Enjoyable things that are not books

I don’t spend as much time reading lately as I did, say, a couple of years ago. I often as not curl up with a film or a tv show. Last fall, I started listening to a couple of film review podcasts (/Filmcast and Filmspotting) and I started going out to the movies more frequently to check out the films that were discussed. By the time the Oscars rolled around, I had seen six of the nine Best Picture Nominees and four out of the five Best Documentary nominees. But as is often the case, some of the films I enjoyed most from 2012 were not nominated at all.

Looper was probably my favorite film. Great storytelling, great acting – I’m a fan of Joseph Gordon-Levitt (who isn’t?) and Emily Blunt. I saw Looper twice. The first time I accidentally went to a showing that had open captions. I think that is cool that the theater has open captioned shows for the hard of hearing, but the words do intrude on the cinematography and the experience over all. Anyway, I still really liked the film so I decided it was worth seeing in the theaters again, without the captions.

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed Steven Soderbergh’s action film, Haywire. I know some people criticized the acting of mixed martial arts fighter Gina Carano. I can’t say that was a problem for me, because I just loved watching her fight. You could see her character thinking about her every next move (especially in my favorite sequence, a chase scene in Dublin). The action scenes were subsequently quite interesting – I can’t tell you how many action scenes in other movies just do nothing for me.

The documentary Queen of Versailles should have been nominated for an Oscar. (The film that won Best Documentary  – Searching for Sugarman – was not that good and I suspect had a boost from baby boomer nostalgia.) Queen of Versailles started out as a film that followed the life of Jackie Siegel, former beauty queen and wife of David Siegel, owner of Westgate Resorts, a major time-share company. The Siegels and their many children live in a massive house in Florida, but as the film begins, they are building an even bigger one modeled partially on the Palace of Versailles. But then, as the filmmakers were shooting, the recession hit and the Siegels were in huge financial trouble. They kept filming and what they capture is fascinating, an American story that shows the varied consequences of living beyond your means.

As for television shows, I was not immune to the Downton Abbey mania. Season 3 did not have a promising start but really found its feet in the latter half, I thought. I’m totally Team Edith by the way. (Maybe because I am the middle child of three sisters? Though my sisters and I get along way better than the Crawley sisters ever do.)

Other shows I’ve been keeping up with:

The Americans – I’m a little behind on this show and have only seen the first three episodes, but so far, it’s very compelling television. It’s about two Russian sleeper agents (played by Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys) that have been posing as an American couple in the D.C. area long enough to have a teenage daughter. I’d never seen any of Matthew Rhys’ previous shows, but wow can he act.

Community – I’ve only seen the first two episodes of the new season, and while there is a detectable difference now that its former showrunner is gone, I’m still enjoying the antics of Troy and Abed and the rest of the study group.

Nashville – I started watching because of Connie Britton, but like many viewers, the songs are definitely the strongest draw. Plotlines fizzle at times and Scarlett rarely resembles a real person, but at this point, I’ll stay to the end of the season.

Parks and Recreation – I hated the first season but now it’s the most consistently good show that I watch. The whole ensemble is amazing.

And for the above, I just have to say, thanks Hulu. Also, pbs.org for Downton Abbey. I’ve never had cable and I don’t even have antenna channels anymore, so I’m one of those people completely dependent on the internet to supply me with recent show episodes.

And just to finish off this post, I’ll mention that I did read Bossypants a couple of months ago and it was okay. I mostly know Tina Fey from her Sarah Palin impersonations. I did not watch SNL when she was on it and I didn’t watch 30 Rock either. So this may explain my lack of enthusiasm about the book. That said, I did really enjoy the chapter about her dad for some reason. Also, I totally have hiked that one trail that Tina hiked in the dark with those college boys. It’s a really popular hike for people around here.

 

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7 Comments

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7 responses to “Enjoyable things that are not books

  1. Interesting! We seem to have similar taste, so I’ve filed away your suggestions: thanks. (Although actually I liked the first season of P&R well enough, though Mr BIP didn’t care for that one at all, so I’ve heard that before!) For quirky comedy, we recently finished indulging in all the “Bored to Death” episodes (but they lack the Tina Fey factor obviously) and for drama have recently begun with “Game of Thrones” (like almost everybody else…though we are reading the books very slowly, so watching slowly as well). Viewing time definitely competes with reading time though: sigh!

  2. I also loved Looper! I am a huge JGL fan, but even more of Bruce Willis fan. And JGL played Bruce perfectly. Facial expressions, voice. It was awesome. Also, the make up was really well done too. JGL w/ BW’s nose, haha!

  3. I still haven’t gotten around to season 3 of Downton–I enjoy it, but I’m not as in love with it as a lot of people I know. But I’m totally with you on being Team Edith. I find Mary and Matthew really boring, so I got turned off by how much attention their romance got in the last season.

  4. Looper was good! I was a little disappointed in the ending though — I felt like it did a disservice to the rest of the movie, that it was unwarrantedly optimistic. But overall I thought it was a really excellent movie — the scene with Old Paul Dano is absolutely chilling.

  5. BiP – I’ve heard Game of Thrones is rather brutal, so I’m not sure about the books or the tv show, but of the two, it’s more likely I might check out the show. I’d never heard of Bored to Death, but now I see it was a HBO show which explains things. I miss hearing about a lot of cable shows, I think, unless they are popular, have a cult following or are critically acclaimed.

    Erin – Yay, another Looper fan! There was one scene where the JGL’s face looked really ‘off’ and was distracting, but most of the time it was fine.

    Teresa – If you thought Matthew and Mary were boring in Season 2, they will drive you nuts in Season 3. Ugh. I didn’t mind them in Season 2 and thought they had some nice moments, but they are just not terribly interesting as a couple. That said, Bates strangely had the most boring plotline in Season 3, which is saying something, as there was some competition for that distinction, especially at the beginning. I enjoy Downton, but I am not blind to its faults.

    Jenny – I liked the ending and JGL’s voice-over for that. It fit for me. It’s funny to hear you say it is optimistic but I think I know what you mean. Was it the noble sacrifice that did the disservice in your eyes?

  6. Thank you for reminding me about Queen of Versailles! A friend of mine posted about it a while back and it sounded great but then I forgot all about it.

    (I’m also Team Edith!)

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