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Author Topic: Recommendations!  (Read 264867 times)

Johnny C

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Recommendations!
« Reply #100 on: 21 Sep 2006, 21:17 »

The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Nighttime was a book I managed to read this summer. It is magnificent, and you all ought to read it.
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Recommendations!
« Reply #101 on: 21 Sep 2006, 22:48 »

I could recommend books forever, but for now, let's go with some of my favorites:

Kushiel's Legacy (series) - Jaqueline Carey: I have never felt so immersed in a single characters life and world as this series.

My Sister's Keeper - Jodi Picoult: Really interesting and realistic, fantanstic legal and moral quandry.

Thursday Next (series) - Jasper Pforde: really funny and witty.

A Song of Ice and Fire (series) - George RR Martin: the benchmark for fantasy today

The Areas of My Expertise - John Hodgeman: just finished this...hilarious.

Dry - Augustan Burroghs: Never has alcoholism been to poignant, witty, and humorous.

Perdido Street Station - China Mieville: Interesting, intense, thought provoking.
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Re: Recommendations!
« Reply #102 on: 29 Sep 2006, 07:39 »

The Wire.

Christ, where do you start talking about the Wire?!

I guess the logical place would be pre-history: some of you may remember a cop show from the 1990s called Homicide: Life on the Street.  It was a brilliant show, truly a cop show like no other: no shoot-outs, no car chases, just fascinating characters wracking their brains to try and solve one murder after another from within the Baltimore Police Department.  The show was inspired by, and in the first couple of seasons directly based upon, book which was a brilliant piece of true-crime journalism, called Homicide: a Year on the Killing Streets.

That book was written by a then-reporter from the Baltimore Sun named David Simon.  He also became involved in the later seasons of the T.V. show.  In 1998 Simon, along with Ed Burns, a cop he'd met while writing the book Homicide, came out with another book, the Corner, which detailed a year in the life of a family caught up in the drug trade in West Baltimore.  That book, too, had a television adaptation: this time in the form of an H.B.O. miniseries.

Which brings us to the Wire.  After the Corner, Simon (again with Burns) returned to H.B.O. - this time with the idea for a fully-fledged series.  That series was, and is, the Wire - and if Homicide was a cop show like no other, then the Wire almost defies categorisation.  Yes, it's a cop show - but it's so much more.  Like any great art, the surface pretence is merely a vantage point from which to examine in greater detail an entire world - in this case, the city of Baltimore, but by extension any large city with a chronic drug problem.  It does this by what seems a simple device: by giving as much screen time, and even more importantly as much humanity, to the criminals depicted in the show, as to the police who are pursuing them.  So as well as seeing the day-to-day struggles of the police to operate effectively within their sometimes highly compromised institution, so do we see the drug dealers trying to cope within their own version of the exact same thing.

But this is not the most impressive elelment of the Wire.  What makes the Wire so unlike anything else on T.V. - not just any other cop show, but any other show, full stop - is the fact that each season of thirteen or fourteen episodes covers a single, sprawling, police investigation.  I don't mean like in some shows, where there are themes that run through an entire season while each episode has its own self-contained stories: I mean that each episode is just a small part of the greater whole.  (Australians might recall at this stage the A.B.C. cop show Phoenix, which had the same idea.)  There's no point watching one or two episodes of the Wire: you have to commit to the whole season.

But it's worth it.  It's so worth it.  If the effort you have to put into watching the show is, say, three-fold over a normal cop show, then the rewards at the end of each season are ten-fold at least.  The Wire may as well be the reason why D.V.D.s were invented: this is a show that rewards repeat viewing.  I've just finished watching the magnificent second season for the third or fourth time - and it gets better with each viewing.  The Wire is the ultimate in long-haul T.V.: the first season looked at a drug empire in the housing estates of East Baltimore, and the poice detail that was trying to catch the key players in that empire.  The second season had the detail looking this time at smuggling on the docks - but it also continued the story of the drug-dealer characters from the first season.  The third season - incredibly - resolved storylines from the first season, two years earlier, while bringing up fascinating issues of drug law enforcement and policing strategies and how they might be changed for the better - and why they probably never will be.  Yes, the Wire is an unashamedly political show (in fact, season 3 introduced a fascinating new strata in city life: local politics), but it's all the more forceful because of that.  Season 4, just started, is looking at the education system - but also, more broadly, the theme of "education" in general: from the cops, to the politicians, to the drug dealers (now a bunch of up-and-comers, some new faces and some not), and lastly but most importantly the children who are on the verge of getting caught up in the drug trade, but who might yet escape that fate.  It's only four episodes in, and it's looking like being a cracker of a season.

