2020, Movies

Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn (2020, Cathy Yan)

I remember hearing about the good reviews. And I briefly thought that maybe here was a recent DC movie I wanted to watch. And then I promptly forgot about it until I got on a plane. Now, it’s possible that this film didn’t work for in part because it was the second film I watched …

2021, Movies

Black Widow (2021, Cate Shortland)

Much like Captain Marvel, this is a necessary and needed corrective. And much more than Captain Marvel, we can legitimately wonder what took so damn long. Most of the other Avengers got their movies a long time ago. (The Hulk got his own movie, remember.) But being a necessary corrective to a patriarchal movie franchise …

2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, TV

Parks and Recreation (2009)

This is a good-hearted but often hysterical situation comedy that it took me entirely too long to watch. I’m not sure exactly why but I guess I was at least slightly aware that it was a little bit wholesome and I’m pretty sure I wasn’t into wholesome in, like, 2011. Anyway…

2014, Books, Non-Fiction

Up, Up, and Away: The Kid, the Hawk, Rock, Vladi, Pedro, le Grand Orange, Youppi!, the Crazy Business of Baseball, and the Ill-fated but Unforgettable Montreal Expos (2014) by Jonah Keri

This is an entertaining and page-turning overview of the existence of the Montreal Expos. It’s clearly written from the perspective of a fan, which is both a good and a bad thing. But it’s also relatively measured in its assessment of why the franchise failed. There’s just one rather big problem hanging over all of …

1969, 1970, Movies

Woodstock (1970, Michael Wadleigh)

Note: I am reviewing the director’s cut, not the much shorter theatrical version. So, I’ve seen the majority of the musical performances in this film multiple times, and some of them many times. (Hendrix’s “Star Spangled Banner” in particular, but also the CSN performance and some others.) I’ve seen them because Woodstock used to be …

2018, Books, Non-Fiction

Crashed: How a Decade of Financial Crises Changed the World (2018) by Adam Tooze

This is an exceptionally detailed and sourced book, that is also highly readable. It occasionally walks a fine line between history and a rant, however. (It never does, which is to Tooze’s eternal credit. And even if it it did, it would be a very well-informed one.) I worried about reading a history written literally …

1953, Movies

Tôkyô monogatari (1953, Yasujirô Ozu)

Some critics consider this simple drama to be the best movie ever made. I don’t really understand that, as I don’t really believe that there is a “Greatest Movie of All Time.” I know there are movies I’ve watched that have felt “near perfect” to me but I’m not sure too many of them would …

1984, Movies

Ghoulies (1984, Luca Bercovici)

It’s been a long time since I’ve been this disappointed in a bad horror movie. It should be called Chokies or Undead Warlockies or something like that, not Ghoulies. The cover of this movie terrified me as a child in the video store and it turns out that the ghoulies barely do anything, they’re utterly …

1983, Movies

Carnival Magic (1983, Al Adamson)

There are some terrible movies that are technically awful and might have actually been saved by some budget. And there are some terrible movies that are bad for story reasons, in addition to some other issues (the cast, the script…). This is one of the latter, presumably a product of the animal craze caused by …

1980, Books, Fiction

The Name of the Rose (1980) by Umberto Eco

This is a compelling detective novel set in a 14th century Italian monastery that doubles as a novel of ideas. I’d actually seen the Hollywood movie twice, once as a teenager – for some reason I watched it in High School – and once recently because I thought my girlfriend would like it. The novel …

2011, Movies

How to Die in Oregon (2011, Peter Richardson)

This is not a particularly interesting film as a film, it’s a pretty typical documentary in terms of form and style. But it’s subject matter is extremely vital – looking at the lives and decisions of terminally ill people who are trying to decide whether or not to end their lives legally in Oregon. (With …

1994, Movies

Sátántangó (1994, Béla Tarr)

Since I re-ordered my list of films to watch, to prioritize critical opinion, I’ve been watching a lot of extremely long films. I think these types of films are critically celebrated for at least two reasons: There’s a self-selecting group who watch these types of movies: only certain types of people will sit through a …

2018, Movies

Venom (2018, Ruben Fleischer)

The world is a strange place. Because of rights issues, Venom is not currently part of the MCU even though Spider-Man and the recent Spider-Man movies are. So Venom isn’t part of the MCU and there is no Spider-Man in it. So that’s, um, weird. It might not be the worst thing, given all the …

2017, Music

Oceanarium (2017) by Deluge Grander

Literally 4 years ago (seriously) the leader of this group sent me a message and asked if I would review this album based on a partial release. I suck and so it’s taken me 4 years to get to it. (In my limited defense, my podcast was still running so I basically listened to nothing …

1986, Music

The Way It Is (1986) by Bruce Hornsby and the Range

I know basically nothing about Bruce Hornsby. I remember seeing his name on a Mix 99.9 ad on the subway in high school. And I know he toured with the Dead. That’s all I got.

1986, Music

Duotones (1986) by Kenny G

Upon reflection it seems kind of cruel to assume that Kenny G isn’t actually a good saxophone player just because he doesn’t have taste. If I learned one thing from this preposterously popular record, it’s that Kenny G can indeed play. Now, that begs the question, what is worse, someone who has talent and uses …

1986, Music

Express (1986) by Love and Rockets

I spent way too much time in my review of Earth Sun Moon obsessing over how these guys weren’t Bauhaus. It’s a weird review that I find hard to read now. I wish I had focused on the music so I could try to compare the two records and understand why I appear to have …

1986, Music

Blood and Chocolate (1986) by Elvis Costello and the Attractions

At some point a career goes on long enough where it starts to divide the true fans from the people who just got into the artist because they were in the ether, but sometimes the critics will continue to care and sometimes they won’t. I don’t know where exactly that point is with Costello but …

2005, Books, Non-Fiction

The Great Mortality (2005) by John Kelly

This is a frustrating book, which I learned a lot from but also had me rolling my eyes way, way more than it ever should have. It purports to be a history of the Black Death but it’s a really a European history – maybe that’s a tacit assumption given the title – and there …

2021, Movies

Schumacher (2021, Hanns-Bruno Kammertöns, Vanessa Nöcker, Michael Wech)

This is an extremely workmanlike documentary about the first part of the career of Michael Schumacher and a tiny little bit about the accident. Much like the Jacques Cousteau documentary I just watched, it feels sanitized but in this case even more so. It also feels incomplete.