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Overzealous Recycling 008: Welcome to this one-man show

This might be one of my more anti-social tendencies, but I enjoy going to the movies by myself. Mark Serrels planted his flag for solo moviegoing, calling it one of “life’s secret pleasures” in a piece for CNET, so I figured I’d share my feelings on the topic too.

— If you missed the last Overzealous Recycling, you can read it here 

Most people I know — and I presume most people you know — have a big hang-up about it, like going alone says something about you socially. Or maybe they just don’t like being by themselves in that kind of environment.

I totally understand. That was something I needed to get over too. And I feel the same way on a Friday or Saturday night, when it’s all couples at the theater. It feels awkward, especially if I’m unfortunate enough to be seated between two couples or groups. Most of my solo moviegoing is done during the day, and I imagine that’s the case for the majority of people who see a movie alone.

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Podcast

Amusement Park Podcast 028: Oscars recap! Plus, True Detective, Doom Patrol and Trouble in Arrowverse

I’ve always been a fan of the Academy Awards, even when I wasn’t as much of a movie buff as I am now. Once upon a time, I let the Oscars dictate most of the movies I went to see. Now, it’s the other way around: I hope the Oscars reflect what I felt were the best movies of the past year.

For various reasons, I wasn’t as excited about the Oscars this year as I usually am. I didn’t even make an effort to see all of the Best Picture candidates, which I typically do. I had plenty of opportunity to see The Favourite, Green Book, and Roma, however. (And I’ll see them in the weeks to come.)

But there was still plenty to talk about with the Oscars, notably the show not having a host and a crowd-pleasing blockbuster like Black Panther being one of the Best Picture nominees.

— Show notes for Ep. 28 are available at the Amusement Park Podcast website —

We also dissected the Season 3 finale of True Detective. Overall, I enjoyed the season, especially Stephen Dorff’s performance as Roland West. The mystery was intriguing enough, though not the driving storyline for the season, as it turned out.

Please leave a review and rating on iTunes for us and a like on our Facebook page to help spread the word. You can subscribe to the Amusement Park Podcast everywhere you find podcasts:

You can also give us feedback at amusementparkpod@gmail.com and find us on Twitter and Instagram. We’d love to hear from you! Thanks for listening!

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Overzealous Recycling 006: Is this as far as we got?

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During the past couple of years, I’ve looked to the past to try and make the present happier. Getting back in touch with the things that once brought me joy could bring joy once again. Maybe that’s a form of regression. Maybe it’s a futile attempt to reminisce about simpler, more care-free times.

If you missed the last Overzealous Recycling, you can read it here

This has been on my mind for quite a while, but Meghan Daum’s recent essay on Medium got me thinking about it more. At 47, two years after her marriage ended, Daum is living much like she did as a 27-year-old. Is that always who she was, deep down, even when she tried to follow the path — career, marriage, etc. — to which we all aspire?

Maybe Rust Cohle was right. Time is a flat circle.

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movies

2019 Oscar nominations: Who was snubbed? Who are the favorites?

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The Academy Award nominations are always an exciting morning, but the 2019 Oscars seem to have a bit less juice than in previous years. Maybe because there’s not one clear front-runner that many fans are rallying around? No clear critical darling?

Also, I think there are a lot of movies that people either simply haven’t seen. That’s always the case (and Oscar nominations can change that), but feels like it’s even more so this year. Also, one of the favorites was made for Netflix, an idea people will have to get used to.

Since I typically write something about the Oscars, I figured I’d do a quick overview of the big categories, picking the favorites and noting the snubs. And there were a lot of notable snubs this year.

I’ve seen five of the eight Best Picture nominees, but there are several contenders I need to watch. (That’s one reason why I dragged my ass on putting together a Best of 2018 list.) Those include Green Book, The Favourite, Roma, ShopliftersCan You Ever Forgive Me and The Wife. (I know!) So my opinions on any of these could change before Feb. 24. If so, maybe we’ll have some predictions.

