Showing posts from December, 2006

2006: A Myopic Retrospective

Since everyone and his sister's best friend's tennis coach is doing a year-end wrap-up, I guess I'll do one, too. This despite keeping an admirable distance from most of the trends, mores, and events that kept pop culture in a lather over the last twelve months. It might be time to change the name of this Blog if I maintain this pace. I could barely count the number of first-run movies I saw in 2006 on both of my hands, watched relatively little television, read one fiction book (boy, does it hurt to pony up to that one), and heard less new music this last year than I had since I was a grade schooler, so this could be easy. Then again, with my propensity to windy meandering, it might not be. So be it; here go a few of My Favorite 2006 Things. Favorite TV: Heroes , NBC's revisionist superhero saga, was my favorite boob tube destination by a landslide. Sharply written, well-acted by an appealing and relatively unknown cast, and deft in its gradual (and still ongoing)

Passings: James Brown, my favorite Christmas Crooner

This started out about five days ago as a Blog about my favorite Christmas CD's--recordings that capture the essence of the season so sublimely that they often singlehandedly pull me out of the Stygian depths of Scrooge-ism. As research--but mostly as a truly welcome soundtrack to the whole litany of commuting, working, shopping, cleaning, and holiday cooking--I found myself listening to these favorites pretty ceaselessly over the last week or two. They include: Dean Martin's incredibly lush A Winter Romance (call me a blasphemer, but I think this 'un's every bit the Rat Pack Concept Album Masterwork that Sinatra's Songs for Swinging Lovers ever was); Billboard's Greatest Christmas Hits 1935-1954 (Ground Zero for the definitive versions of most of the standards, from Nat King Cole's gorgeous 'The Christmas Song' to Eartha Kitt's untouchably sexy 'Santa Baby'); Laserlight Records' Jack Jones Christmas (an ace mix of Vegas schmooz

Passings: Peter Boyle

There are a whole host of eloquent tributes to recently-departed character actor Peter Boyle , so won't rattle on much here. With deep set eyes that reflected all of the emotion concealed by a perpetually furrowed brow ridge, Boyle was never less than terrific, and almost always the best thing about the movies he appeared in. I'm, sadly, unexposed to Boyle's dramatic output (including his caustic star turn in 1970's Joe ), but like most of the world his sublime work as a comic actor looms large in my heart. To this day, I can't hear "Putting on the Ritz" without hearing Boyle's sad, sympathetic--and riotously funny--monster monosyllabically barking out the song's title in Young Frankenstein . And the wearily-tart repartee between him and Doris Roberts always represented Everybody Loves Raymond's comic trump card. I did want to give a shout-out to one of Boyle's less-ballyhooed comic triumphs. The modest but very funny 1989 comedy The Dr

Apocalypto: A Head-Lopping Celebration of Family Values

So let's get the whole 'How Can I watch Apocalypto when Mel Gibson's such an evil anti-semitic racist sexist homophobic rat bastard?' moral dilemma out of the way first. As I said in a comment on another intrepid film lover's Blog , If I avoided every movie, book, painting, or piece of music created by an artist who said and/or did loathsome things, the sum total of the works of art that would pass through that filter could be counted on Mickey Mouse's right hand. Some separation of art from artist is always necessary. And though I will concede that separating Gibson's work from his offscreen antics of late is a mammoth challenge to anyone who doesn't have the words 'Imperial Wizard' inscribed on his name tag, it's not gonna keep me out of the theater. Enough with the brouhaha. Divorced from its notorious architect, is Apocalypto worth seeing? Absolutely. Is it perfect? Not by a longshot. But it kept me glued solid to my seat, and I wan

Ten Movies That Ain't All That

Greencine Daily posted a link to Premiere Magazine's list of The Twenty Most Overrated Movies of All Time, and seeing as how most of us movie nerds love lists more than dogs love peanut butter, I couldn't resist cobbling together a response (I agree with a lot of Premiere's choices, but they missed a few). Stuff like this naturally prompts a need for a blanket definition of an 'overrated' movie. Is it the Absurdly Popular Box Office Hit? The Pretentious Masterwork that Launched a Thousand Critics' Drool Puddles? The Venerated Old Hollywood Classic? I figure it's at least one (or any combination) of the three. It can even be a movie that you like, just so long as the vocal huzzahs (critical, popular, or both) that surround said movie exceed the actual merit of the final product. Incidentally, Premiere's list of Twenty Most Overrated included rebuttal statements in defense of every movie. So if you think I'm on crack with some of my opinions, lemme