Things We’re Digging This Week – Week of 7/24/17

Odes to musical iconcs, superheroes on and off screen, Tom Haverford and more abound this week

Each week the Lewton Bus gang will get together and write up a brief account of something we’re digging hard on this week. It can be a movie, TV, a nice new pair of pants, music, or anything, really! Tell us what you’re digging in the comments.

Tanner Volz Jóhann Jóhannsson

This is known to the Lewton Bus gang, but I’ll reiterate here: I am a composer, producer, and sound designer with an incurable addiction to film scores. My tastes are fairly broad with respect to soundtracks (the same can’t be said of my musical taste otherwise) but of late I’m very interested in the boldly atonal, experimentally-engineered work of Jóhann Jóhannsson. I know him best as Denis Villeneuve’s go-to composer. (His previous collaborators, Danny Bensi & Saunder Jurriaans, are no slouches! Their score for Enemy is incredible.) In anticipation of Jóhannsson’s upcoming work for Blade Runner 2049, I’ve been revisiting my favorite score of the decade so far, Sicario. He combines three elements that appeal to me: slow, brutal electronic percussion with long low-pass filters to gradually up the suspense; Atonal orchestral elements; And serial composition that takes place within a single chord and key, returning again and again to one bass note. Let this beautiful monster play out. It will envelope you. (Also: This film is one of the best of the decade so far.)

Bee McGeeParks and Recreation

This is the funniest show of all time. I started watching last month (currently 11 episodes into season 3) and I fell in love immediately. It’s my perfect watch to escape the catastrophe going on in the world right now.

#Knope2020

CJ RobinsonThe Entire Linkin Park Discography

I was around 9 years old when I first heard Linkin Park. I was at a hospital waiting for my grandma to be treated for a silent heart attack. I was kind of a hyper and restless child so the idea of having to sit still for an unknown amount of time drove me up the wall. Fortuantely for me and everyone else in the waiting room my aunt was there and what did she have but Linkin Park’s first album, Hybrid Theory. The album was still pretty new having only been out for a month or so. She gave me her headphones and pressed play on the CD player and my life was forever changed.

From that moment on LP was one of my favorite bands. I still have all the lyrics for their first four albums memorized. Unfortunately I drifted away from the band over the past few years, not out of a dislike of their willingness to experiment like some fans but simply due to getting into new stuff — but that doesn’t change the impact the band had on my life. As someone who suffers from depression and anxiety hearing a singer sing about the exact way I was feeling helped me so much, it told me that no matter how it may seem at times I was never alone.

Chester Bennington’s death hit me like a brick. I was gonna get to see them for the first time on their One More Light tour. When I heard that Chester died I couldn’t wrap my head around it. I mean, this was one of the people who I grew up listening to. In light of his death I decided to go back and relisten to their entire discography. It would appear I’m not the only one as their stuff is now at the top of the charts. Going back and listening again has been like listening to them for the first time all over again. Their powerful lyrics and willingness to experiment easily makes them the best thing to have come out of the nu metal wave of the early 2000s.

Thank you Chester for helping a scared, depressed kid know that he wasn’t alone. That things would get better. Thank you for gracing us and blessing us with your music. Thank you for being you. Rest in Peace.

If you or someone you know are having thoughts of suicide please call this number. You are not alone.

National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255

Shannon HubbellDay of the Dead

Although it’s widely considered inferior to his earlier zombie films, George A. Romero’s 1985 Day of the Dead deserves much more respect than it’s received. It doesn’t have the cinéma vérité rawness of the original Night of the Living Dead or the satire of Dawn of the Dead, but it replaces these things with an unblinking, cynical vision of how humans behave under pressure.

When a zombie’s mind rots away it leaves an ancient “lizard brain,” ruled only by instinct and hunger. When a human brain is, as depicted in this film, corrupted by trauma and desperation, it leaves nothing but greed, fury, racism and misogyny.

Even if you disregard its (literally) stomach churning gore, Day of the Dead is a tough watch, but believe me when I say it’s well worth it. I viewed the film for the first time in years after Mr. Romero’s recent passing, and it’s more relevant than ever.

Jared EvesNine Inch Nails/Trent Reznor

Last week Nine Inch Nails released the second of a planned triptych of EPs to be released this year (yes, Not the Actual Events was released right at the end of 2016, but it is still the first of the trilogy), which will form a complete narrative when finished. Which is pretty damn cool and exciting.

Even more cool and exciting? That the EPs are sonically and thematically resonant, and continue the long tradition of interesting and fantastic work from Reznor (and his various collaborators).

But this dig is about more than Not the Actual Events and Add Violence (great title) – it is also about the constant rediscovery – and reassessment – of NIN’s work that accompanies each new release. Especially his post-Downward Spiral work. While that is obviously an important and fantastic album, older me finds it a shallower work (though capable of great depth) from a great artist who didn’t begin to be a conduit for his true voice until the release of The Fragile, at least in this writer’s opinion.

What remains exciting throughout the body work Reznor has created, both as NIN and in his film work, is his desire to experiment, and to find the exact and best way to present each song, and each album, while continuing to learn and to push himself outside of a need to sell X number of albums to please some string-pulling overlord. His back catalogue remains an exciting discovery of layers to be peeled back, and of depths to be plumbed.

