Culture Consumed 14

Books and films consumed since the previous post on 13th September.

A Walk in the Woods – A film based on the mid-life crisis book by Bill Bryson. Alarmed by attending funerals of his peers, Bryson decides to hike the Appalachian Trail to prove to himself he isn’t past it. His wife, who thinks the idea is mad, reads up on the route and upon discovering how many people get injured or die on the trail, tells him he isn’t doing it alone. Bryson tries to enlist his closest friends to walk the trail with him. With no success but much derision. Finally a friend from decades past calls and volunteers to go. When he turns up he isn’t in the best shape. They head out on the trail anyway. It then becomes a film about their reminiscences, tribulations on the trail, and their interactions with who they meet. I liked it. A bit like Wild, but with old men! The performance by Kristen Schaal as a manic hiker they run into is brilliant. Nike Nolte is great too. I rated it 6/10.

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials – There was nothing else I wanted to see for my OneFilmPerWeek pick the last week in September. So I selected the 2nd Maze Runner film. I hadn’t seen the original when it was in cinemas (missing films like this is why I started the OneFilmPerWeek project) so I watched the first one on AppleTV the night before seeing The Scorch Trials in the cinema. I liked them both. It’s a good dystopian Sci-fi story with a back story that is slowly being revealed. Looking forward to the next instalment in the franchise. Gave it 7/10. Same for the original.

Dreaming in Code: Two Dozen Programmers, Three Years, 4,732 Bugs, and One Quest for Transcendent Software – Scott Rosenberg. A really enjoyable audiobook about the failed development process for the Chandler Personal Information Manager. Probably my favourite book that is about technology industry. Everyone involved in software and technology should read this book. I liked Rosenberg’s Law.

The Martian – The much anticipated film adaptation of the self published book of the same name. The book is very nerdy. Science porn in places. A lot of that info was rightly chopped from the film. This is a good film in it’s own right. A bit compressed towards the end on the trek to Schiaparelli Crater. The only thing I would have liked done better was to depict lighter gravity on Mars. But hard to simulate that, and probably not worth the effort. Well worth seeing. I rated it 8/10.

The Intern – Story of a retiree, played by Robert De Niro, who having exhausted all the activities you would expect to keep busy during the day, gets a position as a senior Intern in an Internet fashion startup near his home. Great story about how his years of experience in business, and life, help many people employed at the company. Including the founder played by Anne Hathaway. Loved it. Oscar material IMHO. Rated it 8/10.

Doughnut – Tom Holt. Comedic science fiction novel. The main character is a brilliant physicist who makes a mistake that causes the Very, Very Large Hadron Collider to explode. He is ostracised for this. Then he loses his inheritance in a bad business deal and has to take odd jobs to survive. Until he gets bequeathed some intriguing items in a safety deposit box. Story unfolds slowly at start but is great in the 2nd half. Well worth sticking with as the final quarter might even explain the Universe.

Macbeth – I might have mild post-traumatic stress syndrome after watching the new Macbeth film adaptation. Not unlike Macbeth it turns out. What a nutter. It’s violent and stylised, with some quite disturbing scenes. The first half was poor. A couple walked out off the cinema. A mistake. Second half was very good. I even dreamt about it last night. I gave it 6/10.