But I'd recommend you watch the first three seasons first.  Not just because they're all brilliant in their own right, but because the storyllines of each build upon each other to create the most complete and fascinating portrait of urban life yet seen on television.  So, that's 37 hours of T.V. to watch in order to get up to speed.  Does that sound like a chore?  Well it's anything but.  While the themes of the Wire may sound grim and depressing on paper: urban decay, drug dealing and drug dependency, corruption, moral compromise - the delivery is anything but.  Yes, bad things happen in the Wire: people get killed when all they wanted to do was escape; cases hit the wall because they're not politically convenient; characters put their ambition first when the viewer desperately wants to see the big pay-off instead; but most of all, the Wire is about life itself.  And like the Blues, if you cut beneath the veneer of misery you'll hit a rich, deep vein of humour, love, and even warmth.  The Wire is too smart a show not to know (unlike, say, the Shield) that life doesn't throw up the odd moment of light relief.  "You're not just a regular asshole" one detective tells his colleague and good friend, a smile on his face, "you're a special kind of asshole."  It's just one example of the Wire's consistently brilliant writing and acting - but you could paraphrase it and apply it to the show itself: not just a regular show, a special kind of show.
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Will

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Re: Recommendations!
« Reply #103 on: 29 Sep 2006, 08:41 »

The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Nighttime was a book I managed to read this summer. It is magnificent, and you all ought to read it.

I'll second that.  I read this about a year ago, and loved it.  The author also has a new book out recently, but I haven't read it...I can't even remember what it's called
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Re: Recommendations!
« Reply #104 on: 30 Sep 2006, 04:41 »

Man, it seems like everything I like has been recommended already. Firefly, Freaks and Geeks, His Dark Materials (only book ever to make me cry)...

This one is especially aimed at anyone who has children - preferably in the seven-to-ten age bracket - but that doesn't mean adults will not LOVE it.

The Princess Bride. Fencing. Fighting. Torture. Poison. True love. Hate. Revenge. Giants. Hunters. Bad men. Good Men. Beautifulest ladies. Snakes. Spiders. Beasts of all natures and descriptions. Pain. Death. Brave men. Coward men. Strongest men. Chases. Escapes. Lies. Truths. Passions. Miracles.
The ultimate adventure story. Funny, sad, sweet, crazy, stirring... One of my favouritest books ever and no mistake. I WILL read this to my children, you have no doubt.

Also, Tank Girl. Crazy and stupid, but still fun. Can't wait to see it again - only four or so hours to go...
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Re: Recommendations!
« Reply #105 on: 01 Oct 2006, 19:08 »

Show: The Prisoner.  You've probably seen the box set a store at some point.  Its very worth a see.
Movies: Dr. Strangelove, City of God. 
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Kyle Voltti

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Re: Recommendations!
« Reply #106 on: 02 Oct 2006, 08:06 »

well for Books.....

Make Love*
*the bruce campbell way
by Bruce Campbell is the honest to god completly truely utterly false story of on cult movie stars attempt to make it into the big leagues and how he teaches the A-list the ways of the B-list. Since the story is completely false this makes it at least 200% more honest then any other Hollywood story.


TV

ROME
by HBO
This series is epic. I'm a big fan of this period of Roman history and this series does nothing to clean it up. it is grotty and messy and dark and carnal.

Deadwood
by HBO
Same reason as Rome but in the old west

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OHsmeat

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Re: Recommendations!
« Reply #107 on: 02 Oct 2006, 22:40 »

I was gonna recommend the Wind Up Bird Chronicles but I think ^^^ did a good job of why you should read it and so I'm not wasting anyones time : 

Recently I've been freaking obsessed with Jason Forrests album Shamelessly Exciting , he was previously known as donna summer for anyone into electronic music.
The album is like he took all the best parts of prog rock then added a sprinkle of breaks and distilled an exuberant happiness that makes the start of my day jump in the air awesome a la a mentos commercial. At least check out the first track "The Walls of the City Shake"
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Johnny C

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Re: Recommendations!
« Reply #108 on: 07 Oct 2006, 12:50 »

The Wire.

