Downton Abbey, Mozart In The Jungle, SPECTRE, The Martian, and The Ballad of the Sad Cafe

Some things I’ve been watching…

Downton Abbey, The Final Season

Well, what more can be said – one of the greatest things to ever happen to public television is coming to an end this year. This is the only thing in the past twenty years I think that I have made a point to watch as it is broadcast when it airs. A beautiful dramedy, well written, with spectacular performances of a brilliant ensemble cast, it will be hard for PBS to one up this program once it concludes this year. Making a special late dinner and watching Downton along with The Great British Bake Off has been a highlight of the past six years. I’ll miss it… That is, until I start watching the DVDs over again from the beginning, again and again.

I guess I will also miss live tweeting the broadcast with a bunch of fellow dorks, as well.

Mozart in the Jungle, Season 2

What a fantastic dramedy! I started watching this right when it came on the queue for streaming Amazon Prime, and along with Transparent and The Man In The High Castle, this is a program that is entirely worth watching as part of a Prime subscription. Amazon definitely knows how to invest in their programming in terms of star power, great writers, brilliant storytelling, excellent directors and actors, and the investment it takes to make a quality production. Very impressed with everything they release.


I am an absolute Bond junky, and it is no surprise that Bond is on the 1001.  SPECTRE is another installment in Craig’s tenure, and he is one of my favorites. He is no nonsesnse, and takes his role seriously. The plot, action, and execution of SPECTRE didn’t disappoint until the final three minutes where I got a little confused as to why they included it… But one can complain about such a tiny thing with something they hold so dear. Great fun at the theater.

The Martian

I read this book and really enjoyed it for its intense and fun execution of a harrowing Robinson Crusoe in space story. My dorky nerves were tickled by all the math and humorous geeky pop culture references. The movie did not disappoint – as a matter of fact, my only complaint about the book was that it was missing an epilogue that the film actually had! Another great night at the theater.

The Ballad of the Sad Cafe

Wow. A shockingly dark and twisted tale that doesn’t entirely translate to the screen from the book, this tells the story of a woman who is keeping a town together through her various enterprises. When a long-lost cousin arrives, it appears that she falls in love and hilarity ensues…That is, until her felon ex-husband returns from prison. She never loved him, but her cousin-boyfriend seems to fall in love with him, and he seems to want to do nothing but destroy his ex-wife. A complicated triangle that is really folk-y and Keillor-y in the book, but doesn’t translate to the screen very well regardless of Edward Albee’s involvement. A great book, but feel free to miss the film.

The Hateful Eight

I went to see a late 70mm showing, and was absolutely blown away at how immersive the narrative was. Tarantino delivers one of the most scathing indictments of our collective white American racial history, but he manages to artfully and symbolically evoke blame with everything from slavery, to lynching, to Lincoln, and a myriad others by literally leaving blood on everyone’s hands. An absolutely shocking, beautiful, disgusting, and funny film that does an incredible job raising some serious questions that have been around since the beginning of our nation. What’s more, as a filmmaker he continues to get better, while honing into perfection in being bloody, serious, and hysterical in the same beat.

And this is the film whose script was leaked during the Sony hack? Please… The only way I was going to experience this film was going to be in the dark, with some popcorn, a group of strangers, and a smile on my face. Cinema is not dead, in fact, it is still very much a necessary experience that is unique in this existence.

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