Arts & Culture Commentary
Freelance Writer, Actor and more.
Media Criticism, Creative Non-fiction, Journalism, Novelist, Playwright, Screenwriter, Occasional Poet & Stand Up
MFA in Writing from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago
BA in Theatre and International Film & Media Studies from Loyola University Chicago
Contributing Writer for The A.V. Club, Stropse.com, Otaquest.com, The Gamer and more...
Email: [email protected]
www.josenateras.com - Twitter: @ josenateras - Instagram: @Jlorca13
Arts & Culture Commentary
Reflecting on the problematic homogeneity of contemporary theatre criticism in Chicago. Aside from personal conversation, dynamic discussions of a subject like theater occur in the field of criticism. In Daniel Mendelsohn's 2012 piece for The New Yorker, "A Critic's Manifesto ," Mendelsohn writes: "In the end, the critic is someone who [...]
When people hear the word generally the first thing to come to mind are the Japanese television shows featuring masked fighters and giant robots. This makes plenty of sense considering series like Super Sentai and Kamen Rider are some of the most obvious examples of the genre.
Jared Leto recently made headlines with his overzealous commitment to method acting. When DC Comics announced a movie adaptation of their superhero property "Suicide Squad," fans were immediately With the notoriously vocal superhero fandom focusing their collective critical eye on the project, almost every aspect of the production is under fierce scrutiny, none more so than Jared Leto's performance as The Joker.
For many young, queer kids, onscreen crushes are tricky territory. We've all had them: those early, formative crushes on fictional characters from TV and film. For a lot of our straight peers, such crushes were par for the course.
Dario Argento's superior Italian horror Suspiria has long held a fascination for the LGBTQ community. With Luca Guadagnino's reimagining currently hitting the theaters, I decided to ask Adam E. Hoak and Jose Nateras, two of my favorite Chicago actors (and enthusiastic horror buffs) to chat with me about their love for the film,...
Earlier this week Porchlight Music Theatre, a mainstay in the Chicago theater community, announced the casting for their much anticipated production of Lin Manuel-Miranda's "In the Heights " Aside from the problematic handling of this announcement by The Chicago Sun-Times - Hedy Weiss described the cast as "unusually 'authentic'" - the casting statement was bound to cause an uproar: Porchlight cast a white actor in the central role of Usnavi - a Bodega owner who received his name from the...
Hedy Weiss has a long and well-documented track record of being highly problematic, to say the least. F Newsmagazine has covered her antics in the past year alone.
News & Recaps
While most fans of J-Pop are more than familiar with the iconic singer Ayumi Hamasaki, the name Max Matsuura might not be as immediately recognizable. If the fact that the two dated were to make one wonder who Matsuura is, one would shortly find that Max Matsuura-aka Masato Matsuura-is the founder and CEO of Avex, one of the biggest media conglomerates in all of Japan.
Galerie F celebrates their fourth anniversary by bringing viewers closer to street art in the gallery space. Things are constantly changing in a city like Chicago. Due to urban development and gentrification, neighborhoods all over the city look drastically different now than they did even one year ago.
While Vanessa Bayer is probably most known for her time on Saturday Night Live, her brother Jonah has made a name for himself as a writer and musician, contributing for publications such as Rolling Stone, Guitar World, and more.
Since its initial release in September 2016, Gimlet's Heavyweight, helmed by radio veteran Jonathan Goldstein, has racked up nearly 50 beloved episodes and is moving exclusively to Spotify. As if to end its tenure as a more widely available podcast with a bang, the series released the second episode in a rare two-parter this week, featuring a family story whose trajectory would have been impossible for even seasoned listeners to predict.
An organization devoted to offering treatment to those diagnosed with rare genetic disorders, Cure Rare Disease (CRD), has announced a forthcoming charity tournament. The event, organized in collaboration with Massachusetts DECA, is set for September 5 with all proceeds benefiting CRD. While there is no fee for entry, there is a suggested donation of $10.
The South Asian Student Association created light in the darkness at SAIC's annual Diwali celebration. One of the things that sets The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) apart from many other schools is the large number of international students that bring a variety of cultures and experiences to our student body.
