Media Diet

April 2024

🎥 Movie: Road House (2024) – review   2/5

📘 Book: Tress of the Emerald Sea – Brandon Sanderson –  review 3/5

🎥 Movie at theaters: Civil War – review  4/5

🎥 Movie at theaters: Monkey Man – review  3/5

📘 Book: The 7th Canon – Robert Dugoni – review  3/5

March 2024

🎥 Movie: Misery – review.   3/5

📘 Book: Misery – Stephen King –  Read this for book club. King’s works have spanned over six decades now – but his published works from the 1980s might forever be my favorite era. I can’t imagine writing a book that only features two characters. King does so with by manifesting two individuals who are unforgettable.  4/5

🎥 Movie at theaters: Snack Shack – A gem of a movie that illustrates the highs and lows of growing up in small town America. I think the two young male leads have a chance to be stars!  4/5

🎥 Movie at theaters: Dune 2 – The first Dune film might have been my favorite output from a rough 2021. So expectations were high for the buzzy sequel. Denis Villeneuve delivered what I consider another masterpiece of the sci-fi film genre and has put himself into the consideration for the most exciting director of the last few decades.  5/5

📘 Book: Exile – R.A. Salvatore –  Just as good as the first book in the series. Perhaps better! 2 books down and 37 to go in the series.  4/5

🎥 Movie: Ricky Stinicky – I find John Cena to be effortlessly funny. That was not nearly enough to balance out the weird plot and weirder “humor” from this film.   2/5

📘 Book: Micro – Michael Crichton –  A classic Crichton tale mixing science and intense situations the heroes have to overcome.  3/5

February 2024

🎥 Movie: The Holdovers – If I saw this when it premiered in 2023, it might have been my favorite movie of the year. Led by a Paul Giamatti masterclass in acting, this tightly constructed story hit on the emotional beats that left my feeling both inspired and wrecked.  5/5

📺 TV: Avatar: The Last Airbender (2024) – Binged this in a single weekend. It very well might be impossible to recapture the magic from the original series, but I must say, this was a lot better than I expected it to be.   4/5

📺 TV: Percy Jackson and the Olympians (2024) – I have not read the popular books that are the source material for this show. Shannon adores them and thought this was a properly enjoyable adaptation. I was left feeling that despite the acting quality of the leads – the world building was flat and poorly executed.    3/5

📘 Book: Homeland – R.A. Salvatore –  Read this a long-time ago and enjoyed it as much as my faded memory thought I would. Good enough that I’m considering working through this series for the first time. 39 total books!!  4/5

🎥 Movie: Dogtooth – Watched this for movie club. Graphic and bizarre are the first two words that come to mind. I love Yorgos as a director now. Not sure I like him at this early stage in his career.    3/5

📘 Book: Odd Thomas – Dean Koontz –  After my last Koontz read I questioned if I would ever read the author again. My faith was restored after spending time in book one of the Odd Thomas series. This had all the trademarks of a fast-paced Koontz thriller with an added dose of unexpected emotion.   4/5

🎥 Movie at theaters: The Beekeeper – Saw this in a ScreenX theater – my first time doing so. The tech itself is cool and it did in fact elevate a movie that is basically Jason Statham doing Jason Statham things.    3/5

📘 Book: The Lawless Land – Boyd Morrison –  I sought this book out because I wanted a medieval historical adventure. Which was exactly what this was. It was also quite uneventful of a book.  3/5 

January 2024

📘 Book: The Bee Sting – Paul Murray –  A book club selection. The premise of this book sounded boring and trite but I could not put this down once I got into it. The characters were unlikable, the plot was meandering, but somehow it all worked at giving a introspectively raw look at what it means to be human.  4/5

📺 TV: Reacher – S2 – They still got the formula from season 1, but I found this particular storyline to be far less compelling.   3/5

🎥 Movie at theaters: Poor Things – Yorgos Lanthimos + Emma Stone is such a pairing. As utterly bizarre as this work was at times, the wonderment of seeing the world through the eyes of Bella Bexter was the type of experience that makes me fall in love with film all over again.   4/5

