Thursday, June 18, 2015

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (R):
A useless, pretentious movie. It's interesting to watch from a technical perspective to see the extended single-shot scenes (some lasting over 10 minutes), but otherwise it's about 15 minutes of amazing performances seared into an omelette of faux psychological drama with a grating soundtrack consisting mainly of a guy playing a jazz drum kit. This is one of those movies that your film buff friends will say is amazing, so be warned.

Final Grade: D+

The Shield, Season Seven:
This final season starts slow, taking a couple episodes to over-exposition the intricate plot layers, but thankfully recovers pretty quickly. The show goes off the rails from the standard formula, which leaves plenty of room for fun drama (similar to Harry Potter leaving Hogwarts, or the collapse of SD-6 on Alias), and the ending preserves the high quality of this show's seven season run.

Final Grade: B

Sons of Anarchy, Season Seven:
In spite of the fact that this entire final season is predicated on a contrived situation resulting from two characters' inability to communicate with their grown-up words, it remains intense and well-executed throughout. It ends in a satisfying way, although the final two seconds of poor CGI kind of reduce the emotional impact of the closing scene. On the downside, episodes are still 60 - 80 minutes long, which is just indulgently long (see also, Arrested Development, Season Four) and unnecessary. I would have preferred some tighter editing rather than several minutes of people walking down hallways or twenty minute musical montages every twenty-five minutes.

Final Grade: B

Future Crimes by Marc Goodman:
This non-fiction book provides a good look at the potential for crime, identity theft, and espionage resulting from the increasingly connected nature of our computers and phones. The most interesting parts of the book are the vignettes of recent crimes that might have been unexpected a few years earlier. Unfortunately, the author also feels like he needs to bash you over the head continuously with scare words and fear mongering, which gets tiresome almost immediately. It gets to the point where the basic reading pattern is to skim over several paragraphs proclaiming the end of the world, to get to the interesting technical details and crime stories. I'm about 70% of the way through the book and losing steam -- the incessant fear mongering is like a neverending air raid siren, and to date, the author never actually proposes any solutions to the problems he's laying out.

Final Grade: C

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