Friday, January 12, 2018

Film Friday: Five Reviews

Nocturnal Animals:  Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal.
Pro:  Adams isn't difficult on the eyes.  The story within the story was entertaining. Certain scenes stood out as particularly well-shot.   There was an occasional, and unexpected, funny line.
Con:  I didn't care about the characters in the base story.  There were a few plot points that seemed silly.  The opening scene just seemed to be there for shock value.  Adams spent much of her screen time reminding me of other actresses: Julianne Moore mostly, but also Jennifer Aniston.       

Videodrome:  James Woods, Deborah Harry.
Pro:  It's different.  I get the sense that Cronenberg was saying something serious, but he wrapped it in an entertaining blend of horror and thriller. Woods as a slightly sketchy, but still likeable guy.
Con:  It's a bit too weird.  Too depressing. Not thrilled with the violence - sex ratio.     

The Paperboy:  Zac Efron, Nicole Kidman.
Pro:  It's a well-developed plot (maybe because it's based on a novel).  It's not too predictable.  I liked seeing John Cusack play a different type of character than his usual.
Con:  It's not a happy movie. A bit discomforting.

Being John Malkovich:  John Cusack, John Malkovich.
Pro:  Catherine Keener.  It's unique.  Some funny moments.   The Sean Penn cameo.
Con:  The plot went in directions I did not appreciate.  The ending.

Whiplash:  Miles Teller, J.K. Simmons. 
Pro:  Simmons.  It's nice to see jazz get some attention. Not as simple as I thought it would be.
Con:  A couple scenes were a bit far-fetched.  The MC wasn't very likeable.



Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Tuesday Ten: Podcasts

Ask Me Another:  Game show hosted by Ophira Eisenberg.  Funny stuff and easy to play along. They have celebrity guests, like Rose McGowan, Lili Taylor, Jason Mraz, Rita Dove, etc.
Whine:  They resort to re-runs more than I wish they would.
Status: Current

Criminal:  True crime show hosted by Phoebe Judge.  The episodes are wide-ranging despite all being under the crime umbrella.  Judge has a good voice for podcasting.
Whine:  The eps are a bit on the short side.
Status:  Current  

Deviant Women, Stuff You Missed in History Class:  Women talking about history. The former focuses on nonconformist women (female pirates, for example), while the latter is more wide-ranging (Trail of Tears, Poe's death, etc.).
Whine:  Both annoyed me with their leftist politics.*
Status:  I have moved on from both. See above.   

This American Life:  Wide-ranging radio show (accessible over the internet after it airs) hosted by Ira Glass.  Usually three or four stories in each ep, for a total of about an hour.
Whine:  I don't like the multiple-story format. Or maybe I wish the connections would be stronger.
Status:  Current    

F This Movie!:  Movie podcast hosted by Patrick Bromley.  He has guests, usually one per ep, though sometimes more.  I like that they talk about older movies a lot.  It's a good podcast for movies you've seen, while most movie podcasts seem to be for current movies.
Whine:  My complaints are mostly Bromley-related. So not much I can say without being rude. Though I do wish there was less of a bias toward horror.  
Status:  Current, but selective.       

Welcome to Nightvale:  Fictional podcast starring Cecil Baldwin, who plays a small-town radio host. Various other people play different residents of the town.  It's goofy and unique.  Often funny.
Whine:  It can be tough to follow at times, with so much happening and the intervals between eps. Some of the plot lines are a bit too weird for my taste.
Status:  Current, when I get around to it. 

Pop Culture Happy Hour:  Books, music, movies, television, etc.   So it's about some of my favorite things, at least in theory.  They have multiple hosts, so it's easy to get different perspectives and recommendations.
Whine:  A bit too current for me and my pathetic budget.
Status:  I have moved on, but that's not the podcast's fault.    

Fresh Air:  Mainly an interview show hosted by Terry Gross.  Also has film and music reviews by professional critics. Interviewees have included Bruce Springsteen, John Le Carre, Jimmy Fallon, Amy Tan, Anthony Bourdain, Tom Petty, and HRC.
Whine:  Definitely a leftist bias.  It goes a bit deeper, but it's complicated.    
Status:  Current, but selective.   

Serial:  Investigative journalism podcast hosted by Sarah Koenig.  Season One focused on a murder and the convicted young man's claim that he was innocent.  Season Two was about Bowe Bergdahl's desertion case.
Whine:  They abandoned what I liked about the show when they went form an obscure case I hadn't heard about to one of the most talked-about cases in the country. Also, the break between seasons was very long.
Status:  I decided to skip Season Two when Bergdahl was announced as the topic.  Apparently there are going to be future seasons, so I'll probably check back to see what the topics are.       

Alice Isn't Dead, The Orbiting Human Circus, Within the Wires:  Fictional podcasts affiliated with the Welcome to Nightvale people.  Though not connected to the latter in content.  As with Nightvale, each has a decent amount of creativity and quirkiness.
Whine:  As with Nightvale, these shows are hard to follow.
Status:  I have moved on from the latter two.  I haven't officially moved on from Alice, but I haven't listened to it in a long while.  

*  Yes, I'm aware that leftist bias can describe most of these podcasts.  But with these two, I believe it crossed the line.  

Monday, January 8, 2018

Reading Challenges

A blogger I follow requested recommendations of books to read for her reading challenges.  She has a lot of categories to fill, so I decided to do a post instead of a way-too-long comment.

