My Cultural Diet

Quick reviews of movies, TV shows, books, restaurants, etc., as I enjoy them. My own private Goodreads, Letterboxd, and Yelp all rolled into one (more info here). Ratings are 100% subjective, non-scientific, and subject to change. May contain affiliate links. 

One of my favorite martial arts movies of all time, and remastered and released on Blu-ray last year. This movie has everything: physics-defying combat, exploding ninjas, existential and melodramatic ruminations on honor and martial arts, and did I mention the exploding ninjas? The last 25 minutes or so are more insane than any ten Hollywood action movies combined. (Read my review)
An obvious star vehicle for The Rock, but not even his trademark charisma can save this tedious superhero movie. DC seemed to be angling for something inspirational à la 2018’s Black Panther, but it falls flat. One bright spot was Pierce Brosnan, who brought some welcome gravitas as Doctor Fate. I’m a sucker for DC’s magic-oriented characters (e.g., John Constantine, Zatanna), and enjoyed seeing Fate on the screen.
The best thing to happen to Star Wars in years. The Mandalorian has Baby Yoda, The Bad Batch is enjoyable, and it was nice to see Ewan McGregor take up Obi-Wan again, but Andor expands and deepens the Star Wars universe without relying on nostalgia or any of the usual tropes. And in doing so, it gives us some awesome new characters (e.g., Luthen, B2EMO) and a thrilling, even thought-provoking storyline. I can’t wait for season two.
The best burgers in Lincoln, no question about it. I usually get their “Greatest Burger Ever” (an excellent bacon cheeseburger) but the “Porterhouse” was on the menu this time — and it was fantastic.
I had mixed reactions to the drama in this novel about a pair of lifelong friends and video game designers whose relationship evolves and breaks and heals over the years. But I did enjoy the snapshots of ’80s and ’90s video game nostalgia as well as the commentary on the video game industry as a whole (commentary that, thankfully, never felt heavy-handed or pedantic).
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Halo Infinite
My third time playing all the way through the campaign. I still enjoy the gameplay — using the grappleshot to stun an enemy and then stick a plasma grenade on them will never not be satisfying — and I love everything about the game’s design and aesthetic (except for the explosions). But the story itself feels hollow, like 343 Industries worked themselves into a narrative corner after the last two games. I’m curious to see how future installments will advance the storyline. (Read my review)
I totally understand why this movie is such a classic for so many people. It’s exceptionally well-made (the music cues are 100% on point), it has some hilarious scenes, and it’s filled with a certain joie de vivre that’s distinctly ’80s. (Also, it’s very nostalgic.) But unfortunately, I just don’t like Ferris Bueller himself. I’m sure most see him as a lovable jerk, but he’s just a jerk to me.
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The Wild by David Zindell (A Requiem for Homo Sapiens, Book Two)
Zindell continues to fascinate and frustrate. His prose can be compelling and even strikingly beautiful in its description of a far-distant spacefaring future. But it’s also ponderous and long-winded, with segues and side quests that are a slog (and could’ve used an editor’s red pen). I’m glad to be reading this trilogy, but I’ll be glad to be done with it.
I chuckled pretty consistently throughout this movie, especially when Jack Black showed up as Wolfman Jack or Wierd Al became the world’s greatest assassin. But I think I would’ve enjoyed it more had I seen it with a bunch of like-minded fans.
I’m not sure I enjoyed this as much as the first Enola Holmes movie. The constant breaking of the 4th wall — which happens in the first movie, too — grated on me, and felt like the movie was trying too hard to be clever. Still, I enjoy the rapport between Millie Bobby Brown and Henry Cavill. The “fight the power” message is a bit on-the-nose for a production by a multi-billion dollar company, but it’s not an unwelcome sentiment in this day when the ultra-rich keep getting richer.
I still enjoy Lower Decks’ poking fun of Star Trek tropes, but this season didn’t click for me as much the previous one did. Perhaps the constant references and throwbacks are wearing a bit thin now. Hopefully, they can inject some fresh life into the series for the already-announced fourth season.
Zany, over-the-top, hilarious, and heartfelt, or basically, what you’d expect from Philip Lord and Christopher Miller, the duo behind Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, The Lego Movie, and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.
I’ve been wanting to see this Roger Corman sci-fi/horror classic for awhile now, and it didn’t disappoint (it’s currently streaming for free on Tubi). The storyline, about a doctor who enhances his vision with unpredictable and insanity-inducing side effects, is lean and mean (only 79 minutes long!) and very satisfying as “B” movies go. Come for the trippy psychedelic visuals, stay for the creepy Don Rickles cameo.
It’s probably been ten years since I saw this in the theater, but this action film about a group of London teens defending their apartment building from an alien invasion was still as enjoyable as ever. It works on several levels (action adventure, social commentary, dark comedy) and John Boyega’s performance as gang leader Moses is so strong, you’ll be mad all over again that the Star Wars sequels obviously didn’t use him to his full potential.
I had some quibbles with this first season, due mainly to its attempts at juggling four different storylines and keeping them balanced and cohesive, dramatically, chronologically, and geographically. (Just how, exactly, did the Númenóreans travel upriver and arrive in Tirharad so quickly?) Also, its efforts to feel appropriately Tolkien-ish (e.g., dropping in references like “always follow your nose”) got a bit ham-handed at times. But the series’ heart is clearly in the right place, there’s lots of heartfelt talk about loyalty, sacrifice, and fellowship (e.g., Elrond and Durin), the steady religiosity was a nice touch, and of course, it looked absolutely fantastic. So yes, bring on Season Two (which has already begun filming). (Read my review)
Some of the best BBQ ribs I’ve had in a long time. We were a little underwhelmed by the brisket (which, though flavorful, was a bit on the dry side), but those ribs were topnotch.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been to the SAC Museum over the years, but every time I go, I’m still fascinated by the planes and the world history they represent. In addition to the planes, there are several excellent exhibits on topics ranging from the early days of the Space Age to the Berlin Airlift to the Holocaust.
I’m not sure any synopsis can do justice to this strange movie about a pair of CIA agents trying to stop a Russian plot to take over a virtual world. There’s talk about pizzerias and kickboxing academies, kung fu battles, and an African president running around in a Batman outfit. It’s deliberately nonsensical and bizarre in a Midnight Madness sort of way, so your mileage will definitely vary.
I really liked this place when it was called AmuManu Ramen, and it’s still just as good. I had the Stir Fry Ramen tonight, and it was pretty filling with just a slight hint of spice to liven things up a bit.
This “family” superhero comedy has a few laughs courtesy of Owen Wilson and Michael Peña, but overall, it’s pretty forgettable.