Monthly Archives: December 2009

2009 – What Made it Worthwhile

For pretty much everyone I know, 2009 was a mixed up year of highs and lows.  Rather than making a dozen posts on my top 10 various things of the year, I decided to take a look back at the good things about 2009 so I can begin 2010 on a positive note.

Tuesday Night Film Screenings – Each Tuesday night brought new exposure to foreign and art house cinema as I attended a weekly film screening at my friend Alex’s house.  This provided a great opportunity to forget the stress of work and life and see some great films that I may not have otherwise been able to see.  This also turned me on to the works of Louis Malle, who has become one of my favorite directors.

Grizzly Bear and Fleet Foxes – These bands are responsible for 2 of my most played albums of 2009.  They each feature a unique sound, with Grizzly Bear’s arty and moody atmosphere and Fleet Foxes sincere folk.  I love that both of these bands manage to bring something different to the table without being pretentious.

Lost – Another weekly tradition (for the first half of the year, anyway) was having friends over to my place to watch the latest episode of Lost.  Looking forward to its final season beginning in February.

Ra Ra Riot at Bottletree – I got to see this great band while they were doing a small club tour.  Bottletree is a great place to see a show like this due to it’s small and intimate setting and cool atmosphere.  Ra Ra Riot’s mix of guitars and strings with thoughtful songwriting and energy made this a really memorable show.

Seeing Inglourious Basterds – We had a streak over the summer where we saw a movie almost every Sunday night.  The peak of this run was Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds.  Seeing a spaghetti western on a Sunday night in a packed theater reminded me how much fun seeing movies should be.  One of QT’s best, and one of my favorite films of the year.

Rock Band Parties – I didn’t know when Rock Band was released years ago that a bunch of plastic musical instruments could bring so much fun to my house, but you mix this game and a house full of friends and good times will ensue.  Hits ranging from System of a Down to Vanilla Fudge blasted from my living room with uproarious laughter as we learned who had skills (and also who didn’t.  Apologies to my neighbors.)

Seeing Up in 3D – Pixar’s finest achievement displayed in beautiful but never overpowering 3D.  I was enthralled with this film from beginning to end, and was glad to see it with some great friends.

So that pretty much wraps up the best things about 2009.  Stay tuned for my list of who’s cool, and who can piss off!

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Super Quick Movie Reviews #4

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It was a busy week with Christmas, but here’s a rundown of the movies I’ve seen recently:Up In the Air – Easily Jason Reitman’s best film yet.  After seeing it, it’s no surprise that so many critics have called this their favorite movie of 2009.  It’s a very original story with fully-dimensional characters that never feel overwritten or overplayed.  It’s timely, sincere and perfectly-cast, and it’s one of my favorites of the year.  I’d recommend this film to everyone.

Au Revoir Les Enfants – Another film by the great Louis Malle.  This one tells the story of a French adolescent in boarding school during World War II.  It beautifully captures the era from the perspective of kids, many of which haven’t seen or heard from their parents in months, as they discover the school is hiding Jewish students.  It’s a stunning film, and anyone who loves films that effectively depict the WWII era should check this one out.Coraline – Neil Gaiman’s children’s story translated to film.  I enjoyed this more than I thought I would, and the story has some surprisingly dark elements.  Very nice art design as well with the miniatures and settings.The Pornographers – Shohei Imamura’s 1966 tale of a man who tries to support his family by making porno movies.  Plenty of family drama ensues when his wife falls ill, his daughter rebels, and his lab is overrun by authorities.  It’s an enthralling film with some beautifully artistic shots.More Super Quick Movie Reviews

Super Quick Movie Reviews #4

It was a busy week with Christmas, but here’s a rundown of the movies I’ve seen recently:

Up In the Air – Easily Jason Reitman’s best film yet.  After seeing it, it’s no surprise that so many critics have called this their favorite movie of 2009.  It’s a very original story with fully-dimensional characters that never feel overwritten or overplayed.  It’s timely, sincere and perfectly-cast, and it’s one of my favorites of the year.  I’d recommend this film to everyone.

Au Revoir Les Enfants – Another film by the great Louis Malle.  This one tells the story of a French adolescent in boarding school during World War II.  It beautifully captures the era from the perspective of kids, many of which haven’t seen or heard from their parents in months, as they discover the school is hiding Jewish students.  It’s a stunning film, and anyone who loves films that effectively depict the WWII era should check this one out.

Coraline – Neil Gaiman’s children’s story translated to film.  I enjoyed this more than I thought I would, and the story has some surprisingly dark elements.  Very nice art design as well with the miniatures and settings.

The Pornographers – Shohei Imamura’s 1966 tale of a man who tries to support his family by making porno movies.  Plenty of family drama ensues when his wife falls ill, his daughter rebels, and his lab is overrun by authorities.  It’s an enthralling film with some beautifully artistic shots.