It's no secret that film commentary and criticism are in dire need of diverse voices. Luckily, there are podcasts like Homies Of Horror, one of a number of POC-run horror podcasts that was included on a list recently put out by Dread Central.
Put some serious Rustin Parr vibes in your Animal Crossing look with this fun little easter egg! Although the trailer for last month's Nintendo Switch release of the Blair Witch game was first released for the back in June, it wasn't until recently that viewers noticed something hidden among all the eerie stick people totems: a hidden code.
What makes Nine Chronicles unique is that it will be powered by its players using blockchain technology and an elaborate in-game economy. In collaboration with Ubisoft and the global venture fund, Hashed, Planetarium has just announced the final presale for their new MMORPG, Nine Chronicles .
Following an incident of toxic behavior in a recent ranked game, LPL team EDward Gaming, or EDG, will be fining top laner Zhao "Aodi" Ao-Di. Aodi may also be facing further disciplinary measures from the LPL, the Chinese top-level professional league for League of Legends.
In each episode of The Shining 2:37, host Suzen Tekla Kruglnska investigates, in order, two minutes and 37 seconds of Stanley Kubrick’s iconic 1980 film The Shining. The 2:37 of this episode encapsulates the sequence that starts with Jack Nicholson’s character, Jack Torrance, chasing his son, Danny (played by Dan Lloyd), into a snowy maze. As ever, Kruglnska is joined by a guest, but significantly, this week’s guest is none other than Dan Lloyd himself. Lloyd, now in his mid-40s, has a wealth...
Food 4 Thot focuses on relationships, race, sex, and identity hosted by Fran Tirado (Deputy Editor, Out magazine), Tommy Pico (poet), Dennis Norris II (former figure skater, former violinist, current writer), and Joseph Osmundson (scientist and non-fiction writer). This episode they’re joined by guest Steven Canals, creator of FX’s ’80s dance musical Pose. Having such a diverse group of hosts is beautifully refreshing when it comes to queer, male conversations, and the entire series is a...
Movie & Television Coverage/Reviews
The mainstream non-heteronormative love story we deserve. There are few surprises to be had in "Love, Simon." If you've seen any teen rom-com from the last couple of decades, you'll be able to spot each major plot point coming... ** SECOND PLACE: ILLINOIS COLLEGE PRESS ASSOCIATION — CRITICAL REVIEW, FILM - 2018
Either peering from the cover of the two-tape VHS set at the local Blockbuster or peeking up from a rain-gutter in a popular meme; fewer cinematic representations of the horror of childhood have made the same sort of cultural impact as Stephen King’s Pennywise the Clown... * HONORABLE MENTION: ILLINOIS COLLEGE PRESS ASSOCIATION — CRITICAL REVIEW, FILM - 2017
Few films have been able to generate the specific sort of word-of-mouth that Julia Ducournau's "Raw" has. Yes, Ducournau's film has built a name for itself as being a spectacular entry to the horror film genre. Yes, "Raw" has joined the ranks of "The Babadook" and "American Psycho" as chill-inducing genre fare, helmed by female directors.
HBO's "Girls" sticks to its familiar white feminism and millennial jokes in its sixth and final season. Although there are only four episodes of the sixth and final season of HBO's "Girls," it's already clear this season is full of what fans have come to crave.
Netflix's latest original series is a brilliant combination of zombies, suburban satire, and Drew Barrymore. Suburban real estate agents and zombies don't seem like the most obvious pairing. But Netflix's "Santa Clarita Diet" manages to combine the two into a fun, fast-paced, sitcom - which is just the first of many pleasant surprises the show has to offer.
Coming soon to Netflix, 'The Little Hours', is an unlikely comedy for the 'Ages.' When someone says "summer comedy movie," the first thing to come to mind isn't "cinematic adaptation of 14th century Italian literature." But Jeff Baena pulled that very thing off with "The Little Hours," which was one of the funniest movies of the summer and is coming to Netflix later this month.
The HBO look at gay life was too basic for some viewers; but maybe that was the point. In 2014, HBO's television series "Looking" began to tell the story of three 30-something gay men in San Francisco.
When she's not looking for lost Malaysian airlines flight 370, Kathleen Madigan serves up a hearty helping of Midwestern humor in her 2016 comedy special, 'Bothering Jesus' There's something inherently charming about Kathleen Madigan, in a squarely midwestern way.
