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What I’ve Been Doing 23 Jan 2013 [FB/IB/F/BT/GO]
Jan 23rd, 2013 by Dan

SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK

Fun fact: The blonde in this picture is Julia Stiles! (Photo courtesy emrahozcan)

Wow guys, this is pretty late, huh? Sorry bout that!

Movies

Silver Linings Playbook – It may be the most accessible Oscar nominee to watch, but that doesn’t preclude it from being just astonishingly well acted. Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper turned in fantastic performances. I have a hard time imagining a person who would dislike this movie.

TV

New Girl – Who thought I’d ever utter the words, “I’m gonna miss Olivia Munn…” Loved the pogo stuff from this week’s ep.

Archer – I didn’t really love the first episode, but it cracked me the hell up. Great stuff.

Happy Endings – I really dug the “other friends”. It’s a stock conceit, but Happy Endings usually puts a unique enough spin on that type of thing where I don’t mind it.

One Piece – I’ve got something like 260 episodes to go to catch up to the present.

Girls – The premiere was really strong. The second episode less so, but this show is still top notch. Some shows have unlikeable casts that aren’t believable. I know a lot of these people…

Music

I really dig “Apocalypse Dreams” by Tame Impala

Books

A Confederacy of Dunces – This book is really starting to come together. The cast is converging and it’s all gonna culminate on this political rally. I can’t wait.

Video Games

XCOM: Enemy Unknown – That free Second Wave DLC is super awesome, but man are its modifiers tough. That Red Mist one makes it near impossible, but I love it anyway.

Sleeping Dogs – Not really grabbing me. I should just burn through to the end…

Hotline Miami – Beat the main story. Pretty fun game. The bonus missions are tough, but I think I’ll manage. Gotta get the secret password too.

Borderlands 2 – Still having fun, but it’s tough to get everyone together sometimes. I really should take the time to level up Gaige since she’d be more fun to play, I think. On the flip side, the healer role I kind of have with Maya is fun too.

FTL – I came so close to getting the Stealth Ship. I don’t want to talk about it…

Movies I’m Excited to See [FB/ER]
Sep 27th, 2012 by Dan

Ran into an article today running down the big Oscar contenders for the second half of the year. Made me think about what movies I was pumped for this year. Here’s what I’m digging:

Anna Karenina

Here’s the thing: I don’t care for period pieces, I don’t care for literary adaptations, and my lack of familiarity with Anna Karenina means I have no attachment to the narrative. Then I look at how beautifully shot this movie seems to be and I worry a little (in the Moulin Rouge sense (a movie I did not like)), but think, “No, this is going to be epic and breathtaking.”

Silver Linings Playbook

Jennifer Lawrence? I could leave it there, but I’ll go on. Director David O. Russel also directed one of the more enjoyably quirky movies I’ve ever seen in I Heart Huckabees. Add in Bradley Cooper and the romantic comedy aspects and I think this is one I’ll easily get Tiffany to agree to seeing.

Wreck-It Ralph

If you don’t know why I’d want to see this then I don’t think you really know me. I’ll probably go with Min because I highly doubt this is one that Tiffany wants to see too.

Rust and Bone

Ok, so your protagonist has her legs bitten off by a killer whale. Seems a little melodramatic, no? Still, a sexy movie featuring the sexy French language and the sexy Marion Cotillard? Yes, please!

Skyfall

Goddammit I love the Daniel Craig interpretation of Bond. Add in Javier Bardem, whose chilling work in No Country For Old Men still haunts me, and you’ve got a recipe for success. Gotta see this on IMAX too. Looks stunning.

Killing Them Softly

Thanks to Snatch I’ll pay to see Brad Pitt in a gangster movie any day of the week. Too bad playing The Fugees in the trailer would be confusing and thematically inconsistent.

Django Unchained

I still get chills every time I hear Jamie Foxx say, “I like the way you die, boy.” Inglourious Basterds proved to me that Cristoph Waltz was a force to be reckoned with and I’m looking forward to seeing what Tarantino does with this very charged material. I wonder if I’ll be able to find a showing in North Carolina?

Les Misérables

I don’t want to hear a single word about how much you can’t stand Anne Hathaway, David. The fact is that she’s a much better actor than you give her credit for. As for this movie, well…I’m not familiar with the original musical, so I won’t have those preconceived notions holding me back from enjoying this, but I worry that the overwhelming popularity will lead to a very safe (and boring) production. I guess we’ll have to see how it comes out…

What I’ve Been Doing 30 April 2012 [FB/IB/F/BT/GO]
Apr 30th, 2012 by Dan

Gomez

Gomez: The Hero of Fez (Picture courtesy Titolian)

I did a lot more with this week than I thought I would have time for considering how much I played The Old Republic and how late I was getting home for a lot of the week. Fez gets special mention at the top of this article for completely immersing me in its world. Everything from its ambient, minimalist soundtrack to the weird artifacts, perplexing language, and dense, unspoiled mystery has me super intrigued.

