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  1. Most people know Martin Milner as Officer Pete Malloy on Adam-12, some people know him as Tod Stiles on Route 66, and almost nobody knows what a *tremendous* actor he was. And I can prove it to you in one hour: There's one, single episode of Route 66 that should have won Milner an Emmy Award, and quite honestly, I can't fathom how it didn't. Season 2, Episode 11, "The Thin White Line" (here on Hulu) is an honest-to-God, one-man, tour-de-force by Milner, and it's unlike any other Route 66 episode. In my entire life, I have never seen such demands put on an actor in a single hour - Milner is drugged (with what turns out to be television's first-ever portrayal of LSD), and as you hear the physician describe the scenario that will play out over 6-8 hours, you know exactly what Milner will be going through in advance, and he gives an absolute virtuoso performance - one of the best acting roles I've seen in my life, in any medium. Do yourself a favor and watch "The Thin White Line." Milner himself said that this was his favorite episode, and the biggest challenge he ever faced as an actor. On a sadder note, Adam-12 radio dispatcher Shaaron Claridge (an actual LAPD radio dispatcher) actually made this radio call when Milner passed away:
  2. I had heard of "Ex Machina," but knew absolutely nothing about it before a couple of nights ago - released in 2015, it won the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects - considering it was a relatively low-budget, independent, science-fiction film, it's pretty remarkable that it didn't come across as low-budget (it didn't come across as high-budget either; it fell somewhere in the middle). Made for $15 million, it beat out such films as "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" ($250 million) and "Mad Max: Fury Road" ($150 million) - this alone is remarkable. Writer-Director Alex Garland also received an Academy Award Nomination for Best Original Screenplay, justifiably losing to the fine "Spotlight" - I suspect that, in this category, the crew took a "just happy to be here" attitude. I don't write plot summaries here - my time is too limited, and there are too many other fine websites that handle that task with aplomb; instead, I make whatever observations come to mind, and that I think people may find interesting or relevant. If you read past this point, I'm assuming you've already seen the film (don't forget, this is a discussion website). As a side note, if you've never heard "Deus ex Machina" pronounced before, the words sound like 1) Ama"deus" 2) "x" 3) "Mach" V + "eena," with the accent on Mach. As for Racer X, I did not ask him his opinion. *** SPOILERS FOLLOW *** The setting, in God-knows-what remote part of Alaska, Canada, or Siberia - as well as the role of Nathan Bateman (Oscar Isaac) - both come across to me as silly. I don't care how smart or rich someone is - they don't own half the world, and have the knowledge to out-think all of humanity by themselves. Isaac played his part poorly, although he was in a no-win situation: Think, for a moment, how inane it is for him to have built a company which handles 94% of all internet searches, *as well as* having the technical intelligence and knowledge to make world-changing breakthroughs (you can be mega-rich, or mega-educated; never are you both, at least not to *this* extent. (Bateman wasn't even very old, yet he made Bill Gates look like a mentally impaired panhandler.) Furthermore, his character was not that far removed from that of a frat boy - I can see this as a satire or farce, but it was intended to be neither, and that's why it falls flat: not short, but flat. I do applaud it for taking a Mickey Mantle-like swing for the fences (that took guts, and I admire it), but it whiffed in a way that could have turbine-powered the entire Bronx on a hot summer day. The computer, Ava - deliciously played by Alicia Vikander, and undoubtedly stoking techno-nerd fantasies they didn't even realize they had - was supposed to pass what's known as a "Turing Test," theorized by tera-genius Alan Turing in 1950, which basically says that if a human interacts with a computer, but thinks they're interacting with another human, then the computer passes the Turing Test. Recall also that Alan Turing, whose work I studied more than any other individual's while in graduate school, was the subject of the fine 2014 biopic, "The Imitation Game" (it just this second popped into my head that "The Imitation Game" also alludes to a gay person staying in the closet, imitating someone who's straight, but that bit of mental numbness is my problem, and can be openly (sorry) discussed in The Imitation Game's thread). I mention the content of the preceding paragraph because at the very end of the film, Ava did indeed pass the Turing Test, as she obviously convinced the helicopter pilot (as well as pedestrians at the intersection) that she was human - I suspect most people are so wigged out by the film's finale that they miss this subtle-but-important point. This was essentially a four-person script, with "test subject" Caleb Smith (played more than adequately by Domhnall Gleeson), and in a lesser role than the other three, the "other" robot, Kyoko (played very well, and with respect for subtlety and nuance, by Sonoya Mizuno). You really need to turn your mind off to enjoy Ex Machina, as the fundamental premise, including the setting and the personality of Bateman, are so improbable that you'll pull your hair out if you question it, so it will help your emotional stability if you accept this in advance - but then again, you aren't supposed to be reading this until you've finished the film. On a related note, a friend of mine gave me a copy of Joseph Heller's "Catch 22" just this afternoon. On an unrelated note, it's somewhat disturbing that "Portnoy's Complaint" just popped into my mind. Admit it: You had the hots for Ava, and you feel somewhat conflicted. Just admit it. Do.
