🎞️ Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971)

Watched Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971) from Warner Bros.
Directed by Mel Stuart. With Gene Wilder, Jack Albertson, Peter Ostrum, Roy Kinnear. Charlie receives a golden ticket to a factory, his sweet tooth wants going into the lushing candy, it turns out there's an adventure in everything.

I remember watching this twice a year every year at Hopkins. I miss those Rocky Horror-esque performances with massive amounts of candy. Throwing nerds across the room in the path of the projected light when Mike Teevee was sent in a million little pieces was so gratifying.

It’s been a few years since I watched this, but even the “Cheer up Charlie” song doesn’t grate on me like it once did. I used to think it was the worst part of the film and now it’s vaguely tolerable–still not great–but tolerable at least.

I had re-read the book last year and put a tracker on the film version. Netflix just added it to their mix last week, so it’s now available there for a while.

Watched on Netflix

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🎞 Doctor Strange (2016)

Watched Doctor Strange from Walt Disney Pictures
Directed by Scott Derrickson. With Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, Benedict Wong. While on a journey of physical and spiritual healing, a brilliant neurosurgeon is drawn into the world of the mystic arts.

I watched this over the past three nights in chunks.

Entertaining, but the narrative was a bit too on-the-nose with large chunks of explanation moving the plot along. The characters were a bit annoying and inconsistent. Dr. Strange was reasonably well developed but didn’t have a serious arc to speak of. His sharp wit would have been more entertaining if I wasn’t constantly comparing the character to Deadpool the entire time. I’m not sure Cumberbatch was the right chose for this type of “comedy”. I didn’t get any chemistry at all between the two supposed romantic leads.

I feel like I watched more Benedict Cumberbatch movies in the last two weeks than I saw movies during the entire last year…

Watched on Netflix on Kindle Fire 7″.

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📺 "Fresh Off the Boat" The Day After Thanksgiving (TV Episode 2017)

Watched "Fresh Off the Boat" The Day After Thanksgiving (S4 E7) from ABC
Directed by Sean Kavanagh. With Randall Park, Constance Wu, Hudson Yang, Forrest Wheeler. The Huangs' idea to skip Thanksgiving this year doesn't last long when Louis plays matchmaker and invites Grandma's ESL teacher, Bernard, to dinner after he notices their flirtation in class. To Jessica's amazement, Grandma Huang offers to cook the entire meal to show her appreciation. Meanwhile, to prove his maturity, Evan lets Eddie and Emery sneak him into his first R-rated movie.

This was awesome if for nothing but George Takei’s over-the-top performance!

🎞 Smokey and the Bandit (1977)

Watched Smokey and the Bandit from Universal Pictures
Directed by Hal Needham. With Burt Reynolds, Sally Field, Jerry Reed, Mike Henry. The Bandit is hired on to run a tractor trailer full of beer over state lines, in hot pursuit by a pesky sheriff.

I can’t help but think of how this fits into the genre of 1930’s screwball cinema. This could easily have been cast with Carey Grant (who probably could never have done this accent) and Katherine Hepburn and naturally with Jimmy Cagney playing Sheriff Buford T. Justice of Portague County. I’m not sure that Jerry Reed could have been replaced here however.

The film holds up reasonably well all these years later. The cinematography isn’t as off-seeming as many late 70’s pictures typically feel.

Jacky Gleason was a great caricature here and never seemed to break. His repeated use of the appelation “boy” was quite grating though he did seem to evenly apply it to almost everyone in the film.

In all, still an interesting romp despite the period cultural deficiencies.

Watched on Showtime (HDR)

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🎞 Eyewitness (1981)

Watched Eyewitness from Twentieth Century Fox
Directed by Peter Yates. With William Hurt, Sigourney Weaver, Christopher Plummer, James Woods. Eccentric Vietnam War vet turned janitor claims to have witnessed a murder of a man tied to international political underground in order to get the attention of a TV reporter he has a huge crush on. The cops suspect his loser best friend.

I expected way more out of Peter Yates and Steve Tesich, particularly with this cast. Ultimately the lack of a coherent screenplay killed the entire piece.

The relationship between the two leads was awkward and unrealistic beyond words. The first act was modestly engaging and the third act was great, but there was absolutely no logic, sense, or reasonable motivation in the second act to tie any of it together. I would get into plot holes and lack of motivations, but it’s just too painful to contemplate.

It was somewhat entertaining to see the cultural portion of the  early 80’s and particularly a portrayal of evening news post Network, but before the rise of A Current Affair and the mantra of “If it bleeds, it leads.”

Watched on Netflix

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🎞 The Fifth Estate (2013)

Watched The Fifth Estate from DreamWorks
Directed by Bill Condon. With Benedict Cumberbatch, Daniel Brühl, Carice van Houten, Alicia Vikander. A dramatic thriller based on real events that reveals the quest to expose the deceptions and corruptions of power that turned an Internet upstart into the 21st century's most fiercely debated organization.

More interesting than I would have suspected. I’m not sure how close the portrayal comes to the original person, but it’s interesting to have a “personality” to put with the person. The best part of the movie is the portrayal of the ranges of reactions to the concept of WikiLeaks and its mission. I could have done with better treatment of some of the “coding” portions of the film which were generally not done very well–I say this having seen it on television with a rewind button at my disposal as well.

Not something I would jump to see again soon in the future.

Watched on Netflix

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🎞 The Founder (2016)

Watched The Founder from The Weinstein Company
Directed by John Lee Hancock. With Michael Keaton, Nick Offerman, John Carroll Lynch, Linda Cardellini. The story of Ray Kroc, a salesman who turned two brothers' innovative fast food eatery, McDonald's, into the biggest restaurant business in the world, with a combination of ambition, persistence, and ruthlessness.

