Archive | December, 2015

Keeping Things in Perspective Made 2015 a Great Year

31 Dec

IMG_9182According to multiple reports, 2015 was a great year for the average human being. Well, I must be average because I did have a pretty great year.

Actually, all kidding aside, if there’s one good thing the article I linked to in that first paragraph does, it’s put the year into perspective. Yes, mass shootings, racism, terrorism, and other awful things dominated the headlines, from Charleston to Israel to Paris to Syria to San Bernardino to wherever Donald Trump was speaking. But let’s not forget, there was also much to celebrate: the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage, the Patriots won the Super Bowl, and in many ways, quality of life for the considerable majority of the planet’s population actually improved this year.

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Putting the Spotlight on My Favorite Movies of 2015

29 Dec

jurassic-worldWhat a great year for the movies 2015 was. Yes, I say that every year, because when you’re looking back on your favorite releases, it’s hard not to think positively.

But the fact is, going to the movies brought me a lot of pleasure this year, and not always due to conventionally good films.

To that end, two of the most enjoyable movies I saw, Jurassic World and, especially, San Andreas, delivered exactly what I wanted them to despite (or maybe because of) dubious quality.

Other films were pleasant surprises, like The Peanuts Movie, Ant-Man, and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. — and I mention that last film not just because it featured Alicia Vikander’s most adorable, most endearing, and most winning performance of the year.

I saw a lot of excellent documentaries this year, including Sunshine Superman, The Wolfpack, He Named Me Malala, and The Hunting Ground, and I watched as one of my all-time favorite docs, Man on Wire, became a drama: The Walk.

All this is to say, it was fun to be a frequent moviegoer this year. And frequent I was: I saw a total of 85 movies — more than I’ve ever seen in a single year.

Seeing so many movies made it even more of a challenge to narrow them down to my 10 favorites; you’ll notice the ones mentioned above didn’t even make my list. Which ones did make the list? Let’s get to it. Continue reading

My 2015 Soundtrack Was a Real Head Trip

28 Dec

2015playlistIf you want to get to know someone — to really know what’s going through his mind — the secret can often be found in what music he’s listening to.

That may not be true of everyone, but it’s definitely true of me.

Every year can always be summed up by a playlist of the songs I listened to — the good and the bad.

My time capsule playlist for 2015 is no exception. Yes, I listened to podcasts and other things this year (shoutout to Why I Social, Here’s the Thing, and The Sporkful), but it’s the music on my year-end playlist that fills me with more memories and that will last for a longer time to come. For example …

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These Are the Movie Reviews You’re Looking For

22 Dec

Star-Wars-The-Force-Awakens-Han-Solo-ChewbaccaA not-very-long time ago, in a galaxy not very far away, I finally got to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens. No worries, you won’t find any spoilers here. Only a true member of the Dark Side would do that.

But Star Wars wasn’t the only movie I’ve seen since Thanksgiving. So, with Christmas coming in just a few days, let’s take a look at five new or recent releases that’ll be playing at a theater near you this upcoming holiday weekend, and whether I think they’re worth your time.

(Note: Numbers next to each film refer to the total number of movies I’ve seen in 2015, and the order in which I saw them.) Continue reading

This Is the Best Christmas Music Playlist of All Time

15 Dec
Photo credit: TSgt Suzanne M. Day/Creative Commons

Photo credit: TSgt Suzanne M. Day/Creative Commons

True story: If you want to know what the best Christmas music is, you should ask a Jewish person.

Why is that? Honestly, I really don’t know. Perhaps it has something to do with, as Sarah Spigelman Richter recently wrote on Mashable.com, a deep-seated sense of FOMO for “a culture that is in no way destined to be mine.” Feeling left out can be hard, so we appreciate the “Americanized, agnostic version of the Christmas season” that much more because it’s not really ours.

Or maybe that has nothing to do with it.

What I do know is that were it not for the Jews, we wouldn’t have some of the best Christmas songs of all time. “White Christmas,” anyone? “Silver Bells?” “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)?” Etc. Etc. All written by Jews. So clearly, we know our holiday tunes. Continue reading

Time for Thanksgiving Leftovers at the Movies

4 Dec

creed-movieWe’ve arrived at December, and that means it’s time for all the awards-bait movies (and a little something called Star Wars: The Force Awakens). But before we get into all of those, I thought I’d clear the slate and tell you what I thought of the movies I’ve seen in recent weeks since my last collection of reviews — many of which, appropriately enough, were turkeys.

As always, numbers refer to the total number of movies I’ve seen this year. And no, I didn’t see The Hunger Games. Haven’t seen a single movie in that entire series. Continue reading