency. Afterwards, Susan Eloise Hinton’s life was never the same, and the attentive reader might wonder if the opponents of The Outsiders feared something more than improper manners.

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American Studies Blog Contest

“pen_mesh_bw” by Sean Biddulph is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

As we approach the 5th anniversary of the American Studies Blog (http://blog.asjournal.org/), we decided to celebrate by asking you – our readers – to participate in the joyful occasion of our first blog competition.

Although blogging has changed over the years, it’s still a great platform to voice your ideas and share content with people around the world. Now choose a topic that fits into at least one of three zeitgeisty categories and try your talents:

  • Access America (Popular Culture, History, and Current Events)
  • Best Books & Fabulous Films (Reviews and More)
  • Teaching Tools (Tips, Tricks, and Tools of the Trade)

And remember: The sky’s the limit.

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