Film

Summer of Same: May 2009

May's titles include the fourth films in two aging franchises, more Pixar perfection, and the reboot of a TV series from 40 years ago. And they say there are no new ideas.

Director: Gavin Hood

Film: X-Men Origins: Wolverine

Cast: Hugh Jackman, Liev Schreiber, Danny Huston, Will.i.am, Ryan Reynolds

Website: http://www.x-menorigins.com/

MPAA rating: PG-13

Image: http://images.popmatters.com/blog_art/w/wolverineposter.jpg

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1 May

X-Men Origins: Wolverine

It’s the most talked about movie of Summer 2009 so far -- and the season hasn't even started. Fox has been doing damage control ever since a supposedly "incomplete" version of this fourth film in the franchise became available online, arguing that the less than stellar results reported were "not the final cut". While some might argue that this prequel which tells the story of how Hugh Jackman's comic book character came into being needs all the publicity help it can get, this is not the kind the studio was hoping for. Gavin Hood, who made the highly regarded Tsotsi in 2005 may seem like an odd choice to manage this material, but the images leaked on the web seem to confirm his confidence behind the lens. With an interesting cast and a fanbase still hungry for more mutant goodness, this could be an early hit -- that is, if the leak didn't diminish already overripe expectations.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine

 

Director: Mark Waters

Film: Ghosts of Girlfriends Past

Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Garner, Emma Stone, Breckin Meyer, Lacey Chabert, Robert Forster

MPAA rating: PG-13

Image: http://images.popmatters.com/blog_art/g/ghostsofgirlfriendspastposter.jpg

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1 May

The Ghosts of Girlfriends Past

It's an interesting concept - take the classic situational set up from Dickens' A Christmas Carol, transfer it over to the post-modern RomCom, and use the premise to show a womanizing cad (Matthew McConaughey) the error of his lothario ways. Sadly, early reports have this Mark Waters effort (he made Freaky Friday and Mean Girls) failing to fulfill the promise in the approach, with a complete lack of chemistry between McConoughey and co-star Jennifer Garner.

Ghosts of Girlfriends Past

 

Director: Aristomenis Tsirbas

Film: Battle for Terra

Cast: Brian Cox, James Garner, Evan Rachel Wood, Justin Long, Dennis Quaid, Amanda Peet

MPAA rating: PG

Image: http://images.popmatters.com/blog_art/b/battleforterraposter.jpg

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1 May

Battle for Terra

This 3D CG epic first premiered at this year's Sundance Film Festival, and the reviews have been mixed at best. Some have enjoyed its combination of visuals and strong anti-war messaging. Others have found it lame in comparison to the exemplary efforts of Pixar, Disney, and Dreamworks. This critic would gladly give you his opinion except for one thing -- Roadhouse Attractions is only screening the title in major markets. Apparently, where he lives, there's no need for a preview.

Battle for Terra

 

Director: Jim Jarmusch

Film: The Limits of Control

Cast: Isaach De Bankolé, Tilda Swinton, Gael García Bernal, Hiam Abbass, Paz De La Huerta, Bill Murray

MPAA rating: R

Image: http://images.popmatters.com/blog_art/l/limitsofcontrolposter.jpg

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1 May

The Limits of Control

Jim Jarmusch is back, and like the recent work of a certain Manhattan mensch, his latest effort takes place in Spain. The artist behind such amazing films as Stranger than Paradise, Night on Earth, and Broken Flowers offers what some have described as a crime film married to an existential slice of magic realism. With an incredible cast that includes Isaach De Bankole, John Hurt, Bill Murray, and Tilda Swinton, this should at least be interesting, if not an antidote of the mostly popcorn product to come.

The Limits of Control

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Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

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9
TV

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

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The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

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To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.


Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09
Amazon

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

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Gallagher's work often suffers unfairly beside famous husband's Raymond Carver. The Man from Kinvara should permanently remedy this.

Many years ago—it had to be 1989—my sister and I attended a poetry reading given by Tess Gallagher at California State University, Northridge's Little Playhouse. We were students, new to California and poetry. My sister had a paperback copy of Raymond Carver's Cathedral, which we'd both read with youthful admiration. We knew vaguely that he'd died, but didn't really understand the full force of his fame or talent until we unwittingly went to see his widow read.

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