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Found 42 results

  1. "For the Love of Spock" is a tribute documentary by director Adam Nimoy about the life of his father, Leonard Nimoy. Of course, the 800-pound gorilla, Mr. Spock, is always present throughout the film. This documentary clearly came from the heart, and is required viewing for any "Star Trek" fan. There are no grand surprises, but there is an enormous amount of detail and family-only heirlooms that are revealed to the viewers, and for that alone, it is well-worth watching. It's less than two-hours long, and is currently available on Amazon Prime. You don't need me to write a summary of this; just rent it and enjoy it.
  2. "Infinity Chamber" (originally called "Somnio") is so new that it doesn't even have a Wikipedia entry. I'm not sure if it was even released in theaters, and it just came out on streaming video last month. There was initially an attempt to fund it on Kickstarter - if you watch the video there (which won't give much away), you'll "get to know" Writer-Director Travis Milloy, which makes me feel somewhat guilty for what I'm about to write. This intriguing title is about an equally intriguing subject: A man wakes up with only a vague recollection of being shot, and is imprisoned by a high-tech, futuristic, fully automated "LSO" (Life-Support Operative) named "Howard," which is a self-learning computer, fully (and hilariously) reminiscent of HAL in "2001: A Space Odyssey." (Note that the diminutive of Howard would be "HOW.") *** SPOILERS FOLLOW *** Howard is the best and most memorable part of this film, which the LA Times correctly says is "a little too long." It's actually not only too long, but also too garbled, with an unsatisfying denouement that leaves the viewer with a "What the hell just happened" perception. There are films (such as "Inception") with deliberately ambiguous endings, but "Infinity Chamber" is more than just ambiguous - it's also perplexing, and not in a good way. I'm all-for open-ended endings, subject to interpretation, but this movie was one hell of a long ramble, not justified by the payoff. Christopher Soren Kelly plays Frank Lerner (note the double entendre), Cassandra Clark plays the girl of his dreams, Gabby (note the double entendre), and both are just about perfect in their roles, so the acting here is quite good. Howard is a delight as the laid-back, thoughtful LSO who almost befriends Frank during the arduous time spent getting to "know" one-another. The lighting is good ... until it isn't (the film becomes one of "those" black-as-night films, which leaves the viewer squinting and guessing - they've become a fad, and I'm sick of them), the music by Jacob Yoffee fits the movie, and the angular cinematography is as good as it can be within its severe limitations. This all sounds wonderful, but the actual plot not only plods, but is so infuriatingly vague that the stingy reveal leaves the viewer empty. Did Frank outsmart Howard? Is it all a dream? Did he die despite the ventilator? Is he happy-ever-after? You're welcome to pick-and-choose whatever you wish, and you won't be wrong, unless there's something patently obvious that I've missed. "Infinity Chamber" isn't a joy to sit through; it's hard work at times, and the claustrophobic set must have been the cinematographer Jason Nolte's worst nightmare, because with such a long film, and such a limited space, he simply ran out of things to try. As much as I don't want to say this, I just can't recommend this film to anyone except the most avid science-fiction fans - it does a lot of things right (and doesn't even come across as being low-budget), but there are just too many inherent flaws in the story and direction for talent to overcome - the irony being that I think there is some talent in writer-director Travis Milloy; it just didn't come out in this film.