Ray Kroc was apparently a far more complex character than I had expected he would or could be. Not that I’ve been a big fan of McDonald’s before, but I have less respect for it as a corporation now, but more respect for its true founders.

It’s an interesting quirk of fate that this film premiered on January 20, 2017 and the parallels that Kroc has with the 45th president who was inaugurated that day.

Watched on Netflix

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🎞 The Imitation Game (2014)

Watched The Imitation Game from The Weinstein Company
Directed by Morten Tyldum. With Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Allen Leech. During World War II, the English mathematical genius Alan Turing tries to crack the German Enigma code with help from fellow mathematicians.

Sometimes it’s the very people who no one imagines anything of who do the things no one can imagine.

–an interesting sentiment repeated through the film

I think this was one of the most interesting moments in the film with a very interesting double entedre:

Of course machines can’t think as people do. A machine is different from a person. Hence, they think differently. The interesting question is, just because something, uh… thinks differently from you, does that mean it’s not thinking? Well, we allow for humans to have such divergences from one another. You like strawberries, I hate ice-skating, you cry at sad films, I am allergic to pollen. What is the point of… different tastes, different… preferences, if not, to say that our brains work differently, that we think differently? And if we can say that about one another, then why can’t we say the same thing for brains… built of copper and wire, steel?

I was a bit worried that this film would miss out on one or two crucial technical details that the wider audience should be at least be made aware. It succeeded in presenting all of them, including the concept of a telegraphic “hand”.

The exertion scenes of Alan running were a bit too on-the-nose for me as a proxy for his mental effort and work, particularly given the rest of the general tenor of his character. It was an interesting cinematic and emotional trick however.

This was an incredibly well put together film. I was far more impressed than I had expected to be.

Watched on Netflix

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📺 Fresh Off the Boat: S4 E6 “A League of Her Own”

Watched Fresh Off the Boat S4, E6: "A League of Her Own" from ABC
Directed by Jay Chandrasekhar. With Randall Park, Constance Wu, Hudson Yang, Forrest Wheeler. After coming out of the closet to Honey and Jessica, Nicole struggles with telling Marvin, fearful that her father will be disappointed in her. Meanwhile, Louis wants to manage the Cattleman's Ranch softball team on his own, so Jessica decides to coach the rival team from The Denim Turtle to prove that she is the superior manager. Chaos is sure to ensue when everyone gathers for the big game at the Greater Orlando Bar and Restaurant tournament.

📺 Body of Lies (Warner Bros., 2008)

Watched Body of Lies (2008) from Warner Bros.
Directed by Ridley Scott. With Leonardo DiCaprio, Russell Crowe, Mark Strong, Golshifteh Farahani. A CIA agent on the ground in Jordan hunts down a powerful terrorist leader while being caught between the unclear intentions of his American supervisors and Jordan Intelligence.

I think I got about 45 minutes into this before I realized I had seen it before when it came out. Apparently it hadn’t made a big impression on me. While interesting, I hope I’ll remember not to delve into it a third time.

📺 Grace Notes 2017: Erica Baker, Diversity & Inclusion Post-mortem | YouTube

Watched Grace Notes 2017: Erica Baker, Diversity & Inclusion Post-mortem from YouTube

"500 million dollars spent on diversity and inclusion in this industry. For any project, when you see that kind of spend, with such a low return on investment, you're facing a failure. In tech, when we have a major failure, we have a post-mortem.

So we're going to do a post-mortem today."

In this talk, Erica Baker, Engineering Manager at Patreon, walks us through an interactive post-morterm on diversity and inclusion initiatives in the tech industry.

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📺 How to speak so that people want to listen | Julian Treasure | TED via YouTube

Watched How to speak so that people want to listen by Julian Treasure from TED via YouTube

Have you ever felt like you're talking, but nobody is listening? Here's Julian Treasure to help you fix that. As the sound expert demonstrates some useful vocal exercises and shares tips on how to speak with empathy, he offers his vision for a sonorous world of listening and understanding.

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📺 The agony of trying to unsubscribe | James Veitch | TED via YouTube

Watched The agony of trying to unsubscribe by James Veitch from Ted via YouTube

It happens to all of us: you unsubscribe from an unwanted marketing email, and a few days later another message from the same company pops up in your inbox. Comedian James Veitch turned this frustration into whimsy when a local supermarket refused to take no for an answer. Hijinks ensued.

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📺 This is what happens when you reply to spam email | James Veitch | YouTube

Watched This is what happens when you reply to spam email by James Veitch from TED via YouTube

Suspicious emails: unclaimed insurance bonds, diamond-encrusted safe deposit boxes, close friends marooned in a foreign country. They pop up in our inboxes, and standard procedure is to delete on sight. But what happens when you reply? Follow along as writer and comedian James Veitch narrates a hilarious, months-long exchange with a spammer who offered to cut him in on a hot deal.

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📺 The Marvel Symphonic Universe | Every Frame a Painting on YouTube

Watched The Marvel Symphonic Universe by Every Frame a PaintingEvery Frame a Painting from YouTube

Off the top of your head, could you sing the theme from Star Wars? How about James Bond? Or Harry Potter? But here’s the kicker: can you sing any theme from a Marvel film? Despite 13 films and 10 billion dollars at the box office, the Marvel Cinematic Universe lacks a distinctive musical identity or approach. So let’s try to answer the question: what is missing from Marvel music?

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