Pop Culture This Week: 8/24

Five or so things to look forward to in pop culture this week:

Beach House Depression Cherry


The dreamy pop band releases their fifth album this week. Beach House is known for their dreamy pop sounds, ambient and spacey with enough of a pop through line to get stuck in your head. It’s the band’s fifth release and already quite acclaimed by a few major critical sites. As the summer fades and you begin to look toward lighter sounds to accompany that gentle fall breeze, this could be the record for you.

Queen of Earth


The latest film by Alex Ross Perry (Listen Up Philip) stars Elizabeth Moss (Mad Men) and Katherine Waterson (Inherent Vice) as childhood friends who rent a beach house together but figure out their companionship is not what it once was. It is being labeled as a psychological thriller and early artwork for the film show a more frightening and abstract bent than the plot description might indicate.



The latest Netflix original series tells the story of Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar and Drug Enforcement Agencies trying to bring him down. At this point nearly every new Netflix show is an event, and there is some buzz surrounding it so it’s at least worth a shot if the subject matter sounds interesting.

Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon II – The Green Belt


Netflix is all about the movie business nowadays and one of their first projects is strangely a sequel to the popular Chinese-language 2000 martial arts film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Some of the cast is back, but auteur director Ang Lee is not–someone had to be asking for this right?

Turbo Kid


A throwback to the action films of the 80s, Turbo Kid is an independent film about a teenage boy who goes on an adventure to save his robot girlfriend. He becomes the sort of futuristic warrior that he could only become in the movies, defeating bad guys and bosses all over the place. This thing appears to be pure fun, making no bones about its influences, and celebrating the excessive gore and violence that comes with this comic genre.

Others: Z For Zachariah; Yo La Tenga Stuff Like That Here, The Weeknd Beauty Behind the Masses, Destroyer Poison Season, k-os Can’t Fly Without Gravity

Pop Culture This Week: 8/17

New pop culture this week! Now in a new (and much simpler format). Instead of going through every major release in music, tv, and film I will just highlight the top five (or so) releases you should now about this week. Because I am only doing five, my choices will tend toward things you’ve never heard of, rather than the major releases every knows about.

Crash Test


Taking their UCB comedy show to a whole other level, Paul Scheer and Rob Huebel present a comedy special for Vimeo that all takes place on a bus as they tour around Los Angeles with a live audience. The special also guest stars Aziz Ansari, Rob Cordry, and Aubrey Plaza making appearances in the several pit stops that the comedians take along the way. It looks like a fun experiment, one that is particularly suited for the widespread interests of someone like Scheer (who among his many tv guest spots is in The League, hosts How Did This Get Made?, co-launched Wolfpop, and has a performance art podcast The Sylvester Stallone Show). Fans of alt-comedy will likely be into this.

Documentary Now


While the mockumentary is well played out by now, the idea of actually parodying the art of documentary filmmaking feels like it’s ripe for satirization. Enter IFC’s new Seth Myers’ produced show Documentary Now–a six episode series presenting faux documentaries in the style of some of the most famous works in the genre (The Thin Blue LineGrey Gardens). In a genre that can often become far too serious in its sense of self-importance, Documentary Now will hopefully bring about some fresh air. The series stars Myers, Bill Hader, Fred Armisen, and Helen Mirren as the host.

Carly Rae Jepsen: Emotion


Jepsen’s new album will likely be the year’s best pure pop album even if early singles didn’t really do great on the radio (but boy is “I Really Like You” great). Jepsen already has the decade’s best pop song under her belt and here she is joined by a plethora of great song writers in SIA, Shellback, Peter Svensson (The Cardigans), Rostam Batmanglij (Vampire Weekend) as well as a whole slew of other Swedish pop song writers. It’s a bummer that this didn’t come out earlier in the summer (like it did in Japan) as it’s the perfect sort of bubblegum pop that would have been the perfect soundtrack.



Lily Tomlin stars as the grandma of Julia Garner (who had a bit role in The Americans this season) who has recently found out she is pregnant. Garner asks her for money and they embark on a trip together with Tomlin looking out for her granddaughter in the way others don’t seem to be. Tomlin’s character appears to be outspoken, the sort of crazy old woman trope that can grow tiresome, but early positive reviews suggest it will be a much more touching film than crass old woman comedy.

American Ultra


A movie that’s really come out of nowhere–I hadn’t heard of it until a couple weeks ago and there seems to be little buzz surrounding it leading up to its premiere. On its face it seems interesting–a couple of stoners (Jesse Eisenberg & Kristen Stewart) are thrust into the middle of a CIA assassination attempt and suddenly one realizes in Jason Bourne-like fashion that he is a highly trained hit man. It’s part stoner-comedy, part spy thriller and it could be really good or quite bad.

Other: The Hot Wives of Las Vegas

Pop Culture This Week: 8/3

This week in popular culture!



