Previous month:
January 2015
Next month:
March 2015


I just saw Whiplash. Better late than never. Breathtaking. If you haven't seen it yet, see it, if not before the Oscars, then after, no matter how it does. Hollywood being Hollywood, J.K. Simmons is considered a supporting actor in this film. I guess the system is what it is, but despite not having as many lines as the quite competent lead actor, Simmons turns in one of the most amazing performances I have seen in recent memory. If he does not cop an Oscar, there is no justice in the world and the Academy will be committing at least a misdemeanor if not a felony. I feel so strongly about this I wanted to drive my stake in the ground now, before the Oscars.

Mini-book reviews: This is the story of a Happy Marriage, The Most of Nora Ephron

Probably you've never scrolled dowm the right-hand side of this column; if you had, you'd have seen the list there of the 10 most recent books I read that I felt were worth talking about. Almost nothing ever appears there that I don't feel is a five-star read. I just added two recently:

  • Ann Patchett: This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage

    Ann Patchett: This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage
    David Sedaris liked this book so much her arranged for Moe's Books of Berkeley to sell it in the lobby after his reading at Zellerbach Hall last year. I can see why; Pratchett is an interesting and able essayist. I haven't read her fiction, but if it is as good as her essays, it is good indeed. As a recently bereaved cat owner, I couldn't read her essay on the death of her dog, but all the others were fine. (*****)

  • Nora Ephron: The Most of Nora Ephron
    I have always been a big fan of Nora Ephron, so I was enraptured with this omnibus, which includes her novel, her Harry met Sally screenplay and many of her essays, some of them previously uncorrected. They say you should never meet the authors you love, but I think I'd have enjoyed her, even if she was telling me to "get over it." (*****)


This and That: Humor Edition

Humorlabs! The Top 12 Worst Ways to Ask Someone to Be Your Valentine. No. 11 was me: Have an intern in a thong and a beret ask him. No. 1, from Michael Cunningham, Woodridge, IL: Ask her during her wedding.

and's Number 1 Rejected Title for the "Fifty Shades of Grey" Movie...
1> Whip. Lash. (shared with two others, but still my 18th number 1)

Mini Reviews: Mr. Turner, Spongebob Movie, Academy Award Shorts

Mr. Turner
Amazing cinematography and great acting. Too damn long at 2.5 hours, and not enough plot. The Internet seems to feel it is relatively historically accurate, which makes it educational. That  does not make it interesting. 90 minutes would have been about right. But, as I say, beautiful to look at.

Spongebob Movie
I like Antonio Banderas. Everyone else associated with this movie should be ashamed of themselves. There's a writer's credit, and I know it was written, but I'm not going to mention the writers because, perhaps, if everyone forget this film, they might work again someday. Rotten Tomatoes awards it an unbelievable 75% critic score: I don't think it is as funny as any edition of the TV show I ever watched. How it topped the box office, taking in $50 million the first weekend, I will never understand.

Academy Award Nominated Shorts
Once again this year, if you're lucky, you can see all the nominated live action and animated shorts at a nearby arthhouse. In my case, the Shattuck in Berkeley. My picks: Boogaloo and Graham, live-action  story of two boys and their chickens in Belfast during the Time of Troubles, and Feast, the cartoon played before Big Hero 6, which features the culinary adventures of a rescue dog named Winston. The Animated Shorts  always feature some "commended" but not nominated cartoons, into which category I would definitely place Duet, which I loved. There are some very sad nominees in both categories, and some very weird ones, which is par for the course. As "chicken is the canvas upon which great chefs paint their masterpieces," "short films are the clay  on which filmmakers practice their creativity."

This and That

Stephen Coquet writes:

Sometime after reading your take on Groundhog Day for the first time, I saw Run Lola Run (but being a Snob, I watched it in German, with subtitles). It occurred to me almost immediately that, thematically, this seemed to be a Buddhist film.  Just now I did a Google search, and it seems I wasn’t the only one to notice. Not only that, but some are saying the same thing about The Matrix also.

While I would disagree with that, it’s still worth a look. Just Google “Run Lola Run and Buddhism.”

Just as I never realized Groundhog Day was Buddhist until it was pointed out to me, I saw Lola but did not perceive its similar themes. Now that they are pointed out to me, I see the point.

Why not try a Free Personality Test.

Dan Grobstein agrees with Vox that You'd Be Amazed How Much Music Is Disappearing.