Best Movies of 2022

  1. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever: After the death of Chadwick Boseman (T’Challa/Black Panther), the questions on how the IP would continue without its leading man seemed endless. Black Panther‘s sequel is both the perfect memorial to Boseman and a continuation of the narrative.
  2. Avatar: The Way of Water: The 13-year wait for the follow-up to Avatar was worth it. The themes of climate change are just as relevant now as they were in 2009.
  3. She Said: Based on the book of the same name, it tells the heart-pounding story to uncover the sexual assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein. NY Times reporters Megan Twohey (Carey Mulligan) and Jodi Kantor (Zoe Kazan) take on Weinstein and the Hollywood machine in a way that is jaw-dropping.
  4. Elvis: Austin Butler transforms himself into Elvis Presley, adding new layers to the music icon.
  5. Call Jane: Elizabeth Banks plays a housewife whose pregnancy is not going well in the days before Roe v. Wade. Denied an abortion by the local hospital, she finds an underground group and soon joins them in their mission to help women.
  6. Hocus Pocus 2: After 29 years, the Sanderson sisters are back. It has enough of its predecessor while holding its own in the best way possible.
  7. Mr. Malcolm’s List: Based on the book of the same name by Suzanne Allain, Mr. Malcolm is the most coveted bachelor in this Jane Austen-inspired narrative. In order to fend off marriageable young ladies and their match-making mamas, he creates a list of qualities that his wife should have. Little does he know that it will soon be moot.
  8. Downton Abbey: A New Era: This second film in the franchise opens the door to new stories while closing old ones in perfect fashion.
  9. Cyrano: This musical adaptation of Cyrano de Bergerac starring Peter Dinklage adds new flavors to the well-known tale.
  10. The Tragedy of Macbeth: Shot in stark black and white, Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand star as the power-hungry and bloodthirsty Macbeth and Lady Macbeth.
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The Taliban Has Banned Women’s Education and Employment at NGOs

The late and legendary first-wave feminist Alice Paul once said the following:

“There will never be a new world order until women are a part of it.”

There are some in this world who prefer to live in the past. Specifically, where women are at best second-class citizens and at worst, chattel.

Last week, the Taliban announced that girls can no longer attend school past grade 6. Earlier today, another announcement was made. All NGOs (non-governmental organizations), both local and international, must fire their female staff.

The statistics are clear. When a woman is educated beyond the basics, she is better prepared for the future. She is able to get a better job, lift her family out of poverty, and help her own children climb the economic ladder themselves. Female legislators also step up to the plate in reducing climate change and its various after effects.

This is straight of out The Handmaid’s Tale. It is nothing more than the fragile male ego and the archaic idea that a female will always be lower than a male.

If these men want to run their country into the ground, so be it. They will soon find out the power and the voice of the female sex.

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Avatar: The Way of Water Movie Review

To say that Avatar (2009) made an impact is an understatement. The highest-grossing movie of all time, it became an instant classic and a fan favorite.

The sequel, Avatar: The Way of Water, was released in theaters last weekend. Jake (Sam Worthington) and Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) are happily settled down and are raising their children. When Quaritch (Stephen Lang) comes back in Na’vi form, he has one thing in mind: revenge.

Jake and Neytiri leave their home and find refuge with another Na’vi tribe. Led by Tonowari (Cliff Curtis) and Ronal (Kate Winslet), they rely on the sea for everything. While their children try to fit in and learn the ways of their hosts, Quaritch gets closer. Eventually, it becomes obvious that the only way to stop him is for Jake and the Na’vi to take him head-on.

This movie is incredible. The 13-year wait and the 3+ hours run time are completely worth it. Balancing narrative, special effects, and climate change, James Cameron tells a story that is both effective and powerful.

As he did in the first film, he used the allegory of the Na’vi and the destruction of their world as a warning about ours. I have had to hand it to Cameron. A film of this type, with all of the disparate elements, could have easily failed. The special effects might have overtaken the story, the filmmakers could have gotten on their soapboxes, etc. But they all blend seamlessly together.

What I loved was that at its heart, it is the tale of a family. Parents doing their best to raise their kids, young people trying to find themselves, learning from our mistakes, etc. Cameron also continues with the tradition of strong female characters. Ronal and Neytiri do not wait for their mates to rescue them. They are just as badass and in charge as their partners.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

Avatar: The Way of Water is presently in theaters.

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Thoughts On the Damage Created by Hurricane Ian

Mother Nature is a powerful being. She can easily provide for those who rely on her. She can also take away.

Last week, Hurricane Ian tore through Florida and North Carolina. As of earlier this evening, the number of dead has risen to 100.

This is climate change, pure and, simple. Granted, we are in the middle of hurricane season. But given the power of the storm and the destruction it left behind, it is obvious that we, as human beings, are contributing to our own demise.

Ian did not care about anyone’s skin color, religion, political affiliation, family origin, etc. The water still came and the wind still raged. Homes and businesses were destroyed. Many were left with only the clothes on their backs and the possessions they had with them.

What makes it worse is the continued callousness of Republican politicians. While their constituents suffer, Florida Republicans vote no on bills that would provide much-needed support. Just another reason to vote blue next month.

May the memories of those who died be a blessing. Z”l.

The Flooding and Water Crisis in Jackson is a Warning That We Ignore at Our Peril

Water is the most precious and vital resource on Earth. Without it, all life ceases to exist. It is also extremely powerful and can both take life and give life.

