Category Archives: TV

Beartown, Hillbilly Elegy, and The Sun Is Also a Star

Happy Mother’s Day to all those out there. I haven’t posted in awhile because it took me some time to get through the novel “Beartown” and I’ve been busy with the yard and getting ready for a three-day bicycle trip … Continue reading

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The Girl in Green and The Unseen World

This week was pretty productive as I finished one book, one audiobook, one TV mini-series, and watched two films. Surely I need “outlets” in these days of the new U.S. administration — ugh, but don’t get me started on that. … Continue reading

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Late Fall Mini-Reviews

Happy Halloween to all. It seems a lot has happened lately. First off, congrats to Paul Beatty for becoming the first American to win the 2016 Man Booker Prize for his novel “The Sellout.” The publisher calls the book a … Continue reading

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Summer Days and Mini Reviews

I have been a bit AWOL from the Cue Card lately as I’ve had company in town and various gatherings, events, and chores. After all it is summer now, which is the busiest and best time of year here, especially … Continue reading

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Birdman and The Walking Dead

Wow the movie “Birdman” is sure a clever, little black comedy of a film, which seems a shoe-in this award season. It’s about a washed-up superhero movie actor (played by Michael Keaton) who’s trying for a comeback by mounting a Broadway play based on a Raymond Carver story. Of course Michael Keaton starred as Batman twice way back when and hasn’t been in much notable of late, but this movie’s not his own true story. It’s just a great back story.

“Birdman” takes place almost all within the building of a New York City playhouse where Keaton’s character Riggan is trying to get his play up and running, but everything seems to be going wrong. He’s got family problems with his ex-wife and daughter (played by Emma Stone); staging problems with an egotistical, pretentious actor (played by Edward Norton); financial problems trying to fund it; problems with his possibly pregnant girlfriend who’s an actress in the play; and problems with a theater critic who says she’ll pan the production. The man’s in crisis. On top of all this, he keeps hearing the voice of his alter-ego, the Birdman, the superhero he once played, who keeps trying to lure him back to star in the action franchise again despite his advanced age.

The performances are all excellent, especially Edward Norton who seems to steal the movie at times as the jerk-of-a-guy actor. Emma Stone is terrific, too, as the depressed rehabbed daughter, and Naomi Watts who’s the ingenue in the play is top-notch as usual. And then there’s Keaton himself who brings a realness to the role that makes you almost believe it’s his own true story. Manhattan, too, is featured prominently and the film exudes a whole New York vibe, which people who like films set there will truly like.

I found the film darkly funny and clever. (It’s not for kiddies though there’s lots of bad language and inside jokes that they might not relate to.) Among other things, the movie spoofs fun at fame, acting, social media, and critics in dialogue you won’t want to miss. Much, too, has been talked about how the film appears to be done in one long take, the scenes flowing into each other as if there’s no edits. Apparently the filmmakers pulled this off digitally, but also the actors had to keep their scenes rolling for long periods. Visually it’s cool and adds to the realness of the play’s backstage shenanigans.

Whether the play will take off on opening night, you won’t know till the film’s end, which turns out to be quite a doozy. As for Keaton’s character, it’s left to one’s own interpretation what happens to him. Although I didn’t know what to expect going into see “Birdman,” I’ve liked it quite a bit more afterwards, with time and thought.

What about you— have you seen this movie or do you plan to? And what did you think?

In other news this week, I’ve continued reading Laura Hillenbrand’s nonfiction book “Unbroken” and watched the midseason finale of Season Five of “The Walking Dead,” which ends with quite a showdown at the hospital in downtown Atlanta where Beth was being held. Of course, I knew one of the main characters would likely die, but I was rather bummed with who ended up getting killed off. It definitely will take a toll on the group as they move forward. But what is next for them? And where will they go in the second half of Season Five? And who will be the main focus? I guess we won’t know for sure till February when the TV series starts up again.

Have you been following the show? What do you think so far of Season Five? Continue reading

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Zombies & Domes

The Sunday Salon.com
I seem to average one action blockbuster movie per summer. For some reason if I see a good one, it fills the void for awhile. But would it be: “Iron Man 3,” “Man of Steel,” “Star Trek: Into Darkness” or “Pacific Rim”? No, ultimately it was none of them. Instead I was lured to Brad Pitt and the zombies last Friday night in the apocalyptic movie “World War Z,” and luckily it did the trick, filling my fix of action packed adrenaline for awhile with some whopping special effects.

