Posts Tagged as reviews

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  1. Friday, March 15, 2019:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       The End of the F***ing World, Season One : This is a quirky dark comedy about a boy who thinks he's a psychopath and starts wondering what it might be like to kill the girl who hangs out with him because of his edginess. It puts a unique spin on the typical coming-of-age road trip story and does a good job balancing levity and seriousness. There are a couple brief scenes of animal violence that might be offputting, but they don't linger. Free on Netflix.   Final Grade :  B     Assassin's Creed: Odyssey : This game was very promising upfront, in spite of its UPlay installation requ...
  2. Friday, March 01, 2019:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       The Great Expanse  by Hilltop Hoods: The newest album from this Australian hip hop band is solid, full of distinctive songs and catchy beats. They've pulled away from the overly repetitive backing tracks that made some of the previous albums annoying. The single,  Leave Me Lonely  is pretty infectious.   Final Grade :  B+     Good Girls, Season One : This show about three suburban moms who rob a grocery store is good, but suffers from genre overload. While it does manage to carve out its own voice and style, it's hard for it to stand on its own without comparing it to &n...
  3. Friday, February 15, 2019:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       No Good  by Ivy Levan: This album opens with a few promising tracks like  Kiss My Biscuit , but front-loads all of the beats. The last half of the album is a bunch of forgettable power ballads, and there's also an odd socially dissonant song about enjoying abusive relationships. I like Ivy's voice though.   Final Grade :  C+     How the Story Ends  by B. Reith: I feel like this positive-outlook rapper is like who Eminem would have been with a good home life. There's a little more singing and less rapping on this album, which makes me prefer his first one,  Now Is No...
  4. Friday, February 08, 2019:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       How to Ruin Everything  by Watsky: This collection of essays by rapper, Watsky, is pleasant enough but I noticed myself starting to skim in the last 1/3. Fun as book to pick up now and then, but not as good on a straight read-through. I did find it interesting that I heard the entire book in his voice as I read.   Final Grade :  B-     Fyre : This Netflix documentary is a fun, incredulous look at the disastrous Fyre Festival, with behind-the-scenes looks and interviews with many of the people involved. I haven't seen the competing Hulu documentary, but enjoyed this from start ...
  5. Friday, February 01, 2019:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Patriot, Season Two : I liked the  first season  when I watched it, then loved it when I watched it again with Rebecca. The second season is slightly more absurd with less payoff but I appreciated how tonally and thematically consistent it was -- the creator definitely has a unique voice and cinematography that he stays true to. A couple of the characters I liked the most from season one were pushed to the sidelines here, but it was still worth a watch.   Final Grade :  B-     The Three-Body Problem  by Cixin Liu: This highly-regarded sci-fi book is flawed. The core idea...
  6. Friday, January 25, 2019:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Parking Lot Symphony  by Trombone Shorty: Trombone Shorty continues to move towards more crowd-pleasing accompanied vocals. It's perfectly fine, but the genre is already oversaturated with similar music -- I prefer his first two albums with more unique instrumental New Orleans funk.   Final Grade :  C+     x Infinity  by Watksy: A few good hooks mixed in with some overly artistic songs makes this album hit-or-miss. Nowhere near as good as  Cardboard Castles .   Final Grade :  B-     Barry, Season One : This HBO sh...
  7. Friday, January 18, 2019:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       We All Got Lost  by Spose: If you liked Spose before, this is more of the same -- heavy on witty similes but light on songs you want to listen to more than once. It's also not quite as fun as previous albums.   Final Grade :  C+     Homecoming, S1 : This moody, sci-fi show starring Julia Roberts as a counselor in a peculiar military rehabilitation clinic left me bored after two glacially-paced episodes full of cliches. I gave up. Free on Amazon Prime.   Final Grade :  Not Rated     Crazy Rich Asians : This is a light, by-...
  8. Friday, January 11, 2019:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Fine Print  by Invisible Inc: This album from a band fronted by Watsky reminds me of several jazz combo albums from my youth -- it's really music the performers want to listen to themselves rather caring about what the audience wants to hear. The songs are catchy enough and have a few good hooks, but the album leaves me cold.   Final Grade :  C     Mission Impossible: Fallout : Having only watched the most recent (J.J. Abrams dynasty) MI movies,   Rogue Nation   was the only one I truly enjoyed. This follow-up movie is too video-game-y and not visceral enough. ...
  9. Friday, January 04, 2019:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Simulation Theory  by Muse: Muse's latest album is solid all of the way through, and one I keep putting back on in the car. A good mix of their classic hard rock style blended with their more recent electronica, and no wannabe-student-composer movie symphonies to be found anywhere!   Final Grade :  B+     Ready Player One  (PG-13): This is about as good of an adaptation one could make of the original book -- telling the tale of a virtual treasure hunt in an online world where everyone in a dystopian future spends their time. The plot felt a bit rushed even though the movie still fel...
  10. Friday, December 21, 2018:
    Top Reviews of 2018  Here are my recommendations from this past year -- as my free time diminishes, so does my patience for mediocre content, so I must have really enjoyed these!    Movies       The Big Sick  (A) (Amazon)    Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri  (A-)      Television Shows       Big Little Lies, Season One  (A)    Bodyguard, Season One  (A) (Netflix)    American Vandal, Season Two  (A) (Netflix)    Fargo, Season Three  (A-)    Better Call Saul, Season Three  (A-) (Netflix)    Humans, Season Two  (A-) (Amazo...
