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Sonja Sohn - Actress Sonja Sohn outside her Manhattan hotel - Manhattan, NY, United States - Saturday 24th August 2013

Sonja Sohn
Sonja Sohn
Sonja Sohn
Sonja Sohn
Sonja Sohn
Sonja Sohn

Sonja Sohn and Anthony Hemingway - The Creative Coalition's 2013 Inaugural Ball Washington, D.C. United States Monday 21st January 2013

Sonja Sohn and Anthony Hemingway
Sonja Sohn

Sonja Sohn Saturday 7th February 2009 The NAACP luncheon held at the Beverly Hills hotel Los Angeles, California

Sonja Sohn

Sonja Sohn - Wednesday 23rd April 2008 at UCLA Los Angeles, California

Sonja Sohn
Sonja Sohn

Sonja Sohn and HBO - Saturday 8th March 2008 at Tao Nightclub Las Vegas, Nevada

Sonja Sohn and Hbo
Sonja Sohn and Hbo
Sonja Sohn and Hbo
Sonja Sohn and Hbo

The Wire: Season Four Review


Essential
By the end of season three of The Wire -- aka HBO's best excuse for staying on the air -- one could sense that the show had, in some sense of the word, come to an end. It was certainly clear for a time that HBO executives thought so, having come close to canceling the multifaceted, frighteningly addictive urban drama yet again, as it never pulled anywhere near the kind of ratings that their warhorses like The Sopranos and Sex and the City had. Although plenty of strings were left dangling at the conclusion of episode 37, "Mission Accomplished," a chapter had been definitively closed, with Avon Barksdale back in jail, and his brainy partner Stringer Belle gunned down. Since the two of them had been the impressive foils to the strung-out cops in the Baltimore Major Crimes Unit, their departure seemed to leave a vacuum. With nobody of real consequence running the West Baltimore drug trade (the Barksdales' chief rival and replacement, Marlo Stanfield, seems at first nothing more than some punk kid), what would be left that was worth watching?

More than enough, it turns out.

Continue reading: The Wire: Season Four Review

The Wire: Season One Review


Essential
Baltimore probably doesn't make the top-ten list of most-documented American cities on film. It's a different matter if you're talking about best-documented cities, though, and the credit for that belongs almost entirely to David Simon. A former reporter for the Baltimore Sun, Simon parlayed his tremendous 1991 book Homicide -- which tracked a year in the life of an exceedingly busy Baltimore homicide detail -- into a TV series of the same name. Despite the fact that NBC continually placed it in crummy time slots, the show deservedly survived for seven seasons. (Richard Belzer continues to play its most colorful character, the acerbic Det. John Munch, on Law & Order: SVU.) Simon returned to TV with the HBO miniseries The Corner, based on his book (co-written with former cop Ed Burns) chronicling a year in the life of the residents of a Baltimore drug corner.

Homicide and The Corner, in their concern for covering multiple aspects of race, class, and authority in an American city, made for some of the best television of '90s. The Wire, Simon's series about the intersection of police and the drug trade, ranks among the most nuanced television series in history; it is easily the best police-procedural show that's ever aired. That's in part because the show's writers stubbornly refuse to fall into the clichés of the usual police procedural. The bad guys -- in this case, the men who run the drug trade around Baltimore's housing projects -- are often as shrewd and smart as the cops, with characters just as layered as anybody else. The star of season one, to the extent there is one, is Larry Gilliard Jr., who plays D'Angelo Barksdale, nephew of Avon (Wood Harris), who runs the business out of an office above a strip club. (The show pretty much annihilates the notion of drug dealers living high-class lives in tony neighborhoods. The money's good, but you're always nervous about it, and you're still in the thick of the projects.) A tough-nosed but naïve adolescent, D'Angelo balances the day-to-day work of dealing with handling his friendships, girls, and his future -- to the extent he ponders something that abstract. Nothing in the formal structure of the show -- music, plotting, dialogue -- casts falsely melodramatic judgment on D'Angelo. He is what he is.

Continue reading: The Wire: Season One Review

Getting To Know You Review


Very Good
When I first heard of this film, I immediately got the title reference. Like Joyce Carol Oates, I have lived in Princeton, and remember vaguely that ad series (I believe it was for Bell Atlantic, but am not sure) that featured the song with the thoroughly annoying refrain "Getting to Know You / Getting to Know All About You." For the remainder of the film, this tidbit of a song was stuck in my head. The fact that the film opens with music that seems a slight variant to the song does not help. The presence of such a score in my head for an hour and a half on end is enough to drive just about anyone to insanity.

