Strawberry Fields Forever - Nothing is real

Monday, February 04, 2008

It's been a long, long, long time...

Well, since apparently I am posting again, I should probably do a quick recap of the last half a year or so in the oh-so music/film world.

In Rainbows - Radiohead

Radiohead is not an easy band to like which is part of why their strong following is frankly puzzling to me. They record challenging music (well, at least they have since OK Computer), yet they remain popular. This album no doubt was helped by a brilliant stunt by the band in their famous decision to release it online at a "name your price"-point that could literally be 0 dollars (or pounds). It was a gutsy decision in way, though I suppose given how insanely unpopular the major recording labels (and the RIAA) are, it probably wasn't THAT gutsy. Anyway, it's good that they apparently made a mint on the plan - even I paid (more than I thought I was) for the digital download - which WAS good old mp3 (though unfortunately encoded at an inadequate 160kbit/sec, but that's another story). Indeed, most likely they made more just in that digital download than they would have possibly made by "properly" releasing their record through a major label. (ironically, EMI records, their former company was the first of the major labels to adopt DRM-free policies, but again, that's another story) However, despite how good it was that this stunt worked, it's even better that the album itself is really good. It's not as catchy and anthemic as The Bends, nor is it as complicated, obtuse, and overall challenging as Kid-A (and I consider those 2 albums their best) - but it's actually probably not far behind either. The album has been analyzed by countless critics - the bottom line is I like a great deal of the songs on it and I find it in heavy rotation. Had Memory Almost Full and Sky Blue Sky also not been out last year, In Rainbows would likely have been my favorite. (or it that favourite?)

Grade: B+

I do film reviews on occasion, but there are too many backlogged ones, so I will be brief(er)

Judd Apatow's films continue to be wonderful. Superbad and Knocked Up are wildly different comedies, but both equally great. Even Walk Hard, while not quite living up to the sheer level of genius of The Rutles, was a good deal of fun.

Ratatouille continued Pixar's streak of thus far not having released an even mediocre film. It may not be the studio's best film (which I would argue is a 3-way tie between Toy Story 2, Finding Nemo and The Incredibles), but really this may not have been far off.

The Darjeeling Limited continued Wes Anderson's even more incredible record than Pixar. It isn't Rushmore, but it's another addition to that man's wonderful cinematic world.

Also, let me just say that Juno is worthy of the hype - it's worth checking out.

I may be forgetting a film or two, but those are the ones from last year that I really enjoyed.

In terms of television, The Colbert Report and The Daily Show continue to be excellent even with the Writer's Strike, which I hope either ends soon, or I hope that the studios themselves end.

The Office (US) continues to be a series that's extremely worthy of its pedigree. (frankly, I think it's FUNNIER than the UK original - though that series had a lot more pathos)

And the series I had my doubts about originally, Battlestar Galactica continues to amaze me. Given his history on Star Trek The Next Generation, Star Trek Deep Space Nine, and now Battlestar Galactica, at this point I think Ron Moore can do no wrong (much like how I feel about Pixar and Wes Anderson for that matter).

Well, that should pretty much catch me up on those fronts.

And again, if you live in the 22 states voting on Tuesday (and are eligible) remember to vote!


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