  3. Earlier in the day, I'd had a minor surgery, and was staying at a hotel nearby. The *last* thing I felt like was something mentally taxing, so I went for some mind candy - something fun, entertaining, and utterly devoid of substance. I remember really liking "Jack Reacher," and the trailer I saw for the sequel (the one with Tom Cruise sitting in a bar, getting arrested by a cocky sherriff, and saying the phone would ring in 90 seconds, etc.), looked like mindless fun as well, so why not "Jack Reacher: Never Go Back?" Sometimes in life, all you want is a hot fudge sundae, you know? *** SPOILER ALERT *** There's a *lot* of opening action in this film - in fact, that whole trailer comes at the very beginning, and I had high hopes about this being another "Rambo-like" Jack Reacher movie. I was wrong, sort of. A lot of the first thirty minutes came at the fictional Fort Dyer in Washington, DC, and DC locals will enjoy seeing a lot of familiar scenery. Reacher's (Tom Cruise) Army contact - whom he has never met - Major Susan Turner (Cobie Smulders) has been framed for espionage when he finally gets around to meeting her, and in fact, when Reacher goes to see her at the high-value prisoner detention unit at Fort Dyer, he, too, is framed for murder, and is held there (big mistake). Fort Dyer is actually in Washington, DC-proper, and Reacher is somehow able to get to Turner and make an impossible escape, beating or outwitting about ten people in the process - less than thirty minutes into this film, Jack Reacher is in full whip-ass mode, and I'm thinking this is going to be perfect for what I wanted. It's really funny that, since this is inside of Washington, DC, their final escape from Fort Dyer was inside a *food truck* (or was it?) - if this movie were made just ten years ago, they would have had to hijack a hot-dog cart. <--- "But we're not illegal aliens! We swear! Oh, wait a minute ... it's still 2016." While Reacher and Turner are in a taxi, Turner comments, "Hey, I like your hat ..." <--- " ... you a Nats fan?" Cabbie replies, "Yeah, from the beginning." And in the next scene, Reacher and Turner are at an Internet Cafe on Pennsylvania Avenue and (the fictional) "North Street," and she's wearing the hat: I guess the driver made a tidy profit in that little exchange. When the "initial act" of the film is over, and Reacher and Turner are safe inside a motel, with Reacher positively reveling in a hot shower, we see a man referred (in Amazon X-Ray; he has no name yet in the film) as "The Hunter" on the film with a General - General Harkness (Robert Knepper) - which confirms the obvious: This plot goes all the way up to very, very high levels. "The Hunter," btw, has shown himself to be a total, complete bad-ass, on a par with Reacher - he's going to make an interesting protagonist and a formidable opponent to the seemingly superhuman Reacher. A very simple - perhaps too simple - question: Why doesn't Turner simply type a long, explanatory note, and send it to every newspaper in the country, naming names? She doesn't have to change her strategy, but people will be implicated whether she's killed or not. Remember "The Shawshank Redemption?" That's the only thing that took the warden down (in a rather effective fashion, I will add). One flaw comes about 1'10" into the film - Reacher "tries to apologize" to Turner for being somewhat condescending. While that might appeal to a broad cross-section of film watchers, I enjoyed "Jack Reacher" because he was a cold-blooded loner - he could separate good from bad - but that's all he was willing to do. I do not to see a fairly extended scene of him apologizing to a woman because he may have say something that got under her skin; the reason I enjoy Reacher is because he's a quasi-superhero, like Rambo (imagine Rambo doing the same thing, or maybe he did as the series got on in age). What I'm saying is that there's an undertone of romance here that is misplaced in this film. All this said, there's a "subtext to the subtext" which would certainly explain Reacher softening up in certain, confined situations, so it's at least understandable. Another interesting sub-theme (and I have to admit, I've seen almost *no* contemporary movies is) that they dabble with the opiate problem in the United States. (I think they might have meant opioid, not opiate, but that's the word they used.) There was great, unnoticed pun during this scene, when Reacher says, "Turn her?" and then Espin (Aldis Hodge) exclaims, "Major!" Incidentally, Turner performed all her own stunts in this film. The last half-hour of this film turned away from being a "Jack Reacher" movie, and turned into a generic Tom Cruise action flick - there was more action than you can remember (in fact, I'll remember very little about this film a week from now). I wish I could recommend this to people who enjoyed the first Jack Reacher film, but my guess is that it's probably something more like "Mission Impossible," or <pick-your-own non-stop action thriller>. I'm not sorry I watched it, because I needed it when I did, but I'd never watch it again, and I'm not looking forward to the next sequel.
