Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Sine Your Pity on the Runny Kine!

It's a bit of a funeral march walking through the aisles of a closing video rental store. This twisted reenactment of a lost ritual of youth is so common these days that it won't last for long - since there's not many stores left to shut their doors.

Growing up, I probably spent more time in my local and now defunct Video 99 than any other store besides Consumer's Distributing (especially if you include the catalog in the hour count). But if there's one upside of the demise of the video rental store, it's the chance to pick up great deals on out-of-print or hard-to-find movies*.

For example, the forgotten classic Pootie Tang. Yes, I'm in love with Pootie - not unlike the women in the film who can't resist the charms of the heroic 70s throwback, crime fighting lothario. Yes, I was one of the 8 people there on opening night in June of 2001 to check out this hilarious and confusing mess of a comedy. And yes, I finally tracked down a DVD copy of it at a Movie Gallery closing sale in Barrington Passage, Nova Scotia.

I watched it again last night for the first time, and noticed a few things (which you might have also noticed in the above unreleased trailer for the movie).

1. Written and directed by Louis CK, it bares very little resemblance to his stand-up routine or his recent sitcom work. Besides a like-minded worldview that defends the little guy and roots for the working class.

2. In a deleted scene featured in the credits, a very young Veronica Mars Kristen Bell plays possibly the only girl on earth who can resist Pootie's charms.

3. Pootie Tang features two characters from "The Wire". Reg E. Cathey/Norman Wilson as Dirty Dee and J.D. Williams/Preston 'Bodie' Broadus as Froggy. The two are criminal comrades in the movie and I don't know if they share a single scene in the Wire. I wonder if the casting director for "The Wire" could repeat that fact.

*I should emphasize that I have zero sympathy/nostalgia for the death of the Blockbuster juggernaut. The chain's own arrogance led to their decline and bankruptcy. Not Netflix, not Itunes, and not illegal downloading. Blockbuster's tragic flaw was they sucked.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Nude Creature Double Feature

Seems like all the neo-psychedelic electro-pop bands have Alf fever these days.

Here are two pretty, sappy songs from Yeasayer and MGMT, both featuring music videos with sickly beige mutants on the cusp of expiration. Is this a sign of things to come? A new trend perhaps that will have us squirming for the 201os?

Either way, these will get you suffiently grossed/blissed out for the time being.

MGMT: "Congratulations"

Yeasayer: "Mad Hatter"

Friday, November 05, 2010

Best Canadian TV Shows of Ever

On Tuesday November 2nd, I attended one of the Industry Galas that made up the 25th Annual Gemini Awards. If you don't already know, the Geminis are the Canadian equivalent of the Emmy's, honouring achievement in television broadcasting from best visual effects to best documentary series.

And besides giving me a chance to creep around minor Canadian celebrities (are there any other kind!?), it got me thinking about what Canadian TV stands out for me. And I realized quickly, that the shows I think of as my favourites have a few things in common: (1) they're off the air (2) they're mostly comedic (3) they're mostly "for kids".

But without further rationalizing the subjectivity of this subjective list, here are the best Canadian television shows ever...

10) Reboot
This is more of a representative pick because there's just so many great cartoons to pick from. And of course, I couldn't bear giving a shout-out to The Raccoons or The Smoggies. Plus, being the first completely computer animated TV series has to got to count for something.

9) Kenny Vs Spenny
Brilliant both in its simplicity and stupidity, KVP is almost always entertaining. No genre? No problem.

8) The Newsroom
Consistently funny and smart (without being smug) the Newsroom is probably the most pleasantly surprising comedy CBC ever aired.

7) You Can't Do That On Television
This kids sketch comedy show not only gave little Alanis Morissette her first big break, but it was so irreverent and fun that it later bolstered the ratings of the then fledgling Nickelodeon network in the US.

6) The New Music
Canadian TV's answer to Rolling Stone Magazine, the show was ground breaking when it started in 1979 and managed to stay relevant until its cancellation in 2008.

5) The Kids in the Hall
Canadians have this comedy shit on lock. The Brits have punk rock, we have sketch shows.

4) Mr. Dressup
Next to the Simpsons and Seinfeld, I've probably watched more hours of Mr. Dressup than anything else. Please don't confuse it with the creepier, American Mr. Rogers.

3) Degrassi Jr. High
I think being a teenager was a lot easier for me since I got to see it all go down when I was still just a little kid. Teen melodrama never looked this ugly (that's a good thing).

2) Fraggle Rock
Who doesn't love the Fraggles? The music, the characters, the concept - they're all "rock" solid. Add in the fact that the left-field Canadian poet bpNichol wrote on several episodes, and you get an idea of the homespun brilliance that was FR.

Second City Television was unendingly hilarious and innovative. Crap, what else can I say? Pound for pound, funnier than Saturday Night Live.

Honorable Mentions:
Today's Special, Dear Aunt Agnes, The Rick Mercer Report, My Secret Identity, Mantracker, Nanalan, Fashion Television, Kidstreet, The Wedge, Wok with Yan!, King of Kensington, Catwalk

And if I was looking to make a list of dramatic series, I'd probably include stuff like:
Intelligence, Slings & Arrows, Street Legal, Traders, DaVinci's Inquest

What I miss?