I think we all need at least one really nice positive thing about the entertainment business every single day of the year, including weekends. Sometimes it may be something simple, like a video that showcases something fun and sometimes it may be a movie poster that embraces the aesthetic we all want Hollywood to aspire to. Sometimes it may be a long-winded diatribe. Sometimes it’ll be from the staff and extended family of CHUD.com. Maybe even you readers can get in on it. So, take this to the bank. Every day, you will get a little bit of positivity from one column a day here. Take it with you. Maybe it’ll help you through a bad day or give folks some fun things to hunt down in their busy celluloid digesting day.
By Damon Houx: Twitter
The A.V. Club
The collision of old media and new media is coming to some sort of head. What’s going to happen with newspapers and with old school reporting is unknown, but it is unarguably on the decline. On the internet you have the old -world news sources like the New York Times trying to figure out what to do with paywalls and then you’ve got the new school. Places like The Drudge Report, and The Huffington Post – two news sources that have clearly delineated biases, and also ones that rely on the work of non-professionals. In fact much of the internet is fueled by those willing to work for free or next to nothing so they have a platform for their opinions. Perhaps the advancement of internet cultures is a return to a world of cliques defined no longer by location but how and from whom they get information. It won’t be race or our cities that define us, but by where we click.
But the same collision can be found in internet movie and pop culture journalism. The ones that have thrived have developed niche personalities, or are possibly bookmarked by one person who loves films and ignored by another. Wells vs. Poland. Finke vs. everyone else. Etc. But a lot of the people responsible for this are not journalists, and some can only charitably be called writers. Since much of the information is the same, how it comes across is a defining characteristic. But if pop-culture on the internet has a New York Times, it has to be The A.V. Club. An offshoot of The Onion, the A.V. Club has assembled some of the best pop culture writers to talk about both what’s of the moment, and what’s got their attentions.
Their film crew are all well worth reading, but their spotlight columns are what make the site a daily read. Mike D’Angelo’s biweekly column “Scenic Routes” takes a sequence in a film and dissects what it’s doing, either for good or ill. D’Angelo’s been around online for years, but the A.V. Club seems a perfect fit. He also has covered Cannes for them in the past – though I don’t know if he will this year.
Then there’s Nathan Rabin, who’s got two great regular columns. One is the “My Year of the Flops” – which he turned into a book – which covers films that died at the box office and finds if they are worth watching. Sometimes it’s because they are great bad movies, sometimes because they are underrated or weird films that were pooped on at the time. That said, sometimes they’re just bad. He’s also been covering the music series “THEN That’s What They Called Music!“ which covers the greatest hits collection that have summed up the last couple years of pop music. I enjoy both columns, the former because I find that we’ve changed how we appreciate movies over the last decade, and it’s interesting to have a public forum to reconsider films that sometimes need to be re-evaluated by the culture, and the latter for letting me know how aware of the outside world I am.
Scott Tobias also has a great biweekly column called “The New Cult Cannon” where he considers the films that have come out in the last twenty to thirty years and have staked a claim to being worthy of their underground reputation. From Femme Fatale to Enter the Void to Highlander there are a number of films that are evaluated sometimes for better or ill. But it’s always a great read.
Noel Murray handles the T.V. column “A Very Special Episode” that tries to find an episode of a show that sums up what makes it (or doesn’t make it) work. This one wrecked me. And Keith Phipps’ “Triple Feature” takes three films with an odd through-line and shows how they play off each other. This is great film and television writing
There’s also columns like “Commentary Tracks of the Damned,” “Films that Time Forgot,” and “I Watched This on Purpose” that cover films that are usually terrible, but may have some interest – or not. And then there’s “Gateways to Geekery” which offers a helpful way to get to know a popular artist. Of course they also do great interviews, from regular back and forths to “Random Roles” which gets character actors to talk about their careers through some of their most famous or smallest roles. They also cover a number of TV shows and review them weekly, and tend to have the same writers cover the show, so you can gage your interest against theirs. And i haven’t talked much about their music or books coverage, which is also excellent.
On top of that, I love their “Undercover” (which have musicians playing cover songs on a small list that – once a song is covered – is no longer in contention), their weekly reviews, and more. The A.V. Club mixes the current with well considered pieces on older and important art, while still having some of the playful tone of their sister site. They are one of my favorite daily reads. I wish more sites were as fun to search through.