  3. I power-watched all of "Breaking Bad," and think it just may be the best TV series I've ever seen. I'm now watching "Better Call Saul," based exclusively on my adoration of "Breaking Bad," coupled with the comments on this website. I've made it through Season 2, Episode 8 ("Fifi"), and unfortunately, I don't think it's even in the same stratosphere, quality-wise. We can certainly discuss this. *** SPOILERS FOLLOW *** (I'm Going To Give Away Some of the Overall Story Arc Below) Truthfully, there are two - and only two - characters I care about in "Better Call Saul": Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) and Mike Ermahntraut (Jonathan Banks), and that's only because it lends some background to their *tremendous* characters on "Breaking Bad." In particular, the way Mike parted from the Philadelphia Police Department (and his corresponding love for his granddaughter, Kaylee (Faith Healey and Abigail Zoe Lewis in "Better Call Saul," Kaija Bailes in "Breaking Bad") - which I find both adorable and heartbreaking). I'm almost finished with Season Two, and not one single mention has been made of Saul Goodman, which just doesn't seem right to me. More importantly, I find literally every other story arc interminably dull: There is nothing at all I find interesting about Kim Wexler (Rhea Seahorn), Howard Hamlin (Patrick Fabian), or Chuck McGill (Michael McKean, despite my unabashed love for McKean in "This is Spinal Tap"). All three of them bore me to tears, and their story lines - especially the annoyingly overplayed electromagnetic hypersensitivity subplot with Chuck - have me pining away for a return to Jimmy, Mike, or even *any* member of the cartel. That saxdrop says there's a loss of momentum in Season Three almost guarantees that "Better Call Saul" will be a wrap for me after Season Two - I can't imagine it getting much worse. As an unwanted side issue, Mike has clearly aged since the filming of "Breaking Bad," and thinking back to the near-superhuman things he did in that series (remember him walking through the desert after being shot?) makes them seem absolutely impossible. Mike Ermahntraut just may be my favorite character in either series - his stoic toughness reminds me of Anton Chigurh in the great "No Country for Old Men," but Ermahntraut also has the ridiculously high-level mental acuity of any action hero you could think of - the whole package wrapped in a laconic series of silence, accentuated with the occasional grunt. This series has (I think) made me like Saul Goodman less overall - it was better not knowing where he came from, or how he got to be such a bad-ass attorney. Am I the only person who loved "Breaking Bad," but isn't loving "Better Call Saul?" Why is this series boring me to tears? Not to propose the obvious, but I really feel like they made it just to wring out as much money as possible from their product, and not because they had any story to tell.
  4. I wasn't sure whether to post "Hitchcock/Truffaut" in film or literature, because I highly recommend both the book and the documentary about the book. I bought a paperback version of "Hitchcock/Truffaut" for a friend last summer, and when it arrived, I grabbed his copy and read it cover to cover for about four straight hours. If you are a fan of Alfred Hitchcock, Francois Truffaut or filmmaking in general, this book is a must-read. The book is based on a 1962 week-long conversation between Hitchcock and the then 30-year-old Truffaut. You get a real sense of both men, their filmmaking style and the art of filmmaking when you read this book. The documentary, which is readily available to stream online now, is based on the exact same conversation from 1962, but it is very different from the book. Because both directors are no longer living, there are numerous interviews in the film with other iconic movie makers, including Martin Scorsese and Richard Linklater. All share how Hitchcock's groundbreaking filmmaking style influences them and the movies they make. This is an engaging film that any fan of the cinema should not miss.
