Melissa Benoist

Supergirl, Ep. 1.07-1.08, “Human For A Day”/”Hostile Takeover”

How a show with such a clearly drawn main character fails so greatly in focusing on a specific theme or story every week is truly baffling. It’s a telling sign about how badly Supergirl needs to work on its focus that an episode objectively about how Kara deals with not having powers on a day when National City goes through a massive crisis barely deals with that subject at all. “Human For A Day” is instead content to look towards a plethora of other action that barely has to do with Kara, if at all. “Hostile Takeover” too is more focused on the titular hero for only a fraction of the time, making the B-plot more of a co-A-plot for no real reason. What’s the fun in bringing back Astra if the episode is only going to commit more than half the time to a ripped-from-the-headlines Sony hack storyline? There is a way to balance a big bad enacting her master plan while she tries to once again convince the hero to come to her side with a more personal story for one of the tertiary players, and this isn’t it.

Supergirl, Ep. 1.02, “Stronger Together”

Supergirl doesn’t shy away from this method in the least, as “Stronger Together” is an almost exact replica in many ways to the pilot. Some slight advances in the story, and one big advance that could have been saved for at least another cluster of episodes without issue, but the main emotional beats are more or less in sync with the pilot.

Supergirl, Ep 1.01, “Pilot”

Holy exposition, Batman! Or, as is more appropriate here, that exclamation should end with Supergirl. After all, that is the hero whose past most of the episode spends time unfurling.

NYFF 2014: ‘Whiplash’ phenomenally explores the line between perfection and sociopathy

Originally birthed as an 18-minute short, premiering at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, Whiplash went on to garner enough attention to become a feature full-length film. Thank God it did. The feature-length version of Whiplash masterfully showcases the pressures of perfection in a tightly plotted, beautifully shot, soberly performed package. From the creative genius of sophomore director Damien Chazelle comes a semi-autobiographical experience just as exhilarating as it is shocking. Whiplash tells the story of Andrew Neyman (Miles Teller), a promising young drummer who enrolls at an elite music conservatory, where his dreams of greatness are mentored by Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons), a ruthless music conductor who will stop at nothing to realize his student’s potential talent. With the audience on the edge of their seats, the question constantly being taunted is thus: how far is too far for pushing a student towards greatness?

NYFF 2014: ‘Whiplash’ makes music thrilling like no other film

Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash, now conquering New York after wowing audiences at film festivals all the way back to Sundance last winter, opens with a title card over black while a few taps on a snare drum build into a furious drum roll. It’s a fine way to symbolize the conflict at the center of the film, which accelerates to “furious” so quickly and easily that it’s barely perceptible. Tension builds slowly in an empathic crescendo, before snapping over and over again like the repeated pounding of a cymbal. Whatever arguments this film may inspire, it’s clear that there is no other film in existence which makes music so thrilling.


TIFF 2014: ‘Whiplash’ is expertly paced and fueled by exquisite tension

What began as a short film seeking funding at last year’s Sundance has come to fruition as one of 2014’s best films. A must-see at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, Damien Chazelle’s magnificent Whiplash offers stellar performances and a powerful, morally ambiguous plot. It concerns young Andrew Neyman (Miles Teller) is in his first year at the top music institution in the country. Picked for one of the school’s most competitive bands by its relentless conductor, Terence Fletcher (J. K. Simmons), Andrew finds himself desperately fighting to prove his worth.

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