11 May 2015

Movies, TV Shows, & Miniseries-- Oh my!

Over the past few years, I have watched fewer movies and more TV shows. I think it might have something to do with long form story telling. Maybe it is also that I can fit in "just one more episode!!" before bed and it doesn't feel like a big thing. However, the idea of watching a WHOLE movie before bed is terribly daunting and I usually fall asleep part way through. I also really hate having to stop half way through a movie to sleep; it messes up the whole movie watching experience. 

I told you a little about Battlestar Galactica in my last post. You probably won't catch me saying anything bad about this show. To save yourself the trouble, you should probably just head to your local library and borrow it or heck, head to Amazon and buy the whole series. Trust me. It's that good. 
In a nut shell, humans created Cylons, humanoid metal machines. The Cylons rebelled against their makers and war broke out. A truce was reached, the war ended and Cylons all but disappeared from the world. Until they unleash nuclear warheads on Caprica, killing most of the world's population. And as an FYI, we learn most of this in the first few episodes. Battlestar Galacitca is the story of what happens next. 

I FINALLY finished Band of Brothers in April. It probably took me 6 months to watch, mostly because I don't like war stories. Look, I understand war is bloody and innocent lives are lost. I realize it is messy and painful and very hard to understand. I get all that. Those are all the reasons I don't like watching it in my entertainment; war isn't entertainment. War isn't a story device or construct of fiction. I struggle with watching war movies and realistically violent movies because to me, that isn't entertainment. 
Okay. I'm gonna try to stop the rant. 
Rant and all, I actually thought they did a wonderful job with the miniseries. At no point did they seem to glorify war; in fact, I think they did a remarkable job of portraying how hard it was to fight in World War II. Seeing it from the front lines changed my perspective and understanding of things. I don't regret seeing it, but I do wish some of the images wouldn't linger in my brain pan the way some of them are…
And hey, as Rachel said, "All of our boys are in it!" She isn't wrong! You've got Colin Hanks, Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy, Damian Lewis, Andrew Scott, David Schwimmer, Jamie Bamber, Simon Pegg, and Jimmy Fallon. Wow. Just…wow. What a list. 
(There is no judgement if you decide not to watch this. Sometimes, I wish I had skipped it. On the flip side, it makes me respect our soldiers and war veterans a little more than I did. We see sacrifice as a beautiful thing when we view it from the home front; it means something totally different on the front lines.) 

Last month, I caught the ugly virus that was going around. It knocked me on my back and was a beast to recover from. I knew I wasn't going to die but part of me wished I would. The first day found me in bed; the second day on the couch, only because if I spent one more moment in bed I was going to scream. Recovering is a hard business. I watched two movies during the recovery process, so my perspective on them might be skewed. 

They were both kinda horrible. 

The first was My Old Lady. Kristin Scott Thomas and Maggie Smith. What could be better? 
Well, actually, quite a lot. 
Kevin Kline played a main character and honestly I hated him. I've only seen him in a few things before this role but probably couldn't pick him out of a line up. I'm trying to hold a good thought because he has been cast in the Beauty and the Beast re-make. I'm crossing fingers and toes that the re-make is as near to perfect as they can make it. 

The second movie was Magic in the Moonlight. Emma Stone & Colin Firth? Perfection. 
There is very little I have to say about this movie because I was really disappointed. I'm not even sure I had a favorite line or part. It was just a massive let down on all fronts. 

Okay-- now for some movies I loved!
What? I watch good movies as well as horrible ones!
A co-worker recommended The Artist. I don't know why it took me so long to see this gem! It was beautiful and bold to do in this day and age. (And boy do I feel old for using that phrase…) I found myself enjoying it immensely. If you love old film, new film, classic film and the occasional black and white, this is the movie for you. 

I also got to see Big Hero 6 which may have caused me to tear up. Look out, Despicable Me. There is a new animated super hero in town. Actually, six of them…
My parents are the real litmus test for good kids movies. If they actually giggle at it, you know you have a winner. I'm still waiting for their professional opinion on this one. When the research comes back, I'll update you. (Though don't take my word for it, really.) 

