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 cool, crisp cookie, music, or anything, really!
Andrew McRae – Hail, Caesar!
It’s a few years old, but it’s definitely a Coen masterpiece.
The casting is full of cleverness: Channing Tatum as a dancer who works with men, Lambert and Brown both in a movie together, a veritable who’s who of That Guys all playing the griping Commies who feel backgrounded and unsung by the studios.
The story, mirroring Christ’s life with Eddie Mannix laying on hands, getting tempted by the Lockheed devil, and ultimately realizing what he does is hard but fulfilling, is as solid as anything they’ve done.
And the message of art being better than death and destruction seems so simple (would that it twere), but is a truly gutsy—and necessary—statement to make these days.
Adam Bumas – Red Dwarf
This week I’ve been both catching up and rewatching the cult BBC sitcom Red Dwarf, which has been airing on and off for thirty years now with the same cast – that’s the other half of the British TV thing, y’see – when you only have four or six episodes a year, the people making the show have a lot more gas in the tank.
The show inevitably invites comparisons to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – another funny and clever, but deeply cynical work of SF comedy, with an outlook coming from the pessimistic times of late Thatcher-ite Britain in general and working for the BBC at that specific time.
The actual show is about a crumbling, broken-down spaceship marooned millions of years from Earth, crewed by four guys who are simultaneously horribly unlucky and all got there through their own incompetence and petty egotism. By the time of the show’s 12th season in 30 years, all the characters have settled into comfortable grooves of familiar antagonism, and so there’s been a focus on the sci-fi elements that probably account for the show’s staying power: It doesn’t always work, but there’s a delightful balance between mercilessly subverting standard Star Trek – style plots and coming up with something resonant and thematic in that subversion.
Tanner Volz – Entertainment Featuring the Violent Elimination of Nazi Asshole MAGA Garbage People
Fantasizing about destroying the worst among us in horrific ways is about the only thing that helps, sometimes. To that end I’ve been marathoning stuff that dismembers, delimbs, obliterates, and headshots nazis. Green Room was therapeutic. A bit of Raiders of the Lost Ark felt great. I’ll be putting on Wolfenstein this weekend (on easy, so I can kill as many nazis as quickly as possible).
H.M. Flores – Vice Principals
Making the audience care about unethical protagonists is a tricky act to pull off, and this masterful HBO comedy does it with absolute aplomb. Danny McBride and Walton Goggins carry the enterprise with carefully layered performances that constantly make you question if you should root for these characters’ success or their demise. Despite the grounded and easily recognizable setting, this is a show where you feel anything can happen, no matter how far-fetched or surreal. And the perfect balance between dark and heartfelt moments in the span of 30 minutes makes it all the more exciting to watch.
Kevin Kuhlman – Stranger Fruit by Zeal & Ardor
I was worried that Zeal & Ardor were going to be a one-off band whose shtick would wear thin. Their last album, Devil is Fine is incredible and I absolutely adore it, but it is only nine songs long and a third of them are instrumental experimental tracks. I was afraid that was potentially a sign that singer/guitarist/bassist/everything else Manuel Gagneux was running thin on ideas of where to take the band.
I was so, so, so incredibly wrong.
Stranger Fruit is probably one of my favorite metal albums ever. It manages to play with genre without ever not sounding like a Z&A song. It’s so much more than the “slave-chants-meets-satanic-black-metal” that made the band so popular in the first place, but it also weaves that identity into pop, gospel, electronica, and other types of music. This album is the bidness.
Diane C. – Friends!
Friends! Not the show. Actual friends. I’ve had a rough go lately, and great friends online and offline have helped me get through those tough times. I think about the power of friendship whenever I remember that it didn’t use to be this nice (like when I was 15 and my favorite hobby was watching the X-Files and people back then thought that was weird) and when I encounter the friends who haven’t measured up. I try to forgive them a little. We are all dealing with some stuff. That said, crows hold a grudge and I can, too. But for now, I’m just thankful for friendship.
Those are all the Digs for this week!
To reiterate what Andrew said last week, be good to yourselves and each other. People love you and are here for you. Whatever you’re going through, someone has gone through too.
National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255