Sunday, February 8, 2015

Charli XCX, ‘Gotham’, and ‘Space: 1999’

Cool stuff I have been into as of late, and just can’t get enough.

Charli XCX

The British born pop rocker sensation entered my radar over the past year and has elevated to Lana Del Rey type status in the James Caterino/Gunner Star universe of pop culture obsessions. Charli channels a sultry early 80’s punk/new wave vibe in the same fashion that Lana Del Rey represents a musical and stylistic recreation of the Nancy Sinatra and 60s/70’s Americana. 

Although Deborah Harry of “Blondie” fame seems like the obvious predecessor of Charli XCX, it is another early 80s new wave singer who she most closely resembles vocally—Martha Davis of “The Motels”. The similarity in the tone of their voice is striking.

Like Lana, the young performer is a keen observer of pop culture and draws from it—both present and past—paying homage to everything from the 1976 Brian De Palma film “Carrie” to Quentin Tarantino in her visually arresting, expertly crafted music videos.


This new show is an absolute treasure trove of weekly geek spasm-inducing delights for life-long “Batman” fans like myself. The show’s producers and writers have truly delivered on the promising hook of “what was Gotham like before there was the Batman?”

The show has garnered much-deserved acclaim for its jaw-dropping, feature film quality production design and gorgeous cinematography and the writers are doing a wonderful job of peppering the series with the precursors of all of Gotham’s soon-to-be-famous residents. There are also unexpected human touches such as the recent addition of Morena Baccarin (“Homeland”, “V”) as Dr. Leslie Thompkins.

Robin Lord Taylor as Penguin is the breakout star, Jada Pinkett Smith is elelctrifying, and the underrated Donal Logue terrific as Harvey Bullock. But what makes it all work is Benjamin McKenzie. The former star of “The O.C.” is a stud, commanding the screen and bringing a powerful gravitas to the brooding mayhem and a center focal point for the show to build around.
Benjamin McKenzie IS Jim Gordon!

“Space: 1999” Year 2

Although it might have the smallest cult following among the cult followings that inevitably build around space shows, “Space: 1999” occupies a unique piece of historical space opera real estate, serving as the bridge between the years of classic “Star Trek” and the “Star Wars” science fiction boom.

General consensus is that the “2001” inspired first season is superior. But I found it far too pretentious and nonsensical (especially at age 10!). So when “Star Trek” alum Fred Freiberger was brought on board to warm up the characters and amp up the excitement, I was all in.

And it is exciting. “Space: 1999” Year 2 is a colorful, science fiction action adventure in all its pulpy, scientifically preposterous glory. The metamorph Maya (played by the beautiful Catherine Shell) is a great new character and in perfect sync to the Saturday morning matinee feel of Year 2. Just as in the first season, the visual effects were designed and directed by Brian Johnson of “The Empire Strikes Back” fame and are decades ahead of their time. “Space: 1999” in either season ranks as the best looking science fiction show ever to grace the airwaves.

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