His Dark Materials – 3 seasons

Somehow I managed to get through most of 3 seasons of His Dark Materials.

It really isn’t very good.

The books are much better – His Dark Materials Trilogy (The Golden Compass; The Subtle Knife; The Amber Spyglass)

And the big budget 2007 film is better – The Golden Compass. GREAT cast.

My favourite character on the TV adaptation might be Ruth Wilson as Mrs Coulter. That’s a tough role when you know you’ll be compared with Nicole Kidman who’s perfect in the film version.

The show follows the orphan Lyra, played by Dafne Keen, as she searches for a missing friend and discovers a kidnapping plot related to an invisible cosmic substance called Dust.

Ultimately, I didn’t care much about the plot. The prophecy. The Magisterium. Nor many of the characters. Dust. Angels. I really didn’t care about anything in this show.

Most interesting are the animal companions called daemons.

And there are some interesting special effects and speculative fiction touches.

Read the books. Watch the movie. Skip the TV series.

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IMAX 3D – Avatar: Way of Water

Reviews have been mixed. Including my own.

Rotten Tomatoes, 77%.

Avatar: The Way of Water is the sequel to Avatar (2009).

… The film received generally positive reviews from critics, who praised the film for its visual effects and technical achievements but criticized the thin plot and lengthy runtime (3 hours and 12 minutes). …

Too sentimental.

But I’m glad I saw it on IMAX. And the 3D was not annoying. They seem to have made that technology more subtle.

Personally, I want less battle, more visuals of that amazing world.

Cameron said that about ten minutes of “gunplay action” were cut from the film as he was no longer inclined to “fetishize the gun” — but there’s still too much for me.

He also said that if you loved the first movie, you’re gonna love the sequels, and if you hated it, you’re probably gonna hate them.

My favourite character was Sigourney Weaver as 14-year-old Kiri.

She was the most tortured by being part human. BUT adapted to the water world most quickly.

I was intrigued, too, by Bailey Bass playing Tsireya (aka Reya), the daughter of clan leaders Tonowari and Ronal.

No doubt I’ll pay good money to see the sequels in the theatre. These special effects are fantastic.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Bullet Trail – the movie

Only 3.8 on Rotten Tomatoes.

But I enjoyed it. Brad Pitt is always good.

I’d call this one an ultra-violent cartoon comedy. Something in the long line of similar concepts going back — for me — to Clockwork Orange (1971).

Pitt is a professional hitman who’s trying to quit.

Unfortunately he accidentally replaced a sick coworker (another hitman) on a Japanese train. And everyone wants to kill him.

It’s fast paced. Never boring. Often entertaining. Good dialogue.

Silly. For sure.

Read a positive review.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Meru – climbing the Shark’s Fin

My goal in hiking is to ENJOY the experience as much as possible.

High altitude mountaineers suffer — the opposite.

I finally got around to watching Meru, the 2015 documentary film about climbing the Shark’s Fin route in the Indian Himalayas.

Mainly because I really admire Jimmy Chin, the best climber of all-time who can ALSO film his adventures.

In 2008 Conrad AnkerJimmy Chin, and new guy Renan Ozturk almost made the first ascent of the infamous Shark’s Fin. It was harsh. They suffered physically and psychologically.

Before their next attempt in 2011, both Chin and Ozturk (separately) suffered horrific climbing falls. Somehow Jimmy popped out of a monster avalanche suffering barely a scratch.

Watching the movie, everyone agrees Renan should not be going back to Meru. He suffers a minor stroke during the second climb.

Jimmy’s master work was the Academy Award winning Free Solo. (2018)

This one is no Free Solo. But it did keep me gripped from start to finish.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Meru is the anti-Everest,” says mountaineer and author Jon Krakauer. “This climb has seen more attempts and more failures than any peak in the Himalaya.”

Krakauer commentary throughout was a highlight for me.

Dopesick (miniseries)

Dopesick is based on the non-fiction book Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted America by Beth Macy. …

At the 74th Primetime Emmy Awards, the series received fourteen nominations …

Dopesick focuses on “the epicenter of America’s struggle with opioid addiction” across the U.S., on how individuals and families are affected by it, on the alleged conflicts of interest involving Purdue Pharma and various government agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration and the United States Department of Justice, and finally, on the legal case against Purdue Pharma and their development, testing and marketing of the drug OxyContin. …

Michael Keaton is great as Dr. Samuel Finnix.

