thundersnow

Pet Peeves 2014

Believe it or not, this is the fifth year I have blogged a roundup of my favorite pet peeves. I guess this counts as a tradition, one of the very few I keep. That’s actually a little sad. Without dwelling too long on that, here they are. Per usual, add your own pet peeves in the comments! 1. “You have to use the website.” This is my new favorite customer service response. But why would I call customer service in the first place if I…

birdman2

Quickie Review: Birdman

Birdman is a movie that soars, flying somewhere between reality and fantasy, genius and overwrought art house film. It is also the best film I have seen this year. Director Alejandro Iñárritu tells the story of washed up action hero Michael Keaton, ahem Riggan Thomson, whose attempt at a comeback, a Broadway adaptation of a Raymond Carver short story, continuously teeters toward chaos. First, one of the principals is hit by a falling light during the final week of previews, and, worst, replaced with Mike…

Quickie Review: The Hundred Foot Journey

I had high expectations. After all, Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey, the closest we have to secular pop culture parents, produced this. It stars Helen Mirren, one of my favorite actors, and as close as Britain comes to Meryl Streep. So why did I find this restaurant-themed immigrant story so flat? It’s a promising premise. An Indian family helmed by the proud widower Papa, (Om Puri), sets up shop in a town in the South of France dominated by the Michelin starred and very staid…

LA Memories

I spent some time in Los Angeles this month. It’s amazing to me how almost each street, every neighborhood touched off some very specific memory. On the 101 this morning I had a flashback to my PA days, driving down the highway with a carload of tapes, singing along to the radio and blasting the AC. Was it more than a decade ago that I first ran from the pier toward Venice, dodging bicyclists and other tourists? Was it really two years ago that I…

Joaquin Phoenix

Quickie Review: The Immigrant

The Immigrant is a strong, sincere film about coming to this country, and all of the problems that can ensue. I worry that it will be lost in the glut of summer films; if you have a chance, skip the blockbusters and see this. Director James Gray tells the story of Ewa (Marion Cotillard) a Polish immigrant who comes with her sister to America in 1921 only to lose her at Ellis Island when officials discover she has tuberculosis. She too is almost deported for…

Vee

Quickie Review: Orange Is The New Black Season 2

Warning: Spoilers Ahead. The new season of Orange Is the New Black is riveting, but not for the reasons you’d think. While yuppie prisoner Piper Chapman continues to be the nominal focus of the show, the series’ most interesting moments come when she’s not in frame. It’s convicted heroin dealer and prison newcomer Vee (Lorraine Toussaint) who steals the show, and whose arc makes this season must see. The writers on Orange are as much interested in their prisoners’ past as they are in their…

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