Perhaps it is the annoying idiosyncratic insanity of that television Ad series that compelled Joyce Carol Oates to write the collection "Heat." Perhaps the filmmakers also heard the ads and, although not compelled to switch their local phone company, were compelled to make a film that would bring this particular psychological thumbscrew to the minds of anyone who lived on the Eastern Seaboard while the ads were running.

Continue reading: Getting To Know You Review

The Wire: Season Two Review


Essential
During its run on HBO, The Wire has established itself as nothing less than an epic television show. It tackles a monstrous issue -- the illegal drug trade, with its manifold social, economic, criminal, and moral implications -- and resounds with the ring of truth like no other police drama before it. Whether an episode features a glimpse into the lives of stevedores at a dying Baltimore port, a candid peek at the inner-workings of city government, or a look at the relationships between cops and the drug dealers they're forever chasing, The Wire gets it, right down to the last bill of lading, backroom deal, and warrant for arrest.

The second season is no different. It's riveting television that pulses with realism, intelligence, and harrowing drama. If by chance you've stumbled upon this review without having watched the first season, update your Netflix queue immediately, with The Wire: Season One at the top. Like nearly all of today's best hour-long dramas, its multilayered storytelling technique demands a great deal of attention to detail from the viewer. The show can't be fully appreciated without understanding each character's nuanced backstory and the history of interactions and conflicts everyone has with one another. So start at the beginning and enjoy.

Continue reading: The Wire: Season Two Review

The Wire: Season Three Review


Essential

Sadly, the most passionate and persuasive argument in recent years against the current disposition of the government's stance in the so-called "War on Drugs" came not from a think tank armed with stats and big ideas or a celebrity eager for a cause, but from a TV show. The third season of The Wire, which aired on HBO in late 2004, continued its sprawling and justifiably lauded Dickensian crawl through its web of stories centering on the inner Baltimore drug trade -- following, with an unusual focus to detail and character, both the gangs fighting for territory and the cops of a major case unit assigned to busting up their organizations. But where the show became more than just an abnormally well-made, balanced, and realistic law and order drama (and there's no need here to heap more praise on the show than already has been done), and became something entirely different, was in the fourth episode, "Amsterdam."

Police major "Bunny" Colvin (previously a supporting player on the show), desperate to see some improvement in his crime-ridden West Baltimore district and tired of watching his cops waste all their time busting street corner dealers to no larger effect, institutes a new policy: If all drug dealers move to three designated zones in the district and sell there, they will not be arrested. In effect, he legalizes the drug trade in a large part of an American city. The cops don't get it, the drug-dealing kids don't either, as it throws into question the entire reality of their limited universe where the kids sell drugs, occasionally they get hassled or arrested, but everything goes on without change; as one of the dealers says, "Why you got to go and fuck with the program?"

The point being made here by the two creative forces behind The Wire -- investigative reporter David Simon and veteran detective Ed Burns, both of whom know this territory better than almost anyone -- is quite simple: the drug trade has atomized vast and forgotten swaths of American cities, like West Baltimore, and decades of simplistic, head-knocking, "tough on crime" enforcement has made zero difference. So, take a page out of Amsterdam's book, where a blind eye is turned to the drug traffic in certain designated areas, and see if you can at least make some poor neighborhoods normal again by ridding them of turf-battling drug gangs.

Colvin -- a strange kind of revolutionary -- gives a speech using the "brown paper bag" analogy Simon introduced in his book The Corner: Men drinking on the street will carry their liquor in a brown paper bag -- the cops know it's liquor but don't arrest them for public drinking because the men are at least making an attempt at hiding the bottle. It's the same with pushing drug dealing to what Colvin calls the "free zones"; it's a civil truce. Call it legalization, call it a truce, call it dealing with reality, Simon's point is that drugs will be dealt, and the more you can keep the trade itself from ruining the social fabric of already distressed neighborhoods, the better. And if you can weave this message into a thrilling hour-long crime drama, all the better.

As for what the remainder of this season dealt with, it would be futile to go into much discussion of that, since The Wire's storylines rival Tolstoy's in their complexity. Suffice it to say that one must watch the show as one reads a book, starting at the beginning of season three -- even with that "previously, on The Wire" intro which HBO prefaces its shows with -- is next to useless. For those who have already been watching, of primary importance is that the show's quality remains undimmed. Simon's writing staff has been beefed up by the addition of top-shelf novelists like Richard Price (Clockers) and George Pelecanos (The Night Gardener), who bring some welcome flourishes of both character-driven realism and pulp crime drama to the proceedings. A few of the show's more central characters get their arcs reversed, with the classically rogueish cop McNulty (a wonderfully snarky Dominic West) coming to a crisis of self-destruction, and striving criminal mastermind Stringer Bell (the iconic and contemplative Idris Elba) finding himself stuck between worlds, too street for the business world and too thoughtful for the street. And although several long-running characters continue to pop up -- like free-range gunslingers Omar (Michael K. Williams) and Brother Mouzone (Michael Potts), and Bubbles (Andre Royo), the junkie who serves as the closest thing The Wire has to a chorus -- story is always sublimated to the overarching themes, with the focus never straying far from Simon's central conceit of the American city in crisis, and what to do about it.

