Posts Tagged as reviews

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  1. Wednesday, November 22, 2017:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Silicon Valley, Season Three : This was a pretty successful season with minimal retread of earlier story lines but all of the original characters finding some way to remain relevant in the story. I felt like the character of Erlich Bachman was slightly overused, and the weirdness of Jared was used just enough.   Final Grade :  B+     Patton Oswalt: Annihilation : This stand-up special gets all of the Trump jokes out of the way at the beginning and gets better from there. A large portion dives into the recent death of his wife, but the special never drags or gets too somber. Free on ...
  2. Friday, November 10, 2017:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Acoustic Songs in a Church  by The Hoosiers: This is a collection of Hoosiers songs recorded purely with acoustic instruments, apparently in a church venue. I'm not totally sure who the intended audience is supposed to be other than long-time fans, but the songs are fun from a nostalgia perspective. I definitely like the fully orchestrated versions much better, but this is a $6.99 plate of MP3 tapas that's pleasant enough for what it is.   Final Grade :  B-     Pinewood Smile  by The Darkness:  Last of Our Kind  was a great album, and this fifth album is a pretty weak foll...
  3. Wednesday, October 18, 2017:
    Review Day: Destiny's Conflict by Janny Wurts   There are no spoilers in this review, which is also posted on  Amazon .      It has been 22 years since I discovered Curse of the Mistwraith, the first book in the epic Wars of Light and Shadow series that has since become my favourite fantasy series of all time. I discovered Janny Wurts through her collaboration on the Empire trilogy, where I felt that she breathed true emotion, political intrigue, and character development into an otherwise cookie-cutter, two-dimensional universe. Since then, the WoLaS series has invaded my bookshelf like a pleasant plague in triplicate, with hardcovers for armchair reading, paperbacks for loaning, and Kindle copies for rereading the whole series without spr...
  4. Wednesday, October 11, 2017:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       American Vandal : This is a pitch-perfect satire of the true crime documentary genre (such as  Serial  and  Making a Murderer ), with a small team of high school students investigating who drew 27 dicks on cars in the teacher's parking lot. With a setup like that, it would be easy to stick with the obvious jokes -- the reason this 8-episode season works so well is because it's played completely straight, allowing you to get swept up into a fun snapshot of modern high school life in the days of social media and Youtube stars. Free on Netflix.   Final Grade :  B+     Fortitu...
  5. Wednesday, September 20, 2017:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Plural  by Electric Guest: The follow-up album to  Mondo  is a little more mature and mellow. It's a good listen, but doesn't have any super-catchy or highly memorable tracks on it.   Final Grade :  B     Founder  (PG-13): This movie does a pretty good job of capturing the nationalization of McDonald's, with a perfect role for Nick Offerman. It won't change your life, but it will probably put you in the mood for some fries after it's over. Free on Netflix.   Final Grade :  B     Rake, Season One : I only got about three...
  6. Wednesday, August 23, 2017:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Rogue One: A Star Wars Story  (PG-13): This one-off Star Wars movie (which fits plotwise in between Episode 3 and 4) takes a little while to get rolling (the first hour or so is character introduction), but it's otherwise reasonably watchable. The final battle scenes drag on a bit long, but the main characters are fun to watch and none of them are Jar-Jar levels of irritating. Free on Netflix.   Final Grade :  B-     Ozark, Season One : This show starring Jason Bateman as a financial advisor in trouble with a Mexican drug cartel is never  bad , but overall, it just feels u...
  7. Monday, July 24, 2017:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       The Rainmaker  (PG-13): I missed this movie back in the 90s when I used to read all of the John Grisham books. Though not an amazing film, it hews very close to the book and has some good performances by a very baby-faced Matt Damon and Claire Danes. It also has a 90s orchestral score that feels pleasantly retro today. Free on Amazon Prime.   Final Grade :  B     Halt and Catch Fire, Season Three : This season functions very much like the middle chapter of a trilogy -- it takes awhile before there is any hint of an overarching plot, but all of the great character development in the ...
  8. Monday, July 17, 2017:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Okja  (Not Rated): This whimsical Korean film tells the tale of a farmer girl and her giant pet pig as they become embroiled in a tug-of-war between a multinational corporation that wants to feed the world and a PETA-like group. The movie mashes an incredible number of themes and moods into its dense 2 hour running time but manages to be charming and evocative throughout, with over-the-top performances from Jake Gyllenhaal and Tilda Swinton among many others. Definitely worth a watch. Free on Netflix.   Final Grade :  A     Baby Driver  (R): At its core, this is just a car chase m...
  9. Friday, June 23, 2017:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       The 100, Season Four : This show is still a great example of sci-fi lite, where you can go along for the ride without thinking too hard. Though the plot in this season isn't quite as interesting as Season Three, it's still entertaining and ends up with a nice shake-up that should make the next season fresher. The main flaw in this season is the continued flip-flop of characters that make wishy-washy decisions to forward the plot and then feel angsty about them.   Final Grade :  B     Chronos : This is a very polished 3rd-person Zelda-like game for the Oculus Rift. Like  Lucky's...
  10. Friday, June 16, 2017:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Off the Grid  by Bliss n' Eso: Bliss n' Eso's newest album feels a little calmer and centered than their previous work, but not quite as infectiously fun -- it seems like many of the hip-hop artists I like at this stage in my life are all rapping about how they've kicked their alcoholism and are raising kids. I enjoyed  Whatever Happened to the DJ?  and a few other tracks. As an import CD, it's probably not worth the higher cost unless you're a fan.   Final Grade :  B-     Hasan Minhaj: Homecoming King : This standup special featuring one of the Daily Show correspondents i...
