Hold onto your butts (carlton), because it’s time to get funky and enjoy a whole new year and generation of digs the way you’ve never seen before. What has the Lewton Bus gang been digging? Well, it’s time to find out!
For the uninitiated, 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, taking that first satisfying bite of an apple, music, or anything, really!
Adam Bumas – Legion
The MCU is great, but no small part of that greatness comes from their understanding of what people expect from a superhero story; the jokes, the fights, the themes at play. That’s why, as the tide ebbs before the tsunami of Infinity War comes crashing down, I’m happy to have Legion back, the show that doesn’t so much present itself as an alternative to conventional superhero stories as pretend they don’t exist.
It’s easy to watch, say, the season premiere of Legion, which involves crucial plot information from three androgynous robots with bushy mustaches, a Heat-style diner confrontation at a sushi restaurant with a river full of model ships instead of a conveyor belt, and star Dan Stevens protecting his mind through the medium of vogue-heavy dance battle, and say it’s just weirdness for weirdness’ sake. I won’t categorically argue with that assessment, but between the lines it’s a surprisingly emotional examination of just what we think of as “normal” in the first place, and why we can never seem to grasp it.
Mavis Roberta McGee – Josh Groban
Just…how does this man have such an amazing voice. How is this voice even possible. This doofy, funny, lovable dork just happens to have arguably the greatest baritenor of any man alive. I can’t wait to see him host the Tony Awards in a few months.
Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812 was robbed and all of y’all know it.
Tanner Volz – Agnes Obel
I discover a LOT of music thanks to music editors on TV shows and some films – in this case, the chilling opening credit sequence to Cardinal brought me to Agnes Obel, a triple threat writer, performer, and producer whose sparse arrangements highlight her breathy, haunting cords. Her work is insistently sad, in that way that all beautiful music is, but it’s never dreary, and always full of life and energy. She’s playing in the same space as Mazzy Star and Grouper, particularly the latter whose naked piano songs are similarly wistful. Start with “Familiar,” the unforgettable opener for Cardinal (which, by the way, is now up to two seasons, and the second is just as powerful as the first).
Shannon Hubbell – Dino Double Feature!
As Lewton Bus’ Senior Dinosaur Correspondent, I sometimes feel obligated to dig something related to my field of expertise. In this case it’s two somethings! The first is this totally great shirt that my buddy Eric found in a thrift store. It has dinosaurs riding skateboards.
Let me reiterate. Dinosaurs. Riding. Skateboards. This is objectively the greatest shirt in the history of shirts.
Second is this totally sweet Velociraptor action figure from Beasts of the Mesozoic. I completely forgot about backing this series on Kickstarter, so when this wonderfully feathered little guy arrived in my mailbox it was like getting a present from myself!
Reiner van der Zouw – Seconds
I have a major blind spot when it comes to films from before the seventies, so I wasn’t really familiar with most of the work of director John Frankenheimer. However, when a local arthouse theatre showed his 1966 film Seconds as part of a retrospective on films dealing with identity (also including, among others, John Woo’s inimitable Face/Off), I was enticed enough by the synopsis to give it a go. This was a good decision.
Seconds is something of a minor masterpiece in paranoia, from its dizzying opening credits and accompanying set-piece to its harrowing climax. Anchored by a very effective lead performance by Rock Hudson, Seconds’ only real flaw is that it kind of sags in the middle, but everything surrounding that mid-section is a real treat. Highly recommended if you’re not familiar with it.
Mei Wong – Butcher Babies
I used to listen to heavy metal a lot when I was in high school. Metallica, Children of Bodom, Amon Amarth, and more. I loved screaming along with their music in the shower. But as I got older, I started falling out of love with the genre because it was nothing but BRUTAL MEN SINGING ABOUT BRUTAL TOPICS IN A BRUTAL MANNER.
It’s just so obnoxious and homogeneous.
Also, let’s be honest, the ABOMINABLE brand of masculinity so common in metal isn’t exactly healthy (for anyone). I still listened to bands like Nightwish and Epica because the nature of the sub-genre they were in necessitated a more feminine voice (both literally and figuratively). But even then, I started falling out of love with symphonic metal as well. There are only so many times you can listen to sopranos sing about vague mysticism with bombastic backing tracks before it gets dull.
