The Communicator

“Under the Skin” is Haunting, Experimental Science-Fiction

Ryan Michaels May 1, 2014

Under the Skin is that rarest, most satisfying breed of art film – a work whose images start dissonant, impenetrable even, yet whose grasp on narrative, tone and theme only tightens and reveals...

“Captain America: The Winter Soldier” A Tiring Retread of Superhero Culture

Ryan Michaels April 20, 2014

Marvel's The Avengers may, with time, come to be regarded as one of the most influential movies of the new century. Seriously. A perfectly upbeat, rollicking piece of entertainment in its own right,...

“Noah” Wildly Conflicting Biblical Actioner

Ryan Michaels April 4, 2014

There are few filmmakers as fun to analyze and pick apart as Darren Aronofsky, yet by the same token there's few genres less fun to examine than Biblical movies. Aronofsky is something of a god to cinephiles...

Chance The Rapper Takes Hill Auditorium

Chance The Rapper Takes Hill Auditorium
Ryan Michaels March 27, 2014

Arguably 2013's biggest breakout rapper took Hill Auditorium by storm last Saturday, and it was a show that provoked fairly passionate reactions, for better and for worse. The 20-year old Chicago native...

ALBUM REVIEW: Pharrell, “Girl”

ALBUM REVIEW: Pharrell,
Ryan Michaels March 17, 2014

Few men have had as pronounced an effect on popular music as Pharrell Williams, yet by the same token one must take note of how little material he's actually released to his own name. Consider, however,...

“The LEGO Movie” Wickedly Funny, Subversive Kids Film

Ryan Michaels March 7, 2014

  There's few reasons not to be skeptical about The Lego Movie. When one thinks about shamefully corporate filmmaking, projects based on games tend to inspire the most ire -- think Battleship, think Transformers:...

“The Monuments Men” A Little Too Earnest and Sentimental To Mean Much

Ryan Michaels February 27, 2014

All of the great movie stars have some degree of ambiguity about them -- in some cases a darker aspect of personality, and in others perhaps an unspoken sadness. What has made George Clooney one of...

The Best Albums of 2013

The Best Albums of 2013
Ryan Michaels January 23, 2014

A preliminary note: As an amateur cultural critic whose assignments and intake are totally self-imposed, everything that I consume is of my choice. This means that I'm both spared quite a bit of what I...

“Anchorman 2” Less Funny than First Installment, Yet Admirable in its Lack of Structure

Ryan Michaels January 16, 2014

  Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues occupies a bizarre place in pop culture -- even more so than the famously wacky collaborations of its director and star. The duo of Adam McKay and Will...

“American Hustle” is Breezy ’70s Escapism With Genuine, Penetrating Edge

“American Hustle” is Breezy ’70s Escapism With Genuine, Penetrating Edge
Ryan Michaels January 9, 2014

There’s few comeback stories in Hollywood that are based on genuine artistic merit — too often, they move on some sort of apologist compensation than on the actual quality of the new work. The revitalization...

“The Wolf of Wall Street” is Audacious, Unhinged, Drugged-Out Filmmaking Mastery

Ryan Michaels January 8, 2014

If there is a common thematic thread to be found in the films of 2013, or at least the ones I've bothered to consume, it's one of excess. Of pushing limits. Of pushing one's moral and physical boundaries...

“The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” A Genuinely Provoking, Engaging Installment

Ryan Michaels December 15, 2013

Skillful and engaging though last year’s young-adult novel adaptation The Hunger Games may have been, it still felt like a film much more interested in pleasing its youthful, intensely ravenous fanbase...

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