Andrea’s Pop Culture Essentials

November 16, 2009

Nov. 15- 21

1. John Mayer’s new CD Battle Studies comes out Nov. 17! I heard a leaked copy and it is good. Solid, classic mayer. I HATE his current single, Who Says. The rest of the album is better.

2. Precious opening in Jackson on Friday- there is so much Oscar Buzz about this film, and I saw a couple interviews with the star, Gaboures Sidibe. LOVED her.

3. New Moon! I mean, this is going to be the feel-good movie of the year… Just kidding! those of you who know me for real know there’s no way I’ll ever see this movie.

The real #3: Broken Embraces starring Penelope Cruz and directed by Pedro Amaldovar, the team behind one of my favorite movies from last year, Volver.

4. Joseph Gorden-Levitt hosting SNL Nov. 21. I think he’ll be really good (he can’t be worse than January Jones). And if you don’t know who he is, see 500 Days of Summer.

5. Open by Andre Agassi

6. Christopher Walken’s spoken word version of Pokerface:

7. Too Much Happiness by Alice Munro. Maybe you’ve never read anything by this short story master, but its time to start. She is a genius. YOu can start with my favorite collection of hers, Runaway.

8. My Sister’s Keeper on DVD Tuesday

The Pop Culture Essentials

November 2, 2009

by Andrea Burke

November 1- 7:

1. The Men Who Stare at Goats.  This movie looks hilarious to me. I can’t really explain why, part of it may be that I love George Clooney and Ewan McGregor

2. Strict Joy- The Swell Season. If you have seen the excellent movie Once, you know how awesome this pair is. They released a new album last week! Go buy it!

3. Ricky Gervais, the man who created The Office, Extras, and wrote/directed and starred in The Invention of Lying, will be on David Letterman Friday.

4. Michael Bublé – Haven’t Met You Yet. I can’t get this song out of my head.
5. It’s a new month, so Amazon has a new batch of 50 mp3 albums for $5.00, including albums from the Black Eyed Peas, Owl City, The Avett bros, The Decemberists, Tim McGraw, Ben Harper, and Johnny Cash.
6. Classic of the week: High Noon starring Gary Cooper. This is one of the best movies ever. It comes on TCM Thursday at 6:00.
7. Travel Writing by Peter Ferry
8. The Office Music video. ‘Nard dog steals the show in my opinion.
Vodpod videos no longer available.

Capitalism: A Love Story, A review

October 30, 2009

Michael Moore surprised me lately, on Hannity, on the View, on any interview he’s done to promote his latest movie, Capitalism: A Love Story. Because I’ve always strongly disliked the guy ever since he berated Charleton Heston in Bowling for Columbine. Seriously, I couldn’t stand him- so obnoxious, but this time around, he seems different:

I’m so glad I saw this movie because I appreciate this different perspective on things, that perhaps democracy isn’t tied to capitalism, that maybe the U.S. should focus more on the democracy part…that if capitalism is a broken system, why are we still using it?

And surprisingly, about half an hour was devoted to Moore’s insight into what Jesus would do.

I took notes on a napkin while watching the film, wanting to be able to talk about it but there was so much info I can’t sum it all up, but there are a few things I can tell you: Moore thinks Reagan was basically a crook, he wishes FDR’s 2nd Bill of rights (you can watch a video and read the text) had gone through, he interviewed Bill Black who said Geitner was corrupt. He disagreed with the bailout and thinks Washington’s corrupt (does that sound familiar to anyone?), but he has hope for Obama’s presidency.

And for all of you out there who are afraid that viewing this film might “indoctrinate” you, then don’t watch it.  But if you can handle seeing someone else’s point of view, no matter how contradictory to your own, you might see some truth in it, some commonalitites.

Because indoctrination, that word everyone is throwing around, happens when people start believeing one side of the story whole-heartedly without thinking for themselves or listening to see if there is anything true or right on the other side.

I’m not going to grade this because it’s a documentary but if you want to see the rest of the Hannity/Moore interview here’s part 2, part 3, and part 4. I loved watching it.

Andrea’s Pop Culture Essentials

October 12, 2009

October 11-17

1. Paranormal Activity– Tis the season for scary movies, and I hear this one is a doozy. Too bad I’ll probably have to wait another month before it comes to my local  theater. It should be everywhere else Oct 16.

2. 30 Rock is back! 8:30 Oct. 15 on NBC

3. Paris, je t’aime – I’ll never forget seeing this collection of short films set in (you guessed it) Paris at the Bel Court theater in Nashville. Loved it.  New York, I Love You gets a limited release this week, but Paris is on DVD. Watch it and cross your fingers that New York will be half as good.

4. Congrats Obama, but I’m most interested in the other surprise winner of the Nobel Prize- Herta Mueller -this one in Literature. Never heard of her (I’m not alone, judging by the news articles) so I might be picking up her book The Land of Green Plums or The Appointment this week

5. So You Think You Can Dance– Finally the top 20 on Thursday (Oct 15)! Now is the time to start watching.

6. Drag me to Hell on DVD Oct 13- Never saw it, but I heard it’s scary.

7. Ugly Betty is back too. 7:00 Friday Oct 16 on ABC

The Pop Culture Essentials

October 4, 2009

by Andrea Burke

Oct 4- 10:

1. Zombieland– I’ve seen it but you have to!

2. An Education in theaters Oct 9. I hadn’t heard of this movie until I heard Fresh Air’s interview with writer Nick Hornby, who also wrote High Fidelity and About a Boy. The premise seems kind or ordinary, but I liked  Hornby in the interview so much that I’ll probably see it.

3. So You Think You Can Dance. I had to take a break from all the stupid auditions, but finally the best of the best journey to Vegas on Wed Oct 7!

