DOPE Digest is a weekly roundup of pop culture miscellany, with succinct analysis from our contributors.
Gotham, The Flash, and Constantine Series Trailers
syvo: There seems to be a lot of excitement (press, at least) over Fox’s new Smallville-esque take on the Caped Crusader since it got a series order last week. Showrunner Bruno Heller is already out there claiming that his series will “surpass” the films, at least on a visual level. Of course, that’s preposterous. The trailer actually strikes me as pretty cheap looking. Very, very network TV. I can’t say I’m terribly excited. But that may just be my dual personal fatigue with live-action superhero fare and television culture in general at the moment.
In any event, the strategy that Warner Bros. appears to have taken -essentially, going H*A*M with TV shows in an attempt to capitalize on waning interest in Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD –is interesting. Marvel already locked up the Netflix world with Daredevil el.al., and I guess DC is hoping that the streaming platform is overrated.
Following the apparent success of CW’s Arrow, we’re also now looking at a spinoff Flash series. One totally un-scientific poll indicates that comic fans, at least, are more excited for Flash than any other new comics-related show. This new super-extended trailer may help you understand why. It looks not half bad.
The obvious wildcard here is NBC’s Constantine, which actually looks pretty cool. Though Hellblazer is well-known to have suffered a failed adaptation at the hands of Francis Lawrence in 2005, it looks like they got some things right this time. For one thing, he’s British. Plus, there’s an iZombie show coming out of DC’s Vertigo imprint, and Agent Carter, Marvel’s SHIELD spinoff.
But to be honest, just thinking about all these shows has me exhausted. I don’t watch superhero television shows, and probably won’t start. Seriously Braden, who has time for this shit???
BK: The answer of course, is nobody. Based strictly on the trailers, my excitement level is Constantine > The Flash > Gotham, but I am rooting for Ben McKenzie of OC fame as a young, not-yet Commissioner Gordon because hey, why not?
But you bring up a great point about the saturation of comic book-based material we’re seeing out there. We went to see The Amazing Spiderman 2 last week, a movie that was obsoletely mediocre, and came on the heels of the equally mediocre Captain America: Winter Soldier. These are not exactly bad movies, but just completely unsatisfying. They are the movie-going equivalent of going to Taco Bell and only getting Cinnamon Twists. Come on, Marvel, I want at least a Volcano Taco.
Strange fast food metaphors aside, it is hard for me too be too excited about any of these. I do think that television could be a better place for these heroes (or anti-heroes) as the lower-stakes and longer-term medium might actually lead to some more exciting and experimental story-telling, and not the stuff we’ve been seeing in theaters for the better part of a decade. Let’s hope.
La Roux – “Let Me Down Gently”
syvo: La Roux’s 2009 self-titled debut is the formative synth-pop record of our time. La Roux is just as good, and sounds just as fresh, as it did in 2009. It’s such a perfect album that I haven’t even minded waiting all these years for the sophomore effort. And after so much time, waiting, yearning for this track to drop, all I can say is: fuuuuuuuuuuck this is good!
Well worth the wait.
BK: Now this is some great stuff.
Until you sent me the link to this earlier this week I had completely forgotten about La Roux, despite the fact that ‘Bulletproof’ was stuck in my head for the better part of 2009. I just went back and listened to their collaboration with Major Lazer, LazerProof, and that still holds up as well. If this album can produce the same level of quality throughout, it’s going to be a better summer than I thought.
Real Friends – “Loose Ends”
syvo: So, let’s get back to talking about pop-punk? Real Friends is quickly establishing themselves as one of the best bands of their kind to have come out in the last couple years. Braden and I had the immense pleasure of seeing them live last month, and I can confidently say these guys are true believers. Their last EP, Put Yourself Back Together didn’t impress me at first, but it has grown to be one of my favorite records of the year. “Loose Ends” is the lead single off their upcoming full-length debut, Maybe This Place is the Same and We’re Just Changing, which is kinda, like, a metaphor for the entire pop-punk genre, if you think about it.
BK: (Hold on, my head just exploded…)
We did have the chance to see these guys last month and they put on a hell of a show. It made me feel good to know that pop-punk is in qualified (angst-y) hands moving forward. It will be really interesting to see how their music translates from a 7-song EP to a full-length album. They don’t lack for passion, that’s for sure.
Jodorowsky’s The Dance of Reality Clip
syvo: The Holy Mountain (1973) is one of my Top 5 favorite movies. I’ve probably watched it dozens of times, which goes a long way to explain my overall personality. The Dance of Reality will be the first film from the preeminent avant-garde filmmaker of the 1970s in 23 years. The Rainbow Thief (1990) was the biggest disaster of Jodorowsky’s career (yes, that includes the subject of that documentary you keep hearing about), and it’s taken him over two decades to return to feature-length filmmaking. The stakes couldn’t be higher, and I couldn’t be more pumped.
The above clip suggests the autobiographical film will be tender-hearted and perhaps sentimental, and should stand in stark contrast to his reputation for cerebral, violent imagery and brutal surrealism. From what I can tell so far from the trailer, interviews, etc. we could be looking at nothing less than the definitive spiritual document here. Can I even handle it?
BK: You fancy, foreign-film watching sneak! This trailer looks great. I can always go for a good circus-as-backdrop. It gets me every time.
Sylvan Esso – “Hey Mami”
BK: A special hat-tip to our friends at NPR for bringing this one to my attention. Sylvan Esso is a new band featuring the beautiful vocals of singer Amelia Meath (who just so happens to have roots in the BEST state ever. No wonder she’s so talented) and the minimalist electronic samples of Nick Sanborn. The self-titled debut album from this duo dropped on Tuesday and it is one of the best I have heard in years. The production is flawless and each track is uniquely engaging. Check out the lead single ‘Coffee‘ if you like this one. I expect big things from these two moving forward.
syvo: Damn! This is some fly shit. I totally dig the indie-folk girl/minimalist electro-bro combo. You really can’t miss with that formula, from where I’m sitting. I fully approve.
DOPE Digest Throwback: The Game ft. 50 Cent – Hate It or Love It
BK: The Game is an interesting case study. He burst onto the scene riding the coattails and incredible success of 50 Cent, as well as his legendary performance ‘200 Bars and Runnin.’ He had street cred, he talked about all the greatest rappers (maybe too much), and he had a really solid flow. Critics adored him, and his first album The Documentary spawned several major singles. This track is my personal favorite, though in hindsight everyone says they loved ‘Dreams‘ more (no you didn’t. Kanye brainwashed you.)
Game has faded into irrelevance since 2005, but this album stands out as a great entry to the rap canon. Maybe 50 and Game will make a comeback someday (they have both released numerous albums since 2005, without the success of their respective earlier works), but I doubt it. I’m content to just bump this decade-old classic on loop this weekend, and wish them (and you) a happy Friday.