Saturday, December 16, 2017

Last Night (1998)

Last Night (1998) is an award-winning Canadian apocalyptic black comedy-drama film. I had never heard of this movie and happened across it just by accident, and I'm surprised it's not better known. I highly recommend it. It's a beautiful look at the last hours of our world, a look into the choices people make as the world ends.

via Youtube:

The New York Times has a positive review. Moria gives it 4 out of 5 stars and a positive review.

Roger Ebert gave it 3 out of 4 stars. Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 84%.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Watch a Christmas Movie!

I won't reproduce it here, but I have a list of Christmas movies here. Not all of them are Christmas-y movies, but all of them have a Christmas connection. Some, especially the older ones, are available online.

We have a lot of DVDs and CDs here:

We've been accumulating for years but have begun the process of letting go faster than we add to the collection.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Pickup on South Street

Pickup on South Street if a 1953 spy film/film noir. A low-life pickpocket accidentally steals government secrets intended for a Communist spy as he's dipping a wallet out of a purse. Richard Widmark stars as the thief. Thelma Ritter and Milburn Stone also star.

Slant Magazine concludes, "This film is an amazing example of what might be called noir jazz." The Guardian calls it "masterly". DVD Talk says, "A great old film, the kind that's no longer a mainstream 'classic' but can still fill a revival house with crowds that love gutsy filmmaking and pulpy dialogue, tough-guy action and Runyonesque sentimentality."

Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 90%.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

The Dragon Man

The Dragon Man by Garry Disher is an award-winning book, the first novel in the Australian series featuring Detective Inspector Hal Challis. I picked it up on a whim. I am not sure I've read any novels that take place in Australia, but I find this fascinating. The characters have interesting lives, and I appreciate how well fleshed out their private lives are while still maintaining the focus on the crime-based plot. I'll pick up the rest of this series along the way. This book takes place during the Christmas holiday season.

from the back of the book:
A serial killer is on the loose in a small coastal town near Melbourne, Australia. Detective Inspector Hal Challis and his team must apprehend him before he strikes again. But first, Challis has to contend with the editor of a local newspaper who undermines his investigation at every turn, and with his wife, who attempts to resurrect their marriage through long-distance phone calls from a sanitarium, where she has been committed for the past eight years for attempted murder -his.
Reviewing the Evidence says it "completely engages the reader". Kirkus Reviews closes a positive review by saying, "This series debut from the prolific Disher (The Sunken Road, 1996, etc.) doesn’t read like one, thanks to fully formed characters and wall-to-wall mysteries. The offbeat setting’s a bonus for US readers." Publishers Weekly calls it "an intelligent, atmospheric police procedural".

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Pearl's Oyster House

Pearl's Oyster House is a delightful place located on South Main here in Memphis. They have their own parking lot behind their building, which is unusual in downtown Memphis. This is the view from my table:

I like their fried catfish:

I always walk around when I go downtown, and this time I saw a mural I had never noticed before:

This most recent trip was with The Daughter, and she offered me dessert at her house:

Homemade cookies! Yummmmm!

Please join the T Stands for Tuesday gathering over at Bleubeard and Elizabeth's blog, where you can share a drink with us.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Last Year's Snow Was Falling

Image from TV Tropes

Last Year's Snow Was Falling is a 1983 Russian claymation-type short film that takes place during the winter before the New Year. I watched this online but can't find a source now that'll let me embed it. This page has it, though, with English subtitles.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

The Lives of Tao

The Lives of Tao (2013) is the award-winning first book in the Tao science fiction series by Wesley Chu. This has a fascinating concept of aliens who crashed here early in our planet's evolutionary timeline and who have been trying to get off and go home ever since. They cannot endure our atmosphere and survive by living in host bodies. In this way they have directed human evolution and history. Just know in advance that this isn't a feminist-friendly world; everything -even the female characters- is from the male perspective.

from the back of the book:
When out-of-shape IT technician Roen wakes up and starts hearing voices in his head, he naturally assumes he's losing it.

He isn't.

As of last night, he has a passenger in his brain -an ancient alien life-form called Tao, whose race crash-landed on Earth before the first fish crawled out of the oceans. Over the millennia his people have trained human heroes to be great leaders, to advance our species at a rate far beyond what it would have achieved on its own. Split into two opposing factions -the peace-loving, but under-represented Prophus, and the savage, powerful Genjix- the aliens have been in a state of civil war for centuries. Both sides are searching for a way off-planet... and the Genjix will sacrifice the entire human race, if that's what it takes.

So now Roen must train to be a hero worthy of his unwanted companion. Like that's going to end up well...
The Huffington Post has a positive review. Strange Horizons concludes, "This is the science fiction equivalent of beach reading, and I imagine that it will find solid success with a broad swath of SF readership." Fantasy Book Review describes it as "an action packed, secret organization, globetrotting sci-fi thriller."

SF Signal gives it 4 out of 5 stars. Publishers Weekly says, "the execution doesn't live up to the concept."

Saturday, December 09, 2017

Hateful Eight

Hateful Eight is a 2015 western directed by Quentin Tarantino. It stars Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins, Tim Roth, Bruce Dern, and Channing Tatum. If you like Tarantino films like I do, you'll like this.


The New York Times has a lengthy review that includes this: "His provocative rereading of history is overshadowed by a plot that manages to be both cumbersome and flimsy." The Guardian calls it "hard to hate but tough to love".

Roger Ebert's site opens with this:
Quentin Tarantino's ultraviolent, ultra-talky sorta-Western "The Hateful Eight" is an impressive display of film craft and a profoundly ugly movie—so gleeful in its violence and so nihilistic in its world view that it feels as though the director is daring his detractors to see it as a confirmation of their worst fears about his art.
Empire Online says, "On a par with Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained, The Hateful Eight starts low-key but ultimately delivers big, bold, blood-soaked rewards. Roll on, QT Western number three." Rotten Tomatoes has an audience rating of 76%.

Friday, December 08, 2017

Our Christmas Tree

and some other of our decorations:

We're enjoying Christmas movies and music and signs of the season.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Fanny and Alexander

Fanny and Alexander is a 1982 Ingmar Bergman film. It begins at Christmas. Not a typical holiday movie, but -honestly- isn't that a good thing? I am impressed by it.

I have the Criterion edition of the theatrical version. DailyMotion has it in parts, with the first part here. If you watch it there, the other parts are linked at the top of that page.


The New York Times has a glowing review. The Guardian says this is where to start with Bergman.

Slant Magazine says, "How the imagination at once mirrors, deflects, and rearranges reality, especially in childhood, constitutes one of the myriad strands that make up the core of Ingmar Bergman's monumental Fanny and Alexander." Senses of Cinema says, "As an elaborately constructed, compulsively watchable piece of large-scale fiction made for the screen, Fanny och Alexander (Fanny and Alexander) is an achievement with few equals".

Roger Ebert has it on his list of Great Movies and concludes,
At the end, I was subdued and yet exhilarated; something had happened to me that was outside language, that was spiritual, that incorporated Bergman's mysticism; one of his characters suggests that our lives flow into each other's, that even a pebble is an idea of God, that there is a level just out of view where everything really happens.
Empire Online gives it 5 out of 5 stars and concludes, "An accomplished masterpiece, with excellent performances and rarely bettered direction." Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 100%.