Thursday, September 24, 2015

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Morels:
This is a two-player mushroom-themed card game similar to Jaipur. You gather mushrooms and either cook them for points or sell them for the chance to get better mushrooms before your opponent. There's less setup than Jaipur, but a fair amount of card movement during the game to represent the mushrooms decaying over time -- this gets a little tedious unless you have a smooth playing surface, but the game creator offers an alternate board layout to reduce the card movement (which we have not yet tried). Overall, it's an interesting card game with a moderate learning curve that we'll play again when Lost Cities gets too dull and no one wants to sort the tokens in Jaipur.

Final Grade: B

Whiplash (R):
It's hard to imagine a successful thriller about a jazz conservatory drummer and his manipulative mentor without it straying into melodrama, but this movie is intense and gripping all of the way through. The ending is well-deserved and more complicated that the typical "montage + first place trophy" ending you might expect. You don't need to be a musician or jazz lover to enjoy the movie, but you might appreciate it more if you are.

Final Grade: A

Suits, Season Three:
Only 32 episodes in, and this show is already out of plot ideas. Characters revolve in soap opera spin cycle, and the laughs, though frequent, are all of the one-off chuckle (or quick exhale) variety. Free on Amazon Prime.

Final Grade: C-

Hand of God, Pilot:
This show about a judge who has a psychotic breakdown and may or may not be talking to God was just released as a full season, so I checked out the pilot. It's sporadically interesting, but glacially paced, and spends a lot of time blurring the line between the unstable perceptions of the main character and reality. This is the whole point, but if you dislike dream sequences in your TV shows, you may get irritated with the concept before it grabs you in the final moments of the pilot. Sideplots involving city corruption feel tacked on (not helped by "Bubbles" from The Wire starring as the Mayor), and the tone is generally grim. Based on the pilot, I'll be skipping the rest of the series unless nothing else is available to watch at treadmill time. Free on Amazon Prime.

Final Grade: C-

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