It’s been a few months since I’ve reviewed anything – this will happen. Sometimes, the overwhelming nature of living a life you love provides more than enough inspiration. But today, my calendar is clean and I can settle in, think back and hopefully decompress while I tell you what I liked and why.
A quick observation before we begin, about the Rihanna Super Bowl halftime show. No matter what happens, there are legions of trolls saying how terrible it is, and I can’t think of anything less interesting. There are notable exceptions (Thor, Love & Thunder, which is fascinating in it’s desire to devalue the entire MCU and ridicule fans) that prove the rule you’ve surely deduced: I like everything. There is beauty in most all works of art, some might take more time and effort than others to discover, but it is there. And if it’s not (again, like Love & Thunder, though Christian Bale’s performance is terrific), then I prefer to move on without much comment. There is already enough negativity in the world, you don’t need mine. I don’t even need mine!
I’m currently listening to Local Natives cover Gerry Rafferty’s “Right On Down The Line,” and it makes me appreciate The Angel. Today is Valentine’s Day and the best, most beautiful blessing in my life has always been her, right on down the line.
Poker Face is a cool hard to categorize comedy-ish drama on Peacock, starring Natasha Lyonne. After episode 1, I’m firmly in, but I’m pretty sure I’d watch Natasha Lyonne do anything. She’s so good, she gives me hope for tomorrow. It makes me want to watch everything she’s ever done.
Raya and The Last Dragon is an animated film with Rose from the new Star Wars as Raya and Awkwafina as the dragon. You know, the most disappointing reaction from that Star Wars trilogy was the embarrassing treatment of Rose/Kelly Marie Tran. Sometimes, our behavior is just abhorrent. The second most disappointing reaction was the creators of Rise of Skywalker caving and writing her character essentially out of the trilogy. Anyway, my sons are still laughing at how I cried during Raya, but how can I help it? My soft, beautiful heart grew 2 sizes the day we watched.
I finally saw Wakanda Forever, the 2nd Black Panther movie. I wondered if I would, or if Love & Thunder and She-Hulk chased me away forever. I didn’t see it in the theater, and instead watched it from my couch, just in case. I don’t know if you’re familiar with the term “woke,” but one of the criticisms was that Wakanda Forever is “woke.” Probably it is. I don’t like being the target of an agenda, especially when it’s so ham-handed that I am conscious to the fact that I am nothing more than a “demographic” – this wasn’t as obvious as other examples, I didn’t think. Women were the leads and most of the important characters, but representation is not “woke.” I wanted to be a superhero because I was a little white boy and all of the superheroes for the last 100 years looked just like me. Now, they don’t. And that is not a bad thing in any galaxy. The cultures (people, music, rituals) are different, and that’s wonderful, in cinema and in real life. I say it’s probably “woke” because Disney usually seems to be trying too hard. However, if the art is as lovely, deep, and honestly moving as this one, “woke” isn’t so bad.
This Is Pop is a series on Netflix and, this week, I watched the Britpop episode. It would be impossible for me to express just how much Blur, Pulp, Oasis, Suede, Echobelly, and on and on through all the disposable B and C ripoffs, meant to me. I’ve been abundantly clear about the Smiths/Morrissey, but it never ended there. The nostalgia I feel sometimes causes my heart to ache, the music was awesome, everything felt far more simple than it does today. I had opinions and understood the world. Oasis fought Blur for Britpop supremacy, but the right answer was that Pulp was better than both of them.
I’m not so certain about too much anymore. I do have some, and hold onto them firmly and passionately. But (I can’t believe I’m going to write this) I don’t care what sort of music you listen to, what your Top 5 desert island discs are, or what your favorite song is – I just care that you do. You see, I find you totally fascinating, who you are, what you think & believe, what you’re like. I want you to have opinions and I want you to know why you hold them. And I really want you to tell me what they are.
Of course I love all forms of art and the effect they have on/for me, but more and more, I love the communal effects. In a dark theater, a great film connects us, to each other, to God, to our world. The same thing happens when we sing along to a song, when it takes us back to a space and time when we were present and alive. Usually we are so wrapped up in surviving, putting one foot in front of another, getting through the day, that some program on a streaming network can jar us out of that monotonous routine like little else, and wake us up to the indescribable divine gift of each moment. We are here and we are alive, so for heaven’s sake, turn it up and move a little.