Colin’s Favorite Albums of Summer 2023

Well, the leaves are turning, things are getting spooky, and it’s thankfully no longer a million degrees outside every goddamn day. Though this summer felt like a pretty good one for music, I didn’t get around to reviewing really any new albums over the course of it. So before we turn our eyes toward Shocktober around here at Mildly Pleased, I figured I’d take a look back at some of the stand-outs from a summer that often felt like it’d never end. Continue reading

The Pick: Mystery Men

After our usual summer break, The Pick is back with another batch of episodes that we kick off with 1999’s Mystery Men. What started as an intended tribute to the late Paul Reubens also ended up being a tribute to Smash Mouth frontman Steve Harwell, who also passed away before we recorded this episode. We get into both Reubens and Smash Mouth’s contributions to Mystery Men, as well as the rest of this very ’90s cast led by Ben Stiller, Hank Azaria, and Janeane Garofalo. Continue reading

The People’s Albums #9: Come On Over

Let’s go girls.

I don’t want to jinx anything, but I am feeling a bit of a second wind on The People’s Albums. Maybe it’s the “light at the end of the tunnel” aspect of finally cracking the top ten best-selling albums of all time, but we’ll see if I can keep up the pace of two albums per season.

This entry brings things a bit full circle, since this was the first artist I ever reviewed for The People’s Albums almost exactly ten years ago. I wouldn’t say that that earlier piece is quite as poorly written as I expected, but comparing it to my response to this album, it does illuminate how much more open to frivolous pop music I’ve become in the intervening decade.

Album: Come On Over
Artist: Shania Twain
Release Date: November 4, 1997
Copies Sold in the U.S.: 17.7 million Continue reading

Criterion Month Day 30: Moonage Daydream

Moonage Daydream (2022)

Why do we watch movies? Why do we care about them? Why do they matter? Cinema has been facing an existential threat ever since streaming picked up steam, and the pandemic and ongoing strikes have really pushed the medium to the brink. When I write about movies and when I talk about movies, I find that mostly I focus on story and characters. Even with documentaries, my focus is on what they’re about. And you don’t need movies to tell stories. We’ve got books, and podcasts, and shows, and miniseries, and TikTok. So why do we need movies?

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Criterion Month Day 29: La Llorona

La Llorona (2019)

Society is in a weird place with streaming. Just look at the strikes in Hollywood going on right now. Writers and Actors used to get residuals when movies and shows were re-aired on TV or re-released on DVD and basic cable. Now everything is fucked. Movies or shows can just disappear like that and we’re all the worst for it.

What I appreciate about the Criterion Collection is their goal of preservation. I can’t vouch for their policy towards residuals. For all I know, that policy varies from film-to-film. Regardless, it’s clear there’s a passion to protect art. Take today’s film, Jaro Bustamante’s 2019 Guatemalan Horror film La Llorona.

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Criterion Month Day 28: Memories of Murder

Memories of Murder (2003)

It’s funny that the last post I wrote was about an Asian film that was later remade by a legendary American director, because it really feels like I’m doing it again here. David Fincher’s 2007 true crime thriller Zodiac may not be a direct remake of Bong Joon-ho’s Memories of Murder, but in terms of style and substance it’s hard to think of one without thinking of the other. Both are based on yearslong investigations into serial killings, both depict detectives who are complicated, flawed people, both resolves in a deliberately unsatisfying way. But you’ve got to hand it to Bong, Memories of Murder has way more scenes of people getting dropkicked.

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Criterion Month Day 27: Infernal Affairs

Infernal Affairs (2002)

One of my guiding principles in life comes from John Hodgman, who after toying with this idea for years laid it out in his book Vacationland:

Nostalgia to be a toxic impulse. It is the twinned, yearning delusion that (a) the past was better (it wasn’t) and (b) it can be recaptured (it can’t) that leads at best to bad art, movie versions of old TV shows, and sad dads watching Fox news. At worst it leads to revisionist, extremist politics, fundamentalist terrorism, and the victory-in Appalachia in particular-of a narcissist Manhattan cartoon maybe-millionaire and cramped-up city creep who, if he ever did go up to Rocky Top in real life, would never come down again.

But even Hodgman admits that nostalgia feels good. So I’ll come out and boldly admit: there’s a lot of Eighties and Nineties a e s t h e t i c that I’m really into. Movies like Chungking Express and shows like ER really tap into that for me. I know I wouldn’t like going back to a world without smart phones or our beloved AI overlords (please spare me) but it’s fun to look at. And while I’ve tried to kind of embrace that in an attempt just to feel good, there’s another idea I’ve been toying with lately. And that is that I have no nostalgia for the 2000s. In fact, as Infernal Affairs reminded me, this aesthetic sucked.

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