"300: Rise of an Empire" is a perfect example of a great B movie.
R. J. Moeller
Regardless of how you felt about its finale, "True Detective" was really good.
His life’s work has been, in one form or another, the telling of stories.
R. J. Moeller
More than simply getting older, Jerry Seinfeld has become wiser.
The series unnecessarily seeks to drive a wedge between science and faith.
Tue. March 11
300: Rise of an Empire is not a great movie. It is, however, a great B movie. And in that way, it may even be more important than a genuinely great movie.
B movies, by their nature, don’t go for much nuance. They paint with broad strokes. But in doing so, they often reinforce core first principles that are important to a culture. Invasion of the Body Snatchers powerfully examines the importance of resisting mindless conformity. Frankenstein is about the unleashing of a monster when you try and play God. Star Wars – yes, it’s a B movie – teaches about faith, loyalty, and facing your fears. And Cheerleader Camp offers a lesson in – OK, maybe not every B movie has a positive social message.
However, 300: Rise of an Empire is a perfect example of a great B movie. It’s the sequel to 300, which dramatized the Battle of Thermopylae,…
Tue. March 11
The first season of HBO’s True Detective has officially inducted itself into the prime-time drama Hall of Fame with it’s fascinating maiden voyage. Not since LOST has there been this level of fan scrutiny, theorizing and Internet chatter surrounding a mysterious season finale. And while LOST and True Detective could not be more different in terms of form, their function as catalysts for wide-ranging, emotional responses from fans and critics are nearly identical.
In a previous post, I commented specifically on the philosophical, metaphysical, and even theological substance (or lack thereof) found in the show’s first four episodes. Now that the full eight have been released for public consumption, there are a few big-picture items from True Detective that I’d like to address.
First, the articulate nihilism of Rust Cohle finally found a worthy challenger. My earlier beef with True Detective had nothing to do with…
Mon. March 10
Audiobook addict that I am, I recently downloaded John Lithgow’s 2011 memoir entitled Drama: An Actor’s Education. I had been on the fence about choosing it until I sampled the book’s preface (by the author and available in its entirety on the Kindle edition page), which hooked me with a very personal and surprisingly moving story.
Lithgow, now 68, is perhaps best-known for the ‘90s sitcom 3rd Rock from the Sun and more recently from the decidedly un-sitcom-y series Dexter. He not only has a long, distinguished career in Hollywood and the theater, but he also has created music and books for children, in addition to writing the autobiography Drama. In other words, his life’s work has been, in one form or another, the telling of stories.
In the book’s preface, Lithgow relates how he went to live with his parents in their Amherst, Massachusetts condo in the…
Mon. March 10
Jerry Seinfeld is a man who truly needs no introduction. A popular comedian long before sitcom immortality befell he and Larry David, Seinfeld has been telling jokes and cracking wise in the living rooms of American viewers for more than three decades. He’s a funny guy. He’s a wealthy guy. He’s a well-respected, well-liked guy.
And since December 25th, 1999, the wealthiest funny man alive has been a happily married guy.
Jerry married Jessica when he was 45 years old. Most of his adult life up to that blissful day fourteen years ago had been spent touring the country as a stand-up, slaving over his beloved Seinfeld show on a studio lot in Burbank, CA, or gracing the cover of gossip magazines with, seemingly, a new girl each month. Before getting married, Jerry gave many interviews in which he claimed he was against the concept and preferred the…
Mon. March 10
Cosmos, Fox’s reboot of science popularizer Carl Sagan’s famous TV series, kicked off big last weekend, appearing on 220 networks in 181 countries, with an introduction by President Obama, no less. [I previously wrote about the series here] Beforehand, The Hollywood Reporter’s Tim Goodman wrote a review in which he praised the primetime science program as “amazingly bold. Why? Because science is godless. And the United States is a strongly religious country.” Comments like that highlight an unfortunately false division in the culture today between science and faith.
When the original Cosmos aired 33 years ago, the atheist Sagan didn’t go out of his way to alienate believers. But we live in very polarized times, so in the new version, “there’s no debate… at all about science vs. religion,” as Goodman put it; in fact, it “is pretty damning about religion and the Catholic Church in particular.”
