Quiet since our summer filmfests and the final Mad Men episode, the blogging precincts around newcritics are beginning to crawl with middlebrow cultural criticism again. As usual, the posts are as varied as digital snowflakes, blustering unsolicited from the bleak December sky as a reminder that even in hard times, the best minds are still working to turn over cultural snowmen. We'll always have words, even if we won't have retirement, eh? Some highlights worthy of more notice and further conversation:
Jon Swift returns triumphant to the school of film criticism he invented last year, inspired perhaps by the Steinbrennerian "fannies in the seats" motif of mass entertainment. "While derrièrism was once an esoteric school of film criticism championed by a few forward-thinking critics, this year it has triumphed," he writes. So get off your ass, read it - and comment.
Jay Leno's new "it's 10 p.m. - do you know where your rimshots are?" usurpation of the old Carson late-night ethic comes in for some harsh words from nycweboy and his commenters.Cheap programming in a PVR-YouTube world? What do you think?
Soon-to-be cinematic author Chuck Tryon takes on the idea of year-end lists and what they mean to those who make them, in advance of his own best-of list, of course. Chuck centers his observations around the totemic The Dark Knight: "...the battle over TDK, which likely won’t be on my list of media faves, fascinates me because of the degree to which investments in popular culture run deep. Favorites matter. We find solidarity with others who share similar tastes." We do indeed.
Praise rumbles like the bridge pick-up on a vintage Telecaster from music critic Jason Chervokas, who inducts The Hold Steady into the pantheon of rock greats with a review worthy of Jon Landau, circa 1975. Jason has seen the future of rock and roll - and it's the Hold Steady: "I’ll remember 2008 as the year I fell hard for a rock band, falling in love with a band like I haven’t since I fell in love with the Clash as a teenager. That band is The Hold Steady whose 2008 album, Stay Positive, is the best rock album I’ve heard in 15 years and maybe longer."
Finally, the weboy returns with an appreciation of HBO's slick vampire lustfest True Blood that revels in its soft core erotic and American cultural fangs: "You don’t just need a shower after it to wash off the oversexed goings on, but to wash away the vicarious thrill of feeling superior to the lower class."
So ignore your 401k and put a parental block on CNBC, will ya? Dig into the cultural snark, make your own year-end list, and hang out for a while with the newcritics down the block.