As Cool As A Fruitstand

…and maybe as strange. A movie blog.

Archive for the ‘Week in Pop Cultrue’ Category

The Dark Knight Rises, comics, and… Magic Mike?

Posted by Hedwig on July 22, 2012

No “what’s making me happy” this week, since what I really want to talk about is the new Batman movie, and it unfortunately didn’t make me very happy. I hesitated to write this post because of the violent response to early negative (or not positive enough) reviews, but by now the virulent fan boys have seen the movie, and they’ve been much quieter since…

Note: a minor spoiler for The Dark Knight occurs further in the text. I’ll warn beforehand.

For me, the film illustrated how valuable film criticism can be. See, I liked, but didn’t love, the first two batman films, BATMAN BEGINS and THE DARK KNIGHT. There was plenty to admire – many of the performances, with Heath Ledger’s joker as a stand-out; the fact that Gotham became a tangible place; the sheer scope of the thing, the epic scale. But I never really got into them, never really managed to lose myself in the films, and I couldn’t quite put my finger on the why. I knew that part of it was that the themes were stated over and over, and that the film mistook being dour and “dark” for being intellectual and deep, but that wasn’t everything.

Then I read many of Jim Emerson‘s many pieces about the films, and it clicked. Read the rest of this entry »


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What’s making me happy this week – week 28

Posted by Hedwig on July 15, 2012

In this post: The Wire season 1, TV recaps, A Clash of Kings, Locke Lamora, A.S. Byatt, comics, Joseph Campbell and THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN.

The main thing making me happy this week is not pop culture related: it’s that the good stress has finally kicked in for my dissertation. I’ve been stressed about it for a while, but it was mostly the diffuse, abstract kind of stress, the kind that makes everything feel overwhelming but doesn’t stop you from wasting time (the internet, especially, being both the best and the worst procrastinatory tool ever created by man). Now, however, it’s finally the focused, propulsive kind of stress, the kind that allows you to write 14 pages of introduction in a week. Granted, it’s a first draft at best, still missing some crucial elements, confused about its audience and with some structural issues that need to be worked out, but it sure feels great to see the page number creep upward.

I did still manage to consume some media, however. I finished the first season of THE WIRE, for instance, and it’s finally starting to click. Read the rest of this entry »

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What’s making me happy this week – week 26

Posted by Hedwig on July 1, 2012

A friend of mine got his PhD this week – cum laude, even! And he’s such a cool guy, he had a party at a cinema, and showed John Carpenter’s THE THING. On the big screen. So yeah, that made me pretty happy – and jump, a few times. Especially during that re-animation: I’d managed to forget about that particular scare, somehow.

And then there’s a another thing, that’s not making me happy necessarily (it’s a bit callous to be happy about a relationship you don’t have real insight in) but that’s absolutely fascinating: the TomKat divorce. Read the rest of this entry »

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What was making me happy last week – geeky things in week 25

Posted by Hedwig on July 1, 2012

(I started writing this post last sunday, but didn’t finish and then got crazy busy. As in, the only night I didn’t have anything planned was Wednesday, and I picked sleeping over the other things I wanted/needed to do. Belatedly, then, last week’s post, about DOCTOR WHO and A GAME OF THRONES. Oh, and note to potential employers: I swear I’m much better at keeping to externally imposed deadlines. I never want to disappoint other people – but disappointing myself, eh. Been there, etc.)

Two geeky things were making me happy last week, a sci-fi show and a fantasy book: DOCTOR WHO and A Game of Thrones.

Doctor Who because I watched the last three episodes of the first season (of New Who) this week, and can’t wait to see the rest, even if it’s too bad Eccleston will not be returning. Read the rest of this entry »

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What’s making me happy this week – week 24

Posted by Hedwig on June 17, 2012

A change of name for this feature – I felt like the previous title obliged me to at least try to mention a bit of everything, and I’d rather just mention one or two things. So: new title, borrowed from NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour, a podcast I definitely recommend.

What’s making me happy this week? Well, the TRUE BLOOD theme song, for one. I wish I could say the return of the show is making me happy, but it shows no signs of improvement, and looked especially poor compared to the great shows we’ve been getting lately. And yet? I still watch, and maybe that’s partly because the theme song is so perfect, putting you in the exact right mood for a large dose of campy fun – whether the fun actually follows or not. Jonathan Coulton played it on NPR’s fun new quiz, Ask Me Another, this week, and it made me feel like today’s episode despite the fact that there’s little to look forward to – except perhaps some Jason shenanigans.

Yup, that’s two NPR mentions above. It feels so obvious – of course someone like me would like public radio – but I don’t care: I love many of their shows, and quizzes with answers like “CinnaBonfire of the Vanities” definitely fall in the category of “things that make me happy”.

Also making me happy? Two genre novels I’m reading: RED SEAS UNDER RED SKIES (the second Locke Lamora novel) by Scott Lynch on the e-book reader, and Jonathan Lethem’s GIRL IN LANDSCAPE in print. I’m only halfway through both, but the former continues and expands a fun fantasy universe with a STING-like plot, and the latter creates a sci-fi world that’s completely out there, but with a central character that keeps it grounded. Continuing a theme that’s been re-occuring lately (with Sansa in GoT and Sally in Man Men), the main character gets her period, and it’s described kind of perfectly.

