Being a teacher, the end of the year brings the end of the semester. This of course means a little time off before the new year and semester two. Having a two-week vacation and not traveling anywhere can be viewed as a bummer. The upshot however, is finally finding some time to catch up on movies, t.v., etc. With that said, let’s get right to some of what I caught up on over break:
I actually watched this over Thanksgiving. Scorsese, DeNiro, Pacino, Pesci….the old gang back together…..where to start?
Reaction to the film has been a bit of a mixed bag. Critics mostly loved it. Viewer reaction has been somewhat polarized. I’ve talked to people who loved it. I’ve talked to others who were disappointed. And if Sunday night’s Golden Globe awards were any indication, voters may not be too keen on it. “The Irishman” was up for several Golden Globe nominations and got shut out Sunday night.
I can’t speak for the foreign press voters of the Golden Globes, but I think those who didn’t care for the film were disappointed because they were expecting Goodfellas or Casino. It’s simply not that sort of film. I read a lot leading up to the film’s release, so I knew not to expect that. Though Goodfellas may be my favorite film of all time, I’m honestly glad it wasn’t a film like that. One, I didn’t want to see Scorsese make a half-hearted retread. Two, even with the “de-aging” technology the film employed, does anyone really want to see these near-80-year-old men kicking peoples’ asses? Let’s just leave the ass-kicking to 75 year olds named Stallone.
The run time likely turned people off as well. At 3 and half hours long, it’s a commitment. I normally cringe at films that run over 2 hours and 15 minutes, let alone one this long. That said, I can honestly say I didn’t feel there was any significant fat to cut off. There was a story to tell. A good story….and for better or worse, it took time to properly tell it. Granted, because of its length, it’s not a film I’ll watch too many times. Truth be told, it doesn’t crack my top five of all-time Scorsese greats. That said, I thought it was very good. The acting, particularly Al Pacino’s portrayal of Jimmy Hoffa, was exceptional in my opinion. Some of Al’s best work in many years.
Staying with the Netflix offerings, a film I sort of stumbled upon over vacation was “The Two Popes,” starring Jonathan Pryce as Pope Francis, and Sir Anthony Hopkins as Pope Benedict.
This one was an absolute treat! I realize the film likely took great liberties regarding the whole “based on a true story” element, but I didn’t care. The interaction between these two fantastic actors in this intimate film was a wonderful two hour watch. Perhaps it helps being a Roman Catholic myself, but I don’t think you need to be to appreciate this movie. I highly recommend it.
One last Netflix share….and I’m unbelievably late on this one…..
Ok……this might surprise many who know me, but for whatever reason, I’ve always been fascinated by the royal family. I have no idea why. That being the case, I equally have no idea why it has taken me three years to start watching a show about them. Julie and I are only about half way through the first season, but wow! This show is everything people told me it is.
In addition to taking in a variety of entertainment options over break, I also made some entertainment medium changes and additions. After 20 years I dropped DirecTV in favor of Sling TV (that will be a separate upcoming web post) and we also added Disney Plus. In case you haven’t heard, the initiation for newly subscribed Disney +’ers is watching Jon Favreau’s new show “The Mandalorian.” No, it’s not about Boba Fett. Yes, it is Star Wars related. If you’ve caught any wind at all recently about “Baby Yoda,” this show is its source. It’s eight well-paced episodes averaging around 45 minutes a piece in length. It’s simple. Well-written. The show’s look is great. The music is particularly fantastic. A galactic western no doubt. I look forward to Season 2!
Lastly, every Christmas my wife buys me a particular book I request. This year I chose Rapid Response by Dr. Stephen Olvey. As you may or may not know, I’m an enormous fan of IndyCar racing. One might argue obsessive. Other than football and basketball there’s no form of sport I enjoy more than watching those open wheel beasts fly around a track. Dr. Stephen Olvey and his partner Dr. Terry Trammell were the pioneers of race track safety in America. Their collective talents and innovations saved and continue to save countless lives in motorsports.
Now this book, written a decade or so ago, wouldn’t be all that interesting to most folks, but the reason it was recently reissued is because a feature film of the book was made this past year. You can rent it for $3.99 on Amazon Prime Video. Even though I’m currently reading the book, I went ahead and watched the movie last week as well. Let me tell you…..you don’t need to be a race fan to appreciate this film. If you have any interest in medical trauma and procedures, you may want to watch this film. If you’re a casual racing fan, or just an Indy 500 fan, you probably should watch this film. If you like racing…..you NEED to watch this film. I’ve known of Dr.’s Olvey and Trammell for 30 years. I’ve respected their work as long as I can remember. Yet in viewing this film (let alone reading the book), my level of respect and admiration of their efforts has gone through the roof!
Ok….now I’m back at work. Maybe I’ll actually get to watch something other than my kid’s cartoons sometime next summer. Talk to you then!!!!