Pop Culture This Week: 8/3

This week in popular culture!

MUSIC 8/7

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Dr. Dre “Compton: A Soundtrack” Dr. Dre is back just in time for the release of the biopic of his life. The new album comes out inspired by the film and also in place of other albums supposed to be released last year. It’s an exciting time for fans of early 90s hip-hop in which the genre seems to be placing itself into the oldies category. “Compton” features three guest spots from current rap king and fellow Compton-ite Kendrick Lamar as well as contributions from Eminem, Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube, and more.

Mac DeMarco “Another One”

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Slacker rock king Mac DeMarco releases an eight track album filled with low key love songs. If you like are pretty into love songs then this is like a pretty chill record to send to your gf. Whatevs. (Plus he gives out his address for you!)

Night Beds “Ivywild”

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Apparently quite different from the debut album, “Ivywild” is not necessarily being heralded for these changes, but critics seem to admit Winston Yellen is doing something here. Rather than the calm alt-rock/pop of “Country Sleep”, Night Beds goes heavy on the experimental side of R&B with background synths and auto-tuned vocals. On first listen it seems to be very reminiscent of the work of Nate Ruess (of fun. and solo fame), but without all the Disney and Queen influences.

Robyn & La Bagatelle Magique “Love is Free”

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A new EP from pop’s critical darling.

Frank Turner “Positive Songs for Negative People”

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The acoustic folk punk stylings of Frank Turner return here with an album that perfectly describes the MO of Turner: Positive Songs for Negative People. Turner appeals most to those on the edges of the punk scene armed with that ethos, but one that strives for songs that can be strummed rather than sped through.

HEALTH “Death Magic”

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Noise rock with lots of synth, the new record drives forward in an almost industrial rock type way, it’s no surprise they’ve been brought in to record video game soundtracks because these songs are sonically intense and emotive.

Other: Chelsea Wolfe “Abyss”; Gangrene “You Disgust Me”

MOVIES 8/5

Shaun the Sheep

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Alas, a film that I’ve already seen! No this is not because rich execs at a movie studio saw the great work I’ve been doing on this blog and decided to give me a screener, rather I, being an international traveler had the opportunity to watch this–a British film–on a British airline. No lie, I fell asleep during this movie–this is mostly due to being a very tired traveler–and the movie is actually really funny filled with the sort of gags you would expect from an Aardman Animation production (Wallace & Gromit, Chicken Run).

8/7

The Gift

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A thriller that promises to be quite intense and gripping. Joel Edgerton wrote, directed, and co-stars alongside Jason Bateman and Rebecca Hall. Bateman is always great as a pathetic yuppie and Rebecca Hall (Please Give, The Town) is one of the best actresses working today, so the cast is definitely loaded. Critics seem to be in on it so far (eight positive reviews) and it could be the perfect film to take us right out of summer and into the fall prestige season.

Fantastic Four

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At first the young, hip, and multicultural cast seemed very promising. Anybody who has watched television over the last decade knows that Michael B. Jordan can act (The Wire, Friday Night Lights, Parenthood). But rumors have been swirling all around that the film seems destined to crash and burn. Director Josh Trank looked promising with his debut Chronicle, but was fired off of his Star Wars universe project. Apparently the cast hasn’t seen the film yet and critics can’t talk about it until two days before it comes out–huge signs the studio wants to hide how bad it is rather than try to build momentum for it. This one’s looking more Terminator: Genisys than Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation.

The Diary of a Teenage Girl

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The film’s content may not appeal to all (a young girl has an affair with her mom’s boyfriend), but critics are calling it poignant in a look at the troubled life of a young girl.

Ricki and the Flash

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A Meryl Streep starring, Jonathan Demme (Silence of the Lambs, Rachel Getting Married) directed, Diablo Cody (Juno) written film that despite everything mentioned look pretty awful. It follows Streep as an aging rock star that comes back to attempt her family get back on the right track despite their tenuous relationship. Like I said, the combination of Streep, Demme, and Cody seems like it should work, but oh the trailer is filled with such cheese.

Dark Places

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Based on a Gillian Flynn novel (author of the excellent novel and film Gone Girl), Dark Places looks to capitalize off of last year’s successful adaptation. Charlize Theron stars as … and the combination of her acting talent along with the twisty thriller this is bound to be makes it sound promising. However, critics do not seem to be on board with this assertion and the attempt to emulate last year’s success may cause Places to slip through the cracks. If the promise of a Theron lead, Flynn thriller is enough for you then certainly check it out.

Cop Car

Two kids take a joyride in an empty police car leading to unexpected consequences (Kevin Bacon starts chasing them around). It’s hard to tell whether this is more of a boys will be boys type genre a la Mud or Mark Twain novels or if this is a modern social commentary on the ways in which police enact violence, because these are two very different tones. I’ve embedded the trailer, so I guess you can see for yourself.

Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet

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An animated film based on the teachings/poetry of Kahlil Gibran (a popular Lebanese-American poet). The film is a series of vignettes inspired by the poetry included in Gibran’s most famous work:The Prophet.

Two Step

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A low-budget Southern neo-noir involving a troubled teenage boy, a con man, and a violent landlord. Plot descriptions and the trailer don’t seem to reveal everything that’s happening, but it is reminiscent of last year’s excellent Blue Ruin–a violent, yet slow moving thriller about the ways mankind enacts harm upon one another.

Other: Call Me Lucky; Sneakerheadz; The Runner; The Falling

TELEVISION

8/4

Playing House (USA)

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Season one was about two best friends who live together and raise one of their children and it got glowing reviews due to the comedy partnership of Jessica St. Clair and Lennon Parham. I haven’t seen it, but I can attest to the fact that St. Clair and Parham are brilliant in their guest appearances on Comedy Bang Bang and their new podcast based around their Bang Bang characters called WOMP it Up!

8/5

Difficult People (Hulu)

Billy Eicher (of Billy on the Street and Parks & Rec) and comedian Julie Klausner play versions of themselves–two comedians longing for success in New York City. It’s sure to be manic and probably occasionally funny depending on how much you can take Eichner’s screaming and high maintenance humor.

Mr. Robinson (NBC)

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Craig Robinson joins a long line of comedians given their own sitcom based around their own personality. It looks really broad, but at the same time you can’t help but feel good for Robinson who really rose through the ranks, from being a bit player in The Office to one of its stars, to a fairly unsuccessful movie star to now having a TV show where his name is meant to bring in viewers.

8/6

The Daily Show (Comedy Central)

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The Daily Show with Jon Stewart comes to an end this Thursday in what is sure to be a bittersweet goodbye. Look forward to many think pieces, listicles, and other internet fodder all of this week as we reflect back on its impact.

8/7

Club de Cuervos (Netflix)

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An interesting choice by Netflix here, bringing in an original Spanish language series about a family that owns a Mexican soccer team. It looks to be a wide mix of comedy and soapish drama. It’s certainly intriguing and hopefully good.

8/8

Funny Or Die Presents America’s Next Weatherman (TBS)

A strange mix of brands here as comedy web site Funny or Die brings a Mark Burnett (Survivor, The Apprentice) reality show about weathermen to TBS. Bound to be at least somewhat self-aware, this could end up being a comically enjoyable take on reality television.

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