August 25th, 2008
12:18 PM ET

Favorites of the summer

Has it really been three months already? Is it already time to get ready for fall?

Heath Ledger's performance in "The Dark Knight" is earning Oscar talk.

If that’s the case, then it seems like a good time to take stock and pick out a few favorites from summer 2008:

Movie: “The Dark Knight.” What can I say? It lived up to the hype. Director and co-writer Christopher Nolan - helped immeasurably by performances from Heath Ledger, Gary Oldman and several others – gave a nifty comic book movie several deeper and darker layers. Expect to see several nominations come Oscar time.

CD: “Pacific Ocean Blue,” Dennis Wilson (Legacy). Brian Wilson wasn’t the only Beach Boy capable of genius. Brother Dennis’ 1977 album, given the special anniversary treatment that includes a number of cuts from the unfinished follow-up “Bambu,” emerges as a gorgeous, fragile testament to the late drummer. Dennis Wilson had written some terrific songs for the late-‘60s/early ‘70s Beach Boys - “Little Bird,” “Forever” - but few would have thought he’d have something like “Pacific Ocean Blue” in him.

Also: “The Hard Way,” James Hunter (Hear Music). The British retro-soul guitarist does it again with 12 songs Jackie Wilson or Sam Cooke would have been proud to cover - and guitar-playing that brings it on home. (If Hunter ever visits your town, see him. The man is a wizard.)

DVD: “All You Need Is Love” (Zeit). British documentarian Tony Palmer’s 1976-80 history of popular music is now (finally!) available on a 5-DVD set. Palmer took on an ambitious task, suggested by John Lennon, to chronicle popular music from its roots in field hollers and music halls, showing how Rudy Vallee was connected to Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley and David Bowie. Unfortunately for Palmer, his filming ended just as punk was coming alive, but what remains is still an incredible wealth of material, with interviews and performances from the likes of Dizzy Gillespie, Jerry Lee Lewis and the Who. If, in hindsight, the filmmaker occasionally missed out ... well, hindsight is 20/20.

TV: The Olympics. One exciting moment after another.

Books: As always, I’ve spent the summer desperately trying to get books out of my ever-growing To Be Read pile and actually reading them, so very few are recent releases. (Jeremy Larner’s 1970 chronicle of the Eugene McCarthy campaign, “Nobody Knows,” and Neal Gabler’s 1994 Walter Winchell biography have been the best books I’ve read lately, with Larner’s one of the best of my year.) Indeed, I believe I’ve simply put recent releases in, well, the To Be Read pile. But I will get to “Traffic” and “The Story of Edgar Sawtelle” soon. In the meantime, Mark Twain awaits.

- Todd Leopold, Entertainment Producer

Filed under: Uncategorized

soundoff (33 Responses)
  1. Encarta

    Somebody mentioned to go check rotten tomatoes. There have been times when I have gone to see a movie after checking rotten tomatoes for ratings and critiques and found out that they were absolutely wrong. As for the Dark Knight, I haven't seen it yet. Maybe I'll rent it on DVD one of these good days.

    August 28, 2008 at 11:15 am | Report abuse |
  2. Abel Holguin

    The best thing on television during summer or anytime is Kyra Sedgwick in 'The Closer'. She and her cast are absolutely AMAZING. I love you Deputy Chief Brenda Lee Johnson!! As for film, I could not keep my eyes off Heath Ledger in 'Dark Knight ' that man deserves a Golden Globe and Acadamy Award and a Screen Actors Guild award for his brilliant performance. I love you Heath.

    August 26, 2008 at 9:05 am | Report abuse |
  3. sneakers 57

    I haven't seen Dark Knight but picking on David is wrong. Every movie is not for every person. 'Chariots of Fire' won best picture for goodness sake. Need I say more?

    I really liked Mama and campy

    August 25, 2008 at 10:04 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jami JoAnne

    The Olympics were boring. But then again, all sports are boring and pointless. The best film was Wall-E – if only because it was inspired by two numbers Michael Crawford sang in the movie Hello Dolly. And today's "music" stinks. They're all tone deaf and need computers to alter their voices. People should listen to people who can actually sing, like Barry Manilow, Michael Crawford, and Neil Diamond, and shun any "singer" discovered in the past 20 years – especially anyone who's been on American Idol.

    August 25, 2008 at 9:21 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Kimberly

    Those who think that The Dark Knight is terrible are those who love/watch all the garbage that Hollywood puts out on a weekly basis - they can't appreciate a good film when they see it. Like eating junk food every day and ruining your pallet for filet mignon.

