Thursday, April 29, 2021

Movie Review: Chef

I recently watched the movie Chef. It was made in 2014 and somehow flew under my radar for good movies. It was produced, written, and directed by Jon Favreau. He also played the lead role, the chef.

The film is about a chef who gets a bad restaurant review mostly because his boss, played by Dustin Hoffman, wouldn't let him change the menu from what's popular to what's best. When his young son hooks him up with Twitter, things get worse as he doesn't understand the difference between a reply and a DM. Then he explodes at the critic in public and, of course, someone records it and it goes viral. Then he gets fired/quits.

Favreau pulls in a few of his MCU actors to help out including Scarlett Johansson and Robert Downey Jr.

But the best part of this movie is his relationship with his young son who helps him back on the road to redemption, including renewing his relationship with his son, which at the beginning of the movie was strained (the chef is divorced and gets visitation on weekends). The boy is a bit too precocious with social media and social media is a little too successful at helping the chef's new venture: a food truck. But it still works.

The movie is a bit food porny. Just watching Favreau's character make a grilled cheese sandwich will make you drool. 

I recommend watching Chef for a feel-good movie. It starts a little slow and heavy, but gets better as it goes. It's rated R for language and some discussions about sex, and otherwise would have made a good family film. If you haven't seen it, check it out.

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Star Trek Movies Ranked from Best to Worst

Last week I went through the "Star Wars" movies and ordered them from best to worst. Now I'm going to do that for "Star Trek" moves. And there are a lot of them (14 unless I missed one).

1. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn (1982)

What, not Star Trek IV? Nope. This movie is a great conflict between two strong characters, each with a starship to express their strengths. Ricardo Montalbán does an amazing job as Kahn, reprising his role from the television series. He makes a nasty villain. A fun, intense and ultimately powerful movie.

2. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986)

While it gets a little preachy, this fish-out-of-water tale (I'm talking about the Enterprise crew in 1980s San Francisco and not the whales who aren't fish anyway) is hilarious at times and yet there's a quest that needs to be finished.

3. Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991)

 Klingons spouting Shakespeare and Sulu with his own ship, this fast and fun movie has an amazing climatic battle. The one thing I disagree with is Klingon blood is not pink. 

4. Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984)

Yes, there was a new actor play Savik (and not doing as good a job) but Christopher Lloyd plays against type as the Klingon villain. Sometimes funny and sometimes moving.

5. Galaxy Quest (1999)

Yes, I'm serious. This parody of all things Star Trek is an hilarious sendup of the whole sub-culture. If you're a fan of Star Trek, you have to see this movie.

6: Star Trek: First Contact (1996)

The best of the Next Generation movies involves the Borg and the first use of warp speed by humans. While this introduced the Borg Queen, a concept I don't like, the action sequences are well done and exciting.

7: Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)

Don't hire Robert Wise to direct science fiction. This director of The Sound of Music was in over his head. Slow and boring (sometimes called the "no motion picture") this movie also contains the horrible line: "It fell into what they used to call a black hole." I mean, who talks like that? "They came here in what they used to call a horseless carriage."

8: Star Trek: Insurrection (1998)

Again, a Next Generation film, this is a movie that needed work from the get-go. With a lackluster script this movie had issues. It has interesting parts, but mostly it's just boring. And the "Captain Picard Single Combat Warrior" ending just annoys me. In the series everyone worked together to solve the problems.

9: Star Trek: Generations (1994)

The first of the Next Generation movies. They attempted to "pass the torch" from the original series crew. But it wasn't handled very well and there are so many plot holes and violations of Star Trek canon, it just doesn't work.

10. Star Trek (2009)

The J.J. Abrams reboot/Kelvin timeline that I barely acknowledge. This is the one movie that is watchable. It's amusing to view and occasionally fun. And it does have the first product placement in any Star Trek movie. And Zoe Saldana almost makes it worth watching.

11.  Star Trek: Nemesis (2002)

The last Next Generation move, the plot was overwrought, the climatic battle was unbelievable, and the whole thing was rather boring. 

12. Star Trek into Darkness (2013)

At one point in this movie, Alice Eve strips down to her underwear. Completely gratuitously.  Other than that, there is nothing good about his J.J. Abrams movie. Although Zoe Saldana almost makes it worth watching.

13. Star Trek Beyond (2016)

The last (so far) of the J.J. Abrams abominations. Again, not very good. Although Zoe Saldana almost makes it worth watching.

14. Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989)

 Directed by William Shatner, this movie is awful, terrible, and not well done. "Why does God need a starship?" Well, I guess it's not God after all. Just avoid this movie altogether.

Am I nuts? Do you agree with my list and the order they are in? Let me know in the comments below. 

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Star Wars Movies Ranked from Best to Worst


Well, it would be tax day, but the IRS moved it.

Anyway, the other day I decided to make a list of the best to worst Star Wars movies. This is based 100% on my opinion/memories (I've only seen the prequels once each and the J.J. Abrams abominations once each). And I'm not including ancillary movies such as Rogue One. But there's the list from best to worst:

Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back (originally, The Empire Strikes Back; 1980)

This movie is the best because it is intense, dark, and ends with a cliffhanger. The "updated" version detracts little from it's intensity. From the stop-motion imperial walkers to the final fight between Luke and Vader, it keeps you on the edge of your seat. Oh, and don't forget the asteroid field chase between the Millennium Falcon and the TIE fighters. Amazing for 1980s special effects technology.

Star Wars IV: A New Hope (originally, Star Wars; 1977)

The first Star Wars movie. And at the time it was like nothing we'd ever seen. It was fun! Science fiction of the seventies tended to be boring and/or depressing. This is the Star Wars movie I've seen the most. I remember back in 1977 people saying the special effects were better than 2001: A Space Odyssey. And we were amazed when we saw 2001. It only loses to Empire because of the second movie's intensity.