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movie reviews

Aquaman makes a splash with exotic visuals and Jason Momoa’s charm

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If you grew up snickering at Aquaman while watching Super Friends, it might be difficult to imagine that the man talking to fish and riding sea horses would be the one to save the DC cinematic universe. (Personally, I was grateful to Aquaman for his safety tips warning against the hazards of seaweed wrapping around your legs or getting clothing snagged against pan handles. To my frustration, those clips don’t appear to be available on YouTube.)

OK, Aquaman isn’t a pop culture joke anymore. Not when Jason Momoa is cast as the King of the Seven Seas, portraying a charming lunk who could rip your arms off then enjoy a couple of pints afterwards. As Arthur Curry, he’s far more charismatic and compelling than Henry Cavill as Superman or Ben Affleck as Batman. Had Warner Brothers and DC Films tried to properly establish its core characters, rather than impatiently push its Justice League franchise, perhaps that superhero team-up wouldn’t have been such a flop.

Maybe there is no more DC cinematic universe, in terms of an interconnected series of films that all occupy the same storytelling space. But if DC were to call a mulligan and hide Batman v Superman and Justice League in the cupboard, Aquaman (along with last year’s Wonder Woman) is something that the studio could rebuild its superhero franchise around.

Yet Aquaman is perfectly capable of standing on its own, rather than be a piece of a convoluted puzzle. Director James Wan has built an impressive world around his superhero, creating a spectacle that aspires to the heights of Star Wars, Lord of the Rings and Avatar. However, while its influences are clear, this movie isn’t derivative. Arthur Curry’s journey from reluctant hero to champion might be familiar — a modern-day fable — but Aquaman feels new and exciting, providing visuals that we haven’t seen before.

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movie reviews

Bohemian Rhapsody reminds us Queen was great, ignores too much about Freddie Mercury

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If you’re a fan of Queen and Freddie Mercury, you will very likely enjoy Bohemian Rhapsody. The movie is a celebration of the band and its music. You’ll be reminded of just how much you loved songs like “Fat-Bottomed Girls,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “We Will Rock You,” “Another One Bites the Dust,” and “Radio Ga Ga,” along with deeper cuts such as “Love of My Life.”

Whether or not the film is a fitting tribute to Mercury will depend on your view. Director Bryan Singer (who was fired from the production yet is still credited) and writer Anthony McCarten take a safe approach to the singer’s personal life, largely settling for allusions to Mercury’s homosexuality, drug use and partying. Much like Mercury did publicly, the movie keeps that away from the audience.

However, Bohemian Rhapsody does a fine job of portraying Freddie Mercury, the rock star. Rami Malek (Mr. Robot) has all of the legendary frontman’s stage moves and swagger down. Mercury commanded the stage, punching, gyrating, and thrusting with the beats from bassist John Deacon and drummer Roger Taylor. The rest of Queen effectively faded into the background because the eye was always drawn to Mercury’s energy and charisma.

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movie reviews

Robert Redford’s charm carries The Old Man & The Gun, but only so far

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Robert Redford might regret saying that his starring role in The Old Man & the Gun may be his final on-screen performance. But if Redford is indeed going to retire from acting, he chose an excellent role to put a final bow on his acting career.

It’s difficult to imagine anyone else playing Forrest Tucker, a 70-year-old man who can’t give up robbing banks. He just loves it too much and doesn’t want to do anything else. And don’t tell him that he’s too old for this; he’ll just take that as a challenge and try to show you wrong.

Tucker is an absolute charmer, which plays perfectly to Redford’s strengths as an actor. (Even when Redford is playing a deadly serious character, he shows off a wit that can easily pull someone to his side.) The shock of a kind, extremely well-dressed old man suddenly declaring that he’s robbing the bank — usually by showing his holstered revolver — is enough to make tellers and bank managers all too willing to comply.

Policemen and federal agents are amused and flustered by a common statement among all of the people he encounters during his robberies: He was really polite. He was so nice.

It’s almost surprising that Tucker wasn’t given a nickname like “The Gentleman Bandit” (though that would probably be an implicit endorsement of his actions). The media dubs the trio “The Over-the-Hill Gang,” however.) We should probably be thankful that director David Lowery didn’t give this movie such a title either. “The Old Man and the Gun” is taken from the 2003 New Yorker article by David Grann that told Tucker’s improbable story.

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