TV Review: The Office (U.S.)

The Office is unlike any show I’ve seen before (granted I really haven’t seen an extensive variety of shows). What I noticed first is that there is no music (aside from the intro theme music). In this show, the characters know that there is a camera there, recording everything that they say and/or do. Most of the time, the camera just follows the characters around the office, but there are times where the camera will sit with each character individually and interview them about what is happening.

All of the characters are funny and quirky in their own unique ways, which I really like. Michael Scott (Steve Carell) is the regional manager of the Scranton branch of Dunder Mifflin, a paper company. He’s most likely the most flamboyant and eccentric boss you’ll ever see. His philosophy is: friend first, boss second. He’s constantly trying to fit in with all of his employees, while struggling with intermittent relationship problems. Yet, through all of this, he remains bubbly and confident in himself. Although he often says rude and unprecedented things, his true intentions are honorable (most of the time).

Throughout the show, Dunder Mifflin undergoes many changes — people come and go, there are changes in leadership, people are transferred. The camera follows and records everyone’s reactions through all the mayhem and chaos.

The other characters include the sales staff: Jim, Stanley, Dwight (Michael’s loyal Assistant to the Regional Manager), Phyllis, and Andy. In accounting: Angela, Oscar, and Kevin. Meredith, Kelly, Creed, and Ryan are each their own department. Pam, the receptionist, Toby, the HR rep (whom Michael has an unexplainable hate towards), and the warehouse workers led by Darryl. I love how well each of the characters are developed, despite the fact that there are so many of them.

If you enjoy comedy movies or shows, I’d definitely recommend this. If I’m being perfectly honest, I wouldn’t really consider myself a huge comedy fan, but I ended up really enjoying this show. So, even if you’re not sure that you’ll like it, at least give it a try — it might turn out to be your favourite show yet.

-Elina T.

Film Review: The Big Short

The Big Short is a film based upon the economic housing market crash in 2007. The film follows three groups of people who all become involved in concurrent situations.

A man named Michael Burry is the manager of a hedge fund and discovers, after reading through an extensive list mortgages, that the United States’ housing market is extremely unstable. Quite certain of his findings, he predicts that the housing market would crash in the second quarter of 2007. This, having piqued his interest, led him to visit multiple banks, asking each whether he’d be able to invest in a credit default swap market. This would allow him to bet against market-based house mortgages. The banks, perceiving a far different future for the housing market, readily accepted Burry’s offers. In all, Burry spent 1.3 billion dollars betting against the mortgages. This also meant that he had to pay hefty premiums to the banks he’d made deals with. Many of his clients were upset by this, considering it a ‘rash action’ on his part, and asked for him to sell them all back immediately. Fortunately, Burry ignored these commands, and continued following his instinct.

Jared Vennett, a salesman at Deutsche Bank, becomes interested in Burry’s tactic after hearing from another bank who had sold Burry a credit swap. Vennett is drawn to this idea, and decides to invest some of his own money in these swaps. While contacting banks, Vennett mistakenly calls Mark Baum, the FrontPoint hedge fund manager. Baum, who already has a bad taste for big banks, decides to invest in swaps as well.

Charlie Geller and Jamie Shipley had started a small firm out of their garage, and become interested in the idea of buying credit swaps (the idea is introduced to them by Vennett). They started out with about 100,000 dollars, but are now handling millions through their strategy of buying cheap insurances with big potential payouts. The strategy had done them well thus far, and the buying of credit swaps seemed a very favourable idea to them. Unfortunately, their earnings fell short of the minimum required for an ISDA (International Swaps and Derivatives Organisation) certificate. This would’ve allowed them to make swaps like Baum’s and Burry’s, however, since they couldn’t attain this certification, they were forced to resort to another method. They had met an older man named Ben Rickert, who is a retired securities trader. Although he is a bit reluctant, Charlie and Jamie are able to convince him to help them. When they attend the American Securitisation Forum, they end up making better deals by betting on mortgage securities with higher ratings. The banks they encounter eagerly accept their offers, as they see the mortgage securities to be extremely stable. However, they begin suspecting that banks are committing fraud, as the Securities and Exchange Commission has no method of regulating mortgage-backed security activity.

