Friday, December 21, 2007

Pop Culture Roundup

I've read the first chapter of The Golden Compass. If I wasn't already familiar with the movie and the plot, I would have been all like, "what's up with these talking animals?" I'm sure it gets explained. So another slow reading week.

This week I watched
Alpha Dog. It was on HBO, I had nothing else to do. This is the movie with Justin Timberlake that came out a few years ago where a group of drug dealers kidnap the younger brother of a guy who owes them money. It's based on actual events, which the movie weaves into the story with "interviews" with the "real people." According to Amazon, names and such have been changed, but the director had access to a lot of inside information on the real case, and the result is a very gritty portrayal of a group of young suburban rich kids who want to be big time and end up getting in over their heads. The world of drugs and alchohol that these characters live in is at times painful to watch, and it's repeatedly obvious that lack of parental supervision is the reason most of the younger characters are who they are (and you're absolutely correct if you think that that point scared the crap out of me).

We also saw
Hollywoodland last night, another movie based on real events, this time the death of actor George Reeves. Adrian Brody plays a fame-seeking private investigator hired by Reeves' mother (a closer thing to the truth is that he weasels into getting himself hired) to try to get the case re-opened after what seems like a hasty conclusion by the LAPD. Ben Affleck plays Reeves, and is the heart of the movie. Besides being the subject of the investigation, through flashbacks we're able to watch a man with ambitions to share the movie screen with the greats of his era slowly crumble as he realizes he's been typecast in the only big role he ever had: TV's Superman. The movie suggests that he hated the part from his audition forward, and such typecasting takes its toll when he searches for the parts that he really wants. In one scene where an audience previews From Here to Eternity (which, interestingly, Wikipedia says is false), people begin calling out Superman catchphrases when Reeves appears on screen. We're also treated to various hypothetical scenarios of Reeves' death based on the possible motives of some of the others who surrounded him. While the movie acknowledges that there's still a lot of mystery surrounding his death and thus doesn't come to a definite conclusion, it does suggest that there was plenty of reason for a despairing actor who had already lived through his most successful years to take his own life.

We also watched
A Charlie Brown Christmas last night, because I hadn't yet watched it this season. For some reason, I never picked up on the statement that Schultz wanted to make with the scrawny little Christmas tree. Here it is overshadowed by the flashy commercialism that the season brings, when really it's closer to what Christmas is really all about: something small, subtle, not glamorous in the least. The tree is even "resurrected" in the end. The tree is a Christ figure! Excuse me while I go rewrite my Christmas Eve reflection...

This week I've been listening to
Ska-La-La-La-La by Bunch of Believers, a ska Christmas album. It's not a masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination and not even a great ska album, but it's fun.

Around the web, here's a silly
Harry Potter puppet show.