Category Archives: Films & Television

Io sono Li (2011)

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This film was one of wife’s picks to add to our regularly maintained “to watch” list. It’s ostensibly an Italian film, with an Italian director, filmed in the province of Venice and making use of a largely Italian crew. Yet it has a Chinese lead and many supporting roles with Chinese actors and actresses. The dialogue is pretty much half Italian and half Mandarin Chinese.

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Upstream Color (2013)

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Shane Carruth’s debut film Primer achieved Internet notoriety by spawning a variety of charts and diagrams to describe the events of the film. They were of such complexity as to surpass those created for Christopher Nolan’s Inception. Even with the aid of these charts, most viewers still walked away without really understanding what happened in the movie. Upstream Color is the same director’s second feature and like its predecessor, it is not an easy film to understand.

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Dr. Strangelove (1964)

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Some films have become so strongly entrenched in popular culture that you almost don’t have to watch them to know all about them. Their tropes, jokes and characters have been referenced endlessly in subsequent works and more pertinently in forum and blog posts on the Internet so much so that you might not even realize that you’re watching the source material. Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove is an example of such a film.

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Kick-Ass 2 (2013)

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I’m not much of a Mark Millar fan but the first Kick Ass 2 hinted at enough of a subversion of the superhero genre and had enough shock value that it intrigued me. I would have loved a story that wholeheartedly embraced the idea that dressing up as a superhero and going out to fight crime isn’t just silly, it’s also utterly ineffective. Unfortunately the second half of the movie completely reverted to type, becoming yet another poorly executed superhero action movie.

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Donnie Brasco (1997)

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Obviously when we decide on which films to watch, we go through the most notable of the recent releases. Occasionally, I also like to throw in classics that we’ve never watched before. For example, we recently watched Orson Welles’ Touch of Evil. More rarely, I pick something completely out of left field. Not recent enough to be current but not notable enough to be really remembered either. Mike Newell’s Donnie Brasco counts as one such pick.

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Captain Phillips (2013)

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The first time I ever heard about this film was on CNN when I was in Greece. It received quite a bit of airtime and seemed to be considered as a fairly serious movie. I really liked the short clip that aired, showing Abduwali Muse entering the bridge of the Maersk Alamabama and menacing the captain. The scene was tense. The villain looked appropriately un-Hollywood. That was enough to pique my interest. I am therefore sad to report that after viewing it, it does turn out to be standard Hollywood action movie fare after all.

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Breaking Bad (2008 – 2013)

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My wife and I usually watch movies on the weekends and television shows on weekdays. One of the shows that we had on rotation over the past few months has been Breaking Bad and we’ve just finished with it. I’m reasonably certain that this show needs no introduction so I’ll jump straight into a list of what I liked and what I didn’t like about it, though it will unavoidably contain lots of spoilers.

  • The show feels like an experiment into how evil and despicable you can make the protagonist of the story and still have your audience root for that character. It’s pretty fantastic in that regard. Episode after episode, season after season, Walter White graduates to ever greater depths of crime and villainy. And yet since the writers successfully depict him as such a smart, hyper-competent bad ass, you want to see him win anyway.

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