What I’ve Been Reading/Watching

Tag: what I’ve been watching

30Apr 2020
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What I’ve Been Reading/Watching

It’s time to catch you up on what I’ve been consuming during quarantine times, because I know you’ve been dying to find out.


Coach: Lessons on the Game of Life by Michael Lewis. This tells the story of Michael Lewis (of Moneyball and The Blind Side fame) and his high school baseball coach.

The Passenger by Lisa Lutz. I haven’t finished this yet, but it’s supposedly along the lines of Gone Girl. The plot is progressing pretty quickly so far, and I’m enjoying it. The female protagonist is on the run – from the law, from someone – and we don’t exactly know why through five chapters.

Hit the jump for more.

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10May 2015
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What I’ve Been Watching

The 100. I barely made it through one episode. It’s about a post-apocalyptic world in which 100 teenagers are sent back to Earth, following 97 years of exile due to a nuclear holocaust. If I had to choose between watching an entire season of this show or attempting to have an intelligent conversation with Cardale Jones, I would . . . still watch the show. But it wouldn’t be an easy choice.

Hit the jump for a few more television series I’ve been watching, and feel free to leave me some suggestions.

Bloodline. Coach Taylor from Friday Night Lights  is the leading man, but the guy who makes the whole show is actor Ben Mendelsohn who plays Danny Rayburn. The show revolves around a family that runs a hotel in the Florida Keys. Oldest son Danny is a criminal and lifelong screwup, second son John (Kyle Chandler) is the local sheriff, third son Kevin (Norbert Leo Butz) is the hothead, and baby of the family Meg (Linda Cardellini) is an up-and-coming lawyer. Meanwhile, the patriarch and matriarch are played by Sam Shepard and Sissy Spacek. The Netflix Original series takes a rather daring approach by giving viewers a glimpse of the season’s ending in the first episode, but without context it doesn’t make a ton of sense. Then the intervening episodes put the pieces of the puzzle together. (On a side note, Norbert Leo Butz is an accomplished Broadway actor who was the lead in the original Wicked cast.)

The Glades. I’m still feel out this show, a few episodes into season two. It’s about a Chicago detective who gets shipped out and heads to Miami to do some crime-solving. It’s definitely not a show that I can get totally wrapped up in, but it’s not a bad serial to watch as a one-off when I’m looking for something to watch. Jim, the main character, starts off as a little too sarcastic and silly of a character, but the writers and directors seem to figure that out by the end of season one. A little more serious with more on the line, I’m enjoying season two a little more.

The Killing. I got a late start on this show. I kept seeing it pop up on Netflix, but I never really heard anybody talking about it. Based on a Danish series of the same name, the American version was canceled twice by AMC – after season two and three – only to be purchased by Netflix for a fourth season. It stars Mireille Enos (as Detective Sarah Linden) and Joel Kinnaman (as Detective Stephen Holder) as Seattle detectives who essentially investigate one murder (or several related murders) per season. I thought it was interesting how Linden went from a likable character to one who spiraled out of control – almost as loony as Carrie Matheson – but Holder went from a bit of a shady cop to one who sort of found his way throughout the four seasons. The murder mysteries are pretty intriguing, although I found season four’s main plot to be very predictable and guessed the outcome in episode one. Outside of Breaking Bad, I think this may be one of the most compelling TV dramas I’ve found.

Sons of Anarchy. I discovered this show a couple years ago, and I just finished watching the seventh and final season. It follows a biker gang in California, which is eventually led by Jax Teller (Charlie Hunnam). In some ways like Breaking Bad  or Dexter, you have a morally bankrupt protagonist that makes you feel guilty for rooting for him. As many shows are, this one is a bit unrealistic when you count up the bodies and realize that the cops must be extremely inept to not have made a few more arrests. Then again, I like watching movies about Superman, Thor, and Darth Vader, so who am I to judge based on realism? It’s very convenient that almost all of the Sons of Anarchy’s rivals are completely oblivious to impending danger, and the ending of the series wraps things up a little too cleanly for all the shenanigans that go on throughout the series. I also was not a fan of the final scene, which was a bit too cheesy. However, I do appreciate some good, old-fashioned violence, and this series has plenty of it.

What else should I watch? What are your favorite shows?

30Mar 2014
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What I’ve Been Watching

The Conjuring  is a rare quality horror movie.