We've talked about the popularity of sukeban series in 80's anime and manga before, specifically with Sukeban Deka , but an equally fascinating example of the violent, teen-girl gang centered subgenre of shōjo is Hugely popular in Japan during the 80's and early 90's, the manga and subsequent adaptations are practically impossible to find outside of Japan, let alone in English.
How does "Blair Witch" hold up to its predecessors? 1999's "The Blair Witch Project" changed the game in a lot of ways. While its trend-launching "found footage" premise didn't do anything that hadn't been done before, "The Blair Witch Project" did manage to utilize a freshly ripening internet culture and a groundbreaking (for its time) viral marketing strategy to reach a level of mainstream success that was unprecedented.
Though it has since been followed by 2019's 2018's Kamen Rider Zi-O was the last Kamen Rider series of the Heisei Era. As such, the series holds a special place in the Kamen Rider legacy. Since the show's first series back in 1971, Kamen Rider Zi-O is the 29th series in the history of the show and is the 20th series in the Heisei Era.
In a world full of sitcoms based in New York and L.A., Chicago finally has its moment in the spotlight with Netflix's "Easy." TV shows and movies are usually filmed in Los Angeles or New York City; it's rare to see Chicago - real Chicago, that is - on the screen.
Fede Alvarez's latest project provides an innovative take on the indie horror genre. In a cinematic climate heavily saturated with remakes, sequels, and adaptations, pickings are slim when it comes to fresh content at the movies. In fact, of the 25 highest grossing films of summer 2016, only three have the distinction of having original content.
J.K. Rowling makes her debut as a screenwriter and takes the Wizarding world of "Harry Potter" stateside Considering that J.K. Rowling's seven-book " Harry Potter" series has already been made into eight successful movies, a two-part and has spawned numerous multi-media spin-offs; one might think that the pop culture stratosphere might be at Wizarding World critical mass.
Extra! Extra! Movie newsrooms are so hot right now. With the current critical success of Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep's latest film venture, "The Post" - currently sitting at 88% on Rotten Tomatoes - cinematic newsrooms are once again lighting up the silver screen.
As a child, until around seven or eight years old, I was convinced that Aladdin was Mexican. I was positive. Here was a character that looked like me, regardless of any song lyrics identifying a fictionalized "Arabia" as the setting of the film; I had found a character I could identify with.
Kaiju movies, which focus on giant monsters like "Godzilla," have been popular for decades. Recent films -"Kong: Skull Island," new incarnations of "Godzilla," "Pacific Rim," "The Host," and "Cloverfield" to name a few - demonstrate that this trend is as lively as ever.
Interviews & Profiles
A visionary alum is remembered as an important and gracious presence in SAIC's community. "He was so deeply beloved." That's the first thing Anne Calcagno usually has to say about Ryan Wright - the writer, musician, artist, and alumnus of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago's (SAIC's) Writing Program.
Few theme songs are as iconic and meaningful to anime fans as the theme song to Neon Genesis Evangelion, "A Cruel Angel's Thesis" or "Zankoku na Tenshi no Tēze." While there are a number of reasons for the song's success, a lot of credit must be given to singer Yoko Takahashi.
One of the most important and often overlooked aspects of movies is the score. A good score can do everything from making your heart swell to instilling fear; movie music can inspire you or make you scream; it can be simultaneously unforgettable while literally fading into the background.
For many Western gamers, their first introduction to the character of Ness was as an unlockable character in 1999's Super Smash Bros. In fact, Ness first appeared in the 1995 game EarthBound- released in Japan in 1994 as Mother 2: Giygas Strikes Back).
I started working as a host at The Cherry Circle Room (CCR) over a year ago, just a short while before Alan Epstein - the photographer behind the " What Was Breakfast " project - started as a server there himself.
Staff writer Jose Nateras pays tribute to two starlets who defined a generation, whether they were drowning in moonlight or singing in the rain. As numerous obituaries have reported since the late December passing of Carrie Fisher, the legendary figure requested "that no matter how I go, I want it reported that I drowned in moonlight, strangled by my own bra."
