The Awesome List

I’ve had an incredibly good run of all things pop culture in the past few weeks, so I thought I’d share with you in handy list form. Without any further ado I give you The Awesome List.

1. Breaking Bad

This show is always great, but three things from tonight’s (last night’s by the time you might read this) episode just jumped literally off the screen: Badger’s piano virtuoso, the cooking montage (honestly, that was one of the most beautifully directed sequences I think I’ve ever seen on TV. And yes, I just used the word “beautiful” in connection with a scene showing the production of meth amphetamine. It was just an incredibly well shot scene.), and the grin on Walt’s face when Maria hugs him after confronting him about Skyler’s “breakdown.” (That was just pure, unadulterated evil)

2. The Amazing Spider-Man/Dark Knight Rises (light spoilers here, proceed with caution)

I caught both of these Saturday in a double feature with my erstwhile liaisons to the world of geek, Nick and Shawn. Both are great in a big summer popcorn movie kind of way, though I still prefer Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man II and The Dark Knight. That being said I did like Andrew Garfield’s Peter Parker better than Tobey McGuire’s (not to mention anything that has Emma Stone in it), but in the end I think the Spider-Man movies are only as good as their villains, and Doc Ock is still tops in my book in that regard.

As for the Dark Knight Rises, is it just me or did they lift most of the plot straight out of Rocky III? You had the main hero living a comfortable but sheltered life while a seemingly unbeatable challenger is on the rise, the protective father figure giving the “You can’t win Rock!” speech (though substitute Michael Cain for Burgess Meredith), the hero taking a beating in his first encounter with the challenger, the hero regaining his strength and confidence in an unfamiliar environment, and finally the hero beating down the villain in a climatic fight scene (though DKR has some added twists after that scene). All that was missing was a training montage with Survivor soundtrack and the awkward Rocky/Apollo manhug on the beach. Still, lots of stuff blew up, good triumphed over evil and Anne Hathaway continued to confound and disturb me by being both incredibly attractive and Luis Suarez’s slightly paler twin.

3. Winning cool vinyl

I entered a giveaway from the fine folks at Park Ave CDs and won a limited edition 8 inch square vinyl of The Dirty Projectors’ single Gun Has No Trigger, from their excellent and highly recommended album Swing Lo Magellan. Side A has the single, but side B has a “Sumerian Akkadian Cuneiform etching” of the complete the lyrics to the song. How adorably pretentious is that? Plus, it’s square. Very cool. Thanks again, Park Ave!

Hard to get a photo where you could see this, but I think this does the trick.

4. Getting cool vinyl in the mail

My copies of the recent Sugar reissues by the awesome folks at Merge records came and they most certainly did not disappoint, especially Copper Blue, one of my favorite records of all time that I didn’t yet own on vinyl. All of the reissues sound fantastic, and, since I pre-ordered my copy of the deluxe vinyl editions, my package included a Copper Blue poster signed by Bob Mould, which is a very nice treat indeed, even if his signature appears to be “Jummummumm.”

Sugar’s seminal Copper Blue (with the Beaster EP included) and the underrated File Under Easy Listening in all of the analog glory.

Signature swag.

5. Getting cool vinyl at the store

I’m still listening to Japandroids Celebration Rock on heavy rotation (album of the year so far for me, hands down), and am loving even more the white vinyl. This record looks as good as it sounds.

Awesome.

6. Moonrise Kingdom

Saw this a couple of weekends ago and really liked it, and yes it is about as different from the summer super hero blockbusters as it can be (JLo is a complicated fella, and his entertainment likes are wide ranging. And why in the world has he busted out third person all of a sudden?) It’s beautifully filmed (there’s that description again) and contains my favorite Godfather reference of all time (“Take the carbon, leave the bible.”) Go see it on the big screen while you can.

That’s the list of awesome, in all of it’s, um, awesome glory. What have you seen or heard that’s awesome lately? (Firstly person to say this decidedly not awesome cover of Radiohead’s Street Spirit by The Darkness shall be subjected to shame and ridicule.)

Cheers.

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Posted on July 30, 2012, in Movies, Music, TV and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Interesting post…I always love a good “here’s what I’ve been doing with my time in the “commercial” world summaries….I haven’t seen either of the two superhero movies you mention yet, but I definitely lean towards the Dark Knight versus Spiderman…maybe the post-Tobey versions will do more for me, but I haven’t jumped on either yet.