  5. Have you been watching Colbert lately? Over the last couple of weeks, for the first time, The Late Show has better ratings than The Tonight Show. His monologues are funny yet pointed. His take on the Flynn fiasco: it's funny cause it's treason "Sean Spicer, the M.C. Escher of bullshit." LOL
  6. When I first heard that a film about David Foster Wallace was being made, I was thrilled. Then I began reading articles about how his widow did not support "The End of the Tour." In the articles, she speculated that Wallace, who disliked the spotlight, would not have wanted a film to be made about him. That made sense to me, so, on principle, I avoided seeing it. Several months later, when the movie came out on video, a friend who is a Wallace fan and one of the few people I know who has also read "Infinite Jest," urged me to see it. Curiosity got the better of me, so I decided to look for it online. It was available to stream for free, so I decided, why not? I enjoyed "The End of the Tour" very much. At first, I was put off by Jason Segel playing Wallace. The actor, well known for such comedies as "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" and "I Love You, Man," seemed oddly cast to me. As I watched the film, however, my impression changed. I think Segel did an excellent job capturing Wallace's quiet spirit. He became the author to me, and I found his portrayal touching and believable. The film is the story of the five-day interview between Rolling Stone reporter and novelist David Lipsky, played by Jesse Eisenberg, and Wallace, which takes place right after the 1996 publication of "Infinite Jest." The article was never published, but is based on Lipsky's memoir, "Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip with David Foster Wallace," written after Wallace's suicide in 2008. The relationship between the interviewer and the interviewee is fun to watch. Lipsky is in awe of Wallace, perhaps a bit intimidated and jealous, and Wallace is guarded at first, but also refreshingly candid when answering Lipsky's questions. I feel like I have a better understanding of one of my favorite authors after watching this film. Who knew Wallace had a secret crush on Alanis Morissette, and why? There is a scene at the very end of the film that shows Wallace doing something I never in a million years would have imagined him doing. Seeing this endeared him to me even more. If you are a fan of big films with explosions and car chases, this is not the movie for you. If you like quiet films about ideas and relationships, you probably will enjoy "The End of the Tour." If you are a Wallace fan, and particularly a lover of "Infinite Jest," this film, I believe, is a worthy investment of your time and attention.
  7. I have always loved this wine, and right now they have stacks of it at the Pentagon City Whole Foods for $16.99 a bottle. Two unusual things about the bottle itself: it's a 1 Liter bottle (most bottles are .750 ml, or 3/4 as much), and more interestingly, it has a "pop top" that you open like a bottle of Heineken - it's not twist-off, but a bottle opener does the trick. I think both of these qualities drive home exactly what this wine is: a wine to quaff like water. It's dirt cheap (Pentagon City Whole Foods cannot possibly have low prices, and I suspect the producer sells this ex-cellar for about $5 a liter - I don't know this, but it's certainly less than $10. This is not a wine to cellar and mature; it's a wine to guzzle, and if you don't finish it, you can stick the top right back on and save it for the next night. It has real Grüner Veltliner character, with no oak that I can detect - it's a fairly "dilute" wine, so oak would be positively overwhelming. This Hofer is organic, and is made in a sleepy little hamlet just a few miles north of Vienna (it's pretty amazing how Vienna, a big, powerful city, can taper off into serenity just a few miles to the north). It's impossible to cherish this wine as something sacred (because it's not), and it's impossible not to like this wine as something joyful (because it is) - it's like a really fun session beer that you don't feel guilty about splurging on because it's a few dollars. Having a "house wine" is a quaint, but rare concept in this day and age, but if you were to have one, this wouldn't be a bad place to start. Yes, I'm friends with Terry Theise, but I haven't spoken with him in months, and he has no idea I'm writing this. I know this wine very well from previous vintages, and have never not liked it. Think: pitchers of Budweiser, except good.
