Chekhov's Gunman


On Being Jewish, Mel Brooks, and The Producers


A great piece by my friend (and podcast partner) Gabe Levy. He’s a real mensch.

Originally posted on The Chutzpah Kid:

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Let me preface this by saying that I am not a profoundly religious man. Like so many others of my generation, I have some gripes with organized religion as a whole. I detest fundamentalism, both here in the US and abroad, and I think that Judaism is no exception.

Despite this, I identify as a Jew. A proud Jew. A Jew who may not go to temple, wear a yarmulke, or keep Kosher, but loves the sense of cultural brotherhood achieved by his heritage. We call ourselves Members of the Tribe for a reason. Picking and guessing which celebrities and pop culture figures are my brethren is something that has transcended a hobby and become almost… a compulsion for me.

Mel Brooks is a man who nearly negates all of that guessing. Just looking at him, his mannerisms, and his life’s work tells you that he embodies the spirit of…

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Talking Back to the Movies: The Brothers McDonagh

In Bruges Colin Farrell Ray

Recently I started a podcast called Talking Back to the Movies. Every few weeks, my friend and fellow filmmaker Gabe Levy and myself pick a filmmaker and go through their works film by film, discussing each one both in terms of itself and in the context of the director as a whole.

We boys recently wrapped up their first series, covering the works of the Brothers McDonagh (that’s Martin and John Michael). Here, for your listening pleasure, are all of the episodes in that series. Read more…

Parks and Recreation is Over; Coincidentally, Joy is Also Over

Parks and Recreation Cast

There are lots of posters on the walls of my dorm room. There’s a beautiful Gone with the Wind poster; a couple of Firefly mock-ups; a poster for a short film that I directed that was designed by a good friend; one called E-Cow-Nomics that explains economic models using cows. But there are two that I get compliments on more than any others.

The first is called the Swanson Pyramid of Greatness. Two crudely photoshopped images of Ron Swanson’s head border a pyramid filled with the secrets to true greatness, everything from Friends (“One to three is sufficient”) to Deer Protein to Old Wooden Sailing Ships.

The second is Leslie Knope, the proclaimed Pawnee goddess, adorned on all sides by her own special words of wisdom. She is framed from behind with light. She is an idol. She is a beacon of hope. She is big enough to admit she is often inspired by herself. She is the protagonist of Parks and Recreation, a very special television program that meant a lot of things to a lot of people. Read more…

How Telltale’s Games of Thrones is Changing the Way We Look at Choice in Video Games

Telltale Game of Thrones

Telltale’s Game of Thrones is playing me against myself.

I do not mean this in the traditional way Telltale tears me apart, which is to force me to make a choice between hurting someone I love or hurting someone else I love as an onscreen timer quickly counts down, threatening to drive me into insanity. No, Telltale Games is using Game of Thrones to teach me new and interesting ways to writhe in pain in front of my computer screen. Just a few weeks after debuting Tales from the Borderlands, which starred two protagonists, one a corporate drone, the other with a vagina (?!?!), Telltale shot out the first episode of Game of Thrones, a series with five player-controlled protagonists with a myriad of genitals, habitats, and levels of political power. Read more…

My Personal Story of Depression

I’ve seen a few of these posts recently, and in hopes that I might be able to help others, I’m going to draft up one of my own.

The first time I can remember contemplating suicide was in the Fourth Grade. I was nine or ten, but as I have never really been an avid journaler the details of it get a little sketchy. Just something about standing on top of some playground equipment at my elementary school and wondering what would happen if I threw myself off. I didn’t, and went back to playing tag or Star Wars or some game that required my fellow nine-year-olds and myself to hurl ourselves down the slide with a reckless abandon really frowned upon by our (justified in hindsight) buzzkilling teachers. Read more…

Short Film Spotlight: IT DIDN’T TAKE, Forest J. Wharton & Kevin Lanigan

Film Loop

I’m back! After a long hiatus (largely related to the making of this short film), Chekhov’s Gunman is back, hopefully with some much-needed energy and a lot more regularity. Please enjoy this short film—recently accepted into its first film festival!

 Here’s a feature I do occasionally here at Chekhov’s Gunman (when I remember), and I figured the release of my first short film was as good of an occasion to revive it as any.

