Sunday, August 25, 2013

Aubrey Plaza Begins a Very Promising Film Career With Safety Not Guaranteed

This is an odd little movie. It kind of fits in the rom-com category. It's kind of funny. It's kind of just plain wacky.

The wonderfully lovely Aubry Plaza (from Parks and Recreation) plays an intern at a Seattle magazine who gets the chance to help cover a story about a loner who places an ad in a newspaper seeking someone to travel back in time with him.

Safety Not Guaranteed is a minor, indie take on Back to the Future. Mark Duplass, my favorite character in the excellent show The League, plays the time traveler.

The best elements of the film include: the viewer's ability to begin loving Duplass and Plaza quite a bit in due time, some of the hysterical comedic bits like when Plaza's fellow intern nerd dons sunglasses in order to strengthen his cool factor and have a shot at getting laid, and the "terrible" song Duplass plays for Plaza one night at a campfire.

This may not seem like a must-see movie, but anyone who doesn't like sci-fi and thinks they wouldn't like the time-travel element should not shy away. The true focus here is relationships, and that's a winning formula whenever you bring in actors this good.

***1/2 out of ***** stars

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

My 63 Favorite TV Shows of All-Time

This is with the caveat that I still have several potential candidates for this list on my "to binge watch list," including The Wire, Breaking Bad, Six Feet Under, and Friday Night Lights.

63. Survivor
62. The Gong Show
61. Mork & Mindy
60. Little House on the Prairie
59. Sanford and Son
58. Rockford Files
57. My So-Called Life
56. Jeopardy
55. Freaks and Geeks
54. The Mary Tyler Moore Show
53. Night Heat (obscure Canadian show)
52. The Carol Burnett Show
51. Diff'rent Strokes
50. Nip/Tuck
49. Modern Family
48. Sesame Street
47. Twilight Zone
46. Scrubs
45. South Park
44. Get Smart
43. The Price is Right
42. Family Ties
41. Bates Motel
40. Happy Days
39. Rocky and His Friends (Bullwinkle)
38. The Wonder Years
37. Dukes of Hazzard
36. That '70s Show
35. Gilligan's Island
34. M*A*S*H*
33. The Bob Newhart Show
32. Looney Tunes
31. Late Show with David Letterman
30. Louie
29. Orange is the New Black
28. The Cosby Show
27. The Andy Griffith Show
26. Barnaby Jones
25. Frasier
24. Curb Your Enthusiasm
23. 60 Minutes
22. The Office (U.S.)
21. The Simpsons
20. It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia
19. The Love Boat
18. Leave it to Beaver
17. Monty Python's Flying Circus
16. Alfred Hitchcock Presents
15. Cheers
14. The Muppet Show
13. The Sopranos
12. The Brady Bunch
11. Arrested Development
10. Lost
09. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
08. Fawlty Towers
07. Beverly Hills 90210
06. Hart to Hart
05. Three's Company
04. All in the Family
03. Saturday Night Live
02. Seinfeld
01. Mad Men

Monday, August 19, 2013

Classic Reads: A Tale of Two Cities Thrusts Us Into the French Revolution

Despite the complicated and sad plot, A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, is well worth reading, especially for those not that familiar with the great story of the French Revolution.

With starving peasants being completed ignored by the aristocracy, the French Revolution explodes. A woman named Madame Defarge, the wife of Dr. Manette's former servant, leads the revolutionaries storming the Bastille.

Charles Dickens
Taking place in late 1700s Paris and London, King George III is preoccupied with England's colonies in America and Louis XVI is basking in his own luxury. A man named Jarvis Lorry is traveling from London to Paris on business when he encounters the ghostly apparition of Dr. Manette, a physician who has been wrongly imprisoned for 18 years and was an acquaintance of Lorry.

Lorry is traveling with the son-in-law of Dr. Manette, a man named Charles Darnay, who is thrown in prison along with many other aristocrats. Manette is convinced he can rescue Darnay out of the prison where he was holed up for all those years. But Defarge is particularly focused on keeping Darnay imprisoned.

The intertwined plot and slightly confusing characters within one of Dickens' top books make for a bit of a tough read, but the historical nature of the fiction gives the reader an unbelievable feeling of what life must have been like in those terrible and world-shaping years across the Atlantic Ocean from us.