Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Movies seen over Christmas vacation

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! Hope it was a great one.

I got to go see two movies at the theater this past weekend.

Aquaman (2018) - This was a very enjoyable movie.  Pure popcorn fun.  Definitely my favorite so far of the DC movies.  I'm not much of a DC fan in general, but this one just really works well.  I think a lot of that is because it doesn't have a message or agenda, and it doesn't try to be anything more than what it is:  a superhero movie.  And it does that really well.  There is no great depth to this one, the plot doesn't try to be clever or manipulate its viewers, it's just straightforward and straight shooting.  I liked the actors and the visuals were cool.  There was a lot of humor, and some serious moments, and some striking imagery.  There was a lot of beauty in the underwater landscapes that I appreciated.  And a submarine.  I'm always going to appreciate submarines.  Alas, a completely unmemorable film score for this one, but otherwise, a very fun romp.

Bohemian Rhapsody (2018) - I loved this movie so much.  I can't wait to go back to see it in the theater again.  I'm not even that much of a Queen fan, though I have always admired their talent, and I love many of their songs ("Crazy Little Thing Called Love" has been in the top 5 of my favorite non-Duran Duran rock songs for ages), but this movie is so classy and respectful and full of the band's love of creating music/performing.  It's beautiful, it's sad, it sticks with you afterwards.  This is movie celebrates their lives and their talent, it isn't a sordid expose.  I like that.  The casting is completely uncanny.  The casting director should get an oscar for finding this ensemble cast who is freaking perfect.  I was watching Queen videos the day after, and I literally cannot tell the real Brian May from the actor who played him in the movie.  (My brother-in-law, who grew up watching and listening to Queen, commented that it was actually creepy how much of a resemblance there was... we're all fully onboard with the hilarious internet theory that Brian May (since he is an astrophysicist) figured out how to time travel and came to the future to make this movie. ROFL!)  The others are truly amazing as well.  Rami Malek is excellent as Freddie Mercury, and he really looks like him, particularly with short hair and a mustache.  Of course, I've been listening to Queen songs and watching their videos ever since seeing the movie.

I'm still trying to decide if I want to go see Mary Poppins Returns.  I've been hearing good things about it... but I just don't know if it's for me. 

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Publishing news!

It's been awhile, but I have a new story just published.  It's a flash fiction story called "A Clean Home is a Happy Home," in an anthology called It Happened in a Flash.  This story is published under my pen name Dana Fischer.

And right now, this anthology is free on Amazon and Barnes & Noble!  You can't beat that price, that's for sure, so what are you waiting for?  Check it out!

Not only do I have a story in this anthology, but Hamlette does as well.  Her story is called "Knighthood."  We've wanted to share a table of contents for a long time, so this is very exciting for us!

Two stories for the price of... nothing!  Not to mention, there are 62 other flash fiction stories of various genres in the anthology. 

Sunday, December 09, 2018

Happy birthday, Kirk Douglas!

Kirk Douglas turned 102 today! My family watched 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea tonight to celebrate.  Hope he had a great day.


Saturday, December 08, 2018

The eagles are coming

The salmon are running, which brings the bald eagles to the lake to feast.  I don't have a good camera, so getting the really good pictures I leave to the rest of my family, but I was able to snap this one on my phone.  The days are very overcast right now, so the lighting is not exactly conducive, but it's not terrible.  A third eagle joined these two right after I started walking away. 

I spent a long time just watching the eagles fish on the lake.  It's quite cool to watch them dive down and snag a swimming salmon in their talons then take off.  If you look at the trees around the lake, the eagles are really easy to spot with their white heads.  Some trees have a dozen or more eagles perched in them.

Friday, December 07, 2018

2018 Movie Wrap-up

So, this was an interesting year for movies.  I saw eleven new movies in the theater in 2018.  Only a couple of those merited repeat viewings in the theater.  The only other movie I will probably be seeing this year is Aquaman.  We will have to see where that one falls in the scheme of things! 

Favorite movie of the year:  Ready Player One
Hands down my favorite movie of the year and the one I've seen the most. I love all of the characters, love the setting, love the plot.  I had read the book beforehand, but I had no problem with any of the changes they made to translate to screen.  Absolutely adore Ben Mendelsohn as Nolan Sorrento in this movie.  My sister and I laugh and laugh over his lines, and my nephew even has one of his lines as his text tone on his phone cuz it cracks us all up so much.  ("You need three of them...")  We laugh all through this movie, in the best way possible.  And Mark Rylance is brilliant.  Of course, the 80s were our formative high school years, so there are tons of funny references and easter eggs and things that just tickle us to death.  Plus, simply re-watching and catching new references or shots of things from other movies is a joy.  The martian ship from George Pal's War of the World film is a highlight every single time it comes on.  This movie is a happy place movie I can watch anytime, anywhere.