  11. Friday, June 09, 2017:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Good Luck With Your Life  by Spose: The newest album from Spose is clever and fun to listen to one time, but doesn't offer much on repeat listenings. He has a knack for neat similes and wordplay in his lyrics, but like a stand up comedy special, once you've appreciated them they aren't as good the second time around. None of the songs are lasting enough that they've stuck in my mind as I write this review.   Final Grade :  C+     Mondo  by Electric Guest: I bought this album based on a Pandora referral to  This Head I Hold . It's really catchy and does a nice job of blendi...
  12. Friday, June 02, 2017:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Catastrophe, Season Three : This is Season Three in name only, and truly feels like a continuation and conclusion of the events from Season Two. That said, I enjoyed its progression, and it even managed to raise my opinion of Season Two (which I felt ended abruptly and without much development). I enjoy how the main characters are flawed and sometimes mean-spirited, but they maintain a good chemistry and rarely ever cross the line into easy hateful humor.   Final Grade :  B     Lovetap!  by Smallpools: This is an upbeat collection of indie rock that reminds me a little of the Hoosie...
  13. Friday, May 26, 2017:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       About a Boy, Season One : Based upon the concept of the Hugh Grant movie of the same name, but as a reboot instead of a continuation, this show is about the friendship between a womanizing neighbor and the boy who moves in next door. A fun addition to the "good-hearted" humor type of sitcom. Free on Netflix.   Final Grade :  B+     La La Land  (PG-13): This movie was perfectly fine, but didn't stay with me at all after I finished watching it. As a musical, it has a few memorable tunes and is well-choreographed, but six Oscars seems a little excessive.   Final Grade&...
  14. Friday, May 19, 2017:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Bosch, Season Three : The third season of this extended police procedural follows the same pattern as the previous ones -- a slow build with a few different plots woven together that's just good enough to keep watching when nothing else is on. I enjoy the gentle ribbing and friendship of the main characters even when not much is happening. Free on Amazon Prime.   Final Grade :  B-     Captain Fantastic  (R): This is a story about a family that takes homeschooling and self-reliance to a crazy extreme, contrasted against the real world that goes on around them. I really enjoyed it, alth...
  15. Friday, May 05, 2017:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       American Crime Story: The People v. OJ Simpson : This (dramatized) reenactment of the OJ Simpson trial is well-acted and a lot of fun. I got tired of Cuba Gooding Jr. and whatever he was trying to accomplish with his raspy voice affect, but that happens for me in everything he's in. Free on Netflix.   Final Grade :  B+     Infiltrator  (R): This movie features Bryan Cranston as an undercover cop posing as an accountant in the 1980s cocaine trade. It does a very good job sustaining tension, but seems a little redundant when compared to all of the movies and shows it borrows from. There...
  16. Friday, April 21, 2017:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Better Call Saul, Season Two : I may be in the minority with my opinion, but this show is at its best when it's  not  focused on building the world of  Breaking Bad . The little moments and wry asides stand alone very well, and it's almost a distraction when the main plots start to fall into the areas already established by  Breaking Bad . It's held back a little by its very deliberate pacing -- it's easy to get impatient when I just want to know how it all comes together in the end, which reduces my appreciation for the development of the characters in the moment. Free on Netflix.   Final Gra...
  17. Friday, April 07, 2017:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Modern Family, Season Six : We burned through this season pretty quickly after the fifth season's long stall -- it recaptures some of the lighter, wholesome fun of the earlier seasons without letting any one character overshadow the show.   Final Grade :  B     The Climb : This retail game for the Oculus Rift and Oculus Touch controllers allows you to go climbing and bouldering in exotic locales like the Alps, the Grand Canyon, a fjord, and a tropical cliffside. It really sells the depth of vision and illusion of 3D, especially when you're dangling by one arm and happen to look down...
  18. Friday, March 24, 2017:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Arrival  (PG-13): The exposition of this movie is way too long, as if the director took the classic movie maxim, "Don't show the shark too soon," and turned it into a Mahler symphony. It eventually gets somewhat interesting but then goes off in weird sci-fi directions at the conclusion. I liked the movie the most in the middle 3rd when it was all about linguistics. Skip it.   Final Grade :  C-     I Don't Feel At Home In This World Anymore  (NR): This is an interesting indie flick co-starring Elijah Wood as a weird neighbour who joins the lead in a quest to find the people that robbed...
  19. Friday, March 10, 2017:
    First Impressions: Oculus Rift  With the millions of dollars gained by selling back 5 weeks of leave from my last job, I decided to get one last pre-adulthood extravagance and purchased an Oculus Rift. Of course, it arrived just two days before they dropped the price by $200.     Not to sound like a shitty Ted Talk or anything, but virtual reality is finally here. After many false starts like those mall kiosks in the early 90s and awful 3D Televisions, the Oculus Rift is a high quality, consumer-grade solution that will change not only gaming, but also the way we interact with other people online. Using it for just a few minutes gave me a sense of technology awe that I haven't really experienced since the Wii first overpromised its motion contro...
  20. Friday, March 03, 2017:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Season Two : This remains a fun, no-investment treadmill show that occasionally has some really funny musical parodies. Thankfully, the overarching plot is allowed to naturally shift away from last season's love triangle which was starting to get old even though it was the original premise.   Final Grade :  B     The Accountant  (R): I liked this action movie about Ben Affleck as an autistic accountant with surprising skills much more than expected. Good escapist entertainment with some nice character development. The twists are pretty easy to spot miles away, but...
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