The Midwest Swearingen creates has less to do with location and more to do with a sense of longing and danger, feeling trapped by circumstance, and of longing for excitement while foreboding that disaster will come in its wake.
Despite the high-stakes corporate espionage and sci-fi, action-hero antics of Last Hope For Hire , Wilcox never loses sight of the real world stakes at play for his hero-a real world where medical debt and access to health care are just the sort of struggles being faced by so many others.
Wednesday, January 9, 2019 at 7:38PM Post-Apocalypticon. Clayton Smith. Dapper Press, October 24, 2018, Trade Paperback and E-book, 269 Pages. Reviewed by Jose Nateras. In "The Apocalypticon Trilogy," Clayton Smith has crafted a world readers will find both familiar and drastically changed by the events of the apocalypse.
Thoroughly leaning into his noir influences, the voice of Johnny is a throwback to the sort of terse, macho private detectives instantly recognizable yet still distinctly unique. Furthermore, Turmel paints a vivid picture of Chicago and the surrounding suburbs. In his descriptions of Johnny's garden
Beloved boy wizard Harry Potter is making his return to the zeitgeist for the first time in nearly a decade but this time, he's returning onstage rather than on the page. Does it make a difference? When fans heard that a new Harry Potter would be hitting shelves in July of 2016, they were justifiably excited.
Let's Get To Work: Episode Two of The Prodigy Series . John F. Thomas . Los Angeles: Thomas Heri Visions, July 2, 2017, Trade Paperback and E-book, 96 pages. Reviewed by Jose Nateras . In author John F. Thomas' second installment of The Prodigy Se
Throughout their sessions, Dr. Moore finds some common denominators between Reed's time in Vietnam and his own, specifically an Agent Ramsey of the CIA, all leading Dr. Moore to delve into his memories of Vietnam and the dark secrets of his own family and the mysterious Phoenix Program. This journey
We recently had a chat with Hades composer Darren Korb, who told us that Orpheus' voice was based on Thom Yorke. When it comes to the creation of a game as evidently inspired as Hades, there are obviously a variety of influences at play.
The mod allows players to access a new minigame where they can race through Luigi's Circuit from the Wii version of Mario Kart. As many eagerly await the sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild , a community of talented fans have taken to developing mods for the game.
New information confirms that the release will happen in both North America and Japan on November 20th. Originally released in 2004, the Japanese third-person puzzle-action video game Katamari Damacy , went on to become quite the sleeper hit, leading to a series of successful sequels.
According to Bill Sienkiewicz, the cover artist for the game, the character depicted on the game's box is... Ever since the debut of the first Resident Evil game, fans have been under the impression that the game's central protagonist, Chris Redfield, was the main figure in the game's cover art.
The mini-adventure, officially called "Pathfinder Bounty #1: The Whitefang Wyrm," is a simple hunt mission for a giant wyrm monster. Although the Second Edition of the iconic fantasy tabletop RPG, Pathfinder, came out just over a year ago now, new playable content has continued to emerge.
Thanks to a new Arcana Bundle in Dota 2's latest battle pass, players can explore more of the Windranger's backstory. The Windranger has long been one of the more versatile characters in Dota 2.
Super-Skill Pinball: 4-Cade from Wizkids distills the analog-meets-video-game joy of classic pinball machines into a tabletop version. While not everyone can have the sort of reflexes possessed by a Pinball Wizard, everyone can now experience the thrills of pinball mastery thanks to a new board game.
Darren Rafferty, who goes by the moniker DARN, posted this labor of love to Youtube and captured nostalgia in a bottle. Considering the sheer amount of fan art that is out there, it's sometimes easy to lose sight of the fact that each piece is a labor of love.
From a first installment that ended up caught in the middle of a 'violence in video games' focused censorship debate to an award-winning 2019 reboot, Samurai Shodown has quite the legacy. Considering it's been 27 years since the game was first released in Japan(under the name Samurai Spirits ) now's as good a time as any to revisit one of the most iconic series of fighting games out there.
DMs everywhere have access to 300 professional quality ambiance sounds and songs specifically designed to enhance the RPG playing experience. When it comes to Dungeons and Dragons and other similar TTRPGs, Dungeon Masters have the monumental task of building the world which players get to adventure through.
