Category Archives: movies

2016 Top 5: Things I Watched

I will freely admit that I spend too much time watching television. I should probably figure out something better to do with my time, but since I watched it, I’m going to review it.  Here are the Top 5 things I watched this year, including both movies and television shows.

#1 – The Expanse

Have I gushed about The Expanse yet?  Oh, that’s right, I have.  I watched the first season twice this year, once on my own, and once with friends. I absolutely love it. The characters, the visuals, and above all, the story are wonderful in their own rights.

I will often gush about this absolutely gorgeous scene from the middle of the season with Chrisjen Avasarala walking through snow in Montana in her sari that is just so visually stunning and so in character than it blows me away every time I see it.

Not what you would expect from a space opera, is it? But there you have it.

#2 – Stranger Things

Did you see it yet? Because you totally should. This quirky startling Netflix show draws heavily on ’80s nostalgia, but also weaves a spooky scary story that comes together with a satisfying conclusion. #TeamBarbForever

 

#3 – Arrival

I honestly heard almost nothing about Arrival before it was released, but then I started seeing reviews saying it was the best sci-fi movie of the year, and strongly implying that I would be a fool to miss it. And I am not a fool.

Arrival is a wonderful first encounter story with a lot of twists and turns (and strangely also set in Montana…) and I really don’t want to give away anything that might spoil it. If you have seen it, I’d love to discuss. If you loved Interstellar, Arrival should be at the top of your list.

#4 – Supergirl / The Flash

You didn’t think I wouldn’t try to sneak in something extra to my top 5 list, did you? But look at these two cinnamon rolls who are too good, too pure for this world.

It is no secret that I have a secret crush on The Flash is my favorite superhero. I didn’t know what to make of Supergirl, until they did a crossover episode last season. I loved it, and as soon as I had access to the full season, I crushed it. Supergirl is a wonderful story about finding one’s place in the world, and making a difference. I love the scenes when Callista Flockhart’s character, Cat Grant, takes either Supergirl or her alter-ego Kara Danvers under her wing to mentor and explain how things work in a woman’s world.  There has been a coming-out story in this season that has been absolutely heart wrenching and heartwarming at the same time.

And, I mean, the Flash. Just look at him. 😀  Both of these shows are on my “can’t miss it” list.

#5 – The Great British Bake Off

It should come as no surprise that The Great British Bake Off makes my list. The show is just so British, and baking. My heart breaks that it is leaving the BBC, and losing 3 of its 4 hosts. If you aren’t in the know, it is a baking competition that happens in a tent in the English countryside. There are no contrivances, no voting off your enemies and saving your friends. You continue onward only on the basis of your skill baking. It is heartwarming and hilarious and very very British.

I’ve been looking for a picture for the last 10 minutes, and I just can’t stop looking. 😀 Here’s one from the No Context Bake Off twitter feed, and it is just perfect.  I can’t really describe the show any better.


Bonus! – Kubo and the Two Strings

I just watched this one last week, and I’m not sure I’m ready to add it officially to my top 5 for the year. But you should watch it. It didn’t really stay around in the theaters long enough, but this stop-motion animation was strikingly gorgeous and told a fantastic story of love, loss, and redemption.  Check it out.

 

So those are my favs for the year.  What did you watch and love this year?  What did I miss?

Favorite Books = Awful Movies


I just finished watching the screen “adaptation” of one of my favorite books, The Dark is Rising. It was horrible. I wanted to stab my eyes out after I realized how horrible it was. The screenwriter should be stripped of his membership in the Writer’s Guild, and quite possibly incarcerated for crimes against literature. (Where’s Thursday Next when you need her?)

I’ve basically decided that no one should ever be allowed to adapt my favorite books to movie format. They’ll just get it so terribly wrong.

The Dark is Rising sequence is one of my favorite books from childhood. I’ve read the books many many times, and they always thrill me. The story is a common one in the childhood fantasy genre… Young boy discovers he has powers. Boy is sent on a quest. Turns out failure in quest will result in the destruction of all that is good and right in the world. Boy doubts himself. It seems the wrong people will win, but at the last possible minute everything pulls together, and boy completes quest, saving us all. And defeating Evil or Voldemort or something.

The sequence is rooted in Welsh and Celtic mythology, and comes complete with a poem that guides the characters.

The movie, however, has none of these things. The quest was reduced to episodic happenstance, where the boy who will save us all, basically had to stop snivelling to succeed. Unfortunately for everyone involved, the tale of the good and bad in all of us turned into a moody teenage tale. There were two moments where the stupidity of the screenwriter stood out. The first, in a scene not even imagined in the book, Will, the Boy, distracts a Viking bent on killing his sister with a lucky ring of his wristwatch. (Really? The alarm just happened to be set to go off when the viking had his ax raised? At like 2:47 in the afternoon or something… Who sets their watch that randomly) The second involved a prize fighting chicken that had been taxidermied in 1690, and kept in the same pub for over 400 years, at which point it still looked as good as new.

