Good Things: Mood-enhancing movies, TV and music


Neck-deep in tinsel and then dimmed by a fever I skulked through the holidays with dim lights, shaky knees and a deep sigh. Seeking lemonade I went on a media binge. Some of it — a lot of it, really — did the trick quite nicely. Here’s what upped my volt-o-meter:

Django Unchained: Two-and-a-half hours of heroes, villains and redemptive violence. All actors score (Don Johnson is back!), the soundtrack is massive (Jim Croce!) and Quentin adds another feather to his smirk.

City of Bohane: Unwrapped Kevin Barry’s novel on XMAS morning and took a moment to glance at the first sentence on the first page. It read like this: Whatever’s wrong with us is coming in off that river. OMG. Whatever’s wrong with us? That river? I was neck-deep by the end of the day, and nothing about this dark, funny tale of futuristic (yet very old-timey) gangsters, cops, journalists and civic wheels goes wrong. Barry’s voice is a wonder: Imaginative, smart, hilarious, full of feeling. Highest recommendation.

Ai Wei Wei – Never Sorry: Beautiful documentary about the fearless, and fearsome Chinese artist/political activist. Can art really change the world? Ai’s is already. Less a story of modern art than one about courage and cultural transformation, as viewed in real time. (Ai and his pals are very into video, and capture nearly everything as it happens. (on Netflix)

Tucker and Dale  vs. Evil: Perfectly goofy, goofily perfect. A sweet and often quite funny satire of slasher movies, featuring a passel of horny college kids and a guileless, but somehow sinister pair of country boys out for a weekend of fishing. The gory deaths begin nearly immediately and the fun never stops. Tucker to police officer, while holding the bloodied lower half of a just deceased college kid: “Officer, we’ve had a doozy of a day.” (on Netflix!)

The September Issue: Great 2009 documentary about the notoriously hard-assed Vogue editor/sphinx Anna Wintour. You want to loathe her, but then you get to the quiet moment when she admits that the rest of her high-achieving family (rich with weighty journos and editors) find her work “amusing.” Just like that, she melts.



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