08 July 2013

Culture Update

We have been on a lucky movie kick lately.  First Iron Man 3 as my annual birthday summer blockbuster stuff-what-gets-blowed-up-real-good movie.  Loved it, though it bogged down more than a little at the end.  Great movie.  Then Oblivion when a dear friend surprised us with a free night of babysitting.  I think I enjoyed it even more than Iron Man 3 since it had no real expectations going in.  Great story, incredible visual work & special effects, and for all his craziness, Tom Cruise is just a hellishly good action hero who's almost impossible not to like.  Finally, Star Trek:  Into Darkness.  Star Wars when the time comes.  Zachary Quinto is great as Spock and Benedict Cumberbatch was in-freaking-credible as John Harrison.  You wouldn't think the mannered, abrupt Sherlock of the excellent BBC series could pull off a physical, menacing role like that, but he does it and makes it look natural.  Can't wait to see how he plays the Necromancer when they get him onscreen in The Hobbit.

It's good that we've had this streak, because prior to this we watched Flight and it was so painful for me I actually left the room, went outside and had a pipe and a scotch to calm down.  I don't know why it bothered me so much:  was it Whip Whitaker's continuing torrent of bad choices followed by hubris and lies?  The thought of someone with so much responsibility treating it so carelessly?  Or, and I'll admit this is a stretch, is it watching Denzel Washington play such a broken character that bothered me?  Even when he's been the bad guy in previous movies like Training Day or Fallen, the characters he's played have been strong, whole, functional - this character was nothing but a cowardly, manipulative drunk, and maybe Denzel playing that part was just too much for me to handle.  Maybe that's what the filmmakers intended, and if so, bravo:  it worked.  A good movie, for certain, but a hard movie all the more.

On the telly we're finishing up the round of shows for the year.  I've been trying to get into Hannibal but struggling, possibly because I just can't handle blood and violence like I could before I had kids.   Lawrence Fishburne is great as Jack Crawford, as is Mads Mikkelsen as Lecter himself,  but it's a tough show to watch.  Beloved isn't even bothering - she hates that sort of thing.  We are enjoying Revolution and Once Upon A Time, though, and she's also gotten into Hawaii Five-O and Vegas in addition to her love for all things NCIS.  Soon I'll be caught up on this season's episodes of Doctor Who and ready for the next series of Top Gear as well - you'll know I'm back on the BBC train when I start hesitating before saying trunk, sedan or wagon (boot, saloon and estate car in Top Gear-ese).

Bookwise, I'm at a bit of an impasse with Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon.  The Diamond Age and Snow Crash.  Too much detail, too much footnotery, too much arcana without explanation and too slooooooooowwwwww on the plot.  But I'm 300 pages into Cryptonomicon and it's starting to ramp up, finally, so here's hoping when I pick it back up it'll move faster.  I did say "pick it back up" because the latest Harry Dresden novel, Cold Days, finally came in on library loan this week, and I'm about 2/3 through it after three days of reading.  Loving it, as usual, and this one is drawing in some multi-volume plot stuff I hope means the series keeps going for a while.  I'm also listening to Cloud Atlas on audio and enjoying it thus far, though it's been a couple of days since my last episode and I'm thinking I might need to rewind a bit to remember where I am.  I tend to listen to audio books when I'm mowing and puttering and due to the rain I haven't done much of either since Tuesday night, so it's been a lot of other things getting done around here.

Music:  I'm falling in love with Mumford & Sons.  But if Pandora plays yet another version of Jeff Beck's cover of "Hallelujah" again while listening to the Mumford channel I'm just going to buy the damned records and be done with it.  Imagine Dragons and Belinda Carlisle are also on the playlist lately, as well as repeat appearances by Storyhill (always) and The Chieftains.

That's the culture update for this month - later!

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