Rotten Tomatoes 88% approval.

It’s non-linear but — happily — not confusing as the years flip past as it switches on the timeline.

There’s no question the Sackler family and Purdue Pharma are EVIL.

House Dems, GOP Agree: Sacklers, Purdue Pharma ‘Sickening’
— “I’m not sure I’m aware of any family in America that’s more evil than yours”

Purdue / Sackers EVIL

On October 21, 2020, it was reported that Purdue had reached a settlement potentially worth $8.3 billion, admitting that it “knowingly and intentionally conspired and agreed with others to aid and abet” doctors dispensing medication “without a legitimate medical purpose.” Members of the Sackler family will additionally pay US$225 million and the company will close.

Some state attorneys general protested the plan. In March 2021, the United States House of Representatives introduced a bill that would stop the bankruptcy judge in the case from granting members of the Sackler family legal immunity during the bankruptcy proceedings.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Elvis (2022 film)

I never loved Elvis. Never listened to his music.

I did go to Graceland once — but only to make fun of the kitsch. 😀

Due to great reviews, I finally did see the new film ➙ Elvis.

Austin Butler did channel Elvis well.

At times it was edited more like a YouTube video than a Hollywood blockbuster. That was a brave choice. A modern twist on an American icon.

It is long at 2-hour-and-39-minutes. But they started with a four-hour cut including scenes of Presley with his first girlfriend, Dixie, and his meeting with President Richard Nixon in 1970.

I suspect the next future Elvis biopic will be darker. More realistic. And the role of Colonel Parker will be less prominent.

Thumbs up from this critic.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Coco (2017 film)

I finally saw Coco.


The story follows a 12-year-old boy named Miguel who is accidentally transported to the Land of the Dead, where he seeks the help of his deceased musician great-great-grandfather to return him to his family among the living and to reverse his family’s ban on music.

The concept for Coco is inspired by the Mexican holiday Day of the Dead. …

97% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Pixar truly is the best in animation.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

CBGB – 2013 film

I had a PUNK stage.

It was ME New Year’s Even crashing off the dance floor, knocking down the drums at the Calgarian Hotel. The pogo dancing was fierce.

I threw up in a Volkswagen Beetle — woke up in a closet atop all the winter boots.

CBGB is a 2013 film that follows the story of Hilly Kristal‘s New York club from its concept as a venue for Country, Bluegrass and Blues (CBGB) to what it ultimately became: the birthplace of underground rock ‘n’ roll and punk.

Opened 1973, the dive became a famed venue of punk rock and new wave bands like the RamonesTelevisionPatti Smith GroupBlondie, and Talking Heads.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

From the early 1980s onward, CBGB was known for hardcore punk. …

The club closed upon its final concert, played by Patti Smith, on October 15, 2006. …

CBGB’s two rules were that a band must move its own equipment and play mostly original songs …

In 1978, new wave songwriter Elvis Costello would open shows for The Voidoids, while The Police played at CBGB for their first American gigs. …

Hilly Kristal died from complications of lung cancer on August 28, 2007. …


This was one of Alan Rickman’s last films. He died unexpectedly of pancreatic cancer age-69.

OMFUG stands for Other Music for Uplifting Gormandizers.

PERFECT Hollywood Blockbuster – Top Gun 2022

Increasingly critical of Hollywood, I couldn’t have been more impressed with Top Gun: Maverick.

It’s one of the few films I was happier to see on the big screen rather than streaming.

Jennifer Connelly is gorgeous.

Ed Harris awesome, as always.

In fact the entire cast is made up of beautiful people. Stars.

Special effects were totally convincing for me.

Fans love it. 97% of 431 critics on Rotten Tomatoes like it.

YES it’s cornball and over emotional at times. But I cried, so didn’t feel it weakened the film for me.

In the end, this is a Tom Cruise film. He’s onscreen most of the time.

And Tom Cruise has never let me down before. This might be his best movie yet.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.