From what I've heard this is one of the best shows on TV, and everyone is ashamed that it has to struggle each year to get renewed.
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Re: Recommendations!
« Reply #109 on: 07 Oct 2006, 18:56 »

"One of"?  Seriously, if you like T.V. dramas then it leaves everything else in the shade.  Yes, even Deadwood and the Sopranos.  The good news is that H.B.O. is smart enough to recognise that, and has renewed it for a fifth and final season next year (David Simon always had a 5-year run in mind).  Also, the D.V.D.s sell pretty well.  The Wire might not have many fans, but we're all fanatics!
« Last Edit: 07 Oct 2006, 18:58 by Inlander »
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Johnny C

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Re: Recommendations!
« Reply #110 on: 08 Oct 2006, 01:59 »

Did people cuss in the old west as much as they do in Deadwood?
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Re: Recommendations!
« Reply #111 on: 08 Oct 2006, 07:51 »

Books

- The Farseer trilogy, The Liveship Trader trilogy and The Tawny Man Trilogy all by Robin Hobb (you have to read them in that order or you won't get it)
- Why has no one recommended anything by Douglas Adams? possibly because everyone's read it all already, still, I just read The Salmon of Doubt, a collection of his writings, speechs, articles, random scribblings and the first 11 chapters of the new Dirk Gently Book he never finished. It is truly awesome and will make you mourn the loss of one of humanity's most gifted minds all the more.
- The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever by Stephen Donaldson. Awesome fantasy books with a hero that's extemely unlikeable but oddly compelling.

Movies


- Memento. directed by Chris Nolan (Batman Begins and I think Reign of Fire). really surreal but really well acted and the story is just amazingly intense
- The Dark Crystal. directed by the late Jim Henson, concept art/design of pretty much everything by Brian Froud. A true classic with no humans appearing on screen. Ever. One of the best films ever made. It even inspired the tattoo I got last week and that's saying something!
- All of the Marx Brothers films. They are just classics. You are not a whole person if you haven't seen at least one of these films.

TV Series

- Farscape didn't really take off in Australia, which is a shame as it was one of the best sci-fi series I ever saw. The aliens and creatures look great (all done by the Jim Henson Creature Workshop) and the acting is pretty good, if a little melodramatic at times. Audiences outside of Australia probably won't notice the HUGE amount of Aussie stars and starlets making the oddest guest appearences but still, it's great.
- Black Books some of the best British comedy I've seen in a long time. One-liners galore in this show!!! Warning: has very little to do with the actual stand up of Dylan Moran and/or Bill Bailey
- The Fast Show. English sketch comedy at its finest. Hugely Memorable characters and more quotes than you could poke a stick at. "Ooh, suit you, sir!"
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Re: Recommendations!
« Reply #112 on: 08 Oct 2006, 12:20 »

Memento is excellent...also, if you like that, check out Chris Nolan's first movie, "Following."

And do we really need to mention Douglas Adams?  I'm pretty sure that he's one that it goes without saying is awesome.
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Alarra

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Re: Recommendations!
« Reply #113 on: 08 Oct 2006, 13:06 »

Yeah, I'll second the recommendation for the farseer trilogy, it's very good, although I've not read the next two series yet. And hmm...Thomas Convenant...*reminds self that I got the first book about a year ago and haven't started it, I should do that*... Also "Wind Up Bird Chronicle" is fantastic.

So it 'Kitchen' by Banana Yoshimoto
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Johnny C

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Re: Recommendations!
« Reply #114 on: 08 Oct 2006, 13:49 »

- Farscape didn't really take off in Australia, which is a shame as it was one of the best sci-fi series I ever saw. The aliens and creatures look great (all done by the Jim Henson Creature Workshop) and the acting is pretty good, if a little melodramatic at times. Audiences outside of Australia probably won't notice the HUGE amount of Aussie stars and starlets making the oddest guest appearences but still, it's great.