  11. Monday, December 10, 2018:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Shadow of the Tomb Raider : I should have known better than to get this game after getting bored with  the second one  but several reviews promised that the parts I hated had been improved and I was in need of a birthday game to purchase and waste time on. I only made it 7 hours in before quitting in regret. The only redeeming feature is that the graphics are beautiful. The game still beats you over the head with a pointless story and forces you to pay attention to cutscenes when you just want to raid some tombs. This philosophy is encapsulated in the fifteen minute opening sequence where you're forced to walk (run is disabled)...
  12. Friday, November 16, 2018:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Bodyguard, Season One : This show is like a British version of  Homeland, Season One  (before that show spun out into tedium). In just 6 hour-long episodes, it maintains a strong intensity and uneasiness that resolves in a satisfying, logical conclusion. Its success rests on the ability to depict realistic characters that don't just exposition-monologue their feelings for the audience -- everyone seems like a threat at various points in the show, but the resolution is weighted towards character motivations rather than cheap plot obfuscation devices (unlike  Westworld, Season One 's vague timeline approach to storytell...
  13. Friday, November 09, 2018:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       American Vandal, Season Two : I figured it would be hard to follow up the "Who Drew the Dicks?" mystery of  Season One , but Season Two opens with an unfortunate laxative incident at a preppy private school and seeks to determine who the "Turd Burglar" is in the style of a crime documentary. This season is actually better than the first, and has a satisfying ending that actually raises relevant questions about society. It's more than just turds all the way down.   Final Grade :  A     Unguilded  by Jane Glatt:  Magic of Thieves  made me hesitant to continue rea...
  14. Friday, November 02, 2018:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.    I've noticed that my grading has gotten slightly harder since Maia was born. Time is money, friend!      Art of Doubt  by Metric: In their latest album, Metric moves away from the padded electronica sound of  Pagans in Vegas  and back to a more garage rock sound. The songs are still fun, but a bit more repetitive, and nothing stands up as a catchy hit.   Final Grade :  B-     Greatest Showman  (PG): The success of a musical effort like this really depends on the actors investing in their roles 110%. Led by Hugh Jackman, the energy level remains high throughout....
  15. Friday, October 26, 2018:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Magic of Thieves  by C. Greenwood: The second book in the  Secrets and Spells  anthology is a pretty big letdown after  The Gallant . Though billed as Book 1 of 6 in a series, it barely contains enough plot or character development for a full story and feels more like a Prologue. I grew irritated with the main character fairly quickly -- although I realize that it might be a style choice to narrate in a juvenile manner to match the character (first-person perspective), it just felt wooden and unnecessarily episodic (I had the same feeling about Fitz sometimes in the Farseer Trilogy). Events simply meander randomly alo...
  16. Wednesday, October 17, 2018:
    Review Day: Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker (Switch)     Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker  was originally released for Nintendo's failed  Wii U  console. I'm torn on all the effort going into these ports -- while it's nice to play some fun games that never gained widespread appeal beyond the 4 people that actually bought the old console, I'd much rather have more original content designed specifically for the newer console.    Captain Toad  is a charming puzzle game where you maneuver a pacifist Toad (who can't jump because of his heavy backpack) through 64 self-contained 3D puzzle boxes to collect gems and stars. Porting of the controls from the Wii U (which had a touchscreen in your lap to go with the big action on the TV screen) is pret...
  17. Wednesday, October 10, 2018:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Jack Ryan, Season One : This is a well-constructed, if extremely generic, addition to the military/terrorist genre. In spite of a few unique sparks, it retreads ground already covered by better shows like  Homeland  without much new to say. John Krasinki mostly overcomes his typecasting as Jim from  The Office , but might be the most boring protagonist to base a story around. Wendell Pierce from  The Wire  is woefully underused. Free on Amazon Prime.   Final Grade :  C+     iZombie, Season Four : Following the big setting shake-up at the end of the th...
  18. Friday, October 05, 2018:
    (Re-)Review Day: Super Mario Odyssey    I first gave this game a  C-  after playing for several hours and not finding much to draw me back to it. After 6 months without turning on the Switch, I recently dusted it off and gave it another shot. One key difference between my original abandoned attempt and now is that I can play for longer periods (sometimes an hour at a time) and on a big TV screen rather than the portable screen. Back at Christmas time, I was squeezing in games while Maia barely napped for 10 - 20 minutes at a time (just narrowly long enough to get through the interminable load screens and reminders to use motion controls) while walking around quiet corners of the house.   I appreciate this game much more on the big screen, bu...
  19. Monday, September 17, 2018:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       The Woman Who Smashed Codes  by Jason Fagone: This is a biography of Elizebeth Smith Friedman, one of the first cryptoanalysts in the early 20th century. It's rare that a person's life is as interesting throughout as Elizebeth's, leading the biography to be a more comprehensive look at her place in history rather than a set of vignettes separated by long time jumps. There are also great, shallow looks at the world events going on at the same time, revealing some interesting stories such as J. Edgar Hoover's concerted efforts to steal credit for her work for the FBI.   Final Grade :  B+     Fe...
  20. Monday, September 03, 2018:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Soonish: Ten Emerging Technologies That'll Improve and/or Ruin Everything  by Kelly and Zach Weinersmith: This book does a decent job of pairing interesting emerging technologies (like augmented reality, space elevators, and bioprinting) with straightforward explanations and cute cartoons. It starts to lose its luster when it gets  too  jokey, like the authors think the tech is too boring on its own and readers will lose interest unless there's a neverending selection of humor and bad analogies. These aspects actually reduced my interest in the material and I barely finished the book.   Final Grade :  C...
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