Category Archives: Pop Culture

TV (The Book)

Finished TV (The Book) by Alan Sepinwall and Matt Zoller Seitz. I received a copy for review. 

This is exactly what you’d expect: a selection of the 100 best TV shows ever. (There is also a list in the back of shows that may be included once their runs are over.)

I’m going to admit that I am not a big TV watcher although (a) I am very passionate about what I do watch and that (b) almost literally all my favorites are listed here. (I may not watch much but I watch quality, damn it!)

I’m not sure I agree with everything (Mad Men not in the top five? THE SIMPSONS AS THE BEST SHOW EVER?!) but am willing to concede that they are experts and I am not willing to watch almost 30 years’ worth of the Simpsons to crack my knuckles and say that I KNEW it wasn’t the best. 

This will be an excellent present for both your TV-obsessed friend and for the person like me who really does mean to catch up on everything, once she gets some time. 



Why I picked Saw: I’m a huge James Wan fan and I haven’t seen this in ages.  (He directed the original Saw, which is gross but is not anywhere near as gross as the latest ones got.)

Seen before? Yes

Would I watch again? Yes, but I think this is one of the movies that I can only take every few years or so.

This movie is incredibly claustrophobic.  (I actually saw on IMDB that James Wan deliberately set it up that way—there are no scenes outside.  Every scene is in a room, and there are no exterior shots.  We go from room to room to room.)

This is a horror movie, but it’s not really a slasher.  It’s more of a “What would you do if it meant that you would stay alive? Would you hurt someone? How much would you hurt yourself?”

It’s really unsettling and just…creepy.  And gross.


Caddyshack is one of the AFI’s 100 funniest movies and is also one of its top 10 sports movies.

Seen before? No

Would I watch again? Maybe not the whole thing, but if I could just rewatch Bill Murray’s scenes, absolutely.

I’m not sure why Caddyshack, as a whole, gets so much love (one of the top 10 best sports movies? REALLY? But then, Jerry Maguire is #10, so maybe the point is that many sports movies are not stellar [I like Jerry Maguire, but it’s a sports movie like Pretty Woman is a prostitution movie]).  I would say 95% of Caddyshack is totally fine and 5% is actual genius.  Bill Murray’s Carl the Assistant Groundskeeper is easily the best part of the movie, and I wish he had been in it for more of the movie.


Why I picked Hairspray: I hadn’t seen the musical in a while and, again, I met John Waters yesterday.

Seen before? Yes

Would I watch again? Yes

I’m really weak on musicals and thought that I might as well brush up on some and watch some John Waters at the same time.  (I’m hoping to rewatch Cry-Baby sometime soon, too.)

I should rewatch the real Hairspray soon, too.

I love all the John Waters movies I’ve seen (which, for a pop culture fan living in Baltimore, is not as many as it should be) but I have a special fondness for this one.  It’s not my favorite, but it’s the one that probably speaks to me the most because it’s not only sweet and funny, but there’s also this major theme of social justice.  AND John Travolta does a pretty sweet Baltimore accent.

Serial Mom

Why I picked Serial Mom: I met John Waters recently.  ALL THE EXCLAMATION POINTS

Seen before? Yes

Would I watch again? YES

Serial Mom is easily my favorite of the John Waters movies I’ve seen.  It’s a very dark comedy, and it’s so fun.  It’s also very quotable.   I have hopes that it’ll be a Broadway musical soon (I think he’s working on Cry-Baby now, but c’mon, Serial Mom would be the best choice ever).

(And in case you are interested, John Waters is the nicest guy ever.)

The Boy

Why I picked The Boy: I was in the mood for a horror movie.

Seen before? No

Would I watch again? Probably.

I love scary movies, as you know, and ones centering around dolls and/or creepy children are some of my favorites so watching The Boy was an obvious choice.

In case you missed it, it’s about a woman who accepts a nannying position for a couple in England.  It’s a nice house, but it’s seriously in the middle of nowhere.  She arrives and learns that her charge is actually a doll that the family treats as if it’s alive.  Soooo parents are off on vacation and the nanny wastes no time in disregarding all the rules they’d left for her to follow…and, of course, the doll lets her know that no, actually that is NOT the way things work.

It’s not exactly a great movie (and I was not a fan of the ending) but it’s incredibly fun and there are a few genuinely good scares.



Why I picked Hush: I’d heard excellent things (and it turns out the people who did this also did Oculus!).  As a BTW, this is the Netflix movie centering around a masked man who terrorizes a deaf woman, NOT the Jessica Lange/Gwyneth Paltrow movie.

Seen before? No

Would I watch again? YES.

Okay, seriously, if you are into horror movies at all, you need to watch this one.  It’s so freaking scary, and also incredibly well-done.  It’s not as innovative as Oculus was, but the fact that the heroine is deaf made for an interesting twist, and the tension is high throughout.


Ricki and the Flash

Why I picked Ricki and the Flash: I hadn’t seen it and I am on a bit of a Meryl kick

Seen before? No

Would I recommend? Yes

This was so much better than I was expecting! It’s very funny and the cast is amazing (Kevin Kline and Audra MacDonald, especially) and it wss just a surprisingly good, darkly sweet movie. 

Death Becomes Her

Why I picked Death Becomes Her: I love Meryl Streep but I realized that I keep watching her later movies (Devil Wears Prada, especially) but I never watch her work from the 80s and 90s. 

Seen before? Yes, but not in years

Would I recommend? Maybe. It’s pretty fun but not really that good

Here’s an interesting thing about Meryl Streep: her early movies are critically acclaimed (Deer Hunter, Kramer vs. Kramer, Silkwood) and a lot of her later ones are ALSO critically acclaimed and almost guaranteed to come with Oscar nods. And in between, especially in the 1980s and 1990s, there’s a lot of less than stellar movies. (Although I do have a ridiculous fondness for The River Wild.)

And here’s a more interesting thing about Meryl Streep: she is the only actress I can think of who can’t deliver a bad performance. Death Becomes Her is not a good movie, but she makes it really fun and watchable. With most actresses, you can really see how the director and script change their ability to give a good performance. (My go to example is Natalie Portman. Compare her in the Star Wars sequels to Black Swan, and it’s hard to believe it’s the same actress.) But Meryl Streep? Always fantastic, always believable. 


Why I chose Deadpool: Because everyone loves it

Seen before? No

Would I recommend it? Yes! To anyone who’s not easily or moderately easily offended. 

You guys, I loved this movie. It’s crazy violent, wickedly funny and just over the top in the best way. I think this is my new favorite superhero movie. 

Ryan Reynolds is perfect in this. It’s super meta but that basically just makes this the superhero version of Scream. 

I love everything about this movie.