DOPE Digest is a weekly roundup of pop culture miscellany, with succinct analysis from our contributors.
Suicide Squad Trailer
BK: The latest trailer for Suicide Squad starts with all the promise in the world – “Bohemian Rapsody” is a great backing track and the visuals looks great. The cast is already excellent (would have been even better if Tom Hardy was still on board) so there is nothing to worry about there. But once the opening few shots zip past, things start to go downhill.
There is a chance this movie will be good, and I am hoping it will surprise me. I’d love to see Will Smith play a true anti-hero and I’m looking forward to Cara Delevigne getting a major role in an action movie. My concern is that the basic premise of the movie will not work – there is no way we will take these characters as both ‘Bad guys,’ which the trailer reminds us they are OVER and OVER again, and the heroes of the film. I feel like it will fall flat, and the flatness of the trailer already has me nervous.
Great soundtrack though; hopefully David Ayer proves me wrong.
syvo: It’s not the concept that bothers me (I in fact like the idea of the Suicide Squad very much, at least insofar as it works in the comics), but it’s more the execution that worries me. This feels too plainly like DC’s answer to Guardians of the Galaxy, what with the classic rock and rag-tag nature of the team. I’m worried about Jared Leto, and finding it difficult to get excited for Margot Robbie. There’s a certain one-dimensionality, an obviousness to what they’re doing with Joker and Harley Quinn that I’m not exactly excited for.
Needless to say, I will definitely be seeing this and I will probably enjoy it well enough. But it won’t surprise me once the mixed-to-poor reviews start coming out.
Kanye West – Real Friends
BK: Whatever you think about Kanye West the man, he’s been one of the best and most important musicians on the planet for over a decade; any new music he puts out deserves attention. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is one of the single greatest albums of all-time, and the expectations from that record left many of his fans disappointed (myself included) by the follow-up Yeezus.
His latest tracks “Real Friends” and “No More Parties in LA,” released a week apart on kanyewest.com, appear to show a return to a more complex and catchy sound. I could not be more excited for his February album Swish. “Real Friends” is basically perfect, and it is a necessary addition to any and all playlists.
syvo: God, I love this song. This is hands-down the best song Kanye has put out since MBDTF, and if you ask me, possibly the only truly good song he has put out since then, too (Cruel Summer excluded).
Julia: I am always excited for new Kanye. I remain pro-Yeezus. Not exactly sure why Kim is doing all the twitter publicity for G.O.O.D. Fridays, especially since she called him “Yezzy” last week, but I’m happy for the return of this project.
The Connected World Trailer
syvo: The idea of a documentary about the internet with a horrible title like The Connected World just about puts me to sleep, but Herzog is Herzog. Nobody does it better.
BK: Werner Herzog seems like a pretty weird dude, and his movies aren’t always exactly what I’m after. But damn if this movie doesn’t look spectacular! There aren’t a lot of documentary topics that can pique my interest, but this
Al Gore bio-pic internet history and analysis seems like a worthwhile exploration and a completely compelling topic. Give me more Herzog.
Julia: Well this looks very good yet foreboding. The noisiest hand wringing about modern technology addresses the personal level, “we use emoji instead of emotions,” “people only order food so they can instagram it,” etc, so I am curious what this doc has to say about impacts at the macro scale.
Everybody Wants Some Trailer
BK: Boyhood was one of the best cinematic experiences I have ever had, and Richard Linklater’s follow-up looks like a potentially great movie. The humor in the trailer is obvious and doesn’t get me too excited, but the appeal of Linklater’s movies is hard to encapsulate in a 2.5 minute clip.
Qualifying the movie as a Dazed and Confused sequel seems unfair to both the excellent original and this movie, which was filmed nearly a quarter-century later; it likely won’t receive the same award recognition as Boyhood either, but that doesn’t really matter. Everybody Wants Some looks great and will be at worst a cult classic and at best a surprise hit.
Now if I can just figure out what the hell Waking Life was about….
David Bowie – Dollar Days
Julia: Today’s releases from Chairlift and Eleanor Friedberger should change this a bit, but it’s time for me to stop pretending that I have cared about any new music in 2016 apart from David Bowie. I don’t feel a huge need to add my personal contribution to the endless tributes and best-of lists of the last couple weeks – some of which are quite inspired and some less so, born only out of the obligate social media grief machine that I find very off-putting. However, Lazarus rules, it was already topping my list for anticipated albums for the new year, and while after his death it took on a very different tone I have still been completely drawn into it. “Dollar Days” is a standout track, but I encourage anyone casually interested to look up the videos for “Blackstar” and “Lazarus.” Then see if you don’t get sucked into a David Bowie YouTube wormhole! I regret the obvious space pun in the previous sentence but I’m leaving it in.
BK: With the obvious exception of his role as ‘Jareth’ in Labyrinth, I didn’t pay enough attention to David Bowie until after his death. I knew his music, but never took the time to go through his back catalog and educate myself on his deeper cuts until last week. I’ve gone through Blackstar a few times now and it is a great album, but I’ve also been really enjoying Young Americans, The Man Who Sold The World, and pretty much everything else. His output over the last fifty (50?!?!) years was prolific, and it will take more than a couple weeks to digest all the material, but I’m looking forward to it.
DOPE Throwback: Fabolous – Young’n (Holla Back)
BK: Fabolous is the greatest, and this was the song that really made me take notice all the way back in 2003 (I realize ‘Can’t Deny It’ came out first, but that one didn’t quite resonate with me like Young’n). Since then, he’s consistently put out amazing Mixtapes, albums, and features. You could do a lot worse on this blizzardy weekend than all-Fabo, all-the-time, and I suggest starting here.