  8. No, it's not April Fools Day - I watched a 15-minute documentary called "Dolphin Lover" - which involves a general topic known as zoophilia, the entire film being Malcolm Brenner explaining how he came to fall in love with - and have consexual sex with - a dolphin named Dolly (I think if you Google it, you can watch it on YouTube). And as incredible as it sounds, it was actually interesting. At first, I thought it was going to be a comedy, but it's a serious documentary - I can safely say that this topic never crossed my mind before seeing this film. Jan 26, 2015 - "New Documentary Tells the Story of a Man who Had Sex with a Dolphin" by Arielle Castillo on fusion.net
  9. I stumbled upon Season 1, Episode 1 of "Making a Murderer," and was surprised at how much it sucked me in. One thing led to another, and before I know it, the entire first season, which was released on Dec 18, 2015, had been power-watched. I knew absolutely nothing about the documentary beforehand, and waited until it was over to look anything up about it at all. Now I see there will be a Season 2, and also that it is widely criticized for being one-sided and for leaving out crucial evidence, and emphasizing skewed evidence - two of the very same things it accuses the Wisconsin criminal justice system of doing. Has anyone else seen this popular series? And, if so, are there any opinions, either about the show, or the subject matter?
  10. For those who just can't get enough of "The Walking Dead," there's "Fear the Walking Dead" - a spin-off series which takes place just as the apocalypse is beginning to happen, featuring an entirely different cast, and completely different storyline (except, of course, for the Zombie Apocalypse as the common link between the two series). So far, I've only watched the pilot episode of Fear the Walking Dead, and if you're looking for the same type of thrills, look elsewhere: From what little I can tell, this series is very tame in comparison, and will not leave the bottom of your jaw scraping the ground. I'm not saying it's Walt Disney; merely that it's not as over-the-top gruesome as the original series - at least, not yet. The primary reason I'm posting this is because the second half of season two debuts tonight, Sunday, August 21, 2016, and it's on *right now*! And considering that tonight's episode is titled "Grotesque," you may want to push aside that Walt Disney comment - the only other thing I know that's called "Grotesque" is a Japanese torture-porn / splatter / exploitation movie which you do *not* want to know about, trust me, and no, I have not seen it, nor will I ever. Here's the schedule from AMC. You have to sign in to watch full episodes; Season One (six episodes) is available for purchase on Amazon Prime for $9.99. If I watch the entire season - a dicey proposition - I will post my usual summaries with one picture that best-defines each episode, the director(s), and the writer(s), just like I did with "The Walking Dead" here; until then, please chime in if you're watching it - and please mark your posts with spoiler alerts if they contain spoilers. I will also be linking heavily to walkingdead.wikia.com, as it's the best Walking Dead website out there *by far*, in terms of researching the basic facts. Enjoy your dinner! Rocks
  11. "Bone Tomahawk" is a 2015 Western "Horror" film - and I use that term in quotes - which was released late in the year. Its one attribute is Kurt Russell as Sheriff Franklin Hunt. How they got Kurt Russell to star in this film is beyond me, but they did. I wish there was something - anything - else about it that I could recommend to you, but it is pretty much 130 minutes of poorly crafted boredom - at least it's free on Amazon.com, but I can pretty much promise you that your time is worth more than investing 2+ hours of it in this movie. It's a very simple story - it was filmed on a $1.8 million budget, yet brought in only $232,000 at the box office - how many box-office losers have you seen that cost less than $2 million to make? Yeah, it's *that* level of movie. The horseback-riding scenes - and there are a lot of them - through the prairie are visually nice to watch, and for me, that was the highlight of the film. I wasn't at all invested in the characters, or the plot, and I didn't really understand (or care to understand) what exactly the hell was going on. Well, I guess I *did* know what was going on, but it was so simplistic that there really wasn't anything to "get." I feel the same way about having spent 2+ hours of my life watching this film as I do when I eat at a terrible restaurant: like I wasted precious moments, and the only possible good I can get out of it is to warn you away. You might not hate it as much as I do (honestly, I still have almost 30 minutes left as I write this), but I urge you to move on from this - it's really amateurish. I'd love to hear a differing opinion, or something from someone who knows about this movie - why did they make it? What was the point? Billing this as a "horror" Western is a bit much - it's not a horror film; there's a group of antagonists for sure, and there are times when it can get suspenseful, but horror it is not - I think that's a misbilling. Making this film could have only possibly hurt Kurt Russell's career - he must have owed a friend a favor or something. You know between the first five seasons of "The Walking Dead," "The Babadook," and "Hush," I'd recently seen three winners that were released straight to streaming-video companies (I don't know if AMC constitutes this or not, but you get my point). "Bone Tomahawk" made me realize just how lucky I've been up until now, and that I cannot randomly throw a dart, expecting to get quality fare from this point forward. I'll be doing quite a bit more research in the future, and not just happily assuming things will be worth my time. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention a small role played by the legendary Sean Young (*): Sep 29, 2014 - "Sean Young, David Arquette, Lili Simmons and More Join 'Bone Tomahawk'; Film Now Shooting" by Evan Dickson on collider.com (*) Admit it, sometimes you can never quite tell whether or not I'm serious.
