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Friday, Sep 19, 2014
The Maze Runner reminds us that an interesting idea, told well, can trump any number of artistic or aesthetic issues.

Fans of the book are going to be flummoxed. Instead of a faithful adaptation of James Dashner’s successful 2009 novel, the makers of The Maze Runner have decided to par away the wheat from the shaft, creating a compelling dystopian “what if?” that may not answer every question it proposes, but certainly gets significant mileage out of the premise presented.


There’s a lot to digest initially, with sci-fi babble names for certain elements and a real revisionist Lord of the Flies vibe to the ambiguous adolescent male community being carved out of this unusual circumstance. But once first time feature filmmaker Wes Ball dispenses with all the set-up, we are left with an inherently intriguing idea, to wit—what’s behind those massive walls, what is “the maze”, who created it, and what are those awful noises the kids hear howling through the night.


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Friday, Sep 19, 2014
This week's Counterbalance takes on the 1,377th most acclaimed album of all time, Paul and Linda McCartney's 1971 joint effort. Have another look, have a cup of tea and a butter pie. (The butter wouldn't melt so we put it in a pie.)

Klinger: As someone who came into Beatle fandom right about the time that the 1970s were turning into the ‘80s, I came to understand a couple of pieces of received wisdom. The first was, of course, that the Beatles were completely unassailable in every way, and the second was that there were only a couple solo Beatle albums worth listening to. John Lennon had two, both of which we covered during our Great List years, while Paul McCartney had only one, his 1973 effort Band on the Run, the album that almost singlehandedly, albeit temporarily, saved his critical reputation.


Tagged as: paul mccartney
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Friday, Sep 19, 2014
This is one of the best films about the lingering effects of dysfunction that's been made.

There’s a line in the terrific new film, The Skeleton Twins, where Kristin Wiig’s melancholy Maggie tells her suicidal sibling Milo, played by Bill Hader, that life isn’t about success. “Few people are stars,” she suggests, “The rest of us are just walking around wondering how our lives got so bad.”


For these mentally unbalanced offspring, each attracted to both the danger and the depression of living outside the lines, there’s no need to speculate. He blames her for something that happened back in high school. She argues that his lack of support, and their distant, distracted mother, has brought about an obvious discomfort about who she is.


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Friday, Sep 19, 2014
by Romi N. Andrews
PopMatters shines a spotlight on some funny and not-so-funny shows that have failed.

The format of the situational comedy—“sitcom”, as it is most frequently called—was conceived in the post-World War II era. Some dismiss it as sub-par compared to other TV genres, while many argue it’s an art form worthy of respect. But love them or despise them, sitcoms have the power to influence the way we think and to even promote awareness for social issues like gay rights (Will & Grace), alcoholism, and even teen pregnancy (Mom)


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Friday, Sep 19, 2014
In this case, cheating isn’t just an admission of defeat to the game, it’s an admission of defeat for the characters as well. And I can’t bring myself to make them lose.

Blackbar is an iOS puzzle game about bypassing totalitarian censors. You are Vi Channi, a common citizen of a totalitarian government who lives in a “Neighborhood” outside the big city. Your friend, Kentery Jo Loaz, has just moved to the big city where she’s set to start work as an employee of the Department of Communication. Your letters back and forth are monitored by the Department, and words that are deemed “inappropriate” are redacted. Your job as a player is to deduce what those redacted words are based on the context of the sentence and the length of the black censor bar. It’s reading comprehension as a puzzle.


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