 It Didn’t Take is a comedy short film about three members of a cult called The Sunshine Togetherhood who do that most cultish of things and “take the Kool-Aid.” But the next morning, they awake to find that they’re still alive, even though everyone else around them is dead. It’s a mission to unravel the mystery of their existence, while at the same time trying to clean up all of these dead bodies before Mom gets home with the groceries! Read more…

“Were the Spiders Really Necessary?” FARGO Episode 3- ‘The Muddy Road’

Fargo Episode 3 A Muddy Road Lester

There be lots of spoilers here, don’tcha know?

Three episodes in and Fargo the TV show is finally starting to take shape. Moments and exchanges from last week’s episode that felt tedious or non sequitur gain relevance and meaning, even if the whole affair still feels a bit like sequences from a long movie stretched to episode length. Each episode is more like a twenty minute section of a long movie than an episode in and of itself. There’s rarely a task introduced in an episode that is solidly resolved by the end. It’s a Game of Thrones-type approach to storytelling, one that plays more for long-term satisfaction than week-to-week gratification. Read more…

“A Wet Dream of an Episode,” GAME OF THRONES Season 4 Episode 4- ‘Oathkeeper’

game of thrones oathkeeper season 4 episode 4 brienne

This review is written from the point of view of someone who hasn’t read the books, so keep your spoilers to yourself and keep the criticism in your pocket because I can almost guarantee you haven’t read the book of The Godfather. This review is also littered with spoilers, like a chop shop for those cars from The Fast and the Furious.

It seems like every week, someone preps me for this week’s Game of Thrones by saying, “I hear something big is going to happen this week!” That would have been huge news a couple seasons ago, when the show was still cooking in the microwave, but now that the Hot Pocket is cooked and we’re just chomping into juicy bit after juicy bit, “something big” is sort of expected to happen every week. When something big doesn’t happen (like in last year’s season finale), it feels off. After you have a Red Wedding, it’s hard to go back to regular old blackmail. Already this season we’ve had the death of Joffrey (spoilers), the rape of Cersei, and a whole cavalcade of other terrible things that have happened to the Lannisters. One would figure that a Game of Thrones fan would be jaded at this point, just waiting for this week’s surprising development to take place in the last ten minutes. Read more…

“Treading Frozen Water,” FARGO Episode 2 Review- ‘The Rooster Prince’

Fargo Episode 2 The Rooster Prince Lester Nygaard Martin Freeman

Oh, hey there. This review has lots of spoilers, don’tcha know?

Have you ever met someone, whether at work, school, or a terrible family reunion, who won’t proceed in what they’re saying until they’ve restated themselves enough times to make sure that you heard them? That’s what tonight’s episode of Fargo felt like.

The show opens in exactly the same way, with a car driving down a snowy stretch of highway with the same four or five title cards over it. We spend the first quarter of the episode really only restating things from the pilot. For anyone who paid attention to last week’s truly stellar pilot episode, it was honestly a little dull. What really drew me to the show as how quickly the pilot episode shuffled its pieces around and made a real statement and name for itself. Over the course of an hour, the principle characters had been introduced, shuffled around on their own little asides or adventures, and thrown back together in a way that both set up the most important elements of the entire series and declared to the world that it wasn’t going to play by the rules its feature film predecessor had set because Fargo the show as going to be its own thing and doesn’t care much for your rules, man. Read more…

“What Makes a Good King? Ideally, Not This…” GAME OF THRONES Season 4 Episode 3- ‘Breaker of Chains’

Game of Thrones Breaker of Chains Season 4 Episode 4 Wildlings

This review is written from the point of view of someone who hasn’t read the books. Don’t be mad and keep your spoilers where they belong: screaming inside of your brain at the ignorance of the masses.

Everybody has a fatal flaw. I have a friend who is one self-esteem boost away from going broke on condoms. Superman has Kryptonite. Oedipus has accidental incest. Game of Thrones has Jon Snow. There is always something- something- that stops a thing from being absolute perfection.

This episode of Game of Thrones is one rape scene short of being indisputably great and fun.

Even a lengthy Samwell section can’t spoil proceedings quite like… that. Much last like week’s exciting episode that featured a Joffrey poisoning (spoilers), there was an awful lot that happened this week, but all anyone will be talking about is one scene. I’m hesitant to even talk about it. I’m going to, of course. It’s my job (my self-appointed job that I could leave at any time but that I have too much unnecessary journalistic integrity to do so). Read more…

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