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Movie #7: The Tree of Life

27 Jan

The Tree of Life

The Tree of Life – You know when someone tries so hard that it stops being endearing and becomes annoying?

Grade: D+

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Movie #6: Midnight in Paris

22 Jan

Midnight in Paris

Midnight in Paris – Woody Allen is an acquired taste.  Maybe because of his oft controversial personal life.  Or maybe it’s because his baby boomer fans are dying off.  But with Midnight in Paris, Allen has toned down the neuroticism and emphasized the quirky comic sensibility that he avoided (intentionally or not) for most of the new millenium.  Captivating, not only because its story is magnetic, but also the production design/costumes/sets are just as fascinating.

Grade: B+

 

Book #3: Ready Player One

21 Jan

Ready Player One by Ernest ClineReady Player One by Ernest Cline – One of the most original books I’ve ever read.  If you’re like me and love geek culture, especially video games, you need to read Cline’s take on the classic Underdog vs. the World trope.  Not only is it funny and insightful, it’s nostalgic enough to wish it was still the 80’s.  Even if you weren’t alive then.

Grade: A-

Movie #5: Rise of the Planet of the Apes

19 Jan

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Rise of the Planet of the Apes – The most unrealistic part of this movie isn’t the talking monkeys or miracle scientific breakthroughs.  It’s believing that James Franco could be a scientist.  Franco’s state of perpetual highness is distracting.  See 2011 Academy Awards Ceremony.  The savior of this film, but only in effort, is the quality of special effects.

Grade: D

Movie #4: The Ides of March

14 Jan

The Ides of March

The Ides of March – Your typical drama about uncovering a political scandal in midst of a close election.  But this George Clooney-directed film comes with a slight twist.  Ryan Gosling plays Stephen Meyers, the deputy Campaign Manager to Mike Morris’ (George Clooney) bid of the U.S. presidency.  Meyers genuinely wants to do good.  And so does Morris, for that matter.  But as moral and ethical and well-intentioned a person wants to be, there’s a breaking point.  Smart, well-written, well-acted.

Grade: B+

Book #2: That is All

12 Jan

That is All by John Hodgman

That is All by John Hodgman – What a disappointing book!  Not sure what I expected given his type of comedy and other previous books.  But this is merely Hodgman’s tired “made-up facts” bit in 300-page form.  And it’s novelty (not to mention humor) wore off after the first 50 pages.  I still like you on The Daily Show, John Hodgman!

Grade: D+

Movie #3: Moneyball

10 Jan

Moneyball

Moneyball – This fast-paced baseball thriller is not really about baseball.  Rather it examines how a new way of thinking revolutionized an industry.  Aaron Sorkin’s screenplay is wonderful and fully deserving of its Oscar nomination.  The combination of Brad Pitt as Billy Beane and Jonah Hill as his chubby deputy is surprisingly one of the funniest duos on screen this year.  Of course, I’m a little partial to the story as a Bay Area native.

Grade: A-