  4. If this movie hadn't been nominated, I probably would have really enjoyed it. If this movie had a different literal take away toward the end, I may have even loved it. But it was, and it didn't. Not to sound cliche, but they don't make movies like this anymore. I felt it had the right amount of whimsy and fantasy, along with a story line that was engaging and kept moving. Interestingly, my wife felt like Ryan Gosling was a star while Emma Stone was lacking - I thought the exact opposite. But these filmmakers aren't dumb, I will give them that. Take the nostalgia from a well done example of a dying genre, combined with the blatant love note to Hollywood, and you wind up with a best picture nominee in a year when options were light.
  5. I have been remiss in not posting about this lovely exhibit at the Freer Sackler. The Art of the Qur'an is a quiet exhibit, and although I've seen a handful of advertisements, it deserves wider publicity. The exhibit features over 50 Qur'ans dating from the early eighth to the seventeenth century and tells the story of "how the Qur’an was transformed from an orally transmitted message into a fixed text, transcribed and illuminated by some of the most skilled artists of the Islamic world" This is a show where reading the wall text is important as they guide you through the various changes that have occurred to Qur'ans over the ages, such as the introduction of medallions and arabesques, to indicate emphasis of text. At the end of the show the Qur'an has been transformed into works of art, used by rulers as political currency. This is a show to set aside some time and slowly immerse yourself in the history of the Qur'an and the history of Islam. NY Times review
  6. Bruce Conner's assessment of his own work, painted on the wall at the entrance of the "Bruce Connor: It's All True" exhibit.
  7. Zsa-Zsa Gabor passed away yesterday, just a few months short of 100 years old. A small tribute: a Mister Ed episode (two parts on YouTube), with Zsa-Zsa Gabor playing herself. Yes, it's silly, but Gabor didn't take herself too seriously:
  8. I will admit I know very little about art, but I do know, or think I do, I have discerning taste. Gallery Row in Lancanter Pa, certainly has a number of noteworthy galleries worth a visit from those outside the area. I am rarely blown away by a piece of art. Today I was impressed. A painting titled, Cervantes Dali, completely haunted me. To conclude my statement, being haunted by a composition of art is a good thing. .David Silvah, you are a master. This piece can be found at CityFolk Gallery on Prince Street. Priced at less that 2 months rent in the District can afford you this outstanding work. future art collector, kat
  9. Living in Washington , DC, I never thought I would find a venue that would showcase my love for artsy , independent films. E Street Cinema was a gem I thought to be rare. Zoetroplis Art House in Lancaster, Pa has fullfilled my long lost love for indie films. Moonlight is a film that should be the center of discussion at any table. My lack of review of this prolific film is deliberate. Please go see this film. You are welcome, kat
  10. Please don't remember John Glenn only for his partisan politics - the man was, is, and always will be a great American Hero - just look at those tags in this thread, and there could have been more. I have total respect for this great American, and I hope everyone else does, too. Senator Glenn left us earlier today at the age of 95 - we lost a giant today: What a great man.
  11. I went to see "Manchester by the Sea" with a group of friends, not knowing anything about it. I didn't even know what film we would be seeing as I stepped up to the booth to order my ticket. I was just along for the ride with a group of women who usually choose good films. I am sure there will be Oscar buzz about this film, as it is the type of movie the Academy adores. It deals with very serious issues, and the actors, for nearly all of the film, are allowed to display their chops, portraying unfortunate souls filled with anguish and angst. Grief, and the inability to move on after death, are the major themes in this film. Casey Affleck (Ben's younger brother) gives a wonderful performance as a man who cannot move on. Affleck's character, Lee Chandler, is the most depressed person I have ever seen on film. His gloom wears on you as you watch the movie. I saw this film on a day when I was feeling blue. I do not recommend anyone else do the same. There are touches of humor in the film, particularly in scenes where Chandler is interacting with his 16-year-old nephew. Patrick, brilliantly portrayed by Lucas Hedges. The dialogue between these two is touching and real and occassionaly laugh-out-loud funny. But these light moments are few and far between, and are overwhelmed by the tragedy in the film. Affleck and Michelle Williams, who plays Lee Chandler's ex-wife, Randi, give moving performances as a couple badly damaged by the tragic twists and turns of life. But I fully expect the major buzz this award season to be focused on Hedges. This talented young man is a gifted actor who gave an award-worthy performance, scene after scene, in this film. If you love to watch good actors act, you probably will enjoy this film. I can't say that I recommend it, however. It was depressing and dragged in spots. The score is over the top. There is one particular scene, intended to tug on your heartstrings, where the soaring violins are so obnoxious, the music took my mind completely away from the story. Instead of being moved to tears, I was annoyed by the music and the producers' overwrought attempt to manipulate my emotions with it.
