Monday, February 13, 2012

Reading/Watching/Etc.


(Disclaimer: I haven't been reading much in paper/book form lately, other than slogging through my usual heap of magazines, so this installment will focus more on the watching than usual.)


READING:

George Harrison: Living in the Material World by Olivia Harrison

Crap At My Parents' House by Joel Dovev (as originated on this blog right over here)


WATCHING (MOVIES):

Drive / The Ides of March
An accidental Ryan Gosling double-header. I liked them both, though if I were asked to pick a favorite, I didn't really get attached enough to either one to care.

The Life of Reilly (via Netflix instant viewing)
I've had this in my queue for about two years, and after waiting in vain for them to get it in DVD form, I finally caved and watched it online. (I'm not really into the online viewing thing just yet -- maybe my connections are just too slow, but everything gets choppy and I feel tethered to my computer monitor.) Thoroughly enjoyed it -- I knew him from game shows, but wow, the guy had one hell of a life beyond mugging for the camera.

50/50
Really good, even better than I'd heard. Moving and funny.

Cave of Forgotten Dreams
It's a beautiful little documentary about a cave full of ancient paintings, but holy crap, I couldn't stay awake through this one. I don't know if it was the setting, or the Yanni-by-way-of-an-Ambien-commercial soundtrack, but honest to god, I tried watching it all the way through three separate times and each time, it was a one-way ticket to Snoozeville for me.

Super 8 / Attack the Block
Two movies about kids confronting aliens, with two very different outcomes. I liked
Super 8 but found it predictable and a little too palpably Spielberg-ian; Attack the Block is a little harder to warm up to, because there's more kids to keep track of and waaaaaaaaaaay more violence and moral ambiguity to wade through, but I ultimately found it more rewarding and more memorable to watch. If I had to pick a favorite out of these two, it'd be Attack the Block, for sure.

Green Lantern
This was pretty terrible.

Moneyball
I couldn't care less about baseball, but was utterly transfixed by this movie. As I was watching it I kept thinking, "Wow, this sounds like an Aaron Sorkin screenplay," stupidly oblivious to the fact that it
was an Aaron Sorkin screenplay until I got to the credits at the end.

Midnight in Paris
I don't really know what all the fuss is about with this one -- it's perfectly fine, but it didn't blow me away or anything. One criticism that I've read elsewhere that rang true with me was about how all the artists are portrayed as charmingly flawed individuals, while all the "real" people (with the exception of Owen Wilson's character) are fairly terrible and unlikeable. It's a pleasant little piece of fluff, but not anything that'll stick to your ribs.

Super
This movie didn't seem to know what it wanted to be. I liked a lot of the ingredients in the mix -- Ellen Page, Rainn Wilson, James Gunn, superhero movies in general -- but something about the tone was off.

The Muppets
Saw this in the theater on opening weekend and loved it. Jason Segel and his collaborators breathed life back into the franchise (although truth be told, I think Muppets In Space had its strong points) and I hope there's another movie somewhere down the line. And I hope they let them perform "Man or Muppet" at the Oscars, too, for pete's sake.

Star Wars Uncut: Director's Cut
Fans divvied up the original Star Wars movie into 15-second clips and remade them using live action, animation, claymation...you name it, it's in there. Even if you don't have two hours to devote to watching it in its entirety, it's definitely worth checking out for a few minutes just to see the scope of creativity & love that went into this thing.





WATCHING (TV):

Key & Peele
Sketch shows have a, well, sketchy history on Comedy Central -- it seems like every time I go & bother getting attached to one (i.e., Stella, Michael & Michael Have Issues, etc.), Comedy Central fumbles it and cancels it just when it's really starting to hum along. Here's hoping Key & Peele gets to stick around a little longer, because I think they've got some pretty funny stuff to say.

Circus
This documentary miniseries aired on PBS about a year ago -- I caught the first one or two episodes but then got sidetracked and missed the rest. When it popped up on Netflix (on DVD and on-demand) I went back and watched it all in one weekend...it's so, so good. I came to it not really giving a rip about circuses one way or the other, and came away so impressed that I went out and bought the show off the PBS website.



And, as an offshoot of Circus: I fell in love with the show's theme song, and subsequently fell in love with the album it came from. Behold, The Features and "Whatever Gets You By" (from their album Some Kind of Salvation). (Seriously, this didn't come out of my car's CD player for a month after I got it.)



RuPaul's Drag Race, season 4
It's back! It's more ridiculous than ever! And they're finally recapping it every week on the A.V. Club!! SQUEEEEEEAL!

Mary Tyler Moore, season 1
I had a bit of a TV dry spell after Christmas and was looking to fill in the gap...I started with the first season of this from Netflix and have been nibbling my way through those for the past few weeks. What I love about it so far is that while it's very much of-its-time, change the clothes and the sets and this could absolutely be transposed into the present day. The writing is that strong, and the characterizations so clear. Looking forward to eventually getting to the Betty White years.

Downton Abbey, season 2
Love it, but man, this second season's been kind off-the-rails, hasn't it? I'm willing to suspend a certain amount of disbelief in the name of period costume dramas, but that bit with the guy with the burned-off face showing up...and the long, drawn-out saga of Bates and Vera dragging on forever and ever...and that Sybil and the chauffeur plotline...okay, some of it has been fairly ridiculous and is trying my patience. But I'm told things wrap up in a satisfactory manner with the Christmas episode next week, so here's hoping it ends on a redeeming note.

The Middle, Seasons Two (on DVD) and Three (airing now)
This show doesn't reinvent the wheel, but it's funny and good-natured and sometimes, that sort of thing just hits the spot. It's one that I tend to forget to tune into when it's on, but it's the kind that's easy to binge on in DVD form over the course of a weekend, so it all evens out eventually.

Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, Season Two
This season lacked some of the fun of the first, but it still reliably delivered moments such as the following:




ETC.:

Podcasts -- Lately I've been listening to a lot of Pop Culture Happy Hour, Mike and Tom Eat Snacks, and How Did This Get Made? Alas, I've been falling behind on This American Life and many others, but there's just so many hours in a day, really. I can't absorb everything!

Making Stuff -- I've been crocheting a lot this winter, mostly scarves and potholders and Christmas presents and stuff like that. I've got a few more projects in the hopper and lately I've amassed a mighty pile of patterns to add to my to-do list, so here's hoping I stay motivated for the foreseeable future.


2 comments:

Yankee Librarian said...

I haven't been watching RuPaul, but I do enjoy following Dan Savage's tweets about it.

I was going to suggest you begin listening to Mike and Tom Eat Snacks. I don't listen to it regularly, but I found out about it through Pop Culture Happy Hour, which, of course, I LOVE.

As for The Middle... I really enjoy this show. I think it hits the Midwest pretty dead on. I've read some criticism on it's portrayal (that it dumb downs the Midwest), but I think it does the exact opposite.

Mary said...

I don't think it dumbs down the Midwest, either. It's a sitcom, so by nature there's going to be some exaggerations here & there...but I feel like generally, the Hecks' reality isn't far off from the reality of a lot of people I grew up with. The silliness quotient is upped a little, but as far as their house and crappy cars and their family dynamics, I think they ring true.

And oh my god, I love Sue Heck. One of the best portrayals of a middle-school-aged girl I've seen on TV in years. (Although I guess she's in high school now, but still. It's so fun seeing a female teenaged character who isn't a beauty queen/queen bee type and who just marinates in her own blithe awkwardness.)