July 27, 2015

How To Train Your Dragon

Our five-year-old son is now catching up with the best PG movies from recent years, so we're finally seeing this 2010 movie in 2015. Terrific fun movie, my five-year-old son is now obsessed with it. Pixar gets all the cachet, but Dreamworks deserves a lot of credit for making a terrific kids movie with spectacular imagery, that parents can stomach too. I liked this movie a thousand times better than Brave, for example. (Amazon Instant Video, then I bought the DVD/Blu-Ray combo)
Dad Goggles: I've now watched most of this movie, mostly paying attention, during three different screenings in our living room.

July 26, 2015


A terrific comedy and unflinching look at a woman coming to grips with her trainwreck life, Amy Schumer pulls no punches in this funny yet heartfelt film. Easily Judd Apatow's best movie...perhaps tied with The Forty-Year-Old Virgin. I truly enjoyed it but the women in the theater loved loved loved it. (Somerville Theater Screen 1)

July 25, 2015

Kingsman: The Secret Service

A fun, light, but action-packed and occasionally overly violent spy thriller, and intensely English all at the same time. A refreshing change from the current mode of dark and humorless spy movies (Bourne & Bond) this movie deliberately sets a different course. I appreciated that this movie makes no concessions to please American audiences, its Englishness adds tons of character where a more "generic" feel would have been boring.
The plot structure is similar to the first Men In Black movie- seasoned veteran recruits a untested rookie to possibly join a secret spy group, except in Kingsman: The Secret Service, the rookie testing/training is a full "A" plotline that spans the first two acts of the film. The other "A" plot is another billionaire Internet genius (Samuel L. Jackson) attempting to pull off a very Bond-ian eugenics scheme.
I was very happy to see Colin Firth having a good time in a movie like this; newcomer Taron Egerton is slyly charming as the low-class rookie; and Jackson is refreshingly light as a villain, he doesn't show any menace even when he's plotting genocide. If you'd like to see the Bond films return to the humor and lightness of the Roger Moore years, but retain a modern sleekness, check it out. (Amazon Instant Video)

July 24, 2015

Ex Machina

A provocative and thrilling mind game that will crush all your hope for humanity in general, and men in particular. A brilliant Internet billionaire (Oscar Isaac) is attempting to perfect a sentient robot that also fulfills his womb envy urges. He summons one of his programmers to interview her, but no one can be trusted, and nothing is as it seems.
This movie stuck with me for days afterwards. Ex Machina is a variant of the movie A.I. if Kubrick had made it without Spielberg- full of unsettling imagery and completely without sentiment. You can also see it as a sexualized Frankenstein movie, or an even bleaker Pinocchio. Strongly recommended, but be prepared to have all your feminist buttons pushed. PS: No one has sex with the robots in the movie. (Amazon Instant Video)

July 23, 2015

152 France-formers

My boy made up this joke:
Q: What do you call a giant robot in Paris?
A: A France-former!
I first saw this homage to Magritte's The Son Of Man
20 years ago and I've been obsessed with it ever since.
If I could buy an poster print of this image I would hang it
in my home. I LOVE IT.
  1. "This Night" by Billy Joel, which borrows the melody of its chorus from Beethoven, was my earworm for a week!
  2. "Dear Future Husband" Meghan Trainor is totally growing on me- she's so adorable!
  3. "All That She Wants" Ace Of Base throwback to the (sigh) 1990s
  4. "Just The Way You Are" Bruno Mars knows how to wear a hat!
  5. "Absolutely (Story Of A Girl)" If you gave me a week or a year, I would never remember the name of this one-hit wonder band from 2000. The band was called Nine Days and that's how long their fame lasted.
  6. "Angels" by David Byrne always reminds me of my tenure as intern at WFNX in 1993-94.
  7. "Fragile" Sting - heard on the radio while having my teeth cleaned in May. I thought to myself (between plaque scrapes) that I might be ready to welcome Sting back into my life after listening to him far too much in the 20th century.
  8. "Crazy On You" I am in the middle of a 1970s Rock Re-appreciation, where I try to open my ears (and Heart) to music that's antithetical to my Power-Pop, New Wave core.
  9. "A Night Like This" I think this Cure song popped up on a Amazon Radio playlist? I don't remember.
  10. Since the first episode of Glee aired, every radio station plays Journey's "Don't Stop Believin", so by that standard, "Who's Crying Now" feels like a deep cut when in reality it was a big hit.
  11. "Remember (Walkin' In The Sand)" by the Shangri-Las (great group name, btw) popped up at random in my iTunes - I ripped it from the GoodFellas soundtrack CD, although I don't remember where it appears in the movie?
  12. "Want to Want Me" I had this Jason Derulo hit stuck in my head for weeks, only because the chorus steals the riff from Whitney Houston's "I Wanna Dance With Somebody". It took me a long time wondering before I did some digging to figure out whose song it was.
  13. "Got Me Under Pressure" A minor hit from ZZ Top.
  14. "Gumboots" I was a hit singles monster in the 1980s- there were plenty of cassettes I would fast-forward through just to hear the his, but this album was an exception- I must have listened to my Paul Simon Graceland tape a thousand times all the way through. This is one of the tracks I never knew the title to- does he even sing "Gumboots" in the song?
  15. "Solace Of You" Deepest of deep cuts from the late great Living Colour
  16. "Last Child" from Aerosmith is one of those hit songs from the Greatest Hits collection that I never hear on the radio.
  17. "That Was Yesterday" Foreigner - just like Heart (see above) I am making room for hoary old 1970s bands on my playlists (Based on the synths, I suspect this song is from the 1980s, though). Wow Lou Gramm has a good voice!
  18. "Brave" Speaking of great voices, Sara Bareilles really nails this song live at the Variety Playhouse
    The Shangri-Las

  19. "Sinner" Neil Finn solo acoustic on 107.1 KGSR
  20. "Lady Madonna" The Beatles, from LOVE
  21. "I Feel Fine" [Studio Outtake] The Beatles Live At The BBC