Matthew Kresal was born and raised in North Alabama though he never developed a Southern accent. His essays have been featured in numerous books and his first novel Our Man on the Hill was published by Sea Lion Press in 2021.
Review: 'The Trinity Six'
For those with an interest in espionage, the Cambridge Five remain well known. Five graduates of Trinity College Cambridge, the group infiltrated high levels positions inside the British government between the 1930s and 1950s and spied for the Soviet Union. They handed over names of agents, exposed entire operations, revealed details of the Enigma code-breaking effort, and helped to tip the Soviets off on efforts to build the atomic bomb. It took decades to expose all five but imagine, for a moment, that there was a sixth Cambridge spy. One who has managed to remain hidden but is now on the verge of being exposed. That is the premise of Charles Cumming's 2011 novel which sees the past coming back to haunt the present.
'White Man's Burden': Reality Just Changed Sides
One of the things that film can do is give the viewer a new perspective. It can be an empathetic medium, allowing us to see the world through a different pair of eyes. Or even turn the world on its head in the modern equivalent of fables. 1995's White Man's Burden from director Desmond Nakano is just such a modern fable. It's a film that takes the racial and economic status quo of America and turns it on its head with fascinating results.
Doctor Who: A Brief History Of Female Doctors
The sixteenth of July 2017 will go down in Doctor Who lore as the day that Peter Capaldi's replacement in the lead role was announced. To the surprise of many, incoming showrunner Chris Chibnall selected not another actor to play the role but an actress. The actress in question being British thespian Jodie Whittaker, a veteran of Chibnall's hit ITV series Broadchurch and had established her genre conditionals appearing in the alien invasion film Attack The Block.
The Lobbyist As Anti-Hero
There's a line in an early episode of Aaron Sorkin's The West Wing where White House chief of staff Leo McGarry (played by the late John Spencer) tells the staff that "There are two things in the world you never want to let people see how you make 'em: laws and sausages." Yet the process by which a bill becomes law has proven to be rich ground for writers and filmmakers from Advise & Consent to Aaron Sorkin efforts like The American President and the aforementioned West Wing. More recently, filmmaker John Madden has turned to the lobbying efforts that help make bills law for his film Miss Sloane, starring Jessica Chastain in the title role.
Viewing 'The Man From U.N.C.L.E.' Film
Anyone with even a modicum of interest in the spy genre will be aware of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. TV series from the 1960s. It's one of those shows that, even if like me you've seen next to nothing of, you'll be aware of it. It was also a series that seemed set for a big screen incarnation in recent years with everyone from George Clooney to Steven Soderbergh and Tom Cruise reported to be involved. It was only in 2015 that it finally made the leap, directed by Guy Ritchie. The results though were decidedly average.
Jurgens, Von Braun, & 'I Aim At The Stars'
For those of a certain age or with an interest in the history of space exploration, the name of Wernher Von Braun will be a familiar one. Von Braun was one of the fathers of NASA's rocket program, the man who helped not only to build the massive Saturn V rocket that took the Apollo missions to the moon but also helped to sell the idea of space exploration to the American public. He was also the man behind Germany's V-2 rocket program during the Second World War, an act which (along with his potential involvement in and definite awareness of the use of slave labor to build said rockets) might also make him something of a war criminal. When Von Braun was at the height of his fame in the late 1950s-early 1960s, the idea of making a film about his life was deemed to be a good idea. The result was I Aim At The Stars, released in 1960 and which stands as an interesting historical piece if nothing else.
Cops, Mystics, and Steampunk
One is often told not to judge a book by its cover. Yet when it comes to The Precinct, however, that was precisely what caught my attention. Perhaps that it isn't surprising given it is a graphic novel and that it was the combination of its artwork of a late nineteenth-century policeman with a mechanical arm with a woman wearing a vaguely Victorian yet mystic outfit along with the book being given the subtitle “A Steampunk Adventure.” Intrigued and one library checking out later, the results were definitely fun, to say the least.
Doctor Who: The Doctor Falls Review
Warning: Potential spoilers for the episode below. In the review I wrote a week ago for World Enough And Time, I praised that episode but wondered at the end of the day if showrunner Steven Moffat would actually be able to deliver on its promise in the actual finale. There have been times in the past where finales failed to lived up to expectations after a strong build-up (Wedding Of River Song in Matt Smith's era and especially last season's Hell Bent which followed the instant classic Heaven Sent). What would Moffat do with his final finale episode given he had two versions of the Master, a companion who had been turned into a Cybermen, and a Doctor preparing to exit the series? Would he deliver or would The Doctor Falls turn into “Moffat Fails (Again)”?
Carl Sagan's 'Billions & Billions'
More than two decades after his untimely passing, Carl Sagan's life and work continue to resonate. The famous documentary series Cosmos, which helped to make him the best-known scientist of his time, was revised and updated just a couple of years ago, introducing him to a new generation that might not even have been born when he passed away. Yet in reading Billions & Billions, a posthumously published collection of his essays from 1997 which I encountered earlier this year, I found myself struck by just how much this particular set of his work remains surprisingly relevant today.
Bond: The Living Daylights At 30
Once upon a time, the James Bond film series was in trouble. Despite financial success, the series seemed to have sputtered somewhat with the last two Roger Moore Bond outings. When Moore confirmed he was leaving the role in December 1985, fans of the nearly 25-year-old franchise may have been left wondering what would happen to the series next. The answer came in the summer of 1987 when not only a new Bond film called The Living Daylights appeared but a new Bond as well. His name? Dalton. Timothy Dalton. The result was to be the beginning of a new era for the series.
Doctor Who: World Enough And Time Review
Warning: Potential spoilers ahead for the episode. “All good things must end,” as the old expression says. That is true for seasons of our favorite TV series and the tenth season of the BBC's regenerated Doctor Who is no exception. In what seems like the blink of an eye, the final season for both Peter Capaldi's Twelfth Doctor and Steven Moffat's tenure as showrunner has come to the first half of a two part finale. World Enough And Time sets the ball rolling and does so in style.
So Ron Howard's Directing a Star Wars Movie...
In what might be a new record between rumor and official confirmation, Lucasfilm announced on June 22nd that Ron Howard would be taking over the directing duties on the (as yet still untitled) Han Solo Star Wars spin-off film. Howard takes over the director's chair from Lego Movie filmmakers Phil Lord and Christopher Miller who left the production officially days earlier due to “creative differences.” With less than a year to go before the announced release date and months into production already, Howard certainly has his work cut out for him. What might we expect from his entry into the Star Wars canon?