Friday, December 14, 2007

Pop Culture Roundup

We watched Knocked Up last night, which we both really liked. The ads for it really played up the wacky side of the film, and it really is wacky. But what didn't get portrayed until the reviews started coming out was that this is also a pretty deep story about growing up, responsibility, family dynamics, and relationships. You probably know the basic premise by now: slacker schlub hooks up with out-of-his-league chick for a one-nighter, she discovers she's pregnant, the rest of the movie is about how they deal with it. That includes awkward gynecologist visits, arguments over the importance of reading The Baby Books, coping with the realization that you can't live the way you did before, and trying to make a relationship work for the baby's sake. That's to say nothing of the married couple in the film with two kids who are trying to power through every day while slowly bringing repressed issues out into the open. There's some really good commentary in this movie about all this stuff, as over-the-top as some of it can be.

Let's Go to Prison was on HBO the other night while I was flipping channels, and it was close enough to the beginning that I left it on. This is the Will Arnett movie that came out earlier this year where a rich preppy guy ends up in prison secretly because of his eventual cellmate. Honestly, a lot of the movie reminded me of how prison is portrayed on Arrested Development which--shock!--starred Arnett. The head of the Nazi gang goes after hapless new guy, new guy tricks him into killing himself, new guy suddenly earns massive cred with all other prisoners. This story is exactly the same in both cases, even if the details are different. There's also a lot of "prison love" humor, which is a standard in these types of films. Not a masterpiece, and Arnett isn't going to get the recognition that he really does deserve by doing this stuff.

A few weeks back I watched Wicker Park, and since I still haven't started another book I might as well write about it now since I don't think I have yet. Just like the last Josh Hartnett movie I watched, Lucky Number Slevin, this movie spends almost as much time going back to explain what happened before in order for the current situation to make more sense. Basic premise: Hartnett thinks he sees a former girlfriend in a restaurant. This former girlfriend--with whom he was absolutely smitten--had seemingly just disappeared without explanation. Hartnett, who is clearly feeling stuck and even bored in his current relationship, embarks on this quest to see if it was really her. His best friend--the crazy blond guy from Scream--tries to help him out, and there's also a brunette involved who turns out to be the cause of the whole thing. I won't attempt to explain it. It turns out to be this love-quadrangle sort of situation. The movie almost ties itself in knots in making the connections that it does ("Hey! This person just happens to be with this other person, and this other person just happens to be best friends with this person! What are the odds?"), and then having to go back and explain it all.

An almost frightening portion of the other bloggers on the sidebar are really into a band called Over the Rhine. Seriously. People keep talking about this group and so I figured I finally needed to hear them for myself. They've got this whole Norah Jones thing going on, which I do like. Their Christmas album is the one playing on their website's "record player," and while lines like "Salvation Army bells are ringin'" try too hard to not be cliche ("bells are ringin'" = Christmas cliche; "Salvation Army bells" = still cliche, but in a more original way), their overall musical concept of soft bluesy folk is sweet, if not the stuff that TV shows look for for their montage scenes. I like their music fine, but I think it'll take a few more listens before I figure out what the big blogfuss is about. Although I must say that I almost immediately figured out from the piano on "Goodbye Charles" who Charles is. That evoked a little smile. As you can see, I'm a little skeptical. But I'm still willing to give them a chance. Any fans who stumble upon this, please give me a few non-Christmas suggestions.

The other night there was a poll on the news that asked the question, "Will you continue to be a baseball fan despite the Mitchell Report?" A third of the voters said no, they wouldn't. Let me explain something to you people. MLB is one league. Are you really saying that you will stop being a fan of the game of baseball because a couple guys in one baseball league used steroids? Maybe I'm reading the question in a particular way. It's stupid to think that after so many years of watching a game, one will give up being a fan of that entire game because of a couple morons. As far as I'm concerned, you weren't really a fan to begin with. Now, if you say you'll stop watching MLB and instead go watch the local high school or college team, that's different. But if you completely give up baseball because of this, how much did you really like baseball to begin with? A real fan will seek out alternatives if you really want to go that route. Thank you.

Around the web, Brant at Kamp Krusty has two excellent posts dealing with faith, depression, and medication here and here.