121129-ep12-lena-600A while back two fifty-something intellectuals were chatting in my school–the librarian and our corporate liason/fundraiser–and as I entered the library the fundraiser looked up and asked with exasperation “Is Feminism dead?”

I was a bit taken aback, given that I hang out with 6th, 7th, and 8th graders all day, and though at one time I’d have felt up to such a question it took me a few minutes to formulate my response: not dead, necessarily, and not really evolved, but rather mutated into something disappointing, a bit unrecognizable, but not surprising.

I watched HBO’sGirls: The Complete First Season over Xmas break, and I think I should give this DVD to my interlocutor as my answer to her question.

Like Breaking Bad, this is an entertaining and clever series without a single likable character. In fact, the characters are loathsome. But I laughed a lot, and that rarely happens. I didn’t laugh once during Arrested Development, and made it midway through season 3 before giving up on it. And not only did I laugh, but I was moved a few times. It starts slow, but rewards viewers who hang in there.

V/H/S is a loosely connected series of horror shorts. Some of them are OK, a couple were lame, but a few really scared the shit out of me, including the first. This is more experimentation along the Blair Witch/Paranormal Activity vein, where recording technology becomes part of the paranormal experience. Some of the experimentation here is quite effective, and has a George A. Romero ingenuity.

And speaking of VHS, the only time I’d ever seen Barton Fink  was on a Blockbuster video tape about 15 years ago. Grainy, with those occasional white lines scrolling up the screen and abysmal sound, the film made little impression on me. I liked it much better on streaming HD. John Goodman is an artist of a different sort from John Turturro–Turturro is blocked and an effete intellectual with asinine pretentions, while Goodman is a sociopath who has a firmer grip on his craft and the responsibility of an artist in 20th century America. It’s cute, it’s quirky, it’s Coen Bros.

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