When it comes to real-time strategy games a number of titles come to mind. The Command & Conquer, Warcraft, StarCraft, and Age of Empires series from the 90s are definitely influential in the genre. However, amongst these titans of tactical-role playing games stands an ogre that's not to be forgotten: the Ogre Battle series.
In the early 2000s, in an effort to boost the sales of Nintendo's Gamecube console, Capcom released five games. Called 'The Capcom Five' these games were P.N.03, Dead Phoenix, Resident Evil 4, Killer7, and the tokusatsu themed, side-scrolling beat em' up, Viewtiful Joe had a style and sense of humor that perfectly encapsulates the mood of the early aughts.
In fact, for some the mentality of why fix what isn't broken prevailed. However, considering the game's overall positive reception and winning a couple of choice awards of its own the remake would appear to be a good idea. 2005's computer-animated movie, Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, picks up two years after the events of the original game.
The subclasses, College of Spirits for Bards or Undead Patron for Warlocks, allow for players to access a bunch of new spooky powers. In an article recently posted in the recurring Unearthed Arcana feature on the official website for Dungeons & Dragons ,two new subclasses for bards and warlocks were announced.
After a relatively successful launch, SINoALICE is getting its first seasonal event - and it's a good one. Although SINoALICE, the popular mobile RPG from Creative Director Yoko Taro, was first released in Japan back in 2017, the game was only released globally this past July.
Players of Wanderhome will get to explore the world of Hæth as anthropomorphic animals called Kith. Tabletop RPG players who are also fans of tenderhearted anthropomorphic animals and tranquil nature scenes seen in a Hayao Miyazaki film have reason to rejoice: Wanderhome.
There's some more info on Mega Evolutions in Pokémon GO as well, courtesy of dataminers. The possibility that Pokémon GO would incorporate Mega Evolution has more than piqued the interest of players over the past couple of months. Until fairly recently though, such a development has been just that: a possibility.
When it was first released in 1995, Trials of Mana , the third game in the series, was only available in Japan. Aside from an unofficial English translation by fans in 1999, that would remain the case until 2019 when the entire series was released in a collection for the Nintendo Switch.
As far as the original gangsters of the 3D fighting games go, most agree that Virtua Fighter was really the first of its kind. First released in 1993 as an arcade game, the original was adapted to a console game in 1994, a few months before .
Even though it's been eight years since the last installment in the iconic survival horror game series was released(2012's Silent Hill: Book of Memories ) the Silent Hill franchise remains one of the most influential horror video game series out there.
When you think of survival horror video games, a few titles are sure to come to mind. Series like Resident Evil and Silent Hill are iconic among the genre.
Anime & Manga Coverage
When a young, gray and white kitten with black stripes, gets separated from her family on a walk, she ends up found by a young boy. In no time, the kitten becomes a part of the family and with that simple premise, cat lovers and fans of all things cute are invited along to see the world through the eyes of Chi, the titular kitten, of Chi's Sweet Home.
With a 2018 OVA, a 2019 stage play adaptation, and the ability to stream on Hulu and elsewhere, there's obviously a renewed interest in Yu Yu Hakusho . Which makes a lot of sense. Yu Yu Hakusho rocks.
Last month it was announced that the iconic anime series, Inuyasha , would be receiving a sequel series to be called Yashahime: Princess Half Demon . Set to be released in the Fall of 2020, the sequel series is to center on the daughter of Inuyasha and Kagome, as well as the twin daughters of Inu Yasha's brother Sesshomaru.
When it comes to queer representation in anime and manga, there are a number of examples that both progressively and problematically portray same-sex relationships, characters, and attraction. However, few mainstream series feature a central character who is, to use contemporary vocabulary, a trans female. Stop!! Hibari-Kun!
When Netflix released the anime adaptation of successful manga series back in 2015, they only had the exclusive rights to one other anime series, Knights of Sedonia. It's crazy to think that the streaming platform that practically invented binge-watching and now actually produces its own anime series , once only had two Netflix Exclusive anime series.
