Jun 4, 2013

My Pop Culture Weekend: June 1-2

One thing I've been flirting with for a while is the idea of writing regular posts. It seems to be all the rage, this idea of constancy. One thing I'm going to try out is a Pop Culture Weekend, wherein I go through all the pop-culturey goodness that I experienced over the weekend. Since I spent this weekend with Guest Blogger Square Peg, I thought she should come along for the ride.

 Saturday, 2:15 pm
The Kings of Summer (film)
in which a boy and his two friends leave home to form a new life in the woods. Bonds are tested, pubescent love is thwarted, and lessons are learned.

Tableau: I thought this movie was wonderful. Really cute and quaint.

Square Peg:  It was a perfect mix of funny and serious and heart-warming

T: When I saw the teaser, I thought that the movie was going to be sort of a naturalistic
coming-of-age story, and it is that at times, but it's also strangely surreal.

SP: Sure, it's not always realistic, but it's not supposed to be. It's really trying to recreate a feeling of adolescence. And in that, I think it was more than successful.

T: The dream-like world doesn't really make sense in the realistic atmosphere of the rest of the world. It is super depressing, though, which I liked.

SP: I just thought it was great.

Saturday, 7:30pm
The Girls (w/ Jones Street Station)
in which a band, quasi-fronted by pixie dream-girl Alison Brie (Community, Mad Men), plays a show of bluegrass-lite covers of contemporary hits and classics

The Girls (Alison Brie, Julianna Guill, and Cyrina Fiallo)
T: It was a part of our Alison Brie-vening (Brie has a small part in The Kings of Summer). I was surprised that the group was a collaboration, despite the fact that internet-darling Alison Brie was 1/3 of the group.

SP: It was a solid group, to be sure, but the second she stepped out on stage people were shouting at her. She can't escape her popularity.

T: She's so charismatic and likable. She's like everyone's most beautiful friend.

SP: It's disgusting how wonderful she is.

T: The musical harmonies were really tight. They had a good presence, and I liked the set-up of the band, where each girl took turns to be the lead on a song while the other two harmonized on backup. The girls have a sort of Etsy-approved, Pinterest adorableness. They even wore uniquely crafted outfits that highlighted their personalities.

SP: They each had distinct voices and styles, which worked with their set-up. And I normally don't like when actors try to be singers.

T: You never get over the fact that it's an actor performing music.

SP: Strengths aside, it did fall apart a little when they all sang together on songs with their back-up band, but the songs that they arranged themselves were great. And the band was great. Jones Street Station.

T: I wasn't expecting to like them. I dug their bluegrassy style.

SP: Now I didn't love the venue. Maybe it was because I was tired or because it was so hot outside, but I didn't want to stand next to a bunch of sweaty people fighting for a closer view of the stage.

T: Yeah, it's more of a winter venue.

SP: Still, I wanted to go and have fun, and I did have a lot of fun.

Saturday, 10:30 pm
The Pop Culture Barbecue
in which we are exposed to new and old music.

T: So, the barbecue involved people singing Smashing Pumpkins songs without a hint of irony, and it was glorious. I never realized that that was a band that people glommed onto.

SP: I think it was the people at this barbecue specifically, not culture in general.

T: But they knew the words to multiple songs from the Smashing Pumpkins repertoire by heart!

SP: Well, everyone in the 90s knew their music.

T: I guess I missed that.

SP: Like they missed LFO.

T: Nobody missed LFO. And nobody misses LFO. 

SP: Ouch.

T: We also heard Daft Punk's new album, which was pretty good.

SP: It's great background music.

T: Good to dance to.

SP: But I lost interest when people started talking about the craft that goes into creating their music. Like, I don't like the CD more because it was elegantly put-together.

T: Right, It's tangential to the enjoyment. Which is maybe why I find the new album just "okay." I don't care what went on behind the scenes. I'm more worried about how sweaty they get in their helmets.

Sunday, 11:00 am
Galaxy Quest (film)
in which a gang of intrepid actors fight evil with the help of hapless but well-meaning groups of aliens and super-fans.

Alan Rickman and an alien in
Galaxy Quest
T: Sunday was a much more slow day, pop-culturally speaking. We watched Galaxy Quest.

SP: Which is really a lot of pop culture contained in one small package. It's a movie that's a parody of Star Trek and also looks at fan communities and how those are structured. And Sigourney Weaver was great.

T: Sig Weaves!

SP: Great breasts.

Sigourney Weaver in
Galaxy Quest
T: Top knockers. I didn't really appreciate what Tim Allen was doing until now, after having watched the new Star Trek films and going back and watching the original series. I didn't realize that he was doing this whole Shatner thing, but the brilliance of his performance lies in the fact that it's not really an impersonation.

SP: Exactly! Nobody is accusing him of being a great actor, but his acting really sells the balance of the movie. It's not quite a parody, but it's not a straight action comedy either. That's what makes it work. It's better if it's viewed with Star Trek knowledge, but it works without that knowledge as well; it makes sense without knowing the references.

T: And it pays homage to fans. It's very pro-fan.

Sunday, 2:10 pm
Frances Ha (film)
Frances Ha
in which an aging dancer (27 years old) loses the love of her life (her best friend) and must figure out her personal and professional life amidst economic turmoil.

T: And then we saw Frances Ha. Which was honestly lovely. It was incredible.

SP: I liked it a pinch less than I liked The Kings of Summer. But it was still great.

T: It was delightful while also being one of the most depressive movies I've seen in a good long while. It might be my favorite movie of 2013 so far.

SP: I'm just so sick of and annoyed by movies with starving artists who act like there is no way out of their situation.

T: Get a damn job, hippies!

SP: Now, I know that I'm sounding too pragmatic, especially after I praised the dream-like qualities of The Kings of Summer, but I wished that the movie had been more realistic in regards to that.

T: But the movie doesn't give Frances any breaks. In fact, it really showcases her failings as a person. Greta Gerwig, who I really hated in Lola Versus, really gets a chance to shine. Writing the movie with the director (and her lover, Noah Baumbach) really let her focus on what she does best.

SP: She's a delight.
Square Peg

T: Honestly, it's a movie about a bunch of people failing in very specific ways, and I appreciated the honesty.  It's also very funny, and it has a Gummer in it. 

SP: Meryl Streep's kid.

T: Right. I also liked that the movie doesn't fall into easy trappings of a romantic comedy. There's no "and then he saves her" moment.

SP: I hate when that's in movies. And in this one it wouldn't have worked. It's too easy.

T: She is still able to have an awakening without going all Kate Chopin and drowning herself in the sea.

SP: You keep referencing that novel. Should I be worried?

T: I should probably stay away from the ocean, just to be safe. "Not Penny's Boat" and whatnot.

SP: High culture to Lost in 5 seconds flat.

T: It's what I do.


And that was my weekend. So filled with pop culture, so filled with fun.
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