PostConsumer Culture Club #6—The Week of October 4-October 10

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!

Here is what we watched the week of October 4 through October 10.

Film: Frank
I am not sure what to make of this strange film about a somewhat avant garde indie-rock band fronted by a man who always wears a wide-eyed papier-mache head, is struggling to record its next album, and has been invaded by a keyboard player who is pretty sub-par but is promoting the band more than it ever has before. This was a strange movie-going experience for me. I thought the performances of each of the actors, including Domhnall Gleeson, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Michael Fassbender were superb. And yet the movie itself, the progression of its plot, really did not work for me. Taken as a whole the film is more of a meditation on the places mental illness leads people than it is about music or the dynamics of a rock band, and for that it is worth watching. But I am not sure the plot actually works or where it is leading us as the audience. In the end we begin to understand the plight of the lead singer—you guessed it something awful happens with the fake head and something awful happens with the band—and yet nothing really changes in his life, at least not that I can see. It is a beautiful film and sad and excellently acted. Maybe that is the whole point.

Frank is currently streaming on Netflix.

TV: Friends
My wife started re-watching Friends this past week and I have tangentially caught a few episodes. Friends is a funny, clever show but I can Only. Take. So. Much. Of these people! Really, they're all quite boorish and insufferable. I agree with my wife: Phoebe is the best and she's really the only one I can stand. Ross is the world's wettest wet blanket, Chandler's narcissism is more than I can bear, Joey is obviously just dumb (though he's my second favorite), and Monica and Rachel should just combine DNA and become a horrific, gorgeous, voluptuous man-eating monster.

But really, there are so many funny jokes Friends actually is a great show. I just can't spend a lot of time with those people in that apartment or that coffee shop. Small doses are best.

A revelation: I think I discovered the formula to a Phoebe joke:
Subject A followed by Subject B, where the punchline will obviously be Subject B, but right at the end she does a switcheroo and makes the punchline about Subject A. Subject A is always mentioned so inconspicuously you don't even notice it, which makes her jokes all the more surprising and funny. OR, if it's not so cut and dried between a Subject A and a Subject B, then what she does is makes a statement or take a statement from somebody else and then makes a joke about what is least obvious in the first statement, kind of like this:

Ah Pheobe!

Friends is currently streaming on Netflix.

Documentary: Rubble Kings
This is a pretty boring documentary about a pretty interesting subject: the gang culture in the Bronx of the 1970's (thanks to my friend Tim for recommending it). It spends most of its hour long running time telling us how rough and tough and violent and run down and dangerous and underprivileged the Bronx was and how that created a culture ripe for the formation of gangs. It goes on and on about how everyone wanted to fight each other and how it was a decade of tensions between those on the lowest rung of society and what they had to do to survive, until finally in the last ten minutes it gives us the big plot twist: all this gang stuff led to the formation of hip-hop! The film tells us a number of positive leaders rose up out of the gangs and became community activists. Some of those activists were artists who started experimenting with new kinds of music...and bang! hip-hop was born. I wish they would have spent 20 minutes telling us the back story of the gangs and 50 or so minutes about the community activists, the start of hip-hop, and all the seminal artists that emerged in the 70's and 80's. That would have been a lot more interesting to me. Can I assume there is already a documentary out there about that?

Rubble Kings is currently streaming on Netflix.

Music: Bach: Greatest Hits
I don't know if you know this but Bach is pretty much the greatest ever. He is a bigger rock star than you or I will ever be. He knows ALL the notes! And his fingers move at near light speed.

Lately I have been listening to a lot of classical music in the car with my sons. I bought Bach: Greatest Hits on the cheap and we have been enjoying it thoroughly, even though I suspect a number of the recordings are a bit too modern in their interpretations rather than faithful to the period in which they were written (if it ain't Baroque, don't fix it!). My boys' favorite piece is the "Bach Halloween Song", otherwise known as the "Toccata and Fugue in D Minor". My favorites are "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring", "Wachet Auf", and all the solo piano inventions.

Really people, all I can say is please find a way to get more Bach into your life. It's time to bring Bach back, though I don't know if he ever went away.

Previous PostConsumer Culture Clubs:
Postconsumer Culture Club #1
Postconsumer Culture Club #2
Postconsumer Culture Club #3
Postconsumer Culture Club #4

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