The book would have made a great movie. It probably wouldn’t have competed with the likes of Harry Potter, but the sequence has potential as a valid fantasy offering to stand alongside The Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, and Mr Potter. That of course relies on the screenwriter not completely destroying the soul of the book at his whim and burdening it down with stupid trivialities.

At least I know that Orson Scott Card will never allow Ender’s Game to become a crappy movie. At least, I hope so. Maybe I shouldn’t count that chicken before it hatches.

Magic Box

I’ve been coveting a Roku Netflix Viewer for a while now. For the uninitiated, the Roku Netflix Viewer is a set-top box that connects to the TV, and the internet, and streams movies from your Netflix queue. The library of streamable content isn’t as extensive as the whole Netflix library, but still with 12,000 titles, it’s not like you’d run out very quickly.

My Netflix subscription has been kind of idle, but ever present of late. I don’t watch a lot of movies, because there are plenty of other things to do, read, run, waste hours on the internet, write, slog, whatever. During the winter, I do tend to have a bit more free time, so I was anticipating using my subscription a little more. The whole mailing things off part of the subscription has made me more hesitant to use it lately, after someone tried to steal one of the discs I was mailing back. (Weren’t they surprised to see A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum in that envelope!) Plus you have to have a great sense of rhythm to get movies when you want them.

I broke down on Monday and got myself a Roku. I’d almost pulled the trigger several times over the last few weeks, but finally decided to do it. Part of me wants to be cutting edge, and part of me wants to be able to say, hey, we could watch movies at my place on this cold winter evening. And we’re not limited to my embarrassingly juvenile collection.

It came in the mail today, and since I really didn’t want to go out tonight, I installed it. Let me tell you, this thing is magic. I had already picked out a number of movies and television shows that I wanted to watch. I tested an episode of Heroes, and the picture was virtually indistinguishable from cable. My laptop hates streaming (and it hates me, and I hate it, so we’re even), so I was expecting problems figuring that it was probably at least partly the connection. Not so. The only jumping occurred when I accidentally whacked the remote with my foot. The sound was a little weird during one episode of The Office that I tested, but that was all. Everything else was great.

In the end, Jason and I watched the first five episodes of Jericho, this short-lived post-apocalyptic drama from CBS. It was an amazingly great picture, and I can’t wait to use this magic box more. I feel a Hitchcock marathon coming on. 🙂 Or maybe I should settle for Magnum PI…

Top 5 Moving Pictures of 2008

To round out the year, many of the blogs that I read are doing their year in summary posts these days. I thought I’d follow suit. I’ve compiled several lists of my favorite things from 2008. I think that it will provide a welcome relief from other recent subjects.

This first list is rather broad. I’m counting anything that I watched, on a big or small screen, for the first time in 2008. And basically, it’s just the 5 things that stand out in my mind. I probably forgot more than I remembered.

Here goes:

5- Strangers on a Train –

I had people over to watch this classic Hitchcock film, after asking Brian of Brian Presents fame for some recommendation to spice up my Netflix queue. The Carousel scene haunts me to this day.

4- Sherlock Jr

Another Brian Presents entry. This was my initiation into the world of silent films. I laughed, I cried.

Here’s the Chase Scene from the end (Be warned, it’s long, but well well worth the time to watch it.)

3- Iron Man

Iron Man proved a point to me. Don’t always believe the critics. I had heard a scathing review on my way home from work, and had no intention of seeing it. Fortunately, somehow I managed to stumble across the Rotten Tomato index for the movie. It was a stunning 93% fresh. Apparently, the poor review that I’d heard on NPR was the only bad review. It was a fun fresh movie.

2- Dr Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog

I’ve already talked this one up. It was so clever and witty that it inspired me to dress as Dr. Horrible for Halloween. If you still haven’t seen it, check it out at Hulu.com.

1- The Constant, LOST season 4, Epsiode 5.

Hands down the best episode of LOST, ever. EVER. I don’t even know where to begin. The whole Desmond / Penny plotline is one of the most wrenching, raw, real emotion parts of the show, and the story, the directing, and the acting all came together in one beautiful episode. If the rest of the show fizzles out (highly unlikely), The Constant will have made the whole series worth it to me.

I’m not one to cry, but of all of the shows I saw this year, this one brought me the closest to tears.

You have to be well grounded in Lost lore to really understand this episode, so I won’t put a clip. If you aren’t, you should be. I think ABC.com is still streaming all of the episode from all of the seasons. Go! Now!

And a bonus:
Show I most like to complain about:

Heroes Season 3. The plot is rambling all over the place. Foreshadowings are ignored, characters are taken down inconsistent paths. I watch, and I hope they tie a nice bow on it, but it doesn’t happen. What happened to Heroes, Season 1? That was awesome.

So there you go. My top 5 Moving Pictures for 2008. What are yours?