Spectrum Check

Ah, here’s Spectrum Check, back at it’s regularly scheduled time. So the first piece I had go up this week happened as a direct result of the intervention of my friend, a fabulous babe who a generation of Madison music fans know as Casino Queen. Somewhere around the midpoint of my ongoing countdown of the best films of the nineteen-eighties, she emailed me with the gentle but firm assertion that our friendship might be in jeopardy if the 1981 cinematic extravaganza The Great Muppet Caper wasn’t included somewhere on the list. I sheepishly informed her that it indeed would not appear on the tally, including a feeble (but accurate) excuse that I hadn’t seen it recently enough to gauge its quality aside from my admittedly nostalgic memories. Shortly thereafter, a DVD copy of the film arrived in the mail with a sticky note attached: “For Your Consideration.” While I wasn’t prepared to make a revision to the ongoing countdown, regardless of the outcome of a fresh viewing, Spectrum Culture luckily has a recurring feature perfectly suited to this situation. I only wish I could have better conveyed the enjoyment I got out of seeing Charles Grodin acting uncharacteristically goofy in the film.

I also wrote about a reissue of seventies psychedelic rock by an Iranian musician. Usually, we writers select the albums we want to write about, but I don’t recall putting in for this one. I believe it was assigned to me, presumably because I’d reviewed a similarly-themed release from the same label earlier in the year. I like the challenge of these reviews from the outer edge of my comfort zone, but I’ll admit to feeling a little out of my depth on this one at first. I tend to hone in on lyrics, so having every last one of them delivered in Persian was very tricky for me. I think I did fine with the review, but the earlier effort was probably better.

Then again, sometimes the prospect of having albums assigned for often than not holds its own appeal. When the debut album from Wild Flag showed up on out list of available releases, I snagged it as quick as I could. While I really did make every effort to bring a measured critical acumen to writing about the album, I was fairly certain that I’d be exceedingly pleased by the album. I saw them play live back in the spring and loved every moment of it. Given my strong affection for at least one of the bands this group emanated from, I had no reason to believe it would all fall apart on record. As far as I’m concerned, the quality absolutely carried over. Again, I feel confident in my review, but I do worry about at-the-ready fanboy palpitations shading my assessment. I guess that always comes with the territory, though.

If you’re a human being, take a break from the race

Given that Muppet-related videos make regular appearances at this humble little corner of the Web, it feels a little weird to refrain from embedding the trailer to the upcoming revival film, The Muppets. But then again, I did link to it yesterday on Twitter, and, by now, it seems to be practically everywhere. So instead, I’ll simply acknowledge that I’ve watched it multiple times and my reaction is the same with each fresh viewing. It looks a little like this:

Also, I’d wager this is the precise moment when Jason Segel is the happiest he’s ever been, or will ever be, in his life:

Spectrum Check

There was a time when Uma Thurman was an actress that demanded attention. If she was in a film, it merited at least some amount of consideration. Maybe the finished project was actually not very good (or even downright awful) but she alone made it something that at least went into the “maybe” pile when sorting out film-going options. Sadly, I’ve noticed lately that, as I spin the digital dial considering movies to add to our overstuffed DVR, the opposite is now true. Uma’s inclusion in the cast list–especially at the top of it–is a signal to stay away. I must report that the new film Ceremony does not alter that impression.

On the positive side, I also got to write about the welcome return to recording by The Feelies. I’ll confess that this piece needed a little polishing after I submitted it, but I’ll accept that as a victory considering I wrote it quickly while huddled in a northern cabin in the hours immediately preceding the beginning of The World’s Largest Trivia ContestTM. I was, to put it gently, a little distracted.

The personal effort I’m most pleased with this week is my latest contribution to the ongoing “Oeuvre” series, tracking through the films of François Truffaut. I wrote about The Bride Wore Black (thanks to a crucial assist from my friend and teammate Andy and his Interweb wizardry). Writing about Truffaut is intimidating, so I consider myself lucky that I figured out the angle I wanted to take fairly quickly and easily.

And then there was this week’s List Inconsequential, in which I proved once again that I will never turn down an opportunity to write about the Muppets.