Tag Archives: reviews

Movie Reviews: Wreck-It Ralph, and Paperman

The local Police Athletic League was sponsoring movies at the nearby Madison Theatre Monday morning, $3 for kids, $5 for adults, and this included a small popcorn and a drink. There were three PG-rated choices playing: Life of Pi, which I thought might be too intense for the Daughter; Parental Guidance, with Billy Crystal and Bette Midler, which was the most attended, but not something I particularly wanted to see; and the animated Disney film Wreck-It Ralph. The cartoon won out.

There was an utterly charming animated short called Paperman Continue reading Movie Reviews: Wreck-It Ralph, and Paperman

Book Review: After All by Mary Tyler Moore

As a television personality, there is probably no one I enjoyed more than Mary Tyler Moore. She appears on my Top Five favorite TV shows of all time, The Dick Van Dyke Show; her eponymous show is on my Top 20 list.

Looking forward to reading her autobiography, I was mystified by the fact that, for much of her professional life, she was a bundle of insecurities. Her success on her own show and Van Dyke’s she attributed to the talented performers, writers and producers around her. Her failures, on other shows and on stage, are her fault. Such insecurity is odd, and not particularly appealing.

There is a certain arm’s length in her retelling of her growing up Continue reading Book Review: After All by Mary Tyler Moore

Movie Review: Silver Linings Playbook

It’s a rom dramedy! It’s a sports movie! It’s about anger management! It’s a floor wax! It’s a dessert topping!

I read all sorts of things about the new movie Silver Linings Playbook (except those last two, which are from an old Saturday Night Live skit). Still, I didn’t get much of clear sense of the film beforehand, except who starred in it.

The Wife and I went to see the movie at the Spectrum 8 in Albany, our favorite cinematic haunt, Saturday past. Continue reading Movie Review: Silver Linings Playbook

Book review: Vince Guaraldi at the Piano

If you know the name Vince Guaraldi, it’s probably because you associate the pianist as the composer of the music for the Peanuts television specials, starting in the mid-1960s. However, Doctor Funk, one of his nicknames, codified in a song he wrote and performed a decade earlier, was a well-respected performer and composer in the Bay Area/northern California jazz scene.

Derrick Bang notes in the preface of Vince Guaraldi at the Piano that he was a reluctant writer of Vince’s legacy, expecting that someone more personally knowledgeable of the performer would surely show up to pen his story. Finding none, he put together an almost encyclopedic recollection of the musician’s life Continue reading Book review: Vince Guaraldi at the Piano


On Black Friday, my wife and I went to the Spectrum Theatre in Albany to see the 1:50 showing of the new Steven Spielberg movie Lincoln. It was sold out! That hasn’t happened to me since the original Star Wars. We bought tickets for the 3:15 show, and were advised to be back by 2:45.

We bought some hot chocolate, then went to a charming little toy store/food emporium. By the time we got back to the theater, there was this long line. I assumed it was to buy tickets; no, the 3:15 was SOLD OUT, and the line was for the ticket holders Continue reading MOVIE REVIEW: Lincoln

Book Review: 11/22/63, a novel by Stephen King

I had never read a Stephen King novel, but due to boredom, I ended up taking out from the library 11/22/63, an 800+ page tome. OK, it wasn’t JUST boredom, but also a near-obsession I have long had with the tragic events of that day, crystallized in my mind; my own long-running curiosity about the various conspiracy theories surrounding John F. Kennedy’s assassination; and what would happen if, somehow, the President had survived the attack. (I’m sure I’ll write more about that next year.)

When I checked out the book – allowed for only 14 days, instead of the usual 28, because it’s a recent purchase – the library clerk, who had read it, assured me that it wasn’t one of those King horror books.

Well, no and yes. This is a pretty straightforward narrative about a man and a portal to a very specific time and place in 1958. What I always disliked somewhat in some going-back-in-time stories is Continue reading Book Review: 11/22/63, a novel by Stephen King

NYS Governor Martin H. Glynn- yup, new to me

If I look at a list of New York State governors, many of them are familiar to me.

George Clinton – the mastermind behind the bands Parliament and Funkadelic
John Jay – first US Supreme Court Chief Justice
Daniel D. Tompkins – Vice-President under James Monroe
DeWitt Clinton – largely responsible for the construction of the Erie Canal
Martin Van Buren – 8th President of the US
William H. Seward – Secretary of State under Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson; the purchase of Alaska from Russia in 1867 was considered “Seward’s folly”
Samuel J. Tilden – should have been President instead of Rutherford B. Hayes after the 1876 election
Grover Cleveland – 22nd and 24th President of the US
Theodore Roosevelt – 26th President of the US
Charles Evans Hughes – Associate Justice, and later, the 11th Chief Justice of the Supreme Court; Secretary of State; Republican candidate in the 1916 U.S. Presidential election, losing to Woodrow Wilson
Al Smith – Democratic U.S. presidential candidate in 1928, losing to Herbert Hoover
Franklin D. Roosevelt – 32nd President of the US
Thomas E. Dewey – Republican candidate for President, losing to FDR in 1944 and Harry Truman in 1948, despite newspaper headlines to the contrary in the latter case. (Berowne wrote about the 1948 election recently.)
W. Averell Harriman – U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union and, later, to Britain
Continue reading NYS Governor Martin H. Glynn- yup, new to me

Video reviews: Iron Man 2 and The Parent Trap

The Parent Trap (1961), if I saw it – and surely I MUST have seen it at some point – mustn’t I? – I watched SO long ago that the details are surely erased from my memory. It was a Disney film starring Hayley Mills… and Hayley Mills! I DO recall that ad campaign. The script was based on Das Doppelte Lottchen, a novel by Erich Kastner, that had been made into British and German films, using twin girls.

Two girls, one from tony Boston, the other from freewheeling California, meet at a summer camp and take an instant dislike to each other. Each just doesn’t like that other girl with her face. Antics ensue Continue reading Video reviews: Iron Man 2 and The Parent Trap

Movie Review: Argo

It shouldn’t have worked: six Americans avoid being taken in the Iran hostage crisis, which started November 4, 1979. They hang out at the residence of the Canadian ambassador Ken Taylor (Victor Garber) for several weeks. The CIA, trying to get them out, reject the idea of pretending the six are Canadian farm aid workers. Instead, CIA operative Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) came up with this ridiculous idea of wanting to scout Tehran as a potential backdrop for a science fiction movie called Argo, with the six becoming part of the crew, a plan approved by his boss (Bryan Cranston) as the “best bad idea” available.
Continue reading Movie Review: Argo

MOVIE REVIEW: Robot and Frank

The Wife and I had a Sunday afternoon date at the Spectrum Theatre to see Robot and Frank, as described in Rotten Tomatoes:
“Set in the near future, Frank, a retired cat burglar, has two grown kids who are concerned he can no longer live alone. They are tempted to place him in a nursing home until Frank’s son chooses a different option: against the old man’s wishes, he buys Frank a walking, talking humanoid robot programmed to improve his physical and mental health.”

Frank (the marvelous Frank Langella) is initially displeased with this turn of events. He’s also unhappy the way that the library is being automated into an “experience,” with the paper products virtually being eliminated Continue reading MOVIE REVIEW: Robot and Frank