    What I can offer up is this: worst movie of the summer for me so far (and keep in mind I tend to just buy DVD’s that I’m interested in, and go to kids flicks with my chilluns….Ice Age 4 is TERRIBLE…probably the worst kids film I’ve ever gone to. My son wanted to see it as a capstone to his Birthday Day of Fun with his friend so I obliged, and I hate to admit I might have dozed off at one point. It’s that uninteresting.

    Mucho kudos to your (yet again) reference to Copper Blue. I think Mould is one of the most underrated musical geniuses of our times (one that you have to put some work into in order to appreciate, not unlike our common Radiohead interest). It’s a shame he never became more popular.

    So, my two critical comments (one actually critical, and the other one critical…read on to understand)….

    I simply don’t get the Japandroids. What am I missing here? They sound like a glorified White Stripes to me, with an “already heard that” veneer. Most critics say they take the essence of great rock rifts and boil it down and hit you over the head, and I just don’t get it. I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed, but all I hear is 2 guys trying to out-do the White Stripes (a band I never obsessed over either).

    Secondly, and this is an entirely honest question….when you say a TV scene is beautifully shot, what exactly does that mean to you? I have Breaking Bad on DVR and am not home so I haven’t seen the scene yet, but I honestly am not able to pick up great scenes and great directing…great acting yes. Great cinematography, yes ( The Big Blue is still my watermark for incredible cinematography)…but when folks say a scene is beautiful, I don’t get that. I’m honestly not that artistic, and maybe there is a watershed technique book out there that may help me understand this, but as it stands I just don’t pick this up. Writing, sure. Acting? Check. Character development, got it. Something beautifully shot? Help me out here…maybe it’s like porn…you only know it when you see it? And perchance I’ll watch this scene tonight and be nodding like a thin necked bobble head doll, coming back to discretely delete my last three paragraphs. But on the off-chance this doesn’t happen, please try to enlighten me. It is scary the number of interests we share in common (cycling, English soccer, DFW, most musical interests, good beer, writing, Simmons, our hometown roots, blah blah blah blah) so I’m intrigued in hearing you try to explain to a layman like me what makes a beautifully filmed scene…this is not calling you out, but an honest call for education.

  2. Luckily, I missed the Ice Age 4 train, my wife took the kids to see it while I was at work a few days ago. You are not the first person to say that though so I consider myself lucky.

    Re: Japandroids, The White Stripes were much more bluesy stomp whereas Japandroids are much more in the punk vein I think. The bands they remind me most of are probably Liars and Cloud Nothings if you know them, but it’s definitely a sound that’s not for everyone. It’s the music of shenanigans is the best description I’ve heard of that record.

    Hmmm, I probably use the beautifully filmed term a little subjectively and loosely. It can mean something as simple as it’s just nice to look at (which would include cinematography of course) but encompasses style and feel. Moonrise Kingdom for example just looks like a really cool Instagram photo throughout.

    When I used it to describe the cook scene from last night’s Breaking Bad, it was all those things and more, to include editing, camera angles, framing, etc (and in this case even soundtrack to set the feel of the scene, even though that isn’t “visual” obviously). There was no dialog during the scene at all, but visually it was pretty stunning and told the story well. Does that make sense?

  3. Walt had been waiting to let that cat out of the bag. Doing recaps on my blog. http://amandalovesmovies.com/2012/07/23/breaking-bad-502-madrigal

  4. OK, so I am back. I watched the Breaking Bad episode twice last night. And you know what? That cook scene was indeed beautiful! It did so much to move the story forward (and the whole fumigating house angle is brilliant) without one word of dialog. Pretty good stuff. I’m always a sucker for filmed sequences set to music (my wife can attest to this with the number of DVD’s I’ve made for her of video of our kids set to music…..Some times I think I should have been a film maker but I would have probably become obsessed with the technical aspects and ignored the story. So I agree that the scene was beautiful and will pay closer attention to those types of things as I apply my critical eye to various media I consume.

  1. Pingback: JLo’s Reading Rainbow and the Awesome List, Pt. II (now with even more Bob Mould!) « Fables of the Deconstruction

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