human rights, media

top 15 historical dramas of the 21st century

Thinking back on movies I’ve watched recently, I noticed that my favorites tend to include that all-too-familiar qualifier, “based on a true story.” Because of this, I have watched a lot of those films. You’ve probably seen at least a few; historical dramas span a wide range of topics, including movies like GoodFellas, JFK, Lincoln, and Malcolm X. What they share, though, is what I love most about them (aside from cinematography): that charged feeling of knowing some version of this could’ve actually happened. Those that I count among my absolute favorites tend to chronicle human rights struggles, so you can expect the majority of these movies to be political.

I didn’t like most of the lists I found online. I don’t mean to discount them; many of the rankings were thoughtful and helpful. But they also tended to be very broad, “all-time best” lists, full of old classics that I was expecting to see, like Raging Bull and Schindler’s List. Movies from this century were sparse at best. So this is my version, isolated to 2000 onward and limited to 15 for the sake of my sanity. Continue reading

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book reviews, media, psychology

5 books that changed me & 5 that will

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about influence. I participated in a psych study last week in which I was asked how much I thought simple decisions–what class to take, what movie to watch, etcetera–influenced my future. At first I was certain the answer was hardly at all, but when I really thought about it I realized how wrong I was. The English class I took last quarter, for instance, had a huge impact on me and how I see myself, and if I hadn’t watched Don Jon last week I would be far less enlightened about film’s capacity to reveal double standards. (Watch that movie if you haven’t yet, please.) Books, of course, are some of the most important societal influences we have, so I thought it would be interesting to make a list of books that significantly influenced my life and my decisions. Continue reading

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