Overrated/Underrated: Ben Whishaw livens up ‘The Lobster,’ and can the Internet kill CNN?
There’s a lot of pop culture to sort through week after week. Times staff writer Chris Barton offers his take on what’s up and what’s down in music, movies, television and just about anything else out there that is worth considering.
Ben Whishaw: When you need a young handsome British person to portray someone bookish and easily underestimated (yet possibly the smartest person in the room), Whishaw should be your first call. Seen in a BBC production of “Richard II” as well as turns as a dryly arrogant Q from a few Bond films as well as an arrogantly dry reporter from the media drama “The Hour,” Whishaw has enjoyed a strong 2016 with roles as the vulnerable lover of a murdered secret agent in the miniseries “London Spy,” and he’s among the many strange pleasures in “The Lobster” as one of Colin Farrell’s character’s few friends.
Julian Lage’s “Arclight”: A onetime child prodigy on guitar with a resume that includes stints backing vibraphonist Gary Burton and the late master Jim Hall, Lage reached a higher level with a new trio album. On his fourth recording as a leader, the 28-year-old builds upon his 2014 duet recording with fellow guitar wizard Nels Cline for an all-electric album that adds a barbed but beautiful energy to his sound. Try the rock-leaning “Prospero” or the twilight-shaded take on the standard “Nocturne” that recalls Bill Frisell. (Lage plays the Blue Whale in Los Angeles on June 4).
John Carney: An Irish filmmaker who parlayed playing bass with the Frames into casting the band’s leader Glen Hansard as the sad-eyed lead in the indie blockbuster “Once,” Carney aimed for similar movie-musical magic with “Begin Again” in 2013. The film was a dud, and while there’s nothing wrong with that there’s plenty wrong with dredging up a 3-year old movie to trash the film’s lead actress, Keira Knightley, in a recent interview. While an orchestra of tiny violins are needed to score calls for celebrity sympathy, it’s hard to see the sense in reminding people of a movie no one liked in the first place (but at least Carney has apologized).
CNN: Of the many raging dumpster fires that populate the 24-hour news business, CNN remains among the fiercest. Though relatively free of notice among media-watchers ever since Jon Stewart ended his watch on “The Daily Show,” the network’s coverage remains puzzling at best and desperate at worst with an addiction to round-the-clock Donald Trump news manifesting with its own form of Mad Libs where the candidate’s name enters nearly every topic to turn around flagging ratings. Can the Internet turn away from killing print media long enough to hurry up with murdering its broadcast counterparts too?