In Mississippi, the recent flood in Jackson is more than just a flood. It is a warning that we cannot ignore. As the rain continued to fall and an important pump at the local water treatment plant failed, residents were surrounded by water, and ironically, unable to use it for bathing, drinking, or cooking.

Halfway across the world, another flood in Pakistan has killed 1400 people, disrupted the lives of those who survived, and has created losses that are estimated to be worth $30 billion dollars.

Regardless of whether excessive and repeated flooding occurs in Jackson, Pakistan, or any other place in the world, we cannot pretend that it is not happening. Climate change is real. Wars are fought over water.

I’m not usually a pessimist. But in this case, it’s hard not to be. How many more chances will Mother Nature give us before she destroys the world as we know it to be?

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Cramm This Book: So You Know WTF Is Going On in the World Today Book Review

When we get to a certain age, it is not uncommon to see the younger generation as lazy, entitled, or selfish. While this may be true for some, the truth is that young people are not always what their elders think they are.

Cramm This Book: So You Know WTF Is Going On in the World Today was published last month. Written by The Cramm founder Olivia Seltzer, this book takes both historical events and news headlines and explains them in a way that Gen Z would understand. Diving into contemporary issues (Black Lives Matter, Me Too, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, climate change, etc), she explains the history behind each and how that history has impacted its current status.

Reading this book gives me hope for the future. Though it is written for a certain audience, the appeal does not stop beyond the age of 25. Her ability to translate the past into understandable chunks is the key to its success. Its the type of book that if used in an academic setting, has the potential to make history come alive and feel relevant.

My only issue is that the section on what is going on in the Middle East (with Israel in particular) is missing some important facts that complete the story.

Other than that, do I recommend it? Yes.

Now Can We Believe in Climate Change?

Some say that climate change does not exist. It is just part of the natural cycle of life and nature.

After the damage that Hurricane Ida wrought on multiple parts of the country, millions of American are still suffering. In Louisiana, there are some parts of the state that may not have full power back until the end of the month. The return of full infrastructure and normal life (well, as normal as it can be with Covid-19), is going to take some time).

In my hometown of New York City, the destruction Ida left behind is much more than any of us in this part of the country could have imagined. Between flooding, fires, and tornadoes, it was storm that was dangerously underestimated. Approximately 40 people lost their lives to Ida.

I don’t know what it is going to take for all of us to believe that climate change is both real and dangerous. We cannot undo what has already happened. But I believe there is still time, if we are willing to do the work. The question is, can we face up to reality and do what needs to be done?

If we don’t, then we are dooming ourselves, our children, our grandchildren, and further generations to an Earth and a fate that will eventually kill us all.

Throwback Thursday: Container Homes (2016-Present)

When solving a problem, a little creativity never hurts.

Trends are just that. Some come and go quickly, others last and create change in the process. For the last few years, homeowners have been getting around the issues of climate change and rising home prices in the United States. One of the ways they have been doing so is via container homes.

Naturally, the idea was picked up by television executives. Container Homes has been on HGTV’s schedule since 2016. The show is also available on Hulu. Every week, the audience is introduced to a new family as their new home is built by converting shipping containers into a livable space.

This show is interesting. What I find compelling is the process of creating a house using unorthodox materials and the surprise when it is all said and done.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

Flashback Friday: The Zoo (2016-Present)

When we are children, going to the Zoo is a good day out.

The Zoo has been part of the Animal Planet lineup since 2016. This reality series follows the staff of the Bronx Zoo in New York City as they take care of the thousands of animals under their care.

I love this series. Though it is a reality show, it is the type of program that the audience will learn from instead of having their brains fried. The staff clearly love their job, treating the animals as if they were a common house pet instead wild animals who are under their protection. I also love that they talk about climate change and animal conservation in a way that is palatable and educational without the audience being aware of the lesson they are learning.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

The Handmaid’s Tale Series Review

Thanks to generations of brave and hardworking women, we have achieved rights and privileges that were once upon a time, a dream. But that does not mean that the fight is over.

The Handmaid’s Tale (based on the books by Margaret Atwood) premiered on Hulu back in 2017. In a world not too distant from ours, climate change and the low numbers of births opened the door to a second Civil War. When the dust settles, the United States as it existed is a thing of the past. The Republic of Gilead, a totalitarian regime, is now in control. The once archaic gender roles of the past are now the law of the land.

The women who are still able carry and bear children are slaves. Among them is Offred (Elisabeth Moss). She is given to a childless couple, Commander and Mrs. Waterford (Joseph Fiennes and Yvonne Strahovski) and has one job: give them a child. Offred’s only form of survival is to hang onto the past and remember the life, the name, and the family she had before everything changed.

Though I could not get into the book, I am part way though the first season and thoroughly hooked. What makes this story palpable and scary is not a dystopian future that is impossible to imagine as reality. Given our present predicament, it wouldn’t take much for this work of fiction to become something more.

It is for me, a reminder that in some countries (Saudia Arabia, for one), the daily experiences of women are not too far off from the women in this book. It is also a throwback to a not so far away time when we had to fight for even the most basic of rights.

If nothing else, it is stark reminder that our democracy and freedoms are not guaranteed. We must continue to do everything we can to ensure that they are protected.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

The Handmaid’s Tale is available for streaming on Hulu.

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