SIDEBAR
»
S
I
D
E
B
A
R
«
What I’ve Been Playing/Watching/Reading [GO/IB/FB/BT]
Jun 1st, 2011 by Dan

Totoro(rororo)

Here’s another breakdown of the media I’ve been consuming:

Video Games:

I haven’t talked about these for a long while, so I’m just gonna go over recent history, post-robbery.

L.A. Noire – Just beat it last night. I think that the game premise shows a lot of potential, but the true masterpiece will be any game that piggybacks off of this one. Why did they feel the need to open world this? It only creates dissonance between the character as portrayed and the character they want him to be. Also: interrogations are neat, but very tough.

StarCraft, Mass Effect, and Portal (all part 2) – Been meaning to fix some choices that my Paragon Shepard made in ME2 before ME3, so I was getting some of that done. Portal 2 multiplayer with Eric was lots of fun. Now I can’t wait for the new “test” this summer. I hope they’re a lot harder. Played SC2 with Min and Simon. We did alright as long as I wasn’t goofing off trying to Hellion rush the enemy. Turns out those flamethrower cars don’t have AA. Fancy that.

Movies:

Bridesmaids – Super hilarious. Kristen Wiig is one of my favorite comedic actors and it’s great to see her find success. I hope this means good things for female-led comedies (no more Heigl, please! (unless she’s in an Apatow movie)). Worth watching.

My Neighbor Totoro – How did I get to be 25 without seeing this movie? The landmark Studio Ghibli feature was heartwarming and fun and just awesome. A sincere movie that is hard not to love.

Love and Other Drugs – I constantly recommend films to friends, but I don’t often watch their recs if I know they’re not gonna be very good. Since that’s kind of hypocritical of me I took this recommendation despite knowing in advance that the movie wasn’t very good. Guess what, it isn’t, but I also knew it had a lot of Anne Hathaway’s boobs in it, so I guess I win anyway.

Animal Kingdom – Australian gangster film. Well done, but not quite as interesting as I was hoping it would be. Gotta love the accents, but creepy uncles are always weird…and creepy.

TV:

Trem̩ РSeason 2 started and I fell about six weeks behind. Watched the first episode last night. I still love these characters, but without the urgency of post-Katrina I have even less of an idea of what the characters are doing now. I kind of like it a little more, but that may just be familiarity. The show also continues to impress with its strong music.

The Office – I’m about two episodes in and Ricky Gervais is proving to be the absolute worst boss possible. Micheal Scott has nothing on how cringeworthy Gervais’ David Brent is. Martin Freeman’s Tim is also meaner than Jim in the US The Office, but I think I like his early character more. I’m interested in seeing this through, it’s only about six hours, after all, and I like succinct series.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer – The opposite of succinct. Don’t think I’ve mentioned that I started watching this show at all. I’m about four episodes into season 2. S1 was pretty good, but we’ve advanced much further in television since then. It’s so very 90s and I think that Joss Whedon is a better writer now than he was then. S2 opened with an unbearable episode with Buffy being super emo, but it moved on to be as enjoyable as S1. I’m not 100% on board with this show like other people might be, but it’s been solid.

Mad Men – I’m 2/3 of the way through the first season and I’m really enjoying it. So far I’ve been most impressed by the superb acting. Don Draper and the rest of the cast are all so nuanced and interesting that I can’t help but silence the annoyance at the period-appropriate mistreatment of women and the job-appropriate philandering. Fantastic show so far.

Parks and Recreation – What a stellar third season. I wish NBC hadn’t given us two straight weeks of two episodes because then I’d still have P&R for a little bit longer. This is, without a doubt, the finest comedy on television right now. I can’t wait until it’s on Netflix Instant so that I can watch it with Min and Tiffany (that’s right, watch it two more times!).

Community – A season of ups and downs ends on some solid up episodes. Throw in the promise of a reduced role for Chevy Chase (thank you Dan Harmon, he was getting old) and I’m pretty hyped for this show (not as hyped as I am for S4 of Parks and Rec).

Glee – What a weak season. No, seriously, it was super weak. The magic and fire of season 1 has been lost, no doubt thanks to how successful this show has been. Risks are gone, the music is much more poppy and less classic/Broadway, and the writers keep pushing the angsty relationships of the characters to the forefront as if anyone cares. Guess what, Ryan Murphy, we don’t care about Finn and Rachel! We really don’t. Every time I want to quit this show they manage to do one number that keeps me hooked, but this season hasn’t made me want to buy any recordings. Original songs? No thanks. What was up with the finale? Where was the spectacle? There were barely any numbers in it! I’ll probably watch next year, but you’re on notice, Glee.

