As always, the past year’s media output covered a wide range—in quality, subject matter, and effect. It’s heartening to think that media might matter in venues beyond multiplexes, as demonstrated by the high-volume political agitating conjured by Mel Gibson and Michael Moore (and their voluble detractors), and also good news that reality (unscripted) TV might be losing steam. Most happily, documentaries—courtesy of cable TV, film festivals, and at long last, anxious mainstream distributors studios—seem to be making their own sorts of difference. And once again, PopMatters’ writers do their best to sort out the wheat, chaff, and in-between.
Thursday, January 6 2005
A highlight of 2004 was the way documentary reclaimed a place on the big screen.
This past year's films are at once peculiarly individual expressions and easy to group by genre: studio comedies were funnier than usual; horror films were intriguing in concept but disappointing in execution; science fiction was undercooked.
Colgan loves the bewitching Buffy and eye-dazzling Peter Pan as well as the comic brilliance of the Office.
The dead returned to life during 2004, with Zack Snyder's mall-set remake and Edgar Wright's pub-set spoof.
PopMatters' Political Editor presents the most shameful moments of the year in the US media, from Star Jones' wedding to the embarassment of William Hung and the hypocrisy of Bill O'Reilly.
Great though it may have been to see Australia's longest running soap tackle issues beyond who's at the pub, the whole lesbian thing turned ridiculous with Skye's conflicts and Lana's perving on every woman in the Coffee Shop.
I seem to be in the minority by thinking that this last season of The Sopranos was boring. In fact, I found most of the past year on television to be unexciting. So I looked for treasures in hidden places.
Kuersten raves about the controversial director Lars Von Trier's condemnation of the hypocrisy of the New Testament in 2004's Dogville.
This annual ritual of looking back has rarely seemed so apt. As it turns out, a majority of the year's worthy films take up precisely this theme, treating the messy processes of memory and/or history as exercises in creativity, anxiety, and futility.
Music videos continue to push boundaries, visual, technical, and political. And new artists continue to emerge alongside the old.
The year 2004 was monumental in the brief history of DVD. The death knell tolled for VHS, while the next big innovation started a blue-ray vs. HD DVD debate that lit up blogs and bulletin boards across the web.