Star Wars: The Force Awakens was made, and made well, from top to bottom, by people that love Star Wars. Though heavy on the nostalgia, it skips today’s rampant “reimagining” and captures the fun and excitement of the universe while standing up as a modern movie. A great addition to the series.
I think most people, including myself sometimes, watch too much TV, but I don’t think the right amount of TV is zero. We really are in a golden age for the artform and with the putrefaction of the film industry, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with enjoying it in limited quantities. My thoughts on some current and recent shows:
American Ninja Warrior
This show has been on for a while but I had never even attempted to watch it because it has a terrible name. I caught part of an episode last year and realized it was not some campy parody of a Japanese game show but something else entirely. If you’re not familiar, it is a relatively simple concept. Contestants run an obstacle course with the primary goal being to finish the course and the secondary goal being time. The twist here is that the course is incredibly hard. Most people fail. They don’t get any practice and if they make one mistake they are done. In this age of coddling and positive reinforcement this show takes us back to the days when video games didn’t have save files, when the 10th best hitter on the baseball team rode the bench all season, and cars would explode in minor accidents if they didn’t impale you on the steering wheel first. It reminds us how satisfying hard work can be and there is no doubt that the frustration and happiness of the contestants is real.
Recently cancelled, hopefully to be picked up elsewhere, I am surprised it even made it this far. It is a very dark, very deliberate, very long story. The imagery, music, and sounds are often vague and pretentious, but they are always detailed and highly crafted if not beautiful. And with all due respect to Anthony Hopkins, Mads Mikkelsen is amazing as Hannibal Lecter. I recently watched a bit of Silence of the Lambs and Hopkins’ take on the role is almost clownish.
Halt and Catch Fire
A couples romance where the main conflict driver is entrepreneurship. The show captures what feels like a very authentic bleakness about 1980’s Texas. After two seasons, the writing has become a bit aimless but the characters are authentic and the acting is very good.
This show is brand new, but the pilot was amazing. If someone said they were going to do a mashup of Dexter and Fight Club and maybe throw a teeny bit of Sherlock Holmes (Elementary-style) in, I don’t know what I’d expect but this show pulls that off. The pilot could have easily been tweaked into a good movie and is one of the best I’ve ever seen. The rest of season one was not as good but more sustainable, and has maintained the thriller aspect. Christian Slater is television poison, but he has a limited role that doesn’t leverage his usually hamminess, so we’ll see if the curse can be reversed here.
George Miller pulled off an impressive feat with Mad Max: Fury Road. After a 30 year hiatus, he managed to craft a movie that is better in every conceivable way than the previous 3 installments. It’s everything an action movie should be: fun, fresh, relentless, uncompromising, and extreme but, perhaps most surprisingly, not dumb.
Watchmen is an adaptation of a comic series that should have been longer into a movie that should have been shorter. Action was slick and acting was much better than expected, but the story preserved the uneven pacing of the source rather than remedying it. A noble and ambitious attempt with mediocre results.
So, I had meant to do this sooner, but here’s the follow-up to my 1-day update after 18 months of using Vista.
- I haven’t downgraded to XP, nor felt any need to. On the flip side I’m still running XP at home, and haven’t felt the need to upgrade.
- It hasn’t crashed. Nope, not once.
- The one vista feature I’ve grown to use is the “Start Search” box, which is basically a slower/simpler version of Quicksilver, but provides most of the functionality you need (i.e. finding programs and files you don’t use all day).
Well, that’s about it.
Oh, the Macbook I gave to Phil when I got the PC? He used it for a while, but after too many problems with it, he eventually had to go and buy a replacement (his 4th Macbook in 2 years).
This movie was so uniformly bad I couldn’t even finish watching it. It’s basically a really bad Adam Sandler movie without Adam Sandler. It has people in it who have otherwise been reliably funny, so it’s difficult to fathom the odds of that many funny people making an entirely unwatchable movie. Wow. Horrible.
Ramsay’s was quite simply the finest meal and dining experience I’ve ever had. Reeny is a big fan of his show, and I’ve watched it here and there, so I had some confidence he knew what he was talking about and that he had very high standards (important since he is not actually the chef there). The food was astonishingly good, from the artichoke soup to the Black Cod to the Kobe short rib, everything was A+. The highlight was either the soup or the scallop, both were so good it’s impossible to pick. The service was perfect too, we never felt like we were waiting nor did we feel rushed. If you’re even in NYC, make sure you visit this place, assuming you can make reservations two months ahead…
The White Barn Inn, a recommendation of Dina, was also memorable. While not quite as good as Ramsay, it’s easily the best place I’ve been to in New England. I opted for the lamb, Reeny for the beef, and both dishes were great as well as the other courses. The atmosphere is cozy, the service was very good, highly recommended when you’re down east.
Superbad, the newest Apatow -flavored flick, is yet another “high school is ending” teen comedy, but unlike too many of its predecessors, it’s hilarious. The humor actually masks the fact that it’s a well-written, well-paced story, so even if you’re too old to laugh at it, you’ll probably enjoy it.