Thursday, January 03, 2013

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel:
This movie about seven elderly Brits choosing to spend their retirement in India was better than expected, but it also might be because my expectations for any movie set in India are so negatively low after The Darjeeling Limited. Great performances from well-known actors, a predictable plot, and a light-hearted feeling make this a movie I enjoyed watching, but will probably have no recollection of in two years time.

Final Grade: B-

Chuck, Season Five:
The final season of Chuck is only 13 episodes long, and (with nothing to lose) the writers push the plot forward faster than ever before (almost Homeland-fast). In my opinion though, it went too fast, and the last handful of episodes felt more like filler than a culmination of the story. I was definitely not sold on the slightly ambiguous finale, but "at least it was better than LOST". I also just learned that there is an extended cut of the finale that might solve some problems which I'll have to check out when Rebecca gets this far in the show. Regardless and irregardless, I recommend the entire five-season set, as it manages to satisfy without any character assassinations, awful twists, or faked drama (see Alias, season 3, 4, and 5).

Final Grade: B

Anna Karenina:
We saw this movie on Christmas Eve, as it was the only movie in theatres that Rebecca's parents hadn't seen yet. I have never read a single work of Russian literature (although I did read the unabridged Les Mis twice), but the plot is easy enough to follow, in spite of the legions of unnamed white actors that all look alike. The movie is artistically filmed as a stage play, sometimes breaking the fourth wall or having actors change settings by walking through backstage props or raising curtains. This is very cute, but needlessly muddles plot comprehension. Overall, this is a downer of a movie with an unsympathetic main character that you could probably pass on. Also, Keira doesn't close her mouth.

Final Grade: C-

Act Your Age by Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band:
I heard some of Gordon Goodwin's big band arrangements on my Sammy Nestico Pandora station, and asked for any one of his CDs for Christmas. This is a solid, tight mix of swing, fusion, and funk which is eminently listenable, except for one flute song that seems to go on forever. The CD also comes with a bonus DVD of live concert footage and full transcriptions of improvised solos.

Final Grade: A-

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