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by: 
Emily, Teen Contributor

I took a walk in the park 

today. Begun with heavy 

footsteps, each thud tinged with

hurt and frustration. Solace

found in the quiet. Footfalls 

softened. It spoke to me through

whispers and swishes rushing

'round. It lifted my chin and 

placed a soft smile on my 

face. Gently pulled me off the

ground and into the sky. I 

became a kite soaring high 

above my griefs with the world.

Swirled and twisted, the leash 

of the dog I was walking 

the only thing keeping me grounded.

 

Image Credit: Patrick Down on Flickr. 

by: 
William, Teen Contributor

This crazy maniac is Mindwipe. Before he got his cybernetic parts he was a normal man. One day when he was driving in his car a large piece of metal fell from another superhero battle and most of his body was damaged. Later, other organizations of villains use new technology to bring him back to life. But he came out crazed. Now he runs about in the street wondering what he will do next.

by: 
Jeremiah, Teen Contributor

Be warned: this film is rated R.

Watching Eye in the Sky will infuriate you to no end, no matter what political stance you hold going in. That comes largely from the fact it’s chiefly a political film, and, as shown by our good friend Mr. Trump, politics tend to upset people. It’s a complex, fascinating movie that’s hard to pin down. There are laugh out loud moments followed by ones of quiet suspense. Scenes that elicit empathy are followed by ones of righteous anger. Political Satire probably best describes the movie, but then again it doesn’t truly do the film’s themes or content justice. Eye in the Sky is a war movie with little action. It’s a horror movie with little bloodshed. It’s a comedy with little joy. At its core, Eye in the Sky is just a lot of people talking, all trying not to have to make a hard decision; it’s also incredibly compelling.

Eye in the Sky follows an inter-governmental terrorist capture operation in Kenya, and the many ways in which it goes awry. The outfit is led by the British Colonel Katherine Powell (Helen Mirren) and about 8 other officers working with her in the war room. She though, of course, is not solely in charge of the operation. Powell answers directly to British Lieutenant General Frank Benson (played by the late great Alan Rickman). Benson throughout the film is surrounded by British officials and politicians, all of which have their own agendas and moral stances. Powel directly commands 2 main things: American Air Force pilot Steve Watts (Aaron Paul), who controls a drone from a shed in Las Vegas and Sergeant Mushtaq Saddiq (Babou Ceesay), commander of the actual capture unit in Kenya. There is also an American facial recognition specialist operating out of Hawaii, two key soldiers in Kenya, and a little girl selling bread in Kenya (but more on that in a moment).

The situation complicates further when the terrorists move to a new location for their meeting, and further when they start equipping themselves with suicide vests, and even further when a little girl sells bread right next to the building, complicating the drone strike option. Through it all the characters argue about what the right thing to do is, and no one wanting to take responsibility for a drone strike.

The film is paced excellently and with precision. Every scene is masterfully executed, in no hurry to shock the audience or reveal what will happen. The film rather lets us, the audience, suffer through the indecision and ambiguity, squirming in our seats with anticipation. The suspense caliber is almost something out of a Hitchcock movie: in the execution, the patience, the payoff. It’s nice to see this sort of filmmaking nowadays, the type that requires an engaged and intelligent audience.

Helen Mirren is a commanding central lead, delivering each line with enough conviction, passion, and ethos to thoroughly ground the film. Without Mirren, the film could have perhaps strayed into the realm of unbelievable parody. She is a large reason the movie works and fits together so well. Aaron Paul delivers a lot of pathos, performing in one of the most human and emotional roles of his career. Alan Rickman reminds us just why we’ll miss him, playing a cold, logical, and dryly funny character, similar to others he has played. The rest of the cast was great too, even the little girl, but these three actors really stood out.

Eye in the Sky was a great movie, but it did have a few flaws. An obvious one is that some of the smaller characters acted a bit like caricatures, specifically the American characters. I’m not sure if this is a flaw of screenwriting or an intentional point the filmmakers were trying to make. Either way it is a noticeable blemish in the movie. Also, some of the point of view shots from the drones and other equipment were unbelievable to put it lightly. A robotic beetle flying shouldn’t have such stable footage streaming from it when going through wind. Of course, the filmmakers had to take a few liberties to deliver the movie they wanted to, and I don’t necessarily fault them for it, but this detail nagged at me throughout the whole film.

