A Great Week

This week saw the release of two media events: Stephen Colbert’s I Am America (And So Can You!) and Radiohead’s In Rainbows. With these two hotly anticipated releases, I think we can safely say that the stock market is secure for at least another month.

I can’t say anything yet about either release. My copy of Colbert’s book is in the mail, and I have only listened to the Radiohead album twice. But maybe there are others out there more willing to venture an opinion.

So I ask: What do you think of Colbert’s new book and Radiohead’s new album?


Anonymous said…
I haven't listened to the Radiohead album yet, but I am interested to see how letting the consumer decide what to pay for the digital mp3 pans out for them. Did you go about it that way? Or did you buy the actual hard copy? I tried to access their site yesterday, but the server was too busy!
a. steward said…
I bought the Radiohead album yesterday. I decided that I would pay 3 pounds for it (I figure I made up the difference with the amount of time I spent waiting on the jammed up servers). I've listened to it three times, and my opinion is that it is lame. The last four songs are actually kind of nice, and I don't mind listening to them, but the rest was boring to me. The vocals were droning, and the music felt like background noice that didn't do anything to grab my attention. I want to say that the lyrics are cliche-ridden, but that criticism doesn't work. Plenty of good art (including Flannery O'Connor and even Radiohead's earlier stuff) makes use of cliches. Maybe I'm just too frustrated with moveon.com-isms. But for whatever reason, I don't think it works here. And "Wierd Fishes/Arpeggi" is just dumb.

More pomising are a new album by Jens Lekman and a new movie by Wes Anderson (which, judging by the "Hotel Chevalier," I am going to love).

By the way, I just watched Ingmar Bergman's "The Silence," and was floored. I think something might have just changed in the way I watch movies.

So far, I agree with you about the Radiohead album, but I need to listen to it a little more to be sure.

I'm glad you've discovered Jens Lekman. You should listen to his first album if you haven't already. He's a great artist.

As for Wes Anderson, his films have been less and less enjoyable for me. I really like "Rushmore," but his films tend to be all style and little substance. I really recommend this Slate.com article for a discussion of the very problematic handling of race in Anderson's films, particularly in his new film.

I'm glad you've been initiated into the world of Bergman. The Silence is a very good movie, but I think the rest of the "faith trilogy" is even better; in particular, Winter Light is superb. I recommend going through and watching all of his films. It will change the way you watch film for good. In particular, watch Wild Strawberries, Persona, Scenes from a Marriage, and Fanny & Alexander. And of course The Seventh Seal, if you haven't watched it already.
a. steward said…
That was a pretty heated article. I aggree that his movies show a white, priveledged perspective. I definitely disagree that his portrayal is uncritical.
Anonymous said…
um...i'm not exactly sure who stephen colbert is. (i have an uneasy feeling i've just revealed myself as a dinosaur...)

I'm not sure if you are to be pitied or commended, because while you have been missing out on one of this country's greatest political satirists, you are probably spending your time much more wisely that those of us glued to our cable TV on weekday nights. :)

Stephen Colbert is a talk-show host on Comedy Central. His show, The Colbert Report (pronounced "Coal-bear Ra-pour" - think French) was a split-off from Jon Stewart's Daily Show. Colbert plays a pompous naive ultra-conservative -- an intentional imitation of Bill O'Reilly, whom he calls "Papa Bear." The show is a brilliant socio-politico-cultural critique, and you can watch it at 11:30 pm on Comedy Central Monday-Thursday, with repeats at 10:30 am and 8:30 pm on the following day.

The single best introduction to Stephen Colbert is his speech at the White House Correspondent's Dinner in 2006. Frank Rich called this speech the event that turned the tide in the mid-term election. You can watch it on youtube. Here are the three videos:

Pt. 1
Pt. 2
Pt. 3

But in order to get some of the background to his Correspondent's Dinner speech, you also have to know about his inaugural episode, in which he coined the now-famous word "truthiness." The American Dialect Society named it "Word of the Year" in 2005 and then Merriam-Webster's did the same in 2006. You can read about it on Wikipedia.

Anonymous said…
How kind of you to go to the trouble of giving me this Intro to Colbert. Look forward to watching the clips. Thanks!!
a. steward said…
I saw the Darjeeling Limited awhile back, and that Weiner article has frustrated me so much, that I decided to post those frustrations. I certainly welcome any comments you might have if you feel differently than I do. But I was just introduced to Anderson this year, and I am still unashamed to say I love his movies. I think Weiner just gives a really bad reading of his films. He is much too eager to assume that there has to be a moral to the story. He is just wrong about Darjeeling: the funeral is NOT the successful "self-realization" experience that the brothers are looking for. They just think it is, when in reality it is just in a long string of commodifying appropriations of other people in their own self interest. Weiner, for whatever reason, just seems incapable of comprehending that Anderson could portray such a thing while still maintaining an affectionate disposition towards the characters. That's what's great about the movie: you feel affection for dispicable people. I think that's a pretty important capacity for people to have, and that it's a good thing for movies to give us an experience of it.