Category: 2014

2014, Music

Uncovered (2014) by Maya Beiser

I heard part of her cover of “Lithium” courtesy of Cover Me and thought “Wow” and so I decided I had to get this record without another thought. I had never heard of Beiser and had no idea what I was in for. I had high expectations because the part of “Lithium” I heard was …

2014, Movies

The Case Against 8 (2014, Ben Cotner, Ryan White)

So any pretense to “objectivity” for a message movie “documentary” like this is thrown out the window. But if you believe there is a “both sides” to marriage equality you are likely not going to watch this documentary about the law suit to overturn California’s infamous Proposition 8, nor will you accept this film, which …

2014, Movies

The November Man (2014, Roger Donaldson)

This is an over-plotted spy thriller with a hell of lot that doesn’t ring true. (Yes, I recognize that it’s a spy thriller, but they don’t even try to make it realistic.) I spent most of the movie wondering why they couldn’t have just made a better movie. SPOILERS

2014, Movies

The Calling (2014, Jason Stone)

I do not believe in god but I recognize that a lot of people still do. And I recognize that there is a broad appeal in movies with explicit or implicit religious content. Despite my lack of belief I do occasionally find religious horror films and thrillers quite effective, in part because the rich traditions …

2014, Books, Non-Fiction

The Human Age (2014) by Diane Ackerman

This is an endlessly fascinating book about how human beings are currently shaping the world through technological innovation, and how we have shaped the world in the past. Though the back might convince you it’s about how humans are fighting climate change, it’s really about much more than that, as the climate change section is …

2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, Music

The Bob’s Burgers Music Album (2017)

Much like The Simpsons (at least back when I watched it) music plays a very significant role in Bob’s Burgers. In fact, it plays an even more significant role, given the singing propensities of multiple characters in the Belcher family. This album collects the featured songs from the show, as well as a few covers …

2014, Movies

As Above, So Below (2014, John Erick Dowdle)

This is yet another found-footage horror film, number 300 and something at this point. (I have no idea whether that’s high or low.) When this was made, it was 15 years since Blair Witch. At some point, shouldn’t low-budget horror filmmakers realize this gimmick is a little tired?

2014, Movies

The Monuments Men (2014, George Clooney)

This is a reasonably entertaining, but oddly paced and very traditional film that dramatizes the efforts the US went to in order to rescue the art that the Nazis stole in World War II. As far as I can tell, it is very, very, very loosely based on the true story.

2014, Movies

What We Do in the Shadows (2014, Jermaine Clement, Taika Waititi)

This is an amusing parody of reality TV disguised as a vampire comedy. It’s pretty slight, however: the plot is basically an extended reality TV episode about what happens when the house gets a new member or two, rather than anything more compelling. But there are enough gags – and the now patented New Zealand …

2014, Movies

Cold in July (2014, Jim Mickle)

I’m not sure exactly what to say about this bizarre film that offers a new twist (or several) on the age old “redemption through violence” theme in American cinema. The plot goes a very different way than I would have ever expected which is to the novel’s credit, I guess. But that big left turn …

1995, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2014

Augusta Read Thomas: Selected Works for Orchestra (2014) by Various Artists

This is a compilation of performances of some of Thomas’ writing for orchestra. I got this from the library by accident but decided to listen to it anyway.

2014, Movies

The Boxtrolls (2014, Graham Annable, Anthony Stacchi)

Every so often I see a kid’s movie that’s really worth seeing and this is one of them. Like all modern stop motion animation, this is pretty incredible stuff. (I imagine seeing it in 3D would have been something else altogether, so that was a missed opportunity.)

2014, Movies

Chuck Norris vs Communism (2015, Ilinca Calugareanu)

This is a brief, by-the-numbers documentary which combines talking heads with rote dramatizations to tell the powerful story of how American films changed life in Romania during the Cold War. Unfortunately, I already saw Hotel Dallas, a far more interesting (albeit difficult) film more or less about the same theme. This pales in comparison. That’s …

2014, Movies

Cathedrals of Cultural (2014, Karim Aïnouz, Michael Glawogger, Michael Madsen, Margreth Olin, Robert Redford, Wim Wenders)

This is an omnibus film about various man-made architectural wonders in the world.

2014, Movies

Calvary (2014, John Michael McDonagh)

This is a strange film about the priesthood in Ireland, which starts with an extremely (basically ridiculous) high concept plot, spends most of its time in dark (very dark) comedy and then veers into deep pathos. It shouldn’t work, but it does, and does well.

2014

Black See (2014, Kevin Macdonald)

For the most part, this is a pretty effective submarine movie with a great, out-of-character performance from Jude Law. It does what a submarine movie should do, and it does it well. There are, however, a few major quibbles that I have that hampered the movie in my mind. They involve some MAJOR SPOILERS.

2014

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014, Anthony Russo, Joe Russo)

I think I like this more than the first movie, though I can’t necessarily identify why. One thing that differentiates it from so many other current super hero movies is that the enemy at the end of the film isn’t some ridiculous, world-destroying force or space monsters, or whatever. So that’s something. But there are …

2014, Movies

Edge of Tomorrow (2014, Doug Liman)

Let’s get this out of the way: the premise – a science-fiction/action version of Ground Hog Day – is dumb. This is basically the film version of playing a video game, albeit condensed into 2 hours. But if you can get over that (and over the presence of Tom Cruise)… SPOILERS!

2014, Movies

Bird People (2014, Pascale Ferran)

This film tells the stories of two people who accidentally meet. In that sense, it is much like numerous other films that tell individual stories and combine them with chance meetings. Only this one has a fantastical twist hinted at in the title. Why it has that twist I can guess at but I’m not …

2014, Movies

1971 (2014, Johanna Hamilton)

This is an interesting, albeit brief, look at a crime in 1971 that resulted in the first ever whistle blowing on the American government (to my knowledge, anyway). A bunch of radical hippies broke into an FBI office and released the files to the press and Congress. The film is your standard talking heads + …

2014, Movies, Sports

The Barkley Marathons: The Race that Eats its Young (2014, Annika Iltis, Timothy James Kane)

This is a very conventional documentary about one of the craziest races you’ll ever hear about. Not only is it insane (somewhere between 100 and 130 miles in 60 hours, over hills and through the woods) but is run in such a kooky way. Part of the appeal of this film is the sheer accomplishment …

2014, Movies

71 (2014, Yann Demange)

This is a mostly stellar thriller set in Belfast in 1971. I think this would have been an exceptional movie had a surer hand with more experience directed it. Though tense, I can imagine a better (or more experienced) director making a more tense film. While I’m at my nit-pikcing, the framing device of the …

2014, Music

Ian Sabourin Counter Tenor (2014)

I was sitting on a bench waiting for Jenn to leave her work when I heard this incredible voice (a counter tenor, it turns out) all around me. I thought it was coming from multiple speakers, it was so powerful. After looking around a bit, I saw a young man singing. What impressed me particularly …

2014, Movies

Whitey: United States of America vs James J Bulger (2014, Joe Berlinger)

Somebody once said, it’s not integrity that matters, it’s the perception of integrity. One of the reasons people freak out at the more minor of political scandals – the ones where there are only hints of impropriety, or where bureaucrats or politicians are accused of over-spending tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars when the …