Books:

The Hunger Games – Think Koshun Takami’s Battle Royale, but Young Adult. Dystopian future with annual deathmatches between 24 teenagers. Brutal, but with a heart. The series is being built up to be the next big thing and I think it’s worth it. A quick, snappy read with enough violence in it to hide the fact that it’s kind of a book for girls. Fight your sexism on this and give it a try. You might enjoy it.

The Last Best League – A book about the Cape Cod baseball league as the last real talent pool before kids start their professional career. I’m a little biased against New England and their overenthusiastic love of themselves and everything they do, so I don’t get into the flowery fellating of the region. Still, I like a good non-fiction baseball drama. Still early in it, should be interesting.

A Visit From the Goon Squad – Jennifer Egan’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel lived up to the hype I’d seen. The book is not an easy read, every chapter is from a new perspective, with different styles (including one that is a powerpoint printout) and different characters (they all tie into one person, in particular, but some have characters who are never mentioned again), but it’s an interesting look at the way time changes everyone and everything and the way that the world itself is changing as we hurdle onward in time. Definitely a good book.

What I’m Watching [IB]
Feb 17th, 2011 by Dan

Japanese TV

Been a while since I’ve talked about the tv I’m watching. Here’s a breakdown:

Justified

Based on novels and a short story by Elmore Leonard, Justified is about to enter its second season. I’m catching up on S1 and I gotta say I’m a huge fan of US Marshal Raylan Givens (played by Timothy Olyphant) and the crime landscape of Eastern Kentucky. It’s definitely worth tuning into.

Party Down

I’m tuning into this one a bit too late, but this canceled Rob Thomas show about failed actors working in a catering business is reliably funny enough for me to keep watching on Netflix instant. Rob Thomas’ other critically acclaimed canceled show, Veronica Mars, lends many guest stars to Party Down and it’s both hilarious and bizarre to see them in such different roles.

Episodes

It’s been a long while since Matt LeBlanc was on TV. Joey was a pretty short lived failure, which I’m sure contributed to Matt LeBlanc’s lack of work, but he’s back and doing remarkably excellent work on Episodes. If you watched the second season of Extras, you should be somewhat familiar with the whole “network ruining our smart show” concept, but the real beauty of this show is the way Matt LeBlanc plays, well, Matt LeBlanc. The other characters in the show initially give him very little credit, but his sneaky, behind-the-scenes machinations are actually quite intelligent and I’m eager to see how this show ends now that we’ve caught up with the media res introduction of the first episode.

Shameless

Did you know this was based on an English show? I guess it makes sense. First episode was pretty good. I don’t have much more to say on the topic, but I plan to keep watching.

Portlandia

Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armison are the brains (and primary actors) behind this sketch comedy analysis of Portland, the city where the dream of the 90s lives on. Some of the sketches are miss, but most are decent hits. I’m actually chuckling a little about the cacao sketch right now. I admit that I also take a little more out of it thanks to living two years of my life in a Portland suburb. Not gonna bust your sides, but worth a watch.

Archer

H. Jon Benjamin is the super secret agent Sterling Archer. It’s about as madcap and raunchy as you’d expect cable tv animated shows to be, but it’s also just funny enough to keep me tuning in each week. I think my enjoyment stems entirely from H. Jon Benjamin’s vocal work. He just knows how to voice a character.

Bob’s Burgers

Speaking of H. Jon Benjamin vocal roles, Bob’s Burgers couldn’t be more different from Archer, but is also as good or better thanks to Eugene Mirman and Kristen Schaal. All three combine to make a FOX animated show that is (thankfully) not a Family Guy knockoff. Last week’s capoeira episode was hilarious.

and the usual stuff:

Community

I don’t quite know where they’re going with this mini-Chevy Chase arc, but I’m not too fond of it. I think Pierce is the weakest character in the show and they’re going out of their way to make us hate him. Character death? God, I wish it were so. The ensemble doesn’t need him.

Glee

Season 2 just hasn’t lived up to Season 1. I blame the music. Too much pop culture, perhaps, and not enough classic rock and Broadway. Every time I think I might quit watching the show they go and wow me with something fantastic. Before the break it was the “Singin In The Rain/Umbrella” mash-up. Last week, amid the awful Justin Bieberfest, we got “Take Me Or Leave Me” from Rent. Just like that I’m back in.

Parks and Recreation

If you still think this show is The Office 2.0, you’re still wrong. Parks & Recs has matured into its own fantastic show and it’s firing on all cylinders. This past week I found myself literally guffawing at the episode. I think it might be my favorite comedy on television at the moment.

»  Substance:WordPress   »  Style:Ahren Ahimsa