But recently I discovered a metal band called Butcher Babies and my love of metal has been rekindled. They’re on the heavier side of the genre, so if you’re not already into FEROCIOUS metal, I doubt you’d like them.
What attracts me to them is the fact that their artistic voice is explicitly feminine. It helps they’re headed by two women who sing both the clean and growled vocals. With women as the literal and figurative voices of the band it helps Butcher Babies stand out from their near identical contemporaries. What makes them interesting is that in addition to the BARBAROUS growled vocals, the band weaves in an explicitly feminine sensuality through their clean vocals— something that’s almost non-existent in the rest of their genre.
I still have objections about the band. For example, I’m still kind of iffy on the explicit objectification of the frontwomen that’s part of the band’s image. Just because the women themselves give consent, it doesn’t remove the greater social contexts that surround the issue of female objectification.
And I feel that a backing band that wasn’t all white dudes would make the representational aspect of the band even greater.
(Psst hire human teddy bear David Choi as your guitarist, Butcher Babies. Deconstruct the toxic masculinity of the metal genre even more.)
But still, a metal band fronted by women (with one of them being a woman of colour) is far too rare in this genre, so I can’t hate on them too much.
Plus, it looks like at least half the band knows what soap is, so that’s nice.
Andrew McRae – The Post
A great script, great directing, and a veritable Who’s Who of Hollywood Royalty as well as the best of the prestige cable drama set.
More than all that, this is a necessary movie. Not just in that it defends the function of the press against an unhinged, tyrannical President, but in how it sends a beacon.
One of the best scenes is the one where Hanks dumps papers—repeating the Post’s headlines—from the other publishers out on Streep’s coffee table, showing how they’re spreading the ideas around. They weren’t alone, and we’re not alone. Things will get darker, and uglier, but there are decent people and you can find them if you take a stand.
Diane C. – St. Vincent’s Masseduction
This week I’m really into the new St. Vincent album, Masseduction. I know it came out last year but after her amazing Coachella show I decided to finally listen to the entire album. Annie Clark (aka St. Vincent) knows her way around a guitar, a hook, and a swear, and as a result her album is bold, playful, and confident. It has been on steady rotation on my turntable at home and in my earbuds.
Andrew Clark – Dying Light
For the past week, I’ve been taking a break from Hitmanning and Grim Dawning to finally get into Techland’s Dying Light. A follow up to their 2011 let-down Dead Island, Techland did something unprecedented for big games and actually learned from their mistakes, completely reworking what didn’t work while keeping what did, and produced one of the most slickly satisfying first person runner/shooter games I’ve had the pleasure of playing.
Equal parts entertaining and pants-shittingly terrifying (check out the above video, and forgive the numbskull who uploaded it for not turning on his flashlight. I’d have posted a different one, but I just want to give a taste of how crazy the game can get) you play a boring American white guy dropped into a non-descript Middle Eastern country that is suffering from a viral outbreak that turns people into, you guessed it, zombies.1
If that all sounds boring, it’s because I haven’t mentioned how this game blends the parkour of Mirror’s Edge with the crafting and fighting of Dead Island into a satisfying combination that goes down smooth. There are few things more satisfying than bopping a zombo upside the head with a bat, or cutting one clean in half with a modified butcher’s cleaver. And when ol’ Andrew got himself a bow recently? Ohoho. Hell was unleashed on those poor viral souls.
Packed to the gills with challenging sidequests and an open world that’s actually entertaining to explore, Dying Light is the Real Deal. Added to all that is the fact that the development team has continued putting out new content, three years later, and shows no signs of stopping. These aren’t just little patches, either. These are huge, old school expansion packs and fun bonuses for everyone who has kept playing. Rather than microtransactions, this feels like the real future of modern gaming.
It was a big week, folks! Well, we had to get our regular digs out of the way, for you see, next week is a whole week devoted to a little old movie you might know about that is opening…it’s a week so big and epic we could only call it one thing, INFINITY WEEK! Be on the look out.
In the meantime, let us know what you’re digging down in the comments, and what you thought of OUR digs.
- I think this might turn into a piece of its own in the future, but something I really appreciate about the game is, despite it’s vanilla protagonist, it’s side characters, who are almost exclusively people of color, have not a stereotype among them. Despite the game’s basic plot structure (which is allayed entirely by the great gameplay) the supporting characters all feel mostly real and human. That’s something to be applauded, frankly.