📘 Book: The Hunt for Red October – Tom Clancy – I went through a Tom Clancy phase in high school but had not read him since. This is classic of the military thriller genre and such an impressive work for a debut novel.  4/5

🎥 Movie: Carlito’s Way – Al Pacino playing the perfect Al Pacino character. This made for a fun little ride but nothing memorable. Describes how I feel about a lot of early 1990s films.    3/5

📘 Book: The Fires of Heaven (WOT #5) – Robert Jordan –  I only make progress on this series during long road trips as the audiobook versions continue to impress. I felt that I was starting to lose interest in a bunch of the distinct storylines Jordan was weaving – but by the end of this book I’m all the way back in.   4/5

2023 in Review

📘 32 books read // favorite book: The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath // avg review given: 3.37/5.00

🎥 46 movies watched // favorite movie: Oppenheimer // avg review given: 3.13/5.00

📺 11 tv shows watched // favorite show: Jury Duty // avg review given: 3.09/5.00

December 2023

📘 Book: The Things They Carried – Tim O’Brien – A book club selection.  This was a raw, profound look at the psychological impact of war. A few of the short stories gave me a new perspective on what soldiers experience and it will stick with me for a long time.  4/5

🎥 Movie at theaters: Godzilla Minus One – A tightly structured, fast-paced and terrifying portrayal of Godzilla being a true monster. Lots of fun!  4/5

🎥 Movie: Ran – A captivating film that did not quite earn it’s lengthy run-time. I much preferred Kurosawa’s work from the 1950s.   3/5

🎥 Movie at theaters: Dream Scenario – I loved the haunting concept in which everyone has dreams featuring a perfectly cast Nicholas Cage.  4/5

November 2023

📘 Book: A Thousand Acres – Jane Smiley –  A book club selection. I believe this is probably a good book filled with an important message about legacy and the death of innocence. But I struggled to stay interested for much of the first couple hundred pages until the plot quickened in pace.  3/5

🎥 Movie: Please Don’t Destroy: The Treasure of Foggy Mountain – Love what they do on SNL. Not surprised to see their comedy formula does not work as well in film format.   2/5

📘 Book: Lights Out – Elise Hart Kipness –  A fast-paced thriller/whodunit that was interesting but nothing more .  3/5

🎥 Movie at theaters: The Marvels – Continues the trend of Marvel movies being middling to downright bad. Another unforgettable, and gratefully short, mess.  3/5

🎥 Movie: Murder on the Orient Express – I like these Agatha Christine re-envisionings even if they don’t match the excitement of the source material.   3/5

📘 Book: Quicksilver – Dean Koontz –  This book was so bad I refuse to believe the usually reliable Koontz wrote it.  1/5

October 2023

📺 TV: The Fall of the House of Usher – The only real horror content I watched this spooky season. Had highlight moments but I found myself a bit bored with the formulaic episode structure.   3/5

🎧 Podcast: Search Engine – I liked the hosts earlier work (P.J. Vogt from ‘Reply All’) and I loved the simple premise and stories emerging from his latest podcast.  5/5

🎥 Movie: The Beasts – A Spanish/French co-produced film based on an true story. Heartbreaking and simultaneously terrifying as a new-ish homeowner. But the slow pacing made it hard to get through at times.   3/5

📘 Book: The Fisherman – John Langan –  A book club selection. H.P. Lovecraft stylings sandwiched between a personal tale of dealing with grief. This is a hard book to explain, but there’s a strong tale lurking within here that was tantalizing to unravel.  4/5

🎥 Movie at theaters: Killers of the Flower Moon – I wanted to like this more than I did. And maybe I would have if it was an hour shorter. I read the book back in February and this adaptation was not nearly as good.  3/5

📘 Book: Bad Aim – Alan Lee –  Another Alan Lee book that continues the trend of somehow being so bad it ends up being good. But not actually good if that makes sense.  2/5

🎥 Movie at theaters: A Haunting in Venice – A strong cast makes Agatha Christie come to life.  3/5

📘 Book: There There – Tommy Orange –  An extremely powerful debut from Orange. It waned a bit due to the immense number of character POVs, but the last 30 pages was some of the best narrative writing I’ve read this year. What an ending!  4/5

