Sunday, January 10, 2010

Welcome to a Year of Culture.

This will be my attempt to record and briefly discuss the culture I consume over the next twelve months. I've kept track of books I've read over a year, but this will be my first attempt to track movies, television, plays, concerts and other live events.

Week One

Eating the Dinosaur by Chuck Klosterman (essays) (US) 1/1/10

An eclectic collection of essay dealing with topics ranging including Garth Brooks, ABBA, the unabomber, the NFL, Mad Men and time travel. An entertaining and thoughtful read.

Diner written and directed by Barry Levinson (DVD) (US) 1/1/10

An ensemble drama that follows a group of twenty-somethings as they come to terms with adulthood. I first watched this movie about ten years ago. I remember it being better. It's still a decent watch- maybe I'm just past the time in my life that I could really relate to it.

Hannah Takes the Stairs directed by Joel Swanberg (DVD) (US) 2/1/10

An independent flick I picked up this morning at Spin It Video. I was the first person to ever rent, and I hopefully will be the last. It's not worth the 85 minutes it takes to watch it.

Julie and Julia written and directed by Nora Ephron (DVD) (US) 2/1/10

I really enjoyed both narrative strands of this film. It's tough for a young actor like Amy Adams to carry her own story, while acting opposite Meryl Streep, but she does a credible job. It really made me hungry. I might pick up Julia Child's book and try a little French cooking of my own.

Vicious Circle performed by Dane Cook (PVR) (US) 5/1/10

I recorded this special that aired on the Comedy Network overnight. I've been meaning to watch a little more stand-up so I thought I'd give this special a try. Cook's over the top stage persona was too much for me to take for the two hour duration of this show. I didn't finish it. His observational humour didn't really work for. He seemed more intent on acting over-the top the performing well crafted jokes.

That Ain't Right performed by Bob Saget (PVR) (US) 5/1/10

After giving up on Dane Cook, I sat back and watched Danny Tanner's comedy stylings. I'd heard that his routine was vulgar and it certainly lived up to it's reputation. I have no problems whatsoever with humour that uses vulgarity and profanity, but I do expect there to be some humour. You can't just talk about sex with co-stars and swear to shock laughs out of people and call it comedy. However, that seems to be Bob Saget's approach to his work and he really made no bones about it, so whoe am I to judge? The audience seemed to like it, but it didn't work for me. There were a couple of jokes that made me chuckle, but not really enough to make it worth watching.

Corner Gas: Season Two created by Brent Butt (DVD) (Can) 7/1/10

I enjoyed the episodes of Corner Gas that caught from time to time while it was airing, but I never really committed to watching the show on a regular basis. This was odd, because I usually go out of my way to watch Canadian television, but since this show was so popular, I felt it didn't need my loyal viewing. However, over the Christmas Break I borrowed my father's Corner Gas DVD collection and have decided to watch the series. So far I've gotten through the first two seasons and I'm very impressed with the clever writing and the strong ensemble. I'm definitely looking forward to finishing the series.

Week Two

Mad Men: Season One (Disk One) (DVD) (US) 8/1/10

Who is this Don Draper? And how many packs of smokes do you think they go through while taping an episode? Those are my questions after watching the first three episodes of this critically acclaimed series. It's a slick looking series with interesting characters and I can't wait to watch more.

The Sopranos: Season One (Disk One) (DVD) US 10/1/10

It's hard to believe that I've never taken the time to watch what most people believe is the best TV series of all time. Amanda and I started it once before, but it was on the heels of finishing The Wire and we weren't ready to commit to another complex drama. But, we figured it was time to give this cultural touchstone another try. We re-watched the first four episodes and we're really drawn into Tony's world. So far it's a great mix of the excitement and intrigue of mob life, the human element of Tony and his family and Tony's vulnerability while talking with his therapist. It's no surprise that I'm hooked already.

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