Farscape was brilliant. Basically it was a joy to watch.
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Re: Recommendations!
« Reply #115 on: 08 Oct 2006, 17:22 »

Memento was okay, but it had one major glaring flaw: after painstakingly setting up throughout the movie just how short his memory-span is, suddenly in the final climactic scene it stretches to something like three times as long!  That smacks to me of lazy writing, like they couldn't figure out how to resolve the film properly within its own internal logic, so they just fudged it and hoped nobody would notice.  That kind of thing annoys me.

Did people cuss in the old west as much as they do in Deadwood?

I don't know, but I'm keeping the dream alive.  My friend who put me on to the show gets a strange urge to call everyone "cocksucker" every time he watches it.
« Last Edit: 08 Oct 2006, 17:25 by Inlander »
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Alarra

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Re: Recommendations!
« Reply #116 on: 08 Oct 2006, 17:27 »

I always wanted to watch Deadwood. I should sometime. The whole, living practically in Deadwood, kinda makes the show interesting me. Granted, I don't now. But the first 23 years of my life anyway.
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Re: Recommendations!
« Reply #117 on: 08 Oct 2006, 20:11 »

Quote
And do we really need to mention Douglas Adams?  I'm pretty sure that he's one that it goes without saying is awesome.

I'm pretty sure you always need to mention Douglas Adams. Even when it's not in context...No wait, especially when it's not in context!
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TheGrinder

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Re: Recommendations!
« Reply #118 on: 15 Oct 2006, 23:57 »

Heroes anyone? It's a tv show by the way. I have gotten addicted to this show, thank god I have TiVo.
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thepugs

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Re: Recommendations!
« Reply #119 on: 18 Oct 2006, 13:03 »

Seriously, guys.  Seriously.  Heroes.  Seriously.
I missed this Monday's episode, so I am getting it NOW.
HEROES GUYS.  NOW.
</omgz>

I second the recommendation for Heroes.
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Re: Recommendations!
« Reply #120 on: 19 Oct 2006, 02:59 »

Books 1 through 9 of the Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice (So Interview with the Vampire to Memnoch the Devil) are pretty good, after that it kind of really gets into the homoerotica side of things more than vampires. Still well written just not as interesting.
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Moo Cakes

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Re: Recommendations!
« Reply #121 on: 25 Oct 2006, 06:56 »

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo is wonderful. Go read it now... I hear lots of complaints about things like, "It's too long!" and "How boring!" or "What the heck is a francais?", but it's truly great. It's exciting and beautifully written. The author gives so much detail it's almost like you're in France, fighting alongside Napoleon at Waterloo or Enjrolas at the barricade on the Rue de Montour.

The plot basically follows an ex-convict, Jean ValJean, and the people he encounters while trying to lead a normal life after prison and not get sent back to the galleys.
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alonelyargonaut

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Re: Recommendations!
« Reply #122 on: 26 Oct 2006, 23:59 »

American Gods-Neil Gaiman

if you can get it on audio book, do it! one of the best readers ever, and i usually hate audio books!
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Re: Recommendations!
« Reply #123 on: 27 Oct 2006, 01:11 »

Napalm and Silly Putty by George Carlin is bloody brilliant.  He's a thinking man's comic: a more vulgar Jerry Seinfeld, if you will.

I'm only working my way through the first season on DVD, but LOST is also bloody brilliant.  The fact that Meriadoc Brandybuck is a heroin-addicted bassist/guitarist is enough to get you to watch the show.  If either of those pieces of information become major plot points later in the series than where I am now, don't be angry.  I'm unaware as well.

Oh, and how many times can I back up a reccommendation for Hitchhiker's without getting arrested?
« Last Edit: 30 Nov 2006, 02:50 by SilentJ1018 »
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Re: Recommendations!
« Reply #124 on: 27 Oct 2006, 23:30 »

Books:

Alot of what I like has been mentioned but i'll state it for emphasis.

Anything by Neil Gaiman is awesome, Neverwhere and American Gods are the ones i would recommend the most.
Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R Martin definately warrants a second mention, it is by far the best fantasy series I have read.
Trinity by Leon Uris, it is really a quality story that is very well written.
The Asian Saga by James Clavell including Shogun, Tai-Pan, and Noble House.

TV:

Scrubs
The Office
The Shield
Doctor Who
Heroes (of course)
Rescue Me

Movies:

The Usual Suspects
Layer Cake
7 Samurai
Rashoman
Anything by Kurosawa actually
12 Angry Men (Favorite B&W movie ever)
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Surf Ninjas (Disagree!!! I DARE YOU!!!)