🎥 Movie: Petite Maman – I loved what this film was trying to say about relationships and grief. I would have preferred it to be a short film vs the final 75 min runtime.   3/5

September 2023

📺 TV: 11/22/63 – Good, but pales next to the Stephen King source material that happens to be one of my personal favorites.   3/5

🎥 Movie: Her Smell – Elizabeth Moss was spectacular. She always is. The script and the five part storytelling framework did not work all that well for me.   3/5

📘 Book: Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania – Erik Larson –  Larson is the master of taking a singular historical moment and making it come to life in the ways that keep you transfixed.  4/5

🎥 Movie: The Flash – This was exactly what I expected. A lively movie that was fun and at the same time not fun because it all felt meaningless within the teardown and resulting incoherent mess of the DC universe.    3/5

📺 TV: Jack Ryan – S4 – A good final season. This series never reached the highs from the first season, but the character stories at least ended with a satisfying conclusion.   3/5

📘 Book: Sapiens – Yuval Noah Harari –  Everyone should read this book. Are there parts I struggled with due to lack of scientific/historical citation? Yes. Did it help frame up a more cohesive personal understanding of how we as humans have developed as a species. Magnificently so.  4/5

📘 Book: Get in Trouble: Stories – Kelly Link –  This collection of short stories was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2016. I wish I had not know that prior to reading. A few of the stories were intriguing, but fell short of the hype I had built up.  3/5

📘 Book: The Doomsday Key – James Rollins –  Book Six of the Sigma Force series. And not a particularly noteworthy entry. I want to like this series due to the premise, but yeesh can it be frustratingly bad.  2/5

August 2023

📘 Book: The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath – Every once in a while I read something that redefines for me what the written word can be. The dual story of Esther (the protagonist) and Sylvia (the author) made for a literary journey that was terribly real and tragic. And wow, could Plath ever write. So many passages that described emotions that I resonated deeply with that I’ve failed to know how to put into words.   5/5

🎥 Movie: The Wind that Shakes the Barley – I found the historical aspect of this film more intriguing than any of the character led plots that were featured.   3/5

🎥 Movie: Transformers: Rise of the Beasts – I’ve seen all the Transformers movies. This is easily one of the best three. Still that only earns it three stars. But I will keep watching!   3/5

📘 Book: A Princess of Mars – Edgar Rice Burroughs –  This is a tough book to review. While I was visibly cringing at parts that have aged so poorly, other parts left my utterly impressed with how much of a visionary Burroughs was to write this in 1912. Reading it and was constantly noting how many future works in the sci-fi canon were inspired by this creation.  4/5

🎥 Movie at theaters: Oppenheimer – A sensational film about a historic and humanity altering moment in world history. The cinematography was in typical Nolan form. i.e. beautiful. The sound editing was stellar. And Cillian Murphy delivered my favorite acting performance of the year to date.  5/5

📺 TV: Jack Ryan – S3 – Felt like a return to form after a real rocky second season. Perhaps, however, the first season set the bar too high. The action was there, the geopolitical theater fell flat for me.   3/5

July 2023

📘 Book: The Shadow Rising (WOT #4) – Robert Jordan –  Took a long hiatus from this series. And that turned out to be a good choice. Because I quickly fell back under the spell of this series. Now over a quarter of the way through this series and I’m still intrigued to keep reading along.  4/5

🎥 Movie at theaters: Barbie – The movie event of the summer! Not for me – but it’s hard to remember the last time a film had the vast cultural impact the way Barbie did. The Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling casting was perfection. My only critique is that I wished the piece carried a bit more depth. The rare movie that was enjoyable to watch but I find hard to fathom the need for a rewatch.   4/5

📘 Book: Code to Zero – Ken Follett –  Follett never fails. I do not believe I have read a book from him that has not been a joy to read. Code to Zero is no exception and was a thrilling ride featuring one of my favorite historical chapters: The Space Race.  4/5

📺 TV: Jack Ryan – S2 – Whoa what a disappointing turn from the drama that was S1.   2/5