Of course it has hardly anything to do with the book by Max Brooks, or so says my husb who read it and told me not to bother since he didn’t think it was very good. In the book, they interview survivors after a long war with zombies, while the movie captures a zombie pandemic in full swing and the worldwide pandemonium that ensues.

Some readers are displeased it didn’t follow the book, others are happy the movie went its own way. I think it does a pretty good job for a summer action flick. It has suspense, it has scary zombies, it has Brad Pitt as a U.N. worker trying to save the day before the whole world becomes infected. It held my attention like a decent zombie movie should do.

But I probably had set a pretty low bar for “World War Z” going in because of all the problems I heard the filmmakers had in production. The film was way over budget, it had to be delayed and re-shot, and rewritten. Gosh it sounded like it nearly imploded judging from the June article in Vanity Fair. I think it was pulled back from the brink. Despite all that, the movie’s done well and is better than most expected. It’s pulled in $170 million in 3 weeks and likely will re-coop its budget. It’s been quite a surprise after all.

But then I had faith since I like zombie stuff in general, and Brad, too, for that matter. I’ve seen three seasons of “The Walking Dead” (oh Andrea, what happened?!) and I’ll watch the apocalyptic zombie movie “I am Legend” whenever it’s replayed on TV, which it is quite often. I think “I am Legend” is scarier and better than “World War Z,” though “Z” is more of a 3D extravaganza. In both films, the zombies can run fast! Whereas in “The Walking Dead” and the original “The Night of the Living Dead” the zombies are dawdlers in comparison. The new zombies just won’t stand still to have their heads bashed in. They’re getting smarter and they’re hungrier, too. Hiding out behind locked metal doors is your best bet, or finding that darn cure pretty lickety-split.

Like most summer features “World War Z” didn’t stay with me long. Its action and suspense are good, but I mostly forgot about it not long after I left the theater. The zombie outbreak only took me so far without too much depth. And Brad’s hair was ready for a shampoo and change by the end.

Meanwhile I’ve watched a few episodes of the new TV series “Under the Dome” based on the 1,088 page sci-fi novel by Stephen King about a small town that finds itself cut off from the world by a mysterious barrier that suddenly surrounds it. I think my husb thinks the show’s pretty weak so far, and is like a soap opera. The characters are a bit stereotypical I admit, but I’m willing to keep with it for awhile at least. It’s pretty entertaining in a mindless TV kind of way. But it probably doesn’t hold a candle to the book, or does it? I guess I’ll have to plow through King’s Dome sometime to find out.

Until then, what do you think? Have you liked any action flicks this summer? Or what do you think of “Under the Dome”? Continue reading

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The Walking Dead

I hardly watch TV shows these days (just sometimes “The Office”) but was lured into watching AMC’s hit zombie show, “The Walking Dead,” and got a bit hooked. Who knew zombies could come out during the day, and move faster than they appeared to in the ’70s. These zombies are mobile, menacing and very hungry for human flesh. And if they bite you, you can kiss it goodbye because you’ll soon become part of the walking dead. The show is not for the lighthearted, or for young kids with vivid dreams; it’s quite graphic, blood-spurting and violent with zombie heads being blown off and limbs being dismembered (it’s on cable after all).

It takes place around Atlanta after the apocalypse, where a small group of human survivors are trying to avoid becoming mincemeat of the zombies, and to find help, notably from the Centers for Disease Control and Protection, which they heard might be a refuge from the zombie epidemic. But alas, on the season finale the group finds just one scientist left at the CDC, and he doesn’t have a solution. What’s more, the complex is set to explode after its power conks out. Our human friends only have enough time to get the heck out of there before a shattering kaboom ends Season 1.

Whoosh it was a short season, just six episodes long. But apparently it attracted the biggest audience ever for a cable drama series in the 18 to 49 demographic. No kidding, scary zombies are cool with these folks. It helps that the human survivors are led by sheriff deputy Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), who admittedly makes a pretty tasty hero amid the array of characters. Moreover, the special effects and zombie appearances are creepily convincing, enough to make you want to run for cover.

The show has a bit of the allure of “Lost”: mysterious, scary and suspenseful. But comparably it has a much simpler storyline. I’m sure to watch it next season, too. It’s good. As for the best sci-fi series, it probably can’t compete with the great “Planet of the Apes” of my youth … with Charlton Heston, Cornelius and the ruling apes, there’s just no way. Continue reading

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