  12. "Amy Schumer Live at the Apollo" is available in two ways through HBO Online - either with a direct subscription, or if you enter your service provider (you'll need a name and password). This was performed in 2015 and is Amy at her crudy, raunchy best - between her and Margaret Cho, you're really in for a roller coaster ride if you watch their stand-up comedy routines. I do with both Amy and Margaret would stop criticizing (even jokingly) their bodies - I mean, we hear Louis CK doing the same type of stuff, but not to this extent. You girls both look fine to me! Stop it! Enough! Be comfortable in your own skin! Time for new material! The bit about her <ahem> doing the Charleston, dancing around with a cigarette hanging out of its mouth, was laugh-out-loud funny. One thing I notice about Amy Schumer's comedy is that it never gets boring - she doesn't stay on any one topic for very long, so if it would be a bomb, it's not long enough to explode; she just moves on, and most of her topics are at least good enough to draw a smile if not a light chuckle (and that's if you're home alone); with a group of people in the room, it's probably more laughter. Okay, during the scene when she scarfed down her scone I literally spat out my drink onto my keyboard, and I kid you not - it caught me totally off-guard, it was about 1/10th of a second long, and it was hilarious. Wow, there is some *shocking* material in here! The Obama bit even shocked me. Wacky Shirley LOL!
  13. Matt (my son) saw Hamilton three weeks ago and *loved* it. It has been playing at the Richard Rodgers Theater since Aug, 2015 I tried to get him to explain it to me, and he kept saying, "You kind of have to just see it." All I know about it is that the set design and costumes were in period, but the music is something closer to hip-hop - it sounds fascinating.
  14. In my ongoing quest to watch some of the 2015 Best Picture Nominees, I watched "Bridge of Spies," Steven Spielberg's historical drama about Rudolf Abel, Francis Gary Powers, Frederick Pryor, and James B. Donovan and the role he played in negotiating the prisoner exchange. Out of the four nominees I've seen, this would be the one most likely to get my vote, although not by much - they've all been quite good; none of them are what I would classify as great - in my mind, this has shaped out to be a pretty weak year for nominees. Still, I really enjoyed "Bridge of Spies," and Tom Hanks was terrific in his role as Donovan, as was Mark Rylance in his role as Abel - Rylance's was the type of screen presence that stays with you for years, and from what I can tell so far, he was fully justified in winning his Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. It's interesting that three of the four nominees I've seen so far have been historical dramas (the other being "The Martian"), and with so many historical dramas on the nominee list, it's somewhat surprising that one of them won, as one might figure the vote would be split between them, and that something completely different (like "The Martian") could walk in and steal the award. I also had no idea this was a Spielberg film until the end. We have several "Spotlight" fans here, and the reason I personally preferred "Bridge of Spies" (although on another day, I could change my mind the other way), was because, not only was it not overplayed, but it also had a tiny bit of that Hollywood "oomph" that I enjoy as escapism - it wasn't at "The Martian" level of escapism; here, it was just a seasoning.
