Jack Roberts

Black Flags, Blue Waters: The Epic History of America's Most Notorious Pirates

Summary: 
Ever wondered what pirates were actually like? Did they bury treasure? Have parrots on their shoulders? Make innocents walk the plank? Most of what you think you know about pirates is far from the accurate historical record. However, Dolin reveals Blackbeard, Captain Kid, Edward Low, and dozens of other pirates lived lives a million times more fascinating than any fictional representation. Dolin examines the complex relationship pirates had with society over time. The American colonies at one point loved pirates and protected them from arrest because they offered cheap goods and valuables. Dolin presents an engaging history and argues the significance pirates had on history is greater than anyone could imagine.

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Annihilation

Summary: 
A mysterious zone called "the Shimmer" appears on Earth, a gateway to a beautiful and terrifying world of mutation, duplication, and decay. Lena (Natale Portman) sets of to explore "the Shimmer" with a group of scientists after her husband returns, emotionally and physically ill, from exploring it. The movie turns its sci-fi landscape into a war zone as the characters try to keep their sanity while fighting monsters. However, director Alex Garland's central question, why the characters actually fear "the Shimmer", is the really intriguing aspect of the film. The world of "the Shimmer" reflects the beauty and horrors we see in biological life in the real world:forest, animals, and people; but also cancer and other lethal diseases.. Garland asks how humanity's fear for the unknown complexities of our own world drives us.

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BlacKkKlansman

Summary: 
The film is based the memoir of Ron Stallworth (John David Washington), the first and only black policeman in his department, infiltrating the KKK with his partner Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver). Lee clearly draws direct connection between the racism presented in the film to the political conflicts that resulted in the Charlottesville incident. Lee's point is these men in the KKK like David Duke still mostly exist today. It has only been a generation since the Civil Rights movement; therefore, America cannot assume racial hatred has disappeared within that time. Stallworth is interesting because he believes in fighting for racial equality by rising within institutions rather than joining the protests of the Black Panther movement. He questions how much he can change when the institutions fear blacks because of a predicted race war; and questions if black protest is becoming too polarizing and causes more anxiety than peace. Lee's ultimate argument is American society has allowed hatred to persist in the shadows, hoping to avoid conflict. The problem is what brews in the shadows will eventually grow strong to strike in the light.

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Roads to Memphis: The Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr

Summary: 
About fifty years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated in front of his hotel room by James Earl Ray. King was fighting for the rights for sanitation workers as part of his mounting war against poverty in the United States. He believed a grand change in the economic landscape was necessary. James Earl Ray was one of the poverty-stricken people King was fighting for; yet, Ray saw his salvation through killing King. The documentary makes it clear that Ray believed society would reward him for the assassination. He sought fame and fortune with violence while King was trying to achieve his aims with non-violence. Ultimately, the documentary asks How long can peace persist in a nation plagued by the legacy of slavery? King accomplished a lot by bravely leading a movement for years; but Ray's single action created a setback for civil rights and enflamed racial tensions. Is it a sad truth a killer can be just as influential as the hero he killed?

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The Help

Summary: 
The Help focuses on Aibileen Clark (Viola Davis) and other African American women that are maids for the rich white families of Jackson, Mississippi during the Civil Rights era. The leader of the white women socialites, Hilly Holbrook (Bryce Dallas Howard), desires to pass a law to segregate all bathrooms. Skeeter (Emma Stone), an aspiring journalist, decides to fight the law and expose the terrifying racism of the state by gathering testimonies from Aibileen and the other maids to publish. However, they all face great danger for doing so. What is fascinating about the film is the racial dynamics of the home. On the one hand, the white women allow black maids into their homes to take care of their children. However, these same women fear black contact, thinking they will catch diseases. The home becomes a place of simultaneous integration and segregation. More interesting is how this set up is caused by the socially restricted roles placed upon white women at the time. Society expected these women to get married at young ages when they lacked the maturity to take care of children and the home. Therefore, the women resort to hiring older black maids to take on their responsibilities. Despite depending on the maids so much, the women look down on them, declaring themselves as racially superior beings. The Help argues that much of racism actually stems from white insecurity about themselves. --

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Knocked Up

Summary: 
Ben Stone (Seth Rogan), a stoner, ends up getting E! reporter Alison Scott (Katherine Heigl) pregnant. Now they have to navigate the crazy adventure of pregnancy together. Judd Appatow manages to show the raw side of relationships while also highlighting the magical power of love. Appatow's script of witty raunchy dialogue makes the characters feel real. They are completely insecure about themselves. No one knows what they are doing and can only resort to advice from others who are just as clueless. The only option is to just be the best one can be and roll with the flow.

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