The Wire: Best. Show. Ever.
So, I just finished watching all five seasons of HBO's The Wire, thanks to Netflix. It's kind of like of having read all seven Harry Potter books after the last one came out, as compared to the majority of fans who were with it (and waiting between installments) all along. I think the huge cast of characters and multiple intersecting, rebounding plot lines would have been hard to keep track of if I'd been waiting months between seasons, instead of watching them all back to back.
The Wire is, without a doubt, the best television series I've ever seen, period. Awesome character development, complex, interwoven plots that never stretched my suspension of disbelief (okay, a few times Omar was almost pushing the cinematic boundary), and it managed to be realistic without ever once being boring or tedious. I can't think of a single episode in five seasons that dragged or felt like filler.
I really wanted to write a long, epic dissection of this show, but I don't have time right now. (See below.) This is a TV series that could actually teach novelists a few things about dialog, plotting, and characterization.
House of Flying Daggers
This is another movie in the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon genre -- a gorgeously cinematic Chinese martial arts movie with lots of wire-fu and absurd feats. It was very pretty, but this sort of film suffers from the same sort of constant raising-of-the-bar that special effects extravaganzas do: the ability to show people flying around the landscape and plucking arrows out of the air is no longer as impressive as it once was, and I found that I was a bit too jaded to be wowed by the fight scenes. The story was your basic love triangle + treachery and ninja assassins. It's a notch above most martial arts movies, though -- fun and worth watching.
A tangential thought occurred to me while watching it, though. Usually martial arts movies are treated as a kind of silly escapist fantasy: they're basically Asian superhero movies, with flying swordsmen and blind girls who can catch arrows. But really, they are retelling exactly the same stories found in ancient Asian literature, and they are no sillier than Western classics like Last of the Mohicans. (Any fan or hater of James Fenimore Cooper should read Mark Twain's epic takedown.)
Inverarity's Summer Migration
I am relocating to an undisclosed location over the summer. I don't expect to be offline for any significant period of time, but if there is a delay here and there with my usual AQ update schedule, don't panic!