Are there episodes of your favorite shows that really stand out in your mind? I was just recently rewatching Mad Men and the episode “The Suitcase” (season 4, episode 7) came up. That is truly a perfect episode, right down to the song that plays over the closing credits. If you knew nothing else about the show other than that episode, you would still recognize it as a truly exemplary television series. Read the rest of this entry
It seems many of you found The Fall. Not exactly the most cheery thing ever filmed. I hope you are also able to find The Returned/Les Revenants. It is the best thing I’ve seen on telly all year. Stylish French zombie fare par excellence. Luther is also back, so spool that up too, and cover yourself in Cockney bombast.
Recommended this time is Jane Campion’s Top of the Lake, a BBC/Sundance production set in New Zealand (so barely Euro!). You know Campion from The Piano, from which she brings Holly Hunter as one of the lead actors.
I’m only one episode in, so it’s a difficult show to properly describe. Imagine Twin Peaks crossed with The Killing but a little more subdued (at least compared with Lynch). A young pregnant girl goes missing in the remote community of Laketop and cop Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men) is brought in to investigate. Hunter plays a Log Lady-esque weirdo who last saw the girl. Etc.
The reviews have been good and Campion’s involvement as writer-producer-director ensures that Top of the Lake succeeds or fails based on her vision. This is no series-by-committee but ambitious long-form drama. So far, me likey.
Interestingly, Australian funding for the show was pulled when Moss’s involvement was revealed. It seems the Aussies don’t like Americans playing Antipodeans. I call it revenge for Russell Crowe making a career out of dodgy accents.
Available on Sundance Channel and BBC2.
Season 10 of this show is under way and the top 20 have been chosen. This year’s contestants are maybe not my favorite group ever, but (as per usual) they include three dancers from my home state, which makes it fun to watch. Interestingly, whereas last season included two excellent ballroom dancers from Utah County that happened to be blonde and female and a bit hard to tell apart, this year’s group includes two excellent ballroom dancers from Utah County that happen to be brunette and female and a bit hard to tell apart. What are the odds? Strangely, one of this duo of ballroom babes, Brittany Cherry, was never shown on any episode prior to showing up in the top 20. Conspiracy? You tell me. Read the rest of this entry
This really is a golden age of television. At the push of a button or the click of a mouse I can watch the best TV the world has to offer, whether it is a new, complex American cable series (Game of Thrones — made in Europe but with American money), tight-and-light BBC-fare (Sherlock), and Scandinavian cool (The Killing).
Here at the Kulturblog I’m going to offer regular, brief highlights of new European shows that our American readers might find on Netflix or PBS or the torrents of bit.
Two shows this time, one British, the other French. Read the rest of this entry
Man of Steel is a good, but not great movie. It certainly doesn’t rise to the level of the Dark Knight movies, and in some ways struggles with the legacy of Richard Donner’s Superman. Spoilers ahead, assuming the trailers haven’t spoiled nearly everything about this movie for you.
If you haven’t seen the most recent episodes of these shows and don’t want to know what happens, don’t read this.
I suspect you’ve noticed that two epic seasons are playing out right now in two TV shows that are arguably two of the best ever created. This is the sixth and final season of Mad Men and we are seeing Don and company in 1968, with the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy and the protests at the Democratic National Convention. The world is in turmoil and the characters lives are a pretty good mirror of the times, as they struggle with a multitude of personal and professional issues. Game of Thrones is set in a different world that, if nothing else, shows it is possible to have even more cultural and political upheaval than the 60s. This show is now coming to the end of its third season with drama that is almost too excruciating to watch. Read the rest of this entry
We haven’t talked about new music in a while and there are a lot of great new albums that have dropped recently. But two albums in particular caught my attention because they are from two 80s bands that you might have thought were long gone: Depeche Mode and Orchestral Manoevers in the Dark (“OMD” Surprise, it’s not an abbreviation for anything you would text to anyone). Both released new albums in the last couple months to mostly positive reviews. The first, Depeche Mode’s Delta Machine, is maybe the biggest surprise. Read the rest of this entry
In honor of the new movie, I’m posting here my favorite quotes from this, my favorite of all American novels. If you have other nominations, post them in the comments.
I was rather literary in college—one year I wrote a series of very solemn and obvious editorials
for the ‘Yale News’—and now I was going to bring back all such things into my life and become again that most limited of all specialists, the ‘well-rounded man.’
I found myself reminiscing about this album, one of those I pull out and play in its entirety on regular occasions. It’s still great and it still has the power to surprise and move me even today after many re-playings. All the songs are well-chosen and seem to fit into the story of the album (so to speak) but there are three songs that will always standout to me. The lyrics are sometimes puzzling because they seem pulled from the subconscious somehow, more than tied to any specific frontal-lobe meaning. Here they are:
It’s a mess. Despite a rather large anti-Tate/Pro-Wilson bias, this article here does a decent job of detailing the twists and turns of the band’s craziness. What I find most interesting about the split (other than how much the whole thing resembles a divorce – and considering one of the band members married and then quickly divorced Geoff Tate’s daughter, that couldn’t have helped band dynamics) were the competing visions. In essence (and despite the fact both versions of the band are releasing new albums), Geoff Tate wanted to keep recording and playing new music, and the rest of the band rather explicitly stated they preferred to play songs from the first five albums (their most popular ones, and their most “metal” ones). In essence, the debate was over progressing musically or else becoming your own cover/tribute band.
It seems like that step is inevitable. It seems very few artists have the longevity to keep releasing new music that sells well their entire careers. Most bands, at some point, start playing their own oldies (even if they may throw in a new tune here or there – I saw America in concert once, and in the two hour concert, they played a total of two songs that were “new-ish” and the rest were their oldest and greatest hits).
I have no real insight on this topic. I just found it somewhat interesting. It’ll be interesting to see which version of the band actually prevails in court over the legal right to the name.