Friday, February 29, 2008

Pop Culture Roundup

I started Losers, Loners, and Rebels, which is about pastoral care with adolescent boys. I don't totally know the reason I picked this up...I guess it's because I'm having a son and it caught my eye. Anyway, I'm not very far into it and I don't really know how far I'll really read. The initial interest has waned.

We watched Evan Almighty this past weekend, which was...fine. It can only be considered a sequel to Bruce Almighty due to the first scene and the fact that Steve Carell and Morgan Freeman are both in it. Otherwise, this is an entirely separate film. Leading up to its release in theaters, I'd become aware of a major campaign to introduce a study series based on the film, and the movie does lend itself to discussion on faith, perserverance, togetherness, and caring for creation among other things. Carell returns as Evan Baxter, Bruce's jerk of a rival from the first movie, who has magically transformed into a generous family man and has just been elected to Congress. Can news anchors run for office? I thought Stephen Colbert got in trouble for that. Anyway, Evan prays one night to be able to change the world, and is then given his new mission by God to build an ark. As the movie goes on, we learn that this is to help oppose Evan's political superior from passing a bill to destroy outlying areas of national parks so his business ties can build developments. So the movie is very environmental AND anti-government/business collusion. And hey, get this: Evan's wife is named Joan. Get it? I would've awarded full points if her name never happened to be mentioned. Oh well. All in all, it's a pretty fluffy, feel-good family comedy. It was...fine.

We also watched Poltergeist, which I had never seen before. I knew all the classic scenes and lines, but had never watched the whole thing. I didn't even know that Craig T. Nelson starred in it. Anyway, the movie itself was kind of...what's the word...stupid. Okay, so the daughter gets sucked into the closet and the TV is all snowy and creepy and she's stuck inside or whatever. Great, got it. Then out of nowhere the ghostbusting team shows up and the one guy has a series of random trippy hallucinations and holy crap! Now there are ghosts on video! And now we'll rescue the girl with some other random "isn't this scary?" stuff thrown in before everyone is covered in strawberry jelly. So the weird psychic lady declares the house clear, but she's not a very good psychic because we get an entire second Scary Freakout Ending. Does this review make sense? Probably not unless you've seen it. I don't care. Fail.

And I also watched Four Brothers, starring Mark Wahlberg as one of...wait for it...four brothers. They're actually adoptive brothers, two white and two black, none of whom lead that comfortable or clean of a life. They're brought back together after their adoptive mother is murdered in a convenience store robbery that they're not convinced was a random thing. The movie sets out to give a vibe reminiscient of 70s "blaxploitation" films, which I think it does quite well. This is no better epitomized than in the gangleader, excellently played by Chiwetel Ejiofor (The Operative in Serenity). It was actually a fun movie that didn't take itself too seriously (contrasted with Poltergeist, which did seem to take itself seriously, and that's one of the many reasons why it sucked).

I got my hands on Over the Rhine's The Trumpet Child yesterday, which has a decidedly New Orleans-ish flavor to it. The title track is my favorite, but I also particularly like "I Don't Wanna Waste Your Time," "Let's Spend the Day In Bed," and the wacky "Don't Wait For Tom." Easily one of my favorite albums of the year so far.

Around the web, here's a hilarious video where a guy signs the song "Torn" by Natalie Imbruglia.