Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2

Review: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

I never planned on getting into Guardians of the Galaxy. I know essentially nothing about this thing called the “Marvel Universe.” (Are there stars in it? Planets?) I’m not sure I’m really into any of it now, honestly, even after seeing the second film in James Gunn’s blockbuster franchise, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. But I sure am enjoying the hell out of dipping my toe in the comic waters.

I saw the first installation in the middle of the day in July, 2014. I’d stayed home from work (it was a Wednesday, I believe) because I’d just received news that my grandfather had passed away early that morning, and I was in no shape to go into the office. Far from home and far from family, after the initial shock wore off, I didn’t really know what to do with myself.

So I took myself to the movies. I took myself to see the only thing I knew I couldn’t care less about: a big, blustery summer superhero flick. It was one in the afternoon and there were maybe three other people in the theater. And it did exactly what I needed it to do: it completely transported me away from the world outside that cinema.

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Review: The Zookeeper’s Wife

Jessica Chastain came out of nowhere. At least, that’s what it seemed like in 2011. The film-release stars aligned and no fewer than six films open that year featuring this fresh new face who, as anyone who understands how these things work, knows had actually been working for years. Most notably, that year she was featured in Take Shelter, Coriolanus, The Tree of Life, and The Help (for which she was nominated for an Oscar). That’s one way to launch a career.

From there, like a sprinter at the starting line when the gun goes off, she hit the ground running. After several years and more success in big-budget brainteasers (Interstellar) and indie darlings (The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby), it’s her most recent releases that see her top-lining the marquee. The underrated Miss Sloane was good, but not good enough to break through the awards hustle around its December release at the end of last year.

Now, The Zookeeper’s Wife gets a late-March release that all but removes it from any awards conversation for 2018 (understandably so, honestly). But no matter. Chastain is talented enough that, though it won’t be for Zookeeper, it’s just a matter of time before she gets the recognition she deserves.

In the end, it’s mostly thanks to Chastain’s unwavering conviction in the title role that The Zookeeper’s Wife, the film adaptation of Diane Ackerman’s book (which itself is based on a true story), avoids falling entirely into caricature territory. The glossy, polished Holocaust drama is at times moving (and, as most Holocaust films are, difficult to watch), but it’s a far cry from the life-changing impact of films like Schindler’s List, Son of Saul and Life is Beautiful.

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Two for Two: Logan Square

After a really wonderful time away (see here), it honestly wasn’t until I was on the plane back to the U.S. that I started thinking about, you know, being back in the U.S. That first week was fairly chill (as have been the subsequent weeks, too). I may get into that side of things in a future post, but for now I want to focus on much more important matters: food.

As it happened, I had two separate plans for the weekend after I returned. One, a chance to catch up over dinner before a friend jetted off on her own travels. The other, brunch with my cousin who’d been feeding my cat, so I could get my keys back and check out a local gallery he was interested in.

Both occasions took us to Logan Square, that hip, quickly-gentrifying neighborhood on Chicago’s northwest side. Indeed, when I moved back to the city two years ago and inquired with locals what neighborhood might be the closes to my dear Williamsburg, to a person they all said Logan Square.

And they’re not entirely wrong. On the cusp of becoming so cool it’s not cool anymore, Logan Square is just north of the famed Wicker Park, that hipster bastion of yesteryear (you know, like 2010). Everyone who can’t afford it these days is going just a few stops up the Blue Line to Logan Square, with its tree-lined boulevards, indie coffee shops, brick two-flats and great restaurants.

I don’t get to this trendy area as often as I’d like. For one, I’m off an entirely different train line. And also, my natural state is solo Netflix bingeing from my couch. (Kidding…I think.) My point is, I was glad for the excuse to enjoy good food with great company at new-to-me spots.

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