    August 25, 2008 at 6:37 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Katrina

    I was also not a fan of The Dark Knight. I throught it was a "standard" Batman film, and strictly met those standards (please folks don't nail me to the cross). I thought Leger's acting was good- but then again, it's what I EXPECTED the role of the Joker to be like (I watched the cartoons as a kid). It was believable, just as Bale's acting as the Batman was. I found nothing "over the top" and "amazing" about it, just average.

    August 25, 2008 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Dave

    Indiana Jones was my favorite film of the summer. I liked Dark Knight, but having it set in Chicago and not in a noir-ish style Gotham City took a lot out of it, it made it look like Batman landed in the middle of a John Hughes film. And for $500 million in the US (it was a dud overseas, even Indy, which some folks thought horrible, did way better), wheres all the fanboy analysis and serious discussion of plotlines and characters? Lord of the RIngs, Empire Strikes Back, heck, even Pirates:Dead Man's Chest had more of a rabid, serious following based on a love of the material and the character arcs, for Dark Knight, people really went 4-5 times, and the most they can say about it was "It was so cool!", or "Joker was great!". But then again, I guess if you ask a 13 year old what the best food ever is, I shouldnt be surprised when the answer you get back is Pop Tarts or Twinkies.

    August 25, 2008 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
  8. brian

    I vote on the side of those who did not like The Dark Knight. Strange too considering what they had to work with – the only cast member that I did not like was Maggie Gyllenhal (Didn't like Katie Holmes in the first movie either). I found it to be an incredibly tedious movie. It lacked any emotional variance whatsoever. I don't mind movies whose over-all theme is dark but you need at least some emotional highs to accentuate the grittiness or else it becomes something that drones on and you are glad when the movies end. The soundtrack didn't help at all – very dreary and repetitive. Even the action scenes were boring to sit through.

    It never ceases to amaze me how some people think gross revenue makes something a quality piece of work. I still say Titanic was one of the most over-blown pieces of junk to hit the big screen. Bad acting, bad dialogue, bad plotlines... the list could go on and on.

    August 25, 2008 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
  9. wallace

    400+ million is a lot more than simple marketing and trend-following, you must give credit that there was definately some genuine personal interest on many movie goers part. I enjoyed the film, but I found it to be too long.... at least we wont have to put up with Maggie Gyllenhal again 🙂

    August 25, 2008 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
  10. sinjin405

    Dark Knight was not terrible. The story line was good, as well as the acting. The direction, however, was not as good as Batman Begins, but from I could see, considering the other movies that came out.... it was the best summer movie.

    August 25, 2008 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
  11. m in leavenworth

    the best thing about summer; i get my little girl to my self all day long, and we get to eat watermelon to no end. wish life could always be that simple

    August 25, 2008 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Al

    I haven’t seen The Dark Knight but the hype really ruined it for me. Just cause that Ledger guy died doesn’t mean he automatically deserves an ‘honorary’ Oscar… I find that his best performance (out of the ones I’ve seen) has got to be when he played the skateboard shop owner in the “The Lords of Dog Town”.

    August 25, 2008 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Rocky Bayer

    Todd Rundgren's "Arena" tour. Don't miss the second leg!

    August 25, 2008 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
  14. DC

    I definitely agree with David. The Dark Knight was terrible. And I usually LOVE those kind of movies! The story was slow and disjointed. LOTS of action does not make a good movie. And just because it made alot of money also does mean it was good. It only reinforced to me how easily people are influenced by marketing and trend-following.

    August 25, 2008 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
  15. calirn2

    David Archuleta's music made summer GREAT!

    August 25, 2008 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
  16. MEBNYC

    Opinions are personal – and to those who didn't enjoy The Dark Knight, that is your right. For a lifelong Batman fan, I have been dreaming of this movie for as long as I can remember. Seeing it for the first time was like being a 12 year old kid again- filled with wonder and amazement at what was unfolding around me. The 36 year old in me also recognized the film to be a great film noir, in my mind on par with HEAT, PULP FICTION, and yes – I think it is as strong as The Godfather (I & II) and GOOD FELLAS.

    Beyond that-as child of the 80's I love to see Robert Downey, Jr continue to defy the odd and star in 2 back-2-back major hits – mainly to his credit. Summer 2008 – it was Great!

    August 25, 2008 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
  17. Jose

    I dont see why some people get pissed when others say they didnt like TDK or thought it was terrible, the fact is that everyone has a diffrent opinion on things.I for one really liked TDK but i am mature enough to know not everyone has the same taste.
    Anyway, my favorite movie of the summer was Wall-E.

    August 25, 2008 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
  18. JonG

    That low voice is a joke, epecially at the end, he couldnt finnish the syllables to a single word in the drony low pathetic mummble. Every time Bale spoke as Batman I just could keep from laughing as I imagined he drank a little too much with Alfred att he local pub. Come on, Alfred can pit a few down i'm sure.

