Life Changes

TV series: Enlightened – Who says that the lives of everyday people can’t be fascinating, telling and both funny and affecting? In a wonderful role that shows true depth of dramatic talent, Laura Dern plays Amy Jellicoe, a woman who loses it on the job as an executive at a large corporation.

After time in rehab in Hawaii, she returns with a new “enlightened” perspective of honesty and meaningful living. However, those around her remain mired in their constricted lives as Dern (who co-created and produces the series) affects every situation and person around her like an atomically charged particle.

Especially her at her workplace, where she is reduced to data entry in a basement boiler room where a computer program keeps track of worker productivity like some rapacious big brother.

In a pungent turn, Dern’s mother, veteran actress Diane Ladd, plays Amy’s mother, whose unruffled life of gardening and watching television in her picture perfect suburban Southern California home is jiggled by her daughter moving home. Luke Wilson shines as Amy’s slacker druggie ex-husband that she tries to resolve issues with and reform his ways. And filtering through it all are bigger questions on how we live, labor relations, corporate rapaciousness, family, and love.

CD: Contraband by Otis Taylor – It’s rare indeed to hear anything truly new and groundbreaking in blues music. But Otis Taylor’s new release suggests that the old warhorse style that today seems all too often shopworn and ossified has much life and longevity in it.

Boulder, Colorado-based Taylor infuses the blues with trance, sacred steel, soul, rock and folk to offer a rich musical vista as his songs tackle such subjects as race, peace and war, history and of course love and romance that offers potent social and even global commentary in a listening experience that reveals new and satisfying facets many time around.

TV series: Hung – This HBO series previously touted here about a high school coach/teacher wins my best third season honors in recent memory. After a promising start, the show deepens its characters, offers wilder yet plausible situations that raise the ante for its hero and those around him, and takes a daring step forward by having gigolo Ray Drecker encounter a transsexual as a client who, after he has learned her secret, hires him to accompany her to her high school reunion. The traction “Hung” has gained its third time around makes for splendid entertainment rich with greater meaning and augurs well for its future.


From The Progressive Populist, March 1, 2012


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