🎥 Movie at theaters: Mission Impossible Dead Reckoning – Part 1 – Disliked: that they split this up into two movies and that this series is coming to an end. Liked: everything else.  4/5

🎥 Movie: Adaptation – I don’t think it’s a particularly good thing when you are watching a movie and all you really want to do is read the source material (Susan Orlean’s The Orchid Thief) This film was an experience that demonstrates the curious brand of Jonze & Kaufman and yet somehow turned out disappointing showings by Nick Cage and Meryl Streep.   3/5

🎥 Movie: Nimona – I wanted to like this more than I did. Especially because I love the ‘Shrek genre’ of subverting fairytale stories.  3/5

📘 Book: American Buffalo: In Search of a Lost Icon – Steven Rinella –  It was nice to find someone who loves the buffalo as much as me. I could have done with less of the hunting story and more of the history of this majestic animal.  4/5

📺 TV: Jack Ryan – S1 – A good political thriller to me is character driven and at least somewhat plausible. This show was both. As a reader of Tom Clancy’s ‘Jack Ryan” books, I also enjoyed the John Krasinski portrayal.   4/5

📺 TV: Jury Duty – The premise of this show, a courtroom drama where everyone is an actor except for one individual, is exactly the kind of genre I love. Hilarious, poignant, and ultimately a masterclass in a risky production working out in the best way possible. I was so happy to see it got an Emmy nomination. It deserves it.    5/5

📘 Book: Underground Railroad – Colson Whitehead – As a kid I believed that the Underground Railroad was exactly what it sounded like – a railroad underground. So the physical manifestation of such a trainline by Whitehead made for a wonderful premise. This is a tough book to read due to the subject matter. No punches are pulled. The worst parts of humanity are on full display here. But this is a book we should and need to confront. When it came out in 2016 it won many of the major literary awards and I understand why.  5/5

June 2023

🎥 Movie at theaters: Asteroid City – I’m a big Wes Anderson fan – having seen his full body of work. This did not break into my top 5 films, but neither is it in the bottom 5. Seeing as this was the 11th entry in his canon, I guess this places Asteroid City in the exact middle.  4/5

🎥 Movie: Pathaan – The fourth and most recent entry in the YRF Spy Universe. Despite being fully committed to wherever these movies are going – I’m not sure I can say they are getting any more enjoyable to sit through.   3/5

📺 TV: Craig of the Creek – S1-4 – While we finished this in June, we’ve been frequently watching 1-2 episodes before bed for the last four months. With each episode neatly packaged into 11 minute chunks it turned into a great end of day de-stressor. I LOVE this show. If I was to create a show that demonstrated my perspective on the adventures of growing up, it would be a show similar to this. One of Cartoon Network’s greatest products for kids and adults alike.   4/5

🎥 Movie: War – Chapter 3 of the YRF Spy Universe. More of the same YRF madness – with one exception. This entry had a twist I was genuinely, and delightfully shocked by. So that was something.   3/5

🎥 Movie: Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves – There was fun to be had during this movie but it came amongst stretches that did not hold my interest. Perhaps I would have enjoyed it more had I known a single thing about the world of D&D.   3/5

🎥 Movie: Tiger Zinda Hai – Chapter 2 of the YRF Spy Universe. This film improved upon it’s earlier entry (see ‘Ek the Tiger’ below) in basically every way. Tighter storyline, better pacing, and the visuals went up a big notch. But at 162 minutes I thought it still needed some condensing.   3/5

🎥 Movie: Sisu – A lean 90 minutes of non-stop, and continually satisfying intense action.    4/5

📘 Book: The Library at Mount Char – Scott Hawkins – A book club selection. A bizarre and twisting story that was equal parts fantasy, sci-fi and horror. The type of book where you just have to trust the author has a plan. In this case, he did.  4/5

🎥 Movie at theaters: Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse – One of, if not the most visually stunning movies I’ve seen. It was not all spectacle. The plot was tight and the character growth of Miles Morales was extremely powerful and at times, poignant. Already feel the need to rewatch it to catch all the Easter eggs.   5/5

🎥 Movie: Ek Tha Tiger – This is the first film of a bigger shared universe from the Indian studio Yash Raj Films. It came highly recommended, but I found it overly dull. Will give the next film a shot just to see if it’s worth the continued time investment.   2/5