  15. As I've been doing lately with these 2015 Academy Award nominees, I'm writing these posts as I watch the films on Amazon (using X-Ray to obtain some interesting trivia and factoids). So, as I write this about "The Big Short," I haven't even seen the opening credits. Note that Amazon gives you 30 days to begin watching your rental (which you can also cancel), but once you begin watching it, you only have 48 hours to finish - I guess this is reasonable to prevent multiple people from watching one film on one person's account, but sometimes I like to take a little longer - ah, well, compromises need to be made somewhere. Again, I recommend X-Ray for people interested in studying the film, but not for people who are easily distracted, as it could easily be a nuisance - you have your choice of pretending it's not there at all. *** SPOILERS ALERT *** You can probably assume that the rest of this post will contain various degrees of spoilers. I'll start by saying I *love* the film's opening quote by Mark Twain: "It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so." While not entirely true, there is a ring of familiarity to it, I'm sure, affecting us all. Director Adam McKay was Head Writer for Saturday Night Live for two seasons, and has directed comedies in the past (e.g.. "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby," which I'm ashamed to say I found to be quite amusing), but this is his first dramatic directorial debut. This is also the first movie of any kind that McKay has directed without Will Ferrell in the cast, which is surprising, but I really don't know much about McKay. Ferrell also co-wrote all but one of McKay's comedies, so there's definitely a close partnership here. When Dr. Burry went into Goldman Sachs and said he wanted to short the housing market, the song playing in the background was "Money Maker" by Ludacris. You will find multiple, almost random, cameos by some seriously famous people, including one very famous chef. The quote, "Truth is like poetry. And most people fucking hate poetry," is great (and written just for this movie). Boy, if this film doesn't make you want to vote for Bernie Sanders, nothing will. Here are some stats flashed at the end: * 5 trillion dollars disappeared * 8 million jobs were lost * 6 million people lost their homes * And that's just in the United States * 1 person went to jail from Credit Suisse And look where we are today in 2016. I have very strong feelings about whether or not the economy should have "recovered" so quickly after "the worst financial disaster since The Great Depression," but that's for another time, another thread - I pretty much said all I have to say right here.
  16. I would normally never watch a film such as "The Martian," (an implausible Hollywood blockbuster about a crazy thing), but a trusted friend saw it, and told me I might like it more than I'd think (actually, the exact words were, "The Martian was not a great film. But my expectations were very low, and it surpassed them. It was amusing escapism on a day when I really needed some"), so given that I like to remain at least somewhat in touch with popular culture, why not? Plus, I've liked Matt Damon ever since "Good Will Hunting," - an underachieving film that has an interesting premise, sort of like Patrick Swayze in "Roadhouse" (a black-belt "cooler" who drives a Mercedes 560SEC and has a degree in Philosophy?) Plus, sometimes you have to just enjoy cheap (actually, not-so-cheap) escapism for its own sake, you know what I mean? Some of these tidbits I got from, or was inspired by, Amazon X-Ray, so instead of citing each of them, I'll give a global citation here. I mention Amazon X-Ray in greater detail here. In the opening credits, the title "THE MARTIAN" slowly fades away, but the bottom part of the "T" in Martian lingers on the screen by itself for about one second, forming an "I." This is both similar to what happened in Alien (the letters fading), and obviously a foreshadowing of what is about to occur in the movie. The spaceship in The Martian is named Hermes, the Greek God of Scarves and Neckties, and also the Protector of Travelers. The Roman equivalent of Hermes is Mercury. The Latin name for Mark (Mark Watney is Matt Damon's character) is Marcus, which means, "of Mars." I have to admit that when Watney pulled the object out from inside of him (which I think might have been some vague tribute to the infamous scene in Ridley Scott's "Alien"), and was sitting in the chair, staring at the ceiling, with his predicament slowly dawning on him, and he said, "Fuck," I laughed out loud. So far (I'm writing this as I watch), I like the comic relief in this movie, e.g., when Mark threw up his arms in triumph while working with hydrazine. In the preview for The Martian, which I first saw many months before it was