The title of Sukeban Deka , translated to "Delinquent Girl Detective," is probably the best way to describe the series it belongs to. Anime fans will recognize the character type of the Sukeban: the tough girl in sailor style school uniform, but with an extra long skirt; she generally has a bad attitude and is good at fighting.
Although the imagery of the French Maid has floated around Japanese culture since the 70's and 80's, the first maid club was started as a marketing ploy for the 1998 game, Welcome to Pia Carrot!! In 2001 Cure Maid Cafe was the first of many maid cafes to open and the increase in maid themed manga and anime only continued.
Starting off as a manga back in 2008, My Little Monster would eventually get adapted into an anime in 2012, and later a live action movie. It's no surprise that the series would successfully translate from page to screen, from animation to live action, considering the perfectly balanced chemistry between its lead characters.
If nothing else, the 90s was a time of vast change. With the advent of the internet, the impending end of the 20th century, a new millennium fast approaching, and new technology emerging at a rapid rate, the decade ended up providing some fascinating examples of the science fiction genre.
With the original Dragon Ball Z anime airing from 1989 to 1996 and a fresh remaster called Dragon Ball Z Kai airing from 2009 to 2011 and 2014 to 2015, the idea of checking in with one of the most iconic anime series of all time is definitely worth it.
In the West, the specific idea of the Grim Reaper dates all the way back to the 14th century. In Japan, the word shinigami first started appearing in works from the Edo period. Yet, in modern work, these classical death deities tend to have a different look to them than western images of scythe-wielding skeletons.
One of the best things about anime has to be the ease with which the medium can make high concept premises work really well. For instance, the plot of My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom!
Ever find yourself getting pumped up listening to 'Hello World,' the opening theme song for Blood Blockade Battlfront ? How about 'Karma,' the theme song from Tales of the Abyss ? How about 'Sailing Day' from the ? The list goes on and on.
Jose Nateras explains how he got through heartbreak and grad school with the help of pie-centric musical theater Ask any second-year grad students at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) what the past two years of their life has looked like, and you're probably going to get a variety of answers.
Ever wonder what movies like The answer is the music of the Japanese electronic duo, Appleseed , The Dark Knight , and rapper Flo Rida might have in common? has. Boom Boom Satellites.
Just because they were last active in 2009 doesn't mean the music of the Teriyaki Boyz should be forgotten. Comprised of musicians from a number of different Japanese hip hop groups and prominent DJs and rappers, the Teriyaki Boyz were still able to make quite the impact while they were still making music.
Considering it's a company that Complex Magazine's included in their 2013 style list of ," it might be surprising to some that BOUNTY HUNTER Japan started as a toy company.
With Tokyo based streetwear brand NEIGHBORHOOD's 2019 collaboration with sneaker giant, Converse, the widely known truth has continued to become even more unavoidable: NEIGHBORHOOD is cool. Maybe it's because of the brand's roots in Japanese Motorcycle subculture; or perhaps its creator Shinsuke Takizawa's appreciation for punk-rock and American counter-culture.
Breaking up is hard to do - and that's just the beginning. Jose Nateras confesses about not being able to move on from a relationship. Part of becoming an adult is reconciling the sort of grown-up we've always imagined we'd be with the sort of grown-up we actually are.
Video Projects: Writing/Directing/Editing
Originally developed for Round Six of The Small Hours Festival - 48 Hour Film Festival. Written/Directed/Edited by Jose Nateras Starring Matthew Goodrich
As an actor, all Jorge Garcia wants to do is perform Shakespeare. Unfortunately, as a Mexican American performer, he continually finds himself overlooked. When he gets the brilliant idea to mount his own production of William Shakespeare's infamously unlucky "Macbeth," starring a cast comprised of all BIPOC performers, he enlists the help of his best friend and roommate Milo to direct the thing. From landing a haunted theatre to perform their show in, to trying to scrounge up the money to...
A reading from "TESTAMENT: A Novel" in the form of a video collage originally developed for 'Exhibit B #10' presented by The Guild Complex -- "Exhibit B is a performance series that highlights exciting text-based work in Chicago. Presented by the Guild Literary Complex, a 30-year-old grassroots literary arts organization based in Chicago, Exhibit B showcases prose, poetry, plays, music, and more. We want to create a space that showcases work that you don’t need an MFA to feel and that leaves...