Avengers: Endgame, directed by Joe & Anthony Russo, is the latest and most anticipated superhero movie yet, having already hit 1.2 billion dollars in box office sales. It picks up right after Avengers: Infinity War, leaving the audience on an epic cliffhanger. The Avengers that remain after the fatal snap by Thanos, which caused half of the universe to perish, must find a way to bring back those that perished and defeat Thanos once and for all. I personally really enjoyed the movie, it allowed for closure for many of the character's storylines and brought back moments from previous Marvel movies. I liked the comic relief that came after dark scenes, which maybe came a little too quickly, and getting to see all my favourite superheros finally come together. For fear of giving away spoilers, I will not say much more, but I do not recommend this movie to those that have not watch previous marvel movies, as Avengers: Endgame is much more of a conclusion rather than an introduction to all the characters and storylines. Overall, I enjoyed the movie and cannot wait to see what comes next!
By Benjamin J.N. Harrison
1934’s Novel with Cocaine remains one of the most mysterious and enchanting novels of early 20th century Russian literature. Very little is known about its author, who goes by the nom-de-plume M. Ageyev; supposedly, his real name was Mark Lazarevich Levi and he was born in Moscow, emigrated to Paris, and died in Yerevan. Beyond that, nothing is known, making this novel a clue of sorts; a clue that, when examined thoroughly, may proffer some insight into the mind and life of the anonymous author.
Novel with Cocaine is a bildungsroman telling the story of Vadim, a womanizing schoolboy and perhaps one of European literature’s most contemptible protagonists. Vadim is a character no reader will be able to like, no matter how hard they try; reading of his unjustified maternal hatred and his purposeful infecting of a girl during intercourse near the beginning of the novel is sure to fill every reader with disgust. Yet somehow, by some inexplicable force, the reader will persist. Despite the protagonist’s abhorrent nature, Ageyev’s novel is extraordinarily compelling, due chiefly to its philosophic, Dostoyevsky-style narration.
Novel with Cocaine is masterfully written; the protagonist, although detestable, is incredibly real. With sharp self-awareness and sardonic wit, he recounts his experiences leading to his adoption of cocaine addiction: his days at school, his love affair with an older woman, his experiences with prostitutes, and most notably, his relationship with his mother. Vadim’s widowed and poor mother is perhaps one of the most pitiful characters ever written; she is mistreated and neglected by her son throughout, and for no real reason. Vadim acknowledges how sweet and harmless his mother is, but he nonetheless hates her with every inch of his being. At the beginning of the novel, when she visits Vadim at school to pay for his overdue semester fees, he is deeply embarrassed due to her shabby appearance and pretends not to recognize her. In a later chapter, he beats her and steals from her to fund his cocaine habit, after which he takes refuge in his rich friend’s house to waste the days getting high. If anything positive comes out of reading this, it is a sudden obligation the reader feels to express love for his/her mother. Seriously.
Although in the title, cocaine does not appear until the last third of the novel, when Vadim is introduced to the substance by some older friends at a party. The habit that he develops leads to the most fascinating aspect of the book: its philosophic and psychologic reflections.
By ingesting copious amounts of cocaine, Vadim comes to understand his addiction, an entity that stems from the sole motivating force of humanity: “The reason behind human activity, as diverse as that activity may be, is always one: man’s need to bring about events in the external world which, when reflected in his consciousness, will make him feel happiness”. By taking cocaine, Vadim is able to escape his reality of poverty and fatherlessness and create memories in which he feels happy, however forged that happiness may be. The drug completely eliminates any need for action in the external world to bring about authentic contentment – and as perverse as this logic may seem, Ageyev makes it sound flawless.
While it is difficult to determine how much of Ageyev’s novel was autobiographical, his description of addiction is frighteningly convincing. The lengths the author goes to describe one’s first time with a narcotic substance, the horror of coming down from a trip, and the surreptitious anguish that gives rise to addiction, make one sure Ageyev dealt with that terrible plague of substance dependence himself.
Novel with Cocaine is not for the faint of heart; it is profoundly bleak, chaotic, and harrowing, yet at the same time mesmerizing. In a devilishly artful fashion, Ageyev brings the tragedy of addiction, as well as the internal and external realities of the addict, to focus.
Shazam! directed by David Sandberg is the newest DC superhero film. The film is about a 14 year- old foster kid, Billy Batson, who get superpowers that allow him to transform into the adult superhero, Shazam, after meeting a wizard. He has to master his newfound skills before Dr. Silvana takes them. Shazam! has been considered by critics to be the best DCEU movie so far because of its humor and coming-of-age storyline. Even though I did not know Shazam’s backstory at all before watching the movie, I enjoyed it very much because the audience got to see the villain's backstory as well as the superhero’s, and I liked the references to Greek & Roman mythology. I enjoyed the plot as it wasn’t a typical, “ I have superpowers I must save the world” plot, we get to see Shazam realize the extent of his powers and learn from his mistakes. I found it very interesting that Shazam’s original name is Captain Marvel, another superhero whose movie recently came out. Also Marvel is the name of the main competitive comic book company, so learning more about that was cool. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this movie, I would recommend this movie to anyone that wants to have a good laugh and enjoys superhero movies.
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