released, they used the eye-rolling line, "I'm going to have to science the shit out of this." That was so off-putting to me that it, alone, made me not want to see the film. In context of the movie, it was *still* an eye-rolling line - horrible - but not *as* bad as it was in the trailer, stripped of all context and previous events. These people know what they're doing: This line might have lost my demographic as a potential audience, but it probably gained ten-times as many people in other demographics. Okay, I'm an hour into this movie, with about eighty minutes remaining. I am predicting - but do not know - that Mark will be saved, because ... how can he *not* be? Hollywood is a mega-business, and a tragic ending would be bad for business (and it would have surely leaked out very early on). In an indie art film? Sure, but not here. No way. Just once, I'd love to see an ending like Tosca in a Hollywood nine-figure blockbuster, where the lead character drops dead right before the final curtain falls. It would make for better suspense going forward. As a final thought, I can see how watching The Martian would make the life of someone who is trapped in a prison, or a wheelchair, or a dungeon, or some other place of absolute solitude a little more bearable, giving them just an extra ounce of hope, knowing (or even fantasizing) that as long as you're still breathing, nothing is impossible. When I first saw the trailer for The Martian, I never dreamed that I would actually watch it, much less like it, but I liked The Martian a lot more than I thought I would.
  17. I'm in the process of watching "Spotlight" - the Academy Award winner for Best Picture of 2015 - on Amazon.com, and am typing this as I go. A couple interesting things right off the bat: * "Spotlight" is the first picture since 1952 ("The Greatest Show On Earth") to win Best Picture, and only one other award (in this case, Best Original Screenplay). * There's a fascinating (some might say "annoying") feature on Amazon called "X-Ray," which is sort of a real-time CliffsNotes, listing who is in what scene, and occasional blurbs of trivia, as the film advances (the viewer can disable X-Ray, but I'm taking something of a studious approach to this film (surprise, surprise!), so I'm using it, despite it being a clear-and-present distraction). And yes, it *is* available on Amazon right now, but it will set you back $5.99 to watch. Okay, let me get this over with: Good picture, for sure, but not Best Picture material. I haven't seen the others in 2015, so I have nothing to compare it to, but this just isn't a Best Picture film. I can easily see how it didn't win anything else, other than Best Original Screenplay. However, I'm glad I saw it, as I was simply unaware of the magnitude of the Boston Priests cover-up. Never mind the other cities; I'm talking only about Boston, and (assuming the numbers they throw out at film's-end are true) the problem was of such enormous magnitude that I'm a better person for having seen the film - there's no way I could ever forget, now that I've seen it fully acted out. In fact, I'd say that it's miraculous that the Catholic Church survived to the extent that it did, although there's nobody to "destroy" it except its own parishioners, and they don't want that to happen, so I guess it's not all that miraculous. And quite frankly, I'm not sure the Catholic Church *is* going to survive this. The guy protesting every day on Massachusetts Avenue - I really feel sorry for him. And assuming the figures - and list of cities - at the end of the film are correct (and I'm sure they are), well, let's just say that if this was a publicly traded company, it would be shut down and disbanded. I'd love to know what others thought of the film - I can't think of a single performance that I would consider to be "outstanding" (although many were very good), and I don't understand how enough Academy members voted for this for it to win. Anybody?
  18. In memory of Justice Antonin Scalia (Mar 11, 1936 - Feb 13, 2016) Forget politics, Justice Scalia was a man of honor, and I'm certain that Justice Ginsburg is grieving mightily today, as the two were dear friends who attended operas together. From the Wikipedia article: Scalia enjoyed a warm relationship with fellow Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, considered a member of the court's liberal wing, with the two attending the opera together, and even appearing together onstage as supernumeraries in Washington National Opera's 1994 production of Ariadne auf Naxos "Judicial Differences Take Center Stage in 'Scalia v. Ginsburg'" by Nina Totenberg on npr.org "'Scalia/Ginsburg' Opera Underscores How Opposites Can Be In Harmony" by Mark Swed on latimes.com "Justice Ginsburg's Spin On A Supreme Opera, 'Scalia/Ginsburg'" by Jess Bravin on blogs.wsj.com