More Super Quick Movie Reviews

Book Review: The Lost Symbol

First of all, I’m aware that Dan Brown is often regarded with a high degree of snobbery from many readers.  As a writer, he doesn’t really have a discernible style, and he’s often chided for being unoriginal.  However, each of his previous books in his Robert Langdon series have flown off the shelves and been wildly successful.In Angels and Demons, as well as The Da Vinci Code, Brown takes an established conspiracy theory (and by established, I mean established by someone else), and creates a fast-paced adventure story to bring this theory to mainstream audiences.  Papal elections are mysterious, and have always fascinated people everywhere.  Brown uses this to his advantage in Angels and Demons.  In The Da Vinci Code, his exploration of the true holy grail gained the notice of  Christian groups, which only increased his exposure.  What makes these books entertaining isn’t the writing, it’s the ideas that Brown has borrowed.Brown’s latest book, The Lost Symbol, once again borrows some ideas as a basis for its story.  This time, Freemasons finally get center stage after mentions in both previous books.  The story sticks to Brown’s formula of running from location to location, this time in Washington, D.C., running across various puzzles, solving each one before progressing to the next level.  The lines between science and religion team with the secrecy of the Freemasons to serve as a foundation for Robert Langdon’s adventure.In the first two books of the Robert Langdon series, there was a pretty obvious formula to the layout of the stories.  In The Lost Symbol, this same formula is back, and is painfully obvious.  It’s almost as if Brown has a standard outline, and just changes the names of the locations and characters in order to suit his latest conspiracy theory.Perhaps the most annoying thing about The Lost Symbol is Robert Langdon himself.  In the earlier books, Langdon is non-judgemental and encourages everyone he comes across to view every new idea or puzzle with an open mind.  In the latest installment, Langdon seems to regard the Freemasons as old kooks and is resistant to every new idea presented to him.  He’s the exact opposite of his incarnation in the previous books.  There is no explanation for this in the story.Finally, where The Lost Symbol fails, is that the idea that provides the basis for the story just isn’t all that interesting or groundbreaking.  Each revelation that is offered left me disappointed, and hoping that the next revelation would be better.  Unfortunately, that never happened, and once everything was revealed, it just wasn’t satisfying.

See other book reviews here.

Book Review: The Lost Symbol

First of all, I’m aware that Dan Brown is often regarded with a high degree of snobbery from many readers.  As a writer, he doesn’t really have a discernible style, and he’s often chided for being unoriginal.  However, each of his previous books in his Robert Langdon series have flown off the shelves and been wildly successful.

In Angels and Demons, as well as The Da Vinci Code, Brown takes an established conspiracy theory (and by established, I mean established by someone else), and creates a fast-paced adventure story to bring this theory to mainstream audiences.  Papal elections are mysterious, and have always fascinated people everywhere.  Brown uses this to his advantage in Angels and Demons.  In The Da Vinci Code, his exploration of the true holy grail gained the notice of  Christian groups, which only increased his exposure.  What makes these books entertaining isn’t the writing, it’s the ideas that Brown has borrowed.

Brown’s latest book, The Lost Symbol, once again borrows some ideas as a basis for its story.  This time, Freemasons finally get center stage after mentions in both previous books.  The story sticks to Brown’s formula of running from location to location, this time in Washington, D.C., running across various puzzles, solving each one before progressing to the next level.  The lines between science and religion team with the secrecy of the Freemasons to serve as a foundation for Robert Langdon’s adventure.

In the first two books of the Robert Langdon series, there was a pretty obvious formula to the layout of the stories.  In The Lost Symbol, this same formula is back, and is painfully obvious.  It’s almost as if Brown has a standard outline, and just changes the names of the locations and characters in order to suit his latest conspiracy theory.

Perhaps the most annoying thing about The Lost Symbol is Robert Langdon himself.  In the earlier books, Langdon is non-judgemental and encourages everyone he comes across to view every new idea or puzzle with an open mind.  In the latest installment, Langdon seems to regard the Freemasons as old kooks and is resistant to every new idea presented to him.  He’s the exact opposite of his incarnation in the previous books.  There is no explanation for this in the story.

Finally, where The Lost Symbol fails, is that the idea that provides the basis for the story just isn’t all that interesting or groundbreaking.  Each revelation that is offered left me disappointed, and hoping that the next revelation would be better.  Unfortunately, that never happened, and once everything was revealed, it just wasn’t satisfying.

See other book reviews here.

Merry Christmas from Me and Pip!

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Amazing New Mass Effect 2 Trailer

I’ve been looking forward to this game for a long time. I was hoping it would be out before Christmas, but we’ll have to wait until January 26 to finally get our hands on it.This new trailer isn’t going to make the waiting any easier! Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Amazing New Mass Effect 2 Trailer“, posted with vodpod
See original article on Joystiq.