In the end, it’s their indecision that will frustrate you. You will probably side with one party at the beginning, as I did, and become increasingly angry at the characters with contradictory views, the ones that prevent progress. What Eye in the Sky does so well though, is not vilify or commend any characters. The situation is complicated and messed up; there seems not to be a single right answer about how to respond. In the end, every character tries to do the best thing that they can, but it’s not enough. This intercharacter struggle suggests many deep thematic topics. It suggests that war is terrible, evil, there is nothing right or good about it, but also it’s a necessary evil that cannot, unfortunately, be avoided. It’s a compelling piece of cinema, one that kept me on the edge of my seat, and overall I would rate it 9/10.

 

For more reviews, visit my blog.

Image Credit: Irish Typepad on Flickr

by: 
Emily, Teen Contributor

In the scene before me, snow swirls around a lone cabin.

It rests, blissfully silent here: the middle of nowhere.

I set down my snow globe and focus on the homework before me.

 

*Sijo: a Korean poem with three lines, a total of 44-46 syllables, each line having 14-16. The sijo may be narrative or thematic, introducing a situation or problem in line 1, development or "turn" in line 2, and resolution in line 3.

The first half of the final line employs a "twist": a surprise of meaning, sound, tone or other device. The sijo is often more lyrical, subjective and personal than haiku, and the final line can take a profound, witty, humorous or proverbial turn. Like haiku, sijo has a strong basis in nature, but, unlike that genre, it frequently employs metaphors, symbols, puns, allusions and similar word play.

 

Image Credit: Rachel.Adams on Flickr

 

by: 
Jen, Teen Contributor

I still am a little unsure how I feel about Dream House, written by YouTube star, CutiePieMarzia. And to be honest, I had not heard of her before...but back to the subject at hand, Dream House was an interesting read that left me with a lot of questions. This story is about a girl named Amethyst, who finds herself in a very weird situation in a big creepy house with some sketchy, creepy people. The more time she spends in the house, the more I was asking myself, "what in the world is Amethyst doing"?! 

She comes across this big, beautiful house and a nice litte old couple who lives there. They invite her inside and welcome her to stay the night. One night turns into many as strange things happen to her each day.

At times I found the story to be a little over the top and silly, (seriously, why didn't she leave?) but I pushed through it and on the other side I found it to be a pretty scary read, though a little unbelievable at times. 

I would not read it again, but I didn't find it to be a waste of time. I give it a 2/5

by: 
Emily, Teen Contributor

Once there was a man who lived alone in a hut overlooking an ocean. The sky was often gray with storm clouds, and the constant rain brought a chill to the air. Though the wind howled despondently, the man was quite content. He woke early every morning, pulling on a raincoat and chest waiters before leaving the hut. He would walk down to the shoreline with an old fishing net and a thermos of coffee. After spending hours tossing in the waves in his boat he would return home. Although he was alone and there was little coziness to his hut, he would never dream of leaving. For his grandmother told him years earlier when he was a little boy that you can only be truly happy when you look inside yourself and can smile at what you see there. He had traveled the world and lived in many a place, but it was only in the lonely hut on the gray blue ocean that he could smile. 

 

Image Credit: mightymighymatze on Flickr. 

by: 
Teen Contributors

Katie, Teen Contributor

I liked that when the parents came in to sign their children up they ended up singing up too when they found out they could. It got the whole family involved and reading. Also, it was really great to see people excited about getting their free book when they signed up because they already knew what they would start the program. The hours are very flexible and it's nice to be at the table both helping and relaxing with other work when no one is there.

 

Annamarie, Teen Contributor

Last summer was one of the best summers ever. Everyone was so nice and helpful. I really enjoyed it.

 

Tennessee, Teen Contributor

Being a volunteer last year was an amazing experience! I had the chance to stray away from my comfort zone and talked and helped lots of people I loved seeing the kids they were so exited to get their book and start reading. I think that it is key to start and learn to love reading at a young age, so you get an amazing feeling when you know you are helping a kid take their first steps towards loving to read. The library is like a second home to me. I met so many other teens, and made many friends, it was great to talk, laugh, and work with kids my age for four hours straight. I felt like I truly belonged there. I also really enjoyed the hands on activities I helped with. This is a great  program! It's something that everyone should try, especially if you have nothing to do during the summer. You don't know until you try! 

 

Emily, Teen Contributor

I had a great time volunteering last year. It was awesome to be at the library helping kids and parents sign up and log their reading, and it was also super neat to get to see the wide range of people who use the library, and realize the extent of the library's impact on the community. I had a blast, and a nice bonus was getting volunteer hours.  It was an incredible experience, and I encourage others to volunteer as well. 

 

Destinee, Teen Contributor

Summer reading was really fun! I got to see the best of the community and got to help the nicest people. Watching little kids faces light up when they got their prizes was the best part! I also got to help some amazing people, including a deaf woman! Over all summer reading was a great experience. I enjoyed it and am looking forward to doing it again this summer.