Despite their seemingly victorious night, Rickert is disappointed and disgusted in the two young men. He points out that while they become filthy rich, they’ll be ruining the lives of countless other people. Unemployment rates would skyrocket, and an economic crash would also lead to deaths. They then realise that the banks intended on maintaining the value of their swaps and then short them before the now inevitable economic crash. In desperation, the two once again call upon Ben, who is on vacation in England. While sitting in a pub, Ben is able to sell most of their swaps, and in the end, they make a total profit of 80 million dollars.

In the end, Burry earns a total of 2.69 billion dollars. His fund’s value had increased by 489% after the house market had crashed. Baum and his team profited by 1 billion dollars, with a complete loss of faith in the banking system.

It was interesting to see how Burry was able to see through everyone’s certainty in the housing market. It was also interesting to hear the story behind these people’s reasoning and why they did the things they did. This movie was very informative and captivating and told the story of the housing market crash in 2007 in a very succinct and understandable manner.

-Elina T.

The Big Short is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

TV Review: Stranger Things Season 2

My father and I have always wanted to watch Stranger Things but we never had the time for it. When we finally had the time we watched the first season. Lucky for us at the time, the second season was at least one week away.

The second season was really cool. You could really see the character development in everyone. The thing I liked about this season was that it answered my questions that I had.

I like how Stranger Things uses a lot of Dungeon and Dragons references in the episodes. I just hope that the next villain for season 3 is another Dungeon and Dragons villain.

This season also continues with the adults in the show being completely oblivious. If you thought it was funny that Mikes dad had no idea what was happening last season, then you are in for a treat. Season two also introduced a character named Maxine who is actually a main character in the season. I feel like she is going to have a bigger role in season three.

My favorite character in the whole season was probably Dustin. He was very funny when they were in danger and always made a big commotion about everything. I hope that Dustin remains this way and never changes. I also liked how sometimes Hopper would just dive into the situation and not think of it first. It made it look like he was very committed to what he was doing. He didn’t care what the odds where he just wanted to discover what was going on.

Another thing I liked about season two was that the 1980s in Hawkins, Indiana were so real. I can say that for myself because my father lived in Indiana in the 80s. Another fun element they did again was hire actors from the 1980s. I hope they keep doing that in more seasons.

Another thing was that since Will was back he had a lot more screen time. The season also showed how Mike and Will are really good friend. They would go to the end of the earth for each other.

I would recommend Stranger Things season two for anyone who saw the first season and liked it.

-Max U.

Films of Character: Local Hero

The state of being one; oneness. That is the definition of unity and nowhere is it more prominent than in the city of Mission Viejo. From the Teen Voice blog to the Community of Character Committee, Mission Viejo embodies what it means to unite its citizens. Every month, the Community of Character Committee chooses an important character trait to focus on. This month’s theme was unity, January’s theme was perseverance, and March’s is integrity. For each character, the committee chooses what events to host that encompasses the idea.

The movie screening this month, Local Hero was about an oil company looking to buyout a coast of land perfect for an oil refinery. The company sent a businessman to represent them and make a bargain with the locals. The townspeople were ecstatic about the idea of so much money at their fingertips when the deal was said and done. What the locals did not understand was that they could’ve been rich but not have anywhere to call home, or they could’ve kept living their lives, just as content as they were before. However, there was a problem when the town found out that Ben, a beach hermit owned the whole beach. No matter how much money the oil company offered him, Ben did not give it up – the beach was his home. In the end, Ben ended up being the hero because he kept the town from their infectious feelings of greed.

In the film, the townspeople showed unity by trying to bargain as one. While Ben was still a part of the community, he stood his ground and didn’t let a little bit of money change his opinions. So why is unity important? It’s important because we are stronger together, as a whole, as one. Helen Keller once said, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” In any successful community, it is imperative that the citizens are united.

-Brooke H.

Local Hero is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Films of Character: Local Hero

Image result for local hero aurora borealisAfter viewing Local Hero, February’s movie that was shown at City Hall, adjacent to the Mission Viejo Library, I realized that even though some movies may have been made many decades before and have a distinct feel, they still remain contemporary and topical to this day. Local Hero is one of these such movies.

The 1983 movie Local Hero chronicles the journey of a business negotiator, “Mac”, who works for the fantastically rich Knox Oil and Gas headquartered in Houston, Texas. He is sent to a small village in Scotland by the sea by his boss, Mr. Happer, because he suspects that there is a ludicrous amount of oil that could possibly be hidden offshore. His job is to buy the strip of coast, as well as the land four miles inland, which means that the local community would be uprooted.

