“POP” TEN

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Peter’s favorite high fructose mainstream movie/tv/media experiences of the year. 

Alright enough with the high-falootin’ top ten lists. This one’s for THE REAL AMERICA! Joe “The Stoner” says: “There’s no guilt in these pleasures!” (OK, yes, there’s a little, but way more pleasure than guilt.)

 

1. Beijing Olympics Opening Ceremony (Multimedia Event via TV)

Freaking amazing. Busby Berkley for the 21st century. Drummers, dancers, acrobats, lights, huge screens…lots and lots of em. The largest scale multimedia performance event ever, created by filmmaker Yimou Zhang and seen live on television by 3 billion. (By the way- NBC’s commentary over the broadcast goes on my top ten travesties list.)

 

2. Election Night At Northwest Film Forum (TV via Multimedia Event)

A really unique communal live media experience. Our 2-screen cinema became a “control center,” showing live television (multiple channels) on the big screens while the personal screens (cell phones and laptops) flickered throughout the theaters and lobby. There have never been that many screens in our building (and for that matter, never that many in the neighborhood, the city, the world) all showing multiple views of the same event.

 

3. Speed Racer (IMAX art)

Has anyone else seen this extraordinary, high-speed cinematic spectacle? Color-saturated sets, processed photographs for backgrounds, neon streaks of light, bursting flares, and swooping curves and loops. Its not unlike seeing the work of video artist Jeremy Blake played on fast forward and projected onto a spinning Frank Gehry building in the middle of the Indie 500. (I did have the good fortune of seeing this in an IMAX theater, and the scale was important. So a dvd viewing may be a little less impressive.)

 

4. The first hour of Wall-E (Silent Movie)

The second half of the movie is ok (for Disney), but the first half is so brilliant! I really would have preferred the movie to end while our heartbroken star was still on Earth. In fact, I see the whole “space station” business as a dream/ hallucination in Wall-E’s circuitry while he slowly died alone in his shack.

 

5. 30 Rock Overload (TV on the internet)

You know what’s better than watching an episode of 30 Rock? Gorging on a whole season of episodes (via nbc.com) in one weekend until you’re crying tears of joy and gasping for air between laughs. (Or maybe that was just a hallucination while I slowly died alone in my apartment?)

 

6. Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (Smart dumb movie)

“Ain’t nothing bad gonna happen today!” A fantastic, irreverent music biopic mash-up, and John C. Reilly’s finest work! Dewey’s Brian Wilson phase is almost as funny as his Bob Dylan phase. Plus funny cameos, including Jack White as Elvis, Jack Black as Paul McCartney… and it should get a special award for assembling a Grammy-style collaborative performance featuring- I am serious- Jackson Browne, Jewel, Lyle Lovett and Ghostface Killah.

 

7. 2nd Season of Mad Men (A good reason to have cable TV)

After a really interesting but slightly wonky first season, this AMC series really found its legs in its second season this year as it got deeper, darker, more complex. If you’ve just started the series via dvd, stick with it! (Plus, Mad Men’s set design should be considered an actual character, and a really good one.)

 

8. Reality Show Rejections (A bad reason to have cable TV)

As I do with most widely popular horrible things, I catch bits and pieces of reality TV just to keep tabs on the decline of civilization. The real staple of the genre’s structure is the “elimination” ceremony- each episode’s climactic critique, exaggerated suspense, and final public rejection. This year, a few shows’ kick-em-to-the-curb taglines made me laugh. Top Design told hopeful decorators “We cannot live with your design.” Paris Hilton, in her search for a new best friend, told losers “I’m sorry… TTYN” (text speak for “talk to you never”) And then there was an episode of 50 Cent’s show when he just told the guy “get the f**k out of here.” Ah- you gotta love the classics.

 

9. The Joker (Best villain)

Yes, you already know that Heath Ledger’s Joker stole the show from the film’s title character, and is the best villain on screen this year (up there with last year’s “No Country” villain played by Javier Bardem.)

 

10. The 4th Wise Man (Touching pot humor)

“And ye the bud was kind” Stephen Colbert’s TV special “A Colbert Christmas” cast Willie Nelson as the fourth wise man, who, it is told through a song, brought the baby Jesus a special gift of herbs that “bring peace and love to friend and stranger”. Long live Willie.

 

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