  19. Wondering what your favorite meals of 2015 were in the area?
  20. "Ellsworth Kelly, an Artist Who Mixed Abstract with Simplicity, Dies at 92" by Holland Cotter on nytimes.com "Artist Ellsworth Kelly, Master of Colorful Abstraction, Dies at 92" by Neda Ulaby on npr.org "Ellsworth Kelly, the American Abstract Painter and Sculptor, Dies at 92" on theguardian.com MoMA has 235 works by Kelly online! Included in these are *45* paintings from 1951 alone - a year which must have been extremely fertile for Kelly (he was 27-28 years old), including these four paintings: "Nine Colors" (1951) - Ink on Paper and Gouache on Paper - 7.5" by 8" "Colors for a Large Wall" (1951) - Oil on Canvas with Sixty-Four Joined Canvases - 7' 10.5" by 7' 10.5" (!) "Spectrum Colors Arranged by Chance VI" (1951) - Cut-and-Pasted, Color-Coated Paper and Pencil on Four Sheets of Black Paper - 37.25" by 37.25" "Study for Meschers" (1951) - Cut-and-Pasted, Printed Paper - 19.5" by 19.5" Click on the MoMA link - you have 41 more glorious works to enjoy *just* from 1951. To those who think modern art could be done by a child, I urge you to keep going to exhibits, reading about it, and just exposing yourself to it as much as you can - sooner or later you'll start to like it, and I can't tell you why you'll start to like it; only that you will. Just have an open mind - I still don't know why I like modern art (yes, a child *could* spray-paint a canvas all black, although I assure you the modern masters can paint just as realistically as you ask them to), but I really do enjoy it, and I think you will, also. I will add that I have no ability to discern what's worth $5 from $5 million, but I still just ... like it. Brian, do you have a better explanation than mine?
  21. The age old question perhaps - is there anywhere worthy that is offering their full menu, not doing a special tasting menu on NYE? Bonus points if they might still be able to accommodate a larger group. Extra bonus points if they're in MD or easily accessible from the Greenbelt end of the green line (Shaw, etc). I had hoped this might be my chance to finally get to Dino's Grotto, but it appears the a la carte menu is only at the bar.
  22. Hubby and I recently have been working non-stop with weekends taken up by various commitments we enjoy doing, but has made for not much time for just a nice night out for the two of us. So we probably will go out for NYE. I know, I know, overpriced yadda yadda. We would love to do Rogue 24, but that seems like it may be a bit too expensive although I am sure it will be lovely, we will try to get there on another night. I would like to go somewhere fancy-ish though and am willing to spend up to about $200 per person before tax and tip. The grill room is $350 per person for a five course menu so that will probably be a non-NYE night we go there. I emailed Momofoku to see if they still had tables as that looked good. There seem to be no reservations anywhere I really want to go after 5:30 or the price tag like the above is just really high, I didn't realize I was booking so late... Thoughts on other good places that still have reservations? From opentable.com I see: 2941 Centrolina Equinox Fiola (I wish Fiola Mare had a later opening, but only at 5:30 pm, but maybe I can rezhound that one) Garrison Osteria Morini the Oval Room Proof Restaurant Eve I love the Source but we have gone now for two really big occasions, they knocked it out of the park, but still it might be too repetitive? But we haven't been since the re-do. Sushi-Ko What places don't use opentable these days?
  23. Pretty great show. A millennial's take on the first generation immigrant experience, casual racism, feminism, relationships, life in New York. I liked it, and could relate a lot to it. He wrote an article in the Times yesterday about learning that the guy that played the Indian guy in Short Circuit was actually a white dude in brown face. I don't think I've seen a niche comedy show get overwhelming reviews from virtually every site. It's on Netflix. Easy weekend binge... NY Times Vox Slate Washington Post Huffington Post Vanity Fair Daiily Beast The Verge Vulture
  24. Anyone know places in DC tonight (or during other debates) that host a thing? Not just showing it with captions, but like with volume up so you can hear? I heard Mission Dupont, Union Pub, Press Club, Capitol Lounge. Anything else? S
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