Notes from the Kraken: December 12th 2016

In All, Notes by David

Welcome again to We Have Always Live the Kraken, a pop culture blog transmitted directly to you from the belly of the beast. Here in the Notes we’ll show you this week’s posting schedule, but first here are some thoughts.

Movie music has long been underappreciated, especially considering how important it is to the cinematic experience. Sure, you have people like John Williams and Alan Menken who have broken through to a broader popularity, but in general movie scores and music don’t even get the same acclaim as other really important craft awards like cinematography or editing. This feels especially important this year, with films like La La Land and Moana releasing scores and music that are as catchy and fun as anything else introduced into the mainstream music world this year. Both films have a real buzz, and they show how things have really started to turn around for movie music. Add in that popular artists now seem more than ever willing to at worst sing a song for a movie (just look at the Fifty Shades series–they may be trash movies, but man, they have solid music) or even develop it themselves, ala Justin Timberlake with Trolls or Lin-Manuel Miranda with Moana. This is a big step for movie music, but the real key going forward will be to see if this is going to help film composers like Christophe Beck for (Trolls) or Justin Hurwitz (La La Land) get more mainstream recognition. What will help is if more filmmakers are willing to collaborate, like Moana‘s creators did with Mark Mancina, Opetaia Foa’i, and Lin-Manuel Miranda. This could be the start of a golden age for movie music, so get used to humming those melodies all day long.

David Robertson

From the depths of the Kraken, here is what we are bringing you this week.

  • With the announcement of the Golden Globes nominations and the results of the Critics’ Choice Awards, David has some thoughts on how this new information changes the nascent Oscar races.
  • Westworld season one is over, but Kyu hasn’t even started the show yet. That makes this new feature on opening titles a highwire act: watch and be amazed! as Kyu performs a cold close read of the HBO hit’s fascinating title sequence–then head to the comments section to tell him how wrong he got it.
  • On Saturday, Baturdays continues with the first story in Batman #6, “Murder on Parole.” In this one, Batman and Robin have to protect an ex-convict from getting killed. Wowza!

Catch of the Week:

Each and every week the residents here in the Kraken will offer one recommendation for the week that we think you all would enjoy. It might be a movie. It might be a book. Who knows? This is your… Catch of the Week.

Special note: we’re exploring new ways that you can support the Kraken. If any of this week’s recommendations interest you, feel free to click on our Amazon affiliate links below. We get a small kickback on anything you buy at no extra cost to you, and that money goes toward sustaining and improving the site. Thanks!

Kyu: Sure, I’m trying to catch up on the dozens of 2016 movies I didn’t get around to seeing earlier this year, but there’s still time to read, too. I recently finished Stanislaw Lem’s classic sci-fi novel Solaris and very much enjoyed it. Out of the prosaic building blocks of a traditional space station mystery, the novel crafts a psychologically complex, emotionally wrought meditation on the limitations of human understanding. The planet itself, a strange, massive alien organism whose patterns are meticulously observed and extensively argued over by centuries of bickering academics, is a powerful symbol for the unknowability of the universe–a problem, the book argues, stemming from the human inability to know itself. How can we hope to understand alien life forms when we can’t even reckon with our own depths of irrational obsession, guilt, cruelty, and fear? The novel’s protagonist arrives at Solaris Station in full assumption of solving the mystery, but by the end his straightforward intentions have become a maze of emotional entanglements surrounding his dead lover now seemingly resurrected by the planet below. By extrapolating such a normally concrete and linear genre into an artfully confused examination of the human heart, Lem explodes our traditional notions of sci-fi and creates a story that endures and mystifies even today. This slim volume is well worth seeking out–as are the novel’s cinematic adaptations, particularly the versions by Tarkovsky and Soderbergh.

While we are in the midst of quite prestige movie season I thought it would be a good idea to take a step back, and look at something a little light. Earlier this year the movie Nerve came out. This film isn’t going to win an Oscar or anything, but it is loads of fun. The movie’s color palette is unique, and Nerve does a really good job of showing how dehumanizing it can be to only view events online and anonymously–without sounding like a preachy anti-millennial film. So if you just want to have a good time, give this film a shot.

This week I recommend the anime Bungou Stray Dogs. Ever want to watch a show where every character is based on a famous author, and has magic powers named after one of the author’s most famous works? The answer is yes you fucking do, because season two has Lovecraft in it.

That’s it for this week. Feel free to hang up ornaments on the Christmas trees; just don’t make them angry, because they really like the taste of people.