4. Manhood for Amateurs by Michael Chabon. The Pulitzer winner debuts his first work of non-fiction Tuesday (Oct 6)

5. Away We Go on DVD Oct 6. John Krasinski (better known as Jim Halpert- see #6) and Maya Rudolph play a couple expecting their first child who travel around looking for the ideal place to set up house and home. It got an A- from EW.

6. The office. Its the wedding episode! Jim and Pam finally tie the knot! Thank goodness because this last episode was terrible. Oct 8 on NBC at 8:00

7. Classic of the week: My Man Godfrey comes on TCM Thursday Oct 8 at 10:15. I heart this comedy starring William Powell.

8. Music. If you didn’t know, every month Amazon puts 50 mp3 albums up for $5 . October features a wide array of choices including albums by Nina Simone, Roy Orbison, Third Eye Blind, Kiss, Taylor Hicks, the Noisettes and (the album I just bought) The Avett Brothers

Zombieland Review

October 4, 2009

by Andrea Burke

Holy crow. This movie was so unpredictably, unbelievably good.

First, let’s talk random but excellent cast. Jesse Eisenburg (recently seen in the disappointing Adventureland) as the dry-witted wimp combined with Woody Harrelson as the country-fied zombie killing machine equals awesome. The two boys eventually join forces with Abigail Breslin of Little Miss Sunshine and Emma Stone who you might have caught in supporting roles in The House Bunny or Ghost of Girlfriends Past.

The cast also includes one of my very favorites actors ever, but I’ll let you be surprised who it is.

Story Line: Basically the world is taken over by zombies. But this movie’s got everything- romance, horror, action, drama and tons of laughs- thanks to the writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick who seem to have dropped out of nowhere and the director Ruben Fleisher whose biggest gig until now seems to be directing 3 episodes of Jimmy Kimmel Live (I can’t believe it myself- what a success story)

The humor stems from the writer’s clever swings between tragedy and comedy. Lately, the comedy genre has turned into a contest to try to see how many stupid things one character can do in 2 hours (take a look at Will Ferrell’s latest movies) whereas the characters in Zombieland deal with life and death in every scene, giving gravity to all the funny things that happen whether it be the presentation of The Rules to surviving Zombieland (and the smart way they are graphically incorporated) such as rule #1 Cardio or #2 Double Tap, Or the interactions of Eisenburg’s and Harrelson’s characters. Actually, pretty much every time Harrelson opened his mouth, I was rolling.

But a word of warning- There is A LOT of blood. Tons. So just be prepared to cover your eyes a bit.

The bottom line: This is one of the best movies I’ve seen all year.

The Informant! review

September 21, 2009

September has been such a depressing month at your local movie theater. After a summer full of memorable movies (see my top 10), September has been such a drag- Gamer, Sorority Row, All About Steve, Love Happens, and I Can do Bad All by Myself? No thank you.

The Informant! was a ray of hope. Finally, a movie I wanted to see! Matt Damon acting, Steven Soderbergh directing, and the ! promised quirky hilarity in the tradition of Moulin Rouge! But sadly, The Informant did not earn its !

The problem is in the details. Soderbergh chose groovy, funky font for the text transitions, and the music is full of pep, echoing the swinging hi-jinks of the 60s. The whole package was perfected through the poster- looks like a comedy! But the script doesn’t match the style its encased in. The image created by all these little things is so zany that the actual story seems dull and boring and too long.

The Informant is based on a true story and if it had been packaged as a drama, I might have liked it. Play up the idea of a double life, lose the silly music and text, focus on the tension, and it could have been better. OR zany-up the script to match the rest. I get what they were going for, it just didn’t work.

September seems so long…. (out of 5)

Summer Movie Swan Song

September 12, 2009

I know summer is over by looking at what’s coming out in the theaters each week. If you pay attention, there’s a very distinct end to the season. No more weekends with 2 or more large budget films competing for your money, no more big action films, its time for the more mellow, more serious films- Films the studios want to win oscars.

So, because it is the end, here are my top 10 movies from summer 2009.

1. Up- If you’re a grown up, don’t dismiss it because it’s animated. It’s also very well written, and deals with grownup themes like loss, and kid/adult themes like adventure.

2. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince- The movies are never as good as the books, so if you haven’t read them, you would probably enjoy them. I don’t know anyone who’s read them who didn’t love them.

3. 500 Days of Summer – If you missed this little indie number, you missed out on a lot. It’s a chaoticly filmed piece about a chaotic relationship. It reminded me a lot of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, but Summer wasn’t as serious or dark.

4. Inglourious Basterds- see my review

5. Julie and Julia- I Love Meryl Streep.

6. Star Trek- I remember it being a little long, but I still liked it. Sorry that’s all I have to say for this one.

7. The Hangover- “You guys might not know this, but I consider myself a bit of a loner. I tend to think of myself as a one-man wolf pack. But when my sister brought Doug home, I knew he was one of my own. And my wolf pack… it grew by one. So there… there were two of us in the wolf pack… I was alone first in the pack, and then Doug joined in later. And six months ago, when Doug introduced me to you guys, I thought, “Wait a second, could it be?” And now I know for sure, I just added two more guys to my wolf pack. Four of us wolves, running around the desert together, in Las Vegas”

8. Transformers 2- Judging from what it made it the box office, you’ve all seen it already.

9. District 9- overrated? yes. But I enjoyed the story, I did want those aliens to be free. But I did have major problems with the plotting.

10. Angels and Demons- I love Tom Hanks too. And Ewan McGregor. This movie was crazy! absolutely, completely impossible, would never ever happen. But I like it anyway. Sometimes that’s what summer movies are all about.