September Reading Update

September turned out to be a surprisingly good month for keeping pace with my reading goals. I say “surprisingly” because I ended August by starting Brandon Sanderson’s The Way of Kings, the paperback of which clocks in at over 1,200 pages. I felt I’d be happy if I could finish just that in September, but I wound up finishing two more books as well: David Lender’s Mickey Outside and Graphic Design School.

I have written in the past about how I used to really like fantasy novels and want to read more. Last year, I had read Sanderson’s Elantris which I liked more than not but wasn’t overly thrilled with. Although The Way of Kings is slow in parts, overall, it is a great work of fantasy. Unlike Elantris, which has great world building but is a bit dry in other areas, The Way of Kings has a fascinating plot and engaging characters in addition to presenting and intricate and compelling world. I look forward to soon reading the follow-up. Words of Radiance.

One of the benefits of being an Amazon Prime member is their Kindle First program. Each month, members get one free Kindle book in advance of its official release date. I’ve only read a few of the selections so far, but what has been really great about the program is that I have read works outside of my usual comfort zone, to wit, Mickey Outside, which is a crime thriller about an ex-con who gets wrapped up in a scheme to sell an art forgery. This wasn’t a great book, but, honestly, I couldn’t put it down. The characters were thinly drawn and the plot was fairly obvious but it was a quick and entertaining read. If that’s what Lender was going for, he totally hit the mark.

Finally, I read Graphic Design School. Over the past year or so, I have become increasingly interested in drawing and in graphic design, so I wanted a book that would ground me in the basics of the later. This book did exactly that in an easy to understand way for a beginner like me, with plenty of great examples and exercises.

September Reading Update

September Reading Update

I finished 25 books by the end of August:

The View Then and Now

We just passed our third anniversary of being in our apartment. It’s hard to believe how much has changed in the relatively short time we’ve been here.

This is the first pic I took out of our apartment window:

The View October 2011

The View October 2011

And this is how it looks now:

The View Oct 2014

The View Oct 2014

Cira South Chestnut is the most notable change in the taller buildings. But there’s also a large apartment building now to the right of the PECO Building. And there are a couple of cranes left of Cira South Chestnut with more new buildings. And there are new homes going up in the foreground.

And those are just the changes we can see out of our window. This city’s on the move!

Andrei Rublev

Although peppered with a handful of absolutely brilliant moments, Andrei Tarkovsky’s 1966 film about the eponymous Medieval Russian artist is, as we say in the ‘hood, a tough row to hoe. At nearly 3 1/2 hours, Andrei Rublev tries one’s patience thanks to Tarkovsky’s slow approach. This is the second Tarkovsky film I have seen. Unrelated to my attempt to watch all the films on the BFI’s list of the 50 Greatest Films of All Time, I had recently watched Solaris (1972) at the suggestion of the friend. Although equally slow paced, I found Solaris a bit more compelling to watch but perhaps not quite the same achievement that Andrei Rublev represented 6 years prior.

Broken into a prologue (which, at most, is only tangentially related to the main story), seven distinct sections, and an epilogue, the film covers the majority of Rublev’s adult life, although he is not always the main character of each section. In many ways, the film feels more like an attempt at capturing Medieval Russia than an attempt to represent Rublev’s life. One of the most interesting sections is “The Raid,” in which a group of Tartars raid a Russian village. Although Rublev is present, he is barely in this section despite experiencing a major life event. The raid is vividly told; however, this key moment of Rublev’s life occurs off screen.

The entire film is in black-and-white with the exception of the epilogue which consists of in color close-ups of Rublev’s icons.

It is impossible to argue against the brilliance of Andrei Rublev. It is a masterful work. However, sitting through the entire film requires great commitment.





Very Good




Film Festival Time of Year #pff23

Philadelphia Film Festival

Philadelphia Film Festival

It’s that time of year again! The 23rd Philadelphia Film Festival begins in just a few days. Once again, I am taking time off from work for the festival.

Unlike last year, I’m not getting a badge. Although I loved the convenience of having a badge (i.e. not having to buy individual tickets), it was not particularly cost effective because I tend to go to more movies during the day, which are less expensive than they bigger event and evening films. Last year, I set a personal record by attending 22 films. I doubt I will get to that many this year, partly because I have one fewer day since I am unable to take off the first Friday off the festival.

I have purchased tickets from my “A List,” so, as of now, my schedule has 14 films and looks like this:

Saturday, October 18

  • Two Days, One Night

Sunday, October 19

  • Clouds of Sils Maria

Monday, October 20

  • Beloved Sisters
  • Human Capital

Tuesday, October 21

  • Stations of the Cross
  • Love and Terror

Wednesday, October 22

  • 10,000 KM
  • Breathe

Thursday, October 23

  • Los Angeles
  • When Animals Dream

Friday, October 24

  • Deep City
  • The Infinite Man

Saturday, October 25

  • ’71

Sunday, October 25

  • Listen Up, Philip

I have 8 more films on my “B List,” which I’ll decide about as the festival gets closer.

This is the 12th year in a row that I’ve been able to attend a film festival:

As of now, I am feeling less ambitious about blogging about the festival. I tend to have good intentions but they fall to the wayside as I get too busy watching movies. Maybe I’ll just try to do more cursory end of the day wrap-ups instead of trying to do each individual film.