Friday, November 24, 2017

November 2017 Pop Culture Roundup

Five items for November...

1. We went to see Thor: Ragnarok on opening weekend, featuring the title character encountering Hela, the goddess of death, who threatens to destroy his home world of Asgard. During this conflict, he winds up on a different planet where he reunites with the Hulk and his brother Loki, along with other new and familiar faces. As Marvel movies go, the Thor chapters have tended to rank lower on my list. But this was fast-paced, funny, colorful, and served as a fitting completion to this character's arc before he rejoins his many colleagues for the newest Avengers movie next year.

2. I also watched the movie Lion this week, starring Dev Patel as Saroo, a man from India who became lost when he was 5 years old, was adopted by an Australian couple, and goes on a search for his original family 25 years later. The first half hour or more of the movie was painful as we watch young Saroo, suddenly alone, try to make sense of his surroundings, with some adults more trustworthy and helpful than others. We then flip forward to seeing him as a young adult on his way into a career, with friends and a girlfriend yet still consumed by his not knowing where he came from. It's a powerful movie that I wasn't sure about early on but won me over as it went further into how Saroo attempts to reconcile who he's become with his strong desire to find out who he was.

3. I binge-watched the entire second season of Stranger Things within the first week of its release. It picks up not too long after where the first season left off, with various characters still coming to grips with what happened, and a few permanently changed. Will in particular is having a hard time, having spent such a long time in the Upside Down and it still seemingly living inside him. He and his friends encounter new mysteries and inevitably their older siblings and various others become involved once again. The first season was hard to top, and this came pretty close. The writing is high quality and the 1980s vibe is pitch perfect.

4. I became a full-on fan of the band Sleigh Bells in 2017, and have had their 2016 album Jessica Rabbit on heavy rotation most of this year. In October they announced a new mini-album titled Kid Kruschev, which released on November 10th. So far my favorite track is "Rainmaker:"

5. Steampunk band Abney Park released their latest album at the end of September simply titled Crash. It features their usual eclectic mix of industrial, ragtime, rock, and swing, among other influences and sounds. "Reboot" is kind of a New Orleans jazz-electronic rock hybrid, "Captain Ulysses" is a ballad of a fallen warrior, and a final pseudo-hidden track uses part of the Lord's prayer as the chorus. Unfortunately, they haven't released any music videos for this album yet; all they've produced is the trailer with snippets of every song. Enjoy, I guess:

(Top image via Wikipedia Commons)