Note:  I only included books that I've read and gave 4 stars or higher to on Goodreads.

2.  True Crime
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil - John Berendt
Brooklyn Noir 3: Nothing But the Truth - Tim McLoughlin (editor)

5.  Nordic Noir
The Man Who Smiled - Henning Mankell
Faceless Killers - Henning Mankell

6. Novel based on a real person:
On the Road - Jack Kerouac
Junky - William S. Burroughs

8.  Time of Day in the Title
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil - John Berendt
Long Midnight of Barney Thomson - Douglas Lindsay
Blue of Noon - Georges Bataille

9.  Villain or anti-hero:
Darkly Dreaming Dexter - Jeff Lindsay
The Collector - John Fowles
The Talented Mr. Ripley - Patricia Highsmith
My Friend Dahmer - Derf Backderf

13. Play
Six Degrees of Separation - John Guare
Copenhagen - Michael Hayn
Hamlet - William Shakespeare
Macbeth - Shakespeare

14.  By an author of a different ethnicity (the requester is white)
The Man in My Basement - Walter Mosley
Grace Notes - Rita Dove
American Smooth - Rita Dove
There Are More Beautiful Things than Beyonce - Morgan Parker
Scandal - Shusaku Endo
69 - Ryu Murakami

15.  Feminism
Final Girl - Daphne Gottlieb
A Working Girl Can't Win - Deborah Garrison

27.  Set on a different planet:
Tales from the Mos Eisley Cantina - Kevin Anderson (editor)
Tales from Jabba's Palace - Kevin Anderson (editor)

3.  Classic of Genre Fiction
The Long Goodbye - Raymond Chandler
A Coffin for Dimitrios - Eric Ambler
The Spy Who Came In from the Cold - John Le Carre

7.  Western
Hombre - Elmore Leonard

12. Celebrity Memoir
A Moveable Feast - Ernest Hemingway

15. A one-sitting book:
Last Chapter and Worse - Gary Larson

18.  Graphic novel not published by DC, Marvel, or Image:
Tamara Drewe - Posy Simmonds
Cairo - - G. Willow Wilson
The Fate of the Artist - Eddie Campbell

Friday, January 5, 2018

Film Friday: Three Reviews

Pro:  It's a well-made film.  The acting is good.  It stayed interesting, despite the basic result already being known.
Con:  They made up a lot of stuff, and not all of it was justifiable. I didn't like the background info part at the beginning; too Hollywood leftist.
Rating:  7 / 10

Pro:  Good acting.  Plenty of funny moments.
Con:  The MC is kind of low-level sketchy.  Maybe it's bad timing with all the female hypocrisy, HRC not going away, and Molly's Game commercials on TV frequently.  But I don't appreciate this kind of feminism.  Also, there are certain scenes where it's obviously written / directed by a woman.
Rating:  8 / 10

Pro:  Emily Mortimer and Kelli Garner. 
Con:  The MC isn't likeable and he kind of had to be for the plot to work.  The film tried to be cute and just came across as silly and dumb.
Rating:  5 / 10 

Friday, December 29, 2017

Film Friday: My Favorite James Bond Films

Film:  #1 over-all / #1 of the Sean Connery era.

Bond Girl:  Tatiana Romanova (Daniela Bianchi) - #7
Ally:  Kerim Bey (Pedro Armendariz) - #1

Film:    #2 over-all / #1 of the Daniel Craig era.
Bond Girl:  Vesper Lynd (Eva Green) - #1

Film:  #3 over-all / #2 of the Connery era.
Bond Girl:  Honey Ryder (Ursula Andress) - #2

Film:  #4 over-all / #1 of the Roger Moore era.
Bond Girl:  Major Amasova (Barbara Bach) - #5

Film:  #5 over-all / #2 of the Moore era.
Bond Girl: Solitaire (Jane Seymour) - #4
Henchman:  Baron Samedi (Geoffrey Holder) - #1

Evil women (Xenia Onatopp, Fiona Volpe, etc.) and women in minor roles (Plenty O'Toole, Jill Masterson, etc.) are not Bond Girls.

GoldenEye, the best of the Pierce Brosnan era,  checks in at #10 over-all.

Timothy Dalton starred in two and George Lazenby one, none of which are in my top ten.

The #1 villain is Francisco Scaramanga (Christopher Lee), the title character in The Man with the Golden Gun.

The #1 Bond is Sean Connery.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

An Elliptical Contest: Round Twelve

2017 in Review

1.  In August, much ado was made of an eclipse. Why?
2.  In August, the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history occurred.  What is it called?  
3.  In September, 755 U.S. diplomats were expelled from which country?
4.  Who was the most popular Halloween costume in 2017?
5.  Which country repeatedly annoyed the U.S. with nuclear tests and thinly veiled threats?

6.  January - She made it after all.  To the Great Newsroom in the Sky.
7.  March - One of the best guitarists in rock history.  Also sang and duck walked. 
8.  May - James Bond in seven films, including Live and Let Die.
9.  September - Founded Playboy.
10.  October - He don't come around here anymore.  He stopped livin' like a refugee.     

Three points for the winner.

Tie goes to earliest entrant involved in the tie.

Deadline:  11:59 PM - December 31 (Pacific time)