Recent Pop Culture Ingestions:
I just finished reading Douglas Coupland‘s latest novel All Families Are Psychotic. (Hmm. It appears it hasn’t come out in paperback in the US yet. Weird.) I haven’t liked his last couple of books and this one sure didn’t impress me at the start. It just struck me as too wacky and gimmicky, like Dave Barry’s Big Trouble (which I hated). Things just get more and more farcical. Eventually I just gave in and accepted it, and that’s when it got a lot more fun. By the end I was having a good time. It doesn’t have the emotional weight of Microserfs, but it made me laugh a couple of times. I thought the whole “Princess Diana” bit was random, but I did like the resolution of it.
The Buffy Series 4 DVD has been out for ages in the UK, but we still haven’t procured a copy. (The exchange rate makes UK stuff very expensive for us.) It’s out here in Australia, but it’s not in the cool little “book” format. Instead you have to buy two huge boxes, each with several separate DVDs (in separate cases) in them. That, of course, just wouldn’t “go” with the rest of our collection. So we remain in limbo, not sure whether to shell out for the nice version or suck it up and go with the crap one. (Waiting ages for the US version to come out is out of the question.) I’ve been suffering Buffy withdrawal, though, so I caved and rented the first disc of Series 4 and last night we watched the first episode, “The Freshman”. I wasn’t happy. Why is it that Buffy gets totally shit upon in the first episode of every season? Willow was a jerk to her, Giles blew her off, and her Mom was less than sympathetic. I did like Xander’s little “What would Buffy do?” speech, but hello? What happened to character continuity? Xander was an ass all of Season 3. Now suddenly he’s not an ass anymore? And Willow went from nerdy computer girl to sexy trendy Wicca over the course of one summer? I don’t buy it. I’m hoping that the entire episode was constructed to make you feel Buffy’s sense of alienation and discombobulation, because that’s how I felt. Otherwise it sucked and I really hope it gets better soon. (Also, the random phone call bothered me until I read that it was the first Angel crossover event. Great. Now I’ve gotta rent those too.)
After the Buffy disappointment, we watched Wim Wenders’s film Wings of Desire. You may have seen its much crappier and cheesier “remake” City of Angels. Wenders’s version is much better, but it’s also pretty challenging. Not a lot happens. Parts are in monochrome and parts in color. Dialogue is in German, English, and French, so there are a lot of subtitles. There are random appearances by Peter Falk and Nick Cave. To be honest, I’m not sure how I feel about it. Ebert makes some good points in his review, and while I can appreciate it artistically, it’s not the kind of thing I really enjoy myself. At any rate, it’s worth seeing just to realize how completely crap the Nicholas Cage/Meg Ryan version is.