📺 TV: Ted Lasso – S3 – Despite an uneven at times final season, Ted Lasso is currently a top 10 show of all time for me. I was satisfied with how they concluded the story and the individual character arcs.   4/5

🎥 Movie: The Man from U.N.C.L.E. – Another good, but not great, spy action film as we continue to explore the genre.   3/5

May 2023

🎥 Movie at theaters: Fast X – I will support this franchise with all that I am. Give me more movies that ignore plot and physics and let me feast on the corresponding mayhem. That being said, this some of the weaker fare from the last ~5 installments. 3/5

🎥 Movie: Mission Impossible 4, 5, 6 – Refamiliarizing with this series in advance of the new movie arriving this summer. These are fun, well paced, consistently entertaining films. I’ve heard others say that each movie in the series is better than the previous one. I would agree. The sixth entry is my favorite thus far.   4/5

📘 Book: Crazy Horse and Custer: The Parallel Lives of Two American Warriors – Stephen E. Ambrose – An extremely thorough and well-documented exploration of two surprisingly similar figures of American history. 4/5

🎥 Movie: The Lost Daughter – This was a movie club selection. The good: Olivia Colman. The bad: everything else. I did not “get” this movie and I did not like it.  2/5

📘 Book: Lapvona – Otessa Moshfegh – This was a book club selection. This is a hard to explain book. Never have I been so simultaneously horrified and enthralled by an author’s writing. There are not many people I would recommend this book to – but I shall nevertheless be unable to forget it.   3/5

🎥 Movie at theaters: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 – Well this was a pleasant surprise out of nowhere. Had low expectations for this latest installment and I walked out of the theater admitting this was a top 3 Marvel movie for me. It had so much heart and gave satisfying conclusions for each character of this ragtag group.  4/5

📺 TV: Reacher – Fresh off of the fun that we had with The Night Agent, Shannon and I were looking for a similar action vibe. Reacher was watchable but did not have the same intensity and intrigue.   3/5

📺 TV: Next Level Chef – S2 – Loved S1 of this show last year and was looking forward to S2. This era of Gordon Ramsey content continues to be enjoyable.  4/5

📘 Book: The House at the End of the World – Dean Koontz – Koontz has always been an author I have turned to when I need to scratch that thriller itch. This book was written in 2023 and was not nearly up to the standard I have for this author.  2/5

April 2023

📺 TV: Shrinking – Bill Lawrence adds another entry in his canon of great television shows (Scrubs, Ted Lasso). And true to his familiar recipe, this show has a whole lot of laughs and even more heart.   4/5

🎥 Movie at theaters: The Super Mario Bros. Movie – Yeah this was exactly what I wanted it to be when they first announced this film. I’m not the biggest Nintendo person, but this was a delightful little 90 minute feast with non-stop references that made me chuckle and smile.  4/5

📺 TV: The Night Agent – I have not binged a show this hard in years. Fast-moving and engaging plot. Decent enough acting. Reminded me a lot of the great early seasons of 24.   4/5

📺 TV: The Mandalorian: S3 – I do not tire of spending time in the Star Wars universe and this series continues to be the reliable comfort food of a show I need. If it was not for Andor, this would represent to me the peak of Star Wars content over the 5-6 years. 4/5

▶️ YouTube: Fred Again…’s Tiny Desk Concert – maybe the most beautiful 27 minute set I’ve ever watched. 5/5

🎥 Movie: Bottle Rocket – Wes Anderson’s first film. He’s improved a lot as a director over the last quarter century. But it was cool to see how he began formulating his trademark style from the beginning.  2/5

📘 Book: Uncle Tom’s Children – Richard Wright – A profoundly heart-rending collection of novellas illustrating the lives of Southern Blacks during the early 20th century. The fourth story was my personal favorite.  4/5

🎧 Podcast: The Rest is History – recommended by my sister. Went back to start listening to the early episodes and wow, the global viewpoint circa 2020 feels so out of date. Love the topics the two hosts select and look forward to going through the back catalogue throughout the spring/summer. 5/5