It’s a new year and I have four new quick hits for your to absorb through your eye holes and then in turn absorb though your earholes and eye holes at the same time*. Today we have a podcast that is going to expand your mind, a film that is going to bend it, a TV show that will track it down when it runs away and a twitter feed that will do more than just amuse it.
Talk radio is a medium that was once thought to be dead, but for those who were addicted to the chortling and preening of political pundits, haywire conspiracy theorists or the sedating sounds of the CBC or NPR. WNYC’s Science and philosophy opus Radiolab has actually expended the medium of what we can define as talk radio. With hosts/composers/guides to the unknown Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich blaze a sonic path through the airwaves and onto the internet. The show is a mix of interview, original music, radio theatre, and found audio that blurs the line between science and philosophy in a similar way that Ira Glass changed the way we look at the production of human interest journalism in This American Life. Every episode of Radiolab begins with a scientific or philosophical question and deftly manoeuvres on what seem like tangents and flights of fancy but all leading back to where you started with not necessarily defined answers to the question but a reverent and entertaining exploration of the question. I am late to the party on this show as it is about five years old, but that also allows for you to go back into the vast backlog of episodes and binge on this sonic treat. Check it out.
It was a few years ago that a coworker, former film critic and friend turned me onto Primer. A low budget, independent science fiction film that won awards at Sundance in 2004 but totally flew under the radar for most people. I love time travel movies but never have I seen a film make such a grounded, small, wryly funny, yet unsettling time travel story. Writer, Director,Producer, Shane Carruth made Primer for a reported $7,000 and somehow wringed a really great looking film out of the micro budget. Here is the warning, you cannot just watch this 78 minute mind bender once, you probably won’t even get what is going on with a second viewing. The logic behind the time travel is not easy to grasp as is the existential conundrum that confronts you once you do get it. Even if you don’t understand what is going on, it’s not a requisite for enjoying the film. There is a sense of paranoia that permeates the movie, an off balance sense of dread and gallows humour that makes understanding the complicated metaphysics kind of a moot point.
Justified didn’t make my 2012 best of Television list but I have a feeling that in 2013 it will be making a comeback. The story of lawman Raylan Givens has had three years to mature and become one of the richest and most self assured pieces of television out there. In the new season we see a new Rogues gallery facing the players in Harlan County. The most interesting part of the new season is the continued evolution of Timothy Olyphant’s Givens from misunderstood lawman to irresponsible, self serving asshole. Walton Goggins continues his strong work at Boyd Crowder and the additions of a new revival scheme horning in on Boyd’s drug business, a new relationship giving Raylan headaches and a new mystery for the marshalls to unravel are making this season of Justified one that may rival the epic second season.
Twitter Feeds: @PattonOswalt
Speaking of Justified one of the new cast members of that show is also one of my favourite comedians, writers, actors, and tweeters working today. Patton Oswalt has been a comic since the late 80’s, a comic character actor since he played Spence on King Of Queens and a leading man since his turn as Remy The Rat in Ratatouille**. One of the things that Oswalt has truly mastered is his twitter feed. Whether he is live tweeting love letters to Downton Abbey, antagonizing 2nd amendment nutcases, or describing an orgasmic meal from Moto, or Shwa, Oswalt’s twitter feed distills one of the wittiest people on the planet’s passions, hatreds and interests into some of the most fun you can have in 148 characters.
*In the case of television and film
**Yes I know Remy The Rat was a cartoon. He also will blow you away in Big Fan, and Young Adult.