    Also, for such a big budget flick, I can belive the terrible editing cuts (Bale continued talking through one cut where his mouth wasnt moving in the second shot), the "city of Chicago" sign in one shot (WTF?! chicago isnt gotham), and his beach-ball sized head in that stupid mask. The suit was like an armored truck. overkill if you ask me.

    I just feel that when thinking back on the movie the next day, I can barely remember the order of events because it seemed like so many random sets and transitions. Nothing stood out to me with the exception of the Joker, who did a good job. Just a good job, not an oscar job.

    Bob Ross would make a better Batman

    August 25, 2008 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
  19. Rebecca

    I adored The Dark Knight. I believe Heath Ledger gave this film something palatable that Batman Begin was unable to achieve. Heath was a brilliant actor, especially in some of his less well known indie films. I will admit that there was a lot of hype over this film because of his death, that aside, he was very good.

    I will put marker in (before summer is officially over) for Burn After Reading. I think that will be my true summer treat.

    August 25, 2008 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
  20. Carlos J. Armendariz

    How can you say that "The Dark Knight" was terrible, it was one of the best films ever made, and thats not just my opinion, go watch rotten tomatoes and several other critics.

    August 25, 2008 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
  21. Mimi

    Hello? Has anyone forgotten about the biggest book series craze this year: Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse and lastly Breaking Dawn?! These books are a great read and I find myself addicted to the series. Plus its great not only for Young Adults but us Older Adults as well. Besides, it promotes more reading for our young generation. You can't beat that right?

    August 25, 2008 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
  22. Adam

    As far as summer blockbusters go, this summer, overall, was lacking. However, "The Dark Knight" was one of the best summer blockbusters I have seen in a long time (probably since Independence Day). I find that people who don't like this movie generally don't have any taste or intellect. Ironman was also a surprisingly good film, and I think Wall-E deserves a nod (and will definitely be receiving a best animated feature Oscar).

    August 25, 2008 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
  23. aaron

    Hey David, do you also hate The Beatles and pizza? You must be a non-conformist, which to me, is the only thing worse than a conformist. Just like what you like man. You're just trying to get a rise out of people. I didn't make the movie, so I don't care what you think. I just hate people who need attention as badly as you obviously do.

    August 25, 2008 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
  24. Lee

    The Dark Knight had to be the best movie of the summer no doubt. It may even have been the best flick of the year when all is said and done. Terrible? I believe thats just you missing the point. Amazing flick, Christian Bale is the best batman and Heath Ledger? Good gravy there are not enough adjectives in the English language to say how awesome he was.

    For TV: It isnt on during the summer but the 2nd season of Dexter came out last week and the 3rd starts in September, brilliant show if you get a chance to watch it you wont (hopefully) be disappointed.

    August 25, 2008 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
  25. Kevin

    The Dark Knight did not live up to the hype for me. But it was still an excellent film.

    TV show of the summer goes to Generation Kill. It helps me fill the void left by The Wire not being on. Mad Men is a close second.

    August 25, 2008 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
  26. John

    To say that the Dark Knight was terrible is genuine ignorance.

    August 25, 2008 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
  27. R GRECO

    the dark knight was great, ledger played the role perfectly. if you ever read the dark knight series/the killing joke, that is how the joker is portrayed. the only gripe i have is that two face's character was too crammed in the movie and wasn't given a broader role. in the comic, he is much more like the joker, in terms of craziness and psychotic overtones. i would of liked to see that more and more of him. also, bales voice sometimes was a little to much as batman, but then again, i could see why, bc he couldn't run around the streets sounding like bruce wayne.

    August 25, 2008 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
  28. Jeff

    "The Dark Knight was terrible!"?
    Yeah – $400 million, second highest grossing film ever, number one for 4 weeks, lines out the door to see it, generating Oscar buzz – terrible.

    August 25, 2008 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
  29. Jason

    The Dark Kight is the greatest movie ever!!!

    August 25, 2008 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
  30. sam

    I dont think the Dark Knight was just wasn't as good as the previous film. Dennis Wilson's reissued CD is brilliant.

    August 25, 2008 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
  31. Liz

    Now that late summer is here and we've been inundated with rerun after rerun, some of my favorite programs have his the tube. "Burn Notice", Psych", "Monk", "The Closer" & "Eureka". I almost forgot "Mad Men". There's less original programming being offered, but I am watch as much, if not more now, than I will during the regular season.

    Not to mention the really cool stuff on BBC America.

    August 25, 2008 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
  32. johnniebgoode

    me thinks it was the "summer of amy"....winehouse that is....what in the world has amy done now?!?!.....

    August 25, 2008 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
  33. David

    The Dark Knight was terrible!

    August 25, 2008 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |

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