Pop Culture Odds and Ends – Haphazard Edition

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It’s been a crazy week with a lot of traveling and unfortunately that means that the pop culture roundup suffered a little bit as I’ve been playing catch up. If I didn’t get the roundup posted today I probably never would have, though I wish that I had been able to do a more complete survey of all that the world of pop culture had to offer. But something is better than nothing and even in its incomplete state I think I still managed to capture a lot of what has happened in the last week or so. Two trips to NYC in five days was probably excessive, but I’ll be able to share some of my adventures next week once I’ve had a chance to catch my breath over the weekend. In the meantime, check out what I was able to accomplish in this week’s slapdash pop culture roundup.

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Time for some trailers…

  • X-Men: Apocalypse:

 

  • The Girl on the Train:

 

  • The Founder:

 

  • Café Society:

 

  • Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates:

 

  • Independence Day: Resurgence:

 

  • Weiner:

 

  • The Infiltrator:

 

  • The Do-Over:

 

  • De Palma:

 

  • Danger Mouse:

 

There’s been an overwhelming reaction to the passing of Prince last week….

 

 

Prince

 

 

  • And the cast of Hamilton:

 

 

 

As always, we end with the mashup and supercuts….

  • Stephen Colbert and Sturgill Simpson write a song about Waffle House:

 

  • Sesame Street pays tribute to A Tribe Called Quest:

My name is Prince (1958-2016)

prince2016 really kind of blows.

Yesterday we suffered another great musical loss with the sudden death of Prince. Like David Bowie, Prince always seemed immortal to me, like he wasn’t quite mortal and had just come down to Earth to give us a little more funk. To discover that he was not immune to the circle of life was as shocking as the unexpectedness of his death. In an instant, the musical landscape has been unequivocally and irreparably altered. When I was a kid, the pop stars that dominated the charts were Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Prince and Madonna. Now three of them are gone, all before the age of 60. It just doesn’t seem right.

I was never as big a fan of Prince as I was of the other three, but that didn’t do much to soften the news of his death yesterday. Prince was a through-line of so much of my childhood; he was so omnipresent that I probably took his genius a little bit for granted and stylistically he wasn’t quite as accessible as artists of the day. Jackson, Houston, and Madonna all had wonderful songs, but they didn’t have the complexity of a Prince tune. The poppy Prince songs that played on the radio were not representative of Prince and what he could do; to fully appreciate him and his ability to constantly evolve and change, you need to listen to his albums. As a huge fan of Tim Burton’s Batman, I remember begging my parents to get me Prince’s soundtrack for the film; when I finally listened to it in its entirety, I was not prepared for it. For someone who mainly knew Prince from his singles, it was all too much for me to handle. The integration of snippets of dialogue from the film, the various musical influences and the fact that most of the songs were simple inspired by the movie rather actually from the film was way over the head of the 12 year old version of me. Prince’s music always had struck me as a little dangerous, with its oozing sexuality often barely contained under the surface, and I simply wasn’t sophisticated enough to process it yet.

It wasn’t until I got older that I could really appreciate what a multi-faceted performer Prince was; not only was he a great singer who had hypnotic stage presence, but he was also a stellar guitar player, all-around musician, and lyricist. Not only did Price write his songs, but he wrote songs for many other artists as well. I knew that he had penned the Sinead O’Connor hit “Nothing Compares 2 U” (Prince was using “text speak” before it was even a thing), but I had no idea that he has also written “Manic Monday” for The Bangles, “Stand Back” for Stevie Nicks, or “I Feel for You” for Chaka Khan (and that’s just the tip of the iceberg). He seemingly could do everything; he was effortlessly cool and was seemingly an artist’s artist. He also wasn’t afraid to stand up for what he believed in; he was a fierce defender of a musician’s rights to his/her music, which is why it’s extremely hard to find any Prince music streaming or on YouTube. When he had a dispute with his record label, he changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol in protest (and sparked the phrase “The artist formerly known as….” in the process). That would seem like career suicide, but we all just adapted. On paper, Prince really shouldn’t have worked – a skinny little man in a purple suit and a puffy shirt shouldn’t have been one of the sex symbols of the 80s, let alone one of the biggest pop stars on the planet. But he was and managed to do it all and still a relatively private life. I mean, the man made Minneapolis seem like the place to be. There was no limit to his power and influence.

When the news of Prince’s death was announced yesterday, what struck me was the universal outpouring of grief. Everyone loved Prince. Doesn’t matter how old you are or what kind of music you like, Prince meant something to you. Whenever Prince showed up at an award show or when celebrities talked about seeing him perform or meeting him, people universally lost their shit. These people, who are surrounded by famous people all the time (and are famous themselves), would act no different than you or I. It was like they had just witnessed a magical unicorn in its natural habitat. Prince was a man, but he was also a myth and a legend. The words “…and then Prince showed up.” were whispered with reverence and awe. He walked to the beat of his own drum, and we all anxiously chased behind him, trying to keep up. Just when we thought we had, he’d completely change the beat on us, taking us in a wonderfully unexpected direction. We would have followed him anywhere.

Rest in peace, sweet Prince.

Trailer Thursday – Jason Bourne

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Jason Bourne is back! No disrespect to Jeremy Renner, but this is how things are supposed to be.

The Bourne movies marked a major turning point for me in my allegiance to #teamBen and #teamMatt. I have no idea why I feel like I can’t like both Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, but that is an issue for me to work out with my therapist. Since Good Will Hunting I considered myself to be a ride or die member of #teamBen. Matt Damon was fine enough, but I was all in for Affleck. In retrospect this wasn’t all that surprising as Affleck had the better career immediately after they won the Oscar and he totally plays into my affinity for tall, dark-haired sort of bad boys. Plus Matt Damon was dating Minnie Driver at the time and we all know how I feel about her.

But then The Bourne Identity came out in 2002. I can still remember sitting in our living room on Myrtle Avenue watching it when the notion struck – Matt Damon was way better than Ben Affleck. I’d love to tell you that this realization came solely from maturity and recognizing that Damon is a more interesting actor with greater range, but if I’m being honest I’m pretty sure this epiphany was triggered in part by the unexpected sight of Damon’s jacked arms in a tank top.

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      Affleck who?

After The Bourne Identity it’s like the blinders were off and I could see Matt Damon for what he really was – an extremely talented actor who could do a lot of different things well and who by all accounts is a pretty nice and thoughtful guy. I still like Ben Affleck to a degree – his occasional douchiness is no longer as charming – but Damon has quickly become one of my favorite actors. I’ll watch pretty much anything he’s in; even if the rest of the movie is meh, he’s always giving a thoughtful or solid performance. Meanwhile, I can’t even bring myself to go watch Batman v Superman in the theaters. So I will always have a soft spot in my heart for the Bourne movies that led me to this realization.

After a brief attempt to carry on the franchise with Jeremy Renner, it’s nice to have Damon back as killing machine Jason Bourne. I liked The Bourne Legacy just fine, but it wasn’t the same without Damon. Thankfully everyone came to the same conclusion and we now have the latest installment in the series, Jason Bourne:

 

He’s still got it – and he’s still killing in in that grey tank top😉

Jason Bourne will open nationwide on July 29, 2016.