PostConsumer Culture Club: A list of everything we at PostConsumer Reports have been digesting this week, with brief commentary. Hopefully, we can culture something good in you. Happy PostConsuming!
Film: Star Wars—the first one (or the fourth one), the original version (or the de-specialized version)
Bear with me everyone. I know this is going to sound super cheesy, but last week I watched this science fiction space opera where the main character is called Luke Skywalker and he basically saves the universe by harnessing the powers of something called "The Force". The evil guy is called "Darth Vader" (go figure) and he is like super bad and he is dressed all in black. They fly around in space a lot, have crazy laser sword fights, and save a beautiful (albeit snarky) princess. Like I said, I know it sounds cheesy, but it is actually pretty good.
So...I watched Stars Wars: A New Hope with my boys for the first time. It was "the original version" without all the added CGI effects that George Lucas went crazy with in the "Special Editions". I am not saying how I acquired this edition (All I will say is "thanks a ton N.H.!"), but you can find out more info here: http://originaltrilogy.com/. Essentially, a bunch of cyber-geeks figured out a way to de-specialize the Blu-Ray versions of the first trilogy. It really looks incredible and if there's a way for you to watch them I highly recommend it. As a kid growing up I only watched the first three films on grainy VHS or on television when it was on once or twice a year. Then, I got to see the Special Editions in the theatres.
I have gone back and forth on Star Wars throughout the years. As a child it was The Best Thing Ever. They were THE movies of my childhood. As I got older and especially when episodes 1, 2, & 3 came out I started to see all of the films as hokey with bad plotting and awful dialogue. Now, viewing them with my children after nearly a decade of a break, I really think they are quite excellent. The relationship between R2D2 and C3PO really is quite funny and endearing—which I did not realize as a child and I am finally able to understand the plot, which is not as sloppy as I once thought. Finally, this time around I was not even all that annoyed with Mark Hamill's portrayal of Skywalker. For some reason his naive earnestness rang true, despite the clunky lines Lucas gives him.
Side note: I never realize Carrie Fisher was speaking in an English accent! How crazy is that?
Film: The Blues Brothers
Podcast: Can We Still Be Friends?
At the recommendation of a podcast I frequently listen to (Can We Still Be Friends) I decided to rewatch The Blues Brothers. The guys on the podcast always have a good debate about the merits of the films they watch and so I wanted to see if my impression of the film held up after all these years. Conclusion: I still love this film and think it's mostly hilarious if a bit sloppy at times. I find both Aykroyd and Belushi funny and the large set pieces featuring car chases, explosions, and musical numbers are classic.
Sidenote(s): 1. This was the 3rd film I watched last week starring Carrie Fisher. This was entirely unintentional.
2. I never realized how much profanity was in the actual film. I guess I only saw it on Saturday afternoon network or cable TV before, where most of the swearing had been dubbed over with sanitized dialogue. It was really surprising the film was more "adult" than I remember, and is not the good clean family fun I remembered as a kid.
Music: Kendrick Lamar's Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City
A friend of mine and the general music press keeps recommending the music of Kendrick Lamar, so I bought two of his albums for my birthday, one of which I started listening to. Honestly, I do not have much to say at this point, except that the best way to describe his work is that it is thick with meaning. There is a lot to sift through for me, starting with the words themselves. Lamar's lyrics fly by so fast it is often difficult to pick up on everything he says. The music is more dense than I am used to as well and is not quite so hook-dependent than a Kanye West record. From where I stand Kanye's records seem more influenced by pop and soul and classical music whereas Lamar's music has much more jazz influence in it. On top of all this, the work as a whole feels much more like a "black" record, written by a man from black culture, for black culture than other hip-hop I listen to, most especially Kanye, whose music I am most familiar with. As a white guy, Lamar's semi-autobiographical narrative feels like it comes from an almost completely foreign culture than my own. Therefore, as a listening experience it is both challenging and refreshing. Many repeat listens will be necessary...
TV: Thin Lizzy's Behind the Music
Thin Lizzy is a somewhat obscure 70's band from Ireland who live on at classic rock radio stations with their hits "The Boys Are Back in Town" and "Jail Break." I wanted to know more about them and their music and so I looked up their VH1 Behind the Music episode, which was pretty much a mistake. I really hate the melodramatization of a story and this "documentary" spent about 85% of its duration talking about the band's and lead singer Phil Lynott's drug and party lifestyle. I understand that is important to the history of the band, but when the episode ended I didn't feel like I understood more about the band as artists or like I knew much more of their music. Still, one day I might purchase some of their albums on vinyl...
This is an older episode of comedian Pete Holmes' podcast You Made It Weird, but it is a good one. After listening to countless hours of comedian interviews I often find it fascinating when a particular comedian is kind of a bore when talking about their lives. It seems oxymoronic to me when a funny person fails to be funny in a more relaxed setting. Unless they are having an off day the Funny should naturally flow out of them.
Well, Holmes interview with legend Dana Carvey was equal parts serious and funny. Actually, it almost feels like Carvey holds back quite a lot, like he could have done hours worth more riffing on various impressions. I love Dana Carvey. He is genuine and kind and Holmes gives a great interview.
The interview is long at 2 hours, but the highlights include Carvey's deconstruction of a Bill Cosby impression, and his improvising on a potential sketch where Robert Kennedy, John F. Kennedy, Hitler, and Elvis are all trapped in a bunker at the end of the world.
Previous PostConsumer Culture Clubs:
Postconsumer Culture Club #1
Postconsumer Culture Club #2
Postconsumer Culture Club #3
Postconsumer Culture Club #4