The Browser, 5/27: Sydney Pollack; first Coldplay review; Phillips’ single; Springsteen’s gospel; Christians & pop culture; Lamb’s lecture notes; Indiana Jones’ most painful ordeal

Remembering Sydney Pollack

GreenCine Daily compiles the tributes.

What’s your favorite Pollack film?

Over-praising Coldplay

What appears to be the first review of Coldplay’s Viva la Vida has appeared in The Sun.

It’s a review by Gordon Smart.

Now, I’m somewhat curious about the album. I’ve always found Coldplay moderately entertaining, but never truly inspiring, and nowhere near riveting. But I am very curious about the vast popularity of the band, and I keep going back and listening again, wondering what I’m missing. I like Parachutes best, because it’s the least radio-ready. It sounds the least like an album carefully calculated to sell a bazillion copies. I’m especially befuddled by some of the superlatives that are written about the band. And Smart’s review is no exception.
Smart calls Viva la Vida:

the biggest album of the year … possibly the decade…

A bold statement. But he’s not finished yet.

[Coldplay have] pushed the boundaries of what we expect from an album…

Really? Is that overstating it a bit, perhaps?

Well, wait, no… let us not forget that Paste magazine ran a review for Coldplay’s underwhelming X&Y that said this:

Exhibiting a level of ambition rarely encountered these days, Coldplay‚Äôs third opus takes on the reigning champ U2, and doesn’t so much dismantle Atomic Bomb as blast right through it, like a mile-wide meteor, hurtling across the heavens toward The Beatles themselves.

Whew! With that, the bar for overstating Coldplay’s importance has been set impossibly high.

But wait…


The Sun‘s Gordon Smart has that look in his eye…

He’s going for a new record…

He runs…

He jumps…

This latest album — much of which was recorded in churches in Spain and and Latin America — is full of religious references. It’s as heavy-going as the Bible but as ultimately as rewarding….

OH MY!!! We have a new champion!!!

Sam Phillips’ “Little Plastic Life”…

… is featured on today’s “Single Minded” at Rolling Stone.

Springsteen’s gospel classic

Andy Whitman celebrates what he calls “the best damn gospel song of the ’90s.

Pop go the Christians in culture

Jennifer Harris and I had a long conversation about Christians and pop culture, and lo… a bit of it ended up in her article at The Baptist Standard.

Notes from Through a Screen Darkly – The Lecture

Thanks to Stephen Lamb for taking notes at my Through a Screen Darkly presentation at Calvin College’s 2008 Festival of Faith and Writing. I’m grateful for his kind words here. Rumor has it that Calvin might eventually make the lecture available as a free download.


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  • genebranaman

    My nephew was as ambivalent as I am about Coldplay until he saw them in concert. He said they’re phenomenal performers. I would just rather save my money to see Aimee Mann again. Her cover of Coldplay’s “The Scientist” affected me far more than the original ever did.

    Even if I were to pony up the dollars & see them, their albums are still, to my ears, are well-produced but pedestrian affairs. A friend lent me X&Y & I gave it multiple college tries but it failed to grab me every time. I decided they are the equivalent of carb-loaded food: you’ve forgotten you’ve eaten an hour later.

    Every time I hear Coldplay I wonder why Idlewild aren’t huge in the US.

  • I‚Äôd guess that some of the things you‚Äôve written about, say, U2, leave a lot of people scratching their heads just like the Sun‚Äôs review of Viva La Vida and Paste‚Äôs review of X&Y leave you scratching yours.

    I don’t love Coldplay, I don’t hate Coldplay. They’re a decent pop band, and I’ve purchased a couple of their albums. But they haven’t been musically innovative in any way to earn comparisons to the Beatles. And if a critic wants to destroy his integrity in a hurry, all he has to do is say that a particular work is “as rewarding as” the the most influential and significant manuscript in the history of the world.

  • That news about Andy Whitman’s book is the best news I’ve heard in a while. His blog post about Magic made me drop everything I was doing and go out and buy the album, and it was my favorite CD of last year. I can’t wait to read more from him about The Boss.

  • chessncoffee

    Well, I think that if you don’t get Coldplay now, you probably never will, and if you do love them now, you probably always will. Probably; that’s just my opinion. I think that it’s something you “get”-either you do, or you don’t.

    Lots of people love Coldplay, and lots of people hate them. The same album that Paste raved about led to the NY Times calling Coldplay “the most insufferable band of the decade”.
    I’d guess that some of the things you’ve written about, say, U2, leave a lot of people scratching their heads just like the Sun’s review of Viva La Vida and Paste’s review of X&Y leave you scratching yours.