Robin Hood: Ridley Scott decides to re-imagine Robin Hood and brings us an overlong, bloated mess. Clocking in at two-and-a-half hours of massive battle scenes under overcast skies interspersed with dreary politicking, the movie then ends at the beginning of the Robin Hood legend as we know it.
For some reason Scott decided to focus on international intrigue between the French and British crowns, with the backstabbing French engaging in one of the silliest plots for conquest ever seen outside a Monty Python skit. Instead of Robin and his merry men, we get a hungover-looking Russell Crowe (if that’s not redundant) battling his way under overcast skies with his trusty longbow.
Why Scott decided to approach it this way, I have no idea. Why nobody told him it was a bad idea, I also fail to understand.
To top it all off, the climactic battle scene in the end is Saving Private Ryan with archers. Who knew the 12th century French Navy had flat-bottomed landing craft with droppable front sections? I sure didn’t and I still don’t believe it.
If you enjoy interminable scenes of people being shot full of arrows under an overcast sky while dumb scheming goes on, Robin Hood is for you.
War Photographer: Deeply moving and powerful documentary about James Nachtwey, a photographer who’s made it his life’s work to document human suffering in all its forms. His photos are brutal, strong, and at the same time eerily artful.
If you’re interested in photography, journalism, or life, you’ll want to watch this. Painful, but a fantastic palate-cleanser after yet another day of media mediocrity.
Bigger, Stronger, Faster: Quirky and interesting documentary about the pressure to succeed for athletes—as well as Americans in general—and how the pressure leads to steroid use and self-image problems.
The filmmaker is himself a body builder who admits to his own steroid use, and the movie spends some time discussing the fear and loathing caused by steroids in the sports industry as well as their impact on health. Which according to the movie isn’t as bad as you’d think. The steroids in the end become a symbol of the shortcuts the pressure to succeed can lead you to take.
An interesting movie, and one well worth watching.
Hot Tub Time Machine: Incredibly crude and stupid, and I mean that in the best possible way.
Several laugh-out-loud moments interspersed with a lot of cringe.
I’m not sure exactly why an actor of John Cusack’s stature would make a movie like this, but he and the rest of the cast do a good job of hamming it up.
Oh, and like The Hangover, this is not a movie for family night with young children. At all.
Beer Wars: Documentary about the business of beer. Depressing but does a good job of answering the question why it’s so hard to find interesting beers in the stores, and why—dearlordwhy—Bud and Coors have such a large percentage of the market despite their products being utter swill.
Turns out it’s because of bad laws that favor the large breweries and penalize the small. Just how God intended for capitalism to work.
If you’re interested in beer or business, Beer Wars is a must-see.
Gallipoli: Thoroughly depressing documentary about the Battle of Gallipoli during WWI.
The incompetence and arrogance on display from the British command was truly epic, and so was the suffering by the soldiers on ground. Gallipoli uses quotes from letters written by the soldiers to illustrate the appalling conditions they endured.
Conditions start out horrifically bad for the soldiers and then grow worse and unimaginably worse as time progresses.
My Life in Ruins: Roundly despised by the critics, My Life in Ruins is actually an okay little romantic comedy. Nothing fantastic, but it putters along and has some very nice Greek landscapes to rest your eyes on.
Enlighten Up!: Interesting idea: A yoga devotee finds a person with no yoga experience and immerses that person in the practice for a year to see what kind of effect it will have on his life with the thesis that steady yoga practice will lead our neophyte to some form of enlightenment.
Our subject is Nick, a painfully handsome journalist who gets to spend a year doing all sorts of yoga, including of course a trip to India.
It’s an interesting and thoughtful look at the multi-million dollar yoga industry and some of the more and less sane people in it.
Includes Hollywood Dead, Tales from the Loop, Things from the Flood, The Court of Broken Knives, and Port of Shadows.
Nic has a retinal tear and has his vision is saved by a laser.
Includes The Storm Before the Storm, White Trash, Calypso, Tell the Machine Goodnight, Prince of Fools, and Provenance.
The Internet tells Nic to install Ubiquiti gear in his house, so he does, and now he has thoughts.
What I wish I’d known when I started podcasting.
Nic starts a new podcast about—gasp!—American sports.
Mostly excellent non-fiction in this installment. Includes Fantasyland, The Miracle of Dunkirk, Das Reich, The Undoing Project, Waiting for the Punch, Vacationland and Points of Impact.