Volunteer Application

by: 
William, Teen Contributor

ISEEYOU is a um... Criminal who uses smoke and creepy stuff to his advantage. He lost his parents to an explosion while Rusher (a different hero) was trying to save them. ISEEYOU swore revenge upon Rusher for letting his parents die. He is an adopted kid and creepy. "I see you, you cannot see me" is his catch phrase and way to get revenge and defeat others (you can't see him...but HE can see YOU). He wears a mask to add some more creep to him. He is also a teenager who likes to make wisecracking jokes at his foes. And one more thing... ISEEYOU... (Not really though)

 

 George Gambol wanted to have fun with some of the experiments he had using robotics. He made a suit to hide his identity and went on a crime spree, taking anything he could find or want using his robotic exo-legs. Of course he was stopped. Later he did more experiments, but these experiments were live or die. He then gained superpowers like Lightspeed, but with one advantage... He could leap to very high heights. Thus gaining the name Leap...

 

by: 
Jeremiah, Teen Contributor

Be warned: this film is rated R. 

When Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele announced that they were ending their critically acclaimed Comedy Central show, Key & Peele, fans everywhere were understandably heartbroken. For those who watched it, Key & Peele was one of the funniest shows on television, continually delivering hilarious sketches every week: their chemistry undeniable and their comedic brilliance evident. Luckily for all us fans, as well as fans of comedy in general, Key and Peele star in Keanu, a hilarious fun film about two suburban cousins and the cutest cat anyone has ever seen.

Jordan Peele plays Rell, a regular suburban man whose girlfriend just broke up with him. Still reeling from the loss, his cousin Clarence (Keegan-Michael Key) comes over to help him through his tough time. When Clarence arrives though, it seems like he won’t need to help Rell much; Rell has replaced his ex with a kitten who showed up at his door. He named the cat Keanu, and it is possibly the most adorable kitten that has ever existed. So when Keanu gets stolen by a gang, it’s up to Rell and Clarence to descend into the criminal underworld in order to retrieve Keanu.

Jokes are the most important part of any comedy, and Keanu delivers on this front. Not to say that every joke landed, there were a solid amount of chuckle-worthy lines and a few more jokes that just missed completely, but I laughed heartily many times during the movie. The plot provides a lot of room for jokes surrounding the “thuggery” Rell and Clarence try to feign around real gangsters, as both are as un-thug as possible. These jokes land most often out of them all, and this dynamic is one of the core elements in Keanu.

Speaking of core elements, Key and Peele have some undeniably great chemistry. And how could they not, having worked on together for many years, all the way back to MADTV. Key is the more extroverted of the two and Peele is quieter and more understated in his role. For many duos, the louder character has a tendency to eclipse their quiet counterpart. Key did this a few times throughout Keanu, but a testament to their ability to work together, Peele stands out in several scenes on his own accord.

The film is written well, with the ratio of jokes to serious moments perfect. What’s great about this film is that it isn’t just a stupid movie to hunt down a kitten. It is that, but not just that. The character Rell has no companion, doesn’t have a job he’s emotionally invested in, doesn’t have a present family. To Rell, Keanu is his whole world, and about the only thing he finds meaning in. This deeper, emotional theme is really what roots the film in reality among all the George Michael jokes. Rell’s feeling of dependency on Keanu allows the film to go to some crazy ridiculous places, and it sure does go there, while delivering an emotional basis for the audience to connect with. I truly believe that this dynamic is one of the two secrets that elevate this film from all the other R rated comedies.

The other thing that propels Keanu past it’s competition is the kitten itself. Jordan Peele once said in an interview they at times had seven different cats all used for the role of Keanu. Regardless, the kitten (or cumulation of kittens) Keanu is, as I have mentioned, probably the cutest cat I have ever seen. This cuteness helps people forget the few jokes that don’t land and some of the few subpar elements of the script, like poor pacing. Instead of leaving the theater saying, “that was pretty funny,” people will probably leave saying “THIS part was hilarious, THIS part too, and that kitten was ADORABLE”.

A little bit of cuteness goes a long way, as the saying I just made up goes, and Keanu is a testament to this. With some hilarious moments, a grounded emotional story, and a kitten straight from heaven, you should enjoy Keanu a lot! I’d rate it 8/10

For more reviews, visit my blog

Image credit: you as a machine on Flickr.

by: 
Emily, Teen Contributor

This photo was taken during the Denver Botanical Gardens Orchid Exhibit. 

 

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