Ah and I promised didn't I? Hm. I too got caught up in the show that is taking Netflix by storm: Daredevil. I finished it against my better judgment and I'm very glad I did. The first 11 episodes have glaringly BAD dialogue. So bad I wondered if there was a scrip or if the actors were ad-libbing scenes. Bad. Our Big Baddie Wilson Fisk seemed so big, so bad, so larger than life that instead of being truly terrifying, he seemed to be a caricature of a big bad villain. Our superhero, Matt Murdock, lacked motivation and true direction. I think by the end of the show, these two things were still true; however, the last two episodes had such good story and drive that you almost could forget that the beginning of the show was horrible. Almost. 
Oh and the violence. Can we just pause for a second and talk about the violence? I do not love it. I don't mind any of the wars in movies like, say Lord of the Rings. In fact, 9 times out of 10 you will find me yelling things like, "Cut the head off that stupid orc! He is just going to..no! What are you doing? GET HIM!!" When I'm not yelling at Aragorn, I'm yelling at Legolas: "More arrows, you poncy blond elf! Come on!!" And blowing things up? I'm a huge fan. 
Violence that is hyper-realistic makes me sick. There were more times than I can count where I watched Daredevil through the gaps of my fingers covering the major violence on my laptop screen (and even a few where I closed my eyes completely). 
On the whole, I give the show a "meh." I was speaking to a friend and decided that I would happily take more episodes of Agent Carter (even though the 8 episode run was the intended length of the show) instead of a second season of Daredevil. I might try a few episodes of season 2, but at this moment, I'm not too worried about the future of Nelson & Murdock, Avocados at Law. 

What are you watching these days? Let me know in the comments! 

06 May 2015

Happy May!

And welcome to the new year…five months late. 

Sorry about the lack of posts recently. It doesn't mean I haven't been reading (I have, but not a ton) or that I haven't been watching good TV and movies (I have, including a few too many bad movies…). It just means I've been lazy with my posts and have had a few problems with bad internet. 

Let's do a quick recap of the end of 2014:

  • I actually finished my goal of 50 books for the year! It got kinda dicey there at the end. I confess, I tacked on a Harry Potter book to make the count because I knew I liked it and could finish it. All in all, only 6 re-reads on the list, so I'm counting it a win. 
  • I never did finish the book Alias, Hook. It was horrible writing and I finally gave myself permission to not suffer. So, I'm sorry if any of you were lead astray by my attempts to read it. 
  • I discovered Liane Moriarty and fell in love. I've read three of her books, but recommend you start with her most recent, Big Little Lies. Follow that with The Husband's Secret. I'll keep you posted on her others; I have "What Alice Forgot" coming into the library soon. 
  • Sarah Addison Allen and Emily Giffin will ALWAYS write the kind of chic-lit I want to read. They are romantic with a little bit of magic (and a lot of food), the kind of magic the dreamer in me wants to believe actually exists in the world. 
  • I think I found a new genre: Biblical historical fiction. Ted DekKer is out with a new book, AD 30, about the beginning of Jesus' ministry and it completely made me change the way I think about things. Tosca Lee has a book out called Sheba that made me excited to read Song of Solomon. (And if that doesn't have all my Christian school friends clamoring for a bible, I don't know what will! But really guys, calm down. I'm reading it for the historical connections. Duh.)
I read more than just these books, but that hits a lot of the high points for the end of the year. If you want details on any of the books I read, feel free to check out my list on Goodreads or ask me in the comments. 

This year as been kind of slow in the book department. I've only read about 14 so far and 3 of them are re-reads. I feel like I'm cheating. I've had trouble finding that sweet spot, the place where you don't have to work for the story and where you find the characters enticing. Any and all book suggestions are welcome! 

In my last post, I mentioned that I had been watching Battlestar Galactica. Well…that is still true! I just finished the series a second time with Rachel! It is as good as I remembered it and THEN some. The thing that was different this time around was, well I guess it was my perspective. Ever since Sheba, I wanted to read more Tosca Lee. The second book of hers I picked up was called Demon. 
This book was incredible. It's the story of Clayton, a washed up writer, who works in a publishing house. He meets a man who claims to 1) be a demon and 2) that this author/publisher will write and publish his memoirs. The memoirs of a demon? Who is going to touch that? The demon's story is so captivating that it soon consumes Clayton (and of course, the reader) that his personal life starts to fall apart as he writes the story and waits for the next chapter. I will say this: it made me re-examine my perspective on demons. It made me look at life with a different perspective. It made me exceedingly thankful for God's gift of salvation. 
How does this connect to Battlestar Galactica? 
Call me and we will discuss the finer points over coffee, but in a nut shell it helped me understand the Cylon's thought process and their view on the world and humans. I maybe even felt sorry for them…? Probably? Anyway. I recommend the book. I HIGHLY recommend the show. (As a warning? Battlestar Galactica will probably make you cry, though. Not so much the book.) 

I'm trying to find some good books to read. I am reading Fiona & Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo. It is almost too juvenile for me, but I'm going to stick with it. A squirrel that can use a type-writer? I'm intrigued, to say the least. 
I also recently started The Intellectual World of C.S.Lewis by Alister McGrath. It is probably the first scholarly book I've picked up on Lewis in a while and I love it. It is incredibly hard to read at night when I come home from work, though, so it's been hard going. 

It's not thorough but I hope this recap catches you up with what I've been reading. Next I'll try to catch you up with some of the movies and TV shows I've been watching. I'll leave you with this teaser: Netflix and Marvel.