Lights, camera… action

It’s Monday. Columbus Day.

Michael O’Sullivan thinks Robert De Niro has gone from a raging bull to an aging tool. I guess he must need the money.

Danny McDonald reviews Marty Walsh’s ‘nonrhotic‘ performance in Frederick Wiseman’s four and a half hour documentary on City Hall. Sounds like it would have made a great Netflix series if it had been broken into shorter segments. But I can’t wait to see it.

Veena Dharmaraj and Staci Rubin make the case for more public investment in electric car charging stations in Massachusetts. And speaking of electric cars, a vehicle engineering revolution is underway. Think big skateboard.

75 year old Ian Gillan, lead singer for Deep Purple, is still touring. He estimates that he’s sung ‘Smoke on the Water,’ 2500 times. That sounds low to me. I’ve probably heard it on the radio more times than that.

And a sitcom character walked into a bar. Right away they knew her name.

She could steal but she could not rob

A bright Tuesday. The first commercial flight of the Concorde took off on Jan 21, 1976, and the first production DeLorean rolled off the line on this same day in 1981. An anniversary for two products ahead of their time.

Researchers at Stanford poured over old military medical records and other sources and determined that over the last hundred years human body temperature has decreased and is decreasing about 0.05 F degrees per decade. We’re cooling down. The study is here.

A robbery is a specific thing, legally speaking. Breaking into a store overnight is not a robbery. (Just saying.)

David Lynch has a new short film on Netflix called What Did Jack Do, an exchange of weird non sequiturs between Lynch and a syncro-vox’d talking monkey in 1930s film noir with a musical number thrown in. I wanted to like this, or at least find it interesting. Couldn’t do it.

Contact lens displays could be the future of augmented reality. Sounds pretty ambitious and far out but I wouldn’t bet against it.

And the Dorchester Reporter snapped some photos of seals lounging on logs in Lower Mills (via Universal Hub). Who doesn’t love pictures of seals, right?

Creative destruction

Friday. The 13th.

It appears that Boris Johnson has his Brexit mandate. But Scottish independence is in the mix again after the Scottish Nationalists’ strong showing.

Flower Market demolition begins this week. Across town, the Hurley Building is also being targeted for development. Lovers of Brutalist architecture are speaking out, hoping to protect it from the wrecking ball. As a fan of Brutalism, myself, this one is not worth saving.

Bill Weld was snubbed by MassGOP. Bill Galvin comes to the rescue.

Brian Chen reviews AirPod Pro headphones. Overall he liked the convenience, sound and software, but worried about battery replacement. And he found that they didn’t dampen engine noise on a plane as well as Bose headphones. I had that same issue and picked up some of these, which helped.

And Netflix is greasing the skids with reviewers.

Review: The Irishman

The Irishman has been streaming for a few days now and the Netflix reviews are coming in. The Internet kind of likes it. Maybe it’s a little long for those people conditioned to one hour bites of streaming TV. A lot of critics really liked the film. But not all.

Here’s the opening paragraph of Dave Winer’s review.

Scorsese has a style, you can see it in the first scene of The Irishman, and you smile, not knowing what’s coming next, but knowing it’s going to be good. The camera snakes through a nursing home and finds our narrator, an ancient Robert De Niro, and the story begins.

Sounds promising, right? But ultimately Winer comes away disappointed in the use of CGI to age the actors, rather than using different actors for the different periods in the film.

I mention his review because my take is exactly the opposite. The CGI effects didn’t get in the way for me and I think it actually made it easier to engage with the strong acting of the three main players. DiNiro was back in form and Pacino’s performance was one of his best. But Joe Pesci made the movie. It was, for him, an uncharacteristically understated performance (for a Scorsese role at least) but when he was on screen he was the center of attention. There were a couple of scenes where he didn’t say a word but with a glance his face delivered the dialog. Very happy to see him back.

There were other great performances. Standouts include Ray Romano, Bobby Cannavale, Kathrine Narducci, Harvey Keitel, Stephanie Kurtzuba, Domenick Lombardozzi (in a fat suit I presume) and Stephen Graham, who you may remember as Al Capone in Boardwalk Empire, playing Joe Provenzano. And lots more from the usual cast of characters.

I love Scorsese films, especially his early work, but I disliked The Departed in no small part because of the CGI generated locations and effects. It just seemed lazy, especially that rat at the end. (Also, the plot was ridiculous, but that’s a rant for another time).

So I was wary going in to The Irishman, having heard about the CGI aging. I shouldn’t have been. I found it easy to give way to the story and ignore the effects. I also worried that a three and a half hour movie might drag. It didn’t. The story carried my interest to the end.

Quibbles include threads that seemed under-developed, such as the relationship between Sheeran and his daughters and Hoffa and his son. And I could have done without Bo Dietl.

Dave Winer wrote in his review that from the first scene you know it’s Scorsese and you know it’s going to be good. And he was right, it was. The Irishman exceeded my expectations. Definitely recommended.