Star Wars VI: Return of the Jedi (originally, Return of the Jedi; 1983) 

In some way this movie is brilliant (the speeder bikes through the forest). But the Ewoks defeating stormtroopers? No way. It has its funny moments and its amazing special effects (especially before CGI). But Lucas had enough money to do what he wanted, and what he wanted wasn't as tight nor intense as the previous two movies.

Star Wars III: Revenge the Sith (2005)

As I said, I've only seen this once. I remember it being better than the other prequels with less politics and more adventure.

Star Wars IX: The Rise of Skywalker (2019)

The best of the J.J. Abrams movies (Which is sort of like saying "The best McDonalds in town). It had some of the fun of the original trilogy and no outright stupidity (see Star Wars VIII).

Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens (2015)

 It echoed Star Wars IV too much and Rey was a completely unbelievable character. If she were a man, people would have noticed that instead of oohing and ahhing at her being a strong female character. 

 Star Wars II: Attack of the Clones (2002)

I barely remember this movie but I remember that it was better than the first one. All I remember is Anakin and Padme tied to some posts in an arena.

Star Wars I: The Phantom Menace (1999)

Pod racing and a kid who was conceived without sex (where have I heard that before?). This movie was a train wreck from start to finish. Still, wasn't as bad as...

Star Wars VIII: The Last Jedi (2018)

They bomb a ship in space. Bombs, falling down on a ship in space. Then Laura Dern (who I like as an actress) plays a female general with purple hair who is oh-so-perfect. Oh, and Leia is apparently able to survive in vacuum and even move in space. Yeah. This move was so bad, I didn't go see Star Wars IX in the theater but waited until it came out on Blu-Ray. 

So, do you agree with my list? Are they in the correct order? Let me know in the comments below. 

Thursday, April 8, 2021

I Got a COVID Vaccine

As of Sunday the 3rd, I have had both my COVID-19 vaccination shots. I had the Pfizer version.

I got my first shot on March 13th. It was a luck thing, really. A friend of mine, who is younger than I, posted on Facebook that she'd gotten a shot. I asked her how and she said a mass vaccination event in our town was looking for more people to give the shot to. And she linked me to the website to make an appointment. So I jumped through what felt like 47 hoops on the website and got an appointment. And then I got the shot. They gave it to me in a parking lot as I sat in my car and made me sit for 15 minutes before I could leave. While I was sitting there, a small bus full of seniors pulled up. I presume they all got the shot, too.

The only side effect I had then was bad headaches that Tylenol didn't seem to touch. On the Sunday (first day) after the shot, the headache was most of the day. And I rarely get headaches. On Monday it was about half the day. Each day the amount of time I had the headache decreased until the fifth day (Thursday) I didn't have a headache at all.  I have had a couple of headaches since then, but I'm not sure if they are related to the shot.

One thing that did impress me what that a few days after getting the first shot, I got an email with a link to make my appointment on the 3rd (the day before Easter). I had to jump through the 47 hoops again (why, since they already had my information) but I got the appointment. Which was one less thing to worry about.

After my second shot I took Tylenol preemptively, hoping to stop any headaches before they began. And it seemed to work. I did have a little nausea on the same day I got the shot. On the third day I didn't take Tylenol and did get a bit of a headache. But not nearly as bad as with the first shot. By the fourth day, I pretty much didn't have any side effects.

My daughter-in-law who is a nurse and has given lots of COVID vaccine shots has a theory that the stronger one's immune system, the worst the reaction they'll have to the shot(s). 

On April 17th (two weeks after the second shot) I should have 95% protection. Which is good, because if I get COVID, I will likely die. 

But, according to the CDC, very little changes. You still have to wear a mask and socially distance. So what's the point? When will we reach "herd immunity" and be able to go back to some semblance of normality?

Did you get a COVID vaccine? What was your experience? Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Music I Don't Like

It may be April Fools' Day, but I'm being perfectly serious. 

I have eclectic music tastes. I listen to classic rock and classical music and even opera on occasion. I can listen to country-western, folk, and some jazz. I don't like rap and hip hop. 

But even though I listen to classic rock from the 60s through the 80s (no good music after 1990), there are some groups/singers from that era I refuse to listen to.

Number one is The Grateful Dead. They are kind of folksy but more drug induced. Their music just puts me to sleep. Reminds me of a joke. "What did the dead head [fan of The Grateful Dead] say when he ran out of drugs? 'This music sucks.'"

There there's Steely Dan. I like one song of theirs: "Dirty Work." Otherwise, they tend to sing in this breathless jazz style that just grates on my nerves.

Genesis and Phil Collins are also on the list of music I don't like. Just 'cause.

I don't like Neil Young. His voice is just annoying. He's okay with Crosby, Stills and Nash. But solo, forget it.

I'm not crazy about the Allman Brothers and Greg Allman as a solo act. But that's more because when I first got SirusXM in the car, it seemed as if they played the Allman Brothers or Greg Allman every damn time I got in the vehicle.

I'm not a huge fan of Bruce Springsteen, either. I like "Born to Run" and "Dancing in the Dark." But that's about it. Most of his stuff is pretentious and overwrought.

And I know this might get me cancelled, but I'm not a huge fan of The Beatles. Some songs are okay but mostly I just turn them off.

If I were joking, I'd say I didn't like Led Zeppelin, Chicago, Dire Straits, and the Eagles.

Are there any musical groups that play in the genre you like, but you can't stand? Let me know in the comments below.