Pop Culture Round-Up

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Best Movie I Saw: The Reader. Even though the first half hour is all nudity and gratuitous sex, it’s one of the best films I’ve seen in a year. The story is about a 15 year old boy (David Kross) who begins an affair with a much older woman (Kate Winslet). She abruptly ends the affair, and he learns years later at law school that she left to become an SS guard at Auschwitz. The movie explores their relationship, particularly her effect on him throughout the years, and how far he’s willing to go to keep one of her secrets. For my money, it’s the only film that could rival Slumdog for Best Picture honors.
I Also Enjoyed: Doubt, although it did not live up to my expectations. Also, I finally watched The Kingdom on DVD and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Best TV show I watched: Lost, Lost, Lost. I’ve heard complaints about the new season (not enough character development, too much time travel, blah blah blah) , but it’s possibly my favorite season so far. Of course, I do have some nerdy sci-fi tendencies.

Best Music I Heard: I’m making a Lovey Dovey CD for my friends for Valentine’s Day, so I’ve been revisiting some favorites. One in particular is singer/songwriter Andy Davis. His myspace photo looks a little like Ralphie’s little brother in the big coat from A Christmas Story, but don’t hold that against him. He was an opening act for someone here in Memphis, and he clearly impressed me more than the main event (who I still can’t remember). Listen to “Let the Woman.”

Best Thing I Read: I finally checked out Atonement. I’d like to thank everyone here for talking it up so much.

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13 Responses to “Pop Culture Round-Up”

  1. urbino Says:

    Glad you enjoyed Atonement.

    Did you hear the Slumdog scandal? I haven’t seen it, but I gather there are 2 young kids who have prominent roles in it. Anyway, it seems they found those kids in a Calcutta ghetto, but now that they’ve had major roles in a huge movie, they . . . still live in a Calcutta ghetto. Apparently, the producers paid them so little, they can’t afford to move out.

    Don’t remember where I read that. It was several weeks back. Maybe it’s not even true, but I must’ve considered the source credible at the time, or I wouldn’t have bothered to remember the story.

  2. mrspeacock Says:

    Did you ever see the movie Atonement? Having now read the book and seen the movie, I don’t think you’d be disappointed.

    Oh yes, the Slumdog scandal. I honestly think it’s overblown. It wasn’t a big budget movie, there was no guarantee it would rake in the money, and the child actors aren’t the biggest roles (although they were my favorite). I don’t know exactly how much they made, but the producers said it was several thousand dollars. Hilary Swank was paid, what, $3000 for Boys Don’t Cry? You just never know how well a movie is going to do.

  3. urbino Says:

    True enough, but once the movie did rake in the loot, seems like the right (and smart) thing to do would be to give the kids enough to get out of the ghetto. I doubt Hilary ever lived in a ghetto. If she did, it was completely unnecessary; she could’ve bunked with me.

    I haven’t seen the movie version. I’ve been kind of afraid to. I love the book so much, I don’t want to risk getting it spoiled. Plus, if I see the movie, I’ll forever-more think of the characters as the actors. I’ll probably break down and watch it. Sometime.

  4. mrspeacock Says:

    Ha! You never know; Halle Berry was homeless for a while. I’m guessing she could have bunked with you as well. But I agree. It would have been nice to at least get the kids out of the slums. They did set up a big college fund for them, but considering that the vast majority kids living in Indian slums don’t make it to college, I’m not sure how brilliant that plan is.

  5. michaellasley Says:

    Here’s a story about that, from the Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/4347472/Poor-parents-of-Slumdog-millionaire-stars-say-children-were-exploited.html

    One child was paid 500 pounds. One 1700.

    “Rubina and Azharuddin live a few hundreds yards from each other in a tangle of makeshift shacks alongside Mumbai’s railway tracks at Bandra. Azharuddin is in fact worse off than he was during filming: his family’s illegal hut was demolished by the local authorities and he now sleeps under a sheet of plastic tarpaulin with his father, who suffers from tuberculosis.

    “’There is none of the money left. It was all spent on medicines to help me fight TB,’ Azharuddin’s father, Mohammed Ismail, said. ‘We feel that the kids have been left behind by the film. They have told us there is a trust fund but we know nothing about it and have no guarantees.’”

  6. dejon05 Says:

    Here’s the “Slumdog” controversy I’d heard, and I don’t understand it. I have strong suspicion that the fact I have no idea what it’s like to be from a Mumbai slum may contribute to my ignorance/confusion.

    But I find the controversy surrounding the movie to be more proof of it’s powerful and provocative nature. And that’s exactly what I like in a movie.
    —-

    Also, I’m sad that I’m too busy to partake in pop culture discussions. Aside from this…

    Normally out of shame I would never admit this, but a friend whose opinion I really respect suggested I buy the new “Fallout Boy” album. My response was incredulous. “Fallout Boy?!” I’m neither a teenager, nor emo. Not for me. But I did it.

    I am here to say the album’s not bad. As a matter of fact, it is good. And I’m willing to say I like it.

    But I wouldn’t mind if we kept this between us.

  7. michaellasley Says:

    I haven’t seen it. It goes without saying that representation is a big issue in any type of media. I haven’t the slightest how it was handled in the movie. I like this critique from the article dejon linked: “some reviewers, commentators and film industry insiders have criticised it as ‘poverty porn’ which glamourises the squalor of slums and perpetuates Western stereotypes of India.” Not sure how true that is, but that’s a major problem with representing people who are very, very poor.

    If the movie gets people talking and possibly changes things for the better…well, that’s probably wishful thinking on my part….but if it did…

  8. mrspeacock Says:

    I’ve heard that critique, Michael, but I didn’t feel that way at all. I think you just have to see it and draw your own conclusions. That said, once anything is put on film in a Hollywood sort of way, isn’t it a bit glamorized by definition? Any time you approach something artistically, people can come along and say you’re glorifying (fill in the blank).

    DeJon – Fallout Boy is a super talented band. Embrace the love.

  9. michaellasley Says:

    It’s eat up with tricky, sure. But the line in that article dejon linked to, the line from the writer about how he just thought up the word slumdog because he thought it sounded cool or good or whatever he said….well, honestly, my first impression was “if he didn’t put much thought into the title, in which he was more or less naming a whole group of people and how in the world could you not think ‘dog’ would be maybe inappropriate”….but then again, I’ve read exactly two articles about this movie and haven’t seen it and have only thought about it for about 45 seconds if you total it all up and so there.

    I can’t name a Fallout Boy song off the top of my head, but I know I know a song or two of theirs.

  10. mrspeacock Says:

    Sugar, we’re going down swingin’! That’s a Fallout Boy song, not a statement.

    The whole point of the word “slumdog” is that it’s inappropriate. Just see the movie, already! 🙂

  11. urbino Says:

    Ha! You never know; Halle Berry was homeless for a while. I’m guessing she could have bunked with you as well.

    That’s the rumor.

  12. michaellasley Says:

    Well…I assumed it was meant to be inappropriate on some level. That doesn’t make it ok, though.

    Yes, I’m arguing just to argue. Don’t listen to me.

  13. mrspeacock Says:

    I stand by my original statement: Just see the movie, already! Or I’m going to start lumping you in with all the Harry Potter bashers who decided the books were evil without ever reading a word of them.

    Yes, them are fightin’ words.

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