Almost-Winter Media Endorsements

Television: 

I’ve already told you how much I love Claire Danes, but seriously, you should be watching Homeland.  I realize it’s nearly impossible to obtain without premium cable, but there are ways, media-savvy readers, THERE ARE WAYS.   It’s the best thing on television right now.

Speaking of which, did you know that My So-Called Life is streaming in its entirety on Netflix?  I’m teaching Girls Media Studies and am going to screen the entire thing — it’s still just as good as it was when you watched it every night at 7 pm on MTV.  (Or, if you were like me, it’s just as good as when you watched it every Thursday on ABC and then every night, over and over again, on MTV for the next four years).  And if you’ve never seen it…it’s never too late to jump on the best-teen-show-until-FNL bandwagon.

No show — not even Parks and Rec, which I love with abandon — has made me laugh as deeply as Louie.  You might not want to watch it with your Grandma or 5-year-old, but it has the verve and honesty that 99% of comedic television lacks.  (Season 1, also streaming on Netflix).

Film:

Prestige-film season is in full-swing, but I still think Beginners is the best film I’ve seen this year.  Innovatively-plotted, perfectly-acted, beautiful and poignant and elegant and sad.  I absolutely loved it, and think you will too.  Even the trailer is charming.

(But have no fear — the movie never veers into the overly cutesy or overly sentimental).

I’ve spent two long nights watching Carlos, a mini-series/really long film (three two-hour chunks) about  a terrorist/freedom-fighter/Marxist/really complicated real-life guy, commonly known as “Carlos the Jackel.”  The plot is convoluted and the politics are complex, but it is gripping as filmmaking gets.  Directed by Olivier Assayas, the man behind the gorgeous Summer Hours, with a stunning star turn by Edgar Ramirez.  Also streaming on Netflix (do you see a pattern here?).

 

Music:

First of all, I highly recommend investigating Spotify.  I’m still dubious about the way it compensates the millions of artists whose music is available, but for things like, say, yoga playlists, it is aces.  I pay $4.99 and have access to pretty much everything released by a mainstream or even quasi-mainstream artist.  It’s like Pandora with a whole lot more control.

As for specific albums — I’m listening to so much of the following:

The Head and the Heart, The Head and the Heart, specifically “Down in the Valley.”  Just listening to these guys makes me miss the Northwest like whoa.

The National, Boxer, specifically “Green Gloves” (I go through periods of listening to The National when I become physically addicted to an album — as in cannot not be listening to it while I’m awake.  I’m just emerging from one of those periods).

Fleet Foxes, Helplessness Blues, specifically “Battery Kinzie” 

Feist, Metals, specifically “Anti-Pioneer.”  GORGEOUS.

Rihanna, Talk that Talk, specifically “Drunk on Love.”  The xx + RiRi = Annie’s new favorite song.

The Bieber, specifically “Mistletoe.”  The video! I DIE! No shame!

 

Reading:

I’ve been spending a lot of time reading things with my students, but I’ve also had a chance to do some pleasure reading on the side, including Jeffrey Eugenides’ much-ballyhooed The Marriage Plot.  I liked it quite a bit, but wonder if those who are not familiar with the woes and confusions of first encountering post-structuralism will feel the same.  (Tell me?  Do those sections make sense?)

Jill Lepore’s essay “Birthright,” on the war against Planned Parenthood, is an absolute must-read, no matter your political affiliation.  It’s historical, contextual, and packs a huge punch.  It’s behind the New Yorker paywall, but it is so worth the article charge.  Or find your favorite New Yorker reader and bum a copy off of them.  (Or if you live in close proximity to me, bum my copy).

I generally abhor Caitlin Flanagan.  But her Atlantic essay on why girls – and women — read Twilight is, bar none, the best explanation for why the particulars of the narrative (not just the vampire narrative, but this vampire narrative) draws us in.  Not behind the pay-wall, and especially appropriate given the release of Breaking Dawn.  (If you’re interested in my own article on feminist readers of Twilight, it’s coming out this summer, but I’d be happy to send you a digital copy.  Just let me know).  The recent Hairpin article on “Our Bella, Our Selves” is also quite good.

 

So there we go — share your own endorsements in the comments?  Or try and fight me on the merits of The Biebs?  Let’s go.

8 Responses to “Almost-Winter Media Endorsements”

  1. Jason says:

    Never heard you mention Louie before and I’m so glad you did. I’ve never seen a show that’s so funny and heartfelt at the same time. Homeland is also very good, but I’m late to the party and am only two episodes in (yes, there are ways!).

    Gotye’s not new, but he’s new to me, and his music is incredible. Right up your alley, I think, if you’re not already familiar. His songs very quickly become obsessions. Listen to Coming Back, Heart’s a Mess, Smoke and Mirrors, State of the Art, and actually pretty much any of his songs. Thanks for Your Time is pure genius, and Somebody That I Used to Know is of course his most famous song now, with the cool video and the even cooler Kimbra, whose own music is also pretty fantastic, plus she’s young with lots of promise. Check out her live version of Nina Simone’s Plain Gold Ring, recorded at Sing Sing Studios. I love it to death and so does my three-year-old daughter. See also her music videos (not the live versions, although those are good, too) for Settle Down (on Vimeo only, I think), Good Intent, and Cameo Lover. Great, great stuff.

  2. Oooh, can I get a copy of your feminist Twilight article? Love all of your writing Anne and I really, really loved the “Our Bella, Ourselves” article on The Hairpin. Those books, as bad as they are, have such a crazy power of evoking the immediacy and intensity of adolescent feeling that is only barely held at bay now that I am a 34 year old, functioning grown up:-)

  3. Katy says:

    I would love to read your Twilight article, too! I’m in the beginning stages of an essay on female body stuff that I think is going to be at least partially about Twilight (and it was “Our Bella, Ourselves” that put me on this track!), so I’m trying to read as much smart stuff about it as possible. Thanks in advance!

  4. Elizabeth C says:

    Thank you for recommending Caitlin Flanagan’s article… I just lost an entire afternoon to reading Atlantic articles! :) While I haven’t read the Twilight series, I do have the first book thanks to a library sale and now my interest is further piqued in reading it to see why it’s so popular. If your own article isn’t too spoilerish, I would love to see it too.

  5. Annie says:

    To those who’d like a copy of the article (and Elizabeth, I’d wait until you read the first book, then you should be okay-ish)….my email is my full name (first middle last) at gmail. Send me a note and I’ll send it your way!

  6. Anna says:

    I greatly enjoy your media recommendations. I always find something here that keeps me happily busy for the next month or so. I’m already devouring the Twilight article and I, too, would like to read yours. Happy Thanksgiving!

  7. what would a nerd wear says:

    another great set of recommendations, except for _the marriage plot_ but you knew i was going to say that…
    i’m eager to see _beginners_ and also _the descendents_ (have you seen it?) and to start my annual arguments-with-anyone-who-will-engage about the merit of various academy award nominees of the current or past year(s).
    i’m definitely checking out the music–i’ve also heard from reliable sources (including a stranger on a bus in atlanta) that the bieber album is weirdly good.
    i loved the “birthright” article, thank god for train rides which make it possible for a person to semi-sort-of keep up with the new yorker, but i’m off to check out the twilight ones now…

  8. warrior two says:

    The Caitlin Flanagan article is a masterpiece. I have never heard her name before, and I’m a new reader of your blog; I am curious what it is about her is usually abhorrent.