Best movie of the year: Avengers: Infinity War
I loved everything about this movie, thought it handled everything so perfectly, I'm still in awe of how it managed that.  I come out of this movie so revved and pumped up.  The combos of characters thrown together was absolutely delightful, the dialogue some of the funniest. Doctor Strange remains my favorite character, and I could watch him and Tony (and Peter) argue over things all day.  This is one of those movies that ended up making me love the Guardians of the Galaxy.  They worked so well here that now I actually love their two movies, where I wasn't particularly a fan of them previously.  Thanos was marvelous as a bad guy whose goal is actually to help save the universe, for once. That was so refreshing.  There was nothing about this movie I didn't love.

Most disappointing movie of the year:  Ralph Wrecks the Internet
I didn't see the first one in the theater.  The family ended up catching it on cable, DVR'd it... and we then proceeded to wear it out.  We loved the plot, the characters, the resolution... it was just so much fun.  It was one that the adults couldn't walk out of when my nephew wanted to watch it. The sequel... is none of those things, though depending on what sweet spots people have, the plot may be more appealing than the first one.  It undeniably has an utterly fantastic depiction of the internet.  That alone is worth the price of admission. I absolutely positively loved the internet.  And there's nothing wrong with this movie.  It's very well done.  Just disappointing, and that feeling may vanish on repeat viewings.  But the things that drew me to the first movie weren't in this one. I loved the characters of the first one.  But in this one, everything that I had loved about them in the first one was gone here.  Vanellope had lost her sass, Ralph had become clingy and whiny and no fun to watch in the movie (I realize this actually isn't unrealistic... again, nothing wrong with this, just explaining why it was disappointing to me on first viewing), and Felix and Calhoun, who were my favorite part of the first movie, were sidelined into nothingness.  The secondary characters in this movie ended up being more interesting than the leads.

Movie I expected to hate and quite enjoyed:  Incredibles 2 
I'm not a fan of the first Incredibles.  Like at all.  So it surprised me greatly when I actually rather enjoyed the sequel.  This is probably the opposite of Ralph Wrecks the Internet...  I had zero expectations, and so the movie ended up being a lot of fun.  Jack-Jack was great, all the characters were much more likeable than in the first movie, and I generally had a good time.  Not a movie I need to own, but I won't walk out on it if the family is watching it, where I do leave if the first one is on.

The rest:

Black Panther -- liked it a lot, love the characters, except the bad guy, who just doesn't work.  Better on repeat viewings, though.

Tomb Raider -- Okay, fun but hard to think of as Tomb Raider.  I enjoyed it more just as an action adventure movie starring an actress I really like.  I like Dominic West too, and Alexandre Willaume (a Danish actor I really enjoy watching).

Solo -- most of it was good, but that nerve-grating droid of Lando's nearly ruins the whole movie.  But loved young Han and Chewie.

Ant-man & the Wasp -- liked it a lot, will probably be better on repeat viewings, but I only saw it once and haven't felt much desire to see it again.  I didn't love it the way I loved the first Ant-Man movie.

Hunter Killer -- hahaha!  I quite loved this.  A lot of ridiculous, delightful fun.  Just like a first season Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea episode, but with a big budget. Don't go to this one for believability.  Go because submarines and crazy cartoon action.  (Also, the guy playing the Russian president was cute.)  Toby Stephens played my favorite character, as the head of the SEAL team.

Fantastic Beasts 2: The Crimes of Grindelwald -- a bit of a wreck, though some of it is still good.  But it sidelined main characters, and, really, the whole thing felt like filler and padding just to set up the next movie, which means the next one should be much better.

Robin Hood - The first half of this was really entertaining.  Then it went all message-y and lost the fun.  Nothing annoys me more than having a message shoved down my throat.  Doesn't matter if it's a message I agree with or one I'm against.  Do Not Preach At Me.  And it's really too bad, because I found a lot to like about this movie until politics and things mucked it up.  I liked Taron Egerton, I liked the completely whacked out setting/costumes.  Almost goes without saying that I loved Ben Mendelsohn. He was fantastic.

The only ones of these movies I've bought on blu-ray were Ready Player One and Solo, and the latter remains unopened.  Ready Player One has, of course, been watched repeatedly.  You may ask, what about Infinity War, and I will be picking it up... I just saw that one a lot of times in the theater and am not prepared to watch it on a small screen yet.  I prefer my big screen memories right now.

As for film scores this year...  It's a toss up between Alan Silvestri and James Newton Howard for favorite composer.  Silvestri scored both Ready Player One and Infinity War, both of which have gotten hours and hours of playtime.  Howard scored Red Sparrow and Fantastic Beasts 2FB2 was just released, so I haven't had a chance to listen to it much, but I've really enjoyed it so far (more than the movie itself).  And Red Sparrow has some fantastic cues.  (I also picked up Howard's score for the Nutcracker movie, but it's a very specific sound because of the Tchaikovsky, so I probably won't play it much.)

Favorite cue of the year from the new movie scores is a toss up between "Didn't I do Well?" from Red Sparrow and "Looking for a truck" from Ready Player One.

As for what I'm looking forward to next year... Avengers: Endgame, of course.  Captain Marvel, How to Train Your Dragon 3, Chaos Walking.