Thursday, July 10, 2008

Pop Culture Wrap-Up

Yes, this is an odd image for midsummer, but I finally finished watching Atanarjuat | The Fast Runner this week and it blew my mind. I think Steve pestered me to watch this about a decade ago and it really is something else (belated hat tip). I've been meaning to do a "here's what's going on" blog post for a while, but this draft has been kicking around for too long already. Some other bits of pop culture that I've made time for over the past month or two:
  • Sicko -- I'm a big Michael Moore fan, and I don't mind the formula he's used for success. I found this one fascinating and hilarious...even though you know the U.S. has a messed up health care system, the film just hammers the message home with compelling contrasting examples from around the world. Worth watching for the trip to Cuba alone.
  • How Happy To Be -- I chose this book for a weird reason...because I love the author's movie reviews. Seriously, Katrina Onstad must be the best movie writer ever -- I enjoy reading the reviews of terrible movies, amazing films, and ones I know I will never see. Anyway, this was her first novel from a couple of years ago, and it's excellent. Sort of a journey toward authenticity, and I devoured it quickly and happily.
  • An Inconvenient Truth -- I'm embarrassed that it took me this long to see this incredible documentary. Pretty depressing, and intellectually bludgeoning, but with glimmers of hope. Powerful stuff.
  • How Art Made the World -- a five-part PBS documentary about the history of art; seriously fascinating stuff. Mind bending images, and I struggled to keep the different eras in anything close to their historical sequence. Great brain food.
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows -- The final in the series, which I hadn't re-read since the week it was released a year ago. A rollicking good finish, almost as fun to read as the first time, and exactly the kind of escapism I needed last week.
  • Project Grizzly -- they call it a Canadian cult classic, and I can see why. It's a documentary about a guy in Ontario who is obsessed with designing and building the ultimate armoured suit that could withstand a grizzly bear attack. The guy is probably a genius, but also totally whacked, so it makes for compelling viewing.
  • ROAM -- a mountain biking video with some of the most stunning videography I've seen in the genre, especially some crazy overhead shots where the camera must be on a cable following along above a rider as he goes through a long section of jumps. You can watch some here, and the coolest stuff is around five minutes in.
  • Princess Mononoke -- another thanks to Steve for this one. Probably my current favourite Miyazaki film. I watched it twice in a couple of months and it was even better the second time.
  • Juno -- Tannis and I rented this one for a sorta date after the kids were asleep, and it was perfect. We loved it. Funny and sad and smart and dumb in all the right ways for the mood we were in. I think it made me nostalgic for John Hughes teen movies from the '80s.

Were any of these ones you enjoyed too (or detested)? What are you watching or reading this summer?


Andrew said...

I'm not much of a Michael Moore fan, since it appears he takes some liberties with the presentation of his subject... but then, who doesn't. Everyone's got an agenda. I prefer anything by Errol Morris (who, to be fair, also spins his subject but in a much more subtle manner).

I loved Project Grizzly - awesome. I saw an article recently in the paper on the guy, and he's still hard at it. Very dedicated.

The PBS series looks interesting - did you find that at the library?

Jeremy said...

Agreed, Andrew -- MM lays it on pretty thick. I think that would normally be a huge turnoff for me, but he does it with so much humour and character that I seem to give him a pass. Helps that I tend to agree with the basic premise of his films, I suppose. Roger and Me was so refreshing and unique when it came out that the memory of it seems to sustain my interest in his newer projects.

You saw Project Grizzly too!? Crazy. You have to admire the guy's dedication, no question. A full-on quest.

I made a mistake: although PBS broadcasted How Art Made the World, it was produced by the BBC. I found it fascinating...and yes, I spotted it at our library.