The Wire has cast a sardonic eye on the efficacy of current drug law enforcement since the beginning. In the very first episode, a detective who just used the term "War on Drugs" gets a quick schooling from another detective on why the term just doesn't apply, with the world-wearied quip, "Wars end." By presenting an idea for how one might, if not win a war that has done so much damage to American cities and the economically disadvantaged, then at least call an honorable truce, the show became not just the best show currently on television, but also possibly the most important.

Anyone else see Charlie Brown's shirt?

The Wire: Season One Review


Essential
Baltimore probably doesn't make the top-ten list of most-documented American cities on film. It's a different matter if you're talking about best-documented cities, though, and the credit for that belongs almost entirely to David Simon. A former reporter for the Baltimore Sun, Simon parlayed his tremendous 1991 book Homicide -- which tracked a year in the life of an exceedingly busy Baltimore homicide detail -- into a TV series of the same name. Despite the fact that NBC continually placed it in crummy time slots, the show deservedly survived for seven seasons. (Richard Belzer continues to play its most colorful character, the acerbic Det. John Munch, on Law & Order: SVU.) Simon returned to TV with the HBO miniseries The Corner, based on his book (co-written with former cop Ed Burns) chronicling a year in the life of the residents of a Baltimore drug corner.

Homicide and The Corner, in their concern for covering multiple aspects of race, class, and authority in an American city, made for some of the best television of '90s. The Wire, Simon's series about the intersection of police and the drug trade, ranks among the most nuanced television series in history; it is easily the best police-procedural show that's ever aired. That's in part because the show's writers stubbornly refuse to fall into the clichés of the usual police procedural. The bad guys -- in this case, the men who run the drug trade around Baltimore's housing projects -- are often as shrewd and smart as the cops, with characters just as layered as anybody else. The star of season one, to the extent there is one, is Larry Gilliard Jr., who plays D'Angelo Barksdale, nephew of Avon (Wood Harris), who runs the business out of an office above a strip club. (The show pretty much annihilates the notion of drug dealers living high-class lives in tony neighborhoods. The money's good, but you're always nervous about it, and you're still in the thick of the projects.) A tough-nosed but naïve adolescent, D'Angelo balances the day-to-day work of dealing with handling his friendships, girls, and his future -- to the extent he ponders something that abstract. Nothing in the formal structure of the show -- music, plotting, dialogue -- casts falsely melodramatic judgment on D'Angelo. He is what he is.

Continue reading: The Wire: Season One Review

Getting To Know You Review


Very Good
When I first heard of this film, I immediately got the title reference. Like Joyce Carol Oates, I have lived in Princeton, and remember vaguely that ad series (I believe it was for Bell Atlantic, but am not sure) that featured the song with the thoroughly annoying refrain "Getting to Know You / Getting to Know All About You." For the remainder of the film, this tidbit of a song was stuck in my head. The fact that the film opens with music that seems a slight variant to the song does not help. The presence of such a score in my head for an hour and a half on end is enough to drive just about anyone to insanity.

Perhaps it is the annoying idiosyncratic insanity of that television Ad series that compelled Joyce Carol Oates to write the collection "Heat." Perhaps the filmmakers also heard the ads and, although not compelled to switch their local phone company, were compelled to make a film that would bring this particular psychological thumbscrew to the minds of anyone who lived on the Eastern Seaboard while the ads were running.

Continue reading: Getting To Know You Review

Slam Review


Good
Enter the gritty world of urban street poetry that you never knew existed. Not that you may care too much after seeing Slam, which basically portrays said poetry as "rap lite." The story features a two-bit drug dealer (Williams) who gets arrested and has to wrestle with whether to cop a plea or fight the charges. Along the way, lots of poetry is to be had plus a romance with fellow poet Sohn. The problem of course is that he really is a two-bit drug dealer, not a victim of circumstance, so what the hell do we care? Williams the poet is interesting, but Williams the actor is lacking in focus, alternately lifeless and over-the-top hammy. Unless you're really into the poetry slam scene, you'll likely find yourself wishing for a tome of Whitman or Frost.
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Sonja Sohn Movies

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