Monthly Pop Culture Round-up is a new feature - because I've found that I like writing about pop culture. It will feature, you know, a round up of the pop culture goodies from the month. This is stuff I, personally, discovered in June. Some of it may be ancient. WARNING: SPOILERS (for Game of Thrones, True Blood, and Doctor Who).
Fassender Meets McAvoy - X-Men: First Class
Photo courtesy of LA Times’ Hero Complex Blog
I am not going to lie. I like X-Men movies. As far as superhero franchises go, they are often leaner and meaner than the competition. Well, X-Men: First Class, in some ways, suffered from the bloat that plagues many superhero movies. However, it had much to recommend it: cool sets, Kevin Bacon, January Jones in white mini-skirts... and Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy. They have such an easy, sexy chemistry that I started to think they should be in every movie together. Hooray, (or possibly hoyay!). The universe apparently agrees with me; there's news they may both appear in Danny Boyle's next film.
Baelor - Game of Thrones
I knew exactly what was coming. I'd read the book. And still, the moment when Ned Stark was beheaded in front of the Sept of Baelor was a stunning moment; it made one realize the power of TV as a narrative medium. When Game of Thrones began, it seemed like another stylish HBO show with amazing production values. Its ostensible hero, Ned Stark, was played by Sean Bean, one of the most famous actors in the ensemble. Even if you knew that Ned Stark was going to die, you might have wondered if HBO was really going to kill off its most well-known name. Of course they did. It was a moment of strange beauty, when all sound disappeared except the rasping of Ned's breathing as the sword was about to come down.
Speaking of which ...
Song of Ice and Fire, by George R.R. Martin
I love HBO for putting a complicated fantasy series like Game of Thrones on the air. I love them more because the show introduced me to George R.R. Martin's epic Song of Ice and Fire series of novels. I've always been a geek, but fantasy has never been my thing. I read the entire series of Lord of the Rings and the entire time I called it "the frickin' Lord of the Rings" (except I said a swear). I started reading Game of Thrones because I was a little confused by the many characters in the HBO series. Very soon, I had gone beyond simply trying to get a hold on the characters to become completely immersed in Martin's world. While the story is medieval, the psychology of the characters is modern, and the narrative forces you to consider who we are as people, how we relate to one another, and how individual moments shape politics.
Turn to Stone: So You Think You Can Dance
I almost wrote a whole treatise about the role of SYTYCD in reviving dance in the American psyche. But really ... just watch.
Shallow Summer TV: Multiple networks
White Collar. Leverage. Those are my cheap summer thrills. You might have different ones. Maybe you like Covert Affairs. Or that one show about the therapist for football players. Who cares? USA and TNT have a whole slate of summer junk TV that transcends junk. These shows are stylish, savvy and shallow. Watching them is a lot like going to a state fair and eating a funnel cake ... summer TV is funnel cake for your brain. And funnel cake is the MOST DELICIOUS THING EVER.
When A Good Man Goes to War ...
... demons run.
Recently a friend asked me why Doctor Who is suddenly so popular. The episode A Good Man Goes to War is the answer. The Doctor is a man for our time - a man who both sees the perfection of our humanity and the evil that humanity can wreak. Oh yeah ... and it's completely action-packed and fascinating. Plus ... Matt Smith, Karen Gillan, Arthur Darvill and Alex Kingston have created four characters who might just be the great mythic heroes of the 2000's.
Bill and Eric market vampires to America: True Blood
True Blood is back! The Season 4 premiere had lots of surprises (Jason's a cop! Tara's a lesbian!). But the best moment of the episode was when we got to see how vampires Bill and Eric are attempting to sell their kind to the American public. With ribbon-cutting ceremonies and public-service announcements, they managed to be both menacing and charismatic. That's what vampires are all about.
Rome: Danger Mouse and Daniele Luppi, feat. Jack White and Norah Jones
Ever wanted a soundtrack for the movies you create in your mind? So does Danger Mouse. But since he's a genius, he got a bunch of other geniuses to contribute to his soundtrack - and it will sink you into a dreamy haze that might change the cinematography of your thoughts.