Well thats what I got. Also I am gonna be taking some of these recommendations especially on the books, alot of them look good.

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Re: Recommendations!
« Reply #125 on: 31 Oct 2006, 03:17 »

Anything by Neil Gaiman is awesome, Neverwhere and American Gods are the ones i would recommend the most.

seriously, mentioning neil gaiman without mentioning his comic/graphic novels is travesty, you have not truly experienced neil gaiman until you have read sandman

not that i'm saying you shouldn't read his books
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Re: Recommendations!
« Reply #126 on: 31 Oct 2006, 08:55 »

I would like to recommend anything Fry and Laurie. Ie, Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie. So many people love 'House' but most don't even know that Hugh is british, and that he has often played characters in drag, or that he's often been part of his comedy duo, that they had lots of really really funny sketches... Look up Fry and Laurie on youtube, there's masses of skits available. They were really really good.
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Re: Recommendations!
« Reply #127 on: 31 Oct 2006, 16:33 »

Nettle, do you know season 1 of A Bit of Fry and Laurie was released in Australia on D.V.D. a couple of months ago?
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Re: Recommendations!
« Reply #128 on: 01 Nov 2006, 12:37 »

ooo really??! No, I did not know that! :-D I'll try and find it, or put it on my christmas list or something!
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Re: Recommendations!
« Reply #129 on: 01 Nov 2006, 15:30 »

I only found out last night that Hugh Laurie was House... On that note, I heartily recommend Blackadder for laughters. Especially the last series, which was my favourite.
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Re: Recommendations!
« Reply #130 on: 02 Nov 2006, 07:47 »

As far as TV shows go, Entourage is flippin' sweet.  I'm honestly not sure why, but I absolutely love this show.  If I think about it, I can't see the appeal, but then I watch it.  Nothing has to occur to me: my eyes get wide and I just say to myslef "Ohhhh, that's why."  Amazing stuff.  Also in TV are any and all of the "Best Of ____" Saturday Night Live DVDs.  My brother owns Will Ferrell and Chris Farley, and we bought John Belushi's for my dad for his birthday.  All are highly reccommended, and I can't imagine Dana Carvey's, Mike Myers', and Adam Sandler's not being funny.

In movies, Ray is absolutely amazing.  Jamie Foxx at his finest, no doubt.  The movie actually got me into Ray Charles' music.
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Re: Recommendations!
« Reply #131 on: 07 Nov 2006, 03:04 »

princess mononoke, all tim burton movies (except planet of the apes) like nightmare before christmas, sleepy hollow, edward scissorhands, beetlejuice, corpse bride, batman... spiderman, star wars & lord of the rings movies.

for tv shows, futurama, lois & clark, house, friends...

and for books, garth nix, jrr tolkien, ta barron, clive barker, jane lindskold... basically anything 700 pages long with dragons in it =P
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thetruthisunhappy

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Re: Recommendations!
« Reply #132 on: 11 Nov 2006, 07:04 »

THE LIES OF LOCKE LAMORA!! - Scott Lynch
This book is very well written and really funny.
It is about a boy who is really smart and messes with 'the system' in a sort of down to earth fantasy.

edit: as a side note this was the authors first novel published and was already signed on 7 books and a movie. Yes it is that good.
(ok, this is not the reason that I recommend this book... in fact I didn't know until after I finished it, but having read it I can't say that I'm surprised)
« Last Edit: 11 Nov 2006, 07:11 by thetruthisunhappy »
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Re: Recommendations!
« Reply #133 on: 29 Nov 2006, 13:43 »

Movie:
Star Wreck: In the Pirkinning

This is a finnish Star Trek/Babylon 5 parody that is absolutely hilariuous.
It is very well done (Seeing that it had a core group of 5 people that made it), AND it is completely free.
Also it has gotten alot of critical acclaim, and if you like it, you can go and download the earlier parts.
Oh, it's also spoken in finnish, but there is english subtitle available.

http://www.starwreck.com/
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0472566/

Go download it now.
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Re: Recommendations!
« Reply #134 on: 30 Nov 2006, 02:56 »

On a similar note, with another Star Wars/Star Trek-type parody, I bring you all StarCrash:

http://imdb.com/title/tt0079946/

Even if it's only to see David Hasselhoff, it's hilariously bad.  Or is it badly hilarious? YOU DECIDE!
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wesfanemt333

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Re: Recommendations!
« Reply #135 on: 04 Dec 2006, 03:32 »

For Books, Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman definitely tops the list.  It's the end of days, and they've misplaced the antiChrist. 

