It’s a new year, and that means a whole lot of new popular culture, whether it’s a crop of television shows centered on female characters, like FX’s The Americans or Showtime’s Masters and Johnson, the continuation of promising franchises like J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek: Into Darkness, or even just news on who will be directing the new Star Wars movies and potentially starring as Carol Danvers in Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy. But every year, I like to take some time out to explore things that are missing pieces in my own spotty pop-culture education, that give context to the larger trends that are emerging in film and television, or that I simply didn’t get a chance to catch in the previous year. These are my 2013 pop culture New Year’s resolutions. I’d love to hear yours in comments:
1. Finish Homicide: Life On The Street and Twin Peaks: I got through a chunk of Homicide in 2011, and the first season of Twin Peaks last year. And I can’t stop thinking about either one of them. I’m looking forward to finishing both for the simple pleasure of watching them, and for all the things I know that watching them will let me see in the rest of pop culture.
2. Read all of the competitors in the 2013 Tournament of Books: Judging the 2012 Tournament of Books, a competition that puts all kinds of novels, written in all kinds of styles, up against each other, was one of the most fun things I did last year. This year, I’ll just be an observer as a group of talented critics tries to sort between everything from the pulp of Gone Girl to the interrogations of Bring Up The Bodies. But I’m excited to catch up with the books I haven’t read, including HHhH, The Round House, The Fault In Our Stars, Arcadia, May We Be Forgiven, Ivyland, Dear Life, Where’d You Go Bernadette, Beautiful Ruins, and perhaps most of all, Chris Ware’s Building Stories.
3. Seven Samurai. Yojimbo. Ran. Throne of Blood. I don’t know enough about Asian cinema, or about Westerns, either. So it’s time to get my Akira Kurosawa on. I’m going to start with these four movies. And I’d love your recommendations for where to go once I’m done with those.
4. Watch Hatufim: Whether you think Homeland jumped the shark this season or gained adrenaline as it ramped up to the major terrorist attack that ended this season, the show is guaranteed to remain a key part of the prestige television landscape—and shows based on Israeli programs look to become an even more important part of the network television mix. I want to go back and see where Homeland came from and watch Hatufim, the Israeli show it’s loosely based on, especially as Gideon Raff starts work on American television shows in conjunction with Homeland‘s creators.
5. Pandora’s Box and Diary of a Lost Girl: One of the most common complaints about Hollywood today is that it’s hamstrung by commercial concerns, chasing movies that will make hundreds of millions of dollars, rather than ones that will recoup modest gains but make more important points. But I’m curious about what kinds of movies couldn’t get made when there was a genuine blacklist. So I’m going to spend some time this year with the movies Louise Brooks made in Europe when it was difficult for her to work in the United States.