Media Diet

Things I’ve watched, read, and listened to.

Note: eventually all my historical movie ratings will be found on Letterboxd and my historical book ratings will be on Goodreads. 

September 2023

🎥 Movie: The Flash – Review.   3/5

📺 TV: Jack Ryan – S4 – review.   3/5

📘 Book: Sapiens – Yuval Noah Harari –  review.  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 – review.  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