Empire Records” (1995) is perhaps not technically or objectively a good movie, but it’s almost impossible to dislike it. Choppily yet insightfully written by Carol Heikkinen, with game-saving direction by Allan Moyle and energetic editing by Michael Chandler, the film started as an underdog to its own soundtrack, highlighted by “Sugarhigh” and “Til I Hear It from You” and owned by every CD-collecting teen of the time. As time goes by, those of us who used to apologize for liking this movie seem to have been vindicated, as “Empire Records” has become a cult classic.
Mary and the Giant” (written in 1954, published in 1987) is a nice gender-swapped companion piece to “Voices from the Street” (1952, 2007), this time with Mary Anne Reynolds as the troubled young person. To use movies from 50 years after Philip K. Dick’s writing of the novels as points of comparison, “Mary” is the “Ghost World” to “Voices’ ” “The Good Girl.”
In the early going, “High Fidelity” (February, Hulu) so precisely re-creates several iconic scenes from the 2000 movie that it’s like watching a painful amateur stage production of a classic play. We might as well be rewatching the film or reading Nick Hornby’s 1995 book. But as the 10-episode Season 1 moves forward, it starts to repurpose the familiar scenes in new ways, and it ultimately justifies its existence.
The “Riverdale” empire expands further with its second spinoff, “Kate Keene” (Thursdays, CW), about three gals and a gay dude trying to make it big in New York City in their various careers that just happen to be perfect for dramatic TV portrayals. In the pilot episode, Michael Grassi’s series – based on a title character who debuted in Archie Comics in 1945 – does some good things and some bad things. Your verdict will come down to whether or not “Katy” is your thing.
When it came out, I underrated “High Fidelity” (2000) because it’s not as good as the 1995 novel by Nick Hornby. But like its fellow 2000 love-letter-to-music “Almost Famous,” it now stands as an unassailable classic – if you can accept the intense internal focus of Rob Gordon (John Cusack, also one of the four screenwriters). I can see how Gordon’s obsessive self-analysis could be off-putting to some viewers, especially since Cusack (and presumably Rob) is in his mid-30s — unlike, say, Dawson Leery. If you accept the fourth-wall breaking of a man who refuses to grow up, though, “High Fidelity” is an all-time great movie about romantic love as filtered through the male mind.
Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist” (NBC) isn’t “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” … or “Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist” … or “Zoey 101.” Watching the pilot episode of the series (which will return Feb. 16, in its regular Sunday slot), I could never forget that it is trying to cash in on the current popularity of musicals and that it uses a title that evokes things people already like. That said, this series — whose producers include “Freaks and Geeks’ ” Paul Feig and “The Perfection’s” Richard Shepard (who directs the first episode) — is far from terrible.
Here are 10 movies and 10 TV shows I’m looking forward to in the new year:
These were my 20 favorite songs of the 2010s (with a limit of one song per album), in chronological order:
Ilove the way Javed (Viveik Kalra) loves Bruce Springsteen in “Blinded by the Light.” The Pakistani-British youth sings and dances in the street once he gets the Boss bug. He smiles when listening to the lyrics. He writes about the Boss for his school paper. He wins an essay contest and a trip to America by waxing poetic about Springsteen.
Yesterday” isn’t the first movie to use Beatles songs as its foundation – see also 2001’s “I Am Sam” and 2007’s “Across the Universe” – but writers Jack Barth and Richard Curtis deserve credit for coming up with a killer hook. Struggling British singer-songwriter Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) gets hit by a bus at the exact moment of a 30-second worldwide blackout and awakens to a planet that’s the same in every way except that the Beatles never existed.