Culture Crash 18-36: American Animals

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Welcome to Culture Crash, where we examine American culture. What’s new and old in books, film, and entertainment.

American Animals is a film that tells the true story of four college kids who stole millions of dollars in rare books from a library in broad daylight. I first saw the trailer in March and it has been on my radar ever since. I was intrigued to see a stylish heist movie starring some exciting up and comers like American Horror Story’s Evan Peters and Dunkirk’s Barry Keoghan.

When I finally got around to seeing the film, it was every bit the heist movie I expected. What I did not expect was that it was interspersed with interviews the filmmakers conducted with the actual criminals telling their own story. Instead of re-enacting an event discussed in a documentary to give it cinematic flair, director Bart Layton documented the reality of his cinema to give it credibility.

The result is a perfectly 2018 movie. It serves as a cautionary tale about the ignorance of youth, a heist movie and, in part, a true-crime documentary. The film has been well-received by critics and serves up some incredible tense and cringe-worthy robbery scenes. In addition to all that, the movie’s cast is truly phenomenal. It’s the kind of young cast that we may look back on one day and remark and how incredible it was to get them in a movie together so early in their careers. It’s certainly a movie worth seeking out.

American Animals is available to buy and rent on Vudu and iTunes now.

I’m Evan Rook. 

Culture Crash 18-35: TV Revivals

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Welcome to Culture Crash, where we examine American culture. What’s new and old in books, film, and entertainment.

In recent years, you’ve probably noticed a boom in TV revivals- old series brought back for new episodes. Fans of Gilmore Girls, Prison Break, Will and Grace, and more have all been gifted with new seasons and with reboots of Murphy Brown, Veronica Mars, and others in the works, this isn’t a trend that seems to be going anywhere.

Unfortunately, though, after a lot of hype, most revivals seem to fall flat. Gilmore Girls, NBC’s Heroes and even 24 have all made revivals that disappointed much of their core audience.

Probably the best example of a revival that worked- one that fans and critics alike raved over- was last year’s Twin Peaks revival on Showtime. That event series was deemed by many to be one of the best shows of 2017. And its success is largely because David Lynch and the Twin Peaks writing staff didn’t try to recreate the original show. They didn’t use old moments as a crutch, they didn’t give into fan-service, they just continued the story in the modern age. They struck a similar tone and ran with it.

Doing the opposite- giving in to fan service, can be an attractive temptation. Writers and creators can often feel lucky to have the opportunity to make more of their old project, and simply want to tie things up with a nice, neat bow. Everyone looks older, the will they or won’t they couples get back together, and they sign off. Hopefully, though, the Twin Peaks revival gave TV writers a new template- to give their characters new questions to answer and new struggles to grapple with. That can make our revival boom worth all the hype.

I’m Evan Rook.