From ‘MXDWN Movies’: Let’s Talk About…’Spotlight’


I recently participated in a discussion on the new movie ‘Spotlight’ for MXDWN Movies. You can read the full discussion at the link below.

James: Alright, so Spotlight is slowly starting to make its way around the country. The film already has amassed large critical acclaim and early awards heat. Just to get started, what are your initial thoughts on the movie?

Tyler: I loved the movie. As someone who studied journalism, I have a soft spot for “journalists change the world” movies. I was engaged the whole time. What did you think?

James: It really is a terrific movie. Impassioned and intelligent, Spotlight does a wonderful job of getting to the root of its central investigation- sex abuse in the Catholic Church- and pointedly examines why it took so long for it to come about in the first place. It’s a great journalism movie (akin to All the President’s Men and The Insider), but hopefully more accessible than that. It felt like it was paced like a terrific thriller. Read More…


From ‘The AP Party’: With Only One Foot in the Digital Distribution Door, Amazon Fails Where Netflix Succeeds


Last week, I examined Amazon’s non-committal nature when it comes to the culture surrounding digital distribution in a piece for The AP Party. Link to the full article below.

The digital revolution isn’t coming; it’s been here for a while. For many, the decision to watch a movie or TV show hinges on whether they can find it on streaming services like Netflix or Amazon Video. Now, each service is making sure that we can ONLY see shows and movies on their service by producing their own content.

Almost two weeks ago, Netflix released the Aziz Ansari dramedy Master of None, to both critical and audience acclaim. On Friday (Nov. 20), Amazon will release its most ambitious series to date, The Man in High Castle, based on the Philip K. Dick novel of the same name. Yet it’s unlikely Amazon’s show, predicated on the idea of “What if the Nazis and Japan won WWII?” will garner the same attention as Ansari’s collection of relatively small, short films. Read More…

From ‘The AP Party’: Grantland’s Podcasts Brought Diverse Perspective to Those Who Might Have Missed It


Last week, I took the time to reflect on the diversity of Grantland’s Podcasts in a piece for The AP Party. Link to the full article below.

Media consumption is now a niche-based activity. Whether it’s television, online or print, if we don’t like the way something is presented or the lens through which it’s packaged, we find a different website, change the channel or put away the newspaper.

Sometimes this is for our benefit. Why listen to film a critic with different tastes and waste $12 on a film that we know we won’t enjoy? Other times, this method of consumption is detrimental to our own understanding of any issue that might have real-world importance like U.S. relations with Russia or something relatively innocuous such as whether or not Don Draper actually told us “to buy the world a Coke.” Read More…

From ‘The AP Party’: Films Telling True Stories Must Alter History to Find Truth, and That’s OK



After seeing ‘Steve Jobs’ and reading backlash citing the film’s inaccuracies,  I wrote a piece for The AP Party in response to these claims seemingly hurting their performance at the box office. Link to the full article below.

“Find The Truth.” It’s a direction often used in acting classes to guide actors into discovering the basics motivations and traits of their characters. It’s also used for writers and directors to understand the true essence of a scene.

Work based on true stories have been with us for as long as anyone can remember. Yet recent works — particularly biopics — fall under tight scrutiny while similar, older films weren’t met with the same scrutiny. Many claim such inaccuracies ruin those respective works because particular events didn’t occur as depicted or just didn’t happen. Yet it’s unlikely that Shakespeare ripped all of his scenes for Julius Caesar straight from the headlines of March 15, 44 BC. Like Shakespeare, many filmmakers alter and elaborate for the sake of dramatic storytelling. But until recently, those creators haven’t received the same criticisms they get now. Read More…

From ‘The AP Party’ Why I Hate That I Love Football So Much


Leading up to the start of the college and professional football season, I wrote a piece for The AP Party examining my conflicted feelings about my personal beliefs versus my love of football. Link to the full article below.

Fall is right around the corner. Fall beers fill store shelves, Halloween and Thanksgiving are fast approaching and my favorite form of casualwear — jeans and a hoodie — is socially acceptable. It also means that football season is here.

That doesn’t just mean watching my Hawkeyes and Bears every Saturday and Sunday. It’s planning 11 a.m. trips to sports bars, road trips to the college stadiums in the middle of nowhere, and adjusting fantasy lineups — all of which border on clinical obsession. Based on the attention and cash paid to the NCAA and NFL, I know I’m not the only American who spends half their year this way and I’m also sure many of them feel as guilty about it as I do. Read More…

From ‘The AP Party’: Confronting the Dark Side or: How I Learned to Appreciate the Star Wars Prequels


With the hype reaching critical mass for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” I wrote a piece for The AP Party looking back on the infamous prequel trilogy Link to the full article below

“Real sets. Practical effects.” Those were the first words uttered in the Comic-Con trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

While this highlights the film’s “throwback” production techniques, it’s also a jab at George Lucas’ prequel trilogy that relied almost entirely on green-screen sets and CGI effects. Disney, J.J. Abrams and crew have made a point to separate the upcoming and subsequent Star Wars films from The Phantom Menace, The Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. It’s the smart PR strategy that has — and will continue to — win back the fans of that galaxy far, far away. Read More…