Movies

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – I swear that I’m gonna stop tagging this someday soon. Tiffany hadn’t seen the US version and it was in Redbox, so we picked it up. I was struggling to stay awake at the end (it was one of those weeks), but it’s still a pretty solid movie. That stuff after Martin dies has always been way too long.

Shame – You know you’ve messed up if your movie about a sex addict living in NY is boring. It just wasn’t the daring, risque movie that I thought it would be. I did rather enjoy Carey Mulligan’s haunting “New York, New York”, but it was a little long. Watch it if you’ve got nothing to do/you can find it for cheap/free.

Like Crazy – Watching the trailer for this made me think I would hate the leads and I definitely did. They’ve got this youthful, lovey-dovey, can’t be separated from each other for five minutes thing that drives me crazy. Doesn’t help the plot that it all hinges on one stupid decision that anyone could have prevented. I also had a real tough time understanding why Anton Yelchin would rather be with Felicity Jones over Jennifer Lawrence. I mean, come on…JENNIFER LAWRENCE.

TV

Mad Men – Last week’s episode was very interesting and very artistic and I came away from the Ginsberg/Peggy scene just in love with the show all over again. Can’t wait to watch last night’s offering.

Veep – Guys, this show is hilarious. Best comedy pilot I’ve seen in a while. Just clever and subtle and sharp. They really capture the office/government job vibe.

Girls – The entire internet has an opinion about Girls so I felt like I needed to watch it. The first episode frustrated me with Hannah’s spoiled dependence on her parents, but had enough wickedly funny moments that I was on board. The second had lots of hilariously bad sex. I mean, the line about why doggie style isn’t always degrading, “What if I want to feel like I’ve got udders?” was pretty brilliant delivered. Mike Birbiglia’s job interview scene was great too. The whole thing with the non-PC conversations and the complete 180 on the offer was so good. I’m on board for now.

Kids on the Slope – Shinichirō Watanabe and Yoko Kanno’s latest collaboration is not quite as stylized as Cowboy Bebop, but it’s got the same strong Jazz roots. Worth watching for the music alone, as are most of Watanabe’s shows. I want to find that title track. It starts with this slow marching beat and then it just turns into this great piece. Love it.

Parks and Recreation – Getting tired of the election storyline, but the show is still selling it. Chris Pratt’s live action movies were hilarious and Aubrey Plaza continues to be a delight.

Community – Pitch perfect Law & Order spoof. The back half of this season continues to impress.

New Girl – I want to love this show a lot more than I do. It’s just so mediocre when it’s not funny. Happy Endings has deeper swings (funnier and more terrible) and I just dig that show way more than New Girl…

Music

“Sakamichi no Melody” by YUKI:

It’s not gonna blow you away, but I love the way it flows and changes. When it picks up in that middle section…how can you resist not tapping your toes?

Books

Moe Berg: Athlete, Scholar, Spy – Only a couple pages into this story about a baseball player who was also a spy. We’ll see how it is.

Video Games

The Old Republic – Min and I got our alts going now. My Trooper story has been interesting and I’m glad I’m playing it instead of a Consular.

Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery EP – Finished the first movement/section/track. Have yet to go back in and start putting serious time. Very stylish and cool.

The Walking Dead – Captures the spirit of the comic and zombie apocalypse WAY better than the tv show does. Love it.

Saints Row: The Third – Played a little co-op with Lee. This game is so hilarious. I’m thinking of switching my character to zombie voice.

Fez – Really fantastic game. I can’t stress enough how immersive it is in its sparseness. I can’t wait until I start to understand the puzzles and mysteries more. Gonna try to limit my exposure to the internet since they’ve mostly solved everything. I know I’ll need their help eventually, but for now I’m on my own.

The Hunger Games Trailer [FB]
Nov 21st, 2011 by Dan

Yeah, the trailer’s been out a while, but I only recently got around to watching it. Should be pretty awesome. Jennifer Lawrence looks like she’s gonna do a stellar job. Can’t wait.

What I’ve Been Doing [FB/IB/BT/GO]
Jun 28th, 2011 by Dan

WEEDS Poster Mary Louise Parker

TV

Weeds – New season started yesterday. The three year time gap puts Nancy in New York City and moves far past the storylines from last year by also claiming that Esteban is dead and his cartel disbanded. It seems that Nancy is heading toward working in the weapons trade instead, which is interesting, but we’ll see where the season goes. Ever since they left Agrestic this show has really started to shine as it changes every year. Can’t wait to see where it goes this year.

Tremé – Only one episode left this season. The culmination of the events lacks the oomph of old finales of The Wire, but this show remains solidly entertaining even without being thrilling.

Movies

X-Men: First Class – One of the better action movies I’ve seen in a while with only a few disappointments:

– January Jones does not exercise her talents at all in this movie. Emma Frost is a little uninspired.
– Any moment where the characters feel the need to say “We should be called the X-Men!” or “Call him Magneto”. They all fall flat for me where they’re supposed to be great moments?