Kingdom Hospital was a terrific tv series from Stephen King.  A haunted hospital built on uneasy ground.  It's available for rent on DVD, at least here in the states. 

Current tv favorites are Prison Break, 24, and Supernatural.
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KaosPilot

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Re: Recommendations!
« Reply #136 on: 05 Dec 2006, 08:38 »

Books
'Lanark' by Alasdair Gray - this was required reading for a University course I was doing, but I ended up falling in love with it. Required reading for anyone with even a passing interest in Scottish fiction.

'The Sopranos' by Alan Warner - another Scottish writer, this has to be one of the most human, touching and downright hilarious novels I have EVER read. About an all girls choir from a school in Oban who go to compete in a contest in Edinburgh. It almost writes itself, but Warner's sterling touch just makes it much more than the sum of its parts. Seriously, please, please read this. Warner also wrote 'Morvern Callar' which i also recommend, but i didn't enjoy the film that much.

Television

The L Word - i like it. even though all the lesbians are pretty much stunning which just isn't true in real life, it's still funny/touching/gripping television.

Spaced - Classic. It's been recommended already, I'm just seconding it. You can pick up both seasons in a box set for about ?20 now. NO EXCUSES!!!

Black Books - Dylan Moran, Bill Bailey and Tasmin Grieg. There was no way this couldn't have worked. Again, cheap on DVD. PICK IT UP!!

Movies

The Long Goodbye - my favourite Altman based on what I've seen. Eliot Gould is fantastic as a slacker-esque Marlowe. Wonderful.
Wing Chun - yeah it's a bit naff in places, but I love watching Michelle Yeoh kick ass.
Casablanca - my favourite ''classic'' movie.
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thelightguy

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Re: Recommendations!
« Reply #137 on: 08 Dec 2006, 10:10 »

Well, if you don't mind, I'd like some movie reccomendations in the vein of "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind", "American Beauty" or "American History X" (Three very different films, I know...)

In exchange, I am prepared to reccomend any book by Terry Prachett, the Colbert Report, and Scrubs.
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Inlander

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Re: Recommendations!
« Reply #138 on: 11 Dec 2006, 17:33 »

Kingdom Hospital was a terrific tv series from Stephen King.

Gah! 'Twas but a tawdry remake of a magnificently bizarre original series by Lars von Trier!!
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CaptainLorax

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Re: Recommendations!
« Reply #139 on: 14 Dec 2006, 00:20 »

books haven't read this one but I want it (its a part of a trilogy)



movies
my favorite miyazaki films are Naussica and Porco Rosso
- The Clint Eastwood Gift Set (A Fistful of Dollars, For A Few Dollars More, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly)
- The original Omen and Omen 2
- Suspiria (horor classic) - Dario Argento (I wanna see more of his films)
- Alien series
- Land of the Dead
- I'm drawing a blank

TV
My Name is Earl, House, How I Met Your Mother
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Platao

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Re: Recommendations!
« Reply #140 on: 14 Dec 2006, 04:05 »

i'm surprised i didn't see the Triplets of Belville.  It's French animation at its best... I guess... I haven't seen much other French animation... but it's funny and warm and all hand drawn...
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Zappanale

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Re: Recommendations!
« Reply #141 on: 14 Dec 2006, 04:09 »

The Wire.

Christ, where do you start talking about the Wire?!

I guess the logical place would be pre-history: some of you may remember a cop show from the 1990s called Homicide: Life on the Street.  It was a brilliant show, truly a cop show like no other: no shoot-outs, no car chases, just fascinating characters wracking their brains to try and solve one murder after another from within the Baltimore Police Department.  The show was inspired by, and in the first couple of seasons directly based upon, book which was a brilliant piece of true-crime journalism, called Homicide: a Year on the Killing Streets.

