Grand Piano, a Podcast, and a Netflix Original

Although I didn’t set out with this goal, I again managed another week with quite a variation in my media consumption. It all started with Grand Piano, which was one of the many movies on my “To Watch” list. If I remember correctly, it was a film that came highly recommended by one of my professors, and let me say, I was not impressed. After watching it, I completely understand why it only received a 5.9 on IMDb. Although it did have a couple of redeeming qualities like cinematography, the plot fell flat. It follows Tom Selznick (Elijah Wood), a pianist who is performing for the first time after a devastating failure five years ago. Upon beginning his concert, he discovers he is being watched and will be shot if he plays one wrong note. It seems like an intriguing concept, but let me assure you, it’s not worth your time unless you want to see a few examples of psychological cinematography. One thing the film excelled in was creating shots that visually convey what Selznick is feeling. Aside from that, 5.9 was probably a generous rating.

I’ve never really listened to podcasts, but this week I listened to my first one. I had been meaning to listen to this particular podcast because it featured Vine star Brandon Calvillo. It was surprising to discover that this show is actually produced by two NAU students, and I’ve actually seen posters advertising their show around campus. The podcast is called The Best and Worst of the Best, and involves the hosts Nate Jones and Austin Gold discussing the best rated and worst rated movie of a highly esteemed director. In this particular episode the hosts, along with guest star Brandon Calvillo discussed the films of Paul Thomas Anderson. I personally did not enjoy the podcast because it was and hour-and-a-half long, and I’ve never actually seen a Paul Thomas Anderson movie. Speaking objectively, I think anyone who truly enjoys film and directors specifically, would really enjoy this podcast. You can tell that the hosts actually care about what they’re talking about and have taken the time to do some research and speak from an informed position.

Finally, I watched the Netflix original show Ultimate Beastmaster. This show is a lot like American Ninja Warrior, but with a twist: each episode features two contestants from six different countries. They also have a commentating duo from each of the countries including America, Mexico, Brazil, Japan, South Korea, and Germany. It’s an incredibly challenging obstacle course with four stages. Participants try to rack up as many points as possible by completing each obstacle. The eight highest scoring participants move on to round two. The points are cumulative, and only five contestants can continue to round three. From there, the top two compete head to head, scaling a rock wall and gathering points with each “energy tap” button along the way. I found the show to be compelling to watch if for no other reason than the incredibly athletic ability that each contestant has. There is also a fun banter between the hosts. Another thing I found to be cool was the multilingual aspect of the show. Each contestant and host speaks in their native language, and there is a different edit of the show for each of the six countries. The only other one accessible to Netflix users in the U.S. is Mexico, but it is cool nonetheless. I’m excited for season two.

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