McAvoy, Byrne, and Fassbender, especially, are all great in their more senior roles in the movie. Jennifer Lawrence is mostly great, but gets saddled with some of those terrible lines that I hate. Worth seeing.

Bad Teacher – Not as bad as the critics make it seem, but the implied shared heritage with Bad Santa doesn’t seem to be helping the movie any. I didn’t really like Bad Santa, so I’m ok either way. Kind of long, but stupid, passable comedy. See Bridesmaids instead, but if you’ve already seen it, no harm in coming here.

Video Games

Shadows of the Damned – Played the first act with Min watching. Delightfully juvenile and chock full of style. Stay away if dick jokes offend you. I’m serious. Still early, but I dig Resident Evil 4-style gameplay so I’m down so far.

Hot Springs Story – Playing this on my Android phone. Sounds like a dating sim or H-game, but it’s really not. A management sim that will easily pass the time and be very entertaining. Fun for short bursts.

Books

FF (Future Foundation) – The First Family continues on after the death of Johnny Storm. Things are really starting to heat up with this initial arc and I’m really drawn in. Went back and picked up the rest of Jon Hickman’s run on Fantastic Four to try and catch up on the plot points being explored in FF. Can’t wait for the next issue tomorrow.

League of Extraordinary Gentlemen – The Invisible Man really put me off of this book for some reason since we’re introduced to him in a female boarding school where he was raping women and making them think it was the Holy Ghost doing so. There are plenty of bad people in comic books, but I just can’t get behind rooting for him as one of the heroes.

Proof – Supernatural cop series where “Proof” is John Prufrock, a Sasquatch working for “The Lodge” to investigate other cryptids and cryptid-related crimes. Seems neat, but didn’t grab me as much as…

Cowboy Ninja Viking – Ridiculously silly title and premise, but the book is about multiple personality disorder patients called Triplets who were trained to be assassins. The title character’s identities are self-evident, but the other combinations are pretty funny. Kind of confusing to follow some of his art, but I still dig it anyway.

Ultimate Spider-Man – (Ultimate) Spider-Man is dead. Who will be the next Spider-Man? I’m intrigued. Always loved this book and I can’t wait to see where it evolves.

Ultimate Fantastic Four – It’s interesting to see where this universe diverges from 616. The UFF has been pretty interesting, but the storytelling isn’t quite as sharp as I want it to be. I feel kind of like this book got a little less creative attention than some of the other Ultimate titles, but I still dig the team so I’ll finish off it’s run. I’m halfway done with it anyway.

Winter’s Bone [FB]
Nov 8th, 2010 by Dan

I first saw the trailer for Winter’s Bone before Män som hatar kvinnor (AKA: Men Who Hate Women (AKA: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo)) and I immediately thought: wow, that looks intense. Well I finally got around to watching it this past weekend and I was both right and wrong.

For those not familiar with the premise, WB is about a 17-year-old girl, Ree Dolly, whose father is out on bond before a meth-cooking trial. Unfortunately for Ree, he put up his house to pay for the bond, so if he doesn’t show up for his court date, the government will take the house. Luckily (note: not lucky at all), Ree’s father has gone missing and she now needs to find him.

Further background: Ree, her brother and sister, and her invalid mother, all live in a very rural, mountainous part of Missouri, I think, and her father’s associates are menacing in a scary way that is not at all like crime drama us city folk are used to.

What was most intriguing to me about this movie was that very setting. It’s not often that the rural US is anything but a punchline or stereotype for your typical Hollywood flick, so this was a chance to see life through the eyes of an America I know next to nothing about.

Turns out that crime in the middle of nowhere is just as male-dominated as anywhere else. All of the powerful men in this movie are extra menacing because our window into the world is a teenage girl that none of them respect. Even stranger and scarier is the fact that everyone in the movie is related in some way. The story revolves around the Dolly crime family which means that all of these figures that are being so menacing are uncles and cousins. Everyone is bound by blood.

In the end I was wrong about the sense of dread I thought I would feel. It was there and apparent, but it wasn’t as emphasized as I thought it would be. Part of the blame goes to me for watching the movie with Spanish subtitles. You can only feel so much tension when you’re parsing out another language instead of immersing yourself in the narrative, but the other part is just the way the movie was made. There’s a lot more it could have done to emphasize just how dangerous these people were and how much trouble Ree was in at a given moment. I think of another movie I just saw, I Am Love, and the magnificent way that familial tension was handled at the start of that movie and I see that WB could have been more.

I don’t want to spoil too much of the movie, but there was one standout scene where some of the women of the crime family take pity on Ree and decide to help her out a bit. They take her out to the middle of a lake with a chainsaw and Jennifer Lawrence, who plays Ree, acts her ass off in a truly grisly and chilling scene that really stands out in this movie.

This is definitely a flick to see. Go out and rent it.

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