Not making me so happy? The Dutch soccer team. But I might have to keep thoughts about that for another post… and at least I have a good excuse not to have to watch the probably-excruciating match tonight: i’m going to see ORFEO  ED EURIDICE, which apparently is quite the spectacle.

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My week in Pop Culture – week 22 & 23

Posted by Hedwig on June 10, 2012

I was away all day last Sunday, so I’m afraid my weekly post slipped through the cracks. Here, then, a post for not just last week but the week before that. It was heavy on film, with 4 cinema visits (COSMOPOLIS, PROMETHEUS, MOONRISE KINGDOM and SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN), 3 of them interesting and one of them charming (that would be MK), listened to some new music for the first time in a while (new albums by Regina Spektor, Metric, The Hives), and read quite a bit (finished COSMOPOLIS the book and the stories included with I AM LEGEND, read TARZAN OF THE APES by Edgar Rice Burroughs and THE HEDGE KNIGHT by George R.R. Martin.

What I really want to talk about, however, is the final two episodes of this season of GAME OF THRONES. This afternoon, I listened to an interview with the director of episode 2.9, Neil Marshall*, and was disappointed but not particularly surprised to find out he’d been urged by an executive producer to up the pointless nudity. “You can do full frontal, you know!”, the man apparently said, adding that he represented the “pervert” side of the audience.

Look – I have nothing against nudity. The main reason HBO goes so over the top with it (and with swearing, too) is because the rest of American TV is so ridiculously prudish. I don’t even necessarily see a problem with people finding the nudity an incentive to watch something (the reason I’m going to see MAGIC MIKE in the cinema has little to do with plot or characterization), or with producers adding nudity with the express purpose of appealing to the “pervert side”. But GAME OF THRONES is taking it to a rather ridiculous level, and the nudity in that specific episode felt even more tacked on that usual, especially since the girl was a non-entity, never seen before and probably never to be seen again.

Still, I can’t help but wonder: maybe there’s a sneakier plan at work here. Read the rest of this entry »

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My week in Pop Culture – Week 21

Posted by Hedwig on May 27, 2012

It was yet another week heavier on social activities than on pop culture. I did read quite a bit: Swamplandia!, reviewed here, some of the short stories that make up the back half of I Am Legend, the beginning of Burrough’s first Tarzan book, and I finally progressed further with Cosmopolis, because it turns out I’m going to the press screening on Wednesday.

The only movies I saw were re-watches: MIDNIGHT IN PARIS, which was just as bubbly and fun as the first time around (with the exception of the segment with the earrings), and the second half of the director’s cut of KINGDOM OF HEAVEN. We’d watched the first half several weeks ago, but while the director’s cut is better than the theatrical one, it is also really, really long.

Read the rest of this entry »

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My Week in Pop Culture – week 19

Posted by Hedwig on May 13, 2012

A short one this week: we had a (lovely – she baked!) house guest from last sunday until friday, and that means looking for a common denominator in entertainment.The one we found: SUPERNATURAL. I’d given a try a while ago as an exercise show but wasn’t very happy with it, mostly because instead of a fight-or-flight reflex I have a deer-frozen-in-headlights reflex. I’m still not sure about the show, now 11 episodes into the first season. Aside from the two brothers, there’s not really any recurring cast (I am aware this changes later, and in fact a possibly recurring character is introduced in ep. 11), and the banter’s sort of bland, especially when compared to something like BUFFY. I think I’ll give it a season, and see if it manages to interest me on a more than moment-to-moment basis.


More TV, a few movies, and a Stephen King book after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »

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My week in Pop Culture – week 18

Posted by Hedwig on May 6, 2012

The boyfriend and I went on a trip this week, from sunday until thursday, to a place with a blessed lack of input: no news, no recent TV shows, not even internet. What was available? Lots of detective novels and detective shows on dvd – and peace and quiet, and nature to walk in.

As a result, this was mostly a week of reading: 4 books total. Read the rest of this entry »

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My Week in Pop Culture – Week 17

Posted by Hedwig on April 28, 2012

I want to start with the end this time: I just finished a glorious one-two punch, the first season of Jane Espenson’s HUSBANDS (which sounds more impressive than it is, at only about 20 minutes) followed by THE CELLULOID CLOSET, the former suggested by a podcast interview with Espenson, the latter by a recent conversation with a (film magazine) colleague. They went together very well, with HUSBANDS illustrating both just how far we’ve come and that we still have a while to go in terms of gay rights. Not much in CLOSET was new to me, but it’s wonderful nonetheless, both funny (the BEN-HUR scene, for instance) and very very moving. The most surprising thing? I emerged with a newfound respect for Harry Hamlin. And Tony Curtis looks like he’d be (or, I guess, have been) a ton of fun.


Speaking of a ton of fun: THE AVENGERS! I meant to do a separate post, but there’s really not that much to say. Is it good? Probably not.  Is it fun? Hell yes. It may not be much storywise, but the banter is top notch Read the rest of this entry »

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