Fri. March 7
The Millennial Generation, roughly those born between the 1980s and the early 2000s, gets a bad rap. They’ve been called whiny, entitled, narcissistic, and the soft offspring of helicopter parents.
Yet to me, the Millennials are smart, creative, often funny and mostly kind. I sometimes substitute teach for fun and to make a little extra money, so in the past few years I’ve come across literally hundreds of Millennial kids. I keep waiting to meet these weak, griping techno-addicts, and it never happens. In fact, I’m often left with an encouraging feeling: I think that the Millennials have a rare and wonderful opportunity to be another Beat Generation while putting their own unique spin on the world. That is, they can rediscover what’s great about the Beats, things that are both timeless and important to 21st century America, yet also not suffer the drugs, alcoholism and moral depravity that…
Fri. March 7
So apparently the most retweeted photo in history, Ellen DeGeneres’ spontaneous red-carpet Oscars selfie, was not so spontaneous after all. In fact, it was a completely planted, pre-planned, and paid-for advertisement ploy from Samsung.
At first the photo seemed legitimately cute. Jared Leto, Jennifer Lawrence, Channing Tatum, Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Kevin Spacey, Bradley Cooper, Brad Pitt, Lupita Nyong’o, Lupita Nyong’o’s brother, and Angelina Jolie all in one little candid moment, caught on camera? The old guard and the new. So fun!
But in a dark room somewhere, a Samsung executive was cackling an evil laugh. Never had earned media looked so fabulous. It’s no secret that the Samsung Galaxy, the phone Ellen is holding front and center in the photo someone took of the celebs taking the photo, constantly struggles to keep up with its more popular elder sister, the iPhone.
And it certainly wasn’t…
Fri. March 7
Congratulations to Mark Wahlberg, who has won the very first Acculturated “Celebrities Behaving Well Award.” We asked our readers to vote on who they thought was the most praiseworthy celebrity of the past year. It was a close race between Jennifer Lawrence, Lorde, Ashton Kutcher, the Beckhams, and Wahlberg, celebrities whose elevating stories we’ve covered on this blog. In the end, readers were moved by Wahlberg’s decision to go back to school for his diploma. We will be donating $1,000 to the charity of Wahlberg’s choice.
Last September, Acculturated writer Mark Tapson wrote a piece celebrating Wahlberg’s decision to go back to school:
Mark Wahlberg, 42, dropped out of school in the ninth grade after being charged with attempted murder (that’s right, attempted murder), then broke through to stardom by way of Calvin Klein underwear ads and Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch videos. He went on…
Fri. March 7
I am somewhat ashamed to admit that I watched the Academy Awards on Sunday. Usually, I’m completely uninterested in watching Hollywood’s glitterati gather and revel in their wealth and stardom. But, this year, partly because I find Ellen DeGeneres hilarious and partly because I love and was rooting for Jennifer Lawrence, I ended up watching all three and a half hours.
When I first saw Lupita Nyong’o on the red carpet, I admit that I had no idea who she was. I had honestly never even seen her before, having not yet seen this year’s Best Picture, 12 Years a Slave. But I thought she was beautiful, in an enchanting, exotic way, and she, as well as her Cinderella-inspired dress, stood out to me. Of course, she stood and smiled for the paparazzi as all the celebrities did that night, but she seemed to lack that air of “look-at-me”…
Thu. March 6
We at Acculturated are very excited to announce our inaugural Celebrities Behaving Well Award.
Every day, the tabloids are packed with stories of pop-culture icons behaving terribly, from Robin Thicke and his “rape-ish” song to Justin Bieber urinating in public to Lindsay Lohan being Lindsay Lohan. We—the public, the media, the critics—are often so focused on the more degraded aspects of celebrity culture that we pay less attention to some of the more elevating moments, like when Ashton Kutcher said the sexiest thing in the world is being smart or when David and Victoria Beckham put family first.
Over the last year, Acculturated has been keeping track of celebrities at their best moments. After a careful deliberation process, we have nominated five celebrities for the award. The winner will be determined by a public vote. The award is a cash prize of $1,000 which will go to the charity of the…
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