2014 isn’t even over yet and already we’ve heard some pretty exciting announcements about things to come in the coming year. It’s never too early for us to get excited about pop culture we can anticipate, so we’ve rounded up some of the biggest highlights for you here.
I am losing my damn mind with excitement over the idea of both a new Decemberists album (coming out January 20) AND a new Modest Mouse release (March 3). I fell for Modest Mouse when their last studio album came out, back in 2007, so I am psyched. My tiny indie band-loving heart may explode, especially if these new volumes bring two of my favorite bands on tour to Chicago — I’ve seen the Decemberists live, but missed my chance to see Modest Mouse at Boston Calling after getting too sick to travel at the 11th hour. Make this dream happen, MM. From where I stand, 2015 is looking pretty great already.
As frustrating as DC Comics has been this past year, the thing I’m looking forward this coming year is DC-related. That’s because Rocksteady Studios is back for a bit of Bruce Wayne with the June 2015 release of Batman: Arkham Knight.
The first two titles in this series (Arkham Asylum and Arkham City) are two of my favorite video games ever. After Warner Bros. jumped in to release a milquetoast prequel game (2013’s mediocre Arkham Origins), Rocksteady is back on board to create Arkham Knight. The studio is integrating more gameplay using the Batmobile (as seen in the above video), and introducing a new villain — the titular “Arkham Knight,” a dark reflection of Batman cynically parodying the Dark Knight’s popular nickname. (Though this makes me immediately think of Prometheus…) I’m crossing fingers for a return to greatness in this series.
There are two entertainments I am beyond excited for in 2015. First, forget Age of Ultron and The Force Awakens. Those should be stupendous, but the movie event of the year for me is Spectre, the 24th James Bond movie. My love for the 007 franchise–an admittedly problematic one which is most appropriately enjoyed by treating it as feverish fantasy–was already thrilled when the end of Skyfall promised a return to the old-school adventure of Connery and Moore. Then Eon Productions regained the rights to use SPECTRE, Ian Fleming’s greatest villains. Then came the news that Daniel Craig and the MI6 team would be joined by Lea Seydoux, Monica Bellucci, Andrew Scott, Dave Bautista, and Christoph Waltz (as, I hope, Ernst Stavro Blofeld). Finally, the budget is apparently close to $300 million, which makes me wonder what can surpass volcano lairs and space battles. However they do it, I’m there November 6th.
Second, Taylor Swift. The 1989 World Tour. First night at Soldier Field. July 18. (And I’m not mentioning her name again in the Recorder until then so I don’t drive the editor-in-chief nuts.)
It has even started principal photography yet (I think), but I’m already looking forward to Quentin Tarantino’s new Western, The Hateful Eight. I’ve been a huge fan of Tarantino’s last two films, Inglorious Basterds and Django Unchained, after being hot and cold with the rest of his CV. Those films took QT’s usual fetishistic love of old film genres and combined them with a playfully violent post-modern deconstruction of the Holocaust and American slavery. On paper, these sound weird as hell, but both films surprised me by being wildly entertaining and provoking a ton of discussion about their themes. The Hateful Eight doesn’t seem to be tackling as weighty a historical topic, but it’s also a Western directed by one of America’s best filmmakers. And good lord do I love Westerns. To the point that thinking about this has launched a new article idea. So, yeah, I’m in.
Jonathan Franzen is an incredibly polarizing novelist. To some, he’s a brilliant writer, the closest thing this generation has to “the Great American Novelist”. To others, he’s a hack, writing overwrought stories about whiny, WASP-y upper-middle-class families upon whom he thrusts the themes and tropes of whatever happens to be the lead-in on CNN or Fox News. Even Franzen isn’t quite sure of what he wants to be: the man who decried The Corrections being selected for Oprah’s Book Club has now had two novels chosen for that honor. I fall somewhere in the middle of the camps – Franzen is talented, but not the Great American Novelist. Having said that, I did enjoy The Corrections, and recently gave Freedom a re-read, experiencing with hindsight the highs and lows of the Bergelund family in Bush-era America. This year, he’ll be releasing a novel entitled Purity, which is hyped to be a “complete change of pace” for the author. At the very least, I’ll be picking up a copy. Whether the new book is any good or not is moot – this will be one of the most hyped novels of the year, barring George R.R. Martin surprising everyone and releasing The Winds of Winter without telling anyone.