That book was written by a then-reporter from the Baltimore Sun named David Simon.  He also became involved in the later seasons of the T.V. show.  In 1998 Simon, along with Ed Burns, a cop he'd met while writing the book Homicide, came out with another book, the Corner, which detailed a year in the life of a family caught up in the drug trade in West Baltimore.  That book, too, had a television adaptation: this time in the form of an H.B.O. miniseries.

Which brings us to the Wire.  After the Corner, Simon (again with Burns) returned to H.B.O. - this time with the idea for a fully-fledged series.  That series was, and is, the Wire - and if Homicide was a cop show like no other, then the Wire almost defies categorisation.  Yes, it's a cop show - but it's so much more.  Like any great art, the surface pretence is merely a vantage point from which to examine in greater detail an entire world - in this case, the city of Baltimore, but by extension any large city with a chronic drug problem.  It does this by what seems a simple device: by giving as much screen time, and even more importantly as much humanity, to the criminals depicted in the show, as to the police who are pursuing them.  So as well as seeing the day-to-day struggles of the police to operate effectively within their sometimes highly compromised institution, so do we see the drug dealers trying to cope within their own version of the exact same thing.

But this is not the most impressive elelment of the Wire.  What makes the Wire so unlike anything else on T.V. - not just any other cop show, but any other show, full stop - is the fact that each season of thirteen or fourteen episodes covers a single, sprawling, police investigation.  I don't mean like in some shows, where there are themes that run through an entire season while each episode has its own self-contained stories: I mean that each episode is just a small part of the greater whole.  (Australians might recall at this stage the A.B.C. cop show Phoenix, which had the same idea.)  There's no point watching one or two episodes of the Wire: you have to commit to the whole season.

But it's worth it.  It's so worth it.  If the effort you have to put into watching the show is, say, three-fold over a normal cop show, then the rewards at the end of each season are ten-fold at least.  The Wire may as well be the reason why D.V.D.s were invented: this is a show that rewards repeat viewing.  I've just finished watching the magnificent second season for the third or fourth time - and it gets better with each viewing.  The Wire is the ultimate in long-haul T.V.: the first season looked at a drug empire in the housing estates of East Baltimore, and the poice detail that was trying to catch the key players in that empire.  The second season had the detail looking this time at smuggling on the docks - but it also continued the story of the drug-dealer characters from the first season.  The third season - incredibly - resolved storylines from the first season, two years earlier, while bringing up fascinating issues of drug law enforcement and policing strategies and how they might be changed for the better - and why they probably never will be.  Yes, the Wire is an unashamedly political show (in fact, season 3 introduced a fascinating new strata in city life: local politics), but it's all the more forceful because of that.  Season 4, just started, is looking at the education system - but also, more broadly, the theme of "education" in general: from the cops, to the politicians, to the drug dealers (now a bunch of up-and-comers, some new faces and some not), and lastly but most importantly the children who are on the verge of getting caught up in the drug trade, but who might yet escape that fate.  It's only four episodes in, and it's looking like being a cracker of a season.

But I'd recommend you watch the first three seasons first.  Not just because they're all brilliant in their own right, but because the storyllines of each build upon each other to create the most complete and fascinating portrait of urban life yet seen on television.  So, that's 37 hours of T.V. to watch in order to get up to speed.  Does that sound like a chore?  Well it's anything but.  While the themes of the Wire may sound grim and depressing on paper: urban decay, drug dealing and drug dependency, corruption, moral compromise - the delivery is anything but.  Yes, bad things happen in the Wire: people get killed when all they wanted to do was escape; cases hit the wall because they're not politically convenient; characters put their ambition first when the viewer desperately wants to see the big pay-off instead; but most of all, the Wire is about life itself.  And like the Blues, if you cut beneath the veneer of misery you'll hit a rich, deep vein of humour, love, and even warmth.  The Wire is too smart a show not to know (unlike, say, the Shield) that life doesn't throw up the odd moment of light relief.  "You're not just a regular asshole" one detective tells his colleague and good friend, a smile on his face, "you're a special kind of asshole."  It's just one example of the Wire's consistently brilliant writing and acting - but you could paraphrase it and apply it to the show itself: not just a regular show, a special kind of show.

