Every season, like clockwork four times a year, there comes a time when the lazy crap factory of pop culture becomes clogged with its own crapitude for a little while, and magically, through the back door, a whole flood of actual quality media starts pouring into music stores, multiplexes and game stores.
Mostly, of course, it's to coincide with events -- good TV shows make their big push during sweeps in May and November, good movies are released in the winter for the big Oscar push, and video games are introduced in the spring for the big Electronic Entertainment Expo and then sometimes rolled out the door too soon for the Christmas buying season.
Right now I'm in a lucky spot to be able to check out a lot of this new stuff as part of my job. I'm still getting to review tech stuff (video games, gadgets, etc.) while starting up the new job editing TV and movie coverage.
So, here's a little of what I've been lucky enough to get a glimpse of. If you're not interested in movies, TV or video games (if you're one of those insufferable people who, like, reads books and stuff, for instance), you might want to skip today's entry and read about Ass Cancer instead. Or better yet, buy a Pirate Bendy!
I'll start with this because I just saw it today and I'm still pretty jazzed. There will be plenty of people who won't like this movie simply because it's not Rushmore. Well, nothing is ever going to be Rushmore (well, except maybe The Graduate, as Pamie recently reminded me), but Royal Tenenbaums manages to be similar to that movie in tone while being completely different in plot.
It's as melancholy, maybe more so, but just as quirky and funny. Every shot is packed with detail and background clutter. Everything is labeled, and the dynamics of all the main players (Gene Hackman, Angelica Huston, Gwyneth Paltrow, Luke and Owen Wilson, Ben Stiller, etc...) are all laid out in a series of fantastic quick scenes and a voice over by Alec Baldwin.
The thing is, I can see people really disliking this movie despite its excess of charms. Gene Hackman, to my mind, is the best thing about this movie. But what I really like about it is that that's it's smart, but has a huge, sentimental heart at the same time. It's easy to be cynical, even these days. Somehow director Wes Anderson and co-writer Owen Wilson manage sweetness culled from bitter circumstance. See it before there's an anti-Anderson/Wilson backlash.
OK, forget Xbox. Forget Gamecube (unless you have one and want to play this game on there). Right now, my PlayStation2 is giving me much joy with this one game, a sequel to the snowboarding game SSX. This one is better in a lot of ways -- the interface is improved, the graphics are a little smoother, the voice acting is... well, still videogame voice acting, but the game just feels more complete.
I had a really hard time learning to do tricks well in the original game, and this one has a much-improved training mode.
And you can't beat having a Run-DMC song as a running part of your game.
Saw this last week and I'm going to be one of the only people you hear bad things about this movie, but... I don't know... Something about it just didn't work for me. Russell Crowe is amazing as a math genius/crazy schizo guy. The story is fine. The plot twists are interesting.
But something about Ron Howard's directing in this one just struck me as really weak and plain.
There seemed to be shots lifted right out of Requiem for a Dream, and the plot is reminiscent of Pi. About halfway through the movie, especially when seeing Jennifer Connelly in the film, it occurred to me that Ron Howard wants to be Darren Aronfsky really, really bad.
I remember way back in the day of the 286 IBM-compatible computer that me and my Dad first started playing "Wolfenstein 3-D." It was the first of many first-person shooters I'd play, but I have a fondness for that one because it just played so well for its time. You ran down corridors, opened doors, and gunned down Nazis who grunted things like, "Auf Wienerschnitzel!" or somesuch and then died. Or they'd shoot you back.
This game is a revamped game with a storyline, multiplayer gaming and lots of other doodads. The story is so-so, but the multiplayer maps are outstanding and the graphics are the latest and greatest. It just looks mighty fine, especially if you've got the necessary hardware to fire this puppy up the right way.
Did I just say that? You may now issue me a Frequent Geek Diner's Card.
Here's an idea (if any of you are still reading): Send me some suggestions for movies, TV shows, video games or other gadgets and media you think are just bad ass and worthy of attention. Let's limit it to new and/or obscure stuff. Don't tell me how great you think E.R. is on Must-See TV.
I'll post what you all have to say on Friday.
"But young pretty models are supposed to fall in love with crusty old men! It's the natural order of things!"