  12. Rashaan Salaam had two *major* football achievements: 1) He won the Heisman Trophy in 1994 2) He was the youngest NFL player ever to rush for 1,000 yards in 1995 Tragically, Rashaan Salaam passed away today. May you have found peace, sir.
  13. I watched "The Man Who Knew Infinity" yesterday, and liked it very much (without loving it). I knew of Srinivasa Ramanujan, because he kept popping up on these listicles of 'Uneducated Minds That Changed the World' - I knew him as 'some uneducated genius from India with an IQ through the ceiling, and a gift for math that was nearly savant-like,' but that's all I knew of him. For the education alone, I have to give this film personal points. Two films that came to mind - very quickly - when I first started watching this were (surprisingly *not* "Good Will Hunting," even though Ramanujan is mentioned in that film, and not "A Beautiful Mind") ... anyway, they were "The English Patient" and "Shine." Why these two films, instead of the others, popped into my head, I have no idea, but they did. "The English Patient," as David Foster Wallace once emphasized, is "a slick, commercial product," and that's how I felt about "The Man Who Knew Infinity." "Shine" was released in the same year as "The English Patient" (1996), and both of these films were - remarkably and tragically - nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture (incredibly, "The English Patient" actually won). I thought this film was *much* better than "Shine," maybe because I'm a better pianist than I am a mathematician, and I thought "Shine" was just impossibly stupid; this at least taught me something (I had no idea, for example, of Ramanujan's role in Combinatorics, a field I was very interested in during graduate school). While the overall execution of "The Man Who Knew Infinity" resulted in a film clearly for the masses, I enjoyed it, and I learned from it (and at the end of the day, aren't those the two chief ends of literature: to instruct and delight?) Linking this post back to the discussion we were having above about a universal base, I can't help remembering the line in the movie that went something like, 'every single positive integer is Ramanujan's personal friend.' It's interesting that "positive integers" are only "positive integers" because we use a human-based, Base-10 numbering system; in the universe-based, Base-X system I was proposing, these wouldn't even be integers. I suppose you picked up on that when you mentioned the film? Ramanujan (and really, *every* mathematician) unearthing these "universal truths" is really doing nothing more than "unearthing universal truths based on an entirely man-made product," as Base 10 is a completely arbitrary construct. Anyway, "recommendation" (if it was a recommendation) much appreciated, and I'm glad I saw the film, even if it did cost me a whopping $5.99 on Amazon Prime. (For those who haven't seen it, Dev Patel was also the star of "Slumdog Millionaire," which I suppose makes him the most famous Indian movie star in America right now.)
  14. The Chronicle just released Alison Cook's 2016 Top 100 restaurants list. It's been a couple years since I've been to her number 1, Oxheart...I need to get back. As a Heights resident, I was pleased to see 4 of our neighborhood places in the top 25 (Bernadines, Coltivare, Hunky Dory, and Foreign Correspondents). Looking good in the neighborhood (and well done to the Treadsack team).
  15. "Edward Albee, Playwright of a Desperate Generation, Dies at 88" by Bruce Weber on nytimes.com "Pulitzer Prize-Winning Playwright Edward Albee Dead at 88" by Adam Howard on nbcnews.com "Edward Albee, Audacious American Playwright, Dies at 88" by Suzy Evans on hollywoodreporter.com Edward Albee was born in Virginia, possibly in a Washington, DC suburb, and possibly even in Washington, DC itself.