Man, The Wire is great.  I've been watching the first part of this year's--last year's?--season on DVR and it's goddamn spectacular.
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Inlander

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Re: Recommendations!
« Reply #142 on: 17 Dec 2006, 17:39 »

Hoorah!
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the_tard

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Re: Recommendations!
« Reply #143 on: 20 Dec 2006, 06:01 »

"Inside Out" by Nick Mason is a really interesting book for any Floyd fans out there. It gives and interesting perspective given that it is written by a band member (who is a surprisingly good writer) and not by a roadie or journalist. It covers the whole of his Pink Floyd career and then also goes over their (Mason, Wright and Gilmour) post-Floyd music careers and albums. It also stops about every 150 pages and has a picture session from that particular era, like backstage behind the set for "The Wall" blowing up their huge inflatable thingies and other interesting stuff.

In a nutshelll, if you like Pink Floyd and are curious about their history, this is a great book for you.
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Runs_With_Scissors

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Re: Recommendations!
« Reply #144 on: 23 Dec 2006, 00:52 »

'Little Miss Sunshine' for movies. I absoluely loved this movie. The last 1/2 hour had my whole family cracking up. You can't go wrong with the variety of characters in that movie. The senile heroin addict grandpa, the 15 year old boy who has taken a vow of silence, the suicidal gay uncle, the dad and his '9 steps' to not become a loser, the mom (no need to explain), all packed in an old yellow VW bus going to the 7 year old daughters beuty pageant. It was probably the best movie I've seen in a while :-D(sorry if someones already posted about it). I was a bit skeptical about it when I first started watching it, but I'm glad I watched it. I would recomend it to everyone.
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SilentJ

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Re: Recommendations!
« Reply #145 on: 23 Dec 2006, 09:36 »

Don't forget that the 15 year old took his vow of silence because he read Friedrich Nietzche  :lol:
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Utopian

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Re: Recommendations!
« Reply #146 on: 27 Dec 2006, 04:24 »

The Mighty Boosh has already been mentioned, but I want to reiterate how fantastic it is. The first series is better, in my opinion, than the second, although the episode about Milky Joe is probably the best one of all. The radio series is magnificent - I listen to it on a weekly basis - and when I get the chance I will definitely see them live. I find the mix of music, surrealism, poor sets and costumes and very funny jokes hugely appealing.

As for novels, I'm sure my favourites have already been mentioned so I'll recommend some non-fiction:

The Airloom Gang tells the tale of an early case of what we would today recognise as schizophrenia. It starts of simply enough - James Tilly Matthews, is mad. He believes politcal events are being manipulated by a giant "Air Loom" operated by French Revolutionaries and is sent to Bedlam at the end of the 18th Century. However, the story of what may have driven him to that state and the clashes he has with John Haslam, the apothecary at Bedlam, and the scandals he causes, not to mention modern diagnoses of his condition and what we have learnt from such a landmark case are very interesting. I took Psychology A-Level and already have an interest in learning about schizophrenia but this book reads like a thriller, is full of political intrigues and ultimately is tons of fun.

Savage Girls and Wild Boys describes several cases of feral children spanning several centuries. It's like the science and psychology behind Mowgli - awesome! Although going by these accounts Mowgli would never have made it in the human village :( In  many ways it's really quite depressing.

Oooh! I cried with laughter at Little Miss Sunshine. It was a very moving film too but the tears were all from laughing. My personal favourite "watch it and all your problems go away" film is I <3 Huckabees. There's also a short, claymation film I was given as a gift called Harvie Krumpet. None of my friends had heard of it but it looked cute. It was more than cute - it was truly life affirming in a very funny way.
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Asorae

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Re: Recommendations!
« Reply #147 on: 27 Dec 2006, 12:30 »

My personal favorite book ever is Sabriel, by Garth Nix. I've read it probably five+ times, and the two following books (Lirael and Abhorsen) a few times as well.

As for movies, Donnie Darko is fantastic, though kind of confusing. It's almost necessary to watch it more than once to really understand it. Another great one is Spirited Away. I beg that nobody judge it on the fact that it's animated, because it really is wonderful.
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SilentJ

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Re: Recommendations!
« Reply #148 on: 27 Dec 2006, 13:52 »

the Donnie Darko soundtrack has Duran Duran on it, so it gets my automatic approval :lol:
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Asorae

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Re: Recommendations!
« Reply #149 on: 27 Dec 2006, 15:10 »

Haha yeah, it has a lot of 80's music, as I *think* it is set in that decade. Go watch it. :)
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