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”


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”


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”


A new EP from pop’s critical darling.

Frank Turner “Positive Songs for Negative People”


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”


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”


Shaun the Sheep


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).


The Gift


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


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


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


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


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


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

2 step index

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



Playing House (USA)


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!


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)


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.


The Daily Show (Comedy Central)


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.


Club de Cuervos (Netflix)


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.


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.

Pop Culture This Week: 7/20

Last week I excitedly wrote about the latest Netflix venture Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp, which I had previously seen (and if you Google it, it still says it) was coming out Friday, July 17th. Apparently that’s not true, as I discovered when trying to find it on Netflix. I only have one purpose with these post, to inform the reader what is happening throughout the week and I failed at this. Apparently the internet is a much harder place to navigate than I previously imagined–I apologize–and hope I can gain back your trust.


Ducktails “St. Catherine”


The side project of Real Estate guitarist Matt Mondanile releases their fifth album this Friday. Listen if you like lo-fi pop with a psychedelic tinge.

Ashley Monroe “The Blade”


Another country release in the edgier vein of Kacey Musgraves. She was also a part of Miranda Lambert group The Pistol Annies which is a pretty cool name, so you might wanna check it out.



A World War II drama/thriller which follows a Jewish woman recently freed from an interment camp–disfigured from the horrors that occurred there. After getting reconstructive surgery she heads home to a husband who can’t recognize her. The underlying tension lies in the mystery of who betrayed her to the Nazis–was it her husband? She uses her new anonymity to figure out this mystery. This film has pulled great reviews, and is likely as intense as it sounds.

Paper Towns


The latest adaptation of teen novel writer extraordinaire John Green seems to combine two teen movie tropes: the one special life-changing evening and let’s road trip to solve some sort of mystery that only WE can solve. And it apparently seems to be doing so to pretty good effect as the reviews are pretty good.



A teacher and one of her students both get pregnant at the same time, which not only sounds terrible, but also makes for a terrible movie poster (see above). However early reviews paint the film as charming and humorous. Not sure the film will be a hit with the crowd that might typically watch it or that the people who actually would like it will actually see it, but these reviews spark intrigue for me.



A gritty boxing film with a gritty buffed up performance from Jake Gylenhaal with Rachel McAdams combining her gritty performance in True Detective while paying tribute to Amy Adams’ gritty performance in The Fighter and 50 Cent to make sure you knew there was some real grit in there, all directed by Antoine Fuqua who previously helmed other gritty films like Training Day and The Equalizer.

Cavalo Dinheiro (also titled Horse Money)

A surreal and haunting documentary that allows a Cape Verdean immigrant to tell stories of his life–some filled with truth–others stretched or imagined. It’s very darkly shot and the trailer escapes any sort of defined plot.



Why is Adam Sandler in this film? He’s hardly any sort of leading man other than being in his own Sandler-esque comedies. He’s not really the proto-type for a nerd, which is the kind of hero this movie about video games coming to life calls for. It’s a pretty clever idea that I would be exponentially excited for if Sandler wasn’t the star. Sandler belongs in films that use his idiosyncrasies either as straight forward showcases of man-child as comedy or as incapable human beings trying to survive in the world (a la Punch-Drunk Love). Director Chris Columbus is fairly capable at directing blockbusters (his catalog is spectacularly full of the biggest films to the point that one wonders if he is almost an auteur of big motion pictures–I mean just look: Home Alone, Mrs. Doubtfire, Bicentennial Man, Harry Potter (1&2), Percy Jackson, not to mention countless producer and screenwriting credits). There are no reviews out yet, which is not a good sign, and I can’t imagine it will be very good.

Other movies: Samba


Apparently every television network decided to premiere their new reality TV premises this week, because that’s pretty much all we’re getting. Esquire’s The Agent follows four sports agents around, FOX debuts Knock Knock Live a door to door game show that follows around Ryan Seacrest as he comes to your door! FOX also gives away a lot of houses in Extreme Home Makeover fashion, with Home Free. Last Comic Standing is back on NBC, Esquire is having a burger competition (The Next Great Burger), and VH1 gives us what we’ve always wanted, twins battling other twins in Twinning! TLC proves that God is real with Answered Prayers, while actual funny comedian Jimmy Pardo hosts a quiz and puzzle game show called Race to Escape on Science. Lastly, E! premieres two new follow these people around shows in Stewarts and Hamiltons–following Rod Stewart and George Hamilton’s families–and I Am Cait–the soon-to-be record breaking show about Caitlyn Jenner.

All this talk of reality TV, but really the reality show you should watch is from South Korea and is called The Genius. Here, a link to the first season on YouTube.


This video of Chance the Rapper performing “Sunday Candy” alongside Kirk Franklin is great and is a reminder of how great this song is: