Top 100 Movie Review: #99 – Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967)

Entertaining, but Almost Hard to Take Seriously

guess_whos_coming_to_dinner_still.jpg
All-Star Cast (Left to Right): Sidney Poitier, Katherine Houghton,  Katherine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy

American Film Institute Ranking: #99/100
Academy Awards: Best Actress (Katherine Hepburn), Best Original Screenplay
My Rating:smooth-starsmooth-starsmooth-star

Leave it to Hollywood to insert itself in a social issue, have it packed with trite stereotypes and interactions, and somehow still make it good enough to enjoy. This film is a constant roller-coaster ride, but not due to some concrete plot or character development. What’s going to have you squirming in your seat instead will be how a movie with such beautiful moments can be juxtapositioned with such ridiculousness.

Take for instance a scene where Matt and Christina Drayton (played by Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn respectively) have to leave the house due to the stress of the day (aka: their daughter wanting to marry a person of another race). They end up at a drive-in diner where Matt Drayton orders ice cream which was not the flavor he is expecting, and while at first he dislikes it he loves it after giving it a chance. This is a not so subtle suggestion of a parallel with what is happening in his personal life with his daughter’s soon to be husband. The movie uses fresh Oregon Boysenberry Sherbet to make a statement on race relations in America. 

Continue reading “Top 100 Movie Review: #99 – Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967)”

The Top 100 Book Review: A Death in the Family – James Agee (1957)

Beautiful Writing, Tepid Story

“We are talking now of summer evenings in Knoxville Tennessee in the time that I lived there so successfully disguised to myself as a child.”

Rating: smooth-starsmooth-star

113091

I almost hate myself for doing this: a book that is so beautifully written with descriptions of life that burst from the page getting only two stars. There were times I put the book down and really took a moment to live the words. That’s how good this writing is. Take a moment to take in this excerpt below:

“Before long the city thinned out into the darkened evidences of the kind of flea-bitten semi-rurality which always peculiarly depressed him: mean little homes, and other inexplicably new and substantial, set too close together for any satisfying rural privacy or use, too far, too shapelessly apart to have adherences as any kind of community; mean little pieces of ill-cultivated land behind them, and alongside the road, between them, trash and slash and broken sheds and rained-out billboards: he passed a late, late streetcar, no passengers abroad, far out near the end of its run.”

Continue reading “The Top 100 Book Review: A Death in the Family – James Agee (1957)”

Top 100 SNES Review: #90 – Super Star Wars: Return of the Jedi

Basic Platformer with Star Wars Stuff

hqdefault

Sydlexia Ranking of Top SNES Games: #90/100
My Rating: smooth-starsmooth-starsmooth-star

This game might be the foundation for my worst video game memory and source of why I sometimes say “Yipchawww” in social settings.  Let me get the former off my chest, and why I retrospectively still take two stars off the rating.

You didn’t always beat the video game you owned in the 90s. With the lack of save features, it was not unusual to have a stack of games you played, owned, and never beat. This wasn’t always because you got bored with it; some games were just impossible to beat or were variable in their rewards. This meant anytime you go to those ending credits, you did something.

I had just defeated the emperor of the empire, and in my triumphant moment, I had 30 extra lives stockpiled. I couldn’t believe I had gotten to the end of the game with this many extra lives. I was on video game accomplishment high.

Continue reading “Top 100 SNES Review: #90 – Super Star Wars: Return of the Jedi”

Top 100 Book Review: The Heart is a Lonely Hunter – Carson McCullers (1940)

“It was funny, too,how lonesome a person could be in a crowded house.” Mick.
37380

Rating: smooth-starsmooth-starsmooth-starsmooth-starsmooth-star

It’s always the books about the human spirit that endure. There is no need to worry about setting or plot as the things people dealt with then are the same things we deal with now. It’s like when James Baldwin said “You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read.”

Carson McCuller wrote “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter” at the age of 23. It was an immediate hit and was the first of many of her works to focus on loneliness and isolation. She herself was not in good health and would die at the age of 50 after living a life of strokes and health complications. It’s hard not to think that these personal, life experiences weren’t the catalyst for many of her novels.

This book checks off many of my personal-taste preferences: vignette chapters from each character’s perspective, the setting of a small town  in the rural south and a focus on characters and not necessarily plot. While this might not move the needle for other readers, there is plenty to love about the temporary world McCuller builds in small-town Georgia.

Continue reading “Top 100 Book Review: The Heart is a Lonely Hunter – Carson McCullers (1940)”

Top 100 Book Review: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe – C.S. Lewis (1950)

Still Magical, Even as Adult

“And so for a time it looked as if all the adventures were coming to and end; but that was not to be.”

51JRHDZJ1YL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_

Ratingsmooth-starsmooth-starsmooth-star

I was surprised to find this book on Time’s top 100 novels of all-time; it’s a children’s book. It is hard to disagree with it from a popularity standpoint, though, as kid’s throughout the world still read these book today. I was no exception back in Elementary school.

I hardly recalled anything about this book other than Edmund; his antics were too much for me as a kid and sent my moral compass haywire. So, I went into this book a little blind with no nostalgia. Would it still be interesting to me?

Continue reading “Top 100 Book Review: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe – C.S. Lewis (1950)”

Top 100 NES Review: #12 – Metroid (1986)

Brutal Exploration

Rating: smooth-starsmooth-star
Screen Shot 2018-01-18 at 4.23.37 PM

The NES is unique in gaming because it was the introduction to so many franchises: Mario, Final Fantasy, Zelda and Metroid. These franchises have now spawned several sequels and spin-offs and have appeared on every platform possible. Metroid is one of those seminal events in gaming where a new concept arose and technology was finally good enough to execute it.

My concern was that I had never played this game before, and returning to a game that was made in 1986 (which almost doesn’t seem possible) after playing all of the newer versions might just magnify the limitations of the original. I also thought of an article on Cracked : games used to be all about fun, unlike today, but truth is when you return to the them, you realize how frustrating they were.

Simply put, the original Metroid can be BRUTAL.

Continue reading “Top 100 NES Review: #12 – Metroid (1986)”

Top 100 Album Review: #91 – Goodbye Yellow Brick Road – Elton John (1973)

Rip-Roaring Rock, Start to Finish

goodbye_yellow_brick_road_cover
Rollingstone Magazine’s ranking: #91/100
My Rating: smooth-starsmooth-starsmooth-starsmooth-starsmooth-star

I came of age in a post-album era. iTunes purchases were only .99 per song, and we picked apart an artist’s catalog like making our plates at a buffet.

I wonder what this has done to our musical palate: we don’t give ourselves time to give any songs a chance, never mind giving a whole album with a variety of lyrics and tunes an opportunity to impress us.

I only knew about Elton John via his greatest hits. But, that kind of leaves me with no idea of who Elton really was as an artist. I feel like it has been said that we get to know an artist through their “B-Side” (which is a reference to the other song that was sold with a single when it was a physical 45RPM vinyl disc), so I was blissfully unaware of anything beyond “Crocodile Rock” and such.

Elton John was born in 1947 and has had an illustrious career starting with his first album in 1969 (Empty Sky) culminating throughout the years to make him the 5th best selling artist of all-time, having 50 (FIFTY) top 40 hits and releasing 30 studio albums. So we know Elton can write a hit, and many of them, but how does his album work hold up?

Continue reading “Top 100 Album Review: #91 – Goodbye Yellow Brick Road – Elton John (1973)”