Media Diary: November 2016

As noted earlier this year, I’m keeping a media diary for 2016. These are my November findings:

  • In November, I rated 29 films, 2 books, 3 seasons of television, and 9 albums.
  • The average rating (out of 5) is 3.76, which is way above average for the year.
  • By medium, music (3.83) has the highest rating.
  • The best of the month:
    • Film: I Am Not Your Negro
    • Book: “The Sellout” by Paul Beatty
    • Music: “Summer Is Gone” by Bill Baird
    • TV: Search Party, Season 1

I watched more films in November than any other month this year. This reason is simple: I’m a member of a film critic association, and I want to see as much as I can before I vote this weekend (I may post my ballot here, for posterity’s sake). Also, I rated far less television since so many shows got into full swing over September and October.

As promised, here is my list for the year’s worst:

  • Film: Hillary’s America. Dinesh D’Souza’s “documentary” about the Democratic party is full of insipid distortions, but that’s not why it’s terrible. It’s also boring, with lazy special effects a cheap sense of patriotism. In a grim irony, the film’s most memorable moment is when the ghost of a Klansmen leaps from inside the White House and onto the adjacent lawn. Surely D’Souza must be frightened by the specter of white supremacy in the upcoming administration!
  • Book: “Bury This” by Andrea Portes. I’m sick of the crime fiction trend where chapters leap between different timelines, converging on the same event. It’s a lazy trick, one that values plot over storytelling, and it takes genuine talent to do well. The whodunit is also totally perfunctory.
  • Music: “22, A Million” by Bon Iver. Justin Vernon certainly has ideas, but they’re unfocused and tedious. No artist this year sounded more bored by their own work.
  • Television: Queen Sugar, Season 1. This high melodrama was just not for me. The episodes were languidly paced, the characters and twists were predictable, so I never felt a connection with any of it. Ava DuVernay is an exciting filmmaker, and I’m glad she only hired women of color to direct this series, but her ambition alone cannot elevate the material.
  • Play: “Dial R for Robot.” I feel bad picking on this one, since I saw it as part of the Capital Fringe Fest. Let’s just say that a kitchen sink approach to a sci-fi musical is a risky idea, if an admirable one, particularly when everyone involved is an amateur.

Year to date totals:

  • 194 films, 26 books, 69 seasons of television, 118 albums, and 10 plays
  • Total average: 3.51
  • Averages by medium:
    • Films: 3.44
    • Books 3.52
    • Music: 3.55
    • TV: 3.66
    • Theater: 4.05 (unchanged)