  16. Did anybody watch the Murray - Nishikori match yesterday? In my entire life, I don't think I've ever seen such a momentum change from a single event. During the 4th set, Murray had a break point to go up 2-0, was in a slightly advantageous position during that point, and was well on his way towards closing out the match. Then, during the point, feedback from the PA system went off, and the umpire (*correctly*, in my opinion) called a let. Murray positively imploded, complaining that in the first set, the umpire said they'd play on anytime there's crowd noise. (The umpire replied, 'Yes, but this was more than just crowd noise," and she was right.) Nishikori then won 14 of the next 16 points, breaking Murray, and running out the 4th set 6-1! And then somehow, as if scripted, he hung on to win the 5th set 7-5. In Murray's mind, the feedback was the sole cause of the loss, but I know from experience that players often look for an excuse to lose, and Murray happened to find one to rally around. He fell apart mentally, and that's why he lost - he complained about this one event after every single point for several *games*. "Andy Murray Enters Full Meltdown Mode in Kei Nishikori U.S. Open Defeat - But Will He Ever Change?" by Charlie Eccleshare on telegraph.co.uk
  17. "Blazing Saddles" and "Young Frankenstein" are two of the greatest comedies I've ever seen and they both starred Gene Wilder. Mel Brooks is certainly a comedic genius, but I don't think these movies would have been nearly as good without Wilder. I think I'll give Blazing Saddles a view tonight. And then maybe watch the best skit from "Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex":
  18. I know people here are busy with other things (like dining), but it would be a shame if we didn't have a thread on the Olympics. So here it is. What are *your* favorite memories? (No Ryan Lochte please, Al Dente!) I'll toss one out: Usain Bolt interrupting a Spanish-language interview to acknowledge the U.S.A. National Anthem: Thank you, Usain Bolt, for your demonstration of class, respect, and humility. I also think the reporter handled it quite professionally once she realized what was happening, so kudos to her also. If anyone has any favorites from previous Olympics, go ahead and post those as well - I'll start threads for them.
  19. I didn't even know about this until I got an email from my mother-in-law: --- Coucou Don, Très intéressée par le saut "heaven sent" de Luke Aikins. J'ai hâte de savoir qu'il est bien tombé dans le filet. Comment vas-tu? --- Huh?! Today, Luke Aikins is attempting an unprecedented - some would say "insane" - feat: a 25,000 foot, "suit-less and chute-less" skydive with no parachute or wing suit, hoping to land in a net below. Aikins has jumped 18,000 times, so if anyone is prepared for such a brazen act, it's him - my advice to novice skydivers would be to get some jumps under your belt before trying this yourselves. "Luke Aikins: The US Daredevil Attempting Skydive without Parachute" on france24.com --- If this post is gone tomorrow, you'll know why.
  20. A light breezy novel chronicling the life and travails of a back waiter at what must be the old Union Square Cafe in New York (which is apparently in the process of moving and reopening on 19th Street). Recommended if you like these type of stories. Favorably reviewed by the New York Times.
  21. This vintage is going to be awful, assuming there even *is* a vintage - my sources are telling me that several parcels in Burgundy have been entirely lost for the year, and that one well-known producer is combining multiple Premier Cru vineyards into a generic "Bourgogne," or perhaps a generic village wine (such as "Chambolle-Musigny"), but the "Premier Cru" designation won't be there. This is, of course, up to each producer to decide, but suffice it to say: 2016 is a disaster in both Burgundy and the Loire Valley (which includes Vouvray, Sancerre, Chinon, etc.). Apr 28, 2016 - "Burgundy Hit by 'Worst Frost Since 1981'" by Chris Mercer on decanter.com This article is not new, but I assure you it's current: The repercussions of this frost will be devastating to the winegrowers.
  22. In what is one of the biggest upsets in all of sports in 2016, Sam Querry - an American, which seems almost doubly impossible - has beaten Novak Djokovic, 7-6 (6), 6-1, 3-6, 7-6 (5). "American Sam Querrey Stuns No. 1 Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon" on espn.go.com