Friday, July 17, 2009

Pop Culture Roundup

I've been continuing on through Christianity's Dangerous Idea this week. I'm to the part in the book where McGrath analyzes how Protestantism tends to think about issues such as the Bible, the sacraments, and the church. He emphasizes "tends," as he repeatedly points out that Protestantism was not and is not a monolithic entity, as much as critics make it so for handy purposes of debate. I've appreciated McGrath's discussion of sola scriptura in particular: he notes that this principle was meant to establish the Bible as the primary authority above human institutions such as popes and councils. Of course, the question then becomes, "Whose or which interpretation?" McGrath notes two ways Protestants tend to answer this question: 1) in light of inherited tradition such as the creeds, or 2) in light of the contemporary community's discernment together. The book is long, but it's been informative.

I saw the second Transformers movie this past week. Short version: a big silly explosionfest. We revisit the lives of some of the characters from the first movie, most notably Sam (Shia Labeauf) and Mikaela (Megan Fox), and the military guys, who are now teaming with the Autobots to find wayward Decepticons. The Fallen, the "first Decepticon," is waiting on some other planet for the perfect moment to strike back at Earth to unveil a machine that some of the earliest Transformers built, which can create energy for their race by blowing up the sun. Some other classic Transformers are introduced such as Soundwave and the Destructicons.  One subplot had me thinking we'd get Rodimus Prime as well, but they didn't go that route.  Nevertheless, depending on the specific scene most of the movie is blurred robot fighting where you can't tell who's who, explosions, Sam or another character freaking out about something, and more explosions. As an action movie where you can shut off your brain for a couple hours, fine. As a pristine work of cinema approaching Shakespearean levels of genius (which seems to be what a lot of movie critics somehow wanted it to be), of course not. And bonus points are awarded for the Rainn Wilson cameo.

The new season of Entourage started this past Sunday, and not a whole lot of time has elapsed on the show. Vince has completed shooting his new movie with Scorsese, but aside from that not much has changed. Eric is still running his management agency, Drama is still shooting his TV show, and Turtle is continuing in his inexplicable relationship with Jamie-Lynn Sigler. In fact, everyone is in a pretty good place when the season starts, and the episode ends hinting that the guys are all ready to break out from their tight group to pursue their own ambitions. I liked it. To paraphrase one character's line, "You can't keep living in a frat house." That seems to be the direction the show is headed this season.

I picked up The Dead Weather's debut album this week. This is Jack White's other, other band, except this time he's playing drums. I'd compare the sound to the Black Keys or to '70s blues-rock...not a strict comparison, mind you, as they pull from a much wider variety of influences than that. But those are what stuck out in the first few listens, with a lot of stomping beats and crunchy guitars.  The lead singer, Alison Mosshart, has this Joplin/Jett thing going on as well.  This has easily become one of my favorite albums of the year so far.

From around the web, here's The Dead Weather performing "Treat Me Like Your Mother:"