H.M. Flores99 Homes

This overlooked gem takes the bureaucracy-heavy world of real estate deals and manages to portray it in a tense and cinematic fashion: Not exactly an easy feat. Andrew Garfield and Michael Shannon, giving career-best performances, create a magnetic combo where idealism and cynicism fight a cold war to see which of the two is required to win in a juicy market that tempts the players with crossing moral boundaries for the sake of their own success.

Zach Luna – The Spectacular Spider-Man

Still hankering for some good high school hijinks from your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man? Check out Spectacular Spider-Man, the 2008 animated series from Greg Weisman and Victor Cook that is all about the impossible challenge of balancing superheroics and schoolyard drama, day in and day out. The playful tone, sharp writing and dynamic animation style make for a breezy and fun Spider-Man show that’s as close as viewers ever got to having a Marvel equivalent of Batman: The Animated Series.

If 2018 seems too long to wait for your next dose of Tom Holland’s youthful take on the character on screen, you’re in safe hands jumping into Josh Keaton’s portrayal of the webslinger in the medium he’s perhaps best suited for: weekly televised adventures with a colorful ensemble of friends and villains. The show has charm to spare and is anchored by a believably teenaged Peter Parker performance (from an actor who has played him many times).

As a bonus, it also boasts a theme song that is equal parts kick-ass and silly. You WILL find yourself humming it all the time.

Spectacular Spider-Man was loved by both audiences and critics while it was on the air, and it was only because of a web of contrived rights and licensing issues that it was struck with an early cancellation after 26 episodes. In 2009, desperate to keep the “use it or lose it” movie rights to Spider-Man when they went a bit too long in between films, Sony relinquished their license to produce animated Spider-Man television shows as a bargaining chip with Marvel, trading it back to them for some leeway on the movie rights. However, this resulted in a situation where NEITHER company could have continued producing Spectacular Spider-Man, even if they wanted to. Sony still owned the specific show elements they would need to use (character designs, storylines, etc.) while Marvel had the animation rights and a new Disney parent company with plenty of incentive to just start from scratch with a reboot. In a quagmire that seemed both frustrating and fitting, a meta-textual version of the ol’ Parker luck swooped in to cut this take on our hero short just as it was hitting its stride.

You can rent episodes on amazon, itunes, or stream the show directly on….wait, Crackle? Seriously? Crackle. Dip your toes in there, I guess. Excelsior.

Andrew ClarkDetective Comics

I’ve never been a consistent DC Comics reader. The last arc I picked up in full of monthlies was probably the Sinestro Corps War (essentially Geoff Johns and Ethan Van Sciver’s ode to huge action movies) back in the mid 2000s. Thanks to far too many questionable design choices as well as reboot after reboot, I lost my taste for the heroes of the DC-verse.

Of late, however, I’ve been coming back into the fold. First with Steve Orlando and Aco’s incredible Midnighter and then the exquisite Grayson by rising star Tom King, Tim Seeley, and Mikel Janin.

Those were both New 52 books, however (the only ones worth a damn, as far as I can tell). With Rebirth, a whole new world of books has opened up. Thanks to the encouragement of some friends of Lewton Bus, I decided to pick up the first two Detective Comics trades during a comixology sale, and hoo-boy was I not disappointed.

This book is everything you could want out of a team-Batman book. One of my favorite elements in any comic book universe is the way that the characters intertwine and bounce off of one another. Detective Comics is about what happens when Batman decides he needs to build a team to take on greater threats in Gotham that he can’t handle alone.

Writer James Tynion IV and penciler Eddy Barrows were unknown to me before I picked up the book, but they are creating the best written and best looking Bat-book I’ve seen since Grant Morrison’s days working with JH Williams III. So many comic-book creators lock themselves into the typical means of creation…put some panels here. Have some dialog here. Yadda yadda yadda. Tynion and Barrows (and their other collaborators) are unafraid to play with scope and size and style and form in fascinating and engaging ways. This is all on top of well-written and engaging story lines that draw you in, with original villains and fantastic character beats for everyone.

If you’ve been on the fence about picking up any new DC books, wonder no more. This is the book for you, if you’re hankering for some of the best comics work being put on the stands right now.

That’s our digs for this week, folks! It was a good and varied week.Thanks to all our contributors for their heartfelt work! Let us know what you think of our digs…and be sure to tell us what you’re digging! Loves ya!

  • A couple of underdogs this week. DC comics and Day of the Dead. It takes a real love of the genre to stomach either of them some days. Unlike Parks and Rec and Sicario, though, which are very, very easy to love, because they’re amazing.

  • Something

    More deets on my newfound PARKS AND REC love: April is my favorite character, but Donna is getting pretty close to overtaking that throne.

    Also I cried during April and Andy’s wedding.

    • Lunaman

      Surprise wedding! Best wedding!

  • jeves23

    99 HOMES was really good. I watched it a couple of months ago, and every so often it still pops into my brain – whether a scene or a character moment, or just the overall difficult moral situation the film presents. People should definitely watch it. (Also, it’s sort of an interesting companion to THE BIG SHORT, showing the same situation from the ground level.)

  • Jason Zolina

    Me and the wife sang the hell out of some Linkin Park last week. The one with ‘what I’ve done.” As an entirely too touching song about him dying and being remembered.