Taxi Driver (1976)

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When my cinephile friend saw this one on my list of films to watch, he was surprised. “You mean you haven’t seen this already?” he asked. I guess that’s as good an indication as any of how much this is considered required watching for any fans of cinema. Martin Scorcese and Robert De Niro had previously collaborated on Mean Streets in 1973, the film that put both of them on the map. De Niro had also landed the pivotal role of a young Vito Corleone in The Godfather Part II in 1974. But it was Taxi Driver that would come to be regarded as one of the greatest American films of all time and solidify Scorcese’s reputation as a great auteur.

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When Marnie Was There (2014)

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When Marnie Was There is supposedly Studio Ghibli’s final film, or at least it is until such time as Hayao Miyazaki decides to un-retire again or someone else decides to resurrect the studio. This one was actually directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi, perhaps best known for The Secret World of Arrietty. Like Arrietty, it’s also based on a children’s book by a British author, in this case one originally published in 1967. I don’t know about you but I always feel that it’s kind of sad when authors don’t live long enough to see their work reach a far wider audience than they’d ever imagined.

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Last Days in Vietnam (2014)

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Working through the list of Oscar nominees for last year, we come to this modest documentary about the final days of the Vietnam War. Specifically, it focuses on the evacuation of Americans and the Vietnamese who aided the Americans and feared reprisals from the Communists just prior to the Fall of Saigon in 1975. To be fair, this is of course the Western name for that day and Vietnam as it exists today understandably prefers to call it Reunification Day.

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Some Like It Hot (1959)

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We might be done with the lists for the two Coursera film courses, but that’s no reason to stop watching movies from the classic era of Hollywood. In particular, we realized that we’ve never watched anything starring Marilyn Monroe, surely an omission that must be corrected. I chose Some Like It Hot both because it was one of her best commercial and critical successes and because it was made by the same creative team behind The Apartment, one of my favorite comedies from that era.

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Blind Massage (2014)

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Lou Ye is apparently one of China’s most controversial filmmakers, having both his works and his personal career being banned on multiple occasions. This is the first time I’ve watched one of his films however and this one was made with the full blessing of the governing authorities. It mixes what I understand are professional performers from the director’s usual cast with amateurs who really are blind masseurs to depict the workings of a massage center in Nanjing.

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Hearthstone

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(Since I don’t play boardgames any more, I make too few posts about games to really justify maintaining a separate blog for them, so I’m moving those posts back here. This blog has more subscribers anyway, though more people tend to randomly wander into the games blog. I’m still maintaining as an archive of course.)

As you can no doubt see, my GPU is still MIA so I’ve latched on to yet another card game to fill my time. I’ve held off playing Hearthstone for the longest time because it’s a mainly online game against other human opponents and I just don’t do multiplayer. But I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how smooth and drama-free the experience has been. I’ll start with comments on the game design and move on to the online experience in a later post.

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The unexamined life is a life not worth living