Movie: White House Down

Sometimes my yen for guilty pleasure kicks in and I like seeing things blow up and guns firing off more bullets than ever possible in reality with a hero who manages to dodge them time and time again to ultimately save the day. This one that many critics thought was somewhat of a stinker met my appetite handily, and even though I’d been scratching my head over what seemed the dubious thespian talents of hunk of the moment Channing Tatum, he proved quite likable in this film about a terrorist takeover of the Executive Mansion. It manages to be an action movie with sly smiles and fun banter that zips along at a nice clip to the trusted old heartwarming ending without ever evoking a groan from me, and there’s something perhaps perverse yet delightful in seeing precious antiques, art and national treasures getting destroyed.

TV Series: Looking

Set in the contemporary gay community in San Francisco, this new HBO series is likable if maybe not so compelling as one might wish. I watched its initial episodes and then let it fade off my weekly viewing list, but at some point over TV’s slow summer I will return to it and finish the first season. Because even if there’s no gripping drama or plot devices, its charm is how it follows and feels like everyday life for a company of characters who happen to be gay. And as such, they have romances, romps and breakups much like heterosexuals even if aspects of and the proportions are colored by their sexuality. Rather than gay within the mainstream like many shows, this is mainstream life in the gay community.

TV Documentary: The Rise and Fall of Penn Station

As a onetime New Yorker (who still considers the Big Apple my spiritual home) and rather avid architecture buff, the loss of this magnificent private building for the public was tragic. This “American Experience” episode tells not just the story of its design, construction and demise with eloquence as well as the story of the railroad magnate that spearheaded it but also the achievement of tunneling under the Hudson and East Rivers to link together the East Coast’s rail lifeline at the start of the 20th Century within America’s biggest urban hub. My own carp with this film that’s as graceful as the beautiful monument it recalls that lasted a mere 53 years is that it pulls punches as it ends regarding the abominable station and structure that replaced an architectural treasure.

From The Progressive Populist, June 15, 2014


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