The Conjuring. I was a little bit skeptical going into The Conjuring  because it seems like there has been a steady stream of “exorcism” movies in recent years, but I was impressed with how well it was done. Roger Perron (Ron Livingston) and Carolyn Perron (Lili Taylor) are a husband and wife with five daughters who move into a haunted house in Massachusetts where, naturally, some terrible things have happened in the past.  Ed Warren (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga) are specialists who take on the task of trying to rid the house of its demons. While I think Taylor is a terrible actress, the story works and there are plenty of moments that make you jump. I also appreciated director James Wan’s homage to 1970’s horror film cinematography. If you like horror films, this is one of the best I’ve seen in recent years.

Detachment. This is a star-studded cast (Adrien Brody, James Caan, Bryan Cranston, Marcia Gay-Harden, Christina Hendricks, Lucy Liu, Tim Blake Nelson) but the parts are better than the whole. Brody plays an all-star substitute teacher in the inner city who comes into the school, puts his foot down, connects with his students, and makes a difference – in good ways and bad. I thought it was an overall positive message, and it seems like an earnest effort for stars to try to highlight some flaws in America’s youth and education. Overall, though, I thought it was a little cheesy and predictable.

Frozen. This is apparently all the rage among parents and children right now, and I am neither. I still pulled it out of the Redbox one evening due to my curiosity. I will admit that the main draw for me was the voicing of Elsa by Idina Menzel, whom I liked well before John Travolta mangled her name and all the way back to when the soundtrack for the Broadway musical Wicked  came out. I have not made a habit of watching children’s movies in recent years, so maybe they’re all this way, but there were a lot of holes in the story that were just glossed over. Kids are dumb, so it probably doesn’t matter. I was pleasantly surprised by my enjoyment of the character Olaf, a magically created snowman voiced by Josh Gad, whose resume includes The Book of Mormon.

The Heat. There was a time when I thought women on screen (unlike in real life, where I once dated the funniest girl I’ve ever met) were completely incapable of being funny, but then along came Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Melissa McCarthy, and a few others. I can’t say the same thing for the next movie on this list, but McCarthy was hilarious in this video. The plot isn’t much, and I predicted the “twist” about a quarter of the way into the movie. But the banter between the strait-laced Ashburn (Sandra Bullock) and the rough-around-the-edges Mullins (McCarthy) was worth the watch.

Identity Thief. I held off on watching this movie because people said all the funny parts were in the trailers. Those people weren’t lying. Coloradan Sandy Patterson (Jason Bateman) gets his identity stolen by Diana (McCarthy) and, in an effort to save his credit and his career, has to make a road trip to the Sunshine State and drag Diana back to admit her crimes. Obviously, crazy things happen on the way, including the two funny parts – Diana doing karaoke in the car, and Diana trying to run away from Sandy down the side of the highway. Perhaps the best part of this movie was the presence of Sandy’s wife, played by Amanda Peet, who will always have a soft spot in my heart for her superb acting in The Whole Nine Yards.

Inside Llewyn Davis. We all have that friend (or friends) who tried to make it as a singer/songwriter type, and this is the Coen brothers’ story of the fictional Llewyn Davis, who bounced around the Greenwich Village music scene in the 1960’s. The lead is played by Oscar Isaac, whom I mistook for Drinking Buddies‘ Jake Johnson with a nose job. It did a good job of portraying the life of a struggling artist, although it’s tough to feel sorry for a guy who creates his own troubles. On a side note, Scott Avett (of the Avett Brothers) supposedly auditioned for the role, which would have been very interesting to watch because I love that guy’s voice. Also, T-Bone Burnett contributed some of the music, which I suspected when I first heard.

The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. I always liked Fallon on Saturday Night Live, but he was never my favorite. He always seemed to me like a good glue guy who could do a lot of things well, but he didn’t have that magnetic draw like Will Ferrell, Chris Farley, etc. When he got into the late night talk show game, taking over Conan O’Brien’s spot on Late Night, I shrugged my shoulders. I literally only watched about two episodes and found it to be a little low budget, the set to be dark and uninspiring, and house band the Roots to be too funky for my tastes. However, since he took over The Tonight Show from ultra douche Jay Leno, I have found Fallon’s upgrade in set, budget, and guests to be worth watching most of the time. The Roots are growing on me, and so is Fallon’s upbeat attitude. He genuinely seems to be having fun with the experience, which doesn’t always seem to be the case with late-night hosts. The show relies too heavily on Rob Ford and Vladimir Putin jokes, the second guest gets short schrift, and Fallon could afford to do some more homework on his guests (he recently asked if Jake Bugg is British or not), but it’s fun to watch Fallon’s variety show that involves games, impressions, dancing, singing, etc. O’Brien has some musical chops, but Fallon is probably the most talented all-around performer to grace a late night talk show since the genre was created.

Feel free to comment or leave some watching suggestions!