The reason why Mac is sent there is because he supposedly has Scottish blood due to his “Scottish” last name, MacIntyre, even though he is actually Hungarian. On his way to the village that is a far cry from the hectic city life that Mac is used to, he teams up with Oldsen, who is actually Scottish. Once they arrive in the quaint village filled with many interesting characters, they are surprised to find that the community is actually secretly willing to sell their houses and relocate, possibly due to the many millions of dollars that Mac is offering.

But one thing stands in their way: Ben Knox, a loner that lives in a hovel by the sea, has lived there his entire life and refuses to leave, saying that there is no other place in the world where he can make a living, and nobody to take care of the land.

Things get more complicated as throughout his stay, Mac and Oldsen discover more and more about the area and how beautiful the nature is, begin to fall in love with the local Scottish community, and are soon doubting that buying the land in order to exploit it would be a good idea.

With a surprising plot twist at the end that reveals who the titular character really is, Local Hero has one of the most genuine and well-paced plots that I’ve ever encountered for a movie in its era.

With breathtaking cinematography, decent acting, and a surprisingly remarkable plot line, Local Hero shows that you don’t need a fast-paced plot line, famous actors and actresses, out-of-this-world story, or exceptional special effects to be a classic.

-Michael Z.

Local Hero is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Film Review: Kong Skull Island

Kong Skull Island was about a government organization called Monarch that discovered an island. This island was believed to have very mythical things such as giant animals.

The head of Monarch wanted to go to that island but of course they needed a team of scientists and a military escort. This all took place after the Vietnam War just as the Americans where pulling out. They also needed someone who could help them find their way around the island, which was Tom Hiddleston character. They also got a war photographer who would take pictures on that island.

There plan was to drop seismic charges across the island so they could map the island. The only problem with that was they where attacked by Kong. In addition to that, they woke up the skull crawlers who are the real bullies of the island.

The commander of the military escort Colonel Packard was really mad at Kong because Kong killed most of his men. One of my favorite things in this movie was the attachment to Colonel Packard and his men. I mean he will go so far for his men that he would take on a giant ape just to get revenge. After the several crashes everyone was split up in different sections of the island. One of Packard’s men was on the other side of the island. Now this was just one guy. They could have made left him on the island to die but, they went for him because that was the man he was.

I thought Samuel L Jackson was a great antagonist in the movie. He didn’t seem like a bad guy. He just wanted to get revenge on a giant ape who killed them. I thought he played his role right in every way.

We were also introduced to John C. Reilly’s character who has been stuck there since WWII. He was a very funny character and he knew a lot about the island. Since he was been isolated from the world he had a lot of funny questions about history and sports.

The cool thing about Kong Skull Island was that it was all attached to the last Godzilla movie. They are going to try to make a universe out of the next movies which i thought was pretty cool.

I thought this movie was great and is a must see.

-Max U.

Film Review: Coco

Coco was a wonderful film for everyone. It was about a young boy named Miguel who decided he wants to be a musician. The only problem was his family is against music.

I liked the movie really much. I thought it was visually stunning and told a very great story. It had basically any Pixar movie standard that you would see in other Pixar movies.

In the movie Miguel finds out that his hero is his great great grandfather. He then was inspired to go and compete in a music contest. He then takes his great great grandfather’s guitar and is sent to the Land of the Dead. In order to get back to the ordinary world Miguel has to get a family blessing. The only problem is that he wants to be a musician and all his relatives didn’t like music. He then realizes his great great grandfather could get him a blessing. In the story Miguel meets a man named Hector. Hector helps him go on his journey in finding his great great grandfather. In the process of finding his great great grandfather Miguel has many crazy encounters with many crazy characters.

The movie was very enjoyable. I thought it was both visually stunning and had a good story. The moral of the story was that in order to be a family you have to support one another and you shouldn’t force a life on your son or daughter that they don’t want.This movie reminded me a lot about The Book of Life. Which was another movie set in Mexico about the Day of the Dead. I liked The Book of Life which helped me like this movie.

There was one scene in the movie that needed so much detail to make it the scene it was. If I know one thing it is that Pixar tends to overdo a lot of their scenes which is always a good thing. There was also very bright colors that made the visuals even more better than they already where.

I really enjoyed Coco and would recommend seeing it.

-Max U.