Thursday, February 07, 2008

Pop Culture Roundup

Posted early. First "essay" comes tomorrow. Rock on.

I've been reading Becoming a Pastor by Jaco J. Hamman. I was sent a promotional poster for it in some UCC mailing or another and wanted to check it out. I'll treat this to a full review as one of my Big Serious Blogging Experiment "essays," so that's all I'll say about it for now.

I saw the movie Breach recently, which is based on the true story of Robert Hanssen, a rogue FBI agent eventually caught for betraying Bureau information to Russia. The underrated Chris Cooper plays Hanssen, a devout Opus Dei Catholic who feels vastly underappreciated in his position. Ryan Philippe plays Eric O'Neill, another agent taken on as Hanssen's clerk, secretly working with the investigation to catch Hanssen in the act. The movie is not for those expecting car chases and gunfights, who I imagine are the same people who complained about "slower" episodes of The Sopranos. This is much more of a character-driven movie, particularly of O'Neill as he wrestles with balancing his relationship with his wife and his work, and to a lesser extent Hanssen himself, who seems to undertake his betrayal mainly to prove a point about his own government's vulnerability. One of the subplots involves O'Neill and his wife and "marrying into the Bureau," to which I couldn't help but draw a parallel to clergy, but that's for another day.

We also watched the movie The Ten last night, which we both found pretty disappointing. The commercial for it was hilarious, but this was an instance where they showed all the best parts. This is a series of ten somewhat-related skits based on the Ten Commandments. I'm usually a fan of offbeat humor, but this was a little too offbeat for me, I guess. Coveting your neighbor's wife, for instance, takes place in a prison (get it?). "You shall not steal" features Winona Ryder falling in love with a ventriloquist's dummy. The concepts of each skit are highly original and even at times good social commentary. For instance, "no other gods" centers around a guy getting his 15 minutes of fame after a ridiculous accident, and a reporter's last line of the sketch is, "I used to love him, but now I hate him." But I didn't laugh a whole lot.

This past Sunday Coffeewife and I joined my parents to watch the Super Bowl with maybe 12 senior high kids (my mom is a church youth director). I'll be honest...I was rooting for the Patriots. Brady is a Michigan Man, and I was interested in the possibility of 19-0 in the same way I was in interested in the final episode of Friends: I wasn't a true follower, but aware enough to realize its cultural significance. It turned out to be significant anyway, but not in the Patriots' favor. Anyway, I found the commercials to be at least a step or two above last years', with my three favorites being Pepsi Max at the Roxbury, the screaming squirrel, and the babbling shirt stain which had me crying from laughing so hard. Honorable mention goes to Charlie Brown getting the Coke for sentimental reasons. On Monday, I watched exactly one hour of ESPN (Around the Horn and Pardon the Interruption, which I usually watch) and then shut it off because I knew they'd be rehashing the same six or seven Super Bowl-related stories.

Around the web, the poster in the entry below was made through