(Top 101 Countdown) #57. Smells Like Teen Spirit – Nirvana

First off, please let me say this: Holy &#$@, she did it! Yes, Yu-Na Kim has won the Olympic gold medal with a perfect, record-breaking free program. She was awesome, shrugging off any nerves like “Pressure? What pressure?” She must have icewater in her veins; I mean that in the best way possible. Anyhow, there were actually about eight solid-to-excellent programs that night (especially enjoyed spunky Akiko Suzuki, saucy Laura Lepisto, and the ever-smiling-when-she’s-not-crying-or-having-an-untimely-nosebleed Mirai Nagasu), but Yu-Na still managed to stand in a class of her own. Well done, indeed.

Okay, now time for some movie mini-reviews. I’ve actually stayed away from movies for some time, because when I want to really focus on something, I find books to be more rewarding, and when I want to be entertained, TV shows are shorter and simpler. But in the last week, I found myself returning to the days when I was a geeky college student working at a video store who made a point of devouring just about every movie that came in, especially the indies. I think maybe it was because I wanted to get the bad taste out of my mouth after watching the live American Idol performances (my goodness, they sucked; note to Korean-American brother John Park: John, it’s not a funeral).

First movie I watched was “I Love You Man,” and it’s a sweet “bromance” (I can’t believe I actually typed that word) about a soon-to-be-married guy (played by the guy whose name escapes me at the moment but played Alicia Silverstone’s stepbrother-than-boyfriend in Clueless) who realizes he doesn’t have any real guy friends and goes out looking for one. It’s actually all kind of sweet and earnest, and it makes a good point: it really IS hard to make good friends once you’re out of school. It actually looks to be simpler when you’re in Korea, where you’re pretty much friends with anyone once you’ve gone drinking together a couple of times, but really, it’s the same BS as in the U.S., with most so-called friends just using you as an audience to talk about how great they are. Their idea of friendship is having you clap and cheer while you watch them masturbate, and to be honest, I’d rather have no friends at all rather than partake, which I suppose is pretty close to the truth, but I digress.

After that, it was time for “The Hangover,” which is a real GUY movie. Usually, I hate, hate, hate guy movies, but this one offers twists galore, and you’re never quite what the heck will happen next. Overall, it was fun and clever (especially loved the Mike Tyson cameo), although I never really cared too much about what would happen to the characters (if they had all died in a car crash on their way to the wedding, I would’ve went, ‘Huh, that was kind of unexpected,’ and that would’ve been it).

Finally, I watched “An Education” since I heard so many good reviews for it, and I’m usually a sucker for a good coming-of-age story. Well, this one was… well, it’s actually my favorite out of the three films I saw last week, but I also had some mixed feelings about it. I’ll start with the bad. Basically, the story is about how a British schoolgirl gets wooed and conned by an older guy. The girl is smart and appealing, BUT when she finds out just what the guy and his partner do to make money (it’s not good), she makes a bit of a fuss but then gets over it in less than a minute. I found that part really troubling, making me want to scream “Are you daft?” at my TV screen in a faux-British accent. Fortunately, the movie re-grounded itself after that, and I really appreciated the fact that education really was portrayed as the girl’s way to find redemption (as opposed to, for example, a makeover). The lead actress–whose name also escapes me at the moment, and I want to say “Casey,” but that can’t be right, can it?–does a great job of creating a very real, earthy character. Her love interest also gives a capable performance, but I knew from the get-go he would be trouble in the end, remembering him as the psycho killer in “Boys Don’t Cry.” Again, I was proven right, ha ha.

Speaking of coming of age, let’s go to our Top 101 Countdown. What’s left to be said about the landmark single that is Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit?” Yes, it’s a classic. Yes, it’s an anthem for angry, horny, dissatisfied youths (and youths at heart) all over the world. I’ll just add that there was a time when it truly felt like popular music could change the world. Maybe it was even more like than in the 60’s and the 70’s, but I was either too young or non-existent, so I can’t comment. But in the 80’s, artists like Madonna, Michael Jackson, and Prince weren’t just creating music; they were creating dreams that people could hold on to and believe in. And then came the 90’s grunge movement, and Nirvana’s nihilistic screams offered another dream altogether, one that felt just as strong and even more authentic. But of course, it couldn’t last. With a blast and a bullet, Kurt ended the dream forever, and we all woke up. It turned out music was just music, and it had to be enough. R.I.P.

57. Smells Like Teen Spirit – Nirvana

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