2021, Movies

Subjects of Desire (2021, Jenifer Holness)

This is a thought-provoking and compelling documentary about the changing cultural standards around black women and black beauty in the US (and Canada to an extent) that is just too ambitious for its own good. Partway through my “first time feature director” radar went off and, sure enough, it’s her first feature length film as …

2023, TV

The Oldest View (2023)

This is a YouTube video series of videos from a guy apparently known for these horror ish shorts. His name is Kane Parsons and the channel is Kane Pixels. He is known for something called Backrooms, which I haven’t seen. I found this through someone claiming something like “it’s the best horror movie of 2023” …

2009, Books, Non-Fiction

Greed is Good (2009) by Matthew Robinson, Daniel Murphy

I was excited to read this book. It was recommended to me by someone on the internet (maybe at Defector) and the subtitle made it sound like it was right up my alley. Though I am not a utilitarian, I strongly believe our courts need to completely adopt a utilitarian approach to white collar crime as, …

2016, Movies

An Insignificant Man (2016, Khushboo Ranka, Vinay Shukla)

These advocacy films are dangerous because anyone who gets into power is inevitably corrupted and inevitably disappoints. When you make a film about an inspiring political outsider and he wins…well, then you have a problem. It’s good to watch these movies after they come out, even if I meant to watch it when it came …

1966, Movies

Daikaijû kettô: Gamera tai Barugon [Gamera Vs. Barugon] (1966, Shigeo Tanaka, Noriaki Yuasa)

Full disclosure: I have actually not seen the original Gamera. If this was a good movie, maybe that would disqualify me for reviewing its sequel. Also, I watched a dubbed version (sigh).

1978, Movies

Silent Partner (1978, Daryl Duke, Curtis Hanson)

This bank robbery thriller is one of most Toronto movies I’ve ever seen, certainly featuring a major American star. The film primarily takes place within the Eaton Centre. They ride the TTC (which is not pretending to be another subway) and drive on the Gardiner. Elliott Gould eats at Captain John’s. (Captain John’s! Where I …

2019, Movies

Ford v Ferrari (2019, James Mangold)

The funniest thing about this movie – aside from the fight between Bale and Damon, which is genuinely good physical comedy – is that they had to title it one thing in ‘Merica and another in the rest of the world. That’s because the film execs think Americans don’t know what Le Mans is. Maybe …

1999, Books, Fiction

Survivor (1999) by Chuck Palahniuk

Sometime in my early 20s I read Haunted, Palahniuk’s creative short story collection, and I fell in love. I had already seen Fight Club and enjoyed it, but Haunted felt to me like a really unique and fun way to present short stories, and I guess I felt like I discovered a singular voice for our time, or something stupidly …

2021, Books, Non-Fiction

High Conflict: Why We Get Trapped and How We Get Out (2021)

This is a great book about how people get drawn into feuds and other types of conflicts and some of the ways people get out. It’s a really good example of a journalist combining stories with a partial review of the literature. It’s a balance that doesn’t always work but Ripley does an excellent job.

2020, Movies

Wonder Woman 1984 (2020, Patty Jenkins)

I have not seen the first Wonder Woman in a while but my memory of it is that it is a needed corrective, with a story that is mostly different enough. Only the climax was too 21st Century Comic Book movie for me. Well, this one is not on the same level, as you probably …

2020, Movies

Emma (2020, Autumn de Wilde)

I have never seen the 1996 Emma, which I understand is viewed as the definitive Emma. (I mean the Hollywood film, not the British TV movie of the same year, which I’ve also never seen.) And I have never read the book. But still, I’m going to tell you what I thought about this version …

1971, Movies

Le Mans (1971, Lee H. Katzin, John Sturges)

Imagine a Frederick Wiseman-esque fly-on-the-wall documentary about the 1970 24 Hours of Le Mans (albeit much shorter than Wiseman would make) with Steve McQueen parachuted in along with the tiniest sketches of a plot involving him and the wife of a race car driver who died in an accident with McQueen’s character the year before …

2023, Books, Non-Fiction

GOAT: Who is the Greatest Economist of all Time and Why Does it Matter? (2023) by Tyler Cowen

This is a “generative book” by the economist and blogger Tyler Cowen. I am not capable of evaluating it as a new idea as I did not make use of the GPT-4 chatbot or the other AI tools. I have not had particularly great experiences using ChatGPT and I didn’t quite see the point. (Clearly …

2023, Movies

A Haunting in Venice (2023, Kenneth Branagh)

This is a Halloween-themed Agatha Christie adaptation. Apparently the original novel actually has it in the title. My understanding is, like Branagh’s other Christie adaptations, this one is loosely based on the source material. (Perhaps more so than the other two.)

2022, Movies

The Devil Conspiracy (2022, Nathan Frankowski)

This is a dull self-serious religious horror movie that recycles a bunch of religious thriller/horror movie cliches to pair it with the art equivalent of Jurassic Park. It is cast with a whole bunch of actors who look like more famous actors. But it is shot on location (somewhat) and, in part due to its …

1991, Movies

Guling jie shaonian sharen shijian (1991, Edward Yang)

This Taiwanese film is considered by some to be one of the greatest films of all time. It’s been on some Top 100 lists and I believe it even topped one one-off list not long after it came out. It wouldn’t remotely make my Top 100 list but I think I understand why it’s made …

Uncategorized

Toy Story 3 (2010, Lee UnKrich)

It’s been forever since I have seen the previous movies. I think I watched the original film sometime in the late ’90s, because of its positive reviews. I have relatively few memories of it. The second film I watched some time in the aughts, at a time when I was certainly unwilling to appreciate it. …

2022, TV

The U.S. and the Holocaust (2022)

This new Ken Burns miniseries feels unfortunately timely. With the richest man in the world tweeting anti-Semitic memes fairly frequently, it feels timely. With the state founded in part to atone for this genocide currently engaged in a form of apartheid itself, it feels timely. With some Americans openly embracing Nazism, it feels timely. And …

1992, Movies

Zendegi va digar hich [And Life Goes On aka Life, and Nothing More] (1992, Abbas Kiarostami)

Right before I watched this, I learned it was part of an unofficial trilogy. Part 2, to be precise. So I thought I shouldn’t watch it first. But then I read that Kiarostami rejected the idea of a trilogy and I thought “Okay, great, this is one of those film critic trilogies so I don’t …

2023, Music

Cousin (2023) by Wilco

I have struggled a lot with post-Sky Blue Sky Wilco. Struggled is perhaps too strong a word but I’ve definitely felt a little underwhelmed. You could argue that every Wilco album between their debut and their 2009 self-titled was a big departure from the previous record. (Excepting Mermaid Avenue of course.) But it’s felt to …

2012, Books, Non-Fiction

Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic (2012) by David Quammen

Like so many other people, once the events of March 2020 happened I decided I had to read this book. Somehow, it took me three and a half years to get there.